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September 13, 2014

Northern Irish politician Reverend Ian Paisley dies aged 88

Northern Irish politician Reverend Ian Paisley dies aged 88

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

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Ian Paisley in 2009.
Image: Scottish Government.

Reverend Ian Paisley — Lord Bannside — the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, hardline unionist politician, and Protestant preacher, died yesterday aged 88.

Paisley’s wife Eileen released a statement saying: “My beloved husband, Ian, entered his eternal rest this morning. Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family we are heartbroken. We loved him and he adored us, and our earthly lives are forever changed.”

Paisley helped form the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster in the early 1950s, later going into politics under the banner of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley’s fiery preaching was uncompromising and fundamentalist: he was once expelled from the European Parliament for calling Pope John Paul II the “anti-christ”. When Northern Ireland was debating the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Paisley led a campaign opposing the change titled “Save Ulster from Sodomy“. Politically, Paisley became known as “Dr No” for his attitude towards compromise with republicans.

This firebrand rhetoric calmed with the successful negotiation of a peace process and with Paisley entering into shared governance with Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness. McGuinness paid tribute to Paisley via Twitter: “Very sad to learn that Ian Paisley has died. My deepest sympathy to his wife Eileen & family. Once political opponents – I have lost a friend.” McGuinness also said of Paisley: “I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron described Paisley as “one of the most forceful and instantly recognisable characters in British politics for nearly half a century” and noted that Paisley’s willingness to enter into shared governance with republicans “required great courage and leadership, for which everyone in these islands should be grateful”. The current First Minister Peter Robinson said Paisley “was the founding father of the new Northern Ireland”.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said Paisley “began as the militant” but “ended as the peacemaker”. The former Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern said of Paisley: “In my younger days I found him a very difficult character but we ended up very good friends. He was a valuable character in the peace process.”



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October 8, 2010

Bomb attack in Londonderry, Northern Ireland injures two police officers

Bomb attack in Londonderry, Northern Ireland injures two police officers

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Friday, October 8, 2010

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A bomb exploded early on Tuesday morning in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, injuring two police officers. Investigations into the identity of the bombers and their motive are continuing. The Real Irish Republican Army a paramilitary group that aims to bring about a united Ireland, has claimed responsibility.

A branch of the Ulster Bank in Belfast
Image: Ardfern.

The explosion on Culmore Road caused serious damage to nearby buildings, including Da Vinci’s hotel and a branch of the Ulster Bank. A telephone warning was given an hour beforehand and the area, including the hotel, was cleared. The officers, standing near the edge of the exclusion zone, suffered injuries to their necks and ears when they were blown over by the blast.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin from the Police Service of Northern Ireland asked for anyone who had seen the Vauxhall Corsa car in which the bomb was hidden before the explosion to come forward. Although the bomb, thought to be over 200lb, was left near the bank, Mr Martin did not think it was the intended target and said that the bomb may have been left because of the presence of police in the area.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, called the bombers “Neanderthals” and “conflict junkies”, and added that they were “failing miserably” to destroy the peace process in Northern Ireland. He is attending the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham; the Daily Mail reports he refused to comment on if the attack was to coincide with his absence. The city’s mayor, Colm Eastwood, who was at the scene, said he was “disgusted”, adding “I do not know what these people are hoping to achieve. They say they love their country but they spend time trying to destroy it.”



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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.



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April 26, 2008

Iraqis begin second round of negotiations in Finland

Iraqis begin second round of negotiations in Finland

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Representatives of Iraq’s main ethnic groups have begun a second round of negotiations in Finland to study successful negotiations in South Africa and Northern Ireland. The initial talks, in September last year, ended with the Helsinki I Agreement, which presented a series of recommendations aimed at bringing peace to Iraq.

The talks have been arranged largely by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a non-profit organisation founded in 2000 by then Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. CMI has previously arranged a successful arrangement between Indonesia and rebels in the province of Aceh, ending 30 years of fighting with talks in which Ahtisaari was chairman. He is taking no role in the Iraqi negotiations.

“Senior leaders from all the major ethnic groups are represented,” said a CMI spokesman. 36 Iraqis are attending the seminar, entitled “Divided Societies”, as well as South African and Northren Irish representatives. The Iraqis include prominent Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds although the names of the participants, as well as the exact location and length of the event, have been kept secret. This mirrors last time, where the site, an isolated inn in the Southeast, was only revealed after the talks had ended. All previous African and Irish representatives have also returned, as well as several others.

