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 06, 2004

News 11/06/04 - School Sectarian Attack

News about Ireland & the Irish

NL 11/06/04 School Acts After Sectarian Attack By 5 Pupils
NL 11/06/04 Police Officer Fighting For Life After Loyalist Attack
BB 11/06/04 PUP 'Struggling' Over Sanctions
BB 11/06/04 Man Charged Over 'Loyalist Drugs'
IP 11/06/04 Brollys To Be Given Key Persons Protection
UT 11/06/04 Iraqi Militant Group Calls For Hassan Release
IP 11/06/04 Radical Changes Needed To Electoral Law
NL 11/06/04 Farming Industry Hit By 'Republican Propaganda'
NL 11/06/04 'Pie-In-The-Sky' Talk By Gerry Adams In USA
IP 11/06/04 Opin: Where Do We Go From Here?
IP 11/06/04 Opin: Linda Coleman: In The Shoes Of The Shinners
IO 11/06/04 SDLP Plans Major Reform
IP 11/06/04 Irish Northern Aid Chair Receives Joe Cahill Award
IP 11/06/04 PSNI Harass SF Activists
NL 11/06/04 Estate To Unveil Ulster-Scots' Statue


School Acts After Sectarian Attack By Five Pupils

Saturday 6th November 2004

A SCHOOL is to take action against five pupils after a sectarian
attack on two 13-year-olds.

The pair were treated in hospital after being attacked by a gang of
up to 15 youths in the village of Newbuildings, just outside
Londonderry, on Thursday afternoon.

Police say that five of the attackers wore the uniform of Lisneal
College, a controlled school in the loyalist Irish Street area.
Others were said to be wearing Rangers' scarves.

The victims, pupils of St Columb's College, had just got off a bus
at Stoneypath estate.

Police are treating the assault as sectarian.

Lisneal head John Magowan said he was "disgusted" at the attack and
that he had visited the families of the injured boys.

"All the pupils on the bus have given statements and names are with
the police," he said.

"We will be investigating this matter fully and I am utterly
appalled at the incident.

"Myself and the chairman of the board of governors visited the
families of the boys who were attacked to express our disgust that
this should happen and we were very warmly received.

"I would encourage politicians of whatever hue to continue to
condemn this type of attack, which is on the rise, to prevent
society from going into freefall."

Foyle DUP MLA William Hay, who lived in the village for decades,
said that the incident - the latest in a line of attacks on
Catholics - was to be "utterly condemned". "There is a very small
minority of people in this area that are intent on dragging
Newbuildings through the mud."

Eamon McLoughlin, twin brother of one of the victims, said that his
brother was kneed on the side of the leg and kicked on the back of
the head. His mother said she felt sorry for the attackers.


Police Officer Fighting For Life After Loyalist Attack

Saturday 6th November 2004

A Police officer was fighting for his life last night after an
apparent revenge attack by loyalist paramilitaries.

Graffiti painted on a wall in Holywood warned of vengeance after a
police operation earlier this year to remove LVF flags from
Loughview housing estate resulted in four men being jailed.

The critically-injured off-duty officer, who has head wounds, was
found lying in the middle of the road on Holywood's Esplanade early

A police spokesman said last night that the cause of his injuries
was not known.

Speculation in the seaside town was that he had been attacked by a
gang seeking revenge on the police for the flags' operation.

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PUP 'Struggling' Over Sanctions

The Progressive Unionist Party may have to close an office because
its assembly allowance is being withheld, David Ervine has said.

Sanctions were imposed on the party earlier this year after a
report highlighted continued activity by the Ulster Volunteer
Force, to which the PUP is linked.

In its latest report last week, the IMC remained critical of the
UVF and its involvement in two murders.

PUP leader Mr Ervine said without the funding, his party may have
to close its Shankill Road office.

Mr Ervine told the BBC's Inside Politics programme on Saturday that
he was doing his best to tackle paramilitary activity, but the
party was struggling to serve constituents.

