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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 01, 2004
News 10/30/04 - US Elections Will Have Bearing on NI
News about Ireland & the Irish
BB 10/29/04 US Election 'Will Have Bearing On NI'
IT 10/30/04 Ahern Says North Deadline Is November 25th
UT 10/29/04 Governments 'Should Press DUP On Power Sharing'
BT 10/29/04 Opin: After Losing Streak w/ Winner-Takes- All Policy
BT 10/29/04 Opin: The Threat Of Terror Still Present
TB 10/29/04 Questioning Collusion
RT 10/29/04 Worst Flooding In Living Memory For Clonmel LO
RT 10/29/04 Mopping-Up Operations Begin Across Southwest LO
RT 10/29/04 Flash Floods Disrupt Dublin Traffic LO
RT 10/29/04 Rains Ease: Dry Spell Begins LO
IT 10/30/04 Bewley's Has Been An Integral Part Of Dublin Life V
BT 10/29/04 Thought For The Weekend: Ulster In A New Light
TE 10/29/04 Michael Flatley: Dance Floors
RT 10/29/04 Al-Jazeera Broadcast Osama Bin Laden Video - VO
Al-Jazeera Broadcast Osama Bin Laden Video -VO
US Election 'Will Have Bearing On NI'
By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor
No-one should be under any illusion that Northern Ireland is an
important issue in the US Presidential election.
There may be 40 million Americans of Irish descent, but the notion
that they cast their votes depending on what the candidates say
about the restoration of Stormont, as opposed to the conduct of the
Iraq war, is fanciful to say the least.
However, at the margins of the campaign, Irish American pressure
groups are skirmishing over which party stands ready to make a
greater contribution to the peace process.
"A Kerry administration would take a different approach", says
Democrats loudly declare that a Kerry victory would mean a return
to the glory days of Bill Clinton and George Mitchell.
The Irish American Democrats chair, Stella O'Leary, told the BBC's
Inside Politics she is confident that if Democrats get out their
newly registered voters they can win back the White House.
In that case, she argues that a Kerry administration would take a
different approach to the problems of Irish immigrants, the
deportation of Irish illegal residents, and would adopt a more
active policy towards the wider political process.
Frank Duggan of the Irish American Republicans is unapologetic
about his candidate's more laid back approach to Northern Ireland.
Times have changed since Bill Clinton's high profile interventions
and Mr Duggan claims George W Bush is quite right to maintain a
more low key profile, leaving envoys like Richard Haass and
Mitchell Reiss to concentrate on specific issues such as policing.
'Superficial image problems'
Stella O'Leary also pays tribute to the work of the envoys. But she
argues their job would have been made easier if President Bush had
provided more leadership from the Oval office.
A former judge who sports a big green Irish hat every St Patrick's
Day, Frank Duggan is troubled by the cold reception granted his
candidate during his two trips to Ireland while in office.
George W Bush has conservative views on abortion
Mr Duggan ascribes the anti-Bush feeling in Ireland and Europe to
"crazy" reactions to the President's Texan swagger and cowboy
Democrat Stella O'Leary argues that the Irish cold house for Bush
is less about superficial image problems and more to do with
popular opposition to the White house's "incompetent" handling of
the war on international terror.
On the moral front, Frank Duggan believes George W Bush's
conservative views on abortion and stem cell research will touch a
chord with many Irish Catholic voters.
He takes heart from the intervention of the former Boston mayor,
Democrat Ray Flynn, who denounced his old friend John Kerry on this
In the light of the death of the Superman actor Christopher Reeve,
Stella O'Leary believes the Democrat approach to stem cell research
may not be such a vote loser.
Moreover, she maintains that the overwhelming moral issue of the
campaign remains the Iraq war and the loss of thousands of civilian
and military lives.
Which brings us back to whether this election will make any
difference in Northern Ireland.
If President Bush returns, the general thrust of US policy will
US special envoy Mitchell Reiss
But observers will watch closely to see if the US Secretary of
State Colin Powell is moved and whether that has a knock-on effect
on his close colleague Mitchell Reiss.
If Senator Kerry wins, it will be worth watching if anyone with
past Northern Ireland expertise, like Nancy Soderberg, emerges as a
player within his kitchen cabinet.
A Democrat administration could move Northern Ireland back to the
White House based National Security Council which would be a
symbolic return to the Clinton era and would give the issue more
prominence within Washington.
However, with Iraq and al-Qaeda dominating any future president's
in tray, it remains foolish to suppose the politics of this flawed
but nearly finished peace process should engage the occupant of the
White House for more than the occasional fleeting moment.
Pat Finucane Center Attacks NAIAR
10/29/04 14:13 EST
An Irish American interest group in Washington DC, the
National Assembly of Irish American Republicans (NAIAR), has
again come under fire for allegedly putting the reelection
of George W. Bush ahead of its stated goals of encouraging
the peace process in Ireland and educating United States
policy makers on issues of importance and concern to Irish
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland-based Pat Finucane
Centre (PFC) said today that the NAIAR "has not seen fit to
even reply or acknowledge" PFC's requests to lobby the Bush
Administration on the awarding of a $293 million private
security contract in Iraq to a company run by a former
British Army officer, Lt Col Tim Spicer.
In 1992 soldiers under the command of Lt Col Spicer murdered
Belfast teenager Peter Mc Bride. Spicer, their commanding
office, subsequently lied about the circumstances of the
murder, sought to blame the victim and argued that his
soldiers should never have been convicted.
The soldiers convicted of the murder were subsequently
promoted in the British Army.
The PFC maintains that Spicer is a "particularly unsuitable"
individual to be put in charge of what is essentially a
large private army.
Upon leaving the British Army, Spicer set up a mercenary
company, Sandline, which has since became embroiled in
mercenary activities in Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Close associates of Spicer, including Margaret Thatcher's
son Sir Mark Thatcher, have recently been arrested for
alleged mercenary activities in Africa.
