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 15, 2004

News 11/15/04 - Group Split Over Fate Of Annetta Flanigan

News from the Wire Service re: Ireland & the Irish

SM 11/15/04 Group Split Over Fate Of UN Hostages
SM 11/15/04 Blair And Ahern Must Seal The Deal, Says Adams
BB 11/15/04 Parties To Mull Over Propopsals
BT 11/15/04 Adams' Joint Authority Plan A Non-Runner: Rabbitte
BB 11/15/04 'No Evidence' Of UDA Attack Link –V
UT 11/15/04 UDA Had De Chastelain Talks
CA 11/15/04 Consumers Rept Slams NIreland Banks For High Fees
RT 11/15/04 Tourists Hurt In Road Crash Involving Minister –V
BT 11/15/04 Book: The IRA, Gay Sex And Me
BB 11/15/04 Drivers 'Not Getting Mobile Message'

RT 11/15/04 Two Men Electrocuted In Askeaton -VO
NW 11/15/04 History Of The Rock Of Cashel -VO
NW 11/15/04 New Cashel By-Pass -VO

Two Men Electrocuted In Askeaton -  Joe O'Brien reports on the
tragic deaths of two men in Co Limerick

Rock of Cashel - Geraldine Harney looks at the History Of The
Rock Of Cashel and the town that grew up around it

New Cashel by-pass - Helen McInerney reports on the effect that
the new by-pass has had on the town of Cashel


Group Split Over Fate Of UN Hostages


The purported leader of Taliban-linked militants holding three UN
hostages today said his group was split over whether they should
"get rid" of the captives.

After a deadline set for reaching a deal for the hostages'
release passed tonight, Jaish-al Muslimeen leader Mohammed Akbar
Agha said the group would meet to decide their fate.

Earlier, Afghan officials said negotiations with the kidnappers
had been postponed amid disagreements over ransom demands.

Philippine diplomat Angelito Nayan, British- Irish Annetta
Flanigan, and Shqipe Hebibi of Kosovo were seized at gunpoint on
October 28 – the first abduction of foreigners in the capital
since the fall of the Taliban three years ago.

Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, has threatened to kill
the trio unless 26 militant prisoners are released.

"There are some of our members who have hardline views on the
issue but there are others who have moderate views," Agha said in
a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

"The hard-liners say we should get rid of the hostages. The
others say we have the ability to keep the hostages for two

Jaish-al Muslimeen has claimed that the 26 men it wants freed are
in US custody, but the American military says it will release no
one and has received no list issued by the militants.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage also opposed any
concessions on a visit to Kabul last week.

Despite the claims of the militants, who have already set a
string of deadlines, it remains unclear how much control they
have over the hostages.

Afghan officials and diplomats suspect that criminal groups or
warlord militias may be involved, and say negotiations are being
held with several different groups. Officials suggest the three
may still be in the Kabul area.

Agha insisted his group was not seeking a ransom, and claimed
Afghan authorities had concocted that allegation to save face
because of their failure to resolve the crisis over the hostages,
who had been in Afghanistan to help run the country's landmark
presidential elections on Oct. 9.

"We will not hold more talks with the Afghan government," he

He said an Afghan mediator contacted the group today and conveyed
a message that a London-based non-government organisation, which
he did not identify, wanted to hold talks with them. Agha said
the kidnappers would not hold talks "with the foreigners" but
could communicate to them through the mediator.

The kidnappers released a video of the frightened-looking
hostages three days after armed men forced them from their
clearly marked UN vehicle on a street in the capital.

A week ago, at least two of the hostages phoned home to say they
were all right, but there has been no word on their condition


Blair And Ahern Must Seal The Deal, Says Adams

By Victoria Ward, PA

The onus is now on Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair to drive the peace process forward and secure
a deal in the coming weeks, it was claimed today.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic
Unionists had had "more than enough time" to strike a deal and
blamed "management difficulties" for the ongoing logjam.

"The Governments have to call it," he said. "And the proposals
that they put forward have to be embedded in the Good Friday

Talks are ongoing on all sides to broker a deal and restore the
power sharing executive in Northern Ireland, but paramilitarism,
decommissioning and policing remain bones of contention.

Fears have been expressed that if no agreement is reached before
the New Year, commitments including a British general election
and its EU Presidency will see the process drift well into 2006.

