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December 01, 2004

News 12/01/04 - Adams In Downing Street Talks

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 12/01/04 Adams In Downing Street Talks
BT 12/01/04 Progress Slows But Ulster Agreement May Be Days Away
NL 12/01/04 PSNI Is Ready To Lead Way
BT 12/01/04 Viewpoint: Support For Police Vital To A New Deal
BT 12/01/04 Adams Slams Paisley 'Insult To IRA'
BT 12/01/04 Alliance In Plea Over Peace Deal
BT 12/01/04 Loyalist Hits Out At Alliance Chief Claims
BT 12/01/04 Five Loyalists Facing Kidnap Bid Charges
IO 12/01/04 London Expected To Confront UDA Over Ceasefire
NL 12/01/04 MEP Allister Slams 'Brazen Hypocrisy' Of Sinn Fein
BT 12/01/04 DNA Tests Show Mutilated Body Not Margaret Hassan
BT 12/01/04 Sinn Fein Claims Electoral Change Credit
SF 12/01/04 SF Proposes New Electoral Registration System
BT 12/01/04 SF Plea To Reopen Canal
FT 12/01/04 Ahern Buffs His Halo As He Rides The Celtic Tiger
BT 12/01/04 Nostalgia Is Order Of The Day As Bewley's Cafe Closes
BT 12/01/04 New Face Of Ireland Bono, Brosnan .Or Bad Boy Farrell?
IO 12/01/04 Govt To Provide €2m Grant To Struggling Abbey Theatre
IO 12/01/04 Men Regard 25 Pints A Week As 'Moderate' – Survey
BT 12/01/04 Banner Of US Irish Infantry Up For Sale

(Poster's Note: I am aware there is a LOT of news lately. Believe
it or not, I eliminated several stories that did not add
significant NEW info. However, I hesitate to ignore the US Irish
Infantry Banner stories. Jay)


Adams In Downing Street Talks

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is due to hold more talks with Tony
Blair on the government's proposals for restoring devolution.

There are increasing expectations that a deal could be reached
early next week.

Mr Adams is expected to consider proposals from Chief Constable
Hugh Orde for an accelerated programme removing border surveillance
posts and reducing troop numbers.

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party is also due to meet the prime
minister at Downing Street.

It is understood some of its suggestions for changes to the
Stormont rules have been adopted by the government in their latest

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said: "Nailing
down the details of any deal is still proving time consuming work -
last night, the Sinn Fein president expressed concern about what he
sees as the stretching time frame of the talks.

"With Ian Paisley expected to see Tony Blair on Friday, a deal is
not now expected this week. But government officials remain hopeful
an agreement can be unveiled early next week."

In another development, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has again
told the Irish parliament he would recommend the release of the IRA
killers of a policeman if a comprehensive deal was reached.

Detective Jerry McCabe was shot dead during a robbery in County
Limerick in 1996.

The Taoiseach said the Irish Government would consult with the
McCabe family and Garda Siochana bodies before releasing the four

On Tuesday, Ian Paisley said a deal to restore devolution to
Northern Ireland was "now or never" for the IRA.

The issue of IRA arms decommissioning remained a stumbling block to
the restoration of power-sharing, he said.

Mr Paisley met the prime minister on Tuesday to discuss his party's
response to British-Irish proposals designed to break the political

'Essential part'

The DUP leader said the people of Northern Ireland must be
convinced that the IRA had put its arms beyond use.

He said: "It's now or never. You must have done with your arms. You
must put them away."

Mr Paisley also said: "I think if we get there, we are there. And I
think seeing is believing."

This last comment is understood to relate to the DUP's demand for
photographic evidence of decommissioning which they have said is an
essential part of any deal.

After meeting Mr Ahern on Tuesday, the Sinn Fein leadership said it
was worried the prospect of cutting a deal was "being dragged out".

Mr Adams said: "We are concerned that the time frame is stretching.
We want to see all this done very, very quickly."

