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January 12, 2005

01/13/05 – McGuinness Risked His Life For Peace

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IT 01/13/05 McGuinness Says He Risked His Life For Peace Process
IT 01/13/05 Sinn Féin And IRA Crime: A Pattern Of Denials
BB 01/12/05 Unionists 'Should Form Pact'
TO 01/12/05 Nazi IRA Man's Statue Beheaded
TE 01/12/05 Family Of 5 Killed After Being Swept Into Sea In Cars
IT 01/13/05 Thatcher's Son Set To Admit Coup Role
IT 01/13/05 Chris Dooley And Seán MacConnell In Carlow
IT 01/13/05 Aughrim Battlefield Under Threat From M6- An Taisce
IT 01/13/05 Plan To Build €6m Sea Life Centre In Donegal

NW 01/12/05 Tourists Still Flocking To Connemara –VO
NW 01/12/05 Castlrea Pub Has Unique Selling Point –VO
TV 01/12/05 Culture: Choice Arts Events Of 2005 –VO
TV 01/12/05 Grace Weir's Dust Defying Gravity

Tourists Still Flocking To Connemara - Orla Nix profiles the rugged beauty of Connemara and gets a brief history of the area from archaeologist Michael Gibbons

Castlrea Pub Has Unique Selling Point - Maggie Williams pays a visit to Publican/Museum Curator Sean Browne's Hell's Kitchen Railway Museum and Bar, which is home to a full sized train

Culture: Choice Arts Events Of 2005 - Last weekend the independent republic of Cork was "awakened" as European capital of culture for 2005, and not surprisingly, it features largely on our panel's choices of arts events they are looking forward to in 2005. The Panel discusses the upcoming arts events of 2005, including Cork's European Capital of Culture celebrations -

The Performance: Grace Weir's Dust Defying Gravity - Tír na nÓg is an exhibition at IMMA of younger Irish artists which includes Gerard Byrne, Phil Collins, Martin and Hobbs and Stephen Brandes. The exhibition includes painting, installation, photography and new media and it runs until 28 March 2005. Grace Weir's piece is called Dust Defying Gravity. Watch a clip from Grace Weir's installation 'Dust Defying Gravity', which is currently on show at IMMA


McGuinness Says He Risked His Life For Peace Process

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Mr Martin McGuinness, has stated that he "risked" his life for the peace process and would not do anything to damage it.

Mr McGuinness said at a Belfast press conference yesterday that he took "grave exception" to the "absolutely ludicrous suggestion" by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, that the Sinn Féin leadership was aware of the plan to rob the bank.

"What do they think I would be doing if someone told me they intended to rob the Northern Bank?

"I can tell you I would be a very disillusioned Irish republican if someone said to me they were prepared to put a process that I have put my life and soul into, that I have risked my very life for, at risk for 10 or 20 or 30 million pounds - in my opinion it would not be worth it," Mr McGuinness added.

Mr McGuinness said republicans were also angry at the governments' attempt to criminalise them.

"The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals, and in my opinion never will be criminals," he said.

Referring to the statement by the Northern Secretary, Mr Paul Murphy, to the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr McGuinness said he was not going to be "lectured" about criminality given the British government's record in Ireland.

"Successive British governments have presided over a planned and organised campaign of state-sanctioned murder against the broad nationalist community," he said.

In a separate statement the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, indicated that he expected British government sanctions against Sinn Féin over the alleged IRA robbery of £26.5 million from the Northern Bank.

Mr Adams told the current edition of the republican paper, An Phoblacht, that Sinn Féin members must prepare to resist any campaign of discrimination by the two governments against its electorate.

"The British government now appears to be considering a return to the failed policy of discrimination against Sinn Féin, and the Irish Government for its own reasons appears to be in support of this," he said.

"Sinn Féin rejects any attack on our democratic and electoral mandate. I have spoken to senior officials in both governments and made this very clear to them."

