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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
January 01, 2005
01/01/05 - Ardoyne Raid Was A Stunt
Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04
IC 01/01/05 Ardoyne Raid Was 'Stunt' Says Copeland
IC 01/01/05 SF Man Is Incensed After 'Heavy-Handed' Raid On Complex
IC 01/01/05 Editorial: Enough Is Enough
IC 01/01/05 Glengormley Family On A Mission In Thailand Safe & Well
IC 01/01/05 DUP Man Supports 'All-Ireland' Scheme
IC 01/01/05 DPP Wants BBC Or UTV To Paint A Rosy Picture Of Police Body
RT 01/01/05 Britain Considered Redrawing Border In 1974
BG 01/01/05 History-Rich Chicago Awaits Memorial To Its Irish
Ardoyne Raid Was 'Stunt' Says Copeland
An Ardoyne man whose house was raided by cops in connection with the
massive Belfast heist at the Northern Bank says media groups were "tipped
off" about what he labelled a "stunt" raid.
Eddie Copeland, his partner and his 20-month-old baby were woken by the
PSNI on Christmas Eve morning in an apparent operation to investigate the
recent £22 million robbery in Belfast city centre.
Shoes, his family's mobile phones and a memory card for a digital camera
were taken away by police.
But Eddie Copeland says though cops showed him the warrant detailing a
"white transit van" as well.
And he said he found the world's media had been "squared off" about the
raid on a republican home. He said it was all a PSNI side-show.
"I couldn't see anything on the warrant when they called about 9.25am on
Christmas Eve," he said, "apart from stuff about the robbery.
"We'd only been sleeping so late because my daughter had been unwell and
it was the first night of a decent sleep we'd all got."
Eddie Copeland, whose father Johnny was killed by the British army in
1971 survived a loyalist car bomb attack in 1996. He was also shot in the
neck by a British soldier during the republican funeral of Thomas Begley.
He said: "The first thing your man [from the PSNI] says to me was 'bet
you thought days like these were over'.
"But they couldn't have been serious about it all because they were very
careful about the presents under the tree.
"They searched every present. They opened them very carefully and when
they saw it was a tin of quality street they just closed up the wrapper.
I could have had anything in that tin.
"They were there over two hours and I wasn't arrested for anything. They
[the PSNI] got everything lined up and went out in a neat semi circle
into the street for the media.
"The press were all outside, but during it all one cop went out to brief
the press. It was just a stunt.
"There was nothing there for them. There were about 16 pairs of shoes
taken. I just want my shoes and other belongings back," said Eddie
Journalist:: Andrea McKernon
Sinn Féin Man Is Incensed After 'Heavy-Handed' Raid On Complex
The PSNI last night said they were looking for money or evidence from the
Northern Bank raid when they smashed down doors at a West Belfast
The raid was immediately slammed as "politically motivated" by an angry
The raids occurred at the Blackstaff complex on the Springfield Road
yesterday afternoon. Several business premises were searched and the PSNI
used battering rams to gain access to some units in the complex.
Around ten Land Rovers swooped on the complex shortly after 3pm to begin
However, last night local Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann hit out at the tactics
employed by the PSNI during the swoop.
"These raids are politically motivated and heavy-handed," said the West
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
Editorial: Enough Is Enough
The PSNI is playing a very dangerous game with its brutal and pointless
raids in West Belfast in the wake of the £22m Northern Bank robbery. Red-
faced and clueless, they are taking out their frustration on the
community to which they traditionally turn when they feel the need to
CS gas sprays and batons were drawn in Lenadoon on Christmas Eve – that
night the people of Ballymurphy received similar treatment. Yesterday,
the bungling PSNI was on the Springfield Road welcoming in the New Year
by kicking in Catholic doors. Andersonstown News reporters were on the
scene at the raids, and they report that the anger and resentment of
local people against the PSNI was of a scale last seen in West Belfast in
the 1980s when the RUC decided it would be an excellent idea to attack
mourners at republican funerals.
