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November 30, 2004

News 11/30/04 - Brinkmanship May Wreck Deal

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 12/01/04 Brinkmanship Over Arms Issue May Wreck Deal –V(2)
IT 12/01/04 North Deal This Week Looks Unlikely –V
GU 11/30/04 Ulster Talks On Track Despite Paisley Remark
TO 12/01/04 It Is Now Or Never As Paisley Puts Terrorism In Past
IT 12/01/04 Deal Closer After Paisley Says 'Now Or Never'
GU 11/30/04 Opin - Adams & Paisley: Locked In An Embrace
IO 11/30/04 Commission: Govts Failed Bomb Victims' Relatives
TO 12/01/04 Mass For Iraq Hostage As Husband Clings To Faint Hope
BB 12/01/04 Loyalists Charged Over Kidnap Bid –V
IO 11/30/04 Two Jailed For IRA Membership –V
IT 12/01/04 Government Says Binead Conviction Matter For Courts
IT 12/01/04 IRA Surveillance Of Politicians 'Serious' – Ahern
BT 11/30/04 Annetta Family Reunion Rumour
SM 11/30/04 Finucane: New Law Could End Indpndnt Public Inquiries'
BT 11/30/04 Lundy's Day Appeal By Boys' Leader
DJ 11/30/04 Derry Bases Under Spotlight
IO 11/30/04 North's Voter List Requirement Scrapped
IT 12/01/04 Church Rules On Suitable Christmas Carols
IT 12/01/04 Nostalgia With Hope As Bewley's Savour Last Drop –V(3)

RT 11/30/04 Ahern Named European Statesman Of The Year –VO
RT 11/30/04 Gardaí Probe Discovery Of Body In Co Clare –VO(2)


Ahern Named European Statesman Of The Year

Gardaí Probe Discovery Of Body In Co Clare
Mary Wilson reports on the inquiry in Ennistymon in Co Clare

Mary Wilson has further details from Ennistymon


Progress Reported In Efforts To Secure Northern Ireland Deal
David Davin-Power, Political Correspondent, reports on today's
series of talks in the ongoing attempt to restore devolved
government at Stormont

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, assesses the key points to emerge
from today's negotiations

Brinkmanship Over Arms Issue May Wreck Deal –V(2)

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The British and Irish governments are concerned that a high-risk,
high-stakes brinkmanship game being played by the DUP and Sinn Féin
over photographic proof of decommissioning could jeopardise the
prospects of a deal to restore devolution being formalised next
week, according to informed sources.

Most elements of the package designed to restore the Northern
Executive and Assembly are now in place and there is a real
possibility of a deal early next week, possibly on Tuesday, all
sides generally agree.

But despite the growing optimism, the issue of photographic
verification of IRA decommissioning which the DUP demands could yet
prevent a deal being signed next week, informed insiders have

In such an eventuality the governments would be disposed to publish
their blueprint for restoring devolution to allow the public to
assess whether it was a fair deal, and to allow people determine
which party - the DUP or Sinn Féin - was chiefly responsible for
the collapse of the deal, The Irish Times was informed.

"The way the package is looking at the moment that could be quite
an own goal by the DUP," said one informed talks figure.

A number of sources made it clear that the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and
British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, believe Dr Paisley when he
said that, without visual evidence of IRA disarmament, he would not
endorse the deal.

This was why the requirement for visual proof of decommissioning,
to be produced after the DUP demonstrated it was sharing power with
Sinn Féin, was included in the governments' paper for restoring

But Dr Paisley has insisted to Mr Blair, whom he met at Downing
Street yesterday, that the DUP is not prepared to accept future
visual proof of decommissioning from the IRA, if it were available,
but wants photographic proof of decommissioning before he would
share power with Sinn Féin, senior sources told The Irish Times.

It is understood that when Mr Blair met Dr Paisley at Downing
Street yesterday he was unable to say whether the IRA would at the
last moment agree to provide future photographic evidence of

Senior sources have stated that whenever Mr Adams or other senior
Sinn Féin negotiators were asked whether the IRA would allow
photographs to be produced, the consistent answer was that this was
solely a matter between the IRA and the decommissioning body. Sinn
Féin negotiators have not deviated from that position, they said.

Dublin and London, however, believe there is a reasonable
possibility that, if the DUP demonstrates it is fully sharing power
with Sinn Féin, that the IRA under the terms of its relationship
with decommissioning chief, Gen John de Chastelain might then allow
photographs to be produced. In terms of the visual proof issue
today's meeting at Downing Street between Mr Adams and Mr Blair
could be crucial.

Were Mr Blair to make a radical commitment to Sinn Féin such as
major - rather than staggered - demilitarisation coinciding with
IRA decommissioning, then Mr Adams might be prepared to ask the IRA
to provide future photographic proof of decommissioning, one source

This was all in the realm of possibility, he stressed - there was
no such offer in place at the time of writing. But in terms of Dr
Paisley's demand for prior photographic evidence of IRA
disarmament, Dublin and London are convinced there is no chance of
this happening before the DUP delivers power sharing.

Sources characterised this issue as a dangerous brinkmanship battle
between the DUP and republicans over who might "blink first".

However, they added that if the deal collapsed over Dr Paisley's
demand for prior proof that if the governments then published their
blueprint, the DUP would take the brunt of the blame for the
failure of the deal.

"What is on offer from republicans is frankly incredible in terms
of where we are coming from. If the proposals are published it
certainly won't damage the Shinners, but I believe a ton of bricks
would fall on top of Dr Paisley and the DUP," said a senior source
last night.

"But it's not over yet, anything could happen in the coming days,"
he advised.

© The Irish Times


See video:

North Deal This Week Looks Unlikely -V

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

A deal between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party to
restore Northern Ireland's political institutions will not be done
this week, the Government accepted last night.

Up to now, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and other senior Government
figures held out hope that an agreement could be formally agreed in
Hillsborough on Friday.

The Government remains quietly optimistic, and a spokesman said
contacts between senior officials and the parties were continuing.

The Taoiseach was scheduled to speak by telephone late last night
with the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, who is due today to
meet once again with Sinn Féin.

Following Mr Ahern's own meeting with the Sinn Féin president, Mr
Gerry Adams, the Government spokeswoman said it had been a "useful"

Speaking to journalists, Mr Adams played down the significance of
the Rev Ian Paisley's demand for the IRA "to wear sackcloth and
ashes and do penance".

"We are seeking to ensure that it is a sustainable agreement. We
just think that this should have been done a long time ago. We are
being patient," Mr Adams said.

