(Irish Heritage) News Digest from Ireland: Number 10
- There are 4 messages in this issue.
Topics in this digest:
1. No assembly election date as Trimble hit by fresh crisis
2. Ahern to push Blair for troops cut
3. Taoiseach leads fond farewell
4. Greying of the green as birth rates take nose dive
1. Irish Independent
Thu, Jul 03 03
No assembly election date as Trimble hit by fresh crisis
EFFORTS to revive the stalled political process in the North suffered a
setback yesterday, when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister Tony Blair failed
to set a date for elections to the province's assembly.
Downing Street said Mr Blair believed the postponed elections should not be
held until there was a realistic prospect they would produce a "viable" power
However, Mr Ahern is strongly in favour of fresh assembly elections in the
autumn to inject new momentum into the flagging political process. It is
believed Mr Blair is reluctant to set a date while the Ulster Unionist Party is in
The rift within the party widened yesterday when it was confirmed that David
Trimble is to face a vote of 'no confidence' in his Upper Bann constituency
The motion was tabled last month during a row between Mr Trimble and rebel MP
Mr Trimble made no comment yesterday, but an aide said he was confident of
retaining the support of his association and would be mounting a "robust
defence" of his policies on the peace process.
Meanhwile, Mr Trimble has called on Sinn Fein and the IRA to prepare the
ground now for "acts of completion" in September if the new Stormont Assembly
elections are to take place in October.
The UUP leader met Mr Ahern in London to discuss the establishment of an
international monitoring body to police the paramilitary cease-fires and the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
The UUP leader said he would ideally like to see the monitoring body - which
will require legislation in the Dail and the Commons and will have an Irish
government nominee on its board - operate in "shadow" form beforehand so that
opponents could see their fears were groundless.
In Downing Street the Taoiseachemerged from an hour-long meeting with Tony
Blair and former US President Bill Clinton and to announce a plan of action for
the implementation over the coming weeks of those parts of the Good Friday
Agreement which were not dependent on acts of completion, or decommissioning, by
Mr Ahern said he totally agreed with Northern Secretary Paul Murphy's
assertion that most Unionists in the North still supported the Agreement.
Thu, Jul 03 03
2. Ahern to push Blair for troops cut
TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern is to press for a further scaling down of the
British military presence in the North when he meets Prime Minister Tony Blair at a
peace summit in London this afternoon.
Top of the agenda for the talks is the setting up of an international
monitoring body to oversee paramilitary and government "acts of completion".
Both governments are in favour of creating the body but the Irish team wants
it introduced in tandem with progress on other key issues.
The Taoiseach, who will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Brian Cowen and
Justice Minister Michael McDowell, will tell Mr Blair that he wants to see
*The implementation of the demilitarisation programme, including cuts in
British troop levels and scrapping more security installations.
* A review of the criminal justice system in the North.
* Increased North-South co-operation on a number of issues.
Legislation will have to be brought in by both governments to establish the
monitoring body and is not likely to be introduced here until October and in
London in September.
The plan is to set up a four-person body, comprising two nominees from the
British government including one from the North, and one nominee each from the
Irish and United States governments.
In the meantime, ministers are considering the idea of creating a 'shadow'
body which would operate as an interim measure in a bid to provide a fresh
kick-start to the political process in the North. Ministers are anxious to come up
with a formula which will create a new political impetus to avoid a vacuum
over the summer months and boost the prospects of Assembly elections taking place
in the autumn.
The failure of all of the political parties to reach agreement on the terms
of the joint declaration has meant that an agreed demilitarisation plan does
not exist but ministers are hopeful that a deal can be worked out to implement
measures in the short term.
The creation of a monitoring body is seen, particularly by the British, as
supporting any proposal set out by UUP leader David Trimble for restoring the
power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein if it can report that all of the parties
are meeting their commitments under the Good Friday agreement.
Tom Brady Security Editor
3. Irish Independent
Mon, Jun 30 03
Taoiseach leads fond farewell
Tributes paid to athletes at last jamboree
THE 6,000 Special Olympians who came to this country for our biggest ever
sporting event will today begin their journey home.
