FEB 10 2005
The Irish contribution to world history over the last millennium has
been considerable in every field. The nation has 'punched above its
weight' in literature and the arts, in engineering, in politics, in
exploration and the development of new lands, in the armed services.
Their relationship with the Scots, Welsh and English has been complex,
to put it mildly. Although for a significant period Ireland was part of
Great Britain, the greater part of the Island of Ireland re-established
its independence in 1921. List of
A brief summary of the position since then, for the confused,
The Northern counties remained part of the United Kingdom, with a
majority population who adhered to the Protestant branch of the
Christian Church. Protestant in this context meant active resistance to
any influence of the Roman Catholic Church, whose adherents were a
in the South. Whether or not the refusal to submit to the powerful
dominance of the Catholic Church was justified or not (and there were
many whose knowledge of abuses within the church would claim it was),
this played a major role in the division of the island. Catholics in
the North found their chances of employment and integration in the
community difficult. In times of unemployment, jobs for the boys meant
jobs for Protestant boys. Although classified as a religious conflict
this was really an economic battle of wits such as has gone on since
humanity switched from a nomadic existence to farming, territorial
ownership and via slavery to industrial teamwork and wages.
With the coming of independence in the South the original "Irish
Republican Army" was officially disbanded. Unofficially it continued
but became an outlawed organisation in the Irish Republic. In the North
it became the champion of what was perceived as a persecuted Catholic
minority. Every force gives rise to a natural opposition, and thus it
was that paramilitary organisations formed amongst the Protestant
communities in the North. The scene was set for trouble.
During World War II Ireland (the newly independent South) had adopted a
position of neutrality. This was a sensible decision, even though it
was once more extremely complex in reality. There is nothing simple
about Ireland. The North was of vital strategic importance to Britain
throughout the war, as a territory, a manufacturing base and its
valuable sea and airports. The South's defence was its neutrality, but
it also managed to act as a tempting bait for German espionage and as
such was a vital help to British Military Intelligence. Although it was
suggested to President de Valera at one stage that Ireland might openly
join the allies he decided after consideration that the help already
being given was the most effective way to continue. We should remember
also that there were many Southern Irish already serving with
distinction in allied armies, navies and air forces.
This is not the place to go into the troubles that escalated in the
1970's and continue with peaks and troughs except to say that
paramilitary terrorist actions have been carried out by both sides and
mistakes have been made by the official forces of law and order who
have been under considerable pressure. Innocents have suffered as well
as the guilty. This has been true throughout history in every country.
It is right that known, serious current miscarriages of justice that
caused the imprisonment of the wrong people should be publicly
acknowledged. Where people are thought to be innocent this should be
made clear with a public apology, as has just been done by the PM.
Otherwise the theory that there is 'no smoke without fire' will lead
many people to think that if the accused were wrongly convicted it is
because either (a) The police or forensic chemists went too far to
corroborate other valid but not fully conclusive evidence which biased
their interpretation or (b) The accused had deliberately set themselves
up as a false trail confident that the case would fail, but the police
thought they would reveal the real perpetrators if they were found
In the 1980s it became clear that there was now no longer any strategic
or industrial reason for the UK to resist the unification of the island
of Ireland should the democratically determined will of its inhabitants
be to this effect. However since this was not the democratically
determined will of either the North or the South, it was a non-starter.
This was cleared up in a series of agreements between the governments
of the UK and the Irish Republics and led to greater support from the
International Community for a peace process under the status quo.
Since the 1980s, I have been of the opinion that Adams and McGuinness,
leaders of Sinn Fein, a party that stands for unification of the North
with the South, are genuinely convinced that the peaceful political way
forward is the only way forward. Unfortunately that is not a guarantee
that they can convince all or even enough of the IRA membership that
this is so. The first thing that came to mind when the Northern Bank
was robbed of many millions was that this was either to finance the IRA
Pension fund for those who might retire but were not suitable for a
political career, or to finance further IRA paramilitary operations.
Alternatively it was a NON-IRA paramilitary operation but it seems that
the last has been ruled out by all those with access to evidence. It
therefore looks like Sinn Fein are unable to bring the IRA in from the
wild and will either have to distance themselves from them, or
acknowledge a split within their ranks. However, it remains to be seen
who can actually be fingered for the bank raid, and until that happens
the argument looks like being carried on behind closed doors with
occasional leaks to the press. Not very enlightening.
FEB 21 2005
It looks like we are entering a new phase in the orthodox
interpretation of Sin Fein/IRA. For the past few decades it has been an
article of this orthodoxy to treat them as one for a very good reason:
if the political aims of the republican movement were to pursued by
democratic means, then the movement was to have to remain coherent.
Those taking their seats in democratic assemblies must be the leaders
of the movement that had previously been paramilitary if its supporters
were to accept the change. It would be no use if Sinn Fein were to sign
up to the peace process if the militant wing did not go along, nor
would the terms of such actions as weapons destruction make any sense
if those doing it were not closely associated with the politicians
whose status was dependent on this destruction. The constant insistence
by all commentators that Adams and McGuinness were in the IRA council
was clearly not to denigrate them but to validate them. If they now
have to admit to the IRA continuing with a range of illegal actions
without the permission of the political wing, the coherence is lost and
'mere anarchy is loosed upon the world'. There is no doubt that a blind
eye has been turned to a lot of republican actions in the period of
hoped for completion of the peace process. The transition from outlaw
to inlaw is a delicate process when the aim is not to eliminate all
outlaws but convert them to inlaws. But it looks like the patience of
both the Irish and UK governments has been stretched too far, and so
has that of public opinion, north and south, protestant, catholic and
secular. As to who carries guilt by association with those who will be
proved guilty through evidence of their actions, this will not be easy
to establish. It does not even take one or two degrees of separation to
divide the innocent to the guilty. They can be working in the same
organisation and have met frequently. The law must therefore take its
course, but guilt by association cannot be assumed. When this phase is
over we will not, however, be back to the previous stand-off. The
financing of the republican movement must be rationalised and
legalised, and for that to happen it must be possible and transparent.
The problem is a familiar one, isn't it, dear reader.
FEB 22 2005
Government action has been taken to penalise Sinn Fein. The result has
been for Sinn Fein spokesmen to deny that Sinn Fein is inextricably
linked to the IRA. The problem, if this is true, is how can
decommissioning of the IRA weapons be linked to accepting Sinn Fein
into democratic government?
This a moment from which there is no return, but the way forward is
incredibly tricky. It was only the insistence on all sides that Adams
and McGuinness represented the Republican Movement that enabled IRA
progressive decommissioning and reduction in violence and crime to be
related to their acceptance in democratic assemblies. If they are to
disown all those who see themselves as inheritors of the military
tradition, it must be very carefully done if the whole political
movement is not to fall apart with unknown consequences. Or they must
carry the old militants with them. It is not impossible, but they will
have to feel their way as events unfold. There has to now be openness
from a community that has been very closed for what it saw, sometimes
rightly, as it own protection. The very name of the party is autistic,
with parallels in the Interahamwe.
As if that was not difficult enough we now have a financial underworld
that has been built up within the members of the movement. If we need
them to join the rest, that means moving towards legitimacy in all
operations; but for the people of the North, real peace and security
would be a fine thing.
MARCH 04 2005
The murder of one of the McCartney family, coming on the heels of the
Northern Bank Robbery and the exposure of massive money-laundering
operations by Sinn Fein/IRA has had a profound effect on Irish public
opinion north and south of the border. The family have acted with great
dignity and diplomacy under extreme conditions and have epitomised the
changed situation wherein there is no longer a justification for a
paramilitary organisation to exist to promote the Republican cause.
Indeed its continued existence and code of conduct is now damaging to
that cause. McGuinness and Adams have responded in a straightforward
manner to demands that witness intimidation should cease and the guilty
should be brought to trial.
Here is a good analysis I have just seen by the BBC Northern Ireland
security editor: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4287993.stm
MARCH 08 2005
The offer from the IRA to the McCartney family to shoot the
perpetrators of the murder seems to have mystified most political
commentators. The reason is not hard to fathom, however. The IRA do not
want the case to come to trial as it could involve many more people
than they offered to shoot. The shooting would have ensured that no
witnesses would come forward at a trial for the original murder (not
that any are yet prepared to, but in time they may). If the
McCartney family had accepted the offer it is absolutely certain that
there would have been no successful prosecution for the original crime.
Commentators have said that this is a massive PR error. Even if this
offer was made, since it was refused, why did the IRA reveal it? The
answer is simple: they did not think it could be kept secret. Therefore
they announced it themselves, in an attempt to turn it into a
declaration that they were still the law within the movement. It is
very important to understand that the IRA is by definition a body that
does not move with the times. They do not accept the verdict of history
that the Irish and British governments endorse. One of the most
extraordinary characteristics of the Irish, as people, is that which is
known by admirers as persistence and critics as obstinacy. Amongst the
most intensely indigenous this reaches quite incredible levels. It can
take the form of intransigence that some would classify as mental
rigidity that denies the possibility of a change of opinion. The IRA
does not accept the Dublin government of the republic as legitimate,
let alone the separation of the north and its status as part of the UK.
The cease-fire does not in any way imply, for the IRA, the acceptance
of the moral legitimacy of the status quo. Even though they may support
and enforce the ceasefire and endorse the pursuit of political power by
political means, they regard their history and their existence as
morally defensible. The reason behind this mindset goes back in time
and is carried on from generation to generation, determined not to
accept defeats of the past. The idea that they should live with the
past and move on, accepting that history cannot be reversed, accepting
that a powersharing solution may be the likely outcome for the
foreseeable future and that within an evolved EU the differences
between north and south may lose significance with the free movement of
goods and employment, these ideas are in conflict with their reason for
living and the role they have played all their lives. But there is
reason to suppose that there is movement.
So, what next? We must wait for these events to play themselves out,
with patience, within the systems and institutions that we have in
place, staffed by those who do their best to run them. We should be
grateful that there is movement rather than stalemate and note that it
has taken tragic and painful events to get things moving.
MARCH 14th 2005
The media have.taken Martin McGuinness's warning to the McCartney
family 'not to cross the line into party politics' as possibly a
threat. I think this a complete misunderstanding. Adams and McGuinness
have been trying to bring the Republican movement in the North in from
he cold, away from the armed struggle, away from illegality, into the
democratic parliamentary system. To do this they need to have Sinn Fein
as a strong, united party. To get justice through the law in the case
of the McCartney murder, they need Sinn Fein supporters squarely behind
the McCartney family. McGuinness's warning was meant to be just that, a
plea to the family to keep the Republican voters behind them
unequivocally. If they start a splinter group it will be one more
division in the long history of divisions in the movement that have led
to all this intransigence over the years. Those who are operating
outside the law, both Republican and Unionist, are not going to all be
identified and imprisoned, though the perpetrators of this murder and
the bank robbery should be. But the aim is to get the substantial
majority of those who have turned from the armed resistance to
paramilitary and illegal operations to cease these and operate within
the orthodox systems and economy. We all know how difficult this will
be, but world history tells us it is not at all impossible. The way to
do it is not by fragmenting those republicans who want peace and the
rule of law but helping them to be coherent and encouraging the others
to join them and be rewarded in so doing by greater security and
The reaction in the United States should be read as an official rebuke
to those in the IRA who are continuing in their belief that they are
above the law, but I do not think either Republicans or Democrats wish
to reject Irish Republicans with legitimate democratic aspirations.
Even the Rev Paisley has said he will not do that. A warning of
possible undesired results from actions taken in the best of spirit is
not a threat. Threats are unacceptable, but don't let us see one where
none is intended.
APRIL 5th 2005
This was what I was hoping for. Gerry Adams has called publicly and
privately on the IRA, with the full authority of his position as the
leader of Sinn Fein, to make good their commitment to purely political
means in their pursuit of their cause. We must now await the response,
both verbal and in action. It needs to be an IRA initiative, unilateral
by them alone. What is to be hoped for is full decommissioning and the
unification of the movement under a civilian banner, with no military
or paramilitary wing. From there the aim would be the progressive the
legitimisation of all activities associated with the movement. It's a
big repair job, and it will take time.
MAY 10th 2005
The European Parliament voted today with only 4 against or abstaining
(of which 2 Sinn Fein) to fund a civil action of the McCartney sisters
against the killers of their brother. The problem of getting witnesses
will still arise, but the moral force of the European vote is
remarkable. It is only by pursuing the issue that the current stalemate
can be moved. As mentioned a month ago (above) it will take time, and
during that time continual, careful, honest action and pressure. No
doubt before any funds are actually forthcoming there will have to be a
further examination of the European Union's duties in this respect,
but it seems to me that international support is exactly what is
required. Establishing certain minimum standards of justice and its
effective application throughout the EU is one of the primary reasons
for its existence. Without it, even a free trade area would be based on
falsehood and a secure and peaceful future out of the question.
JUNE 03 2005
Friday June 3, 06:32 PM
N.Irish police charge man with McCartney murder
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Northern Ireland
police have charged a man with the murder of Robert McCartney after IRA
members beat and stabbed him to death outside a Belfast bar four months
ago in an attack that sparked international outrage.
A second man has been charged with
attempted murder of the friend that McCartney was reportedly killed
trying to protect.
"One faces a charge of murder, the
faces a charge of attempted murder," a police spokeswoman said on
Friday. "The charges relate to the murder of Robert McCartney and the
attempted murder of Brendan Devine."
Time will tell,
JULY 27th 2005
I refer to my entry of April 5th. We are told to expect a statement
from Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness on behalf of Sinn Fein in the
very near future, concerning decommissioning and future political
policy. If it is along the lines of my April 5th entry, it should be
taken seriously by the governments and all political parties of the UK
and the Irish Republic. We need to move forward.
JULY 28th 2005 We have indeed clear statements from
Gerry Adams and from Martin
McGuinness, as leaders of Sinn Fein. But first, here is the text of the
IRA Statement in Full. No such statement has ever been made before. It
will now be up to the IICD to verify the decommissioning of arms. If
there is any subsequent violence and criminality (and presumably there
will always be some, as no country on this planet has ever been able to
eliminate it), it must be the approved forces and institutions of law
and order that deal with it, with the full support of all political
parties and governments in these islands that now recognise the
constitution of Northern Ireland.
"The leadership of
Oglaigh na hEireann has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign.
This will take effect from 4pm [1600 BST] this afternoon.
All IRA units have
been ordered to dump arms.
have been instructed to assist the
development of purely political and democratic programmes through
exclusively peaceful means.
not engage in any other activities whatsoever.
The IRA leadership
has also authorised our
representative to engage with the IICD [Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning] to complete the process to verifiably
put its arms beyond use in a way which will further enhance public
confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible.
We have invited two independent witnesses, from the Protestant and
Catholic churches, to testify to this.
The Army Council
took these decisions following an
unprecedented internal discussion and consultation process with IRA
units and Volunteers.
We appreciate the
honest and forthright way in which the
consultation process was carried out and the depth and content of the
We are proud of
the comradely way in which this truly
historic discussion was conducted. The outcome of our consultations
show very strong support among IRA Volunteers for the Sinn Fein peace
There is also
widespread concern about the failure of
the two governments and the unionists to fully engage in the peace
This has created real difficulties. The overwhelming majority of people
in Ireland fully support this process.
They and friends
of Irish unity throughout the world want to see the full implementation
of the Good Friday Agreement.
these difficulties our decisions have
been taken to advance our republican and democratic objectives,
including our goal of a united Ireland.
We believe there
is now an alternative way to achieve
this and to end British rule in our country. It is the responsibility
of all Volunteers to show leadership, determination and courage.
We are very
mindful of the sacrifices of our patriot
dead, those who went to jail, Volunteers, their families and the wider
We reiterate our view that the armed struggle was entirely legitimate.
We are conscious that many people suffered in the conflict.
There is a
compelling imperative on all sides to build a
just and lasting peace. The issue of the defence of nationalist and
republican communities has been raised with us.
There is a
responsibility on society to ensure that there is no re-occurrence of
the pogroms of 1969 and the early 1970s.
There is also a
universal responsibility to tackle sectarianism in all its forms.
The IRA is fully
committed to the goals of Irish unity
and independence and to building the Republic outlined in the 1916
We call for
maximum unity and effort by Irish
republicans everywhere. We are confident that by working together Irish
republicans can achieve our objectives.
Every Volunteer is
aware of the import of the decisions
we have taken and all Oglaigh are compelled to fully comply with these
There is now an
unprecedented opportunity to utilise the considerable energy and
goodwill which there is for the peace process.
series of unparalleled initiatives is
our contribution to this and to the continued endeavours to bring about
independence and unity for the people of Ireland. "
Here are the relevant comments as
reported by the BBC Last Updated: Thursday,
28 July 2005, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
IRA says armed campaign is over
IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will
pursue exclusively peaceful means.
In a long-awaited statement, the republican
said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the move
was a "courageous and confident initiative" and that the moment must be
Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was a "step
of unparalleled magnitude".
"It is what we have striven for and worked for
throughout the eight years since the Good Friday Agreement," he said.
The IRA made its decision after an internal
prompted by Mr Adams' call in April to pursue its goals exclusively
Mr Adams said Thursday's statement was a
in the search for a lasting peace with justice" and also presented
challenges for others.
"It means that unionists who are for the Good
Friday Agreement must end their ambivalence," he said.
"And it is a direct challenge to the DUP to
they want to put the past behind them, and make peace with the rest of
the people of this island."
In a joint communique the British and Irish
welcomed the statement and said if the IRA's words "are borne out by
actions, it will be a momentous and historic development".
"Verified acts of completion will provide a
which we will expect all parties to work towards the full operation of
the political institutions, including the Northern Ireland Assembly and
Executive, and the North-South structures, at the earliest practicable
date," it said.
KEY POINTS OF STATEMENT
All IRA units ordered to dump arms
Members ordered to pursue objectives
through "exclusively peaceful means"
Arms to be put beyond use as quickly as
Two church witnesses to verify this
Statement followed "honest and
forthright" consultation process
Strong support among IRA members for Sinn
Fein's peace strategy
There is now an alternative way to
achieve goal of united Ireland
"Volunteers must not engage in any other
The Independent Monitoring Commission, which
paramilitary activity, has also been asked to produce an additional
report in January 2006, three months after their next regular report.