With the political will, the deal could be done today, he said.
Whatever the delay, it was not because of Sinn Féin's unwillingness
to get it all sorted out.

The DUP leader's remarks had been "unhelpful", he said: "At the
same time I am not going to spend the day parsing or analyse what
Ian Paisley has, or has not, said. But I do know that many
republicans and nationalists will resent his remarks because
republicans are no worse than anybody else.

"We are no better as I have said many, many times. The politics of
humiliation have not worked. They are the politics of failure. We
are about the politics of liberation, not humiliation. There is a
need, as Martin McGuinness said, not for humiliation, but for
humility," he said, outside Government Buildings.

The future of the four men jailed for the killing of Det Garda
Jerry McCabe is "an issue that has to be resolved", he said.

© The Irish Times


Ulster Talks On Track Despite Paisley Remark

Ted Oliver and Michael White
Wednesday December 1, 2004
The Guardian

The British and Irish governments remained quietly hopeful last
night that Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist party will agree
by next week to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland, despite
a lapse into "offensive" language by Ian Paisley.

Republicans were angered by a turn of phrase by Mr Paisley,
moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and veteran DUP leader,
after he met Tony Blair at No 10.

Although officials are confident that both sides "recognise how
important a moment this is", some are afraid Mr Paisley may be
raising his demands.

Mr Paisley is determined that IRA decommissioning should be both
permanent and transparent: complete with photographic evidence that
weapons stocks have finally been destroyed.

"It's now or never. You must have done with your arms. You must put
them away. Everyone must be convinced that the completion is a real
act," he said.

But he went on to repeat a call made at the weekend to the DUP
faithful that the Provisional IRA should "wear sackcloth and ashes
... until the sackcloth and ashes wear out" for all they did during
the 30 years of the Troubles in the province.

The remarks prompted Sinn Féin's president, Gerry Adams, in Dublin
for a meeting with Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, to reject
what he called the offensive "politics of humiliation" and call for
temperate language. His deputy, Martin McGuinness, suggested that
"a little bit of humility and a good deal of generosity" would be
more appropriate.

It is generally assumed that Mr Paisley, 78 years old and in
uncertain health, wants to be the man who clinched a workable deal,
and that Sinn Féin wants one too. Above all it wants to be sure
that the DUP will make power sharing work, not quickly resort to
its veto.

Mr Adams is expected to see Mr Blair today. Mr Paisley has
important private commitments, a wedding and a funeral, which mean
that no deal is expected this week.

The Sinn Féin leadership has still not persuaded the IRA to allow a
photographic record of its final and total act of arms
decommissioning. Republicans are anxious that the IRA should not
appear to be surrendering.

Some rank and file Provos are still angry about the previous
decommissioning and opposed to any further acts, but the IRA army
council and most prominent Provos are backing Sinn Féin's

The original idea was for the photographs to be held by the
Canadian general John de Chastelain, the head of the international
independent decommissioning body, until the Northern Ireland
executive is up and running, probably in March, with a DUP first
minister and a Sinn Féin deputy.

But Mr Paisley appeared to be increasing his demands.

Before meeting Mr Blair he said: "I expect the prime minister to
fulfil his pledge on decommissioning. I want to see the photographs
not away in March, but immediately after it is done."


'It Is Now Or Never' As A Frail Paisley Puts Terrorist Acts In Past

By Greg Hurst, Political Correspondent

IAN PAISLEY, the man who built a political career on saying no,
stood yesterday on the threshold of an historic deal in which he
says yes to forming a government in Stormont with republicans.

A breakthrough appeared tantalisingly close, despite another delay
that will drag the talks into early next week, as Mr Paisley
emerged from another meeting with Tony Blair saying that the moment
of decision for the IRA had arrived. "It's now or never. You must
have done with your arms. You must put them away," the Democratic
Unionist Party leader declared in a message aimed directly at the
IRA. Significantly he spoke of IRA terrorism in the past tense,
despite claiming provocatively that its members should don
sackcloth and ashes to atone for their acts.

Mr Paisley said: "There is no excuse for what they did. Every day
the security forces have to wear sackcloth and ashes, (they) have
pulled down their defences. They have to do that — that is all
right for the security forces. But as for us (the IRA), we are
immune to it — that is their attitude."

This drew protests from Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, who
emerged from a meeting in Dublin with Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime
minister, to brand the remarks unfortunate and unhelpful and Mr
Adams spoke angrily about "the politics of humiliation". He
expressed frustration that another deadline of yesterday had passed
without a conclusion. "We are concerned that the timeframe is
stretching. We want to see all this done very, very quickly," the
Sinn Fein leader said.

But government sources in London remained optimistic saying that
although a final agreement had not been struck, there were no last-
minute hitches. Exact terms for verifying publicly final acts of
IRA disarmament, possibly next month, are believed to represent the
final stumbling block.

The delay was due to private engagements involving Mr Paisley for
the remainder of this week. Meanwhile, Mr Adams will have another
meeting with Mr Blair today.

Despite the robust "no surrender" rhetoric associated with Dr
Paisley, some close to the talks are convinced he does want an
agreement provided its terms are right.

"He is nearer 80 than 70 and would regard an agreement as the
culmination of his life's work," one source said, "but the
conditions have to be absolutely right and that means a complete
end to the IRA."

In recent months Mr Paisley, 78, has cut a gaunt figure after a
period of illness that led doctors to order him not to travel by
aircraft, which has been a complicating factor in the logistics of
cross-party talks involving the British and Irish governments.

The DUP leader travels to the mainland by ferry.

Another feature of the discussions is his trenchant refusal to meet
face to face with Gerry Adams. Any deal must in essence be between
the DUP and Sinn Fein yet all the delicate and infinitely detailed
negotiations have been via intermediaries.

Mr Paisley is no longer the powerful preacher-like orator that he
was until the early 1990s. His voice is now hoarse, he walks slowly
and he is said to pace carefully his workload and reduce strain.
His mind, however, is as sharp as ever.

Northern Ireland politics is rife with rumours that Mr Paisley, who
has led his party since 1971, may be more seriously ill than he
admits, although there is no evidence for this.

Some months ago he appeared at the Commons with a black eye,
sparking many irreverent jokes as well as speculation that he had
suffered a fall.

Although his son, Ian Paisley Jr, 37, followed his footsteps into
politics as Assembly member for his seat of North Antrim, the clear
heir apparent within the DUP is Peter Robinson, the deputy leader
and obvious candidate for First Minister in the event of a deal.