Mr Adams said that the Taoiseach's allegation against the party leadership created difficulties in the relationship between Sinn Féin and the Government.

"I reject these accusations totally and I am disappointed that the Taoiseach didn't raise any concerns he might have with me directly."

Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness said they were seeking meetings with the British and Irish governments next week.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin And IRA Crime: A Pattern Of Denials

Gerry Moriarty

The Sinn Féin leadership of Mr Gerry Adams, Mr Martin McGuinness and Mr Gerry Kelly have gone out on a limb in saying they accept the word of the IRA that it did not carry out the £26.5 million (€37.7 million) Northern Bank robbery.

This denial was issued by an IRA source shortly after the Christmas-week robbery but did not carry the formal P O'Neill imprimatur. In its New Year message, which did carry the P O'Neill signature, the IRA made no specific reference to the robbery.

Throughout the troubles the IRA has been generally upfront in admitting killings, bombings and other attacks - but there were occasions when it responded ambiguously, pleaded ignorance, or denied involvement in particular incidents only to be later forced to admit involvement.

Frank Kerr - shot dead November 1994

On November 10th, 1994, just over two months into its ceasefire, the IRA murdered Frank Kerr (53) from Camlough, Co Armagh, during a £131,000 robbery of the Royal Mail sorting office in Newry. The postal worker struggled with one of the armed IRA gang and was shot in the head, dying two hours later.

The IRA's first, short response on the day of the killing appeared to be a denial of involvement despite assertions by RUC and Garda sources that the IRA was responsible. "In our statement of August 31st [ announcing its ceasefire] a complete cessation was called of all military operations and all units were instructed accordingly. That position has not changed," the IRA said in a statement.

Party president Mr Adams that day as well said his party shared the sense of shock at Mr Kerr's killing. "Many people will be concerned also at the way in which the RUC has sought to blame republicans for this killing. The RUC is engaged in a transparent attempt to damage the peace process," he said.

Ten days later, however, the IRA admitted the murder and robbery, and said there had been a breakdown in the IRA's chain of command which had been "rectified".

Det Garda Jerry McCabe - shot dead June 1996

Det Garda Jerry McCabe (52), married with five children, was shot dead by an armed IRA gang in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996. He and a colleague - who was wounded - were escorting an An Post truck when they were attacked. The IRA almost immediately issued a statement in the name of P O'Neill denying involvement despite the initial finger of suspicion pointing at the organisation. But eventually, as well-known republicans were arrested in connection with the killing, the IRA admitted it was involved.

The Government said the men were not entitled to early release under the Belfast Agreement. The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, accepted last month, however, that had a political deal in the North been struck they would have been freed.

Colombia Three - Arrested August 2001

James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly were arrested on August 11th, 2001, as they entered Colombia through Bogota with false passports. They were charged with training FARC guerrillas although their defence was that they were studying the political situation in Colombia and also travelling as eco-tourists.

In December the men received heavy fines and 17-year prison sentences. They have skipped bail, however, and so far their whereabouts are not known although Interpol is assisting the Colombian authorities in trying to trace the men.

In August 2001, less then a week after they were arrested, Sinn Féin denied that one of the men, Niall Connolly from Dublin, was an accredited Sinn Féin representative in Havana. But two months later Mr Adams admitted Mr Connolly was the party's representative in Cuba. He said the original denial was issued in good faith. Two Sinn Féin representatives visited Cuba and conducted a thorough internal investigation, he explained.

"It had emerged that one of the party's senior members had asked Mr Connolly to represent Sinn Féin in Cuba," said Mr Adams. "This decision was taken without the knowledge or authorisation of the international department or any other party structure including the party chairperson and myself."

Beating and attempted abduction of Bobby Tohill - February 2004

On February 20th last year four masked men dressed in white forensic suits, balaclavas and surgical gloves entered Kelly's Cellars pub in central Belfast where they severely assaulted maverick republican figure Bobby Tohill. They then dragged him outside to a waiting vehicle but before they could properly abduct him they were intercepted by a PSNI patrol.

