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January 02, 2005

01/02/05 - Peace Honour For Margaret Hassan

Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

BB 01/02/05 Peace Honour For Margaret Hassan
BB 01/02/05 Bloody Sunday Inquiry Heads Towards Final Report
UT 01/02/05 Taxi Driver In Petrol Bomb Ordeal
UT 01/02/05 Irish Families Head To Thailand In Search Of Relatives
SB 01/02/05 Miracle Escape For Irish Family In Thailand
BB 01/02/05 Internment Report Led To Government Fury
SB 01/02/04 Irish Have Taken The Point: Envoy On Dublin Bombs
SB 01/02/04 Murders Described As 'Unfortunate But Understandable'
SB 01/02/04 Advertising Ban Will Not Drain Drinks Industry


Peace Honour For Margaret Hassan

Murdered aid worker Margaret Hassan has been given the Tipperary
Peace Prize in Ireland for her charity work in Iraq.

The Care International official had "paid the ultimate price for
her dedication to the poor and vulnerable in Iraq", the prize's
convention said.

Mrs Hassan was abducted in Baghdad on October 19. A video of her
apparent murder was released a month later, but her body has never
been recovered.

Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton are among previous prize

'Courage and commitment'

The award, Ireland's most prestigious peace prize, will be
presented to 59-year-old Margaret Hassan's relatives at a ceremony
in April.

The Tipperary Peace Convention said in a statement that the honour
"salutes the extraordinary life of a Dublin-born aid worker".

"She showed extraordinary courage, tenacity and commitment in her
concern for those who were living in the most difficult of

During her captivity, UK prime minister Tony Blair and Irish
premier Bertie Ahern issued direct pleas for Mrs Hassan's release
and a special debate on the issue was held in the Irish parliament.

The aid worker held dual Irish and British citizenship but had
lived in Iraq since the 1970s with her Iraqi husband, Tahseen.

She began working for Care International soon after it began
operations in Iraq in 1991 and provided humanitarian relief to the
most needy Iraqis in a professional career spanning more than 25

Tipperary Peace Prize-winners:
Nelson Mandela
Bill Clinton
Mikhail Gorbachev
Bob Geldof
Senator George Mitchell

When she was kidnapped, Mrs Hassan had been head of the charity's
operations in the country for 12 years.

Film-maker and friend Felicity Arbuthnot described her as "an
extraordinary woman".

A funeral mass was held for her in Westminster Cathedral in London
and an ecumenical service took place in Kenmare, Co Kerry, where
Mrs Hassan's mother was born and where her sister Geraldine lives.

The Tipperary Peace Convention was founded in 1983 with the aim of
promoting peace and rewarding people who make a noteworthy
contribution to peace-related issues.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/02 09:55:37 GMT


Bloody Sunday Inquiry Heads Towards Final Report

BBC Northern Ireland's reporter at the Bloody Sunday tribunal, Paul
McCauley, looks back at the year in which the inquiry before Lord
Saville called the last of its witnesses.

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry has now entered its final phase.

Almost seven years since the prime minister announced the inquiry,
Lord Saville and his two Commonwealth colleagues have now retired
to write their report into the deaths of 13 civilians and the
wounding of 14 others during a civil rights march in Londonderry in
January 1972.

They are expected to publish their report in the summer of 2005.

Bloody Sunday inquiry facts
Lord Saville held his first hearing at Derry's Guildhall in April
The inquiry began to hold public hearings in March 2000.
The tribunal has now sat for 434 days.
It has heard evidence from 921 witnesses.
There have been 1,555 written statements from witnesses.
The final bill will be around £150m.
The final report is expected next summer.

However, in an unexpected development, the tribunal has decided to
reconvene to hear the evidence of one more witness.

The man, known only as Witness X, denies telling the police in
1972, that as a member of the Provisional IRA, he fired two
magazines from a rifle in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday.

The tribunal will probably have to sit temporarily in an ordinary
courtroom somewhere as it has already left its "home" in the
Guildhall in Derry.

The tribunal first sat in the Great Hall of the Guildhall in March

When it moved to London for just over a year, to hear the evidence
of the soldiers, the proceedings were beamed back to relatives and
the public who sat in the Guildhall, watching and listening to
every word.

Now that the tribunal has finally risen, many of the family members
still gather at the Bloody Sunday Centre just yards from the

Feeling of helplessness

They are glad that the inquiry has ended but some of them still
miss the camaraderie around the tribunal.

