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October 26, 2004

News 10/26/04 - Efforts To Reach Deal Continue

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 10/27/04 Efforts To Reach Deal Continue With SF And DUP
BB 10/26/04 UDA Figures To Meet Murphy
IT 10/27/04 Anti-Drugs Campaign Stalled, Sinn Fein Claims
IT 10/27/04 Barroso's Team Faces Almost Certain Rejection
BT 10/26/04 Official IRA Chief Ready To Attend Saville Probe
SM 10/26/04 DUP MP Robinson Welcomes Ulster Unionist Challenge
UT 10/26/04 Report Highlights Cash/Crime Link
IT 10/27/04 Gun Crime, Rape Increase But Fall In Some Offences –V
IT 10/27/04 EU Life Is Good For Health, Wealth And Baby Boom –V
IT 10/27/04 Average Irish Person Earns ¿514 A Week
IT 10/27/04 State Denies 'Cover-Up' In Hunt Museum Investigation
UT 10/26/04 Flood Warning Issued For Republic
IT 10/27/04 Bono & The Edge Launch U2 Special Edition iPod
IT 10/27/04 Luck-Pennies Seal Deals At Connemara Fair
IT 10/27/04 After Paris Irishman 'Just Wants To Feel Safe Again' -V


Efforts To Reach Deal Continue With SF And DUP

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

  Senior Irish and British officials separately met Sinn Féin and
the DUP in London yesterday as the two governments strive to
achieve a political breakthrough that would see devolution restored
before time runs out on a deal.

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair
are due to meet in Brussels for an EU meeting towards the end of
next week where they will assess what progress has been made since
the Leeds Castle talks over a month ago.

Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams and the party's chief negotiator
met the Dublin and London officials in London yesterday while the
DUP deputy leader, Mr Peter Robinson, was involved in separate
discussions, it is understood.

The DUP still refuses to talk directly to Sinn Féin although the
views of each party are mediated to each other through the two

Mr Ahern has made it clear that if agreement is not reached in the
coming weeks, the talks would be suspended and that it could be up
to two years before there is another opportunity for reaching
cross-party agreement that would see the Northern Executive and
Assembly reactivated.

If it is apparent that there is little prospect of a breakthrough,
Mr Ahern and Mr Blair may, on the periphery of the European Council
of Ministers meeting on Friday week in Brussels, decide either to
end the negotiations or allow a little more time for a deal.

Senior sources confirmed that progress was made since Leeds Castle
but conceded that it was impossible to say whether agreement would
be reached.

The main institutional difficulties remain: ministerial
accountability, whether the election of the first and deputy first
minister will continue to take place jointly, and policing.

The governments still believe that in the context of a full deal
the IRA is prepared to end activity and decommission while Sinn
Féin says the IRA is prepared to assist the peace and political
processes in an "unprecedented and historical" manner.

The clarity of any decommissioning continues to be a difficulty.
The DUP's Mr Robinson has said there must be a visual aspect to
disarmament and Sinn Féin's Mr Mitchel McLaughlin has argued that
this is designed to humiliate republicans.

However, the governments believe the fact that both parties are
still negotiating indicates a willingness to sign off on a deal.

"Things are still moving in the right direction, but we still can't
say whether there will be agreement. Still, people are still
talking about how to reach agreement rather than whether there will
be agreement, and that is important," said a senior London source.

A senior DUP source said that progress was made during intensive
behind-the-scenes talks in recent weeks but that there is no
closure on all the main issues.

He acknowledged that a deadline for a deal or unbreakable deadlock
is fast approaching. "The longer this goes on the less likely the
chance of cracking this," he said.

© The Irish Times

            ****************************************** /2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/3956951.stm

UDA Figures To Meet Murphy

Senior members of the UDA leadership will be part of a loyalist
delegation due to hold talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary in
the next few days.

The BBC understands that the Ulster Political Research Group will
meet Paul Murphy early next week.

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan said the planned
talks were significant because of who will be involved.

The Ulster Political Research Group gives analysis to the loyalist
paramilitary UDA, and the delegation that is due to meet Mr Murphy
will include both political and paramilitary figures.

It is understood several of the UDA's most senior leaders will be
involved, both from Belfast and Londonderry.