Yet for the moment the grip on power by Mr Paisley, who remains as
MP, member of the suspended Assembly and an MEP, remains as strong.


Deal Closer After Paisley Says 'Now Or Never' On Arms Issue

Frank Millar, London Editor

The possibility of a political breakthrough in Northern Ireland
by next Tuesday was being talked up last night after the Rev Ian
Paisley told the IRA it was "now or never" for it to be rid of its

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party was on tantalising form
after talks with the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, at
Downing Street yesterday, insisting the issue of IRA
decommissioning had not yet been resolved to his satisfaction,
while signalling he would like to go down in history as "a man of

Senior DUP sources later cited Dr Paisley's remarks in support of
their belief that a deal could be concluded with Sinn Féin next
Tuesday, which would permit the restoration of power-sharing
government at Stormont by next March.

Although there is no possibility of a DUP split resulting from Dr
Paisley's final verdict on the British-Irish proposals, conflicting
briefings over the past 48 hours have again confirmed tensions in
the upper echelons of the party between those eager to conclude a
deal now and those who think it should at least be delayed until
after the British general election expected next year.

Dr Paisley is expected to give Mr Blair his final decision at a
meeting at a still-undisclosed venue on Friday. Speculation about
tentative plans for a major political announcement in Northern
Ireland, probably at Hillsborough Castle, next week rose after the
Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said Friday did not mark the final deadline
for agreement.

However, Dr Paisley's personal caution over the transparency of
future IRA decommissioning was matched by Mr Ahern's admitted
concern over two potentially difficult issues still to be resolved.

As the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, concluded his latest
meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin and prepared for more talks
with Mr Blair in London this afternoon, senior republican sources
confirmed that at least three key issues had yet to be agreed:
these are the DUP demand for a pictorial record of IRA
decommissioning; changes to the rules for electing the co-equal
First and Deputy First Ministers in the Assembly; and the timetable
for the devolution of policing and justice powers.

Following the meeting between the SDLP leader, Mr Mark Durkan, and
Mr Blair yesterday, senior party sources endorsed the DUP view that
Sinn Féin could at best hope for an "indicative timetable" for
devolution since it could only take effect following a request from
the Assembly carried by a cross-community vote.

Sinn Féin wants Mr Blair and Mr Ahern to underwrite a commitment
that policing and justice powers will be devolved by early 2006,
while DUP sources say they do not envisage this happening in the
lifetime of the present Assembly.

© The Irish Times


Locked In An Embrace

Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams could not be more unlikely political
partners - but they need each other

Jonathan Freedland
Wednesday December 1, 2004
The Guardian

They're calling it the deal of all deals, and for once you can
forgive the hyperbole. The two men poised to agree it - don't
expect them to shake hands just yet - have seen the other as the
devil incarnate for more than three decades. For those long years,
their names served as the very definition of polar opposites,
magnetically repelled. North and south, chalk and cheese, Paisley
and Adams.

Yet here they now are, the leaders of two inherently incompatible
ideologies - hardline Ulster unionism and Irish republicanism -
engaging with each other, if not directly, then with great
seriousness. The goal, which both sides say is within reach, ready
to be grasped next week if not this, is an enterprise that would
once have been the stuff of laughable political science fiction:
joint government of Northern Ireland, with the Rev Ian Paisley as
first minister and Martin McGuinness as his loyal deputy.

What might count as an equivalent? Imagine George W Bush naming
Tariq Aziz as his running mate and you get close. Or perhaps Ariel
Sharon teaming up with the late Sheikh Yassin. In a world where a
Paisley-McGuinness ticket is a serious prospect, truly anything is

We shouldn't get carried away. No deal has been done yet - and
veterans of the peace process were much less chipper last night
than they had been 24 hours earlier. Those who have lived through
Northern Ireland's repeated psychodramas have learned to keep their
scepticism on full alert: just last year, there was a single
October day which began with talk of a new dawn and ended in a dusk
of deadlock.

Besides, there are countless obstacles in the way, with our old
friend - the decommissioning of IRA weapons - first among them.
Paisley, like his predecessor as the de facto leader of Ulster
unionism, David Trimble, insists he cannot go into government with
a political party that has a "private army" at its disposal.
Previous IRA acts of disarmament were not enough for Trimble and
they are certainly not enough for the man who has made a religion -
and a career - of saying no. I'm told that, even now, he has
presented a list of 20-plus questions, including some which would
be almost impossible to answer. Paisley wants witnesses beyond the
international overseer, the Canadian former general, John de
Chastelain. He has won agreement for two churchmen, one nominated
by him the other by Sinn Féin, to watch the IRA put their arms
beyond use. But now he would like some photographic proof.
Republicans are wary of that, fearing that Paisley will wave the
pictures aloft, brandishing them as images of Provo surrender.

This is hardly a groundless fear. "The IRA needs to be humiliated,"
the Democratic Unionist leader told supporters in Ballymena at the
weekend - in front of BBC cameras. "And they need to wear their
sackcloth and ashes, not in a backroom, but openly." Republicans
always expected Paisley to shore up his own hardliners on the eve
of any deal, but talk like that has made them anxious that he will
exploit an IRA move on arms - maybe even pocketing this most
symbolic of concessions and then refusing to concede any ground of
his own.

On the other side, there are stumbling blocks too. Sinn Féin wants
to be sure that responsibility for policing and criminal justice
transfers swiftly from the British government to a revived Belfast
assembly - which has been suspended since October 2002. It also
needs to prove to their own constituency that they are winning some
valuable prizes: the removal of British army watchtowers from South
Armagh is high on their list. Like Paisley, Gerry Adams has
hardliners to keep sweet.

So much for the potholes ahead; what about the journey that has
brought us to this point? How has it been possible? The big picture
explanation remains the same as it was when the peace process began
in earnest a decade ago. Both sides came to the realisation that
they were never going to win outright. Ireland was not going to be
united by force, nor were the province's Catholics simply going to
disappear. They had fought each other to a weary stalemate. They
would have to negotiate their way out.

More recently, Sinn Féin and the DUP have understood that they are
locked in a strange embrace. Both want to enter government, but
they cannot do so without the other. Only the consent of the other
party will allow them in. The Good Friday agreement of 1998 is
wired in such a way that it leaves the fates of enemies entwined.

