Saturday 3rd May 2014
Sinn Fein leader Adams may be charged in connection with 1972 murder of Jean McConville
Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, will learn later today whether he will be charged or released in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a mother of 10, from her Belfast home in 1972. Mr Adams, 65, denies he was involved in the widow’s abduction and murder.
As detectives continued to question Mr Adams, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, claimed the arrest was politically motivated. Speaking in Belfast yesterday, he said that an “embittered rump of the old RUC” force were “cynically exploiting the awful killing” of Mrs McConville – accused by the IRA of collaborating with the British authorities in the early 1970s.
Mr Adams is alleged by former republican colleagues to have ordered Mrs McConville’s murder and secret burial in 1972. The IRA later admitted killing her and her body was found on a beach in County Louth in 2003.
Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein Assembly member, said yesterday the party would not stop supporting the Northern Irish Police Service, but would “monitor and review” its relationship with the force.
Northern Ireland’s Justice minister, David Ford, called Mr Adams’s arrest “entirely appropriate”. “Given the scale of the concerns expressed, of the information – which I accept is not yet evidence – it was entirely appropriate that should be followed up.”
Thousands protest in Dublin against Ireland’s abortion law
Pro-Life Campaign aims to ‘dismantle’ legislation introduced by Government last year
About 4,500 people rallied in Dublin today at a Pro-Life Vigil, which organisers said would be “the first step in a campaign dismantle the abortion law”.
While gardaí on the scene put the crowd at what the organisers described as a ‘National Vigil For Life’ at about 3,000, the organisers said there were 15,000. The crowd filled about a third of one side of Merrion Square.
Organised by the Pro-Life Campaign, the rally heard recommendations that people should not vote for candidates from parties who had “broken their pro-life promise”.
There was also strong criticism of the media which, speakers said, had helped push the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act through last summer without critically analysing it.
Cora Sherlock, deputy chairwoman of the Pro-Life Campaign, said the passage of the legislation last July was a “shocking example of the tragic breakdown in Irish politics”. There had been no honest debate about the legislation, she said.
“The politicians and the abortion lobby said there was a real need for abortion legislation to save women’s lives. We know there was never any need for this legislation. Essential life-saving medical treatment is there that was always legally available.
“The media failed abysmally to ensure the content of abortion law and the Government’s claims about it were critically examined. The media were pushing the law instead of critically examining it,” she said.
“Most seriously the tragic death of Savita Halappanavarwas misused by major players in politics and the media.”
She said they were more concerned with getting abortion legislation passed than accurate reporting.
Such journalists, she said, were more concerned with setting the agenda than reporting on it.
“There is something rotten at the heart of Irish public debate.” She said this was as a result of “corruption” and the pro-life movement could not “sit back and tolerate this any longer”.
It was important the pro-life electorate be “mindful” of the parties that had let the movement down when casting their votes, she said.
Caroline Simons, legal advisor to the Pro-Life Campaign, said after last year’s “setback”, they had no idea how many people would turnout today.
“We realise it’s going to be a difficult road back but we are massively encouraged that so many people are ready to get on board at this stage to help turn things around.
“Senior members of Fine Gael assured their backbench TDs that once the abortion bill passed through the Dáil they would have nothing to worry about because the pro-life movement would be crushed and beaten. How wrong they were.
“Your presence here today is proof that we are wasting no time in starting to rebuild. It’s going to take time, but when the public comes to realise the full horror of what the new legislation involves support for the repeal of the law will gather pace.”
Lynn Coles of the Women Hurt told the vigil that in recent weeks she had counselled a woman who had been considering an abortion. She decided to proceed with it.
“She took her own life on Tuesday. Abortion took not only her baby’s life but her own. She leaves behind a husband and grieving extended Irish family on both sides of the Irish Sea. The media will not cover her story. This is the reality of abortion.”
Over 160 new allegations of clerical sex abuse in last year
A total of 164 new allegations of sexual abuse were reported to the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog between April last year and the end of March 2014.
This is according to the annual report of the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) which was published yesterday. The report notes that allegations of abuse are down from the 242 the previous year and most of the complaints relate to alleged abuse between the 1940s and 90s.
The biggest number of allegations relate to the 60s, 70s and 80s. The board said all of these complaints have also been passed to gardaí or the PSNI and where appropriate to the Child and Family Agency.
The watchdog has undertaken reviews of safeguarding practices in all 26 dioceses and initiated a three-year training programme, according to the annual report.
Teresa Devlin, who took over last year as CEO of NBSCCCI, said the board’s small team is committed to ensuring “past mistakes are not repeated”.
In its report, the board said the Church needs to have clear standards regarding support and supervision of priests and religious out of ministry.
“This means we need to develop a framework for assessment, clarity around canonical processes, good supervision, and support place so that we can reduce the likliehood of re-offending and therefore safeguard future children,” it said.
Ruairi Quinn Minister happy to take abuse from ignorant Irish teachers
Ruairi Quinn has criticised some teachers’ actions at the recent ASTI conference as “ignorant, ill-judged and bad-mannered”.
