Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ireland in danger of being cut off due to its reliance on Britain

John Kennedy:

A major failure or a catastrophic event in the UK could have dire implications for Ireland and its growing community of e-commerce and other knowledge industries, an expert said yesterday.

Ireland has been warned that it must expand its international data connectivity and be less reliant on the UK in order to ensure security of supply for the next generation of knowledge-intensive industries.

Strategically independent, diverse international telecommunications connectivity is extremely important to the social and economic fabric of society, PA Consulting said yesterday. Without international connectivity a nation is unable to effectively partake in international commerce or the global society.

“The impact that electronic communications is having on the nation’s economy and society is immense,” said Kevin Gleeson of PA Consulting. “It has enabled Ireland to position itself as an efficient and effective cog in the global financial and technological services sectors among others.

“One of the most important enabling factors to this developmental era is the provision of high-speed, high-bandwidth telecommunications connectivity to the island.”

However, Gleeson warned that the vast majority of Ireland’s e-commerce, mobile and fixed-line communications traverse the submarine telecoms systems that connect the country with the UK.

“All save one of Ireland’s international submarine cables connect to the UK,” added Gleeson. “We need to be able to confirm security of supply of these communications to inward investors and indeed the indigenous business community. We also need diversity of supply to guard against unforeseen events which can cause outages.”

Gleeson pointed to events such as undersea geological disturbances, accidents at sea involving commercial shipping or submarines and the risk of terrorism as compelling reasons for putting in place alternative connections to countries other than the UK.

He said developing alternative paths and reducing our dependence on the UK for international communications would reduce the risk for the Irish economy in the event of major failure or catastrophic events in the UK.

He recommended Ireland construct a direct link to mainland Europe by 2010.

“This would reduce our dependence on the UK as well as reducing our dependence on the North American links to act as a backup, and strategically position the island as a close, off-shore option to mainland Europe,” Gleeson said.

He added that such a move would also ensure that replacement international connectivity is in place before the existing cabling’s natural life cycle has ended.

Let's hope that Ireland's government and business leaders take Mr. Gleeson's advice.

UDA’s Belfast brick scam

Alana Fearon:

Despite a generous government grant of £1.2 million as an incentive to turn its back on extortion and criminality, the North Belfast News has learned that the UDA is cashing in on yet another scam – this time in the Tiger’s Bay area.

In March of this year it was announced that the government would provide £400,000 a year as part of a conflict transformation initiative to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG).

The project, which will run for a period of three years in six loyalist communities, is providing funding in a bid to move the UDA away from violence and crime.

But violence last weekend in Carrickfergus between feuding factions of the UDA, during which a policeman was shot in the back, coupled with the alleged extortion in Tiger’s Bay, could mean funding will be withdrawn.

We can reveal that the UDA is taxing budding entrepreneurs who have been cashing in on a Housing Executive (HE) regeneration scheme in the Mountcollyer area.

The latest UDA scam, which has been ongoing since the demolition of derelict houses began almost four years ago, involves extorting money from small businessmen who have beencollecting Belfast’s famous red bricks and selling them on to builders.

The Housing Executive has already cleared a significant number of houses in the area to make way for 35 new social houses provided by Clanmil Housing Association.

The remaining houses are due to be demolished as quickly as possible but the HE says ‘brick bandits’ are delaying the process and say they want the PSNI to take action.

Brick bandits have operated in other areas such as the Shore Road, Glenbryn and the Shankill.

A pallet of 500 bricks in the Mountcollyer area can fetch up to £110, but it is believed the UDA are cashing in on the scam by taxing the brick gatherers as much as £20 a pallet – and residents in the area have had enough.

A local source said: “This is just another UDA racket and residents down here aren’t happy about it.

“We are talking about young lads of 17 out trying to make a few pounds and they are being charged for their hard work. Imagine men coming round to your house after a hard working week and demanding some of your earnings.

“It wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else and it shouldn’t be tolerated here.

“Residents around here can’t say anything because they’d get their windows put in so everyone is keeping quiet.”

Funding for the conflict transformation initiative is being administered by Farset Community Enterprises and is being closely monitored by the Department for Social Development (DSD).