The timing of the talks is significant, coming as efforts continue
to piece together a political deal, but there are risks for the

The UDA is a "specified" organisation, meaning that its ceasefire
is not recognised, and the Independent Monitoring Commission is
about to report on continuing republican and loyalist paramilitary

The Northern Ireland Office has confirmed that Mr Murphy will meet
both the Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Political
Research Group next week, but a spokesman said they had no details
on delegations at this time.

Other sources have confirmed to the BBC that senior paramilitary
figures will be involved in the talks.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/10/26 21:04:12 GMT


Anti-Drugs Campaign Stalled, Sinn Fein Claims

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

  The Government's campaign to cut drug addict numbers is stalled
and must be "completely" overhauled, Sinn Féin has declared.

Illegal drug use, particularly that of cocaine, is once again
rising, while serious concerns exist about the effectiveness of
methadone programmes, it said.

Sinn Féin Dublin South Central TD, Mr Aengus Ó Snodaigh said:
"There is a widespread perception on the ground that the National
Drugs Strategy is stalled."

Official Government figures show the number of methadone places
available stood at 6,883, up from 5,000 in 2000 and 1,350 in the

In a submission to the National Drugs Strategy Review, Sinn Féin
warned that "crack cocaine" use would spiral out of control unless
urgent action is taken now. "Undoubtedly, the drugs barons'
business is booming. In contrast, the Government and community
response is losing momentum. We need more effective police action
that will take major drug traffickers off the streets and end their
illegal trade," said Sinn Féin.

Small-time dealers, who are themselves addicts, should be put onto
treatment programmes rather than being jailed, or discharged by the

Centres for addicts, such as Merchant's Quay in Dublin, should
operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help prevent

Despite the level of demand, just 200 "detox" beds exist in the
Republic, even though residential treatment is known to be the most

Female addicts must be given extra help: "Many women are not
accessing drug-treatment services for fear of their children being
taken from them by the authorities.

"The lack of residential places for women-only, or for women with
children is a big gap in current services. This needs to be
recognised and changed," said the party.

Drug addicts' families must be given greater help: "The best
interests of children whose parents are unable to care for them
properly due to problem drug use are usually served by living with
their extended family where this is an option.

"To qualify for financial assistance, however, family members must
declare the child or children abandoned or orphaned by the drug
using parent, or parents.

"This requirement is not reasonable, and the present system also is
too discretionary," said Dublin Sinn Féin, which argued for
temporary social welfare for families in such situations.

British medical experience has shown that 21 per cent of drug
addicts first injected while in prison and that needle exchange
programmes cut HIV transmission rates.

Special anti-drugs teams must be set up to reach new immigrants,
backed up by information leaflets printed in Russian, Chinese and
other languages.

Cuts in the Community Employment Scheme must be reversed and the
scheme should be used to hire drugs staff in working- class
communities, said the party.

© The Irish Times


Barroso's Team Faces Almost Certain Rejection

  The incoming European Commission faces almost certain rejection
by the European Parliament today, pushing the EU into an
unprecedented political crisis, writes Denis Staunton in

The Socialist, Green and far-left GUE groups of MEPs were last
night preparing to vote almost unanimously against the commission,
as were 50 of the 88 liberals.

Estimates last night put the number of MEPs against the commission
close to 350, with fewer than 310 in favour.

The new commission president-designate, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso,
pleaded with MEPs in Strasbourg yesterday to support the commission
despite their reservations about the appointment of Mr Rocco
Buttiglione, an Italian conservative, as Justice and Home Affairs

Mr Barroso ruled out moving Mr Buttiglione, who offended MEPs with
remarks on homosexuality, marriage and immigration, to a different
post. However, he promised new initiatives to combat discrimination
against minorities.

"If our commission fails to win your support, I don't think we can
speak of a victory for one side or another. It will be a bad moment
for the whole of Europe."

The Socialist leader, Mr Martin Schulz, accused Mr Barroso of
ignoring the parliamentary hearings, a six-week process that
revealed reservations among MEPs about a number of commissioners-

He rejected accusations that the commission's opponents were
precipitating an institutional crisis.

"If you fail to get a majority, it is not an institutional crisis.
It is simply a normal part of the process, a normal right of a
freely-elected parliament."

If MEPs reject the new commission today, Mr Romano Prodi's
commission, which was due to leave office next week, will remain in
place until a new team is approved.

