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December 01, 2004

News 12/01/04 - Adams Urges Decision

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 12/01/04 Adams Urges Devolution Decision –V
IT 12/02/04 Blair Set To Ask Paisley To Soften His Demands
TC 12/01/04 It's The Guns, Stupid
UT 12/01/04 Freedom For IRA Killers Could Face Legal Challenge –V
BB 12/01/04 UDA Ceasefire 'Will Lead To Split'
IO 12/01/04 SDLP Alarmed At UDA 'Ceasefire' Recognition
BB 12/01/04 Man Cleared Of Police Bomb Plot
UT 12/01/04 West Belfast Police Barracks Set To Close
UT 12/01/04 Kidnappers 'Apologised' Before Release Of UN Workers
UT 12/01/04 Sceptism Reigns In Shadow Of Watchtowers
IT 12/02/04 Irish Men Afraid To Attend Doctor, Survey Finds
IT 12/02/04 Dublin Approves Plans For IRL's Tallest Building

RT 12/02/04 O'Dwyer Charged With Clare Murder -VO

O'Dwyer Charged With Clare Murder - Teresa Mannion reports as the
brother of a 17-year-old Co Clare schoolgirl is charged with her


See Adams on video:

Adams Urges Devolution Decision -V

Gerry Adams has held talks with Tony Blair

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has called for a decision to be
made on the future of devolution in Northern Ireland.

He said it was a "defining point" in the political process, but
that the current talks could go no further.

Mr Adams was addressing a Sinn Fein selection convention in Navan,
County Meath, on Wednesday.

"As far as we are concerned we have made our final representations
on the governments' text," he said.

"We look to both governments to make sure that it is in line with
their own stated position, that it upholds the fundamentals of the
Good Friday Agreement."

He said the discussion of the issues had been "detailed, thorough
and exhaustive".

"In my opinion these discussion can go no further - it is now time
for a decision," he said.

The comments come amid increasing expectations that a deal could be
reached early next week.

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

Mr Adams earlier led a party delegation to meet Tony Blair in

Afterwards, he told reporters in Downing Street that the issue of
IRA arms could be dealt with to the "satisfaction of all
responsible people in the context of comprehensive agreement."

He also urged DUP leader Ian Paisley to "join in the collective
challenge of peacemaking".

Mr Adams again signalled the displeasure of republicans at the tone
of comments being made by Mr Paisley.

Mr Paisley had called for the IRA to repent and wear "sackcloth and

"A deal is still possible... but an accommodation, a partnership of
equals cannot be built through a process of humiliation," Mr Adams

"Our focus is in achieving that deal. It will only be possible,
however, in the days ahead in the terms of the Good Friday

Mr Paisley said a deal was "now or never"

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party has also met the prime minister at
Downing Street.

Afterwards, party leader David Ford said: "All the pieces for an
historic deal to end paramilitary activity and to restore
devolution are now in place.

"The package is clearly in line with the fundamental principles of
the Agreement.

"Over the next few days it is important that both the DUP and Sinn
Fein demonstrate their good faith intentions to one another, and
that unionists focus on the very real substance that is on offer."

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."

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

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.


Blair Set To Ask Paisley To Soften His Demands

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, is likely to
personally exhort the DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, to soften
his demand for photographic evidence of IRA decommissioning as
Tuesday's potential date for a deal is now almost certain to slip
back to Wednesday, at the earliest.

Speaking last night in Navan, the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry
Adams, said the time for negotiation was over and if the DUP was
not prepared to sign up to a deal the two governments should move
on "without them".

Dublin and London are anxious that the nature of Dr Paisley's
requirement for photographic verification of IRA disarmament could
be a "deal breaker", notwithstanding the fact that the two
governments believe they are in sight of a deal.

Dr Paisley's meeting tomorrow with Mr Blair in Downing Street has
been put back to Monday when the Prime Minister is virtually
certain to press Dr Paisley to row back on his demand for visual
proof of IRA decommissioning, well placed sources said last night.

The British and Irish governments initially understood that Dr
Paisley was prepared to accept a proposal whereby in January he
would view photographs of decommissioned IRA weapons but that these
images would not be published until after devolution had kicked in
and when it was clear the DUP was fully sharing power.