There is also a slight feeling of helplessness. The families know
there is nothing more they can do in their search for the truth.

All they can do now is wait for the final report.

The families were praised by Counsel to the Tribunal, Christopher
Clarke QC, as he brought the inquiry to a close at the end of

He said the families deserved credit for helping establish the
inquiry and for enduring anxiety, tension and frustration during
the proceedings.

The Saville Inquiry has been the longest in British legal history.

It was announced in January 1998 and spent a couple of years
gathering evidence before Christopher Clarke began presenting it in
the Guildhall.

Evidence was heard from more than 900 people over 434 days of

Most witnesses were civilians and soldiers but evidence was also
given by former IRA men, police officers, priests, journalists,
experts and politicians.

The final cost will be more than £150m.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/02 09:55:51 GMT


Taxi Driver In Petrol Bomb Ordeal

A taxi driver was forced at gunpoint to drive a petrol bomb to a
police station in west Belfast.

By:Press Association

The incident happened at around 7.35pm yesterday after two men got
into a taxi at a depot at Upper Donegall Street and asked to be
taken to Gibson Street on the Lower Falls.

As they arrived at their destination at around 7.45pm, the front
seat passenger pointed a gun at the taxi driver`s side and the
device wrapped in a black bin liner was placed in the back seat.

He was then ordered to take it to Grosvenor Road police station.

Army bomb experts were called to the scene and made safe the object
which was found to be an incendiary device containing a large
quantity of petrol.

Chief Insp Peter Farrar said he hoped such incidents had been
confined to the past.

"This was a frightening ordeal for a taxi driver who was just out
earning a living on New Year`s Day," he said.

"He was ordered at gunpoint to drive a highly unstable incendiary
bomb through the built-up Lower Falls area to Grosvenor Road police

"Those assailants who ordered him to do this weren`t only putting
their lives and the life of the taxi driver at risk, but also the
lives of local residents and the police officers as well," he

The finger of suspicion for this latest incident will be pointed at
dissident republicans who have been carrying out a firebomb
campaign, targeting commercial premises throughout the Christmas
and New Year period.

Dissident groups have recently signalled their intention to step up
the terror campaign in order to destabilise the Northern Ireland
peace process.


Irish Families Head To Thailand In Search Of Relatives

A number of Irish families have travelled to Thailand to try and
locate relatives missing since the tsunami disaster.

Up to 20 Irish people remain unaccounted for in the region,
although officials have not confirmed any Irish deaths.

The families of three feared Irish victims were searching for any
trace of them in Thailand.

Eilis Finnegan, 27, a flight attendant from Ballyfermot in Dublin,
Lucy Coyle, 29, from Killiney in Dublin and a man believed to be
23-year-old Michael Murphy from Ballyconiger in Co Wexford.

Diplomats from the Republic`s Department of Foreign Affairs are
coordinating search efforts between police, health officials, and
family members in Thailand and other affected countries.


Miracle Escape For Irish Family In Thailand

02 January 2005

The Delaney family, from Rathmines, Dublin, were enjoying a
relaxing Christmas holiday in Patong, the beach resort on Phuket
Island, writes Ferdia O'Dowd in Thailand.

As Michael, Mary and their four children, Rachel, Michelle, Marie
and Jonathan, sat down to breakfast at their beach-front hotel,
Michael noticed a strong swirling in the water. "It was like a
cauldron, much like you see from the HSS high speed ferry," he

A portable jetty, used by people coming from cruise ships, was
swept from its moorings. Suddenly, the water poured across the road
to their hotel and was pulling at their feet.

"We get up to run, but, before we can get out of the room, a second
and much stronger wave pins us against the pillars. We are then
swept away by a third, much more violent wave," he said from his
bed in Phuket International Hospital where he is recovering. The
family were flung about by the strong current, sometimes below and
sometimes above water, until they ended up on empty ground behind
the hotel, all in different places. Jonathan, Michael's 13-year old
son, was separated from the others. He tried to climb up railings
to the first floor but slipped back and was pinned against a window
by a sun bed from the beach.

The window gave way and he was flung into a bedroom which quickly
filled with water. He had to dive down to escape and, on coming to
the surface, was helped onto a balcony and then into the hotel.

Eventually, all the family reached the upper floors of the hotel
where they had to wait for almost two hours before moving to higher

They were taken to hospital about three hours later.