And, make no mistake, this desire for power is real. Sinn Féin is
not dabbling in politics: they sincerely aim to be the dominant
party in Ireland, first in the north and, one day, throughout the
island. But, and this may be more surprising, the DUP is no less
ambitious. Paisley himself, at 78, probably does not hanker for the
ministerial limo. But his lieutenants, Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds
et al, are men with futures to nurture. They do not want to spend
their careers as professional naysayers, forever doing nothing. It
is easily forgotten now, but DUP ministers won plaudits for their
service during the brief period of Northern Irish home rule.
"They're more like Sinn Féin than we might like to think," muses
one republican. "They take their politics seriously and, when they
get into it, they're good at it."

On the republican side, another prac tical factor leans towards a
deal. "You can't keep an army on stand-by forever," says my
republican source. "Ninety per cent of the IRA have gone home. Some
of these guys are 20lbs heavier." In other words, politics is now
republicanism's only realistic option.

Still, the explanation for this change does not rest entirely with
the parties themselves. Both sides admit that, this time, the
British and Irish governments are "playing hardball". In the past,
Tony Blair handled David Trimble gently, aware that the Ulster
Unionist leader had risked much by signing up to Good Friday. But
Blair owes Paisley nothing.

Therefore, the prime minister has made clear, there will be no
bending over backwards to keep the DUP leader happy. If Paisley
doesn't like the deal on offer, then he can lump it. London and
Dublin will simply move towards joint control of the province,
maintain their open channel with republicanism and leave the
unionists to stew in their own juice. The prospect of the IRA
effectively winding itself up is too big a prize to refuse: Blair
is going to grab it and no unionist, not even Ian Paisley, is going
to stop him.

The PM wants a deal in Northern Ireland badly: success in this once
strife-torn part of his own backyard is his calling card as an
international peacemaker. Similarly, republicans have decided that
a place in devolved government advances their goals; and unionism
is now led by the one man with the hawkish credentials to do a deal
- if he wants to. Paisley need not fear an attack from his right
because there is no space to his right. It is Northern Ireland's
fortune that all these stars have come into alignment at the same
time. Once again the people of the province face a holiday season
that could bring great blessings - or a badly wasted opportunity.


Commission: Govts Failed Bomb Victims' Relatives
2004-11-30 17:30:03+00

Successive governments have failed the relatives of loyalist
bombing victims in Dublin and Monaghan for almost 30 years, it was
claimed tonight.

David Andrews, board member of the Remembrance Commission and
former foreign minister, said he felt obliged to apologise for the
lack of action to expose the truth.

Mr Andrews said the Commission held an important meeting with the
Justice For The Forgotten (JFF) lobby group and survivors of the
1972 and 1974 atrocities.

"It is a scandal that official Ireland has ignored you for so much
time," he told the families.

"I was part of official Ireland myself, and I would like to
apologise certainly for what hasn't happened over the last 30
years. The sooner closure is brought to the matter the better."

A total of 36 people were killed when loyalist terrorists bombed
the centre of Dublin and Monaghan in separate attacks between 1972
and 1974.

Justice For The Forgotten claimed they were being denied their
rights by governments who refused to establish a public inquiry.

Bernie McNally, JFF chairperson, said that the issue was getting to
the truth.

"Before we get closure we have to get some kind of truth and that
will be hard," Ms McNally said.

"The fact that official Ireland has tried at this stage to get the
truth and pulled out all the stops, that will help the families."

But she claimed it was a disgrace that the victims' families and
survivors were left to carry their quest for the truth to the
European Court.

Gertie Shields, whose aunt was killed in one of the attacks, said
compensation was not what the families were looking for.

"Time is rolling on, that's the message I want to give, 30 years is
an awfully long time to wait," Miss Shields said.

"Money was never the issue though, the whole thing was to establish
an inquiry. We should be setting our own house in order first.
There was such a long period of time when nothing was done and with
that a lot of damage. The indictment really is with the Government
of the time."


Requiem Mass For Iraq Hostage As Husband Clings To Faint Hope

From Anthony Loyd in Baghdad and Ruth Gledhill

A MUTILATED body discovered in Fallujah a fortnight ago was not
Margaret Hassan, the missing British aid worker believed murdered
earlier this month, British sources in Baghdad said yesterday.

Although DNA testing has yet to be completed, dental records prove
that the body was not Mrs Hassan's, leaving her exact fate still

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac
Murphy-O'Connor, will celebrate a Requiem Mass for her at
Westminster Cathedral on Saturday next week. The Catholic Church
said yesterday that despite reports that she had converted to
Islam, Mrs Hassan remained a churchgoing Roman Catholic.

The cardinal's office said: "No body has been found, and the family
do not expect it to be found, which is why this is a Requiem Mass
rather than a funeral."

Mrs Hassan's husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, told The Times yesterday
that he did not know if she was dead or alive. "There is only a
video suggesting the execution to show that she is dead, and I
don't know if that is a hoax or not," he said.

The grainy video received by al-Jazeera television channel in mid-
November shows a blindfolded woman in an orange boilersuit being
shot. The British Ambassador in Qatar and one family member
concluded that it most probably did show Mrs Hassan's killing. But
others in Iraq, including her husband, cling to the slim hope that
she may still be alive.

"In my mind she is still alive," he said. "Maybe I'm wrong, but I
was with Margaret for 33 years. I cannot believe she has been
abducted and killed."

The kidnapping, in Baghdad on October 19, was unusual. No group
admitted holding Mrs Hassan, 59, and no contact was made with her
kidnappers. In a series of videos, she voiced varying demands which
were unlike those made by the hostages of Iraq's most wanted
terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Tawhid wal Jihad.

The bodies of other hostages who have been beheaded have been
dumped in public places. Mrs Hassan's has not. Al-Zarqawi's group
posted a message on a website denying that it had held her.

Two weeks ago, US Marines clearing Fallujah found the body of a
woman in her fifties with her legs and arms cut off and her throat
cut. Initially, diplomatic sources, including John Howard, the
Australian Prime Minister, said that the body was Mrs Hassan's and
it was sent to Jordan for DNA testing.

However, a senior Iraqi officer in the serious crime unit in
Baghdad insisted that al-Tawhid wal Jihad had held Mrs Hassan. "She
was in Fallujah and right from the beginning of her kidnap we knew
Zarqawi was holding her," he told The Times on condition of
anonymity. "Al-Zarqawi's website message and the other strange
video details were just a deception."

Patterns in the fate of Western hostages are difficult to
establish. A market exists for captives to be taken by a criminal
gang and then traded, sometimes several times, among groups with
political agendas.