Four men were arrested and charged. Mr Tohill claimed the IRA was behind the attack. PSNI chief constable Mr Hugh Orde also blamed the IRA. The Taoiseach said if the police had not rescued Mr Tohill he would have been killed. Mr Adams characterised the incident as a row in a pub while the IRA told the republican magazine, An Phoblacht that "the IRA did not authorise any action against Bobby Tohill". In April last year the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said the attack on Mr Tohill was "one planned and undertaken by the Provisional IRA".

© The Irish Times


Unionists 'Should Form Pact'

Danny Kennedy said a pact could thwart Sinn Fein gains

Unionist parties in Northern Ireland should enter an electoral pact to ensure maximum seats in Westminster, an assembly member has urged.

Ulster Unionist Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy said it was the only way to stop further Sinn Fein gains.

Mr Kennedy said such a move would restore confidence in the respective leaderships of both the UUP and DUP.

"Most pro-unionists will see the need for preventing republicans from taking Westminster seats," he added.

Mr Kennedy has been selected by his party to contest the Newry and Armagh seat which is being vacated by outgoing MP Seamus Mallon of the SDLP.

He said the unionist electorate would "not easily understand or forgive parties or personalities who would frustrate or oppose sensible arrangements to unseat or deny republicans access to Westminster seats".

He added that he would "not rule out, or run away from the healthy prospect of strong electoral competition between the two unionist parties in constituencies where the seat was not at risk to nationalists or republicans".

In November 2003's assembly elections, the DUP overtook the Ulster Unionists as Northern Ireland's biggest party, while Sinn Fein also made election gains over its main nationalist rival, the SDLP.


Nazi IRA Man's Statue Beheaded

By David Lister

THE Irish Republic has been forced to confront the legacy of its neutrality during the Second World War after anti-fascists attacked a memorial to a pro-Nazi IRA leader.

A statue to Sean Russell, who died on board a German U-boat in 1940, was left headless after an attack by youths in Fairview Park in Dublin.

As the group that looks after the statue admitted that it is almost certainly beyond repair, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris called for it to be left unrestored as an enduring symbol of Ireland’s “shame”.

Shimon Samuels, director for international affairs at the centre, the world’s largest Jewish human rights organisation, told The Times: “It’s a blot on the history of Ireland, but blots have to see the public light.”

He described the statue’s desecration as “an opportunity for Ireland to confront its past”. He said: “We’re not iconoclasts but I think the destruction of something like this has a meaning, and we would ask for it to be left there as a lesson of what Irish neutrality was all about.”

Ever since his death in 1940, the issue of Russell’s collaboration with the Nazis has been a divisive subject in Ireland. Republicans claim that he was merely following in the footsteps of some of the country’s most celebrated rebel leaders by enlisting foreign assistance at a time of British vulnerability, but others are repelled that Russell was plotting with Germany when Hitler was publicly promising that Jews across Europe would be eliminated.

Trained in sabotage techniques near Berlin, Russell’s mission was to foster a coup in the Irish Republic and to attack British military installations in Northern Ireland. The only thing that stopped him was his death from a perforated ulcer 100 miles off the coast of Co Galway, on August 14, 1940.

Admitting responsibility for breaking the head and right hand off the statue on December 30, the anti-fascists said that they could “no longer tolerate the shameful presence of a memorial to the Nazi collaborator . . . Russell sought to overthrow the Government of Éamon de Valera by fomenting terror and sabotage in the shipyards and munitions factories in Northern Ireland. In Belfast, IRA volunteers were ordered to help the Luftwaffe to bomb their own city at the cost of nearly 2,000 dead and thousands made homeless.”

The Irish National Graves Association, which tends the graves of dead republicans across Ireland, said that the damage was almost certainly too extensive for the statue to be repaired.

