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13 October 2005 Edition

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Labour hypocrisy challenged

Liz McManus - Labour TD

Liz McManus - Labour TD

The second week of the Dáil brought the first opportunity for Sinn Féin to question the Taoiseach. With Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin away in Europe, Arthur Morgan raised the issues of Irish unity and British demilitarisation with Bertie Ahern on Tuesday, but also challenged Labour Party TD Liz McManus over her suggestions that the recent IRA arms initiative was not full and complete.

In a barbed reference to McManus's own past with the so-called 'Official' IRA-linked Workers' Party Morgan said: "Some people cannot get away from the issue of officials and guns, but hopefully General de Chastelain will come back and deal with that. Will we get de Chastelain back to deal with the 'Officials' and their weapons?" There was an embarrassed silence from the Labour benches.

Turning to the Taoiseach he asked: "Given the enormity of the announcement by General de Chastelain of the IICD on 26 September, will the Taoiseach now move to develop a government strategy around the issue of Irish unity? Can the Taoiseach confirm that he does not share the opinion of that small group, comprised of Conor Cruise O'Brien and the current leader of the 26-County Labour Party, who would like to see the issue of Irish unity abandoned altogether? Will the Taoiseach outline the steps the British Government will take to dismantle the obscene necklace of British Army watch towers, especially those along the border, and to deliver real demilitarisation in Ireland?"

The Taoiseach said: "We have got the IICD reports and the IRA statement, so now the effort will be to try to deal with the issues around restoring the institutions, policing and stability in the institutions." He said he wanted to see the issue of demilitarisation dealt with within two years.

Irish Ferries & Rossport 5

Arthur Morgan was later thrown out of the chamber when he attempted to get the government to discuss the pressing issue of the mistreatment of workers at Irish Ferries. Morgan's motion called on the European Commission to urgently introduce a European Ferries Directive, to deal with ships, such as Irish Ferries, operating in European waters under flags of convenience.

On the same day Aengus Ó Snodaigh welcomed the release of the Rossport 5. Speaking during statements on the Corrib gas field and the Rossport 5 in the Dáil he said it was "a victory for themselves and their families" and he commended the "tremendous courage and resolution they displayed over the 13 weeks of their imprisonment."

Labour hypocrisy

Liz McManus's brass neck in relation to IRA weapons was not the week' s only instance of breathtaking hypocrisy of behalf of the Fine Gael's little helpers.

Wednesday 5 October saw the arrival of a delegation of North Antrim nationalists to Leinster House. On the invite of Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and accompanied by North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan the residents came to Dublin to bring the unionist campaign violence against the nationalist community to the attention of politicians in the South.

O Caoláin described the visit as constructive and reassuring but he expressed disappointment that not all parties had been represented at the meeting. Every TD in the house had been contacted about the visit and the offices of all party leaders were contacted in the week before the meeting. We were told that Enda Kenny would be away and that Pat Rabbitte was sick. However both were seen passing by the room were the meeting was being held at the time.

After the delegation had left, the Labour Party came up with the rather ingenious that: "We don't meet groups organised by other political parties."

To add bizarre to the ridiculous Pat Rabbitte's former comrades from the Workers' Party visited the Dáil on Tuesday seeking support for their campaign to prevent the extradition of Workers' Party boss Seán Garland to the US from Belfast in relation to the counterfeiting of so-called super-dollars. John Lowry, fresh from his party's Ard Fheis, at which a speech on behalf of Garland was read out slamming Sinn Féin, whom he described as being "spawned and nurtured" by church and state and who "injected a virulent poison into an already sick society", phoned the party's office asking for assistance!

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