Nor is death certain, even for coalition citizens. A Polish woman,
Teresa Borcz Khalifa, of a similiar age to Mrs Hassan and also
married to an Iraqi, was held in the Fallujah area at the same time
by the Salafi Brigade of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, another resistance

Demands were made for the withdrawal of Polish troops in Iraq in
return for her life. The Polish Government refused any deal, yet
Mrs Khalifa was released unharmed on November 20 and said that she
had been well treated.

For Mr Hassan the motives of his wife's captors remain just an
academic exercise.

"I have appealed to them so many times just to give me back my wife
dead or alive," he said. "I can only repeat it again now. If she is
dead I want her back to rest in the ground."


BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro: "Outside the court, camera crews were
jostled and threatened by some of the men's supporters"

Loyalists Charged Over Kidnap Bid -V

Five loyalists have appeared in court charged with plotting to rob
a bank - just 24 hours after the chief constable linked the Ulster
Defence Association to a major security operation in Belfast.

The men from north Belfast are accused of trying to kidnap and rob
a bank official.

Three of the men have also been charged with having a gun.

The charges relate to an attempt to rob the First Trust Bank at
Antrim Road, Belfast, last Thursday.

In the dock at Belfast Magistrates' Court were William John Mullan,
aged 46, Jonathan William Rossborough, 22, Alan Hugh McClean, 36,
all from Westland Drive, William Thomas Seenan, 44, of Alliance
Road, and Stephen Douglas, 22, of Tyndale Green.

The five were charged with conspiring with others between 11 and 25
November to imprison the First Trust official, referred to as
Witness A, and detaining him against his will.

They were also charged with conspiring to rob Witness A and having
a Bruni-type 8 mm pistol to commit the offence.

Mr Rossborough, Mr Seenan and Mr Douglas faced an additional charge
of possessing a firearm last Thursday with intent to commit an
indictable offence.

The defendants refused to answer when the charges were read out and
they were asked if they understood.

Magistrate Ken Nixon had them removed from the dock, saying he
would hear the case later.

More than 40 members and supporters of the illegal Ulster Defence
Association packed the public gallery when the men appeared in the

The magistrate threatened to clear the public gallery because of

The defendants were later remanded in custody until 21 December.

Defence solicitor Billy McNulty said: "I have been instructed by my
clients that all five of them are denying the offences.

"They are aware of their bail rights and will be applying to the
High Court in due course."

At the start of the month, Secretary of State Paul Murphy met
senior UDA figures and political representatives - a meeting at
which assurances were given to the government that the UDA would
turn away from criminality. GE>

It was revealed in court that police mounted an undercover
operation on 11 November.

The following day, the government announced that it was going to
recognise the UDA ceasefire.

And within 48 hours, the UDA said it had committed itself to
working towards the end of all paramilitary activity.

Last week, the PSNI's undercover operation culminated in the arrest
of a number of men in east Belfast.

It was five of those men who appeared in court on Tuesday.

Outside the court, camera crews were jostled and threatened by some
of the men's supporters.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/11/30 17:20:43 GMT


See Video with:

Two Jailed For IRA Membership -V
2004-11-30 19:10:04+00

A leading Sinn Féin member and a man who engaged in patrols against
drug dealers were today sentenced to four years imprisonment for
IRA membership.

Niall Binead, 35, of Faughart Road, Crumlin, and Kenneth Donohoe,
26, of Sundale Avenue, Mountain View, Tallaght, had been found
guilty of membership of an illegal organisation at the Special
Criminal Court on November 18.

Mr Binead, a father of four, had been found with documents in his
house which included surveillance details on a number of
politicians and Dublin criminals.

He was a branch secretary with Sinn Féin and also a key election
worker for party TD Aengus O'Snodaigh.

In the Dáil, opposition leader Enda Kenny raised the "very serious
implications" of the Special Criminal Court verdicts and how one
convicted IRA member had "a very close association with a member of
the House".

Mr Kenny claimed that up to 20 Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs had
been under surveillance but only found out through the newspapers.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he had no knowledge of the spying
activities other than what came out in court today.

He added: "These are obviously very serious matters that
information is being gathered on elected members of the Oireachtas.

"I still don't know what was the motive of tracing, following,
detailing members of this house.

"What they were about or why they should be gathering information
is a serious issue.

Mr O'Snodaigh was not available for comment.

Both Binead and Donoghue were arrested on October 10, 2002 in Bray,
following a Garda operation to prevent a planned hijacking.

At the Special Criminal Court today, Mr Justice Diarmuid O'Donovan
said the men had been "insolent and provocative" in failing to
answer Garda questions.

He said this, coupled with the documents discovered in Binead's
home, corroborated the evidence of Chief Superintendent Philip
Kelly, who had said both men were members of the IRA.

"You were not convicted solely on the evidence of Chief
Superintendent Kelly," said the judge.

He said the court had taken account of the two men's personal
circumstances and the fact that the Provisional IRA was on
ceasefire, had engaged in decommissioning and was likely to do so
in the near future.

But he noted the reservations of Chief Superintendent Diarmuid
O'Sullivan about the two men's adherence to the IRA ceasefire.

Both were convicted in 1998 of threatening violence against drug
dealers in Kevin Street, Dublin.

Peter Finlay, senior counsel for Binead, said his client supported
the IRA ceasefire and had never been involved in paramilitary

"He is a proud republican who is unlikely to change his views ...
but to express his republicanism within the law is something he
earnestly wants to do."

He added: "He and his fellow representatives in Sinn Féin have the
ambition of making a very long and lasting contribution to this
state in the years ahead."

Mr Finlay urged the judges to ignore what he described as
mischievous attempts in sections of the media to construe the
evidence in the case as being sinister or likely to pose a serious
risk to politicians.

Senior counsel for Donohoe, Conor Devaley, said his client was
peripheral to the events described in the trial and had been
depressed by the guilty verdict.

"His involvement, to use a colloquialism, is low down the ladder,"
he said.

Sentencing the men, the judge said the court had totally
disregarded the commentary in the media about the case.


Government Says Binead Conviction Matter For Courts

Arthur Beesley, Political Reporter

The Government has said the conviction of a Sinn Féin member for
Provisional IRA membership is a matter for the courts and separate
to the efforts to restore the Executive in the North.

Niall Binead, who kept surveillance details on senior Dáil
politicians, was one of two men jailed for four years by the
Special Criminal Court yesterday. He is a close political associate
of Sinn Féin TD Mr Aengus Ó Snodaigh, and secretary of the party's
Dublin South City branch.