He said Sinn Fein remained committed to reaching agreement and was
not delaying the process.

"The deal could be done today if there was political will. We don't
even contemplate failure at this point," said Mr Adams.

Northern Ireland's political institutions have been suspended since
October 2002 amid claims of IRA intelligence-gathering at the
Northern Ireland Office.

The current negotiations are being conducted through a series of
British and Irish government intermediaries because the DUP refuses
to hold face-to-face talks with Sinn Fein.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/01 11:30:09 GMT


Progress Slows But Ulster Agreement May Be Days Away

By David McKittrick and Colin Brown
01 December 2004

The hoped-for breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process
may not be possible until early next week.

The talks were on a knife edge last night, but the assessment is
that Sinn Fein and the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
continue to inch towards a ground-breaking deal based on IRA
disarmament and an agreement to share power.

Yesterday's unofficial deadline came and went without a
breakthrough, with Mr Paisley meeting Tony Blair in Downing Street
while Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, conferred with Bertie
Ahern, the Taoiseach, in Dublin.

Mr Paisley said outside No 10: "We are moving, I believe, in the
right direction but there are some very important matters that
still have to be dealt with and the most important matter is
decommissioning. Until the people of Northern Ireland see that the
arms of the IRA are put away, we can't really look any further."
After the meeting with Mr Paisley, the Prime Minister's official
spokesman said that the negotiations could slip into next week.

Opposition MPs were on alert for a statement today announcing an
agreement, but stood down after the news that Mr Adams would meet
Mr Blair again today at No 10 to respond to the DUP demands. Mr
Adams wants faster withdrawal of security forces in republican
areas in the North, which has the support of the Taoiseach.

The DUP wants photographic evidence of the decommissioning of
weapons by the IRA, and a Protestant minister to witness it. It has
been persuaded to reduce from six months to three months a
"quarantine" period before power-sharing with Sinn Fein.

There has been a dispute over the role of the DUP, as the majority
party, in the appointment of the second minister - a Sinn Fein
representative, in the devolved assembly. The package also includes
an amnesty for terrorists on the run. Few people know exactly what
the IRA proposes to do by way of decommissioning its weapons as
part of a deal, but the general assumption is that it will go
further than before in putting arms beyond use and in doing so

Republicans seem ready to make what are in their terms fairly
painful concessions to achieve their aim of getting back into
government in Belfast. This means the principal focus is on Mr
Paisley and how he will react to a significant republican move. His
status in his party is such that his call will automatically be
accepted in its ranks.

Mr Adams complained yesterday about the negotiating process "being
dragged out", adding: "We are concerned that the time frame is
stretching. We want to see all this done very, very quickly."

Most others involved in the process seem, however, to take the view
that waiting a few extra days will be a small price to pay if it
allows the DUP leader to clinch the deal.


PSNI Is Ready To Lead Way

By Stephen Dempster, Political Correspondent, And Elinor Glynn
Wednesday 1st December 2004

The PSNI is leading the way to peace, Chief Constable Hugh Orde
said yesterday - and is waiting for the politicians to catch up.

He spoke out as the prospects of a political deal this week hung in
the balance after talks in London and Dublin.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are to host further discussions with
the DUP and Sinn Fein over the next two days and will then give the
two parties "one last weekend of contemplation".

Mr Orde said the police were primed "to show how quickly we can go
to normalisation" in the event of a talks breakthrough. "My agenda
is how we are dealing with policing across the community and in
many cases that is with the community's support.

"We are moving more quickly than the politicians. If they came in
behind us we would be moving into a very exciting time."

Downing Street sources told the News Letter the governments are
preparing to give the parties breathing space to reflect on the

But Dublin premier Bertie Ahern, while admitting "Friday or
Saturday" was the likely end to this stage of the process, steered
clear of yet another deadline.

He said it would not be a done deal by Friday unless compromises
were made.


