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 01, 2004

News 10/30/04 - Armagh Hostage 'Safe So Far'

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 10/30/04 NI Hostage 'Safe So Far'
BT 10/30/04 Agonising Wait For News Of Ulster Kidnap Victim
SF 10/30/04 PSNI Actions In Wake House Inexcusable
IC 10/30/04 Opin: We've Been Quangoed
TR 10/30/04 Man To Spend Life In Prison For Murder of Irish Priest
BT 10/30/04 Osama bin Laden: A Chilling Message To American Voters
RF 10/30/04 US: Poll Shows Arab Americans Turning Away From Bush
TO 10/30/04 Salmon In West of Ireland: Back In The Pink
BT 10/30/04 Pumpkin Nation
PD 10/30/04 If It Were Up To Fans, U2 Would Get Rock Hall Honor
NN 10/30/04 Flogging Molly: Irish Band With Bajan Flair
SF 10/30/04 Statue To Luke Kelly Would Be A Fitting Tribute
BT 10/30/04 'Sands' Of Time Catch Up With Tommy Makem

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NI Hostage 'Safe So Far'

A militant group which says it is holding a County Armagh woman
hostage in Afghanistan has said she is "safe so far".

The Army of Muslims said UN worker Annetta Flanigan, kidnapped
along with two of her colleagues in Kabul on Thursday, could face
death if Taleban prisoners were not released.

Nato troops and Afghan forces are involved in the hunt to find the

They had been helping to organise the country's presidential
election when they were seized by the group which claims that it is
holding them outside the city.

The group has provided no firm evidence that it is holding them.

Suspects arrested

Seven suspects have been arrested and are being questioned over the
kidnapping of the UN worker from Richhill, Armagh, who was seized
at gunpoint along with her Kosovo Albanian and Filipino colleagues.

Three of the seven detained were armed men in uniform who did not
belong to the military or police, the Afghan interior ministry

On Friday, leader of the Army of Muslims, Syed Akbar Agha, said the
search for the hostages must stop to allow negotiations for their
release to begin.

Hostage Angelito Nayan

The hostages were "safe so far", he said, and his group's council
had met to discuss its demands.

They would include the release of Afghan prisoners being held in
Afghanistan and in the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he

A videotape was being prepared to show the group had kidnapped Mrs
Flanigan, of Richhill, County Armagh, Filipino Angelito Nayan and
Kosovar Shqipe Habibi.

The three work for a joint UN Afghan commission overseeing the
landmark presidential election vote count since polling day on 9

Mrs Flanigan's family, from County Armagh, are gravely concerned
for her safety.

On Saturday, St Matthew's Church in Mrs Flanigan's home town of
Richhill opened so that the community could say special prayers for
her release.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/10/30 10:35:39 GMT


Agonising Wait For News Of Ulster Kidnap Victim

Eames leads village prayers for release of UN election monitor

30 October 2004

A sombre silence hung over the home village of kidnap victim
Annetta Flanigan (43) today as her family's agonising wait for news
entered its third day.

The Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Robin Eames, has issued a
rallying call of support for her Richhill family, who are well
known locally and own a furniture business in the village.

Ms Flanigan, a former Queen's law student, who worked with a
Portadown firm of solicitors after graduating in 1987, holds joint
British and Irish citizenship. She was believed to have been
planning to return home for Christmas.

Ms Flanigan was working as a UN election monitor in Kabul when she
was abducted along with two colleagues on Thursday morning.

Archbishop Eames visited the family yesterday and prayed that they
would be strengthened in their vigil.

A Halloween party planned for last night in the town's landmark
Richhill Castle was cancelled as the wait continued.

The family's local minister, St Matthew's Church of Ireland Rector,
David Coe, said he had also visited the family but added that the
Foreign Office had been discouraging public comment about the case
for security reasons.

The kidnapping has been claimed by the Army of Muslims and workers
on the ground in Afghanistan are continuing their search for her.

A childhood friend of Ms Flanigan, who attended Armagh High School
with her, said she was alarmed by the news. She added that Ms
Flanigan was "a fun-loving person who returned home regularly and
was full of life". She said Ms Flanigan studied in France for a
year and was well known locally.

Local Assemblyman Danny Kennedy, who is in Serbia at the moment,
said: "I have asked my UUP colleagues at Westminster to contact the
Foreign Office as a matter of urgency and the Office has since been
in touch with the family in Co Armagh.

"We must be certain that everything that can be done in this
nightmare situation is done," he said.

SDLP Newry and Armagh MP Seamus Mallon said: "The thoughts and
prayers of the whole community must be with Annetta's family at
this time. We must hope that she will be returned safe and well to
her family as soon as possible."


PSNI Actions In Wake House Inexcusable

Published: 30 October, 2004

Sinn Fein Councillor for North Belfast, Carál Ni Chuilín, has
slammed the actions of the PSNI. This follows the PSNI entering the
home of a woman who had died at 2am last night and questioning a
son for twenty minutes in the back of a jeep about the mothers

Speaking today Cllr Ni Chuilín said: "What the PSNI did today is
completely inexcusable. The McNally family have just lost their
mother to cancer last night and to have the PSNI enter the house
and claim that it was the scene of a crime and proceed to question
one of Mrs McNally's sons for twenty minutes is unbelievable.

"This is a family who will be suffering enough at this time of loss
and to have the PSNI enter the family home armed with automatic
rifles is surely not a practice that would happen anywhere else.

"I will be advising the McNally family to contact the office of the
Police Ombudsman and their solicitors. This cannot be allowed to
happen again to any other family. It also raises serious question
on what is the practice and procedure of the PSNI in a so-called
new beginning for policing." ENDS


Political Platform

Opin: We've Been Quangoed

Much of my focus over the past month has been the intensive
negotiations with the two governments to try and get the Assembly
back up and running.