From Crumlin, Dublin, Binead was sentenced yesterday along with
Kenneth Donohoe from Tallaght. Documents found in his home
contained the names of several politicians, including those of
former justice minister Mr John O'Donoghue, and PD founder Mr Des

The convictions led Fine Gael and the PDs to demand an explanation
from Sinn Féin.

Senator John Minihan of the PDs said the conviction raised "very
serious question marks" about Sinn Féin's ability to fully embrace
the democratic process.

However, Mr Ó Snodaigh last night repeated his view that the court
had handed down a "very unsafe judgment", and said he understood an
appeal was under consideration.

The case was raised in the Dáil yesterday by the Fine Gael leader,
Mr Enda Kenny, who said that up to 20 Oireachtas members were not
informed by the authorities that "this surveillance of movements,
observation or spying, was being conducted".

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, said the two men had been convicted of
"severe criminal activity", but said the offences had "nothing to
do" with current political events.

"It remains to be proven what it was all about. It should be
remembered that the sentences were imposed for IRA membership,
which does not resolve the issue of information-gathering."

Fine Gael's justice spokesman, Mr Jim O'Keeffe, said Mr Ó Snodaigh
should clarify his relationship with the guilty party, and his
knowledge of Binead's criminal activities.

© The Irish Times


IRA Surveillance Of Politicians 'Serious' - Ahern

Michael O'Regan

The Taoiseach expressed concern yesterday about reports that
politicians, including a former minister for justice, were put
under surveillance by members of the Provisional IRA.

"These are obviously very serious matters, that information was
being gathered about members of the elected assembly of the Houses
of the Oireachtas," said Mr Ahern.

He was replying to questions from Fine Gael leader Mr Enda Kenny
following the conviction of two men for membership of the
Provisional IRA.

The courts had dealt, said Mr Ahern, with the situation where
"people were engaged in such activity for criminal or paramilitary
purposes or whatever".

The Taoiseach added that those involved would not be covered under
the terms of early release under the Belfast Agreement. He said he
had not been given any information about the matter in a security
briefing until the court cases were held.

Mr Kenny said that one of those involved had a very close
association with a member of the House. "In fact, he conducted the
dual role of the Dublin IRA brigade intelligence officer and
election agent for a Sinn Féin member of the House," he added.

He asked when Mr Ahern became aware of the surveillance of the
movement of members of the House. Up to 20 members of the House
were not informed by the appropriate authorities that this "spying"
was being conducted, he added.

"Why is it that members of the House had to read about it in the
newspapers?," asked Mr Kenny. He said that this activity took place
at a time when the IRA was on ceasefire.

"These members, now convicted, were on active duty," said Mr Kenny.

Mr Ahern said it would not have been appropriate for the Minister
for Justice to raise the issue when the people involved were

"I had no information, and do not to this day, except what has come
out in court," he added. "Apparently these two, and perhaps others
associated with them, had documents relating to a former minister
for justice and to the movement of Dáil politicians." That they
were gathering such information was a serious issue, said Mr Ahern,
adding that they had been sentenced for their activities. "I still
do not know what was the motive for following members of this

© The Irish Times


Annetta Family Reunion Rumour

Relatives not seen since yesterday.

By Claire Regan
30 November 2004

Speculation was mounting today that the Co Armagh family of freed
hostage Annetta Flanigan have left their home to have an emotional
reunion with her outside Northern Ireland.

According to rumours circulating the UN worker's hometown of
Richhill this morning, members of the Flanigan family have
travelled outside the province, possibly to England, to see her for
the first time since her Afghanistan ordeal.

Ms Flanigan was released unharmed along with her UN colleagues
Shqipe Hebibi and Angelito Nayan last Tuesday - nearly four weeks
after armed militants abducted them in Kabul.

The 43-year-old flew out of Afghanistan on Sunday and was expected
to spend a few days on holiday before returning to Northern Ireland
to see her family.

It wasn't revealed exactly when the former lawyer was due to arrive
in Co Armagh, but it was expected to be within days.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Speers, who knows the Flanigan
family, said he called at their home last night.

"There was no reply so I wasn't able to ask them on the latest news
about Annetta," he said.

"I spoke to their next door neighbour and the family hadn't been
seen yesterday.

"The talk around Richhill is that they've gone somewhere else to
meet up with Annetta. It would be my feeling that they've gone to

"You can understand that they would like it to be a private

Mr Speers said the people of Richhill would give Ms Flanigan a big
welcome home if she returned to Richhill.

"There would certainly be a very warm welcome for her, there's no
question," he added.

Ms Flanigan spent 27 days in the hands of her kidnappers but was
said to have been treated well.

Afghan officials have remained tight-lipped about the circumstances
of the trio's release, denying that any deal to free prisoners or
pay a ransom was struck with their kidnappers.

The government has also cast doubt over whether the three UN
workers were ever held by the group - called Jaish-al Muslimeen, or
Army of Muslims - claiming instead that a criminal gang may have
been hired to carry out the abductions.


Finucane: 'New Law Could End Independent Public Inquiries'

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

Government legislation for the inquiry into the murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane could be used to suppress facts in a
tribunal into allegations of Army bullying in Deepcut Barracks,
Lords were warned today.

As Lords considered a Bill affecting the Finucane Inquiry, human
rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch said would give
ministers unprecedented control over inquiries into allegations of
state misconduct.

British Irish Rights Watch director Jane Winter argued: "This Bill
would bring an end to independent, public inquiries and allow the
government to prevent independent scrutiny of a range of events
where there are serious allegations of state misconduct.

"Individuals who have survived major disasters and the families of
those killed with the active involvement of state agents, or
through the negligence of state institutions, will find it much
harder to establish the truth about what happened and hold those
responsible to account.

"Should the Bill be enacted as law, its effect on inquiries such as
the long-overdue inquiry into the murder of solicitor Patrick
Finucane in Northern Ireland, or any future inquiry into the
allegations of bullying and mistreatment at Deepcut Barracks in
Surrey, would be devastating."

The Government has approved an inquiry into allegations that rogue
members of Army intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary
colluded in the 1989 murder by loyalists of Pat Finucane in front
of his family in his north Belfast home.

However, because the tribunal will have to deal with sensitive
matters of national security behind closed doors, Northern Ireland
Secretary Paul Murphy has said new legislation is needed to replace
the 1921 Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act.

In a briefing note sent to the members of the House of Lords,
British Irish Rights Watch said it had identified a numerous
provisions in the new Bill which gave rise to considerable concern.

