IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
Friday-Thursday, 10-16 January, 2014
1. GAGGED, BOUND AND RELEASED
2. Belfast talks turn sour
3. Outrage over Ireland's spongers and crooks
4. 'Guantanamo Granny' defiant in jail
5. Student spooked by post-exam 'gift' from MI5
6. Stormont's treatment of Irish language slammed
7. Feature: Stories of ordinary volunteers in the Easter Rising
8. Analysis: Ulster Says NO to Haass
>>>>>> GAGGED, BOUND AND RELEASED
After almost four years in jail without charge, Irish prisoner of
conscience Martin Corey was released from custody on Wednesday -- but
only on condition that he stay away from the media and his home town
or face being returned to jail.
Mr Corey was hidden from members of the press who had gathered outside
the Maghaberry jail on Wednesday night. He was taken out in a
blacked-out prison van directly to a train station where he was
released to his lawyer.
A British official said: "The Parole Commissioners have decided to
release Martin Corey on a licence that is subject to conditions which
are designed to manage the risk they assess him to pose."
Two of those conditions are that Mr Corey is forbidden to give media
interviews and also that he must not live in or near his home in
Lurgan, County Armagh.
The 63-year-old has been in prison since he was ordered to be interned
by the then British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward, in April 2010, on the
basis of "closed material".
His lawyers had been preparing a challenge to his detention in the
European court on the basis that he was unable to defend himself against
'secret' allegations. The Parole Commission considered his case late
last year and had been due to reveal its decision before Christmas.
He has never been told why he was detained or what, if any, evidence
there was against him. It was reported the Lurgan man was only told on
Wednesday that he would be freed within hours.
Although still officially denied, his imprisonment is widely seen as a
an example of the modern use of internment without trial by the British
Cait Trainor from the Release Martin Corey Campaign welcomed his release
but said the manner in which it took place spoke volumes.
"It is clear the continued imprisonment of Martin Corey was a political
embarrassment to the Northern Ireland Office and he was released in a
way that would ensure minimum publicity," she said.
"The British government, secretary of state and all those involved in
the internment of Martin Corey showed contempt for human rights and were
involved in a despotic policy of ruling by decree."
Other conditions believed to have been imposed on Mr Corey include
restrictions on his attendance at certain public and social events.
The Parole Commissioners are protected by legislation which ensures the
public are prevented from scrutinising the parole process. But Brian
Gormally, director for the Committee on the Administration of Justice,
said the commissioners should explain the process and make public their
reasons for imposing the release conditions.
The CAJ is awaiting the outcome of a judicial review, having challenged
the commissioners for refusing to allow its members to act as
independent observers during parole hearings.
"If indeed there has been a blanket ban on speaking to the media about
the determination that seems a clear infringement on the right to
freedom of expression," Mr Gormally said.
Sinn Fein Assembly member for west Belfast, Jennifer McCann said the
case has jeopardised the public's trust in the justice system.
"He was held without any due process, he has never been questioned from
being arrested about any specific incident and indeed his lawyers have
never been able to challenge any of the secret evidence that was bought
before the parole commissioners," she said.
"I believe if they had anything to charge Martin Corey with that they
would have done it."
She said Sinn Fein had consistently raised the issue, and she was glad
he was now free to return to his family.
"There are very clear lessons which present themselves to the British
government," she said.
"The arrest and detention of people without any evidence being presented
cannot be justified in any terms."
>>>>>> Belfast talks turn sour
Sharp exchanges between Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and DUP leader
Peter Robinson have confirmed the failure of the Haass talks and the
continuing difficulties within the Six-County power-sharing regime.
On Monday, a Sinn Fein motion calling for the implementation of
proposals tackling sectarian marches, the flying of flags and dealing
with the past conflict was rejected by the North's built-in unionist
A subsequent meeting of the five party leaders was described as
"useful", but Sinn Fein said that the party was still looking for
implementation and described a plan for the establishment of a new talks
working group as "time wasting".
The DUP is seeking a full renegotiation of the current draft proposals,
which were drawn up by US talks mediator Richard Haass before talks
collapsed before the New Year.
Fortunately, tensions on the streets are relatively low. A flags
protest march from central Belfast on Saturday saw only 300 loyalist
protesters, despite claims that 10,000 would turn out. The march left
city hall an hour late, at 1pm, in apparent defiance of the Parades
Commission rulings, but passed off peacefully.