There was no organised rescue, they said. Hotel staff and residents
who were not injured helped others.

The Delaney family's trip to hospital was first in a public, open-
sided bus with many other victims and then in the back of a pick-up

Only Michael, who had deep cuts and required treatment for a badly
infected wound, remained in hospital this weekend.


Internment Report Led To Government Fury

by Paul Reynolds
BBC News website

A furious memo from the then Prime Minister Edward Heath about a
report on alleged torture by the army and police during internment
in Northern Ireland has come to light in files released by the
National Archives.

Mr Heath wrote the memorandum in advance of publication of the
report, chaired by Sir Edmund Compton, in 1971: "It seems to me to
be one of the most unbalanced, ill-judged reports I have ever
read," he stated.

Amid arguments similar to those surrounding the detention of
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the Compton report examined so-called
sensory deprivation techniques used on IRA suspects held without
trial - hooding, wall-standing, white noise, sleep deprivation.

It ruled, controversially, that these did not constitute torture or
brutality but did amount to "physical ill-treatment."

Too far

Even that appears to have gone too far for the conservative prime

His memo said: "It is astonishing that men of such experience
should have got themselves so lost in the trees, or indeed the
undergrowth, that they are proved quite incapable of seeing the

The first part of the report was on the arrest operation which
heralded the introduction of internment.

Mr Heath commented: "When you go through the report carefully, the
number of incidents involved in the arrest of 300 odd men were
small and, in the conditions of war against the IRA, trivial.

"But nowhere is this stated loud and clear and a clean bill of
health given to the army."

As for the report's findings on the interrogation methods, he said:
"Here they seem to have gone to endless lengths to show that anyone
not given 3-star hotel facilities suffered hardship and ill-
treatment. Again, nowhere is this set in the context of war against
the IRA.

"What, above all, I object to - and I think many others will share
this view to the point of driving themselves into a lesser or
greater degree of fury - is that the unfounded allegations made for
the most part by outsiders are put on exactly the same level as
tested evidence from the Army and the RUC [Royal Ulster
Constabulary]. This I believe to be intolerable."


Mr Heath demanded of his cabinet secretary Sir Burke Trend that
steps be taken to make a "robust and forthright" response.

However, exactly how this response was discussed is not known,
because a number of files from key meetings in the days following
have been removed from the archive folder without explanation.

After publication, the government made a major effort to justify
its position. Measures included allowing access to a military
hospital to film wounded soldiers.

Interviews were also offered with senior military figures who had
led previous counter-insurgency campaigns in Kenya, Cyprus, Malaya
and Aden, where the interrogation methods had been developed and

In the aftermath of the furore over internment, the government's
"Intelligence Co-ordinator" was asked to examine interrogation

The files show that he recommended that there should be limits on
the use of certain methods - no more than two hours for hooding or
wall-standing and sparing use of "white sound".

But the following year, after a widespread public outcry, Mr Heath
backed down and announced in Parliament that sensory deprivation
would in future be banned.


The philosophy behind its use is also revealed in the files which
contain the full text of a document drawn up by the Joint
Intelligence Committee in 1965.

This laid out the principles of prolonged interrogation which it
says "calls for a psychological attack."

The interrogator must remember that he is engaged in a contest of

Joint Intelligence Committee

It dismisses torture and physical cruelty as "professionally
unrewarding since a suspect so treated may be persuaded to talk,
but not tell the truth."

It goes on: "The actual and instinctive resistance of the person
concerned to interrogation must be overcome by permissible
techniques. This will be more easily achieved in an atmosphere of
rigid discipline. It may therefore be necessary for interviews to
be carried out for long periods by day and by night.

"It is essential that moral ascendancy over the detainee is
established immediately. The interrogator must remember that he is
engaged in a contest of wills."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/02 00:49:42 GMT


'Irish Have Taken The Point': British Envoy On Dublin Bombs

02 January 2005 By Rory Rapple

"I think the Irish have taken the point." That was how the then
British Ambassador to Ireland, Sir Arthur Galsworthy, responded to
the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 17, 1974.

Analysing the Irish reaction to the atrocity, he noted that "there
is no sign of any general anti-Northern Protestant reaction'',
adding that "the predictable attempt by the IRA to pin the blame on
the British (British agents, the SAS, etc) has made no headway at

While the then taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, blamed "everybody who has
practised violence or preached violence'' for the outrages, the
minister for foreign affairs Garret FitzGerald told Galsworthy that
"the government's view was that popular hostility appeared to be
directed more against the IRA''.