A spokesman for the DSD said: “The objective of the funding is to help reduce criminality and violence and free loyalist communities from the influence of paramilitaries.

“The department has made it clear that continued funding is dependent on a demonstrable reduction in crime and paramilitary activity and is working closely with the PSNI and the IMC on monitoring UDA activity.”

A brutal truth

British Army website discusses ways to kill Adams and McGuinness

'Why are we funding violent UDA?'

UDA feud proves loyalism has a long way to go

Funding linked to UDA 'must stop'

Thursday, July 26, 2007

An economic forecast from Davy Stockbrokers predicts the Irish economy will grow by 4% in 2007 and 3% in 2008

Ireland Digital:

While it says that 35,000 jobs will be lost in the construction sector over the next 18 months, according to an economic forecast by Davy Stockbrokers, the report predicts the losses will be offset by 15,000 new jobs in building of infrastructure and commerical property developments.

It also predicts general economic growth will remain strong.

Irish shares are currently underperforming European stock markets for the first time in years.

While London is up 8 percent this year, the Dublin market is down 5 percent.
Davy Stockbrokers says the main concern is the housing slowdown and it says construction output will fall by 25 percent.

This represents one of the lowest economic forecasts published recently.

While Ireland's economic growth remains substantially higher than Britain and other countries using the euro, Davy says growth in jobs will be 20,000 next year, down from 80,000 in recent years.

Irish Economy: Davy says economic growth will fall to 3% in 2008; unemployment will rise to 6% but performance will still rank among best in Eurozone

Hurling in America Has a Problem -- Too Few Irishmen

Economic growth to slow down, says Central Bank

NIO kid-glove treatment of UDA loyalist terrorists disgraceful

Brian Feeney:

"Those within loyalism who refuse to move away from criminality have absolutely nothing to offer their own community or anyone else. I would urge anyone with information on this deplorable incident to contact the police."

That's the sum total of the response from the British administration here to the events in Carrickfergus last Saturday night.

Now, do you not think that was to say the least a trifle muted considering a policeman had been shot in the back, 150 thugs had taken over a street in the town, converged on a particular house, then confronted a large number of police in riot gear?

Elsewhere, police stopped a carload of heavies carrying the accoutrements for doing a serious degree of grievous bodily harm.

Suppose that series of events had happened in Wythenshawe and Sale East, the English constituency of the man who is amusingly referred to on no constitutional grounds whatever, as 'security minister'?

Do you think the home secretary might have said something?

You might think that the events in Carrickfergus were serious enough for an appearance by our new proconsul but then he was jet-lagged from swanning around New York.

Maybe the 'security minister' was absent too in England and it was one of the thousands of NIO press officers who concocted the shamelessly inadequate boilerplate statement reeking of emptiness and cynicism. All the minister had to do was OK it. Look, no hands.

Whoever advised our 'security minister' that the off-hand sigh of official boredom he exhaled on Saturday night was all he needed to do betrayed absolutely accurately the NIO attitude to loyalism in general but to the UDA in particular.

The UDA is the NIO's favourite terrorist gang – not declared illegal until the dying days of the Troubles in 1992 after they'd killed about 370 people. It's now an accepted fact that the British administration developed and sustained the UDA as a classic counter-gang acting as the state's proxy killers so they couldn't crack down on them.

If they had done, they would have had to create another murder gang and it is always a case of the devil you know.

Still, you would think the relevant minister should by now at least have sounded as if he could take the murderous activities of the UDA seriously.

The snag is that the UDA got used to being treated with kid gloves and takes great offence at attempts to push it off the stage.

So, instead of trying to round its members up the NIO continues to treat them with kid gloves.

In one of the most scandalous uses of public money in the north, and that's saying something, successive proconsuls have been advised to try to bribe the UDA out of racketeering and extortion.

It's tantamount to saying, look lads, you don't have to batten on the local shops and building industry, we'll just give you the same amount of money out of public funds, but just stop shooting and thumping people.

As a result, we have the ludicrous attempt to manufacture a 'good' UDA with a front called the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), which does no research and is a political joke.

But the deal is they have to wear suits and condemn violence to get the money.