However, Matt Doyle, the association’s secretary, said that it would replace it with a new monument, probably a bronze bust. A new statue would cost up to €10,000 (£7,000), but will require planning permission from Dublin Corporation.

Mr Doyle said that the association had received letters and telephone calls from people expressing their outrage at the desecration. “The monument is not to any Nazi or member of the Third Reich. It is to Sean Russell for what he did in the cause of Irish freedom,” he said.

But Kevin Myers, the veteran columnist, wrote in The Irish Times: “He contacted German intelligence in February 1939, days after Hitler had publicly promised that in the event of the war the Jews of Europe would be exterminated. It is too shaming for words.”


Family Of Five Killed After Being Swept Into Sea In Their Cars

By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent
(Filed: 13/01/2005)

A family of five were killed at the height of the worst storm for a decade as they attempted to escape from their flooded home.

A married couple, their two young children and one grandparent were in two cars when they were swept into the sea from an exposed causeway in the Western Isles.

It is thought that Archie and Murdina MacPherson were driving to a relative's house when they were overwhelmed by a combination of hurricane force winds and high seas.

One body, thought to be that of Mr MacPherson, was found on the shore yesterday morning near the village of Creagorry, on the island of Benbecula. A partially submerged car was spotted in the water nearby.

Police and coastguard teams were yesterday still searching for the bodies of Mrs MacPherson, her two children, Andrew, six, and four-year-old Hannah, and her father Calum Campbell, a well known piping instructor. An unidentified second body was reported to have been found last night.

The family had moved to South Uist recently and were in the process of renovating an old house in the village of Bualadubh. Mr MacPherson was a builder and his wife formerly worked for the BBC's Gaelic department in the Western Isles.

One local spoke of seeing headlights on the low-lying causeway – which links Benbecula with South Uist – saying they were "there one minute, and then they just disappeared".

Neil Buchanan, a friend of the family, said: "We believe they were leaving their home to get away from the flooding. But they must have been hit by a wave as they were driving away in their cars."

Peter Carlin, a councillor who lived near the family, said: "This tragedy is something that has affected us all. They were obviously very desperate when they left their house to try to get to safety at the height of the storm.

"Some people here have some damage to their houses or belongings, but this tragedy puts it all in perspective. We're all deeply shocked."

The family were heading for the home of Mr MacPherson's parents, thought to be only two miles from the causeway, when the accident happened on Tuesday night. Worried relatives contacted the police when they failed to arrive at their destination.

Chief Supt John D'Arcy said last night he was afraid the worst storm since 1993 had caused a "major tragedy". More than 85,000 homes were left without electricity at the height of the storm, and more than 40,000 people in the Highlands were still without power last night.

Road, rail, sea and air transport was badly disrupted and there was structural damage to buildings throughout Scotland.

In the Western Isles, several boats were wrecked while they were at anchor in harbours and the roof was blown off a school. All schools in the area were closed, all ferries were cancelled and many roads were blocked by flooding or fallen trees.

In Northern Ireland, a lorry driver was killed when winds of up to 90mph blew his articulated vehicle off Foyle Bridge in Londonderry.

On the A1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh, a motorist was killed when a lorry toppled on to his car, and a van driver was killed in a collision on the A90 near Forfar in Tayside. A woman died from hypothermia after going out for a walk on the Isle of Skye.

A spokesman for the Met Office said the worst of the weather was over and predicted that conditions would ease in the next few days.


Thatcher's Son Set To Admit Coup Role

David Leigh in London and Rory Carroll in Johannesburg

SOUTH AFRICA: The son of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher will plead guilty in a South African court today to being involved in the failed attempt to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea, according to legal sources.

In exchange for a suspended five-year jail sentence and a £270,000 (€385,000) fine, Sir Mark Thatcher will admit to financing a helicopter to take part in the plot to topple the west African government.

It is understood that Sir Mark will admit being negligent in not reporting the helicopter might be put to suspicious use, an offence under the foreign military assistance act, South Africa's anti-mercenary law.

