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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 24, 2004
News 11/24/04 - Officials To Clarify Plan
News about Ireland & the Irish
IT 11/25/04 Officials Work To Clarify Northern Blueprint – V (2)
IT 11/25/04 DUP And Sinn Fein Are Given Days To Agree Deal
IO 11/24/04 Police Chief Ordered To Pay Loyalist Commander £1,500
BB 11/24/04 Incendiary Device Found In Store
BB 11/24/04 SAS Shooting Challenge 'Too Late'
UT 11/24/04 Schoolboy Memorial Vandalised
IO 11/24/04 Seized Home Of Terror Boss Fetches £410,000
IT 11/25/04 Campaigners Appeal For Cafes To Be Rescued
IT 11/25/04 Clare TD Seeks US Amnesty For Illegal Irish
IT 11/25/04 Norris Queries Alleged US 'Kidnap' Jet
IT 11/25/04 Proposed Greencastle Development Opposed
NW 11/24/04 Irish Hostage Speaks Of Afghan Ordeal -VO
NW 11/24/04 Ardglass Stream Train Restored - VO
NW 11/24/04 Environmental Broadcaster Becomes An Taisce Pres -VO
RT 11/24/04 US Ambassador Addresses Thanksgiving Dinner - VO
Irish Hostage Speaks Of Afghan Ordeal - Jonathan Clynch reports on
the release of Annetta Flanigan
Ardglass Stream Train Restored - Rowan Hand reports from
Environmental Broadcaster Becomes An Taisce President - Valerie
Waters catches up with Éanna Ní Lamhna at her local park
Irish girls ranked second in world obesity stakes - Jennifer
O'Connell reports on the growing problem of obesity amongst Irish
teens ahead of a national obesity conference tomorrow
US Ambassador Addresses Thanksgiving Dinner - Joe Little, Religious
and Social Affairs Correspondent, reports on the comments of US
Ambassador to Ireland James C Kenny
Further progress made on North power-sharing: Brian O'Connell,
London Editor, reports on the day's negotiations between the two
governments and separately Sinn Féin, the DUP and the SDLP
Tommy Gorman, Northern Editor, has further details on the day's
talks from the Irish Embassy in London
Officials Work To Clarify Northern Blueprint
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
Irish and British officials are working on clarifying outstanding
elements of the governments' blueprint for restoring devolution,
which they hope to have completed for tomorrow night's potentially
crucial meeting of the DUP executive.
The officials in consultation with the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and the
British Prime Minister, Mr Blair, are preparing responses for the
DUP and Sinn Féin to their queries about elements of the
governments' proposals designed to reinstate the Northern Ireland
Executive and Assembly.
The Sinn féin ardchomhairle will discuss the blueprint at a meeting
in Dublin today, while in Belfast tomorrow night, the 80- 100
members of the DUP's executive will consider the proposals.
Sources said that the responses should be completed before the DUP
executive meeting but not for the Sinn Féin gathering.
While the DUP executive will have an important say in whether the
party runs with the proposals, the governments and Sinn féin are
convinced that the success or failure of these talks is ultimately
down to whether the DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, advises
acceptance or rejection of the blueprint.
After a flurry of activity in London yesterday involving Mr Ahern,
Mr Blair, Dr Paisley, Sinn Féin leaders Mr Gerry Adams and Mr
Martin McGuinness, the UUP leader Mr David Trimble, and the SDLP
leader Mr Mark Durkan, there was talk of continuing progress.
However there was still no clear indication of whether a deal was
The Taoiseach, while prepared to allow more time for clarification,
was adamant that a final call must be made either by the parties or
the governments in the coming days. One senior source said this
process could last until the middle but not beyond the end of next
In the absence of agreement, Mr Ahern said the governments would
publish their proposals to allow the public to assess them.
In such an eventuality, the governments would develop their Plan B,
which would involve a political cost to those parties held
responsible for the failure of these talks, sources indicated.
The key issue continues to revolve around whether the
decommissioning issue can be resolved or at least finessed, it is
Last night there was still no sign of middle ground being
established between the DUP's demand for future photographic proof
of IRA disarmament and the Sinn Féin line that decommissioning is
solely a matter for the IRA and the decommissioning body.