The DUP has been accused of attempting to deliberately delay
progress until after next year's elections for its own tactical

Mr Adams said: "It is a year since the Assembly elections and 12
months is enough time for unionists to try to do business with
the rest of us.

"The big challenge at this point is not to Ian Paisley but to
Tony Blair and whether he is prepared to allow a slippage back to
unionist rule."

He said the prospect of there not being a deal was a "very
daunting one" and that was why the onus to drive the process
forward was increasingly with the two Governments.

He said that for political unionism the 1998 accord was "as good
as it got".

Mr Adams described the British Government's recognition of the
Ulster Defence Association's ceasefire as "a bit academic".

He claimed the British had always been tolerant of loyalist
violence and expressed caution that the move was another false

All parties are due to receive proposals detailing a way forward
from both Governments on Wednesday.

****************************** /2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4013281.stm

Parties To Mull Over Propopsals

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

The British and Irish Governments are due to pass their latest
proposals on restoring devolution in Northern Ireland to Sinn
Fein and the Democratic Unionists on Wednesday or Thursday of
this week.

Other parties may be verbally briefed on the ideas a day or two
after that.

Then DUP and Sinn Fein negotiators will be given about a week to
mull over the proposals before being asked to let Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern have their decision.

The government paper will not be published during this time -
instead the details will remain private.

But the politicians are already engaged in educated guesswork
about what London and Dublin might propose.

It is thought likely that the way the Stormont first and deputy
first ministers are elected will be changed.

Instead of DUP assembly members being asked to raise their hands
for Martin McGuinness on a joint ticket with Ian Paisley, the
whole assembly would vote to confirm the entire executive.

The row over the independence of ministers, some of whom might
press ahead with unpopular policies, is likely to be addressed by
a beefed-up executive ministerial code.

The final handover of the powers will be subject to a cross-
community vote in the assembly

Unlike the previous code, this will be written into law and would
be designed to encourage more collective action by executive
ministers - in the old Stormont, some claimed ministers behaved
like "independent warlords".

The governments are thought likely to set a tight time period -
maybe two or three months - for the parties to agree the
structures for devolving policing and justice.

This would decide whether, for example, the powers should go to
one department or two, and whether there should be joint
ministers in charge of the area.

It is thought there will also be a target date - perhaps autumn
2006 - for the executive to assume the powers.

Paramilitary disarmament

However, the final handover of the powers will be subject to a
cross-community vote in the assembly.

This would address the DUP's concern that the executive should
not wield such sensitive powers unless people are confident that
the time is right.

The proposals will also deal with the key question of
paramilitary disarmament and activity.

There is a general understanding that the IRA has offered to
complete decommissioning by the end of the year and end its

Sources suggest the British and Irish proposals will not dodge
the fraught issue of how transparent decommissioning should be in
order to ensure public confidence.

Whether they will deal specifically with demands for photographic
evidence of disarmament is unclear - there are suggestions they
may point to a middle way between what the IRA has offered and
what the DUP has demanded.

There have been also suggestions about a shadow executive and
shadow assembly being created to fill in the time between any
deal being hatched in principle and it being implemented in

There may be some reference to getting the Stormont wheels
moving, perhaps through some shadow committees.

But the DUP has reservations about sitting in any shadow
executive, and republicans will be concerned that if they
participate in a shadow assembly without an executive, unionists
might try to halt the process at that point.

If there is a deal, legal changes to the Stormont rules will be
signalled in the Queen's Speech to parliament, due on 23

If there is not, it will be time for London and Dublin to go back
to the drawing board and start thinking once again about "Plan
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/15 13:26:04 GMT


Adams' Joint Authority Plan A Non-Runner: Rabbitte

15 November 2004

The Irish constitution prevents Dublin from entering into joint
authority over Northern Ireland with the British Government, the
leader of the Irish Labour party said today.

Pat Rabbitte said the proposal - backed by Sinn Fein in case the
present round of talks fails - would be unconstitutional and
described it as "a non-runner".

He said Dublin "could no more share with Britain authority for
the governance of Northern Ireland than we could for Pitcairn

The British and Irish governments are expected to hand the
Northern Ireland parties their joint proposals for progress later
this week.

The London-Dublin plan is expected because the parties have been
unable to agree on a format that would allow the Assembly and
Executive to be revived at Stormont.

