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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 07, 2004
News 11/07/04 - UDA Seeks £3m To Give Members Jobs
News about Ireland & the Irish
GU 11/06/04 UDA Seeks £3m To Give Members Jobs
UT 11/06/04 Alleged Loyalist Drug Lord In Court
RT 11/06/04 Afghan Kidnappers Extend Deadline -V
BT 11/06/04 Royal Irish Regiment In Job Axe Threat
BT 11/06/04 New Proposals To End Stormont Logjam
ST 11/06/04 Racketeers Face All-Ireland Curb On Charity Fraud
ST 11/06/04 Opin:President Will Build Bridges w/Fireworks & Pipes
ST 11/06/04 Opin: Odds Are Against Jackpot In Devolution Casino
ST 11/06/04 Two New Dailies Set To Spark Ulster Newspaper War
BT 11/06/04 Sports Stadium Site 'Not Yet Decided'
GU 11/06/04 Comment: Wit Is The Winner
BT 11/06/04 Giant's Causeway Rocks Providing Link To Mars
BT 11/06/04 Botanists Baffled By Fred's Plant
RT 11/06/04 Reaction To Slaughter Of Seals In Co Kerry - VO
9 News: Tom MacSweeney, Marine Correspondent, reports on the
Reaction To The Slaughter Of Protected Seals In Co Kerry
UDA Seeks £3m To Give Members Jobs
Henry McDonald, Ireland Editor
Sunday November 7, 2004
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy held talks with the Ulster
Defence Association less than 72 hours after all-out war between
one of the group's 'brigades' and a rival loyalist terror
organisation was narrowly avoided.
The minister and his officials discussed ways of bringing the UDA
and its political wing into peaceful constitutional politics at
last Tuesday's meeting.
Murphy was asked for £3 million of taxpayers' money to help the UDA
establish legitimate security firms across Northern Ireland that
can provide employment to hundreds of its members.
Yet The Observer has learnt that police officers had to draw their
guns to prevent a mass Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) attack last
Sunday afternoon on UDA members drinking in a north Belfast pub.
The planned assault on the bar near the LVF stronghold of
Ballysillan occurred after UDA men loyal to Jim Spence, the West
Belfast brigadier, beat up several of their rivals in the splinter
group at the Heather Street social club the night before.
What started out as a row over loyalist drug dealers giving a
lethal 'snowball' cocktail of drugs to a Shankill Road teenager who
later died of two strokes and a heart attack has escalated into a
looming war between the two factions in Belfast.
'Sunday on the Crumlin Road was like a scene from the Wild West,'
said one leading loyalist on the Shankill Road, 'The police had to
pull out their guns to stop the LVF hitting the bar. There was a
standoff outside the pub with the rival gangs facing each other. It
could have started the feud off big time only the cops arrived in
Behind the West Belfast UDA's drive against the LVF are fears over
the impact of Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair's release from prison in
January. Spence and his fellow UDA leaders want to deny Adair any
base in Belfast on which he can build an alternative loyalist
movement. Last month the UDA in the west of the city put leaflets
in the doors of the Lower Shankill estate - Adair's former power
base - warning locals not to fraternise with 'Mad Dog' on his
release. Since the summer a further 20 families have fled the Lower
Shankill following a campaign of UDA intimidation. Those expelled
were suspected of harbouring sympathy for Adair, who has vowed
revenge against former comrades involved in the expulsion of his
wife Gina and up to 20 of his supporters in 2003.
The looming loyalist feud in West Belfast illustrates the problems
facing the UDA leadership as it tries to move the organisation out
of mass criminality and into politics. The organisation's de facto
leader, the South Belfast UDA commander Jackie McDonald, has put
out a general order calling on all units to desist from drug
Following the meeting between the UDA's political representatives
and the government, Paul Murphy was reported to have been impressed
with McDonald's efforts to move the largest loyalist paramilitary
force out of criminality towards community-style politics.
Alleged Loyalist Drug Lord In Court
An alleged loyalist drug lord appeared in court today, charged with
having £80,000 worth of ecstasy with intent to supply.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard that drugs squad officers believe
32-year-old Lawrence David Kincaid was running a loyalist drug
dealing den from his parents house at Flush Road, in the Ligoniel
area of north Belfast.
Officers raided the house last weekend and during the extensive two
day search, 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 the police believed that "this is a business that is
ongoing and has been ongoing and which we believe he is in charge
"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," said the
She added: "We believe he was working for loyalist paramilitaries."