Sir Mark (51) had said he had thought the aircraft was to be used as an air ambulance, but the pilot, Crause Steyl, told the South African authorities that the intention was to provide air support for the coup.

The prosecution will not press conspiracy charges, apparently having settled for his admission that he allowed his money to be potentially used for "purposes nefarious", one legal source said.

Evidence shows that Sir Mark was in telephone contact at crucial times with the British-based businessmen alleged to have been behind the plot, as well as having links with Simon Mann, the British mercenary and his neighbour in the smart Cape Town suburb of Constantia, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence in Zimbabwe in connection with the plot.

Sir Mark is still liable to be pursued by the regime of President Teodoro Obiang in Equatorial Guinea.

He said he had feared an extradition request before Christmas intended to put him with the convicted plotters serving sentences in Equatorial Guinea's notorious Black Beach jail.

But sources close to the regime said last night that an extradition request was unlikely to be pursued.

However, there are expected to be renewed efforts to compel him to answer questions from Equatorial Guinea, and some of the voluminous evidence collected by South Africa's investigators may be shared with President Obiang's lawyers.

Equatorial Guinea is still vigorously pursuing the "London connection" to the coup attempt.

A court in the Channel Island of Guernsey is due to decide next month whether Mann's offshore bank details should be handed over, identifying the coup's financiers.

The terms of Sir Mark's plea bargain are to be made public at the high court hearing in Cape Town today, which he is expected to attend.

Assuming that the court accepts the deal, he should have his passport returned and be free to leave his adopted country for the first time since he was arrested last August.

A source close to Sir Mark said he still privately protested his innocence, but had entered into the plea bargain to avoid a trial that could have lasted three years and ended in a jail term. The source said: "It's an indictment of our system that an innocent man should be placed in the position of admitting guilt because otherwise the case would drag on and on and on." - (Guardian Service)


Greencore to close Carlow sugar factory - Joe O'Brien, Agriculture & Food Correspondent, reports on the announcement of the factory's closure after nearly 80 years in production

Irish Sugar to close its Carlow factory -V

Chris Dooley And Seán MacConnell In Carlow

Farmers, politicians, union leaders and local business representatives expressed shock and anger yesterday at the decision to close the Carlow sugar factory with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

The decision by Irish Sugar will end almost 80 years of beet-processing at the State's oldest sugar plant when operations cease on March 11th.

The Greencore-owned company said the decision was necessary in the light of impending EU reforms which could threaten the viability of sugar production in Ireland.

SIPTU and the Irish Farmers' Association, however, claimed the decision was premature and the union vowed to fight the closure.

It will hold a meeting of shop stewards in Dublin today to plan opposition to the closure, but industrial action is unlikely to be contemplated until other avenues have been explored.

Opposition politicians also claimed there was no justification for the move and called on the Minister for Agriculture, Ms Coughlan, to intervene.

A total of 189 full-time and 137 seasonal jobs, which provide about three months' work at the end of each year during the beet-processing "campaign", will be lost as a result of the closure.

In addition, 35 full-time and 16 part-time jobs will be shed at the company's only remaining sugar factory in Mallow, Co Cork, through a voluntary redundancy programme.

Irish Sugar's chief executive, Dr Seán Brady, said the closure was the only way to ensure that sugar production could be protected in the State.

"We could not keep two plants running and it will cost €28 million less to upgrade the Mallow plant to the necessary standard than the Carlow one," he said.

Mr Jim O'Regan, chairman of the IFA's beet committee, said the closure should not have taken place while negotiations on the future of the EU sugar regime were continuing.

"It weakens the hand of the Government in these negotiations and it should not have happened," he said. The IFA has called an "emergency meeting" of sugar beet growers in Carlow next Monday.

SIPTU regional secretary Mr Mike Jennings said the company had taken a "disastrous decision in indecent haste", which the union found unacceptable.

"There is no evidence that this closure is required and the decision is unacceptable to us," he said.

