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BBC News (Nov 1990 - )
17 killed in Boyle explosion amid largest police raid on the IRA 

[Image: IMG_Boyle1761s.jpg]
  • IRA detonate bomb in Boyle during shootout with police
  • Joint RUC/Garda operation raids four sites across the border region with little success.
  • Reports that mission was undermined by Garda leak
  • Kevin McKenna, the organisation's chief of staff, arrested at his home

The quiet town of Boyle, 35 miles from the Irish border, was the scene of the worst terror incident in Ireland since the 1970s last night, amid the largest raid ordered on the IRA since the beginning of the Troubles. Hospital authorities at Roscommon University Hospital, where the majority of the injured were taken, have confirmed that 17 people were killed last night, with dozens more taken to hospital with serious injuries, including a number of children. Firefighters have been continuing to fight the blaze at site of where the warehouse believed to be a store for the IRA once stood, with a number of other houses and buildings surrounding the site severely damaged. The Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, today visited the injured and expressed his condolences, calling the bombing “an act of unparalleled butchery.” Local TD Terry Leyden has expressed his “shock and outrage,” and has called for an immediate investigation by the Government into the events and into the operation as a whole.

The bombing came amid the failure of the most ambitious joint operation undertaken by the British and Irish police against the IRA, which was ordered in response to the assassinations of former government ministers Michael Portillo and Norman Lamont in London late last year. Four major sites, including the warehouse in Boyle were raided by the RUC and the Garda under the orders of Irish justice minister Ray Burke and the Home Secretary, William Croft. Sources close to the operation, who have spoken to BBC News on the condition of anonymity, have slammed the running of the operation, citing incompetence on behalf of the RUC’s commanders, poor communication between the two forces, and a repeated allegation that an IRA informer within the Garda informed them ahead of time to move the majority of their weapons. A number of handguns and bomb making materials were retrieved, along with 3 rifles in total, with many now unaccounted for. A number of weapons stored in Boyle along with the van bomb were destroyed.

In a concurrent operation, Kevin McKenna, who has been identified in multiple reports as the chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, was arrested following a shootout at his home in Smithborough, in which two of his accomplices were shot by police. Under the rules of the Green Book, the IRA’s code of conduct, McKenna will automatically lose his rank, with his successor unknown. A quiet and reclusive figure, little is known of McKenna aside from his reported close affiliation with Gerry Adams. McKenna is expected to be charged with terrorism offences.
Soviets refuse British Ambassador’s reappointment 
  • Sir Rodric Braithwaite returns to Moscow but Soviet government refuse to participate in accreditation process 
  • Foreign Minister Valery Boldin states British government ignored request for a new Ambassador to be appointed
  • Boldin says diplomatic staff can remain safely in Moscow but will not be considered government representatives
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The Soviet Union have refused to accept the re-appointment of Sir Rodric Braithwaite as the British Ambassador to the Soviet Union, the BBC has learned. 

In a blow to the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the UK and Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Carmichael affair, Sir Rodric and his staff had boarded a plane to Moscow to resume their roles but were informed by Soviet Foreign Ministry officials upon arrival that their accreditations would not be accepted.

The Soviet Union have allowed Sir Rodric and his diplomatic staff access to Moscow but under the terms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the British officials cannot be considered formal diplomatic representatives until the process has been completed. 

The move has raised shock and concern in the international community given that the accreditation process is usually a mere formality. 

In response, a statement from Soviet Foreign Minister Valery Boldin was released, stating that:

Quote:We asked the British government to appoint a new Ambassador as a show of good faith when relations were restored. Sir Rodric presided over the former British mission that was tainted by the actions and fallout from last year’s events and so we wanted a clean break. We asked for a new Ambassador and we were refused. 

This is yet another insult to the Soviet Union from the British government, following in the wake of the actions of their former Security Minister. If relations are to be restored then we must see signs that the British will listen to our requests and not ignore them.