However, the blame game over the collapse of the process is
intensifying. Mr McGuinness said that over course of the last 18 months,
unionist parties had been "dancing to the tune of extremists within
their own community". after it emerged that the DUP had received
briefings from high-profile loyalists Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson.
He also said the the anti-Catholic Orange Order had been "acting as one"
with the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force in scuppering the
talks. And in an unusually frank statement, Mr McGuinness said the
elephant in the room was "whether or not unionist political leaders are
prepared to confront the extreme elements within their community who
they are letting set their agenda on Haass to date and former members of
the RUC and other Crown forces lobbying the DUP and the UUP to prevent
truth recovery processes which are victim-centred".
In response, DUP MP Nigel Dodds accused Sinn Fein of "wallowing in the
filth of murder", in reference to a commemorative parade last summer for
fallen IRA Volunteers in Castlederg, County Tyrone.
And on Friday morning, in the harshest statement yet, the DUP leader
Peter Robinson accused the Sinn Fein man of "acting like a dictator" and
being in "political denial". He also claimed Mr McGuinness had a
"visceral hatred" of the Orange Order.
"He [McGuinness] speaks as if he is not one of the parties but rather
the controller and dictator of how the process will operate. He appears
to believe it is everyone else's duty to reach an agreement on his
terms," he said.
In a further sign of mounting tension between the two most powerful
Six-County politicians, the DUP leader added: "Sinn Fein will not
dictate the rules of engagement. They do not own the process. They do
not control how it will function or what it will (or will not) consider,
nor will they prescribe the timing."
"As the largest party in Northern Ireland, we will not be shepherded
into any structure that restricts our ability to conclude agreement on
"If Sinn Fein or any other party does not want to be part of a process
that seeks to resolve outstanding issues they can walk away, but that
will display a lack of leadership on their part."
But Mr McGuinness held out hopes that the US government would push a
deadline for a resolution of the Haass talks -- St Patrick's Day, March
17. "Every year we are invited to the White House to meet with the
president, they've taken a huge interest," he said.
>>>>>> Outrage at spongers and crooks
The 26-County public is turning against the state's corrupt elite as
never before following revelations of secret payments at a state-funded
clinic and runaway spending by the new water board, Irish Water.
It emerged this week that some 742,000 euro (over $1m) worth of
charitable donations to the Central Remedial Clinic was used to fund a
retirement package for former Chief Executive, Paul Kiely, when he left
the service in June.
The clinic operates to provide care services to disabled children, but
since late last year has been mired in a payments and nepotism scandal
involving previous Fianna Fail governments and 'crony' circles of
The Dublin parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard this week
that the lump sum retirement payment of Kiely, a friend of former
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, was far greater than he had claimed when he
appeared before them in December.
The revelation shocked and electrified the Public Accounts Committee, a
function of the Dublin parliament in which officials normally discuss
accounting details in polite and subdued exchanges.
But Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell described the new information as "pure
dynamite", while all sides insisted that Mr Kiely reappear before the
Under questioning, Brian Conlon, who replaced Mr Kiely as CEO of the
CRC, said he was not aware of the payments being agreed to or made.
"This is completely new to me, I am surprised as anybody," he said, to
He also suggested information on the payments may have been shredded.
"There are no files in the office that would give reference to any of
this being agreed," he said.
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, who is a member of the PAC and closely
questioned Conlon, described the saga as "a tale of two CEOs - one who
misled a Dail Committee and one who attempted to stonewall and frustrate
efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal".
The developments at the PAC were broadcast and rebroadcast online and
drew a furious public response, forcing Health Service Executive
officials to consider involving the Garda police -- the ultimate taboo
for Ireland's wealthy elite.
"To the average person the notion of any senior manager working in the
disability sector receiving a lump sum payment of 200,000 euro paid from
monies gathered from charitable donations is hard to swallow," said Ms
"To then discover that Mr Kiely had in fact received a pension package
to the tune of 742,000 euro really beggars belief. That could pay for a
lot of therapy and support for children with disabilities."
DOWN THE TOILET
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has called on Minister Phil Hogan to resign over
his handling of Irish Water after it emerged that its administrative
set-up costs are expected to be an incredible 180 million euro,
including 85 million euro in consultancy fees.