We can only marvel at the restraint of local people in the face of such
intolerable provocation, but we take this opportunity to point out to
Chief Constable Hugh Orde that people have a threshold and that sooner or
later they will trade like for like and mayhem will erupt. Clearly, the
prospect of widespread street disorder is not something that the PSNI
have factored in during their ill-advised and vicious forays into West
Belfast – forays that are not search operations, as the PSNI claims, but
cynical photo opportunities designed to effect the double-whammy of
restoring their battered image and pointing the finger of blame at
This newspaper has absolutely no hesitation in stating that if street
confrontation erupts, if people decide that enough is enough and react to
the violence and indignities being inflicted upon them, as they most
surely and inevitably will if this continues, the blame will lie entirely
with the PSNI.
Hugh Orde has seen some street disorder in his relatively short time in
office, so he understands the capability that such violence has to
destabilise. And he understands the tendency that such chaos has to
deepen and spread. That is the last thing that we need going into the New
Year with hopes of political advancement already so fragile.
The job of a police service should be to prevent, and protect people
from, violence, not to provoke it as the RUC did so successfully and
comprehensively for so many years. If the idea was that with a new name
the PSNI would offer us a new beginning, then events of the recent past
have exposed that particular canard. In the backrooms of barracks the
PSNI spooks continue to plot, giving us travesties such as the Stormont
'spy ring' debacle, the Castlereagh fairy tale and the forensic
shenanigans that see trials falling like dominoes. On the streets, the
PSNI pours en masse into peaceful nationalist districts with the media in
tow in scenes reminiscent of the darkest days of the conflict. Quite
clearly, the policing issue is far from sorted, as the SDLP continues to
claim; equally clearly, there is a huge amount of work to be done before
this community will accept the PSNI. Events of recent days have made that
work so much more difficult and formidable.
The RUC was never a police service. Throughout its existence it was a
blunt paramilitary weapon used against the nationalist people and it knew
little or nothing of ordinary policing. The PSNI is no different – if the
Northern Bank job is anything to go by, it clearly is as useless at
police work as the RUC was. But this community refuses to be the fall-guy
for the incompetence of the PSNI.
Enough is enough. It's time for the PSNI to leave our people alone.
A Glengormley Family On A Mission To Help Orphans In Thailand Have Turned
Up Safe And Well After The Devastating Tsunami Disaster
A Glengormley family who gave up their Christmas to help orphaned
children in Thailand have been found safe and well in the stricken
But the Smyth family from Mayfield who travelled to the coastal resort of
Pattaya to help Thai street kids and orphans said they didn't know how,
or when, they would get home.
The Pattaya coast was saved from the devastating effects of one of the
world's worst disasters in living memory. The death toll has already
reached 124,000. More are missing and more are under threat of deadly
The North Belfast News took this picture of father Sean, mum Brenda,
daughters Alison and Orla, sons Conor and 11-year-old Sean last week
before their much anticipated departure.
But their family at home thought the worst for their loved ones when they
saw the unfolding events of the tsunami that hit the Bay of Bengal on
Boxing Day morning.
Gran and granda Ellen and Joe Hughes in Ardoyne said they were worried
sick until a relative was able to contact the family.
Alison Smyth who had travelled to the Redemptorist orphanage through
contacts at St Clement's retreat house urged people through Ireland to
pray for those caught up in the devastation and to pray for departed
souls. The family are about 100km from the tourist mecca of Phuket where
thousands are feared dead.
"It's a real tragedy for the Asian people over here and a lot of tourists
as well," she said.
"We met a lot of people in London who were heading on holiday to Phuket.
I don't know what their fate has been. There's a real sense of shock. The
problem now is that a lot of people lost their passports and travel
documents. They have been flown from Phuket to Bangkok and are trying to
Alison, 31, said it was expected that the Thai New Year celebrations
would be cancelled.
"We're keeping in touch with the Catholic community here and we will be
joining in the ceremonies. I think December 31 will be a national day of
mourning. We will pray for the people and attend all the ceremonies we
Money raised by local people in St Bernard's for the family to bring to
orphans has now gone towards the relief effort for the tsunami
earthquake. The family handed over £1,500 raised in St Bernard's.
"I'm sure the community who helped raise the money will be glad of what
we donated on their behalf," said Alison Smyth.
Journalist:: Andrea McKernon
DUP Man Supports 'All-Ireland' Scheme
A DUP councillor in Newtownabbey has broken border boundaries by
supporting an 'All-Ireland' initiative.
