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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 09, 2004
News 11/09/04 - SF: Paisley Fears DUP Embarrassment
News about Ireland & the Irish
IO 11/09/04 SF: Pressured Paisley Fears DUP Embarrassment
IT 11/10/04 Paisley Launches Attack On Ahern -V
BB 11/09/04 Pondering The Arms Question
BT 11/09/04 Sinn Fein In London Talks
UT 11/09/04 Racist Attack In North Belfast V
UI 11/09/04 Alliance Criticises SDLP Devolution Plans
DJ 11/09/04 Nationalists Clash Again On Policing
BB 11/09/04 Cosmetic Heir 'Did Not Snub UUP'
IT 11/10/04 Use Of Shannon Puts Ireland In Line Of Fire- Jackson
UT 11/09/04 Sinn Fein Unveil 'Day Of Reflection' Plans
IT 11/10/04 Shannonside Sells Itself As New Riverside City
IT 11/10/04 Transport Has Divided The Mid- West Hub
IT 11/10/04 Eyre Square Project Is Running Over-Budget
IT 11/10/04 Aran Islands Ferry Still Detained In Galway
PT 11/09/04 Rip-Off Ireland: Fact Or Myth? 4 VO
RT 11/09/04 Waterford Crystal B Sample Tests Positive 3 VO
Rip-Off Ireland: Fact Or Myth?
Bernard McMullen looks at the prices of goods and services in
Torlach Denihan, Director of Retail Ireland, Eddie Hobbs, Director
of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, Michael Kemp, Chief
Executive of the Irish Insurance Federation, and Tadg O'Sullivan,
Chief Executive of the Vintners' Federation, debate why Irish
consumers are incurring such high costs
Bernard McMullen evaluates some of the ways of taking the 'rip-off'
out of Ireland
Micheál Martin, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
agrees that rising prices pose a threat to Ireland's continuing
Waterford Crystal B Sample Tests Positive For Banned Substances
Gareth O'Connor reports on the latest developments in the Cian
O'Connor denies trying to influence Olympics through drugs - Joe
O'Brien highlights aspects of a statement released this evening by
Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, assesses Cian O'Connor's
defending arguments despite his horse having tested positive for
SF: Pressured Paisley Fears DUP Embarrassment
Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley is worried that the Irish
and British governments may come up with proposals for reviving
power sharing at Stormont which will embarrass him, it was claimed
Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said after talks with
British government officials in London that it was clear the DUP
was blocking political progress towards reviving the Northern
The comment came as Mr Paisley accusedTaoiseach Bertie Ahern of
acting in bad faith in recent remarks about the deadlock in the
Mr Paisley said tonight: "It is outrageous that Bertie Ahern is now
in the business of lecturing unionists to admit Sinn Féin/IRA into
the government of Northern Ireland at a time when its own party
refuses to countenance Sinn Féin in power in the Republic.
"Mr Ahern would be better spending his time ensuring that Sinn
Féin/IRA decommission all of its weapons in a way that satisfies
everyone and brings to an end all of its activities.
"His comments indicate bad faith to the democratic community in
circumstances where the Independent Monitoring Commission has
indicated that the IRA is still engaged in all of the activities
that both Mr Ahern and Mr Blair believed were at an end in October
of last year.
"It is time the Irish Government faced up to its responsibilities
and stood shoulder to shoulder with those who are demanding an end
to terrorist and criminal activity."
Irish and British officials have been working on proposals which
will be put to the parties in Northern Ireland on future power
The DUP has been pressing for changes to the way the First and
Deputy First Ministers are elected in the Assembly.
This has been opposed by Sinn Féin and the nationalist SDLP who
have also accused Mr Paisley's party of trying to secure a veto
over the work of other devolved ministers.
Nationalists have attacked the DUP's approach to cross border co-
operation with Irish Government ministers, accusing them of trying
to dilute it and limit their scope of it.
Mr McGuinness tonight said it was clear the DUP was feeling the
pressure from others in the process, including Mr Ahern who on
Monday insisted a deal was tantalisingly close and that it would be
an enormous tragedy if it was allowed to slip away.
The Sinn Féin MP said: "Ian Paisley's comments are a clear response
to the criticism from the Taoiseach of the approach of the DUP.
"It is also something to do with the fact that Ian Paisley knows
that the Government is going to call the situation soon and it may
call it in a way that will acutely embarrass the DUP.
"After last November's Assembly election, the DUP was very keen to
present itself as a new, confident leadership.
"However, I and others in this process have seen little sign of any
leadership or confidence from the DUP in their handling of this
Mr McGuinness said his party was urging the Irish and British
governments to be prepared to move on without the DUP.
"It is very clear right now that the problem resides in the
inability of the DUP to come to terms and accept fundamental
principles of the Good Friday Agreement," the Mid Ulster MP said.
"Our message to both governments is that the DUP is a minority and
over 70 members of the elected Assembly are pro Good Friday
"It is therefore imperative on both governments that they call
things in such a way that they are faithful to the fundamental
principles of the Good Friday Agreement.