Many of the fees involve back-room software deals not put to public
tender. None involve the improvement or maintenance of Ireland's water
network, but were made only to facilitate new billing and payroll
arrangements and the 'rebranding' of local council water supply as a
national consumer commodity.
With families set to receive water bills of up to a thousand euro a year
from next year, there have been demands for more information as to the
nature of the spending by the secretive new organisation's highly paid
executives, many of whom have already accorded themselves 'top-up
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD said the affair showed that a lack of
transparency and accountability is a hallmark of the Fine Gael/Labour
"The current debacle surrounding Irish Water shows how this government
has implemented a broad programme of stealth charges and cuts while
actively obstructing transparency and accountability in public
"A lack of debate around the establishment of Irish Water played a key
role in creating this scandal. The government is responsible for that.
"Irish Water must be made compliant with the Freedom of Information Act
and move speedily to ensure all relevant information about the
establishment of the company is accessible and available to the public."
When Environment Minister Phil Hogan insisted he hadn't been told about
the profligate spending by the Irish Water, and that it is "not his
business to micromanage semi-state companies".
Mr Adams said that it wasn't acceptable for a minister to admit he
hasn't been watching where public money is spent.
"By failing to answer repeated questions, from Sinn Fein TDs and others,
on the cost associated with establishing Irish Water, Minister Hogan and
his department have shown contempt for the Dail, its members and the
citizens they represent," Adams said today.
"He is incompetent. He has been involved in too many debacles. Minister
Hogan should resign immediately and the government should abandon its
regressive policy on water provision."
>>>>>> 'Guantanamo Granny' defiant in jail
There have been nationwide demonstrations over the imprisonment of
79-year old feminist and peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy for her
repeated protests against the use of Shannon Airport in international
Ms D'Arcy, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is undergoing cancer
treatment, was arrested at her Galway home on Wednesday morning after
she refused to sign a bond to keep away from unauthorised zones at
Her son Finn Arden, said that he had spoken to his mother by phone from
Limerick. "She said she understood she was going to have to serve the
full three months," he said.
Shannonwatch spokesman John Lannon said it was a "travesty of justice
when the peace activists end up in prison, while there is no
investigation of war criminals using the airport".
"While protesters at Shannon have been arrested before, and have been
before the courts, all have been acquitted to date," he pointed out.
Ms D'Arcy, who was married to the late playwright John Arden, has been
an activist since joining the anti-nuclear Committee of 100 led by
Bertrand Russell in 1961.
She was a member of the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, and spent
time in prison in the North in the early 1980s. She is also a lifetime
member of the Aosdana arts body.
Last month, Ms D'Arcy clashed with a judge who she accused of being
complicit in illegal acts at Shannon Airport by ignoring Articles 28 and
29 of the Irish Constitution. She received a three-month suspended
"So long as I observe crimes that are going on in Shannon from the
outside I don't go to jail but if I try and stop war crimes inside the
airport I will be locked up for three months", she said then.
In prison today, she remained defiant, asking that protestors demand not
for her own release but the release of Shannon airport from the
In an open letter Irish artists Dylan Tighe and Donal O'Kelly said the
treatment of their colleague was "grossly inappropriate and shameful".
They said it was "all the more shocking" because the state has refused
to jail any of the politicians or bankers responsible for the "near
collapse of the state, yet seeks to jail an elderly artist for standing
up for integrity and human rights."
They said they were "in complete solidarity with her actions, applaud
her bravery in a time of tremendous cowardice, and call for her
Protests were held in Dublin, Limerick, Galway and Derry, demanding her
Niall Farrell, who protested alongside Ms D'Arcy at Shannon Airport but
was not arrested, spoke at the Galway demonstration today.
"Margaretta should not be in jail," he said. Margaretta should be given
the freedom of Galway, the freedom of Dublin, the freedom of Shannon and
the freedom of the country, for standing up to the human rights abuse of
these spineless individuals that we have running this State."
>>>>>> Student spooked by post-exam 'gift' from MI5
A young student activist who was returning from a morning exam was this
week the target of the latest MI5 approach in the north of Ireland. It
involved a feeble #50 and a quote from Karl Marx.
Stephen McCourt, a student from Newtownabbey, County Antrim, said an
envelope was given to him this month as he was making his way home by
train after sitting an exam at the University of Ulster in Coleraine.
