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Paisley pledges to vanquish Trimble at poll
Rosie Cowan, Ireland correspondent
Friday October 31, 2003
Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist party, began his election campaign yesterday with a blistering promise to vanquish David Trimble and bury the Good Friday agreement.
The 77-year-old fundamentalist preacher took the stage at a south Belfast hotel, surrounded by 40 candidates, amid a stirring fanfare and rapturous ovation.
The DUP opposed the 1998 peace accord from the outset, and aims to capitalise on ebbing Protestant support for it to overtake Mr Trimble’s Ulster Unionist party as Northern Ireland’s biggest party, and to force a renegotiation.
With the twice-postponed Stormont poll going ahead on November 26, despite the breakdown of a deal between Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein, Mr Paisley claimed his goal was now within reach.
In a typical fire and brimstone speech, the DUP leader thundered: “Supporting Mr Trimble is to ride the roller coaster towards complete Dublin control and the reign of the IRA over Northern Ireland. At long last, it is in the hands of the unionists of Ulster to sweep IRA/Sinn Fein armed terrorists from the government of Northern Ireland, and to keep them out.”
Some pundits believe that the DUP, should it come out on top, could seek some sort of accommodation with republicans. But Mr Paisley said: “It is no surrender to the IRA. We will not discuss it, we will not debate it, until you [IRA] are prepared to repent.”
Ulster Unionists insist the DUP has no ideas with which to replace the Good Friday accord and nothing to offer but negativity. But Mr Paisley will do his best to exploit bitter divisions within the UUP, and feed unionist fears that Gerry Kelly, the IRA Old Bailey bomber turned Sinn Fein politician, could soon be Stormont minister of policing and justice.
The DUP owes much of its success to Mr Paisley’s following: he has topped the local poll five times in the European parliament, and the party won three Westminster seats in 2001, bringing its number of MPs to five, compared with the UUP’s six, although three of those are anti-agreement.
The single transferable vote system for the Stormont election is unpredictable. However, even if the DUP does not come out on top, it could join forces with other unionists to block creation of an executive.
Kevin Barry was only 18 years old when he was hanged in Kilmainham Jail for IRA operations.
On November 1st, 1920, young Barry gave his life for Irish Freedom. He was executed for his part in an IRA raid on a British Army bakery depot. The raid was not intended to kill any British soldiers but was planned only to seize food from the vans packed with fresh bread. Instead, firing broke out and six British soldiers fell dead. Only Barry was captured; with a jammed pistol and a full magazine Kevin could not have fired a single shot in the skirmish. Without this fact being taken into account he was sentenced to death for his part in the raids.
Remember Kevin Barry for what he was: a true son of Ireland.
IRA putting commitments on ice
October 29, 2003
The IRA has issued a statement apparently freezing any commitments they have made until after the Assembly election next month.
The statement follows the row over the IRA’s third act of decommissioning last Tuesday which was overseen by General de Chastelain’s international commission.
Claiming the decommissioning lacked transparency, the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, went on to call a halt to a political deal that had been worked out with Sinn Fein and the two governments.
Today’s IRA statement to reporters in Belfast said the leadership of the organisation had honoured their commitments, but others had not fulfilled theirs – and that this was totally unacceptable.
The IRA said until others kept their word, there could be little prospect of progress.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs at Westminster that it is important to continue implementing the Good Friday Agreement in all its aspects.
Answering a Commons question from former SDLP leader, John Hume, during prime minister’s question time, Mr Blair said there was no other agreement on offer and that his government hoped to take the agreement forward.
Later, Mr Blair said that his government still had to make sure decommissioning was completed within a reasonable and proper timetable.
United they stand
Troubles are more than a memory at IAUC convention
By Ray O’Hanlon
Despite the roar of aircraft landing at adjacent LaGuardia Airport, all was quiet in the room where Patrick Rooney looked out from his little square on the big quilt.
In life, Patrick never made the journey to America. He never got out of Belfast. He never even got out of childhood.
Patrick was just 9 years old when a bullet struck him in the head as he lay sleeping in his bedroom in the Divis Flats complex at the bottom of the Falls Road. He was the first child killed in the Troubles. He died after being hit by an RUC tracer bullet fired from a Browning machine gun on an August evening in 1969.
On a fall morning in New York, 24 years later, Patrick’s face stared silently from his square on the Relatives for Justice Remembering Quilt.
His family had included a small altar boy’s outfit beside the photograph. Patrick had been due to serve at Mass the morning after his death.
All around Patrick’s square were other squares, each depicting a life lived and a life lost. They were stitched together on six separate panels that combined to form the entire Remembering Quilt, here on its U.S. debut at the Irish American Unity Conference 20th annual convention at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
The quilt is the work of the Belfast-based Relatives for Justice campaign, the director of which, Mark Thompson, was one of the featured speakers at a gathering which also included a keynote address from Fr. Aidan Troy, a man who knows much of the dangers that civil strife can impose on the very young.
Each panel of the quilt contains 49 squares, each one of them naming at least one person’s life lost to the Troubles.
Two additional panels are now in the works, Thompson said. He said that the quilt is open to families in both communities and is not in any way judgmental. As well as people killed by “the state” and loyalist paramilitaries, it is also open to families who have lost loved one to violence from the IRA and other republican groups.
The quilt also includes dedication to a number of IRA members. And, tragically, more than one child.
Not too far from Patrick Rooney was the square for Brian Stewart, killed by a plastic bullet in October 1976. Brian is depicted holding an Irish tricolor in one hand and a placard calling for the banning of plastic bullets in the other.
That wish has yet to be fulfilled.
