They think it's all over, it is now!

I decided to wait a day or two before posting about the Ard Fheis in order to get a clear picture in my own head first. Now the decision on Sunday was as near to unanimous as you are likely to get at any Ard Fheis.

What will this mean to ordinary Republicans though, who are a little bit overwhelmed by the whole experience.

Well firstly the Ard Fheis motion states

"That this Ard Fheis endorses the Ard Chomhairle motion. That the Ard Chomhairle is mandated to implement this motion only when the power-sharing institutions are established and when the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place. "

Which means that the Ard Chomhairle can not appoint anyone to Policing Boards until power-sharing is up and running and when they are satisfied that powers will be devolved.

If this does not happen by 2008 then they can only move when "acceptable new partnership arrangements" are in place.

Gerry Adams expanded on this today when he said that

"Further progress will happen either with the return of the power-sharing institutions on March 26th or in the context of new all-Ireland partnership arrangements"

Now today and yesterday Gerry has been busy calling on people to co-operate with the peelers and indeed calling on young Republicans to join the cops.

I have spoken to quite a few young Republicans this last few days and none of them will be joining anytime soon.

In relation to co-operating with the cops, Gerry is entitled to call for what ever he likes. I on the other hand will be making no such call.

The peelers must prove that they are competent, impartial, accountable and worthy of support before I would encourage anyone to work with or help them.

Gerry said it himself when he said that

"there is a huge onus on the PSNI to earn the trust and confidence, which at this point does not exist. "

Sunday has been described in all corners as truly historic and indeed it was. Some Republicans would argue that we are sell outs who have endorsed the apparatus of the state and as such have no right to call ourselves Republicans anymore.

Indeed many party members still have concerns about the decision.

Gerry spoke about this process being a bus journey to a United Ireland, a journey that will have a few stops along the way. At these stops he said that people will get off but many more will get on.

I was very sorry to hear that Sinn Féin Newry and Mourne Deputy Mayor Martin Connolly was one of those who got off the bus at this stop.

Martin is a sound bloke and a sound Republican, his input and opinion will be sadly missed. I can understand though why he felt that this was a step too far.

The elections have been called and it would seem that we are full steam ahead. The elections at least promise to be lively.

While I remain certain that I made the correct decision in supporting this initiative it doesn't stop me having a pain in the depths of my stomach over it.


It's a Yes from me

I have spent the last couple of weeks thinking about this decision, I have spoke to friends, family and comrades. I am of course talking about the vote that will take place at this Sunday's Ard Fheis on Policing.

This is not an easy decision, I still have reservations like most Republicans but I believe we have enough to be able to move forward.

The Ard Fheis motion clearly sets out what must happen before the party will sign up to Policing and Justice. We need to get to a stage were we have proper accountable policing; Republicans are entitled to what they never had.

The sad fact is that perhaps the only downside of the ceasefire is that the hoods and criminal elements of our community now believe they have a free run, where as before the ceasefire these elements remained under their rocks.

We need a way to keep our communities safe, we need old people to be confident enough to open the door to strangers and we need our communities to be free from anti-social behaviour.

We don't have that at the moment!

I am happy enough that MI5 have been removed from the policing equation and also happy enough that the Police Ombudsman has enough power and indeed the will to root out the scum that formed the apparatus of State murder.

Republicans need to think about this in relation to the struggle, Policing simply becomes another site of struggle. Let's be honest hear, who do you have more faith in to hold the police to account, Gerry Kelly or Alex Attwood?

This was always going to be a difficult decision because we have never had an impartial police service but that doesn't mean that we aren't entitled to one.

I have enough faith in the leadership in order to give this my, if somewhat hesitant and cautious, support.

In South Armagh every Sinn Féin member is on board, not a single member has walked away.

At the public meeting in Newry I heard life long Republicans, many of whom where active in the army, stating the reasons why this was the right thing to do. I have spoke to people who have lost loved ones to Crown forces who feel able to support this new initiative from the leadership.

These are the people who should, in theory, find it hardest to support the police yet they remain resolute. I have recommended to local Republicans that if we do go on to the policing boards that our representatives should be former POW's, that should make for good job satisfaction amongst the peelers.

