- Name: Jay Dooling
- Irish Aires Home Page
- IA Houston Links
- IA Links Page
- IA News Links
- Irish Aires Archived
- IA Email Lists
- Irish Aires Blog
- October 2004
- November 2004
- December 2004
- January 2005
- February 2005
- March 2005
- April 2005
- May 2005
- June 2005
- July 2005
- August 2005
- September 2005
- October 2005
- November 2005
- December 2005
- January 2006
- February 2006
- March 2006
- April 2006
- May 2006
- June 2006
- July 2006
- August 2006
- September 2006
- October 2006
- November 2006
- December 2006
- January 2007
- February 2007
- March 2007
- April 2007
- May 2007
- June 2007
- August 2007
- September 2007
- October 2007
- November 2007
- December 2007
- January 2008
- February 2008
- March 2008
- April 2008
- May 2008
- June 2008
- July 2008
- November 2008
- December 2008
- February 2009
- April 2009
- May 2009
- January 2010
- April 2011
- May 2011
- June 2011
- July 2011
- August 2011
- February 2012
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 20, 2004
News 11/20/04 - Loyalist Hold Bombing Rally
News about Ireland & the Irish
UT 11/20/04 Loyalists Hold Bombings Rally
CN 11/20/04 Service To Condemn Pub Bombers
SM 11/20/04 'Birmingham Six' Man Speaks Out In TV Documentary
BB 11/20/04 Meetings Over Deadlock Plans
IC 11/20/04 Brits Government Pledge Electoral Registration Reform
IC 11/20/04 Give Peace A Chance? Give My Head Peace!
IO 11/20/04 Govt To Push For Renewal Of Peace Fund
EX 11/20/04 Assassinated Strongman Not Free State's Chief Executioner
BT 11/20/04 Republic To Go Metric On Road Signs Next Year
GA 11/20/04 Eyre Square Work To Be Scaled Down For Christmas
Loyalists Hold Bombings Rally
Loyalist sympathisers opposed to the Irish peace process are
holding an event today to mark the 30th anniversary of the
Birmingham pub bombings.
But organisers from the British Ulster Alliance (BUA) insisted the
meeting in the city to mark the deaths of 21 people on November 21
1974 would be peaceful and not political.
A spokesman for the group, which is against the Good Friday
Agreement and the decommissioning of Loyalist weapons, refused to
disclose where the rally was taking place.
News of the event has caused some consternation in Birmingham`s
sizeable Irish community since it was announced on the BUA`s web
site last month.
Members of the Irish Community Forum in Birmingham have expressed
their concern about possible damage to community relations.
But a BUA spokesman, who declined to be named, told the Press
Association the police were aware of the meeting and they did not
want to intrude on the grief of those who lost loved ones in the
They had also pulled out of a planned wreath- laying ceremony at the
memorial to those who died in the grounds of St Philip`s Cathedral
in Birmingham city centre.
He added: "This is causing concern within the Irish community. We
can understand that.
"But we are saying, `You have nothing to fear from us. We are not
flying the flag and frightening anybody`.
"We recognise the contribution the Irish community has made to the
whole being of Birmingham... This is about reconciliation."
The spokesman, who said he was a former Loyalist prisoner who had
served a five-year sentence for arms offences, said a minute`s
silence would be held at the event.
The names of those who died would also be read out.
"It`s been made out to be a political event," he went on. "It`s
not. It`s an act of memorial by our existing members, long-term
supporters and invited groups."
Pat O`Neill, chairman of the Birmingham Irish Community Forum, said
great strides had been made in the 30 years since the bombings in
Many Irish people in the city were unjustly blamed and suffered
reprisals, including attacks on shops, people and property.
Mr O`Neill said: "It would be a shame if these people were to come
along and destroy a very memorable occasion for people.
"They feel they need to do this. There`s nothing wrong with that as
long as they respect what`s going on.
"It`s remembering those people who were killed. As long as it`s
that, there`s no objections as such and hopefully it will happen in
a peaceful manner."
