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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 14, 2004
News 11/14/04 - New Plan To Break Deadlock
News about Ireland and the Irish
SB 11/14/04 New Plan To Break Northern Deadlock
ST 11/14/04 Ahern Declares He's Been A Socialist All Along
SM 11/13/04 Paramilitaries To Make 'Ceasefire' Statement
TE 11/13/04 IRA Can Keep Guns Under British Deal, Claim Unionists
ST 11/14/04 IRA Link To Belfast Bullets Cache
GU 11/13/04 Let This Beacon Burn
GU 11/13/04 'Garda Knew Of IRA Mole In Force'
AP 11/13/04 Trimble: IRA Likely Bluffing, Won't Disarm –V
ST 11/14/04 Comment: It May Be Slow, But There's Progress
ST 11/14/04 WTO Opens US Door For Irish Bookies
ST 11/14/04 Irish Return Home As US Dream Fades
ST 11/14/04 It'll Be A Long Way From Tipperary: Reagan Pub Heads To CA
RT 11/13/04 Body Of Kilkeel Fisherman Recovered -VO
Body Of Kilkeel Fisherman Recovered - (22:23) Police divers in North
Ireland have recovered the body of Kilkeel fisherman Colin Donnelly.
New Plan To Break Northern Deadlock
By Paul T Colgan
The British and Irish governments will table dramatic proposals this week
in a last-ditch bid to break the political deadlock between Sinn Féin and
the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The deal will involve IRA decommissioning by Christmas, strengthened ties
between Dublin and the Northern Assembly and the scrapping of cross-
community voting for the First and Deputy First Ministers, according to
Cooperation between the Irish government and the Northern executive is
expected to be strengthened in the deal after a proposed review of the
Unionist sources have raised concerns over the possibility of a greater
role for the Irish government in the North's affairs, if the DUP fails to
agree to a deal.
"An increased role for the Irish government is a clear and present
danger," said one Ulster Unionist source.
The governments will put the finishing touches to the proposals in the
coming days and present them to the parties later this year. The plan is
expected to force the DUP finally to agree a deal.
Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said that "disarray and
confusion'' within the DUP was the only issue preventing agreement.
Following a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in Dublin yesterday,
party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: "The two governments must now
send a strong message to the rejectionists. They must ensure that the
approach adopted by the DUP is not allowed to stall the process of change
"The choice must be clear for the DUP. They can join with the rest of us
and move forward along the course set out in the Agreement or that
process will have to move on regardless."
Proposals to increase the accountability of the Northern Executive have
also been mooted, but are expected to fall short of DUP demands for a
veto on cabinet ministers.
Any plans to scrap joint voting on the top two Northern posts will be
welcomed by the DUP, which has feared it may have to endorse a senior
Sinn Féin member as Deputy First Minister.
The DUP is still demanding complete transparency on IRA decommissioning.
Sinn Féin has claimed that such a demand is designed to humiliate
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he feared the parties would miss the
November 26 deadline for an agreement.
"The signs are not good," said Durkan. "The DUP in particular seems
desperate to leave things until after the Westminster elections. If that
happens, the two governments are going to have to find alternative ways
of delivering as much of the Agreement as possible."
Ahern Declares He's Been A Socialist All Along
IRELAND awoke yesterday to the astonishing news . . . that Bertie Ahern
is a socialist. The taoiseach, who has shared power for seven years with
the country's most right-wing party, the Progressive Democrats, declared
that he was "one of the few socialists left in Irish politics".
The announcement, which follows criticism of the government for favouring
the rich, caused wisespread bemusement among fellow politicians.
"If Bertie Ahern is a socialist the moon is a balloon, Ian Paisley is a
member of Opus Dei and Tony Blair never told a lie in his life," said
Eamon McCann, a writer and socialist.
"What it really shows is that Ahern recognises that being a socialist
would be a popular thing to be. It is testimony to the endurance of the
principles of socialism that he would make a spurious claim to the
The comments also surprised Ahern's political allies. Tom Morrisey, a
Progressive Democrat senator, said: "We are a pragmatic party and Fianna
Fail has accepted our policies.
I did not know the taoiseach was a socialist and I am surprised. Fianna
Fail is a catch-all populist party so I suppose he could have those
views. It just shows how easily people can wear a label."
That Fianna Fail is led by a socialist leader might also give pause for
thought to its allies in the European parliament, which include the
extreme-right Danish People's party and Alleanza Nazionale, a post-
fascist Italian grouping.