During the Northern Ireland Troubles, the IRA
murdered about 1,800 civilians and members of the security forces.
The IRA statement issued on Thursday said the
end of the armed campaign would take effect from 1600 BST.
"All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms.
Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely
political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means.
Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.
"The IRA leadership has also authorised our
representative to engage with the IICD to complete the process to
verifiably put its arms beyond use in a way which will further enhance
public confidence and to conclude this as quickly as possible."
The statement said independent witnesses from
and Protestant churches had been invited to see the decommissioning
It is understood there has already been a
between the head of the decommissioning body, General John de
Chastelain, and the IRA.
DUP leader Ian Paisley greeted the statement
scepticism, saying that the IRA had "reverted to type" after previous
"We will judge the IRA's bona fides over the
next months and years based on its behaviour and activity," he said.
He said they had also "failed to provide the
transparency necessary to truly build confidence that the guns have
gone in their entirety".
Ulster Unionist Party Sir Reg Empey, told the
World at One it would take time to convince the people of Northern
Ireland that this was more than just rhetoric.
He said: "People are so sceptical, having
had... been burnt so many times before.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan welcomed the statement,
saying it was "clear, clean and complete", but "long overdue".
He called on Sinn Fein to commit to the new
policing structures in Northern Ireland, as his party had done.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said he welcomes the
IRA's statement that it was ending its "armed campaign".
Mr Ahern said the end of the IRA as a
"is the outcome the governments have been working towards" since the
The IRA pledge was welcomed by the United
States administration as "an important and potentially historic
A White House statement said the words must now
followed by actions and acknowledged there would be scepticism,
particularly among victims and their families.
"They will want to be certain that this
terrorism and criminality are indeed things of the past," the statement
The statement added that it understood from the
IRA communique that "the IRA and its members will no longer have any
contact with any foreign paramilitary and terrorist organisations".
When he made his appeal in April, Mr Adams said
it was "a genuine attempt to drive the peace process forward".
Republicans had been under intense pressure to
activity after the £26.5m Northern Bank raid in December and the
of Belfast man Robert McCartney in January.
Political talks last year failed to restore
which stalled amid claims of IRA intelligence gathering at Parliament
Buildings, Stormont, in 2002.
The Provisional IRA's campaign of violence was
forcing an end to the British presence in Northern Ireland, leading to
a united Ireland.
AUGUST 3rd 2005
We have already had, over the past few days, the usual utter scepticism
from those who "have heard it all before".
There are also those who expect instant support, by former IRA members
or supporters, for the established authorities. They expect them to
apply to join the Police Service and other institutions, and to find
jobs in the political process and to start legitimate businesses,
I think a little realism is in order. We are told we must see some
action if the new IRA/Sinn Fein policy is to be accepted as more than a
tactical pause to re-group, with a better foothold inside the state.
Well, that is true. Ambiguities such as the Northern Bank Raid must
certainly cease. Support for the police must indeed be forthcoming from
all official spokespersons, and if there are complaints these must
follow the proper procedures. But to expect more from the Nationalists
than from the Unionists is nonsense, and to expect everything all at
once is nonsense. What is required is steady forward movement, based on
the new declared policy, even if there is a little local difficulty,
with the steady support of the leadership, on all sides.
The most important single contributor to peace in Northern Ireland has
been Mo Mowlam who died yesterday. There would have been no progress
without her and progress would not have led where it did but for her
solid dealings and management, which did not cease when she handed over
to Mandleson but continued in other fields. Here work towards the Good
Friday Belfast Agreement was undermined at every stage (often
unintentionally) by the media and those on all sides who pursued their
own agenda, but she overcame them all. The agreement was not without
flaws, but it was the key to the future and changed the everyday life
of Northern Ireland. I accept that in Mo's opinion she only made the
tea, talked to people and argued, and others had to hammer out the
details of the agreement, but that is further reason why she is less
responsible for the flaws and more responsible for getting anyone at
all to the stage where they would sign.
SEPTEMBER 10th 2005 How pathetic is this.
Extracts from a BBC report today
Violent clashes erupt
police have been injured and a civilian shot during loyalist
rioting over the re-routing of a controversial Orange Order parade in
The Chief Constable urged
calm and said police who were shot at and attacked with explosives had
Hugh Orde said the Orange
Order must bear "substantial responsibility" for the rioting over the
DUP head Ian Paisley
blamed the Parades Commission for not reviewing the route that barred
it from a nationalist area.
The parade was re-routed
to avoid the mainly nationalist Springfield Road area.
After a request by
unionists on Friday, the Parades Commission reviewed its ruling on the
route, but did not change it.
"The commission treated
elected representatives with
contempt by its refusal to even call us to put our case. We were
refused the opportunity to give greater detail," said Mr Paisley.
He also urged an end to
the violence, which was
continuing on Saturday evening in loyalist parts of Belfast and County
Antrim with many roads blocked by protestors or burning vehicles.
He added: "At this
difficult time, I am appealing to all law abiding people to remain
Water cannon and plastic
bullets were used against
petrol bombers who attacked police and soldiers. At least six officers
have been injured.
The security forces came
under sustained attack by
several hundred rioters on West Circular Road as well as the York Road
and North Queen Street area.
There were reports of
automatic gunfire being heard in several parts of the city.
Cars were hijacked and set
on fire on Ardoyne Road and North Queen Street.
Protests also caused
severe traffic disruption in the
city. Several roads were blocked because, said one DUP councillor,
there was a feeling of "disgust" over the parade route.
The march had been barred
from going through security gates on the Springfield Road, and had to
use a former factory site.
Almost 100 people blocked
off three lanes of traffic behind Belfast City Hall.
Another group of
protesters tried to block the
Albert Bridge in east Belfast. They were attacked by residents in the
nationalist Short Strand.
Some had their faces
covered with scarves and hoods.
Earlier, a number of
children were left badly shocked after a bus they were travelling in
was hit with bottles and stones.
A window was smashed and
one passenger said some people on board panicked and were screaming in
"It's hard to tell for
sure whether anyone's hurt
because so many people panicked and got off the bus. They were
screaming and yelling," he said.
"It was obvious to me that
a number of the children were in shock."
Mr Paisley and UUP
counterpart Sir Reg Empey had
been expected to address a rally of orangemen and their supporters at
Woodvale Park following the parade but it was called off because of the
Orangeman Raymond Speers
said: "In the grand scale of
things, just to disrupt traffic is not a heinous crime when you look
back over the years of history in Northern Ireland," he said.
"It's frustration of
Protestant people as to what they
can do to have their ordinary voice heard. We just feel so frustrated
that there is a cultural veto through the Parades Commission for the
Sinn Fein councillor Fra
McCann said the trouble could
have been avoided if the Orangemen had talked to Springfield Road
.I don't know, but I suspect that
Fra McCann could be right. But it is likely that some people were
looking for trouble. The fact is the people of Northern Ireland need a
New Frontier, When the most important thing in the lives of these
people is a memorial march, it is clear they need a new challenge.
Taking on their own police force is not a useful one.
Tension has mounted recently in Protestant communities on the view that
British government has moved too fast to reduce its security presence
in the province without any concrete action by the Irish Republican
Army (IRA) to disarm.
In July the IRA said it was ending its 30-year armed campaign
British rule in Northern Ireland and pledged to dump its weapons, but
so far it has shown no sign of disarming.
What happened yesterday was carefully prepared rioting and an attack
against the security services. It cannot be classed as anything but a
calculated action to attempt to halt the reduction of British troops in
Northern Ireland. We should not forget that troops were first sent in
modern times to protect the Catholic community, not the Protestants.
There is still violence on the streets (though nothing like the first
outburst). The UVF is clearly in breach of its cease-fire. Meanwhile
General de Chastelain is in Ireland in the process of overseeing a
further decommissioning action. The 'Protestants' (I put that in
quotes for good reason as it has no religious meaning) think that
violence is achieving their ends. As always, they are wrong. It is
pathetically sad that these great people, who have been the source of
great works in the history of their country, of Europe, America and the
world, are now led by a rump of embittered and paranoid, blinkered
individuals who encourage their youth to vandalism on the grounds that
some IRA criminals robbed a bank and Sinn Fein has not been held
SEPT 26th 2005 The IRA has completed the
decommissioning of all its weapons to the satisfaction of General de
Chastelain and witnesses. This diary was started on Feb 10th 2005. It
is less than 9 months since I suggested then that Sinn Fein were
genuinely decided on decommissioning and that we were entering a new
phase in the politics of Northern Ireland. The next stage is for Sinn
Fein to support the civil authority in countering the efforts of those
who still wish to finance and pursue the political process or their
personal ends by criminal and violent means.
The response from the DUP seems to be "It's a fudge, where are the
photographs? They promised us photographs!". Good grief, photographs
are utterly irrelevant. What has been done over the past 2 weeks could
only be verified by human surveillance, by someone who was as fully
versed in the whole history of the IRA and its arms as it is possible
to be, while at the same time being independent, of guaranteed
reputation and accepted in advance by all sides. General de Chastelain
is that man. The fact that he was there and saw all was witnessed by
two churchmen, one Catholic and one Protestant. Over the period it took
place they will have got a very good idea of the likelyhood that the
places and the arms they were being shown were, or were not, of the
significance and relevance that the IRA members in charge of this
operation claimed. All three have told us that although they cannot
possibly PROVE it (this being obviously impossible), they believed what
they wer were told about what they saw, and they had absolutely no
doubt about what they saw. The quantity of arms agrees with that agreed
in advance as being in question. The objection that there are no
photographs is absurd. If photographs or even a video documentary had
been used to back up the evidence, that would have been absurd.
If the DUP and others persist in their position, regardless of efforts
made by Sinn Fein to engage as best they can, I think we will have
reached the point where devolved government to Northern Ireland must be
put on hold indefinitely until they can find a new generation who are
not mentally damaged, who can stand for election. Of course, if Sinn
Fein fails to play it straight and cool, they will make it difficult to
get any sense out of the other parties. No doubt trouble-makers are
ready and waiting. But today, Sinn Fein have delivered a big chunk of
what was asked. To deny that is daft.
Ian Paisley protests that there are other weapons that have not been
handed in. Well, there are thousands of illegal arms in England, Wales
and Scotland, so that is hardly surprising. The point is that the IRA
has destroyed its arms and renounced armed struggle for politics.
Paisley claims there are still armed criminals and that political
intimidation is still a reality. What is his point? Does he think it is
easier to stop this with Sinn Fein and its supporters excluded from
democratic power-sharing? History and common sense would indicate this
OCTOBER 6th 2005
The process I looked forward to just over a week ago (see highlight SEPT 26th) has
been started with an important seizure of illegally gained assets in
Manchester. We shall have to see how the law
takes its course and what is the Republican reaction.
OCTOBER 23rd NICHOLAS CHRISTIAN in Scotland on Sunday writes LOYALIST paramilitary groups
in Northern Ireland must "call it a
day" and disarm, Sir Reg Empey said yesterday in his first speech as
leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.
The former Stormont economy
minister told party conference delegates
in Belfast that the IRA had suffered a military defeat. He said that
meant loyalists no longer had any excuse to maintain their paramilitary
Good - let's see if we can have decommissioning on the loyalists
side. Should we ask them to produce photographs, or just have an
inspection by General de Chastelain and witnesses?
OCTOBER 30th 2005
LVF units ordered to stand down
LVF has ordered all its military units to stand down, a statement to
the BBC has confirmed.
The decision, taken in response to the IRA move to
decommission arms, takes effect from 0000 GMT on Sunday.
Earlier, a group of church and community figures said
the loyalist feud between the LVF and UVF was over.
The move will be welcomed by politicians but some,
especially nationalists, will wait to be convinced by the loyalists'
In an earlier statement, Reverend Mervyn Gibson said
loyalist feud, which claimed four lives in Belfast in July and August,
had "permanently ended".
He said the group of church and community figures had
been holding mediation talks "for some time".
The end of the feud had been widely expected, with no
fresh violence happening since August.
The Independent Monitoring Commission blamed the UVF
for the four summer murders.
A special report by the ceasefire watchdog said the
carried out two murder bids, but their violence was mainly a response
to UVF attacks.
The report on the loyalist paramilitary feud led
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to declare the UVF ceasefire had
BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan said
the "choreography" of this process may also see the UVF issuing a
"None of this is a surprise - it has been well
signalled and widely reported in recent days," he added.
DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said he "warmly
welcomed" the end of the feud.
"Communities have been set on edge and put into turmoil.
I pay tribute to those who have worked so hard to bring this resolution
about," he added.
END OF BBC NEWS REPORT
The best next move would be for the LVF to disband.
DECEMBER 16th 2005
We were making some progress over the past weeks. Not exactly plain
sailing, but nothing too bizarre. The very great difficulties of even
exposing, let alone straightening out the massive extent of illegal
business dealings that permeate Northern Ireland become more apparent
every day. Now there is evidence that the result of taking the covers
off has led to the 'outing' of a senior member of the IRA as a British
agent and, as a result, the motives behind the spying affair that ended
the power sharing are brought into question. The implication is that
since a key member of the spying team was also a British agent, to what
extent was the operation of the theft of documents, and/or the
discovery of the theft, facilitated or even provoked by his handlers. This web page is headed SOME IRISH ANSWERS.
We have had some of them. What we need now are some British answers. Mr
Dennis Donaldson was recruited, it appears, because the British gave
him an offer he could not refuse.... but how he was acting during
the crucial spying affair may be difficult to prove either way. In my
view the cock-up theory will prove to apply. Maybe details of Northern
Ireland police were indeed compromised, because of the employment of
Donaldson who could not keep his republican contacts at arms length.
Alternatively it was a preemptive move to secure his cover which
backfired, with excessive consequences, perhaps to the satisfaction of
some who hoped the peace process would fail. Of course the alternative
is it was a legitimate trap to bring about the subsequent events which
led to more substantial disarmament and a better chance of peace and
Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Northern Ireland Police, has gone on record
on three points: 1. Any informers employed by his service operate under
the strictest legal rules and their status and performance is under
continual review. 2. There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion
that the failure of the power-sharing achieved under the peace process
had been engineered by the British government or by the N.I. security
services. 3. The theft of a large number of confidential documents
which brought about the breakdown was a crime, regardless of any
political consequences, and it was this crime that the police were
investigating. Sir Hugh is also of the opinion that Donaldson is now in
a dangerous position (presumably from Republicans who will be
infuriated by his betrayal). The Republican leaders make a great point
of denying this. The only conclusion to draw is that the theft of
the documents had taken place, perhaps over a period; that the
discovery of the theft had to be acted on, and that this led to the
inevitable disclosure of Donaldson as an informant. In other words a
simple sequence of events which, as they fed through the system, led to
the situation which we now observe. Of course it makes no sense,
because the political positions of all the parties who have been
opposed to the peace process are based on an incomplete understanding
of history, current affairs, motives, aims, possibilities and economic
realities. The cock-up theory rules supreme.
APRIL 4th 2006
Denis Donaldson has been murdered in his home in Donegal. There is
little reason to believe with Iain Paisley Sr. that Sinn Fein has
anything to do with it but unfortunately there was bound to be someone
of the ancient mindset, those who never forget or forgive anything and
have no truck with orthodox law and order of any sort, to do the deed.
It may also be aimed at further hindering the negotiations that are
ever more pressing to restore power-sharing and the Stormont government.
APRIL 6th 2006
This brilliant article by David McKittrick in the Independent will tell
you all you need to know about Denis Donaldson. THE
MAY 12th 2006
Something tells me that there is a distinct lack of progress. There is
no movement here. The protestants are just digging their heels in
against power sharing. For God's sake you guys - GET OVER IT!
MAY 22nd 2006
Iain Paisley has made it quite clear - he can't get over it. He is a
fundamentalist, he sets a standard far higher for republicans that he
does for Unionists, and he claims that the Unionists who will be in
government never got their hands dirty - i.e.their supporters were to
blame for all the violence. If that's what a majority of his party
want, then power-sharing and devolved government will have to be
abandoned.by the end of the year, and some form of power-sharing will
have to be arrived at without devolved government.
OCTOBER 4th 2006
The time is approaching when either power-sharing is agreed or the
regional government of Northern Ireland is returned to Westminster,
Below we have a final attempt to make it clear that while perfection
has not been achieved in civil obedience the Republican movement is
decided on a civil approach to the future of Ireland. The ball lies, as
mentioned previously, with the Unionists.
IRA "now poses no security threat"
Wednesday October 4, 09:08 AM
LONDON (Reuters) - The IRA has changed
fundamentally from the terror organisation that fought British rule in
Northern Ireland for decades and now poses no security threat, Northern
Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of a report on the province's peace process which is
expected to give a positive view of the decline in paramilitary
activity, Hain said: "There has been a historic, seismic and I believe
an irreversible shift on the part of
the IRA away from the terror, the horror and criminality of the past
towards a democratic future."
The Independent Monitoring Commission will conclude in a report on
Wednesday that the IRA has stopped all criminal and paramilitary
activity, according to media reports.
The findings will be used by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern in talks
Northern Ireland's political parties at a summit this month.
That meeting will take place as a deadline for restoring Northern
Ireland's power-sharing government looms on November 24.
The document is also expected to say that Sinn Fein is meeting a
commitment to achieve its goals by peaceful means.
Hain said there had been "astonishing change" in Northern Ireland,
which suffered 30 years of sectarian violence in which more than 3,600
people were killed until the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.
"Has Northern Ireland changed fundamentally? The answer is yes. Is
there now a security threat form the IRA? The answer is no. And that is
an astonishing change," Hain told BBC radio.
"There is no prospect at all ... that the IRA can come back as a war
machine. That is over for them. They have chosen a different democratic
But he warned that the politics of Northern Ireland remained
and urged politicians to discharge their responsibilities properly and
agree to restore government.
A Belfast-based political assembly was set up under Good Friday deal
between majority Protestants committed to ties with Britain and Roman
Catholics in favour of a united Ireland.