Listen to this hogwash about Saturday night from their spokesman: "The UPRG would, on behalf of all people in our community, totally condemn the criminal acts last night by a minority of people who carried out intimidation against people in the Larne and Carrickfergus areas and shot a policeman in the back."

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Except the risible UPRG can't speak on behalf of anyone except the UDA and they don't mention it was their 'good' UDA who descended on Carrickfergus to defend their newly appointed 'brigadier' agin the bad UDA who were trying to oust him – and note the 'would' in the statement.

In fact the UPRG nonsense dovetails precisely with the 'security minister's' garbage.

In his statement he implies that if the UDA 'move away from', not give up, criminality, they have something to offer their community.

Disgraceful – the UDA should get rid of its weapons and disband but then the 'security minister' can't say, "we don't need you any more".

It's time for the UDA to go away

Army review unsurprising

SF Seanad win will 'rebuild' party

Good UDA/ Bad UDA

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

UDA loyalist feuding in the north of Ireland

BBC News:

Five people are now under arrest in connection with violence in a County Antrim town at the weekend.

One man is being questioned about the attempted murder of a policeman on the Castlemara Estate in Carrickfergus.

The officer was shot in the back during disturbances between gangs of rival loyalists on Saturday night.

One man was arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon and three others arrested under terrorist legislation.

The officer's injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. A civilian was also stabbed and is in hospital.

Weapons, including CS spray, a crossbow and baseball bats, were found in the Castlemara estate. The trouble is being linked to UDA feuding.

Officers were called after reports that a large crowd had gathered in Castlemara Drive at about 2230 BST.

The three men were arrested after police stopped a car.

Security Minister Paul Goggins said those within loyalism who refused to cease criminal activity had "nothing to offer their own community or anyone else".

Superintendent Mark Gilmore condemned the attack.

"We are very serious about how we are going to respond operationally to this and we will be taking full measures to reassure the community and bring anyone to justice who feels that they want to further break the law," he said.

'Nothing to learn' from Paras role in killings

Policeman shot in Northern Ireland

PSNI have still much to prove

Residents ‘intimidated’ by marchers

Council funded bonfire slammed after UVF address

American honour for Joe Cahill

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A report on the economy from consulting group PwC forecasts Irish GDP growth of 5.2% this year, easing to 4% in 2008

RTE Business:

It says Ireland is likely to top the euro zone growth league this year, before dropping to third next year.

The report says the strength of the euro zone economy should help boost exports growth this year, though this will be partly offset by the impact of a strong euro and the high rate of inflation in Ireland.

PwC says consumers are likely to remain cautious in the months ahead because of higher interest rates and the housing slowdown. It adds that the construction sector should remain 'reasonably strong' due to increases in spending on infrastructure.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report says Ireland to remain on strong growth path over the next 18 months at least

Drugs and bonfires in the north of Ireland

Colm Heatley:

Davy was looking forward to the Twelfth celebrations on the Shankill last week, especially the eleventh night bonfire. Davy is not an Orangeman, but ‘‘I suppose I’d be a loyalist supporter,” he said.

It wasn’t politics that had him excited last week, however - it was the opportunity to make some easy money.

‘‘This is one of the biggest nights of the year for me. In fact, after New Year’s Eve, it’s probably the biggest. I’ll be busy all night; it’ll pay for me and the missus to go to Ayia Napa in August,” he said.

Davy sells drugs, mainly ecstasy and speed, and he had a ready market among the hundreds of young - and not so young - who gathered at the huge bonfire on the Shankill Road. He didn’t have to worry about the police. They keep their distance. And the paramilitaries wouldn’t interfere either; they ‘‘tax’’ him on what he sells.

For many Protestants in the North, especially in working class areas, that is how the Twelfth celebrations begin. The biggest cheer of the night is normally reserved for the UVF and UDA, groups involved in wholesale drug dealing and crime.

When the huge fires are lit often burning tyres and other toxic materials - tricolours are burned. Slogans such as KAT (Kill All Taigs) are often daubed on the tricolours. In 2005, one bonfire trumpeted the suicides of several young men in the nationalist Ardoyne estate.