Amongst those sent to explain their historic peace negotiations is Martin McGuinness, former Irish Republican Army commander, deputy leader of Sinn Fein and Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government’s senior Catholic. That government has been in place just under a year. Junior Irish government minister Jeffrey Donaldson, a Protestant lawmaker, is also present. Both participated in last year’s discussions.

Last year’s four-day event’s Helsinki I Agreement contained deals to aim for power sharing and to stop using violence to settle political disputes. CMI spokesman Quintin Oliver said that “All the participants are engaged in intense discussions with a considerable and detailed review of the Helsinki I Agreement and principles in light of the changed circumstances (being discussed in the second round),” and that the new talks began on Friday and will probably continue at least until Sunday.

As well as CMI, organisation for both sets of talks was handled by the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts and the Institute for Global Leaders at Tufts University in Massachusetts.



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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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October 14, 2006

New roadmap unveiled for Northern Ireland devolution

New roadmap unveiled for Northern Ireland devolution

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have unveiled a new roadmap for the Northern Ireland devolution process. The roadmap sets a target date for a new Northern Ireland Executive to be set up.

The roadmap, known as the Saint Andrews Agreement, came after three days of intense talks in St. Andrews, Scotland. The agreement gives dates for the steps to devolution culminating on March 26, 2007 when the Executive is to be fully up and running.

The first deadline is on November 10, 2006 during which time both parties must accept the agreement and for the first time in the history of the party, the Democratic Unionist Party will cast a vote for their rivals, Sinn Fein.

The second deadline is on November 27, 2006 in which the Northern Ireland Assembly, would gather to elect the first minister and deputy first minister of the Executive. The first minister is speculated by many to be Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. The deputy first minister is speculated to be Martin McGuinness, the deputy leader of Sinn Fein.

One of the key issues is Sinn Fein’s recognition of the Police Service of Northern Island, which replaced the controverisal Royal Ulster Constabulary. In a reassurance to unionists, the governments said they will not transfer duties over to the executive till 2008. Sinn Fein demanded an immediate transfer of power, possibly to a Sinn Fein minister. “You can’t have a democratic society unless the police are given full support,” Blair said.

After the election of ministers, three steps will take place. The Democratic Unionists will be given time to observe Sinn Fein and see if they are accepting policing. Also, in January, the Independent Monitoring Commission will give another report on the status of the Provisional Irish Republican Army revocation of violence.

Finally in March, an electoral endorsement of the Saint Andrews Agreement will take place be it either through election or referendum. Most of the participants at the summit favored a referendum, except for Ian Paisley, according to an anoynoums source who wished not be identified as he no authorization to release details publicly.

The last two final steps take place in March 2007. On March 14, the nomination of the Executive will take place.

Finally, if all goes well, the Northern Ireland Executive power-sharing government and full devolved Northern Ireland Assembly would be revived and take power on March 26, 2007. However, if the parties fail to set up the Executive or fail to agree “at any stage”, the Assembly will be dissolved and direct rule from London will continue with input from the Republic of Ireland.

Tony Blair said the essential parts of the agreement are that all parties accept policing and the courts and have a clear agreement on power-sharing. “So those are the two essential parts of it,” Mr Blair said.

Ian Paisley, the notorious hardliner evangelist who has made his political career out of saying no to comprehensive reforms, eschewed his trademark fire-brand rhetoric offered a welcome and said that the province is “at a crossroads.” Paisley said of Ulster, “a place where there is a road to democracy and where there is a road to anarchy.” Further adding, “I trust that we will see in the coming days the vast majority of people taking the road to democracy.”

Blair also added, “We’ve been through different parts of this process many times over the past few years but I think this is a sound basis to proceed.” He also said on the possible election of Paisley and McGuinness to their minister positions, “I do not think anybody will find it easy to sit in an executive with people who they are deeply opposed to, or indeed hostile to.”

Referring to Sinn Fein, Paisley stated “We will meet the requirements. But the IRA-Sinn Fein has got to meet those requirements. And when they do, we will really be on the way to peace in Northern Ireland.” Paisley left St. Andrews quickly after attending the press conference in order to be with his family for his fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams offered a guarded welcome of the plans and stated “requires thoughtful consideration and consultation.” He made no mention of policing. However, he stated the restoration of power-sharing was an “an enormous prize. Common sense, political realism and the interests of all sections of our people demand that we achieve this.”