Brian Duffy, who was killed at the age of 15 just before Christmas, had a Christmas tree motif on his square. This though his mother has not put up a tree in the family home since her son’s death.
The quilting process has to date involved the work of 2,200 people over three
years, and, in its current form, measures 50 feet by 8 feet. A total of 306 families are currently represented. Some of the squares commemorate more than one family member.
The display room at the convention wasn’t big enough to display all the panels on one wall, so two panels of the quilt were displayed on each of three walls. Most of the squares included photos and all contained depictions of the individual’s life, work and hobbies and interests. Attorney Pat Finucane’s square had a scales of justice, but also a tiny soccer ball button.
According to Thompson, the quilt represented for many of the bereaved families “a legacy of impunity that still looms large, and which overshadows their lives and the journey toward healing and recovery.”
That barrier of impunity, said Thompson, had prompted the families to search for answers to questions about why their loved ones had to die, and about the nature of a system that allowed each death to happen.
The quilt, he said, also represented historical memory and historical fact but also the hope that the awfulness of conflict was over for good, that healing and recovery would prevail and that lives, and by extension communities, could be rebuilt.
Thompson was one of about a dozen speakers and presenters at the convention, including Fr. Troy, Reps. Joe Crowley and Donald Payne, former Rep. Bruce Morrison, veteran equality campaigner Inez McCormack, New York-based attorney Eamonn Dornan, and Jarlath Kearney, son of the late fair employment campaigner from Belfast Oliver Kearney.
Troy gave a first hand account of the problems facing the Holy Cross girls school in North Belfast and the recent attacks on other Belfast schools. He said that apart from “a few thugs,” the nationalist community in the city had no interest in retaliating for the loyalist campaign of intimidation aimed initially at Holy Cross and now other schools.
Troy, who is a native of Bray, Co. Wicklow, also unveiled his plans to open a cross-community center in the old Holy Cross boys school, located at the point where Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in the Ardoyne area converge.
Also speaking to the convention gathering, McCormack paid tribute to Oliver Kearney, who, she said, had exemplified the MacBride Principles campaign for more than two decades. That campaign, she said, had lifted from people a sense of humiliation and the feeling that they were the problem.
McCormack said that despite laws in place aimed at enforcing fair employment legislation, employers in the North were “getting the sense that enforcement was not the order of the day.” She said that much of the problem was due to an “institutional mindset” and that she knew of one top civil servant whose career had been “restricted” due to his efforts to implement change.
“If senior civil servants don’t want to implement the law, they should get out of their jobs,” McCormack said.
Carol Russell, an IAUC chapter president from New Jersey, told the gathering that despite reports of a quiet summer in Belfast, the situation there was tense and there continued to be large number of sectarian attacks.
“A lot of people are under death threat,” she said.
This story appeared in the issue of October 22-28, 2003
THE BLANKET * A journal of protest & dissent
Pulling The Guns Over Their Eyes
Pathological liars are brilliant at deception. They know how to make
a story sparkle, they breezily proffer instant explanations for any
little inconsistency, they’re scheming all the time while you, their
mark, are preoccupied with a hundred other things. Besides, you want
to believe them – they’re so charming, attentive and flattering –
Anthony McIntyre • October 27, 2003
Nobody knows for certain just what was surrendered to John De
Chastelain last week except of course the general himself and elements of the IRA leadership; but not all elements of the
>>>>>>>>>click on link above for rest of story.
Thanks to an email from Briain Seán Tómas Mac Aodh :
Trimble faces election without IRA deal
Martin Nicholls and agencies
Tuesday October 28, 2003
The Northern Ireland assembly elections will go ahead without
further agreements on IRA arms decommissioning, Downing Street
A No 10 statement released this morning stated that it “had not
proved possible” to resolve differences over decommissioning in
Northern Ireland but said assembly elections would take place on
November 26 as planned.
It added that the government would work “urgently” after the
elections “to create the conditions which will enable a working
executive to be formed”.
This morning’s announcement follows the Ulster Unionist leader,
David Trimble’s decision yesterday evening to abandon plans for a
meeting tomorrow night of his 900-member ruling council to discuss
After a meeting with party officers Mr Trimble conceded that a deal
with republicans was impossible before the elections.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Trimble said that although some
progress had been made, time had run out to make a deal on power-
sharing before the election on November 26.
He told reporters: “There isn’t unfortunately time to be able to
sort all these matters out, and who knows, had there been another
few days or a week available that might have been possible.
“But with the election having been called, and with the inexorable
movement of the electoral timetable … obviously we may be in a
position where we can’t do anything further.”
Downing Street confirmed today that it “had not proved possible” to
resolve differences over decommissioning in Northern Ireland but
said assembly elections would take place on November 26 as planned.
The No 10 statement said the government would work “urgently” after
the elections “to create the conditions which will enable a working
executive to be formed”.
Earlier yesterday, Sinn Féin had accused the Ulster Unionists of
walking away from the current phase of the political process.
However, Mr Trimble rejected the suggestion.
“It is not right to say that we were not prepared to proceed even at
a very late hour,” he said.
“We did put proposals which, if I was to receive in the course of
the next couple of hours a clear indication that those proposals
were now operational, it is a different matter entirely, we would
roll with them.”
The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, said he was “bitterly
disappointed” that talks had not concluded before the election.
He said: “It’s quite incredible that after all the work that went
into trying to sort this out, that we now end up with a situation
where I think public confidence has been damaged.”
Meanwhile, the build-up to the elections continues, with news today
that a member of the Guildford Four is to feature in a party
Gerry Conlon, one of four people wrongfully imprisoned for an IRA
bombing in Guildford in 1974 which killed five people, is to feature
in a broadcast by Mark Durkan’s nationalist Social Democratic and
Labour party (SDLP).