"If they don't, the rejectionists will only be encouraged. Sinn
Féin's position is very clear that if there is an attempt by anyone
to tinker with the fundamentals of the Agreement, they will find
our party hostile to that approach."
Mr McGuinness said his party would oppose anything which undermined
ministerial authority in a future executive and anything which
subverted the process of change.
See RTE video at:
Paisley Launches Attack On Ahern -V
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, has rounded on the Taoiseach
for questioning the party's commitment to power-sharing.
Dr Paisley said the DUP would not sign up for any "ragbag" deal. He
said it was outrageous that Mr Ahern was "now in the business of
lecturing unionists to admit Sinn Féin/IRA into the government of
Northern Ireland at a time when his own party refuses to
countenance Sinn Féin in power in the Republic".
"Mr Ahern would be better spending his time ensuring that Sinn
Féin/IRA decommission all of its weapons in a way that satisfies
everyone and brings to an end all of its activities," he said.
Dr Paisley said Mr Ahern's comments indicated "bad faith" and that
it was time the Government "faced up to its responsibilities and
stood shoulder to shoulder with those who are demanding an end to
terrorist and criminal activity".
"We are in the business of getting a fair deal for Northern
Ireland, but Mr Ahern and his officials had better realise that we
will not be settling for any ragbag deal just because he says we
are facing a deadline," he added.
"The DUP will not be bullied, and I will not be dictated to by
those who would want us to settle for much less than our election
commitments. The Irish Government must remember and realise that
unionists will not be lectured about the internal workings of
Northern Ireland. These are not issues for Dublin. There are just
two words for Mr Ahern - heal thyself!"
© The Irish Times
Pondering The Arms Question
By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor
The Halloween deadline for progress on restoring devolution came
and went without frightening any Northern Ireland politicians into
Now Irish Premier Bertie Ahern is trying to concentrate the DUP's
minds with a new target date - the anniversary of last year's
assembly elections, 26 November.
The DUP insist they will not be pushed into agreeing what Ian
Paisley terms a "rag bag deal".
But with the governments still pondering when might be the best
time to go public with their proposals on changing the Stormont
rules, the taoiseach is clearly trying to put the DUP on the back
foot by spelling out the sticking points in more detail than
The DUP leader has responded by accusing the taoiseach of showing
"bad faith to the democratic community".
Last month, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin used the BBC's Inside
Politics programme to accuse the DUP of trying to humiliate
republicans by demanding visible IRA decommissioning.
Now Bertie Ahern, in his speech to Trinity College's Philosophical
Society, has echoed that line.
The taoiseach recognised the need for more transparent disarmament
than in the past.
But in a clear side swipe at the DUP, he added that "if people make
unreasonable demands that carry a resonance of humiliation for any
side, these will be entirely counter- productive and will not work.
"It would be tragically ironic if the prospect of ending IRA
activity and capability was lost because it did not meet
unrealistic thresholds of visibility," he said.
So what are those "unrealistic thresholds"?
The parties and the two governments are slow to confirm precise
details but one informed source told the BBC the DUP want still
photographs of IRA disarmament and "lots of them".
It seems the most republicans are prepared to concede is allowing
the head of the arms commission, General de Chastelain, to provide
an inventory of the arms he has destroyed and to set out a
timetable for complete decommissioning, potentially by the end of
There are other gaps to be bridged. The DUP remains reluctant to
concede a target date for the devolution of policing and justice,
whilst Sinn Fein see it as a pre-requisite.
A senior DUP source confirmed the party reduced its "testing
period" for republican bona fides from six to five months at the
Leeds Castle talks.
However, Sinn Fein continue to reject any "quarantine" period.
But right now those difficulties appear less central than the
debate over the Kalashnikovs and the polaroids. As one Irish source
asked: "What is assurance, and what is humiliation?"
When asked again this week about visible decommissioning, Mitchel
McLaughlin said Sinn Fein was open to reasonable demands, but
suggested republicans did not regard photographic evidence as
He said the arms issue could be resolved but added it would be on
the basis of the Good Friday Agreement and the agreed mechanism "it
is not for the DUP to determine".
He added: "But I think what people will judge is the DUP have
brought forward additional issues to prevent agreement."
Although Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy is said to be
reluctant to make anyone unemployed before Christmas, a further
reduction in MLA salaries cannot be ruled out
The DUP's Gregory Campbell insisted his party's demands for
photographic evidence were "eminently reasonable" because the
community needs proof that the IRA is "out of guns and out of
"We have to have and we think the wider community need to have some
photographic evidence that the arms are being totally
decommissioned," he said.
"That's where we fell down before and we have to make sure we don't
fall down in that regard next time."
Those inclined to take an understanding view of the DUP argue they
are merely trying to avoid a re-run of last October's Hillsborough
debacle when Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble backed out on a
deal which would not have convinced the unionist on the street.
Those less well disposed wonder whether the DUP is playing
electoral games, is struggling with internal divisions (something
its MPs strongly deny) or is simply biologically incapable of
delivering a deal.