This is essential as it allows local politicians to make local
decisions on issues such as water taxes or the response to racist
violence, for which they are democratically accountable to local
people. However, there is now one issue that is steadily gathering
up a head of steam – the Review of Public Administration.

This review in itself is a huge undertaking and will have far
reaching consequences for everyone living not just in South
Belfast, but for everyone throughout the Six Counties.

In my role as the head of a dedicated Sinn Féin team dealing with
the review we have been engaging extensively with the British
direct rule minster responsible for the review, Ian Pearson, and
his civil servants in the review team.

However, it is becoming clear that the civil servants running the
review are failing to look at the broad issue of public
administration in favour of a narrow focus on local government.

This is a big mistake.

When the Review of Public Administration started there were
something like 140 unelected quangos making some very important
decisions particularly on health and education, now the figure is
closer to 200.

These bodies are not democratically accountable and while I don't
doubt that there are many very good and hard-working people
bringing their experience, expertise and time to these quangos the
fact remains – quangos are fundamentally undemocratic.

This is not to say that Sinn Féin do not welcome a long hard look
at local government both in terms of structures, size and numbers,
because we do.

The success of the Review of Public Administration will be in its
ability to deliver power to the people by scrapping the huge layers
of bureaucracy and unaccountable quangoism that have flourished as
a result of previous direct rule administrations.

It is about creating new democratic relationships between decision-
making and communities in our society. It must ensure that services
are provided at the right time and in the right place.

The reality is that the most important element of any shake-up of
councils, their powers and numbers must be the ability to deliver
real democratic participation in decision-making and effectiveness
and efficiency.

You cannot do this unless there is a serious look at quangos and
their considerable areas of influence and power, as well as the
3,000 people who turn up again and again on numerous different

The institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, including the
Assembly, are only part of the wider process of democratisation
that are crucially important if we are to reject the failed old way
of doing things in the past that was about maintaining prestige and
power in the hands of a small elite.

If we look at local government it is vital that we develop a model
that rejects the type of exclusion we see in Lisburn Council today.
If people are to be given a real stake in decision- making then
their representatives at whatever level must not be excluded by the
failed politics of the past.

The Review of Public Administration must not forget the history of
unionist abuse of power and indeed the continuing refusal of
unionists to share power on councils today.

The behaviour of unionists on councils where the have dominance
today demands nothing less than strong equality protections. This
means that there must be statutory equality safeguards and
protections in the delivery of services through local government.
We need also to see the d'Hondt mechanism for power- sharing given
statutory recognition.

Equality must the central foundation upon which the review is
built. However, I am concerned at the current direction of the
review in that it appears to be downgrading equality issues in
favour of a singular focus on functionality.

People are being sidetracked by the issue of the number of councils
when the focus should be on the ability of whatever we put in place
of the current system of local government and public administration
to address some of the very serious areas of inequality and
discrimination that are still very much alive and well within the
current pattern of local government.

Many councils throughout the Six Counties continue to represent
everything that is wrong with unionism. They are continue to
exclude and discriminate.

Rhetoric about efficiency cannot mask the need for equality.
Quality services must be based on equal access and equal delivery.
The review needs to ensure that in building new relationships
equality is the first issue on the agenda in addressing efficiency
and effectiveness. Sinn Féin is also concerned that there should be
no changes that reinforce or indeed exacerbate the democratic
deficit that already exists.

Beyond all these key issues about changes in local governance, my
greatest concern is that from day one the review of public
administration has been presented as a review about the number of
councils and councillors.

However, the most important job of the review should be to cut
through the culture of unaccountability and quangoism.

Next week's political platform; South Belfast DUP Assemblyman Mark


Man To Spend Life In Prison

Escobedo to be eligible for parole in 15 years

By Jessica Langdon/Times Record News
October 30, 2004

Jurors' faces showed the weight of the decision in their hands when
they returned a life sentence for Ifren Escobedo in 89th District
Court late Friday afternoon.

The same eight women and four men had found Escobedo, 45, guilty of
murder in the May 1991 strangulation of 37-year-old Father Gerald

Curley was a Catholic priest and was working as a chaplain at
Sheppard Air Force Base. He grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland,
and came to the United States specifically to be a chaplain in the
Air Force, Assistant District Attorney Ed Lane said.

"It's hard for me to remember a more brutal death than this," Lane
said. Curley's strangulation at the hands of Escobedo lasted three
to five minutes, he said.

The case turned cold for years and went without an arrest until
December 2003.

Defense Attorney Tom Allensworth went through Escobedo's criminal
history Friday. The list held several misdemeanor convictions and
probations but no violent crimes besides Curley's murder,
Allensworth said.

He told the jury his aim was probation for Escobedo. He said prison
would not provide rehabilitation and said Escobedo has already been
deterred from committing any other violent crimes because of "the
anguish that my client has felt in his soul."

"What has he done to show his remorse?" Lane asked the jury.

He said Escobedo never contacted Curley's family - even anonymously
- to tell them what happened May 9, 1991, to "ease their anguish."

Lane argued that Escobedo also had not told police for more than 12
years about what he'd done, and even then only did so when evidence
stacked up against him.

Lane said he e-mailed Curley's brother, Joseph Curley, in Ireland
after the guilty verdict was announced Thursday. He found a
response Friday morning. The message told him the story behind a
watch Escobedo stole from Curley that night. Investigators never
found the watch or other stolen items.

"Did you know that the watch you stole from Gerald Curley was his
father's and had been handed down from generation to generation?"
Lane asked Escobedo during cross-examination Friday.