But if those proposals fail, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has
advocated joint authority.

In New York earlier this month, Mr Adams said that "until
unionists are prepared to work with the rest of us as equals, the
two governments must drive the process of change forward,

"How? It's not just parties who can share power. Governments can
share power also."

But in today's Irish Times, Mr Rabbitte stated that he will ask
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to address the issue in the Dail this

Mr Rabbitte said Article 3 of the Irish constitution - which was
revised after the Good Friday Agreement led the Republic to drop
its territorial claim to Northern Ireland - prevents joint

"Joint authority is a non-runner because it would be
unconstitutional," Mr Rabbitte wrote.

"Pending national unification, laws enacted by the Oireachtas
apply only within the jurisdiction of this 26-county state. The
Supreme Court confirmed in 1975 that the Oireachtas is not free
to legislate for Northern Ireland as though it were part of this
State. The amended Articles 2 and 3 have abandoned the
'territorial claim' and place that incapacity beyond doubt."


See Video at
---- /1/hi/northern_ireland/4013023.stm

'No Evidence' Of UDA Attack Link -V

The secretary of state has said there is no evidence to link any
organisation to an attack on the home of an SDLP councillor in
County Antrim.

Danny O'Connor fired shots into the air with a legally-held gun
when he was confronted by men who poured tar over his mother's
car in Larne.

Mr O'Connor's mother has blamed the UDA for intimidating them.

During a Westminster debate on the UDA, NI Secretary Paul Murphy
said he condemned the attack.

'Sectarian motive'

He said: "But I can assure the house that there is no evidence to
suggest that this was the work of any specific organisation and
the police, of course, are currently investigating."

A statement from the police in Larne confirmed that they were
investigating a "sectarian motive".

He also confirmed that police were investigating a link with a
similar attack close by.

Mr O'Connor, a former assembly member, said he feared for his
life during the attack.

The incident took place outside his house on Churchill Road at
about 0045 GMT on Monday.

The O'Connor family have been attacked a number of times in the
past by loyalist paramilitaries.

The gang ran off after the latest attack, but returned to
confront Mr O'Connor a short time later.

He then fired four shots into the air from a legally held gun.

No members of the gang, who ran off, were injured.

Both Mr O'Connor and his mother were treated for shock.

Mr O'Connor's mother, Rosaleen, accused the outlawed paramilitary
UDA of hounding her family.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy's decision to recognise
the UDA's ceasefire came into effect at midnight on Sunday.

The UDA said it committed itself to working towards the end of
all paramilitary activity.

However, Mrs O'Connor said: "So much for Paul Murphy and the UDA
ceasefire - it wasn't even 45 minutes old when these scum came
and attacked my home and my car."

Danny O'Connor said he saw two figures on security cameras at his
home and thought it was the police.

'Quick shots'

"By the time I went out, I realised that it wasn't the police and
that I was in a bit of danger," he said.

"There was one fella who looked to be in the act of throwing
something - I don't know if it was a stone or a pipe bomb - but
at the time when you have to react to something like that
everything just seems to happen instantaneously.

"I was really scared, because I thought it might have been a pipe
bomb because my late brother had been pipe bombed.

"I fired four quick shots over the top of their heads - they then
ran away. I was really afraid for my life, to be honest with

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/15 17:39:25 GMT


UDA Had De Chastelain Talks

The Ulster Defence Association has held new talks with
disarmament chief General John de Chastelain, the Government
revealed today.

By:Press Association

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy also confirmed Chief
Constable Hugh Orde advised him before he declared the loyalist
paramilitary organisation to be on a genuine ceasefire.

Mr Murphy`s move to strengthen the peace process shocked
nationalists who dismissed UDA pledges to end all sectarian

The scepticism deepened after the group was blamed for attacking
a nationalist councillor`s home in Larne, Co Antrim. SDLP
representative Danny O`Connor fired four shots in the air fearing
a gang was planning to pipe bomb the house.

But Mr Murphy insisted ceasefire watchdogs have shown UDA attacks
are diminishing.

In a Commons statement explaining his controversial strategy, he
said: "It is clear, between the first and second (Independent
Monitoring Commission) reports, that there has been a reduction
in UDA activity.

"Other material provided to me would endorse that view."

Mr Murphy`s explanation came a day after the UDA announced it
would stop the shootings, beatings and drug- dealing that has left
its reputation in tatters.