Last night, in a massive celebration of their achievements, the athletes were
joined by coaches, families, volunteers and friends to say one last goodbye.
VIPs led by President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Garda
Commissioner Pat Byrne, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and GAA President Sean Kelly joined
in the farewell ceremony, which kicked off at Croke Park at 7.30pm.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern proclaimed that last night was a night of celebration.
"It is the biggest celebration of ability of the year and I believe the best
ever to take place on our island.
"It is a singular celebration of achievements for all the world class
athletes here this evening. They can return home proud ambassadors for the 166
countries they represent,"
Mr Ahern told the crowd. Mr Ahern also paid tribute to the volunteers,
Special Olympics Organising Committee, the sponsors, performers, singers, global
messengers and host towns.
"Anyone who has had first hand experience of the fantastic work done can bear
witness to the real bonds of team spirit between our people and our visitors.
Everything they have done, they have reflected the best of what we all
believe in as Irish people," he said.
Westlife topped the bill at last night's closing ceremony, which saw Croke
Park erupt in a sea of colour and noise. Eurovision contestant Mickey Harte,
singer Simon Casey and bands Blue and Busted also took to the stage.
Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis, told the Irish Independent of her joy that
the games had gone so well. "We are thrilled," she said. "We've had no issues
over the entire week. "It has been wonderful, not just for me, but for the
team of 244 staff, and the 7,000 athletes and the 30,000 volunteers," she said.
Chairman of the Games organising committee Denis O'Brien said there was an
onus on all political parties and politicians to present legislation redressing
the real problems of people with disabilities.
Addressing the athletes, he said: "Athletes, we have been honoured by your
presence, your achievements and unbridled joy.
" While most of the athletes will leave Ireland today, the Chinese Taipei
delegation will head for their host town of Portlaoise, as they got delayed in
arriving here. The town has kept its well laid plans on ice and the athletes
will get the red carpet treatment today.
At the end of the party the athletes clung to one another, swapping T-shirts
and badges and promising never to forget their special weeks in Ireland.
Almost 5,000 Special Olympic athletes and their families are due to fly out
of Dublin airport today. Because of the large numbers, traffic restrictions are
in place to assist their departure and other passengers are advised by Aer
Rianta to arrive in plenty of time for their flights.
Traffic restrictions around the terminal building will result in the inside
lane of the departure road being open solely for Special Olympics Coaches.
Passengers are further advised that roads leading to the airport may be
busier than usual due to the numbers of departing athletes.
Extra airport staff and volunteers will be on duty to ensure that the
departure of those who took part in the Games goes smoothly.
Departing athletes going through the passenger screening area will be greeted
with live music, street entertainers and stilt-walkers.
Before their flights home they will be given a final musical salute by the
pipers of the Black Raven Band.
4. Irish Independent
Fri, Jun 20 03
Greying of the green as birth rates take nose dive
THE age profile of Irish people is rising, they are more likely to live in
urban areas, and more of them are opting not to have children than ever
before, according to the latest analysis of the 2002 census.
Almost 6pc of the population is made up of non-nationals, according to
demographic results released by the Central Statistics Office yesterday.
A surge in immigration figures in recent years has also had implications for
religion, with the proportion of Roman Catholics down from 91.6pc of the
population in 1996 to 88.4pc in 2002. The number of Muslims in the country has more
than quadrupled to 19,000, while the long-term decline in the numbers
recorded as belonging to the Church of Ireland, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches
has been reversed.
Over two million people, or over 50pc of the population, now live in
Leinster. The number of separated/divorced people in the country has increased from
87,800 in 1996 to 133,800 in 2002, while the number of divorced people has more
than trebled to 35,100, reflecting the legalisation of divorce in 1997.
The population aged by a year to an average of 35.1 between 1996 and 2002,
but we're still the youngest nation in the EU.
The average family size has dropped from 2.2 children to 1.6, while the
number of couples living together, whether married or unmarried, who do not have
children has jumped by 40pc from 1996 to 2002, the census found.
Cohabiting couples accounted for 8.4pc of all family units last year - up
from less than four per cent in 1996.
The number of gay couples recorded as living together increased from 150 to
1,300 last year.
Reports and analysis: Marese McDonagh
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