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Rove Comment on Terrorism Puzzles Northern Ireland Politician

By Mary Fitzgerald and Vanessa Williams
Thursday, September 2, 2004; Page A31

NEW YORK, Sept. 1

So White House senior adviser Karl Rove thinks the war on terrorism is similar to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The rather peculiar comparison surfaced during an interview Wednesday with the Associated Press. "This is going to be more like the conflict in Northern Ireland, where the Brits fought terrorism, and there's no sort of peace accord with al Qaeda saying, 'We surrender,' " Rove said.

Hmm . . . bet that will raise a few eyebrows in Belfast.

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The 30-year conflict between republicans seeking a united, independent Ireland and unionists wishing to retain the link with Britain claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people before a political resolution was achieved in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The leader of Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, who is attending the Republican National Convention as a guest of the International Democrat Union, acknowledged that the comments left him a little perplexed.

"I'm not altogether clear about what exactly he's getting at," Trimble said. "Al Qaeda is quite a different terrorist organization to those in Northern Ireland. It's perfectly reasonable, I suppose, to draw some parallel in that the war on terror will probably take a long time just like it did in Northern Ireland, if that's what he meant."

Airport Delay for Edwards

Perhaps it is punishment for campaigning during the GOP convention. Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards's campaign was grounded at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Pennsylvania after a military cargo plane bearing equipment for a visit Friday by President Bush gouged the main runway.

Wy Gowell, assistant director for airport operations, said the pilot of the C-17 did not taxi all the way to the end of the runway before turning the plane around. The 180-degree maneuver damaged a 10-by-10 foot section of the top layer the runway's surface. "It rolled the concrete up like a carpet," Gowell said.

The runway was closed about 1:40 p.m. and reopened about 4:30 p.m. Edwards, who had held a "front porch" visit with a man whose employer recently shut its factory and then spoke to about 500 people at a rally at Kirby Park, was scheduled to leave Wilkes-Barre a little after 3 p.m. en route to Philadelphia. His 727 jet finally took off at 4:55 p.m.

Gowell said the airport will pay for the repairs, which he estimated at $10,000 to $20,000. He said the runway can accommodate C-17s, and the pilot had done nothing wrong -- "except fly for Republicans," he added with a chuckle.

Gowell was at the Edwards rally, with the Veterans for Kerry contingent, when the runway mishap occurred.


"He has a wonderful dog, Barney, that likes to visit the Oval Office a lot. And he contributes to the president's ability to meet his obligations."

-- White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr., addressing the Youth Convention.

Williams reported from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company