Imagine how they will feel having to account for their actions to a former IRA volunteer?

As Gerry Adams has said this is about putting manners on the cops, making them accountable for their actions. This is not about pulling an SDLP and having them around for tea and biscuits.

This is about making their lives a living hell if they so much as slabber to a young Nationalist again. This is about letting them know that the days of them having a free ride is over.

They are going to have to answer to us from now on!

Many Republicans are unsure about this step and as I said this is understandable. We need to have faith in ourselves, confidence in our own ability and unity in our approach.

If this is passed on Sunday then watch the heat in the DUP rocket. They claim we are divided, they stoops think this is our "Stalingrad", let's show them how wrong they are.

This struggle is not about going backwards, we only have one gear and that must be a forward one.


DUP unfit for Government

In another example of breathe taking hypocrisy the DUP have defended the senior RUC men who have refused to co-operate with the Police Ombudsman.

According to Ian Paisley Jnr they were within their rights to withhold co-operation because Nuala O'Loan was engaged in a "fishing exercise" without any hard evidence of collusion.

This is in despite the fact that the DUP are demanding that Sinn Féin not only accept policing and justice but also are seen to be supporting it. This they argue is a condition for government.

If that is the case then the DUP are unfit for government!!

On top of this Unionism has stopped this issue being debated at Stormont. Yet more cowardly actions from the DUP.

Unionism is practising the age old practise of "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no sense"


Brit murder machine exposed to the world

Yesterday many people finally had to sit up and realise that Republicans have been telling the truth for the last couple of decades.

That truth is that the British government through their state agencies colluded and actively participated in the murder of unarmed Catholic civilians.

Nuala O'Loan's report makes for uncomfortable reading but it is nothing we didn't know already. I suppose knowing something and having the evidence of such for others are two entirely different things.

What makes this report even more poignant is that it took a member of the Unionist community to bring it to light. Raymond McCord deserves praise for the courage that he has shown.

It needs to be remembered that this report only covers one area of the North for a very short period; this practise was systematic across the North and indeed across Ireland as a whole.

It hardly comes as much surprise to learn that many former senior RUC men impeded the work of Ms O'Loan and refused to co-operate, their hands are soaked in blood so I suppose that explains why.

I am annoyed though by this pious reaction by so-called Nationalists in the SDLP. Mark Durkan said the other day that collusion has been proved and that it wasn't a 'Nationalist myth', suggesting that the SDLP have been saying this for years which is a bare faced lie.

Let's just take a brief look at the SDLP's role in the cause of justice

-In the 1980's the SDLP denied that there was a Shoot-To-Kill policy

-When the issue of Collusion was first brought up by Sinn Féin the SDLP described it as 'republican propaganda'

- I know from An Fhirnne members, a body that represents over a 100 families of British State collusion that they have been asked to participate and have not bothered their arse

-When an unarmed republican was shot dead by British State Forces in Downpatrick the local SDLP MP expressed his satisfaction

-The SDLP ignored the relatives of those killed through state violence when they lobbied MPs at Westminster and MLAs at Stormont

-The SDLP members of the Policing Board have abjectly failed to deal with the issue and in particular those PSNI members who were centrally involved in collusion

-Their lack of action in response to the passing of RUC/PSNI files on 400 republicans to loyalist death squads

-Hugh Orde investigated 20 cases of serving RUC/PSNI officers for prosecution, what happened to these prosecutions now that he is Chief Constable? What have the SDLP done about this issue on the policing board?

The only people who have been highlighting the issue of Collusion and helping the families has been Sinn Féin. As Raymond McCord said yesterday he got no support in the Unionist community bar Sylvia Hermon, he had to come to the Falls road to see Gerry Adams.

He also admitted that he once believed it was "Republican Propaganda" until it was visited upon his own door.

The political reaction has been deafening but why are people shocked?

This has been Brit government policy for a long time and is not just a case of a few rogue cops and a few bad apples. As Nuala O'Loan said yesterday this went right to the top.

I fully support Sinn Féin's call for the Irish government to bring the Brits to the European court over this issue, let's test the resolve of the Irish government on this one.