"I think that at the moment we're on a wing on a prayer," he said.

"We're absolutely hand to mouth and I think if the secretary of
state does not restore that party allowance very soon, we can't
survive in some aspects of our work."

Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced in April that sanctions
would be imposed on parties linked to paramilitary groups still
involved in violence and other criminal activities.

The move came after the publication of an Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC) report which recommended action against Sinn Fein
and the Progressive Unionist Party in response to continuing IRA
and loyalist violence.

'Organised crime'

In its latest report last week, the IMC said the UVF remained a
"ruthless organisation retaining a capacity for more widespread

Most violence was attributable to loyalist groups, with a greater
proportionate reduction by republican groups, it said.

It found paramilitaries on both sides were still "deeply engaged in
serious organised crime".

The commission said links still existed between the IRA leadership
and Sinn Fein, as well as the UVF and the Progressive Unionist

The IMC report was handed over to the British and Irish Governments
last week.

The institutions in Northern Ireland were suspended two years ago
amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern
Ireland Office.

At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in
Kent last month, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said the thorny issues
of IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be

However, the two governments were unable to get the Northern
Ireland Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing
after unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved

The sticking points in the political process have included the
method of electing a first and deputy first minister, a date when
the assembly can control policing, and whether or not 30 assembly
members can challenge ministerial decisions.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/05 17:30:43 GMT

            ****************************************** /2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/3988471.stm

Man Charged Over 'Loyalist Drugs'

A 32-year-old man has appeared in court accused of running a
loyalist drug dealing operation in north Belfast.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that drugs squad officers believe
Lawrence Kincaid was running a drug dealing den from his parents'
house in Flush Road.

He was charged with having £80,000 worth of the class A drug
ecstasy with intent to supply.

Magistrate Bernadette Kelly refused bail and remanded Mr Kincaid
into custody until 11 November.

Loyalist paramilitaries

Police uncovered the drugs during a raid and two day search of the
property last weekend.

They uncovered 16,000 ecstasy tablets in a shed and "five purpose-
built hides dug into the undergrowth", along with a substantial
amount of cash.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Constable Karen
Cathcart, said: "This is an operation the drugs squad have been
involved in for quite some time and we believe that Mr Kincaid was
in charge of what we would call a distribution centre for class A
drugs, principally for the Belfast and greater Belfast areas."

The officer added that "we believe he was working for loyalist

She told a prosecution lawyer that when officers raided Mr
Kincaid's parents' home they arrested two men and they spotted a
hooded man running away from the scene.

'Vague and evasive'

Officers believe that man was Mr Kincaid, she said.

DC Cathcart said that while the case against Mr Kincaid was mainly
circumstantial, she claimed that a mobile phone which was found at
the scene could be connected to him.

Mr Kincaid, a builder from Ballysillan Avenue, spoke only to
confirm his name and that he understood the charge of possessing
the class A drugs with intent to supply.

The police officer was asked by Mr Kincaid's defence solicitor if
he had given a "full account" of his movement on Friday 29 October.

DC Cathcart replied that he had only given interviewing officers
"vague and evasive" accounts, claiming he had been working at a
building site in Newtownabbey at the time of the searches.

The officer agreed that Mr Kincaid's employer had made a statement
and had given him an alibi but she told the solicitor that "we
don't accept him as an independent witness" and described him as "a
friend and associate".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/06 12:56:54 GMT


Brollys To Be Given Key Persons Protection

FORMER Mayor of Limavady, Sinn Féin Councilor Ann Brolly and her
husband, East Derry Assembly member Francie Brolly, are to have
their home secured under the British Government's Key Persons
Protection Scheme (KPPS) after a judge overturned an earlier
decision by British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to exclude the
pair from the scheme.

Judge Weatherall quashed Murphy's decision at a hearing at Belfast
High Court on Wednesday 27 October

The couple was warned by the PSNI in April 2002 that they were
under death threat from the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used
by the UDA, and applied to be included on the KPPS.