Service To Condemn Pub Bombers
Nov 20 2004
The bombers responsible for one of Britain's worst terrorist
atrocities will be condemned at a memorial service this weekend, it
Relatives of the 21 victims who died when two bombs ripped through
The Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham
will join survivors to pay their respects at a 30th anniversary
service on Sunday.
The attacks, which led to six Irish men being wrongfully imprisoned
and later released after 16 years in jail, were widely blamed on
The IRAA has never formally admitted responsibility but there have
been indications this week thatA they could now apologise for the
The mourners, led by Birmingham's first Irish-born Lord Mayor, Cllr
Mike Nangle, will hear the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham,
the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, call for peace and reconciliation.
He will also tell the congregation at St Philip's Anglican
Cathedral that the attacks could never be justified either at the
time or today.
The service is one of a number to be held across the city by all
faiths. The dead were remembered during Friday prayers at many
Buddhists will hold a remembrance ceremony during the Festival of
Hungry Ghosts while a candle will be lit by the spiritual director
of Birmingham Buddhist Vihara during Abhidhamma Day at the
Dhammatalaka Peace Pagoda in the city centre.
Hindus will say prayers at the Krishna Temple, in Sparkbrook, while
a Jewish Kaddish will be held during the Shabbat service at
Birmingham Liberal Synagogue.
After Sunday's service Mr Nangle, the Archbishop and the Dean of
the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Gordon Mursell, will lay wreaths
at the memorial to the dead in St Philip's churchyard.
'Birmingham Six' Man Speaks Out In TV Documentary
By Phil Hazlewood, PA
A member of the Birmingham Six is to give a rare television
interview on the 30th anniversary of the pub bombings that killed
21 people and left scores injured.
Billy Power will tell the BBC One programme tomorrow night about
how he and five other Irish men became the victims of one of
Britain's most notorious miscarriages of justice after the bombings
on November 21, 1974.
He was arrested soon after two explosions ripped through The Tavern
in the Town and the Mulberry Bush in Birmingham city centre.
Five of the six were on their way to the funeral of IRA bomber
James McDade who blew himself up planting a bomb at a telephone
exchange in Coventry a week earlier.
They boarded the train to Heysham at Birmingham New Street at
7.55pm on the night of the bombings, which put them near the scene
just before the devices went off.
Forensic evidence later shown to be flawed suggested some of
the six had been handling explosives. Billy Power was the first of
the six to confess to police.
He tells the programme: "When I look back at the trial, we were
Irish men in the dock at Lancaster Castle. The police had
confessions, they had forensic evidence, they say we were guilty of
"There are times I've thought if I'd been on the jury, I would have
convicted us as well. At the time there was, as it were,
'overwhelming' forensic evidence against us.
"We had passed through New Street station, practically the scene of
the crime. Forensic experts were saying they'd found explosives on
"It was an open and shut case because we were going to the funeral
of a dead IRA man who had planted a bomb the week before.
"The reality was that we were going to James McDade's funeral. We
knew nothing about the pub bombings. There was no explosives on our
The programme will also show three police officers who were among
the first on the scene being reunited at the former Tavern in the
Town pub now The Yard of Ale where 11 people lost their lives.
Mike Davey, who was shown in newspaper photographs at the time
carrying a body from the pub wrapped in a makeshift blanket, said:
"In many ways, it was rather sad because we had to recover the
bodies and carry them out in blankets.
"It was quite traumatic because we were trying to be reverent to
Mr Davey was with his colleague John Plimmer in the Tavern just
half-an hour-before it was blown up.
They had a quick half-pint while waiting to question an usherette
at a nearby cinema who had witnessed a theft.
Mr Plimmer, now an author and media commentator on crime after
rising to the rank of Detective Superintendent, wanted to stay for
another pint but Mr Davey dissuaded him.
Maggie Adams, a young Wpc at the time, was one of the first
officers at the scene at the nearby Mulberry Bush pub, at the foot
of the Rotunda tower, opposite New Street station.