Bertie Ahern warns of the consequences of "squandering" this window
Although Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy is said to be
reluctant to make anyone unemployed before Christmas, a further
reduction in MLA salaries cannot be ruled out.
The Trinity College philosophers who made up Bertie Ahern's
audience are no doubt used to pondering classic conundrums like "if
a tree falls in a forest and there's nobody there how do we know if
it makes a sound?"
Perhaps they would like to consider "if an arms dump is covered in
concrete and there's no one there to photograph it, how do we know
If they come up with a definitive philosophical answer to that one,
Northern Ireland's politicians would like to hear it.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/09 17:16:36 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Sinn Fein In London Talks
By Noel McAdam
09 November 2004
Senior Sinn Fein figures met Government officials in London today
amid on-going attempts to intensify the apparently bogged down
Senior negotiator Martin McGuinness and policing spokesman Gerry
Kelly met senior officials as the focus threatened to shift from a
comprehensive deal to blame avoidance.
As behind the scenes contacts continued, party vice-president Pat
Doherty was meeting Liberal Democrat and Conservative Northern
Ireland spokespersons Lembit Opik and David Liddington.
Mr McGuinness said: " Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness
and policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly are today in London for talks
with senior British officials. This follows on from a meeting
yesterday between Martin McGuinness and the Irish Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern.
" Our message to both governments is very clear. The DUP by
refusing to respect democratic mandates and share power on the
basis of equality cannot be allowed to paralyse the process. The
two governments must now drive forward the process of change."
But the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said it was republicans who had
failed to come up to the mark, although the gap between the parties
had been narrowed.
See Video at:
Racist Attack In North Belfast -V
Hospital workers from the Filipino community were targeted today in
the latest racist attacks in north Belfast.
Graffiti was daubed on homes and cars at Queen Victoria Gardens in
Skegoneill and Fortwilliam Parade, said police.
Belfast Lord Mayor, Tom Ekin, condemned the attacks which he said
were that latest in a long line of attacks against the Filipino
"It is shameful that hospital workers, who are so badly needed
here, are being attacked because of the colour of their skin," he
Mr Ekin added: "Those behind this attack are a tiny minority who
represent no-one. They certainly do not represent the vast majority
of the people of the area who are outraged that this has happened."
Democratic Unionist North Belfast MP, Nigel Dodds added: "There can
be no excuse for this type of behaviour.
The people behind this kind of activity need to realise that they
will achieve absolutely nothing except the contempt of decent law-
The Anti Racism Network said the targeting of the Filipino
community had been going on for a considerable time but had got
even worse since the President of the Philippines spoke out to
condemn the victimisation back in April.
Chairman Davy Carlin added: "Sadly the attacks we hear about
through the media are just the tip of the iceberg, and the ARN is
concerned at how racist attacks are becoming more violent and
spreading to places with no history of racist violence."
Sinn Fein`s North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly condemned the racist
attacks and accused loyalist paramilitaries of being responsible.
He said to have a series of homes in different streets all targeted
and attacked in one night would take some level of organisation and
"Loyalist paramilitaries are attempting to export their racist
campaign from the Donegall Road area to north Belfast and this must
be challenged," Mr Kelly said.
He said he was calling on those with influence in the loyalist
community to do whatever was in their power to stop the attacks.
"To stand by and say nothing is as the equivalent to condoning
racism," he added.
Alliance Criticises SDLP Devolution Plans
The SDLP's alternative plan for reviving devolution breaches
fundamental principles of the Good Friday Agreement, it was claimed
Alliance Assembly member Naomi Long said an SDLP proposal that
British government departments be run by appointed commissioners
until devolution returns was inconsistent with the nationalist
party's claim to be staunch defenders of the Agreement.
The East Belfast MLA said: "Over the past few months the SDLP has
climbed onto its high horse to defend every detail of the
structures of the Agreement, not just the fundamentals as Alliance
and the governments have sought to do.
"The SDLP has insisted that it will defend the Agreement to the
hilt and nothing else can be considered. This approach has hindered
"It is therefore strange that the SDLP are now talking about
fallback positions and Plan 'B's.
"Surely their idea of appointed ministers breaches the fundamental
principles of the Agreement?
"Where is the democratic accountability?
"Where does it leave the idea of unionists and nationalists taking
collective responsibility and sharing power together?"
Irish and British government officials are planning to put
proposals for reviving devolution to the parties by November 26.
However considerable gaps remain in the positions of Sinn Féin and
the SDLP on the one hand and the DUP and Alliance on the other on
reforms to the power-sharing system.
Nationalists have opposed DUP moves to change the system in the
Assembly for electing First and Deputy First Ministers.
They have also accused Ian Paisley's party of trying to secure a
veto over the work of other parties' ministers by insisting on
ministerial accountability to cabinet colleagues and the Assembly.
The SDLP and Sinn Féin have alleged the DUP is trying to water down
and limit the scope of cross-border co- operation between future
Stormont ministers and their Irish Government counterparts.