Will they stand up for the victims of state sanctioned murder, will they stand up for the people of Dublin and Monaghan or will they do a Jack Lynch and hide in the bunker pretending this isn't happening?

The timing of this leaked report is also significant, the week of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis on Policing.There are indeed many members of the security services who would prefer if Sinn Féin didn't get involved.

This is the reason why policing can't be left to the SDLP and Unionists.

I spoke to a few legal colleagues in London last night about this issue. We have spoken about Collusion on a few occasions and many of them had the typical naive English view.

Namely that their government would never do anything like that and that I must be mistaken.

So when I flew home yesterday I e-mailed them Nuala O'Loans report and their reaction was telling.

Most of them are decent enough people, who do favour a United Ireland, and accept that Britain's involvement in Ireland has never been a good thing for the Irish.

What some of them did suggest was that Ronnie Flanagan should be stripped of his Knighthood and the George Cross rescinded from the RUC.

Now as an Irish Republican I couldn't care less what honours or titles the Brits bestow upon their murder squads but your average British person needs to ask themselves.

Was this done in your name?


United we stand, divided we fall

I see that Gerry Adams has offered to meet the 'leadership' ( I use that word is the loosest sense possible) of the dissidents in order to try and convince them of the merits of the Sinn Féin strategy ahead of the controversial Ard Fheis on policing.

Gerry said

"I do not want to see any other people killed or imprisoned as a result of their activities,"

"I want to meet with these organisations to brief them in detail on current developments and impress upon them my belief that the current Sinn Fein strategy is the best way forward for our community and for the wider republican struggle."

This comes as dissidents organised a meeting in Derry to express concerns, some of which are genuine, about Sinn Féin's stance on Policing and to have a general bitch about all things Shinner.

This meeting was chaired by John Kelly and heard from representatives of the Irps, Coca Cola's and other 'Independent' republicans.

At this meeting any support for policing was ruled out but a return to armed conflict was not.

One of those who attended the meeting was Tony McPhillips who described the GFA as "treacherous" and an attempt to "disarm" republicans.

This is in despite of the fact that the GFA was endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Irish people North and South in the first All Ireland vote since partition.

He said that "As long as there is any form of British rule in Ireland there will be Irish men and women willing to resist. And I as an Irish republican will do nothing in word or deed to discourage those brave people."

The key question though Tony is will you and others like you do anything in word or deed to encourage these people?

I have a real problem with those who call for a return to armed conflict, not because I am against the use of arms in principle but because I am opposed to it when it is counter-productive and will only lead to more young Irish men and women going to the grave and going to jail.

In this hypothetical return to armed conflict will it be the young men doing the dying and old men doing the talking?

Are these men and women who advocate a return to armed conflict prepared to so the same themselves?

Please spare me the usual rubbish of "what would you know, you are only 22, These men fought the Brits for years" because it is bogus bullshit!

Yes, I have deep respect and admiration for those who took up arms when it was necessary however I judge people on who they are now, not what they were.

The fact that you were once a Volunteer does not give you life long immunity to talk complete and utter bullshit. Nor does it mean that you are always right, it simply means that you were once a Volunteer.

As most of those who are calling for a return to conflict seem to be old men I wonder if they are prepared for their sons and daughters to go to the grave in the name of Mother Ireland?

We have a great opportunity to unite this country and end partition by the use of peaceful politics, when that opportunity arises it should be grasped with both hands.

As Republicans our principles must be set in stone however the methods by which we use to achieve those objectives must not.

When your methods are set in stone you risk losing your objectives on a point of 'principle', is that what these people want?

We are only as strong as we are united, only as weak as we are divided.

Once a stick, always a stick!

I see that Stickius Maximus AKA Pat Rabbitte has been less than confident in relation to the chances of an "Alternative Coalition" actually gaining power at the next General Election.

Despite claiming that the "Alternative Government" AKA Blueshirts and Sticks will win the next election he has refused to rule out coalition with Fianna Fail.

He has said that he wants Fianna Fail out of government but I am not convinced for one moment that he wouldn't go to bed with Fianna Fail if it meant political power.

What does surprise me and always has is why a so-called "left wing" party would ally itself with one of the most right wing and reactionary parties in the state in the form of Fine Gael?