The election film will be screened in Northern Ireland tonight and a
radio version will also be broadcast.
Mr Conlon’s father, Guiseppe, and relations in the Maguire family,
were also wrongfully jailed for involvement in the Guildford and
Guiseppe Conlon died in prison in 1980 following respiratory
In October 1989, the court of appeal overturned the convictions of
the Guildford Four following a campaign by the families, Catholic
Church leaders in England and Ireland, politicians, journalists and
human rights activists.
The Guildford Four’s story was turned into the controversial movie,
In the Name of the Father, by Irish director Jim Sheridan which
earned several Oscar nominations.
The SDLP’s election broadcast is a variation of a film aired in May
during the initial assembly election campaign which was aborted by
the prime minister amid concerns over the IRA’s intentions towards
the peace process.
Last night, Mr Trimble and his wife, Daphne, formed the basis of the
UUP’s election broadcast built around the new slogan “Simply
The SDLP is facing a tough battle with Sinn Féin to emerge as the
biggest nationalist party in the assembly.
Mr Durkan’s party had more six seats at Stormont during the last
assembly, but in the 2001 Westminster elections, Sinn Féin had four
MPs to the SDLP’s three and edged in front in the battle for the
Mr Trimble had the largest number of seats in 1998 but this time is
facing a fierce battle for supremacy from the Rev Ian Paisley’s
Democratic Unionist party (DUP).
The DUP were due to launch an attack today on their pro-Good Friday
agreement rivals about rate increases and water charges if the
government sticks with its current formula for devolution.
Elections to be held without deal
Talks continued after the setback over decommissioning
Elections in Northern Ireland will be held without agreement to move the process forward, the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has said.
Speaking ahead of a meeting of the party’s executive on Monday, Mr Trimble said that although progress had been made, time had run out for an agreement on a power-sharing executive to be reached ahead of elections on 26 November.
Earlier on Monday, Sinn Fein accused the UUP of walking away from the current phase of the political process.
However, Mr Trimble rejected the suggestion.
“It is not right to say that we were not prepared to proceed even at a very late hour,” he said.
“We did put proposals which, if I was to receive in the course of the next couple of hours a clear indication that those proposals were now operational, it is a different matter entirely, we would roll with them.”
He may be engaged in a little bit of damage limitation but it is obvious Mr Trimble isn’t prepared to go forward
Sinn Fein president
Negotiations have, so far, failed to bridge the gap between Ulster Unionist demands for clarity over the IRA’s third arms move and the IRA’s reluctance to spell out in more detail exactly what weaponry has been decommissioned.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he was bitterly disappointed that Mr Trimble had decided to abort the process.
“He may be engaged in a little bit of damage limitation but it is obvious Mr Trimble isn’t prepared to go forward, he made that clear last Tuesday” he said.
“We could have walked away, we could have engaged in a blame game, we could have been giving vent to the righteous anger that is out there.”
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council to discuss a possible deal with republicans over “acts of completion” has been cancelled.
Elections to the assembly are taking place on 26 November
The meeting, due to be held on Wednesday night, was cancelled following a meeting of party officers in Belfast on Monday.
UUP chairman James Cooper said that “as there has regrettably been no progress, the meeting is off”.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said both the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein were “walking away from the Good Friday Agreement”.
“As the days go by, it is looking more and more unlikely that the problem parties, Sinn Fein and the UUP, are going to overcome their difficulties,” he said.
“And it seems more and more likely that they are going to walk away from their commitments under the Agreement – to work the institutions and to end paramilitarism.”
However, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said he believed there would be very different negotiations after the elections.
“I think at that stage there will be a realisation that after a one year suspension of the institutions – after it having collapsed on four occasions that the Belfast Agreement has failed and that we need new structures,” he said.
“The Democratic Unionist Party has made it very clear that we are prepared to negotiate a new agreement, an agreement that will have bring stable and lasting political structures for Northern Ireland.
The Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein held lengthy talks over the weekend, in an attempt to achieve what Prime Minister Tony Blair has called a “positive atmosphere” in the run up to the elections.
Last week, Mr Trimble called for greater clarity on the details of decommissioning in General John de Chastelain’s report.
The arms chief said the number of IRA weapons put beyond use had been “considerably larger” than before.
Despite the setback, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy made an order to enable fresh elections to take place.
The devolved administration was suspended a year ago amid allegations of IRA intelligence-gathering in the Stormont government.
Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have been in contact with the key players over the weekend, along with British and Irish officials
Mr Blair’s chief of staff Jonathan Powell has been in Northern Ireland.
President George W Bush’s special envoy Richard Haass has also been involved in diplomatic efforts.
General de Chastelain is not expected to return to Canada until later this week.
Splits in Provos Reported –Oct 27 2003
INTERNAL wrangling over decommissioning is threatening to split the IRA apart, republican and Garda sources have said.
As the war of words between the UUP and Sinn Fein rumbled on yesterday over last week’s failed peace negotiations, mounting pressure within the Provo ranks was threatening to boil over.
Some Dublin newspapers have reported that IRA members in the hardline areas of south Londonderry, south Armagh and east Tyrone are openly warning that they cannot accept the republican movement’s current direction.
Many are said to be incensed at how far the IRA moved on decommissioning last week, only to have the act rejected by unionists.
Republican sources said that the Sinn Fein leadership had been ” outmanoeuvred” by the UUP.
Garda Special Branch sources have said there is growing evidence of an IRA split.
Meanwhile, speculation over how much the IRA decommissioned last week has produced a consensus that somewhere in the region of 100 tonnes of arms was destroyed, including guns, explosives, heavy mortars, heavy machine-guns and surface-to-air missiles.