SDLP Assembly members have accused Alliance of acting like the posh
wing of the DUP because they support the changes.
Mrs Long said Alliance believed improvements had to be made to the
Agreement and there was more scope for changes in the fundamentals
than the SDLP were prepared to admit.
"It is a pity that the SDLP was not prepared to show much
creativity in this regard when it could have made a difference,"
"By contrast, Alliance has been making clear that reform is the
only realistic pro-Agreement option.
"Alliance thinks that it is still possible to move forward on the
basis of Plan 'A' - a reformed and improved Agreement, consistent
with its fundamental principles."
Nationalists Clash Again On Policing
Tuesday 9th November 2004
Calls by Catholic Primate Archbishop Sean Brady for Catholics to
give their full support to the PSNI have prompted another furious
row between Sinn Fein and the SDLP on the issue of policing.
Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin accused the SDLP of being unable to
stand over their claim that Patten had been delivered while Mark
Durkan of the SDLP said that some politicians here 'had an
ambivalent attitude towards law enforcement.'
At the weekend Archbishop Brady said: "Real progress on policing
has been made over the last three years. I am convinced that even
greater progress could be made if the whole community took
responsibility for the future success of policing."
These comments were endorsed by the SDLP leader who said:
"Archbishop Brady is right - good steady progress has been made in
the whole area of policing development and in the implementation of
the Patten reform process.
"Not everyone has yet signed up to new policing arrangement in the
North of Ireland but more and more people want the policing
structures to work and to be more effective."
Mr. Durkan added: "Unfortunately there are still some community
leaders and some politicians who still have an ambivalent attitude
to law enforcement in this society.
"This means that there are some community representatives are
abdicating their responsibility in relation to making a positive
contribution towards the entire police reform process in hand."
He continued: "The Catholic community must recognise that
Archbishop Brady is right on policing.
"There are many good people from all sections of our community
participating in the DPPs making a very worthwhile and dedicated
contribution to the whole policing reform agenda being implemented
here in the north. They should be able to do so free from violence
and free from intimidation."
But Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin dismissed Mark Durkan's comments
and said: "We have taken a very strong stance on policing as per
the Patten report but so far that has not been achieved.
"This is evidenced by Sinn Fein's ongoing talks on policing and the
fact that the SDLP are continuing to make representations directly
to the British government on policing which gives lie to their
claim that Patten had been achieved two years ago."
He continued: "Since then there have been two amendments to the
"But there has to be further changes to accountability and
transparency before Sinn Fein wil endorse policing arrangements in
The Sinn Fein chairman went on: "When consulted on the issue of
policing the stance taken by Sinn Fein have been supported by the
majority of the community here.
"We must always repeat that Patten was the compromise and we will
not settle for a compromise of the compromise."
Cosmetic Heir 'Did Not Snub UUP'
The Ulster Unionist Party has denied the heir to cosmetics giant
Estee Lauder snubbed a US fundraising dinner over its Orange Order
A campaign against the New York event was organised by Irish-
However, the UUP said the dinner in Manhatten proved so successful
they planned to hold further such events.
Stephen McCabe of the US Brehon Law Society said he had been
advised by a colleague that the dinner was taking place.
"I was told it was being hosted by Ron Lauder, who I believe is the
heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics company," he said.
"We were somewhat surprised that Mr Lauder would lend his name to a
dinner of this kind, because (UUP leader) David Trimble is a member
of the Orange Order and the UUP reserves 14% of its seats for
members of the Orange Order.
"Mr Lauder didn't appear at his own dinner... I assume he learned
of the nature of the Orange Order."
Mr McCabe said he had witnessed parades during the marching season
and said the Orange Order was "bigoted".
"They (the UUP) are entitled to have fundraisers - everybody is
entitled to that - but the people who are sponsoring them should
know what they are sponsoring."
However, Ulster Unionist chairman James Cooper, who was at the
fundraiser in New York, said Mr Lauder had made it clear he may not
be available to attend the dinner.
"He is a man of very many commitments, but he entirely supported
the dinner and he was very instrumental in making the dinner the
success it was," he said.
"I draw no significance from the fact he wasn't there.
"I haven't heard of the Brehon Law Society before - but it is
clearly a narrow, myopic organisation.
"It is ill-informed. We had an extremely successful dinner despite
the fact that there was a lobbying campaign in New York led by an
Irish-American group to dissuade people from turning up.
"We had well over 100 people at the dinner and we raised
significant funds and very many of those people who were there were
very anxious that we should have more of these events."
The Brehon Law Society is a group of US lawyers with an interest in
One American newspaper reported that the event raised about
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/09 12:55:56 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Use Of Shannon Puts Ireland In Line Of Fire, Says Jesse Jackson
The use of Shannon Airport by US military aircraft on their way to
Iraq puts Ireland "in the line of fire" from terrorist
organisations, US civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson
said in Dublin last night.