"He broke the link in that family in more ways than one," Lane told
jurors during closing arguments.

Lane said Curley's family was pleased with the verdict and hoped
for a stiff sentence.

Several of Escobedo's family members testified a long prison
sentence wasn't what he needed and said they wanted to see him
placed on probation.

"He's fun; he's loving; he loves his grandchildren," his sister,
Rebecca Alonzo, said.

"I can promise that you would sleep safely knowing this man would
not go out and hurt anyone," Escobedo's oldest daughter said

"I say to you, where can we find a more dangerous man than a man
who will kill for no reason at all?" Lane argued, referring to
Escobedo's statements that he was not mad at Curley.

"If you give him probation, you're going to be giving somebody a
new neighbor who's a murderer," he said.

Escobedo's family sobbed after the sentence was announced.

One of his daughters yelled through tears she loved him as he
walked down the hall.

"My client is understandably disappointed with the jury's verdict,
and I feel confident that he will appeal," Allensworth said. He
said it was too soon to tell what the grounds for appeal would be.

Both sides thanked the jury for their work and attention to the
testimony in such a hard case.

Lane said the case had to be tried under 1991 law, so instead of
being eligible for parole after 30 years, Escobedo would be
eligible after 15 years.

Lane said the District Attorney's Office would oppose parole
because of the brutal nature of the death.

Crime reporter Jessica Langdon can be reached at (940) 763-7530 or
by e-mail at langdonj(at)


A Chilling Message To American Voters

By Chris Bunting
30 October 2004

Osama bin Laden made a dramatic 11th-hour entry into the US
presidential election campaign last night with a videotaped message
in which he rebuked President George Bush for being slow to react
on the morning of 11 September and said America's security was
contingent on its safeguarding the security of the Islamic world.

It was the first time in more than a year that the fugitive al-
Qa'ida leader had been seen on tape. The timing of his speech,
broadcast on the Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera, was
unmistakably planned for maximum impact just four days before the
United States elects a new President.

Bin Laden laid into Mr Bush, saying his decision to sit vacantly in
a Florida classroom on the morning of the 11 September attacks,
choosing to keep listening to the story "My Pet Goat" even after he
had been told two planes had hit the World Trade Centre, had given
the suicide-hijackers far more time to carry out their deadly
missions. "It never occurred to us that the commander- in-chief of
the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the
two towers to face these horrors alone," Bin Laden said. "It
appeared to him [Mr Bush] that a little girl's talk about her goat
and its ramming was more important than the planes and their
ramming of the skyscrapers. That gave us three times the required
time to carry out the operations, thank God."

Addressing the American people directly and issuing a not-so-veiled
threat, he added: "Despite entering the fourth year after 11
September, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from
you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what

President Bush, campaigning in Toledo, Ohio, said that he had
learned of the video's existence earlier in the day. "Let me make
this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by
an enemy of our country," he said. John Kerry, who has criticised
Mr Bush for failing to do enough to capture Bin Laden, said: "We
are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy
Osama bin Laden and the terrorists ... They are barbarians and I
will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down and capture or kill
the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period."

The intervention by Bin Laden appeared designed, above all, to
provoke a reaction rather than provide any cogent political
critique. If nothing else, it reminded US voters that he is still
at large, and as elusive as ever. But it also seemed inevitable
that it would be seized upon by one campaign team or the other for
any partisan advantage that could be squeezed out of them.
President Bush has frequently said that he believes al- Qa'ida would
prefer Mr Kerry in the White House.

Bin Laden himself offered no endorsements. America's security, he
said, depended not on who was elected President but on the
country's policies towards the Muslim world.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al- Qa'ida.
Your security is in your own hands," he said. "Each state that does
not mess with our security, has naturally guaranteed its own

It was not immediately clear when the tape was made, but several
experts including US government officials were left in no doubt
about its authenticity. Its reference to Senator Kerry meant it
could be no more than a few months old, and was likely to be
considerably more recent than that.

On the tape, Bin Laden appeared strong and in good health. Standing
at a lectern in front of a uniform brown background, he was shown
pointing his right index finger directly at the camera as he spoke.
His beard appeared largely grey.

The tape contained the first direct admission of responsibility for
the 11 September attacks, which killed about 3,000 people. Bin
Laden has boasted about them before, but never has he given a
detailed rationale for why he ordered them.

"We fought you because we are free ... and want to regain freedom
for our nation," he said. "As you undermine our security we
undermine yours."

He said he was first inspired to attack the US by the 1982 Israeli
invasion of Lebanon in which towers and buildings in Beirut were
destroyed. "While I was looking at these destroyed towers in
Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished
with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that
it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our
children and women," he said.

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U.S.: Poll Shows Arab Americans Turning Away From Bush

By Andrew Tully

A new poll of Arab-Americans in four states that could help decide
the upcoming presidential election in November finds that President
George W. Bush has lost the support he once enjoyed among members
of this ethnic group. The poll surveyed 500 Arab- Americans in
Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Analysts interviewed by
RFE/RL say Arab-Americans reject the Iraq war and the president
Middle East policy.

Washington, 28 October 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The poll, conducted by
James Zogby of Zogby International, shows Arab-Americans have the
same needs and concerns as any other immigrant community in the
United States.

Like Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans, the issues they find
most important are the economy, taxes, and national security.

But while other polls indicate that Americans as a whole are evenly
split between Bush and his challenger, Senator John Kerry
(Democrat, Massachusetts), Arab-Americans prefer Kerry over Bush by
nearly two-to-one: 54 percent favor Kerry and 28 percent favor

The reasons have to do with issues that resonate more deeply with
Arab-Americans than they do with other citizens. One is the war in
Iraq. The poll found 48 percent preferred Kerry on that issue, and
34 preferred Bush.

