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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
October 30, 2004
News 10/28/04 - SDLP Challenges DUP Over Power Sharing
News about Ireland & the Irish
IO 10/28/04 Councillor Challenges DUP Over Power Sharing
IT 10/29/04 US Letter To TDs On Iraq Dismissed As Propaganda
SF 10/28/04 Governments Must Defend Good Friday Agreement
IT 10/29/04 Rabbitte Restates Plan For Pact With Fine Gael
IT 10/29/04 RTE Item Borders On Blasphemy Bishops
IT 10/29/04 State May Set Up Fund To Help Flood Victims LO
IT 10/29/04 Government Asked For Grant Aid For Cork Council LO
IT 10/29/04 High Tide And Strong Wind Devastate Town Wexford LO
IT 10/29/04 Suir Bursts Banks To Flood Quays Waterford LO
IT 10/29/04 Flash Floods Hit Capital's Traffic Dublin LO
IT 10/29/04 Northern Ireland Escapes The Worst
IT 10/29/04 Bewley's To Close Its Landmark Cafes
IT 10/29/04 Cafes Lost 14m Despite Investment
IP 10/21/04 Opin: Linda Coleman: The Last Minute
(Poster's Note: LO = Link Only. Jay)
Councillor Challenges DUP Over Power Sharing
28/10/2004 - 22:10:18
There are serious question marks about the Democratic Unionist
commitment to power sharing at Stormont, a nationalist councillor
SDLP councillor Brian Hanvey made the claim after unionist
councillors amended a motion in Castlereagh Council calling for all
council posts to be allocated among all parties.
Unionist councillors backed a DUP amendment to the SDLP's motion
urging Democratic Unionists to prove their commitment to power
sharing by fairly allocating council posts among all political
Mr Hanvey said afterwards: "I think what this vote illustrates
tonight is that there are serious questions about whether the
Democratic Unionists are really all that interested in power
sharing at Stormont.
"They were given the opportunity tonight to show whether recent
comments on power sharing were genuine or mere rhetoric.
"I think this has shown that they are not committed to the
principle and it certainly will not encourage voters throughout the
North (of Ireland) about their commitment to power sharing in other
Mr Hanvey also criticised Ulster Unionists who sided with the
Democratic Unionists at Castlereagh.
"I think there is a question here also for people who have voted
for the Ulster Unionist party," he said.
"Is their vote now effectively one for the DUP?
"Because a vote like tonight's suggests that when it comes to
issues like power sharing in unionist councils, the UUP and the DUP
appear to be joined at the hip and eager to block power sharing."
SDLP councillors across Northern Ireland are planning to table a
series of motions in unionist-controlled chambers testing the DUP's
commitment to the principle of power sharing.
Councillors in Coleraine and Lisburn are also expected to face
similar motions to the one put forward tonight in Castlereagh.
US Ambassador's Letter To TDs On Iraq Dismissed As Propaganda
Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent
The Green Party chairman, Mr John Gormley, has condemned as "George
W Bush propaganda" a letter to all TDs from the US ambassador
highlighting what he says are positive effects of the US-led
invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his letter, the ambassador, Mr James Kenny, says Ireland can
take pride in these positive developments because "they would not
have been possible without the support of friendly countries,
The letter goes on: "For example, Shannon Airport has enabled the
transit of humanitarian supplies and aid workers, as well as
peacekeepers working in many countries, so you can take pride in
these accomplishments too."
Mr Gormley circulated Mr Kenny's letter to the press yesterday,
calling it "an example of George W Bush spin at its worst".
Disputing the ambassador's description of the role of Shannon, he
says the airport "is being used as a military stopover to assist
this illegal, unjustified and counter-productive war. And in Iraq,
the United States is not seen as a force of liberation, but rather
as an occupying force, and casualties are mounting with each
He said the ambassador needed to realise "that most people in
Ireland opposed the war in Iraq, and the use of Shannon Airport as
a military stopover".