It was evident however that Dr Paisley has radically softened his
position on the future of the IRA, if it ended activity and
decommissioned. Earlier this year he was demanding that not only
must the IRA disband but Sinn Féin must do so as well. Yesterday he
appeared prepared to accept the IRA ending up as an "old boys'
He suggested that were a deal done the Executive and Assembly could
be fully re-formed by next April, although the governments are
understood to favour the institutions back in action by March.
Lord Kilclooney (formerly Mr John Taylor), the UUP Assembly member
for Strangford, said both the DUP and Sinn Féin were "to be
congratulated and encouraged to finalise" an agreement.
"When there is obvious political movement the two governments are
wrong to set a deadline for agreement. It is better to allow more
time when both parties are struggling to reach agreement.
"There should be more encouragement to the DUP and Sinn Féin,
rather than set a premature closing date and thus the probable loss
of an agreement," Lord Kilclooney added.
Mr Durkan said he had a "good and constructive" meeting with the
Taoiseach yesterday. He said, however, that the blueprint could
weaken the Belfast Agreement and there were too many concessions to
"We want to be a bulwark for the agreement and its values," Mr
Durkan said. "We don't just want a deal done now that falls apart
© The Irish Times
DUP And Sinn Fein Are Given Days To Agree Deal
Frank Millar, London Editor
The British and Irish governments have allowed the DUP and Sinn
Féin extra time to reflect on their definitive response to their
proposals for the restoration of a power-sharing administration at
At the same time, London and Dublin have signalled their
determination to force the pace of political development in
Northern Ireland if the two parties fail to conclude a deal within
After talks with British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, in London
yesterday, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said the governments would have
to "make the call" shortly. After this he suggested they would
publish their proposals and "give the people of Northern Ireland
the opportunity to decide". Mr Ahern declined to say what this
might mean. He surprised British officials, however, when he
appeared to rule out the possibility that the proposals would be
put to a vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Although dismissed by senior DUP sources, The Irish Times
understands this is among the Plan B options under consideration
should they and Sinn Féin fail to reach agreement.
At a minimum the Taoiseach raised the prospect that London and
Dublin would have to proceed to implement proposals outstanding
from last year's British Irish Joint Declaration in the event of
continuing deadlock, when he said the deal currently on offer from
republicans was one "he could stand over."
However Mr Ahern also returned to Dublin last night declaring
himself confident that DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, was sincere
about striking a deal with republicans. DUP sources were still
talking up the possibility that a power-sharing Executive could be
in place within months, while acknowledging they could not
anticipate Dr Paisley's final judgment call.
The DUP leader saw the original weekend deadline for the conclusion
of negotiations fall during a day of intensive talks which began
for him with separate early meetings with Mr Ahern and Mr Blair and
officially ended with late afternoon talks between the Prime
Minister and the Ulster Unionist leader, Mr David Trimble.
In between, Mr Ahern met the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams,
before travelling to meet Mr Blair at 10 Downing Street where they
assessed the situation and instructed officials to work over the
ensuing 24-48 hours to provide as much final clarification as
possible for both sides. Mr Ahern warned there was a limit to how
much clarification the two governments could provide.
After reportedly receiving a six-page document from the DUP leader
seeking clarification on some 40 points, Mr Ahern said: "I have no
doubt Dr Paisley is of the mind that if the circumstances are right
and if the clarifications of the issues lead to acts of completion,
that he wants to move ahead."
The Taoiseach told RTÉ News he could understand the rationale
behind DUP demands for photographic evidence of IRA
decommissioning. "this_is_a_left_sq_bracketDr Paisley] emphasised
none of this was designed in any way to be linked to embarrassing
people It's linked to transparency for the public at large."
However as Dr Paisley insisted the Provisional IRA must become "an
old boys association", it was clear major differences remained
between the DUP and Sinn Féin on a range of other issues - most
importantly over the proposed devolution of policing and justice
New sources yesterday confirmed that the British-Irish proposals
offered the DUP a significant achievement with the reinstatement of
IRA decommissioning as a precondition for Sinn Féin's entry into
government. The DUP however refuses to accept a timetable with a
fixed date for devolution of policing powers during the life of the
© The Irish Times
Police Chief Ordered To Pay Loyalist Commander £1,500
A police chief has been ordered to make a £1,500 (Â2,143) payout to
a top loyalist paramilitary in Northern Ireland, it emerged
Jim Gray, one of the Ulster Defence Association's six commanders,
was awarded the cash in an out of court settlement.