She told a prosecution lawyer that when officers raided Kincaid`s
parent`s home, they arrested two men and they spotted a hooded man
running away from the scene, who they believe was Kincaid.
DC Cathcart revealed that while the case against Kincaid was mainly
circumstantial, she claimed that a mobile phone, which was found at
the scene, could be connected to him.
Kincaid, a builder from Ballysillan Avenue, appeared in the dock
wearing a grey T-shirt and spoke only to confirm his name and that
he understood the charge of possessing the class A drugs with
intent to supply.
The officer claimed that the two men currently in custody, 26-year-
old Mark McMahon from the Whitewell Road and John David Robert
Smith, 19, from Ballysillan Avenue, work for Kincaid.
DC Cathcart said the police were objecting to a defence application
for bail, as she believed that Kincaid, who was arrested on
Thursday, would start selling drugs again.
She was asked by Kincaid`s defence solicitor if he had given a
"full account" of his movement on Friday, 29 October, but 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 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".
The solicitor suggested there was "no forensic link" between
Kincaid and the drugs and cash.
However, DC Cathcart said that none of the items seized had yet
been sent to the lab, because to do so would not have given him the
chance to view the items during police questioning and because they
would be slightly damaged during forensic testing procedures.
Magistrate Bernadette Kelly refused the bail application and
remanded Kincaid into custody until November 11, declaring that his
previous conviction "weighs on my mind" and because of the
"capacity for further offending" due to financial loss and "knock
on effect" of the raid.
See video at:
Afghan Kidnappers Extend Deadline -V
06 November 2004 22:23
Militants holding hostage the Co Armagh woman, Annetta Flanigan,
and her two UN colleagues in Afghanistan have extended a deadline
for their demands to be met in order to allow negotiations take
The talks between a Taliban splinter group and officials from the
Afghan government and the UN were to have taken place today, but
were put off until tomorrow.
A spokesman for the militants said the talks were postponed because
of the late arrival of the UN and Afghan delegations.
The kidnappers have threatened to kill the hostages if their
demands are not met.
The militants want the release of all Taliban prisoners, the
withdrawal of US troops and the suspension of UN operations in the
Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland Archbishop, Dr Robin Eames, has
again asked people to pray for the safe release of Ms Flanigan and
the two other hostages who were kidnapped in Kabul last week.
Dr Eames said her family had asked him to thank everyone for their
prayers and messages of support.
RIR In Job Axe Threat
Security source tells of warning
By Michael McHugh and Ben Lowry
06 November 2004
ROYAL Irish Regiment soldiers have been warned about possible
redundancies in a move which is likely to provoke fresh debate
about the normalisation of security in the province, the Belfast
Telegraph can reveal today.
Soldiers in the Regiment's St Patrick's Barracks headquarters in
Ballymena were told last week that they have two to four years of
service left before severance packages are introduced and Armed
Forces Minister Adam Ingram has refused to make any public
commitment on their future.
According to both a security source and local Assemblyman Ian
Paisley jnr, a meeting addressed by the Commanding Officer of the
RIR's training operation, Lt Col Felix Spender, heard how any
scale-down would be on the advice of the Chief Constable.
North Antrim MP the Rev Ian Paisley was expected to hold meetings
with Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on Wednesday and the General
Officer Commanding for Northern Ireland, Phillip Trousdell, in an
effort to limit the alleged job-shedding, which would involve
security assessments and is politically sensitive.
Defence Minister Mr Ingram told South Antrim MP David Burnside in
Parliament that no decision had been taken on the future of the
three home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, or about
the composition of the long-term garrison in Northern Ireland.
"We are aware that there has been a meeting regarding this (RIR
future). We are having a meeting with the Defence Secretary Geoff
Hoon and the General Officer Commanding Mr Trousedale," Ian Paisley
"Dr Paisley wants to emphasise the role which the RIR plays in
making peace and preserving law and order."
A security source said soldiers based in Ballymena were told of a
generous redundancy offer being considered, which included a lump
sum worth 18 months' pay and six months on full pay after severance
to allow troops to re-train for the workplace.
The provisions have fuelled concerns that no decision has been
reached to safeguard the future of the RIR battalions.
UUP politician Mr Burnside asked on Tuesday whether, in the event
of security normalisation in Northern Ireland, the three home
battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment would remain "in addition to
garrison strength in the province".
Mr Ingram replied: "The Government have not come to a final
conclusion about the future of the three home service battalions of
the Royal Irish Regiment, or about the composition of the long-term
garrison in Northern Ireland."