A spokesman for the ambassador - who is out of the country - last
night said that an Irish Times TNS mrbi opinion poll last year
appeared to contradict Mr Gormley. That poll showed that 51 per
cent of voters approved of the Government decision to allow the US
military use Shannon Airport, 39 per cent disapproved, and 10 per
cent had no opinion.
The spokesman also rejected the claim that the letter was an
example of "Bush spin". The letter "does not deny that bad things
have happened, but there are positive things happening that the
media is not reporting, and he wanted to bring them to their
In his letter Mr Kenny is critical of what he sees as a lack of
balance in the reporting of events in Iraq. "As sometimes happens
in the coverage of 'hot' topics, the emphasis tends to be on the
negative, while the positive is often ignored or under- reported,"
He attached to his letter "fact sheets" about Iraq and Afghanistan
prepared by the US State Department. These detail advances in
education, humanitarian assistance, the development of democratic
institutions and the status of women. These developments "have
taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan since the defeat of the Saddam
regime and the collapse of Taliban rule", the ambassador says.
He also cites the recent election of Afghanistan's head of state,
the first such election in the country's 5,000-year history. The UN
secretary general, Mr Kofi Annan, had described this as
"impressive", he says.
However, in relation to Iraq, Mr Gormley said: "The country and
entire region have been destabilised, and the invasion has provided
terrorist groups with their best opportunity to gather more young
recruits to their ranks.
Ambassador Kenny should know that the majority of Irish people
oppose this war, and that no amount of George W Bush propaganda
will change that view."
© The Irish Times
Governments Must Defend Good Friday Agreement
Published: 28 October, 2004
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today said 'if there is to be a
deal then the two governments need to drive the process forward
while making it clear that any deal must be within the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement'.
Mr Adams said: "Over recent weeks and months, Sinn Fein has been in
constant contact with the two governments in a focussed effect to
break the log-jam and see the political institutions put back in
place and the outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement
"We have been involved in intensive negotiations, including at
Lancaster House in June, Leeds Castle in September and over the
past three weeks there has been three further intensive sessions of
"Sinn Fein's goal in all of these has been to achieve a
comprehensive and holistic agreement on all of the outstanding
issues. We have made clear that republicans are prepared to face up
to the challenges which this presents.
"But Sinn Fein is not prepared to countenance any dilution or
erosion of the Good Friday Agreement - and that remains the
objective of the DUP.
"Against this background the two governments need to understand
that there is no middle line between the Agreement and the anti-
Agreement position of the DUP. It is their responsibility to defend
the core fundamentals and principles of the Agreement and to make
it clear that they cannot be changed. Therefore, if there is to be
a deal then the two governments need to drive the process forward
while making it clear that any deal must be within the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement.
"If the DUP do not accept this reality then the pro- Agreement
majority, including the two governments, need to move on. The DUP
cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change." ENDS
Rabbitte Restates Plan For Pact With Fine Gael
Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent
Mr Pat Rabbitte has restated his commitment to seeking a pre-
election pact with Fine Gael, but insisted that any alternative
government must be driven by Labour values.
In his speech to the party's Kildare North selection convention
last night, Mr Rabbitte said he would "confidently seek
endorsement" for his electoral strategy from a Labour Party
conference "at the appropriate time".
He also indicated that Labour and Fine Gael would agree a vote-
transfer pact for the forthcoming Kildare North and Meath by-
After senior party deputy Mr Brendan Howlin said at the weekend
that he would prefer Labour to fight the next general election as
an independent party, Mr Rabbitte said his view on this had been
"Peoplewant to know if at the next election they cast their vote
for the Labour Party, are we likely to be in government and with
"Other people will want to know if they cast their vote for Fianna
Fáil, will they be putting Sinn Féin in government. These are
reasonable questions that deserve straight answers. I have given
straight answers," Mr Rabbitte said.