She recalled: "It sounds silly but I was wearing nylon stockings
and a straight skirt, which is what police women wore those days,
totally inappropriate for the circumstances.
"It was mayhem because it was like a building site. There were
people running, screaming, flooding out. I just remember people
walking about with seemingly dreadful injuries and not being aware
they were injured.
"I guess it's shock. I remember one guy who I thought was drunk. I
said to him, 'You need to go in the ambulance'. His hand was
hanging off and he said, 'No, I'm fine'."
Maureen Mitchell then Maureen Carlin was badly injured in the
Mulberry Bush pub and was given the last rites.
She has since campaigned on behalf of victims and worked to get a
permanent memorial plaque set up in the grounds of Birmingham's St
"I don't think I have let it dominate my life but it has been a big
part of my life and I don't see why it shouldn't be it was a big
thing that happened. But I can understand that a lot of people want
to put it behind them."
A large nail went through Mrs Mithcell's hip and she lost her
spleen, had bowel and other major internal injuries.
"They actually told my parents that I'd got a 50/50 chance on the
night that it happened, and a couple of days later I was given the
last rites. Luckily I pulled through."
Alex Stewart had just gone to the bar in the Tavern pub when the
bomb went off. Several of his friends who were sitting in an area
of the pub known as Scots Corner, including brothers Eugene and
Desmond Reilly, were killed.
Mr Stewart has suffered from post traumatic stress ever since.
"It's been 30 years yet it's like yesterday," he said. "I can frame
it. I mean people turn round and say, 'Oh you'll get over it no
"All I can say to them people is I wish it never happens to them
because if it did then maybe they'd understand what a lot of people
who suffered in them pubs are going through."
The programme also features the recollections of former breakfast
television presenter Nick Owen, who was then a reporter for BBC
Birmingham and was sent to cover the story.
Labour MP Chris Mullin is also included. The former journalist, who
claims to have spoken to the real bombers, helped in getting the
Birmingham Six's convictions quashed after making a groundbreaking
World in Action documentary questioning the forensic evidence in
30 Years On: The Birmingham Bombings, a BFC production for the BBC,
is on BBC One (West Midlands only), Sunday November 21 at 11.05pm.
Meetings Over Deadlock Plans
The DUP and Sinn Fein are holding further meetings on the British-
Irish proposals to break the political stalemate.
While the parties continue to consult and negotiate, Irish Foreign
Minister Dermot Ahern warned time was running out.
The British and Irish Governments want an answer from Ian Paisley
and Gerry Adams by the end of the month.
In Dundalk in County Louth, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin will
address the party's councillors on Saturday.
The DUP assembly team will draw up their own detailed analysis of
the outstanding issues.
The party's executive will meet next Friday night. The DUP wants to
know the IRA is committed to the proposals outlined by the
government. Sinn Fein is demanding the proposals reflect more fully
the Good Friday Agreement.
On Friday, the DUP's assembly team said significant progress had
been made since September's intensive talks.
The British and Irish Governments put their proposals to the DUP
and Sinn Fein, the main unionist and nationalist parties in
Northern Ireland, on Wednesday.
The plans followed two months of continuing negotiations aimed at
exploring a way around the stumbling blocks faced at September's
talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.
As the leaderships of Sinn Fein and the DUP briefed assembly
members on Friday, Sinn Fein urged the DUP to talk directly to them
about the governments' proposals.
The DUP's assembly team was briefed at Stormont on Friday by party
leader Ian Paisley about the state of the current negotiations to
After the meeting which lasted more than two hours, the 33 assembly
members said in a statement: "Members recognise that significant
progress has been made in the days and weeks since Leeds Castle and
that there is still work required."
'Future paramilitary activity'
Both parties still have concerns, but there is cautious optimism
that a resolution is possible.
After two years of stalemate, Stormont remains suspended, but signs
are emerging that it could be back in business within months.
More meetings are expected in Downing Street in the next few days.
