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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 03, 2004
News 11/02/04 - SF Chiefs To Visit Auschwitz
News about Ireland & the Irish
UT 11/02/04 Sinn Fein Chiefs To Visit Wartime Death Camp
SM 11/02/04 Finucane Inquiry Must Not Be A Cover-Up, Say Family
BT 11/02/04 Negotiation Offered For UN Hostages
IO 11/02/04 Murphy Seeks To Draw UDA Back Into Political Process
IP 10/28/04 Linda Coleman: Our Quadrennial Game Show, Final Round
IP 10/28/04 PSNI's Equality Hypocrisy
IO 11/02/04 Guinness Kidnapper To Be Extradited From Holland Today
IP 10/28/04 Jim Gibney: Belfast's Golden Age
UT 11/02/04 Dog Tied Up And Burned To Death In Tyrone
QA 11/01/04 Who Does The Panel Hope Will Win The US Election?
QA 11/01/04 Was The Buttiglione Uproar An Anti-Catholic Witch-Hunt?
See Question & Answer Panel members: Martin Cullen, Minister for
Transport; Moira Herbst, George Mitchell Scholar, University
College Cork; Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP; David Norris,
Independent Senator; Diarmuid McDermott, Ireland International News
Who Does The Panel Hope Will Win The US Election? (16 minutes)
Was The Rocco Buttiglione Uproar An Anti-Catholic Witch- Hunt? (5
(Poster's Note: Included are a few articles from the current
electronic issue of the Irish People. The IP, a good source of news,
can be found weekly at:
Sinn Fein Chiefs To Visit Wartime Death Camp
Sinn Fein leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly are to remember
victims of the Holocaust during a visit to Auschwitz, it was
The Mid Ulster MP confirmed that he and Mr Kelly were travelling to
Poland tomorrow following an invitation from Northern Ireland`s
Jewish community to politicians from the province.
Mr McGuinness said: "Last year some local members of the Jewish
community who had been involved in the organisation of the
Holocaust Memorial Day invited a number of local politicians to
participate in a trip to the site of the Auschwitz concentration
"Both Gerry Kelly and myself have accepted the invitation and will
travel to Auschwitz tomorrow morning for a day-long series of
events in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Krakow."
Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during Adolf Hitler`s
reign of terror in Germany and Europe in the Second World War.
The Nazis sent Jews to concentration camps as part of what they
called "the final solution".
Millions of Slavs were also butchered and around 200,000 Gypsies
Thousands of other people were also sterilised, including Germans
of African descent.
Auschwitz was originally a camp for Polish prisoners but was
expanded in 1941 with the addition of Birkenau as the Nazis carried
out their programme of genocide.
The concentration camp held Jews, Polish PoWs, Russians, Slavs and
Many died of starvation but it was the addition of gas chambers at
Birkenau in 1942 which led to the mass transportation of Jews from
other parts of Europe.
Crematoriums were also built, handling as many as 2,000 Jewish
people each day.
It is estimated that around 900,000 Jews, who were unregistered as
prisoners, were gassed at Birkenau.
The total death toll in the Auschwitz complex was estimated at 1.1
million, with one million of the victims Jewish.
Finucane Inquiry Must Not Be A Cover-Up, Say Family
By Dan McGinn, Ireland Political Editor, PA News
Prime Minister Tony Blair faced calls today to publish immediately
the terms of reference for an inquiry into the controversial murder
of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
As Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine, son Michael and other family
members prepared for talks with the Prime Minister in Downing
Street, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the Government could no longer
continue to stall on the establishment of a fully independent,
The North Belfast Assembly member said: "The track record of
successive British governments in dealing with the issue of
collusion, and specifically the murder of Pat Finucane, has been
one of concealment and cover-up.
"So far this British Government has failed to allow the sort of
independent inquiry demanded by the Finucane family and which is
acknowledged as the only mechanism which can reveal the truth about
the murder of Pat Finucane to proceed.
"The British Government must publish immediately the terms of
reference for the proposed inquiry into the killing of Pat
"This will allow the Finucane family and those of us who support
their demand for a full independent judicial public inquiry to
assess whether the inquiry proposed will have the capacity to
uncover the truth about British state involvement in this murder."
Pat Finucane was gunned down in front of his family in his north
Belfast home by the Ulster Freedom Fighters in February 1989.