This week, however, Dr Paisley seemed to harden his demand by
insisting that not only must he see photographs when the IRA
completes decommissioning, possibly in January, but they must be
published at the same time - crucially, before the DUP had
demonstrated it was sharing power with Sinn Féin.

The governments believe this is a non-runner with republicans,
particularly as neither Dublin nor London knows whether the IRA
would even allow photographs to be produced after devolution was
reinstated. "It could be a deal breaker," admitted a senior source.

There are still difficulties over other issues, such as how the
First and Deputy First ministers are elected, Mr Adams said in
Navan last night. But the governments believe that if a compromise
can be found on photographs, everything else should fall into

Last night, Mr Adams said the issue of IRA arms could be resolved
but made no reference to photographs. "Sinn Féin believes that this
matter can be dealt with to the satisfaction of all reasonable
people in the context of a comprehensive agreement and under the
remit of the IICD." The talks must now be concluded, he insisted.
"If the DUP refuses to engage properly, then the two governments
must move ahead without them."

Frank Millar, London Editor, writes: DUP sources last night offered
conflicting prospects for a possible power-sharing deal with Sinn
Féin next week, or a negotiation continuing into, and possibly
beyond, Christmas.

Party optimists declared themselves "on balance" confident an
agreement would be concluded with both governments and Sinn Féin by
mid next week, while admitting uncertainty about the final
disposition of Dr Paisley.

At the same time, other usually reliable sources said Dr Paisley
had still not received confirmation from Mr Blair that the IRA has
signed-up to all the relevant provisions of the British-Irish
proposals for the revival of the Stormont Assembly and Executive.

Dr Paisley is expected to give his final response to the
governments' proposals early next week. But as the DUP leader kept
his own counsel, he received a warning from Mr Adams that a
political accommodation could not be built on a process of
republican humiliation. Mr Adams was speaking outside Downing
Street earlier in the day after giving Mr Blair his party's final
representation on the joint government proposals for all-round
"acts of completion" to commence toward the end of the year and to
enable the appointment of a power-sharing administration by March.

Mr Adams delivered a sharp message to Mr Blair and the Taoiseach,
insisting they must ensure their text was in line with their stated
criteria and "the Good Friday Agreement." He said any deal must be
"bedded in and capable of delivering" the Belfast Agreement. Dr
Paisley's suggestion that republicans wear "sackcloth and ashes"
had compounded difficulties within the republican constituency. "An
accommodation of equals cannot be built through a process of
humiliation," he said.

However observers noted last night there was nothing in this which
would necessarily preclude a decision by the IRA itself to agree to
a pictorial record of future decommissioning in order to secure the
DUP commitment to power sharing.

© The Irish Times


It's The Guns, Stupid

By Rory Miller and Simon Kingston Published 12/01/2004

After the optimism of the 1990s and the disillusionment of the last
few years it appears that, though taking far more time than UK
Prime Minister Tony Blair anticipated, the parties to Northern
Ireland's stalled peace process are finally inching towards a
substantive agreement. However, the core issue remains, as it
always has been, whether local leaders are prepared to engage in
politics by solely peaceful means. This demands from world leaders
an unambiguous rejection of terrorist methods and a belief that
democracy is a robust enough plant to flower in any place where
people are free from intimidation. Enter President Bush.

During his failed presidential campaign, John Kerry, the junior
senator from the Irish-American stronghold of Massachusetts,
condemned President Bush for what he termed the "absence of
presidential involvement in efforts to further the peace process";
and he promised that he would "put the Northern Ireland peace
process high on America's foreign policy agenda".

The President ignored such criticism and refrained from making
equally grand promises about dealing with Northern Ireland in any
second term. Indeed, the only reference the President made to the
troubled province during the whole election campaign was his
expression of support for the deportation of IRA members living
illegally in the US; this was something the Clinton administration
had refused to do. Among senior Republicans, only Karl Rove
addressed the issue, and then only indirectly, when he observed
during the Republican National Convention that the War on Terror
was "going to be more like the conflict in Northern Ireland, where
the Brits fought terrorism, and there's no sort of peace accord
with al-Qaeda saying 'we surrender.'"