The history and education undergraduate said he fell asleep and was
woken by a tap on the shoulder from a man as the train reached Ballymena
station. A man with an English accent handed him an envelope and said
"letter for you" before getting off the train.
Mr McCourt said that inside he found a typed Marx quotation, #50 in cash
and a blank postcard.
The quotation is believed to have been taken from a letter Marx sent to
his father. It read: "History calls those men the greatest who have
ennobled themselves by working for the common good."
Mr McCourt said he was 'spooked' by the incident.
"I feel harassed by it and it has left me paranoid too. It has left me
feeling that they are watching me," he said.
"Karl Marx would probably be my political inspiration," he noted. "In my
university bag there was a copy of the Communist Manifesto written by
"They must be watching what I am reading, what I get out from the
Mr McCourt said he believes he will be approached again. "I don't feel a
threat for my life but I feel under threat that they are going to
approach me again," he said.
"There was no contact number and that would suggest they are going to
contact me again."
The approach to Mr McCourt matches the modus operandi of two known MI5
operatives who usually call themselves 'Brian and Julie'. In the past,
this team have openly introduced themselves to people as being 'from
MI5\0x00 and have sent both cards and letters to political activists which
insinuate that they have a deep insight into their personal lives and
inviting their targets to collaborate with them in some way.
It is believed that MI5 agents such as 'Brian and Julie' are now turning
their sights to the next generation of republicans and socialists in the
Republican Network for Unity West Belfast representative Tommy Doherty
condemned the approach and called on youth and student organisations to
speak out against such tactics.
"Stephen is a politics student who has studied Marx as a part of his
degree. He is also a dedicated Socialist and Republican who played a
key role in the recent student protests at Coleraine University aimed at
opposing privatisation of student services and calling for free
education," he said.
"The fact that a young student, committed to legitimate political
activity can be stalked, targeted and pressurised in such a devious way
by unaccountable spooks, must be of concern to those who claim to stand
for free speech and youth welfare in this country. I am calling on the
NUS [National Union of Students] and the University of Ulster to come
out in support of Stephen and to demand that British Military
intelligence back off and allow him to carry on with his studies in
>>>>>> Stormont's treatment of Irish language slammed
The Council of Europe has accused the Stormont administration of
blocking the growth and promotion of the Irish language in the north of
It said hostile attitudes by government officials were preventing its
use in the courts and in education, and warned that Stormont was also in
breach of a charter of rights because of delays and attempts to block
requests for bilingual street names.
One unionist councillor in county Fermanagh recently described the Irish
language as 'foreign and gnomish' and, in a leaked e-mail, vowed to
fight the "introduction" of Irish to Enniskillen -- a town whose name
was anglicised in the 17th century from the Irish 'Inis Ceithleann'.
The European review of minority languages also said the British
government has not been able to justify banning the use of Irish in the
courts, or allowing people to take citizenship tests through the
The Council of Europe criticised attitudes to Irish in some official
circles and what it said is the Stormont Assembly's "persisting hostile
Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure who is
responsible for overall promotion of the language, said she hoped this
But she pointed out any change to policy on languages in the north of
Ireland requires the agreement of the Executive and Assembly, ands is
therefore subject to a unionist veto.
"I hope that all supporters of the Irish language will work together to
convince the Executive, the Assembly and all our people of the merits of
supporting an Irish Language Act," she said.
The review team hit out at the lack of the long-awaited Irish Language
Act, originally agreed as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement;
Irish-medium pre-schools; primary education in Irish; and free school
transport for Irish language schools, despite a recent judicial review
case against the Department of Education on the issue.
Meanwhile, in the 26 Counties, a nationwide campaign to address the
Dublin government's failure to provide ongoing support for the Irish
language is due to be launched in the coming weeks.
Over 200 people attended a public meeting in Dublin recently organised
by Conradh na Gaeilge in response to the resignation last month of an
Commisineir Teanga Sean O Cuirreain.
The meeting heard that Mr O Cuirreain quit his position in protest at
the failure by the Dublin government to implement legislation designed
to improve services to the public through Irish.
"Sean O Cuirreain's resignation has really galvanised people - there is
a real sense of crisis that needs to be addressed," said Conradh na
Gaeilge general secretary, Julian de Spainn.