I have spoken to Labour party members about this in the past, who are genuinely left wing, and they can't provide me with an answer.

Do they honestly believe that the objectives of Connolly and Larkin can be implemented by putting the blue shirts in power?

This 'coalition' of the weak and worthless would be the worst option for the country as neither of these clowns could run a piss up in a brewery never mind run a country.

I firmly believe that Rabbitte will be removed as leader after the next election as the general membership of the Labour party want to implement left wing policies, they don't want a Fine Gael love in and that is what is leadership stint has been.

This can be viewed already with Howlin arguing that Labour shouldn't rule anything out as the top priority is to "advance the aspirations of the party and its supporters".

Watch your back Pat, the vultures are already circling and it is only January!

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no sense!

That is the reality in relation to UUP peer Ken Maginnis who accussed the Police Ombudsman of carrying out a witch-hunt against RUC officers who "defended the public against terror".

This outburst from Maginnis came as the British government braced itself for the devastating findings of a massive inquiry into a north Belfast UVF's unit’s bloody reign of terror.

The Mount Vernon death squad was heavily infiltrated with RUC Special Branch agents, as such, senior RUC personnel will be implicated in this report.

In effect this gang, like the Glenanne gang, were allowed to murder at will with the full knowledge and support of the upper echelons of the RUC and NIO.

Instead of facing up to this reality former UDR man Maginnis likes to place his head in the sand and pretend that it never happened.

According to Maginnis

“The Police Ombudsman’s office has been costly, ineffective and unfair."

“It has brought misery and unhappiness to the victims of terrorism and has persecuted those who put their lives on the line for our community.”

The point is that these RUC men were not 'rogue cops' as some would have you believe, they were part of a policy that originated in Downing street which the British government were very aware of and indeed supported.

Maginnis's attempt to shift the blame on to O'Loan is telling but hardly unexpected from a former UDR man.


Rape referendum makes for bad law

I see that the Dublin government are set to hold a referendum in March in order to address the fallout from the Supreme Court decision last year which related to the defences available in cases of statutory rape.

The case of Mr A led to great public outcry on the issue as the man had been convicted of having sex with a 12 year old child. The reason for his release was because the High Court believed it was following the ruling in the C.C. v Ireland case.

The Supreme Court held that Section I(1), of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1935 was inconsistent with Bunreacht Na hÉireann because the applicant had been denied the opportunity of pleading that he had reasonable grounds for believing the girl was over the age of 15.

The court considered that to deny the applicant in that case the opportunity to put forward such a defence was an abuse of his constitutional rights.

Now in this forthcoming referendum the government are suggesting that people should not be allowed to mount a defence of honest belief.

In my view this is a short sighted and naive, I do however accept that a defence of "honest belief" would not offer enough protection to potential rape victims. That is why I would suggest a test of "Honest and Reasonable" belief.

With "Honest and Reasonable" belief you get the subjective and objective elements that are part of most legal defences, the denial of this defence may lead to miscarriages of justice.

I have worked in nightclubs and pubs since I was 14 and I know how hard it is, sober never mind drunk, to assertain the age of certain girls. Now if I am in an over 18's disco I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that all the girls are over 18.

That is not always the case and I personally have seen 13 year olds and 14 year olds in discos. Now the only way that I could tell they were that age was because I knew their people.

This is a balancing act, like most area's of the law where you have competing interests however if this referendum is passed it may just tip the balance and so distort justice.

Why am I surprised though, McDowell is the Minister for Justice!


Hain is in a world of his own

Brit Secretary of State Peter Hain has claimed that Republicans who have concerns about Policing, or as he would would call us "Dissidents", are in the "minority" within Sinn Féin.

According to Hain

"It's inevitable when you get to this crunch moment that people, perhaps those who have never supported policing and the rule of law in (the case of) some of Sinn Fein's members, or never supported power-sharing in the case of the DUP, some of them will duck out and say 'it's not for me'. "

"Well I think they will be in a minority, because the leaderships and the majority of both parties want to do this deal and want to do what the people of Northern Ireland want."

His use of the loaded term "dissident" is duly noted as is the effect that he hopes to achieve with it however have I missed something?

