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January 04, 2005

01/04/05 – Irishwoman Dies In Tsunami

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

BB 01/04/05 Irishwoman Dies In Tsunami Waves –V
IO 01/04/05 SF Anger At Increased British Army Surveillance
DJ 01/04/05 UDA Deny Pipe Bomb Attack
IT 01/05/05 Major Fallout If IRA Is Blamed For Raid
IT 01/05/05 Plans For 28-Storey Dublin Building Rejected
IT 01/05/05 NI Call For Total Workplace Smoking Ban
DJ 01/05/04 TV Documentary To Feature Mary Boyle's Disappearance
ML 01/05/04 A Winter Escape To The West Of Ireland
IT 01/05/04 Birr The Hot Spot Last Year And Kilkenny Coolest
IO 01/05/04 Anger Over Ploughing Up Of Nature Reserve


First Irish victim of Asian disaster is confirmed - Philip Boucher
Hayes reports on the discovery of the body of Eilis Finnegan on Phi
Phi Island in Thailand

Irishwoman Dies In Tsunami Waves -V

The body of an Irishwoman who was a victim of the Indian Ocean
tsunami disaster has been found in Thailand.

Dublin woman Eilis Finnegan, 27, was on holiday with her boyfriend
on Phi Phi Island when the tsunami struck on Boxing Day.

She is the first confirmed Irish victim of the disaster, which has
claimed thousands of lives.

The Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed
on Tuesday that her body had been found.

The pair had arrived at the resort 40 minutes before the tidal
waves struck. Her boyfriend survived, but she was swept away.

An Irish police team is flying out to Thailand to help find other
Irish citizens who have been reported missing.

The Irish Government has also announced it will be sending a
technical team to Phuket in Thailand to ensure that its 10 million
euro aid allocation is used in the best possible way in the
disaster regions.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern met
more than a dozen aid agencies in Dublin on Tuesday to co-ordinate
Irish relief efforts.

Meanwhile, two sisters of a County Tyrone man missing in Thailand
since the tsunami are to travel to the country to look for him.

Conor Keightley, 31, from Cookstown, was on holiday when the
tsunami struck and has not been heard from since just before

Michelle McCaughey and Darina Duffin are due to arrive in Phuket on

Mrs McCaughey said they felt they had to travel to Thailand.

"We are thriving on the hope that he is lying in a hospital bed,
maybe seriously injured and unable to talk, (but) alive and waiting
on somebody to come and recognise him and get him home," she said.

"We cannot sit at home only to wonder down the line whether we did
all we could."

The sisters, who are travelling with two other family members, said
they would stay for a week to search for Conor.

On Tuesday, a cheque for £500,000 raised by Belfast's Black Santa
appeal for victims of the Asian tsunami was handed to the charity
Christian Aid.

The appeal to help survivors of the disaster has raised more than

The Dean of Belfast, Houston McKelvey, said two barrels had been
put outside St Anne's Cathedral because of the numbers arriving to
donate money.

He said: "The security van came along the other day and, I swear,
its back axle was buckling for it left with 190 plus bags of
pennies, tuppences, 10ps 50ps, but it all counts."

During his annual pre-Christmas appeal on the steps of the
cathedral, Dean McKelvey had already raised more than £200,000 for
local charities.

However, he decided to extend his vigil for the first time
following the massive waves which devastated coastal areas around
the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day.

Day of solidarity

The dean and his colleagues will continue their collection between
1000 GMT and 1600 GMT until at least 8 January.

A four-hour prayer vigil will be held at the cathedral on Thursday.

The Chief Executive of Concern, Tom Arnold, has said the most
effective way to help the relief efforts is to donate cash not
material goods.

The Catholic Church has called on people to observe a day of
solidarity for the tsunami victims on Friday.

Archbishop Sean Brady said it was an appropriate Christian and
practical response to the tragedy.

A special collection will also be held at services next Sunday.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's honorary Indian Consul Lord Rana flew
out to that country on Tuesday to see what needed to be done for
the victims.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/04 22:33:53 GMT


SF Anger At Increased British Army Surveillance

04/01/2005 - 13:32:20

Sinn Féin has claimed the British army has increased undercover
surveillance in west Belfast in recent weeks.