While some party activists have expressed annoyance that Mr
Rabbitte announced his strategy without going through party
structures first, the party leader said he was "completely
satisfied that a substantial majority of Labour Party members do
not want to be confronted with a proposal that Labour returns
Fianna Fáil to government at this time".
This belief was based on meetings he had had with party members "up
and down the country", he said.
He said that in the last election "Labour took the honourable
stance of avoiding saying with whom we would form a partnership
government in advance of the election, and by election day it had
been mediated to the electorate as meaning there was no alternative
available to the outgoing combination of parties".
It was for this reason he wanted Labour to be very clear about its
intentions during the next election campaign.
© The Irish Times
RTE Item Borders On Blasphemy - Bishops
Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Comedian Tommy Tiernan's performance on last Friday's Late Late
Show bordered "on blasphemy", a spokesman for Ireland's Catholic
bishops has said. "It is time for those responsible to be made
accountable," he said.
Meanwhile a priest has said that "naked anti- Catholicism" is
motivating change in Ireland.
Redemptorist Father Gerard Moloney said: "One can't help feeling
that many of those who are pushing the secular agenda are motivated
as much by naked anti-Catholicism as by a desire for a secular
Ireland." He said "the virulent anti-Catholicism of so much media
commentary today indicates as much".
Mr Martin Long, spokesman for the Irish Bishops' Conference,
commenting on last week's Late Late Show, said last night: "This is
a family show and, as RTÉ is a public service broadcaster, one
would expect there to be respect for the sincerely-held convictions
of the audience.
"When the price for cheap publicity borders on blasphemy, it is
time for those responsible to be held accountable," he added,
referring to senior management at RTÉ.
His objection to the item centred on extensive use of bad language
by Mr Tiernan, the comedian's general disrespect towards the belief
of others, and his dismissive and denigratory attitude towards
religious figures, "none of which was challenged by the presenter".
There was no comment from RTÉ last night.
Writing in the current issue of Reality magazine, Father Moloney
said many "may be sincere in wanting to build a progressive,
secular, liberal state", but also felt it was "all the better if
that means destroying the Roman Catholic Church in the process".
He referred to a "quite extraordinary" comment by broadcaster
Olivia O'Leary on RTÉ Radio's Five-Seven Live programme when Ms
O'Leary said she wished Mrs McAleese would refrain from saying
things such as 'God willing' or 'with God's help' in public
© The Irish Times
State May Set Up Fund To Help Flood Victims - The Government is to
consider a humanitarian relief fund for people who have suffered
hardship following severe flooding in recent days.
Government Asked For Grant Aid For Cork Council - Cork: Hundreds of
business people in Cork have been left with estimated losses
totalling over Â10 million following this week's severe flooding in
the city centre when the River Lee burst its banks on Wednesday.
High Tide And Strong Wind Devastate Town - Wexford: The north end
of Wexford town was devastated by the most severe flooding ever
seen in the area, as high tides and strong winds saw the water flow
over the new quay front onto the quay and through side streets into
Redmond Square and North Main street, leaving a trail of
destruction in its wake.
Suir Bursts Banks To Flood Quays - Waterford: Waterford's quays
were closed to traffic for a number of hours last night as the
rising tide caused the River Suir to overflow its banks.
Flash Floods Hit Capital's Traffic - Dublin: There was major
traffic disruption around Dublin last night as heavy rain early in
the evening flooded some roads, forcing their closure. Dublin Fire
Brigade sent 10 units to deal with the flash flooding.
Northern Ireland Escapes The Worst - Northern Ireland escaped the
worst of the storm, but heavy rainfall and high tides combined to
force the closure of some roads.
Bewley's To Close Its Landmark Cafes
Lifestyle changes, escalating business costs and the smoking ban
were among the reasons cited for yesterday's decision to close
Bewley's Oriental Cafés before the end of the year.