Raeed Tayeh, the communications director of the advocacy group
American Muslims for Jerusalem, told RFE/RL that many Arab-
Americans once cheered Bush for toppling Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein, but now believe that the war was waged not to help the
Iraqi people, but to make the U.S. war on terrorism easier to
fight.The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is among the most important
issues for Arab-Americans.

"I think that the situation in Iraq is just about as bad as it
could possibly get," Tayeh said. "Many [Arab Americans] do not like
the fact that Iraq has been staged as the center of the war on
terrorism. Either by happenstance or by design, we have attracted
many of our enemies to one location. And that's a benefit in the
war on terror because it makes it much simpler to destroy our
enemy. But in the process, the civilian population of Iraq are
paying the price."

Tayeh also said that Arab-Americans are offended by the reduction
in civil liberties exemplified by the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which
Congress passed three years ago at the urging of Bush's attorney
general, John Ashcroft. Tayeh points to the closing of Islamic
charities, the stricter visa rules for Arabs and Muslims, and the
singling out of Arabs and Muslims at security checkpoints.

"Those things have really affected the Arab-American community,"
Tayeh said. "People are more timid about their behavior. People are
worried that when they fly, they may be picked out for random
questioning or additional searches. It's kind of a no- brainer that
John Kerry and the traditional staunch support for civil liberties
and civil rights in the Democratic Party would serve our community
better than another four years of George Bush and John Ashcroft."

Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international
affairs at George Washington University in Washington, agreed that
Bush may have squandered the goodwill of Arab-American voters.

Brown recalled that when Bush was running for president in 2000 --
a year before terrorism became a major issue in America -- he
repeatedly told Arab-American audiences that he would stop police
and other security officials from singling out Arabs and Muslims as
potential suspects.

"This was a community that had a lot of enthusiastic Bush
supporters back four years ago, [but] he just hasn't been the
president they thought they were voting for," Brown said. "Bush is
going to bear responsibility in this community for [the] Patriot
Act, homeland security, immigration controls, and so on and --
rightly or wrongly -- these have a reputation in the Arab-American
community of targeting them indiscriminately."

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is among the most important issues
for Arab-Americans, according to the Zogby poll. In it, 38 percent
of respondents would prefer Kerry to handle that issue as
president, while only 25 percent prefer Bush.

Both Brown and Tayeh agree that Kerry's relatively small advantage
on this issue reflects his long-term support of Israel. But Tayeh
said that Arab-Americans believe Kerry may put more pressure on the
Israeli government to pursue a just peace, while they see Bush's
approach as blindly supporting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Brown also noted that like any other ethnic group, the longer Arab-
Americans live in the United States, the less they will vote as an
ethnic group and the more they will vote as mainstream Americans.

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October 30, 2004

Back In The Pink

by Vanessa Kendell

Despite a bad press, farmed organic salmon is thriving in the west
of Ireland

With every click of the camera the salmon performed a different
acrobatic show: leaping first in high flashing arcs through the air
as a warm-up, then working their way up to an impressively swift
charge through the dark Atlantic water.

I imagined that this was a display of welcome for me as I arrived
at an organic salmon farm on Clare Island, in Clew Bay, off the
west coast of Ireland. In fact, I discovered later, rather than
being a sign of their appreciation, this is what salmon do all day,
every day. Atlantic salmon are just naturally sprightly; their very
name, Salmo salar, comes partly from the Latin word meaning to

Farmed salmon have been given a rough ride in the media in recent
months. The fish is well- known as a source of essential omega-3
fatty acids and other nutrients but, last January, people were put
off eating the fish by a study that compared various toxins in
farmed and wild fish and by reports that farmed fish contained high
levels of contaminants.

The key word in describing the Clare Island farm, though, is
organic. The salmon are raised in the cold waters of the Atlantic.
They can jump to their hearts' delight in the huge cages which are
the only things keeping them from disappearing into the deep blue

And compared with conventional salmon farming, where there is 20-
30kg (44-66lb) of salmon per tonne of water, Clare Island, in Co
Mayo, has a mere 5kg — less than the organic standard in Ireland
and the UK, which is 10kg of fish per tonne of water.

The regime also forbids the use of antibiotics and pesticides, and
natural remedies are always tried first. In fact, the salmon are
occasionally fed a blend of garlic and rosemary by way of a health
boost and to fight off any infection. It doesn't hurt the way they
taste either.

In the interest of fish welfare, more modern medical treatments are
sometimes used but the salmon are tested vigorously afterwards to
ensure that there is no residue in the flesh.

The farm is said to be situated at one of the most exposed sites in
the world — it sits in the middle of open Atlantic with waves of up
to 7m (23ft) and an average winter swell of 5m.

David Baird, the managing director of Clare Island Seafarms, who
runs the place, says: "There is nothing between us and the east
coast of the United States."

The strong Atlantic currents in this part of the ocean mean that
the salmon swim an average of 20km (12½ miles) each day in cages
that measure between 10,000 and 20,000 cubic metres (350,000 to
700,000 cubic feet). As a result, what ends up on our plates is a
leaner, less fatty piece of fish — which is healthier for us.

In many cases the scare stories in the media about toxins in farmed
fish may prove exaggerated. The substances referred to were mainly
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. PCBs are now banned
in the UK but were once used as coolants and lubricants in
electrical equipment. Dioxins are by-products of industrial

Once these chemicals seep into the environment, animals and fish
absorb them into their systems, accumulating the compounds in their
body fat. So this means that all foods, not just salmon, contain a
certain level of these toxins but some nutritional experts argue
that our bodies can deal with these chemicals, in moderation.