Was the Ard Fheis already held? Have Sinn Féin members made clear by majority vote that they support what is proposed?


The Ard Chomhairle is not taking the party membership support as a foregone conclusion, that is why we are having public and private meetings on the issue. Hain should not seek to presume for he presumes too much.

Secondly, what is this nonsense about Sinn Féin members not supporting any kind of policing and being uninterested in the rule of law?

Any Sinn Féin member will tell you that once there is trouble in a Republican area their door is the first door knocked, be it at what ever hour of the day and night. That is why this suggestion that Republicans are opposed to law and order is so absurd

We are 100% in support of law and order, we need peacefull communites and we need a proper and accountable police service. A police service that is accountable to the people they claim to serve and protect and not to some political master in Whitehall.

What Republicans don't need and what we have always had is a political police force.

A force that acts as the armed wing of Unionism. A force that has managed and controlled pro-state death squads against the Nationalist and Republican community. A force that is a puppet of the securocrats and a force that has no interest in positive policing.

We have all seen the problems when you have a force within a force. Republicans want and need a proper police service, we also want and need a criminal justice system that is blind to all but justice.

The only problem that many Republicans have with these proposals is that they believe we are not there yet.

Hain should keep his nose out of internal Sinn Féin party business!

Fianna Fail Minister tries to free child rapist

I was disgusted to learn that Fianna Fail Minister for Labour Affairs Tony Killeen tried to secure the release of a convicted child rapist.

He has refused to resign despite the fact that his his Co Clare constituency office sent two letters to the Minister for Justice urging him to release this monster.

Mr Killeen insisted that he had only instructed his staff to write letters to the Irish Prison Service to draw attention to the poor health of his constituent Joseph Nugent, who was jailed for six years in 2002 for sex offences.

Another Clare TD, Pat Breen of Fine Gael was heavily criticised last October for making representations for an early release for Nugent in a Dáil question on behalf of Nugent's family.

Killeen maintains that he made this call on "humanitarian" grounds because Nugent has been assulted in prison and feared for his life.

Good! I am glad that he is not having a nice time in prison. He deserves it after the crimes that he committed!

Is this what voters can expect from Fianna Fail or Fine Gael Minsters? Soft on child abusers and rapists?

It is a sad indictment that they place the welfare of a convicted child rapist above the welfare of the general public.

This monster deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison, his victim and the general public's interests come before his.


Former Taoiseach attacks Ahern over payments

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds has launched a blistering attack on Bertie Ahern over payments that he recieved from rich businessmen while Minister for Finance.

According to the former Taoiseach Bertie's judgement on the matter has affected Irish public life. Mr Reynolds insisted he would have forbidden his then Finance minister from taking loans and gifts worth €62,000 from individuals if he had been aware of it.

“I always strongly believed that there was no way a member of a government should finance anything he was doing in that respect. I was Minister for Finance and nobody ever offered me money,”

In an interview with the Marian Finucane show he also said

"I think it’s bad for politics and bad for everything — if there’s a view out there, you know, that money can be got if you’re a minister or a Taoiseach, in relation to what you’re doing in normal daily life,”

This is not welcome news for Bertie Ahern who had hoped that "Bertiegate" was in the past. It is more unwelcome as Albert is still held in high regard by a great many people, most of whom are Fianna Fail voters.

I have always liked Albert Reynolds, he is a committed Republican and he has always been very good towards the people in the North. He is the one Fianna Fail leader who most Sinn Féin members have some time for. He was the man who coined the "John Unionist" title for that Blueshirt Bruton.

He was quite disgracefully shafted by his Fianna Fail associates in 1997 in relation to the Presidency.

They do say however that when you sup with the devil (Fianna Fail) these things can happen.


Special Ard Fheis on Policing

Following on from the Ard Chomhairle meeting yesterday we know for sure that the Special Ard Fheis will take place on the 28th of this month.

Below is the motion which delegates at that special Ard Fheis will be asked to vote on.

"This Ard Fheis reiterates Sinn Féin’s political commitment to bringing about Irish re-unification and the full integration of political, economic, social and cultural life on the island.