His relatives, human rights groups and nationalist politicians have
long believed he was the victim of a policy of collusion between
members of the security forces in Northern Ireland and the loyalist
gang that killed him.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has concluded in
an investigation that Mr Finucane and student Adam Lambert were
victims of collusion.
The case for an inquiry was further strengthened when retired
Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended to the British Government
that there should be one.
Judge Cory was appointed by the British and Irish Governments after
the 2001 Weston Park talks to examine the cases for inquiries into
six controversial killings.
In September loyalist Ken Barrett, 41, received a life sentence
after admitting his role in Mr Finucane's murder.
He is expected to be released early under the terms of the Good
After his conviction, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy
announced that an inquiry would be held.
But the Finucane family, nationalist politicians and human rights
groups were concerned by suggestions that large sections of the
inquiry might have to be held behind closed doors because they
would deal with sensitive matters of national security.
Mr Murphy also announced that legislation would have to be drawn up
to enable the tribunal in charge of a fresh inquiry into Mr
Finucane's killing to deal with these sensitive issues.
The Finucane family will be joined at today's meeting by their
legal adviser Peter Madden and by Jane Winter, director of the
London-based human rights group British Irish Rights Watch.
But, as they headed to London, Michael Finucane said the family did
not have confidence in the Government.
"The recent announcement on behalf of the Government by (Northern
Ireland Secretary) Paul Murphy that an inquiry is to be established
is not sufficient because it omitted a crucial word – public," he
"He has not said anything since to reassure us that a proper public
inquiry is what the Government will establish because the focus has
been on new legislation that addresses national security concerns
and little else.
"We are very concerned that the new legislation proposed by the
British Government will restrict the scope of any inquiry to such
an extent that a proper public inquiry becomes impossible.
"This is completely unacceptable. It is therefore very important
that we discuss the matter with Mr Blair face-to-face and explain
why such an inquiry will not suffice."
Michael Finucane also said the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act
1921 provided a tried-and-tested framework within which to hold a
He added: "No new legislation is necessary to establish an inquiry
into my father's murder."
Nationalist SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood agreed with the
The West Belfast Assembly member said: "The only reason why the
British Government want this legislation is so that they can
control the inquiry, so that they can control how much of the truth
we get to know. This just won't do.
"After years of cover-up, we can't allow a controlled inquiry to
bury the truth yet again.
"The SDLP want the Government to honour the commitments it made at
Weston Park to hold a true public inquiry as recommended by Judge
Negotiation Offered For UN Hostages
02 November 2004
Islamic militants holding an Irishwoman hostage in Afghanistan have
offered to negotiate with UN officials today, as the deadline for
her execution looms.
However, the kidnappers of Annetta Flanigan and two other UN
hostages reiterated their threat to kill them if there was any
attempt at rescue.
Ms Flanigan is from Richhill, Co Armagh, where her family was last
night being comforted by friends and relatives.
Archbishop Robin Eames of the Church of Ireland has visited the
Source: Irish Independent
Murphy Seeks To Draw UDA Back Into Political Process
02/11/2004 - 10:12:20
Northern Secretary Paul Murphy is due to meet with senior members
of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) today in an attempt to draw
loyalist paramilitaries back into the political process.
Leading UDA figures are expected to be a present at a meeting
between Mr Murphy and the Ulster Political Reasarch Group, the
political wing of the loyalist paramilitary organisation.
The British government stopped recognising the UDA's ceasefire a
number of years ago amid vicious internal loyalist feuds and
ongoing attacks on Catholics and others.
Sinn Féin and the SDLP have both urged Mr Murphy to use today's
meeting to demand an end to such attacks, as well as the racist
campaign of intimidation against ethnic minorities that is being
waged by loyalist groups.
Linda Coleman: Our Quadrennial Game Show, The Final Round
Welcome to the final round the nation's favorite quadrennial game
show "Who Wants to be the President!" (Wild applause) In this
exciting episode, it's Democrat against Republican in the race for
the White House! We're down to our final two contestants, John
Kerry of Massachusetts and our incumbent, George W. Bush. In our
last round, our two candidates were given one question: "As
President of the United States, what are you going to do for
Both candidates lost significant points, John Kerry for failing to
outline a definite plan to support the peace process in the Six,
and George W. Bush, for failing to correctly identify his envoy,
Mitchell Reiss. Bush made up some points for being "consistent,"
and Kerry gained points for being "not Bush."