And in a bizarre development, a Glasgow private hire driver refused to
allow visitors to speak Irish Gaelic in his car -- even though Gaelic is
also a native language in Scotland.
The man, who has not been named, reportedly threw the Donegal visitors
out at the side of the road at 2am after they objected to his demand
that they stop speaking in Irish.
Kathleen McAleer, a local mental health nurse, said her cousins were
talking to each other in Gaelic, which is their first language. "The
taxi driver turned around and said to them 'Stop speaking in that
language'. We didn't really know how to take it. He said: 'When you are
in Britain, it is English you speak.'
"I said to the driver 'Excuse me', shocked that somebody would say that
to them. I said: 'That is out of order'. He then said: 'If they want to
speak in that language they can get out of my taxi.' So we got out and
said we wouldn't pay."
The driver is currently under investigation under hate legislation.
>>>>>> Feature: Stories of ordinary volunteers in the Easter Rising
A new collection of personal stories contained in the Military Service
Pensions Collection has now been published online.
Available at militaryarchives.ie, the documents are opening a new window
on the 1916 to 1923 period in Irish history.
Many of the prominent leaders of the independence movement describe
their activities in great detail in their pension applications but the
real treasures in the collection are the stories of ordinary volunteers
and civilians caught up in the tide of history.
It will take years for historians and researchers to mine the 300,000
files contained in the archive. They include all of the 82,000 pension
applications even though only 15,700 of them were successful.
The first launch comprises approximately 452,000 images relating to
almost 3,000 individuals.
As well as providing information about themselves, the applicants also
give fascinating details about the events in which they participated and
the role played by others be them fellow volunteers, civilians,
policemen or soldiers.
The first batch of files released today covers those who were involved
in the 1916 Rising. Most of them continued their involvement in the
national movement until 1923, so their account of what happened during
the whole period is also included.
Many leading Fianna Fail politicians including Sean Lemass, Sean
MacEntee, Frank Aiken, Oscar Traynor and Thomas Derrig were awarded
The often overlooked activity in north Dublin, Wexford and Galway is
also outlined in the first batch of files. Richard Mulcahy, later
chief-of-staff of the IRA and a prominent political figure for decades,
detailed his service beginning with the attack on the RIC in Ashbourne,
Co Meath, in 1916.
Another volunteer who qualified for the maximum pension was Peter Paul
Galligan from Enniscorthy who was on the staff of Thomas MacDonagh and
was sent to his home town to promote the Rising there.
Leading figures involved in the IRA campaign in the War of Independence,
such as Tom Barry and Dan Breen, qualified for full pensions. Barry
engaged in a furious correspondence with the Department of Defence when
he was not given the maximum pension as the rules specified that 1916
service was required.
Barry was in the British Army in 1916 and so did not qualify for the
full pension but the then Taoiseach Eamon de Valera intervened to ensure
that he got it.
Many of claims outline the difficult personal and financial straits to
which people had been reduced by the 1920s or 1930s. A good number of
those who took part in the campaign were forced to emigrate. Claims came
in from all over the world but ironically most of those who left went to
live in England whose forces they had fought against at home.
A letter from one 1916 veteran, Thomas Lynch, who was living in
Birmingham in 1936, stated: "I am sorry the years are not dealing kindly
with me. I have done no work for 5 years." He had run out of all
benefits had a wife and four children. The eldest had just started work
Some of those wounded or injured in the hostilities gave accounts of the
straitened circumstances to which they had been reduced and the trauma
they had endured. However, some found the experience of taking part in
the military campaign invigorating.
Writing in support of the claim by Albert Rutherford, of Camac Place in
Dublin, his commanding officer, Joseph O'Connor, stated: "He was always
very good humoured and quite undisturbed in the face of danger. He was
an efficient section commander and afterwards a capable and popular
officer. He carried out his duties no matter how irksome without a
murmur and took all the risks attendant on being an active volunteer
from the first to the last. It is no exaggeration to say he seemed to
enjoy the 'Terror' and always volunteered for extra patrol work in 1920
Some of the claims illustrate the complexity of Irish history. Patrick
Dalton and Michael McCabe took part in the 1916 Rising as 16-year-olds,
were captured but released early on account of their age. They
subsequently joined the British Army and fought in the first World War
but later took part in the Civil War - Dalton in favour of the Treaty
and McCabe against it.
