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December 31, 2004

12/31/04 - Influential Unionists Urged to Promote Power Sharing

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

IO 12/31/04 SF Urges Influential Unionists To Promote Power-Sharing
BB 12/31/04 Murphy: 'Disappointment' Over NI Devolution
SM 12/31/04 Stolen Bank Notes Found At Ice Rink
NS 12/31/04 The World Of Books
LT 12/31/04 Irish Priest Spent Ministry In Yorkshire
IO 12/31/04 Group Urges Publicans To End 'Cinderella' Price Hikes
IO 12/31/04 Average Irish Temperatures Up For 11th Year


SF Urges Influential Unionists To Promote Power-Sharing
2004-12-31 09:00:05+00

Sinn Féin has called on church leaders and others who have influence with
unionists to promote the Good Friday Agreement in 2005.

In a new year statement, party spokesman Martin McGuinness expressed
disappointment with the DUP's demand for photographic evidence of IRA
decommissioning, which has caused a deal to restore power-sharing in the
North to be put on hold.

He described the demand as a pretence and a ploy to delay the
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McGuinness accused the DUP of refusing to begin sharing power with
republicans and participating in the cross-border institutions
established under the agreement.

He said the big challenge for the Irish and British governments in 2005
was to insist that the 1998 peace deal be implemented, over the heads of
the DUP if necessary.


'Disappointment' Over NI Devolution

The secretary of state has expressed disappointment that devolved
government has not returned to Northern Ireland.

In his New Year message, Paul Murphy said every effort must be made to
restore the assembly.

The political institutions in Northern Ireland have been suspended since
October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the NIO.

Talks broke down earlier this month over the issue of photographic
evidence of IRA decommissioning.

However, Mr Murphy said he was encouraged by "the huge steps we have
taken towards getting the assembly and its institutions back up and

"I firmly believe that in the New Year we must channel all our efforts
into taking those final few steps together to return power to locally
elected politicians," he said.

The government would continue to support all those who had been affected
by violence in Northern Ireland, said the secretary of state.

"I remain committed to the complex and difficult process of searching for
a sensitive and meaningful way of dealing with the past.

"In the wider context, we still face the challenge of tackling organised
criminality in the community. It is vital that we continue in our efforts
to frustrate, disrupt and bring to justice those involved."

'Dead and buried'

The government was also determined to tackle racism, sectarianism, and
hostility based on sexual orientation or disability, he said.

"We owe it to everyone to ensure that we continue to build a strong and
diverse community for future generations to enjoy."

Proposals published jointly by the two governments earlier this month
included a plan for the IRA to allow photographs to be taken of its
weapons being put beyond use in the presence of independent witnesses.

Republicans have argued the issue of photographs is dead and buried.

The DUP and Sinn Fein became the largest unionist and nationalist parties
after assembly elections in November 2003.

However, the two parties have not been able to reach a deal which would
allow a power-sharing executive to be formed, and Northern Ireland
continues to be governed by direct rule from Westminster.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/31 12:01:50 GMT


Stolen Bank Notes Found At Ice Rink

By Alan Erwin, PA

Cash believed to have been stolen during the £22 million Northern Bank
raid was passed at an ice rink near Belfast, it emerged today.

Two £20 notes with serial numbers matching those issued after the city
centre heist have been handed over to police, Castlereagh Borough Council

The money was given to staff as families poured into the Dundonald
International Ice Bowl yesterday, according to spokeswoman Jill Simpson.

She said: "It turned up between 10am and 3pm and due to staff vigilance
it was noted quite quickly.

"On checking it, our senior cashier raised the alarm."

Detectives involved in a mammoth investigation for the gang behind the
UK's biggest-ever bank robberies will be scrutinising the cash for clues.

Police hunting the thieves who held the families of two bank staff
hostage during last week's operation have carried out searches at
business premises across west Belfast.

Nothing was recovered that could lead to a breakthrough.

Sinn Fein fury at the focus of the investigation intensified after
officers trawled through homes and properties in republican districts of
the city.

Even though the IRA has issued a denial that it was involved in the
robbery, business premises and community projects on the Stewartstown and
Springfield Road were targeted.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland was unable to comment immediately
on the bank notes recovered from the Ice Bowl.


The World Of Books

December 31, 2004

Each year The New York Sun asks celebrated writers and New Yorkers to
name their favorite books of the year. From the latest scholarship to the
latest novel, here are (a few of) their choices.

"Jaywalking With the Irish" by David Monagan (Lonely Planet, 239 pages,
$14.99). Irish-American David Monagan, once a student at Trinity College,
Dublin, returns to the Emerald Isle in search of his roots, and finds
that the Celtic Tiger is a cat that has changed its spots. A kind of
"Year in Provence" with Guinness, this book is witty, heartfelt, and
insightful. Frank McCourt called it the best book on modern Ireland.

. "Scotland's Empire" (Smithsonian Institution Press, 346 pages, $32.50)
by T.M. Devine. A book that anyone with Scottish or Irish blood will read
with fascination. It shows how the Scots and Irish were deeply involved
in American history from its earliest days.


Church Mourns Popular Bishop Kevin

Irish Priest Spent Ministry In Yorkshire

By Tony Harney

ONE of Yorkshire's best loved clergymen, the Rt Rev Thomas Kevin O'Brien,
Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Middlesbrough has died in Leeds Infirmary.

Bishop Kevin, 81, died peacefully in the hospital where he had been taken
a few days earlier suffering from pneumonia.

For the past six years Bishop Kevin, who was in the 57th year of his
priesthood, had been cared for devotedly by the Little Sisters of the
Poor at St Joseph's nursing home in Headingley, Leeds, since his
retirement in 1998.