Galsworthy took a certain pleasure in the hardening of attitudes
against republicans. He noted that an "official IRA candidate'' for
the local elections in south-west Dublin was "roughed up by a
working-class crowd''.

The Irish Civil Rights Association (ICRA) also cancelled its normal
Sunday afternoon demonstration outside the ambassador's residence
"ostensibly on the grounds that the Garda would be better employed
than in protecting me, but perhaps in reality because the ICRA has
detected the prevailing anti-IRA mood''.

Galsworthy added facetiously: "I almost felt neglected."

The ambassador later wrote: "It is only now that the South has
experienced violence that they are reacting in the way that the
North has sought for so long."

Despite these feelings of schadenfreude, he told the Northern
Ireland Office (NIO) that "it would be. . . a psychological mistake
for us to rub this point in . . . I think the Irish have taken the

During the period of the loyalist workers' strike, British
officials at the Northern Ireland Office – JN Allen and Michael
Oatley - were in regular contact with the UVF leadership.

Members of the UVF, according to the Barron Report, were
responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

Contact was made with Ken Gibson of the UVF on at least three
occasions in 1974 – on May 21, 27 and 29. No reference was made to
the explosions in the south, and the talks centred on internal
loyalist politics. The UVF supported power-sharing involving
everyone except Republicans.

The NIO officials noted after the meeting of May 27 that "the UVF's
relationship with us has become very strange. They are desperately
in need of advice as to how to achieve their aims of ensuring
working-class - and above all UVF-participation in politics and
they seek this from us even though they know that there are basic
differences between them and HMG [Her Majesty's Government] on the

By September, Northern Secretary Merlyn Rees was telling the
British prime minister Harold Wilson: "We have successfully
encouraged moderate leaders of the UVF in following a political
path. They are sadly naive and ill-equipped to do so, and are under
constant pressure from their more militant colleagues, but they are
also susceptible to influence and officials have kept closely in
touch with them."

Rees said his agenda for the loyalist paramilitaries was to contain
"the very dangerous threat of further violence'', and to establish
a point of influence with the loyalist coordinating committee
"likely to control any attempted repetition of the Ulster Workers'
Council strike''.

Further IRA violence, he said, would cut the ground from under the
UVF moderates.

Galsworthy's hints that republicanism was facing something of a
crisis in public confidence dovetailed with the general British
belief that the Provisional IRA was suffering from serious tensions
between its leaders in the Republic and the organisation in the

In a particularly acerbic memo, dated June 11, the British
Ambassador alleged that leading Provo Daithi Ó Conaill had walked
out of hunger striker Michael Gaughan's funeral Mass because of his
need to appeal to Northern republicans. Ó Conaill was protesting at
a sermon which had criticised the IRA campaign and had elicited
protests from the congregation.

Galsworthy noted: "The voices that called out their protests in the
church spoke with Northern accents.'' He added: "This factor [might
have] played its part in deciding O'Connell to walk as a 'tough'
gesture. He could hardly seem to acquiesce, in the presence of
Northern members of his organisation, if anyone – least of all a
Catholic priest - [implied] that there should be no war against the

The Dublin middle-class, the ambassador wrote, were recoiling from
"the Gaughan road-show. . .with much the same feeling of disgust as
we do''.

Brian Major, another British diplomat, noted with some satisfaction
that one bus leaving Dublin for the North after the arrival of
Gaughan's remains in Dublin Airport was "stoned by a crowd of
youths in north Dublin''.

He marvelled that, while Fianna Fáil's Bodenstown commemoration had
only received five column inches in the Irish Times, Official Sinn
Féin's commemoration had been given 40 column inches.

Earlier in the year, on February 13, Galsworthy said that he had
received an anonymous telephone call purporting to be from
Provisional Sinn Féin asking whether the British government might
opt to legalise the party in the North before the general election.

The caller, who stressed that a "top-level meeting'' of Provos was
debating the question, stated that "certain PIRA leaders were
extremely anxious about the problem'' because "they were under
extreme pressure from a group of 'Trotskyite socialists' who were
trying to take over the movement from within''.

This new group, the caller alleged, was based in Belfast but was
different from the "old hard-line gang controlled by [Seamus]
Twomey. . . it had outside help, and had gained a measure of
control over the main arms supply''.