Viewpoint: Support For Police Vital To A New Deal

Signing Up: No room for ambiguity in backing the forces of law and

01 December 2004

One of the main benefits to flow from a political agreement between
the DUP and Sinn Fein would have to be republican support for
policing, yet how realistic is this proposition and how soon could
it be achieved? Even as Gerry Adams is meeting Chief Constable Hugh
Orde to discuss demilitarisation, his colleagues will have no
dealings with the police to apprehend law-breakers.

The public is indebted to BBC Spotlight for highlighting the issue
of lawlessness in Strabane, where banks and supermarkets are being
robbed, on a regular basis, by kidnapping the families of
employees. Everyone seems to know who the perpetrators are, from
the ranks of dissident republicans, but there is no hint from Sinn
Fein's local MP, Pat Doherty, and Justice spokesman Gerry Kelly
that they would help either the victims or the police to deal with
the problem.

As far as Sinn Fein is concerned, the PSNI is still untouchable,
despite the increasing proportion of nationalists - up to 16pc -
wearing its uniform. People will continue being tied up and
terrorised, and an SDLP representative on Strabane's district
policing partnership will have to endure vicious harassment, but
Sinn Fein stands idly by.

Their aim is to make further policing reforms a deciding issue in
the current negotiations in London and Dublin. They want an early
return of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly, in
order to give them some control and justify - presumably - taking
up their seats in the policing boards and even claiming the justice
ministerial portfolio.

Little wonder that the DUP are wary of sealing such a deal, where
former IRA men could be deciding how the police operate and who
should serve. If there were to be a genuine sea change in
attitudes, with everyone signed up to a democratic way forward, a
transition to full participation by republicans in policing would
be welcome.

But where is the evidence, yet, of such a change of heart? It must
come soon, in a matter of days, if the deal of all deals is to come

Finding common ground on policing is vital for the future, so the
sooner the politicians get around to this question, the sooner
people will believe they mean business. No community can prosper
without basic security for businesses and employees, and,
especially in a border town like Strabane, co-operation between
police forces is essential.

The governments have taken big risks in dealing at close quarters
with paramilitaries, who have profited from political division.
Establishing a universal law and order must be the aim, in which
unreformed paramilitaries can play no part.


Adams Slams Paisley 'Insult To IRA'

By Noel McAdam
01 December 2004

Gerry Adams has denounced Ian Paisley's call for the IRA to wear
"sackcloth and ashes" as "intemperate and highly insulting".

As efforts continue to bridge the gap on the raft of remaining
issues between the DUP and Sinn Fein, Mr Adams raised the issue of
Mr Paisley's remarks with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

His criticism came as for the second time in the last few days the
DUP leader said there was no reason why the IRA should not be

"They need to wear sackcloth and ashes and express sorrow for what
they did. What do I say to the children who have lost their
father?" Mr Paisley asked.

"I believe in repentance and forgiveness and I think we need to see
repentance. It will be very difficult for me to share power with
Sinn Fein because of my deep sorrow for my best friends who laid
down their lives for their country."

But Mr Adams said such remarks had angered not just republicans but
the broader nationalist community and "do not help the job of
making a deal any easier.

"Republicans are not better than anybody else but neither are we
any worse. Republicans are decent people. For years we have had the
politics of political humiliation. Attempts were made to humiliate
our people in prisons, in interrogation centres, in our streets and
in our homes. It was a policy that utterly failed.

"I would suggest that we all need to be temperate in our language.
We all need to start treating people as we would have them treat
us. We need a little more humility rather than humiliation," Mr
Adams said.

Mr Ahern told the Dail he was concerned by at least two potentially
difficult issues but hoped that progress would be made on them in
the next 48 or 72 hours.

"I don't see a short-term solution unless people significantly move
their position. I would not at this stage like to be overly
positive or overly negative," he said.

The SDLP, which met Tony Blair yesterday, warned devolution of
justice would mean publishing the Chilcott Report into the
Castlereagh break-in and ensuring that intelligence gathering
remains with the PSNI under scrutiny of the Policing Board and
Police Ombudsman.