Given this, one may be excused for thinking that the Bush
administration has been, and continues to be, derelict in its duty
to the fraught Northern Ireland peace process. This is incorrect.
It is true that, in his first term, Bush did not win the public
adoration in Ireland and international plaudits enjoyed by
President Clinton. Clinton won his status in Ireland by
facilitating the move towards the paramilitary ceasefire agreements
of the fall of 1994, and being a sponsor of the negotiations that
led to the comprehensive Good Friday Agreement of April 1998. Bush
himself recognized the achievement, during his first presidential
race in 2000 he acknowledged that Clinton "did a good job in
Northern Ireland about using the prestige of America to encourage
the peace process forward"

However, the context of Clinton's success should not be forgotten.
He got involved in the North at a time of unprecedented US
international stature (following its victory in the Cold War) and
in a period of widespread and infectious optimism in the Middle
East, South Africa and Northern Ireland over moves towards peace.
Moreover, the prospect of peace was new, and simply talking about
it seemed substantial. As with so much of Clinton's presidency, his
triumphs in Northern Ireland (like his Irishness) were as much
perceived as real.

Moreover, for all their significance the "historic" breakthroughs,
handshakes and declarations of ceasefires that Clinton oversaw were
largely symbolic. As David Trimble, the former Northern Ireland
First Minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the moderate
Ulster Unionist Party noted: "One has to draw a distinction between
appearance and reality. When it came actually to aiding the
political process, the record [under Clinton] was not so clear".

What remained to be done, after Clinton left office, was far more
difficult: the honoring of a commitment by the parties to the
conflict to turn the confidence building measures into a real
peace. Even Clinton expressed his frustration at the failure of
Northern Ireland's political parties to embrace this opportunity,
telling a Canadian audience in 1999:

"I've spent an enormous amount of time trying to help the people in
the land of my forebears, in Northern Ireland, get over 600 [sic]
years of religious fights. And every time they make an agreement to
do it, they're like a couple of drunks walking out of the bar for
the last time. When they get to the swinging door, they turn right
around and go back in again and say, 'I just can't quite get
there.' It's hard to give up these things."

The province, during Bush's first presidency and today, has
reverted to 'normal', quotidian, cynical, politics. The
international spotlight has moved on and further progress will come
from within, not outside, Northern Ireland. Two factors make this
progress hard to achieve and explain the delay that has recently
exasperated Blair. The first is that the majority of Northern
Ireland's population feels alienated from the entire Good Friday
process. They believe it has resulted in the rehabilitation of
terrorists in return for very little.

The second factor stems from the first. Fed up with the
"constructive ambiguity" that has left the IRA and Loyalist
Godfathers still holding their communities in thrall many people
(both Catholic and Protestant) have lost faith in the legitimacy of
the Good Friday Agreement; others have simply abandoned politics
altogether and no longer vote. Today, the parties of the extreme,
Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein (the political arm of the IRA) on the
Catholic side and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on
the protestant one, dominate, almost by default.

Luckily, President Bush's inability (or refusal) to speak
ambiguously is one of his greatest strengths. So, while making no
great claims to a convoluted Irish ancestry, unlike his predecessor
in the White House and his recent Democratic challenger, he has
focused on practical efforts to contribute to peace in the one area
where a US administration can make a difference - pressuring the
gunmen to fulfill their commitment to decommission terrorist

Even prior to 9/11 and his declaration of war on terrorism, Bush
was clear that "there should be no mistake that we believe the
decommissioning part of the Good Friday Agreement must be upheld".
In May 2001, four months before 9/11, his administration designated
the Real IRA, a splinter group of the mainstream IRA responsible
for the death of 30 people at Omagh in 1998, a terrorist
organization. This made it illegal for Americans to give the group
money, and allowed for a freezing of its US assets and barring of
its members from entering the country.

This policy has continued since 9/11. In late December 2001, under
Executive Order 13224, then Secretary of State Colin Powell
designated the Continuity Irish Republican Army a foreign terrorist
organization under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In July
2004, senior State Department official Richard Boucher announced
the decision to amended the designation to include the aliases
Continuity Army Council and Republican Sinn Fein.