At the conclusion of intensive political talks at Leeds Castle in
Kent in September, Mr Blair and Mr Ahern said the thorny issues of
IRA disarmament and future paramilitary activity appeared to be
But, the two governments were unable to get the Northern Ireland
Assembly parties to sign up to a deal over power-sharing after
unionists and nationalists clashed over future devolved
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/20 10:21:50 GMT
© BBC MMIV
British Government Pledge Electoral Registration Reform
The SDLP in North Belfast has welcomed a positive commitment given
by the British Government to introduce new measures to maximise the
number of people on the electoral register.
The talks between minister John Spellar and the SDLP came as the
deadline for the annual canvas of electoral registration forms
expired on Wednesday. This list of voters will then be published on
Wednesday December 1.
Although this deadline has expired, voters can still register at
their local electoral office so that they can get their vote in for
next year's local elections in May 2005.
The need to register to vote every year was brought in by the
Electoral Fraud Act 2002.
In the past, one form was given to every household but now everyone
has to register individually.
After last November's Assembly elections concerns were raised by
Sinn Féin that many people, in fact thousands across North Belfast
had been disenfranchised by the new requirements.
Disagreeing with this North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the
last two elections were "probably the cleanest and fairest
elections" the North has had.
"The SDLP campaigned vigorously for over 20 years to obtain
legislation to combat electoral fraud," Alban Maginness said.
"We are confident that the requirements to provide personal
identification information on the registration form, combined with
the introduction of photographic identification at polling
stations, has significantly suppressed such fraud."
However, party colleague Pat Convery said he was concerned that
disadvantaged and marginalised communities have been less likely to
"The SDLP has now received a commitment from the minister to
reintroduce the 'carry forward' which would allow non-responding
electors from the previous electoral register to be on the new
Register. This is a good start," said Pat Convery.
"The SDLP is also confident that the minister will introduce new
positive measures to create a fuller and more comprehensive
"The SDLP has suggested that the full individual registration
process should be conducted once every two or three years, which
would allow the Electoral Office to target vulnerable groups and
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
Give Peace A Chance? Give My Head Peace!
A unionist politician, Mr David Trimble, is quoted as saying last
week: "For us unionism is not the same as thing as Protestantism...
we accept difference... other points of view... sectarianism is not
in our blood..."
Why should he say such a thing?
Well, the unionist hold on Ireland's northeast is politically weak.
The difference in numbers between those described as Catholic and
those described as Protestant is becoming less. Or to put it
another way, the union with Britain will need more Catholics to
accept it if it is to remain.
Another unionist politician, Terence O'Neill, saw this coming in
the mid-sixties. So he tried to attract Catholics to agree to the
British union. He set up a number of meetings with what he
considered important but powerless Catholic people: nuns in
convents, southern politicians, schoolchildren and so forth. The
aim was to broaden the base of unionism by including some
Minimum political change, maximum tugging at vulnerable
Some Catholics cooperated with this plan of O'Neill. Three of them
applied for membership of the Unionist Party. If O'Neill was
serious the party should welcome Catholics into it.
The three were JJ Campbell, a lecturer who later became a professor
at Queen's; B McK McGuigan, a successful solicitor and conservative
Catholic; and a Mr O'Hara, a successful hotelier from Bangor, Co
Down. Their application for membership of the Unionist Party was
rejected. O'Neill was not as serious as he said he was.
But broadening the base of unionism by attracting Catholics into
unionist politics was essential if the union was to survive with
any trace of democratic process. The Catholic population from the
sixties onward was not emigrating as much as it had in the past,
their educational and other attainments were setting them on the
way to managing most sectors of public life provided the London
administration did not use armed force to prevent it.
It did, of course, use armed force to prevent it. Organisations
like the UDA were among its many weapons for the purpose.
Now, if the quotation from their Mr Trimble is accurate, some
unionists are now on the same course as O'Neill, offering sops to
Catholics in order to win their adherence to the union.
One has seen the same procedure in football circles in order to
increase the numbers of people going to the games football
controllers call for an end to sectarianism and verbal crassness,
thus attracting, they hope, people of different religious
backgrounds and also women and children. The profit motive is
sometimes useful in both sport and politics and we should not
undervalue it as an instrument for good.
