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BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Gun attacks on republican homes

Gun attacks on republican homes

There have been separate gun attacks on two houses in west Belfast.
The home of Sinn Fein councillor, Paul Butler, was hit by two shots just after 2200 GMT on Friday.

Mr Butler was out when the attack happened.

His partner and their two children, aged 16 and 9, were sitting in the living room when two rounds hit bullet proof glass in the window.

"They came here with no regard for my family, they could have killed my son or daughter," he said.

"I immediately came back and saw the shot marks in the window. It's bullet-proof glass and they didn't get through but you can see the marks."

Mr Butler, who fought the recent assembly election in the Lagan Valley constituency, blamed loyalists and said he had been regularly targeted and threatened.

In a separate incident, police responded to reports of gunfire at the home of Freddie Scappatticci in the Andersonstown area of west Belfast.

Mr Scappatticci is alleged to be the army agent inside the IRA known as Stakeknife.

He has consistently denied the claims.

In recent months, windows in his house have been smashed with ball bearings and hoax devices have been left outside.


FRU Open Letter to British High Court




BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Loyalist loses firearm appeal

Loyalist loses firearm appeal

Andre Shoukri will serve the remainder of his two-year sentence
A leading loyalist has lost his appeal against a two-year jail sentence for having a gun without a certificate.
Andre Shoukri, 25, from Sunningale Gardens, Belfast, is the alleged brigadier of the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association in the north of the city.

Delivering their ruling on Friday, the Appeal Court judges said the two year sentence was fully merited as the gun had been obtained illicitly together with a significant amount of ammunition.

They added that the onus was on the court to hand down a sentence which would act as a deterrent to others.

Shoukri was not in the court to hear the ruling.

He was caught with a pistol and 30 bullets in a sock when police stopped a car in the Rathcoole Estate in September of last year.

He was originally given a six-year sentence after being convicted of possessing a weapon in suspicious circumstances but that was overturned on appeal and the two-year term imposed.

Shoukri was acquitted of possessing the weapon with intent


NEWSHOUND: Links to daily newspaper articles about Northern Ireland

If you will click on the above link, you will find the Real Player link posted by John Fay for the one hour interview (after news headlines) with Gerry Adams on the Marian Finucane Show.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Anger over 'collusion' reports

Anger over 'collusion' reports

Relatives of people murdered in controversial circumstances have accused the British and Irish Governments of breaking promises.
The families say they are angry at the delay of the publication of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory's reports into the deaths, which were due earlier this week.

Judge Cory has been examining allegations of collusion surrounding some of the most controversial killings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The British Government is still considering the legal and security implications of publishing the judge's findings.

Rosemary Nelson's brother Eunan Magee said the British Government had reneged on their promises.

"We sat back with a 'wait and see' approach, and once again, what are we left with?" he said.

Diane Hamill said she was upset to find out about Judge Cory's findings through media reports.

"We haven't been contacted by the Northern Ireland Office since before the report was given to them by Judge Cory," she said.

"Yet again the feelings of my family have been totally disrespected and ignored, and we have been treated very disrespectfully by the Northern Ireland Office."

Jane Winter, of British-Irish Human Rights Watch, a group which advised four of the families, said they were angry at being kept in the dark.

"All of them have had a very long, hard battle to get justice for their loved ones," (s)he said. **see article for link to background material.

"Just as it would be for anyone else, they have a sense of 'so near and yet so far'."

Secretary of State Paul Murphy said he could not comment until the reports were made public.

It is understood that the families of murdered senior RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan are anxious to know the contents of their respective reports, which are being considered by the Irish Republic's attorney general.


It is understood that Judge Cory has recommended public inquiries into four murders: those of the solicitors Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, the loyalist leader Billy Wright and the Portadown man Robert Hamill.

Sources also told the BBC earlier this week that Judge Cory has asked the Irish Government to hold an inquiry into the murders of Chief Superintendent Breen and Superintendent Buchanan.

The Irish Government has also received two reports from Judge Cory into the murders on the border of the two senior RUC officers and of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife.

Early speculation suggested that the judge had asked for two inquiries in the Irish Republic, but sources now say he has recommended one and this is understood to be into the murders of the two RUC officers.

Judge Cory was appointed by London and Dublin following the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001.


Northern Ireland News

Third Legal Bid to Have Pair Ousted from Army
Dec 3 2003

By Ivan McMichael

THE mother of Peter McBride, who was murdered by two Scottish
soldiers in Belfast in 1992, launched a third legal bid yesterday to
get them thrown out of the Army.

Scots Guards Mark Wright and James Fisher served only three years of a life sentence and are still in their regiment, despite a majority
decision in the Appeal Court last June that the Army was wrong not
to discharge them.

