DUBLIN — The resignation of Ian Paisley Jr. has prompted speculation that his octogenarian father, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley Sr., will step down as well. With his father at his side, the younger Mr. Paisley quit his post as junior minister last week over links to a real estate developer from whom he bought a house. Known to locals as “Young Paisley,” he has not been cited for any crime nor has there been anything more than an implication of something inappropriate afoot. Still, the scandal was enough to force him out of the cabinet, although he will continue to serve in the national legislature.
DUBLIN — Now almost 82, the long-time Ulster Protestant firebrand frontman Ian Paisley looks set to depart his formerly strife-torn region’s political scene. His son, Ian Paisley Jr, formally resigned his Belfast ministerial post late last week, after a drip-fed series of revelations showed the younger Paisley as too close to a property developer for the liking of rival politicians. With his father at his side, Paisley Jr said he was proud to have served in the power-sharing executive. “I leave with high hopes, good spirit, deep humility and with gratefulness in my heart,” he said. Ian Paisley paid tribute to his son’s contribution to government. “I would just like to say, as the first minister, a word of thanks […] to my son Ian for the hard work he did while he was in office.”
PRISTINA — The birth pangs from the emergence of the world’s newest nation reverberated yesterday from New York to Moscow as Serbia and its ally Russia rejected a unilateral declaration of independence by the self-proclaimed “Republic of Kosova.” But the Serb-Russian gambit did little to dampen the jubilation in the streets of Pristina, where red-and-black-clad celebrants waved U.S. and Kosovar flags, exploded firecrackers and ate from an enormous cake intended to feed 30,000 people. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci issued his proclamation at mid afternoon, using the Albanian-language spelling for the longtime Serbian province. The parliament followed quickly with a unanimous vote of approval as tens of thousands gathered outside. Serbia, however, rejected the loss of a province it considers its historic heartland, and its ally Russia asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
PRISTINA — Dick Roche, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, told The Sunday Business Post that ‘‘this would not be a precedent for other ethnic groups. There are specifics to each case’’. At a news conference last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin rubbished claims that Kosovo had special status, and EU member states such as Spain and Cyprus, with separatist movements of their own, have expressed their concerns about the Kosovo example. But the fact that Kosovo’s independence will be internationally-supervised, not to mention controversial, did little to curtail the jubilation around Pristina over the weekend. The new state will apparently be called Kosova, closer to the Albanian language version, and last minute efforts are being made to get the trappings of sovereignty ready, even if real sovereignty will be curtailed. ‘‘We want to get all the symbols and names correct, to show we are a separate country and heritage,” said Berat Jashari, a student at the University of Pristina.
DUBLIN — A report released last week gave a remarkably positive assessment of the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) self-emasculation, 14 months after it declared an end to its three-decade war against Northern Ireland’s status as part of the UK. The report, released by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), an Irish-British intergovernmental watchdog set up to monitor Ireland’s paramilitary groups, stated: “It [the IRA] is now firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime. In this process there has been a loss of paramilitary capability.” However, various vested interests on the part of all protagonists may combine to scupper a potential deal this week, as the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland’s main political parties discuss reviving the devolved government set up after the 1998 peace agreement.
DUBLIN — A year after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced the end to its almost-40 year armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, political progress remains piecemeal in the long-divided region. The IRA’s ongoing reticence to disarm was a key constraining factor in Northern Ireland’s slow-moving peace-building process. But now despite the organizations’ disarmament, ongoing wrangles have prevented the revival of the regional political institutions, which give Northern Ireland significant devolved authority from London. These institutions remain core aspects of the 1998 ‘Good Friday’ peace agreement. The British and Irish governments have stated their intention to put some of the institutions into ‘cold storage’ if a 24 November deadline for restarting devolution is not met by the political parties.
DUBLIN — Some two months after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced on 28 July the end of its 40-year armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IMC) said the IRA had “met its commitment to put all arms beyond use in a manner called for by the legislation.” Before that, Northern Ireland’s peace process had stalled. Now, the hope is that IRA disarmament will mean an eventual return to the devolved executive and assembly – the institutional centerpieces of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement – and the development of a more stable post-conflict transition. Allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the devolved institutions headquarters led to the suspension of those institutions in October 2002. Throughout the peace process, the IRA’s retention of its arsenal and its alleged adherence to criminality were repeatedly cited by unionists as the reason they could not cooperate with Sinn Féin, the political party linked to the IRA, in a devolved executive in Northern Ireland. Now, as Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Mark Durkan told ISN Security Watch, “the big boulder – the refusal of the IRA to disarm – has been removed, that stone has now been rolled away.”