It is even being estimated that the IRA may have decommissioned up to a third of its weaponry in three acts of disarmament.
However, while the Provos have put some weapons beyond use, a leading UVF commander said yesterday that his organisation has no intention of handing in its guns.
In the Observer newspaper, the UVF leader said the group has enough armoury to equip at least 1,000 men.
But there was ”virtually no chance” of decommissioning any of it in the current climate.
The IRA war is over but nobody noticed
By Vincent Browne
Last Tuesday morning, the IRA said the war was over.
Nobody noticed. Gerry Adams and the IRA also clearly signalled that not alone was the war over, but the IRA was over. Again, no one noticed.
Sure, General de Chastelain made a mess of his press conference, and his coyness over what arms had been decommissioned overnight was infuriating for unionists, but that was a side game. By far the most important message of the day was what Adams said and what the IRA said in response.
In a wordy and characteristically intricate speech on Tuesday morning, Adams said: “Sinn Féin’s position is one of total and absolute commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences.”
Nothing new in that. Sinn Féin was required to sign up to this principle in the Good Friday Agreement, and he has said this repeatedly over the last five years.
However, on Tuesday morning, he went much further.
“We are opposed to any use or threat of force for any political purpose,” he said.
Now, as far as I am aware, Adams has never said this before. Sure, he has said that Sinn Féin was committed to solely peaceful means, but to say that it was opposed to the use or threat of force? Never before.
What it means is that if the IRA were ever again to use force or threaten to use it, then Sinn Féin and Adams would disown it.
That in itself was a seismic development, but the earth moved again on Tuesday morning. The IRA could have made the usual bland assertions of its wish to support the peace process and gone on to claim credit for decommissioning an unspecified amount of weapons. It could simply have ignored what Adams said, signalling that it was prepared to allow Sinn Féin this latitude, but that it reserved its position on the future use of force.
Instead, it said: “The leadership of the IRA welcomed today’s speech by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, in which he accurately reflects our position.”
The IRA welcoming a speech that opposes the use of force or the threat of force for political purposes? And then going on to say that this “accurately reflects our position”. And no one notices or pays any attention?
The raison d’etre of the IRA has been to use force and/or to threaten force for a political purpose, that is, a united Ireland.
So if Adams and the IRA agree to oppose the use or threat of force for any political purpose, isn’t that saying the IRA is no more? At least, if not immediately, then certainly in the medium and longer terms?
It might be argued that it is far-fetched to read such significance into a political speech and a generalised endorse-ment of that by a linked organisation.
But this is not so in the case of Adams and the IRA. They are Jesuitical in their use of words, especially in the area of the use or threat of force for political purposes.
The Adams speech would have undergone several drafts, and its minutiae approved by the IRA army council. The brief general endorsement would have been entirely deliberate.
This is a very significant development. It is on a par with the acknowledgement in 1993 in the Hume/Adams state-ment at the beginning of the peace process that peace could be secure only with the agreement of all sections of the people. T hat sig nalle d a republican acceptance that a united Ireland could not be secured over the heads of unionists.
There was a further development in the background last Tuesday. It was the willingness of the republican movement to support the new police force in the context of the implementation of proposals which everyone else agrees to and in the context of a promise of devolution of responsibility for policing and security.
The engagement of republicans in the police force is the crucial last part of the jigsaw in copperfastening peace in the North.
With an agreed police force, there can be no paramilitary organisations and no private hoardings of illegal arms. It is a further signal that the game is over and done with.
However, all that was overlooked last Tuesday, and the hapless, exhausted general made it worse in that disastrous press conference. Now, the whole house of cards may come tumbling down – well, not the whole house, but the peace process part of it.
The elections now set for November 26 can hardly be called off. Following the debacle of last Tuesday, it seems certain that unionist voters will return a majority of antiagreement members to the Assembly, with the DUP being the biggest party (Sinn Féin could be the biggest party overall!).
This means there will be no power-sharing executive or assembly in the North for years, and perhaps the British will capitulate and back off the Good Friday Agreement.
From the beginning of this peace process, there has been a failure to convince the unionist community of the major gains the agreement represented for it.
Unionists have never perceived how nationalist Ireland capitulated in that agreement by acknowledging that the constitutional position of the North could change only with the agreement of a majority in the North – the core of Irish nationalism was always that it was the people of Ireland as a whole that had the right to decide the future of the island.
That cognitive distortion has been compounded by the failure to perceive the mega change signalled by Adams and the IRA last Tuesday.
Mounting fears of IRA split over North deal
By Barry O’Kelly and Sean Mac Carthaigh
The Provisional IRA is facing the possibility of experienced volunteers leaving the organisation, according to republican and Garda Special Branch sources.
Detectives in Dublin alleged to The Sunday Business Post this weekend that their intelligence information suggested there was a serious possibility of “a split” within the Provisional IRA.
Republican sources revealed that a recent meeting of senior IRA members heard volunteers openly warning that they would leave the organisation over its change in direction.
The decommissioning of arms and the winding down of the IRA itself was signalled at the meeting.
Brigades in south Derry, south Armagh and Tyrone are believed to be divided on
the decommissioning issue. Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has described the IRA statement as a defining moment in Irish history, intended to usher in a new era for republicans.
In an article written by the Taoiseach for this newspaper, he said that Gerry Adams’ statement last week, which was fully endorsed by the IRA, was “of key significance . . . and provides the context for the full and final closure of the conflict”.
And he stressed: “We are still within an ace of success.”
The IRA organisation is under severe strain because of arms decommissioning and its signal last week that it could no longer countenance political violence.