While it was "to the good" that the Government did not overtly
support the invasion of Iraq and favoured "the UN route", the
Republic was still "indirectly" participating in the war, Rev
Jackson said after a Literary and Historical Society meeting at
University College Dublin.
"I try to be sensitive to the delicate situation that Ireland is
"Number one, it does not endorse the war, it has no troops in the
war. Ireland chose the UN route rather than the US/Britain route
(in the build up to war). That was a strong position.
"On the other hand Ireland is now very strong economically and
there may be a feeling that some of the big, strong international
companies play hardball . . . they move on countries, they move on
companies. So I sense Ireland is trying to balance that.
"These economic pressures may have been the reason the Irish
Government allowed US war planes to land here.
"I understand the tight-rope the Taoiseach is walking. But in this
global terrorism that fact that Shannon is being used does put
Ireland in the line of fire," he told The Irish Times.
While the US and Britain and chose to go into Iraq alone, without
UN sanction, both countries "cannot get out alone". "(They) need
the help of the world family. Iraq and the war cannot be isolated,
it affects us all. Ireland's leadership in the EU and UN is
© The Irish Times
Sinn Fein Unveil 'Day Of Reflection' Plans
Sinn Fein mayors and council chairs are to take part in tree
planting ceremonies and civic events next month in memory of those
killed in all conflicts, it emerged today.
The party confirmed its plans for a day of reflection in five
council areas on December 10, coinciding with International Human
However its plans were attacked by Democratic Unionist MP Gregory
Campbell for equating IRA members killed during the Troubles with
their victims and the dead of other wars.
The chairs of Omagh and Strabane councils Sean Clarke and Jarleth
McNulty are to take part in tree planting ceremonies in Omagh and
Strabane on December 10.
The Mayor of Derry, Gearoid O hEara and council chairs in
Magherafelt and Fermanagh - Patsy Groogan and Gerry McHugh - will
hold civic ceremonies.
In a joint statement the mayor and council chairs said they were
planning events which valued all experiences of conflict equally.
"The `Day of Reflection` events are not intended to replace the
existing commemorative events but are underpinned by a desire to
provide civic leadership with the aim of promoting reconciliation
and equality," their statement insisted.
"We hope that our efforts will build upon the important work by
Derry Mayor Gearoid O hEara and by Alex Maskey, during his term as
mayor of Belfast, to develop the concept of recognising the
experiences of all equally, and together."
Republicans have traditionally felt uncomfortable about taking part
in Remembrance Day celebrations.
However during his term of office as Belfast`s first ever Sinn Fein
Lord Mayor, Alex Maskey held his own remembrance events and visited
the Somme on behalf of the city.
Unionists, however, have accused Sinn Fein of devising the day of
reflection as a mechanism for its mayors and council chairs to
avoid attending Remembrance Day events.
Councillor McHugh today claimed the day of reflection was an
authentic tribute to all who have lost their lives as a result of
war and conflict and to all those who still lived with the pain and
memory of that loss.
"The Day of Reflection will serve as a means of reflection and
recognition of the suffering of everyone who has been affected by
war and conflict in and from County Fermanagh, and that there is a
need to have their experiences validated and recognised," he
"The Day of Reflection will be an inclusive, non-hierarchical,
civic event in its form and content, established to provide public
space for all in the community who have lost loved ones and to
remember those who died as a result of war and conflict."
The plan was dismissed, however, by East Londonderry MP Gregory
The former Stormont Regional Development minister said: "It is now
clear that plans for a day of reflection are nothing more than a
Sinn Fein/IRA orchestrated campaign to ensure that dead terrorists
are remembered on the same level as those who gave their lives in
the cause of freedom and those murdered by the IRA over the last 30
"Anyone pondering whether to attend such a Sinn Fein event needs to
answer the question why are those who planted bombs and shot
innocent people being remembered in the same way as innocent
"Once again, Sinn Fein/IRA is busy diverting attention from the
fact that they cannot bring themselves to remember those who have
paid the supreme sacrifice for freedom and democracy, instead
preferring to glorify a campaign of terror."
Shannonside Sells Itself As Europe's New Riverside City
The hottest political issue in Limerick revolves around a propsal
to extend the city boudary, writes Frank McDonald.
Bloody feuding between rival gangs has done no good for Limerick's
reputation in recent years, earning it a notorious nickname and
overshadowing a quite remarkable transformation of its physical
fabric, at least in the city centre.
Little-known facts about the Limerick area include the statistic
that it is the wealthiest part of Ireland outside the Greater
Dublin Area. However, many of its better-off residents live not in
the city but in Co Limerick and Co Clare, a phenomenon that is
replicated in Cork by those who prefer to be "county people".
Limerick's city boundary, last changed in 1950, no longer reflects
the extent of its suburbs. Castletroy and Dooradoyle lie just
outside it in Co Limerick while Caherdavin and Parteen are in Co
Clare. Even part of Limerick City Council's Moyross housing estate
is located in the Banner County.
