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March 8, 2009

Real IRA claims responsibility for gun attack

Real IRA claims responsibility for gun attack

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

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The Real IRA has claimed responsibility for a gun attack last night that killed two British soldiers and wounded four others.

The Sunday Tribune received a telephone call, using a known code word, claiming responsibility on behalf of the Real IRA’s South Antrim Brigade. The spokesman defended their actions and said they “…made no apology” for an attack against occupiers and their collaborators.

The latest understanding of events is that the soldiers had ordered pizzas earlier in the evening in Antrim. As four soldiers collected their pizzas at the main gate they, and the delivery drivers, were attacked from a parked vehicle nearby.

As the six lay on the ground the gunmen approached on foot and again shot the injured men, in what has been described as an “execution,” at short range.

The police have recovered a Vauxhall Cavalier believed to have been used in the attack and at least two gunmen and their getaway driver.

Prime minister Gordon Brown has described the attack as “cowardly” and promised that “we will bring these murderers to justice […] No murderer will be able to derail a peace process that has the support of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Former Provisional IRA leader Martin McGuinness and current Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland said “The people responsible for last night’s incident are clearly signaling that they want to resume or re-start that war […] Well, I deny their right to do that.”

The attack is seen as much an attack on the peace process itself as one against the British Army. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams reflected this in his statement which described the attack as “…wrong and counter-productive”.

Amongst the wider public the attack has been universally condemned, according to Peter Robinson, and cross denominational vigils and prayer gatherings have been held for the four wounded who are all now at Antrim Area Hospital. They are all believed to be seriously wounded.

The attack is the first successful terrorist attack against security forces in twelve years, with an attempted car bombing and the shooting of police officers having been previously thwarted.

The attacked soldiers were due to deploy to Afghanistan this morning.



Related news

  • “Two killed in gun attack in Northern Ireland” — Wikinews, March 8, 2009

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May 9, 2007

Northern Ireland has home rule returned

Northern Ireland has home rule returned – Wikinews, the free news source

Northern Ireland has home rule returned

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Stormont Parliament.

After four years, the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly has taken over the direct governing of the part of the United Kingdom that since Ireland’s independence in 1922 has been controversially disputed.

The Assembly, which was established as part of 1998’s Good Friday Agreement, was suspended in 2002 over allegations of Republican spying. During that time the entire province was ruled directly from London. Four years ago, few could have expected that Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, the preacher known for the longest time in Northern Ireland politics as “Dr. No” and Sinn Féin deputy leader Martin McGuinness, who at one time was an IRA commander, would be sharing power together. However, with the addition of the Saint Andrews Agreement to which both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) agreed, this became a reality.

Ian Paisley will take his post as First Minister of Northern Ireland and Martin McGuinness will serve as his deputy. The DUP receives four cabinet ministers which includes the deputy leader of the party, Peter Robinson, becoming the head of the Department of Finance and Personnel. Sinn Féin gets three. Meanwhile, the other, less-powerful unionist party, the Ulster Unionist Party receives two which includes UUP leader, Sir Reg Empey heading up the Department for Employment and Learning. Northern Ireland’s other mainstream nationalist party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party will head the Department for Social Development.

Reactions

Cquote1.svg I believe we’re starting on a road which will bring us back to peace and to prosperity. Cquote2.svg

—Ian Paisley, First Minister of Northern Ireland

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today’s events could “make history anew” and to “escape the heavy chains of history”. Blair said, “Look back and we see centuries pock-marked by conflict, hardship, even hatred, among the people of these islands.”

Blair’s predecessor, Sir John Major said “The sight of people that were once totally antagonistic to one another sitting down to plan the future of Northern Ireland is very attractive,” adding “I always believed from the outset that it was possible but that it would be difficult and that it would take a long time.”

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern thanked his British counterpart saying “For 10 tough years, he has spent more times dealing with the issues of the island of Ireland than any person ever could have asked any other person to do.”

Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland said, “It truly is an extraordinary day in the history of Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland and indeed of relations between Ireland and Britain. You carry the hopes of everybody as you take forward now the mandate you have been given by the people.”

Ian Paisley said of today’s events “I believe we’re starting on a road which will bring us back to peace and to prosperity.”