Ahern's declaration of socialist credentials will be seen as a ploy to
stop Sinn Fein from taking the party's working-class vote.
Fianna Fail suffered a significant defeat in local and European elections
amid criticism that the party had favoured the rich. Backbench TDs
accused the leadership of following a liberal economic agenda set by its
Progressive Democrat partners.
Aengus O Snodaigh, a Sinn Fein TD, said: "God love him, he is confused.
He might be trying to be all things to all people but the reality is we
are one of the richest countries in Europe, yet the gap between rich and
poor increases. That is not socialism."
In the interview in yesterday's Irish Times the taoiseach expounded on
his personal left-wing manifesto. " I have a very socialist view on
life," he explained. "I have it in my mind that I own the Phoenix Park,
and I own the Botanic Gardens, I own the zoo. Because the state
participates in these things, I am free to go in whatever the opening
Paramilitaries To Make 'Ceasefire' Statement
By Alan Erwin, PA
The Ulster Defence Association will move towards helping end paramilitary
violence at a series of huge rallies across Northern Ireland today.
Up to 10,000 UDA men are set to attend Remembrance Day parades where the
terrorist organisation will respond to the Government's decision to
recognise its ceasefire.
It is understood the group, which has continued to kill and run a multi-
million pound drug industry in the decade since it first claimed its guns
had been silenced, will not make any concrete disbandment offer.
But UDA chiefs know they must make concessions in return for Northern
Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy's risky decision to give them another
chance to prove their war is over.
One of the events will be held in the Rathcoole estate, a loyalist
stronghold on the outskirts of north Belfast.
Mr Murphy challenged the main loyalist organisation to guarantee an end
to the mayhem following negotiations with senior UDA commanders.
Three years after his predecessor, John Reid, declared its ceasefire
obsolete due to sickening sectarian murders and savage feuding, the
Ulster Secretary is set to de-specify the organisation from midnight
He said: "I am persuaded the UDA is now prepared to go down a different
road, moving away from its paramilitary past."
Doubting nationalist representatives and relatives of their victims are
yet to be convinced the UDA sincerely wants to follow a purely political
But its advisers in the Ulster Political Research Group insist the
grouping is genuine, and have urged the Government to provide the help
they need to fight severe social deprivation in working class Protestant
One source close to the announcement said tonight: "It will be
significant and it will cover new ground, otherwise it would be
IRA Can Keep Guns Under British Deal, Claim Unionists
By Alan Murray and Melissa Kite
The IRA will be allowed to keep 15 per cent of its weapons for "self-
defence" under secret plans to tempt republicans back into a power-
sharing government in Northern Ireland, Unionists said yesterday.
The deal was revealed to them by British officials during a private
briefing at Stormont last month, they claimed.
Under the terms, the IRA would be allowed to keep handguns and small
submachine guns suitable for close combat and deterring assasinations -
despite the Government's Ulster peace plan which stipulates that
paramilitaries must decommission all weapons.
Details of the plan emerged as the British and Irish governments prepared
to attempt to revive the power-sharing executive and assembly this week.
The deal was revealed to the paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence
Association, and its political wing, the Ulster Political Research Group,
during joint negotiations with Northern Ireland Office officials.
The IRA would be allowed to keep the weapons to deter attacks from rival
republican anti-agreement groups such as the Continuity IRA and the Real
IRA. Before decommissioning began in 2001, the IRA was estimated to have
two tonnes of Semtex and 650 AK47 rifles, as well as rocket launchers,
mortar bombs and ammunition. It was reported last week that the
provisionals had now destroyed more than 100 tonnes of weapons.
Michael McGimpsey, the senior Ulster Unionist Party negotiator and the
assembly member for south Belfast, said that the retention of even a
small number of guns was "disgraceful".
"It turns law and order and moral imperatives totally on its head," he
said. "Nobody believes for a second that if they were allowed to keep
weapons for self-defence they would be there for anything other than to
threaten their own community and to ensure discipline in their
"If they need protection, they are going to have to be protected in the
same way as the rest of us - by the police. There is no place for any
illegal weapons. It would be an absolute disgrace and something that will
be completely and utterly rejected by anyone with any sense at all."