Jane Clarke, the Times nutritionist, says: "There is a downside to
any food if you look hard enough. However, although organic salmon
will have traces of these chemicals — as will all types of salmon —
the organic farmers have to be more vigilant about other pollutants
from different sources. Of all farmed salmon, organic is definitely
the best one to go for."

Further down the coast into Co Galway is the wonderfully wild
region of Connemara, a breathtakingly dramatic patchwork of
windswept mountains, desolate valleys, glassy lakes and windy roads
weaving through the vast clumps of bracken and peaty bogs.

Graham Roberts, of the Connemara Smokehouse, in Ballyconneely, is
one of the few remaining specialists in the British Isles in making
smoked wild salmon and he hand-fillets each fish himself to ensure
quality control.

He admits that the catch rates are low but says that his fish are
unequalled in taste. "In moderation, there's nothing wrong with
eating farmed salmon but, to my mind, wild has a much superior
taste and texture," he says.

Declan Droney, of Kinvara Smoked Salmon, who buys all his fish from
Clare Island, agrees wholeheartedly, but feels that the days are
numbered for wild salmon. "Yes, you can still catch wild salmon,
but it is far better to conserve what little we have than to face a
near-extinction of the species in years to come. Organic is as
close as you can get to wild and what Clare Island offers is near
perfect," he says.


Pigmentation does not indicate a healthier piece of fish. Like dyed
smoked haddock, farmed salmon that has that intense coral pinkness
gets it from various synthetic colourings. Salmon in the wild has a
slight pink hue but it is nowhere near as pronounced. Wild salmon
gets its colour from a pigment present in its prey called
astaxanthin. Organic Irish salmon are fed a natural fungal pigment
and Scottish fish receive a diet which includes ground shrimp shell
— this gives a less bright colour, which is why Scottish salmon is
paler. Both are good organic specimens.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the levels of
contaminants found in farmed salmon earlier this year were within
the safety limits set by the World Health Organisation and the
European Commission. The FSA's current advice is that the benefits
of eating moderate amounts of salmon outweighed the risks.

Salmon and other oily fish are excellent sources of the essential
omega-3 fatty acids which are important in the fight against
cardiovascular disease as well as for babies' brain development. It
is therefore of great benefit for pregnant and breastfeeding women
to eat oily fish but, the FSA says, they should not have more than
two portions a week. Men, children and women who are not pregnant
or breastfeeding can eat four portions of oily fish a week.

There is also evidence to suggest that a diet rich in omega-3
reduces the likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis. Salmon is also good
for reducing disorders caused by insufficient vitamin D, of which
there are few dietary sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found
in linseeds and walnuts and their oils.

Graham Roberts's smoked wild salmon from the Connemara Smokehouse
in Ballyconneely was mentioned in Rick Stein's Food Heroes in 2003.
Roberts's salmon is caught in the bay directly outside the
smokehouse. His entire range of smoked fish can be purchased by
mail order (; 00 353 952 3739).

In Kinvara, Declan Droney's smokehouse employs traditional smoking
techniques to produce smoked organic salmon reared at Clare Island.
Available in the UK through Waitrose and Fresh and Wild stores, or
by mail order (; 00 353 916 37489).

Copyright 2004 Times Newspapers Ltd.


Pumpkin Nation

30 October 2004

Retailers say it's been a bumper year for the pumpkin. Is this a
symbol of creeping Americanisation, asks Christopher Hirst, or a
welcome addition to the British larder?

Tomorrow night a million pumpkin lanterns, carved with varying
degrees of finesse, will flicker spookily in the windows of British
households. Many people will undoubtedly regard this phenomenon as
yet another unfortunate American import, along with Coca-Cola, KFC
and McDonald's. But they would be wrong. Unlike the "Trick or
Treat" menace, the Hallowe'en lantern, also pleasingly known as
Jack O'Lantern, is actually a re-import, a mutation of a long-
standing tradition from this side of the Atlantic. It stems from
the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sow-in"),
which marked the start of winter when cattle were brought in from
the fields.

Although we have little idea of the rituals associated with this
hazy pagan occasion, they certainly included fire. As Ronald Hutton
notes in his history of British ritual, The Stations of the Sun,
there was a widespread feeling in Celtic Britain that "the night of
31 October was an especially numinous and dangerous one requiring
protective measures". Even when Samhain was appropriated by
Christianity and transmuted into Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve, it
remained a time when supernatural spirits "could be imitated or
warded off by human wanderers". As Hallowe'en transmuted into
Mischief Night in many parts of the British Isles, the illumination
for these pranksters was provided by lanterns carved from turnips
or mangel-wurzels to represent spirits or goblins. The tradition of
the turnip lantern remained particularly strong in Scotland and

Hallowe'en was little observed in America, a country largely
founded by Protestants, until the 19th century when there was
large-scale Irish immigration. The Irish continued to make their
vegetable lanterns in their new homeland but adopted the American
pumpkin, bigger and more easily available at Hallowe'en, for the
purpose. This agreeably creepy celebration, with its lucrative
commercial spin-offs, become a national festivity in the US during
the 20th century and eventually made the return journey across the
Atlantic. This year, the British will spend an estimated £100m on
such Hallowe'en items as pointy hats, plastic fangs, frothing
blood, Harry Potter-style broomsticks, inflatable skeletons, grisly
scars, ghoulish masks and, of course, pumpkins.

Produced by five major growers, the British pumpkin market is worth
about £25m. This year, Hallowe'en pumpkins (3-5lbs) have been
selling from £1.99 (Sainsbury's) to £3.49 (Waitrose), though a 15lb
giant is liable to set you back £10 or more. Tesco says demand for
pumpkins has been higher than ever this year - up by 32 per cent on
last year. The supermarket chain attributes this to the Scottish
nutritionist Dr Gillian McKeith, who said in an episode of her You
Are What You Eat series on Channel 4 in July that pumpkin seeds
could boost sex drive.