His new deputy, McGuiness said that they’ve already taken joint decisions but in the context of not being in power. He said, “All of that is going to change in the next couple of hours, and by midday today, we’re going to be in charge, and we’re going to be charged with the responsibility of governing in the interests of the people,” adding, “I think we do so in the belief and the sure knowledge that we have the overwhelming support of all of the people of Ireland for what we’re about to do.”

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said, “I think what today proves is that dialogue and perseverance and tenacity and persistence can bring about results.” He thanked everyone who helped make today possible and added, “It’s a good day for Ireland, it’s a good day for all of the people of this island.”

Sir Reg Empey stated “The mission of the Ulster Unionist Party in the months and years ahead, as we rebuild and reform, is to demonstrate that unionism and politics in general is not about a sectarian power-grab.”

Empey’s predecessor, Lord David Trimble who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in bringing to peace Northern Ireland with John Hume, the former leader of SDLP said, ” I see it as being the culmination, the final implementation of the agreement that was made on Good Friday in 1998.”

Mark Durkan, the leader of the SDLP mentioned “What today shows is that when finally you have a government setting a deadline and setting terms and keeping to them, you can get somewhere,” stating that Sinn Féin had underwritten on decommissioning while the DUP had underwritten on power-sharing. He also added that “It actually took people like the McCartney sisters to show governments how to set terms and hold terms in which the IRA had to move,” in reference to the sisters of Robert McCartney, a Catholic man murdered by the Provisional IRA last year over what was a pub fight.

Cquote1.svg I don’t want my grandchildren to go through what I went through. Cquote2.svg

—Joan McCoubrey, Catholic resident of Belfast

David Ford, leader of the cross-communal Alliance Party said “We are here to make devolution work now, the DUP and Sinn Féin must convince local people that they can work together; much progress has been made but the real work only begins now.”

Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy, who was in Belfast for the event said “A brighter day has dawned for the people of Northern Ireland, and it would not have been possible without the commitment and determination by all of Northern Ireland’s political leaders to find a new way forward,” and that “each of them is a profile in courage for our time and all time. Kennedy also said, “Northern Ireland has shown the world that peace is possible, even in the face of tragic history,” he stated after attending ceremonies with the American delegation.

President of the United States George W. Bush released a statement saying “I commend the Assembly for your dedication to Northern Ireland and I applaud the people of this region for your desire to overcome a history of violence and division.” He added that he commended Blair and Ahern for their leadership and vision, and that The United States will continue to support your efforts to further advance the peace process. Together we can build a more hopeful future for all.”

70 year-old retiree Joan McCoubrey of Belfast, a Catholic who lost one of her brothers in 1971 said, “I don’t want my grandchildren to go through what I went through.”

However, 48 year-old Protestant homemaker Deborah Harbinson of Belfast said “There are still a lot of problems left to be tackled, there’s still hidden violence and division and few job opportunities.”

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March 8, 2007

DUP and Sinn Féin make gains in Northern Ireland Assembly election

DUP and Sinn Féin make gains in Northern Ireland Assembly election

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Thursday, March 8, 2007

The logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Results are coming in for the Northern Ireland Assembly election held on Wednesday 7 March. With all first preference votes counted, both the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin have made gains: the DUP received 30.1% of first preferences, an increase of 4.4 percentage points on the 2003 election, while Sinn Féin won 26.2%, up 2.6 percentage points. This means that the two parties have gained more than half of the vote. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) came third with 15.2%, the Ulster Unionist Party fourth with 14.9% and the Alliance Party fifth with 5.2%.

Cquote1.svg I’m optimistic that we can achieve a working government on March 26, but it’s a very stark choice for them — get into power, or shut up shop. Cquote2.svg

—Peter Hain, Northern Ireland Secretary

The election is a crucial step in restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland, which has been under direct rule from Westminster since October 2002, when the Assembly was suspended after allegations that an IRA spy ring was operating there. The resulting court case collapsed. Attempts to get the leading unionist and nationalist parties to resume power-sharing had failed until the St Andrews Agreement was reached in October 2006. This agreement commits Sinn Féin to accepting the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the DUP to accepting power-sharing.