David Trimble, the UUP leader, told his party's annual conference in
Newcastle, Co Down, yesterday that Tony Blair had missed an opportunity
at Leeds Castle in Kent in September to press republicans on the issue of
decommissioning. "We do not know what republicans supposedly offered to
Blair," he said. "I suspect the offer was more a bluff than anything
"Blair should have nailed it down but with characteristic optimism he
rushed at it. There must be genuine acts of completion that
satisfactorily resolve decommissioning and paramilitary issues. Without
that prospect, there will be no progress."
The Government is expected to put a "take it or leave it" deal to the
parties in Belfast this week in a bid to restore devolution to the
province, where the institutions were suspended two years ago.
The parties will be given the deadline of November 25 - the anniversary
of the last Assembly elections - to sign.
Officials in London and Dublin claim that a deal is close after weeks of
behind-the-scenes negotiations. Downing Street, however, sought to play
down the Unionist claims. "That does not sound like anything I have
seen," said a spokesman.
The UDA was welcomed back into the political fold on Friday when the
Government recognised its year-long ceasefire in an attempt to boost the
IRA Link To Belfast Bullets Cache
A LARGE ammunition haul found in Lisburn's Twinbrook estate has been
linked to the Provisional IRA and is believed to have been imported quite
The discovery may disrupt political negotiations aimed establishing a
power-sharing administration between Sinn Fein, the political wing of the
IRA, and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist party.
The haul, described as "colossal" by a magistrate, consisted of 10,000
rounds of 7.62 calibre ammunition. The munitions are used in Kalashnikov
AK assault rifles, the IRA's weapon of choice. They are thought to have
been manufactured in Russia no later than 1999.
It is believed that the ammunition was imported within the last three
years and security sources are disturbed that it was found in a house on
the outskirts of West Belfast rather than in in a long-term hideout.
The householder, who has been charged with possession of the ammunition
with intent to endanger human life, has pleaded not guilty. Belfast
Magistrates Court was told that she claimed masked men had told her that
she would "would be dealt with severely" if she did not obey them.
Last night members of the DUP said that they had already been told by
security sources that the ammunition belonged to the Provisional IRA.
Consumer goods seized in the house are being examined to see whether they
came from a £1.2m raid on a Belfast Makro superstore by the IRA in May.
There is no suggestion that the householder knew the suspected origin of
Let This Beacon Burn
The Political Collection must receive the funding it deserves
Sunday November 14, 2004
Gerry Adams's face on a £10 note. David Trimble with a noose round his
neck on the front of a wooden coat hanger. Santa Claus spreadeagled
against a wall with British army rifles trained on his back. Orange
sashes superimposed on the bodies of Princess Diana, Prince Charles and
Prince William. Chocolate bars with a picture from the Siege of Drumcree
on the wrapper. Rubber and plastic bullets. Badges of every shape and
political message and a children's-style A- to-Z booklet from the Provos
starting with 'A is for Armalite'. Loyalist litter warnings to Keep
Ulster Tidy by throwing your rubbish in the Republic. All fragments of 35
years of Irish history contained in a glass compartment which, if things
stay as they are, you might not see again for a very long time.
This bric-a-brac of the Troubles is a small, visually striking part of
the wider Linenhall Library's Political Collection in central Belfast.
For more than a decade, it has been a haven for journalists, writers,
artists, ex-prisoners, politicians and international statesmen. Bill
Clinton has paid homage there; so has George Mitchell, his peace envoy
during the build up to the Good Friday Agreement.
Nationalists, republicans, unionists and loyalists have used, visited or
praised the work of its dedicated staff. It was not unusual to see ex-IRA
and UVF prisoners sitting together in the reading room, bent in monkish
meditation over a rival's Phd written in prison or correcting their own
thesis while consulting a forest of research material. Brad Pitt spent
three days in the collection while researching his role in the film, The
As well as containing press clippings, volumes of books written about the
conflict from different perspectives and piles of boxes containing almost
every political pamphlet, election manifesto, agitprop leaflet and
discussion document printed since the Troubles began, the collection runs
an award-winning database of every poster and visual image drawn over the
last 35 years.
In 2003, Troubled Images won the Ewart-Biggs Award for promoting peace
and understanding between Ireland and Britain. At the award ceremony,
Professor Roy Foster, one of Ireland's most eminent historians, described
the library as a 'beacon of light, learning and impartial inquiry in the
That light grows dimmer with the closure of the collection. A crisis in
funding at the library has resulted in a temporary shutdown of this
priceless asset. At a time when certain politicians are trying to bend
and twist modern Irish history to justify what they did in their squalid
'war', it is worrying that such an objective well of information is being
rationed. Only a limited amount of material from the collection will be
available in the Linenhall's Irish section until the library can find the
finance to get it up and running again.