But the assembly was suspended in 2002 amid a row over spying by the
IRA. The province's main pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist
Party, has since refused to share power, insisting that while the IRA
has disarmed, it has not yet convincingly cut its links with crime in
END OF REUTERS
So, where do we stand? The
argument now will be between those who insist on the implementation of
police action, backed up by the IRA, on all outstanding unsolved and
unpunished crimes before power-sharing can be resumed, and those who
maintain that power-sharing should and must proceed first, now that the
elected Sinn Fein leadership is committed to the political process and
the IRA are committed to peace and condemn all extra-legal punishment
or activity. This could drag on for ever. In my view the support for
the police and the enforcement of the rule of law and the successful
prosecution of the murderers of Denis Donaldson and of Robert McCartney
will be arrived at sooner if
the move to restore power-sharing proceeds
on schedule. That means the need for
these prosecutions cannot possibly be used as an excuse to stall on
powersharing - to do so would be utterly perverse.
OCTOBER 11th 2006 BBC NEWS:
Parties set for crunch NI talks
multi-party negotiations aimed at brokering a deal to
restore devolution to Northern Ireland are due to begin in Scotland.
Prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will open
the three days of talks at St Andrews.
The UK and Irish governments have given the parties
until 24 November to reach a
deal on power-sharing, otherwise the
assembly may be put into cold storage.
NI Secretary Peter Hain has
said the talks must yield a "100% deal".
My own view? It may be
difficult to reach a 100% completed deal by 24th November, but an
agreement on detailed steps to be taken to reach that completion will
have to be reached by that date, and the participants will need to sign
up to a document covering all that, with both expected dates and
deadlines for each element.
OCTOBER 13th 2006
Yes, that's the way to do it.
March target date for devolution
A roadmap to restore devolution to Northern Ireland has been
revealed by the British and Irish governments.
It contains a target date of 26 March 2007 for a new executive to
be up and running.
The parties have until 10 November to respond to the plan. If they
agree to it, a first and deputy first minister would be nominated on 24
The plan follows three days of multi-party talks at St Andrews in
Prime Minister Tony Blair said there would have to be some form of
electoral endorsement of the plan - either an election or a referendum.
TIMETABLE TO GOVERNMENT
10 November - parties respond to proposals
24 November - first and deputy first minister nominated
Electoral endorsement of plans
14 March 2007 - nomination of executive
26 March 2007 - executive up and running
He said the two key components of a plan were that all parties
the police and courts and have a clear agreement on power-sharing.
"So those are the two essential parts of it," Mr Blair said.
"We've been through different parts of this process many times over
past few years but I think this is a sound basis to proceed."
The government's plan also envisages the devolution of
policing and justice powers in two years from the creation of the
However, this would be subject to a cross-community vote in the
A financial package is also included in the draft agreement.
One of the proposals is a cap on domestic rates under the new
value system if the governments' plans are accepted by the parties.
computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need to
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
It also suggests the possibility of further rates relief for
pensioners on lower incomes.
Speaking after the governments revealed their plan, DUP leader Ian
Paisley said Northern Ireland was at a crossroads and republicans had a
choice and "delivery to make".
"Delivering on the pivotal issue of policing and the rule of law
starts now," Mr Paisley said.
He said the DUP negotiators had dealt with a number of issues during
the talks and that in the delivery of an overall package they "had
retained the retention of academic selection" in the province's
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said that the plans
needed to be consulted on, but restoring the political institutions was
an "enormous prize".
"Common-sense political realism and the interest of all our people
demand we achieve this," he said.
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said what had been agreed was
the "Belfast Agreement for slow learners".
"Sinn Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of law and
order and Ian Paisley, or a colleague, will share the joint office of
first and deputy first minister with Martin McGuinness in a mandatory
coalition," he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said welcome progress had been
made towards restoring the power sharing institutions and pledged that
his party would continue working towards this.
"We believe that we can move from the politics of stand-off to
lift-off," he said.
Alliance Party leader David Ford said the outcome was a mix "of
challenges and opportunities".
"Despite all that remains to be done, there is now at least a sense
of hope for a shared future," he said.
The Northern Ireland Assembly was
suspended on 14 October 2002 amid allegations of a republican spy ring
The court case that followed collapsed
and one of those charged, Denis Donaldson, later admitted working as a
Direct rule from London was
restored in October 2002 and has been in place since.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
Oh yes, the money.
It's important to remember money is behind all the world's business,
good or bad, so it is vital to put more on the other side of the scales
if sources of criminal income are to be seriously cut off.
UK offers billions to back N.
Ireland self rule
Wednesday November 1, 08:49 PM
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain held out the
prospect on Wednesday of at least 50 billion pounds in funding for
Northern Ireland over the next decade if its leaders agree to revive
self rule in the province.
Chancellor Gordon Brown and Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain
briefed members of Northern Ireland political parties on the financial
package in talks in London.
The package supports a plan put forward at talks in St. Andrews,
Scotland last month for restoring a Northern Ireland assembly suspended
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Sinn Fein must accept or
reject the governments' plan by November 10.
If they agree to the proposals, preparations will get under way for
restoring local government. If they do not, London will shut the
assembly and continue running the province from Westminster, but with
greater input from Dublin.
The British government said it would commit to at least 35 billion
pounds of funding for Northern Ireland over the next four years,
equivalent to more than 50,000 pounds per household, a Treasury
Funding would rise from 8 billion pounds a year at present to 9.2
billion pounds in the 2010-2011 financial year.
The government said it would also commit to an 18 billion pound
investment strategy to 2017 if a new Northern Ireland executive is
The main sticking points in the St. Andrews talks were the DUP's
refusal to govern with Sinn Fein and Sinn Fein's reluctance to endorse
Both parties said a deal was possible but they needed to consult
members and study the proposals in detail before making a final
Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern have dedicated almost a
decade to achieving a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland. It is
Blair's last chance to secure a legacy as peace broker before he steps
down next year.
NOVEMBER 5th 2006 Who would have thought it....?
On MAY 12th I asked the DUP: "For God's sake, just GET OVER IT". Now
it's Paisley who moves
Paisley ready to defy DUP opponents on
McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday November 5, 2006 The Observer
Paisley is still prepared to sign up to the St Andrews Agreement aimed
at restoring devolution despite mounting opposition in his party. The
Democratic Unionist leader is determined to become First Minister of
Northern Ireland if Sinn Fein pledges to support the police and the
rule of law, sources close to Paisley told The Observer yesterday.
section of the DUP's grassroots has come out against the St Andrews
Agreement. The most significant opposition was on 19 October during a
mass meeting of DUP members in Lurgan where a majority of the audience
was against it.
However, sources close to Paisley insisted the resistance was neither
strong nor deep enough to throw him off course. 'There might be a few
councillors here and there who will resign or jump ship to someone like
Bob McCartney but the majority are behind the leader. The pressure
isn't on the DUP, it's on Sinn Fein now to sign up to policing,' they
held what was described as a 'very positive meeting' with Tony Blair at
Downing Street last Wednesday. During their discussions he told the
Prime Minister that he was still prepared to support the Agreement.
However, the 24 November deadline set by the British and Irish
governments for the parties to nominate Northern Ireland's First and
Deputy First Minister may not be met. The Observer has learnt that
instead of the two main parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, nominating
their ministers, they will exchange letters to the governments
indicating their willingness to fulfill the terms of the St Andrews
Agreement. Sinn Fein has to hold a special delegate conference in order
to sanction the party to sign the pledge on policing and the rule of
law in the north.
Yesterday the UK Unionist leader Bob
McCartney offered disgruntled DUP members the chance to stand against
the St Andrews deal in any election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
'The UKUP is a ship with a skeleton crew but if anyone in the DUP wants
to oppose any deal that their party leadership sign up to then they are
welcome to come on board,' he said.
As the deadline approaches,
security forces on both sides of the Irish border are monitoring the
activities of dissident republicans. Last week Continuity IRA firebombs
damaged several major department stores in Belfast. Senior garda
officers in Dublin told The Observer last week that the Continuity IRA
was trying to repeat the tactic the Real IRA used in early 1998 when
they targeted towns in Unionist MPs' constituencies. Meanwhile,
loyalist paramilitaries were blamed for a botched gun attack on a
Catholic youth in Coleraine.
NOVEMBER 24th 2006
held in Stormont alert
Convicted loyalist killer Michael Stone is being held after
to enter Stormont during a key debate to pave the way for restoration
He was detained by civilian
security guards after entering Parliament Buildings with a bag. A gun
was later retrieved. The building was evacuated.
In 1988, Stone murdered three men at the funerals of three IRA
The Stormont meeting was being held to hear if the DUP and Sinn
Fein would indicate ministerial candidates.
The alert happened about 20 minutes into the proceedings and
Ireland's politicians were quickly ushered out of the building.
WHO IS MICHAEL STONE?
Stone murdered three men at the 1988 funerals
of three IRA members killed by the SAS
He was released early in June 2000, under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement
BBC political correspondent Gareth Gordon said security
treating an object left at the building as a live device. He said it
looked as if the building would remain evacuated for the rest of the
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has ordered an urgent
report from Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde into the breach of security.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said that despite the breach, the St
Andrew's Agreement remained the only way forward.
Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Blair said: "No move forward in
Northern Ireland is easy, we've learned that over 10 years.
"It's not because the people, or indeed, the leaders in Northern
Ireland want it to be so, but because each step towards a different and
better future is taken alongside the memory of a wretched and divisive
to be clarified as to whether or not we have witnessed a marriage or an
Sir Reg Empey
Ulster Unionist leader
Friday had been billed by the two governments as a
"critical day", with
politicians gathered to hear if the DUP and Sinn Fein would indicate
their candidates for the first and deputy first minister jobs.
During the debate, Sinn Fein said Martin McGuinness was its choice
for deputy first minister.
In his speech, Mr Paisley said the circumstances had not been
where there could be a nomination or designation by his party.
"There can only be
an agreement involving Sinn Fein when there has been delivery by the
republican movement, tested and proved over a credible period in terms
of support for the PSNI, the courts, the rule of law, a complete end to
paramilitary and criminal activity and the removal of terrorist
structures," he said.
"Clearly, as Sinn Fein is not yet ready to take the
decisive step forward on policing, the DUP is not required to commit to
any aspect of power-sharing in advance of such certainty."
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey challenged the Speaker, Eileen
Bell, as to whether DUP leader Ian Paisley had actually indicated his
party would nominate its choice for first minister.
"It requires to be clarified as to whether or not we have witnessed
a marriage or an engagement today," he said.
However, Mrs Bell said that it was now a matter for
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to decide.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "There is as much hollow farce as
is historic significance in what we have witnessed this morning".
If all goes to the British and Irish government's plan, assembly
elections will be held in March, with devolution restored later that
The DUP and Sinn Fein get to nominate first and deputy
as they are the largest unionist and nationalist parties in the
For months the British and Irish governments billed 24 November as
a make-or-break date.
But since last month's St Andrews Agreement, the deadline has been
watered down, with no talk of the politicians' wages and allowances
Friday's meeting of the assembly was the first since
legislation was passed to redesignate it as a transitional body which
will be dissolved in January, to pave the way for elections in March.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Hain warned that he was
prepared to pull the plug on Stormont unless it seemed that progress
could be made.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
Michael Stone's release under the Good
Friday agreement will be suspended of course and, I would imagine,
DECEMBER 29th 2006
If Gerry Adams and the Sinn Fein leadership can carry the movement,
serious progress can be made. The BBC report below summarises the
situation. It is a historic moment. This web diary was started on the
premise that we would get this far unless Adams and McGuinness, clearly
working for a political solution that respected their position, were
blocked by DUP intransigence or murdered by IRA hardliners. There is
still a way to go, but the progression is logical.
confident of police outcome
The Sinn Fein executive is due to meet in Dublin later to discuss
issue of republican support for policing in Northern Ireland.
Gerry Adams called the
meeting of the executive to consider his proposal for a special party
conference on policing and justice next month.
Sinn Fein support for policing would be viewed as removing one of
the main obstacles to restoring devolution.
The Sinn Fein president said he was confident of a positive
Mr Adams said that if his motion was successful, the ard fheis
(party conference) would be held in January.
"I think what I am putting forward is the right thing to do," he
"I will move all I can to meet all the concerns of the people
but this is me and our core leadership saying this is the right thing
to do and this is the time to do it."
The Sinn Fein move was welcomed by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
"All parties, Ian Paisley's DUP included, support the principle of
policing and justice being devolved to the incoming executive when the
time is right," he said.
"The question was getting that time-frame in view and,
on the other hand, getting absolute clarity that Sinn Fein were
prepared to take what was a historic step for them, a seismic step."
The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson also welcomed Mr Adams's statement and
added that "words needed to be matched by deeds".
"We will look at that very carefully to see what its implications
in terms of republicans calling on people in their communities to
support the police, to co-operate with the police, to co-operate with
the courts, and, if we get that in word, then it needs to be matched by
deed," he said.
"It's the quality of all of that that will determine how quickly we
SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell urged Sinn Fein to "seize the
initiative on policing".
"People on the ground have made the decision a long time ago that we
need honest policing and we also need to protect the public," Mr
"Until Sinn Fein engage seriously and honestly in the policing
nationalist neighbourhoods will not have the policing they're entitled
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Sinn Fein had "lost the
battle on policing".
"They have no support outside their own ranks for their current
policy," he said.
"The key to all of this is, what decision is the ard fheis being
to endorse? Is it a qualified decision with power to be handed to the
leadership to handle?
"It's a first step. Will it be clear-cut or will there be further
Alliance Party leader David Ford said: "There is no point in holding
the ard comhairle unless Gerry Adams is prepared to recommend to it
that a special ard fheis is held to ensure that Sinn Fein moves forward
and accepts its full responsibility in the area of justice and
"Some of us have been waiting for this since 1998. It's long
overdue but nonetheless welcome."
The British and Irish governments have named 7 March as the date for
fresh assembly elections with a new executive expected to be up and
running by 26 March.
Northern Secretary Peter Hain has announced that elections to the
assembly will be held on 7 March.
Talks aimed at restoring the assembly and its executive have been
taking place since the St Andrews Agreement negotiations in November.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Sinn Fein has shown
remarkable leadership Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Monday as he
sought to defuse a row over policing and reassure the party its rivals
are serious about sharing power in Northern Ireland.
"Sinn Fein has demonstrated one of the most remarkable examples of
leadership I have come across in modern politics," he wrote in the
Blair, who last week cut short his holiday to intervene in the latest
stand-off between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP),
said both should seize a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a
London and Dublin have set a March 26 deadline for the restoration
Belfast-based, power-sharing assembly but the DUP is unwilling to sign
up to the timetable until it is convinced Sinn Fein, whose largely
Catholic following wants a united Ireland, is backing the police and
the rule of law.
Sinn Fein has long mistrusted a legal system it views as biased in
favour of Protestant unionists, who want Northern Ireland to remain
part of the United Kingdom.
It has called a party conference to debate policing this month, but
DUP's failure to respond positively to the move means it is now in
Senior Sinn Fein members are due to meet on Tuesday to decide
the conference should go ahead and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern
said at the weekend the coming days would be key to determining if a
deal can be clinched by March.
Northern Ireland has been largely peaceful since a 1998 deal to end
years of conflict in which 3,600 people were killed, but London resumed
direct rule of the province in 2002 after the collapse of the Belfast
Assembly it now hopes to reinstate.
Blair, who wants to seal a positive legacy for Northern Ireland
he leaves office this year, said Sinn Fein backing for the police would
be of profound significance.
"They need to know clearly that if they do make this move ... then
unionism will not be found wanting," he wrote, adding he believed the
DUP was ready to govern with Sinn Fein from March provided the
commitment on policing was forthcoming.
The DUP has given no such public undertaking, however, and one of
party's MPs, Nigel Dodds, said on Sunday unionists needed to be
confident of Sinn Fein support for law and order before moving.
"No one can look into a crystal ball and foresee when that's going
to be," he added.
JANUARY 22nd 2007
N.Irish police colluded with
killers, report says
Monday January 22, 11:45 AM
BELFAST (Reuters) - Top
Northern Ireland's police force allowed Protestant paramilitary
informers to carry out murders for more than a decade, a report by the
province's police ombudsman said on Monday. The report, which details findings
from a three-year probe, says
Special Branch officers turned a blind eye to the criminal activities
of a unit of the outlawed Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in order to
protect "agents" within its ranks.
[End of Reuters extract]
I am sure that they did, for one simple reason. Although we always for
good reason always held that the business of all UK forces was law
enforcement, the truth is that the IRA were fighting a war and behind
the scenes, those bearing the brunt of operations acknowledged this. As
we have have been reminded by happenings all over Europe and the Middle
East, civilisation hangs by a thread. Civil war broke out in Yugoslavia
and now in Iraq, it could happen in Spain and could have very easily
happened in Ireland. Beneath the surface, desperate efforts were used,
including the running of informers and the toleration of actions that
are not acceptable in peacetime, to prevent the emergence of civil war
structures and commands. We have finally moved on, We have reached the
point of understanding where it is accepted by the leadership of both
camps that Irish Nationalist goals are legitimate if sought by peaceful
political means. That was NOT previously the case. It is established
that a reversion to civil war, whether acknowledged publicly or not,
cannot achieve.anything but destruction, poverty and suffering. We see
that this is true throughout the world.
For these reasons it is pointless to revisit these events and crimes.
They have to be seen as part of a war that is over. That is not to say
it is not very sad indeed to learn of these things and very necessary
that they should be exposed. In wartime, many terrible things happen
out of sight of commanders. Recent events worldwide have made that
clear. Those sitting in relative security and comfort should
think twice before criticising those who suffered on both sides and
those whose duty it was to face these events, violence and hatred from
day to day.
JANUARY 28th 2007
Here is the news we have been waiting
for. Those who have accepted for some time now that Sinn Fein has been
sincere in its aim to pursue its political aims by peaceful means will
not be surprised. Disagreeing with those aims is not sufficient reason
for frustrating them by undemocratic means..
Fein votes to support police
Sinn Fein members have voted to support policing in Northern
Ireland for the first time in the party's history.
About 900 party members voted on the motion at a special party
conference (ard fheis) in Dublin which was attended by more than 2,000
Sinn Fein support for policing and DUP commitment to power-sharing
are seen as essential to restoring NI devolution.
