Haass proposals doomed to failure

The reason the British handed over responsibilty to Haass for the contentious matters is that there is no answer to the questions which unionists will accept

THREE weeks to go to Richard Haass‘s self-imposed deadline of Christmas. Unless, of course, it’s a misunderstanding and he’s talking about a different Christmas. Do you give him any chance of coming up with agreed proposals on flags, parades and the past? No? Nor does anyone else.

Fly the Irish Tricolour from Belfast City Hall

There are several worrying consequences about the current process some of which have already been looked at here. First, even if Haass were miraculously to pull even one rabbit out of his hat, legislation would be required. To further complicate it, the matter’s he’s concerned with all involve UK legislation at least. In the case of deaths and injuries during the Troubles the Irish government would have to be involved too. With the unionist parties already jostling each other about European election candidates, will they support the necessary legislation during the election campaign? No. As the British coalition government sees the election scheduled for May 7 2015 rushing ever closer the DUP will become more important. The treacherous lily-livered Lib-Dems will finally start to break away and oppose some Conservative legislation, particularly on economic and EU matters. Together with the Labour party they might defeat the Conservatives on some issues.

This is where the eight DUP MPs come in. Last week they were able to help the Conservatives defeat a backwoods Tory rebellion on plans to recruit reservists to replace full-time soldiers in return for raising the cap on numbers of recruits from the north. Watch the DUP come to David Cameron‘s rescue in 2014-5 if he dangles a bauble in frount of them. Even if Haass came up with something the parties at Stormont agree on, don’t expect it to go through Westminster unscathed. However, don’t hold your breath. The reason the British handed over responsibility to Haass for the contentious matters is that there is no answer to the questions which unionists will accept. It’s perfectly obvious that on the flags issue unionist leaders are too weak, cowardly and hypocritical to support a rational solution to flags on public buildings. They took r Fleg!!! Their hypocrisy stares them in the face every day at Stormont. As for anything vertical in unionist districts, there is no solution. It would be a cat and mouse operation with the police running around after loyalist squads replacing flags the police removed. Unionists do not accept the concept of a neutral space. They want to own Norn Irn. After all, didn’t the British give it them? Now they’re asking them to share it with Fenians on an equal footing. Hah.

There are wider consequences. Past experience has shown that only Westminister-legislated change will bring unionists to heel whether it was the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement or the 1998 Public Processions Act. This time there’ll be no Westminster legislation because Cameron might need the DUP in the short term. It’s not the first time a British government has bolstered unionist intransigence and it won’t be the last. It dosn’t matter what colour the government is; it depends on the proconsul for the time being. Peter Hain had little to recommend him but at least his threats of joint rule with Dublin or carving Norn Irn into three sub-regions concentrated unionst minds. This present government’s detachment and the rudderless performance of the present proconsul is sending republicans a dangerous message that unionists have a veto on all change, that Stormont as presently constituted does not function as a vehicle for change. The establishment of Haass as arbiter is not only evidence of British (and Irish) disengagement but is proof that by default they encourage unionist intransigence.The plain fact is that if unionists don’t like what Haass proposes they will be allowed to reject it and Sinn Fein can do nothing about it. Haass is there only because of the failure of the two governments to confront unionist resistance to change and their continual refusal to live on equal terms with the rest of the people on this island by recognising the legitimacy of the symbols and Irish identity of those in the north. The appointment of Haass is further evidence of Sinn Fein’s inadequacy as negotiators and their failure to see the big picture. The DUP is running rings aroud them.

With many thanks to: Brian Feeney, The Irish News.

Sinn Fein hits out at decision to allow Castlederg parade

‘It seems some are more equal than others in Castlederg in the eyes of the Parades Commission – Ruairi McHugh.

SINN Fein has hit out at the Parades Commission after it ruled an Apprentice Boys parade could march through a nationalist area of Castlederg this weekend. 

For Cod and Ulster

The Apprentice Boys will march through the Co Tyrone town on Saturday morning and evening. The commission placed restrictions on the evening parade, preventing it from marching through Priest’s Lane, Ferguson Crescent, Killeter Road and Alexander Park. But the commission has allowed the morning parade to move through the predominantly nationalist Ferguson Crescent area. The feeder parades are part of the annual Lundy’s Day parade in Derry on Saturday. Around 2,500 Apprentice Boys are expected to take part in the Derry parade. There have been heightened community tensions in Castlederg following several loyalist parades and a controversial republican commemoration over the summer. Sinn Fein Castlederg councillor Ruairi Mc Hugh said it is the first time a loyalist march has been allowed to pass through Ferguson Crescent,without restrictions, since 2006. He accused the commission of “double standards”. “There has been upwards of 20 unionist parades of one type or another in Castlederg this year alone, which is totally disproportionate given the demographics of the town,” he said. Mr McHugh said as far as he was aware, the parade’s organisers had not attempted to consult with people in Ferguson Cerscent about the march. This determination stands in stark contrast to the sole Republician commemoration this year in August which the commission blocked from even entering our own town centre, which made a mockery of the town centre being a shared space for all the communities in Castlederg,” he said. “It seems some are more equal in Castlederg in the eyes of the Parades Commission.”