The plight of this world-renowned centre of expertise is perplexing given
the ongoing push to bring more tourists to Northern Ireland. Like it or
not (the numbers flocking on the 'terror tour' buses every day that
traverse the Falls and Shankill Roads confirm this), our Troubles' legacy
has become a major tourist attraction. While writing books or researching
various articles and columns, I don't think there was a single day in the
collection without caravans of foreign tourists marching into the reading
room, poring over the glass compartment containing those conflict
artifacts, connecting on to the com puter to open the Troubled Images CD
or scanning through film archives on both television and PC.
As the library waits for additional funds next year from Belfast City
Council as well as donations from private benefactors, surely this is a
crisis that requires Tourism Ireland to step into the breach.
Why can't the cross-border body which aims to attract more foreigners
provide emergency finance to unlock the doors of the collection? It has,
after all, become a magnet for overseas visitors since the ceasefires,
more important than all those garish murals in north and west Belfast
that the Americans, Japanese, Germans, Italians and others come to see
while on their living history tour.
There is, however, one very personal reason why I cannot stand idly by
and watch the demise of this much loved institution. Back in June, it was
where we held a moving ceremony in memory of the late Jack Holland, who
died earlier in the year. Every time this native of Belfast returned home
one of his first ports of call was the Political Collection. He often
told me that when he climbed the stairs to floor three, his spirits would
be raised - he knew he was home! In memory of him alone, we cannot let
this 'beacon of light' go out.
You can send private donations to support the Northern Ireland Political
Collection at the Linenhall Library, 17 Donegall Square North, Belfast
'Garda Knew Of IRA Mole In Force'
Henry McDonald, Ireland Editor
Sunday November 14, 2004
Police on both sides of the border knew an IRA mole was operating inside
the Garda before he set up two senior RUC officers for assassination.
The agent is accused of setting up Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and
Superintendent Bob Buchanan, who were shot dead on the South Armagh/Louth
border on 20 March 1989. Breen was the most senior RUC officer to be
killed in the Troubles.
The double murder is the subject of one of several inquiries headed by
Canadian judge Peter Cory, who is also investigating the killing of
Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. His report concluded that at least one
officer was on the IRA's payroll.
Now fresh evidence has emerged over how the IRA mole in the Garda was an
open secret among police officers well before the Breen and Buchanan
murders. One of their colleagues has come forward to reveal that RUC and
Garda officers were well aware of an IRA agent operating inside the
latter police force in North Louth for several years.
The officer has not provided this testimony to Cory though the judge has
reported that Breen and Buchanan's colleague, Sgt Alan Mains, told him
the name of the mole.
In a film for Ulster Television's Insight , the officer, known in the
programme only as 'Robert', talks about the open secret. He recounts how
there were fears for the security of RUC personnel if they crossed the
border for meetings with their Garda counterparts in Dundalk.
'We were told quite clearly that there were certain people we couldn't
tell we were coming down,' he says. 'Quite clearly the risk was in
Dundalk Garda station and there was a certain individual we were not to
inform we were coming down, although on occasion he did find out because
inevitably he would have been at the some of the meetings that I was at.'
Robert describes the IRA assassination of Breen and Buchanan as a 'very
clean ambush and it was highly unlikely that their [the officers']
patterns would have been such that they could have been picked up at
When he heard about the murders, Robert adds: 'I think quite clearly it
was my mind that this particular individual had tipped off the IRA about
Harry Breen's movements and his colleague.
'It was common knowledge within the RUC in the South Down/South Armagh
area and the Garda Siochana that there was a problem with an officer in
Dundalk. It wasn't just restricted to the RUC. It was almost an open
The army agent known as Kevin Fulton, who infiltrated the IRA for the
British security services, backs Robert's claims. Fulton has been
interviewed by Cory and has provided the name of the IRA mole working
inside the Garda. The Observer is aware of the name but cannot print it
for legal reasons.
In the programme, Fulton says: 'On one occasion I was along with Patrick
Joseph Blair, my commanding officer in the IRA, and we had to go out and
meet a gardai who usually met another man from South Armagh who was in
the Internal Security Team. But this person wasn't there that day, so at
some stage I worked with the Internal Security Unit along with Patrick
Joseph Blair. We went out to a pub along the border and the person we met
was *******. The reason I knew him was I had been arrested.