Gray, 42, took a High Court action against Chief Constable Hugh
Orde after he was arrested at a Chinese restaurant in east Belfast
two years ago.
Senior police officers were outraged by having to make the payment,
sources said tonight.
One disclosed: "They are furious that this has happened."
Gray, a flamboyant businessman with bleached blonde hair, heavy
gold jewellery and all year round tan, has been questioned several
times by detectives in Belfast and was once a close associate of
the feared terrorist Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair before they fell out.
He was later shot in the face at the height of a bitter loyalist
feud in September 2002 which claimed a number of lives.
Gray, nicknamed "Doris Day" because of his appearance, had gone to
the home of a murdered rival when the gunmen opened fire.
Even former associates were amazed at the outcome of the legal
One said: "The public will just be as astounded as we are about
"Gray, in our opinion, is probably one of the most unpopular people
in Northern Ireland. If he had any sense he would become
His decision to sue the police centred around their handling of his
arrest, which was carried out weeks after he survived the murder
A number of friends were with him at the time of his detention.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman tonight confirmed
the case had been settled.
"This matter has been resolved under terms endorsed," she said.
"This means that both sides are bound by confidentiality and
therefore not permitted to comment further."
Details of Gray's award were revealed just hours before the Assets
Recovery Agency put up for auction a luxury £350,000 (Â500,000)
home belonging to another top loyalist, the murdered Red Hand
Commando chief Jim Johnston.
The agency's boss in Northern Ireland, Deputy Director Alan
McQuillan, is also understood to be examining Gray's affairs.
Incendiary Device Found In Store
An incendiary device has been found following a security alert in
Castle Street in Belfast city centre.
The alert was at the Primark shopping store, which also faces on to
The device was discovered concealed in clothing on the first floor
of the department store at about tea-time on Wednesday.
It was made safe and taken away for forensic examination.
The police advised shop owners to return to their premises.
Earlier on Wednesday, police said patrols would increase in the run
up to Christmas after a number of incendiary devices were found in
One device partially ignited on Saturday afternoon in a store on
High Street. No-one was injured.
Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland also appealed to
shoppers to be vigilant.
"I hope that the extra patrols will work to disrupt criminal
activity and help ensure that Belfast City Centre is a safer place
to live, work and, importantly at this time of year, to shop," he
"These devices put lives and property at risk and cause unnecessary
disruption to all. A device ignited in a store in Belfast city
centre on Saturday afternoon and many people could have been hurt
and property destroyed but for the quick thinking of staff.
"As the season of goodwill approaches, some elements of society are
intent on causing destruction and putting lives at risk.
"We are taking this opportunity to urge traders to be vigilant to
ensure their premises remain secure during peak trading times,"
said the assistant chief constable.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/24 22:03:34 GMT
© BBC MMIV
SAS Shooting Challenge 'Too Late'
A decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute
three SAS soldiers who shot dead two men 20 years ago has been
In the High Court in Belfast on Wednesday, Mr Justice Girvan
dismissed an application for a judicial review brought by Julie
Doherty, widow of one of the men killed outside Gransha Hospital,
Londonderry, on 6 December 1984.
At the time of the shooting, it was alleged that Danny Doherty, who
was armed, and William Fleming had been about to ambush an off-duty
A total of 59 shots were fired by the SAS soldiers.
The jury at Mr Doherty's inquest said: "We find that the five-man
army unit should have tried to arrest this person or at least
informed the RUC earlier and his life might have been saved."
In 2004, it is much too late for the applicant to seek effectively
to reopen a decision made in 1986 and not challenged within a
reasonable time thereafter
Mr Justice Girvan
The application by Mrs Doherty, from Rathlin Drive, Creggan,
concerned the failure to prosecute the soldiers and the refusal to
provide her with "full and sufficient" reasons for not doing so.
In his reserved judgement, Mr Justice Girvan said the decision not
to prosecute could not be challenged as it was based on the
prosecutor's assessment of the evidence.
"It has not been demonstrated that the prosecuting authority
approached the exercise in arriving at its decision on an
incorrect, irrational or improper basis," he said.