Many in Irish America, including Fr. Sean McManus of the
Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, have raised grave
concerns that such a controversial contract should be
awarded to an individual who has stated that soldiers under
his command who commit murder should not be subject to the
rule of law.
"Given the complete wall of silence that has greeted all
attempts to persuade NAIAR to take up this issue we can only
surmise that NAIAR either supports this contract or does not
regard it as an issue of importance and concern," the PFC
spokesperson said today.
It's not the first time that the NAIAR has come under fire
for refusing to take positions on issues of concern to Irish
The NAIAR has also yet to take a position on the proposed
U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty. This proposed treaty,
according to the lobby group, Irish-Americans Against
Extradition, would gut, destroy and eliminate the
longstanding, time-honored, and well-grounded "political
offense" exception to U.S. extradition law and practice in
all but the name.
In his submission on the proposed treaty to the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, Univ. of Illinois Law professor
Francis Boyle argued the treaty was aimed at Irish Americans.
"It is obvious from the text of this proposed Treaty that it
is directed primarily against Irish American citizens
engaged in the lawful exercise of their constitutional
rights under the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution in order to protest the longstanding military
occupation of six counties in Ireland by the British Crown
in violation of the international legal right of the Irish
People to self-determination as well as of the United
Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to
Colonial Countries and Territories, Resolution 1514(XV) of
14 December 1960, which constitutes customary international
law and jus cogens," Boyle said in his submission.
In response to prompts from Professor Boyle to state its
position on the Treaty, NAIAR board member Brian McCarthy
promised in June of this year that his group would announce
its position on said treaty before the election then five
"Not to worry," McCarthy responded on June 15th. "The Board
of The Irish-American Republicans, which is comprised of
busy working professionals, will be setting forth its
position on the US/UK Treaty and all other issues related to
the Northern Ireland Peace Process over the next several
"As a professor of law, I'm sure you'll understand that it
is incumbent on a board to discuss such matters before
taking a position thereon. Our Board is a thoughtful,
responsible group, so please do not attempt to impute
improper motives, i.e. stalling, to our organization,"
However, as of October 29, there has still been no official
position on the proposed treaty from NAIAR.
Another spat occurred in August of this year between the
Irish National Caucus (INC) and NAIAR with regard to a
dispute Fr. Sean McManus of the INC had with President
Bush's advisor on Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss.
Fr. McManus referred to comments made by Mr. Reiss regarding
Orange Order marches in Northern Ireland. In a State
Department briefing, Mr. Reiss criticized the 'triumphalist'
nature of the Orange Order marches. When Fr. McManus made
the remarks public, Mr. Reiss issued a statement maintaining
that his remarks were "taken out of contest".
Frank Duggan, another board member of the NAIAR, criticized
Fr. McManus. "Do you think it makes a positive impression
of your actions? Do you think you have helped The Peace
Process? Do you think you have helped Mitchell Reiss in his
role as a Diplomat?," Duggan asked.
When Dr. Reiss said a Sinn Fein advertisement about policing
reform in Northern Ireland in the New York Times contained
'massive untruths', the INC and NAIAR clashed again. When
Fr. McManus criticized Reiss's allegations, the NAIAR
labeled McManus a "traditional U.S.-based Bush-hater."
And in a letter to the Irish Voice by the President of
Friends of Sinn Fein, Larry Downes accused the NAIAR of
giving cover to the Bush Administration.
"IN a weak attempt to give some cover to Mitchell Reiss, the
Irish American Republicans falsely claimed in last week's
Irish Voice that the much discussed Sinn Fein ad in The New
York Times personally attacked the new Northern Ireland
Police Chief Hugh Orde, and labeled him a coddler of
killers and 'human rights abusers.'" Downes' letter said.
"The ad did no such thing. The ad stated, The chief of
police is opposed to inquiries which would expose human
rights abusers in his ranks. The fact is that Mr. Orde is
opposed to the inquiries, and they would expose human rights
abusers in the ranks of Mr. Orde's police department.
Indeed, to my knowledge, Mr. Orde does not dispute either
point." said Downes.
Most recently, when asked for comment by the IAIS on a
report by Northern Ireland Alert which was critical of
President Bush's involvement in the Irish peace process, the
NAIAR's response was to intervene with Ancient Order of
Hibernians president Ned McGinley to prevent the report's
publication on an AOH website.
"This bunch (Northern Ireland Alert) said that the
Massachusetts and Connecticut AOH State Boards were putting
this "scorecard" crap on their websites. I told Ned
McGinley this was inappropriate, and he agreed. He told them
not put this on because we don't endorse candidates in the
AOH. Hang in there. It will all be over soon!," was NAIAR
board member Frank Duggan's reaction.
AOH president Ned McGinley, in response to the Northern
Ireland Alert scorecard said, "Anything that is useful for
information on Irish issues and not biased is
Edmund Lynch, the National Coordinator for Lawyers Alliance
for Justice in Ireland said the Northern Ireland Alert
report had documented "what many of us in the Irish American
human rights field have sensed for some time".
"The Bush/Cheney Administration has little genuine interest
in promoting reconciliation and self determination in
Ireland. Rather they look upon the Irish situation as an
opportunity to score political points with Americans of
Irish descent. The aloof approach taken by the Bush/Cheney
team to Irish human rights is similar to their non
involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The need
for change at the top of the American Government is made
clear in the very valuable scorecard published by Northern
Ireland Alert," said Lynch.
Judge Andrew L.Somers National President of IAUC said the
Northern Ireland Alert was "the most comprehensive and
instructive analysis of America's 'Irish Policy', I have seen
"If you care for Peace and Justice in Ireland, read this
report," Judge Somers said.
In it's analysis the Northern Ireland Alert report said,
"Sen. Kerry has been an active follower of and participant
in Irish affairs. His actions to date hold great promise
that a Kerry Administration would equal President Bush's
record on the Irish issue, with the good possibility that he
would surpass it in the areas of (1) personal involvement
and (2) restoring our relationship with Europe and Ireland
to an extent where our President's direct input into the
peace process would be on surer footing."