The party said there had been a marked increase in covert activity
by the British army in the Andersonstown area.

Councillor Michael Ferguson said people leaving businesses near the
local police station had been photographed and soldiers had also
been taking pictures from unmarked cars.

The increased surveillance is believed to be linked to the heist at
the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast on December 20.

The IRA has denied any involvement in the robbery.


UDA Deny Pipe Bomb Attack

Tuesday 4th January 2005

The UDA last night denied responsibility for leaving a pipe bomb at
the home of a Co. Derry Sinn Fein member.

The device was placed outside the home of a Sinn Fein election
worker in Kilrea in County Derry.

The man, his wife and three teenage children and several other
families who lived nearby had to leave their homes during the alert
before the device was made safe by army bomb disposal experts.

Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said the family had a lucky

He said: "The information we have got is that there was a fuse
which was burned out.

"It looks to be the genuine article, a real pipe bomb. Obviously we
could have been looking at a fatality or injury and that is very,
very disturbing and a dreadful start to 2005 in the north."

East Derry SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat also condemned those
who left the pipe bomb.

He said: "Over the years there have been many pipe bomb incidents
in the Coleraine Borough. "On occasions these lethal devices have
exploded and wrecked homes, leaving people homeless as well as
traumatising young children.'

He continued: "Bombs of any kind have no place in any civilised
society and I utterly condemn anyone who believes that their use
will heal the hurt which has caused so much division and mistrust
over many years."

He concluded: "Anyone with any information about this or any other
incidents should give their information to the PSNI without delay."

In a statement to the 'Journal' the UDA denied being responsible
for the attack.

The Ulster Political research group who advise the UDA also called
on those behind such attacks to stop.

They said: "Violence only serves to bring loyalism into disrepute
and gives succour to Sinn Fein and other republican groups who seek
a platform for their own cause."

The loyalist group also rounded on Councillor Billy Leonard who
they described as 'a Lundy, former police officer and Sinn Fein/IRA
collaborator' and said he was in no position to condemn anything as
he had said that there was no need for further proof of IRA


Major Fallout If IRA Is Blamed For Raid

If the police blame the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery, there
will be major political repercussions, writes Gerry Moriarty,
Northern Editor.

The PSNI, conscious of the added political dimension to any
statement blaming the IRA, has so far refused to say specifically
which organisation it believes carried out last month's £22 million
(€31.49 million) robbery from the Northern Bank headquarters in

The raid - one of the largest robberies ever carried out in Britain
or Ireland - took place on December 20th.

Nearly all of the stolen money was in Northern Ireland banknotes,
including around £13 million in new notes.

It is still uncertain whether the PSNI Chief Constable, Mr Hugh
Orde, will feel in a position to make a definitive call by the end
of this week on who is to blame. He will only do so if he feels his
intelligence on the robbery is "watertight", it is understood.

"When you are dealing with such a big haul it is obvious that the
Chief Constable will want to be absolutely sure that he has his
information right," said one source yesterday.

If Mr Orde says the IRA was involved, then it seems virtually
certain that there will be no immediate chance of breaking the
political deadlock in order to restore a power-sharing
administration at Stormont.

Mr Orde must realise that blaming the IRA entails a huge political,
as well as security, call because it would cause major political
fallout. Unionists would contend that republicans were never
serious about a political deal, and Sinn Féin would respond in
kind, most likely insisting that the charge against the IRA was
politically motivated.

Such a climate of recrimination would almost certainly put back
until after the British general election, expected in May, any
chance of a deal to restore devolution.

In such a case the next political opportunity for agreement may not
come around until September or next year.

A DUP Assembly member, Mr Sammy Wilson, said that Mr Orde must not
hold back on releasing information for fear of the political

"If the IRA was involved then the public has a right to know, and
it is up to the politicians to then decide to move on and leave
Sinn Féin/IRA behind," he said yesterday.