Dr Brady rejected the claims that the decision should have been withheld until after the EU reforms had been agreed.

"We could not wait any longer. There is a real urgency to get on and save the industry and by consolidating sugar processing into one facility we were giving the business and sugar production in Ireland a credible chance of survival," he said.

In a statement, the company said the decision to close the Carlow rather than the Mallow plant had been taken on foot of a benchmarking exercise carried out by an international consultancy firm, IPRO.

Ms Jacqui McNabb, chief executive of Co Carlow Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was a "devastating blow" to the area.

Fine Gael's enterprise, trade and employment spokesman, Mr Phil Hogan, a TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, said the decision was a "terrible blow" to workers and local farmers

He called on Ms Coughlan to seek immediate talks with the Greencore board.

© The Irish Times


Aughrim Battlefield Under Threat From M6, Says An Taisce

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

An Taisce has criticised the National Roads Authority's decision to route the new M6 Galway-Dublin motorway through Aughrim, Co Galway, where more than 9,000 people died in battle in 1691.

The location is of Irish and European significance - the site of the largest such battle fought on this island, An Taisce pointed out. The battle represented a decisive failure for Jacobite forces and paved the way for the victory of King William III.

The M6 route is the subject of a protracted planning hearing in Galway city and An Taisce says the environmental impact statement (EIS) commissioned by the National Roads Authority (NRA) is misleading.

The statement said the route "may possibly" cut across the northern-most wings of both Williamite and Irish battle lines and will have "minimal impact".

An Taisce claimed it would impinge on the territory where the cavalry stood over three centuries ago. This location decided the fate of the battle, An Taisce said. It noted that the EIS admitted the viewing point of the Curragh Ringfort just south of the current N6 would be affected, but said this was "too vague and the impact should be evaluated and specified".

Mr Michael Egan of the NRA said An Taisce's remarks about the road project were riddled with errors and inaccuracies.

"We don't accept their claims in relation to Aughrim, that it is particularly destructive," Mr Egan said. He said a lot of care went into the planning of roads to avoid important sites. An Taisce had numerous opportunities over the last few years to speak up if they had any concerns.

Additional Reporting : PA

© The Irish Times


Plan To Build €6m Sea Life Centre In Donegal

Iseult Ní Dhomhnaill

Donegal County Council is proposing to develop a €6 million sea life centre which it hopes will attract 100,000 visitors to the region every year.

It has invited interested parties to tender proposals for the development to be submitted by February 4th.

The council has identified two towns which would be suitable to accommodate the venture, Buncrana and Bundoran. It has three potentially suitable sites in Bundoran and two in Buncrana.

The proposed development will be modelled on the successful Dingle Ocean World Centre in Co Kerry.

A feasibility study into the establishment of a sea life centre as a major visitor attraction in Co Donegal said it could be developed as a "profitable commercial operation" and would attract "a large number of visitors to the county".

It also said proposed sites would qualify for grant assistance under the Fáilte Ireland Tourism product development scheme.

The project could also be developed and managed effectively through the private sector where "market efficiencies and economies of scale can be fully exploited", the report added.

"As in the case of the Dingle aquarium the public sector can play an invaluable role in attracting private investors through providing a suitable site, grant supports and advice on planned and environmental issues."

Mr Paul McLoone, chief executive of the North West Regional Tourist Board, said yesterday another visitor centre would be beneficial in Bundoran.

"We feel that Bundoran is the show case of tourism for the north-west and all agencies concerned from the tourism product development board support us on this big time."

Mr Kevin O'Connor, programme co-ordinator for the proposed centre, emphasised how Donegal had suffered heavy job losses in traditional industries, most notably in textile and the fishing sectors.

He said there was enormous potential in Donegal's rugged Atlantic coastline.

Mr O'Connor said there should be a focus on building a brand image that could capture the imagination and hearts of city dwellers across Europe who craved a break from traffic jams, overcrowding and poor air quality.

© The Irish Times

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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