As for President Bush, the report concluded, "[his] personal
activity has been well short of proactive on working to
restore Northern Ireland's local governance and dealing with
immigration, deportation, and extradition issues at home.
Those shortcomings, and his inability in Ireland to
personally be regarded as an honest broker with a credible
resume of respecting international law and human rights
principles, dampen our present appraisal of him."
The Irish American Information Service is a non-profit organization
providing up-to-the-minute political news from Ireland to the world.
The IAIS is funded entirely by your contributions. Please send your
tax-deductable contributions to IAIS at the 907 F st NE, Washington
DC 20002. You can visit us on the Web at http://www.iais.org
Ahern Says North Deadline Is November 25th
The Taoiseach has said talks between the parties in the North
cannot continue beyond November 25th. If no deal is agreed by then,
the Irish and British governments will present a joint proposal for
implementing the Belfast Agreement, writes Denis Staunton in Rome
"We have a number of options, a number of scenarios which we'll
decide on then," he said.
Mr Ahern was speaking in Rome, where he discussed the North with
the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, in the margins of a
ceremony to sign the EU's constitutional treaty.
He said he and Mr Blair agreed that the first anniversary of last
November's Assembly elections was the deadline for the end of the
current round of talks and there was no question of prolonging the
process until after next year's British general election.
"We are not going to wait until after the election," Mr Ahern said.
"There are some who would think that they can play this out and
that nothing will happen this side of the election but we're not
going to go down that road."
The Taoiseach said both governments were committed to the Belfast
Agreement and their "co-partnership" of the process. There was no
possibility of a return to "majoritarianism" and it was important
that DUP members understood that.
"The Good Friday agreement is an indispensable reality and it's the
basis on which the divided nature of Northern Ireland's society is
going to be addressed. If there's to be any progress, it's going to
be on that basis. It also makes good sense for the island as a
whole that we go forward on the basis of partnership and that's why
the North-South mechanisms of the agreement are so important and
need to have strength. We're not going to dilute any of them to
Mr Ahern praised the "helpful and constructive" approach of the DUP
leader, Dr Ian Paisley, and said the Government valued its "very
positive relationship" with the party.
"I understand the problem of the DUP, that they're late into the
process of negotiation and they are later still into the process of
compromise, but this is what it's about," he said. "It will only
work if people make compromises and the Good Friday agreement is
the foundation on which all these relationships can be further
built and strengthened."
Mr Ahern said negotiations over the last two weeks had not been
good and that no progress was likely next week because a number of
the key interlocutors would be unavailable. This left only a few
weeks before the November 25th deadline, after which the two
governments were determined to launch a new phase.
"People have to understand that the governments are together, the
governments are moving on and they have to move. The option that a
party - or two parties - can just decide the agenda totally and
that nothing happens is not going to work. We've been at this since
the review started in January and we always said we'd stick at it
through the year but we have to come to conclusions now."
Mr Ahern said he believed some in the DUP wanted to negotiate a
deal now, others wanted to wait until after the British elections
and a third group did not want to negotiate at all.
The governments were determined to stick to a common strategy as
soon as the November 25th deadline passed. "We're going to stick to
a strategy," he said. "If we can't complete this phase, then we'll
go on another phase, which we'll have to work out, but it will be
on the basis of co-partnership. There won't be any divergence."
© The Irish Times
Governments 'Should Press DUP On Power Sharing'
The British and Irish governments were today urged to press the
Democratic Unionists over their attitudes to power sharing in local
councils and at Stormont.
Nationalist SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell and Sinn Fein
chairman Mitchel McLaughlin criticised the DUP after its
councillors voted last night against power sharing in Castlereagh
Council, where their deputy leader, Peter Robinson, is a member.
Noting the DUP and other unionist parties` rejection of an SDLP
motion calling for the sharing of key posts on the council among
parties, Dr McDonnell said: "Peter Robinson has made the DUP`s
position on power-sharing very clear - they are opposed to it
wherever they are in a position to cobble together a majority.
"The two governments now need to be just as clear with the DUP and
ask them how they square this position with their acceptance of the
fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement at Leeds Castle.
"Power-sharing must be a fundamental by anyone`s definition, but it
can`t be cherry-picked to suit any one party.
"Peter Robinson says Castlereagh doesn`t need power- sharing because
it is not divided.
"This will be news to nationalists in the district, who may not
know that they have lived in a enclave of peace and prosperity for
the last 30 years, but it seems that the DUP definition of a non-
divided community is simply one with a unionist majority."
Ulster Unionist councillors and independent unionists last night
backed a DUP amendment to a motion calling on the Reverend Ian
Paisley`s party to practise power sharing.
SDLP councillor Brian Hanvey argued non unionists should be given
the chance to serve as mayor, deputy mayor and committee chairs
under the d`Hondt mechanism for allocating posts.
He was supported by cross community Alliance Party councillors.
However during an impassioned debate, DUP deputy leader Peter
Robinson insisted his party was not a supporter of power sharing.
The East Belfast MP said it should only be deployed in certain
conditions in a divided society but in this case, it was not
suitable for Castlereagh.
Dr McDonnell, the SDLP Assembly member for South Belfast, said:
"The two governments must now put the DUP`s commitment to power-
sharing and partnership at Executive level under new scrutiny.
"That commitment must extend beyond tactical arrangements to take
ministerial posts and embrace the needs of the whole community."
Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the denial of power
sharing on Castlereagh council illustrated the need for the cross
community safeguards and power sharing requirements under the Good
The Foyle Assembly member said it had become increasingly clear in
recent negotiations to restore the Assembly that the DUP remained
fundamentally opposed to power sharing and cross-border
Mr McLaughlin said: "The rejectionist demands of the DUP are now
the primary obstacle to a comprehensive agreement.
"Last night the DUP Deputy Leader illustrated this in his outright
rejection of power sharing in Castlereagh Council.