"A minister will set the terms of reference for an inquiry and an
inquiry may only act within those terms of reference," the
organisation claimed.

"The chair of an inquiry will have no power to seek any alteration
to the terms of reference, should she or he consider them
insufficient for the proper investigation of the matter in

"A minister who establishes an inquiry can issue a 'restriction
notice' at any time before or during the inquiry, taking into
consideration matters such as national security.

"These notices can prevent the disclosure of any evidence or
documents produced to or by the inquiry from being made public, and
can also prevent the inquiry from sitting in public for particular
sessions, or in its entirety.

"Unless revoked by the Minister, such notices will last
indefinitely, and information kept by the minister from the inquiry
will only be released after 30 years.

"The minister can also withhold from publication anything in the
inquiry's final report if she or he considers it in the public
interest to do so.

"The 'public interest' is defined broadly to include concerns about
national security, international relations and economic interests."

On Friday, the family of Pat Finucane warned it could not take part
in any tribunal into the solicitor's murder if it was set up under
the terms of the Bill.

The legislation has also been denounced by nationalist SDLP
Assembly member Alex Attwood.


Lundy's Day Appeal By Boys' Leader

Brian Hutton
30 November 2004

People intent on getting drunk or causing trouble are not welcome
at this weekend's Lundy's Day parade, the Apprentice Boys of Derry
said today.

Billy Moore, Apprentice Boys' general secretary, was speaking ahead
of Saturday's Closing of the Gates celebration, which is expected
to attract up to 2,000 people, including 22 bands, into the city.

Mr Moore backed calls by Derry's police chief Richard Russell for
city centre shops and businesses, many of which closed down during
the day in past years, to open as normal.

It was natural for traders to be reluctant to open up on the day,
said Mr Moore, because of difficulties in past years.

But he continued: "I'd like to think those days are a thing of the
past. Londonderry is a multi-cultural city now and I think we can
learn to tolerate and respect each other.

"I think it's very important that the shops try to stay open to
create an air of normality and that shoppers come about their
normal business."

Mr Moore also warned: "People coming along to get drunk are not
welcome. Please stay away."

The police revealed that 17 people have already been reported to
the Public Prosecution Service for alleged offences, mostly
provocative behaviour, arising out of an Apprentice Boys' parade in

Although Mr Moore would not commit to disciplinary action against
any Apprentice Boys prosecuted as a result of the alleged offences,
he said: "If our association believes that action needs to be
taken, we will take it."

Anyone carrying alcohol in the vicinity of the parade will have it
confiscated and anybody displaying illegal emblems faces
prosecution, said police.

CCTV and police cameras will be used on the day to secure
prosecutions against offenders.

Superintendent Richard Russell said he hoped commercial normality
would be the theme of this year's Lundy parade.

"Our aim is to police this event in a way that will allow life in
the city to continue as normally as possible and I encourage
businesses to open as normal," he said.

"This means that everyone, marchers, bands, supporters and local
people can mix on the parade route.

"I appeal to all those people to resist provocative behaviour which
remains the only small irritation in a parade which has become a
triumph for tolerance between the communities in the city."

A public meeting to discuss the police operation is to be held in
the City Hotel tomorrow at 11am.


Derry Bases Under Spotlight

Tuesday 30th November 2004

The future of security bases in Rosemount and on the city's walls
were discussed during historic talks between Sinn Fein and the PSNI
chief constable at Downing Street yesterday.

A Sinn Fein delegation led by party leader Gerry Adams and chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness met with PSNI chief Hugh Orde to push
for commitments by security chiefs that they will remove British
Army lookout posts and other military apparatus across the North.

It is one of the key demands at the centre of tense negotiations to
try to hammer out an agreement which can get the powersharing
executive and Assembly back up and running again.

The Downing Street meeting with the Chief Constable was the first
time Sinn Fein has had face-to-face talks with the head of the
police service in the North.

It took place as the DUP had critical talks with the head of the
international disarmament commission, General John de Chastelain in

Sinn Fein senior negotiator Mitchel McLaughlin told the 'Journal'
that contentious security apparatus in Derry - including
watchtowers at Rosemount and on the City Walls - were on the agenda
at yesterday's meeting.

The Foyle MLA said the sole purpose of the meeting was to discuss
the "hugely important" issue of demilitarising republican and
nationalist areas.

Mr. Orde said the meeting was "very significant" and a "step

Mitchel McLaughlin added that the Downing Street gettogether had
taken place as the issues discussed were ones which Hugh Orde had
"operational responsibility" for.

Turning to the wider political picture, Mr. McLaughlin insisted
that ongoing engagement aimed at restoring the power-sharing
institutions was "positive."

He argued that the key question was whether or not Ian Paisley and
his party were "ready, for the first time, to commit to
powersharing." "If he is - and, at present, it remains a big if -
it would have to be regarded as a huge step forward."

He added: "We are, I believe, moving in the right direction. Sinn
Fein, for its part, stands ready to do a deal. We went to Leeds
Castle to do a deal. We also went to Lancaster House to do a deal.
Our position remains strong and determined."

Mr. McLaughlin said his party was still waiting for a signal from
the DUP that it was willing to share power with Sinn Fein.

"We have some fundamental issues which we have managed to reduce to
one or two core issues that need to be closed on," the Sinn Fein
chairman said.

"If there isn't a holistic deal or we cannot endorse it, we are
happy for the two governments to publish their proposals.

"If we can endorse the proposals and the DUP can't, the governments
should publish.

"But let it be clear: if we get a deal which departs from the Good
Friday Agreement, then count us out."


North's Voter List Requirement Scrapped
2004-11-30 14:40:04+00

The British government is to scrap the practice of making voters in
Northern Ireland register every year for elections.

In a written Commons statement, Northern Ireland Office minister
John Spellar said while the annual drive to register voters had
resulted in a more accurate electoral list, it recognised concerns
that it had had a negative impact on some people.

He insisted: "The (British) government is satisfied that these
measures have been extremely successful in substantially improving
the accuracy of the electoral register in Northern Ireland.

"The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland has undertaken a
substantial programme of work to make the changes a success. As a
result, there are now comprehensive systems in place to check and
maintain the integrity of the register.

"However, there are concerns across the political spectrum that the
requirement on voters to re-register and provide their personal
identifiers afresh each year is leading to a downward drift in the
overall numbers registered. The Chief Electoral Officer and I share
those concerns."