The Campbell Bewley's Group said the historic outlets on Dublin's
Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street had grown out-of- step with
modern tastes despite a series of costly face-lifts in recent
"Over the past decade, rapid economic growth and increasingly
sophisticated lifestyles have led to a proliferation of much
smaller and more readily accessible cafés catering for time-pressed
consumers. The "coffee- to-go" phenomenon has also grown at an
"Given the modern consumer's preference for smaller, more intimate
venues, the very large format and major operational costs of these
cafés make them very difficult to run in modern times."
Not only the end of an era for Dubliners, the decision also marks
the end of an era for Bewley's which began as a coffee and tea
importation business in 1835.
The first Oriental Café opened in Georges Street in 1894, while the
Grafton Street outlet opened in 1927, complete with its much-loved
stained glass windows designed by Harry Clarke - a luxury that set
the Bewley family back nearly £60,000 then.
From 12 in its heyday, the chain dwindled to just the two directly-
owned cafés in Dublin and three franchised cafes elsewhere in
Ireland: one at Dublin Airport and one each in the Waterstones book
stores in Dublin and Belfast.
The group said it would "make every endeavour" to facilitate a
developer who wished to retain a slimmed-down Bewley's café at
either premises. However, no offers have yet been made.
The company stressed that it had commissioned a redesign of the
premises earlier this year, but "it became clear in recent months
that the total costs of this development would negate any potential
increase in revenues as a café operation".
"Alternative viability options were explored which would enable
Bewley's to maintain a café presence, such as a partnership with
successful restaurant and/or licensed trade operators. Although
this has not been totally ruled out, it is now considered
Since 1996, the company has spent Â12 million refurbishing and
upgrading both establishments. But as both buildings are listed
premises, renovations have proved problematic and costly.
The company also received a knock-back earlier this year when
Dublin City Council refused it permission to erect outdoor seating
in response to the smoking ban.
The company said it would now seek to dispose of its leasehold
interest in Grafton Street and would develop its self- owned
Westmoreland Street premises "in order to realise its full
© The Irish Times
Cafes Lost 14m Despite Investment
Financial pressures left Bewley's with few options but to close
its loss-making cafés, writes Siobhán Creaton, Finance
Bewley's cafés have been a huge strain for the Bewley group over
the past eight years. Announcing the closure of the famous cafés on
Dublin's Westmoreland Street and Grafton Street, the company said
it had reached the point where its other profit-making business as
suppliers of tea and coffee to major Irish and international
customers could not longer subsidise their existence.
The Campbell Bewley group has battled for almost eight years to
keep the cafés alive and vibrant. In 1996 it invested Â12 million
in modernising its facilities and giving the cafés a general
Despite this substantial cash injection, however, it still couldn't
turn a profit. Instead over that period, the cafés lost Â4 million.
It was an expensive and futile rescue mission.
In its statement yesterday, Bewley's said it was clear that the
costs of redeveloping or redesigning its premises would never be
Bewley's has considered entering a partnership with a successful
restaurant or licensed trade operator where it could maintain a
presence, but realises this is unlikely to materialise.
The difficulties it faced in trying to squeeze profits from selling
food on a large premises on Grafton Street are easy to judge when a
recent survey proclaimed it to be the world's fifth most expensive
street on which to run a shop.
The Grafton Street building is also listed and Bewley's would have
been likely to encounter planning difficulties if it sought to make
structural changes. Owned by Treasury Holdings, it will almost
certainly be taken over by a fashion outlet, with retailers such as
Zara being mentioned as likely tenants there.
It intends to redevelop the Westmoreland Street premises in the
coming years to realise its commercial potential. This site is also
likely to be taken up by a major retailer. Bewley's initiated a
review of the cafés in February after announcing a decision to
close its bakery operations at Northern Cross on the Malahide
Falling prices, increased competition from imported products and a
loss of sales all contributed to its trading difficulties.
Bewley's became part of the Campbell Bewley group in 1986 when it
was bought by the Campbell family. Today a significant amount of
its turnover comes from sales of its teas and coffees in the US.