With many thanks to: Claire SimpsonThe Irish News.

COMMENTS ‘CONFIRM USE OF A SHOOT-TO-KILL POLICY’ !!!

A SINN Fein assembly member has claimed comments by former Ulster Unionist Ken Maginnis during a TV documentary on Margaret Thatcher confirm the British government operated a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy during the Troubles. West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer claimed remarks made by Lord Maginnis showed the ggovernment was “responsible for targeting and executing people”.

Collusion - Shoot-to-kill

During the RTE documentary Thatcher – Ireland and the Iron LadyLord Maginnis said IRA members were killed in an SAS ambush shortly after he gave names to Baroness Thatcher. The former Ulster Defence Regiment major said he met Margaret Thatcher after the IRA killed eight British soldiers in August 1988. When Ms Thatcher asked him who was responsible the former UUP member gave her names of the people he suspected of being involved. “Subsequently, believe it or not, there was an SAS operation when the same team tried to kill a coal man and they were ambushed and that was the end of that particular team,” Lord Maginnis said in the programme, broadcast on Tuesday.

IRA  members Martin Harte (23), his brother Gerard (29) and brother-in-law Brian Million (26) were shot dead at Cloughfin in Drumnakilly, Co Tyrone, during an SAS ambush in August 1988. Mr McAleer claimed Lord Maginnis’s comments confirmed that there was a ‘shoot-to-kill policy sanctioned by the highest level of the British government. “It confirms what republicans have been saying for years, that those at the highest levels of the British government were involved in targeting and assassinating republicans, solicitors and anyone else who challenged their remit in Ireland,” he said. The UUP dismissed Mr McAleer’s comments. A spokesman said : “This is yet another attempt by Sinn Fein to rewrite history.”

With many thanks to : Brendan Hughes, The Irish News.

TOWN COUNCIL A ‘FIEFDOM FOR DUP’ !!!

‘ While other councils across the north are moving forward…. Lisburn is still firmly stuck in the Dark Ages as a fiefdom for the DUP and bigotry.

LISBURN council has been accused of being stuck “in the Dark Ages” with the DUP maintaining its grip on power, taking both mayor and deputy mayor posts. The party now holds 10 out of the 12 available leadership positions.

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Alliance group leader Brian Dornan said that in the past three years the mayor and deputy mayor roles have gone to another party only once. Alliance had put forward Stephen Martin to be deputy mayor but he was defeated despite getting the support of Alliance, SDLP, Sinn Fein, one UUP councillor and an independent. “I am disappointed that yet again the DUP have refused to accept power sharing in Lisburn Council,” Mr Dornan said. “They have no problems with it at the assembly, so why can’t they agree to it in Lisburn? “The DUP may talk of a shared future but their actions don’t match their words.”

He called for mandatory power-sharing to be introudecd by environment minister Alex Attwood. Sinn Fein group leader Ader Carson said unioni. ‘s “discriminatory policies…. on Lisburn City Council are as alive in 2013 as they ever have been”. “Sinn Fein is the second largest party grouping on the council yet, despite this, we have been denied any formal positions following Lisburn council’s annual general meeting,” he said. “Given the mandate that Sinn Fein received in 2011, had d’Hondt been enacted the party would be enacted the party would be entitled to the position of chair and vice-chair of a committee each year, along with one year as major of Lisburn. “Since first being represented on Lisburn council in 1985, unionist politicians have constantly sought to deny Sinn Fein its share of positions. “As a result, by the end of this term in 2015, Sinn Fein will have held only two official positions in 30 years. “While other councils across the north are moving forward, such as Banbridge and Coleraine, Lisburn is still firmly stuck in the Dark Ages as a fiefdom of the DUP and bigotry. “Certainly there is no shared future in the minds of the DUP councillors in Lisburn City Council. Discrimation and jobs for the boys remains the prioity.”

With many thanks to : Bimpe Archer, Irish News.

BID TO MAP REMAINS OF ULSTER PLANTATION

Culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was “delighted work has begun on the important historical dig”

A TEAM of archaeologists are attempting to map the archaeological remains of the Ulster Plantation. Excavations have begun at a 17th-century castle at Baronscourt, Newtownstewart, in Co Tyrone.

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It was built by Sir James Hamilton of Greenlawe, Scotland. Documentary sources date its construction and occupation by the Hamilton family to 1622. Even before the pivotal 1607 ‘flight of the earls’, King James 1 granted the earldom of Abercorn to the Scottish Hamilton family. In 1606, James became the first real and his brothers Sir George and Sir Claus were granted lands in the barony of Strabane, Co Tyrone. It is there that the castle at Derrywonne was built. The present duke of Abercorn granted permission for the excavation on his estate. Lead archaeologist Nick Brannon beleives the castle began as a domestic, rather than defensive, building but under threat of attack, an additional tower with pistol loops was built on to protect it.