This Ard Fheis supports civic policing through a police service which is representative of the community it serves, free from partisan political control and democratically accountable.

We support fair, impartial and effective delivery of the rule of law.

The changes to policing secured in legislation need to be implemented fully. The truth about wrongdoing by British military, intelligence and policing agencies needs to be uncovered and acknowledged. Sinn Féin supports the demands for this from the families of victims. The PSNI needs to make strenuous efforts to earn the trust and confidence of nationalists and republicans. Gardaí corruption and malpractice – which has been exposed in the Morris Tribunal and the Abbeylara inquiry in the 26 counties – shows the need for constant vigilance and oversight. These inquiries and the ill-treatment of republicans by the Garda Special Branch also provide compelling reasons as to why the responsibility of political parties and representatives should be to hold the police to account in a fair and publicly transparent way.

This Ard Fheis is totally opposed to political, sectarian and repressive policing. The experience of nationalists and republicans in the Six Counties is of a partisan, unionist militia which engaged in harassment, torture, assassination, shoot-to-kill and collusion with death squads.

The Good Friday Agreement requires and defines ‘a new beginning to policing’ as an essential element of the peace process. The Good Friday Agreement also requires functioning, powersharing and all-Ireland political institutions.

The British Government have agreed to the transfer of powers on policing and justice away from Westminster to locally-elected political institutions and have set out the departmental model to which these powers will be transferred. In these circumstances authority over policing and justice will lie in Ireland.

We note the British Government’s new policy statement of 10 January 2007 which removes MI5 from policing structures in Ireland. This removes the proposals to embed MI5 into civic policing and removes the danger of again creating a force within a force.

We note also the commitment by PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde that plastic bullets will not be used for purposes of public order/crowd control and his acknowledgement of the hurt resulting from injuries and death of innocent people including children.

These weapons should never be used again. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for a total ban.

This Ard Fheis notes the refusal of the DUP leader Ian Paisley to publicly commit to power-sharing and participation in the all-Ireland political institutions by 26 March 2007.

Before the Ard Chomhairle meeting on 29 December the DUP had agreed words which they would release in response to the Ard Chomhairle accepting the policing motion put by the Party President. We note the DUP’s failure to keep to this commitment.

It is clear that elements of the DUP are determined to use policing and other issues to prevent progress, resist powersharing and equality and oppose any all-Ireland development. This is unacceptable.

It is the responsibility of the two Governments and pro-Agreement parties across the island to resist this and to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein is committed to justice. Sinn Fein is committed to law and order and to stable and inclusive partnership government, and, in good faith and in a spirit of genuine partnership, to the full operation of stable power-sharing government and the north south and east west arrangements set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

The responsibility of the police is to defend and uphold the rights of citizens. In order to fulfil this role they require critical support.

Sinn Féin reiterates our support for An Garda Síochána and commits fully to:

1. Support for the PSNI and the criminal justice system.

2. Hold the police and criminal justice systems north and south fully to account, both democratically and legally, on the basis of fairness and impartiality and objectivity.

3. Authorise our elected representatives to participate in local policing structures in the interests of justice, the quality of life for the community and to secure policing with the community as the core function of the PSNI and actively encouraging everyone in the community to co-operate fully with the police services in tackling crime in all areas and actively supporting all the criminal justice institutions.

4. The devolution of policing and justice to the Assembly.

5. Equality and human rights at the heart of the new dispensation and to pursue a shared future in which the culture, rights and aspirations of all are respected and valued, free from sectarianism, racism and intolerance.

To achieve this the Ard Chomhairle is hereby mandated to:

1. Appoint Sinn Féin representatives to the Policing Board and the District Policing Partnership Boards to ensure that:

1.1 a civic policing service, accountable and representative of the community is delivered as quickly as possible,
1.2 the Chief Constable and the PSNI are publicly held to account,
1.3 policing with the community is achieved as the core function of the PSNI,
1.4 political policing, collusion and "the force within a force" is a thing of the past and to oppose any involvement by the British Security Service/MI5 in civic policing.