Mr Burnside called for a commitment that "we must continue to have
the three locally-recruited home battalions" in peacetime, to be
prepared to stop a terrorist threat."
In response to the Ulster MP, Mr Ingram added: "All that is subject
to the intense discussions to which I assume he is party, but I had
hoped that he wanted a normalised Northern Ireland, not the
Northern Ireland that we have had for the past 30 years."
The 2002 British and Irish Governments' Joint Declaration
anticipated the scale-down of troops once the conditions for
normalisation were in place.
New Proposals To End Logjam
By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
06 November 2004
THE Government is still considering tabling its own proposals aimed
at preventing talks to restore Stormont power-sharing from running
into the sand.
Behind-the-scenes efforts are continuing to try to secure as wide a
consensus as possible on a sequence of measures which could lead
towards a new Executive and Assembly.
But huge gaps between the key parties remain. Sinn Fein argues the
DUP wants fundamental changes which would turn the power sharing,
equality and all-Ireland nature of the Good Friday Agreement on its
The DUP, insisting the former Agreement is dead in any case, insist
they have yet to 'bolt down' the details of any IRA offer on
decommissioning and winding up.
Sticking points also include accountability of Ministers and the
election of a DUP First Minister and Sinn Fein Deputy First
Minister - among other matters.
It is understood Secretary of State Paul Murphy would bring forward
his proposals if it was considered they would help the negotiations
reach a conclusion.
With the latest deadline for assessing progress of November 25
looming - the anniversary of the abortive Assembly
Racketeers Face All-Ireland Curb On Charity Fraud
THE British and Irish governments are planning to tighten
regulations on both sides of the border to prevent charities being
used as fronts for money laundering, fraud and terrorism.
Law enforcement officials believe that the island's lax charity
laws make possible a range of scams including moving paramilitary
and criminal funds, large-scale Vat fraud and the evasion of stamp
duty by property developers. New legislation is being prepared in
the south and, in a co-ordinated move, a review is under way in
In some cases, security sources say, protection payments from
businesses have been collected by loyalist racketeers under the
guise of tax-exempt charitable donations. In others, charities have
been used to move money between the two states and abroad.
In England and Wales, such organisations are governed by a
regulatory body, the Charity Commissioners, but in Ireland there
are no such safeguards. All that it is required is to register with
the tax authorities. In Northern Ireland, a charity's records can
be examined only if there are reasonable grounds for suspicion,
whereas elsewhere in the UK they are open to regular inspection.
The danger of abuse was highlighted in last week's International
Monitoring Commission's (IMC's) report on paramilitary finance. It
pointed out that in Northern Ireland charities can boost their
income by claiming tax relief on donations by UK taxpayers. The
same rules apply in the republic.
However, of 3,500 charities in Belfast registered with the Inland
Revenue, only 40% actually claimed this money. This suggests that
they were not soliciting donations from the public. Some may be
funded by government grants but the IMC warned that in other cases
charitable status "may be a channel for paramilitary funds".
The danger was also highlighted by Professor Ronald Goldstock, who
prepared a report on organised crime in Northern Ireland for the
British government. He recommended that specialist firms of
accountants should be brought in to target corruption centred on
the construction industry and charity sectors. A Northern Ireland
office spokesman said this idea was being evaluated as part of a
review of the charitable sector which would be completed next year.
The absence of regulation or powers to inspect mean that the
problem is hard to quantify, but law enforcement officials believe
that abuse could be significant.
One case being investigated allegedly involves cross- border Vat
fraud running into millions of pounds and euros on the bogus export
of consumable goods using a charity's Vat registration.
Vat was allegedly claimed back on the products which existed only
on paper and was paid out to individuals as bankers' drafts.
In other cases the Inland Revenue discovered property developers in
Britain using Northern Ireland-registered charities to buy and sell
property without paying stamp duty.
One security source said: "If you register a Northern Ireland
charity with the Inland Revenue there is not much checking and you
can get documents which you can use to open a bank account. The
bank will check the trustees but perhaps not so thoroughly as if
you were registering it in your own name."
The main worry for money launderers is that the banks will spot
suspicious transactions and report them to the authorities.
However, a charity is a good cover for irregular payments which can
be passed off as donations. Since charities are tax- exempt anyway,
they do not arouse the suspicion of revenue offences.
Sunday Times - Ireland
Comment: Sue Denham: El Presidente Will Begin Building Bridges
Using Fireworks And Pipes
FIREWORKS, uileann pipes and a state reception for 1,700 guests
will mark the beginning of Mary McAleese's second term as president
this week. El Presidente will do her best to mix pageantry and
politics at the ceremony, broadening her "bridge- building" theme to
include links to the "voluntary, state, business and professional
sectors". Yada, yada.