Against the objections of Limerick County Council, the draft city
plan - due to be adopted by November 26th - describes the boundary
as "artificially tight" and says the city council will pursue a
major extension in order to develop a coherent strategy for the
whole city, which it calls "Greater Limerick".
It wants to absorb 11,590 acres of Co Limerick and 3,890 acres of
Co Clare, as proposed in a 1996 council resolution, arguing that
the "partitioning" of the city and its immediate environs is
"inimical to the . . . well-being" of Limerick and its strategic
role as the urban hub of the mid-west region.
"Social imbalance resulting from rural depopulation is universally
recognised", the draft city plan says. "Less obvious is the
imbalance caused by loss of population to the periphery, such as
has been experienced in Limerick and manifested by urban
obsolescence and social deprivation."
In 1950 Limerick had a population of 50,828, while the number of
people living in its environs was only 4,294. By 2002 this had
risen to 39,263, while the number in the city went up marginally to
54,058. It is estimated that by 2017 Limerick's population will be
outstripped by its suburbs.
At a city council meeting last month, senior planner Dick Tobin
pointed out that the town boundary of Ballina, Co Mayo, which was
extended in 2002, now encompasses an area three-quarters the size
of Limerick, although it has a population of only 9,500 - less than
a fifth of the mid-west's capital.
"The problem for the city is that a whole range of allocations,
from money for childcare to grants for architectural conservation,
is based on population so Limerick loses out," Tobin says. "In
addition, the present boundary effectively disenfranchises nearly
40,000 people in the extended area."
It also magnifies the scale of social deprivation in the city,
making it appear even worse. Limerick is at the bottom of the
league, well behind the other cities. Its local-authority tenants
have lower incomes than those living anywhere else - just three-
quarters of the national average for such tenants.
Moyross is among the poorest of Limerick's housing estates. Located
north-west of the city centre, it has 800 to 1,000 houses in
several so-called neighbourhoods, served by a single access road.
Numerous houses are steel-shuttered because people could no longer
put up with anti-social behaviour.
Though developed in the 1980s, Moyross has no real sense of place.
Roads are bleak, open space useless except for grazing horses or
having bonfires, and a neighbourhood shopping centre is only now
being built. Commuter trains between Ennis and Limerick are
regularly attacked by stone-throwing youths.
In 2001 the Government declared Moyross and the nearby council
estates of Ballynanty, Kileely and part of Thomondgate as a RAPID
initiative area, and a plan was prepared to counter their effective
economic exclusion by, for example, infilling some of the vacant
land with new mixed-tenure housing.
Not far away, near Thomond Park, Limerick Institute of Technology
is another world. Its newer red-brick buildings, designed by Murray
O'Laoire Architects, include the 350-seat Millennium Theatre, which
is good for small productions. The students' car-park to the rear
is almost always overflowing.
Out at the University of Limerick in Plassey, the concert hall
seats more than 1,000, making it by far the biggest indoor venue in
the area. Developed along Belfield lines since it was set up as an
National Institute of Higher Education in 1973, UL is forever
adding more buildings to its campus, which has now leaped into Co
A quite stunning new bridge in two parallel parts - one for cars
and the other for cyclists and pedestrians - crosses the Shannon to
link the original site to its new territory, where the fourth
"student village" is currently being completed. Also under
construction is a new building for health sciences.
Plans are well advanced for an Irish World Music Centre, the
brainchild of Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, professor of music at UL.
Designed by French-born architect Daniel Cordier, following an
international competition, this rather eccentric Â14 million
building is expected to be completed by summer 2007.
But it is in the centre of Limerick that new buildings have made
the most impact. A 20-year-old vision by Jim Barrett, the former
city architect, to turn the city around to face the Shannon is well
on its way to being realised, with an array of architecture of
appropriate scale appearing along the river.
Since then numerous civic, commercial and residential projects have
sprung up along the city's quays, with nearly Â1 billion invested
in hotels, offices, restaurants, shops and apartments, stretching
from Arthur's Quay to Steamboat Quay - as well as the Hunt Museum,
installed in the former Custom House.
The Clarion Hotel has become something of an icon for the "new
Limerick" and is trading so successfully that apartments at the
upper levels are to be remodelled to provide extra rooms. It will
be matched by a 14-storey office block, on the site of gable-
fronted Munchin House overlooking Shannon Bridge.
Across the river where the scale is much more domestic, the low-
slung Jury's Hotel on Callaghan's Strand is to be replaced by a
seven-storey building flanked by three apartment blocks that will
overlook Sarsfield Bridge and establish a new scale for urban
development on the north bank of the Shannon.
On the city side, one block back from the river, the Savoy Centre -
a multiplex cinema and bowling alley with apartments overhead, all
built in the late 1980s - is due to be demolished for another hotel
and apartments over two levels of shopping, which will add to the
impressive remaking of Henry Street.
Its linchpin is the new Dunnes Stores, designed by Newenham
Mulligan and Associates in a similar style as their award-winning
Roches Stores in Dublin.