Sir Reg Empey, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party said that the agreement was “Belfast for slower learners.” He added “Sinn Fein will sign up to the PSNI being the only force of law and order and Ian Paisley, or a colleague, will share the joint office of first and deputy first minister with Martin McGuinness in a mandatory coalition.”

Leader of the more moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, Mark Durkan stated that welcome progress had been made in devolution and that his party would continue working towards this.

The leader of the cross-community non-sectarian Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, David Ford said of the summit that the outcome of the summit was a mix of “of challenges and opportunities”. He added, “Despite all that remains to be done, there is now at least a sense of hope for a shared future.”

Direct rule from London has been in place since the Assembly and Executive dissolved in 2002 over allegations of IRA spying ring.

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June 7, 2006

Northern Ireland parties fail to form devolution committee

Northern Ireland parties fail to form devolution committee

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

After three days of talks, parties in Northern Ireland have come to a stalemate over the election of a chairperson for a committee to help setup a devolved government in Northern Ireland. It is now up to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain to choose the next course of action.

The committee, known as the Preparation for Government Committee, convened Monday to begin its first task: the election of a chairperson for the committee. Its main task however is to help set a roadmap for devolved government in Northern Ireland. The committee is made up of the two republican parties (Sinn Féin and SDLP), the two unionist parties (DUP and UUP) and the non-sectarianist Alliance Party.

Sinn Féin’s proposal is for the chairpersonship to revolve between them and the Democratic Unionist Party. However, the DUP refused that proposal.

The DUP proposed that Speaker of the Assembly Eileen Bell should be the chairperson. However, Bell stated that it would inappropriate for her to take the post and refused. They also suggested the DUP MP for South Antrim William McCrea and Alliance Party leader David Ford as possible candidates.

Peter Hain called the refusal of parties to cooperate “frustrating.”

Sinn Féin, SDLP and the Alliance Party have all blamed the DUP for the failure.

“Yet again the DUP, instead of helping to remove obstacles to devolution, have shown themselves to be nothing but obstructive and lacking in any spirit of co-operation, “said Sean Farren of the SDLP.

Mark Durkan, the leader of SDLP, has criticized both Peter Hain and the DUP and its leader, Ian Paisley on Monday.

“If the DUP is not prepared to do the business or give any substantive indication in the course of June, then the British government would be as well stopping the salaries at the end of June,” said Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

“The practical reality is that the two biggest parties have not shown they are prepared to move forward at all.” said David Ford, the leader of the Alliance Party.

“The prevarication and petty wriggling by the DUP is preventing the potential for progress and holding us all up to public ridicule.” said Ulster Unionist Party’s Alan McFarland.

On Monday, Ian Paisley asked for extension of the November 24 deadline fot two weeks. It was refused.

This is part of plan by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Toaiseach Bertie Ahern to set up a devolved government in Northern Ireland after its assembly was suspended in October 2002 over allegations of a IRA spy ring.

If a plan for devolved government is not setup by November 24, direct rule from London will continue with greater input from the Republic of Ireland.

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May 27, 2006

Ahern, Blair to lead Northern Ireland talks

Ahern, Blair to lead Northern Ireland talks

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

British Prime Minister Tony Blair

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has announced that next month, the Prime Ministers of both Ireland and the United Kingdom will meet with the parties of the Northern Ireland Assembly before the summer break.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will meet at Hillsborough Castle, possibly on June 27, to hold “intensive talks” with the parties and to establish a “clear timeline” to the restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Hain has invited all the parties of the Assembly to form a committee to discuss obstacles to formation of a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

Hain has asked Assembly speaker Eileen Bell to convene the first meeting of the committee on June 6 in order to prepare for the talks. The committee is expected to have three members from the four main parties (the DUP, UUP, SDLP and Sinn Féin) and two from the Alliance Party.

The two main parties did not take the news kindly. The Democratic Unionist Party will not sit on the committee if it leads to negotiations with the republicans as it continues not engage in direct talks with Sinn Féin nor will DUP take part in talks running alongside the talks between the parties and the premiers.

Sinn Féin says it will not sit on the committee if it turns out to be only a “talking shop”. However, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin said the party will judge the committee “on its ability to contribute to the restoration of the power-sharing executive”.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party says it will only enter if the committee “is the vehicle for restoration of the agreement’s institutions, not a talking shop or meaningless sideshow”.

However, Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey was more optimistic and welcomed the initiative, commenting that the committee would “ensure adequate cross-community consensus”. Empey further added, “This committee prevents the DUP from running away from the substantive work that needs to be done in identifying the blockages that are standing in the way of the restoration of devolution.”