This year, GAA shirts were put on top of the bonfires too. Chris McGimpsey, a Shankill Road Ulster Unionist councillor who is regarded as a moderate, said last week that the GAA should look at why Protestants see it as sectarian.

With the power-sharing deal in place in the North, many people are now asking what the future of the Twelfth should be, and are looking to the 50,000-strong Orange Order to take the lead. The question is whether an inherently sectarian and triumphalist celebration which for decades has been the most vivid display of unionist dominance over Catholics - can be re-moulded in a post-Troubles, power-sharing North?

In simple financial terms, the Twelfth has been a disaster for the North since the mid1990s. Disputes around the marching season almost singlehandedly crippled the region’s tourist industry, which was expected to take off after the ceasefires.

Instead, the fortnight around July 12 became the time of the year when local hoteliers took their holidays. Much of the heat has now gone out of the marching season, and the mass protests appear to be a thing of the past, but shops, bars and restaurants still close on the Twelfth.

The Orange Order is trying to promote the Twelfth as Orange Fest, a tourist attraction for the North.

But it is questionable whether this can ever succeed, especially when no alternative ways of celebrating the occasion have emerged, aside from a firework display.

More fundamentally, the Twelfth marches have a deep sectarian symbolism and, unless Orangeism’s relationship with the state changes, the parades will always have the potential for violence and menace.

David Scott, the education officer of the Orange Order, is responsible for finding ways to promote the ‘new face’ of the organisation.

‘‘There is a lot of good work going on with the Orange Order and the community which people don’t see,” he said. ‘‘We are going out to schools and interacting with young people. We have the Williamite display on, which is attracting a lot of interest from tourists.”

However, Scott’s definition of ‘the community’ does not include Catholics, and he said the ban on Catholics joining the Orange Order would not be removed. The group has about 50,000 members, the vast majority of whom are male.

While the Orange Order enjoyed a surge in applications for membership during the stand-offs over marches at Drumcree, anecdotal evidence suggests that its membership has slipped in recent times. The group last week found itself criticised over the practice of building up huge, environmentallyunfriendly bonfires in urban areas.

Thousands of car tyres were burned last week, along with other hazardous materials, leading to calls - even from some unionists - to stop the practice.

In a pointer to how things may go in the future, the village of Stoneyford, a few miles outside Belfast, had a beacon instead of a bonfire.

The key mover in that plan was, somewhat surprisingly, Mark Harbinson, an ‘ultraloyalist’ who in recent years, led loyalist bands around a newly-built, mixed-religion housing development in the village.

‘‘I’ve been pushing this for two years,” he said. ‘‘There has been opposition to it, but people have started to see the benefits of having a type of bonfire which is clean and doesn’t leave the town with a big mess to clean up after. It also makes it more accessible for families.”

That theme of families was picked up on by Dawson Bailie, the leader of the Orange Order in Belfast.

‘‘We want to get back to what the Twelfth was before the Troubles, when families would come along and Catholics would as well,” he said.

Ironically, if unionists do want to change the Twelfth, they may find themselves following the example of republicans who, almost 20 years ago, ended the practice of burning bonfires to commemorate the introduction of internment on August 9.

Throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s, republican bonfires became flashpoints for rioting, and Catholic communities were left with dirt and rubble from the fires.

In 1988, the west Belfast festival, Feile an Phobail, was introduced as a replacement.

Since then, it, and other such festivals in republican areas, have established themselves as part of the summer calendar in the North.

The festivals feature music, debates between unionists and nationalists, workshops on politics and literature, and debates about global events and Irish history.

A few years ago at the festival, Jeffrey Donaldson, the arch-unionist sceptic, talked directly to Seanna Walsh, the IRA man who announced the formal ending of the group’s campaign in 2005.

Guest speakers in the past have included the US documentary film-maker Michael Moore. Whether unionism and the Orange Order in particular - can envisage the Twelfth broadening out in such a fashion remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Davy reckons he has made about stg£700 for his night’s work, and the people of the Shankill are left with the charred remains of the bonfires.

Altogether, the night cost the taxpayers in the North stg£1 million in clean-up, medical, and police bills.