This year's harvest has been poor, with yields down 25- 40 per cent
because of rain in August. Pumpkins had to be harvested early and
stored on straw; even so, many have rotted. Tesco's major producer,
Barfoots of Chichester, is only selling 250,000 pumpkins, compared
with 325,000 last year. The company has suffered further depletion
of its stock because of pumpkin rustling in West Sussex. After
three raids on Barfoots' warehouse, involving the loss of up to 75
vegetables, Tesco suggested that the company should hire guards to
protect its stock. "We don't want to disappoint customers," a Tesco
buyer explained.

It could be that the pumpkin is not really suited to the soggy
English climate. Grown since ancient times in Europe, the Middle
East and the Americas, pumpkins are better suited to warmer
climates. The name derives from the old French pompon, which in
turn comes from pepon, the Greek word for melon, meaning "cooked by
the sun" or simply ripe. Citrouille, the old French term for
pumpkin, refers to the brilliant orange of its skin.

Unsurprisingly, the European recipes for this flame- coloured gourd
come from the warm south. You're best off using smaller, sweeter
varieties for French pumpkin soufflé, gratin or pumpkin bread. The
Italians use a few cubes of pumpkin to flavour risotto. Pumpkin
also makes a delicious gnocchi, while pumpkin ravioli would
persuade even the fiercest atheist about the pleasures of this
supernatural feast.

Although there are several closely related varieties of pumpkin
grown around the world, it seems that today's whoppers originated
in Central America. Similar seeds dating from 5500BC have been
found in Mexico. Pumpkins were certainly consumed by native
Americans and the malnourished Pilgrim Fathers were quick to follow
suit. It is by no means certain that pumpkins formed part of the
first Thanksgiving meal eaten in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621,
but they certainly began eating the vegetable in the earliest years
of the colony and the seeds rapidly made their way to Europe. The
adoption of a pumpkin by fairy-tale writer Charles Perrault for
transformation into a top-of-the range vehicle for Cinderella
suggests that they grew to an impressive size in 17th- century
France. The partnership of pumpkin and turkey remains an obligatory
centrepiece of the Thanksgiving blow-out that wreaks havoc on
American waistlines on the last Thursday in November.

Americans prefer sweet pumpkin dishes, usually with ginger and
cinnamon. The national dish of pumpkin pie may have emerged from
old English pies that encased "tartstuff", a sweetened stodge of
boiled, spiced fruit. Pumpkins are also used in all manner of
pancakes, muffins, tarts, cakes, nut bread and even ice- cream.
Asked to give her favourite recipe for a special election feature
in Family Circle magazine, Teresa Heinz Kerry chose pumpkin spice
cookies, which doubtless went down well with the voters of Morton,
Illinois, "Pumpkin Capital of the World". (Laura Bush plumped for
oatmeal and chocolate-chip cookies.)

According to one estimate, 99 per cent of American pumpkins are
used as Hallowe'en lanterns. Far from its rough-hewn origins on the
Celtic fringe, the carved pumpkin has become a popular art form,
often demanding considerable virtuosity. With the assistance of a
stencil, ambitious carvers can create snarling grimalkins, devilish
arachnids, looming lycanthropes and similar spooky silhouettes.
Among the suggestions offered by a website called are the Puking Pumpkin, the Electrocution
Pumpkin and, inevitably, Osama bin Lantern. Most US carvers go for
quantity over quality. A friend once saw an entire ghostly
operating theatre on a New England lawn.

The greatest accumulation of flickering globes is to be found in
the New Hampshire town of Keene. Last Saturday, some 27,584 pumpkin
lanterns illuminated the town square, not quite enough to beat last
year's world record of 28,952 pumpkins. They fill the pavements,
occupy the town hall steps and climb four 40ft towers. Thankfully,
perhaps, Keene's globes are not all of a ghoulish nature. Since
this is America, the pumpkins are also incised with advertisements,
company logos and proposals of marriage. A few years ago, 14
vegetables spelt out: "BESTOS FOR MAYOR". It paid off, Mayor
Michael Bestos told me when I visited the town last year.

People park five miles out of town to see the display, he said.
"It's the damnedest thing you've ever seen. I'd love to be
challenged by England. I can envisage a 20ft wall of pumpkins going
along the Thames."

America also leads when it comes to the size of pumpkins. At a
country fair in Topsfield, Massachusetts, the attractions included
a grotesquely inflated pumpkin weighing 1,301lbs (590kg). I,
alongside other pumpkin fanciers, gazed in awe at the fruit of the
justly named Atlantic Giant seed. Despite being the size of a small
car, this monster was exceeded by a pumpkin in New Hampshire that
tipped the scale at 1,380lbs. "Didn't keep its shape so good," a
resident assured me. "They tend to spread." This year, the record
went to Port Elgin, Ontario, where a pumpkin weighed in at

The British have mounted a worthy challenge to these sumo-like
squashes. James O'Hanlon, 10, and Liam Culpit, 8, from Mere Brow,
near Preston, Lancashire, have taken the UK record with a 915lb
pumpkin. You can, however, dismiss any thoughts of an Everest-sized
soufflé resulting from these monsters. They are for display only.
"They taste like shoe leather," declared the grower of the
Topsfield monster, an opinion supported by Hugh Fearnley-
Whittingstall, who describes the Atlantic Giant as "bland and
uninteresting" in his River Cottage Cookbook.

