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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)
November 10, 2004
New 11/10/04 - Latvians Injured in Loyalist Race Attack
News about Ireland & the Irish
SM 11/10/04 Latvians Injured In 'Race Attack'
IO 11/10/04 Man Quizzed Over Derry Murder
BT 11/10/04 Paisley Insists 'Republicans Must Shift'
UT 11/10/04 Anetta Deadline Passes In Afghanistan
BT 11/10/04 Doubts Over Hostage's Home Call
BT 11/10/04 Fake Goods 'Wrecking Ulster'
BT 11/10/04 Military Tribunals At Guantanamo Ruled Illegal
WT 11/10/04 IAUC: Twit For Tat
BT 11/10/04 Dissident Republican Bomb Trial Starts
BT 11/10/04 British Soldier Escapes Jail Term
EX 11/10/04 Opposition Parties Welcome High Court Ruling
GU 11/10/04 Frail Paisley Keeps Lid On As Vesuvius Blows
SF 11/10/04 Momentum Grows For Bill Of Rights Round Table
BT 11/10/04 Bit Of Dublin Dies As Joyce & Behan Cafés Close
CN 11/10/04 Jazzing Up Life In Museum
Latvians Injured In 'Race Attack'
By Ian Graham, PA
Three Latvian men were injured in an attack which appeared to be
the latest racist incident in Northern Ireland.
The men, all in their 20s, were walking through a park in Lurgan,
Co Armagh, at around 9pm last night when they were targeted by a
One of the men was stabbed in the arm and the other two badly
assaulted and kicked to the ground.
Police said the men were all taken to hospital from Lord Lurgan
Park for treatment.
It is not known how many attackers there were, but police said
their preliminary inquiries suggested it may have been a racial
Detectives will return to the park at first light to continue a
search for evidence and have appealed for anyone in the park at
around the time of the attack to report what they saw.
The attack followed the targeting with graffiti of the homes of
several Filipino hospital workers in north Belfast in the early
hours of Monday morning.
Several houses in the Skegoneill and Fortwilliam areas were daubed
with slogans and cars damaged in a wave of vandalism which outraged
politicians and local residents.
Loyalist paramilitaries were accused by Sinn Fein of orchestrating
To highlight opposition to the continuing attacks on ethnic
minorities, the Anti-Racism Network is due to hold a solidarity
protest in north Belfast tonight.
The group said they and the local community wanted to show their
abhorrence at the racist attacks on ethnic minorities.
Spokesman Dominic Adams said the Filipino and Chinese populations,
who have also been attacked, belonged to the north Belfast
community and should be valued.
He said: "There is no room for these attacks in our society and
people should be able to live free from attack and intimidation, no
matter where they come from."
Mr Adams added: "The ARN is calling on the local community and
politicians to take an active role in preventing attacks and
showing solidarity with people who have been intimidated and the
Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd said, "This clearly racist attack upon
these three men was totally wrong and I condemn it thoroughly.
Those responsible for this attack are in no way representative of
the local community. I intend to meet up with members of local
community groups, clergy and others to discuss what steps can be
taken locally to prevent any re-occurrence of this attach and to
try seek to re-assure other members of the migrant worker
Jonathan Bell, local DUP councillor and DPP member, condemned the
attack and called for local residents to assist the police
"The people of Lurgan must look at this as an attack on the whole
community. These are human beings with human rights and this in no
way reflects the feelings or attitudes of the vast majority of
people in Lurgan," he said.
Man Quizzed Over Derry Murder
10/11/2004 - 11:17:44
A man was arrested today for questioning about the murder of Darren
Thompson in Derry in September.
The 26-year-old was detained in Coleraine, said a police spokesman.
Mr Thompson, 22, from Harkness Gardens in the city, died in
hospital two days after being shot in the head in the Waterside
area of Derry.
He was found lying at the roadside in Woodburn Park and is believed
to have been attacked while walking to work. Police believe the
gunman made off on foot through an alley into the loyalist Lincoln
Two men and a woman were detained arrested shortly after the
shooting were later released without charge.