"The no prosecution decision was made in 1986. In 2004 it is much
too late for the applicant to seek effectively to reopen a decision
made in 1986 and not challenged within a reasonable time
A solicitor for Mrs Doherty said afterwards: "We are disappointed
at the decision, particularly in the light of the inquest jury's
conclusions and the scientific evidence that Mr Doherty was shot
from the rear and six shots hit him while he was lying on the
"We will consider the judgement to determine whether an appeal
should be lodged."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/24 11:30:31 GMT
© BBC MMIV
Schoolboy Memorial Vandalised
A memorial to the protestant schoolboy Thomas McDonald has been
attacked for the third time in the past month.
Police are studying CCTV camera footage of the incident on
Belfast`s Whitewell Road.
The UPRG`s John Montgomery praised residents of White City for not
retaliating to the provocation.
Seized Home Of Terror Boss Fetches £410,000
24/11/2004 - 20:34:56
The luxury home of a loyalist paramilitary leader seized by the
Assets Recovery Agency was tonight sold at an auction for £410,000
The house at Crawfordsburn, Co Down, belonged to 45- year-old Jim
Johnston, a member of the Red Hand Commando, who was gunned down in
May last year in his driveway.
It was the first public sale of a criminal's home by the Assets
In September a High Court order allowed the agency to seize Mr
Johnston's cash and property assets which were valued in excess of
The proceeds raised are due to be ploughed back into the fight
against organised crime.
Campaigners Appeal For Cafes To Be Rescued
A bustling Grafton Street came to a brief stop yesterday when an
actress stood outside Bewley's to lead the crowd in a rendition of
Dublin Can be Heaven.
People swayed back and forth and staff leaned out the windows to
watch as Glynis Casson led the crowd in song about "coffee at 11
and a stroll in Stephen's Green".
Hundreds had gathered outside Bewley's to call for the rescue of
the cafes on Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street.
However, it was more like a wake than a wake-up call, as singer Dav
McNamara sang Cry Me A River and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners and actress Pauline McLynn also joined
in the pleas for the cafes.
But, while speakers insisted they could still be saved, the
campaigners admitted that the closure of both cafes at 6 p.m. next
Tuesday seemed inevitable.
The shop and espresso counter at the front of the Grafton Street
outlet will remain open indefinitely to honour the provisions of
the lease, said Mr Cól Campbell, managing director of Bewley's
Even if some last-minute rescue plan was miraculously produced,
many staff had left, he said, and most of those who remained had
other jobs lined up.
Mr Campbell said it was a sad time for staff, but they were very
heartened by the hundreds of people who turned up to support the
cafes yesterday. He has particular reason to be nostalgic because
he met his wife, Ríonach, in the cafe.
After meeting Mr Campbell yesterday, the Dublin Lord Mayor, Mr
Michael Conaghan, said he was very encouraged. He believed that
some agreement could be reached within six months "whereby when we
walk down this street next year and the year after and the year
after, that we can walk in here and sample the great essence of
Dublin, Bewley's coffee in Bewley's cafes". He said the city
council, the Government and the Campbell family could work together
to achieve this.
Mr Damien Cassidy, secretary of the Save Bewley's Cafes Campaign,
said supporters had been left with an impossible task with such
short notice to try and reverse the closure. "It's too much of a
hurdle to climb and we are now at the 11th hour," he said.
Bewley's has stressed that next week's closures will have no
imminent impact on the interior or exterior structures of the
listed building. Should Bewley's leave Grafton Street entirely, the
Harry Clarke stain glass windows will be removed and placed where
they would be fully accessible to the public, a spokesman for the
It is thought they might be installed in the Westmoreland street
premises. The Campbell group plans to redevelop the building.
Campaign members will meet tonight at the Mansion House to discuss
their next move.
The Green Party says it is tabling a motion calling on the
Government to buy the cafes and franchise them to an operator.
© The Irish Times
Clare TD Seeks US Amnesty For Illegal Irish
The US government owes illegal Irish immigrants an amnesty because
the Republic is making its airports available to American troops,
the Independent Clare TD, Mr James Breen, told the Dáil.
"It is sad that our sons and daughters in the US cannot come here
to visit," he added.
Mr Breen said the amnesty should be provided for immigrants who had
lived and worked in the US for more than five years. He had lobbied
congressmen from all sides on the issue when he visited Capitol
Hill in June 2003.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Noel Treacy, said
immigration controls and procedures were a highly sensitive issue
in the US, particularly since September 11th. "We can anticipate a
vigorous debate in the US Congress on any measures proposed to
regularise the circumstances of undocumented people," he said.