Don't expect to see Sue there, because the musical centrepiece will
be provided by piper Liam Og O'Flynn with a reworking of his 1997
composition The Bridge, commissioned for the first McAleese
inauguration. Maire Brennan of Clannad will perform during the
inter-faith religious ceremony beforehand.
All very alienating for anyone under 40. Weren't the Thrills or
Damien Rice available? Apart from the great and good, the guests
will include members of the Irish Special Olympics and Paralympics
teams. About 600 school children will watch the ceremony on a large
screen in the yard of Dublin Castle.
Sue doubts that the citizenry will be much engaged. Not that it's
her fault, but McAleese's lack of a mandate casts a shadow over her
Magill takes a turn to the right under Delaney's stewardship
"How the left got it so wrong . . . " was not a heading you would
have found in the old Magill, under the editorship/ownership of
Vincent Browne. But that is exactly what readers of the new, and
what sounds like improved, version of the current affairs magazine
can expect when they buy it tomorrow.
Under the editorship of Eamon Delaney, we can expect a welcome
change from such leftie fare as Village, Browne's latest effort,
which features two-page transcripts of Dail committees.
The new Magill will examine why Ireland gave a free ride to Yasser
Arafat - "a mastermind of terror" - and wonders why everybody is so
afraid of neo-cons. Sounds refreshingly right-wing to Sue.
The minutes of a recent board meeting of the National Gallery began
with two announcements by the chairman: congratulating Bruce Arnold
on being awarded an OBE, and welcoming the Duke of Abercorn to the
board. Yip, this is the National Gallery of Ireland we're talking
Castle's opening hours give Revenue no relief
The Revenue Commissioners have been getting shirty with Ballybur
Castle in Kilkenny, one of the dozens of historical properties that
gets tax breaks in return for letting in the public on 60 days a
year. "On three different occasions during September 2001 (when it
was advertised as being open), officers from the tax office called
but failed to gain entry," the Revenue recently complained to the
owners. "This indicates that the building was not open to the
public for the minimum number of days." In 2002, officials called
four times and only got in once. So Revenue pulled the tax break.
Cue outraged squawking from the owners, who claimed it "one of the
most accessible heritage properties in the country". Why, the key
to the castle "is in a very visible nook over the door", they
pointed out. The Revenue had a rethink and told Ballybur it could
have the tax break back, if there were better access. Francis Gray,
the owner, said: "I've spent Â500,000 on the castle and seen no
return. This scheme was worthwhile when I was spending big money on
the castle - now it's not."
Primary school teachers only work 183 days a year. So how
depressing to learn from the Department of Education that the
number of sick days taken by teachers is up from eight per teacher
in the 2002/03 school year to 8.5 last year. And when you exclude
from the figures the teachers who took no sick leave, each
malingerer had 12.3 days off.
Keeping the Stakeknife controversy alive is Danny Morrison, the
former Sinn Fein spin doctor jailed for kidnapping Sandy Lynch, an
IRA informer. Morrison has lodged papers in a Belfast court
demanding to know if Freddie Scappaticci, once head of the IRA's
internal security, is the British agent known as Stakeknife. If so,
Morrison wants to know whether the judge who convicted him was
aware of this fact.
He has a point. Lynch said Scappaticci was one of his interrogators
and summonsed Morrison to the scene of the crime. Within minutes
the British Army also arrived and nicked Morrison, in what looked
like an entrapment operation. Had Morrison's trial judge suspected
entrapment was indeed involved, Danny might have beaten the rap.
Three city centre sites have been shortlisted in the search for a
new home for the Abbey Theatre. The Office of Public Works has its
eye on one - Hawkins House is Sue's guess - with a view to
purchasing more property in the vicinity in order to increase the
Murphy gets what he pays for inviting UDA to talk about crime
Paul Murphy, the Northern Ireland secretary made an unaccustomed
slip last week. Murphy was defending his decision to invite three
UDA representatives to Stormont for talks, and to offer them money
to improve conditions in loyalist areas. He said: "There is a huge
onus on government to improve conditions in those communities so
there is no need for paramilitary activity."
The IMC report, out the same day as Murphy spoke, described UDA as
"heavily engaged in crime, including drugs" and "responsible for
shooting, assaults and exiling". What "need" exactly is there for
drug-dealing and assault?