It cleverly masks a multi-storey car-park and also includes a block
of apartments on Harvey's Quay, one of several developed along the
river in recent years. Opposite Dunnes, Limerick architect Séamus
Carr has won plaudits for his sensitive conversion of one of the
city's old warehouse buildings, for young developer Aidan Brooks.
The same team are currently completing an impressive office and
apartment scheme at the corner of Shannon Street.
Baker Place, around the Tait Clock, has been beautifully repaved in
French sandstone, buff-coloured concrete flags and limestone kerbs
with stainless steel bollards. Designed by London-based architect
Nick de Jong, it is a pilot project for the main shopping streets,
at an overall cost of Â15 million.
But what of Newtown Pery, the most extensive Georgian district
outside Dublin? Though designated as an architectural conservation
area in the draft city plan, no actions are promised to reverse the
proliferation of "swing-out" PVC windows and ugly signage, on and
off O'Connell Street.
Limerick County Council has vacated a terrace of Georgian houses
near The Crescent by moving out to its spanking new County Hall in
Dooradoyle, while the Society of St Vincent de Paul operates from a
prominent house on Hartstonge Street which has been defaced by PVC
- and nothing is done about it.
Little help is available to protect the Georgian core - only
Â50,000 this year, a fraction of what is needed, according to Denis
Leonard, director of Limerick Civic Trust; its most ambitious
project, the restoration of No 2 Pery Square, has cost Â1.5 million
and, though now open to the public, is not a paying proposition.
Founded in 1983, the trust's mission is to preserve Limerick's
historic buildings and spaces and to acquire and restore
"endangered urban resources for public enjoyment". Its 100-plus
projects included restoring the 17th-century Bishop's Palace, once
earmarked for demolition, as its own headquarters.
It is currently preparing a "housekeeping" report for the city
council, which will no doubt stress the need for better maintenance
of public areas, such as Arthur's Quay park, which now looks
unkempt just 10 years on; even the tourist office has cobwebs
festooning the globe lights under its canopy.
King John's Castle once had 20 local- authority houses in its
courtyard, but they were cleared away more than a decade ago and
the residents rehoused nearby. Murray O'Laoire's visitor centre may
have few fans in Limerick, but at least it's still open - unlike
Castle Lane, which turned into a commercial disaster.
Promoted by Shannon Development, this pastiche of Old Limerick
attracted the "wrong crowd", but it was also based on the same
tired business plan as banqueting in the brick vaults of The
Granary, which also failed; this vast space is now the Trinity
Rooms, a trendy nightclub with shades of Barcelona.
But the city would be worse off without Shannon Development, which
is still the only regional development agency in the State. It is
now marketing Limerick as "Europe's new Riverside City", with an
ambitious plan to transform the entire waterfront from the old
docks area all the way upriver to UL.
Limerick architect Hugh Murray says there is a need for a shared
vision of the city's future and focused civic leadership to bring
it about. "There must be ambition first, then you can build up the
pride. But if people identify with the city and are more positive
about it, that would have a resonant effect," he believes.
Whether the various authorities in Limerick, all of which
subscribed to the Riverside City vision, will actually work
together to achieve it is an open question. Certainly, if the
proposed boundary change is contingent on agreement being reached
between the three councils, then it won't happen.
© The Irish Times
Transport has divided the mid-west hub
As more people move out of Limerick, minor roads are becoming
congested, a problem not helped by poor co- ordination between city
and county councils, writes Frank McDonald.
Limerick, like Galway (and Dublin, of course), is now surrounded by
an ever-widening commuter belt. Recent sprawl has been prompted by
a "We don't want to live in Limerick" factor, particularly among
the more well-heeled.
The chocolate-box village of Adare may look charmingly unspoilt,
with no noticeable ribbon of development along its main route, the
N21. But the minor roads in every direction are littered with
houses, most no doubt owned by commuters who drive into Limerick
The same is true throughout south-east Co Clare, with one-off
houses spreading along some minor country roads around Cratloe,
Meelick and other villages. Cratloe, a popular place for weddings
because of its white-walled barn church, even has a suburban estate
tacked on to it.
Yet Limerick has four railway lines running into it. In a sensible
society, its development would have been planned along these lines,
stretching out towards Foynes, Nenagh, Ennis and Limerick Junction.
That didn't happen, and even today there is only a limited commuter
service on the Ennis line.
There is also a clear lack of co-ordination between the three
principal local authorities, Limerick City Council and the county
councils of Limerick and Clare. And though a common land use and
transportation strategy was drafted by Buchanan and Partners in
2001, it has still not been adopted.
"Trying to get it through our neighbours has been a nightmare,"
said one city official. Clare wasn't too difficult because at least
it got the Ennis commuter service and proposed branch line to
Shannon, but Limerick County Council was more truculent because it
fundamentally disagreed with the plan.
The county objected to the population share- out, which put the
emphasis on reinforcing Limerick as the hub of the mid-west region.
But although it wanted to see more growth in county towns like
Newcastle West, it located its own headquarters in Dooradoyle, a
suburb of Limerick.