The caller told Galsworthy that the cell had only been uncovered
during the previous week, and insisted that "it was urgently
necessary for HMG to react helpfully''.

When Brian Faulkner, John Hume and Paddy Devlin were canvassed
about the notion of Sinn Féin standing in the general election,
they "gave the news . . . a cautious welcome''. Garret FitzGerald,
however, proposed that the party should be allowed to stand
"precisely so they could expose themselves to defeat''.

In any event, according to Galsworthy, the Army Council had decided
not to take part in the election by a small majority, but there had
been "a real division of opinion with many seeking away out from
their present policy of violence''.

The IRA campaign, especially in Belfast, was regarded as
particularly subversive of British commitment. The commanding
officer of the British Army in Northern Ireland, Lieutenant General
Sir Frank King, told Wilson on April 18 that "he did not think it
was an exaggeration that fire bombs could win the war. The security
problems which they posed were like 'shoplifting in reverse': ie,
you had to prevent terrorists from leaving small parcels in

King added that morale in the army had plummeted, as "some soldiers
were now on their fourth and fifth tour of duty in the Province . .
. [and] there was also dissatisfaction that soldiers transferred to
Ulster from Germany lost their entitlement to duty-free

The prime minister was aware of general British discontent about
the increased military presence in the North, which was now
approaching its fifth anniversary.

On May 13, Wilson read details of an "IRA plot'' to the House of

The plan - available in manuscript form in the Public Record Office
in London, as it was when taken by security forces during a raid in
Belfast - was explicitly seized upon for its propaganda value,
according to accompanying memos.

Wilson's speech, which went through many drafts, stated that the
IRA's aim was to carry out a "scorched earth policy'' in loyalist
areas of Belfast, and "by means of ruthless and indiscriminate
violence, to foment inter-sectarian hatred and a degree of chaos'',
creating a situation "in which the IRA could present themselves as
the protectors of the Catholic population''.

In a letter to Wilson that November, Paddy Devlin of the SDLP
denounced this revelation as "pure science fiction material which
no one but the loyalist agitators took seriously at a time when the
Provos were not in a position in Belfast to occupy a telephone

Despite Wilson's allegations in May, the House of Commons had
removed the ban on Sinn Féin and the UVF in the North the day after
his speech. The following month, the IRA bombed the Houses of
Parliament, damaging Westminster Hall. Subsequent bombs in Britain
were detonated in pubs in Guildford and Birmingham in October and
November respectively.

By September, Merlyn Rees speculated that the IRA Army Council in
Dublin seemed "increasingly isolated but probably still [had] the
power of deciding whether to intensify or end the campaign''.

The British government believed that the Provos were looking for an
opportunity to call a ceasefire, because they had unilaterally
approached them in early summer "for political discussions
(willingness to discuss a declaration of intent to withdraw)".

According to Rees, British reluctance to "respond'' caused
"confusion and some resentment'' among the IRA.

Irish state papers

The military files opened in the National Archives in Dublin for
1974 deal mostly with the minutiae of the whereabouts and
activities of suspected "subversives'', including Tomás MacGiolla,
Desmond Greaves, Deasún Breathnach, Declan Bree, Desmond Fennell,
Cathal Goulding, Captain James Kelly and Ruairi Ó Brádaigh, among

The information, often garnered from attendance at public meetings
around the country, can appear to be inconsequential, and raises
questions about how such intelligence could have been gathered.

For example, a July 14 memo notes that "Harald Stoeren wants Rory
Brady to send him IRA songs [and] knows Rory Brady has been in
contact with the head of Norwegian broadcasting''.

A military file about Daithi Ó Conaill is more bewildering, as
almost every article within it has been withheld from the general
release, apart from a newspaper cutting, some general notes and a
particularly strange page giving instructions on how to make a
"kitchen sink H bomb''.

The year ended on a more peaceful note. Following consultation
between Protestant churchmen and Provisional Sinn Féin in the Co
Clare town of Feakle in December, the IRA Army Council declared a
ceasefire, dependent on a limitation of security force activity in
the North. It issued proposals to the British government demanding
a commitment to withdraw, the election of an all-Ireland assembly
to draft a new constitution and an amnesty for political prisoners.
The details of these developments were on British government
stationery in the National Archives in Dublin.

Rory Rapple is a Fellow in History at St John's College, Cambridge.