Jean McBride, mother of Peter, 18, who was shot near his home in the New Lodge area, is challenging the refusal of the Armed Forces
Minister to review the soldiers' status in the light of the decision
by two appeal judges.

In the High Court in Belfast yesterday Seamus Treacy, QC, said a
mandatory requirement of Queen's Regulations was that a soldier
sentenced to imprisonment must be discharged.

The only derogation was if "exceptional circumstances" could be

He said the effect of the appeal court judgment was that there were no exceptional circumstances and therefore the Minister was wrong in deciding that the Army was not compelled to take action.

Mr Treacy said the judgement provided the army with the freedom to decide what action to take, not the freedom to take no action at all.

Paul Maguire, BL, countered that the appeal court's majority
decision intended to draw a line under the controversy engendered by the retention of the soldiers in the Army and the Minister had not
acted unlawfully when he decided not to revise their status.

Mr Justice Weir said the appeal court had not quashed the Army's
decision to retain the soldiers and added: "We have to stop going
round in circles."

He said he would like time to reflect on the application for leave
to apply for a judicial review and would give his decision towards
the end of the week.

::: u.tv :::

WEDNESDAY 03/12/2003 15:38:28

Scappaticci summonsed to High court

A west Belfast man who denies being the British Army agent Stakeknife has been summonsed to appear at the High Court in London later this month, it emerged today.
By:Press Association

Freddie Scappaticci, 59, is being called as a witness by a former military agent who is challenging an attempt by the Ministry of Defence to silence him.

Sam Rosenfeld, 41, worked for three years for British intelligence spying on the IRA in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

The MoD is seeking a life-time injunction to try to prevent him detailing his activities when he worked undercover.

The case is due to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on December 17.

Another army agent known as Kevin Fulton and a former military intelligence handler turned whistle-blower, Martin Ingram, have also been ordered to appear to testify.

Witness summonses against the three were issued at the High Court in London today.

Mr Scappaticci has categorically denied claims he was the army`s top agent known as Stakeknife who also help head up the IRA`s so-called internal security unit.

He has admitted being a republican, but insisted in May he left the movement 13 years ago.

He lives in the Andersonstown area of Belfast.

Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who is in charge of the marathon inquiry into allegations of collusion between military intelligence and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, has confirmed he is to question an army agent identified to him as Stakeknife.

He has yet to meet him.

Earlier this year Mr Scappaticci failed in a legal bid to order the Northern Ireland security minister Jane Kennedy to make a public statement confirming his denials he was a British agent.

Between 1990 and 1993, Mr Rosenfeld, a building contractor, worked for the army`s Force Research Unit (FRU), and defence chiefs are attempting to gag him to prevent damaging details being revealed about secret anti-terrorist operations.

He and Mr Fulton have claimed their military bosses reneged on an agreement to re-settle them with a pension after their links ended.

Mr Fulton and the MoD are involved in a separate legal action, but he has pledged to go to the High Court hearing.

He said: ``I will obey any witness summons, and I will be interested to hear what Mr Scappaticci has to say.``

Mr Ingram, once a FRU handler, said he would be considering the summons request.

He said: ``I have certain sympathy for people who have been wronged. It if it in my power to help them responsibly, I will do it.``

Mr Scappaticci`s solicitor, Michael Flanagan, was unavailable for comment.

Mr Scappaticci, Mr Fulton and Mr Ingham can face contempt proceedings if they fail to appear.

Mr Scappaticci`s solicitor, Michael Flanagan, said tonight: ``My client has never heard of Mr Rosenfeld and he is not involved whatsoever in his High Court action.``



Gun handed back to UFF 'used to kill six'

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

RUC Special Branch officers handed over a gun to the UDA which was
later used in six murders, retired Canadian judge Peter Cory's
report is expected to reveal.

A Browning 9mm pistol used in six murders had been in the possession
of the RUC's Special Branch for two weeks before it was handed back
to the UDA and used in two gun attacks.

Reliable sources last night (Monday) suggested that Peter Cory's
reports into security force collusion with loyalists would point to
evidence that Special Branch took possession of the Browning 9mm
pistol from UDA quartermaster Billy Stobie in late 1989 but two
weeks later returned the weapon to the UDA without any apparent
attempt to track its movements.

Two years later masked UDA men burst into the Devenish Arms in west
Belfast on December 22, 1991 and used the Browning pistol to shoot
at customers.

Twenty-two-year-old Catholic man Aidan Wallace was shot dead. Three
others were seriously injured, including eight-year-old Christopher
Lawless, who was shot in the face and lost an eye after gunmen
spotted him hiding underneath a table.

Less than three months later two UDA gunmen, one armed with the same
Browning pistol, burst into Sean Graham's bookmakers on the Ormeau
Road and fired nearly 50 shots into the crowded shop.