Yet it wasn't until March of last year that Murphy, on advice from
PSNI supremo Hugh Orde, informed the couple they were not
considered to be under serious or significant threat and therefore
protection was not warranted.

The Brollys refused to accept the ruling and applied for a judicial
review of the decision, which was upheld by Judge Weatherup on

In his judgment, Weatherup told the court that the PSNI had
assessed the risk to the Brollys as moderate but, as that indicated
a potential for them to be singled out for attack, the state was
required to take reasonable steps in response.

"The applicants faced a real and immediate risk to life and I am
satisfied that the decision of the Secretary of State in relation
to the scheme must be quashed," he ruled.

Murphy was ordered to pay the costs of the hearing.

"For us this means the judicial system realizes that Sinn Féin
members under threat are entitled to proper protection," said
Francie Brolly.


Iraqi Militant Group Calls For Hassan Release

A statement linked to the militant Iraqi group, led by Abu Musab al
Zarqawi, has appeared on an Islamic website calling on those
holding the Dublin-born care worker Margaret Hassan to release her.

The 59-year-old was taken hostage in Iraq nearly three weeks ago by
an unknown group.

The message, which is attributed to the militant group responsible
for the beheading of Ken Bigley, says she should be released
because there`s is no evidence of wrong-doing against her.

The al Zarqawi statement also criticises the hostage takers for
threatening to turn the 59-year-old woman over to his group.

The statement goes on to say that had it done so, Mrs Hassan would
have been set free.


Radical Changes Needed To Electoral Law

Speaking after meeting with NIO Minister John Spellar on Monday,
Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin said that legislative changes in
electoral registrations must come about as part of democratic

McLaughlin said Sinn Féin put a number of suggestions to Spellar.
These included replacing individual registration with household
registration and that voters remain on the register for five years.

McLaughlin also called for both photographic and non- photographic
forms of identification to be acceptable on voting day.

"Spellar recognized the need for change and took on board Sinn
Féin's proposed changes to the electoral legislation and indeed
told us that the British Government was looking at registration
occurring every year with voters remaining on the register for four
years," said McLaughlin

Since the introduction of the new electoral legislation in May
2002, almost 200,000 people have been removed from the electoral
register, damaging the electoral process, he added.

The legislation requires Six-County voters to register every year
under the Electoral Fraud Act 2002.

"Year after year, in election after election, increasing numbers of
people who are eligible to vote are having their fundamental rights
denied," said McLaughlin. "Sinn Féin's primary focus has been to
bring about changes to the legislation that will make it easier for
people to register and to reverse the downward trend.

"At the meeting, Spellar agreed to bring back our proposals to the
British Government and agreed that electoral courts should be
abolished as part of changes in the electoral legislation."


Farming Industry Hit By 'Republican Propaganda'

By Philip Bradfield
Friday 5th November 2004

Councillors in south Armagh claim that propaganda branding the area
a radiation danger zone is causing alarm among farmers trying to
sell produce.

It has also alleged the signs - put up by republicans in opposition
to the telecommunication equipment used on Army watchtowers - are a
deterrent to potential tourists and investors.

The SDLP has blamed Sinn Fein for the signs.

South Armagh farmer and Ulster Unionist councillor Andy Moffett has
said republican signs are merely anti-Army propaganda.

He said: "These signs are criticising the telecommunication
equipment on Army watchtowers, which is required for security
purposes in south Armagh.

"But if Sinn Fein really believed what they were saying, they would
also be tackling the Garda south of the border who are arranging to
take phone masts on all their stations.

"As an all-Ireland party, why does Sinn Fein not launch a campaign
against the Garda, too? I believe it is because they

are more focused on security matters in Northern Ireland than on
concerns over people's health."

Mr Moffett said farmers across the community were very concerned
that Sinn Fein's message would put buyers off their produce.

SDLP councillor Pat McElroy agreed. He said: "The large sign on the
main A1 road at Killeen Bridge and the plethora of skull and cross-
bones notices across the area, which claim the area is a high-risk
radiation zone, are not conducive to tourism, the sale of
agricultural produce or inward investment.