"Here was an opportunity for the DUP to show some generosity and
imagination. Instead we saw the domination, intolerance and
exclusion which have characterised Paisleyism over the past three
decades." Mr McLaughlin said his party would not countenance any
dilution or erosion of the Good Friday Agreement.
"The two governments need to understand that there is no middle
line between the protection of the Agreement and the destruction of
the Agreement which the DUP seeks," the Foyle MLA continued.
"It is the responsibility of the governments to defend the core
fundamentals and principles of the Agreement and to make it clear
that they cannot be changed.
"If the DUP do not accept this reality then the pro- Agreement
parties, including the two governments, need to move on. The DUP
cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change."
Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell responded to nationalist
criticism of his party, insisting unionists were not going to be
bullied into signing up to a political system which had failed.
The East Londonderry MP hit back: "Nationalists and republicans
must realise that unionists will not be going back to the days of
the humiliation and failure of the Belfast Agreement.
"Unionists are not going to be bullied into a system that has been
proven to be an utter failure over the last six years.
"Unlike the weakness of the position of previous unionist
negotiators, the DUP will not be forced to abandon our manifesto
commitments of no terrorists in government and of holding to the
absolute necessity of ensuring that there is a system of government
that unionists as well as nationalists can support.
"The DUP wants to arrive at a settlement for all the people of
Northern Ireland. However, nationalists need to get real and accept
the inevitability of change.
"It is only when structural changes are implemented will there be a
settlement in Northern Ireland."
Mr Campbell said the future Northern Ireland Assembly, Executive
and individual ministers would have to be more accountable.
He also insisted the relationship between Stormont and other
institutions in the British Isles would have to be given the same
status to its relationship with the Irish Republic.
The DUP MP said the cultural identity of the pro-Union people of
Northern Ireland would also have to be offered the same facilities
as those who have an Irish identity, with genuine equality in the
The East Londonderry MP continued: "It is time for them to step
forward into reality and begin the job of informing their people
that change is coming even if it isn`t the type of change they had
"No self-respecting Unionist will consent to go back to the
failures of the past.
"The strong, confident message to Messrs Adams and Durkan is that
there will be no turning back. The Belfast Agreement era is over."
Following A Losing Streak With Winner-Takes-All Policy
By Barry White
30 October 2004
I can hardly believe it. After 30 years of suffering in silence,
nationalists are challenging the DUP to share power at district
In Derry, the SDLP and Sinn Fein are writing to Lisburn, Ballymena,
Castlereagh and Coleraine councils, demanding fair distribution of
committee chairs and vice-chairs. In Castlereagh, the SDLP want an
end to the exclusion of non-unionist councillors from these
positions of influence.
It's like a re-run of the civil rights campaign, 36 years ago, when
the British media woke up to the "political slum" on its doorstep
and backed the (initially) cross-community movement condemning
gerrymandering and calling for one-man, one-vote in council
Like civil rights, it's a campaign that can't lose because no one
can defend the winners-take-all attitude in these councils, when
the norm across Northern Ireland is power-sharing. The only
surprise is that it has taken so long for the SDLP to acquire
The ice-breaker has been the DUP's accession as the majority
unionist party, where they know that if they want devolved power,
they must share it with Sinn Fein. They say they do, but they and
the UUP right wingers grab all in the few councils where they can
Now we can sit back and watch a power struggle in the DUP, where
the modernisers try to persuade the Neanderthals that sharing at
executive level - provided the IRA go out of business - means
sharing all round.
The council elections are due next year, perhaps coinciding with
Westminster, and clearly the double standards can't continue.
There's a price for being top dog in unionism and the DUP will have
to pay up, or stop pretending that they would love to share power
with an unarmed Sinn Fein.
I've always contended that Northern Ireland politics is bad for you
and now a Derry-based academic agrees. Dr Chris Gilligan claims
that while people who use the government-funded counselling
industry attribute their problems to their Troubles experiences,
often the source of their unhappiness lies in the politics of the
There has been only minimal change in mental health indicators
since the 1994 ceasefires but the growth in referrals for
counselling continues. Former RUC officers who see ex- IRA leaders
taking seats in government are questioning their life's work,
asking "What was it for?"
Sinn Fein may laugh but they should realise that those feelings are
shared by many, many unionists. They won't be neutralised and any
trust in a power-sharing executive restored, before the IRA do what
they know they have to, and leave the field.
Otherwise, all the speculation about a deal to end all deals
between the DUP and Sinn Fein is hot air. David Trimble jumped more
than once, in the belief that the IRA would follow, but no other
unionist will, until the evidence of a republican change of
direction is unmistakable.
It's near the witching day, when the Americans choose between a
dangerous, blinkered President they know and a cultivated,
articulate senator they don't. It should be no contest, but a large
percentage of Americans will vote for the man they think will keep
trouble far from their doors, in the Middle East somewhere.
There's never been a President who has inspired such dislike as
George W. Bush. In the US, he is divisive and in the rest of the
world he is simply loathed, because he represents the stereotypical
American - calculating, insular, super-sure of himself and uncaring
of the views of anyone else.
What guides him is his daily reading from Oswald Chambers, a dour
Scottish Presbyterian from a century ago. "Life without war is
impossible, in the natural or supernatural realm," he wrote.
The basic idea is that if you surrender to God and don't think, he
will lead you in the right direction.
Even when things go wrong, divinely-guided decisions will be
vindicated - sooner or later. You're eternally optimistic, because
God's on your side.
That type is dangerous anywhere - and we have more than a few here
- but make them President of the US, with a sidekick like Tony
Blair, and the whole world is in trouble. Don't do it, America!
A visiting Australian can't believe that Tony Blair is about to
repeat Down Under's mistake and open Britain up to casino madness.
Even Premier John Howard says he isn't proud of them, but once the
tax revenues roll in, from the affluent and the needy, they're
impossible to close.
I speak as one who was once refused entry to Monaco's casino. I was
with a South African Indian, both of us in shorts, but he made it
and I didn't. No socks.