Five people, including 15-year-old schoolboy James Kennedy and 66-
year-old pensioner Jack Duffin, were killed in the attack.

Mark Sykes, who was shot four times in the attack, and whose 18-year-
old cousin Peter Magee was shot dead alongside him, said he was not
surprised by the news.

"What is unbelievable is that police could have had a gun in their
possession and handed it back to the UDA to murder six more people,"
he said.

"What is shocking is that they must have known this for 12 years and
totally covered it up."

Aidan Wallace's mother Betty said she was shocked that the weapon
which killed her son may now turn out to have been in police hands.

"You can never forget Aidan but you try to get on with life as best
you can," she said.

"What is hard to accept is that no-one was ever charged or convicted
with Aidan's murder.

"The police came two years later and said they'd arrested two men
with the gun which killed Aidan.

"They never came back to tell us if they were charged or let go.
I've never heard from police again to this day.

"If it does turn out that police had this gun in their possession
and gave it back then that is just unforgivable, totally

Police last night refused to make any comment in regard to Mr Cory's
report or the Browning 9mm pistol.

December 3, 2003


Donaldson Slapped Down for Attack on Trimble
The News Letter
Dec 2 2003

THE Donaldson factor raised its head but was quickly put down at the first meeting of Ulster Unionist MLAs at Stormont yesterday morning.

The incident lasted only a matter of minutes in a two-hour meeting, which was otherwise focused on the party's post-election operation and strategy, and variously described as ''cordial'' and ''amicable'', apart from the Donaldson interlude.

Mr Donaldson repeated his call for UUP leader David Trimble to resign but was immediately met with a statement by Strangford MLA David McNarry that he had the requisite signatures to call a UUC meeting to propose a motion of no confidence in him if he did not desist from divisive behaviour.

The party leadership moved the discussion on quickly, and Mr Donaldson said no more until he addressed the media afterwards.

Then he repeated his belief the only way forward for his party was for Mr Trimble to step down.

He refused to speculate on whether he would bid to become leader of the party.

"There isn't a vacancy at the moment and a vacancy doesn't arise naturally until the Ulster Unionist Council in March. That's why I have chosen my words carefully and said that in the interests of rebuilding the party before the next election that the party leader should step aside.''

Mr Trimble refused to comment on the resignation call. "I'm sorry if Jeffrey said that here because that doesn't reflect the group meeting we had. We were there for the best part of two hours, and it was an amicable discussion,'' he said.

He declined to comment on whether an extraordinary meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council would be called to force Mr Donaldson out of the party.

"One of the things I did say to the group, and I think it was appropriate when we had a group of 10 new members in it, was that I underlined how important it was that we speak frankly within the group, but we only do it within the group.''

The Ulster Unionist leader said his focus would be on challenging the DUP on its proposals to end the deadlock in the political institutions.

"This assembly here is empty, it is closed and it will not be open until some proposals come forward and it is not good enough for the DUP to go on pretending they are in opposition for the next year or so, because if they do then we won't be here.''

Newly-elected MLA David Burnside described the situation at Stormont as a ''farce''.

"Stormont either works or it should be closed down, in my opinion," he said.

FR: Ned McGinley, National President AOH in America
RE: Malachy McAllister Case w/ BICE
DA: December 1, 2003

Malachy McAlllister, as he has done all along, reported to the BICE (formerly INS) Office outside Newark Airport in NJ as requested by a letter sent by the BICE and obeyed the law. The potential consequences of this ranged from being immediately put on a plane and sent to Ireland, placed in jail until his appeals had been exhausted, or the best allowed bail. This is a huge and somewhat unexpected victory, but we are not finished

THIS MORNING THROUGH THE HARD WORK OF SO MANY OF YOU THE BEST POSSIBLE SCENARIO OCCURRED AND MALACHY WAS RELEASED ON HIS OWN RECOGNIZANCE. This means that he can return to his family and resume what passes for a normal life until the hearings are completed. The tremendous outpouring of effort from the Irish-American community including the Ancient Order of Hibernians undoubtedly made this possible. Thank you for this tremendous effort.

BUT NOW WE ARE ASKING THAT THE EFFORT CONTINUE. We are asking you to have your Congressman and if possible State Senators sign on to the Representative Steve Rothman's Letter in Congress. I will send a copy under in a different email very shortly. Please call your Congressman's Office and request that they do so ASAP.