Sir Rodric and his staff are welcome to safely remain in Moscow for as long as they wish but they do not hold diplomatic accreditation and as such will not be considered as representatives of the British government. 

We hope that the British government appoint a new Ambassador as a show of good faith after the scandals and insults of the past.

The move by the Soviets comes as a direct rebuke to Foreign Secretary Dylan Macmillan, who announced to the House of Commons that he had authorised Sir Rodric’s return in a move to normalise diplomatic relations and return to the status quo.
Redgrave | A-Team
Shock poll shows UK in favour of joining European single currency
  • Poll by European Movement UK shows 39% of British public in favour of joining European single currency
  • Voters against single currency and in favour of British pound rank at 36%
  • 1 in 4 voters undecided on the issue
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A new poll has shown that 2 in 5 British people are in favour of a European single currency.

The poll, commissioned by the European Movement UK, a think tank advocating closer European integration, found that 39% of Britons support the idea of the UK adopting a single currency. Britons against a single currency came in a close second at 36% with a quarter of all respondents stated they had not yet decided on the issue.

The European Movement UK commissioned the poll in response to the ongoing debate about the Maastricht treaty and the policies of the UK government towards Europe.

Speaking on behalf of the European Movement UK, consultant Brendan Donnelly said:

“This poll shows how the British public support closer European integration. The government have committed to a referendum on the issue of a single currency and we will campaign wholeheartedly for the adoption of a single currency. From the divisions of a few decades ago to this point, we are proud that Europe is growing ever closer.”

In response, Professor Kenneth Minogue, the Chairman of the Bruges Group, a think tank that opposes closer European integration said that:

“This poll confirms that the very existence of the British pound is on the line. A proud part of our national heritage is at risk and this should serve as a wake up call to those who value the pound. We expect a referendum on this issue and it is vital that the British public shows they are against a single currency. The government may talk of ‘opt-outs’ but the only definitive way to keep Britain away from a European currency is for a democratic vote to show the pound is valued above all else.”
Redgrave | A-Team
Prime Minister signs the Maastricht Treaty
  • Aubyn Myerscough flies to Maastricht to sign landmark agreement
  • Treaty will found massively expand European integration
  • The government will now look to ratify the treaty in Parliament amidst referendum divisions
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Prime Minister Aubyn Myerscough pictured outside the British Embassy after signing the treaty

The Prime Minister, Aubyn Myerscough, has signed the Maastricht Treaty on behalf of the United Kingdom.

The signing took place at a ceremony in Maastricht and featured representatives from the twelve member states of the European Communities, who signed the treaty as plenipotentiaries, marking the conclusion of the negotiating period.

The Prime Minister was quoted later in an address to a group of British diplomats and civil servants at the Embassy, saying that:

Quote:“It is a treaty for a new Europe, ready for a new era, committed to fighting the challenges we face together. It is a treaty that reminds us that what 12 nations is  committed to is a ‘union among the peoples of Europe”. It reminds us that the now European Union is not about government, bureaucracy, and state control but it is about the people, community, and the public interest. The interest of ours - and the Community’s citizens - must always come first and foremost.”

However, whilst all signatories were in agreement in Maastricht, the domestic situation back at Westminster looks less certain as the treaty heads to ratification by Parliament. The terms negotiated by the government indicate a preference for a referendum on a European single currency only but Labour has recently placed an Opposition Day motion calling for a referendum on ratifying the treaty. A vote on the motion could indicate levels of parliamentary support for such a proposition.

The Maastricht Treaty cannot come into effect until all twelve signatory states ratify the agreement. France and the Netherlands have already announced plans to hold a referendum on the treaty but a referendum is not formally required in the UK to ratify Maastricht.
Redgrave | A-Team
 Windsor Castle destroyed, investigation begins
  • Queen’s residence “entirely destroyed” by “intense blaze”
  • Fire service and police will now begin an investigation into the cause
  • Fears raised for the extent of lost artwork and valuables
  • Experts estimate restoration could cost “into the tens of millions”
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Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and a primary residence of Her Majesty the Queen, has been destroyed after an intense fire that broke out in the early hours of the morning. 