Viewpoint: The Threat Of Terror Still Present
Police Guard: Security must not be sacrificed in a rush towards
30 October 2004
Although nobody was injured, this week's gun attack on Randalstown
police station serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat has
not yet been fully eliminated.
Regrettably there are still a small number of dissidents who labour
under the mistaken belief that violence can resolve our problems.
But they cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the peace
That said, security measures must always be commensurate with the
perceived level of threat. It was no surprise, therefore, that
unionists reacted angrily to the disclosure by Security Minister
Ian Pearson that 40 police stations are guarded not by armed
officers but by unarmed civilian staff.
Everyone yearns for the day when the PSNI can forget about rifles
and flak jackets, and progress is being made. The dismantling of
fortifications around stations such as Grosvenor Road in Belfast is
a timely development.
But with the terrorists retaining their arsenals, and the
politicians deadlocked over policing policy, it is too soon to
dispense with all precautions. Until the main republican and
loyalist groupings disarm and disband, it is wise to err on the
side of caution.
In the present limbo situation, a carrot and stick approach is
required. The Government needs to demonstrate that it is serious
about demilitarisation, in order to encourage the paramilitaries to
But the priority will always be to protect the public, and the
police service is as ever in the front line. Civilian guards are
appropriate in certain areas at certain times of the day, but in
other circumstances armed cover will still be necessary.
The key, though, is that such decisions should be taken on the
basis of an assessment of the likely threat and not on financial
considerations. While the PSNI is under pressure to achieve greater
efficiencies and cut costs, this must not be done at the expense of
providing adequate security.
For years, too many police officers have been tied up on guard
duties, whether of installations or VIPs. The sooner more officers
can be freed up and returned to beat duties or put on the front
line in the battle against crime, the better.
The fact that civilian guards are deemed sufficient to guard so
many police stations is a welcome sign of how much life in Northern
Ireland is changing. But in the rush towards normality, security
considerations must always remain paramount.
Mick Hall Â 29 October 2004
There has been an increasing amount of speculation of late about
possible British State collusion down the years with middle ranking
and senior members of the Provisional Republican Movement (PRM).
Before we try and unravel this conundrum, it might help if we put
aside any prejudices we may hold against and disappointments with
the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Over the last decade and more, a
considerable momentum has been built up which has resulted in
British State collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries being brought
to the fore of the political stage. The most infamous case, amongst
many, to gain prominence of late has been the now deceased senior
UDA/UFF 'intelligence officer' Brian Nelson's link with the British
military's intelligence-gathering unit the Force Research Unit
(FRU). The main driving force behind these exposures and the calls
for Public Inquiries into State collusion with Loyalists have been
the families of the victims of this collusion and behind the scenes
the wider PRM have given what help and advice they could.
However just when it seemed the work of the families was beginning
to bear some fruit with the publication of the Cory Report and the
belated announcement by the British Government that there would be
a public inquiry (of sorts) into the murder of Pat Finucane,
something occurred which members of the PRM leadership must have
been dreading. For what had been over looked or more likely
deliberately pushed to one side by the leadership of Mr Adams and
his colleagues was that once this Brit-Loyalist paramilitary
collusion came into the public light of day, it was only a matter
of time before people would pose the question: if the Brits were
colluding with senior loyalists, why would they have not been doing
the same with senior Republicans?
Such theories have long been bubbling just below the surface within
hardline Republican areas of Belfast and on the internet, but by
and large the PRM leadership managed to dampen any such talk down
within their core communities. However the pressures considerably
increased after the Stakeknife allegations became so persistent,
and when Stakeknife was finally named in the press as being Fred
Scappaticci, a senior, long term member of the PIRA security
department, the bubble burst forth. The naming of Scappaticci as an
FRU informer/agent of influence was followed by a flood of
accusation that named other Republicans as informers/agents of
influence. These accusations were often totally unsubstantiated and
they periodically continue to this day. Nevertheless, in some
quarters this hardly mattered; what was of prime importance was
that this particular genie was well and truly out of the bottle, to
which it was never going to be returned.
At first the PRM leadership denied any Collusion between the
British State and any of their membership. They were ready to admit
the odd informer here and there as this was a matter of public
record, but to suggest that anything more serious went on was
condemned as felon setting by leading Republicans, with all the
menacing implications these two words can conjure up within
Ireland. When this failed to satisfy many former members of the RM,
the leadership then resorted to past form and tried strong
arm/smear tactics against those who were either raising this issue
publicly or asking questions about State Collusion with the
Republican movement. In the end the movement became somewhat
Machiavellian and few outside of the small leadership loop really
knew what the actual position of the PRM on this issue was. Names,
at times, were being chucked out into the proverbial Belfast gutter
like confetti; some of these names seemed to have emanated from
within the PRM leadership itself, presumable on the pretext if you
throw enough people's names into the public gutter as being
possible informers/FRU agents of influence, then some of them will
turn out not to be and by not being so will discredit all of the
accusations. As I said, Machiavellian!
Things have quietened down somewhat of late; cooler heads may have
prevailed both within the PRM and amongst the 'dissidents'. Perhaps
some 'dissidents' are beginning to realise that now is not the best
time for this debate to explode into the public arena, as at the
moment the Adams leadership clique is juggling enough balls in the
air without expecting them to add more. For if they were to do so,
the odds against them dropping the lot would not be good and if
they were to do this, more that just this leadership would come
crashing down. Now it appears Mr Adams and co are pretty confident
of keeping the balls marked GFA and standing PIRA down in the air,
especially if they get a little off camera help from the most
unlikely of allies. Although even on this they have looked a little
shaky of late. But to attempt to force into their somewhat
arthritic fingers, additional juggling balls marked Republican
Collusion would be more than the most gifted juggler from Moscow
State Circus could handle. Any help from the man who has quietly
been giving advice off stage would undoubtedly cease, because he
would be doubled up with laughter having turned his attention to
the clowns who had entered the peripherally of the circus ring. Far
better all round then to carry on watching the current pantomime
and wait to see the new show the next time the circus hits town.