EU leaders are to meet in Rome on Friday to sign the constitutional
treaty agreed under the Irish presidency in June, and are expected
to consider how to resolve the impasse.

Ireland's prospective commissioner, Mr Charlie McCreevy, struck a
relaxed tone in Strasbourg yesterday, but declined to speculate on
the outcome of today's vote.

"The parliament has the role of having the commissioners-designate
before each committee. This is all part of the process in arriving
at the president and the commission."

In Dublin, Government sources believed the crisis would not impact
on the political future of Mr McCreevy. He will remain as the
Internal Market Commissioner-designate even if the commission fails
to get the European Parliament's approval.

"He did very well in the European Parliament hearings. There will
be no pressure from anyone for him to be moved," predicted one
Government source last night.

The Government sought information yesterday on what will happen if
the parliament actually vetoes the new commission. "We are in
uncharted waters," The Irish Times was told.

Among Irish MEPs, all Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives are
planning to vote in favour of the commission, but Labour's Mr
Proinsias de Rossa and Sinn Féin's Ms Mary-Lou McDonald will vote
against. Independent MEP Ms Marian Harkin had yet to decide how to
vote yesterday, while the second Independent, Ms Kathy Sinnott,
could not be contacted.

Mr Barroso angered some MEPs by accusing those who planned to vote
against his team of forming an alliance with populist extremists
who oppose European integration.

"Is it right for you to vote with extremists who want nothing to do
with the EU?

"Doesn't it seem strange that those populists who have constantly
been fighting European integration can vote together with you, who
are convinced Europeans?"

© The Irish Times


Official IRA Chief Ready To Attend Saville Probe

By Sarah Brett
26 October 2004

The leader of the Official IRA in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday will
give evidence during the final days of the tribunal into the
killings next month.

Johnnie White (54) has claimed he will tell the Saville Inquiry
"anything they want to know about my own or the IRA's activities on
the day".

Mr White had originally agreed to give evidence in February but
pulled out on medical grounds. He submitted a statement under the
tribunal cipher Official IRA Man 3.

However, he publicly admitted being the former commander of the
Official IRA during the summer and has since been contacted again
by tribunal lawyers and has agreed to give evidence in person and
waive his right to anonymity.

Mr White was also a key figure in the civil rights march of October
1968, and recently co-organised a commemoration rally in the city.

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry recently informed Derry City Council that
it expects to vacate the Guildhall by mid-January next year.


DUP MP Robinson Welcomes Ulster Unionist Challenge

By Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor, PA News

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter Robinson today welcomed the
prospect of a head-to-head battle with former Stormont economy
minister Sir Reg Empey for his Westminster seat.

The Ulster Unionists confirmed today that they had chosen Sir Reg
as their candidate for Mr Robinson's East Belfast seat at the next
general election.

Sir Reg, who is an Assembly member for East Belfast, said: "When
Tony Blair calls the general election we will be fielding a
candidate in East Belfast.

"We believe that the electorate is entitled to a choice and, in a
constituency with over 90% of the electorate professing to support
one shade of unionism or the other, there is no danger of a
challenge leading to the election of a non-unionist.

"The results of the 2003 Assembly Election illustrate that last
year we came within 1,880 votes of toppling the DUP from top
position in this constituency.

"This was the best result we have had in east Belfast since the
late 1970s.

"But, better than that, we bucked the trend in 2003 which saw the
DUP take support from the Ulster Unionists.

"In east Belfast not only did we increase our vote by 8.8%, we
actually saw a swing from the DUP to the UUP of 1.7%."

To become MP Sir Reg Empey will also have to overturn the 7,117
majority Mr Robinson achieved over Ulster Unionist candidate Tim
Lemon in the 2001 Westminster election.

In last November's Assembly election, however, DUP strategists felt
they could have captured three seats at Stormont instead of the two
they won in the constituency by better balancing the vote.

In the Assembly elections the DUP captured two seats, the Ulster
Unionists won two, the cross-community Alliance Party took one and
the loyalist Progressive Unionists also took a seat.

Sir Reg said he would contest the general election confident that
the seat could be captured.

"Against this background we are determined to put our plans for the
constituency and the province to the people," he said.