The Queen was not in residence during the blaze and castle staff were swiftly evacuated whilst the dedicated castle fire service attempted to tackle the incident. 

The inferno, first reported at 23:10 pm GMT, ultimately saw an operation involving over 200 firefighters from 6 fire brigades involved in trying to stop the fire. Nearby residents in Windsor were also evacuated from their homes and it took nearly twelve hours for the blaze to eventually be put out, by which time the castle had been entirely destroyed.

Five firemen were taken to hospital with minor injuries and there were no fatalities or serious injuries.

An investigation has been launched by the Windsor fire services and police force, in order to determine the exact origin of the blaze. 

A salvage operation is also currently underway, led by a coalition of the Royal Household, officials from the Department of the Environment and the conservation architects Donald Insall Associates. However, experts fear that many priceless or highly valuable artworks and valuables have been lost to the fire.

Furthermore, experts believe that the cost of restoring the castle and resulting insurance claims will run as high as £40-50 million pounds, with further questions raised as to how the restoration and any replacement of valuables will be funded. 

Speaking on behalf of the Queen, her Private Secretary Robin Janvrin said 

Quote:“Her Majesty is highly distressed by the loss of Windsor Castle, a home where she and her family have enjoyed many happy memories over long years. She would like to thank the emergency services and castle staff for their brave, heroic efforts in combating the fire.”
Redgrave | A-Team
Prime Minister resigns
  • Aubyn Myerscough stands down after heart attack
  • Statement confirms PM’s life is “not in danger” 
  • Conservatives to elect successor within the next few days 
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Prime Minister Aubyn Myerscough, pictured in February 1992, just before signing the Maastricht Treaty

The Prime Minister, Aubyn Myerscough, has resigned after suffering a heart attack that caused him to be rushed to hospital.

According to a Downing Street spokesperson, Myerscough made the decision to resign after consulting with his doctors and family. The Queen visited Myerscough in hospital, where he informed her of his intention to resign as Prime Minister once the Conservative Party elected a successor. 

In a brief statement, Downing Street said:

Quote:“The Prime Minister, Aubyn Myerscough, informed Her Majesty the Queen that he intends to resign his office after suffering a heart attack. 

Whilst his life is not in danger, the Prime Minister believes that it is paramount the country has a leader able to dedicate themselves fully to the role and that he cannot do this whilst recuperating following surgery. 

The Prime Minister will remain in office until the Conservative Party chooses a successor and he will be supported in day to day duties by the First Secretary of State, Alun David Williams, and the rest of the Cabinet.”

Myerscough entered 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister in February 1991, having been elected to succeed Marcus Drummond-Macbeath in the wake of the Carmichael affair. A backbencher from his election as MP for Lewisham East in 1983 until his election as PM, Myerscough’s government began by dealing with the fallout from the Carmichael affair and the revelations that Drummond-Macbeath had illegally wiretapped rival politicians during his Premiership.