Jackie Mann said he supports an 'All-Ireland' travel pass that would mean
pensioners would get to travel free on buses and trains to anywhere in
Ireland as a whole.
The Republic's Social and family affairs minister Seamus Brennan says he
wants to introduce an all-island travel pass for pensioners and the
minister's move has been warmly welcomed by Cllr Mann.
His comments come just weeks after colleague Arthur Templeton caused
anger and raised eyebrows along the unionist benches by speaking Irish in
a committee meeting. The DUP man, who was convicted of harassing a gay
election candidate, was speaking during a discussion on an Irish medium
school in the grounds of St Enda's GAA.
"I would like to see an All-Ireland bus pass. I think pensioners should
be able to travel anywhere for free," said Jackie Mann.
"I think pensioners, war veterans and the disabled should be able to
travel anywhere for free, North, South, Scotland or Wales. I think this
is a good proposal."
And Cllr Mann said he would go one step further and recommend the move to
Newtownabbey Council, despite the Republic's minister complaining his
plans had received a cool reception.
"An all-island travel pass is the programme for government we signed up
"We have committed ourselves to this," said the minister.
Currently pensioners living in the North of Ireland are not entitled to
free travel in the South. Pass holders in the South can travel to the
North for free but cannot get free travel within the North of Ireland.
Minister Brennan complained that while up to 40,000 pensioners outside
the Republic claimed Irish pensions they could not travel for free in the
Journalist:: Staff Reporter
DPP Wants BBC Or UTV To Paint A Rosy Picture Of Police Body
The Belfast District Policing Partnership (DPP) has agreed that the BBC
or UTV should be asked to produce a "positive programme" on the body
The move comes amid deepening concern within the DPP that widespread
public confusion exists over its role and activities.
The DPP's programme proposal was confirmed at a special meeting held on
November 18, 2004, to discuss the organisation's Operational Plan.
DPP members agreed that a senior DPP administrator would engage in
discussions with public relations staff and the Policing Board before
approaching the North's two local broadcasters.
Since then a series of detailed discussions have been held with the
Policing Board, against a background of dissatisfaction that it has
failed to properly profile the role and activities of the council DPPs
throughout the North.
"There is currently public confusion over the separate and distinct roles
of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) and the District Policing
Partnership," state minutes from November's special meeting of the
"The NIPB fails to promote sufficiently the independence of the DPPs. A
high-profile media campaign is required to clarify the role of the DPPs
and to reaffirm their ability to constructively influence on behalf of
"However, it is acknowledged that great care would need to be taken in
handling the media campaign to ensure that it effectively portrayed the
messages the DPP wished to promote," state the DPP minutes.
It is understood that approaches will be made by the DPP to both the BBC
and UTV in the New Year. However, one insider did not hold out much hope
for the success of the proposal.
The source said that "difficulties could arise" with the production of
such a programme in the run-up to local government elections next May.
Reacting to the moves, a BBC spokesperson said yesterday that the
broadcaster is "open to programme ideas from all sections of the
"We have a rigorous commissioning process and selection of programmes is
based on a wide range of factors," said the spokesperson. "All BBC
programmes are subject to our editorial guidelines of fairness, balance
During the last decade both BBC and UTV have broadcast several fly-on-
the-wall documentaries about aspects of policing in the North, produced
with the permission of the RUC/PSNI.
Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney
Britain Considered Redrawing Border In 1974
01 January 2005 08:21
The British government considered redrawing the border of Northern
Ireland, and transferring more than 500,000 people, in an effort to
defeat terrorism in 1974.
Documents released today under the 30-year rule show that Harold Wilson
ordered that the option should be considered, in the wake of the collapse
of power-sharing, and continuing IRA violence.
1974 began on a note of optimism in the North, as the first power-sharing
executive took office following the Sunningdale Agreement.
But five months later, in the face of a loyalist strike, the executive
According to the secret documents made public today, Mr Wilson accepted
that a repeat of the strike would leave his government at the mercy of
the loyalists, as the Army was virtually powerless to maintain essential
As a result, the British government considered a 'Doomsday scenario'
where the border would have to be redrawn.
Officials advised Mr Wilson that this would mean the forced transfer of
up to 400,000 Catholics and 150,000 Protestants.
Despite this the British Prime Minister ordered further consideration of
repartition - including the possibility of making independent that part
of the North which was not incorporated into the South.