The demand for a full examination of and a public debate about
whether British State collusion with Republicans took place or not
is not something that is going to go away. The fear which any talk
of State collusion strikes in the upper reaches of the Provisional
Republican Movement is patently obvious for all to see and with
good reason. For if the British were running a number of agents of
influence over and above the normal type informers that the RUC
Special Branch, etc ran at lower levels within the movement, then
rightly or wrongly it would for some answer the conundrum that many
Republicans have long puzzled over since before the first ceasefire
and all that has happened since, i.e. IRA military disasters like
Loughall, the second ceasefire, the recommendation by the Adams
leadership of the Good Friday Agreement, acceptance of Ministerial
seats in a Stormont Government with all this entails,
decommissioning overseen by British nominees and perhaps finally
the standing down of the IRA on the British State's terms.
Although the aforementioned is what makes this subject so
dangerous, there may well be perfectly logical answers to all of
the above questions which have nothing to do with British Collusion
with agents of influence in the PIRA. However, unless this matter
is at some time in the future fully aired, some will prefer to
accept the collusion theory as to why the war was lost, instead of
the simpler explanation that once Adams and Co found themselves on
the peace process treadmill, they could not quite keep up with the
momentum at which the British were driving it. Thus, despite SFs
best endeavours they were unable to keep it to the course they
believed all parties had agreed to chart, refusing to recognise
that the British, behind their backs, had originally charted a
totally different course, which was intended at the journey's end
to see SF shipwrecked on the rocks. Thus, Sinn Fein have found
themselves forever going through the next door the British have
opened, before they (R.M.) had enough time to firmly shut the door
they had just past through, let alone pause to collect their
thoughts, before deciding whether or not to proceed any further.
Thus they ended up reaching the stage when the series of doors they
thought they were required to pass through one at a time, all swung
open at the same time, having evolved from a series of
interconnecting rooms into a single long corridor with a gale
blowing down it, which drove the SF leadership helplessly forward.
Those who have accepted that armed struggle is no longer a viable
option as far as either removing the British presence or bringing
about democratic and economic equality in Ireland, have to place
the interest of working people at the fore-front of their strategy.
This in reality means electorally, in the majority of Ireland's
constituencies, north and south, working people at this time have
little real choice for all of Sinn Fein's imperfections but to rely
on it to represent their political interests. Those on the
Republican left, whilst having been proved perfectly able to
correctly analyse the failings and mistakes of SFs current
leadership, have been less successfully in building an alternative
political party or even an embryo of such an organisation. Thus, in
the foreseeable future Sinn Fein will be the main political
advocate for Ireland's less well off economically. This being so it
is surely not in the interest of the Republican left at this time
to help discredit and bring about the demise of this party. For I
say again, if the Adams leadership is brought down it would not be
all that comes crashing down; the generations of Republicans who
have invested so much in this struggle over the last three decades
and more would in the main close their front doors and withdraw
from political activities, angry and demoralised. The wider working
class Republican/nationalist communities, especially in the North,
would be left with no one to represent their interest politically.
In all probability the likes of some sort of SDLP/FF combination
would move in to fill this void, returning to the days when middle
class 'nationalist' parties patronisingly represented the working
classes. Surely it would be far better to hold fire and see what
opportunities open up when the PIRA is stood down, when hopefully
there will be a far more level and democratic playing field. Plus,
the socialists within Sinn Fein may well feel more able to abandon
the iron discipline that they see as obligatory whilst PIRA still
exists in its current military formation. Apart from satisfying our
own curiosity is there any real urgency to push this matter of
British State Collusion with Republicans to the hilt at this time?
Tiocfaidh ár lá.
Worst Flooding In Living Memory For Clonmel - LO
Alice O'Brien says this week's floods in Clonmel are the worst
she's seen in her 65 years.
Mopping-Up Operations Begin Across Southwest -LO
Southern counties this morning will face mopping-up operations
after severe flooding over the previous 48 hours.
Flash Floods Disrupt Dublin Traffic -LO
Flash floods after the heavy rains hit Dublin yesterday morning and
caused disruption to early traffic.
Rains Ease: Dry Spell Begins - LO
Last night's heavy rainfalls over the southern part of the country
marked the end of the stormy period as drier weather is forecast
from today, according to the weather experts.
See video at:
Bewley's Cafés Have Been An Integral Part Of Dublin Life
for more than a century and a half, but it stops now, writes Hugh
Bewley's cafés are imbued with rich layers of nostalgia and the
scents of coffee and sticky buns. For the past 164 years, they have
been an integral part of Dublin life, but no longer.
At one time or another, many literary and artistic figures
frequented Bewley's, from James Joyce to Patrick Kavanagh to Mary
Many theatrical people such as Cyril Cusack and Noel Purcell were
taken with the extravagant old-fashioned decor of Bewley's. Purcell
was renowned for singing the Dublin Saunter, composed by Leo
Maguire, which encapsulated the spirit of both old Dublin and
Many historical events in Dublin over the past century and a half
have had a connection with Bewley's. Just over 30 years ago, the
Irishwomen's Liberation Movement was born in Bewley's of
Westmoreland Street; one of its founders was Mary Maher, then an
Irish Times journalist.
The Bewley family were prominent Quakers who came to Ireland in
1700. Its many branches have long been prominent in the Religious
Society of Friends, meticulously applying Quaker principles of
fairness to the way in which they ran the business.
The first Bewley's was set up in Sycamore Alley just off Dame
Street by Joshua Bewley in 1840. It started off as a shop selling
coffee, but it wasn't a café. Eventually it did evolve into the
café and shop premises at nearby South Great George's Street which
closed in recent years.
In the 19th century, Dublin had a plethora of Bewley companies
including a shipbuilders in Dublin port - but all have long since
One of Joshua's sons, Ernest, was a much more go-ahead businessman
than his father and it was he who developed the Westmoreland Street
café which opened in 1900. Ernest had intended to open a bicycle
shop there but his business partner proved unreliable so he opted
for a café instead. He opened in Grafton Street in 1927.