"We do not underestimate the task but we are confident that we have
given real leadership to the people of Northern Ireland over recent
years. Despite setbacks and considerable criticism it can now be
clearly seen that our greatest critics are pursuing the very
policies that they denounced only a few years ago. The people will
see this too."

Mr Robinson said he welcomed the opportunity to have a rerun of the
last election involving Sir Reg, claiming the DUP had won that by a
ratio of almost two votes to one.

"The main difference on this occasion is the massive increase in
support for the DUP province-wide, which was shown in the Assembly
elections where the DUP vote increased by eight per cent," the East
Belfast MP responded.

"The UUP vote in East Belfast had steadily declined and was rescued
by a poor Alliance performance.

"However, recent polling shows the Alliance Party has been pulling
back support from the UUP in the constituency.

"The electorate will be able to make a clear comparison between Sir
Reg, who was the architect of the failed Agreement and whose
negotiating incompetence and tardiness has cost unionism dearly,
and the sitting Member of Parliament who is standing up to Sinn
Fein and forcing that organisation on to ground it has never
occupied before.

"Only a foolish politician would take the electorate for granted,
but the electorate of East Belfast has consistently knocked the UUP
down every time they talk themselves up."

Ulster Unionists in East Belfast also confirmed that Sir Reg would
be one of their candidates in next year's local government
elections and said they were targeting the Pottinger ward seat of
the city's Deputy Lord Mayor, Joe O'Donnell of Sinn Fein.


Report Highlights Cash/Crime Link

Large swathes of Northern Ireland's population are suspected of
raking in cash from crime, a new report revealed today.

By:Press Association

Most of the public also believe convicted gangsters and
extortionists return to a life of luxury as soon as they walk out
the prison gates.

With hundreds of organised crime gangs running a multi- million
pound industry in the province, the Government has assessed how
people view a major anti-racketeering team.

Nearly 1,300 men and women were surveyed on their attitudes to the
Assets Recovery Agency, the authority set up to seize illegal

The team headed up by former police chief Alan McQuillan has both
paramilitary bosses and business enterprises in its sights.

As its latest target, a Co Antrim man who had more than £300,000 of
assets frozen, launched a high court bid to halt the forfeiture
order, the study disclosed how many think about crime.

It found more than four fifths (88%) agreed that "many people in
Northern Ireland these days are living off the proceeds of crime".

Almost an identical number (87%) felt "many criminals who go to
jail manage to hang on to the proceeds of crime and are able to
live a wealthy lifestyle when their prison sentence is over".

A Northern Ireland Policing Board member insisted the public
concerns were understandable, but stressed the agency was on the
verge of dealing some crippling blows to the criminal underworld.

Alan McFarland, an Ulster Unionist representative said: "I think we
will see the ARA now getting a head of steam up.

"Paramilitaries are desperately trying to get rid of their assets
into semi-legitimate businesses, but the agency will be able to
trace them.

"There are some fairly big names in the frame at the moment and we
would expect to see some major republican figures."

Mr McQuillan has been under pressure to produce results and clamp
down on the top criminals.

He received a boost by seizing luxury homes, cars, and businesses
in Northern Ireland and the Canary Islands as part of a crackdown
on an alleged international firework smuggling operation.

But the businessman named in the ARA`s High Court order, Albert
Baxter from Carrickfergus, has begun an appeal against the move.

Around 165 tonnes of fireworks imported from China and believed to
be worth £2.5 million on the streets have been confiscated.

The agency`s action against Mr Baxter came weeks after more than
£1m in cash and property belonging to a murdered loyalist
paramilitary boss was seized.

It was granted the first civil recovery order of its kind in the UK
to take over the estate of Jim Johnston.

Johnston, 45, a top member of the outlawed Red Hand Commando, was
shot dead at his plush home in leafy Crawfordsburn, Co Down, in May
2003, during a bitter terrorist feud.

With increasingly high-profile cases emerging, the Northern Ireland
Office survey discovered nearly three fifths (58%) of those
questioned had heard/read something about ARA. Other key findings

:: more than half (56%) of those surveyed believed it acted in a
way which is fair to all sections of the community.

:: a fifth (20%) suspected someone in their own neighbourhood had
obtained a large part of their wealth from crime

:: more than four fifths (83%) said wealth confiscation and a
prison sentence are equally important objectives in dealing with

:: a vast majority (90%) supported ARA`s power to act through civil
courts to recover assets resulting from crime, even if the person
has not been convicted in the criminal courts.