Over the next 13 months, Myerscough’s government focused on a variety of domestic policy issues, notably by introducing initiatives such as Family Hubs, Areas of Natural Beauty and the Millennium Corps. Furthermore, the Myerscough ministry also oversaw the Rome negotiations in Europe, the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the ongoing peacekeeping mission in Iraq and a renewed round of diplomatic tensions with the Soviets.
Redgrave | A-Team
Euphemia Fournier-McLeod loses libel case
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Euphemia Fournier-McLeod outside the High Court ahead of today's verdict.
The former deputy Prime Minister and Education Secretary, Euphemia Fournier-McLeod, has lost her defamation action against the prominent Tory backbencher, Sir Teddy Taylor.  In a short judgement following a three weeks of hearings at the High Court in London, Justice Rodger Bell ruled in favour of Taylor, saying that the argument put forward by his legal team that the comments that were the subject of this action were fair comment, and that “it is not within the remit of the court to rule on the acceptability of political rhetoric.” Speaking outside the High Court, Taylor spoke of “an important victory for the freedom of speech,” saying “Ms McLeod is well within her rights to get offended at my comments, as that was my intention. What she is not within her right to do, and this was vindicated by the court today, is try and use her wealth and power to shut down legitimate freedom of speech.” Ms McLeod’s and her legal team were unavailable for comment.
“A vicious attack dog”
The acrimonious dispute between the former frontbench minister and one of the Conservative Party’s most notorious and controversial backbenchers was sparked by a statement made to the press by Mr Taylor following the now infamous expose of Ms McLeod in the Sun newspaper, in which he accused her of being “a vicious attack dog for the queer alliance of open degenerates, liberals and socialists that seek to undermine our way of life.” He also made reference to her husband, also a subject of the Sun’s article, as a “chicken livered buggerer.” Leading for the defence, Richard Rampton QC said Taylors remarks were based on what he had read in the Sun’s article, as well as the “vast swathes of public evidence supporting the right of my client to make a judgement on Ms McLeod’s character,” citing multiple comments to the press discussing her sexuality. Critical to the defence’s argument as well were comments made by Peter Tatchell, the veteran gay rights campaigner, defending Ms McLeod, which the defence said lent credence to the “queer alliance” quote. There is no indication at this stage whether Ms McLeod will attempt to appeal the verdict, however the book is not yet closed on this case entirely either way, as Taylor has indicated he may petition the court to order Ms McLeod to pay his legal fees, a potentially costly action which could cause significant financial difficulty for her.
Fianna Fail win a majority in Irish election, Haughey returns to power.
·        Charles Haughey to return as Taoiseach following upset victory
·        Early exit polls underestimated scale of Fianna Fail’s victory as party gains 11 seats
·        Labour’s Dick Spring loses seat as party loses ground to the Democratic Left
·        Boyle inquiry now “certain” following result
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Fianna Fail – 88 seats (+11)
Fine Gael – 45 (-10)
Progressive Democrats – 10 (+4)
Labour Party – 9 (-6)
Democratic Left – 9 (new)
Green Party – 1 (-)

Vote share

Fianna Fail: 48%
Fine Gael: 24%
Labour: 11%
Progressive Democrats: 10%
Democratic Left: 6%
Green Party: <1%
Other: <1%
Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey has returned to power with an unexpected majority following a snap election which he was widely expected to lose. With all votes now counted, Fianna Fail has won 88 seats, an increase of 10 from the last election, mostly at the expense of the largest opposition party, Fine Gael, and the Labour Party. Early exit polls from Ipsos MRBI placed Fianna Fail ahead, but predicted another minority government, underestimating the scale of victory for the party. Speaking to assembled supporters in Dublin as his party officially crossed the 84 seat mark needed for a majority, Charles Haughey hailed a “spectacular victory, against the doom and gloom of the pollsters and the media.” He promised that his government would “not simply be passing time,” and that when it comes to the situation in Northern Ireland and relations with Britain, that this new government will “not take anything lying down.” John Bruton, the leader of Fine Gael, has resigned following what amounted to a devastating loss for his party in the face of opinion polls which predicted they would be in pole position to form the next government, losing ten seats in the worst result for his party at a general election in terms of seats since 1977, and the lowest vote share for the party since the 1940s. The Labour Party will also be searching for a new leader following the shock defeat of the party’s leader, Dick Spring, in Kerry North. Widely expected to take on a prominent role in a potential Fine Gael-Labour government, Kerry’s defeat on preferences to his predecessor Tom McEllistrim was one of the most shocking moments of an election filled with many surprises.