Special Branch detectives said the dissident Real IRA and Continuity IRA were both gearing up to embark on recruitment drives to exploit the vacuum within the provisionals.
However, Republican sources said there was no indication that disaffected members of the Provisionals would join either of the dissident groups. “They just said they would leave, but they did not say where, if anywhere, they would go,” a source said.
“The meeting was told [by members of the army council] that there was no alternative, that they only had to look at what happened to Micky [McKevitt, of the Real IRA] and the boys down in Portlaoise,” he said.
Special branch sources said the decommissioning act and the IRA’s effective declaration that its war was now over had sent shockwaves through the organisation. “What we’re hearing is that there will be a split,” one source alleged.
Separately, republican sources said the IRA’s arsenal was significantly smaller than reports suggested.The sources said one major dump containing Semtex could not be located because the man who buried it had died.
Meanwhile,Sinn Féin said it still had not received a credible explanation for the behaviour of Ulster Unionist leader David Tr imble. “We had an agreement with the UUP, the Irish government and the British government on Monday night,” a spokeswoman said. “There were no surprises the next day – everything panned out as we thought it would pan out – until DavidTrimble’s reaction to de Chastelain.”
Last night, Sinn Fe in sources estimated there were “perhaps 48 hours to sort this out”, before the North’s politicians went into “election mode”. There is “huge concern” at what party members see as the lethargic role of the Irish government, the sources said. “They should be leading Irish nationalism, instead of standing around briefing `we told you so’. They certainly said nothing on Monday night when we had a deal,” a source said.
But in his article today, the Taoiseach says he is “deeply disappointed and frustrated that our efforts have stalled.
“I cannot believe that it will not be possible to resolve this issue,”Ahern continues. “Last week,we were within an ace of the success we have all been working for.We are still within an ace of success.”
Stressing that the IRA move was “no token decommissioning,” he argues that a way must be found to fully convince the Ulster Unionists of what has been achieved.
We Say: Process is not a one-way street
It’s doubtful whether the Rubber Man of comic book fame himself could deliver enough to mollify Ulster Unionists who have become increasingly angsty and nervous as the election date nears.
Certainly, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness pulled off another coup on Tuesday when they stretched the republican constituency to lengths once unimaginable and all in the name of making peace with “our unionist neighbours”.
Blameless and innocent (forget Bombay Street, Castlereagh torture, state collusion between the farces of law and order and loyalist gun-gangs, shoot-to-kill etc etc), the unionists believe that the peace process is all about making republicans and nationalists accept that they were wrong to reject the squalid Six County statelet.
Republicans and nationalists on the other hand are far from contrite about their part in rising up against British misrule. Far from it, they’re proud of the part they played in the war: That’s why former republican prisoners are genuinely accorded VIP status in nationalist neighbourhoods. Like the Free French or the freedom fighters of the ANC, they are seen as the cream of society by a community which had been battered for daring to raise such modest demands as one-man-one-vote.
But never was the status of republicans in the eye of the man and woman on the Falls Road black taxi ever higher than when the IRA sued for peace. After all, making peace with your enemies is always more difficult than making war.
When the IRA then decided to take the role of peacemaker ever further and decommission some of its vast storehouse of weaponry which had been smuggled into this country and hidden by thousands of supporters — despite threat of imprisonment and even death — once again the stock of the republican movement soared.
In fact, the cornerstone of the recent success of Sinn Féin has been its willingness to give ground in order to take ground.
For that reason, nationalists on Tuesday were willing to look on the bright side of another generous statement by Gerry Adams and a groundbreaking act of putting arms beyond use by the IRA.
However, there was a deepseated fear that the cookie monster negotiatiors of the UUP wouldn’t give the gesture a fair wind.
And so it proved. Did David Trimble lose his nerve or did he really expect a fuller statement from the Decommissioning Body? A little bit of both perhaps.
The key to win-win negotiations is that there should be no surprises.
Unionists certainly looked surprised at the lack of an inventory after the latest decommissioning event. But perhaps they had also been unnerved by the withering fire from early morning by their own dissident MPs, led by Jeffrey Donaldson.
With one ear cocked for his shrill denunciations, they didn’t hear the crucial statements by De Chastelain — albeit delivered in a roundabout way. But if they had been paying full attention, they would have heard the good general give more detail than ever before about the nature and quantity of arms and munitions put beyond use. The IRA by going further than ever before were clearly sending out a message to unionists that they will play their part in bringing war to a close. The quid pro quo for that move was movement from the two governments on nationalist demands. That movement should take place immediately.
Still, the peacemakers have emerged with their reputation enhanced despite Tuesday’s debacle. Sinn Féin can go to the electorate in the knowledge that they have tried again to square the most difficult of peace process circles. If the UUP don’t feel as confident about facing the electorate they have only themselves to blame.
Expect a no-holds-barred election campaign but when the dust settles, no matter who emerges triumphant, let all the parties get down again to the task of making peace with unionists. And let’s not lose sight of how far we’ve come. Ten years ago this weekend, we had the horror of the Shankill bomb and the Kennedy Way depot murders. The journey isn’t over yet, but we are making progress. At least, every blow to the peace process in 2003 — unlike 1993 — isn’t accompanied by a bodycount.
IRA arms move “momentous”: Adams
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has described the IRA’s latest act of decommissioning as “momentous”.
His comments were the first indication from a senior Sinn Féin figure that the scale of the IRA’s latest decommissioning act was much more substantial than previous events.
However, Gerry Adams warned that the governments would have to fulfil the commitments they had given to republicans which had made it possible to persuade the IRA to put more weapons beyond use.