A group was set up in the Waterside after the murder to try to ease
tensions within loyalism. But Mr Thompson's father, Gilbert, said
his son had nothing to do with loyalist in- fighting.
Paisley Insists 'Republicans Must Shift'
By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
10 November 2004
Unionists are as much opposed to joint authority between London and
Dublin as to power-sharing without decommissioning, DUP leader Ian
Paisley warned today.
Amid growing speculation over the Government's plan B if a
devolution deal collapses, Mr Paisley said republicans "cannot
stand" the fact that they alone must shift.
With parties apparently increasingly focused on blame management,
Sinn Fein accused the DUP of holding up a deal.
Mr Paisley said, however: "For too long they have passed the
presssure onto others and won concessions as a result."
He also castigated Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for questioning the DUP's
commitmen to power-sharing.
Mr Paisley's attack came as the governments appeared increasingly
likely to table their own proposals in a high-stakes bid to break
the deepening political deadlock.
Behind the scenes, officials in Belfast, Dublin and London were
engaged in attempting to tease out whether the proposals - said to
be the governments' "best guess" at closing the remaining gaps
between Sinn Fein and the DUP - "would fly".
There have been clear signals that to avoid breakdown if a
breakthrough proves elusive, the governments could instigate
effective 'joint authority'.
But Mr Paisley said: "Unionists will not accept joint authority
just as much as we will not tolerate unrepentant terrorists in the
In the editorial of the latest edition of his church magazine, The
Revivalist, he added: "Republicans are behind the eight ball. They
are under pressure to deal with the massive issue of their illegal
A statement from Westminster said attempts by the Irish government
to influence DUP requirements would fail.
"Mr Ahern and his officials had better realise that we will not be
settling for any rag-bag deal just because he says we are facing a
deadline," he added.
Sinn Fein negotiator Martin McGuinness, meanwhile, said the
Government may "call the situation" in a way which embarrasses the
DUP which had not shown confidence or leadership.
Party president Gerry Adams told US envoy Mitchel Reiss in
Washington that the DUP is blocking a deal.
Anetta Deadline Passes In Afghanistan
Another deadline which was set by the kidnappers of Northern Irish
women Anetta Flannigan and two other UN workers in Afghanistan has
A militant group with links to Al-Qaida has demanded the relase of
26 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the lives of their three
hostages, who were abducted from Kabul last month.
The Afghan government has said it is "hopeful" the hostages will be
released, but has refused to meet the kidnappers demands.
Doubts Over Hostage's Home Call
10 November 2004
Doubts were last night cast on reports that Annetta Flanigan's
kidnappers had allowed her to phone her family in Armagh.
Despite reports she had been in contact, local minister Rev David
Coe said he was not aware the family received any call.
He had been with the family yesterday and the day before and was
not aware of a phonecall.
The Taliban group holding Annetta and two other UN workers in
Afghanistan have again extended the deadline for its demands to be
met, this time to 6.30am today.
Fake Goods 'Wrecking Ulster'
Jobs and consumers' health are at risk, says police chief
By Michael McHugh
10 November 2004
Northern Ireland's multi-million pound counterfeit goods operations
is striking at the heart of the business community and having
disastrous consequences for the local community, senior police have
£3.78m of the material has been discovered during the first six
months of this year and Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid has
admitted that it is putting the jobs of legitimate workers and the
health of consumers at risk.
Items ranging from bootleg alcohol to fake CDs are widely available
across Northern Ireland and the Federation of Small Businesses has
called for a renewed partnership with the police to address the
ACC Kinkaid told a recent Policing Board meeting in Armagh City
that police were anticipating a long battle with racketeers who
"This is a particular problem for Northern Ireland, there are many
people involved in these activities," he said.
"There have been some significant operations this year and we have
carried out a number of arrests.
"It must be seen as something more than simple crime. This is an
issue that goes to the heart of the business community."
ACC Kinkaid said the black market trade affected the "health and
safety" quality of goods as well as threatening jobs.