"We all remember the price paid by the egg industry in the
aftermath of Edwina Curry's infamous salmonella outburst. South
Armagh farmers must not be placed in a similar position."

Sinn Fein councillor Pat McGinn said the SDLP had now reversed
their position on Army communication equipment.

"In June, 2004, they said in the Press that they welcomed the Irish
foreign minister's intervention to have these masts removed," he

"Despite those who would try to demonise the community of south
Armagh, Sinn Fein will continue to represent the health concerns of
all our constituents."


'Pie-In-The-Sky' Talk By Gerry Adams In USA

By Stephen Dempster Political Correspondent
Saturday 6th November 2004

ZERO chance and pie-in-the-sky was the unionist response yesterday
to Gerry Adams' call for joint British-Irish rule in Ulster.

The DUP and UUP poured cold water on the Sinn Fein president's
demand that the two governments should move on without unionism and
impose some form of joint authority in the absence a deal to
restore the Stormont Executive.

Any fears within unionism of an enhanced role for Dublin in
Northern Ireland's affairs were dismissed as completely out of the
question and unworkable.

UUP negotiator Michael McGimpsey reminded republicans of the
consent principle enshrined in the Belfast Agreement, which, he
said, meant Northern Ireland remained British and, therefore, under
British rule.

DUP chairman Maurice Morrow said: "Any notion of joint authority or
anything that resembles it is pie-in-the-sky.

"Arrangements for the governance of Northern Ireland will only work
where there is agreement from both unionists and nationalists.

"Mr Adams and his supporters should know that unionists will not be
turning back in their demand for change. The days of Sinn Fein/IRA
getting their way on everything are over."

Mr McGimpsey said: "Mr Adams may well have been telling his coterie
of American supporters in New York what they wanted to hear but
there is zero chance of there being any form of joint rule for
Northern Ireland.

"For Ulster Unionists, this is simply out of the question."

The British and Irish prime ministers met yesterday at an EU summit
in Brussels.

But discussions between Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are understood
to have centred on whether or not a deal could be done in next
three weeks, not Mr Adams' speech to a Friends of Sinn Fein dinner
in the USA.

The West Belfast MP said the time had come for London and Dublin to
make "a judgment call", coming up with their own proposals for
breaking the deadlock.

He said the governments should also be prepared to move on without
the DUP if they were not up for a deal, dissolving the Assembly.

"It's not just the parties who can share power - governments can
share power also," he said.

"The British and Irish governments must look to formal
institutionalised power-sharing at governmental level.

"The structures already established under the Agreement, around
issues as diverse as health and education, tourism and investment,
energy and waterways, must be built on and expanded.

"These include the existing ( crossborder) implementation bodies,
as well as the areas of co-operation."

Mr McGimpsey said: "Direct rule, whilst not in our best interests,
can only have Westminster involvement.

"The consent principle establishes this and Mr Adams knows full
well that only a London government can have any say in the
governance of the Province.

"Because of the Agreement, everybody has accepted, including Gerry
Adams and Sinn Fein, that Northern Ireland is British and cannot by
definition be governed by a form of joint rule."

He said that, because the DUP had no ideas of its own, "nor the
necessary bottle to break the deadlock," it was allowing Sinn Fein
to indulge in "this fanciful gameplaying".

Mr Morrow said Mr Adams was "busy trying to divert attention away
from what the IRA needs to do".

The SDLP called Mr Adams' demands "vague proposals".


Where Do We Go From Here?

Following the Leeds Castle talks, the media were in a frenzy on the
back of government briefings that a deal was imminent and it was
just a matter of putting the finishing touches to the detail. We
were expected to believe that the DUP had accepted the core
principles and fundamentals of the Agreement and that the hold-up
was down to finding mechanisms to make the workings of the
institutions more accountable and transparent.