'I was interrogated by him in Dundalk Garda station at one stage. We all
knew about *****. It was basically the worst- kept secret within a certain
group of IRA men, but to me there was nothing extraordinary about that.'
Patrick Joseph Blair, aka Mooch, has been named in parliament as one of
the leaders of the Real IRA following the 1998 Omagh bomb atrocity.
Fulton claims that the murders of Breen and Buchanan on the main Dublin
to Belfast road was a major coup for the IRA because the hit squad
involved seized the officer's notebooks containing names of informers in
'A short time after that, the Provisional IRA issued a statement saying
that all the volunteers and people giving information had an amnesty to
hand themselves over. That they had acquired the officers' notebooks and
files and had worked out who the informants were.'
Cory's report does not name the Garda officer at the centre of the
controversy over the killings. The Breen/ Buchanan report is part of
several inquiries the judge is holding. He has recommended public
inquiries into the double murder as well as the assassination of Pat
Finucane, where it is believed the security forces aided and abetted the
· Cross Border Murder will be broadcast at 10.30pm on Thursday.
9 News: Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, reports from the UUP conference
in Co Down
Trimble: IRA Likely Bluffing, Won't Disarm -V
BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The Irish Republican Army is probably
bluffing and won't disarm or disband in support of revived Northern
Ireland power-sharing, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble told his
party's annual conference Saturday.
Trimble shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize after steering British
Protestants toward a historic peace accord with Northern Ireland's Irish
Catholic minority. But his once-dominant Ulster Unionists have
hemorrhaged support ever since he formed a cross-community administration
involving Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party.
The Trimble-led coalition suffered several breakdowns over the IRA's
refusal to start disarming, and collapsed in late 2002 over an IRA spying
scandal. Last year most Protestant voters turned to the hard-line
Democratic Unionists led by Ian Paisley, who refuses to work with Sinn
Fein until the IRA disappears.
The British and Irish prime ministers, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, say
they have received private assurances from Sinn Fein that the IRA will
fully disarm if the Democratic Unionists give cast-iron commitments to
cooperate fully in return.
But Trimble told his party conference that he thinks Sinn Fein has misled
the prime ministers. He blamed the Democratic Unionists - who refuse to
negotiate directly with Sinn Fein - for failing to find out what, if
anything, is really on offer from the IRA.
"Like other parties, we do not know what republicans supposedly offered
to Blair. I suspect the offer was more a bluff than anything else,"
Trimble said. "Blair should have nailed it down, but with characteristic
optimism he rushed at it."
Trimble said the Democratic Unionists "could have covered themselves by
confronting republicans and insisting they give clear details. But rather
than engage in serious negotiations, they hid behind other issues."
With a British general election expected next year, Trimble said his
party needed to regain its majority position among Northern Ireland's
Protestants or public opinion in Britain would turn against their
community. He said most lawmakers in Blair's governing Labour Party view
Paisley, an overtly anti-Catholic minister, and his Democratic Unionist
colleagues with "scarcely concealed contempt."
Trimble also welcomed this month's re- election of President Bush. "With
Bush in the White House, the world is a more hostile place for those who
practice terrorism," he said.
On The Net
Ulster Unionist Party, http://www.uup.org
Comment: Liam Clarke: It May Be Slow, But There's Progress In Peace
I have only met Mary McAleese once and she didn't impress me. It was at a
conference in Washington when she was still a law lecturer. We shared a
taxi from one free drink reception to another. She was loud and
guffawing, and denounced unionists as "awful". She was just making
conversation and her points were arguable enough, but her manner jarred.
These first impressions can harden into prejudices. So, when she stood
for the presidency, I was predisposed to believe Eoghan Harris's line
that she would prove a "tribal time bomb" who would polarise the north
and stimulate narrow-minded nationalism in the south.
I was completely wrong — McAleese grew in the job. Despite the fact that
her family was intimidated by loyalist extremists, an experience that
might have made her resentful and embittered, she has used her position
wisely and done more than any of her predecessors to reach out to both
communities in Northern Ireland. She has moved things along so smoothly
that Vincent Browne recently accused her of being vapid and of giving us
seven years of "nothing".
He was far from right — a lot happened in her first term. Just how much
progress has been made in that seven-year term became apparent in her
inauguration speech last week when she said: "We have struggled with that
other ambition for the unity of our island, agreeing overwhelmingly to an
honourable compromise in which we acknowledged the right of the people of
Northern Ireland to decide their own destiny."