Indeed, the Bush administration's tough talk since 9/11 combined
with a period of intense US pressure on Sinn Fein, following the
arrest of three Irish men in Colombia on the charge of instructing
the FARC in bomb-making techniques, was partly responsible for the
October 2002 breakthrough on IRA decommissioning. This was
something even President Clinton failed to achieve prior to leaving

This approach has won the praise of Irish premier Bertie Ahern.
Speaking at the annual St. Patrick's Day White House celebrations
last March, he was effusive: "We thank you, Mr. President, for your
continued and strong commitment to the implementation of the Good
Friday agreements." In a speech before the Heritage Foundation in
the same month, David Trimble went even further. In particular, he
rejected Democrat attacks on Bush's commitment to Northern Ireland
and he argued that "in terms of delivering and achieving, we have
found the Bush White House to be more effective [than the

As Ezra Pound once observed: "The problem after any revolution is
what to do with your gunmen". Since 9/11, Bush has shown that he
has very clear views on what to do with the gunmen.

Bush will continue to support his closest ally Tony Blair and the
Irish government as they move towards their goal: the restoration
of devolved government in Northern Ireland (it was abandoned in
2002 when the peace process ground to a halt). Any final settlement
requires the parties to the peace process to provide convincing
proofs that those once wedded to violence have given it up for
good. This is supported by a US administration that maintains the
unequivocal position that "there is no place for paramilitaries in
a democratic society". Such a stance may never earn Bush the
acclaim that Clinton garnered from his involvement in Northern
Ireland, but the proponents of true democracy and peace in Ireland
will be eternally grateful.

Rory Miller teaches US and EU foreign policy at the University of
London. Simon Kingston writes frequently about European affairs.


See video at:

Freedom For IRA Killers Could Face Legal Challenge -V

Irish government attempts to free the IRA killers of Garda Jerry
McCabe could be challenged in the courts, it emerged tonight.

By:Press Association

The four IRA men convicted of the manslaughter of the detective are
set to be released if DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein
President Gerry Adams can agree a new Northern Ireland peace deal.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern confirmed the prisoners would be released as
part of the overall package to get the power-sharing executive up-
and-running again.

But furious garda representatives threatened legal action in a bid
to prevent the jail gates being thrown open to Pearse McAuley,
Jeremiah Sheehy, Kevin Walsh and Michael O`Neill who are serving
between 11 and 14 years.

A fifth man, John Quinn, who was convicted of robbery charges
during the incident, was later released after serving his six-year

Paul Browne, of the Garda Representative Association and a friend
of the McCabe family, claimed the move represented a u-turn by the

He said Mr McCabe`s widow, Anne, had been left horrified.

"She`s absolutely dismayed and distressed. What Anne McCabe wants
for her family is justice," he said.

"These people are attaching themselves to the peace negotiations
that are going on at the present time so they can benefit under it.

"The GRA and the McCabe family fully support the peace process
that`s going on and hopefully will be achieved but not on the grave
of Jerry McCabe."

Mr Browne said Mrs McCabe received a letter from former Justice
Minister John O`Donoghue informing her that her husband`s killers
would not be given early release.

"We will seek comprehensive legal advice on this and the commitment
given in that letter and see would there be some sort of a
contractual basis to that," he said.

"We certainly will do that and we`ll search every avenue to try to
prevent this happening."

Detective Garda McCabe, 52, died in a hail of 15 bullets fired from
a Kalashnikov assault rifle during an attempted robbery of a post
office van in Adare in Co Limerick in June 1996. His garda
colleague, Ben O`Sullivan, was wounded in the attack.

Although the IRA initially denied involvement, Sinn Fein has
consistently claimed that the men should be released under the
terms of the Good Friday Agreement, a position rejected by the

Despite previously ruling out the possibility, Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern told the Dail that he would be recommending the four men be
freed as part of a settlement to secure IRA decommissioning.

"As part of a comprehensive agreement, the Government would give
consideration to the early release and I would recommend that that
would be the case," he said.

Mr Ahern said the four men would not be released under the Good
Friday Agreement but under previous legislation.

He claimed the necessity of releasing the men became clear during
talks between the government and Sinn Fein last year.