Catholic Murders Described As 'Unfortunate But Understandable'

02 January 2005 By Rory Rapple

The way in which the Sunningdale agreement dissolved into a bloody
mess is charted in agonising detail in state papers for 1974 just
released by the National Archives in London and Dublin.

Hopes for peace in the North never really recovered from the
debacle of a Westminster election in February.

It proved an acute embarrassment for the former Northern prime
minister, Brian Faulkner, as a coalition of rejectionist Unionists
gained a sweeping majority in Northern Ireland.

The election also brought a minority Labour administration under
Harold Wilson into office and a new Secretary of State to Northern
Ireland, Merlyn Rees.

The papers show that Anglo-Irish relations in 1974 were marked by a
distinct lack of warmth.

The Irish government spent much time raising questions about
British army harassment of the Catholic community in the North,
while the British government constantly needled Dublin about cross-
border security.

The implementation of the Sunningdale Agreement was pursued with a
lack of enthusiasm by the British, and the weakness of their
defence of it during the loyalist strike was much criticised.

The Irish agenda was unwittingly compromised twice because of
British access to internal Irish briefs on security.

In the first instance an aide memoire came into British hands prior
to Wilson's meeting with Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in September. On a
second occasion, the British got their hands on a document which
had been carelessly left behind in government offices by Irish
civil servants.

While Faulkner was attempting to hold together his power-sharing
executive made up of SDLP, Alliance and moderate Unionists, extreme
loyalists - including Ian Paisley, the UDA and the Vanguard
Unionist Party (led by William Craig) - allied against him. Among
their major grievances was the inclusion of a North-South body, the
Council of Ireland, in the Sunningdale agreement.

Of particular interest, given the current situation in Northern
Ireland, are accounts of Paisley's strategy in 1974.

Along with other extremists, he constantly alleged that lax
security on the border was responsible for a good portion of the
North's ills.

In March, Craig told Rees that "to his certain knowledge weapons
were being delivered secretly to Northern Ireland from the Republic
of Ireland by air''.

In the same month, Paisley warned civil servants at the Northern
Ireland Office that "there was a risk that he and his party would
no longer be able to restrain the Protestant community from taking
the law into its own hands''.

During the loyalist strike, Craig would describe the sectarian
murders of Catholics as "unfortunate but understandable - if
democracy is being trampled into the ground you are entitled to
take whatever action is needed''.

Despite alliances of necessity, the Northern Ireland Office noted
that "there was clearly a split between Dr Paisley, Mr Craig and
the workers''.

By the end of the year, relations between the British government
and the SDLP were at an all-time low. The moderate nationalist
party felt betrayed by British incapability, and they suspected,
unwillingness, to break the loyalist workers' strike.

In October, Rees - in a characteristic display of Labour machismo -
wrote that "the SDLP are always a problem.

"They lack leadership and are neither Social Democratic nor Labour.
They grew up under Whitelaw and find it difficult to face life
without an English nanny – the Torier the better."

The next month, Paddy Devlin of the SDLP denounced Rees in a letter
to Wilson as "more lethal than a 'Provo' proxy bomb''.

Rees believed that Southern concerns about the North were fairly
narrow-gauged: "The last thing it wants is Northern Ireland... the
main reassurance to be given to the Irish government must be that
we will never leave a Congo-type situation in Northern Ireland."

He also believed that the British Army was the "only real arm of
government'' he could depend on and stressed the importance of
keeping it constantly informed of government thinking.

The letter in which Rees outlined these opinions was marked merely
"confidential'' and was later upped to "secret''.

The margin of this letter, like many of the documents released this
year, contains comments in Wilson's distinctive handwriting,
including the query: "Is anyone else seeing this? Is not this paper

Although Britain's public commitment to power-sharing seemed
strong, in private, power-sharing - "the only just solution'' - was
being described as outside "the realm of practical politics in the
immediate future''.

In the absence of power-sharing, Labour committed itself to the
idea of a Constitutional Convention elected by proportional
representation to discuss the future status of Northern Ireland.

Gerry Fitt, leader of the SDLP, told Rees in September that the
convention would amount to "a blank cheque for the Protestants''.
John Hume expressed his fears that loyalists would dominate
proceedings and make a unilateral declaration of independence,
leaving Northern Catholics in a particularly vulnerable position.