It sounds commonplace now but it contains a recognition of Northern
Ireland's right to exist, something that was forbidden by the Irish
constitution as it stood when she was first sworn in. In 1997 it would
have been taken as an endorsement of the unionist veto and an abandonment
of her northern nationalist roots. The peace process is like that,
nothing much seems to be happening until it's over. But, after years of
tedium, something is invariably achieved. People fulfil their stereotypes
until they don't.
David Trimble is a case in point. When elected, his reputation was as a
hardliner. He was greeted as the man who would turn back the clock, a
tribal time bomb like McAleese. Nationalist commentators and Irish-
American activists bemoaned the loss of "gentleman Jim" Molyneaux,
Trimble's cautious, conservative predecessor.
In fact, once Trimble got power and authority, he looked for the
opportunity to take risks for peace. At first, nobody believed him. His
progress was so painfully slow that months were spent speculating on if
and when he might shake hands with Gerry Adams.
He has probably never read her but he could have taken his text from
Angela Davis, the American civil rights campaigner, who said that "the
work of the political activist inevitably involves a certain tension
between the requirement that a position be taken on current issues as
they arise and the desire that one's contributions will somehow survive
the ravages of time".
Of course it is more difficult when we get to the DUP and Sinn Fein.
These two parties are deeply suspicious of each other and with good
reason too. They won't rush into bed to please Tony Blair and Bertie
From Sinn Fein's point of view, the DUP has wrecked every attempt at
agreement up to now. Paisley was there at the beginning of the Troubles,
denouncing an Italian ice cream parlour on the Shankill Road as an arm of
the Vatican and ripping a tricolour from the window of Sinn Fein's
election headquarters in Divis Street. And quite apart from his anti-
Catholic outbursts, many of his political utterances hiss with menace. He
has frequently poured scorn on the very idea of compromise and
accommodation. "A bridge is like a traitor," he once declaimed, "they
both go over to the other side."
That was early in his career but his rhetoric didn't change much over the
years. His insistence on the zero sum game, that what was good for
nationalism was bad for unionism, and his identification of compromise
with treachery was a steady political characteristic over many years.
The DUP, for its part, also has good reason to be suspicious of Sinn
Fein. Even leaving aside the party's identification with violence and the
paramilitary role many of its leaders have played, there is the party's
duplicity and its capacity for destroying enemies to consider.
In DUP eyes, Sinn Fein assumes the aspect of a black widow spider who
will, if it can, kill anybody who attempts to mate with it. The twitching
bodies of the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists, its former political
partners, lie around its web like dreadful warnings not to get too close
As unionists see it, Sinn Fein's track record has been to give too little
too late, to tempt concessions from others and then to pull back. The IRA
weapons, long silent, have been bargained again and again for
demilitarisation, the release of prisoners, changes to the police and
seats in government but the bulk of the arsenal still remains in the
hands of republicans and the IRA continues to arm, gather intelligence
Small wonder that the DUP is cautious and wants produce before it moves.
Sinn Fein is equally fearful of making concessions and being left
humiliated. As it sees it, the IRA has made a series of acts of
decommissioning, has wound down its activity and pledged itself to do
more but still unionists refuse to go into government with it.
We are dealing with some pretty unpromising material. Both parties have
thrived for years on division and suspicion and done well out of it. Now
that they have been thrust into the role of peacemakers and bridge-
builders, they have nobody else to blame. They know what they have to do
but they won't do it in a hurry. We are very close to the core of
distrust and prejudice that has poisoned political life for generations.
The DUP and Sinn Fein both built their following, their programmes and
their personalities on the claim that they were unchanging. Their stock
in trade was blaming others for compromising and selling out and they
have both grown fat on a diet of suspicion. Throughout the Troubles, they
exploited the fears of the population, each at different times bringing
the place to a halt and holding its political institutions to ransom.
That is a lot of history to live down but, as the saying goes, you can
swallow an elephant if you take it a bit at a time.
Large portions of the beast have been digested already. There is
Paisley's visit to Dublin, a place he previously only went to by night to
picket. There are the IRA statements endorsing peace. There is the start
to decommissioning and the stated Sinn Fein intention to support the
police if justice powers are devolved to Stormont.
They may not talk but the two parties sit across from one another in
television studios and seem to understand each other reasonably well.
The endless deadlines with which the political process is punctuated
obscure the underlying progress and create an unwarranted sense of
disappointment. In Northern Ireland's peace process the "last chance
saloon" in which we are constantly told we are drinking has a late
licence. It also opens for business every morning.