"There is a group of people in the province who see this as a way
of making a living and this will be keeping us busy for some time
to come. Racketeering remains endemic in Northern Ireland," he
The PSNI works with the Federation Against Copyright Theft which
acts to protect intellectual property and helps co-ordinate raids
on homes and venues which sell the fake material.
Customs and Excise officials also co-operate with the PSNI,
especially on operations involving cross- border smuggling.
Glynn Roberts from the Federation of Small Businesses said there
needed to be a more consistent sentencing policy to deal with those
responsible for the illegal trade.
"It is a particular problem and many in the business community have
been fairly disillusioned that the police have not been more
proactive in tackling this," the spokesman said.
"There needs to be a partnership across the board between the
police and the business community, this crime is a crucial issue
for the business community."
A total of £7.6m of goods were seized by police in 2003. Joint
operations with the Garda in the Republic netted an additional
£8.3m, with much of the material believed to be destined for the
Military Tribunals At Guantanamo Ruled Illegal By US Judge
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
10 November 2004
Relatives of the four Britons held at Guantanamo Bay have demanded
that Tony Blair seeks their release when he meets George Bush
tomorrow after a US judge found the military tribunals being used
to try the prisoners were illegal.
On Monday evening, US District Judge James Robertson in Washington
ruled that the tribunals should not continue in their present form
and that many of the 550 prisoners at the camp were probably
prisoners-of-war, eligible for rights under the Geneva Conventions.
The Bush administration has repeatedly refused to grant the
prisoners such rights.
The decision halted the tribunal of the Yemeni Salim Ahmed Hamdan,
captured in Afghanistan in 2001 where he had apparently been
working as Osama bin Laden's driver. He denies being in al-Qa'ida.
Judge Robertson also ruled that Salim should be allowed to confront
evidence and witnesses against him, and that he was not put before
a competent tribunal to evaluate whether he was entitled to
Michael Ratner, president of the New York- based Centre for
Constitutional Rights, said: "Military commissions were a bad idea
and an embarrassment. The refusal of the Bush administration to
apply the Geneva Conventions was a legal and moral outrage. The
refusal led directly to the belief that abuse and torture could be
employed at Guantanamo, and in Abu Ghraib."
In Britain, relatives and lawyers for the four Britons in
Guantanamo - Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and
Moazzam Begg - said the ruling highlighted the inherent unfairness
of the system under which prisoners were being held with little or
no access to lawyers and no access to the courts.
They urged Mr Blair to ask Mr Bush to release the four; five other
Britons were released without charge from Guantanamo Bay this year.
Azmat Begg, father of Moazzam Begg, told Reuters: "It's in Blair's
hands. If he wanted to, he could sort the whole thing in minutes."
Louise Christian, a lawyer for two of the four Britons, said:
"These people have been there for three years now and they deserve
to be treated in accordance with international law and the Geneva
Conventions. It seems incredible given the amount of support
Britain has given to America that their request is not being
This summer, the US Supreme Court ruled that all the prisoners at
Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their incarceration in
the US civilian courts. The Bush administration has refused any
prisoner their day in court but has set up "combatant-status review
tribunals" to assess whether the prisoners should continue to be
held. So far, 317 have been held and 131 cases have been
adjudicated: all but one found in favour of continued detention.
But yesterday, Guantanamo detainees continued to appear in shackles
before tribunals under an American flag tacked to the walls of a
trailer. One Yemeni, in a white skullcap, admitted he was a fighter
for the Taliban. He said he left school in Yemen, then went to
Afghanistan after a religious leader issued a fatwa, or religious
edict, ordering Muslims to help the regime.
The US government claims he trained on assault rifles and grenades
at the al-Farouq camp, and manned battle- posts in Bagram and
Jalalabad. "I didn't do anything against the United States or its
allies," said the man, who cannot be named. "I never saw Americans
in Afghanistan, so how could I be an enemy combatant?"