:: nearly two fifths (39%) expressed concern that these powers
could be abused.

:: almost one in three (28%) were concerned that people they know
could be unfairly targeted by the ARA because of its powers.

In addition, more than half of those surveyed in Northern Ireland
(56%) thought the recovery of significant sums of money would have
a positive effect on their community, compared to 43% of
respondents in Great Britain.


See  Paul Reynolds, Crime Correspondent, examines the latest crime

Gun Crime, Rape Increase But Fall In Some Offences -V

Conor Lally

  Gun crime and the incidence of rape has continued to increase
through the third quarter of the year despite an overall reduction
in the number of headline, or serious, offences in the period, new
figures from the Department of Justice reveal.

The provisional figures show a 40 per cent increase in the
discharging of firearms, to 219 cases, for the first nine months of
the year. Rapes of females have increased by 32 per cent, to 336

The Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, said measures contained in
the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill 2004 would target gun crime.
However, while he welcomed the overall decrease of 13 per cent in
the category of sexual offences he expressed "grave concern" at the
rise in the numbers of rapes.

"The nature of the relationship between the number of rapes
reported and the number of actual incidents remains a complex one.
For various reasons, victims may be unwilling, or may feel unable,
to report these crimes to the gardaí."

Research by his Department into this area was still ongoing and
when it was completed any "shortcomings in the law" would be

While gun crime had increased, mandatory sentencing for such
offences would be introduced as part of the new legislation. A new
offence of possession of a sawn-off shotgun would also be
introduced. However, Mr McDowell said the number of murders
committed in the first nine months of the year, at 28, represented
a 20 per cent decrease on the same period last year.

"We are frequently told that . . . gardaí are losing the battle
against professional murderers. Yet the figures tell us otherwise."

Prosecutions in this area would be aided in the future by
provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which would allow
gardaí use witness statements made to them incriminating suspects
even in cases where the witness had since decided not to take part
in a trial.

As well as the increases in gun crime and rapes of females, other
notable increases in the first nine months of the year included:

Aggravated sexual assaults, where a weapon or threat of a weapon
was used, increased by 75 per cent, to 14 cases.

Cases of unlawful carnal knowledge increased by 26 per cent, to 77

Robbery of cash or goods in transit increased by 10 per cent, to 46

Overall, the total number of headline offences committed in the
period dropped by 6 per cent, to 74,728 cases. False imprisonment
decreased by 20 per cent, to 37 cases. Abduction fell by 26 per
cent, to 28 cases. Possession of drugs for sale or supply fell by
14 per cent, to 1,568 cases.

Labour's spokesman on justice, Mr Joe Costello, said Ireland had
become "a much more dangerous place to live" since the Government
took office in 1997.

© The Irish Times


Jennifer O'Connell reports on the figures in the CSO statistical
yearbook which show the changes in Irish society over 30 years of
membership of the European Union

EU Life Is Good For Health, Wealth And Baby Boom -V

Joe Humphreys

  Irish people today live six years longer than they did before the
State joined the European Union.

Their average weekly income is up 13-fold but they are now paying
eight times as much for basic goods and services.

These are among the findings of a new Central Statistics Office
(CSO) report on social and economic changes during the first 30
years of Irish EU membership.

The report, published last night in the CSO's Statistical Yearbook
for 2004, says one of the most significant changes is an increase
in the population of the Republic of almost one million people.

The number of people at work has increased by almost 750,000, with
female employment accounting for 42 per cent of the workforce last
year compared to 27 per cent in 1973.

The tendency towards smaller family size has resulted in a lower
birth rate, although the total number of births has increased
annually since the mid-1990s.

Inflation has been highest in the area of housing, with prices up
25-fold in the past 30 years.

In Dublin, the rate of increase has been greatest, with the average
price of a new house rising from €9,206 in 1973 to €291,646 last

Higher incomes have resulted in a greater proportion of disposable
income being spent on services such as meals out, entertainment and
foreign holidays.

The share of income spent on alcohol has also increased marginally,
from 11.4 per cent in 1975 to 11.9 per cent in 2001.

During the 30 years of EU membership "Ireland has been transformed
from an isolated country with an over-dependence on the UK as a
main trading partner to become a prosperous member of the European
Union," the report states.