History-Rich Chicago Awaits Memorial To Its Irish
By Sarah Downey, Globe Correspondent January 1, 2005
CHICAGO — In a city that dyes its namesake river green on St. Patrick's
Day, support for a Chicago Irish Memorial has dried up.
Irish-Americans nationwide made plans in the 1990s to memorialize the
150th anniversary of the famine that drove Irish immigration to North
America. But in Chicago, the mission to build a four-story monument
across the street from the venerable Holy Name Cathedral did not advance
beyond the creation of a 50-inch model.
''They built Holy Name Cathedral on nickels and dimes, for God's sake, we
should be able to raise the money to have an Irish memorial in Chicago,''
said Mary Johnson, a teacher of religion and early supporter of the
Holy Name, one of the largest Catholic churches in Chicago, was built by
the Irish who flooded the city in the wake of the ''Great Hunger.'' From
1845 to 1851, more than 1 million Irish died and about 3 million more
were forced to emigrate.
Activists have trouble putting their finger on exactly what went wrong
with the project in Chicago, home to dozens of Irish organizations, a
large Irish heritage center, and many Irish politicians.
''We have a lot of Chicago Irish. It's sort of a mystery,'' said Matt
Lamb, who was chosen in 1999 to be one of two artists to design the
memorial after Lamb met with Pope John Paul II and displayed his work at
the Vatican. ''There was a program around the world to get this done.
There were these things going up all over.''
Boston's $1 million Irish Famine Memorial Park opened in June 1998. New
York unveiled its $5 million installation in Battery Park in July 2002. A
$3 million rendition opened in October 2003 along Philadelphia's
Irish groups in Chicago began exploring memorial possibilities about
1994. As Tom Boyle, the vice president of the Irish-American Heritage
Center, which fills a former junior college on the city's Northwest Side,
said, ''There was a lot of interest in the 150th anniversary of the
famine.'' Including from city employees and Mayor Richard M. Daley, the
latest in a long line of Chicago mayors with ancestors from Ireland.
A group called the An Gorta Mor (Great Hunger in Gaelic) Education and
Commemoration Committee eventually led the effort to raise $1 million for
the Chicago Irish Memorial. Group members met with city officials,
including Daley, about the project in 1999.
An Gorta Mor sponsored its first ''mass of remembrance and recognition''
at Holy Name cathedral Nov. 14, 1999, collecting groceries for food
pantries and funds for the memorial from more than 1,000 people. It
included a parade of Irish dancers, Bishop Edwin M. Conway, and former
Boston mayor Raymond Flynn.
''They came, they danced, they passed the plate,'' said S. Thomas Scarff,
the other artist commissioned for the project. By then, Scarff said, he'd
completed the 50-inch rendering, which is modeled on a theme of
''Despair, Hope, and Triumph,'' and sculpted to look like the sail of the
ships that brought many Irish to America. The finished product was to be
46 feet tall, crafted mainly from granite and bronze.
At the second remembrance Mass, held Nov. 12, 2000, the program noted,
''While our journey has been an uphill one, at times meeting resistance
and disbelief from pessimists, we have endured and are not only
proceeding with our goals but also making history.'' Yet the few thousand
dollars raised didn't come close to projections, covering little more
than An Gorta printing expenses and costs associated with Masses and
With support declining, in August 2001, Rev. Robert McLaughlin, the Holy
Name pastor who had helped secure space for the memorial, left his
position after 12 years in the job. Some said that Holy Name no longer
backed the project.
''It was just a good idea that fell off the radar screen,'' said Colleen
Dolan, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese.
At the same time, a Chicago police officer who chaired An Gorta Mor
became overwhelmed with the work. He did not respond to a request for an
Scarff's 50-inch rendering is displayed at Purdue University North
Central in Westville, Ind., where he is a curator. On the wall behind it
is a large painting, also by Scarff, that depicts what he still hopes
will be the finished product.
Johnson, who said she helped pay for one remembrance Mass, was recently
inspired anew during a walk past New York's counterpart in Battery Park.
She said she and others believe Chicago's will soon find its place.
''I know there's still interest,'' she said. ''We have great talent, and
we can have an Irish memorial in the City of Chicago.''
Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04