Sinn Féin: Gerry Adams meets Mark Durkan

Gerry Adams meets Mark Durkan

Published: 2 December, 2003

A Sinn Féin delegation led by party President Gerry Adams and including Conor Murphy and Caitriona Ruane this morning met with the SDLP. Speaking afterwards Mr Adams said:

" This meeting is part of an effort to meet all of the pro-Agreement parties and to develop and co-ordinate a pro-Agreement project between us. 70% of the electorate voted for the Agreement and 70% of the MLAs are pro-Agreement. There is therefore a pressing need for us to work out areas of co-operation between us to defend, develop and promote the Agreement.

"This is especially true for Sinn Féin and the SDLP who represent a shared constituency. We need to explore the possibilities of co-operation above and beyond the Good Friday Agreement.

"There is also an onus on the pro-Agreement parties to prepare for the Review to ensure that the principles, structures and ethos of the Agreement are protected and developed.

Commenting on speculation around the Cory Report Mr Adams said:

"If even a small part of the media reports around Judge Cory's investigation is accurate, it reinforces the case we have been making for many years about the depth and extent of institutionalised collusion. The Cory Report should be published immediately and the inquiries should also be held without further delay.

"There has already been too much delay, to many efforts to cover up the truth around collusion. Collusion was part of administrative procedure here for a long time. It involved the highest level of the British government and its agencies."


IOL: Sinn F?in 'willing to engage' with DUP

Sinn Féin 'willing to engage' with DUP
01/12/2003 - 10:40:24

Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin today said his party would be willing to engage with the DUP to hear what they had to say about the peace process.

However, the Foyle MLA said the DUP would have to come to terms with the fact that the majority of people supported the Agreement.

“They may have ideas that people will be able to explore,” he said.

“Those ideas will be subject to the pro-Agreement majority. The DUP claim to be democrats. They put their case. They lost that particular argument, notwithstanding their 30 representatives but they lost that argument.

“There is a pro-Agreement majority that they have to come to terms with and the majority has made it clear. The Good Friday Agreement is the only show in town and there will be no stripping back.

“If anything, we will continue to advance and build value on to Good Friday Agreement and there will be no retraction whatsoever.”

THE BLANKET * Index: Current Articles

Anthony McIntyre • 30.11.03

Malachy McAllister, or ‘Mock’ as we knew him was a close childhood friend; one of those types that made youngsters not related by way of family consider becoming blood brothers through cutting hands and letting the blood mingle. We never got to that stage, thinking it a better demonstration of our fidelity to each other to share in the spilling of the blood from the heads of some loyalist kids from the Donegall Pass Tartan gang, achieved with a few well-aimed stones. For my sins the Tartan aimed better and split my own, leaving me stitched and sore. Looking back, it was all childhood nonsense but it was how we gave meaning to our world. Mates were mates and loyalty to each other was a big factor in our lives. That was before the opposite sex stopped looking gawky and it suddenly seemed better to have a girl than a blood brother. Chasing no longer meant pursuing the Tartan.



Relief for Irish Deportees and Political Prisoners in the US Petition

**Please click on above link to view and sign the petition. This is what it says:

To: The United States Congress, President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft

On behalf of Malachy McAllister, Ciarán Ferry, Paul Harkin, John McNicholl (deported 7/18/2003) and any other Irishmen in the United States that is seeking asylum or is under arrest or is threatened with imminent deportation, or is being hounded or threatened in any way by the United States government, or has come here to visit or to participate in a family gathering or event and has now been detained and threatened with a Draconian sentence we, the undersigned, respectfully request that you cease and desist immediately. Your actions, while creating the illusion that you’re combating terrorism, actually does harm to the very cause that you champion by diverting valuable manpower to pursue those who come here to escape the institutionalized sectarianism and hatred of Catholics in The North of Ireland. They come here to build a better life for themselves and their progeny and to, ultimately, build up the United States. They are not enemies of the United States, nor are they terrorists who seek to harm Americans or American interests.

Furthermore, continued pursuit of these individuals, coupled with the new, revised, but as yet unratified extradition treaty between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, can only be viewed as a transparent attempt to court favor with the British government and the Queen of England.

Many of these individuals were convicted by a British Diplock court, an invention of the British state, designed to maximize the conviction rate of Irish political defendants. These courts were complete with case-hardened judges and sealed court rooms. A defendant who found themselves at the mercy of such a court had inadequate or non-existent legal representation and was subjected a juryless trial. These courts stood in direct contravention of the presumption of innocence standard that is the hallmark of a fair and impartial judicial system, one that we’re used to here in America. Many of these individuals were released in accordance with the letter and spirit of the almost-dead, 1998 Good Friday Agreement, brokered, in large part, by the United States, the very country that now seeks their deportation and ultimate demise at the hands of still-active Loyalist paramilitary organizations.



Sunday Life

UDA rape beast expels families

By Stephen Breen

ANGRY parents, on Belfast's Shankill Road, last night hit out over a convicted UDA rapist, who helps run a local sports team.