I wish it had been so simple but of course we have come to realize
over the years of non-stop negotiations not to take at face value
anything emanating from unnamed sources within either government.
The only factual information to come out of Leeds Castle was that
republicans were up for a deal.

As comments by Gregory Campbell and other DUP spokespersons will
verify, the fact of the matter is that the DUP has not moved one
iota from its anti-Agreement stance. It is as intent as ever on
wrecking the Agreement and the longer the two governments indulge
its intransigence, the more the DUP will believe it is succeeding
in its attempts to, if not wreck the Agreement, then at least
frustrate its implementation.

It is time, therefore, for the two governments to lay it on the
line to the DUP and any other anti-Agreement elements that exist —
the majority both in a Six-County and an all-Ireland context voted
for the Agreement as presently constituted and in its entirety.
There will be no tampering with the core principles and
fundamentals of the people's Agreement.

The Agreement institutionalizes power sharing between the two
traditions in the North based on the political strength of the
parties until such time as a majority decides on constitutional
change. Neither government can force any party to enter into a
power-sharing Executive against its will. But neither should any
one party by its refusal to participate be allowed to hold the
whole political process to ransom. Therefore, if the DUP is
unwilling to enter into an Executive as prescribed in the
Agreement, this should not mean that the rest of the Agreement is
put into suspended animation.

The two governments, as custodians and guarantors of equal status
of the Agreement, which is an International Treaty, have a
responsibility to implement all aspects of that Agreement that are
not dependent on the willing participation of all parties. The
present situation of unilateral British Direct Rule is unacceptable
and is a violation of the Agreement.

The Agreement, as I have already stated, institutionalized power
sharing between the representatives of the parties that had
achieved a sufficient electoral mandate. If, therefore, the locally
elected representatives are unable to reach accommodation on how
best to exercise power, then it falls to the two governments, as
equal signatories to the Agreement lodged with the United Nations,
to enter into a power sharing arrangement until the parties can
resolve their differences.

The British Government must not be allowed to act unilaterally in
the absence of agreement. Unilateral British Direct Rule is
unacceptable to Irish republicans and nationalists and negates the
guarantees in the Agreement of parity of esteem and equality.


I welcome An Taoiseach's comments in Rome this week, where he
spelled out the two governments' commitment to the Agreement and
their "co-partnership" of the process. The fact that An Taoiseach
also ruled out the possibility of the DUP being allowed to draw
talks out until after the next Westminster election is also a
welcome development.

I believe now that the Irish Government has asserted itself more
robustly and publicly, it will send a powerful message to the anti-
Agreement forces that they will not be allowed to set the pace of
progress. It will also give a welcome boost to confidence in the
Irish Government's stewardship of the rights of Irish citizens here
in the North.

While I commend the Irish Governments' assertion of its 'co-
partnership' position under the Agreement, we in Sinn Féin will
continue to represent our constituency with vigor and

Dermot Ahern's logical and commonsense remarks a few weeks ago
resulted in a media and political backlash from predictable
quarters. Establishment politicians have been queuing up ever since
to assert that they will not enter a coalition government with Sinn
Féin unless and until certain preconditions are met (echoes of
anti-Agreement unionism). They have been encouraged to adopt this
stance by the usual unrepresentative but vociferous anti-
republican, pro-unionist elements in the 26-County media.

What these anti-republican commentators fail to realize is that,
despite their best efforts, it is accepted by growing numbers both
throughout Ireland and abroad that Sinn Féin has been the catalyst
for the transformation of the political landscape in the North over
the past decade.

Secondly, the party is now the undisputed and strongest political
voice of northern nationalism.

And thirdly, it has been brought increasingly into focus,
especially during the local and EU elections in June, that Sinn
Féin represents the real alternative to the center-right politics
that has governed the 26-County state in the past.