There goes the boy band vote. The Conservatives were distinctly
sniffy last week in response to the news that Busted want Michael
Howard to appear in their next video. "He owes us one, really," say
Busted, who announced their support for the Tories during the
recent party conference. "It's the first we've heard of it," says a
Tory spokesman, "But it's nice to have a laugh once in a while,
Here's how Tory MP Tim Yeo relaxes after another busy day as shadow
environment and transport spokesman. "Foursomes can be agony or
ecstasy and the outcome depends on how you and your partner
combine," he says. "The best results are usually achieved with a
trusted companion." Yes, there's nothing like a good round of golf
foursomes. Oh dear, what did you think he was talking about?
Does Geoff Hoon really need to wage psychological warfare on his
visitors? Student journalist Kate Ward, interviewing the defence
secretary for the Cambridge University newspaper Varsity, was shown
to a waiting room where the lights suddenly went out. "I couldn't
see a switch," she says. "The lights operate on a movement sensor
so whenever I was not frantically waving my arms I was plunged into
Sunday Times - Ireland
Comment: Liam Clark: Odds Are Against Jackpot In The Devolution
When it comes to Northern Ireland, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair are
beginning to resemble men who cannot keep away from the slot
machine. They can't resist another attempt at the jackpot, even
though each one leaves them with less credibility.
The DUP and Sinn Fein stand like those new one-armed bandits
currently being licensed in England. They can reward you with
jackpots worth millions, but they're hard-wired to take in a lot
more than they pay out.
Each time the gamblers approach, they imagine that everyone is
rooting for them and that a great drama is about to unfold. But if
you step outside the seductive ambience of the casino, street life
continues as normal.
It's like that in Northern Ireland. The governments and the
politicians talk about the urgency of restoring the people's
institutions and of building confidence as they pump more money
into the political machines, but the excitement and drama is nearly
all taking place in their minds.
In the real world, few are watching. Last year, in a survey
conducted by the province's two universities, 1,800 people were
asked if they would be sorry if the Northern Ireland assembly were
abolished. Only 37% said they would, 50% didn't care, 6% didn't
know and 2% said they would actually be glad.
There is not, whatever the local politicians tell us, a widespread
or strong feeling among the people of Northern Ireland that they
would be better off governed by their own ministers rather than by
a direct-rule team or the British cabinet acting in consultation
with the Irish government.
It seems clear that a lot of people, especially on the nationalist
side, would like to see devolution back, but they aren't losing
much sleep over it. Assembly or no assembly, most everyday things
are unaffected. The milk still gets delivered in the morning. There
isn't a threat of a return to widespread violence and major
grievances, such as the ones that fuelled the growth of the
Provisional IRA in the early 1970s, are not being created by either
Unemployment is barely over 5% and house prices are low when
compared with most other places. Inward investment, especially in
the technology sector, is gathering strength as confidence grows
that there will be no return to the violence, economic bombing,
political stoppages or targeting of multinational executives.
The tourist industry, once blighted by annual conflicts during the
marching season, is picking up, and American and European accents
can be heard in areas that were once considered no-go for outsiders
because of the risk of being caught up in random violence.
In Londonderry, the large black-lettered graffiti proclaiming "You
are Now Entering Free Derry", which once marked the point of no
return, is now a local monument pointed out to tourists. The house
on which the words were originally written has been demolished for
road widening, but the gable wall bearing the graffiti stands
preserved on a traffic island.
In Belfast, you can hire former IRA prisoners to take you on
walking tours of republican and loyalist areas and introduce you to
campaigning groups on all sides. They are all properly trained and
the service is heavily promoted. The Maze prison, once the scene of
no-wash protests and hunger strikes, is being redeveloped. There
are plans to turn part of the huge site into a museum and
interpretive centre along the lines of Robben Island in South
Africa, Alcatraz in the America or Kilmainham in Dublin.
There is a sense that this is the end of an era, even if its legacy
remains. The past is slowly but surely being put to bed.
New problems like racism, organised crime, and addiction to opiate
drugs, which did not feature so highly during the Troubles, are
coming to occupy centre stage as the threat of political violence
These developments - the liveability of life under direct rule -
may also explain the political intransigence that is apparent in
the population and among politicians. In the last election, the
SDLP and Ulster Unionists were replaced for the first time as the
leading nationalist and unionist parties by Sinn Fein and the DUP.
There are many explanations but the simplest is that, in the
absence of violence, people felt it was safe to vote for a party
that wouldn't give up too much ground.
In the past, most nationalists saw voting Sinn Fein as an
endorsement of violence, and many unionists would have feared that
strengthening the hand of the DUP would lead to mass
demonstrations, instability and disruption.