A six hour debate was cut short as the leadership forced a vote
which was carried with almost unanimous support.
Speaking after the vote, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the
decision was truly historic.
"Today you have created the potential to change the political
landscape on this island forever," he said.
"You have created the opportunity to significantly advance our
and you have seized the opportunity to further our primary objective of
united Ireland through the building of greater political strength."
Mr Adams also said that republicanism and unionism had reached an
You have created the potential
to change the political landscape on this island forever
"If the promise and hope of the peace process is to deliver peace
prosperity, that means beginning a real dialogue, an anti-sectarian
dialogue, a dialogue which will move us to a real future," he added.
A spokesman for Tony
Blair said the prime minister welcomed the "historic decision and
recognised the leadership it has taken to get to this point".
PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde also welcomed the move.
"Our view has always been that policing is a public service which
member of the community should be able to access on an equal and
equitable basis," he said.
"I have always said that no ideology or individual
should stand between the public and that service and that the community
is entitled to have their public representatives hold this police
service to account."
Professor Sir Desmond Rea, chairman of the Policing Board, said he
was now looking forward to Sinn Fein joining the body.
"Full political and community support for policing will be for the
benefit of the whole community," he added.
DUP MP for East Antrim Sammy Wilson said he accepted Sinn Fein had
taken a step forward.
He said: "The ultimate test of this, because there is no trust in
Fein, is will they deliver on supporting policing before they get into
"They cannot get into government and not support the police."
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the move was "a massive
step change in the republican psyche".
"It is an admission that the violent 'cause' has been abandoned and
that Sinn Fein are prepared to support the forces of law and order in
this part of the United Kingdom," he added.
Mr Blair and Irish
Premier Bertie Ahern have identified Sinn Fein support for the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as being crucial to persuading the
DUP to share power in a devolved government with Sinn Fein by 26 March.
If an election does not occur, Stormont will be dissolved
The transitional assembly at Stormont will dissolve on 30 January
in anticipation of an election on 7 March.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
Anyone who has been the victim of crime should co-operate with the
police, Gerry Adams has said.
The Sinn Fein leader said that he still had concerns about
but people should help police get rapists off the streets.
At a weekend meeting Sinn Fein members voted to back the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Mr Adams said the PSNI had to earn trust "by being professional,
non partisan and a civic policing service".
"Let there be no doubt about this," he said.
"If some unfortunate person is the victim of a rape, if those
despicable elements who are going around terrorising old people in
their homes continue, and if death riders continue to mow down people,
if that happens, Sinn Fein will be encouraging people to work and
co-operate with police to take these people off the streets.
"The communities we represent have a right to a policing service."
Earlier, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said he is convinced
leader Ian Paisley is ready to be first minister on 26 March.
Mr Hain was speaking after he had what he called "a successful
meeting" with the DUP leader Ian Paisley on Monday.
He warned that all the parties had to fulfill their obligations
before the assembly could be restored.
Mr Hain said it would be "an absolute tragedy" if devolution didn't
"I am convinced that Ian Paisley is ready to be first minister on 26
March, as I am convinced Sinn Fein are going to deliver practically on
the ground in what they have promised to do in policing and support for
the rule of law," he said.
"It is worth just saying that we have never ever been
in this position before and it would be an absolute tragedy if,
somehow, both the DUP and Sinn Fein contrived to find a reason not to
do the deal and have devolution on the 26 March."
Earlier on Monday, the British and Irish prime ministers welcomed
Sinn Fein's decision to back policing in Northern Ireland.
The motion to support the PSNI was backed by 90% of the 900 members
voted at the party's conference (ard fheis) in Dublin on Sunday.
Tony Blair's spokesman said the ballot was an "historic decision",
while Bertie Ahern said it was a "landmark".
But DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he doubted Sinn Fein could prove its
support by the 27 March deadline to revive devolution.
"If they are going to stick to this policy then there will certainly
no delivery before 26 March and therefore there can't be the time for
the delivery or the testing," he said.
"Therefore I think there are very, very serious
problems - let Sinn Fein get on with doing what other parties have
On Monday, Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said he
the DUP would respond positively following the party's decision to
support the police and the rule of law.
Mr McGuinness said republicans were aware of the problems within
"People recognise that this is an area that needs to be dealt with.
"I experienced this myself in my own constituency where a
man was murdered and, in the same incident, his 75-year-old sister was
raped and thrown down the stairs.
"I think that we do need to be liberated to move
forward to ensure that those who are responsible for these heinous
deeds are apprehended and brought to justice."
Secretary Peter Hain said people need to know that "if there's a rape
or a burglary or a drunken yob runs riot in a neighbourhood, local
republicans are co-operating with the police".
"I think that we're moving in that direction and the important
thing is that we've never been at this point before," he said.
The decision gives Sinn Fein's ruling executive the authority to
declare its support for the PSNI and the criminal justice system when
devolution is restored and policing and justice powers are transferred
to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Mr Ahern said the move opened the way to Northern Ireland
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde also welcomed the result of the
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have identified Sinn Fein support for the PSNI
crucial to persuading the DUP to share power in a devolved government
with Sinn Fein by 26 March.
If an election does not occur, Stormont will be dissolved
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
The Independent Monitoring Commission says the IRA leadership has
continued to dismantle its structures and remains committed to a
The body also said Sinn Fein's endorsement of the police was a
major step forward in the IRA's move away from paramilitarism.
The organisation set up to monitor levels of paramilitary activity
said it was "a very major development".
Its 13th report covers the period 1 September to 30 November 2006.
NI Secretary Peter Hain said the latest report from the ceasefire
watchdog demonstrated the Provisional IRA's "commitment to the
The Irish Government welcomed the IMC's "very positive
assessment" of the PIRA's commitment to democratic politics, and added
that power-sharing should not be delayed any further.
The IMC delayed finalising its report until the outcome of Sinn
Fein's special ard fheis on policing was known.
It said: "The decision of the ard fheis (special party conference)
on January 28, 2007 to support policing and the criminal justice system
was a very major development.
"That decision and the efforts invested by the
leadership of the republican movement in presenting the arguments in
favour of the change were further substantial evidence of their
commitment to the democratic process."
The commission said during months of consultation about its
policing plans, republican leaders encountered some resistance.
However, this had been expressed politically rather than through
The IMC report said the PIRA was no longer involved in attacks nor
preparatory acts such as recruitment, training, weapons procurement and
development or targeting.
It said the organisation continued to disband
paramilitary structures, although some members had tried to acquire
small arms for their own purposes against the leadership's
IMC'S 13TH REPORT
The UVF has scaled down its
violence, with no record of any so-called punishment shootings and
The report said they did not appear to have been successful.
Some individual members were still involved in activities such as
smuggling and fuel laundering, but this was declining as a result of
instructions from the IRA leadership, it added.
It also the republican movement was continuing to gather
intelligence, but did not think this was for paramilitary purposes.
The IMC said dissident republicans continued to be active and the it
reported the recent formation of a "dangerously active" new hardline
group, Oglaigh na hEireann.
It has launched pipe bomb attacks against the police and seeks to
recruit dissident republicans.
The IMC welcomed moves within the UDA and the UVF to move away from
paramiitarism and criminality.
However, it said the two main loyalist paramilitary groups needed to
accelerate those moves and were still involved in racist and sectarian
attacks and criminality.
The report said UDA members were behind attacks against
immigrants in Antrim and had tried to force some foreign nationals from
The organisation was responsible for the majority of loyalist
shootings and beatings, it said.
The commission said the UVF "had scaled down its violence, with no
record of any so-called punishment shootings and assaults and
leadership instructions for members not to get involved in crime.
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said the report seemed to mark
progress in the winding down of the IRA's paramilitary campaign.
"This latest report, whilst welcome, does still leave a
number of issues which need to be addressed particularly the
involvement of IRA members in criminal activity," he said.
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the report had provided
clarity over the IRA.
"It is clear that barring some sporadic and unsanctioned activity,
IRA continues to make progress towards exclusively peaceful and
democratic means," he said.
Despite the positive report on IRA activity, Sinn Fein's Conor
Murphy said the IMC should be "wound up".
"The IMC should never again be allowed a say over people's
democratic rights and entitlements," he said.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the report contained the progress that
should have happened years ago when the Good Friday Agreement was
"It is vital that the DUP stops burying its head in the sand and
denying the progress that is being made," he said.
The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry said the IMC was "playing a
critical role in facilitating the path to political progress".
The four-strong Independent Monitoring Commission was set up by the
British and Irish governments in January 2004.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
The Northern Ireland assembly election is to be held on Wednesday, 7
March as planned, Prime Minister Tony Blair has confirmed.
He made the announcement after meeting Irish Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern at Downing Street.
Mr Blair said there was "a tremendous yearning now for this process
to reach its proper completion".
He said the election could be "the start of a completely different
future for the people of Northern Ireland".
The prime minister said it had been several years since the
executive at Stormont was dissolved.
"During that process of time the people of Northern Ireland have
been without the direct voice that they wanted," he said.
"Now we have the prospect over these coming weeks of managing to
that the executive goes back up and we have a proper set of devolved
institutions on a basis that is sustainable."
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern said Sinn Fein's decision to
endorse policing and Tuesday's report from the Independence Monitoring
Commission provided further reassurance that Northern Ireland had moved
"Our purpose now is to ensure that Northern Ireland can
build on all of these positive developments through the restoration of
shared, accountable government committed to serving all of the people,"
the prime ministers said in a statement.
They said devolution would be restored if there was
proper support for the rule of law and the police from republicans, and
a commitment to power sharing by the 26 March by the DUP.
Mr Ahern said Mr Blair was "convinced", from his talks
with DUP leader Ian Paisley, that it was ready to take part in a
power-sharing executive, adding: "I accept that."
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
MARCH 05 2007
We are approaching the moment of truth.
Stormont vote critical for power
Monday March 5, 04:00 PM
BELFAST (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's
election on Wednesday could be crucial for restoring a government
shared between Protestants and Catholics in an effort to reach a
lasting settlement to decades of sectarian conflict.
London and Dublin hope the Assembly vote will allow a return to
government in Northern Ireland five years after the last attempt to
share power collapsed and almost a decade
after a peace deal largely ended violence in the province.
Strong showings by the Democratic Unionist Party of firebrand
Ian Paisley, and by Sinn Fein could improve chances for power sharing.
The bitter foes have shifted from the political extremes and show
they could at least sit in the same room -- an idea that would once
have seemed absurd -- but face opposition from those taking harder
lines within their own communities.
"I think Paisley is committed in principle," said Sydney Elliott,
senior lecturer in politics at Queens University Belfast.
"But he needs an increase in seats over his total of 33 at the last
Assembly elections in 2003 to claim the electorate has endorsed his
The last 108-member Assembly never sat for a whole day. Given a
of false starts since then and suspicions of weariness among voters,
turnout will also be watched closely on Wednesday.
Whatever the result, there is no guarantee power sharing will be
by the March 26 deadline set by Britain and Ireland -- threatening to
dissolve the assembly permanently and impose "partnership government"
themselves if there is no deal.
Prime Minister Tony Blair is keen to leave an agreement in Northern
Ireland before he steps down this year.
If, as expected, the DUP remains the largest party after the votes
counted, it will have the right to nominate a First Minister. It has
refused to be bound by any deadline.
If Sinn Fein again wins the most votes from Catholics, it will
nominate a Deputy First Minister.
The share of the vote is unlikely to change much after UK
elections in 2005 when the DUP scored 34 percent with Sinn Fein second
on 24 percent, but the DUP will want a strong mandate before entering
any talks with Sinn Fein.
The DUP opposed a 1998 peace deal because of Sinn Fein's involvement
and the party's unyielding demands for full IRA disarmament helped
cement its subsequent success. About 3,600 were killed during 30 years
The DUP has already lost two local councillors who still accuse
of breaking his long-time pledge never to "share power with terrorists"
despite IRA disarmament in 2005.
They argue continued direct rule from London would be better than a
local executive where Sinn Fein would have at least two ministers under
the rules of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.
Paisley also faces a challenge from the small but vocal party of UK
Unionist Party leader Robert McCartney, which is standing in six
constituencies and accuses Paisley of already agreeing to share power
and deceiving his electorate.
Sinn Fein faces splinter groups too, with challenges by several
independent candidates who were formerly supporters.
The dissidents claim the party was wrong to vote recently to support
the police and courts in Northern Ireland, saying this is tantamount to
accepting the legitimacy of the state itself and a betrayal of its
ultimate aim of a united Ireland.
MARCH 06 2007
The BBC has picked the moment to have its Northern Ireland
correspondent point out that the goal of devoluted, powersharing
government has political rather than economic benefits for the region.
It has been the high level of public expenditure by the UK government
(over 70% of economic activity as opposed to around 40% for the rest of
the UK) that has fed the boom times, now leading to a property boom and
second homes as an investment. Tax raising powers of any NI Government
are limited, so any political manifesto can be considered to some
extent a 'wish list'. Any regional government that comes to pass
must look to a phased adjustment if what is essentially a form of
subsidy is to give way to a balanced and self supporting regional
economy. The aim of the present process is above all peace, so that
this may come about.
MARCH 09 2007 NOW THEY HAVE TO GET ON
THE DUP HAS TILL THE 27TH MARCH TO DECIDE TO SHARE POWER WITH SINN FEIN
OR THE PROVINCE WILL BE GOVERNED FROM LONDON.
PAISLEY, FOR THE DUP, CLAIMS THERE ARE MEMBERS OF SINN FEIN WHO DO NOT
ACCEPT THE AUTHORITY OF THE N.I. POLICE.
I THINK THAT HAS TO BE TESTED, NOT ENDLESSLY DEBATED IN THEORY. SINN
FEIN HAS TAKEN HUGE STEPS. ENDLESSLY ASKING FOR MORE HAS TO SOME TO AN
END ON MARCH 27TH 2007.
DUP top in
NI assembly election
Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party has emerged as the largest
party in Northern Ireland's Assembly election.
His party secured 36 of the 108 seats, with Sinn Fein taking 28. The
Ulster Unionist Party won 18 seats, the SDLP 16, and the Alliance Party
Secretary of State Peter Hain has warned he needs an
answer from the parties in a fortnight if the 26 March deadline for
devolution is to be met.
He said the assembly would close if they did not sign up to
If a power-sharing executive is formed it will have four DUP
ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP.
The seven member strong Alliance Party will not have a presence in
executive, neither will the Green Party or Progressive Unionist Party,
which both won one seat.
One independent candidate was returned, Dr Kieran Deeny who stood
on a platform to save a local hospital in West Tyrone.
The DUP and Sinn Fein took more than half the first preference
votes between them in the poll.
Mr Hain met Sinn Fein on Friday and the DUP.
Earlier on Friday, prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said
a joint statement that voters in Northern Ireland had issued a clear
message they want devolved government back.
As a second day of counting got under way, the premiers
said: "Restoration of the devolved institutions represents an
opportunity of historic proportions."
However, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said conditions had to be
right for his party to go into government with Sinn Fein.
"When the conditions are met, the Democratic Unionist Party is
ready," he said.
"It is up to other people to meet the requirements as soon as it is
possible. Let them get on with it and stop dragging their feet."
The DUP got 30.1% of first preferences - up 4.4% from 2003 - while
Sinn Fein got 26.2%, up 2.6%.
Almost 250 candidates were standing in 18 constituencies in the
proportional representation election.
The leaders of the four main parties were all returned, the DUP's
Paisley and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams topping the polls in North Antrim
and West Belfast respectively.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan was elected on the first count
at Foyle, but UUP leader Sir Reg Empey had to wait to the third stage
before being returned in East Belfast.
In third place in first preferences, the SDLP received 15.2% of
first preferences, the Ulster Unionists 14.9% and Alliance 5.2%.
UK Unionist Party leader Bob McCartney lost his North Down seat in
the Northern Ireland Assembly election.
Meanwhile, speaking after a meeting with Mr Hain on Friday, Sinn
leader Gerry Adams said: "We look to both governments to accept what
the people overwhelmingly voted for.
"That is for local politicians who sought a mandate to execute that
mandate in the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement."
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said it was important to take the situation
"We need to work with the mandates that the parties have, we need
to try and convert that into working political institutions."
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, whose party lost nine seats,
he would have liked more seats, but respected the electorate's
"Our commitment to devolution and a functioning executive has been
made clear in the election campaign.
"We now wait to see if others will deliver devolution or the
stagnation of continued direct rule," he said.
The Alliance Party leader David Ford said he thought a lot of people
had grave doubts about whether the DUP and Sinn Fein were willing to
share power constructively.
Lady Sylvia Hermon, the Ulster Unionist Party's only MP, criticised
her party's performance in the assembly election.
Speaking at the count in North Down, she said her party's vote
management had been "woeful, to put it mildly", and added that she had
"a lot to think about".
The Northern Ireland
Assembly has been suspended since October 2002, amid allegations of an
IRA spy ring at Stormont. A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct
rule has been in place since that date.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
There is no missing interrogation mark. Ian Paisley will be able,
barring some exceptional circumstances, to accept power-sharing with
Sinn Fein. This is because circumstances have changed over the years.
He will be able to claim with some justification that he has done his
duty. His stand against 'popery' can relaxed because 'popery' is not
what it was - I am sure the current Pope would be the first to agree.
The 'defence of the realm' is no longer an issue, as changes in
geopolitics and the establishment of the EU and the economic success of
the Irish Republic have removed any argument that if, through
democratic agreement, the North of Ireland were one day politically
united wth the South, it would prejudice the defence of Great Britain.
The Irish Republic is fully supportive of the peace agreements and of
the power-sharing arrangements. The danger is that extremists on either
side, who see no future for themselves in a lawful society, will now
pll out the stops to cause a breakdown and spread the theory that Sinn
Fein supporters who do not accept the authority of the police, yet who
voted for the power-sharers, are amongst them. They wil claim this
invalidates the mandate. I think they will fail, as Ian Paisley is not
likely to fall for it.