This growth will continue through local government and Westminster
elections here in the North next May and in future elections in the
26 Counties. Establishment parties can no longer ignore the
continued growth in Sinn Féin electoral strength. And that is what
will instill political reality in the machinations of the party
strategists as they jockey for power in Leinster House and

Parties of every shade of political opinion work with Sinn Féin and
share local power with our representatives on councils across the
32 Counties of this island every day. That same simple political
logic must replace the political posturing that we see at the
moment and which is having such a detrimental effect on the whole
political process.

Politicians in the 26 Counties should refrain from comments that
leave them hostage to fortune and in the process frustrate efforts
to resolve the conflict. Remember, it's the electorate that decides
the configuration of the Dáil and the Northern Executive and if
Sinn Féin is given sufficient support to influence the make-up of
government, it will be Sinn Féin that will decide if we will be
part of a Cabinet or Executive, not the other parties.


Linda Coleman: In The Shoes Of The Shinners

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Gerry Adams. Gerry's a great
politician, one of those rare individuals who gets into politics
for the right reason—not for power, but to serve the people. If he
had only wanted fame or wealth, there are easier roads he would
have taken. Our Gerry could have spent his time and talent writing
poetry, or novels; he could have been a journalist, a filmmaker, or
a university professor. But he chose a difficult path, an uphill
climb blocked by boulders and slippery slopes. He chose to bring
civil rights to Catholics in British-occupied Ireland. He forged
links between religious leaders from both traditions. Gerry is one
of the few politicians to honor his part of the Agreement that
requires all participants "to use any influence they may have, to
achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms."

For his trouble, he's been called all manner of names, and too much
ink has been wasted linking his political party with terrorism. But
those willing to cast a vote for Sinn Féin and keep him in
Parliament have not been disappointed. As Member of Parliament for
West Belfast, our Gerry has been a tireless advocate for the
working class. When cryptosporidian was found in the water supply,
he had bottled water sent to nursing homes and schools, and kept
the story in the news until the bacteria was traced to the source.
Following the tragedy of September 11, he made phone calls for
constituents with relatives in New York, not resting until the fate
of every loved one was known.

Occasionally, I do a bit of cyberspace campaigning for Gerry Adams,
and even got a vote for him once, from a man I'll probably never
meet—a self-proclaimed independent who said he would "never vote
for a Shinner." But I kept after him until he finally conceded,
"All right, I'll vote for your man!"

I always tell people that there aren't many "good ones" out there,
hardworking politicians who genuinely care about the people they
serve. "If you ever find a good one," I'm always saying, "You
should lift him or her up, through public acknowledgement of a job
well done—letters to the editor, maybe, a thank-you note every now
and then, or at least a mention in your neighborhood newsletter.
When it's time for re-election, you should move heaven and earth to
keep that person in office."

When I asked people to support Gerry Adams, I was speaking from
experience, thinking of my own congressman and how lucky I was to
live in a great congressional district. My corner of the world is a
bit like West Belfast—to us, it's a lovely area, with hilly tree-
lined streets and a mixture of grand old estates, and pretty frame
houses from the 1930s, a racially mixed area that's still
affordable. Outsiders who have never set foot in the place think of
it as a crime-ridden cesspool, where poor whites and scary
"minorities" co-exist in substandard shacks that should have been
torn down decades ago to make way for loft apartments and
"McMansions." When marginalized, it helps to have a powerful ally—a
congressman I'll refer to as "Alex" (so as not to add to his
trouble by association with "The Voice of Irish Republicanism in
America") after Alex Maskey, the first Sinn Féin mayor of Belfast,
who worked so tirelessly across party lines for the good of the
city, traveling the world, spreading the word that Belfast is a
decent place to do business, no matter what the pro- British press
has to say about it. Our Alex is like that—always promoting our
district, bringing federal tax dollars home in the form things like
a light rail system or improvements to the highway.

Last year, I was offered the chance to take my own advice and help
our representative with his campaign—an opportunity handed down to
me on a silver platter by none other than Tom DeLay. We'd been
targeted for redistricting.