2. Ensure Sinn Fein representatives robustly support the demands for:

2.1 equality of treatment for all victims and survivors,
2.2 effective truth recovery mechanisms,
2.3 acknowledgement by the British State of its involvement in wrongdoing including collusion with loyalist paramilitaries,
2.4 to ensure that there is no place in the PSNI for those guilty of human rights abuses,

3. Resolutely oppose the use of lethal weapons in public order situations

4. Authorise Sinn Féin Ministers to take the ministerial Pledge of Office.

5.Achieve accountable all-Ireland policing structures.

The Ard Chomhairle recommends:

That this Ard Fheis endorses the Ard Chomhairle motion. That the Ard Chomhairle is mandated to implement this motion only when the power-sharing institutions are established and when the Ard Chomhairle is satisfied that the policing and justice powers will be transferred. Or if this does not happen within the St Andrews timeframe, only when acceptable new partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday Agreement are in place."

The party has outlined that the next few weeks will be used for debate, both in public and in private. Every Sinn Féin member and indeed every Republican on this island is entitled to his/her say on this matter.

Comrades, don't let this opportunity slip you by. This is one of the most important decisions that Republicans are being asked to take since 1998.

We can't afford a wrong decision!

Irish Blog Awards 2007

It's that time of the year again, it's time to get nominating for the Irish Blog Awards.

I will not be saying any more about it than this, if you fancy nominating Balrog for any of the sections then go ahead.

You can do so here

Any nominations would be appreciated


DUP not playing ball, quelle surprise

Gerry Adams today published the wording which Ian Paisley was supposed to deliver in his New Year statement.

According to Gerry, in the run up to the meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle on December 29th the DUP were given the text of the motion that was to be put to the Ard Chomhairle.

This was the motion calling a special Ard Fheis on policing.

The DUP said that the required words were in the motion and that if the Ard Chomhairle accepted the motion they would respond to this in Ian Paisley’s New Year statement.

The words given to Sinn Féin were:

‘The DUP has always maintained that it will support devolution of policing and justice if there is sufficient confidence across the community. The words needed are those contained in the Ard Chomhairle motion. Provided Sinn Féin translate into action the commitments contained in that motion, the DUP will accept devolution of policing and justice in the time frame set out in the St. Andrews Agreement or even before that date.’

Gerry said

"The agreed words were never said which is why there is now a crisis in the process.So the context has been changed completely.

The DUP have refused to accept power sharing within the St. Andrews timeframe. The basis of the Ard Chomhairle motion has been removed. We have to find another basis to move forward. It will be very difficult but I see this as a challenge to be faced and overcome. Despite these very profound difficulties I stand by my remarks of December 29th.

I put the motion on policing to the Ard Chomhairle because it was the right thing to do. It is still the right thing to do. Republicans and nationalists, like all other citizens, have the right to a civic, non-partisan and accountable policing service. There is still an urgent need toget the power sharing arrangements in place, with the DUP in the Executive as is their entitlement."

"Tomorrow the Ard Chomhairle will have to judge all of these matters in the round. Our objective has to be to find a sustainable way forward.“

So, do I think the Ard Chomhairle will tomorrow cancel the proposed Ard Fheis on policing?

No I don't

It is clear however that the leadership had not expected the amount of opposition from the grassroots on this issue. They are publishing this statement to show the grassroots membership and voters that they were not sold a pup by the Brits and DUP.

It wouldn't be the first time that a Unionist leader failed to deliver what he promised, just think back to Trimble and the IRA's second act of putting weapons beyond use. We all saw what happenned to him.

That being said I wouldn't place any confidence on the word of the DUP, I would also never call an Ard Fheis on the strength of a promise from Ian Paisley.

That is just asking for trouble!

UPDATE: Ard Chomhairle agree to proceed with Ard Fheis on the 28th, quelle surprise!

"Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams hailed the decision as courageous and historic and said it would have been wrong of his party to be blocked by the most negative elements of unionism.

However, he did warn that it was not a foregone conclusion that the party would vote to support the PSNI and the criminal justice system."


MI5 removed from the policing equation

I was told at Christmas that this had been achieved and it seems that it has.

This was one of the main issues ( not the only one though) that had many Republicans like myself refusing to back any new policing agreement.

It is clear that MI5 and the PSNI will not be connected in any way and that can only be a good thing.