This is nothing but a massive victory for Chares Haughey, the man described by PD leader and former Fianna Fail colleague as an “ageing mafia boss.” Only a few months ago, the thought of Fianna Fail winning another term in government seemed to be nearly impossible, with the fallout from the Boyle explosion and revelations about wiretapping during Haughey’s first term in office dominating the news agenda. Opinion polls at one point even showed Fianna Fail in third place, behind Fine Gael and the Labour Party, and the polls showed them behind for most of the campaign, raising big questions for Ireland’s pollsters over their accuracy and methodology. It was only really in the past three weeks of the short campaign that this massive growth in support for Fianna Fail arrived, an average of 20 points over the course of the campaign. All three major party leaders ran what could arguably be described as populist, perhaps some would argue nationalist, centred firmly on Irish national security, the border and relations with Britain. Anger perhaps may have been the greatest motivator for people voting in this election: both over the events in Boyle, and the rhetoric coming from the British government over the violence in Northern Ireland and the IRA. Haughey positioned himself as a strongman leader who would pressure the British government to pull back from some of their harsher rhetoric. By and large, the public believed him over John Bruton and Dick Spring, the latter of which suffered greatly from a perception that he wasn’t tough enough to stand up for Irish interests abroad, and in a memorable moment from the campaign, was called a “soaking wet blanket” by Haughey. The image stuck, and Spring’s defeat in Kerry marks the end of a disastrous Labour campaign, which will raise many questions for their new leader on how to proceed.
For the smaller parties, there has been success limited by Fianna Fail’s victory. The Progressive Democrats, lead by former minister Des O’Malley, benefitted from the decline from Fine Gael, sucking up centre right votes appalled at the accusations of corruption in the Haughey government but not willing to vote for Fine Gael.  However, the core of O’Malley’s campaign was centred around him being a kingmaker candidate, who would back any government he thought would commit to “cleaning up the Dail.” Most pundits expected he would back his natural allies in Fianna Fail only if Haughey resigned as leader, but in the face of the first majority government in Ireland since the 70s, it is hard to see where the PDs go in opposition. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Democratic Left, formed after a split in the Worker’s Party, was expected to struggle during this campaign, but has benefitted from the collapse of the Labour campaign. Unlike the big three, Proinsias De Rossa’s campaign focused on public services rather than foreign affairs, and it seems to have done them in good stead, leading to them tying with Labour in terms of seats in the biggest socialist victory in Ireland in years. The Green Party remained stagnant on one seat, with a slight decline in the vote, whilst Sinn Fein suffered from the Boyle affair, dropping below 1%.
Dylan Macmillan appointed Prime Minister
  • Former Foreign Secretary appointed after winning Conservative leadership by 190 to 160 margin
  • Macmillan had been endorsed in the second round of contest by former rival Harry Saxon
  • General election due within three months as weeks remain until Parliament must be dissolved
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Dylan Macmillan pictured in Committee Room A before the results were announced 

Dylan Macmillan has become Britain’s new Prime Minister after being invited to form a government by Her Majesty the Queen following his victory in the Conservative leadership contest.

Macmillan was elected Leader of the Conservative Party, replacing Aubyn Myerscough, with the votes of 190 Conservative MPs to the 160 who cast votes for Home Secretary William Croft.

The former Foreign Secretary, 67, becomes the 52nd person to hold the office and the oldest upon appointment since Neville Chamberlain in 1937. Macmillan had served as Foreign Secretary in the Myerscough government after previously also holding the role under Marcus Drummond-Macbeath, who he additionally served as Deputy Prime Minister. Macmillan had further served as Transport Secretary under Margaret Thatcher.

Macmillan’s victory followed an endorsement from Harry Saxon, the former Environment Secretary, after Saxon was eliminated in the first ballot of the leadership contest. This followed weeks of division between the two as a result of the Maastricht ratification vote, although the two former rivals subsequently announced they were joining forces to provide unity ahead of the upcoming general election. 