All 108 seats have now been filled. The DUP are the largest party with 36 seats, followed by Sinn Féin with 28 seats. Their combined total of 64 seats gives the two parties a majority of ten in the Assembly, assuming that they are willing to work together. Among others, DUP leader Ian Paisley has been elected in North Antrim, as has Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in West Belfast. DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson topped the poll in East Belfast, where Naomi Long of the Alliance Party was also elected. The leaders of the other two main parties were also elected: Mark Durkan of the SDLP was elected on the first count in Foyle, while Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey was elected on the third count in East Belfast. Alliance Party leader David Ford was elected in his constituency of South Antrim on the fifth count. Dawn Purvis, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), was elected on the last count in East Belfast. The Green Party won their first ever seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly, when their Northern Ireland chairperson Brian Wilson was elected on the tenth count in North Down with 2839 first preference votes.

Cquote1.svg I think it [power-sharing] is very, very important in terms of representing a community that for a long time was marginalized and excluded. We’re about reaching out to the Unionists. Cquote2.svg

—Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin

Anna Lo of the Alliance Party has become the first candidate from an ethnic minority background to have been elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, winning a seat in South Belfast with the fourth highest first preference vote in the constituency, 3829 votes. She said her decision to stand had been an extension of her community work, and that she wanted to give a voice to Chinese people who never felt they had any part to play in Northern Ireland politics. She also said she hoped that indigenous voters who were fed up with “tribal politics” would give her their support, and that she was determined “to be much more than a candidate for ethnic minorities”.

Counting the votes cast in the 600 polling stations continued through to Friday 9 March. Turnout was 63.5%, down 0.5 percentage points on the previous election. Assembly elections use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method of proportional representation, with each constituency returning six MLAs.

Cquote1.svg Sinn Féin are not entitled to be at the table until they declare themselves for democracy. I am a democrat, I don’t speak to loyalist paramilitaries, I don’t speak to Sinn Féin. Cquote2.svg

—Ian Paisley, leader of the DUP

A new power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive is to be formed by 26 March, according to the St Andrews Agreement. The election of a First Minister and Deputy First Minister requires the support of a majority of unionist MLAs and of nationalist MLAs (“parallel consent”). In practice this means that the largest unionist party and the largest nationalist party must agree to share power. If they cannot agree by the deadline the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont will be suspended again and MLAs will have their salaries and allowances stopped. Though there has been criticism of the deal reached at St Andrews by elements within both the DUP and Sinn Féin, the government in Westminster believes that these dissenters are in a minority.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said to CNN: “I’m optimistic that we can achieve a working government on March 26, but it’s a very stark choice for them — get into power, or shut up shop”. But he also warned that “if this falls over on March 26, there is no prospect of another settlement for a very long time, maybe years”. On Friday 9 March Mr Hain began separate meetings with the leaders and deputy leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he had “no problem” with working with the Unionists and shaking the hand of Ian Paisley: “I think it is very, very important in terms of representing a community that for a long time was marginalized and excluded. We’re about reaching out to the Unionists”.

Cquote1.svg All must now take responsibility in government for building and consolidating peace, this is what the people of Northern Ireland want. They deserve no less. Cquote2.svg

—Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

But Ian Paisley claimed that Sinn Féin’s decision to support the police had been “qualified”, and said, “you can’t pick and choose how far you are prepared to go for peace.” He also said that Sinn Féin had to “turn from their evil ways”. To the BBC he said: “We will enter into talks tomorrow with the Secretary of State, we will be meeting the Prime Minister next week, and the hard negotiations are now going to start. Sinn Féin are not entitled to be at the table until they declare themselves for democracy. I am a democrat, I don’t speak to loyalist paramilitaries, I don’t speak to Sinn Féin”.

On Friday 9 March British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a joint statement. They said, “The message of the electorate is clear. After so many years of frustration and disappointment, they want Northern Ireland to move on to build a better future together through the restored institutions. Many of the practical issues which have been raised in this election campaign can and should be resolved locally.” They said that they would work closely with the Northern Irish parties to restore devolved government by the deadline of 26 March and praised the progress already made in this direction. “The people of Northern Ireland have suffered grievous pain and loss. But enormous progress has been made and there is now no good reason why we should not be able to complete this historic process. All must now take responsibility in government for building and consolidating peace, this is what the people of Northern Ireland want. They deserve no less.”