The hefty sphere you are about to eviscerate for tomorrow night's
festivities is likely to be a variety called Hundredweight, though
other Hallowe'en varieties include the somewhat predictably named
Spirit, Trick-or-Treat, Jack O'Lantern and Connecticut Field. As
the name implies, Hundredweight is not exactly a shrinking violet
of the vegetable world, though it doesn't taste too bad. After
scooping out the insides, you should wash and lightly roast the
seeds. Packed with Omega 3 and other nutrients, they are far better
for you than most other Hallowe'en snacks.

The scrapings of pumpkin flesh should be made into soup. Not only
is the vegetable rich in fibre, it is packed with potassium,
calcium and vitamins B and C. Although Alan Davidson expressed
personal reservations about pumpkins in his Oxford Companion to
Food ("rather fibrous and has an earthy taste that is not
universally liked"), Colin Spencer gives pumpkin soup a rousing
cheer in his book, Vegetable Pleasures: "Pumpkins are worth more
than disembowelling for Hallowe'en masks... they make one of the
best soups that exist".

For his version, you sauté 1oz of grated ginger and three cloves of
garlic in butter and olive oil before adding 1lb of cubed pumpkin.
After a few minutes, add one-and-a-half litres of vegetable stock
and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool before blending to a
smooth purée, then reheat, season and serve.

The pumpkin deserves better than to be treated as a one- night-a-
year vegetable. Excellent pumpkins are sold by the slice all year
round at Turkish shops. In their book, River Café Cook Book Green,
Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers say: "We usually roast pumpkins, cut into
2cm slices and well seasoned, which concentrates the flavour,
before using in soups, risottos and pastas."

In The Ivy's cookbook, The Independent's Mark Hix offers Malaysian
spiced noodles with roasted cubed pumpkin. In No Place Like Home,
Rowley Leigh of Kensington Place restaurant suggests making a soup
by scraping the seeds from a pumpkin, filling the hole with Gruyere
cheese, rice and cream, then wrapping the pumpkin with foil, tying
it like a parcel with string and roasting it for two hours. "Very
carefully ease the flesh of the pumpkin [off] the [skin] and blend
with a hand blender to a smooth purée." Mr Leigh says it doesn't
matter if the pumpkin splits: "I salvaged the contents and blended
the mess into an excellent soup."

Judging by the slew of glossy cookbooks published for the Christmas
rush, the fat boy of the vegetable world currently enjoys a high
level of fashionability. In Nigella Lawson's Feast the culinary
goddess steamily extols "the scented smoothness" of pumpkin
cheesecake and "the warming ballast" of pumpkin and apple crumble.
In Casa Moro, Sam and Sam Clark propose warm pumpkin and chickpea
salad ("lots of textures and tastes bouncing off each other").
Elizabeth Luard's Food of Spain and Portugal tickles palates with
pumpkin, orange and cinnamon pancakes and spiced pumpkin jam.

But if you've left it too late to buy a pumpkin for tomorrow's
spectral festivities, you can always return to basics with a proper
Celtic turnip lantern. "I still remember the smell of burning
turnip," recalls a friend who grew up in rural Scotland. "The
purply-yellow glow of a turnip is much more spooky and ghoulish
than a pumpkin."


This recipe works well as a starter or main course. You can use
squash instead of pumpkin.

Serves 4

For the sauce

2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick of lemongrass, trimmed and roughly chopped
A small piece of root ginger or galangal, scraped and roughly
1 small red chilli, seeded and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp cornflour
100g cream of coconut block (cut into pieces) or from can

For the noodles

1kg yellow-fleshed pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into
rough 2-3cm chunks
1 tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of chilli powder
Pinch of ground cumin
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced on the angle
1 small red chilli, seeded and shredded
60g bean shoots
A few sprigs of coriander, roughly chopped, and some extra sprigs
for garnish
200g thick Chinese egg noodles, either fresh or dried

To make the sauce, gently cook the shallots, lemongrass, ginger,
chilli, garlic and cumin in the sesame oil for a few minutes until
soft. Add the stock, season with a little salt and pepper and
simmer for 20 minutes.

Dilute the cornflour with a little water, stir into the sauce and
simmer for another 5 minutes. After that, stir in the cream of
coconut and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Blend in a liquidiser
until smooth and return to a clean saucepan.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Heat the sesame oil in
a roasting tray. Add the pumpkin or squash, season with salt and
pepper and roast for 20 minutes until lightly golden, turning
occasionally. Add the chilli powder and cumin, and roast for
another 10 minutes.

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes if fresh,
or as per cooking instructions if dried, then drain in a colander.
Reheat the sauce and add the spring onions, chilli and beanshoots.
Simmer for 30 seconds and mix with the noodles. Spoon the noodles
and sauce into a deep Chinese-style bowl or similar and scatter the
pumpkin on top with a few sprigs of coriander.


If It Were Up To Music Fans, U2 Would Get Rock Hall Honor

Saturday, October 30, 2004
John Soeder
Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

U2 has finished No. 1 in our fifth annual Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame poll.

Readers of The Plain Dealer and visitors to chose
the Irish rock band as the most deserving nominee for induction on
this year's official Rock Hall ballot.

Singer Bono (Paul Hewson), guitarist the Edge (Dave Evans), bassist
Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. started playing together
in Dublin in 1976, back when they were in high school.

Their new album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," comes out
Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Having U2 enshrined in the Rock Hall would be "a huge honor,"
Mullen said last year in an interview with The Plain Dealer.

"I'm not quite looking forward to [induction] so soon because I
can't believe it's been so long," he said. "It's shocking."

Southern-rock veterans Lynyrd Skynyrd; two pop-rock groups, the
Pretenders (led by Akron native Chrissie Hynde) and the J. Geils
Band; Canton's chief R&B export, the O'Jays; punk's pioneering Sex
Pistols; and acerbic singer-songwriter Randy Newman were the other
top vote-getters in our poll, in order of popularity.