The improvements were not "solely" due to membership of the EU.
"However, it is evident that membership of the EU has brought many
opportunities and challenges to Ireland and has been one of the
major contributory factors leading to economic and social progress
in Ireland."

Mr Donal Garvey, the CSO's director general, said the State's long-
term investment in education was a factor in its economic

"But it is also true and probably beyond argument that one of the
drivers of our economic improvement in the last 30 years is the
effect of foreign direct investment, and undoubtedly an attraction
for foreign direct investment, particularly from the United States,
is the fact that we are an English-speaking country with access to
a large European market."

The report shows population growth has been most dramatic in
Leinster, with Kildare registering a doubling of its population to
almost 164,000.

There was a significant decline in the number of births in the
first 20 years of EU membership but this pattern was reversed in
later years.

"As more and more women remain economically active in the labour
market the tendency is towards smaller family units," the report

It adds that the life expectancy of men was now 75.1 years, and
women 80.3 years, both of which were still below the EU average.

© The Irish Times


Average Irish Person Earns €514 A Week

Joe Humphreys

  The average Irish person earns €514.84 a week, and spends a fifth
of their income on services like foreign holidays, entertainment
and meals out, the CSO 2004 Yearbook shows.

The 450-page document gives a snapshot of Irish lifestyles today,
showing Ford to be the most popular make of car among Irish people
last year, and Séan and Emma the most popular names for babies.

Ireland's obsession with property is underlined by a continuing
rise in house prices. More than a quarter of first-time buyers last
year agreed to monthly mortgage repayments in excess of €600, while
a further 28 per cent had repayments of over €400.

More than 75 per cent of all private dwellings in the State were
owner-occupied in 2003. Yet the average size of households is down,
from 4.48 people on average in 1926 to 2.94 people in 2002.

The number of private cars has almost doubled in the Republic over
the past 20 years to 1.4 million in 2002.

In a further sign of affluence, Irish residents took almost five
million international trips last year, an increase of 1.2 million
on 2000. The bulk of the rise was accounted for by foreign

As for family structures, more births than before take place
outside of marriage (31.4 per cent in 2003). At the same time there
were 20,300 marriages last year, the highest figure for 21 years.

While the majority of marriages are celebrated according to Roman
Catholic rites, the share of civil marriages has increased as a
proportion of the total from 0.5 per cent in 1970 to 5.7 per cent
in 1996.

The number of divorces granted has increased year on year, with the
exception of 2002, since the introduction of the Divorce Act, 1996.
Last year there were 2,970 divorces.

The suicide rate has also increased steadily in recent years to a
peak of 13.5 suicides per 100,000 people in 2001. Last year, the
rate stood at 11.2 suicides per 100,000 people.

Irish people are most likely to die from diseases of the
circulatory system, followed by cancer and respiratory diseases.

On employment, people are more likely to work in services than ever
before, with the sector accounting for 65 per cent of employment
last year compared to 45 per cent in 1973.

The number of people in third-level education has increased five-
fold over the past 30 years to 129,283 in 2002/2003.

Such progress has not been evenly spread between genders, however,
with 73 per cent of women in full-time education at age 18 last
year compared to 57 per cent of men.

Women dominate in a different sense in primary education, where
just 18 per cent of teachers are men.

© The Irish Times


State Denies 'Cover-Up' In Hunt Museum Investigation

Arthur Beesley, Political Reporter

  The Government has denied that the investigation into claims some
of the Hunt collection in Limerick may have been looted by Nazis
has been "consigned to oblivion".

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris claimed in a letter to the
Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, that the lack of progress in the investigation
into the claims meant Ireland had "permitted a scandalous cover-up"
over the affair. However, the Government last night insisted that
it had not allowed the matter to lapse.

A spokesman for the Minister for Arts, Mr O'Donoghue, said he was
considering proposals "that were made to him by a third party" on
the methodology and the resourcing of the investigation.

"This proposal is being considered, and will be decided on in a
matter of weeks," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Ahern declined to comment besides saying: "The
Taoiseach asked the Minister for Arts to deal with this, and he is
dealing with it."

The Wiesenthal Centre's director for international liaison, Dr
Shimon Samuels, said in a statement that he had pointed out to Mr
Ahern that the commission set up to examine the claims had not yet
published its terms of reference.