The SDLP claims that it removes MI5 out of local control and accountability, the SDLP are deluded if they believed that they or anyone else could control or hold MI5 to account.

The British government can't even control them for goodness sake!

What is clear is that if there is to be a new start to policing MI5 has no role to play within that policing structure.

There is no place for a "force within a force" !

Sinn Féin have been able to achieve what the SDLP didn't even try to do, namely

1. No secondment of PSNI members to MI5

2. No PSNI members will be under the control of MI5

3. MI5 will have no role in civic policing

4. All PSNI members accountable to the Policing Board and other Patten mechanisms and upon transfer to the Justice Ministers.

5. All party representation on the Policing Board special purposes committee

6. The Police Ombudsman will have statutory access to all information held by PSNI and statutory powers to hold PSNI members to account. Arrangements will be made that she will have access to information held by MI5 where this is necessary to the discharge of her duties.

7. Annual Review role in the north for Lord Carlisle in consultation with the First and deputy First Ministers and future Justice Ministers.

Sinn Féin Policing and Justice spokesperson Gerry Kelly MLA said

"Sinn Féin is determined to achieve a new beginning to policing. One of our key demands in these negotiations was to stop MI5 having any role in civic policing here. Today's proposals will go a long way towards achieving that objective and go far beyond the proposals agreed by the SDLP at St. Andrews."

Policing is no where near sorted, the Ard Chomhairle may have called a special Ard Fheis however the outcome of that Ard Fheis is not a fore gone conclusion.

Just from speaking to comrades in Cumann's across South Armagh this is going to be a hard decision for the leadership to sell.

We still have problems with the timetable for the transfer of Policing and Justice powers. We also have serious problems about who is actually going to be the Ministers.

There is no Republican going to settle for or have any confidence in some stoop like Alex Attwood as Minister for Policing.

Do we have enough change for Republicans to sign up to policing?

I honestly don't know at this stage, it could go either way.


Zionists up the ante!

I see that the Zionists are planning a tactical Nuclear strike against Iran if the International community does not conform to their every whim.

The duplicity of Israel is a sight to be seen, Zionist foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said 'Israel totally supports Resolution 1737 and the international community must be ready to take even tougher measures against Iran.'

This in despite of the fact that Israel is in defiance of more UN Security Council resolutions than any other country on Earth!

Perhaps it is time for people to stand up and reaslise that the biggest destabilising influence in the Middle East has been and will always be Israel.

Perhaps it is time for the International community to stop sideing with Zionists and state terrorists and show Arab counties that the UN will practise what it preaches.

Perhaps it's time the International community stood up to Israel and said

"Enough is Enough!, your agression will no longer go unpunished!"

Judicial Independence

In the typical Republican tradition I value the separation of powers, namely the separation between an executive, a legislature and a Judiciary. It is because of this belief that I view with deep unease McDowell's plan to introduce a judicial council.

This move follows the breakdown in confidence between the Minister for Justice and the Judiciary when before Christmas McDowell accused some judges of being soft on bail and sentencing.

At the time I viewed this as a "crossing of the line" by McDowell in relation to the separation powers.

I am in two minds on the issue of a judicial council.

I understand the need for Judicial independence but I also understand the worry of placing too much power in the hands of people who are not elected by the people and who can't be held accountable by the people.

That being said this is nothing more than a window dressing exercise by McDowell in an attempt to deflect attention away from his utter incompetence as Minister for Justice.

He simply limbers from one crisis to the next with no thought of forward planning. With McDowell it is always a clean up job.

We had the mess up with Mr A and the Rape law, what did McDowell do to prevent this scenario?

Nothing! Despite the fact that the law commission had made submissions almost 16 years earlier stating that the denial of an honest belief was a problem.

In Dublin we have seen a total breakdown in law and order in certain parts, the plague of drug gangs are infesting the streets and what is the response from McDowell?

It's the judges fault!

It is a sad reminder that Ministers in the 26 counties don't fall on their swords, they simply linger and go septic until someone eventually cuts them off.

If Bertie had the guts he would have sacked him long ago and given him a position to match his talents, perhaps a tea lady?