MARCH 24th 2007
If the DUP have taken a vote and officially agreed to power-sharing,
then they have met the deadline (which expires on Monday). But the
demand for a month to set the thing up is a bit cheeky. It may well
take a month to sort out, but it is not for the DUP to stipulate in
advance how long, even if it is a reasonable estimate. As long as the
UK and Irish government make it clear that preparations for
power-sharing start on Monday, and May is the actual start-up date, the
situation is acceptable.
'would share power in May'
The DUP has agreed to share power in May - if the government will
agree to push back the deadline for six weeks.
The party's ruling executive overwhelmingly passed a resolution
understood to offer a definite date for going into government with Sinn
The government has previously said Stormont will be dissolved if
Monday's devolution deadline is not met.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the DUP was seeking to
"frustrate the will of the electorate".
He said commitments to dissolve Stormont in the absence of
agreement must be kept.
"If the DUP wants a functioning assembly after March 26 this can
happen through direct dialogue and agreement with Sinn Fein and the
other parties," he said.
"In the meantime the two governments must now proceed to put in
place their all-Ireland partnership arrangements."
Government sources told the BBC Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain has yet to be informed of the DUP executive's resolution.
The sources said the government would not produce the emergency
legislation the DUP wanted and there had been no agreement to defer
If there is no deal by Monday's devolution deadline,
the government's view is that the assembly will be dissolved and it
will be up to the parties to agree a position amongst themselves.
DUP leader Ian Paisley said the details of the
resolution would be released after negotiations with the government are
"The Ulster people will be persuaded, they will not be driven," Mr
Paisley told reporters after the DUP meeting.
The party is thought to have offered to take part in a meeting of
Programme for Government committee featuring both Mr Paisley and Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams.
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he thought the government may be
intending to legislate for a delay to the return of full devolution.
Sir Reg said he understood an eight-week delay was under
Secretary of State Peter Hain has consistently denied there will be
any emergency legislation to alter Monday's deadline.
The 120-strong DUP executive meeting has been described by some
party figures as the most important in its history.
Mr Paisley held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair twice within
48 hours this week.
After the second meeting, Downing Street re-iterated that Monday's
Mr Paisley said a "great deal of ground" had been covered.
However, he earlier said a financial package offered by Chancellor
Gordon Brown did not meet Northern Ireland's economic needs.
Mr Brown has promised an extra £1bn if devolution is back on
The cash is on top of £35bn promised by the government over
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October
2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.
A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place
since that date.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
The DUP and Sinn Fein have now done what was required. The process is
started and both parties are decided on completion
on May 8th. That is sufficient for the UK and Irish Governments to pass
legislation deferring the dissolution of the NI Assembley
till May 8th and, assuming success, definitively.
A May date for the return of NI devolved government has been agreed
following an historic meeting between the leaders of the DUP and Sinn
Ian Paisley and Gerry
Adams, sitting side by side for their first news conference in
Stormont, confirmed that power-sharing would begin on 8 May.
The DUP leader had dropped his long standing ban on talking to Sinn
The British and Irish governments had said they would shut the
assembly if an executive was not agreed on Monday.
The Stormont Assembly was due to meet at noon to appoint ministers
to a devolved government.
Instead, the two party delegations met at Parliament Buildings,
Mr Adams - wearing his Easter lily to commemorate those who died in
1916 rebellion - and Mr Paisley were said to be juxtaposed at one
corner of a table.
After the meeting, Mr Paisley said: "Our goal has been to see
devolution returned in a context where it can make a real, meaningful
improvement in the lives of all the people of this part of the United
"On Saturday, the DUP executive overwhelmingly endorsed
a motion committing our party to support and participate fully in
government in May of this year - this is a binding resolution."
Mr Adams said he welcomed Mr Paisley's statement.
"I believe the agreement reached between Sinn Fein and the DUP -
including the unequivocal commitment made by their party executive and
reiterated today - to the restoration of political institutions on 8
May marks the beginning of a new era of politics on this island," he
"The basis of the agreement between Sinn Fein and the
DUP follows Ian Paisley's unequivocal and welcome commitment to support
and participate fully in the political institutions on 8 May."
Both Sinn Fein and the DUP have asked the British government not to
issue water bills due to be sent out this week for the first time.
Earlier on Monday, Secretary of State Peter Hain said
Northern Ireland's devolution deadline may be allowed "to slip" for a
few weeks if the parties agree to work together.
He said the assembly would be dissolved if agreement was not
reached by 26 March.
An order signed by the NI secretary restarted devolution at
In the assembly election earlier this month, the DUP and Sinn Fein
emerged as the two largest parties.
If devolution does not return, controversial water bills will also
posted to homes in Northern Ireland within days, said the government.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised an extra £1bn if
devolution is back on Monday on top of £35bn promised by the
over four years.
If a power-sharing executive is formed, it will have four DUP
ministers, three Sinn Fein, two UUP and one SDLP.
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since October
2002, amid allegations of an IRA spy ring at Stormont.
A subsequent court case collapsed. Direct rule has been in place
since that date.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
Story from BBC NEWS:
APRIL 30th 2007
It is time to acknowledge the part the Irish government and its prime
minister, the Taoiseach, has played in the progress toward peace in the
North. Bertie Ahern is standing for re-election. The so-called
'Payments scandal' sounds like a non-starter to me.
Irish PM starts election bid under payments cloud
By Mark Thompson and Paul
Hoskins Reuters - Monday, April 30
(Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern pledged to cut taxes and
improve public services as he launched his campaign for a third
consecutive election victory under a cloud of fresh allegations in a
in power since 1997, said Ireland's enviable economic growth and
prosperity could not be taken for granted and further reform would be
"There is no such thing as a patent on success," Ahern
said at a Reuters Newsmaker event, his first major public appearance
since he set May 24 as the date for general elections on Sunday.
have achieved an incredible amount in a short time, but to make sure we
are a success not just today but also in the years ahead, we have to
take the next steps forward."
Ahern faces a tough campaign as
Ireland's flourishing economy begins to slow. Voters are also impatient
with the pace of progress in improving education, health and transport.
polls show Ahern's Fianna Fail party and coalition partner, the
pro-business Progressive Democrats, neck-and-neck with the opposition
Fine Gael and left-leaning Labour Party.
Ahern's campaign launch coincided with new revelations in a payments
scandal that prompted calls for him to quit last year.
Irish Times reported on Monday that businessman Michael Wall gave
30,000 pounds sterling ($59,830) in December 1994 to Ahern's then
partner Celia Larkin to fund work on a house owned by Wall but rented
by Ahern and bought by him three years later.
Ahern was deputy prime minister at the time.
newspaper said the information was revealed in submissions to a
tribunal investigating corrupt planning practices in the 1980s and
Ahern told reporters that the Larkin transaction was appropriate and
he repeated denials of wrongdoing.
apologised in October for accepting money from friends and businessmen
in 1993 and 1994, while finance minister, following separation from his
wife. His apology appeased coalition partners and headed off the calls
for his resignation.
"These things you just have to deal with,"
he said on Monday. "From my point of view it would have been better if
we could have dealt with all these things a few years ago."
speech on the economy at University College Dublin's business school,
the prime minister said he would cut income tax further, reduce
national debt and oppose harmonisation of corporation tax across the
Ireland's low rate of corporation tax has been a key element of its
economic success in recent years.
immigration has also helped drive growth. Immigrants now account for 10
percent of the population, up from about one percent a decade ago.
said Ireland could not continue to absorb immigrants at that rate if it
were to integrate successfully hundreds of thousands of newcomers.
(Additional reporting by Jodie Ginsberg)
MAY 3rd 2007
but it is the minimum required
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
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
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
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 role".
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".
prepared to meet with the UVF representative to discuss how we can work
together in dealing with arms
Independent International Commission on
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
reach and that the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning led by General John de Chastelain had been informed.
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
be seeing this (statement) as a positive thing rather than a negative
The statement also condemned any criminal activity by its members,
said they should "cooperate fully with the lawful authorities in all
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 settled."
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 resistance".
However, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
urged the UVF to work with it to destroy its weaponry.
It said it welcomed the statement, but was "concerned
by their intention to deal with their arms without the involvement of
Secretary Peter Hain welcomed the move as "a further welcome
confirmation that Northern Ireland is emerging into a new and positive
The SDLP's Patsy McGlone said there was "a yawning
credibility gap for the UVF on the issue of targeting and
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:
MAY 8th 2007
It was February 10th 2005 when I started this file with the aim of
showing how the historical process takes place.
In this particular instance. we can see that certain principles of
symmetry are noticeable, with periodic symmetry breaking revealed as
the evolutionary trigger that moves the process forward. It took just
over 2 years from the moment when I felt that the end-game had started.
This judgment involved some interesting ingredients including the age
and life-stage of many of the key players.
Historic return for NI Assembly
Northern Ireland has a new power-sharing government in an historic
day at Stormont.
DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness took office
first and deputy first ministers as five years of direct rule ended.
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern witnessed the creation of the new
Mr Blair said that the day's events offered the chance for Northern
Ireland to "escape the heavy chains of history" and "make history
In October 2002,
allegations of intelligence gathering within Stormont led to the
suspension of power-sharing institutions. A subsequent court case
"Look back and we see centuries pock-marked by
conflict, hardship, even hatred, among the people of these islands,"
the prime minister said.
Mr Paisley said: "Today we are starting upon the road which I
believe will take us to lasting peace in our province."
He added: "I welcome the pledge we have all taken to that effect
today... that is the rock foundation upon which we must build."
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he wished
Ian Paisley all the best as they began "the greatest, yet most
exciting, challenge of our lives".
"We must overcome the difficulties which we face in
order to achieve our goals and seize the opportunities that now exist,"
Mr McGuinness said he was confident he and the DUP leader could
Both Mr McGuinness and Mr Paisley paid tribute to DUP assembly
member George Dawson, who died on Monday evening.
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he was delighted that the
people of Northern Ireland now had a government of their own.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "What today shows is that
when finally you have a government setting a deadline and setting terms
and keeping to them, you can get somewhere."
Irish Premier Bertie Ahern thanked all the politicians
who have been involved in the peace process, but reserved special
praise for Mr Blair.
William Hay was appointed as the new speaker, replacing the
outgoing Eileen Bell.
In nominating the DUP assembly member, Mr Paisley said the speaker
in the next assembly would be from the nationalist community.
Demonstrators protesting against the war in Iraq were forcibly
by police after they attempted to block the arrival of Mr Blair's
The protesters, who
had been standing in front of Parliament Buildings, ran down the hill
to the Carson Statue and lay down on the road.
Ministers from the four main parties took the pledge of office,
which includes support for the police.
The return of devolved government follows an historic meeting in
between Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, where they
agreed to share power.
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said he was confident the
parties would make a go of it.
VIP guests at Stormont included US Senator Ted Kennedy, the DUP
leader's wife Baroness Paisley and Peggy McGuinness, the deputy first
Also attending is Jeanette Ervine, the widow of Progressive
Unionist Party leader David Ervine, who died in January.
The first meeting of the new power-sharing executive is scheduled
for later this week.
Story from BBC NEWS:
I set out below the diary of significant events as published in today's
I have inserted in bold italics
the date of the commencement of my own diary on this subject.
From bloodshed to partnership
June: Elections for power-sharing assembly. UUP leader David Trimble
is First Minister-designate
August: Real IRA car bomb in Omagh kills 29 people in the worst
single attack of the conflict.
December: Devolved government returns to Northern Ireland after 27
years of rule from London.
February: London suspends power-sharing assembly after IRA's failure
May: IRA says it will store weapons. Britain restores power to
July: Trimble resigns over IRA's failure to disarm.
October: Sinn Fein Stormont offices raided by police investigating
an alleged IRA spy ring. Power-sharing suspended after arrest of Sinn
Fein's head of administration.
October: Trimble claims lack of transparency in IRA's disarmament
meant he could not deliver his end of the deal.
November: The DUP emerges as largest party in Assembly elections.
Ian Paisley warns he will not sit in government with republicans until
IRA disarms and disbands.
June: Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern set September
deadline to end an impasse, but talks grind to a halt before the end of
Feb 10th: I
start the diary in this file to set out and record what I believe will
be the end-game
Feb 21st: I
set out in this file the basis of how the proper implementation of the
Good Friday agreement will come about, based on the genuine political
aspirations of the Sinn Fein leadership which will eventually through a
process of symmetry breaking of the stand-off, with the help of the UK
and Irish Government, bring the DUP and even Dr Paisley to face up to
an agreement to permit powersharing rather than rule from Westminster.
April: Sinn Fein calls on the IRA to end its armed campaign after a
series of high-profile crimes.
July: The IRA says it has ordered its members to dump all arms.
September: Independent witnesses confirm the IRA has disarmed.
December: Denis Donaldson confesses to being a British spy.
April: Denis Donaldson is shot dead. The IRA denies involvement.
April 6: Blair and Ahern launch talks for reviving self-rule.
January: Sinn Fein declares it supports the Protestant-dominated
Police Service, a key condition.
March: Paisley and Gerry Adams hold first face-to-face meeting at
Stormont between their parties and announce a deal to revive
power-sharing on 8 May.
The new power structure
Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, was sworn
in yesterday as Northern Ireland's First Minister, leading the first
power-sharing government in the province for five years.
The former IRA member Martin McGuinness, a senior Sinn Fein
negotiator, was sworn in as Deputy First Minister. Both men were
William Hay of the DUP was elected as Speaker.
Mr McGuinness and Mr Paisley will head a power-sharing executive
whose 12 members have been drawn from the four main parties in the
Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.
The 108-seat assembly was set-up under the 1998 Good Friday peace
agreement, but was dogged by arguments over IRA disarmament, and power
was not transferred from London to Belfast until December 1999.
Since then, direct rule from London was reintroduced four times,
most recently in 2002 following allegations of Republican
intelligence-gathering at Stormont.
The Northern Ireland executive will have power over local affairs
including education and health, but London will retain sovereignty over
In the new executive, the DUP has four ministers handling finance,
the economy, environment and culture. Sinn Fein took control of
regional development, agriculture and education. Ulster Unionist
ministers will handle employment and health, while the SDLP has social
MAY 27th 2007
I DON'T THINK THIS WAS IN THE LEAST UNLIKELY. HE DESERVES THE THANKS OF
ALL IRISH CITIZENS AND IS AS CAPABLE AS ANYONE OF DOING THE JOB.
Irish PM achieves 'unlikely' victory
By James Helm
BBC Dublin correspondent
A couple of weeks ago, in the corridors of
Stormont, the seat of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Bertie
Ahern looked happy and relieved.
After 10 years of negotiations and frustrations, a power-sharing
government - something that had at times seemed a distant, unlikely
prospect - had been achieved.
The man known across Ireland simply as "Bertie" told me that, as a
politician, this was "as good as it gets".
For Mr Ahern, the events of the last couple of days may push that
achievement close for top billing. For much of the campaign, he was on
the back foot, criticised and scrutinised, his strategy derided and his
personal credibility called into question.
The polls had, more than once, suggested that voters might dump him
out of office.
The two largest opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour, with
their "Alliance for Change", had suggested that the Irish electorate
had an appetite for new faces and different policies.
Many pundits joined in, asking if this might be the
end of the road for the man who has led Ireland since 1997.
Instead, he has won a remarkable victory, and is heading for a
third term in office.
His personal popularity, which has carried him through tough times
before, has again paid off. The man once dubbed the "Teflon Taoiseach",
because criticism just never seems to stick to him, has done it again.
Mr Ahern may well be feeling pretty satisfied.
So how did Mr Ahern confound the pollsters, the pundits and the
Perhaps it was that personal popularity, or the fact that Irish
voters objected to the questions and scrutiny of Mr Ahern's own
financial dealings back in the 1990s - something those around him
suggested had become a witch hunt.
Or maybe it was a satisfaction with the status quo.
Much of Ireland, though not all, has had it pretty good in recent
years, enjoying rapid economic growth. The campaign focussed on the
state of public services, especially the health system.
But, as some looked down at their ballot papers, they
might have wondered whether it really was the moment to sweep the
current government from power.
Mr Ahern, never one to blow his own trumpet, said Fianna Fail had
done well because of a surge in support among young voters. He also
complained about what he said was an increasingly intrusive media.
Yet in the next couple of weeks Bertie Ahern will have little time
for his favourite leisure pursuits, watching sport or tending his
beloved hanging baskets.
He might allow himself a celebratory pint of his favourite Bass ale
in his north Dublin local, but the pressing task of deciding the shape
of his future government lies ahead.
Thursday's election saw Mr Ahern's Fianna Fail emerge as the
largest party, while the biggest opposition grouping, Fine Gael, made
But the smaller parties - Labour, the Greens, Sinn Fein and the
Progressive Democrats, or PDs - were squeezed. Independents also
Sinn Fein had gone into the election with high hopes, seemingly
riding the crest of a wave after joining the power-sharing government
in Northern Ireland.
But afterwards its president, Gerry Adams, talked of his party
"dusting itself down" and looking at why it failed to build on past
Labour or Greens?
For all its satisfaction, Fianna Fail does not have an overall
majority in the 166-member parliament.
For the past ten years, the right-of-centre PDs have been its
coalition partners. But their support drained away this time round, and
its leader, the controversial Justice Minister Michael McDowell, was
the election's most high-profile casualty.
So the most likely options are that Mr Ahern forms a coalition with
the Labour Party or the Greens. Either way, it means a possible change
of political direction.
Mr Ahern is 55, and has said he will leave active politics when he
turns 60. In his retirement, when he has more time for gardening and
football-watching, he may look back at May 2007 with a great deal of
Story from BBC NEWS:
NOVEMBER 5th 2007 - From Andrew
Marr's "Start the Week" on BBC Radio
book. The historian ROY FOSTER
charts the boom years of Ireland in
his new book, Luck and the Irish,
describing how the society has been transformed by EU money, the
decline in the influence of the Catholic Church and a transformation in
social mores. He explains why he thinks Ireland has become more
protestant with a small 'p' and how partitionism is, in his view, now
entrenched in the Republic. Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of
Change 1970-2000 is published by Allen Lane.
MARCH 4th 2008
Ian Paisley has announced his retirement from the leadership of the DUP
today. Paisley says he will stand down as Northern Ireland's
First Minister and leader of the DUP in May. He will stay on as an MP.