The tactic of their Mr Trimble, however, is not only an old one, it
is probably a too-late one.
The unionist family have chosen Mr Paisley as their preferred
leader and he is against cooperation with Catholics. With the
beautiful irony of money politics, this is the same man who refused
cooperation with Catholics in the sixties and brought down one
prime minister after another until he convinced the unionist family
that negative politics was right.
They still believe it.
Is there any possibility that the resurrected O'Neill policy of
attracting Catholics into the UUP will make the UUP strong enough
to fight off Paisley and to secure the British union?
Well, the Alliance Party tried it and failed. The Alliance Party
saw the unionist refusal and insult of Campbell, McGuigan and
O'Hara in the sixties and they created a new unionist party into
which Catholics would be admitted. In time the Alliance Party
seemed to be supported by more Catholics than others.
And it proved to be a party of indecisive leadership.
A unionist family which tends towards Paisley also tends towards
exclusion of Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Humanists, Filipinos,
Nigerians, and the talent of the world in general. You need expert
leadership to get out of that morass. The Alliance did not have it.
It will be some time before the first batch of unionist Catholics
apply openly for membership of the UUP. There is not as much
goodwill towards unionists now as there was in the sixties. The
goodwill towards unionists at that time was strong, as a reading of
the news of the time shows. But a lot of that has been scattered,
not only by Paisley, but by their Mr Trimble as well.
So now we see an interesting situation evolving in various parts.
In Donegal, Protestant spokespersons are saying how much they want
to be part of the community and remarking that one reason for the
increase of the Protestant population in Donegal is that some are
crossing the border to live there.
Times and fortunes have changed.
The unionist family is declaring that one of its many armed wings,
the UDA, is getting its situation recognised as a ceasefire.
And their Mr Trimble is making the first tentative steps towards
inviting Catholics to join the UUP as a counter to the dominance of
Paisley's DUP and as an insurance against the small swing of voters
which would be enough to put the British union in danger.
Quite interesting. And relatively harmless as long as one sees the
reasons for the gestures and the emptiness of ceasefires.
So how soon can we expect some of our prominent clerics to tell us
that Catholics should be joining the UUP? "Give peace a chance,"
they will be saying. Give our heads peace would be more like it.
Govt To Push For Renewal Of Peace Fund
20/11/2004 - 12:21:54
The EU institutions will have to decide within the next few weeks
whether to renew the European Peace and Reconciliation Fund.
The peace fund which is due to expire at the end of this year has
funded over 4,000 projects north and south since the year 2000.
The Irish Government would like to see the scheme extended until
Fianna Fáil MEP Sean O Neachtain said renewing the fund would bring
an extra Â40m to the border counties region.
Assassinated Strongman Was Not The Free State's Chief Executioner
By Ryle Dwyer
WITH negotiations going on to form a new government in Northern
Ireland, this week's RTÉ documentary on the life of Kevin O'Higgins
seemed particularly timely.
The programme concluded with a poignant piece of advice from his
daughter, Una O'Higgins-O'Malley, calling on people in the North
and South to "gaze into the faces of their children, and not their
ancestors, when planning for the future".
For almost 90 years we have glorified the violence of 1916. Others
around the world have glorified the violence of the First World
War, and they continue to commemorate it each November 11.
Yet one senses that people now realise the futility of that war and
the numerous conflicts that it spawned during the remainder of the
"The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine
of the battlefields," Patrick Pearse wrote in December 1915. "Such
august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage
of millions of lives gladly given for love of country."
Now I won't suggest that the man who wrote that blasphemous twaddle
about the First World War was "a blithering idiot", but James
Connolly did. And I wouldn't disagree.
Kevin O'Higgins has been generally regarded as the Free State
strongman during the Civil War. He was depicted as being behind the
77 official executions during that conflict. In fact, it was his
rival, Richard Mulcahy, who was largely responsible for the
He was authorised by the Dáil to execute those captured in
possession of illegal weapons. Otherwise, he warned, members of the
Free State army would take it upon themselves "to execute people in
an unauthorised way".