While a former Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Donal Barrington,
has agreed to chair the three-person commission, no detailed work
has been carried out because the question of who will fund the work
has yet to be resolved.

Mr Barrington and his team did not want the museum to fund the
investigation because he wanted to be seen to be independent. Mr
O'Donoghue did not want to commit State funding because he wanted
the work to be carried out "at arms length" from the Government.

Dr Samuels has so far refused to disclose any of the information
which he claims links the couple who amassed the museum collection,
the late Mr John Hunt and his late wife, Gertrude, with "notorious"
dealers in Nazi-looted art. The claims have been repeatedly denied
by the Hunt family and friends of the couple.

In his letter to the Taoiseach, Dr Samuels said he had met the
Minister's adviser in July.

He was told "that the investigation had floundered due to lack of
funding, and that it was probable that the matter would be
transferred to the responsibility of the Royal Irish Academy".

© The Irish Times


Flood Warning Issued For Republic

The Republic of Ireland has been placed on flood alert ahead of
heavy rain and strong winds anticipated over the next few days.

The east and south of the country are expected to be most at risk
from flooding, though other areas may see some between now and

A storm moving up towards the island from the Atlantic, combined
with high tides and saturated soil after a weekend of heavy rain
are expected to be major contributory factors.

Low-lying areas will be worst affected - parts of Cork city and
county already experienced some flooding over the weekend, and
ground-water levels have not gone down despite a mostly dry Sunday.

Strong south-east winds are expected to push down most of the
estuaries on the south coast at high tide, creating additional
problems for overburdened drainage systems.

Motorists have been advised to stay off the roads unless absolutely
necessary, as 80 MPH winds are expected to cause widespread
structural damage and fell trees, and 80-90mm of rain will mean
driving conditions will be extremely dangerous.


Bono And The Edge Launch U2 Special Edition iPod Digital Music

Jamie Smyth, Technology Reporter

  Bono and the Edge launched a U2 special edition iPod music player
at an event hosted by the US company Apple yesterday.

The new iPod is part of a wider partnership between Apple, U2 and
their music company Universal Music Group, which have agreed to
work together to create new digital music products.

The iPod is Apple's digital music player, which has been a
phenomenal global success story selling more than two million units
over the last three months.

The new black-coloured iPod, which has generated huge interest in
Europe and the US, has all the band members' signatures engraved
onto its casing.

But contrary to previous speculation the official press release
said nothing about the iPod being pre-loaded with U2's new album,
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

At an event in California, hosted by Apple chief executive Mr Steve
Jobs, Bono said he wanted U2's audience to have a more intimate
relationship with the band, and Apple could help them achieve this

"With iPod and iTunes, Apple has created a crossroads of art,
commerce and technology which feels good for both musicians and
fans," he said.

The partnership between U2 and Apple will see U2's single Vertigo
distributed exclusively in the US through Apple's iTunes online
music store. Apple has also created a "digital box set" of 400 U2
tracks , which it will sell via its iTunes music store.

But there was disappointment last night for Irish fans of the iPod
and U2, who will have to wait longer than expected for the an
iTunes site in the Republic.

Apple said yesterday that it was extending its current European
iTunes website, already available in three countries, to a further
nine European destinations.

But the European iTunes website will not be accessible by fans
using Irish credit cards due to ongoing issues over copyright.

U2's decision to team up with Apple has proved controversial with
some fans accusing the band of selling out to commercial interests.
But Mr Joel Tanner, owner of U2 fanzine, told The
Irish Times yesterday that the band's link up with Apple was a
smart move.

"Is it a sell out? I don't believe so," he said. "It's a fast way
to reach massive audiences and get exposure their music. While U2
is a band, they are also a business - this is their day job."

The U2 iPod will be available in the US from mid- November. It will
probably take longer to become available in Europe.

© The Irish Times


Luck-Pennies Seal Deals At Connemara Fair

Michelle McDonagh

  No deal at the Maam Cross Fair in Connemara yesterday could be
completed without the luck-penny and a handshake to confirm the

More than 10,000 people attended the annual event which is one of
the most important dates of the year for Connemara farmers and its
many followers from all over Ireland and England.