WTO Opens US Door For Irish Bookies
IRELAND'S online bookmakers are lining up to grab a share of the $73
billion (Â56.3 billion) American gambling market following a landmark
ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last week that US
legislation prohibiting gambling over the internet constitutes a
violation of international law.
"The WTO ruling is very interesting and we will be watching developments
closely over the next few months," said Daniel O'Mahony, the commercial
director at Boyle Sports. "It could open up a huge market for sites like
Boylesports.com. The potential revenues from the US would be very
significant, particularly with the large Irish-American population, and
we would naturally target it if the opportunity arose."
In a David v Goliath struggle, the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and
Barbuda won its case against America on the basis that it was an unfair
barrier to trade. Internet companies in Antigua handle about 25% of
online bets in a global industry, which Betonsports.com, a reputable
gaming website, estimates at $7 billion and projects will grow to $18.4
billion by 2010.
The ruling, which America has vowed to appeal, is another body blow to
the US government on this issue after the House of Representatives last
month voted against a ban on the use of credit cards for internet
Certain credit card companies, such as Citigroup and American Express,
have acted unilaterally to stop processing online gambling transactions
by customers using its cards. This strategy decision was extended to UK
customers of these companies last month.
Prior to the introduction of the new US laws in 1999, online gambling
accounted for about 10% of the island state's GNP. It had 119 casino
operators employing about 3,000 people, but by 2003 these numbers had
dwindled to 28 operators and 500 workers.
The case was largely based on the seemingly protectionist nature of the
US laws on gambling.
"Since 1999 state-sanctioned gambling in the United States has continued
its expansion at an unprecedented rate, being available in 48 states and
covering activities including bingo, horse- race betting and other sports
gambling, commercial casinos and state- operated lotteries," the affidavit
states. "The omnipresence of fully lawful, state-sanctioned gambling
makes the United States the largest national gambling market in the
The US says it joined the WTO in 1995 on the express understanding
gambling would not become a trade issue. It has based its case for
exclusion on its potential for criminal abuse.
Although the island state was keen to emphasise that it was bringing its
WTO action solely on its own behalf, the wider implications are clear.
Washington has 60 days to file an appeal and judges must give a final
ruling within three months.
Irish Return Home As US Dream Fades
THEY were the hands that built America, but now record numbers of Irish
people are leaving the country, reversing a 200-year trend. A clampdown
on illegal immigrants, as well as a decline in jobs, is being blamed for
Between 1820 and 1920, about 4½ m people emigrated from Ireland to
America, including the ancestors of Henry Ford, the car manufacturer,
John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
Now traditional Irish haunts in cities such as New York are emptying. Tom
Conaghan, the director of Philadelphia's Irish Immigration and Pastoral
Center, said: "If this trend continues, it will be very rare to hear an
Irish accent in this country."
The American ambassador to Ireland has promised to raise concern with his
government about the jailing of some illegal immigrants before they are
James Casey Kenny has agreed to investigate complaints that some Irish
citizens have been detained for up to three months pending a decision on
whether they should be repatriated. Some detainees were held alongside
Last week the ambassador met John Deasy, the Fine Gael TD who is
campaigning to have the deportation process shortened. A number of the
Waterford TD's constituents were arrested and held in jail for long
periods after being caught working illegally.
"This is causing resentment among the Irish community and it's not
acceptable. I argued that it's not right to jail Irish people with
general criminals when they haven't committed a real crime," he said.
"I asked him what reaction he would have if American people were being
held in Mountjoy for months before being sent back. He said he would
raise the issue with the head of America's immigration services and
hopefully this will lead to a solution to this problem."
Dermot Ahern, the foreign affairs minister, has also raised the issue.
The problem has become particularly acute since the September 11 attacks
of 2001, which led to a significant increase in the number of
Irish immigration services in America have complained that police are
unwilling to be lenient with any illegals and are questioning people's
status at every opportunity. A number of Irish people have been deported
after coming to police attention for minor traffic violations and other
"It used to be days or sometimes weeks, but now people are being held for
months and it's terrifying for them," said Siobhan Dennehy of the Emerald
Isle Immigration Centre.
The New York Times reported last week that information from immigration
services, Irish-owned businesses and Irish community leaders in America
all pointed to high numbers of Irish people returning home.