With local government and possibly Westminster elections due to
take place in Northern Ireland next year, parties have been
critical of the annual requirement on voters to register.

They claim some people have been confused by the process - assuming
once they had signed on they will be eligible to vote in future

Sinn Féin in particular has been highly critical of the process,
claiming it has disenfranchised around 210,000 people.

Mr Spellar noted today the register published in February after
last year's canvass showed that 1,069,160 people, or approximately
87% of the eligible population in Northern Ireland, were registered
to vote.

The British government, he said, was determined to ensure as many
people were on the register and able to use their vote.

"Our goal is an electoral register that is both as accurate and as
comprehensive as possible," the minister said.

"In the light of that, I can announce today that the government is
committed to moving away from the legal requirement for the
register to be completely refreshed each year.

"This will reduce the burden on the individual citizen. And it will
allow resources to be redirected towards targeting those groups
where rates of registration are low.

"However, the government is absolutely clear that any reform must
also preserve the very high level of accuracy delivered as a result
of the 2002 Act.

"So we will be actively considering what additional security or
checking measures might need to be put in place to ensure that this
remains the case, to ensure that accuracy can go hand in hand with
rising levels of registration.

"I have discussed options with the Chief Electoral Officer and
begun consultation with the Northern Ireland political parties on a
number of ideas. In due course I will also be consulting the
Electoral Commission."


Church Rules On Suitable Christmas Carols

Anne Lucey

The Diocese of Kerry has drawn up guidelines for "suitable"
Christmas carols in its churches, which would exclude popular
favourites such as Frosty The Snowman and I Saw Mammy Kissing Santa

Carol services were not concerts, they were a way towards God, and
a church was not an appropriate place for a concert, the document
emphasised. Mr Pádraig McIntyre, director of sacred music with the
diocese, said the guidelines were drawn up in response to increased
demand from organisations and individuals for churches to be used
as concert settings.

There was also some confusion between a carol concert, appropriate
for a setting away from a church, and a carol service. Often the
requests came under the guise of charitable events, and priests and
friars were being asked to give over the churches for concerts as
the money was to go towards charity, he said.

"As a concert setting, churches are beautiful acoustically. But
their purpose is a different one.

"A church is not an appropriate place for a Christmas concert," Mr
McIntyre said. In particular, entrance to churches must be without
payment and open to all, the guidelines state.

Mr McIntyre said a carol service was doing something different from
a concert.

"It is trying to create an encounter with God. A concert, while it
may have that outcome, doesn't set itself up that way."

The Anglican tradition had set up the service of nine carols and
nine readings which first began in King's College, Cambridge, in
the early 1900s, and the guidelines drawn up by the diocese had
learned from that.

Mr McIntyre paid tribute, in particular, to the tradition of the
carol service in the Church of Ireland in Killarney, established
under Canon Brian Lougheed, now retired.

There was room for inspired text other than scripture in the carol
service, Mr McIntyre said.

However, the origin of some of the carol material in use today was

It was drawn from the Victorian era, from the dances at the pagan
feast of Saturnalia and from the medieval mystery plays and other

"Not all this music is necessarily suited to the liturgy," he said.

Dimmed lights, drama and movement that does not draw attention to
itself, a central place assigned to the crib and the cross and
silence are among the recommendations.

Applause should be kept until after the carol service as it broke
the flow of the liturgy, and collections for charity, while
laudable, were best left to after the service, the guidelines

© The Irish Times


Landmark Dublin cafés close doors for last time
Kevin Rafter reports on the closure of the Bewley's cafes

John Waters, Irish Times Columnist and Constantin Gurdgiev, TCD
Economics Lecturer discuss the implications of the closures

Ahern rules out intervention as Dublin cafés close - Orla
O'Donnell, Dublin Correspondent, reports from Bewley's on Grafton

Nostalgia Tinged With A Little Hope As Bewley's Faithful Savour The
Last Drop –V(3)

Frank McNally

As befits a business founded by Quakers, Bewley's Cafés departed
this world with a Quaker-style funeral. The mourners who queued
outside the Grafton Street branch all day to pay their respects
were determinedly sober.

Once inside, they drank nothing stronger than tea and coffee while
celebrating the life of the dearly beloved in prose, poetry and
song. And even as they said their goodbyes, many hoped the parting
would be temporary.

With the café doors closing behind him, the Lord Mayor updated
supporters on the campaign to save "the front room of the city"
from permanent closure. It would require changes in both planning
and rental law, Cllr Michael Conaghan said. But he added: "We
cannot allow a non-regulated rental market to drive every vestige
of heritage off the streets of Dublin."

Earlier, Michael James Ford of the Bewley's Theatre Group drew loud
applause from customers in the Harry Clarke Room when he spoke of a
"glimmer of hope" that this was not the end. Dubliners still had a
chance to decide whether the café remained as "a monument to
mahogany, stained glass and 1920s workmanship" or became "a
monument to mammon in a soulless age".

But the prevailing emotion in Grafton Street and Westmoreland
Street yesterday was one of nostalgia for an era passing. Cameras
flashed at the interiors all day as customers hedged their bets on
whether they would be seen in this form again. A high number of
buggies spoke of parents planning to tell children in times to come
of the day they went to Bewley's.

The former Irish Times columnist, Sam McAughtry, who queued in
Grafton Street with the artist Esmé Lewis, remembered arriving from
Belfast in the 1970s and being welcomed in the café by three
separate writers, Michael Hartnett, Benedict Kiely, and John B.

Inside, nostalgia dominated the musical offerings. Managing
director Cól Campbell danced with branch manager Deirdre Clarke as
the theatre group performed the Carpenters' Yesterday Once More.
Hot counter assistant Eugene O'Brien took a break from serving
customers to deliver a magnificent version of Molly Malone (an
unfortunate precedent, in that she was a Dublin institution no one
could save). Rathfarnham singer Ray McDonnell raised the rafters
with Raglan Road.

Campbell insisted that yesterday was not a sad day, but he admitted
today would be as staff began new lives. Regretting that so much of
the focus was on the cafés' physical structures, he compared the
closures to the evacuation of the Blasket Islands.

You could preserve the islands and the buildings on them, but today
the community who lived and worked there would be gone, to be
absorbed "into the mainland".

The daily specials blackboard in Grafton Street's balcony café
became a multinational noticeboard yesterday as employees recorded
the same message in umpteen languages: Au revoir, Adios, Ate mais,
Zegnaj, Hejda, Auf Wiedersehen, Ciao, Slán, Goodbye.

© The Irish Times

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