Alliance In Plea Over Peace Deal

01 December 2004

An Alliance party delegation was today poised to tell Tony Blair a
political deal must include a concentrated attack on the costs of

Speaking before the meeting in London, party leader David Ford also
said he would remind the PM that all paramilitary activity must be

He also backed recent demands for a package of additional financial
assistance for the province.

"Any such assistance must be directed to encouraging local business
development and addressing the historical deficit in investment in
our infrastructure," he said.

"There have been suggestions that a package of £1bn might be made
available. However, it should not be forgotten that the costs of
maintaining a segregated society in Northern Ireland are close on
£1bn - every single year."


Loyalist Hits Out At Alliance Chief Claims

01 December 2004

A senior Antrim loyalist has launched a blistering attack on
Alliance leader David Ford, after the South Antrim MLA accused the
town's loyalist paramilitary groups of getting rich from the
profits of racketeering and drugs.

Last week Mr Ford said that people demanded 'action not words' from
loyalist godfathers.

He made his uncompromising comments days after the UDA pledged to
end all paramilitary activity, and following a PUP pledge to remove
flags in local estates.

And while both developments received a guarded welcome from Mr
Ford, he warned that people living across his constituency wanted
to see 'concrete results'.

"The Antrim public has suffered immensely from loyalist
paramilitary activity over the years and there have been a number
of false dawns when we thought the loyalist paramilitaries had
committed to going out of business," he said.

"Instead of political violence, since their ceasefires they have
clearly moved into the arena of organised crime, drug dealing,
feuding with each other and intimidation.

"It is therefore likely that any pronouncement from the UDA or UVF
will be taken with a large pinch of salt."

But South Antrim PUP chairman Ken Wilkinson has reacted angrily to
the plea, branding the Alliance leader 'a political nonentity with
zero credibility on the streets'.

"When was the last time anyone saw David Ford dealing with the
issues he claims to care so much about?" Mr Wilkinson fumed.

"The people I give political analysis to are not involved in drug
dealing and racketeering in any shape or form and they resent the

"I have lost friends and party colleagues who laid down their lives
for standing up for the peace process and against the dealers.

"When has David Ford ever taken such a stand? What has he done for
the people on the ground?

"It's about time he climbed down from his ivory tower."

Mr Wilkinson added that his party had been working 'behind the
scenes' to remove contentious symbols, though he stressed that the
Alliance intervention had made their job much more difficult.

"David Ford should remember that it was parties like the PUP who
broke the ground that others are now walking by backing the Good
Friday Agreement.

"We have worked hard to use our influence to bring down flags,
though we can hardly stop private individuals from doing what they


Five Loyalists Facing Kidnap Bid Charges

Public review of UDA ceasefire ruled out

By Jonathan McCambridge
01 December 2004

The Government today indicated it would not publicly review the UDA
ceasefire after five loyalists appeared in court on kidnapping

The men from north Belfast are accused of trying to kidnap and rob
a bank official. The charges relate to an attempt to rob the First
Trust Bank.

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

On Saturday the Belfast Telegraph first revealed the police
operation over the alleged kidnapping in east Belfast which has
been linked to the UDA.

Following yesterday's court appearances nationalists called on the
Government to make a statement on the UDA ceasefire.

On November 15 Secretary of State Paul Murphy told the House of
Commons that he was recognising the UDA ceasefire because he
believed the loyalist group was "genuine" in its commitment to
ending criminal activity.

A Northern Ireland Office source said today that it would be
unlikely the Government would make any new statement on the UDA
while court proceedings were active.

However, he did confirm that the Secretary of State raised the
issue with Ulster Political Research Group representatives during a
meeting on Monday.

It is also expected that police will be quizzed about the operation
during a Policing Board meeting today.

In the dock at Belfast Magistrate's Court yesterday were William
John Mullan (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 November
11 and 25 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 8mm 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.