The socially-deprived communities of the area celebrate their ‘dominance’ over Catholics by spending the Twelfth marching onward with their leaders in the Orange Order.

Those leaders seem to be more comfortable dealing with the past than the realities of life in the North today.

New Northern politics rubbish unionist myths

Army 'not taking into account loss of human life on Bloody Sunday'

Council funded bonfire slammed after UVF address

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ireland's economy will grow by about 5% this year, before slowing down to 4% in 2008, according to the annual report by the country's central bank

Agence France-Presse:

"This level of growth remains favorable by comparison with other economies with broadly similar levels of incomes," said bank chief John Hurley, reporting the growth rate in GDP terms.

Hurley said data for the early part of this year suggests that growth was probably in excess of these levels but more moderate consumer spending and a fall in house building would act to reduce growth later this year and next year.

According to official figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Ireland's economy grew by 5.7% last year in GDP terms and by 6.5% in gross national product (GNP) terms. Gross National Product is the more favored Irish growth measurement. It is regarded as a more accurate barometer of the country's economic performance since it strips out substantial profits repatriated by foreign investors.

Central Bank still sees 'soft landing'

Worst over on inflation - economist

Behavior of British troops is just like old times

Brian Feeney:

The Spanish philosopher Santayana said: "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

It's that trap the three officers who wrote the British army's 2006 analysis of military operations in the north were trying to ensure the army would avoid in any future campaign.

Of course their take on the history of the past 40 years is self-serving and self-congratulatory. What else would you expect? Of course it's full of elementary errors, wrong dates and so on.

They're not so hot on contemporary British history either, when they talk about Blair's attempt in 2005 to extend the 28-day detention period to 60 days when it was in fact 90 days.

However, as it says in the foreword, "It is not intended as a history" of the Troubles.

They probably didn't care too much if they got certain details and events wrong.

What they were concerned about was strategy and tactics at the highest level and here the report is very instructive and candid.

One central point is repeated again and again, perhaps half a dozen times in different words. It's this: there was no-one in overall charge here.

The authors point out that the GOC here was not responsible to the secretary of state but to the chief of the general staff (CGS) who issued directives to the GOC.

Indeed the report itself is for the CGS who contributed a foreword. CGS was responsible to the secretary of state for defence.

As the report says, the "net result was incoherence".

There was a "lack of a single military authority for the campaign" here.

There was "no thread of purpose" in the campaign.

This absence led to "purposeless activity".

For example, troops often patrolled for the sake of patrolling.

There was a "lack of coherence" between the secretary of state and NIO and the security forces.

At the very top, in the Northern Ireland joint security committee where politicians and the various security forces met, for years there was no agenda circulated and no minutes kept.

Each branch just went about its own business.

In 1972-4 the secretary of state was releasing internees while the army was busily arresting men for internment: 60% of internees released in 1972-3 rejoined the IRA immediately. It was a merry-go-round.

A strong sense of frustration with politicians runs through the report. Apart from incoherence and no political direction, the complaint is that no British politician could see the big picture: social and economic or political.

In one telling example they say that instead of sending three battalions into Divis in the seventies the NIO should have sent in a bulldozer and replaced the flats with decent, respectable homes for people. That didn't happen until 1986.

Another candid admission and warning for future exercises is that the army can make any situation worse.

The report's authors accept the British army did exacerbate matters here by alienating the Catholic community in 1970 and 1971 in acting at the behest of the unionist regime in Stormont. Repeated house searches, heavy-handedness, then internment itself produced an insurgency which lasted until the mid-seventies.

Only then did IRA activity take on the shape of a long-term terrorist campaign.

The question asked is why, when so much had been learned and all the procedures were in place by 1980, did it take another 18 years for the Good Friday Agreement to emerge?

The answer, which the report does not provide, is that the Thatcher government wasted the eighties in the futile search for a military victory. It was not until she was gone that the new Conservative leadership in 1991 felt able to explore the contacts republicans had tried to open up after the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement.

Have any lessons been learned?