"Given the frenetic denials by the IRA, the fact that despite the
security and political implications the police have carried out
raids on high-profile IRA homes, it is fairly certain that the IRA
was involved," added Mr Wilson.

"We are seeing a rerun of the Stormont spy ring and the Colombian

"In both cases vehement denials were issued by Sinn Féin/IRA. The
usual tripe about securocrats trying to destroy the peace process
was spewed out, and then it became clear that not only were those
involved in the IRA but were associated with Sinn Féin.

"No doubt the same is going to happen again," Mr Wilson said.

© The Irish Times


Plans For 28-Storey Dublin Building Rejected

Liam Reid

Dublin City Council has refused planning permission for one of
the largest buildings ever proposed for Dublin city centre, a 28-
storey apartment block in Dolphin's Barn.

However, in its decision, the council said it was not opposed in
principle to a building of such scale on the site, and that its
main concerns were a series of adjacent buildings.

The tower was one of 15 buildings in a major complex proposed for a
site adjacent to the Coombe hospital. The site includes the old
Player Wills factory premises, which would have comprised 120,000
square metres of retail, office and residential space.

The proposal was put together by the National Association of
Building Co-operatives (NABCO), and was to have included 20 per
cent social housing and comprised 879 apartments and penthouses.

The centre-piece of the plan was to be an 86-metre high apartment
block, which would have dwarfed Liberty Hall, the tallest building
in the city; and the Spire on O'Connell St, the tallest structure
in Dublin.

In its decision to refuse permission, the city council said that
while a skyscraper could be "a positive contribution" to the area,
the current proposals were "premature" for the site, pending an
action area plan for the Dolphin's Barn area.

However, the planners' main concern related to the smaller
buildings of up to 14 storeys on the site. They had "serious
reservations about the visual impact of a number of the lower
residential blocks elsewhere in the development.

"The planning authority is of the opinion that these blocks
together constitute a congested form of development, whose
appearance and height provide an unacceptable, relentless, 'wall-
like' appearance of development that is too dense in scale, having
regard to its relationship to adjoining development."

The refusal comes less than a month after the council approved the
tallest building to date for the city, close to Heuston Station, as
part of a major redevelopment of the area.

The 32-storey building, which will be 117 metres in height, will be
Ireland's tallest building.

The planning authority, giving its decision, described the plans as
"a model example and expression of outstanding 21st-century

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

Both proposals were subject to a number of objections from various
organisations, including An Taisce, which was concerned about the
height of both proposed buildings, given their locations.

© The Irish Times


NI Call For Total Workplace Smoking Ban

Gerry Moriarty

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the Northern
Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, to declare a total workplace prohibition
on smoking after some 7,000 Northern Ireland civil servants
returned to their offices yesterday knowing they could no longer
light up in government buildings.

A senior Northern Ireland Office civil servant hinted that the
North might follow the example of the Republic and ban smoking in
all work environments.

The smoking ban, which applies to all of the North's 30,000 civil
servants, began on New Year's Day, but because of the public
holiday on Monday only came into effect yesterday. An in-house
survey conducted four years ago indicates that one in four
officials smoke, which suggests that about 7,000 of them must now
do without the weed in and directly outside their departmental

Hitherto designated areas were set aside for smokers, but now they
are prohibited from smoking anywhere in British government
buildings in the North.

Unlike the Republic the ban only applies to civil servants. The
BMA's Northern Ireland Council chairman, Dr Brian Patterson, said
that the British government should not delay any longer in
introducing a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. "For each
two weeks we put off this decision we allow yet another person to
die," he said.

The North's Department of Health is currently carrying out a
consultation programme to ascertain whether there is public support
for a more general workplace smoking ban.

© The Irish Times


TV Documentary To Feature Mary Boyle's Disappearance

Tuesday 4th January 2005

For Ann and Charlie Boyle Christmas and the New Year is a painful
time. Their daughter, Mary, is Ireland's longest missing person.

She vanished at the age of six during a visit from her Kincasslagh
home to her grandparents in Cashelard, near Ballyshannon, on March
18, 1977.