McCabe, who was part of the Four Courts garrison was captured by the
Free State Army and interned. On his release in 1923 he rejoined the
British Army and saw service in North Africa during the second World
Claims from volunteers who served in Scotland and England during the
period are also included in the files. One of them, John King, joined
the Liverpool unit of the Volunteers in early 1914 and he travelled to
Dublin in January 1916 to take part in the Rising. He served in the GPO
and was wounded in the retreat to Moore Street.
Another overseas volunteer was Eamonn Bulfin, who spent his youth in
Argentina. He served in the GPO and was deported to Argentina in 1919.
While there he acted as the Dail envoy to that country until 1922 when
he returned to Ireland. His father William Bulfin had edited the
Southern Cross newspaper which catered for Irish emigrants to Argentina.
The claims and the supporting documents in the first release of files
are available on line from today at militaryarchives.ie.
The full release of all the documents in the archive will take place
between now and the anniversary of the Rising in a little over two
>>>>>> Analysis: Ulster Says NO to Haass
By Gerry Adams (for Leargas)
The Good Friday Agreement marked a historic shift in politics on the
island of Ireland and put in place a firm foundation from which it is
possible to continue building the peace process. For the first time
since partition, almost 100 years ago, there is an international
agreement involving the Irish and British governments, as well as
nationalist, republican and unionist parties on a way forward. This
includes power sharing political institutions which have the support of
the overwhelming majority of citizens.
The GFA tackles constitutional issues, political and institutional
matters, policing, weapons, justice and equality, and more. Subsequent
agreements at St. Andrews and Hillsborough built on this progress.
However, not all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement have been
implemented and outstanding issues like flags and emblems; the legacy of
the past; parades; equality and the status of the Irish language, as
well as culture and identity issues have continued to bedevil the
This time last year Belfast witnessed rioting as loyalists attacked the
PSNI, the nationalist Short Strand area; and held illegal demonstrations
demanding the right to fly the Union flag whenever and wherever they
wanted. This issue and protests over orange parades have placed a
significant strain at times on the political institutions.
For that reason and because all of these difficult issues are not going
to go away the First and Deputy First Ministers - Peter Robinson and
Martin McGuinness - invited U.S. diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O
Sullivan to come to the north and to chair an All Party Group to
'consider and make recommendations on matters including parades and
protests; flags, symbols, emblems and related matters; and the Past'.
Just before Christmas the negotiations entered an intense phase. The
Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle met on December 23rd and authorised our talk's
team to conclude an agreement with the other parties to be considered by
a subsequent meeting of the Ard Chomhairle. In the last plenary
session, in the early hours of Christmas Eve morning, the Sinn Fein
negotiators told the other delegates that 'we believe there is the basis
for an agreement on the mechanisms proposed to deal with the three
issues under consideration.'
But despite a succession of amended draft proposals from the two US
Diplomats the talks failed to reach agreement. There was a real sense
of public disappointment at that outcome, which Sinn Fein shared.
Progress had been made and the Sinn Fein negotiating team believed that
agreement could be reached.
Unionists indicated that they had serious problems with important parts
of the proposals.
However, Richard Haass and Meghan O Sullivan agreed to return for one
last push between Christmas and New Year. The negotiations recommenced
only to conclude after 5 am on December 31st without agreement. By that
stage we had reached the seventh draft of the Haass proposals. Some in
the media interpreted this as an abject failure. It wasn't. The process
has not concluded.
The Haass proposals have now to be brought to each of the five party
leaderships by their negotiating teams. It is up to those leaderships to
decide whether the proposals offer another step forward and what should
In my view significant progress was made and in particular on two of the
three issues - Parades, Select Commemorations and Protests; and
Contending with the Past and the proposals produced by Dr Haass and
Meghan O'Sullivan do provide the basis for an agreement.
Of course, like every negotiation the document that has been produced is
a compromise position. Sinn Fein would like to have seen some aspects
strengthened and improved further. However agreement on everything was
not possible. This is particularly the case on the Flags issue. Like
others we have little confidence that the proposed Commission on
Identity, Culture and Tradition will resolve these issues. We
nevertheless welcome the potential of this process for further
mainstreaming parity of esteem and equality.