More than 40 loyalist supporters packed


London Expected To Confront UDA Over Status Of Ceasefire

01/12/2004 - 07:35:08

The British government is expected to confront the UDA's political
representatives about the seriousness of the loyalist group's
latest ceasefire.

Northern Secretary Paul Murphy held talks with the Ulster Political
Research Group earlier this month and later announced that the
British government was prepared to accept the UDA's latest promise
to end violence.

However, the status of the ceasefire is now being questioned after
five men appeared in court in Belfast yesterday charged with
conspiracy to kidnap and rob a bank official.

A large crowd of UDA men and supporters gathered in the public
gallery during the hearing, including leading members of the UPRG,
the political wing of the paramilitary organisation.

PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde had already said that he could link
the arrest of the five men to the UDA.


MEP Allister Slams 'Brazen Hypocrisy' Of Sinn Fein

By Billy Kennedy
Wednesday 1st December 2004

DUP MEP Jim Allister has slammed as "brazen hypocrisy" a Sinn Fein
organised rally in Brussels on December 7.

The rally, organised by Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun, is entitled
'Who was behind state killings in Ireland? - peace must be built on

In a bid to counter Sinn Fein's "propaganda", Allister has sent a
commentary on the Sinn Fein invitation to every MEP.

This states: "What brazen hyprocrisy. Sinn Fein is the political
wing of the IRA, which butchered thousands of innocent people, men
women and children, in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Yet now
they want to play the victim.

"If truth interests them, then let them start by telling what they,
and their terrorist-linked leadership, know about the following:

* the multiple mass murders for which the IRA was exclusively
responsible, like 'Bloody Friday', the La Mon Hotel massacre, the
Poppy Day bombing in Enniskillen, the Kingsmill and Teebane
massacres of innocent workmen, to name but a few;

* the fate of "the disappeared", citizens kidnapped and murdered
and their bodies secretly buried and never returned; * the
worldwide help which they afforded to terrorist groups like ETA,

* the Omagh bombing in respect of which Sinn Fein leaders refuse to
advise their supporters to give information to the police."

Mr Allister said: "At no stage in Europe do I intend to let Sinn
Fein/IRA's propaganda go unchallenged."


DNA Tests Show Mutilated Body Not Margaret Hassan

By Anthony Loyd in Baghdad
01 December 2004

A mutilated body discovered in Fallujah a fortnight ago was not
Margaret Hassan, the Irish-born aid worker who was believed
murdered earlier this month.

Although DNA testing has yet to be completed, British scources in
Baghdad last night said dental records prove that the body was not
that of Mrs Hassan, leaving her exact fate still uncertain.

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-
O'Connor, will celebrate a Requiem Mass for her at Westminster
Cathedral in London on Saturday next week.

The Catholic Church said yesterday that despite reports that she
had converted to Islam, Mrs Hassan remained a churchgoing Catholic.

She was married to an Iraqi and had Iraqi, Irish and British

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, said 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

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."


Sinn Fein Claims Electoral Change Credit

01 December 2004

Sinn Fein has claimed credit for the Government's plans to ease up
restrictions on voter registration, saying it has asked for the
move during the current talks process.

The Government announced yesterday that it intends to amend
election law so Northern Ireland voters will no longer be required
to register every year.

"This was a key issue which Sinn Fein have been raising publicly
for some time and directly within the current negotiations," party
chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said.

Mr McLaughlin said the move was welcome and "needs to be put in
place in advance of the planned May elections".

NIO Minister John Spellar said the Government will allow people who
appear on the current register to have their names carried forward
to the list used next May, even if they fail to re-register. He
said legislation to drop the annual requirement will follow.

The move was prompted by concerns that the pool of voters is
shrinking. Almost 15% of adults are not registered to vote, and
that number has grown significantly since anti-fraud measures were
introduced two years ago.

Reform of the registration process has been a key Sinn Fein demand,
but the Government has not moved on their call to drop photographic
ID for voters.