Tom DeLay—as you might have heard—helped out his friends in the GOP
by gerrymandering some new districts to favor Republicans (of the
American variety). Our working class, heavy minority sector was put
into a district with some of the wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods
in the city. We were put a district represented by a congressman
I'll refer to as "Sammy," after Alex Maskey's notoriously ignorant
predecessor, Sammy Wilson, who once passed on a rare opportunity to
meet the Dalai Lama when the great man visited Belfast, uniting
Protestants and Catholics in the shared embarrassment of having
their mayor state to the press, "I don't think many people in
Belfast know who the Dalai Lama is…I've never had much of an
interest in the affairs of his country."

Much to my delight, our Alex decided to move his primary residence
into our neck of the woods, and take Sammy on. As I saw it, Sammy
didn't have a chance. Sure the new district was heavily Republican,
but there are limits to brand loyalty, right? Sammy hadn't actually
done anything useful during his short term in Congress, preferring
to champion fringe causes like the establishment of a 30% national
sales tax instead of working on things we can use, like jobs or
transportation bills. Alex had a 26-year record of working for the
constituents, the "go-to" man for keeping federal dollars rolling
into the area.

In April, I jumped in to volunteer, and since then, I've spent most
of my weekends walking neighborhoods, handing out literature,
phoning voters, writing letters and educating people on Our Alex
and how hard he works for us.

Many times during my walks, I thought about Gerry Adams, about
Belfast, about the dangers Sinn Féiners willingly face to get the
best candidate in office. They could get a petrol bomb thrown
through their window in the dead of night for daring to challenge
powerful opponents. Bullets are sent to them in the mail as a
warning. The worst I could get is a door slammed in my face, but
that rarely happened. Many times, people would see me coming,
recognize the "push cards" and assure me "I'm voting for him"
before I could say a word. Lifelong Republicans told me that they
wanted the best congressman, not just anybody who happened to wear
the designer Republican label.

It seemed that all signs pointed to victory—yard signs, of course.
One precinct walker estimated that "Alex" signs outnumbered the
"Sammy" ones two-to-one!

Then came the debates. Alex had his thoughts together, and
presented his stellar record in clear, concise terms. Sammy's
speaking style was a circuitous cobweb of platitudes and rhetoric
that added up to nothing vaguely resembling a coherent thought.

After that was the advertising war. The lies dumped on our side
would make the British spin machine proud. Among other things, our
Alex was portrayed as a raving liberal, his record of bringing our
tax money home distorted with the tired old phrase "tax and spend."
Now, I know Alex isn't a raving liberal, because I'm a raving
liberal and I've never seen Alex at any of our meetings. Alex is a
moderate and anyone can see that. But would the voters look beyond
the ads and remember all the good things we campaigners said about
him on our neighborhood walks?

In a fairy-tale, manipulative power broker goes to jail, the fool
is bested by the wise man, the hero always wins, and nobody pays
attention to advertising. But as Gerry Adams will tell you, the bad
guys usually win and tired campaigners have to console themselves
with the knowledge that they fought a good clean fight, and that
they made the other guy sweat a bit. I know exactly what Gerry
would say about this race: "Forty-Four percent of something is
better than 100 percent of nothing." But it's hard to console
yourself with forty-four percent when you used to have it all.

Still, having gone through the experience and come out the other
side, I stand by my original advice—when you find a good one, move
heaven and earth to keep that person in office. There aren't many
good ones, and we need every one of them.


SDLP Plans Major Reform

06/11/2004 - 11:12:42

Members of the SDLP will vote today on a new constitution to revamp
the party.

Delegates are gathering for a special constitutional convention in
Cookstown, Co Tyrone to consider major organisational changes. The
reforms are designed to make the party more efficient.

However party strategists were insistent that the move was not a
knee-jerk reaction to recent disappointing election results which
had seen the SDLP fall behind Sinn Féin in the battle for the
nationalist vote.

A leadership source said: "These are reforms that have been
considered for a long time and would have been in place earlier had
we not had to put our party conference night to February instead of
November last year.