I was also disappointed that issues like Acht Na Gaeilge and the
development at Maze/Long Kesh which were part of previous agreements,
were not advanced. They remain to be resolved in the time ahead. These
issues are not going away. Much more work is required on parity of
esteem, equality and respect for all cultures and identities.
Sinn Fein has consistently advocated direct meaningful dialogue as the
best means of resolving the few remaining parading disputes. In the
absence of dialogue or a failure to reach agreement over contentious
parades there is an obvious requirement for a robust regulatory body.
The proposals contained in the Haass paper meet that demand.
And over a decade ago Sinn Fein proposed the establishment of an
Independent International Truth Commission. In our view that remains the
best option. But a basis for compromise on this issue has been proposed.
That is what the majority of our people want. Closure for victims and
survivors is the real benchmark against which this proposition will in
time be judged.
It is a fact that the issues of parades, flags and emblems and the
legacy of the past cannot be ignored. They are too important. There is
an onus on the Irish and British governments and all of the parties to
maintain the momentum that was created in recent weeks and to build on
the progress achieved.
To this end I called for all of the parties not to fudge their response
to the Haass proposals. I called for clear statements of support.
Regrettably the Ulster Unionist Party and the DUP have decided not to
support the proposals. The difference between these two parties is
purely tactical. The DUP said more work needed to be done to the
proposals and called for an all-party working group to be established
while the Ulster Unionist Party has rejected the Haass proposals as
neither 'viable or acceptable'. Two slightly different ways of Ulster
Saying No! With Peter Robinson taking a slightly more nuanced position
than Michael Nesbitt. Beag an difir.
Irish Republicans have stretched ourselves in the negotiations and we
are up for the challenge the Haass proposals contain. The Sinn Fein Ard
Chomhairle of the Party will meet this Saturday to review the outcome of
the talks process, and agree our response.
This is a time for political leaders to lead. Unionist leaders are
failing their constituents and ignoring the clear desire by the vast
majority of citizens who want to see agreement on these outstanding
The Haass paper can aid this project. I would urge anyone interested in
the future to access it online, and read and consider the proposals it
* The proposals are online at http://northernireland.gov.uk/
Paisley: PAEDO BBC buckles under DUP ORANGE ORDER onslaught with last-minute changes made to interview
Last-minute changes made to TV interview
Fears are growing that the BBC is caving in to the DUP following its concerns over the content of an interview with Ian Paisley.
The second part of the controversialPaisley: Genesis To Revelation – Face To Face With Eamonn Mallie is due to be shown on Monday when it is expected the former First Minister will be highly critical of others over the circumstances of his retirement from public life.
But the Belfast Telegraph has learned that a number of concerns about the content have been raised by the DUP.
It is understood that the BBC has given the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church a right of reply to many of the more controversial claims contained within the Paisley interview.
A media screening of the second part of the interview was cancelled at short notice this week. The official explanation was that the programme was still in production. The interviews were carried out by journalist Eamonn Mallie in the latter part of 2012 and the first months of 2013.
The second programme is understood to deal in detail with Mr Paisley's retirement from politics in 2010 and his stepping down as Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.
In the first programme, Mr Paisley referred to "being kicked to the gutter" by the church which he helped to found.
Sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that the DUP has raised a number of objections to the content of the second part of the programme.
It is also understood that letters have been sent to a number of individuals within the Free Presbyterian Church for a right to reply over claims made by Mr Paisley.
But Ulster Unionist leader and former journalist Mike Nesbitt warned against any interference in the editorial process of the BBC.
He said: "You would not expect the DUP to have any editorial rights in a programme made about Ian Paisley by Eamonn Mallie for the BBC."
The Belfast Telegraph also understands the DUP was not offered a right of reply to comments made by the former First Minister in the first part of the interview, broadcast earlier this week.
But a late change was made to the content of that broadcast after Mr Paisley used the programme to launch an attack on his successor as First Minister, Peter Robinson. The peer claimed that Mr Robinson's infamous 1986 invasion of Clontibret "should not have been done".
The version that was shown to the media last week was altered slightly to what was broadcast on Monday night to include a reply by Mr Robinson over the matter.
The DUP would not comment on claims that it had raised objections to some of the charges made in the interview.
A BBC spokesman said: "The programme is still in production."
The first programme attracted 135,000 viewers. In contrast, the Nolan Show attracts around 180,000 viewers.
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