He said the IRA and Sinn Féin had been given commitments before Tuesday’s dramatic moves on decommissioning. The Sinn Féin chief, who met informally with David Trimble on Sunday morning as the two men were engaged in media briefings, said republicans were angry at the latest turn of events.
“There’s huge anger and frustration within republicanism that republicans have done all of this, and had nothing in return,” he said.
Journalist:: Aidan Crean
**Wow! Can you believe this? What a coincidence!
“Gerry Adams accurately reflects our position” – IRA
The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann released a statement on Tuesday welcoming the speech made by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, saying it accurately reflected the army’s position.
REPUBLICAN BULLETIN BOARDS
Here are 2 links to some Republican forums you should consider joining. My favourite is the IRBB.
“Irish Republican Bulletin Board (IRBB)
The Irish Republican Bulletin Board (IRBB) is one of the most popular Irish Republican forums on the internet. We welcome all views as long as they adhere to the rules of the forum. The board is maintained by Na Fianna Éireann and can be accessed at the link below.”
The second board is one which has been offline for awhile but is now back, the Republican Bulletin Board (RBB). Membership is more limited, however.
“This board is a free, open forum for current subscribers to
Republican News and invited participants, subject only to the
discretion of the moderator. The moderator’s role is to
facilitate exchanges on this board by maintaining a suitable
environment for open debate and discussion.”
Pressure me and I quit, says General
Daily and Sunday Express
23 October 2003
The head of Northern Ireland’s decommissioning body warned the
Government he would quit if he was forced to reveal the extent of
A spokesman for the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning confirmed that General John de Chastelain and his
fellow commissioners would resist any pressure from Downing Street
to end their confidential agreement with the Provisionals.
The spokesman said: “With regards to confidentiality, if the
commissioners were forced to disclose the inventory without the IRA
agreeing to it, they would judge their position to be untenable.”
Pressure has been mounting on General de Chastelain and his
colleagues to reveal more information about the third IRA
disarmament act than he gave on Tuesday when moves designed to
bolster the peace process backfired spectacularly.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble put on hold a series of
choreographed moves involving Sinn Fein, the IRA, the British and
Irish Governments because he was unhappy with the lack of clarity
around the decommissioning act by the IRA.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday Prime Minister Tony Blair told
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith that the decommissioning
legislation had enabled the IRA to exercise a confidentiality clause
which prevented General de Chastelain from revealing what exactly
happened with the IRA’s weapons.
He also implied that he was party to more information about the
IRA’s arms move which, if it was in the public domain, would have
helped the peace process.
“That is the arrangement that they entered into with General de
Chastelain, who, for perfectly obvious and honourable reasons, feels
bound by it,” he told MPs.
“He gives certain information – not the full information, but
certain information – to us, as the two Governments.
“Although we are not at liberty to disclose that information without
his permission, we are working hard to try to find a way in which we
can do so, because I believe, on the basis of what we know, that
people would be satisfied if they knew the full details.”
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2003, All Rights Reserved.
Blair seeks way to reveal details of IRA weapons
Rosie Cowan and Michael White
Thursday October 23, 2003
Tony Blair was desperately seeking a way to reveal details of weapons destroyed by the IRA, as he battled to overcome the deadlock threatening the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday.
The deal to restore devolution at Stormont collapsed on Tuesday when David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, rejected a return to power-sharing with Sinn Fein because he was not given an inventory of the arms decommissioned.
The independent disarmament chief, General John de Chastelain, confirmed that a “considerably larger” amount of guns, bombs and bullets had been destroyed than in either of the previous two acts.
But unionists were dismayed at the general’s tight definition of the confidentiality agreement between himself and the Provisionals, despite last minute arm-twisting by Mr Blair and Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, who yesterday admitted that he had had serious misgivings.
However, Mr Blair said yesterday he was “working hard to find a way to try and disclose” more facts. He felt the public would be satisfied if they knew what the two premiers knew.
“We are not at liberty to disclose that information, but we are working hard to find a way to try and disclose it,” he told the Commons.
The prime minister could now try to press republicans to either supply more details themselves or allow General de Chastelain to do so. Or he might give a fuller picture himself, after examining the legislation governing decommissioning.
A government source said: “The irony is that we now have more than we’ve ever had from republicans, a very serious act of decommissioning, but we can’t tell people why we believe that is the case. People need to know how many AK-47s, how many rocket launchers.”
The government insisted the election planned for November 26 will go ahead. But unless the row can be patched up in the next few days there is little prospect of a new administration.
Yesterday, the cracks behind the seemingly perfect deal were exposed, with unionist and republican interpretations predictably at odds. Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, insisted all sides had reached an agreement and he still did not understand why his party had been “left at the altar”.
“All of the parties to that agreement, contrary to what they say, were aware, generally speaking of what was to happen,” he said. “Why would I have said what I said, why would the IRA have done what it did? But now I’ve heard a lot of people in the republican community saying ‘Sure, what’s the point?'”
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator, said the IRA had allowed General de Chastelain to say much more than on previous occasions and anyone with a “titter of wit” would not underestimate the importance of the latest decommissioning move.
Mr Trimble maintained that republicans were well aware of the “transparency and clarity” needed by unionists. But others were fiercely critical that, despite hours of one-to-one negotiations with Mr Adams, he had failed to extract a commitment to reveal the catalogue of arms destroyed.
Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist leader, who vehemently opposed the Good Friday agreement and will use the election to try to overtake Mr Trimble’s party, accused the Ulster Unionist leader of being “totally incompetent”.
Mr Ahern admitted he had been reluctant to travel to Hillsborough on Tuesday because of reservations about the decommissioning report.