The crossroads was the venue yesterday for buying and selling of
livestock and Connemara ponies, associated with the area since the
16th century when the horses from the Spanish Armada swam to shore
and bred with the native ponies.

The origin of the fair is steeped in the history of the area, which
was poor when it first started in the early 1900s.

Due to the bad quality of the land in Connemara, landlords and
nobles were not anxious to settle there and the locals had to
produce their own potatoes, butter, mutton and beef.

They made nets and lobster pots and farmed sheep for meat and
fleece. From there, surplus produce from the land and sea was sold
to strangers who visited the area, which is how the fair started.

Local hotelier Mr Basil Keogh stresses the importance of the fair's
social aspect.

"It's as important as the commercial side. Dealing is done in the
traditional way with light-hearted quarrelling over the final
price. No deal is complete without the luck-penny and the handshake
to seal the agreement."

© The Irish Times


See Justin Treacy reports from Paris on how Brendan and Eileen
Brady have been reunited after Brendan went missing in the French
capital on Wednesday

Irishman 'Just Wants To Feel Safe Again' -V

Lara Marlowe in Paris

  For hours after they were reunited in a hotel lobby in
northeastern Paris yesterday, Brendan Brady kept saying the same
thing to his mother Eileen: "I hope it's not a dream I've been

At first, the 42 year-old disabled Irishman's sang-froid even
fooled his mother. "I just ran over and kissed him and hugged him.
He was very laid-back. He said, 'Hi Mom', as if he'd just been down
the road."

But in his mother's presence, the toll of Brendan Brady's ordeal
began to show. For five days, he had lived on one croissant and
water, slept on park benches and under bus shelters.

"After five or ten minutes, he got emotional," Eileen Brady said.
"He never cries, but tears were flowing down his cheeks. He said,
'I want to go home. I want to go home.' He wants to feel safe

Brendan had no desire to leave his hotel room, where he sat propped
up on pillows, his eyes sometimes tearing up silently as his mother
spoke for them both.

Mrs Brady was amazed that her son had bought the €6 train ticket
from EuroDisney into Paris. "I thought he might be out in the
countryside. I didn't know he was capable of getting on a train
alone," she said. "My worst nightmare was that no trace would be
found, that I might not even get a funeral, because they hadn't
found him in EuroDisney."

The widowed mother and son have lived alone since Brendan's sister
Linda died unexpectedly of a heart attack two years ago, at the age
of 34.

"I left her down in Ballyfermot to go into town," Mrs Brady
recalled yesterday. "Two hours later, her boyfriend called and
said, 'Go to the Mater Hospital'. By the time I had got there,
she'd died. Brendan was very upset. She was in rehab too, but she
had a milder form of handicap."

While Brendan was missing, "I kept praying to Linda," Mrs Brady
continued. "I said, 'You have your daddy to look after. I need
Brendan.' I just felt desperate. I kept saying to myself, 'It can't
happen again'."

Brendan Brady's fears were more banal than his mother's. He kept
track of the days and despaired at missing the Manchester United-
Arsenal match, and the Elvis convention at the Red Cow on Sunday
night. "He has tickets to hear a group called 'Smokey' on the 30th,
and he was afraid he'd miss that too," his mother said.

But Brendan didn't panic. He knew the Rehab group was scheduled to
return to Ireland two days after he was separated from them. On
Thursday, he assumed the group would take a ride on a bateau-
mouche, as pre-arranged. He found the boats and waited, but his
friends never came because they were searching for him.

Wasn't he cold without a coat? his mother asked. Only in the early
hours of the morning. Why didn't he tell the American couple he met
at a bus stop that he was lost? she asked. "They had a place to go
to," he told her.

On Friday, Brendan found a phone booth that took coins instead of
electronic cards. He rang his mother's number in Dublin. "Ma, your
line was busy," he complained yesterday.

Despite Brendan's exhaustion, his mother said he never talked so
well as in the hours after their reunion. "He has a lovely colour
from being out in the sun," she laughed. "Looking at him, you'd
swear he'd been on a week's holiday!" Mrs Brady said she was
incredibly grateful "to Rehab, the media, and the whole of Ireland,
and the priests in Ballyfermot and Palmerstown who said so many
Masses for Brendan".

But most of all, she is grateful for that moment on Monday when a
Paris policeman found him.

© The Irish Times

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