Martin Cummins, a carpenter from Tipperary, is one of those who has
returned. He was arrested while driving in Virginia in April for a minor
offence and was sentenced to a week in prison. But he was held for a
further six, sometimes in shackles, before being deported.
The New York Times also highlighted the case of "Johnny C", an illegal
Irish immigrant construction worker for 14 years who is on his way back
to Ireland after a Department of Motor Vehicles crackdown meant he was
unable to renew his driving licence and keep his job. His wife and 13-
year-old daughter are already back in Waterford.
Adrian Flannelly, the chairman of the Irish Radio Network in New York,
said: "It's the complete reversal of the American dream."
The Irish consulate in New York agree that the flight is unprecedented in
Mike Neville of Liffey Van Lines, a company that ships Irish people's
property home, said it was helping up to 40 Irish citizens a month to
leave the country. "This is a big increase. In the run-up to this
September, we had to stay open 24 hours a day because so many people
wanted to get back before the start of the school term in Ireland. That
has never happened before," he said.
One of the company's clients was Michelle, 26, who returned home in
January. She doesn't want her full identity revealed. She left because it
was not the same place after 9/11, she said. "I worked for four years as
a bartender on Wall Street and it was fantastic. After 9/11 a lot of
brokers lost their jobs and wanted to work in the bar trade. People would
come into the pub and make snide comments about me being illegal."
It'll Be A Long Way From Tipperary: Reagan Pub Heads To California
THE village pub where Ronald Reagan knocked back a pint of Smithwicks 20
years ago is being shipped to California, to become part of a museum
dedicated to the former American president.
The contents of the Ronald Reagan pub in Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, has
been sold for less than Â100,000 and its bar, furniture, glasses and taps
have been packed up, and will arrive on the east coast of America early
The Tipperary pub named after Reagan, in memory of his and Nancy's visit
in the summer of 1984, closed down last January. Its owners, John and
Mary O'Farrell, were approached by Frederick Ryan, the chairman of the
Ronald Reagan presidential museum, in June, in the same week the former
"He said it was part of an extension of a major project and was anxious
to get parts of the bar," said Mary O'Farrell. "Needless to say, we were
extremely pleased. We had already closed the pub and it was beyond our
wildest expectation. We did have to think about it. We were still
debating whether to open the pub again ourselves. But it will now be a
functioning pub again."
The Ballyporeen bar will be situated directly under the nose of Reagan's
Air Force One jet, which is the main exhibit in the $25m (Â19m) museum.
It is expected the bar's taps will start pouring pints again by next June
in their new location.
The pub's contents — including a cabinet; a drinks display unit; bottles,
including the one that held Nancy Reagan's drink during her visit;
photographs; and other furniture — were packed up last week. A pub sign
with the name O'Farrell, to which Reagan put his signature, has also been
packed for despatch. The pub was renamed in his honour after his 1984
visit, something the president said made him very proud.
The publicans had been trying to keep the sale "low key". "There's been
all sorts of rumours around here about how much we were paid," said
O'Farrell, who said it was less than Â100,000.
Reagan died last June of pneumonia, after suffering from Alzheimer's
disease for more than a decade. Within days of his death, the Ronald
Reagan presidential library in California re- opened and was visited by
masses of people each day.
The permanent wing of the museum will also include Reagan's 1981
presidential parade limousine. The Irish bar will be part of an expansion
of the exhibits that will also include Reagan's Marine One helicopter, a
military fighter jet and a deactivated nuclear missile.
During his 1984 visit to Ireland, Reagan landed in a helicopter on the
GAA pitch in Ballyporeen. A 70ft welcoming banner stretched across the
main street of the hamlet. The president came to the area after
genealogists found that his great- grandfather, Michael Regan, had
emigrated from Tipperary in the 19th century. Regan was baptised in the
area in 1828.
It has recently emerged that Reagan hushed up his Irish roots before he
was elected to the Oval Office because he was afraid it would put off
some voters. According to Sean Donlon, the former Irish ambassador to
America, Reagan insisted his ancestry was English in order to keep Wasp
voters on side during the 1980 election campaign.
Reagan visited Ireland as governor of California but had no idea of his
Irish ancestry then. Donlon said when he realised his roots were Irish,
he was very proud and asked for parties to be organised for him in the
Irish embassy. "He was able to put on Donegal and Kerry accents and he
had a sense of humour about it," said Donlon.
Locals in Ballyporeen, who held a memorial service for Reagan following
his death, are likely to be disappointed at the ending of this link with
the former president.