“I always felt there was going to be a difficulty, for immediately people would say you need more clarity and more details,” he told the Dail [Irish parliament] in Dublin yesterday.
He had tried unsuccessfully to contact the general on Monday night to discuss how the problem could be minimised. It is understood the general was out of Belfast for almost 24 hours, being taken to a secret location somewhere in Ireland where he witnessed arms being destroyed.
At Westminster, Conservative MPs questioned why the election had been announced before “all the ducks were lined up in a row”.
One Tory ex-Northern Ireland minister asked: “Why wasn’t the decommissioning 36 hours before the event, instead of 12 hours, so there would be time for de Chastelain to brief the two prime ministers properly?”
No Ordinary Women
Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900–1923
With historical introduction by Margaret Ward
Spies, snipers, couriers, gun-runners, medics
Women in the fight for Ireland’s independence risked loss of life and family for their cause. Here are the biographies of sixty-five women activists, along with lists of those imprisoned after the 1916 Rising and the more than seven hundred women arrested during the Irish Civil War. They came from every class in society-titled ladies, shop assistants, doctors, housewives, laundry workers, artists, and teachers. Some were married with children, others widowed, and some were mere schoolgirls.
Using historical records, interviews with survivors and their families, and the women’s own prison diaries, memorabilia, and writings, Sinéad McCoole vividly recreates the characters, personalities, and courage of these extraordinary women, many of whom served time in Ireland’s most notorious prison, Kilmainham Gaol.
Sinéad McCoole is the author Hazel and Guns and Chiffon: Women Revolutionaries and Kilmainham Gaol. She has scripted a series of short films and curated historical and art exhibitions for Dúchas, (Ireland’s heritage service) and for Dublin’s Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. She lives in Dublin and works as a researcher and lecturer at the Kilmainham Gaol Museum.
Co-published with the O’Brien Press, Dublin
THE MURDER OF BRIAN STEWART
The following article is a sampling of some of the statements of area residents and witnesses in the killing of Brian Stewart (age 13) outside of his home by the British Army regiment known as the King’s Own Scottish Borderers at Turf Lodge (housing complex), Belfast in October 1976. The Nationalist people of Northern Ireland now refer to this regiment as the King’s Own Scottish Murderers.
STATEMENT OF MRS. MARY DOBBIN
56 Norglen Crescent (Housewife).
On Monday 4th October, 1976 at 6:15 pm I called over to Mrs. Stewart’s house. Brian aged 13 years was sitting in the living room with his sister. She was helping him with his homework. Just at 6:20 pm Brian went off to the bathroom, first calling into the working kitchen to his mother. When he came out of the bathroom, someone had called at the door. I left Mrs. Stewart’s directly after, at around 6:30 pm. I was back into my own living room, had lifted my dinner and was on my way back into the living room when Mrs. Stewart came running in. It was only 6:35 because the music of Crossroads had just come on. She said Brian had been hit in the face with a bullet. She was hysterical and crying. I put her into the living room and said I would go and
see how Brian was and get the details. I got into the street and everyone said the boy had been taken to Mrs. Mulvenna’s house. I went there. He was in a pretty bad way. He was unconscious and vomiting badly. The house was full. While I was there Mrs. Mulvenna phoned a second time for the ambulance. It came shortly afterwards. I accompanied him to the hospital. His sister had meantime joined me in the ambulance. We arrived at the R.V.H. (Royal Victoria Hospital) and went to reception and gave Brian’s particulars to them. Brian meantime had been moved into the ambulance room. We waited for quite a while. The nurse came out and told me that Brian had a fractured skull. I asked was there any danger and he said not at that particular time but that there could be complications later, e.g. a blood clot might form. After that they took Brian up to the ward. We stayed, some time later we were joined by his father who had rushed down. His father also saw the surgeon who told him the same as he told us. The father signed a consent form in case an operation should be necessary. We then came home.
Signed: Mrs. Mary Dobbin
STATEMENT OF MRS. MARY MURPHY
At 4:45 pm October 4, 1976 I saw soldiers on foot patrols (of eight or ten men). They were walking up and down Monagh Road and Norglen Drive. Earlier on at 3:30 pm the children were saying the soldiers were firing rubber bullets at Holy Trinity School when they were coming home. This aggression from the soldiers continued until teatime around 6:30 pm, even after Brian Stewart was shot by a rubber bullet. (Note: It
was actually a PLASTIC bullet.) One of my sons aged 10 ran into the house to me shouting that Brian had been shot. I ran down to the street with my husband. They were lifting Brian off the street. The women took him into Mrs. Magee’s house. All the time rubber bullets were still being fired even though people were on the street. I would say at least a hundred bullets were fired. I saw three other boys limping away. The soldiers were running backwards into a field towards the Fort Monagh Army Base. The whole district was out, everyone was angry about Brian being shot and seriously wounded. I was very upset. I was trying to keep my children out of the way. Most of the mothers were trying to do the same as they did not want their children to witness the state Brian was in. They were also afraid of their children getting hit by the rubber bullets. My daughter Christine told me that she saw Brian getting shot with a bullet. She said “Mommy, it was the the same soldier that shot a child round at the flats”. (Probably Divis Flats) This was when she was at the shops for me. Brian could not have been throwing stones as he had just gone to the corner. Also as the mothers were so frightened, they were bringing in the children; so it is a lie to say that 400 children were rioting. In this estate (housingcomplex) every time the Army do something on the people, they try to justify it by telling lies right away.