In the foreword, the then CGS Sir Mike Jackson says the lessons have already been put into practice in the Balkans, Iraq and elsewhere. Hard to believe when you see British troops beating and torturing Iraqis, kicking in doors and wrecking peoples' homes in what are euphemistically called house searches.

In Kosovo in 1999 those famous community relations workers, One Para, shot and killed three Albanians celebrating the arrival of NATO. Just like old times.

Row as banner honouring UVF killer carried at march

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British army report says it did not defeat the Irish Republican Army

Eoin Burke-Kennedy:

The 98-page analysis of Operation Banner , the army's code name for its activities in the North, describes the Provisional IRA as "professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient" and one of the most effective terrorist organisations in history.

While the loyalist paramilitaries presented themselves as the protectors of the Protestant community, it said, they were in practice often little more than a "collection of gangsters".

But the study, which covers the period between 1968 and 2005, makes no mention of alleged British army collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.


The analysis cites Bloody Sunday, however, where 13 innocent civilians were shot dead in 1972, as an example of poor military decision-making. It concludes simply that the manner in which the arrest operation was conducted, using vehicles to approach the crowd was with hindsight "heavy-handed".

The report, which was commissioned by then chief of staff, General Sir Mike Jackson, also describes the introduction of internment in the early 1970s as a "major mistake" which had a major impact on popular opinion across Ireland, in Europe and the US.

Glaring omissions from analysis

Wrongly accused local man finally has his name cleared

Friday, July 06, 2007

DUP demands will weaken links with Britain

Brian Feeney:

In the early 1970s Gerry Fitt used to say the republican slogan 'Brits out' was tantamount to telling your partner to get out of the house but "leave your wallet on the mantle-piece".

In many respects that is exactly what the present executive is asking with their ridiculous demands for reduction in corporation tax and a goodie-bag as a reward for finally clinching a deal.

A demand for a reduction in tax is not in itself ridiculous of course but in the context of the UK as a whole it is, especially with Labour under threat in Scotland. Furthermore, a financial peace dividend is preposterous after more than a decade of peace.

The parties have allowed the NIO to waste any extra cash between 1998 and now. The message from our new proconsul is unmistakeable if not clear. Norn Irn has got a three-year financial settlement, he said, and Scotland would be delighted with that instead of having to wait for an annual budget.

So that's it then.

Paisley and Robinson's big election play turned out to be a by-ball. Naturally Sinn Féin are only delighted to go along with it all because anything which would bring the north's tax system closer to the Republic's and different from Britain's is a plus in their eyes, even though for most of their election campaign in the Republic SF were arguing for a rise in corporation tax. Confused? So were the Republic's voters.

That's by the by. The point is that the DUP and Sinn Féin are having such a great time agreeing with each other because they both share the same attitude but have different aims. Neither of them likes the Brits. Take for example the hostile response of both Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness to our previous proconsul's doomed 'consultation panel' about victims of the Troubles. Harrumph, said Paisley.

I hope the NIO's going to pay for it, for we're not.

He regarded the panel as an impertinence, an interference in the assembly's affairs. The DUP and SF are busily negotiating about a new Victims Commissioner.

Nobody else's business.

Martin McGuinness was also annoyed but for different reasons. He too objected to the NIO's presumption and arrogance but was furious that the panel was announced as a transparent attempt to absolve the British state of any complicity in the violence here.

You'll also notice there was a pretty restrained welcome for the new proconsul from the two main parties at Stormont. The main actors were in Washington and at the Somme when he was appointed but they see themselves in the driving seat and any blow-in from England as a fifth wheel on their car.

It's going to take our local media some time to adjust to this change where Westminster is secondary, local MPs are the second 15 and any questions they ask will be referred to Stormont ministers. Northern Ireland Question Time first will become redundant, then will be abolished.

Again, both the DUP and SF will be delighted but for different reasons.

Some unionists have become a bit queasy about all this and have warned Paisley about the dangers of 'Ulster nationalism' and using the same contemptuous tone for British ministers as Sinn Féin does. They worry that the DUP approach of emphasising the differences between the north and Britain encourages the separation of the north from the UK. Needless to say, that's exactly why Sinn Féin ministers agree with every word the DUP says.