The new government will have only a few weeks in office before a general election must be called, during which time they will need to pass a budget and outline their priorities ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
Redgrave | A-Team
Belfast Declaration: Prime Minister and Taoiseach sign historic joint declaration in Belfast
-         British and Irish leaders sign historic document following months of uncertainty in Ireland
-         Declaration commits both nations to Northern Irish devolution, peace talks and common travel area
-         PM: Declaration roadmap to “long and lasting peace”
-         Haughey speaks of “dawn of a new era for this island”

[Image: 1200px-Belfast_Castle%2C_August_2011.jpg]

Belfast Castle, where the Prime Minister and Taoiseach signed the Belfast Declaration earlier today

Prime Minister Dylan Macmillan and the Taoiseach of Ireland, Charles Haughey, today signed a historic declaration in Belfast, paving a way towards peace talks between the parties involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland, after months of uncertainty and rising tensions in the island of Ireland. The Belfast Declaration, signed this afternoon by the Prime Minister and Taoiseach in the Chichester Room of historic Belfast Castle, commits both governments to “lasting peace in Northern Ireland.” The declaration, relatively short at less than 500 words, also commits both governments to helping to facilitate the creation of a devolved assembly and government for the province, as well as the creation of a common travel and residency area, allowing citizens of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to travel and reside in both countries. Additionally, the declaration urges an immediate ceasefire by paramilitary groups, and makes a commitment to hosting intra-party talks, between the nationalist and unionist parties separately, aiming for eventual cross-party talks to come to an agreement between the parties.
Speaking at the signing this afternoon, Macmillan made brief remarks to the assembled press about the declaration, saying:
“The signing of this agreement commits the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to abide by a set of principles that will establish long and lasting peace in Northern Ireland. This declaration is a declaration setting out the roadmap to securing that peace and security for all citizens on both sides of the border, bringing about a permanent ceasefire and allowing diplomacy, not force of arms, to be the deciding factor in the future of Northern Ireland and the two nations together today.”
Charles Haughey, the newly re-elected Irish Taoiseach, called the declaration “the first light of a new dawn for this island, and the people who live here.” He said:
“This declaration is by no means a solution to these troubles, far from it. But what this signifies is that both our governments agree that there is no solution to this through bloodshed, through violence and terror. The decision on the future of the province of Northern Ireland, and whether there should be a united Ireland or not, we agree, will be decided only by the people who live there.”
The agreement, which was only very recently drafted following a phone call between the Prime Minister and Taoiseach, marks the second agreement signed between the Irish and British governments over the conflict in Northern Ireland, following on from the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which proved incredibly controversial in both nationalist and unionist communities, and was opposed by Charles Haughey as leader of the opposition. Unlike that treaty, the new declaration does not explicitly assert British jurisdiction over Northern Ireland. Whilst the Anglo-Irish Agreement sparked massive protests the likes of which had not been seen since the days before partition in Ireland, it remains to be seen what the reaction to this new declaration will be.
Full text of the joint declaration
We, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), and the Government of the Irish Republic (Ireland), do hereby release the following statement on the subject of lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
The United Kingdom and Ireland agree and affirm that the way forward is through the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, and agree to make provision for the creation of a devolved administration to govern many of the domestic affairs of Northern Ireland to be held in a democratic power sharing arrangement. Both nations further agree to the holding of a border poll only once there is evidence that there is a sizeable support for such a border poll, it is agreed such support will be evidenced by the passage of a motion in the Northern Irish legislature and of a concurrent motion in the Irish Dail.
The United Kingdom and Ireland urge both sides to lay down arms in an immediate and permanent ceasefire, ending the bloodshed in favour of peaceful negotiation between the Nationalist and Unionist communities and political parties for the furtherance of a peaceful resolution to the conflict herein referred to as “The Troubles.”
The United Kingdom and Ireland officially agree to sponsor intra-community talks among the Nationalist Community and among the Unionist Community to create the proper space for inter-community dialogue to follow, these talks are to be held in Belfast and culminate in a proper, final, and binding Belfast Agreement between the communities and parties.
To facilitate these talks the United Kingdom and Ireland agree to work with each other in tandem to these talks to create a common travel and residency area encompassing the entirety of both nations allowing a citizen of the United Kingdom or Ireland to live, work, or reside in either country.

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