"If we were to get to a position where we would get decommissioning
of IRA arms held by IRA leadership and GHQ and if we were also to
get to a position where there would be instructions to IRA
volunteers, that as part of a comprehensive agreement that the
government would give consideration to the early release of the
prisoners, not under the Good Friday Agreement but under the
earlier Acts," he said.

"That still is the position of the government. I`ve confirmed this
a number of times, I know the difficulties involved, I know we
would have to be engaged in discussions with the families, which we
would do, and the garda representative body.

"But it still is an issue we`re outstanding in and it is my belief,
to be quite frank and open in the place to say it, if we`re to get
a comprehensive agreement, that would be an issue that, I think,
would have to be part of the final deal."

Enda Kenny, the leader of the main opposition party, Fine Gael,
said the decision was a betrayal of the solemn commitments given to
the McCabe family and the Irish people who were told before the
referendum on the Good Friday Agreement that the men would serve
their full terms of imprisonment.

"The Taoiseach has on many occasions stated that these men would
never be considered for early release and that this had been made
clear to the Sinn Fein negotiators," he said.

"This position has been upheld by the High Court. The Taoiseach
should never have allowed this issue to become part of the
negotiations with Sinn Fein.

"I want to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
as soon as possible.

"However, this Agreement was approved by the people on the clear
understanding that Jerry McCabe`s killers would not be covered.

"This betrayal of their word raises the question as to whether any
commitments made by this Government can be relied on," he added.


UDA Ceasefire 'Will Lead To Split'

The latest ceasefire by the Ulster Defence Association will lead to
a split in the organisation, the chief constable has said.

Hugh Orde said the opportunity existed for the UDA to work within a
political framework, but that a return to criminal tactics would
not be tolerated.

The loyalist paramilitary group's cessation of violence officially
came into effect on 14 November and was subsequently recognised by
the government.

In its statement, the UDA said it was committed to working towards
the end of all paramilitary activity.

Speaking after a meeting of the Policing Board on Wednesday, Mr
Orde said: "If you want to try and hide behind your flags of
convenience and commit crime, we will come after you and we'll put
you in front of a court.

"If you want to engage in politics we will do what we can to
support you.

"I think you will see a split within the UDA. I think you will see
some people who are I think genuinely determined to make a
difference in a political sense and I think others simply can't
help themselves."

Earlier, Mr Orde told the Policing Board that he hoped the use of
plastic bullets could be phased out in Northern Ireland.

He said he was waiting for the results of a police review before
making a decision.

He said he hoped the stock of plastic bullets and the number of
officers trained in their use could be reduced.

The chief constable was speaking as it emerged the PSNI was facing
a budget cut of up to £35m within the next two years.

At the meeting, SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood asked about
the review of plastic bullets use, saying none had been fired in
the province in the last two years.

Mr Orde said: "For me it is very simple - as long as there is no
rioting then the need to use PBR (plastic baton rounds) is zero.

"What we have seen over the last two years, and a lot longer in
parts of Northern Ireland, is that we don't need to deploy them
because we have used other tactics.

"If you look at the level of violence on the 12 July this year and
the restraint shown by my officers, plus the availability of water
cannon, it would be highly unlikely that we would have to deploy
baton rounds.

"Our intention is not to use them but we maintain the right to hold
them and the right to deploy them if the only alternative would be
to use lethal force in the form of live rounds."

Mr Orde said he expected to receive the results of the review
within the next few days.

"In broad terms it looks like, in light of the current situation,
we would reduce the number we keep, the number of officers we train
and the number of guns we need," he said.

Budget cuts

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the PSNI is facing extensive budget
cuts within the next two years.

The Policing Board revealed the annual PSNI budget in the next
financial year will be cut by more than £5m.

The board said a letter from the Northern Ireland Office also
revealed that in 2006-7, the police budget will be cut by even

Policing Board chairman Professor Desmond Rea said this "early
indication of a £30m shortfall is most disturbing".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/01 18:23:53 GMT


SDLP Alarmed At UDA 'Ceasefire' Recognition

01/12/2004 - 13:11:24

The SDLP has requested an urgent meeting with the British
government to discuss the UDA's latest ceasefire.