In our last episode, the game ended in a tie, with our two
contestants offered a tie-breaker by "Irish America" magazine,
which allowed both candidates space to answer a series of questions
posed by Irish American Unity Conference. The questions covered
immigration, deportation of Irish republicans, the U.S./U.K.
Extradition Treaty, and the Good Friday Agreement.
John Kerry lost his significant "not Bush" advantage by submitting
a previously written statement instead of answering the questions.
George W. Bush gained a significant lead by answering every
question honestly, defending his administration's record by proudly
supporting the U.S./U.K Extradition Treaty, the "fair and just"
treatment of Ciaran Ferry, and our policy of barring "terrorists"
from entering the United States. Then Bush lost his double-digit
lead when his own campaign fundraiser, Richard Eagan, fired off an
angry letter to the editor of "Irish America" complaining that the
article was biased in favor of Kerry, saying she'd "better think
twice before trying to influence American politics." (Disappointed
"awwwww" from audience) Way to go, Richard.
So we're back where we started, with our two candidates tied for
first place. With our contestants currently on the campaign trail,
the tie-breaking game will be played by you, the studio audience!
(Wild applause and cheers from audience) Take sides, everybody, for
our final round of events! The 2004 Campaign Decathlon starts with
yard-signs! Each team will compete to see which team can put up the
most yard signs for their candidate! Then, each team will steal
signs put up by the opposing side. The team stealing the most signs
wins. After the yard sign event, we move to the following events:
name-calling, spin-doctoring, finger-pointing, mudslinging, scare-
WE INTERRUPT THIS GAME SHOW WITH A SPECIAL PUBLIC SERVICE
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM BRITISH PRME MINISTER TONY BLAIR
Tony Blair: First of all, I would like to thank those of you who
have sent emails and letters advising me on elections in Northern
Ireland. Some of you have written suggesting that I implement an
American style plan for Assembly elections, that we announce a day
for the election, have the vote, and carry on no matter what, even
if the IRA is found to be in possession of a suspicious device,
such as a Windows start-up diskette. According to you, the Assembly
should continue, even if one or two of the candidates are not to my
liking. This is a unique plan that I will certainly take under
advisement as I continue to administer direct rule on the province.
Since you Americans are so free with your advice on how I should
run Northern Ireland, I thought I should return the favor by giving
you a few pointers on the election process in the States.
First of all, you Americans drag out the campaign season for too
long a period of time. Our elections—when we have them—only last
six weeks. Your elections drag out for most of the year! By the
time Election Day comes around, people are sick of the whole thing.
No wonder voter turnout is so low in the States.
Secondly, a trivia question for you—how many candidates are running
for President in the United States? If you said two, you're wrong.
There are over 50 presidential candidates, according to the U.S.
website Project Vote Smart. Why not let them all debate and be on
your ballot? Next election, try Preferential Voting, ranking your
candidates like we do, by first preference, second preference and
Lastly, don't be in such a hurry for the outcome! Good lord, you've
been looking forward to Election Day for over a year—must you have
the election results right away? Take a few days to count the
votes, why don't you, in a leisurely fashion.
Well, that's all the advice I have for you today. This is Tony
Blair, wishing you a happy Election Day.
WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM, STILL IN
Wow! What an exciting finish to the game! Give a big round of
applause to the winner and congratulate each other on a game well
played. (Equal amounts of cheering and booing from audience) All
right, all right, settle down everybody. Time to reach out across
party lines, shake hands, and get back to work for peace and
justice in a free united Ireland. Our next game will start before
you know it! See you in 2008 for the next round of our quadrennial
game show "Who Wants to be the President!"
PSNI's Equality Hypocrisy
Trickery as much as thuggery was a hallmark of the discredited RUC,
but despite the fact that the Patten report has yet to be fully
implemented, some have claimed the PSNI represented a break with
But information that emerged last week suggests that when it comes
to maintaining the sectarian imbalance within the force, the PSNI
has a few tricks up its sleeve as well. Recently, the PSNI
announced a new affirmative action initiative to address the
serious under representation of women within its ranks.
The PSNI's Gender Action Plan (GAP) was drawn up earlier this year
and has rightly been endorsed by both the Policing Board and the
Equality Commission. GAP's recommendations include the introduction
of welcoming statements, action plans, the possibility of
introducing women-only leadership training programs and the
identification of any barriers within the promotion process.