Thomas Kevin O'Brien was born in Cork, Ireland, and was educated at the
Christian Brothers College, Cork before training for the priesthood at
All Hallows College, Dublin.

In 1948 he was ordained for the Diocese of Leeds. His first appointment
was assistant priest at St Mary's, Batley where he served until 1951 when
he was appointed to the Cathedral in Leeds.

In September 1956 he joined the Catholic Missionary Society and was
appointed Superior by the Bishops from 1960-1971. He edited the new
course for non Catholics at the Catholic inquiry centre. In 1971 he was
appointed parish priest at St Patrick, Huddersfield, and Vicar General of
the Diocese of Leeds.

In August 1979 he was appointed parish priest of St Francis, Bradford. In
1981 he was consecrated Bishop of Ardcarna, and Auxiliary Bishop of
Middlesbrough and became parish priest of St Charles, Hull.

He played a leading part in ecumenical activities in the city and the
East Riding of Yorkshire, including the 'Churches Together' Group, which
continues to be the prime focus for ecumenical co operation in the area.


He was also involved with the young and disadvantaged for which Hull
University conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. On
reaching 75 he retired as a bishop.

Despite deteriorating health, he celebrated the golden jubilee of his
priestly ordination at St Charles and at Middlesbrough Cathedral.

In September 1998 he moved to the Little Sisters of the Poor at
Headingley Leeds. Bishop O'Brien enjoyed walking reading and music.
Throughout his life he was a charismatic preacher, a skill he maintained
throughout his declining years.

There will be a Solemn Reception of his body followed by mass at St
Charles, Hull, on Sunday January 9 at 6pm. On the following day there
will be requiem mass in St Charles at midday after which his body will be
transferred to St Mary's Cathedral, Middlesbrough, where it will be
solemnly received followed by mass at 7pm that evening.

On Tuesday, January 11 his requiem mass followed by burial in the
Cathedral vault will take place at midday. Contact Dr Jim Whiston 01642
850 505, and Father Derek Turnham 01642 850113 at the Diocese of
Middlesbrough for more information.

31 December 2004


Consumers' Group Urges Publicans To End 'Cinderella' Price Hikes
2004-12-31 10:30:02+00

Publicans should show some seasonal goodwill and end the post midnight
practice of hiking up drink prices in Dublin's pubs and clubs, according
to the Consumers' Association.

Dermott Jewell, Consumers' Association chief executive, claimed the
'Cinderella Syndrome' defied logic by allowing pub owners to penalise
loyal punters.

Mr Jewell accepted publicans were hit hard by the smoking ban, but he
said the gesture would go far in boosting consumer faith in the trade.

"It defies the logic of business, and good business at that," he said.
"What we are looking at is a downturn in turnover, and it's extraordinary
that they can't see the reality and positivity of introducing reductions
for customers willing to throng pubs and clubs."

With the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs (ODCA) vowing to
crack down on traders in breach of price display laws in the new year, it
is hoped the move could leave the Cinderella syndrome no more than a

A random spot-check of pubs across Ireland in the run-up to Christmas
revealed the level of compliance by publicans to the Retail Price Display
Order 1999 left a lot to be desired.

Out of 189 pubs visited by ODCA inspectors only 139 (74%) complied with
the law. During 2004, eight licensed premises were successfully
prosecuted, but after the latest survey at least 12 more premises will
find themselves in court in the new year.

Mr Jewell said stringent check-ups from both the Competition Authority
and the ODCA could end the exploitation of revellers once and for all.

"It means we need a whole new form of inspection, and these inspectors
are going to have to take the form of consumers who take account of
prices," Mr Jewell said.

"Let's be honest there aren't enough inspectors to take care of that
practice, this is where we, the consumer, need to take control

Jay Burke, Irish Nightclub Industry Association chairman, defended the
midnight price change. He said the two-tier pricing system was a
justifiable surcharge to cover added costs for insurance, security,
staffing and special exemption orders for late bars.

"It's very clear why that exists, if you're working until 3am in the
morning instead of 11pm at night you expect extra for that," Mr Burke

"The public may enjoy the image of the fat, rich publican but there are
many others who are not doing so well."

Mr Burke claimed the seismic change in the pub trade over the last year
had left the industry in terminal decline. He said with one pub for every
400 people in Ireland any further cuts in profits would leave the
property market swamped with unsaleable pubs.

He also called on breweries to cut their profit margins allowing
publicans to pass on the savings to punters.

Both the Licensed Vintners' Association and the Vintners' Federation of
Ireland said they could not comment on pricing matters. The groups are
legally barred from advising publicans on setting prices for drink in
pubs and nightclubs.

Figures released in the last couple of months revealed that drink prices
in Dublin were on average 14.5% higher than in other parts of the

Mr Jewell said there was no excuse for this, with the city offering a
much bigger customer base than elsewhere, and high demand for services
through the tourist trade.

"I feel no sorrow for them whatsoever," he said.


Average Irish Temperatures Up For 11th Year
2004-12-31 07:40:02+00

Ireland got warmer for the 11th successive year in 2004, with almost
every month of the year experiencing above-normal temperatures.

A Met Eireann report on the year's weather shows that temperatures were
higher than normal in every month except July and October.

The warmest days of the year were over the August Bank Holiday weekend,
when temperatures of more than 25 (77F) degrees were experienced
throughout the country. A high of 27 (81F) degrees was recorded in

June 15, meanwhile, was the sunniest day of the year, with 16 hours of
sunshine recorded at Cork Airport on that day.

Rainfall was close to normal for much of 2004, but heavy rains sparked
major floods in October, when 150mm of rain fell in the south and south-
east on the 27th and 28th of the month.

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
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