Related news[]

  • “New roadmap unveiled for Northern Ireland devolution” — Wikinews, October 14, 2006
  • “Sinn Fein votes to accept policing” — Wikinews, January 29, 2007

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June 29, 2006

Ahern, Blair restate deadline on devolution

Ahern, Blair restate deadline on devolution

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have stated that the November 24 deadline for formation of a devolved, power-sharing government is final and that it is the last chance for parties to restore devolution in Northern Ireland. The two prime ministers met in Belfast at Stormont today with the major parties about the deadline.

Blair stated he would shut down the Northern Ireland Assembly, cut the salary and benefits of all 108 members and forge a stronger direct rule with the Republic of Ireland. He also stated that both governments were not willing to continue talks past the deadline and would instead work on developing joint policies in Northern Ireland.

Blair who is under pressure to resign by next year is seeking a more permanent peace settlement before he leaves office.

“This is the last chance for this generation, really, to make this process work,” Blair said. “We’ve come a long way, but we need to get the rest of the way now.”

Ahern said that he wanted to see the institutions active as soon as possible. He added, “The reality of this is that if we don’t do this by November 24 then we lose a huge opportunity.”

The two prime ministers have also published a in-depth time-line stating what negotiators must accomplish to establish a joint power-sharing administration, one of the main goals of the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998, by the deadline.

The administration would be led by the two main parties, the Democratic Unionist Party led by Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin, led by Gerry Adams.

The parties gave their opinions over the visit by the prime ministers.

The deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Peter Robinson, said their party stressed the need for the assembly to meet. He added, “If negotiations are going to begin in the autumn, then the assembly is going to have to meet between now and then. We can not move on to the next stage unless we move in the sequence of scoping the issues, debating the issues and then negotiating the issues.” Robinson is referring to the fact that the Assembly will go on a summer recess soon.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hoped the process could move on. “The two governments sought to reassure us of their total commitment to the November 24 deadline and their commitment to making this process work. “We now want them to match that verbal commitment with action in the time ahead,” stated Adams.

Yesterday, Sinn Féin announced that the party is thinking of withdrawing from the Northern Ireland Assembly in autumn, after launching an internal review. The review could shift the party’s focus from a devolution deal to the next election if the deal is unlikely by the November 24 deadline.

The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Sir Reg Empey, said that anyone who has no intention of meeting the November 24 deadline should “have the guts to say so”. Empey added, “We want to see devolution restored if the conditions are right at the time and we will spare no effort to see that is achieved.”

David Ford, the leader of the Alliance Party said that his party is sharing the frustration of the people of Northern Ireland. He added, “Alliance is prepared to work its socks off until November to get an assembly restored but we need the governments to play their part as well.”

The leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Mark Durkan, said ahead of his meeting with the two “The taoiseach and the prime minister shouldn’t have to be here today trying to make sense out of a lot of the nonsense that is coming from some of the parties. I hope the two premiers are clear in their message today that they want to see the parties here get on with it, because that is what the public want to see.”

On May 15, the parties took their seats in the first session of the Northern Ireland Assembly since October 2002. The assembly had been suspended since 2002 over allegations of a republican spy ring. Direct rule from London has been in place since then.

A Preparation for Government Committee has been formed consisting of the various major parties, but progress has been slow. Especially since the DUP will not cooperate with Sinn Féin until the Irish Republican Army completely disbands. Last year, the IRA decommissioned their weaponry.

Blair and Ahern plan to return to Northern Ireland in October after the publication of a report on paramilitary activity.

Meanwhile, before meeting with the parties, the two prime ministers ventured to Ballymena, County Antrim to meet with cross-community students. The meeting is in response to murder of Michael McIlveen, a 15-year-old Catholic boy by a loyalist/unionist mob in County Antrim.

Related news

  • “Northern Ireland parties fail to form devolution committee” — Wikinews, June 7, 2006
  • “Ahern, Blair to lead Northern Ireland talks” — Wikinews, May 27, 2006
  • “Ian Paisley rejects Sinn Fein nomination” — Wikinews, May 22, 2006
  • “Blair, Ahern unveil plan for Northern Ireland devolution” — Wikinews, April 7, 2006

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