Loyalist sources told Sunday Life that a number of parents in the loyalist stronghold wanted the man removed from the team, because of his rape conviction.

It is believed the parents planned to hold a series of pickets outside his house, last week - but were warned by the UDA to "stay away".

Although no protests were held, two families did protest outside the house, on Friday.

"The families were later told to leave the area by the terror group, after the rapist and his henchmen - armed with baseball bats - confronted them. The families later fled.

Now, other parents in the Shankill have refused to organise further protests, over fears they could be attacked by the UDA.

Earlier this month, Sunday Life revealed that the rapist was violently attacked, by another senior loyalist.

Loyalist sources told us the rapist had his nose broken, after he was confronted in a bar, by a former member of the UFF's 'B' company.

The terror boss accused the man of being a "pervert", before laying into him, following a remembrance service, in the Shankill.

Now, senior loyalist sources in the area claim there is a lot of anger locally, over the sex fiend's position within the UDA.

Said a source: "Everyone knows this man's background, but they are afraid to say anything, because he holds a senior position in the UDA.

"He's up to his neck in everything, and a number of the parents were, quite rightly, not happy that he was involved with kids, when he has a previous conviction for rape.

"He has been getting a hard time of it lately from ordinary people in the street, but also from senior loyalists, who have always hated him, for having a rape conviction.

"Some of the parents planned to stage a picket, outside his home.

"However, when the UDA heard about it, they were warned to stay away.

"The parents who went ahead with a picket on Friday, and were considered to be the ringleaders, were subsequently forced from their homes, because the UDA wasn't happy."

sbreen@belfast telegraph.co.uk

Sunday Business Post

**Gotta love this metaphor: "The big dinosaur, his hour come around at last was slouching towards Stormont to be born."

Huff, puff, and compromise

By Tom McGurk

The mandarins of Merrion Row and Whitehall may well have had a serious cut at the Chardonnay after lunch last Friday.

After a decade of often mind-numbing but nonetheless dedicated political architecture among the strange inhabitants of the `dreary spires' territory - north of the Black Pig's Dyke - they had hoped it was all resolved for at least this generation.

Wild men have been tamed, reluctant ones encouraged into the sunlight and ancient ideologists dispatched to the knacker's yard of history.

But come Thursday,the unspeakable was out once again in pursuit of the inedible. The big dinosaur, his hour come around at last was slouching towards Stormont to be born. Those who for so long had been outside the tent peeing in were now inside the tent peeing out.

For Ian Kyle Paisley, the long journey to his destiny had been completed. His populist, sectarian, traditionalist style of unionism had finally ousted the historic role of the Ulster Unionist Party as leader of unionism. The self-appointed leader of his own church and his own political party had come banging on the door.

Eighty-two years down the road from partition, the hell-raising street preacher had ended the hegemony of the Craigs, the Londonderrys, the Brookes, the Faulkners and the Trimbles.

At last the leadership of the lost tribe has passed from the residents of the Big House to the sitting tenants on what's left of the estate. The sectarian guard-dogs had finally turned on, and devoured, their masters. Shrunken with age, emaciated and hunched into his huge overcoat, on Thursday evening Paisley was grinning at the cameras like some ancient wolf that had finally got right into the larder.

So what is the chorus among the political chattering classes this weekend?

On the political face of it,the meeting between an irresistible force and immovable object had taken place. But in attempting to assess the political vista now opening up before us, it is critically important to appreciate the crisis this situation is going to create for the DUP itself.

Not for the first time in political history, the experience of power may create rifts, for being in opposition allows factions to put differences aside.

After years on the sideline, surviving on slogans and abuse and never being prepared to negotiate with anyone, the DUP may now be about to learn some seminal lessons. If they don't begin to learn those lessons very quickly, the triumph of political success will very quickly turn to the ashes of a Pyrrhic victory.

In the midst of all the chaos lapping around the political doors of London and Dublin stands one utterly irrefutably reality, one political rock in the stream, and that is there can be no ministerial salaries for the triumphant DUP unless and until they do business with Sinn Féin.

Their choice is utterly simple, government with Sinn Féin or no government at all. They can win the race, but the prize is as far away as ever. Talk of renegotiations, third ways and so on is no more than mere election fodder for the grim-faced electorate of North Antrim and beyond.

The Big Man has been promising the big miracle for over 40 year now; that he would once and for all save what he calls Ulster from its enemies. Now he has been given the power, and now he is about to discover that mantle he has taken from David Trimble's shoulders will prove a heavy burden.

Even worse, the DUP as a political organisation is utterly uncrafted for the business of negotiation. In many ways it's not a political party at all, grouped around any coherent philosophy.