The British government decided last month to recognise the
ceasefire, despite the fact that independent monitors have reported
ongoing UDA involvement in paramilitarism and criminality.

Yesterday, a crowd of UDA men and supporters disrupted proceedings
at Belfast Magistrates Court as five men were charged with
conspiring to kidnap and rob a bank official.

SDLP spokesman Alban McGuinness said today his party colleagues in
Larne and Coleraine had also been the victims of UDA attacks in the
weeks despite the group's claim its latest ceasefire was genuine.

"People are generally very, very sceptical of the UDA and its
alleged ceasefire," he said. "The SDLP, in particular, is very


Man Cleared Of Police Bomb Plot

A County Tyrone man has been found not guilty of plotting to bomb a
police station.

Brendan O'Connor, 26, from Pomeroy, was cleared of conspiracy to
cause an explosion at Stewartstown police station in July 2000.

He was also cleared on charges of possession of explosives and
membership of the Real IRA.

His family and friends cheered and clapped when the verdict was
read out at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

The judge, Mr Justice Weatherup, said that he could not be
satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr O'Connor, from the
Cavanoneill Road, Pomeroy, was connected with the bombing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/12/01 13:11:13 GMT


West Belfast Police Barracks Set To Close

One of Northern Ireland's most battle-scarred police stations is to
be shut down, it was confirmed today.

By:Press Association

All remaining officers should vacate the Andersonstown base in the
heart of republican west Belfast within months.

The station, which was the focus for Sinn Fein protests throughout
the conflict, will be handed over to the Policing Board who rubber-
stamped the decision.

Once the heavily fortified building is demolished the

authority is expected to sell off the site.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde earmarked the station for closure as part
of his plans to overhaul the police estate.

Surveys showed the number of weekly callers to it ranged from 30 to

The efficiency reorganisation will see police from surrounding
stations at Woodbourne, New Barnsley and Grosvenor Road responding
to any calls from Andersonstown.

Police could not reveal when the closure would happen.

But West Belfast District Commander David Boultwood said it would
lead to a more effective and efficient service.

"The closure of Andersonstown police station will allow the
redeployment of resources to increase on-street and mobile police
patrols in the area," he said.

"We hope to move as quickly as possible to implement the decision
of the Policing Board. Andersonstown Police Station has been
operating reduced opening hours for several months."

SDLP board member Alex Attwood, who has pressed for the shut-down,
called for it to be handed over to the neighbourhood.

He said: "It can have a number of future uses, including preserving
the archaeological remains that are believed to lie beneath the
site, and a building or other scheme that sends out a message about
the resilience of the local community and their hopes for the

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has called for the land occupied by
Andersonstown barracks to be given back to his constituents.

The West Belfast MP said: "There is no reason for this fortress in
the middle of Andersonstown.

"Sinn Fein is the only party which has consistently campaigned for
the closure of Andersonstown barracks.

"Now the property and land should be given back to the west Belfast
community again.

"Sinn Fein will join forces with the local community to ensure this
symbol of militarisation and oppression is made part of the
regeneration of west Belfast which we are advancing."


Kidnappers 'Apologised' Before Release Of UN Workers

The Filipino diplomat who was held hostage with two fellow UN
workers in Afghanistan, including County Armagh Irish woman Annetta
Flanigan, says their kidnappers apologised before letting them
drive a car to freedom.

In the first detailed account of the kidnapping, Angelito Nayan
says the kidnappers also embraced the three before letting them go
and told them not to forget them.

Nayan describes the kidnappers as ruthless but says they treated
the captives well.


Sceptism Reigns In Shadow Of Watchtowers

Every time Thomas Rogers boils a kettle Army cameras glare at him
from all sides of his kitchen.

By:Press Association

For 18 years, his small but neat bungalow has been in the shadow of
a watchtower looming high over the south Armagh countryside.

He has listened in terror as IRA rocket attacks against it were
launched yards from his front door, and been wrenched from sleep by
helicopters screeching over his rooftop.

As the retired construction worker finishes his lunch, a radio news
bulletin gives the latest developments in the push for a Northern
Ireland peace deal that would see military bases across the
province dismantled.