Sinn Féin Proposes New Registration System Following Publication Of
Latest Register

Published: 1 December, 2004

Commenting on the publication this morning of the latest electoral
register Sinn Féin National Director of Elections Pat Doherty MP
said the significant drop in the numbers on the latest register
once again demonstrates the deep flaws in the current system.

Mr Doherty said: " Since May 2002 when the new legislation came
into effect over 200,000 people have been disenfranchised. This
legislation was introduced by the British government with the full
support and encouragement of the SDLP.

" Sinn Féin predicted that we would see a annual shredding of the
Electoral Register and the figures year on year since 2002 prove
this to have been the case. The register published this morning
once again shows a further significant drop in the numbers of
people registered this time of over 21,500 since February 2004. It
has already been estimated that over 211,000 people are currently
disenfranchised in addition to this latest group. That represents
at least 17% of the total electorate.

" Yesterdays announcement by John Spellar that he intends to
reinstate the carry forward provision will help in a small way to
alleviate this problem, but it is vital that this provision is
introduced well in advance of the May elections. However given the
recognition by the British government yesterday that the current
system is deeply flawed there needs even more fundamental
legislative change.

" Yesterday's announcement from the British government came after a
long running Sinn Féin campaign and the introduction by our
negotiating team of the issue into the political talks.

" Sinn Féin will be compiling a detailed breakdown of the register
published today and this will provide part of a submission we
intend to make to the Minister in the coming period. This will
propose specific legislative changes and demonstrate other
electoral models which have been demonstrated to work effectively
in other countries.

" Sinn Féin will continue to work with the British government and
the local electoral authorities to try and see introduced a system
which guarantees the right of citizens to vote and undoes the
massive damage to the confidence of the electorate which has
resulted in the debacle of the past two years." ENDS


SF Plea To Reopen Canal

01 December 2004

A Magherafelt Sinn Fein councillor has called for the reopening of
the Ulster Canal, which he claims would have massive benefits for
tourism throughout Mid-Ulster. Sean McPeake said that if this came
about Lough Neagh and the River Bann would be reopened to a large
network of rivers and canals.


Ahern Buffs His Halo As He Rides A Reinvigorated Celtic Tiger

By John Murray Brown

Published: December 1 2004 02:00 Last updated: December 1 2004

Just as theCeltic Tiger is getting its second wind,Bertie Ahern,
the Irish prime minister, appears anxious to give his government a
more caring image.

The change of tack may be more cosmetic than real. But recent
events suggest a concerted attempt to reposition his ruling Fianna
Fail as the party of the dispossessed, the vulnerable and the poor.

Today's Irish budget, delivered by Brian Cowen, the new finance
minister, is expected to confirm this shift in emphasis.

However, as ever with Fianna Fail - less a political party than a
populist movement similar to Peronism or Gaullism - the
transformation may have more to do with electoral calculation than

The perpetuation of Ireland's remarkable turnround from 1980s
basket-case to Europe's fastest growing economy depends on its pro-
business stance, its low corporate taxes and its ability to woo
foreign investors by securing union agreement to wage restraint in
exchange for tax cuts.

After growing by 10.1 per cent in 2000, gross national product
increased by just 1.5 per cent in 2002, recovering slightly last
year to 2.8 per cent. With exports recovering strongly despite the
strong euro, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development yesterday forecast growth of 5 per cent this year and
each of the following two years.

However, most economists agree that the benefits of the boom have
been unevenly distributed. Fianna Fail's flirtation with the left
is shaped by a need to redress the impression that the party is
impervious to such concerns.

The perception of a poor record on social justice led in June to
its worst ever results in local council and European parliamentary
elections, according to party officials. In important urban
constituencies Fianna Fail lost ground to the Labour party and, of
greater concern to its supporters, to Sinn Fein, the IRA's
political wing. Sinn Fein has projected itself in the Republic as
the defender of those left behind by the Celtic Tiger.