Five people were executed in November 1922. The IRA announced that
all Dáil members who supported capital punishment were legitimate
targets. Two TDs were shot near Leinster House on December 7, 1922.
The Government responded next day by executing four prominent IRA
prisoners as a reprisal. Henceforth, they made it clear they would
execute two for one.
O'Higgins, as Minister for Justice, was blamed for the executions,
but he was the last Cabinet member to agree. He only did so when he
realised they were going to be carried out anyway. In the
circumstances he felt it was important that the decision should be
seen as unanimous. Critics attacked the Government in the Dáil. But
one went too far when he accused O'Higgins of acting out of spite.
"Personal spite, great heavens!" O'Higgins exclaimed. "One of these
men was a friend of mine." At that point he broke down and wept.
Rory O'Connor, one of those just executed, had been best man at
O'Higgins' wedding little over a year earlier.
Henceforth, O'Higgins would be depicted as someone who would
sacrifice even his best friend for political advantage.
He supported the executions as a necessary evil, but did not
condone the murderous behaviour of the Free State army at
Ballyseedy, where nine republican prisoners were tied around a mine
which blew eight of them to pieces in March 1923. There were
similar incidents near Killarney and Caherciveen within a week.
Some of the things the Free State troops did in Kerry were worse
than anything done by the Black and Tans.
Niall Harrington, who wrote a book about his involvement in the
Free State army in Kerry during the Civil War, went to O'Higgins at
one point to complain about the army's excesses. O'Higgins demanded
an inquiry into the killings, much to the annoyance of defence
minister Richard Mulcahy, who thought that his ministerial
colleague did not understand the army.
THIS week's programme seemed to hint that what happened was really
the result of army frustration because nobody had been executed in
the area. While this would not have justified such behaviour, the
programme had its facts wrong because four IRA prisoners had
already been officially executed in Tralee on January 20, 1923.
Mulcahy appointed General Paddy Daly to investigate the Ballyseedy
massacre. Daly was the general in charge of the area and was
believed by many to have ordered the killings. Surprise, surprise,
his report was a whitewash - and we complain about the Widgery
report into Bloody Sunday!
Daly and two other senior officers accused of involvement in the
Ballyseedy infamy were later accused of assaulting two daughters of
a Kenmare doctor just after the Civil War. Even though the doctor
was a Free State supporter and the assault was of a sexual nature
that nobody dared mention publicly, Mulcahy decided against
prosecuting any of the officers, thereby infuriating the
Some senior officers had been behaving as a law unto themselves,
but the generals went too far when they tried to block the
Government's efforts to reduce the size of the army. Some of those
who had been close to Michael Collins balked.
"Every political party in the country is rotten," General Liam
The generals decided that the Government had abandoned the ideals
of Collins and they basically issued an ultimatum that led to what
became known as the Army Mutiny. WT Cosgrave became conveniently
ill, but this time the generals met their match in O'Higgins.
Determined to enforce civilian control of the military, he called
their bluff. The generals were ousted, along with Mulcahy and Joe
McGrath. When O'Higgins was assassinated two years later, many
suspected that disgruntled soldiers were responsible. But the
culprits were three IRA members who just happened to see him
walking without a bodyguard. Although never convicted, their
identities have been known for some years.
Eoin MacNeill - a former Cabinet colleague of O'Higgins and
grandfather of the current Justice Minister Michael McDowell -
actually witnessed the assassination and assisted his fatally
"I knelt down beside him," MacNeill explained afterwards. "He was
still quite alive but blind, one of the shots having gone through
the front of his head." "I want you to say that I forgive my
murderers," O'Higgins told MacNeill on recognising his voice.
Some people were shocked at the intensity of Ernest Blythe's
remarks on the programme during an interview many years later. Like
many of his Northern compatriots today, he seemed incapable of
forgiving, much less forgetting. Blythe came across as an early-day
Conor Cruise O'Brien who condoned the heavy gang tactics of some
gardaí in the 1970s.