Although the family have accepted now that Mary is probably dead,
they live in hope of some clue to what happened her.

Now they pray that a new television documentary which features Mary
will jog somebody's memory - even after all those years.

Ann Boyle says in a Nationwide special on missing people to be
screened this Wednesday: "I still think of Mary every day. I didn't
think that 27 years would pass with no sign of her. I had hoped for
a long time that whoever took her would look after her and that
when she got older she would come home."

Retired garda Martin Collins, one of the first officers at the
scene of Mary's disappearance, says the case is still prominent in
his mind.

"One of my greatest regrets is that it hasn't been solved."

Mr Collins, who has remained close to the family since his
retirement nine years ago, adds: "It became personal for me. It was
as if Mary was my own daughter."

Although there has been speculation that Mary might have been taken
taken out of the district Mr Collins - who now lives in Kinlough,
Co. Leitrim - tells the programme he believes the clue which could
unlock the mystery is still in the Cashelard area.

For the family of Imelda Keenan there hasn't been a Happy Christmas
or New Year celebrations for the past decade.

They are haunted, instead, by the heartache of not knowing where
she is. They don't even know if she is dead or alive.

For Imelda vanished suddenly, and without trace, during the
Christmas/New Year holiday period 11 years ago.

The last reported sighting of her was on January 3 1994 when,
gardai were told, she left the apartment she shared with her fiancÈ
Mark Wall in Waterford city to collect her dole. She was never seen
again. Nobody has heard from her.

Nobody even knows if she arrived at the dole office. She wouldn't
have been able to collect her money if she had. The office was
closed that day.

Her family also hope the television documentary will jog somebody's
memory and help provide a clue to what happened.

"It's the not knowing that's so awful", says her aunt Patricia
Byrne. "It's heartbreaking, particularly for her mother Elizabeth.
Each year it doesn't get any easier."Imelda, a native of
Mountmellick, Co. Laois, was engaged to be married for five years.
She was 22 years old when she vanished. Her family, including her
eight brothers and sisters, still find the memory of her mystery
disappearance too painful to discuss.

Aunt Patricia, who lives in Mountmellick, says that there are many
unanswered questions.

One is why Imelda set out to collect her dole on the day that she
did. It should have been collected the previous Friday but it

"Most mystifying of all is her Christmas presents remained
unopened", says Patricia. "Why would her Christmas presents be
still there on the 3rd of January, still unopened? It would have
been so unusual for her to do something like this.

"My worst fear is that she was murdered. Even if we were to find a
body and give her a Christian burial at least then we would know
where she was.

"At the same time there is always hope that one day she will come
back. But as each day goes on our hopes are getting very low.

"We want to get on with our lives but we can't so long as we don't
know what happened Imelda"

Patricia talks of the family agony to broadcaster Maria Mullarkey
on the RTE programme.

The pain of two other families with missing loved ones is also
recalled on the show.

A laneway known as Angela's Ashes Lane in Limerick is the scene of
the last reported sighting of 20-year-old Aengus "Gussie" Shanahan.
He disappeared on 11 February, 2000, during a night out with some

His bank manager dad Bob and mother Nancy say they believe somebody
in Limerick knows what happened. They appeal for any information
that may help.

Tennis coach Pearse Cremin, 28, from Glasheen Rd, Cork, went
missing on October 31, 2000. There was a positive sighting of him
near the city a few days later by an acquaintance who wasn't aware
he had been reported missing. His car was found the following
February in the sea at Robert's Cove, near Carrigaline, Co. Cork.

Pearse's brother Cormac says: "In a strange way, we were relieved.
A piece of the jig-saw had fallen into place. But while there
remains no trace of Pearse himself the task of dealing with his
disappearance becomes more difficult every day."

Maria Mullarkey says: "What came through strongest from all the
relatives who spoke to us was that the hardest part to live with is
not knowing. Until they get an answer to that they'll continue
living a nightmare and they'll continue searching."

Missing People, a Nationwide half-hour special, will be broadcast
on RTE 1 at 7 pm on Wednesday night, January 5.