It's essentially a mixture of oligarchy and fan club that is already showing the signs of tension within its makeup. Its chaotic mixture of born-agains, Christian fundamentalists, bible-belters and sectarian reactionaries are interwoven with the credulous and the politically ambitious.

From the moment it transformed itself from what was originally the Protestant Unionist party into the Democratic Unionist Party it became an uneasy amalgam: Paisley's religious crowd allied to Peter Robinson's traditional unionist crowd.

What held this strange alliance of East Belfast back street preacher and born again estate agent together was the cement of sectarianism. Perpetually stalking the sidelines of the "NO" camp, the Paisley/Robinson team's smirking dismissal of any attempt at progress was fine.But now on the pitch it may prove to be a very different game.

Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds, Sammy Wilson and others belong to a generation that joined the DUP not to `Save Ulster from Sodomy'(and Rome) but to win political power.

In fact, given the pecking order within the UUP, that was probably why they joined up with Paisley in the first place. Now with the prospect of a polished ministerial car on the front drive, and a driver dancing to attendance, their view of things may already be changing.

For during the campaign there were indeed signs of change. Paisley, Robinson and Dodds have already sent out different coded signals about talking to the Shinners. There was a party decision to keep Paisley as much out of sight of the cameras as was possible during the campaign. Not for the first time might Moses, close to the Promised Land, be surplus to requirements.

I suspect that were a suitably biblical bolt of lightning to suddenly remove the Big Man from his earthly patch, DUP tears of relief might well outnumber tears of grief.

There will be huffing and puffing in the weeks to come,but withthe entire Northern nationalist community resolutely defending the house, the Belfast Agreement will not come down.

Watch the DUP ride the learning curve as they discover that majoritarianism is yesterday's game, and watch as the twisting demands of political ambition and the ancient shibboleths tear their apparent unity of purpose apart.This, after all,will be Sunningdale for politically illiterate learners.

The Observer | Focus | About-turn


The outcome of the polls last week merely reflects the bitter divisions in Northern Ireland that the Good Friday Agreement failed to banish. Henry McDonald reports

Sunday November 30, 2003
The Observer

John Hume sang, 'We Shall Overcome'. The anthem of the American and later the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement rang out triumphantly throughout the King's Head, a pub in South Belfast directly facing the counting centre. An emotional Hume burst into song in celebration of 30 years of peaceful, democratic politics. His party, the SDLP, had just realised its goal: a historic compromise between unionism and nationalism; a power-sharing government between Protestants and Catholics in Belfast.
However, those jubilant scenes in the King's Head took place five years ago in a more optimistic, less divided atmosphere than that facing Northern Ireland this weekend. On Friday those SDLP members who ventured across the Lisburn Road from the King's Hall counting centre to the King's Head were seeking to drown their sorrows. They had just witnessed the collapse of the SDLP's vote across Northern Ireland. The party that had taken risks to bring Sinn Fein into constitutional politics by securing an IRA cease-fire was being 'rewarded' by being spurned by the Catholic electorate.

By Friday night the picture was clear: the SDLP had only won 18 seats as opposed to Sinn Fein who were returned to the Stormont Assembly with 24 members.

The result marked a 360 degree turn in northern nationalism with Sinn Fein now on top with the exact amount of seats the SDLP had in the halcyon days of the spring of 1998.

Mournfully supping Guinness in the King's Head, one of the SDLP's veteran election workers in west Belfast - where the party's former MP Dr Joe Hendron had just lost his Assembly seat - pointed to his pint. 'Maybe there should be cyanide in this,' he said tapping the glass.

He was not only in mourning for his party but also for the Good Friday Agreement, the deal made in SDLP heaven with its emphasis on shared consensus, power-sharing, consent.

The Unionist community turned on the Agreement last Wednesday, giving Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists 30 seats. David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party was returned with 27 seats, one more than when it left the Assembly, the winners were the DUP. Combining its votes with five of the Ulster Unionists who don't support the Agreement, it is mathematically impossible to get enough support in the Assembly for a cross-community consensus.

Moreover, the outcome merely reflects the bitter divisions in Northern Irish society that the agreement failed to banish. In fact the only growth industry north of the river Lagan in Belfast has been the construction of almost 20 so-called peace walls separating Protestants and Catholics on a permanent basis.

The DUP's figurehead may be Ian Paisley but its key strategist is his deputy Peter Robinson. Those close to the East Belfast MP say he plans no big moves over the next 18 months. Instead Robinson will wait until the next Westminster election in the hope that the DUP can wrestle more seats from the Ulster Unionists. In the event of the DUP holding more seats in the House of Commons with Labour on a much-reduced majority and the resurrected Tories biting at Tony Blair's heels, Robinson will seek to gain a new agreement.