The US declared all of the 550 Guantanamo prisoners enemy
combatants. Defence lawyers and human rights groups say allegations
against detainees do not support classification as enemy
The US Justice Department said it would seek a stay and an appeal
against Judge Robertson's ruling. The tribunals will continue until
further guidance is issued, a spokesman, Mark Corallo, said. The
government would appeal on the grounds that the Geneva Conventions
do not apply to members or affiliates of al- Qa'ida. "We believe the
President properly determined that the Geneva Conventions have no
legal applicability to members or affiliates of al-Qaida." Mr
Corallo claimed the ruling "put terrorism on the same legal footing
as legitimate methods of waging war".
Twit For Tat
It's been exactly one week since Election Day, and Americans who
can't stomach four more years of President Bush are drawing
blueprints for Canada or perhaps Ireland.
"The electorate that decided to give this stupid, little twit four
more years will get exactly what it deserves. No more can the
American people hide behind the administration and point to its
colossal ineptitude and vacuous foreign policies and claim
Wow, Tom Madigan, coordinator of media and press relations for the
Irish American Unity Conference, tell us how you really feel.
"The people have now chosen to put this chimp back in the White
House for four more years in spite of the horror stories coming out
of Iraq, the train wreck that used to be our economy and the almost
complete gutting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
"If we're attacked again, it will be because the perception now is
that the American people have deliberately chosen to continue the
administration's policies. This last item is truly frightening and
is no joke."
Given the number of phony documents circulating these days, we
figured we'd better check with Mr. Madigan to confirm the above
roasting is actually his doing.
"Yes ... those are my words, and I stand behind them," Mr. Madigan
states. "They are an attempt at expressing something deeply
visceral; they were written from the heart, in the middle of the
night, when I was trying to put my brain around something that even
today, the morning after [Election Day], was too surreal and too
bizarre to put into words, the notion that over 60 million people
could be so wrong."
He concludes: "If George Bush and the Republican Party view this as
anything other than a profoundly divided nation, then they're even
bigger fools than I thought they were."
Given that the nationwide Irish American Unity Conference, which
has its headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House
and Capitol Hill, touts itself as "nonpartisan" and striving "for
justice and peace in Ireland ... by working through the American
democratic process," we didn't have to wait long for a senior
conference official to comment on the spokesman labeling the
president a twit.
"To Whom It May Concern," William Berardo says in a statement
issued to Inside the Beltway.
"As the vice president of the Irish American Unity Conference, we
do not authorize nor do we condone the statements made by Tom
Madigan. He has not gained clearance from the IAUC national
officers to make any statements. He speaks only for himself and not
In a subsequent statement to this column, Mr. Madigan clarified
that his remarks "were my own private thoughts and are
categorically not any official statement by the IAUC."
:: John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be
reached at 202/636-3284 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
IRA Bomb Trial Starts
10 November 2004
An alleged dissident republican went on trial today accused of car
bombing Stewartstown police station four years ago.
Belfast Crown Court heard that after a stolen car was driven up to
the gates at the PSNI station on July 8, 2000, two men got out and
ran to a waiting getaway car, shouting warnings at passers-by for
them to move from the area.
In the dock denying charges of causing an explosion, possessing an
explosive substance and membership of the Real IRA, is 26-year-old
Brendan Gerard O'Connor, from Cavanoneill Road in Pomeroy.
Prosecution QC Jackie Orr told the court that O'Connor could
allegedly be linked to the getaway car by a DNA profile found on
gloves nearby the abandoned and burnt out motor.
She said both men were described as wearing white dust masks and
dark clothing with one wearing a dark baseball cap.
She told trial judge Mr Justice Weatherup that the man wearing the
cap got into a waiting red car which sped off along the Sherrygrim
The lawyer claimed that evidence in the case will show that the
car, a Volkswagen Passat, was found crashed and on fire a short
distance along the same road.
The lawyer said the car bomb exploded at around 12.50am on Sunday
July 9, as officers were still evacuating the scene, causing minor
injuries to a number of officers and civilians.
Soldier Escapes Jail Term
By Ben Lowry
10 November 2004
A Northern Irish soldier who returned to the province from Iraq has
escaped jail after assaulting a PSNI officer.
Brian Bowen (22), from Barker Barracks in Paderborn, Germany, and
his 20-year-old brother Alan, from Prospect Grove, Carrickfergus,
took part in a fight in the town, Belfast Magistrates' Court head
Brian Bowen, a member of the Royal Engineers, was fined a total of
£600 after he pleaded guilty to common assault and assaulting a
police officer last December.