Advertising Ban Will Not Drain Drinks Industry

02 January 2005 By Tom McGurk

The Government is expected to announce a ban on the day time
broadcasting of television adverts for alcohol, as part of a new
initiative to control alcohol advertising and sponsorship.
Apparently, there are also plans to introduce health warnings on
beer and spirits, similar to those on tobacco products.

Also, as a result of the recommendations by the government-
appointed Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, there will be a move to
deal with the relationship between sports sponsorship and alcohol.

Given the dimensions of the alcohol abuse problem we face, it would
not be too cynical to dismiss this initiative as tokenism. Take,
for example, the ban on daytime alcohol advertising. It is only
possible for such a prohibition to be enforced by our government on
Irish terrestrial channels, which are frequently watched by only
half the Irish viewing audience at any one time.

Early last year, the then communications minister Dermot Ahern was
given short shrift by the European Commission when he attempted to
raise the possibility of national governments imposing controls on
the satellite broadcasters operating in their territories.

In truth, given the EU position, any government ban on the
television advertising of alcohol can only be patchy. The decision
to impose regulation only on daytime viewing suggests that the
government itself recognises the inadequacy of its position.

Is anybody seriously suggesting that the swelling population of
teenage binge drinkers is safely tucked up in bed before the

The government proposal to deal with the linkage between sport and
alcohol sponsorship is further proof of the futility of what
effectively can be done.

Pressure can certainly be put on our native sports organisations -
consider, for example, the disgraceful relationship between
Guinness and the GAA - but what can be done about international

For example, if Heineken were to renew its deal with European rugby
- that sponsorship is up for renegotiation - is there anything the
government can do about it?

How could it insist on the Irish part of the European Rugby Cup
belonging to different sponsors to the rest of the teams in the
tournament? The answer is that it probably couldn't.

Would, for example, the expected daytime television ban on alcohol
advertising be extended to cover RTE's Heineken European Cup rugby
coverage? And what about other international sporting events
sponsored by alcohol industries during daytime - are they also to
be banned from Irish terrestrial television?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but the complexity of
the situation reveals in the starkest dimensions the crisis faced
by any democratic government attempting to deal with the global
powers of consumerism. The difficult truth to face is that the
democratic powers we have to order our society in the face of
global marketing diminish daily.

The greatest political crisis we face in the age we live in is
whether we are to continue living as citizens in a society
organised according to the requirements of civil society, or
whether we are just consumers in that small part of the global
marketplace called Ireland.

There is perhaps no better illustration of this crisis than the
savage attack on our society and its values being carried out by
the vast resources and marketing power of the alcohol industry.
Allied to a popular culture that celebrates excess and instant
gratification - and driven on a tide of image and identity
messaging - the drinks industry has wreaked havoc in Ireland with
the brightest and best of our younger generation.

Most European surveys - and there have been many - point to the
fact that we have the largest number of drunken teenagers and young
people in the First World. The sub-textual message that the drinks
industry uses to ensnare our youth is that getting smashed on
alcohol is an essential part of growing up.

In the face of growing criticism recently, it has begun adding the
word 'responsibly' to its advertising. It is ironic that its latest
admonition to its customers is the very one that it - in using the
market - has so lamentably failed to live up to itself. The
recommendations of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol are the
beginning of the first recognition about the linkage between market
forces and society.

At last, someone in the political classes has recognised the power
of advertising and popular culture. But no sooner have they done
that than the dimensions of the difficulties they face in a free
society become apparent.

The solutions that, for example, the Taliban might adopt are, of
course, not acceptable. The further irony of the crisis is that it
is precisely because we have such a free society that the drinks
industry, which has continued to inflict such harm, has been
indulged to date.

Since it is so difficult within a free society to deal with market
excesses, as censorship and prohibition create the wrong
impression, the solution may lie in mounting a cultural counter-
offensive. It is time the government hired the best brains in
advertising to attack the specious claims of alcohol advertising.

It is time that the gloves came off and that public information
advertising was promoted to become as effective as the drinks
industry's advertising.

Beyond this, there is the potential of what schools can achieve in
this area.

Isn't it time that we taught our children about the insidious
nature of the popular and commercial culture that is primarily
aimed at them?

Isn't it time that education went on the offensive in this area and
that we ceased to regard it as just an inoffensive part of modern
living? Halfway into the first decade of the new century, it is
time for all of us to recognise the nature of the crisis we face.

Tom McGurk presents The Sunday Show on RTE Radio One today at

Monthly Table of Contents 01/05
Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

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