(rightly in my view) decided there would not be a better time to leave.
always said that Ian Paisley was the reason he became an active
Irish Repubiican to oppose all he stood for. I find that
understandable, even though I deplored the violence of the IRA. The
obstinacy of people on both sides was considerable, the rudeness
was confined to Paisley, one of the rudest an most opnionated men who
ever lived. He certainly made it far more difficult for Sinn Fein to
take the political road, but that meant that when he decided he could
indeed sit at the same table, he was the man who made it easy. His
personal violence was confined to the verbal but there is no doubt he
inspired real violence amongst some of his followers.
MARCH 9th 2008
There have been attempts by various commentators to explain the change
of position on Power Sharing of Ian Paisley from "NEVER, NEVER, NEVER,
NEVER!" and his condemnation of the Sunningdale Agreement, the
Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, to
acceptation of the final settlement based on all of the above, most
particularly the first. These attampts have been less than successful,
although they have covered many of the cumulative reasons. I will
therefore put my own interpretation here, as this file was started to
write the history in anticipation of this outcome as it evolved.
Ian Paisley entered politics as a Protestant Presbyterian minister to
rally popular defence against the religious and political influence of
the Roman Catholic Church. His profound dislike of pre-reformation
religion was bolstered by his view that Rome was corrupt, the
corruption extended through Dublin, and that although the IRA was
outlawed in the Irish Republic it was bent on uniting Ireland under a
Catholic regime. For Paisley, his batt;e was against the ultimate evil:
the imposition of a misguided and outdated interpretation of
Christianity under a foreign domination by overtly armed terrorism
financed by enemies of the UK.
One by one, the elements he was opposing were seen to be changing.
The Roman Catholic Church, having played a useful role in ending the
Cold War, became subject to more internal and external examination.
It's credibility as a political threat to secular western democracies
diminished as its vulnerabilities and internal abuses became
increasingly public. The 'Battle against Popery' looked more and more
like tilting at windmills. This would have been a key factor in
Paisley's inner psyche, releasing him from religious paranoia and
freeing him for a pragmatic concentraion on the political battle.
In the political approach to Sinn Fein, Paisley was bypassed and
ignored. Thatcher, Major and finally Blair and their ministers
explained to SinnFein that the future, any future, was in the hands of
the British and Irish Governments, and that these governments would be
acting with the support of the European Union, The United Nations and
very importantly the United States.
Within that framework, very gradually Sinn Fein were able to see it was
in their interest to work with Dublin, Washington and London to achieve
the one thing that Paisley had sworn to deny them for ever: Power
Sharing with the Protestant parties in a Northern Ireland Government.
The conditions were: The public commitment to peaceful political means
to achieve their goal of a United Ireland and the verifiable
decommissioning of all their weapons.
When that was achieved, and Paisley finally saw it coming, he managed
to stage a final rally of the sceptics that put him in the political
driving seat and discredited the 'wets' on the basis that imperfections
and inconsistencies in the position of Sinn Feinand the IRA, along with
the continuation of criminal behaviour, bank robberies etc made it all
However, once in the driving seat, Paisley saw he also had the chance,
and the responsibility, of either bringing self government in NI to a
halt or achieving a settlement with power-sharing government with
himself as First Minister.
It was at this point the obstinate old warhorse met face to face with
the men he thought were the agents of the Devil and found they, just as
he himself, were sincere in their position and representative of their
supporters. He recognised the journey they had been on. He accepted
their change of approach was real because he understood the logic of
Extraordinary as it may seem, both Paisley on the one hand and Adams
and McGuinness on the other, could accept that neither had been
defeated and the battles they had defined at the start had been won.
For Paisley the threat of 'Popery' was dead, the IRA arms were
verifiably put beyond re-use and repair, the armed rebellion was
abandoned. For Sinn Fein, Power Sharing was achieved, their poltical
aims legitimised and past cases of miscarriage of justice opened for
Now, Paisley is retiring. It is possible in a worst case scenario that
as the UK along with the rest of the world hits very difficult times
that old grudges will once again emerge as the reason for present ills.
If that is the case, we will be in for more trouble but not of quite
the same sort. History never repeats itself, it has new trials and
tests for each new generation. Only Paisley could have delivered on the
Protestant Unionest side. Only Adams and McGuinness could have
delivered on the Sinn Fein IRA side. Let us hope their followers do not
have to manufacture a new ideological, religious or political struggle
to prove their manhood or avenge those who have died.
APRIL 2nd 2008 11.00am
Listening to Bertie Ahern's speech announcing his resignation in May is
one of the saddest moments I have experienced for many years. This man
should not be resigning at all. That is all I have to say for now
except that he was and remains a grand fellow who has led an excellent
government with some excellent colleagues and should have been able to
retire without the slightest stain on his character, I am sure there is
nothing wrong with his personal finances and any gifts he received were
well merited and allowed him to survive in politics to the greater good
of all. If you sense that I am pissed off, you are right.
JUNE 12th 2008
This is ridiculous. AFP extract below indicates fools and rascals
breeding in Old Erin, or are they exiles from other countries? - I
can't believe they number the majority of voters but unless there is a
big majority to ratify the Lisbon Treaty my respect for the current
inhabitants is set to decline.
Ireland votes in knife-edge EU poll
by Katherine Haddon
Ireland is voting in a knife-edge referendum on the European Union's
new reform treaty Thursday, threatening to plunge the 27-nation bloc
into new crisis if it is rejected.
Prime Minister Brian Cowen voiced confidence that the country's three
million voters would back the Lisbon Treaty, despite recent opinion
polls indicating that the result is too close to call .
"I'm happy, I've led it the very best way I possibly could, I did it
from the front, I've gone all over the country, I've put the issues,"
he told reporters. Asked if he was nervous, he said: "No, I'm
But EU leaders are anxiously watching Ireland's voters after a late
surge of opposition, despite an all-out "Yes" campaign led by Cowen and
backed by all bar one of the main parties.
Ireland is the only EU member holding a public vote on the Lisbon
Treaty, which replaced a draft EU constitution after its rejection by
French and Dutch voters in 2005.
JUNE 13 2008
This is pathetic. I would hope the wreckers could be made to pay the
cost of their idiotic decison but I suppose it is wrong to make the 45%
who voted yes to suffer. We shall proceed as usual carrying the fools
along in spite of the fate they deserve. Sinn Fein's campaign was
unforgivable and so was the attitude of those who didn't bother to
vote. The one unanswerable criticism of the campaign against the Lisbon
Treaty is that its advocates had to base their case on lies.
Garbage-in-garbage-out will get the wrong answer even from a computer.
Ireland rejects Lisbon Treaty
Ireland has plunged the European Union into chaos by
rejecting the Lisbon Treaty.
result puts plans to overhaul the European Union's institutions in
peril and is a humiliating result for Ireland's political leaders.
The result of the vote was announced at Dublin Castle in the Irish
capital amid jubilant scenes from a crowd of 'No' voters.
Official results revealed 53.4 per cent opposed the pact and 46.6
per cent voted in favour of it.
The count showed 862,415 people voted 'No' while 752,451 voted
'Yes'. Turnout was 53.1 per cent of the electorate.
victory means a country with fewer than 1 per cent of the EU's 490
million population could derail a treaty negotiated over years by
leaders of all 27 member states.
Ireland is one of the most
pro-European countries in the bloc and the only one to hold a
referendum on the treaty, which replaces an EU constitution rejected by
Dutch and French voters in 2005.
The treaty, intended to make the
EU stronger and more effective, had the backing of the three main
political parties in Ireland, which has prospered under EU membership.
Farmers' groups, businesses and many unions also backed it.
Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, the only party to oppose the Lisbon
accord, said: "I think that's a very positive thing. "It was very much
a David and Goliath contest - and in this case Goliath lost again."
expert Professor Matt Qvortrup said the legal position is that the
treaty will collapse if any member state votes it down.
But officials in France, which takes over the EU presidency in
weeks, have said work on the treaty could continue.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged other EU states into
ratifying the treaty after the surprise 'No' vote was confirmed.
Eighteen countries have already ratified the Lisbon Treaty and it
was due to come into force on January 1 if all nations agreed.
THIS FILE WAS STARTED ON FEBRUARY 10th
2005 TO CHRONICLE, AS
IT HAPPENED, THE END OF THE 40 YEARS TROUBLES THAT STARTED IN 1960 AND
THE MOVE TO POLITICAL
ACTION IN THE PLACE OF VIOLENCE. IT CAN THEREFORE COME TO AN END NOW ON
JUNE 13th 2008 FOR
THE MOMENT. IT WILL REMAIN IN PLACE FOR THE RECORD AND TO RECEIVE NOTES
SHOULD ANOTHER HISTORICAL PAGE OF NOTE BE TURNED.
NOVEMBER 2nd 2008
Robinson: fix the economy to help devolution survive
Robinson warns party conference as confidential
power-sharing talks with Sinn Fein continue
The next few weeks will be
critical for the survival of devolution in Northern Ireland, First
Minister Peter Robinson warned yesterday.
With the Democratic
Unionists and Sinn Fein still involved in confidential talks about
restoring the power-sharing Executive at Stormont, the DUP leader told
his annual conference that the Cabinet would have to meet to salvage
the Province's economy.
Speaking at the DUP's conference in
Armagh, Robinson said: 'In a few weeks' time I hope that we will be
able to bring a package of measures to the Executive and Assembly to
get through the present difficulties and to build for the future. We
must alleviate short-term hardship, boost our construction industry and
ensure we keep our employment levels.
'I have no doubt that how
this Executive deals with the present economic crisis will be the
yardstick by how devolution as a whole will be judged.'
Executive has not met since June this year because Sinn Fein refuses to
sit in Cabinet. Sinn Fein wants a firm date for the implementation of
the final phase of devolution - the transfer of policing and justice
powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Officially the DUP
refuses to comment on reports of fresh negotiations with Sinn Fein but
it is understood talks, which only ended in the early hours of Friday
morning, were focused on finding a compromise over policing and
The DUP's annual conference was held on the eve of a
controversial homecoming parade in Belfast for local soldiers in
British Army regiments. Dissident republicans have told The Observer
they plan to disrupt today's rally, despite calls from Gerry Adams for
'troublemakers' to stay away.
Dissident republican sources said
they rejected pleas on Friday night from community groups closely
linked to Sinn Fein to re-route their protest rallies. Two
organisations - Eirigi and the Irish Republican Socialist Party - are
holding separate demonstrations today against the army march.
will be a huge security operation around Belfast city centre this
morning to cope with the thousands expected at the homecoming rally.
Among the crowds cheering on the returning troops will be several
hundred loyalists. The Observer has learnt that both the Ulster
Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association has ordered all its
members to attend the march. There are fears among the security forces
of clashes breaking out between the loyalist and the dissident
It follows a series of bomb alerts
yesterday afternoon in Larne and Glenavy near Lisburn. One hoax closed
the Larne-to-Whitehead line in east Antrim.
At the DUP
conference Robinson used his speech to attack Sinn Fein's decision to
hold a demonstration against the homecoming military parade.
bitterly regret Sinn Fein has chosen to hold a counter-parade and
protest but their backward-looking approach must not be allowed to mar
The DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister
took to the stage yesterday to the strains of The Verve's 'Bitter Sweet
Symphony' and a standing ovation from 500 delegates.
delegates that while republicanism and unionism remained incompatible,
'that doesn't mean that there are not issues upon which we can agree'.
First Minister stressed that the DUP was in favour of the Assembly
taking control of policing and justice but only when there was
community support for it.
Robinson added: 'The conflict as we
have known it is over; the union is secure and the people of Northern
Ireland once again have control over their own affairs.'
Addressing nationalists Robinson said his aim was 'to build a better
society for everyone in Northern Ireland'.
Gerry Adams' remarks deploring the
homecoming parade of soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan mark a new
low in this man's perfomance. The laudable part he played in bringing
the peace process to a successful concluison has gven way to a
political personality that has degenerated to the bottom of the barrel.
That the families and friends of these men should not expect a public
parade to mark their return is absurd and Adam's remarks disgusting.
They are not referred to in the BBC report below. I am glad to say that
supporters of the parade hugely outnumbered objectors and the police
kept them apart.
city for forces' parade
A homecoming parade for soldiers returning from Iraq and
Afghanistan has passed off peacefully in Belfast.
Thousands of people, many waving Union flags, cheered as the parade
made its through the city centre.
Police have estimated that there were around 30,000 people at the
event, either supporting or protesting against it.
Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said there had been just
one arrest so far - a 16-year-old youth.
However, ACC Finlay said officers were "continuing to look at video
About 250 members of the armed forces took part in the main parade,
including soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment, Irish Guards, Royal
Dragoon Guards and the Territorial Army.
A number of protest events were held in different parts of the
Sinn Féin protesters took part in a demonstration against the
Army's role in the Troubles. This assembled at Dunville Park in west
Belfast and made its way to the city centre, close to where the forces
parade was taking place.
At one point, Sinn Féin protesters and supporters of the
parade were less than 100m apart.
There were brief skirmishes, however, police moved in to restore
ACC Finlay said the police "acknowledged the significant effort, in
conjunction with parade and protest organisers and political and
community representatives, that has gone into the planning of today's
A car windscreen was damaged by a firework on the
Westlink. Fireworks were also thrown in Royal Avenue and York Street,
and stones were thrown by youths in the Divis Street area.
A police officer was hit with a can in Fisherwick Place.
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice, which held a protest,
families were targeted by loyalists throwing bottles.
Police stopped a separate dissident republican counter
parade from marching into the centre of Belfast at the bottom of the
Falls Road. They dispersed after a number of speeches were made.
Several thousand people walked down the Shankill Road with banners
welcoming the soldiers.
Sinn Féin said it was inappropriate to mark the homecoming
British troops were responsible for the deaths of Catholic civilians
during the Troubles.
But unionists said the Army had every right to walk the
streets of Belfast. They said that the changes made to the parade meant
troops in Northern Ireland would receive a different welcome home than
soldiers elsewhere in the UK.
Major General Chris Brown, the General Officer Commanding in
Northern Ireland, said the parade was a "fitting tribute".
"It's been an entirely appropriate welcome home for the troops after
arduous tour in Afghanistan and, for some of them, in Iraq," he said.
"Thanks very much to the efforts of Belfast city
council and also, what a turn out from the city of Belfast, and thanks
to all the support that we had to do this."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Republican dissidents are more active than at any time in the
and a half years, the Independent Monitoring Commission has said.
The body, which monitors paramilitary activity, said dissidents are
directing their efforts to kill PSNI officers.
In its 20th report the IMC said dissidents have "engineered" public
disorder to expose officers to attack.
It said the current political vacuum in Northern Ireland is likely
being exploited by the groups.
In its report to the British and Irish governments, the IMC said
dissidents had sought to raise tensions with loyalists during the
It said in previous years, when one group was active, another would
be less so.
"In the past few months the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA have
been more active at the same time," the report said.
"One possible reason for this may be a perception that the absence
progress on the devolution of justice and policing has created a
political vacuum, or may have caused disaffection among republican
supporters, which the dissidents think they are able to exploit."
As in its last assessment, the report once again
confirms, that the Provisional IRA had maintained an "exclusively
On the subject of loyalists, the IMC said that although
some loyalists want to make progress, they still had work to do
especially in the area of decommissioning and that progress had been
The report covered the period between 1 March and the end of
Responding to it, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said society in
Northern Ireland has clearly and decisively moved on but that
challenges remain to secure an end to paramilitarism.
"That process would be greatly enhanced by the devolution of
policing and justice powers," he said.
The Republic's justice minister, Dermot Ahern, said dissident
republicans had no mandate and represented only themselves.
"Members of these groups need to leave behind their failed ideology,
move on and join the rest of the people of this island in rejecting
violence," he said.
DUP assembly member William McCrea dismissed the link between
political deadlock and dissident violence.
"I cannot agree with anyone who suggests that dissident republicans
rioting in the streets, shooting at the police and planting bombs
because they want to see the immediate devolution of policing and
justice powers to the Stormont assembly," he said.
Ulster Unionist Tom Elliot said the report made "grim reading".
"We certainly owe the security forces a great deal of thanks, but
the potential for more attacks a reality we also need to give them our
full support as they work to uphold the peace," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/11/10 12:03:42 GMT
N Ireland secretary Shaun
Woodward: 'Politics has triumphed once again'
The DUP and Sinn Féin have come to an agreement on the
policing and justice powers designed to bring a 152-day deadlock at
Stormont to an end.
first and deputy first ministers have set out a series of steps to be
taken before policing and justice can be devolved.
The executive will meet on Thursday, 20 November, and on a weekly
basis until business is up-to-date, they said.
There is no timetable, but both parties are committed to completing
Under a special clause, temporary arrangements for electing a
minister will be replaced by permanent rules by May 2012.
Speaking at a news conference at Stormont, First
Minister Peter Robinson said there had been "a satisfactory resolution
of the most difficult issues".
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said "significant progress"
had been made.
Both ministers said they wanted devolution to happen "without undue
"We are both agreed that policing and justice functions should be
devolved, every leading politician in this community is committed to
this outcome," Mr McGuinness said.
"The agreement we have reached represents a very satisfactory
resolution of the most difficult issues relating to the modalities of
transferring power and meets all of the publicly expressed concerns,"
Mr Robinson said.
"We believe these arrangements are capable of gaining the confidence
the community and we look to the prime minister to make good his
commitment of helping to resolve the financial arrangements relating to
the devolution of these powers."
The DUP and Sinn Féin had been at odds over when the
assembly should take these powers.
A new attorney general is to be appointed for Northern Ireland
under the agreement.
Currently, the attorney general for England and Wales also holds
the post for Northern Ireland.
The two ministers have announced they are "minded to invite" John
Larkin QC to take the post.
Story from BBC NEWS:
By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor
Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward called it "historic",
Taoiseach Brian Cowen described it as "the final piece of the jigsaw".
But although it points
the way to the completion of devolution, the latest agreement between
the DUP and Sinn Féin still leaves a number of questions
One informed source told me the
transfer of powers would take months, not years
The biggest question is when a new Northern Ireland
justice minister will be appointed.
For nearly five months, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of
Féin refused to allow executive meetings to take place.