Shocked by the setbacks, Fianna Fail activists concluded that the
party's economic policy was too far to the right. They blamed
Charlie McCreevy, the former finance minister, who has since gone
to Brussels as Ireland's commissioner.

It seems the party wants to change. In a gesture to leftwingers,
Father Sean Healey, a Roman Catholic priest, poverty activist and
critic of government economic policy, was invited this summer to
address its annual brainstorming session. Mr Ahern fuelled
speculation of a shift of emphasis when he claimed this month to be
"one of the few socialists left in Ireland".

Some of Mr Ahern's new-found rhetoric may have very local roots. In
his recent attack on management at Aer Lingus, he almost certainly
had an eye on the important marginal constituency of north Dublin,
where many of the state airline's employees live. Willie Walsh, the
airline's chief executive, is widely credited with saving the
company from collapse, but the prime minister publicly censured him
for seeking personal aggrandisement and said the management's
proposals for some form of private equity investment betrayed a
get-rich-quick mentality.

Ruairi Quinn, former leader of the Irish Labour party, says there
is "nothing left of centre about Fianna Fail. This is a populist
party ... This is a party where the leader is referred to as the

Fianna Fail's political philosophy has always been all-embracing,
appealing to businesses and workers alike. But the factors that
created the Celtic Tiger will be hard to reverse. As Michael
Crowley, economist with Bank of Ireland, observes: "The policy
decisions creating a low-tax model have been taken."

He believes the only threats to Ireland achieving its growth
potential of 6-6.5 per cent are a big rise in oil prices or a
dramatic appreciation of the euro that would force the European
Central Bank to keep rates lower for longer than anticipated.

However, an election does not have to be called until 2007. In the
meantime, by reclaiming the mantle of the left for Fianna Fail, Mr
Ahern, who is a risk-averse politician, is perhaps acknowledging
that this is the area where the party could be vulnerable.


Nostalgia Is Order Of The Day As Bewley's Cafe Closes

By Breda Heffernan
01 December 2004

More than 160 years since his ancestor first delved into the world
of tea leaves and cream cakes, the youngest member of the Bewley
clan made his first and last visit to Dublin's famous cafe.

Ben Joshua Bewley Johnson travelled to the capital from his home in
Waterford yesterday to sample the pleasures of his forefather's
cafe on Grafton Street, but at four years old a steaming mocha was
off the menu for this junior Bewley.

"Ben's great, great, great-grandfather Joshua Bewley was the man
who started the company back in 1840," Ben's grandfather Roger
Johnson explained.

"He's never been here before but it's part of his heritage so we
thought we had better get him in quickly before it's gone forever."

Nostalgia was the order of the day for the hundreds of fans who
queued up along Grafton Street for one last coffee in their old

For sisters Joan Carney, from Terenure, and Pauline Reilly, from
Ballina, Co Mayo, for the occasion, the Grafton Street shop is
connected with special moments.

"I bought my wedding cake here 40 years ago. It was delicious -
three tiers and very fancy," Joan said.

Waitress Tattens Twomey who, with over 50 years spent serving tea,
is as much a Bewley's institution as the Harry Clarke stained-glass
windows, said goodbye to many of her friends.

In a statement, the company said while the shop and espresso
counter in Grafton Street would still be open, the cafe there and
on Westmoreland Street would be closed. Changing tastes and price
hikes had priced the cafe out of business.

Dublin Lord Mayor Michael Conaghan and the Save Bewley's Campaign
are not ready to admit defeat and the future of the cafes will be
debated at the city council on Monday.


Is The New Face Of Ireland Bono, Brosnan . . . Or Bad Boy Farrell?

By Eugene Moloney
01 December 2004

Hell-raising actor Colin Farrell has said he is "too Irish" to get
a call up by Her Majesty's Secret Service, but yesterday Tourism
Minister John O'Donoghue also seemed to rule him out of promoting
Ireland overseas.

