15 February 2007 Edition
SDLP untruths leave them in a pickle
The SDLP have got themselves into a pickle over a hastily published letter in the Irish News claiming that they prevented one of the old guard of the RUC from becoming chief constable of the PSNI.
In the row over the letter published by the SDLP in the Irish News outlining their attitude to policing in which Alan McQuillan has threatened to sue the SDLP, Mark Durkan has realised what happened —‘It was a Sinn Féin conspiracy stupid!’
The claim now by the SDLP is that they were in fact responding to Sinn Féin claims of the SDLP endorsing the RUC and had left out quotation marks by mistake and were in no way questioning Alan McQuillan, his integrity or his role within the RUC.
If this is the case then the SDLP should apologise to the nationalist/republican constituency for misleading them in the letter.
Alan McQuillan was a senior member of the old RUC and publicly stated in 2002 that he had intelligence that the IRA was preparing for serious sectarian trouble and that republicans were gathering metal spikes at Ardoyne Shops to attack a loyal order parade. It was subsequently proven by video and photographs that it was in fact the British Army who removed the spikes, something McQuillan was well aware off.
Alan McQuillan also claimed that he had intelligence of a major spy ring in Stormont when in fact it was a Special Branch agent who was at the centre of it. He claimed that hundreds of documents and floppy disks were seized when in fact only two disks were taken and quickly returned.
Both of these actions have had serious implications for the peace process and were examples of political policing yet the SDLP, in their haste to cover up their incompetence, are prepared to acknowledge that this person was capable of being head of policing.
The SDLP have realised that not only did they jump too soon on policing but actually got into a comfortable relationship with the policing arrangements and have been unable to make the necessary changes needed to create the new beginning we were promised.
In order to defend this incompetence they have resorted to publishing letters in papers that contain untruths and this has got them into trouble.
Tara under threat
Call me cynical but Dick Roche, the Environment Minister and the man intent on destroying the integrity of the Tara-Skryne valley had one of his best pals, Paddy Reilly or ‘Paddy the Plasterer’, on the VIP list for the internationally renowned solstice event in Newgrange. (Paddy was one of 12 people to bail out Bertie Ahern in 1983 with the €50,000 as reported in the Sunday Independent of 21 January 2007).
Talk about fiddling while Rome burned, (or even fiddling of a different sort) but at least Rome has some archaeology and heritage left when the flames died away.
The flames of secondary development around Tara however will insidiously burn away at the integrity of a landscape that is older than ancient Rome and older then the Pyramid necropolis of Egypt.
Tara is getting it from all sides lately. I see a planning application for the development of the quarry at Kilmessan [TA60605] with 13-metre-high silos, and this only a stone’s throw from the hill top. I understand also in the pipeline is the construction not only of a four-lane, tolled motorway with massive floodlit interchange but, of a motorway service area stop-over ,including shops, toilets and fast food restaurants between Dalgan and the N3/M50 interchange. And in case anyone missed it, there is the pending outcome of a new construction and demolition waste recycling facility about 900m north of the banqueting hall.
Earlier in January, in a comment on the excavation of a Viking vessel in the Boyne, the Minister for the Environment said:
“Discoveries of this type highlight the rich and varied heritage we enjoy in Ireland. My department and the other authorities involved will make every effort to ensure the preservation of this potentially highly valuable find and its safeguarding for the people of Ireland... A find like this can tell us much about the technologies, trading patterns and daily lives of our ancestors and can open a window onto how life was in Ireland over a thousand years ago.”
How touching that he is concerned about the remains that are almost 900 years old, I suppose it’s just inconvenient Tara, which is at least five times older and inhabited by settlers, not Viking invaders, is in the way of a motorway and its ancillary development.
Navan, County Meath.