The plain fact is that the DUP is an 'Ulster nationalist' party which has always wanted maximum devolution – Paisley even flirted with independence.

Now Paisley sees himself as the equivalent of the taoiseach. That's why he loves wandering around the Boyne with Bertie and being treated as a head of state at Farmleigh House. Fundamentally Paisley's brand of unionism never trusted the British not to do some dirty deal with Dublin.

He believes that can't happen now that he controls the fate of unionists.

Enoch Powell was right – the more powers Stormont has, the weaker the link with Britain.

So, the more DUP demands are frustrated, the more they will seek common cause with SF against Westminster.

Where will it all end?

Pattern of systemic inequality must be reversed

Catholics call on Brown to repeal Act of Settlement

Mother hopes for justice for shot son

Catholics attack Brown over discrimination law

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ireland's GDP grew 7.5% in the first quarter compared with the same period of 2006, with gross national product up 6.4%

Irish Times:

For 2006 the CSO said it had revised down earlier growth data, putting the annual rise in GDP at 5.7 per cent versus a preliminary estimate of 6 per cent. Final numbers for GNP put growth for last year at 6.5 per cent versus 7.4 previously.

The CSO found that consumer spending (personal consumption of goods and services) in was 5.4 per cent higher in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period last year.

Industry output increased by 14.4 per cent compared with the same period in 2006 and output of distribution, transport and communications was up 7.1 per cent.

Net exports (exports minus imports) were €278 million higher in the first quarter of 2007 compared with the same period of 2006.

Irish Economy Q1 2007: GDP rose at annual rate of 7.5%; GNP rose by 6.4%

Growth still strong in first quarter

Downturn predicted for economy

Netherlands is 3rd richest in EU

Accountants call for all-Ireland corporate tax

Finucane case decision went against advice of top lawyers

Colm Heatley:

The decision by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in the North last week not to prosecute anyone in connection with the Stevens Inquiry into state collusion with loyalists in the North goes against the advice of top lawyers in London.

The PPS said no security forc e members would be charged in connection with the murder of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, or any other victims examined by Sir John Stevens in his inquiry, which was passed on to the PPS in 2003.

The decision caused outrage among the victims’ families and human rights groups.

The small portion of the Stevens Inquiry which has been made public states that the investigation found evidence of collusion between the security forces and loyalist in a series of murders in the North, including Finucane’s, from the mid-1980s onwards.

It also emerged that RUC officers gave weapons back to loyalists which were later used to murder nationalists, including the 1992 Ormeau Road betting shop massacre, in which five Catholics were killed.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and British government have so far not revealed if any of the officers implicated in serious allegations of collusion with killers are still serving members of the force.

Some Northern human rights groups fear that at least two of the officers are serving in the PSNI. The Finucane family said they were ‘‘perplexed’’ at the PPS decision not to take prosecutions.

The Sunday Business Post understands that before Stevens passed the findings of his inquiry to the PPS in 2003 he sought legal advice from two top barristers in England. The barristers told him that of 40 cases examined in his inquiry, 25 were strong enough to bring a prosecution.

Based on that advice, Stevens handed the files to the PPS in the North. However the PPS, after having the files for more than four years, decided that nobody would be brought before the courts due to a ‘‘lack of evidence’’.

In 2003, the North’s PPS was heavily criticised by the European Court of Human Rights over its handling of the Finucane case.

In a damning report the court found that the PPS did not provide information in any of its decisions relating to Finucane which would ‘‘reassure the public that the rule of law had been respected’’.

John Finucane said his father’s murder can only be properly investigated through a public inquiry.

‘‘This PPS decision vindicates our family’s repeated calls to have my father’s murder investigated through a public inquiry,” he said.

‘‘That is the only forum for the investigation. We have already put in a request to meet Gordon Brown and that will be our central message.”

Victims of collusion also called for the British government to release the Stevens Inquiry in its entirety now that the PPS decision has been made public.

We are still waiting for justice over the Finucane murder

18 years of investigation, three inquiries, not one prosecution

Finucane murder is the ‘mother of all cover-ups’

Finucanes Furious Over No Prosecution

Reflecting and deflecting