Promises to work towards a day when the terrorist organisation
was no longer needed, eradicate all paramilitary operations and
focus on community development were encouraging, the Secretary of
State said.

He added: "There is a confirmation that they will re-engage with
the Decommissioning Commission, and indeed I understand that has
already begun."

Loyalist sources confirmed UDA brigadiers met with Canadian Gen
de Chastelain earlier this month in Belfast.

Even though the organisation has warned it will not destroy any
guns until the IRA ditches its weapons first, further talks have
already been scheduled with the international disarmament body.

Mr Murphy told the Commons it was time to put the loyalists to
the test.

"The Government agrees with the Ulster Political Research Group
(UDA advisers) when it says the loyalist community`s enemies are
issues such as poverty, social deprivation, drugs and crime, and
we will work energetically with them and others to tackle those

"The other issue is to end paramilitarism, and we will be
discussing equally urgently with them how this is to be achieved.

"The UDA says that it wants lasting peace and that it can prove
to the people of Northern Ireland that it can change. I believe
it should be given the opportunity to do so."


Consumers' Report Slams Northern Ireland Banks For Sky-High Fees

Shawn Pogatchnik
Canadian Press
Monday, November 15, 2004

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - Two consumer watchdogs accused Northern
Ireland's four major banks Monday of maintaining anticompetitive
practices and levying outrageously high charges.

None of the banks assailed in Monday's report - the Bank of
Ireland, First Trust, Northern Bank and Ulster Bank - responded
to the criticisms. The complaint will trigger an official
investigation by the British government's Office of Fair Trading,
which could levy fines and order changes in charging policies.

"Bank customers in Northern Ireland are being ripped off,"
declared Phil Evans, principal policy officer for Which?, the
United Kingdom's major consumer rights group. "The big four in
Northern Ireland are all offering similarly inferior products,
leaving their customers with little choice - indeed a choice
between who will rip them off the least."

Steve Costello, chairman of the General Consumer Council for
Northern Ireland, said Northern Ireland's retail banking sector
"plainly does not work for consumers."

"The banks must do the honourable thing by putting their house in
order and removing these excessive and unfair charges," Costello

The two groups' joint investigation found that customers of
Northern Ireland banks are charged an average of 21 times more
than the average in the United Kingdom as a whole.

The report described as "paltry" 0.1 per cent rates of interest
on many accounts and "staggering" fees for small, short-term
loans. It assailed banks for charging customers up to 43 pence
(US$0.80) every time they use an automated teller machine. It
noted that in many cases, banks even charge customers to receive
electronic deposits into their accounts.

In a rare event in Northern Ireland politics, all the major
parties agreed with the report's findings.

Iris Robinson, whose Democratic Unionist party represents most
Protestants in the province, said Northern Ireland suffered from
"a banking monopoly which in effect means that banks can charge
us what they like."

And Francie Molloy, whose Sinn Fein party represents most Irish
Catholics, said the government must punish the banks' "excessive
and unregulated charging."

None of the four banks is locally owned. First Trust is the
northern unit of Allied Irish Banks, the No. 1 bank in the
Republic of Ireland. Bank of Ireland is the republic's second-
largest bank. Ulster Bank is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Northern Bank is owned by National Australia Bank - which is in
the midst of trying to sell it.

Under an arcane British law, all four banks are allowed to print
their own British pound notes. The practice encourages
counterfeiting - partly because consumers are confronted by an
ever-changing array of differently designed notes - and produces
an additional source of profit for the banks.

© The Canadian Press 2004


See video:

Tourists Hurt In Road Crash Involving Minister -V

15 November 2004 23:04

Two tourists injured in a head-on collision with a ministerial
car in Co Kerry are said to be in a serious condition in Kerry
General Hospital.

The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó
Cuív, and his driver are expected to be discharged later this
evening. It is understood the minister suffered a broken finger
and bruising.

A decision has yet to be made on his secretary whose condition is
described as 'comfortable'.

A garda investigation is now underway into the circumstances
surrounding the accident which happened shortly after 2.20pm this
afternoon on the Muckross Road, outside Killarney.

Ó Cuív dismisses translation cost report

Earlier today, Mr Ó Cuív dismissed a report that the cost of
translating official documents into Irish may cost up to €150m a

The report, in yesterday's Sunday Tribune, also claimed that the
Government would have to employ 2,000 extra Irish speakers at a
cost of €100m.