In the running, however, is Pierce Brosnan, whose suave and
debonair image not only landed him the part of James Bond but
could, the minister feels, help sell Ireland as a holiday

Another celebrity hinted at by Mr O'Dohoghue was U2 front man Bono.

Mr O'Donoghue is giving ?4m to Tourism Ireland to rebrand the
country overseas as a modern "youthful, exuberant destination".

Mr O'Donoghue said golfer Padraig Harrigton, who was featured in US
poster campaigns, had already helped promote Ireland overseas and
added: "I know for a fact there are other people who are involved
in stage and screen who would be interested in helping us out. It
wouldn't be fair to name them, but they are household names."

Asked if Colin Farrell was among those likely to be considered, he
said: "As far as I am concerned, [we would consider] any Irishman
or woman who is instantly recognisable on the international stage .
. . " before laughingly adding: " . . . for the right reasons".

But he stressed that neither Brosnan nor Bono had been approached
and it was up to Tourism Ireland to decide the issue.

The rebranding campaign next year will initially be aimed at the US
and Britain, although other European markets will also be targeted,
as will China eventually.

It comes as tourism figures for the first nine months of the year
failed to reach the hoped-for 4.4pc growth.


Govt To Provide €2m Grant To Struggling Abbey Theatre

01/12/2004 - 07:51:58

The Government has reportedly set to provide a €2m grant to the
struggling Abbey Theatre following an appeal from the Arts Council.

The theatre is facing a €2.5m deficit this year. It had put forward
a restructuring plan that included the laying off of 30 of its 91
staff, but that plan was subsequently frozen.

Reports this morning said the €2m Government grant designed to help
the Abbey through its financial difficulties would have a number of
conditions attached.

These conditions reportedly oblige the theatre to bring in fresh
expertise, deal with staffing issues and facilitate restructuring
and management change.


Men Regard 25 Pints A Week As 'Moderate' - Survey

01/12/2004 - 09:13:39

A survey conducted in the south-east of the country has reportedly
found that a majority of men who consume more than 25 pints-a-week
regard themselves as moderate drinkers.

Such consumption is more than twice the limit recommended by health

Reports this morning said the three-year survey of 570 men in the
South Eastern Health Board area also found that 90% of weekly
binge-drinkers considered themselves light or moderate drinkers.

The findings of the study are due to be launched at a national
conference on men's health in Wexford later today.


Banner Of US Irish Infantry Up For Sale

01 December 2004

The 150-year-old marching banner of a New York regiment made up of
Irishmen, many of them refugees from the potato famine, is expected
to reach a price of up to €150,000 (£100, 000) at auction.

The painted linen double-sided banner of the 69th Infantry New York
Volunteer Regiment, Company B, is the most unusual lot in an Adam's
and Bonhams aution sale of important Irish art in Dublin on
December 8.

One side of the banner is decorated with two infantrymen holding a
flag bearing the motto "Excelsior", flanking a coat of arms and
scroll inscribed "Michael Corcoran - a son of Erin".

It lists regimental battle honours, including Allen's Farm, Gains
Farm, Fair Oaks, Yorktown, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

The reverse features a panel depicting the American national
symbol, an eagle, clutching the Union shield, below a scroll
inscribed "Liberty Forever - The Irish Brigade", listing further
battle honours: Malvern Hills, Antietam, Gettysburg and Petersburg.

The banner is being sold by a private collector together with an
embroidered linen, shield-shaped pennant of the regiment, one side
of which bears the inscriptions: "Follow the Green Flag - The Most
Respected Irish Regiment. T E Meagher - Recruiter" and "We are the
boys of Wexford - Who fight with heart and hand."

The unique banner and pennant date from the founding years of the
regiment, which had its origins in the Second Regiment of Irish
Volunteers - accepted as part of the New York State Militia and
designated the 69th Regiment on October 12, 1851.

It was comprised mainly of Irish recruits, many of whom had
recently arrived in America as refugees from the great potato

am i meant to understand this?
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