"The objective is to improve the overall decision-making processes
within the SDLP, to make us a more efficient party and to ensure
that our members time is being used to the best ability."

Grassroot members of the party called for the convention at the
SDLP conference Belfast in February.

Among the proposals they will be considering will be a plan to
reduce the number of party committees – merging some of them.

The new constitution will also give a more clearly- defined role for
the deputy leader, Dr Alastair McDonnell.

The new constitution will have to be backed by two thirds of the
SDLP delegates to the convention.


Irish Northern Aid Chair Receives Joe Cahill Award

Over 250 people attended the 23rd Annual Philadelphia Irish
Northern Aid (INA) Testimonial Dinner on Friday 29 October. For
their support and commitment to a free and united Ireland, awards
were presented to Larry Dunigan, Clan na Gael; Willie Farrell, New
Jersey INA; Carolyn Killion, LAOH and Irish Political Prisoners
Children's Holiday (IPPCH); Seán McCann, Philadelphia INA and GAA;
and, Connie McCrea, IPPCH and Donegal/Tyrone Societies.

Last year, Philadelphia Irish Northern Aid created a special award
to recognise lifetime achievement and called it the Joe Cahill
Award. The recipient is not told they are getting the award until
it is presented the night of the dinner. The 2003 recipient was
Mattie Regan of Clan na Gael.

This year, Joe's widow, Annie Cahill, was in Philadelphia to
present the award to Irish Northern Aid National Chair Paul
'Tilley' Doris, who was visibly surprised when his name was read
out. It was only then that organisers were sure they had been able
to keep word of the award a secret from him. Annie, in her remarks,
talked of Joe's fondness for Philadelphia and said there was 'no
better place' to have an award in his honour.

Later in the night, the dinner guests were treated to a beautiful
rendition of the Ballad of Tom Williams, sung by Annie Cahill.


PSNI Harass SF Activists

Sinn Féin councilor and chair of Strabane District Jarlath McNulty
is accusing the PSNI of engaging in, "a vindictive and unrelenting
campaign of harassment against republicans and their families" in
the Clady and Glebe areas of Tyrone in recent weeks.

McNulty said "this PSNI campaign coincided with a failed attempt by
the PSNI to recruit a local man to spy on myself and other
republicans in the Clady area at the end of September".

According to McNulty, the PSNI carried out a number of raids on
homes in the area and arrested five local people.

"Local republicans are being continually followed, stopped and
harassed. Even when they are not at home, PSNI jeeps and cars park
outside their family homes. On a number of occasions, in the middle
of the night, the PSNI have trained high-powered spotlights on the
homes of these republicans and rev the engines of their jeeps to
wake the families inside.

"Undoubtedly, the instructions to carry out this campaign of
harassment are coming from higher up the PSNI command chain. This
shows that the securocrats are still firmly in charge of policing
in the North and is further evidence of the continued politically
partisan nature of this force," concluded McNulty.


Estate To Unveil Ulster-Scots' Statue

Friday 5th November 2004

A Bushmills housing estate is preparing to unveil a unique tribute
to the village's Ulster-Scots heritage.

The Dundarave Estate project will see the first community-generated
sculpture based on the Ulster-Scots dialect in Europe- placed at its
entrance. Developed over the past two years under the Creating
Common Ground Consortium, the life-size bronze figure, marking the
shared local dialect of Ulster-Scots, will be unveiled on November

Funded through the European Union Peace II Fund under the Natural
Resource Rural Tourism Initiative, The Big Lottery through the
Creating Common Ground Consortium and the Ulster Scots Agency, the
Ulster-Scots 'guardian' is the first phase of improvements at

The next scheme, currently in progress, will focus on a new play

Children in the Bushmills area are also to be given the chance to
win a bronze replica head of the sculpture for their school, with
the launch of an oral poetry competition.

Pupils have been asked to submit entries in the combined dialect on
audio tape for the chance to scoop the trophy for their school and
a prize for themselves.

Jay Dooling (
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