That is not the case any more. A vote for Sinn Fein is seen as a
vote for the peace process and for a resolute group that will fight
its corner. The DUP is also seen as a strong voice and is winning
over moderate sections of unionism by projecting itself as the
party that will drive a hard bargain and not be afraid to walk away
in the face of republican resistance.
There is a disengagement from politics, but people now fear a sell-
out more than they fear the consequences of failing to reach
agreement. Those who, like David Trimble, were prepared to take
chances to restore power sharing are rejected at the polls.
To put it at its starkest, people do not feel the need to change
their views, take awkward choices or admit that they were wrong
when there is no penalty for carrying on as normal. They feel that
they can afford to stand their ground politically because there is
no disadvantage in doing so.
Appeals by government for politicians to compromise, however well
meant, have to contend with the fact that voters will reject
parties who do so. It may take years of peace, even a generation,
to change that.
Other societies coming out of conflict are normally independent
countries where a different dynamic is at work. When you are
standing on your own two feet with limited international aid, the
alternatives to reaching agreement are less palatable than they are
in Ulster. They can include economic paralysis, the disintegration
of the state into ethnic enclaves or civil war. That is the stark
choice that the ANC and the National party faced in South Africa,
and it forced them to reach a deal.
It is against this backdrop that the British and Irish governments
are planning one last day in the casino with a blueprint for
devolution that Bertie Ahern says will be unveiled at the end of
This time he may hit the jackpot, but the odds are against it. He
talks of a shadow assembly if there is no agreement. That means an
advisory body that will involve no diminution in the £176,470-a-day
(Â235,262) that the suspended assembly already costs the British
exchequer to keep the whole thing ticking over and pay the salaries
of its 108 members and their staff.
The intention is that such a move will buy time for the British and
Irish governments to achieve paramilitary decommissioning and that
the shadow assembly can then become the real thing.
It could work, but the credibility of these initiatives, and even
the interest in them, is running low.
Two New Dailies Set To Spark Ulster Newspaper War
THE battle for hearts, minds and eyeballs in both communities
across Northern Ireland is set to intensify in the next few months
with the planned launch of two new daily newspapers against a
background of declining sales.
The Belfast Telegraph, the flagship Northern Ireland evening
newspaper of Independent News & Media (INM), is set to launch a
compact morning product early next year in a bid to halt falling
sales and advertising revenues. Separately, the final touches are
being made to Daily Ireland, a nationalist rival to the virtual
hegemony of the Irish News.
INM, controlled by Tony O'Reilly, has budgeted around £2m (Â2.87m)
for the Belfast Telegraph project. The compact edition has a
projected circulation of 50,000 and is expected to spark a battle
for readership within the unionist community.
Sales of the Belfast Telegraph fell 12.9% from 108,651 to 94,602 in
the first six months of this year while the Belfast Newsletter
sales dropped 5.5% from 30,474 to 28,788.
Analysts said the biggest casualty could be the Newsletter, despite
improving sales recently under the ownership of David Montgomery,
the former editor of The Mirror, but sales of British tabloids are
also likely be affected. Newsletter sales have been hit hard in
recent years, particularly by the growth of The Irish Sun, which
sells around 79,000 copies.
An INM source said the Belfast Telegraph morning edition would
effectively be a version of the broadsheet evening paper in a
compact format, but with substantially different news and sport
The battle for unionist readers will be mirrored in the nationalist
community where the imminent launch of Daily Ireland, a Sinn Fein-
leaning newspaper, is expected to challenge the 50,000- strong
circulation Irish News, which has traditionally backed the SDLP.
The Daily Ireland will be published by the Andersontown News group,
headed by Martin O'Muilleoir, the former Sinn Fein councillor, and
backed by Peter Quinn, the former GAA president, and Mary White, a
Fianna Fail member of the Seanad in the republic.
Daily Ireland aims to attract readers by taking a strident
republican line and capitalising on the shift of nationalist voters
from the SDLP to Sinn Fein.
A pamphlet given to prospective investors states: "The 'greening'
of voting patterns in northern counties indicates the demand for a
new newspaper with a more assertive nationalist perspective. While
voting patterns are changing, as evidenced in the recent European
elections across Ireland, this has not been reflected in the media
- until now."
Daily Ireland will be distributed across the nine counties of
Ulster as well as Sligo, Leitrim and Louth. It will have offices in
Belfast and Monaghan as well as a correspondent in Dublin.