Sinn Fein however will not rest during this 18-month hiatus. Tomorrow Gerry Adams meets the Irish government and will press home the need for concessions to the republican community continuing. These include the controversial issue of the IRA 'on-the-runs' being allowed to return to Northern Ireland. The on-the-runs question is a major headache for Blair. He may be tempted to grant Sinn Fein this demand to secure and fasten the IRA cease-fire. But by doing so he will provide further ammunition to the resurgent DUP who will paint the peace process as a one-way pro-nationalist concession process.

The one politician inextricably linked to the agreement, Trimble, was remarkably relaxed yesterday about his future. Listening to Radio 3's Record Review, this classical-music loving former academic was preparing for an unseemly scrap. If and when his chief internal critic, Jeffrey Donaldson, moves to have his leader ousted as head of the UUP, Trimble will fight back. He told The Observer he is not going to resign.

Trimble accepts Donaldson is about to move against him: 'Donaldson's language certainly points to a leadership challenge,' he said. 'The question is this: is he going to come over the parapet himself?'

'He (Donaldson) is going to fail because the bulk of the party are not that upset at the outcome; they were bracing themselves for something worse.'

Asked why he would fight on, Trimble replied: 'I have no choice. I am not being irresponsible like John Major or William Hague by resigning. They left their party in the lurch. I am not walking away and leaving my party to be misled. We need to have a better leadership than people like Donaldson.'

Donaldson was adamant, however, that Trimble has to go: 'The election results carry a very clear message: two out of three unionist voters voted for anti-agreement candidates, even in the leader's own constituency of upper Bann. There needs to be a change; that's what the voters want. Otherwise we will lose more seats to the DUP at Westminster.

'Trimble should do the honourable thing and step aside. We need a transitional leadership for a broader consensus.

'If he stays then the UUP will end up like the SDLP.'

Donaldson now faces a choice - he and his allies will have to call a special meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council in order to topple Trimble over the next three weeks. Even his supporters accept that Trimble might still come through and survive the vote.

The SDLP will also have to endure several weeks of painful soul searching over its future. The Observer has learnt that at least five prominent SDLP figures in Belfast city have vowed they will no longer stand on the party's ticket.

All of them are looking south to Fianna Fail. One of the five said: 'I'm a nationalist, I'm in favour of a United Ireland so why would I not want to join an All Ireland party?' The clamour for a SDLP merger with Fianna Fail will grow over the next few weeks. A number are going to make direct approaches to Bertie Ahern's party in the next few days.

It was not meant to be like this: the centre parties squeezed, the hard-line forces consolidated. The landscape from Good Friday 1998 has been radically changed. The two communities are further apart than they were five years ago, politically and physically.

Twenty-four hours before the Good Friday deal was signed Paisley looked like yesterday's man. In a media tent outside Castle buildings at Stormont, the venue where the peace negotiations were taking place, Paisley tried to hold a press conference. The DUP leader was shouted down by a group of former loyalist paramilitaries. He was driven from the platform by the baying loyalists who chanted, 'Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio'.

The image of Paisley walking away from Stormont on Holy Thursday evening was one of the defining moments of the peace process. On the surface it appeared that Paisley and Paisleyism was confined to the dustbin of history. The events of last week and the surge of support for the DUP have made nonsense of that theory. Paisley still stands as a colossus in Northern Ireland politics who blocks any new historic compromise between unionism and nationalism.

Sinn Féin: Gerry Adams to deliver keynote address to Sinn Féin MLAs at Stormont

Gerry Adams to deliver keynote address to Sinn Féin MLAs at Stormont


Published: 30 November, 2003

Speaking in advance of a meeting tomorrow in Stormont of the newly elected Sinn Féin MLAs, Assembly Group leader Conor Murphy MLA has urged the British government to move speedily to lift the suspension of the political institutions.

Mr. Murphy said:

"On Wednesday almost half a million people voted for pro Agreement parties. The majority of the MLAs elected to the Assembly are for the Agreement and for the re-establishment of the political institutions. The British government must heed the voice of the people and lift the suspension of the political institutions.

"We met yesterday with the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy and we will meet with the Irish government this week. Both governments have much outstanding work to do. We are demanding that they implement in full their commitments on Human Rights, Equality, Policing, Justice and Demilitarisation.

"Sinn Féin will not be resting on our laurels. Our increased Assembly team will meet tomorrow in Stormont and we will continue with the work done over the past number of years in delivering on our agenda of change."ENDS

Editors Note: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams will make a key note address to the Sinn Féin MLAs at 1pm in our members room in Stormont.

IOL: Murphy resists demand to lift Assembly suspension

Murphy resists demand to lift Assembly suspension
30/11/2003 - 16:27:04

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy tonight resisted nationalist demands to lift the suspension of the power-sharing Assembly.