More than 400 ballots were cast.

Besides our finalists, the other hopefuls on this year's slate are
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Buddy Guy, Wanda Jackson,
Gram Parsons, Percy Sledge, Patti Smith, the Stooges and Conway

We also called for write-in candidates, which brought ringing
endorsements for ABBA, Black Sabbath, the Electric Light Orchestra,
Kiss, Van Halen and "Rocky Mountain High" fringe candidate John
Denver, among others.

Our tally was just for kicks. The Rock Hall is expected to announce
its 2005 inductees next month, after counting votes from an
international pool of music-industry executives, broadcasters,
producers, writers and previous inductees. Five to seven nominees
typically make the cut.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: , 216-999-4562
© 2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.


Irish Band With Bajan Flair

Saturday 30, October-2004
by Tony Best

What do a popular septet Irish punk-rock band, Oliver Cromwell, and
Barbados have in common?

Quite a lot, it turns out.

Although it isn't known how many, if any at all, of the musicians
who form "Flogging Molly" have ever visited Barbados, they seem to
know quite a lot about the historical links between Ireland and the
Caribbean country, especially the Irish, who were dispatched to
Barbados in the 17th and 18th centuries and worked as indentured

And the band is showing off its knowledge, musical talent and
appeal in a highly anticipated album and in a number in their new
CD, "Tobacco Island".

The "thrilling new album" that debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard
charts last month has caught fire with music lovers across the
United States and "Tobacco Island" which focuses attention on the
Irish in Barbados more than 300 years ago, is one of the hot pieces
on CD.

"Tobacco Island", according to Hollywood Reporter, a major
entertainment industry publication in Los Angeles," is the
"record's best track" and "Flogging Molly" is "among the most
exciting and exhilarating bands on the indie scene."

As for "Tobacco Island", it tells the story of the plight of
Irishmen who were shipped off to Barbados to work in the sugar
fields and found hell on earth.

In a review of a Flogging Molly concert in Los Angeles, Hollywood
Reporter which, like Variety, is considered an authoritative
industry publication, described "Tobacco Island" as a "musically
and lyrically blistering damnation of Oliver Cromwell with the
words 'if there's hell, this man is there'."

"The song which laments the 17th century enslaving of the Irish to
work in Barbados sugar fields for the British is built around a
chorus that's as searing and angry as anything (Dave) King's
(acoustic guitarist) ever written. You can feel him sneer when he
sings 'the Butcher and his crown raped the land we used to sleep
in/ now tomorrow chimes of ghostly crimes that haunt Tobacco
Island.' It's devastating stuff," commented Hollywood Reporter.

The members of "Flogging Molly" paint a picture of themselves and
their music as an "interesting mix of traditional Irish music and
spunky punk rock."

In addition to Dublin-born guitarist King, the other members are
Bridget Regan, a fiddle player; Dennis Casey, a guitarist; George
Schwindt, drummer; and Bob Schmidt, a mandolinist.

Two years ago, Flogging Molly released their first album.

"Flogging Molly mixes traditional Irish instruments and melodies
with punk speed, insightful lyrics and a duty to entertain," stated
the Reporter. "Playing faster and harder than any of today's pop
punks – and with lots more to say – the band grabbed the audience
from the outset and left them a sweaty, cheering mess."


Statue To Luke Kelly Would Be A Fitting Tribute - Cllr Burke

Published: 30 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke has called on Dublin
City Council to back a Sinn Féin proposal to erect a statue to the
memory of legendary singer/song writer Luke Kelly. Cllr Burke said
that the erection of a statue to Luke Kelly would be 'a fitting
tribute to one of the city's most popular and respected sons'.

Speaking today Cllr Burke said:

"Sinn Féin has submitted a motion to the Dublin City Council
calling for a monument to be erected to the memory of Luke Kelly,
to be situated either in the north inner city or the docklands
area. It is coming up to the 20th anniversary of the passing of
Luke, and I believe that this would be a fitting tribute to one of
this city's most popular and respected sons.

"I am calling on other Councillors to support this motion at the
City Council meeting in November. I believe that the people of
Dublin would also endorse this endeavour, we should be celebrating
such a famous son, through his music and songs and a fitting
monument to his lifes work."ENDS


'Sands' Of Time Catch Up With Tommy

By Eddie McIlwaine
30 October 2004

The Cobbler, folksy Tommy Makem is in for a pleasant surprise when
he appears at the Opera House in Belfast tomorrow night Sunday.

For he's going to be seeing this picture of himself with the Sands
Family for the first time since it was snapped in the Abbey Tavern
in the Big Apple's Bronx way back in 1970.

It shows Tommy in the front seated with Anne Sands while at the
back from the left are the rest of the Sands lot - Tommy, Eugene,
Ben and Colm.

The occasion was the arrival of the Sands Family in New York in a
blaze of glory after winning top prize in an important talent
competition in the Old Sheiling back in Dublin.

"On the strength of that win we were offered several residencies in
New York Irish bars owned by publican Bill Fuller," recalled Colm

"It was an enormous break for us, however Tommy Makem never saw the
picture as he went off touring elsewhere.

"The great sadness for us of course is that Eugene (Dino) was
killed five years later in 1975 in a car accident in Germany.

"It's going to be a poignant moment when we get together with The
Cobbler tomorrow at the Opera House to make music and show him the

Makem had just split with the Clancy Brothers in 1970. He sang solo
for several years before getting together with Liam Clancy.

Singer Anne remembers the New York dates for a different reason.

"I was only 15 at the time and had to be heavily made up to look 18
so I could get a work permit from the US Musicians Union."

Jay Dooling (
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