The Education Minister was commenting on the raucous reception he received at last week’s conference, and said certain members had done “a disservice” to their union as a result of their actions.
Mr Quinn was heckled and booed by a number of delegates throughout his speech at the event in Wexford, with some teachers shouting to drown out his speech.
One delegate even used a megaphone while the minister spoke, and others shouted “lies” and “rubbish”.
Mr Quinn admitted that such attacks were hurtful, but insisted it was all part of living in a democracy.
“It hurts, of course. Some people say you must have a very thick skin to which I say, yeah, but it’s still skin,” he told Galway Bay FM.
However, despite the reception he received, he insisted that the protests showed that true democracy is in place here and that everyone has a right to their voice.
THE PRICE OF DEMOCRACY?
Mr Quinn stressed that he had never thought of giving up politics as a result of the abuse, and that he was not facing a situation like politicians in Ukraine. “I live in a democracy,” he added.
“No matter how ignorant, ill-judged or bad mannered they were – and I think some of them were – I think that’s a price a democratic open society is prepared to pay.
“There are very few countries in the world where, not Ruairi Quinn but the Minister for Education will go to a conference where a minority of teachers in a very disrespectful way will express their anger and disgust.
“Nobody died, nobody got injured. It’s called democracy and I’m very happy to say that I live in this country.
“I’m proud to live in this Republic and I’m proud to think that citizens can come and say what they said and how they said it.”
China and US in crucial talks on cutting carbon dioxide emissions
Tentative moves to reduce pollution could be the most hopeful single development in tackling global warming for almost 20 years
“Just a patch of blue sky big enough “to make a sailor a pair of trousers”, my parents’ generation would say, may herald a break in dismal weather. Against all expectation, rather more than that seems to be opening up amid the dark clouds that have so far shrouded the prospects of the world agreeing a new treaty to combat climate change.
China and the United States – by far the world’s greatest emitters of carbon dioxide – have started far-reaching, if little-noticed, talks on how to cut the pollution, in what is being described as the most hopeful single development in tackling global warming for almost 20 years.
Both are accelerating their efforts to control their own emissions, a considerable change for the two nations, which together account for more than two in every five tons of the greenhouse gas spewed into the atmosphere worldwide each year. The US’s refusal to join the Kyoto Protocol was long the major obstacle to progress, while China – exempted from that limited treaty – has increased its emissions to exceed those of the US and the EU combined.
What’s more, it was a clash between the two countries that did more than anything to cause the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to end in disappointment. So the prospect of them co-operating in paving the way to the next one, in Paris at the end of next year, is significant.
This week, moreover, another unexpected development brightened the skies even further. The conservative-majority US Supreme Court – which has generally opposed Barack Obama’s environmental policies – backed, by a surprisingly large 6-2 majority, his attempt to crack down on pollution from the power stations that emit 40 per cent of the nation’s greenhouse gases.
Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow conservative, Anthony Kennedy, joined the court’s four liberals to reject a vigorous challenge by polluters to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations designed to clamp down on smog from coal-fired plants that drifts across state boundaries, helping to cause an estimated 34,000 deaths a year.
True, the measure does not directly address global warming. But it is expected to cause the closure of the most polluting plants, which are also the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. And, much more importantly, the court’s decision appears to endorse Obama’s strategy of making combating climate change one of the main themes of his second term of office.
Frustrated by Congress in his attempt to introduce climate legislation, the President dropped his issue in his first four years, while privately regarding it as his biggest first-term failure. Now – partly at the prompting of his daughters – he is making a much more determined bid to tackle it, this time by trying to bypass Capitol Hill.
His strategy is to rely on executive presidential orders to reduce emissions, implemented by the EPA; next month he is due to issue some to cut carbon dioxide from power plants. His opponents have been hoping the courts would stop him, hence the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision. If it had ruled against Obama, his climate strategy would have seemed severely damaged; instead it appears to have cleared the path for it to progress.
In China, too, action against conventional pollution, largely from power plants, is presaging measures on climate change. So- called “airpocalypses” in Chinese cities, with concentrations of deadly particles up to 20 times higher than international safety limits, are causing the country increasingly to move away from coal, which provides 70 per cent of its electricity. Most of the new Chinese generating capacity installed last year relies on renewable energy; old coal plants are being closed, and some experts expect national carbon emissions to peak by the next decade.
A year ago China and the US agreed to phase out production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration, and the world’s fastest-growing climate threat. The hope was that this would presage wider co-operation, and the signs that this is beginning are being hailed as the most important development since the Kyoto Protocol was concluded in 1997.
It does, however, leave Europe – hitherto leading the attack on global warming – on the sidelines, perhaps deservedly so, as its leaders have grown increasingly timid since failing to make enough of a difference in Copenhagen.
David Cameron, however, has – since the winter floods – begun to re-emphasise the importance of what he initially made his trademark issue. This September he will have a chance to show whether he means it at a special summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to try to put momentum behind a new international treaty. And, since voters formed their first impressions of him as environmentally concerned, crucial credibility – in an election year – may hang on his performance.