Mr Rogers, 80, gazes at a portrait of his late wife and insists it
won`t happen in his lifetime.

"That`s been there from 1986 when I thought the Troubles were
finishing, but it was really only starting," he says, pointing at
the observation post.

"From the day they came here they sited them so they could see in
every door in this house, the garages and even the stables across
the road.

"Bringing it down won`t make any difference at my time of life."

This is Crossmaglen, one of the IRA`s most feared strongholds over
30 years of conflict and an area locals believe unfairly swamped
with Army installations.

Out of 43 military sites still standing in Northern Ireland, more
than a quarter (12) are sited in South Armagh.

Troops were regularly winched in and out in a bid to thwart
republican ambushes.

That level of danger has faded, however, in the years since the
Provos declared their first ceasefire in 1994.

IRA signs still hang defiantly from telegraph poles all around. But
one of the most feared symbols of the organisation`s deadly
capabilities, the infamous `Sniper At Work` road sign, has been
taken down.

Times have changed in Crossmaglen and Mr Rogers prays the violence
he was once exposed to never returns.

"My wife and I came home one day after I got my hair cut and this
awful noise started," he recalls.

"There were rockets hitting the Army post and the soldiers were
screaming. They were closed in and couldn`t get out.

"It was terrible and I don`t know how nobody was killed."

He has learnt to live with the spy post and stresses that the Army
never harassed him.

"They came a few times for water and that was all right because I
wouldn`t refuse anyone."

A mile away on the other side of the village Jack McKeown snorts in
derision at the suggestion that the military tower on his land
could soon be razed.

The 79-year-old`s home has been trapped in the crossfire as IRA men
launched countless attacks on the installation perched over his

Pointing along his courtyard to a gate he says: "That was where the
last mortar was fired from."

Since his brother died three years ago, he has lived alone and
managed the 20 acres of land he owns - all apart from the ground
where the military moved into nearly two decades ago.

"It`s an eyesore surely, but it won`t be down by this Christmas or
even next," he says grimly.

"I will be away before it is. They will haggle over this for

The pensioners` resignation is replaced by festering resentment
among drinkers in the village pub.

Thomas McCleery, a 52-year-old baker slams down his pint and
directs his vitriol at the joint police and Army barracks that
backs onto Crossmaglen`s Gaelic football pitch.

"They come in and out from six in the morning and terrorise this
town," he claims.

"There`s no mixed community in this town but we never did anything
against any Protestant people even though we are the majority here.

"We wouldn`t resort to the sort of stuff the British Army has done
on us."

If a settlement to restore Northern Ireland`s power-sharing
government is to be reached both Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams and
hard-line Democratic Unionist leader Ian Paisley will have to do
business many believed was beyond them.

In a reference to the intransigence Mr Paisley has been accused of
for years, Mr McCleery added: "Crossmaglen says `No, no, no` to

His drinking partner, a 63-year-old bricklayer who refuses to give
his name tells of street battles that have caused huge disruption
to the village: "I had three young children out with me one time
and it scared the life out of them when trouble with the Army

Across the square Noel McSorley is leading a pony to stables in
preparation for it to be sold at auction in the morning.

After 25 years working in Dublin as a taxi driver he sold up and
moved to Crossmaglen last year.

He has fallen in love with the village and believes it has massive
potential that could be realised as soon as the troops move out.

"Now that the Army presence is reducing it`s starting to take off,
the people are very friendly, there`s a new shopping centre being
built and it`s just a lovely place to live.

"This is a fantastic village and it`s unspoilt in every way, apart
from the Army."


Irish Men Afraid To Attend Doctor, Survey Finds

Eithne Donnellan, Health Correspondent

More than half of Irish men are reluctant to attend their family
doctor, according to new research.

The study, presented yesterday at a conference in Wexford, found
men associated going to their doctor with weakness.

They were fearful the doctor would find something wrong with them,
send them to hospital or examine their private parts.

The findings, based on a survey of over 570 men, are contained in
Getting Inside Men's Health. It was compiled by the South Eastern
Health Board.

"One of the most important challenges facing men's health must be
to reverse the paradigm that going to the doctor represents failure
or personal weakness in men," the report said.