It took three years to reach agreement even at administrative level
on the Buchanan strategy and it has yet to be formally adopted by
the three councils. In the meantime, public transport users are not
well served; Bus Éireann has a fleet of just 24 buses to serve the
city, and there are no bus lanes.
The priority is road investment. Last August An Bord Pleanála
approved plans for the second phase of Limerick's Southern Ring
Road, including a tunnel under the Shannon, at an estimated cost of
Â350 million. It also didn't have the power to order an increase in
the tunnel's height to accommodate taller trucks.
Nearly one kilometre long, Limerick's fourth river crossing is
forecast to reduce traffic congestion on routes leading out of the
city by providing a bypass which would cater for some 40,000
vehicles a day, including traffic converging on Limerick from
Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Ennis and Shannon.
According to the city council's senior planner, Dick Tobin, rail
investment in the area "only makes sense in a west of Ireland
context, connecting Cork to Galway via Limerick". That would mean
reinstating the line between Ennis and Athenry as well as upgrading
the existing line to give faster journey times.
As it is, the train journey from Ennis to Limerick takes 40 minutes
- 10 minutes longer than travelling by car - even though there are
no intermediate stations along the line. Nonetheless, this
relatively new service is said to be "doing quite well", with six
trains each way per day for a fare of Â2 at present.
The Government's Strategic Rail Review, published in April 2003,
was dubious about opening a branch line to Shannon because of the
cost, estimated at Â117 million. But Barry Boland, of Beaux Walk
Properties, which is redeveloping Shannon town centre, has offered
to chip in.
Under the Government's decentralisation plan, Enterprise Ireland,
with 300 staff, and the Irish Aviation Authority, with 100, are to
be located in Shannon, while 50 Revenue staff are earmarked for
Kilrush. Though designated as a "hub" town in the National Spatial
Strategy, Ennis was overlooked.
Limerick, a "gateway" in the NSS, is to get the development aid
division of the Department of Foreign Affairs. A site on the Island
Road, which was driven through the heart of the medieval city, has
been selected for offices to accommodate them - probably because it
is in the city council's ownership.
© The Irish Times
Councillor says Eyre Square project is running over-budget
Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent
Galway City Council has denied that the cost of the controversial
Eyre Square re-landscaping is running over- budget.
The council was responding yesterday to a claim by a Green Party
councillor, Mr Niall O'Brolchain, that the cost of the project
appeared to be in danger of "spiralling out of control".
Cllr O'Brolchain, a long-time opponent of the Galway centre
project, said that he had watched the bill rise steadily since its
"The first figure I remember hearing in terms of cost was
Â2.5million. This changed to Â4 million, then to Â4.5 million and
on to Â5 million.
"Now in the latest edition of Construction magazine it is claimed
that Samuel Kingston Construction Ltd is charged with completing
the Â6.5 million Eyre Square enhancement scheme," the Green Party
"People in Galway are fed up that their square has been out of
action for so long, and that it will continue to be out of action
until at least October 2005.
"The fact that the costs appear to be spiralling out of control is
adding insult to injury."
There was increasingly less tolerance among the public for such
projects running late and over-budget, he noted.
However, Galway's acting city manager, Mr Joe O'Neill, said that
the contract figure of 6.5 million included the cost of "work other
than the enhancement scheme", such as public lighting, drainage and
water, as well as the works required under the redevelopment.
Some 4 million of this was being paid for by the EU.
The contract with Samuel Kingston Construction was signed last
January before work started, Mr O'Neill said.
"The project is not over budget, and the figure of Â6.5 million has
been public knowledge since the contract was signed," he said.
© The Irish Times
Aran Islands Ferry Still Detained In Galway
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
The Aran Islands are still without a full cargo service due to
the continued detention in port of the regular ferry from Galway.
The Oileann Arainn, owned by O'Brien Shipping Ltd, has been tied up
since last week following inspections by a Maritime Safety
Directorate surveyor and Department of Marine engineer.
Safety and technical flaws will have to be rectified before the
ferry can resume its thrice weekly sailings.
The Happy Hooker, has been shipping light loads to the islands
since late last week, but the full cargo service remains suspended.
Last week, the ferry was also prevented from sailing by the Galway
Harbour Office due to Â25,000 in unpaid dues, but a cheque was paid
late on Friday.
The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs pays
Â603,000 annually for the cargo and passenger service provided from
Galway docks by the Co Clare company. The contract which it has
held for the past 12 years has been criticised by the Comptroller
and Auditor General, and the Department intends to end the service
in two years and to run cargo from Rossaveal from 2007.
Last year, O'Brien Shipping was fined Â3,000 for hygiene breaches
in delivering foodstuffs to the islands. The directors, Mr Kevin
O'Brien and Mr Bill O'Brien (not related), also own Doolin Ferries
and were jailed in September for a night after being found in
contempt of a court order aimed at easing tensions between rival
ferry companies in the Clare harbour.
© The Irish Times