Sports Stadium Site 'Not Yet Decided'
By Deborah McAleese
06 November 2004
SPORTS Minister Angela Smith today denied reports that the site of
the former Maze prison has been officially chosen as the location
for the proposed multi-sports stadium for Northern Ireland.
Ms Smith said no neutral site has been found and different sporting
bodies have yet to commit to a site, and until that agreement is
reached no final decision can be taken.
According to the Minister, the Government is still waiting for
final recommendations from the Maze Panel, the body in charge of
bringing forward the proposal for the 360-acre site.
She saidany speculation on those recommendations "might be
The Belfast Telegraph yesterday reported that the site has been
earmarked as the site for the stadium.
"No decision has been made and it is not true to say that there has
been a meeting involving the four main political parties and
Downing Street to discuss this issue," the Minister said.
"At the beginning of the appraisal, two basic conditions for the
stadium were set - a suitable and neutral site must be found and
soccer, rugby and the GAA would have to commit to playing games
"At this stage neither of these conditions have been met."
An official announcement on the location of the proposed site is
anticipated within weeks. However, the Belfast Telegraph reported
yesterday that the Strategic Investment Board has plumped for the
360-acre Maze site on economic, infrastructure and parking grounds.
The other main contenders were sites at Belfast Lough's northern
foreshore and the Titanic Quarter in the east of the city.
Comment: Wit Is The Winner
If you want to know what really matters, read the Portadown News
Sunday November 7, 2004
Here is an important message from south Belfast: 'The loyalist
people of south Belfast will nat stand for any more Chinese in our
na-ybo-r-hood, naeborhood... area, so we won't. They are
threatening our way of life by working and undermining our
Britishness by making the place look like London. They should all
go back to Japan where they came from, so they should. God save the
Shortly after this communique was released, a second message was
transmitted from the Village, Sandy Row, Donegall Pass and Donegall
Road warning that famine was about to break out in these loyalist
redoubts because the Chinese community had pulled out and closed
down all their takeaways. Housewives complained that, as a result
of these closures, they were no longer be able to feed themselves
or their children' and it would be the 'Chinkies' fault, so it
Unless, since 2001, you have been living on Planet Zog or in
Lurgan, you will realise that the above threat, followed closely by
prophecies of hunger in parts of south Belfast, came from the
fertile imagination of Portadown's finest son, Newton Emerson. This
iconoclast in cyberspace has demonstrated that you can battle far
more effectively against racist idiocy and sectarian bigotry with
wit and satire than protest-posturing and political correctness.
Emerson's the Portadown News has just morphed from two- dimensional
into three-dimensional space. A compendium of his sharpest spoof
articles, which send up everyone from Jeffrey Donaldson (who gets
three double-page spreads dedicated to him) to Gerry Adams, is now
out in paperback.
The website's creator has a remarkable ability to zero in on recent
political and social developments and construct hilarious
hyperbole. Thus, shortly after Gerry Adams was gushingly profiled
in VIP, the Irish version of Hello! magazine, Emerson ran a brief
on his site where the Sinn Fein chief talks to RIP Magazine and
'shows 2,500 people around heaven'. While Emerson would describe
himself as a soft unionist, his targets also include loyalist
politicians, both liberal and hard-line.
One omission from the book is the lack of sports stories that are
legion on the original website. First-time readers of the Portadown
News will, for instance, miss Emerson's take on last year's Special
Olympics, which were held in Ireland. Displaying his true colours,
the all-red of Portadown FC, he takes a poke at the club's nearest
rivals down the road in sunny Lurgan. 'Glenavon wins the Special
Olympics' the 2003 summer sports page announces, no doubt to gales
of laughter up in Shamrock Park.
Even though he still lives in Portadown (why?), Emerson isn't
intimidated by the presence of lunatic terror groups such as the
LVF or their former chums in the UFF. In one spoof article, the
website's loyalist correspondent, Billy Shootspatrick, reports that
the local defenders of the union are picketing Portadown's
maternity hospital demanding an end to Caesarean sections. 'Caesar
was Roman,' one protester tells Billy, 'and now they've gone and
set up a whole Roman section.'
Arguably, the most laser-sharp observations made in the Portadown
News are not political, but social. A personal favourite is the
advertisement for the 'Four Ulsterbuses of the Apocalypse' with
their hellish destinations - Larne, Antrim, Portadown and
Newtonards, places that always send a shiver down your spine.
'Poetry Corner', near the back of the book, contains some gems
including 'The Hood National Anthem' which is to be sung to the
tune of 'American Pie'. The chorus captures the dress code,
mannerisms, boorishness and downright dumbness of 'Spide' youth
culture - that's hoods to those not around in Ulster punk days and
'scangers' or 'gurriers' to those readers south of the border.