A Winter Escape To The West Of Ireland

By: RALPH COLLIER, Main Line Times01/04/2005

Citizens of countries that depend heavily on tourism are, no doubt,
fatigued by visitors' fetishistic obsessions with cathedrals,
killing fields and standing stones.

Ireland has become a modern nation with a somewhat distinctive
culture, and it may drive some locals crazy that Irish-American
tourists seem to be obsessed with their ethnic roots. But tourism
is a massive industry in Ireland, and locals have no one to blame
but themselves for so energetically marketing their gorgeous
country and the names and places of ancestors long gone to their

Ireland is a charming old spot of peasant values, now transformed
into a country of bourgeoisie. Galway is the largest city in the
west of Ireland and the ancient capital of the province of
Connaught. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in all of
Europe, a city that never sleeps. To be guaranteed a quiet night's
rest, book a room at the Galway Great Southern Hotel, built in 1845
in the center of the city overlooking Eyre Square. In its
restaurant, the executive chef makes an appearance at dinner. He's
a bear-like man who, in his whites, looks like the Barber of
Seville. For decades, the food in Ireland was bad, but it is now
good. In the 1970s, it was all but impossible to enjoy a fine
dinner, even in cities such as Dublin and Galway, but that is
certainly no longer the case. This restaurant is just another
example of the country's superb cuisine today.

The Galway Great Southern Hotel is by far the best address in town
and was built to coincide with the arrival of railroad travel. The
comfortable rooms have tall ceilings and windows and enjoy a brand
of old-fashioned elegance. Most of the hotel's rooms are tastefully
muted with Georgian- style tables and chairs, and the cocktail
music of a pianist in the lobby is especially fanciful.

One is always intrigued by local craft enterprises. At the Spiddal
Craft Center, the visitor can see crafts being made. The center
offers an opportunity to acquire unique, handmade gifts in a
convivial atmosphere directly from skilled artisans such as
potters, screen printers, weavers and jewelers, to name a few.

Galway's vitality is inexhaustible, and so are the shops, which are
a favorite place for retail imagination. The challenge is to sift
the treasure from the dross, but proprietors of most shops have
already done so. Perhaps most destinations in a globalized world
are more mundane than one imagines. There is a realm, however,
where delicacies and native costumes predominate over the redundant
souvenir shop variety, and Galway is just one of the cities in the
west of Ireland to find gems that make for more significant

Bordered by the long expanse of Lough Corrib is Connemara, an area
of glacial lakes, silent mountains, lonely roads and hushed,
uninhabited boglands. It is also the site of famed Connemara
marble, the gemstones of Ireland. At this time of the year, the
visitor is far more likely to see sheep strolling through Connemara
than another rental car. The marble itself is available in an
unlimited variety of colored remembrances, including pins and desk
sets, tie tacks and calendars. To some, it is part of the
spectacular display of Irish materialism, but it is also a kind of
epiphany. Bottom line: Should you go there and find it less than
exciting, raise a small glass of sherry to palliate your
disappointment in the Connemara marble experience.

One of the country's best inns dates back to the days of the Earl
of Zetland in the 19th century. There is a photograph of the old
boy climbing into his open touring Rolls long before the Zetland
Country House in County Connemara became an inn open to guests.
Overlooking Cashel Bay, it is surrounded by acres of well tended
gardens. Originating as a sporting lodge, its roster included the
likes of the Lord Viceroy to Ireland and other refugees of the
Irish Times social pages. Antique furnishings and sea views that
are nothing short of panoramic re-create the charm and elegance of
those days, and the house offers the sophisticated luxury expected
by today's discerning travelers. Walls are hung with intriguing art
and photographs, and the cuisine enjoys a worldwide reputation.
Ideally, one should book an entire week at the Zetland Country
House to fully enjoy its many amenities and superb kitchen. And
ideally, we should all reserve weeks and weeks in this pleasant
country in which the Irish landscape rises to the level of
lyricism. Even in this era of unprecedented prosperity, the people
still take time to chat, laugh, stop for a pint in the local pub
and, perhaps most assuring of all, extend a warm welcome to a

For more information on Ireland, please call Tourism Ireland at 1-
800-223-6470 or visit

Ralph Collier is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers
and the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association.