The newspaper said the spending was required by provisions in the
Official Languages Act.

However, speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme, Mr Ó Cuív
said the reports were untrue.


The IRA, Gay Sex And Me

By Gail Walker
15 November 2004

Neill McCafferty, 60, was born in the Bogside in Londonderry.
After studying at Queen's University, Belfast, she became a
teacher before switching to journalism. A leading Civil Rights
figure during the Troubles, she went on to support the IRA
terrorist campaign publicly - a stance that led to RTE banning
her from its airwaves. She's gay and had a 15-year relationship
with "the love of my life", writer Nuala O'Faolain. She now lives
in Dublin and has just published her biography, "Nell". But is
she as interesting, important and influential as, er, she thinks
she is?

As an outspoken Republican commentator, many people are going to
be surprised that in your autobiography you've outed your
Protestant granny on your mother's side.

Aye, that's right. I'm from the Shankill Road. We're f******
Prods, I have Orange blood. My mother's mother, Sarah McAleer,
came from Agnes Street, where her family ran a pub. She converted
to Catholicism when she married my grandfather, Sergeant Duffy,
who was a member of the RIC, then latterly, the RUC.

And my mother always preferred going to stay with her Protestant
grandparents than her Catholic ones. The Catholic granny seemed a
bit better off and was always quiet and polite but the Protestant
granny - well, they all knew how to party. My mother even enjoyed
going to Protestant Sunday School, though I don't know how anyone
could enjoy going to that. But then this is the bigotry in me
coming out.

So what do you think of Prods?

Loyalists are ok - they are at one with the IRA. They understand
why there can be no decommissioning. But Unionists are boring,
though I will say this about them - you can throw everything you
have at them, and we did, and they're still f****** standing
there. It's like that film Zulu. You have to respect them for
that. Yep, I salute them, the b******s.

Well, that's very decent of you. But why did you actually decide
to write this book?

Because I had things to say. And there was always going to be a
subtext about being lesbian, because I'd always told myself that
one day I would write about what it was like to be born gay. I
wanted to break the silence.

That must have been tough?

Well, it wasn't until I'd finished the book that it really struck
me what I'd done. And then I got so frightened because of the
lesbian thing and started scoring out all this stuff. But then I
realised there'd be only a few lines left. So I just handed the
whole thing to the publisher.

Nuala O'Faolain's name doesn't actually appear until page 335 of
this 422-page doorstopper. Yet much of the Press coverage so far
has centred on your relationship. Hasn't your own life-story
inadvertently been hijacked by another woman?

Well, I didn't 'do' sex as such in the book, but people love
reading about illicit sex and gay sex is seen as illicit, so it
was always going to be a big talking point. And people can call
me a swellhead all they like but this is the first book in the
world that has talked properly about what it's like to be gay.
I'm not talking about novels, I'm talking about autobiographies
and since I'm interested in my own condition I've always been
looking for a book like mine and I haven't found one.

Yes, but when your book was serialised by a newspaper in the
Republic, they focussed on the bits about you and Nuala.

Well, I suppose if I was an editor publishing an extract, I'm not
going to flag up "she writes about Bloody Sunday, she writes
about feminism", I'm going to go for the Nuala stuff. And, you
know, I got €20,000 for that serialisation. Not bad. Though they
should have paid me €40,000.

When did you first know you were lesbian?

When I was seven and taking part in the city's pantomine I
developed a crush on the Principal Boy, who was, of course, a
woman. At eleven, in my first year of grammar school, I fell in
love with a senior girl, and when she left I transferred my
affections to another. And I loved going to the Gaeltacht, which
turned out to be a deeply erotic Irish language school for me.
The houses in which we stayed were sexually segregated and we
usually slept four to a room, two to a bed, which suited me very

Did anyone ever find out what you were up to?

Well, one girl in our class squealed to a teacher about me and
another girl. The teacher was a Protestant widow and she took us
for a walk and said 'Now, this is what I'm hearing.'

We told her we were just passionate best friends. Either she
believed us, or she knew the truth and did not want to embarrass
us, but she let it go.

And, at 17, you told all to a priest in confession?