When they arrested a suspect in the kidnapping of Tiede Herrema,
"they beat the s**t out of him", the Cruiser noted in his memoirs.
"Then he told them where Herrema was."
The Cruiser approved of such behaviour, but he realised that
colleagues like Garret FitzGerald and Justin Keating might not.
"I refrained from telling this story to Garret or Justin, because I
thought it would worry them," the Cruiser added. "It didn't worry
Maybe that explains why Una O'Higgins O'Malley opposed Liam
Cosgrave in the 1977 general election - violence almost inevitably
leads to further violence, and she had learned the lessons of
Republic To Go Metric On Road Signs Next Year
20 November 2004
TENS of thousands of new metric speed limit signs are to be erected
across the Republic early next year, replacing what the AA
yesterday described as the "perverse" existing system.
At present, distances are measures in kilometres but speed limits
as miles-per-hour, but from late January both will be metric.
A total of 58,000 new speed limit signs are to be erected on 98,000
metres of road during a three-day period ending on January 20,
Transport Minister Martin Cullen told the Dail yesterday.
The 10million euro cost of the new signs will include a 1million
euro public awareness campaign.
The new speed limits will be 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) in
built-up areas; 80 kmh (50 mph) for regional and local roads
outside built-up areas, 100kmh (62mph) for major roads and 120 kmh
(75 mph) on motorways.
AA spokesman Conor Faughnan said the change was long overdue.
He said it did not make sense to have a bizarre system whereby road
distances are measured in kilometres and speed limits in mph.
"It must have seemed perverse to visitors," he commented.
He said, however, that the AA is concerned that some roads which
had incorrect existing speed limits could have them rounded up or
down to the closest kilometres per hour limit.
The AA had given the Department of Transport a list of about 70
signs which it felt were unsuitable.
"The erection of 58,000 signs is quite a significant undertaking,
but I have been assured that they will be put in place by January
20, when the new metric system will be initiated," he said.
A simple conversion table for drivers will be distributed to every
home and the Society of the Irish Motor Industry had ensured the
vast majority of new vehicles coming in from 2005 would have
speedometers which were metric only or predominantly metric.
Eyre Square Work To Be Scaled Down For Christmas
BY KERNAN ANDREWS
Works on the Eyre Square Enhancement Project outside the fenced-off
area will stop for five weeks from Wednesday December 8 to
Wednesday January 5 to allow for the Christmas shopping period.
The Galway City Council has distributed a copy of a newsletter
setting out the progress of the Eyre Square project to councillors.
It is intended to suspend works for a period over Christmas so as
to minimise disruption and inconvenience for shoppers and
businesses alike. As a result, all works outside the fenced off
Kennedy Park will halt for that period of time.
As well as this, the newsletter also details the works that will be
talking place and are nearing completion. In the park itself,
construction of a new toilet block will take place and the existing
toilets will be moved into place. The existing walls of the old
toilet block will be demolished. Also the foundation for a new
kiosk and sail sculpture base will be built.
On the east side of the square, permanent street lights and street
furniture will be erected. The road will need to be temporarily
closed for allow machinery erect lighting poles. On the north side
excavations, drainage, and paving works will continue between
Boylesports and the Bank Of Ireland. Tarmacking of one half of the
road between Richardsons and Bank Of Scotland will take place.
On the south side, the excavation and paving works between the
Great Southern Hotel and AIB are due to be completed by Sunday
November 29. Drainage works opposite OPW and Cara Cabs will
continue until Monday December 6.
The archaeological investigations have yielded the ruins of a
17th/18th century building in the north of the square and many
items such as a stone age flint tool, clay pipes (some of which
still had tobacco inside), Baltic amber bead, pottery, and leather.
A toilet with part of its wooden seat was also discovered. It is
planned to finished the square in October 2005.
However Fine Gael's Cllr Padraic Conneely said the Eyre Square
enhancement contract should be reviewed and its terms questioned as
he feels the work is costing too much and deadlines have overrun.