Ernest had also built a fine house, Danum, at Zion Road in Rathgar
which the family sold to the High School in 1956.
The cost of developing the Grafton Street premises, complete with
the stained glass windows commissioned from Harry Clarke, was such
that the firm was nearly bankrupted.
Not until the end of the 1930s did Bewley's start to overcome the
debt mountain created by its Grafton Street café.
Bewley's was renowned for its baking of bread and cakes, and for
many years had a bakery in Long Lane, near the old Meath Hospital,
while it used to make chocolates in Grafton Street.
One of Ernest's sons, Victor, was just 20 when he had to take over
the running of the business in 1932 after the sudden death of his
father at the age of 72.With the help of other members of the
family, including his brother Alfred, he kept Bewley's going.
During the second World War/Emergency, Bewley's was renowned for
feeding poor children living close to the city centre.
Later Victor, who was also an early champion of the rights of the
Travelling community, handed the firm over to his employees,
complete with a profit-sharing scheme. In the old style, many of
the staff spent their entire working lives with the cafés.
For its time it was a radical move, but the profits vanished to the
point where in 1986 the firm was only saved when it was taken over
by Patrick Campbell's catering firm. Campbell saved Bewley's Cafés
from oblivion - until now. The firm had managed to survive earlier
troubles like the devastating fire in the Westmoreland Street café
Over the years, parts of the Bewley empire were disposed of before
the Campbell takeover, most notably farms near Dublin airport and
in Clondalkin. The Bewleys transferred their farm interests to
Moyvalley between Enfield and Kinnegad.
In the 1960s, the firm expanded by opening cafés in suburban
locations such as the Stillorgan shopping centre.
The three city centre cafés, on Grafton Street, Westmoreland Street
and South Great George's Street, remained largely unchanged for
many years, complete with coal fires, smoking rooms for Dublin
businessmen and the traditionally black-dressed waitresses.
Bewley's Cafés have now run out of time as the traditional cups of
coffee and the Bewley's style simply are not profitable any more.
One more old Dublin institution has succumbed to progress.
Hugh Oram is author of Bewley's, published by Albertine Kennedy
Publishing, Dublin, in 1980
© The Irish Times
Thought For The Weekend: Ulster In A New Light
Canon Walter Lewis, rector, St Thomas' Parish Church, Belfast
30 October 2004
Last Saturday morning, I accompanied some visitors from Edinburgh
on a bus tour of Belfast. I was surprised to see so many tourists
in the city centre in late October, and so many packing the tour
We went first to east Belfast. The most moving part of the tour for
me was the stop at the site of the dry-dock where the Titanic was
built, and at the Harland & Wolff Head Office.
For some years I have felt that a replica Titanic on that site, and
restored offices nearby, where the Titanic was designed, would be a
Legends such as the Titanic will never die. How appropriate to give
tangible expression to that legend on the site where the ship was
We moved on - down the Shankill and up the Falls - something that
would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. We are living in changed
Belfast is becoming a normal, vibrant and attractive modern large
city, with increasing numbers passing through our busy airports and
Low cost airlines have made travel easy and accessible to everyone.
People from far and wide are coming to visit us.
People from here are taking short and long breaks in places like
Vilnius, Berlin, Prague, Rome and Barcelona. We are fast becoming
part of the global community.
The picture which is emerging for all of us in Northern Ireland is
one of 'normality'. It is how things should be as we develop
relaxed and friendly relations with one another.
In the area of politics, I observe good and constructive relations
between our politicians on all sides. They are interested in
serving the whole community, and in making politics work. It is
commendable that the DUP and Sinn Fein may well reach political
agreement soon, so that the Executive and Assembly may be up and
running by the middle of next year.
We are living in changed days and entering a new era in Northern
Ireland. On a human level, it is an era of friendliness, replacing
the old divisions.
On a political level, it is an era of long-prayed-for peace and
We thank God for the growing normality and friendliness. We also
thank God as we anticipate the new day of peace which is dawning
for all of us - for politicians and people alike.
As this happens, we will indeed be a light shining in the darkness
in a troubled world.
Michael Flatley is as quick on his feet in the property market as
he is on the stage. He has lavished care, attention (and up to £50
million) on the restoration of Castlehyde, his Irish home - but the
project hasn't been entirely problem-free. He took Susan Ryan on a
Five years ago Michael Flatley gazed down out of a helicopter and
saw beneath him the roof of a majestic country house, set on the
banks of a sparkling river. Instantly, he knew what he had to do.
He had to have it. Never mind that he had no idea where in Ireland
he was. Or that, as he later discovered, it wasn't for sale at the
time. He wanted it - and Flatley is a man who generally gets what
Man and mansion: Michael Flatley swooped when he first spotted
He turned to the property scout who was travelling with him and
asked if they were still in Tipperary. No, the man replied, they
were in Cork, on the Blackwater River, and the house was
Castlehyde, the former home of the first Irish president.
"Something about the name clicked with me and I asked the pilot to
land," says Flatley. The property scout expostulated that he
couldn't just land uninvited in someone's garden, so Flatley asked
the pilot for his opinion. "If you're paying, I'm landing," he
replied. So they did.
No one was at home and so Flatley pressed his face against a few of
the 90-plus windows, noted the bad state of repair and decided he
was indeed going to buy it.
Less than three months later, Castlehyde was his. Admittedly, the
agreed price of IR£2 million had gone up to IR£4 million in the
intervening period, as other mysterious buyers had - conveniently
for the German owners - raised the stakes.
But who cares about that? Money is not a big problem for this
Chicago-born, Irish-American dancer who has become a multi-
millionaire over the past decade, thanks to a series of smash-hit
shows, including Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames.
Thus began arguably the most thorough - and expensive - restoration
project Ireland has ever seen. So far, Flatley has spent three
years and "north of £30 million" and it is still not finished.