I was certain it was a sin and wanted to know if God could cure
me. I was asking for grace to resist temptation. But the priest
refused to give me absolution unless I promised never to do it
again. I said that I would try never to do it again. He said that
I must promise to never do it again. I needed absolution. He said
absolutely not.

In 'Nell' you detail various love affairs with women but your
relationship with Nuala from 1980 to 1995 seems the defining one
of your life.

I loved her brains. I fall for brains. And love will lead to sex.

There's all this wonderful prose about how she arrived at your
door with gifts of a red fox fur coat and red silk knickers on
Christmas Eve in 1981, yet the end of the relationship is bitter.
In 1999 when she rings to tell you of a million dollar advance
she's been given for a novel, you immediately demand financial
recompense for the contributions you'd made to her various homes
over the years. She later sends you a cheque for £25,000. Where
did it go wrong?

Well, as Nuala said to me, my lack of self- analysis is
spectacular. I mean, when it came to writing the chapter on
Nuala, I sat down, dead excited, thinking 'Now I'll find out what
happened ?' but ?

One of the things that didn't help us was the North. I constantly
left Dublin and my passion to go North and Nuala, being a Free
Stater, she just thought everyone - Taigs, Prods, the police,
British - were all killers, but the main killers were the
Fenians. One day we were in Dublin and this Provo march went by
and she was appalled. She said they were all tense and
threatening and tattooed. And yes I'd also prefer Fenian marchers
who smiled, but I understood the tension in them.

When did your parents find out you were gay?

I told my mother when I was 16. She sent me to talk to my father,
and then I went to see the head nun. It wasn't really mentioned
again until 1980, when I was 36 and heartbroken and I said to my
mother, "Think of me as one of God's freaks." She replied,
"You're no freak." I realise now that the reason she wasn't going
to rush out and tell all the neighbours about me was because
there was fear in her. She was protecting me. I dreaded going
public with all this in the book. I thought "Mother, I'm shooting
you in public" but the bullet missed.

Of course some reviewers have said the real love of my life is my
mother and not Nuala, but that denigrates Nuala and implies I
don't know the difference between the love of a parent and the
love of a lover.

You've known the politician and columnist Eamonn McCann a very
long time and say that as a young man he was "breathtakingly

In his youth, we're talking about Paul Newman, but with brains.
And he still has charisma. He's 60 now but when he ran in the
European election he had himself photographed against a red
background for his posters and I know for a fact that women of
all ages went out at night and cut down posters to keep.

But you had a bitter falling out with Eamonn and Mary Holland,
the distinguished journalist and mother of two of his children,
centring on the release of the young MP Bernadette Devlin from
Armagh jail in 1970.

People think I'm angry about that because I blame them for
spiriting her away from the jail and losing me an interview with
her. Yes, I was embarrassed at missing out on the story, but what
really angered me was I felt what happened then marked the
beginning of the end of Bernadette's career. She sold her story,
and all the journalists waiting outside to talk to her turned
against her. Eamonn's not stupid. He knew the importance of the

Are you friends with him today?

No. But maybe if we discussed what happened at Armagh jail... I
think he was wrong and he should face up to that.

But you did make your peace with Mary?

The trouble with Mary was she was very dominant, very f******
clever, and then when I finally got to the age I could stand up
to her, she fell ill. I visited her and we laughed about that. I
said "I'm not afraid any more and now I can't hit you because you
have an illness."

You've known Martin McGuinness since childhood and your mother
and his mother are best friends. Tell us something we don't know
about him.

He claims he was a tearaway as a teenager but everyone in the
neighbourhood thought he was quiet. In fact, I'd say he had the
makings of a priest. His mother visits mine every Sunday night.
My mother will say to me afterwards "How come if you're so
clever, Martin is now Minister for Education?"

On November 7, 1987, you declared on RTE that you supported the
IRA. The next day the IRA murdered 11 Protestants in the
Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen.

People said to me afterwards, with black humour, that my remarks
were "bad timing." And I had stood by the IRA so I had to
recognise with that bombing that the Provos and I had turned
sectarian. Of course, it's no comfort to the relatives of the
Enniskillen dead, but that day did mark a turning point in that
it allowed Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to argue to the IRA
that they must go political. Already they were thinking of
winding the war up. That notion was a bit easier to sell after
Enniskillen. And they didn't target Protestants again.

Yes they did. What about police officers?

They weren't killed because they were Protestants. They were
killed because they were police officers.