Mr Murphy said it would be highly unlikely that the parties could agree to form an Executive within the six week time period.

Both Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Mark Durkan, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party have urged the British government to restore devolution as soon as possible.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “I don’t think we should unsuspend and restore it now. I don’t think that would be wise.

“Everybody knows that if we restored the Assembly tomorrow then we would have six weeks according to the rules to establish a government. It doesn’t take a political genius to work out it’s highly unlikely.”

The prospect of an early return to devolution appears further away than ever with the success of the anti-Agreement Democratic Unionists in Wednesday’s Assembly elections.

But DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson denied today that he belonged to a party of wreckers.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, Mr Robinson insisted his anti-Agreement party had a positive agenda.

“Do they really believe voters in Northern Ireland would have voted for a party of wreckers?

“The reality is that we have a positive agenda, an agenda for change.” The DUP has insisted that the Good Friday Agreement must be re-negotiated to create a new settlement acceptable to unionists.

But Mr Murphy said that the fundamental principles of the Agreement must remain.

He is writing to all the parties inviting them to take part in a review of the Agreement next month.

He said nothing could alter the principles of powersharing between nationalism and unionism, north-south relationships or that the principle of consent was central to politics in Northern Ireland.

“The Agreement says we should review the operation, the workings of the Good Friday Agreement.

“What it gives is an opportunity to the parties in the Assembly to talk about the issues that affect them.”

This is unlikely to satisfy the DUP which became the largest party in the Assembly with 30 seats with its call for a “fair deal”.

Mr Robinson said that republicans must not be allowed in government until the IRA is dismantled.

“They must give up violence. They must stand down their terror machines. They must hand over their weapons of destruction that have been held illegally.”

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern appeared to offer a ray of hope, stating there was scope for discussion of many of the DUP’s issues with the present peace process.

He said: “The election has thrown up some imponderables that we just have to now manage our way through but that is the will of the people of Northern Ireland and now the two governments have to get on with it.”

The DUP had identified shortfalls in the Agreement over accountability, stability, efficiency and effectiveness that could be looked at, he said.

“They are issues that I have no problem dealing with. I think stability is a fair enough issue for he DUP to argue about … with four suspensions of the institutions during the course of the Agreement.”

But he warned the DUP that “success brings responsibility” and said progress would have to be inclusive if the British government was to be persuaded it was worth reviving the devolved institutions.

“What the Irish government would like to see is that we now get into this review. It can’t change fundamentals but it can deal with the operation of the last number of years of the agreement.

“Hopefully we can then move into the period ahead – we are probably talking about into January, when we can try to negotiate these items and move forward.”

“I respect everybody’s mandate, including the DUP, and I look forward to trying to build on the success that has been the peace process.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, whose party secured 27 seats in last week’s poll, could face a leadership challenge when his Assembly party meets tomorrow.

He faces a showdown with his bitter rival, Jeffrey Donaldson, who is calling on him to resign. Supporters of Mr Trimble have called on the Lagan Valley MP and MLA to support the leadership or leave the party.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Gang attacks youth with bars

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 16:45 GMT

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Gang attacks youth with bars

The son of a man who lost both legs after being assaulted by loyalist paramilitaries six years ago has been attacked in Belfast.

Drew Peden, 17, needed 37 staples to a head wound and sustained severe bruising after being set upon by a gang of men on the Crumlin Road in the north of the city.

The incident happened as the youth was walking past the Flax Street mill between 0100 GMT and 0200 GMT on Sunday.

The teenager said four masked men got out of a car and attacked him with iron bars.

"They beat me with bats first," he said.

"After that, they pulled my hat over my head.

They put something on my leg and asked me did I know what it was.

"I said: 'Yes, a gun'.

"They said: 'Do you know what we'll do with you if you keep squealing? We'll put you in that boot, and do you right.'"

The teenager suffered bruising to his back, arms and legs in the attack.

Drew's mother Linda said the assault was vicious.

"They took his clothes off him. A taxi driver saw him lying at the side of the road unconscious," she said.

"He had about five, big, deep lacerations to is head, blood everywhere and bad lacerations from his face right down to his feet.

"I'd say there's 50 welt marks where they beat him with the iron bars and they stuffed something in his mouth so he couldn't scream."

Drew's father, Andrew, had both his legs amputated after an Ulster Volunteer Force attack in 1998.

Last August, Drew Peden was shot in the legs by loyalists.

He also lost part of his hand when a pipe bomb blew up in a shed at his parents' home.

The teenager said he believed Sunday morning's attack on him was sectarian, but the police said they were keeping an open mind about the motive.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police.

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