These are the type of people you might see jam-packed in a stolen
Ford Sierra or in the audience of ITV's Trisha.
The anthem for hood youth goes:
And they were singin'
Bye, bye eatin's Spuds cheapest pie,
Drove the Uno roun' the town oh wi' the techno up high,
Wearing baseball caps though it's nearly July
Singin': "I'll stick this f**kin' knife in yer eye
...I'll stick this f**kin' knife in yer eye.
Behind the satire and the often not-so-subtle digs at the pompous,
the bigoted and the brain-dead, the Portadown News is disturbing.
Because the fictitious scenarios, the outlandish protests of
politicians and community leaders, the whingeing, are all closer to
the reality of life in Northern Ireland than you care to imagine.
Newton Emerson taps into that third strain of Northern Irish
society, the one that rejects the sectarian placards hung around
their necks from birth. The Portadown News is a samizdat for the
internal exiles of Northern Ireland, for those who emigrate every
day of their lives from a system coloured either orange or green.
The Portadown News - the Best Bits is published by Gill and
Henry McDonald's new book, Colours - Ireland from Bomb to Boom , is
out now, Mainstream
Giant's Causeway Rocks Providing Link To Mars
By Fiona McIlwaine Biggins
06 November 2004
THE Giant's Causeway could be the key to Mars, according to a
special TV documentary that was part-filmed on location in north
Antrim last week.
'Mars Rocks', presented by space commentator Leo Enright, will see
the Red Planet come down to earth with a bump next week when it is
screened on RTE2 on November 9.
Mr Enright said the connections between Ulster and the exploration
of Mars are striking and explained that scientists in Europe and
America could not have made their great discoveries at Mars this
year without the work of 19th century Irish pioneers, who
revolutionised modern physics, mathematics and geology.
The documentary film crew traveled to the Giant's Causeway to
examine large rock formations that illustrate Ireland's special
contribution to modern scientific thought.
Mr Enright explained: "The Giant's Causeway has a unique place in
the history of modern geology. Eighteenth century scientists in
Ireland and throughout Europe debated fiercely for decades over the
true nature of the rocks on the north Antrim coast.
"What they finally discovered is directly relevant to the
exploration of Mars today," added commentator Enright.
Botanists Baffled By Fred's Plant
New species found at lakeland
By Staff Reporter
06 November 2004
SCIENTISTS lead expeditions into the deepest jungles of South
America and to the remotest ends of the earth in search of new
species of plant.
But Fred Carroll, from Enniskillen, has found one growing in his
There are probably just two specimens in the world, and they have
botanists scratching their heads in bewilderment.
With its mat of yellow-green leaves, pretty white flowers and an
ability to grow in the harshest of environments, Fred is tickled to
think his new plant might become a feature of gardens around the
world, just like that other native of Fermanagh, the Florencecourt
"It's a smasher of a little plant. It would look wonderful in
rockeries," he enthuses.
The good news for those gardeners not blessed with green fingers is
that the plant is exceptionally easy to propagate from cuttings.
"You just stick them in the ground and they grow," says Fred who
discovered the new plant on a remote lakeshore in Fermanagh.
"It was so conspicuous. There was almost nothing else growing on
that rock strewn shore. Even though they were so small they were
sticking out like sore thumbs."
Fred reckons his new plant is a close relative of the sea campion
which is why he has provisionally named it the "Fermanagh campion."
Fred contacted Paul Hackney, a botanist at the Ulster Museum, and
subsequently led a team of 25 members of the Botanical Society of
the British Isles to the remote lakeshore where the plants are
As he recalls: "They were a bit baffled by it and thought it might
have been a multiple mutant of ragged robin."
However, on a visit to the Donegal coast, Fred came upon some sea
campion and went back to his original theory that his plant was not
an abnormal ragged robin but a hybrid of two species: ragged robin
and sea campion.
He thinks the plants may have cross-bred somewhere on the west
coast of Ireland and their tiny seeds, each no bigger than a grain
of pepper, carried on the wind to Fermanagh.
A laboratory or university could identify the plant from its DNA
but in the meantime Fred has set up his own experiment to test his
Having gathered seed pods from the plants and mixed his own compost
to mimic the acid peat soil conditions where the plants are
growing, he is propagating them in his home.
"If it is a hybrid, you should be getting some of the seeds
reverting to the parental types and they will betray themselves
then," he said.