"The House can be assured that the Ambassador and officials in the
embassy in Washington monitor closely the debate on immigration
reform. Initiatives in this regard have been made by President Bush
and certain members of Congress.
"While some of these initiatives might offer undocumented Irish
people the possibility of obtaining legal residency, none of them
involves amnesties." Realistically, said Mr Treacy, it was unlikely
there would be further concrete developments until the new year
when the new teams were in place in the US administration and
"The Minister will continue to monitor closely the situation and
will raise the issue with his contacts in the US administration and
legislature," Mr Treacy added.
Mr Breen said those involved were in the US before September 11th.
"A period of five years would not include those who were there when
the last amnesty took place."
Mr Treacy said he appreciated Mr Breen's sincerity on the issue.
The matter had been raised during President Bush's visit this year
and Mr Bush was very sympathetic, he said.
© The Irish Times
Norris Queries Alleged US 'Kidnap' Jet
Seanad report: The leader of the House, Ms Mary O'Rourke, said she
had been unable to get satisfactory answers to questions about a US
jet aircraft allegedly carrying kidnapped prisoners which had
passed through Shannon on a number of occasions. She told Mr David
Norris (Ind) that she would continue her efforts to get a full
response to his queries.
Mr Norris warned that if he did not get answers today he would have
to step up his demands for the information. He said it had been
wildly stated that this Gulf Stream aircraft had been adapted to
facilitate the transport of kidnapped prisoners to destinations
where they might be subjected to torture at the behest of the US
Central Intelligence Agency.
Since Shannon was being used, he believed they were entitled to
information on the level of usage, and whether the Garda had
availed of its powers to board this plane and search it.
"I think it is vital that we have this information in the light of
the behaviour of the allied forces in Iraq, where they appear now
to be driving tanks over wounded people in the streets of Falluja,
where there is no doubt that they are murdering unarmed people
inside mosques. Can you imagine what would happen if somebody
attacked a church and shot people dead - unarmed, elderly people?"
Proposed Greencastle Development Opposed
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Writer Brian Friel is among objectors to a proposed breakwater
development in the Donegal fishery harbour of Greencastle, which is
the subject of a Bord Pleanála hearing today.
The proposed 290-metre curving rock wall and a new 250- metre pier
are due to be constructed by the Department of the Marine and
Natural Resources. Donegal County Council is to provide safer
shelter and additional berthage in the Inishowen fishing port at
the mouth of Lough Foyle.
Dedicated berths for the port's fleet of mussel dredgers, a fuel
berth and additional ice berth, and a new harbourmaster's office
are also incorporated in the plan, which was selected from a
shortlist of three options.
It has been appealed by several parties, including Mr Friel and Ms
Joy McCormick, wife of architect Mr Liam McCormick.
In a letter on the planning file, Mr Friel says the proposed
extensions to Greencastle are welcomed by all of the people in the
area, particularly the fishermen.
However, he expresses concern about the impact of the development
on the area's beauty and tranquillity. He also says the extension
south of any further quay area and berthage will bring factories,
which could deplete the value of property on the shoreline.
Mr Friel does express support for one of the shortlisted options
which was not eventually selected after a series of public meetings
and publication of an Environmental Impact Statement by consultants
"The fishing industry is eloquent in stating its needs," he says.
"The rest of us, though relatively few in number, believe our needs
and concerns are significant too and must be democratically
Ms McCormick says the development could have a "devastating impact"
on residents' lifestyle, including loss of view and loss of access
to the seashore due to construction of a 19ft wall as part of the
project. She expresses fears about exposure to dust, noise, lights,
smell and rats during the estimated construction period.
Ms McCormick has told The Irish Times that her doctor had told her
should would not be able to live there as she is asthmatic.
The impact statement showed that 16,500 lorry loads of rock would
pass along her immediate road, one every five minutes, for more
than two years.
The Department said mitigating measures would be taken to reduce
the impact of construction on residents, while acknowledging the
plan would have a significant impact on the character of the
shoreline between the Queensport pier and Portachapel cottage.
The EIS recommended the establishment of a harbour management
liaison group, convened and led by Donegal County Council, which
would monitor actions and ensure compliance with planning
Greencastle is one of three main fishing ports in Co Donegal. It
has been heavily dependent on fishing as industrial output on the
Inishowen peninsula is just 38 per cent of national average.
© The Irish Times