Signed: Mrs. Mary Murphy
Witness: Rita Mullan
STATEMENT OF MRS. MARGARET FISHER
5 October 1976
On Monday 4th October, 1976 I was standing at my front door around 6:30 pm. There were about six or eight boys in the street, not together in one group but interspersed. Suddenly I heard a shot and then I saw one boy fall. I did not know who it was but I ran towards him. When I got there there was a soldier. He was pulling the boy by the feet to take him away. A crowd of people were converging on the spot. A little girl was trying to pull the boy away from the soldier. The soldier kicked or pushed her. I shouted at him to leave the child alone. The soldier made another attempt to get the child. The crowd had now got to the spot and they took the boy further up the street. A boy named David Magee lifted him and carried him into his own house.
Signed: Mrs. Margaret Fisher
Witness: Kate McQuillan
STATEMENT OF MRS. IRVINE
Monagh Crescent (Housewife)
5 October 1976
Shortly after 6 pm on Monday 4 October, 1976 I was standing at at the door of my home at the above address. There is a shop next door and a boy was standing there. I recognised him as he was a boy who played with my own children sometimes. There were two girls in his vicinity but they were not specifically with him. I saw a foot patrol walking backwards along Norglen Road which runs along the bottom of my street. I saw the patrol go by; then one soldier came back. He was a very tall soldier, broad in build. He had a thick moustache. As he came back he took aim at the boy and fired. The child fell to the ground. The same soldier came over to the boy and lowered his hand to the boy’s legs. The girls at the spot had run forward and one of them seemed
to be remonstrating with the soldier but I could not hear what was said. I saw the soldier move towards the girl but I don’t know whether he just pushed her or not. I could just see an arm raised. The child was lifted then and taken away.
Signed: Mrs. B. Irvine
Witness: Elizabeth F. Murray
STATEMENT OF FRANK DIAMOND
At around 6:20 pm on October 4, I was standing at my own door-way which is approximately 30 yards from the corner of Monagh Crescent. A foot patrol was moving down Norglen Road (four men). There were no more than 10 children in and around Monagh Crescent corner. They were not in a group. The soldiers were walking backwards down Norglen Road. I heard a plastic bullet being fired. I saw a young boy falling to the ground on the footpath at the corner of Monagh Crescent and Norglen Road. A member of the patrol ran up to him and attempted to pull him by the leg down the street. There was a couple of children around the boy. I feel the soldier who attempted to pull the boy away saw the blood pouring from the boy’s head and realising it was very serious, he retreated and backed down to his patrol. I ran over to the corner and other neighbours lifted and carried him into Magee’s house in Monagh Crescent. I went into the house with the child. I could see he was seriously wounded on the left temple. It was an open wound approximately 2 inches above his left ear. The top part of his left ear was black. Right above his left ear there was an immediate swelling. We tried to stop the blood flow until the arrival of an ambulance. The child never spoke a word at all although his eyes were opening and closing. He did not appear to be conscious. The boy appeared to be in a fit. His legs and arms were twitching and he was vomiting continuously until he was carried into the ambulance. The ambulance man looked into the boy’s eyes and said “I think this lad has a fractured skull.” As far as I am concerned this is a true version of what happened at my corner. I already appeared on BBC television news today stating that I did not see any stone-throwing prior to the boy being shot.
Signed: Frank Diamond
Witness: Rita Mullan
STATEMENT FROM THE COMMITTEE OF THE MOTHERS OF TURF LODGE:
Brian Stewart (age 13) of Turf Lodge died in the Royal Victoria Hospital this morning. He died as a result of a fractured skull and massive brain damage caused by a plastic bullet fired by a British soldier on Monday last. The grief of his family has been increased by the lies told by the British Army about the killing:
LIE NUMBER 1:
The soldiers were under attack from 400 (later raised to 500) rioters when they fired on Brian Stewart.
There are at least 5 reliable witnesses who are prepared to testify that there was no crowd, much less a riot, in the street at the time of the incident. Television camera crews failed to find any evidence of a riot when they arrived.
LIE NUMBER 2:
The soldier who killed Brian Stewart fired a plastic bullet at the identified ringleader of the attacking group.
A woman visiting the Stewart home is prepared to testify that Brian had left his home only minutes before he was fatally injured. He had no time become involved in anything much less the ringleader of a non-existant riot.
LIE NUMBER 3:
A soldier who went to render first aid was attacked and had to retreat.
A soldier tried to drag the injured boy away by the heels. When a young girl at the scene remonstrated with him and held on to the child, the soldier threatened to shoot her.
The Mothers of Turf Lodge will not be deflected by this detestable incident from their goal of protecting their children from the murders of the British Army and mourning in a dignified way the death of Brian Stewart.
Our demands still stand:
1. The immediate retraction of British Army lies.
2. The charging of the soldier who fired the plastic bullet with
3. The charging of the officer who ordered the bullet to be fired with
conspiracy to murder.
4. The immediate and permanent withdrawal of the British Army from
Two of our children, Leo Norney and Brian Stewart, have been murdered; Sandy Lynch has been seriously injured by British soldiers. We are determined that these murderers will not be allowed back into Turf Lodge.
Sunday October 10, 1976
IRA statement in full
The IRA has signalled a move on arms
The leadership of the IRA welcomed today’s speech by Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in which he accurately reflects our position.
He also referred to the issue of weapons.
The IRA leadership is committed to resolving this issue.
In line with our stated position, we have authorised our representative to meet with the IICD with a view to proceeding with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity.
We have also authorised a further act of putting arms beyond use.
This will be verified under the agreed scheme.
Signed P O’Neill
PM insists elections ‘will go ahead’
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair said talks would continue
Assembly elections will go ahead as planned next month despite the Ulster Unionist Party’s rejection of the IRA’s latest act of decommissioning, the prime minister has said.