Several hotels bearing the Bewley's name are not owned by the
© The Irish Times
Opin: Linda Coleman: The Last Minute
"Where's Scotland on this map?" asked your man to me, as he stopped
by my table at the Celtic Heritage Festival last weekend.
At first, I didn't realize he was talking to me. I was lost in
thought, perusing Deanna Turner's article in "Irish America,"
trying to figure out what was in it that ticked off Richard Eagan.
"Can you help me over here?" said your man to me again. "I'm trying
to find Scotland on this map."
I looked up from my magazine and realized he's talking to me, and
he's looking at a laminated map that one of our members contributed
to our display. It's a map of Ireland.
"Well," I explain to him, "That's a map of Ireland. These shaded
areas are the four provinces, Ulster, Munster "
"But where's Scotland?" he asked, leaning into the map for a closer
"Scotland," I explained, "Is off this way," I told him, reaching up
to the top of the map, and gesturing towards the empty space at my
right hand. "The North Channel would be here, and Scotland would be
way up there, if Scotland was on this map. But this is a map of
Good grief. I started to wonder why I ever came back to this
festival. In case you haven't guessed, it's the same one I wrote
about last year in my article "Porn and Politics" (October 25,
2003), named after the two things they absolutely do not allow at
festivals of this nature, "politically themed or pornographic
Weeks before the festival, a funny thing had happened at my
congressman's campaign office. I showed up to deliver yard signs,
and a campaign staffer met me at the door, excited that I had
arrived at the same time as another volunteer, someone I "had to
meet" who was also interested in Ireland.
The staffer waves to the man, who's loading his truck with yard
"I want to introduce you to Linda," she said, calling to him across
the parking lot. "She's really involved in Irish politics."
The man comes over, carrying a couple of signs, and I recognize him
right away. Readers of this column have probably figured out
already what the campaign staffer said to me next.
"He's on the board of one of the biggest Irish festivals in the
country," she told me. "It's right here in Dallas, and you should
talk to him about doing an exhibit there."
The man walks up and realizes we've met before.
Before I can stop her, the campaign staffer starts telling him why
I should have a booth at his festival.
He starts turning red in the face; I start to giggle. He explains
to the staffer that his is a music festival and that politics is
"You don't like politics?" she asks, noticing that he's holding
signs which ask people to vote for our congressman.
To make a long story short, we had a brief exchange, during which
the campaign staffer quietly made her exit. My last words to the
festival man's back, as he walked away, tossing the yard signs into
the bed of his truck were " and I'll BE there at the Celtic
Heritage Festival in OCTOBER!"
So that's how I happened to be at the smaller of the local "Irish"
festivals, sitting under a tent in the drizzling rain, helping
people find Scotland on a map of Ireland. After last year's
experience, I had no interest in it, but at the last minute decided
I had to be there, making inroads for Ireland at the increasingly
Scottish "Celtic" festival.
I threw caution to the wind this time, blatantly advertising the
political nature of my business, displaying correspondence from one
senator and two members of Congress on the U.S./U.K. Extradition
Treaty. I opened "Irish America" magazine to Deanna Turner's
article and put it out on the table in plain view, encouraging
people to come by and compare the two candidates on "The Irish
Surprisingly, a few people actually came around to talk politics
and sign up for my email list. In case you haven't noticed, people
are really interested in politics these dayseven at "non-
political" festivals, politics is never far from anyone's mind.
I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but we need to take
our message to some of "their" festivals.
Print some fliers about the U.S./U.K. Extradition Treaty and Irish
deportations, and get them out to your local "Get Out the Vote"
event or left-wing documentary film festival, happening every
weekend from now 'til Election Day.
"If not for the last minute," a bumper-sticker philosopher once
wrote, "Nothing would be accomplished." We've got two weeks. Give
us your disenfranchised, your angry young people, your "take back
democracy" crowd and sign 'em up for our side while political fever
has them in its grip!