Include the interior (he has men scouring the world for paintings,
first editions and works of art) and the figure gets closer to £50
million. The local joke is that the workmen arrived in Volkswagens
and left in Mercedes.
I had met Flatley in the summer at a party at his house in Little
Venice, north London (since sold). He invited me to the grand
house-warming bash he had planned for this month, at which he was
hoping the Irish premier Bertie Aherne would open the revitalised
Castlehyde. But, as with the last three proposed dates, it had to
be abandoned because the builders are still not finished. (It is
now scheduled for next spring.)
Could I come anyway and bring a photographer, I asked. Yes, came
the reply, as long as we took pictures only in the library and the
hall, the only two completely finished rooms.
We arrived to find him sitting halfway down the stone steps of the
18th-century house, drinking in the view of the river and trees
beyond, with the ruins of the original castle in the background.
It was one of those fabulous, blue-sky, autumn days and the scene
was at once both gloriously natural and highly staged, as you would
expect from this "king of choreography".
Flatley is a perfectionist who never lets his attention to detail
drop for a second. As we toured the house, he apologised repeatedly
for its incomplete state: "It's not finished" or "It's not right at
the moment" were his constant refrain. Often this meant simply that
the wrong pictures were in the wrong place, or that the shade of
paint was a bit too dark and would have to be changed.
In his former London house, once owned by Lily Langtry, he
personally signed off every china cup, every candle and every
drape. But with an itinerary that has sent him to a different
country virtually every week of the past three years, it has been
harder for him to keep tabs on everything.
The walls of his bedroom, which covers the entire 300ft length of
the first floor, are covered in green-patterned silk paper but what
he wanted was a silk, navy-blue pinstripe, so that will be changed,
as will the shade of purple in the music room.
Most of us would live with the mistake while being openly furious
at the "misunderstandings". Not Flatley. Courteous and charming, he
keeps his emotions in check and shows great affection to his small,
Classic splendour: the spiral staircase at Castlehyde
One of them - Uncle Pat, he calls him - has lived and worked at
Castlehyde for years. Flatley first saw him carrying a bucket of
coal and being shouted at by a couple of younger men.
Recognising that he relished the history of the place and loving
his gentle, country style, one day he sacked Uncle Pat's superiors
and put him in charge of the whole estate.
"He is so honest, so capable and he was in such a junior position
only because he loved Castlehyde so much. I knew that I could trust
Only once does he let his irritation with the workmen show when he
explains that a new carpet in the music room (which houses the
Steinway) would have to be ripped up because he had wanted the
original wood flooring. "That is why I have got that cannon outside
- when these guys come back, I will be ready for them," he says. He
makes it sound like a joke but there is a distinct hint of menace
beneath the surface.
The main part of the house was built in 1745, with the two wings
being added in 1801. The first thing Flatley did after buying the
estate was to bring in tree surgeons, who worked for three years,
at a cost of about Â600,000 (£416,000), on restoring the
magnificent trees in the 240-acre estate. "We have trees to die for
and they had all been neglected for years," he says.
The house itself - all 30,000 sq ft of it - had also fallen into
disrepair and no expense has been spared to restore everything to
the way it was. The 1.25 mile drive cost more than Â250,000
(£173,000) and the sash windows another Â600,000 to restore and the
roof that he glimpsed from the helicopter has been replaced.
The biggest expense, however, is hidden underground: the basement,
which is the size of a football pitch, had flooded and had to be
dug out and protected against future damage: "You cannot believe
how much work and money went into that." What it boils down is that
he now has a house so fortified against the river that it will last
another 500 years.
The basement will provide endless entertainment. There are two
temperature-controlled wine cellars, an Irish whiskey room that
boasts a barrel of Jameson's special blend and a vast leather
armchair in which to sit and drink it all in splendid isolation.
There is also a private cinema, an African billiards room (decked
out with stag heads) and a Roman spa with pool, Jacuzzi, massage
bed, water bed, a flotation tank and - colonic irrigation room?
Flatley laughs at my surprise and explains that his former fiancée,
Lisa Murphy, used to have regular treatments and so he planned it
as a treat for her.
They have since split up and the absence of a current girlfriend
strikes home when you see the size of his bedroom. Leading from the
central room are identikit left- and right-hand quarters.
"This is the female side," he says as we walk to the right. The
Victorian-style bath sits in the middle of the room, located for
the perfect river view, and the hand-painted ceilings look like a
The "female" bathroom is larger than the average London flat, full
of empty closets. The only difference on the male side is the more
masculine colours, the choice of pictures - and the fact that the
closets are in use.
Upstairs, there are the guest bedrooms, each carefully themed, most
reflecting the history of Castlehyde. There is the Kitty O'Shea
room, the Venetian room, the Imperial Room with its French
furniture and Napoleonic theme and the chinoiserie. Most
magnificent of all is the Presidential Suite, in honour of Douglas
Hyde, who was the first president of Ireland and whose family had
But the highlight is the walnut-panelled library, which stretches
through all three floors to reveal elaborate ceiling murals and
intricate gold-leaf pillars.
It cost Â1million (£695,000) to build and heaven knows how much to
fill the shelves. Flatley is hunting for first editions of Irish
authors, in particular, such as W B Yeats and James Joyce.
He is currently trying to negotiate for the Proclamation of
Independence documents and talks of having had some luck at an
auction, where he managed to get a record of Joyce reading Ulysses.
As we leave the library, passing through the hall, with its blazing
log fires, and head outside he asks if I like his house. "Yes,
Michael," I reply. "I love it." Unconvinced, he asks both his Irish
press officer and the photographer if they think I mean it.
His Rolls-Royce is waiting to drive us back to the airport. Along
with six other vintage cars, he has had it transported from London,
signifying that Castlehyde is the place he really views as home,
even though he barely spends more than a month a year there. The
Roller, however, seems considerably less at home.
The satellite navigation system keeps telling the driver to turn
left. "It's trying to get back to Edgware Road and I don't know how
to turn it off," he says.
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