Attempts to form a new Northern Ireland Executive failed Monday when Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, refused the nomination to be the First Minister of Northern Ireland after being nominated by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Last month, Blair and Ahern made a joint statement calling for the return of home rule government in Northern Ireland as part of a plan by the two. They set a deadline of November 24 for power-sharing government to be set up in the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been suspended since October 2002 over allegations of a IRA spy ring. One of the men implicated, Denis Donaldson, turned out to be a spy for British intelligence, he was murdered in his home on April 4, 2006, a few days before the statement by Blair and Ahern.

If no power-sharing government is formed by November 24, direct rule from London will continue but with greater input by the Republic of Ireland, a proposition which has greatly irked some unionists.



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  • “Ian Paisley rejects Sinn Fein nomination” — Wikinews,
  • “Blair, Ahern unveil plan for Northern Ireland devolution” — Wikinews,

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May 22, 2006

Ian Paisley rejects Sinn Fein nomination

Ian Paisley rejects Sinn Fein nomination

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Ian Paisley

Plans to restart the Northern Ireland Assembly failed today as the controversial Democratic Unionist Party leader and Protestant evangelist Ian Paisley rejected the nomination by Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams for him to be First Minister of a new Northern Ireland Executive. Gerry Adams nominated his colleague, Martin McGuinness, the deputy leader of Sinn Fein to be the Deputy First Minister.

Britain restarted a shadow version of the Assembly last week for the first time in 3 1/2 years to form a power sharing home rule government made up Catholics and Protestants by a November 24 as directed by the Belfast Agreement. However, accusations of a spy ring lead to the suspension of the Assembly and direct rule from London was reinstated in 2002.

Adams rose to his feet and uttered the following “I want to move that Iain Paisley be returned as First Minister and Martin McGuinness be returned as Deputy First Minister on the restoration of devolved government,” in Gaelic before translating it for the rest of the Assembly to understand.

After being asked by Speaker Eileen Bell, “Dr. Paisley, do you accept the nomination as first minister on restoration of a devolved government?”

Paisley rejected the nomination instantly stating “Certainly not, madam! And I think it goes without saying that the reasons are known well throughout this province, and they’ve been endorsed by the majority of unionist voters.”

Paisley further more stated, “Are we going to have in the government of Northern Ireland those who are terrorists, those that condoned and even planned murders, who robbed banks, who committed criminal acts and who will not support the police?” The DUP will not support Sinn Fein until the Irish Republican Army disbands, renounces crime and Sinn Fein accepts the Police Service of Northern Ireland, something it has refused to do for decades during the time of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, stated “We need to start getting on with business, talking to each other, trying to work out some of the problems today, not leaving them until the last minute.”

The Assembly has adjourned until Tuesday.



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July 27, 2005

Sinn Féin leaders believed to have left IRA Army Council

Sinn Féin leaders believed to have left IRA Army Council

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell, TD, announced yesterday that he understands that Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris, senior members of the Irish republican party Sinn Féin, have resigned from the Army Council of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

Mr. McDowell, who most recently accused the three of being members during a radio debate on the 20th of February this year, expressed his belief that the three had resigned seats on the IRA Army Council, the paramilitary organisation’s ruling body, within the past fortnight, but he did not think that this “by itself amounts to a severance between the two organisations.” Adams, the Sinn Féin president, McGuinness, the party’s chief negotiator, and Ferris, a representative in Dáil Éireann (the Irish lower house of parliament), have however consistently dismissed all such allegations of membership of the seven-man Council.

The comment comes as expectation grows that the IRA will issue a statement this week concerning its future, following a plea by Adams in April for the organisation to “take courageous initiatives which will achieve [its] aims by purely political and democratic activity.” Mr McDowell said he was looking forward to the statement, but said that was “no question of governments on either side of the border tolerating the continued existence of an unlawful organisation”, and that the IRA must decommission its arsenal “down to the last bullet”.

Claims that Sinn Féin members have left the Army Council have been described by some unionist politicians, such as DUP spokesperson Ian Paisley, Jr., as a “stunt” ahead of the expected statement from the IRA. On Monday, new Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey expressed his opinion that “The only thing that is going to matter is what the republican movement actually do.”

McGuinness is expected to travel today to the United States with senior Sinn Féin member Rita O’Hare to brief the Irish American community on the current situation.

Sources

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