Accompanying the PSNI's commitment to addressing gender imbalance
has been the compilation of statistical material to inform analysis
The statistics provided to inform the GAP project identified the
deployment of women officers throughout the PSNI. They provided
unprecedented detailed information about gender in relation to
initial recruitment, deployment by each district command unit,
membership within departments, every special unit and within each
GAP describes the initiative in terms of a 'vision' in which the
PSNI will now seek to "recruit, retain, promote and deploy females"
throughout the force, a commendable objective by anyone's
Given this apparent sudden enthusiasm for addressing imbalance
within the PSNI, it is all the more curious that there is not so
much as a whiff of a similar initiative to address the religious
imbalance within the force. This is despite the fact it is widely
accepted that the transformation of policing in the north depended
upon it renouncing its traditional sectarian allegiance to one
But it has now emerged that the PSNI has no intention of
introducing any similar affirmative action initiative to address
the under representation of Catholics. Indeed, a spokesperson for
the PSNI admitted that the force doesn't even keep figures for the
breakdown of Catholics and non-Catholics and it only engages in
"service-wide monitoring" of Catholic under representation.
Of course, addressing gender imbalance is a commendable objective
in itself, but the political cynics amongst us might suggest that
the PSNI is more enthusiastic about addressing gender precisely
because it poses less of a threat to its more traditional ethos.
Guinness Kidnapper To Be Extradited From Holland Today
02/11/2004 - 07:50:47
A 53-year-old man convicted of the kidnap of Jennifer Guinness 18
years ago is due to be extradited from the Netherlands to Ireland
John Cunningham was jailed for 10 years for leading the gang that
kidnapped Ms Guinness, the wife of a wealthy banker, from her home
in the Howth area of Dublin in April 1986.
However, he escaped from Shelton Abbey open prison in Co Wicklow in
1996 while serving the final year of his sentence.
Cunningham's gang had demanded a £2m ransom, but they released Ms
Guinness and gave themselves up after a five-hour siege at a house
in south Dublin.
Jim Gibney: Belfast's Golden Age
For a very brief period, Gerry Adams, Tom Hartley and I and others
were in the spiritual company of Sir Roger Casement, Francis
Bigger, Bulmer Hobson, Dinny McCullough, Francis McPeake and Cathal
The occasion was the unveiling earlier this month of a plaque
outside the house in Belfast's Cavendish Street, where Cathal
O'Byrne lived for many years. The Irish News sponsored the event
and O'Byrne's grandnephew attended it.
The atmosphere that allowed the spirits of such notable figures to
move amongst us was created by the historian Eamon Phoenix, who
unveiled the plaque.
Phoenix's comments brought us back to a time in Belfast when
Ireland was still united under the British crown, to a time when
poets, artists, musicians and republican revolutionaries of all
religions and none seamlessly mingled and shared ideas with each
other. They were big ideas to do with Ireland's freedom, its
literary and cultural revival; a "golden age" is how Phoenix
This "golden age" saw gatherings at the home of Francis Joseph
Bigger, lawyer and antiquarian, on Belfast's Antrim Road
overlooking Belfast Lough.
It was here, under the aegis of the Ard Righ Circle, that figures
such as Casement and Hobson, members of the Irish Republican
Brotherhood, met with O'Byrne and others to plan their activities.
O'Byrne relied heavily on Bigger's voluminous library. Like Bigger
he was steeped in the history of the United Irishmen and the 1798
O'Byrne was a self-educated man and a product of the Gaelic revival
of the early 20th Century. He was well known as a poet, writer,
folk singer and seanachaí before partition and was an advocate for
Irish independence until his death in 1957 at the age of 83.
He was a lifelong friend of Joe Devlin, involved in the IRA and
mixed with the poets Alice Milligan and Eithne Carberry, both
admired by Bobby Sands.
Casement thought highly of him and in his last letter from Brixton
Prison before he was hanged he asked him to sing the Irish ballad,
'Castle of Dromore' in his memory.
During the Belfast pogroms following partition in 1920, O'Byrne
toured the US on behalf of the White Cross Fund, raising £100,000
for the beleaguered Catholics of his native city.
Some of the money he raised was used to build a street in
Beechmount, now known as Amcomri Street, the acronym of the
American Committee for the Relief of Ireland.