His complaint was the DUP's alleged failure to implement the St
Andrews Agreement of 2006.
His demand was that they should set a definite date for the
devolution of policing and justice powers.
The DUP insisted that it was not them but the government which had
at St Andrews the date of May 2008 for devolving justice.
The identification of a future
attorney general serves to emphasise that this is not just an exercise
DUP leader Peter Robinson contended that his party had
not signed up for any timetable.
The latest agreement contains a "process paper", setting out six
of actions which will have to be completed before the transfer of
justice powers can take place.
There is no timeline spelled out in black and white.
However, one informed source told me the transfer of powers would
take months, not years.
The identification of a future attorney general, barrister John
serves to emphasise that this is a real process, not just an exercise
The method of appointing a justice minister which the
DUP and Sinn Féin have settled on is a cross-community vote in
assembly, with a majority both of unionists and of nationalists
required to back a successful candidate.
This is the same system which they deemed acceptable back in the
However, in the intervening period the parties had haggled over
the cross-community election would be permanent or temporary.
The DUP wanted the cross-community support to be required "at all
The eventual choice of justice
minister will no doubt be subject to some careful political
Having signed a letter containing this phrase, Sinn
Féin baulked at the
notion, insisting it should only apply for the first justice
The solution to this row has been the inclusion of what is
known as a "sunset clause" ensuring that the system must be reviewed by
All the existing ministries are handed out one-by-one
according to the D'Hondt mathematical formula which is related to the
parties' strength in the assembly.
For the DUP it was important that the sensitive justice
job was not put into this mix in order to ensure that the portfolio
could not go to a republican with an IRA background, like the current
junior minister Gerry Kelly.
The cross-community vote has put the middle of the road Alliance in
But Mr McGuinness says he is not ruling out the SDLP and,
theoretically at least, the UUP could also put up a candidate.
Given that the DUP and Sinn Féin have the votes to determine
minister will be, the eventual choice will no doubt be subject to some
careful political calculations.
As the legislation setting up the new justice
department moves through Stormont and Westminster, next year's European
elections will loom closer.
Voters will now be impatient to
see some evidence that devolution can work
This is significant because the DUP's arch critic, Jim
Allister, will be defending his seat against his former colleagues.
Much of the DUP's sensitivity over the transfer of powers has been
related to the MEP's focus on the potential for a republican say in
The DUP has written into the agreed process for transferring
policing and justice the need for confidence-building.
They will want to establish in the unionist mind that the new
minister will not be a republican.
They will also have to decide whether to push ahead with the
before the June European election or wait until later in the year.
Whilst most people can be forgiven for not being
especially interested in the details of how and when a justice minister
will be appointed, some of the issues which have been delayed during
the past five months will need no explanation.
Decisions on fuel poverty and rural planning are not within the
scope of the latest agreement.
But with the Northern Ireland Executive now pledged to hold weekly
meetings until its backlog has been cleared, voters will now be
impatient to see some evidence that devolution can work.
Story from BBC NEWS:
MARCH 9th 2009
There has been a desperate attempt to turn back the clock by the Real
IRA, in response to a warning from the NI Police Chief that dissidents
were indeed planning an attack. He asked for support from intelligence
professionals from the UK to pre-empt it. The reslt was to precipitate
it and today the Real IRA has admitted responsibility. The attack has
been condemned roundly by Sinn Fein as counterproductive and an attempt
to restart a war that is over and done with. The Real IRA have tried to
justify their action in saying they were no longer targetting
civilians. If that were true, it might be said to be progress; but
there is little likelyhood. Nevertheless they will not gain followers
either way. It is just sad that two fine soldiers have had to lose
their lives to prove this.
are the Real IRA?
The dissident republican group the Real IRA has said it carried
gun attack at an Army barracks in Antrim in which two soldiers were
The group was born out
of a split in the mainstream Provisional IRA (PIRA) in October 1997,
when the PIRA's so-called quartermaster-general resigned over Sinn
Fein's embrace of the peace process.
The man who walked out was Michael McKevitt, who is now
serving a jail sentence for terrorist-related offences in the Irish
McKevitt is married to Bernadette Sands McKevitt, a sister of
hunger striker and Republican idol Bobby Sands.
It is thought the Real IRA has access to some explosives and
detonators which once belonged to the PIRA.
Shortly after its formation, the paramilitary group quickly took
from the older Continuity IRA as the leading home for dissidents.
However, the security forces believe the two organisations have
co-operated in a number of attacks.
The Real IRA was responsible for the Omagh bombing as well as a
of other attacks, including bombings in London and Birmingham.
According to the latest report from the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC), the body appointed by the British and
Irish governments to report on the activities of paramilitaries, it
continues efforts to "enhance its organisational capability".
In the six-month period covered by the November 2008
report, the Real IRA had "sought to recruit, though with limited
success, and it trained members, including in weapons use and
"It was eager to recruit disgruntled members of PIRA
though we do not have information indicating that it has any material
success," continued the report.
"Like other dissidents, it undertook targeting, mainly
of security force personnel, and it gathered information about them."
"It continued to seek weapons from associates, criminals and from
overseas as well as by manufacturing them itself."
In a brutal attack in April (2008) RIRA members burst into a victim's
home in Belfast and shot him in both legs; arrests and weapon finds
followed this incident ”
With regards to specific attacks, the report stated: "In May (2008)
PSNI officer was seriously injured by an explosive device detonated
under his car; RIRA claimed responsibility.
"In the same month it also claimed responsibility for
an incendiary device which caused damage to a store in Cookstown
(County Tyrone) and for another at a store in Lurgan (County Armagh).
"We believe RIRA was responsible for two incendiary
devices which caused some damage at a restaurant in Cookstown, again in
May, though on this occasion the organisation did not claim
The report continued: "In a brutal attack in April
(2008) RIRA members burst into a victim's home in Belfast and shot him
in both legs; arrests and weapon finds followed this incident.
"Two other vicious RIRA shootings occurred in June
(2008), and members of the Real IRA also assaulted a Sinn Fein MLA in
MARCH 10th 2009
Now a policeman has been shot in his car in the course of going to a
call for assistance. The "Continuity IRA" has clained responsibility.
The good news is that there is no way we are gong back to troops on the
streets. The perpetrators will certainly be caught and brought to
trial. What we must ensure is that justice is effectively administered.
Martin McGuinness spoke for all when he described these murderers as
traitors to the island of Ireland.
APRIL 13th 2009
Arrests have been made and now we will have a period of trouble withe
he Real IRA, but there is no chance that the will have the support of
The Real IRA has said they will attack
British forces "wherever and whenever" they decide.
The statement comes just a day after they
told Ireland's Sunday Tribune they would carry out attacks in mainland
They told the paper they would attack Britain "when it becomes more
Real IRA Army council member said to the paper: "We're looking for
high-profile targets, though we'll obviously take advantage when other
targets present themselves."
At a rally in Londonderry the
spokesman also admitted that they were responsible for the murder of
former British spy Denis Donaldson.
He said: "Denis Donaldson was
a traitor and the leadership of the Provisional movement, under
guidance from the British Government, had made provisions for Donaldson
to escape republican justice.
"No traitor will escape justice regardless of time, rank, or past
actions. The republican movement has a long memory."
Donaldson was murdered at a remote cottage in Ireland three years
ago. Until now, nobody knew who killed him or why they did it.
The spokesman also threatened Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin
McGuiness who has labelled the group "traitors".
IRA spokesman said: "Let us remind our former comrade of the
actions of a traitor. Treachery is collaborating with the enemy,
treachery is betraying your country. Let us give our one-time comrade
Former IRA member Sean O Callaghan told Sky News: "It would be silly
to exaggerate their support.
the same time what you have is a group of people who are very,
determined to kill soldiers, to kill policemen, to plant bombs and to
disrupt North Ireland. But I suspect their support is within the
hundreds not the thousands.
"The IRA and Sinn Fein can't, as in
days gone by, go out to intimidate these people. They're caught and the
dissidents are aware of this so they have become bolder.
we have a united Ireland we have to accept that there will be people
calling themselves Irish republicans who will kill soldiers to make it
JUNE 27th 2009
About time too. This could take the heat out of the marching season. It
is not the business of political movements to run militia. The attacks
reported above are a matter for the police and the courts
Loyalist weapons put 'beyond use'
Two Northern Ireland loyalist paramilitary groups have said
they have completed decommissioning.
The UVF and Red Hand Commando said their weapons and explosives
were "totally and irreversibly beyond use".
Another loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association, confirmed
it had started to decommission its arsenal.
NI Secretary Shaun Woodward said it was "an historic day for
Ireland". Between them, the UDA and UVF killed almost 1,000 people in
Four years ago, the IRA put its weapons beyond use in
decommissioning witnessed by two churchmen.
On Saturday, the UVF and the UDA said they had both engaged in
"historic acts" of decommissioning.
The leadership of the UVF/RHC said its disarmament process was
by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD)
and in front of international witnesses.
It said the process had begun last
Autumn but had been
"suspended" following the dissident republican killings of a policeman
and two soldiers in March.
The process resumed after
government assurances were given "that those responsible would be
The leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party, Dawn
said the "war is over", adding Saturday was a "momentous day".
She said it showed that "peaceful, stable, inclusive democracy" was
the way forward.
She added: "Eventually loyalists and republicans must sit down for
the good of our country, if we claim to be patriots."
PUP representative Billy Hutchinson, who was a UVF prisoner, said
the move "cements the peace process".
In a separate statement, the UDA confirmed it had started a process
that would lead to the destruction of all its arms.
It said an act of decommissioning had been overseen by General John
De Chastelain's decommissioning body.
It said: "There is no place for guns and violence in the new society
are building. It is time to work for a better future."
Frankie Gallagher, from the Ulster Political Research
Group (UPRG), which has links with the UDA, denied they were
negotiating a pay-off to complete decommissioning.
"This is a process that we believe has to be done for the right
reasons," he said.
The decommissioning body later confirmed that it had witnessed a
decommissioning event involving arms belonging to the UDA and the
Ulster Freedom Fighters.
"This is a significant move and we look forward to
completing the process of putting all UDA/UFF arms beyond use at an
early opportunity," a spokesperson said.
The latest decommissioning comes ahead of Mr Woodward's August
deadline for significant progress on loyalist arms.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Woodward said: "I have always kept faith
the peace and political process of which the decommissioning
legislation has played a crucial part."
The decommissioning moves by the loyalist paramilitary
groups were broadly welcomed by the majority of Northern Ireland's
First Minister Peter Robinson said:"I fully welcome
this decision by each of the loyalist groups. I believe they have taken
the right step, both for their own communities and for Northern Ireland
as a whole. "
Story from BBC NEWS:
[an error occurred while processing this directive][an error occurred while processing this directive]
OCTOBER 3rd 2009
It was ridiculous to even contemplate that once the Lisbon Treaty was
explained to the Irish public that they would not have got off their
arses and made damned sure the YES vote triumphed emphatically. True
there were some who voted YES for the wrong reasons, i.e. out of fear
in a recession. They were balanced by those voting NO out if fear, such
as Sinn Fein, who disappointed me again in their negative campaign. "We
ourselves" is what Sinn Fein means, but there is no reason that 'we'
cannot now confidently join the body politic and take part in the
organic, democratic symbiosis that is required by nature if we are to
achieve Green Growth and a sustainable future. The fearful voters
balanced each other out, leaving the positive thinkers to make the
clear and decisive decision. This evening I hear some sad voice
suggested a third referendum, to make the decision 'the best out of
three'. Poor sap, the third one would be an utter wipeout for the NO
voters as their arguments are now so discredited their position is
blown and their good faith with it. In the UK, Cameron knows the game
is up too. Our future depends on the EU being run properly. That
requires full UK and Irish participation and well he knows it.
Ireland backs EU's Lisbon Treaty
Irish voters have strongly endorsed the European Union's Lisbon
- 16 months after their first vote rejecting it plunged EU reforms into
About 67% voted "Yes",
official results from the latest referendum showed. Irish Prime
Minister Brian Cowen hailed a "clear and resounding" endorsement.
Political leaders across the EU have also welcomed the result.
The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said
it was a great day for Europe.
He urged the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic - the only
countries yet to ratify Lisbon - to sign the treaty as soon as
“ The Czech president today sent a message that
in a sense was telling the Tories not to depend on a Czech delay
Gavin Hewitt BBC Europe Editor
The treaty - which is aimed at streamlining decision-making in the
27-nation bloc - cannot take effect until all 27 member states ratify
According to final results, 67.1% of Irish voters
approved it, while 32.9% voted "No". Turnout in the three-million
electorate was 58%.
The parliaments of Poland and the Czech Republic have
approved the treaty and Polish President Lech Kaczynski is expected to
sign it in the coming days.
But the Czech Republic's Eurosceptic President, Vaclav
Klaus, said he would not sign the treaty until his country's
Constitutional Court had pronounced on its validity.
Creates new post of EU president (President of
New post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs
More decisions by majority vote, rather than
Ratified by all member states except Czech Republic,
Ireland and Poland
Only Ireland held a referendum on it
Took a decade of negotiations
Was intended to take effect in January 2009
Ireland was the only EU member state to hold a referendum on Lisbon,
though there have been calls for referendums in several countries.
"The Irish people have spoken with a clear and
resounding voice," Mr Cowen said in a brief statement to reporters. "It
is a good day for Ireland and a good day for Europe.
"The Irish people showed an Ireland embracing her future with
Europe," he said.
The Irish anti-Lisbon group Coir said on Saturday: "We are extremely
disappointed that the voice of the people was not heard the first time
EU hails 'victory'
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country currently holds
EU presidency, called the vote "an important victory for Ireland and
for all of Europe".
He said it was just a matter of time until the EU
"finally can push the button for the better European co-operation that
the Lisbon Treaty will give us".
Irish opinion is thought to have swung behind the "Yes" vote this
because of the severity of the economic downturn, as well as the legal
"guarantees" on Irish sovereignty that the EU pledged after the first
The legally binding "guarantees" state that Lisbon will
not affect key areas of Irish sovereignty, such as taxation, military
neutrality and family matters such as abortion - significant issues in
last year's campaign in Ireland. But they have not yet been attached to
The treaty is intended to make EU institutions better suited to the
enlarged bloc of 27.
But opponents see it as part of a federalist agenda that threatens
In last year's vote, 46.6% of Irish voted "Yes" and 53.4% "No", and
rejection of the treaty plunged the EU into political gridlock.
All of the republic's major parties campaigned for a
"Yes" vote except the nationalist Sinn Fein. The party believes
rejecting the treaty would mean a more democratic EU.
Story from BBC NEWS:
OCTOBER 12th 2009
Yesterday the Irish National Liberation Army, a small but deadly group
of terrorists, declared they intend to decommission their weapons and
cease operations. This another step towards a peaceful Noerthern
Ireland. Today, Hilary Clinton is lending her voice to encourage the
unblocking of a sticking point on the devolution of policing and
'won't meddle' pledges Clinton
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the devolution
policing and justice powers is an issue for the Northern Ireland
"The Obama administration and the United States is committed to
helping you on your journey," she said.
"But when it comes to the important issue of the devolution of
and justice, that is a decision for this assembly to take."
Mrs Clinton was addressing MLAs at Parliament buildings on Monday.
"As a true friend, my hope is that you will achieve what you set out
do... to complete the process of devolution," she told assembly
She was speaking as talks to transfer policing and justice powers
The financing of the deal on those powers has been a major sticking
point in recent weeks, with a series of intensive talks held between
Gordon Brown and NI's leaders.
A letter detailing Mr Brown's financial offer to pay
for the devolution move was delivered to NI's first and deputy first
ministers on Monday.
Mrs Clinton's address followed talks with the the ministers at
ANALYSIS Gareth Gordon, BBC News, Belfast
Hillary Clinton delivered a carefully worded speech praising the
progress that has been made.
But she warned that peace and economic progress go hand in hand and
that the global economic downturn threatened some of the gains made in
the past decade.
It was not the US's intention, she said, to meddle in
the devolution of policing and justice but she made clear what she
wanted to happen.
At the end, she was given a standing ovation although two DUP MPs
did not take part.
William McCrea and Gregory Campbell left while the rest of the
chamber was on its feet applauding.
DUP First Minister Peter Robinson welcomed the US Secretary of
State saying that Northern Ireland had "come a long way".
"Of course there are difficulties, but we are committed to making
it work," he said.
The Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, said
Clinton had been "a true friend" to Northern Ireland, offering strong
intellectual, emotional and political support.
After discussions on policing and justice at Downing
Street on Thursday, Mr McGuinness had said all sides were "on the cusp
of agreement" on policing.
Mr Robinson said the recent negotiations with the prime
minister had won "millions of pounds" more for the policing and justice
However, Mr Robinson has made clear that finance is not the only
He said there also needs to be confidence among the unionist
community that the time is right to devolve the powers.
Whilst the DUP have welcomed Mrs Clinton's visit, they have made it
clear that her presence will not pressure them into reaching a deal.
After her speech at Stormont Mrs Clinton attended an
engagement with business leaders at Queen's University before moving
onto a civic reception at Belfast City Hall.
Coinciding with her visit, US software company NaviNet
announced its new £4.4m research centre in Belfast would create
over three years.
BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport
said Mrs Clinton seemed to be linking the prospect of further US
investment with achieving the devolution of policing and justice.
"When the Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward
tried something similar he was met with a fairly scornful response from
the DUP," our correspondent added.
"The Americans are still pushing that message, maybe in a slightly
more nuanced way than Shaun Woodward."
Story from BBC NEWS:
JANUARY 06 2010 The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) says it has put its
weapons beyond use.
About time. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8442683.stm
JANUARY 08 2010 Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson is coming
increased political pressure over allegations about his wife's
financial affairs. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8448005.stm
Peter Robinson has no reason whatsoever to resign. If his own party
does not support him it will be a disaster as there are enough probles
without this. We need stability and progress on devolved policing. I
cannt see the majority of the N.I. public tolerating any messing around
here. No enquiries of any sort are required as far as Peter Robinson is
concerned. His wife's affairs were nothing to do with him. The DUP has
been dragging its feet disgracefully. If they use this to make more
trouble and delay they will be held answerable.