English: James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn ...
English: James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn (1811-1885) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ambitious three-year programme will see research excavations specifically targeting nearly 700 sites and monuments associated with Scottish Planters. It is founded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure on the recommendation of the ministerial advisory group for the Ulster Scots Academy, established in 2011 to advise on how best to promote research, knowledge and understanding of Ulster-Scots language, history and cultural traditions. Culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was “delighted work has begun on this important historical dig”. “Evidence of a shared inheritance based on authentic research is an important element in building a united community for the future,” she said.

With many thanks to : Bimpe Archer, Irish News.

TENSIONS HIGH AHEAD OF FIRST MAJOR LOYALIST MARCH !

Unionists call for lifting of restrictions

TENSIONS were high in North Belfast last night aheaDone all Street first major loyalist parade of thevolatile g season. Following lengthy deliberations the Parades Commission announced at 9.30pm that it had rejected a request by unionist politicians to lift restrictions placed on tommorow night’s Tour of the North parade as it passes St PPatrick’s Church in the city centre.

An Orange loyalist perception of a shared future “Bollocks” !!

Hours earlier Chief Constable Matt Baggott said he was optimistic that there would be peace on the streets this summer. The Donegall Street church has become one of the most vioatile marching locations since July last year when a band marched in circles outside it while playing a sectarian tune. The commission has ordered the 15 bands taking part tommorow to play only hymn music while passing the Donegall Street flashpoint. The bands were also told to play only a single drumbeat while passing the nearby nationalist Carrick Hill district during the Orange Order parade. The order had wanted the lead band to play hymns while the reminder would play traditional tunes while passing the church.

Parades body sticks to Tour of the North decision.

THE Parades Commission has rejected a request by unionist politicians to lift restrictions on tommorow night’s Tour of the North parade as it passes St Patrick‘s Church in central Belfast.

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Commissioners agreed to review a ruling to restrict bands taking part in the controversial parade after they meet a delegation from the UUP, DUP and PUP earlier this week. However, a spokesman for the commission announced at 9.30pm last night following ” a review of its determination, regarding the upcoming Tour of the North parade, the commission has concluded that there is insufficient new evidence upon which to alter its original determinations”. The decision to reconsider the march came just days after a commission determination ordered 15 bands taking part to play hymn music while passing the Donegall Street flashpoint. The bands were also instructed to play only a single drumbeat while passing the nearby nationalist Carrick Hill district during the Orange Order parade. The order had wanted the lead band to play hymns while the reminder would play traditional tunes while passing the church. The commission only grants a review when fresh information is presented to them and members are allowed to amend or revoke the original decision if the majority agree. The ruling came just days after the order revealed a ‘template’ it said would reduce tension in the area. Under its plan the order identified eight main parades schedueled to pass St Patrick’s between June 21 and October 27. It proposed that bands play hymns during five of the parades and during the remaining three the lead band would play a hymn with the remainder playing traditional tunes. The ‘template’ made no mention of Carrick Hill and nationalist residents were not consulted.

Two nationalist groups, Carrick Hill Concerned Residents’Committee and Greater New Lodge and North Queen Street Concerned Residents’ Group had applied to the Parades Commission to hold separate protests, involving a total of 300 people, close to St Patrick’s during the Tour of the North. The commission on Wednesday night said restrictions had been placed on the protests. While Carrick Hill Concerned Residents’ Committee can hold two demonstrations, with 30 people at each, Greater New Lodge and North Queen Street Conserned Residents’ Group can hold one protest involving 30 people. Frank Dempsey, spokesman for Carrick Hill Concerned Resident’s Committee, said : “Whether or not we agreed with the determination in the first place is irrelevant. The fact that for once the loyal orders in conjunction with unionist politicians haven’t got their own way. “And what we are saying even at this stage is lets resolve this togeather and make the Parades Commission irrelevant so we won’t have to go through this procedure every time there is a march. Dialogue is the only answer for us.” SDLP councillor Nicola Mallon on Wednesday night called for “cool and calm heads to ensure that Friday night passes off peacefully”. “The fact that the Parades Commission determinations, whether liked or not, are lawful and binding and people whether parading or protest, must obey the law,” she said. Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the determination was “the right one in the first place and lets hope it is a peaceful day for all concerned”.

With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.

ULSTER UNIONISTS SUSPEND LORD LAIRD

English: UUP Peer Lord Laird
English: UUP Peer Lord Laird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ulster Unionists have suspended Lord Laird from their West minister team.

It follows claims that he agreed to carry out parliamentary work for payment.

Undercover Sunday Times reporters filmed three peers who appear to offer to help a fake solar energy company. Wwhich is illegal for a member of Parliament in the UK to accept cash for bribes.

Lord Laird, Lord Cunningham and Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate deny wrongdoing. BBC Panorama and the Daily Telegraph filmed Lord Laird discussing a retainer for parliamentary questions.

With many thanks to : BBC NEWS.