Alan Bowen was fined £400 after he admitted common assault and
resisting a police officer.
Magistrate Peter Murphy said he normally imprisoned people who
assaulted police officers.
"A serving soldier, above all, should know the importance of good
behaviour and discipline," he added.
A solicitor for the brothers noted that neither of them had
They had been celebrating Brian's return from Iraq over the
Christmas period, and much drink had been taken, he said.
Brian Bowen flew from Germany for yesterday's hearing, because he
"views it extremely seriously".
Alan Bowen broke his wrist in the disorder, which happened in
Greenedge, Carrickfergus. It began when up to 11 people who had
taken alcohol became involved in a dispute.
An iron bar used in the trouble was ordered to be forfeited and
Opposition Parties Welcome High Court Ruling
By Fionnán Sheahan, Political Correspondent
OPPOSITION parties welcomed yesterday's High Court decision to
allow a gay couple to take proceedings to have their marriage
Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin are all committed to conferring
rights upon non-traditional couples, if they get into Government,
while the Green Party is currently developing a similar policy.
Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan's challenge to the
Revenue's refusal to acknowledge them as a married couple for tax
purposes could have wide-ranging implications.
The all-party Committee on the Constitution is examining whether
the Constitution should be changed to allow for gay marriages as
part of a major review of family rights.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern requested its chairman Denis O'Donovan to
conduct a review of the articles in relating to the family.
This summer, Fine Gael published its comprehensive Civil
Partnership proposals, which would allow cohabiting couples - both
same sex and mixed sex - to formally register their relationship
with the State.
Labour promised to go down a similar path in its 2002 General
Election manifesto, which stated: "We will introduce legal
recognition for couples in non-marital relationships, including gay
and lesbian couples."
Sinn Féin has a long-standing position on recognising co-habiting
couples and sought amendments to the Equality Bill and the Civil
Registration Bill to enact this measure.
The Green Party is currently putting together its policy on the
issue for the Oireachtas committee and favours recognition,
specifically in the area of legal entitlement.
Yesterday, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins asked Mr Ahern whether
the Government would bring forward any changes to legislation to
allow for the recognition being sought in the current case, but
received no response.
Also yesterday, FG equality spokesperson Senator Sheila Terry said
she welcomed the High Court granting leave to the couple to pursue
their claim through the courts.
"I think it is progress. I think we needed a broader debate and we
will have one now," she said.
Fine Gael's Civil Partnership policy set out a number of
fundamental rights that couples will be awarded upon registration,
affecting succession, next of kin, pensions, tax, social welfare,
property and workplace entitlements.
Sinn Féin spokesman Aengus Ó Snódaigh said measures recognising
cohabiting couples needed to be introduced right across the board.
"It's a pity people had to go to court as the Government have had
the opportunity to change it," he said.
Frail Paisley Keeps Lid On As Vesuvius Blows
Wednesday November 10, 2004
I had a very interesting time yesterday. For lunch, I joined a
group of rebellious Labour MPs who sometimes meet in a Westminster
pub. There I chatted to the MP for a town in the south who told me,
with great pride, that he had finally got rid of the last Blairite
member in his constituency party.
She was the only holdout, but this week she changed her mind. "I
was wrong, and you were right," she had said, or so he claimed, and
I have no reason to doubt him.
Over lunch, opinions were divided. Was Blair uniquely loathed among
Labour supporters, or did the party make a point of detesting
whoever happened to be in charge at the time?
I felt that they liked their leaders right up to when they gained
power. So Michael Foot, John Smith and Neil Kinnock are revered,
but would have been as hated as Tony Blair if they had ever made it
to Downing Street. We can all be in favour of a perfect world, but
trying to create one tediously makes enemies.
I returned to the Commons to find the debate on civil partnerships
- in other words, the gay marriage bill - moving along nicely. John
Bercow was making a speech which supported the bill, but was
largely an attack on his fellow Conservatives.