JAN 09 - It seems Robinson's wife is so discredited now and so exposed
as a political and moral hypocrite that her husband cannot possiblly
carry this baggage and remain in his job. His successor is likely to
make a worse job of keeping the peace process going. The outlook is
unbelieveably grim unless people on all sides rise to the occasion
FEBRUARY 5th 2010
It appears those on both sides did rise to the occasion. An agreement
has been reached on policing. It is not a fudge, it is progess, and the
review agreed on the Parades Committee is sensible. Of course there
will be hiccups and more items of contention in the future, but this
was real progress reached for the right reasons. Robinson has had legal
advice he is clear of any wrong doing by his wife. Amazingly it seems
he can weather this at least for the moment. I have to modify my
judgment of Jan 09 on his chances of hanging on.
MARCH 09 2010
There are lots of thigs that need fixing, and the objections of the UUP
have some substance, but it must be right to move forward and fix the
problems without holding up the devolution of policing and justice.
They were effectively devolved anyway, this confirms the position.
PM hails 'historic' justice vote
The devolution of policing and justice powers to Northern
Ireland marks the end to decades of strife, Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Out of the 105 votes cast in the NI Assembly, a total of 88
supported the move, with 17 against.
Mr Brown said the politics of progress had now replaced politics of
"It sends the most powerful message to those who would return to
violence: that democracy and tolerance will prevail," he said.
"The courage and leadership of the parties who voted to complete
devolution at Stormont will be noted around the world."
Policing and justice powers will now be devolved on 12 April after
a 38-year gap.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said devolving the powers was
an important step in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for
"I encourage all parties to work together in a spirit of
cooperation and compromise as they continue the road toward a full and
lasting peace," she said.
"The United States stands with the people of Northern Ireland in
their efforts to build and sustain a thriving, confident, and shared
Disagreement on the timing of the devolution of the justice powers
had threatened to collapse Northern Ireland's power-sharing
In February, Northern Ireland's two main parties, the DUP and Sinn
Fein, reached an agreement which, now the vote has been passed, will
see a justice minister elected.
The Hillsborough Agreement allows for the first and deputy first
ministers to identify a candidate who would command cross-community
support in the assembly.
As expected, the Ulster Unionist Party voted against the powers
being devolved, however, Tuesday's motion received the necessary
cross-community consent to be passed.
All 44 of the nationalist assembly members backed the vote, while
35 out of 52 unionists also supported it.
Nine other members, including the Alliance Party's MLAs, also voted
in support of the powers being devolved.
' Defining moment'
DUP leader and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson
accused the UUP of seeking political advantage by voting against the
"I believe it is time for us all to move forward," he said.
"There must be no going back to the bad old days of the past.
"Throughout history there are times of challenge and defining
moments. This is such a time. This is such a moment."
UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said his party did not believe the time
was right for policing and justice powers to be devolved.
"We are a party for the devolution of justice, but it is the
conditions to which we are coming," he said.
"We have not had a single solitary discussion at leadership level
of what we are going to do with policing and justice.
"It is a bit like doing your driving test without doing your
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly described the "overwhelming vote" as a
"huge step forward for the people of the north and throughout Ireland".
"It's unfortunate that the UUP were entirely out of line. We will
move ahead and it was a huge vote to move ahead on," he said.
SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie said her party's vote for the
devolution of policing and justice powers was not an endorsement of the
She said: "The SDLP still had serious concerns about the integrity
of the process and the gerrymandering of the justice ministry."
Alliance leader David Ford said it had been a momentous day for
"This is the start of the process which will see politics here come
of age," he added.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron said his party had long
supported the devolution of policing and justice powers.
He said: "Concerns about the functioning of the executive as a
genuine four-party coalition prevented the Ulster Unionists from
backing today's vote, and I hope these will now be resolved in a spirit
of genuine partnership."
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said it was a good day for the
island of Ireland.
"For the first time, we can look forward to policing and justice
powers being exercised by democratic institutions on a cross-community
basis in Northern Ireland," he said.
PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said devolving the powers would
help achieve a peaceful society in Northern Ireland.
"It will help to ensure that communities receive the policing
service that not only they deserve, but that we are committed to
delivering," he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:
JUNE 14th 2010
The Saville enquiry reports tomorrow. It cost £200 million.
Unfortunately it was necessary, a part of the peace process. Innocent
people were killed on Bloody Sunday, by an army that was initially
deployed to protect the Catholic
community. I hope and believe that, if
there are prosecutions, that as part of the same peace process the same
mitigation will apply to any sentencing as was afforded to IRA members.
That should apply at all levels.
JUNE 15th 2010
The Saville Report on 'Bloody Sunday' is published. Says the shootings
unjustified, the victims innocent. Cameron makes a formal apology. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/10320609.stm
It is pointed out by others that there were many killings by the IRA
before Bloody Sunday, that armed IRA were almost certainly present.
However the fact remains that those shot were innocent civilians
protesting against internment.
Internment was used because of the impossibility of getting witnesses
As we can see, this argument is circular but the Widgery report was
effectively a whitewash as it accepted the version of justified
shooting at those who were killed, and the Saville Enquiry is a
necessary part of the peace process.
We are now into a new era.
The main problems:
1. Remaining intransigent Irish nationailists who have no life outside
an illegal IRA and no aim but to love or die for the cause they see as
real but others see as no longer real in the modern world outside the
political process. It is a cause linked to a mixture of personal
histories, family memories, land ownership issues and other factors
aggravated by the current economic problems that limit the previously
heavy state support for measures to bring stability and employment.,
and the global tourist industry. The threat in Ireland and the rest of
the UK is just something we have to live with until with time we can
expect it to decline again.
2. The collapse of the economy of the Irish Republic due to the
excessive leverage of the economy by borrowing secured in theory on a
boom in property that, in the Republic as opposed to elswhere in
Europe, was unusually unencumbered with liabilities.. An immense future
debt is now landed on Ireland's citizens as whole. However, the export
led growth of the boom has established a viable economy for the future.
The lack of major defence costs and of certain other expenses afford
the Republic some advantages to counter the distance from Europe.
Ireland will pull through to the extent that any of the developed
Western European economies can, together, manage the biggest crisis
since WW2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11441473
For many who don't remember that, what is coming now will soon be seen
as a crisis such as they will never have known or anticipated and may
call upon reserves of character that, in much of life as presented
through the media these days, appears to be absent. The absence appears
in some cases to be due to confusion. For instance in Britain, the last
two leaders of the Labour Party were religious men. The current one has
announced he is an atheist, as has the leader of the Liberal party in
coalition. All these people, the atheists and the religious, are
confused and out of their depth which is why Alastair Campbell advised
them 'not to do God'. They should keep their confusion to themselves or
at most admit to agnosticism. This is purely pragmatic and practical,
given that every successful attempt to establish and maintain even a
temporarily stable civilization that earned the appreciation of the
majority of its citizens was based on faith in something. Given that
Capitalism, Communism and all other -isms of economy that have been
tried with variations over the years are now understood to be mere
means to move on from one sticky patch to another, and given that in
spite of making every mistake imaginable life has come through it all,
there is reason for faith, but not in any of the confused ideas of
those who think they have 'the answer' in any formula. Right now, those
who believe themselves to be utterly opposed, on principle, are in this
state due to ignorance on the one hand and experience which they
mistake for universal insight on the other. The first stage to making
sense now is to understand that Jesus was the first Humanist, but that
science can in no way replace the propositions of will, love,
ethics and logic that alone can remain as the cause of existence and
all its tragedy and triumph.
NOVEMBER 15th 2010
Gerry Adams, the President of Sin Fein who has played such a major role
in bringing the power-sharing government into being, is to step down as
an MP and Stormont assembly member to stand for election in the Irish
Republic. I think this is the moment to bring this file to an end, as
it was started with the intention of covering the memorable period of
history which has just been completed.
NOVEMBER 19th 2010
Unfortunately I have to reopen this file almost immediately to make a
colmment on the financial troubles Ireland is facing due to overblowing
its economy based on property values and then rashly guranteeing all
its banks (a unilateral move it took as the alternative seemed too
risky at the time). Now, Ireland is playing an absolutist hand on the
retention of its excessively low corporation tax. I am sorry, it can
keep a competitive corporation tax, but not THAT competitive. There has
to be compromise. Not too much change as to make key companies leave,
but a rise nonetheless to bring in more revenue and spread the tax
burden where it can be borne. Should have done it sooner. Now it has
become a confidence and pride issue. Bad move.
NOVEMBER 21st 2010
This morning we heard some fairly savage attacks on the Irish
government where they were accused of confusing a liquidity problem
with insolvency. This is a semantic quibble in the days of modern
national economics as is well explained in Wikipedia, that excellent
and sometimes maligned concise source of accurate information. "By
They should perhaps qualify it, as
saleable assets, tradeable assets, portable assets, renewable assets,
growable assets, private assets, nationalised assets, domestic assets,
overseas assets all play a
different part in the assessment by third
parties of the solvency of a nation, as does the security of
assets. Maybe they do discuss that, I haven't read the entry yet apart
from the quote above. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolvency
As I have pointed out elsewhere on this site, arguments taken to their
extreme self-destruct. Those who claim governments have no money, only
people do, learn that at the end of the day only governments have
money, people may have the title to other assets, valued in currency
guaranteed by governments in the name of their citizenry. Sensibly,
after seeing how this can cause social pressure to lead to war, the EU
decided to have a common currency. The UK saw in advance the new
problems that could lead to and thought they could be avoided by
shutting our eyes and staying out. They cannot, ever, and our refusal
to opt in cannot absolve us.
The people who are objecting to the UK supporting Ireland at this
moment with direct loans and support through the IMF and the ECB are
not only amongst the same people who benefited extraordinarily from all
the organisations and policies they are now complaining about, they are
very much part of those who are reponsible for the overinflation of the
Celtic Tiger in the first place. Our government policy now is correct.
no mistake, now they are in government Cameron, Osborne and Clegg are,
if no wiser, very much better informed. Their back benchers can take a
running jump. When Osborne said some time back now "We are all in this
together" he may have been referring to the UK. Now he probably
understands it applies to the British Isles, to Europe and to the
Planet. The problems of the Euro are real. There are two ways forward:
abandon the Euro and stay on the awful roundabout, or run the EU
finances properly and make an historic phase change that can be
permanent. That does not mean adopting a German view of currency
management, it means honest and transparent national accounting and the
proper use of the levers of adjustment.
We have to sort the energy cycles, motivation, performance and reward,
from the smallest unit up, while supporting a feedback mechanism that
assists as required from the largest unit down according to real needs.
But those units have to play their part. They must be members. This
principle applies from the single human being, member of a family (real
or virtual, genetic or socially substituted), to humanity as a whole.
Total stability exists only in death. Our job is to ride the roller
coaster and, at the technological level now reached, see if we are to
be the first global civilization, thereby taking on to the management
of the planet and the future of life on its surface, in orbit and, in
the far distant future maybe, beyond. Exceptions will always exist.
Exceptions have to prove their value. Mistakes will always be made. But
there is no need to go backwards and dissolve the Euro area and the
ECB. It is perfectly possible to have a common currency between the EU
There is no need or reality in returning to the gold standard. All the
problems we are now facing can be seen to cancel each other out if the
local and vested interests and the positions taken are all ignored
simultaneously. Pigs might fly? Look, we have flying pigs already. If
they all just land it will be a lot less dangerous.
The Irish government has accepted
up to 90bn euros (£77bn; $124bn) in loans and will call an
election in the new year. They may be forced to do this earlier but
that may not be as easy as those calling for it think.
Further to my comments of Nov 19th on Irish Corporation tax, it is
clear that being on the geographically isolated edge of Europe, it is
reasonable for Ireland to be able to set a competitive tax rate in
various parts of the economic model. But I am disappointed that
rigidity has set in on this point. Now is not the time to stand on
hypothetical points if principle because it is not one. It is a
practical choice to take. So if the corporation tax remains as is for
the moment it should nevertheless have a planned forward modest
Irish unveil tough four-year recovery plan
The Irish government has
unveiled a range of tough austerity measures designed to help solve the
country's debt crisis.
NOVEMBER 25th 2010
There are views being batted around that 'the markets' can bring down
the Euro by dumping the bonds of the countries that are in the greatest
trouble with their balance of payments, trade and domestic budgets,
causing the load on the ECB and the 'solvent' members to be politically
unbearable. It is oif course true that if those with enormous delegeted
financial power (brokers desperate to please their clients and with no
responsibility beyond their account balance sheets) are prepared to
destroy the financial system, they can do this. We can destroy our
entire civilization come to that - nothing easier, if we put immense
power into unaccounatble hands and the levers are pulled by people
'just doing their job'. This is the state of affairs, as it happens,
when we have economists, bankers and politicicians whose education and
intelligence, even if it gives them a clue that there is danger, are
just pawns in a game where there is no player in charge. The financail
market place has no rulers and its players fondly belive they can play
with nations currencies as if they were chips that in the last resort
can always be cashed for better ones or gold, or some commodity. They
had to be given this freedom in order to learn a great lesson. They can
now either learn it painfully or by demonstrating the only sure
indication of intelligence: anticipating the future and taking actions
that are more than the reactions learned by the classical processes of
evolution. To that extent, it matters not if the Euro and the EU
survives or fails, the outcome will be appropriate. It will of course
represent a natural restrain on the growth of a flawed system, flawed
because of the failure of of its human components to abide by the rules
they devised. We shall get the future we deserve. If we did not, life
would truly be a nightmare.
Is my right hon. Friend concerned that in the Greece bail-out and
now in the Ireland bail-out taxpayers will end up supporting
professional bond and equity holders in banks?
Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer, HM Treasury;
This has been one of the most difficult issues that the
international community and, of course, the Irish people have had to
wrestle with. For reasons of financial and economic stability, it was
decided that it was not possible and would not be sensible to ask the
senior debt holders in the Irish banks to take a haircut. That is
exactly what did happen in late 2008, in some of the US bank rescues,
with pretty disastrous effects, so that is why that decision was taken.
Subordinate debt holders in the Irish banks will suffer losses and I
think that is appropriate.
MAY 17th 2011
The Queen's first official visit to Ireland. When I started this file,
I did not realise it would take so long. Now I realise it could have
taken longer, so slow do the wheels turn and, quite apart from that,
many apparently unconnected things have to happen in their own time to
make it all possible. Let us hope we have
passed now to the point where REMEMBRANCE is seen as respect for the
with all its mistakes on all sides. My own memories of Ireland and its
people being extraordinarily positive, I have never doubted this day
would come. The hope is that it can heal in continuity the grievances
that an unfortunate minority have suffered at various times. We could
not have better neighbours than the Irish if we searched the entire
planet to find them. Anyone who has been there knows it. We can be good
neighbours to them, and must make certain we are just that. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13425722
The weirdest thing about the visit is the BBC commentary continually
referring to 'years of enmity and suspicion' between Ireland and
England. There has been some such between a some people on either side
of the sea and between a few more on specific occasions, but for most
Irish and English and Scottish and Welsh people we have all been
friends. Problems have been between two communities in Northern
Ireland, further confused by the divisions in the Christian Church. The
trouble with the BBC is they read too much of their own news, which
never reports everyday life these days as it has to compete with the
sensationalist press. Lord Mountbatten holidayed in Sligo where he was
extremely popular before the IRA blew up his boat with him in it. Many
Irishmen served in the forces under his command in WW II.
There have been so many more positive and great Anglo-Irish moments to
celebrate, we should remember the good and the bad and draw on them for
understanding. The BBC presenter on News 24 is asking if this visit is
approved 'from the ground up', not just from the top down. Dear God,
all these troubles came from the top due the pride and incomptence of
leaders; the people of England and Ireland have never had a dislike of
each other. It took wise steps from the top to undo the damage.The
Queen's visit will help to show the ignorance and insecurity that led
to past mistakes is over.
SEPTEMBER 10th 2011 Martin
of the great leaders of modern times", the first
Presbyterian minister to speak at Sinn Fein's annual conference has
I agree. His candidacy for higher office may be premature now but he
has plenty of time.
JANUARY 4th 2012
What are we to make of the truth as revealed in this BBC programme John
on the campaign to recognise 5,000 Irish soldiers who
deserted their own country's army to fight Nazism alongside the British
in World War 2. When they returned home their names were placed on "The
List" and they were denied jobs and treated as outcasts. Many in
Ireland now see their treatment as inhumane and unjustified and there
is a campaign underway to have the Irish Government officially erase
the stain on their names.
Earlier in this file I have praised Eamon de Valera for his actions
during WWII which enabled close and valuable cooperation with the
British Government. I stand by that appreciation.
In the programme referred to above he is blamed by current Irish
politiciand for turning a blind eye to the abuse of a law he himself
approved that treated those who fought against the Nazis as deserters
from the neutral Irish army. I am afraid the abuse of systems that are
based on laws that are themselves far from perfect takes place in every
country. In this case the abuse was indeed appalling and turning a
blind eye can be put on a par with some of the abuses in British jails
that politicians have been sadly unaware of. The abuses in the Catholic
Church visited on the children of war heros is doubly disgusting. It is
time to make amends in a big way, though for many it is too late.
However I believe the Irish are well able top do this without the help
of John Waite and the BBC, accurate and well-presented though this
JANUARY 9th 2012
The economic position of the Irish Republic is now precarious in that
it put its faith in the EU and the Euro when it took it initial
decision as a sovereign power to guarantee its bank debts. Ireland has
been taking its medicine, but all the austerity has not achieved a cut
in either the debt or the deficit, due to the problems in the rest of
the EU and the inability of the other countries to get their act
A game of chicken is being fought beween the global marketeers and the
sovereign states of Europe. They each claim to be the angels of
economic verity, morality and mathematical fact. The reality is they
are totally mutually interdependent, existing only in a context of
mutual respect and recognition. Unfortunately there exists no authority
capable of bashing their heads together and forcing them to construct a
new economic model before the existing one explodes. Unemployment looms
larger by the day. The prosperity of Europe over the past 40 years was
based on very close cooperation. That must either continue 'for better
or worse' to pull through, or abandoned. I do not recommend the latter.
But to choose neither leaves every nation in limbo.