Catholics fleeing the pogroms in North Belfast were housed here and
at number 6 Tom Williams, later hanged, resided for a short time.
O'Byrne is best known for his writings, which captured a way of
life in Belfast long since gone. He was a regular columnist for the
Irish News and in 1946 they published O'Byrne's articles in a book
called As I Roved Out. It was a huge success and has gone through
five printings since then. It is still on sale on bookshops across
His style of writing was simple, direct and memorable. You can feel
the prosperity and buzz in the following passage taken from the
book: "Of Barrack Street's 53 places of business, 15 of them are
public houses - they are thirsty souls in the vicinity of the
Barracks, it would seem — amongst the others there are seven diary-
keepers, six grocers, six dealers, two bakers, two pawnbrokers, and
for the rest, plasterers, hucksters, pig-jobbers, coopers, nailors,
bricklayers and cow-keepers, make up the sum."
Dinny McCullough, IRB man and Sinn Féin's first Councilor to sit in
Belfast's City Hall, spoke at O'Byrne's graveside.
Saturday's unveiling gave rise to stories of more recent vintage.
Tom Hartley recalled his father, who lived round the corner and was
a friend of O'Byrne's, telling him about this dramatic figure:
'dark haired, black hatted, black caped' walking along Cavendish
Street; it was O'Byrne.
Gerry Adams said that As I Roved Out was one of the first books he
He then told the story of the McPeake family receiving an award at
a prestigious musical gathering abroad at which a Burgher said of
the Burghers of Belfast that they would no doubt be proud of the
McPeakes' achievements, whereupon Francis quipped: "The Burghers of
Belfast don't even know we exist."
The "golden age" had long since been replaced by the narrow minded
bigotry of unionism striving to remove any trace of Irish culture
from their state by ignoring it or discriminating against it.
The story of the day was told by Dr James Hawthorne, a member of
the Ulster Historical Circle, the body responsible for the upkeep
of the plaque.
He was with the McPeakes at a concert in Moscow in the 1950s. When
the gig was over, they were all invited back to the Kremlin to
relax. James declined the offer and next morning when he asked
Francis how things went, he said: "That boy Kruschev smoked my fags
If you should stop a while at O'Byrne's plaque in Cavendish Street,
walk a few yards to your right and stop again at another plaque on
the gable wall of Hawthorn Street.
It's to the memory of the IRA Volunteers shot dead by the SAS in
Gibraltar, Mairéad Farrell, Dan McCann and Seán Savage. Dan McCann
lived in the house next door to where Cathal O'Byrne lived.
Dog Tied Up And Burned To Death In Tyrone
A dog was tied up and burned to death on a Halloween bonfire, it
was revealed today.
Local residents tried to rescue the animal, but were beaten back by
The dog's owner, Mary Wilson, said she was devastated.
Ms Wilson, who lives alone, said the dog was always at her heel.
"It was terrible, I couldn't believe that anybody could do that to
an animal," she said.
The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)
said the horrific incident happened in the Glebe area near Sion
Mills, Co Tyrone, in Northern Ireland, at a Halloween celebration
on Sunday night.
Stephen Philpott, director of the USPCA, condemned the killing of
the animal, but said such incidents were not isolated.
He said: "In the course of our work, we come across some pretty
blatant and mindless acts of cruelty against animals.
"Unfortunately at times like Halloween, when some sort of social
responsibility gets diminished right across the board, people carry
out these acts and think they are funny."
Firework attacks on swans and cats had also been reported, he said.
The Police Service said they were aware of the incident and would
be investigating if an allegation of ill-treatment of the dog was
made to them.
Nationalist SDLP Assembly Member Eugene McMenamin condemned those
behind the incident.
"As an animal lover and a owner of two dogs I find it difficult to
find words to express how I felt when I heard of this barbaric
attack," the West Tyrone MLA said.
"Those responsible inflicted so much hurt and pain to this animal
as they burned him to death. They are cold, heartless brutes.
"My thoughts are with the owners of this dog. I am sure this is a
deeply upsetting and traumatic time for them.
"People across the whole of the North (of Ireland) are outraged by
the brutality and cruelty of this attack.
"Those responsible must be caught, but this is more than a problem
for the police. The whole community in Sion Mills and surrounding
areas must help in tracking down the thugs responsible.
"There can be no excuses or justification of this type of absurd