The Rev Ian Paisley came into the chamber. These days he is very,
very old and frail, though I am told that he still believes he
should be the first minister of Northern Ireland, if devolved
government ever returns.
I rather doubt this will happen; a 200-year old Galápagos turtle
looks rather nippier on its pins.
And what a man who makes George W Bush's bible belt supporters
sound like soggy Guardian readers thinks of gay marriage I do not
know, but I suspect I can guess.
As Mr Paisley made his slow progress towards his seat, as if to lay
eggs on the sand, Mr Bercow could be heard saying: "We cannot have
it both ways!" and a look of some pain passed over the reverend
I returned to my desk to find a copy of a speech which Alan Duncan
had prepared for the debate on third reading, due later in the day.
As the only out gay on the Tory benches, he was of course keenly in
favour of the bill. It would, he planned to say, be a cornerstone
of a monument to "decency, fairness, love, equality, and all the
rich happiness two people can provide for each other".
But he had slightly spoiled the mood earlier on when he quoted the
Roman emperor Justinian, who apparently believed that homosexuality
"One shake of the hand, and Vesuvius blows!" he was due to cry, and
I hoped that Mr Paisley would have left the chamber by then,
because that one remark could have ushered him straight to his
eternal reward, whatever that may prove to be.
Earlier we had heard from Denis MacShane, the minister for Europe,
who oddly enough had been asked to answer a question about the UK's
relationship with the US, following the election. Mr MacShane it
was who had warmly welcomed John Kerry's victory after the exit
polls, then just as eagerly paid tribute to our close relationship
with George Bush once the real results were in.
Now he had come up with a brilliant compromise. We should have
closer relations not with the White House, but with individual
states. "Many of them have progressive policies on stem cell
research and environmental change," he mused.
What a dazzling idea! Denis, a progressive right down to his
scarlet socks, could be our first ambassador to the state of
Wisconsin where, no doubt, gay marriage will shortly become
Momentum Grows For Bill Of Rights Round Table
Published: 10 November, 2004
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Equality, Human Rights and Women, South
Down MLA Caítriona Ruane has welcomed the positive contribution on
the Bill of Rights debate from Alvaro Gil- Robies, the Council of
Europe Commissioner for Human Rights who met with Sinn Féin and
members of the Human Rights Consortium in Belfast.
The Ms Ruane said:
"Evidently the Commissioner was well informed regarding the impasse
we have had for some time in progressing the Bill of Rights debate
because of the range of difficulties which has beset the Human
Rights Commission itself coupled with the current political
deadlock which has impeded progress across a range of issues
including the development of a Bill of Rights.
"Sinn Féin welcomed the Commissioner's willingness to listen to the
many voices from across the community who, despite differences, are
united in wanting to have the strongest possible Bill of Rights
that will incorporate a range of socio- economic rights at its
"Most significantly the Commissioner confirmed that he had met with
British Secretary of State Paul Murphy and had raised the need for
the Roundtable Forum on the Bill of Rights, contained in the Joint
Declaration, to commence.
"Sinn Féin has lobbied for this mechanism to be established as a
matter of some urgency in order to inject new momentum into the
Bill of Rights debate.
" The process of dialogue, engagement and participation by civic
society in conjunction with its political representatives is as
important a process as producing a Bill of Rights. We believe this
message has been positively received by the Council of Europe
representative and we would urge the British government to
discharge its intent to establish the Roundtable Forum without any
further delay." ENDS
A Little Bit Of Dublin Dies As Cafés Used By Joyce And Behan Close
By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
10 November 2004
Dubliners are in shock: Bewley's is closing the city's two most
famous cafés, for decades iconic fixtures of its social and
The demise of the cafés has produced waves of nostalgia for a
business which stretches back more than a century, and waves of
regret that affluence and economic advance should mean the loss of
such venerable institutions.
The two Bewley's Oriental Cafés, in Grafton Street and Westmoreland
Street, will shut at the end of the month, leaving 234 workers
redundant. Many share the sentiments of the owner, Patrick
Campbell, who said: "It's like part of Dublin dying."