Oh right. What about the Shankill bombing?

But that was aimed at Johnny Adair. You're talking about the
collateral damage of war.

Oh right. Still, it was a big risk to take.

Yes, it was a big risk.

Well, what about Warrington, where two children were murdered by
the IRA?

There must have been a warning ? but, yes, it was morally
irresponsible and careless, like Enniskillen. Enniskillen was
aimed at soldiers but it did not go off and the Provos didn't
attempt to make a phone warning. It was just "f*** the Prods."

After Enniskillen, you announced that, in redemption, you were
relinquishing your Irish passport and Irish citizenship, to take
up a British one. Did you?

No, because I needed a sponsor for my application and the Fine
Gael politician John Kelly declined to sponsor me on the grounds
he could not ask anyone to give up Irish citizenship. And also,
none of the Unionists gave a damn about my gesture. They ignored
me, so I started to feel I had over-reacted.

Since you're such an ardent supporter of the IRA, why have you
not joined up? Isn't that a bit naff?

I'm a moral coward. And you know, the Provos are not natural born
killers. It takes a lot of moral courage to go and kill. You
could end up in jail or dead. And as that draft dodger Mitchel
McLaughlin puts it "There are other ways of serving the cause."
There is one scenario where I would kill, if someone came in to
rape me. I'm not a moral coward when it comes to fighting for my
own life.

What if the IRA murdered your Protestant great-granny?

Look you keep saying 'murdered'. I say 'killed.' Do you not know
what the difference is? If you're walking down the street and a
maniac attacks you that's murder. But if you're killed for a
political reason that's killing.

Well, it wouldn't make any difference to me. I mean, either way
I'd be dead.

No ? what do you want me to say to that? I could have been killed
on Bloody Sunday.

Do you believe in God?

I'd love to.

And you're not a Catholic any more?

Oh no. Though I'm in a situation now where there is a family
illness and I'm saying "Give me the faith to believe in you by
giving us a miracle."

Are you in a relationship?

No, my hormones are dead. And if you can't do the pain, don't do
the love. Give me a couple of years rock 'n' roll and then I'll
think about it.

Some critics reckon that you've over- estimated your own
importance over the past 30 years.

Well, I'm aware of what I've done. Come on you Black and Tans,
face me like a man and tell me what you think of me. I will take
it. Anyway, youse are lucky you had me.

÷Nell by Nell McCafferty (Penguin Ireland, £17.99)

****************************** /1/hi/northern_ireland/4007329.stm

Drivers 'Not Getting Mobile Message'

Almost 4,000 Northern Ireland drivers have been fined for using
mobile phones since March this year.

Police said it was evidence the message that their use while
driving was illegal was still not getting through.

The ban on the use of hand-held mobile phones brought Northern
Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

Although it was introduced on 1 February, police operated a
"yellow card" system of warning drivers before implementing the
fines from 1 March.

A total of 3,808 fixed penalty notices have been issued between
then and 30 September.

Chief Inspector Brian Kee, of the PSNI's road policing unit, said
the number of tickets issued indicated drivers were not getting
the ban message.

"A significant number of people are still using mobile phones
while driving, even though it has been banned since February," he

"Despite the messages when the legislation was introduced and
messages since, they are not getting through as almost 4,000
tickets have been issued."

The offence carries a fixed penalty notice of £30, however
motorists face fines of up to £1,000 if they go to court.

'Hard shoulder'

"Drivers need to realise that if they are using a mobile phone
while driving it does distract them and they are not paying
attention to other road users," said the chief inspector.

"They are putting themselves, their passengers and other road
users at risk."

Police advise that when a mobile phone rings while driving, the
call is allowed to go through to voicemail.

On a motorway, it is illegal to pull over onto the hard shoulder
to answer a call.

Hands-free kits are allowed, but many road safety experts say
they do not reduce the risks of having an accident.

Chief Inspector Kee said while hands-free mobiles were less of a
threat, they could still cause distraction and affect driving

"If drivers who are using hands-free mobile phones are displaying
inattention, there is the potential for them to be charged with
careless driving.

"While their use of a hands-free mobile may not be illegal, their
driving behaviour may mean they are committing other offences."

The law also bans passengers from holding a mobile phone to the
driver's ear.

The maximum fine for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches
is £2,500.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/13 10:22:28 GMT

Jay Dooling (
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