Birr The Hot Spot Last Year And Kilkenny Coolest, Says Report

Marie O'Halloran

Birr, Co Offaly was the place to be last year for the warmest
weather while Kilkenny was the coolest.

Overall weather patterns show it was warmer and sunnier than normal
last year, but not as warm as 2003. And worldwide, 2004 was the
fourth warmest year since 1880 when reliable records began.

Birr hit the top temperature of 27 degrees over the August bank
holiday weekend while average temperatures rose to more than 25
degrees that weekend, according to the summary of the weather for
last year from Met Éireann's climatology and observations division.

However, Birr also had the lowest annual total number of hours of
sunshine at 1,242 while Rosslare, Co Wexford had the highest total
with 1,781 hours. Mullingar, Co Westmeath recorded the greatest
increase in sunshine levels with 119 per cent of normal levels.
Kilkenny had sunshine levels of 116 per cent of normal but it also
recorded the lowest air temperature of -7.7 degrees and ground
temperature of -15.6 degrees on January 29th, the lowest
temperatures there for 20 years.

Rainfall was close to normal for the year and the Met Éireann
report shows it varied from 92 per cent of average values in
Clones, Co Monaghan and Cork Airport, to 108 per cent of normal
levels at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co Dublin and Malin Head,
Co Donegal. As expected, the south-east of the country had the
lowest amount of rainfall with around 120 wet days compared to more
than 200 wet days in the northwest region.

However the south and south-east suffered significant flooding when
the heaviest rainfalls of the year occurred in the second half of

Up to six inches of rain were recorded over the 48-hour period on
the 27th/28th of that month.

Annual mean temperatures for last year were above the 1961-1990
normal, for the 11th successive year. They ranged between 10
degrees and 11 degrees at most stations, "between half a degree and
one degree higher than normal generally", according to the report.

The temperature in Belmullet, Co Mayo was 1.1 degree above normal
as was Rosslare, while a number of other places including
Claremorris, Co Mayo, Mullingar, and Shannon, Co Clare, had
temperature increases of 0.6 to 0.8 degrees above normal. "February
and March were exceptionally sunny months and were the sunniest on
record in places," the report says.

Preliminary figures from the World Meteorological Organisation show
the average global temperature is expected to be 0.31 degrees above
the 1880-2003 long-term mean, making 2004 the fourth warmest year
since 1880.

© The Irish Times


Anger Over Ploughing Up Of Nature Reserve

04/01/2005 - 17:39:44

An internationally-protected nature reserve was dug up by men
preparing tractors for a major ploughing contest, it was revealed

A stretch of Strangford Lough shoreline in Co Down – where 90% of
of the world's Brent Geese migrate – was destroyed, leaving
environmentalists horrified.

With the threat of legal action, experts told of the devastation to
marine and wildlife.

James Orr, Northern Ireland director of Castle Espie, the Wildfowl
and Wetlands Trust, said: "It's unprecedented.

"There's never been any direct damage quite as significant as this
in many many years."

Environment and Heritage Service officials were only alerted to the
destruction today.

A total of 15 acres of the National Trust-owned land at Island Hill
has been ploughed over the last 10 days.

It is believed an engineering firm cleaning blades for competition
was responsible.

The land is considered so special that a global protection order
was issued. EU directives also applied, while the shoreline has
been designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest under
Northern Ireland legislation.

Three quarters of the site wrecked consists of eelgrass which
thousands of Brent geese who fly in from Arctic Canada each winter
depend on for food.

Ragworms and cockles eaten by wading birds such as knot and oyster
catcher will also have been killed in the process.

"For several years to come this habitat has been lost," Mr Orr

The Department of the Environment in Belfast confirmed no
permission to plough was sought from either its staff or the
National Trust.

"The principal perpetrators of the damage have been identified and
cautioned," a spokesman said.

"Environment and Heritage Service is now considering what further
action to take in this case."

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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