It also found one in five men would have difficulty talking to
their GP about stress or a mental health issue.

"The continued stigma that is perceived to be associated with
mental health issues, in particular, appears to prompt some men to
self-medicate with alcohol, and/or to resort to violent behaviour,
rather than to run the risk of being consigned to a lower status

Some 25 per cent of the men who consumed alcohol were found to
drink to excess - more than 21 units a week, while 34 per cent
reported weekly binge drinking - having six drinks or more at any
one time. Among 18-29 year old men, 51 per cent reported weekly
binge drinking.

The authors found those drinking to excess did not perceive
themselves as drinking too much. "The data in this study highlights
the urgent need to challenge the drink culture that is endemic in
Irish society".

In other findings, one in three men reported feeling
regularly/constantly stressed, three out of four men aged 50 and
over reported never having had a digital rectal examination and
just one in seven men aged 20-29 reported practising testicular
self examinations monthly. Less well off and less well educated men
were significantly less likely to look after their health.

The report called for action on men's health. It recommends a
national policy for men's health be developed, that men's health be
placed on the political agenda and that health services be made as
convenient as possible with flexible opening hours. And it
recommends that "counter-advertising measures are considered to
challenge the association that currently exists between alcohol and
prominent displays of masculinity".

© The Irish Times


Dublin Council Approves Plans For Ireland's Tallest Building

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

Dublin City Council has approved plans for a 32-storey tower near
Heuston Station, hailing it as "a model example and expression of
outstanding 21st-century architecture". If constructed, it would be
Ireland's tallest building.

The mainly residential tower would be located west of the former Dr
Steevens' Hospital at the intersection of St John's Road and a new
pedestrian route to the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal
Hospital, Kilmainham.

The tower, designed by Paul Keogh Architects, would have a public
observation deck on top, finished in translucent glass panels to
illuminate the sky at night. Access would be via a dedicated lift
from the ground-floor lobby.

It would rise to a height of 117 metres (386 feet). Planning
permission was granted subject to 30 conditions, including one
requiring that the floor-to-ceiling heights of its 96 apartments be
increased from 2.7 metres to 2.8 metres.

Also part of the plan, which was submitted on behalf of the Office
of Public Works, is an interactive children's museum, to be known
as "Exploration Station", 19 retail units, 14,000sq metres of
office space, two restaurants and a pub.

It is envisaged that the OPW will either proceed with the
development directly, via a joint venture arrangement, or tender
the project to a single developer while retaining control over the
cultural and historic buildings on the site.

An Taisce, the Irish Georgian Society and the Friends of Kilmainham
all objected to the tower, mainly because of fears that it would
dominate historic buildings in the area. They also argued that it
was not justified by any civic purpose.

However, the city council's planners said the scheme was "a well-
considered proposal which will regenerate a run-down area and
contribute in a major way in terms of planning gain and improvement
of the public domain" around Heuston.

Though they conceded that the tall building "will clearly have a
significant visual impact on the immediate and the wider city
skyline", the planners said Dublin "must grow and evolve" as a
capital city and "this must include its skyline".

The planning report on the scheme said a tall building in the
proposed location made sense as a landmark western gateway for the
city and it was in line with the Heuston regeneration strategy,
which envisaged three towers in the area.

It said the building had a "trophy quality" that would "generate
new prestige demand for Heuston as a much sought-after, residential
location within the city, and it will interact positively with the
historic landmarks in the vicinity".

The report noted that the proposed tower would not be the tallest
structure in the city. It would be approximately as high as the
Spire in O'Connell Street, but considerably lower than the the two
chimneystacks of Poolbeg power station.

It would not be tall by international standards. "It is of similar
height to the Statue of Liberty, but approximately half the height
of the Eiffel Tower and half the height of the tallest building
constructed in London to date", in Canary Wharf. "It is the view of
the planning authority that the tall building will make a strong,
positive and graceful contribution to the city including its

The objectors are now likely to lodge appeals to An Bord Pleanála,
which granted permission in October for a major scheme by Eircom on
the adjoining site - subject to the omission of its tallest
building, a 12-storey tower. The planning inspector had recommended
a refusal.

© The Irish Times

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