The irony is that the cafés, famous for their tea and coffee,
should go under amid an international boom in the demand for
coffee. But market forces and a sense that Bewley's has not moved
with the times are blamed.
Generations of Dubliners regarded the spacious and comfortable
surroundings as a home from home, sampling the legendary coffee and
sticky buns at marble tables and cosy booths. James Joyce stopped
for coffee in Bewley's in Grafton Street and the playwright Brendan
Behan supped tea while waiting for the pubs to open.
Bewley's always had a paternal philanthropic aspect, its original
Quaker owners reputedly providing free refreshment for poorer
customers. Making a profit never seemed central to the concern.
Bewley's was the antithesis of fast food. Instead, its
surroundings, tolerant and sometimes matronly staff and hospitable
atmosphere enticed customers to linger and treat it as an
inexpensive refuge from inclement weather.
The novelist Maeve Binchy said: "When I was a student, we could
make one cup of coffee last an hour and a half and, like everyone
else, we felt a slight guilt in case this sowed the seeds of the
eventual decline of Bewley's fortunes. But we had to make it last
because nobody wanted to leave the warm, happy coffee and sugar-
flavoured fug and go out into the cold, rainy streets. And nobody
had the price of another cup of coffee."
The business's lack of commercial rigour was part of its charm but,
as Maeve Binchy suspected, it led to financial difficulties and in
1986 the chain was taken over by Campbells.
This parent company has prospered and grown in other directions,
but the Dublin cafés have run up losses of Â4m (£2.8m) since 1996.
Competition steadily grew from pubs and smaller new cafés more
suited to the quickening pace of city-centre life.
Costs soared, with Grafton Street named as the fifth most-expensive
shopping street in the world, behind Fifth Avenue in New York,
Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, London's Oxford Street and the Champs
With annual rents of Â3,300 per square metre, Irish concerns in
Grafton Street have increasingly been replaced by UK and
The Campbell Bewley group said the smoking ban introduced this year
had reduced business by 10 per cent and they could not get
permission to place tables outside for smokers.
Mr Campbell added: "We are, as a society, allowing ourselves to
become sterile. We are going to end up with homogenous streets
which don't have any character. We are also losing something."
Jazzing Up Life In Museum
Nov 10 2004
By Philip Key, Daily Post
CHRISTINE Tobin is one of the star turns in this year's
International Guitar Festival which opened in Wirral yesterday .
And she does not even play the guitar.
The Irish-born singer/songwriter is best- known as a jazz singer and
considered one of the best, indeed nominated as best vocalist in
this year's BBC Jazz Awards.
So why the appearance at a guitar festival? That's partly thanks to
her guitarist Phil Robson, she says.
He played at the festival last year with his own band Partisans.
"He had a great time and said it was a brilliant festival," says
Christine. So naturally she wanted to be part of it.
Robson will be in her band for her concert at Wirral Museum on
"It sounds a bit strange to be singing in a museum but I have done
it before - in Vienna.. We will be bringing it to life!"
While it may seem an unusual venue it is no more unusual than
Christine's own career.
Dublin-born, as a youngster she joined a music society with her two
sisters and sang around local hospitals and old people's homes. She
ended up at the age of ten singing in stage musicals.
"I liked being on stage but I didn't like the music I was singing,"
"So I stopped singing completely.
"Besides, I was becoming a teenager and was interested in teenagery
When she left school she joined the civil service, did not like
that much either, so took off to travel around Europe for two
Back home, then in her early 20s, she took up singing again. "I
would sing with a guitarist around Dublin wine bars and
She had also discovered jazz. "I realised that was the sort of
music I wanted to sing so I started to learn all the jazz
She soon established herself as a leading jazz singer and her sixth
album, Christine Tobin's Romance and Revolution, was released on
Christine's music has a wider appeal, the new album containing
arrangements of songs by Bob Dylan, John Martyn and the Beach Boys
as well as classic jazz and several originals by Christine and co-
She prefers to be known just as a singer/songwriter. "After all,
good music is good music," she says.
* Christine Tobin is at the Wirral Museum on November 19.