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January 25, 2005

01/25/05 – Ahern Stands By Claims Of SF Knowledge of Heist

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IO 01/25/05 Ahern Stands By Claims On SF Knowledge Of Bank Raid
BT 01/25/05 Parades Meeting: SDLP & Parades Commission
BT 01/25/05 Irish Street Signs Row
BT 01/25/05 Bloody Sunday Inquiry Reconvenes In London
BT 01/25/05 Eoin McKiernan: Irish Language Schools Land US Windfall
IG 08/31/04 Eoin McKiernan: ‘A Virtual Irish Treasure,’
IG 08/31/04 A Tribute To Eoin McKiernan


 Ahern & SF Leaders
This smiling picture probably wasn’t taken after today’s meeting

Ahern Stands By Claims On SF Knowledge Of Bank Raid
2005-01-25 19:00:03+00

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern stood by his allegations that Sinn Féin leaders knew the IRA was planning Britain's biggest ever bank robbery tonight even though republican chiefs insisted he could not substantiate his claims.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said Mr Ahern had only made difficulties in the Northern Ireland peace process worse by making claims he could not back up after a showdown meeting in Dublin - their first since the raid.

"We asked him to stand up those accusations and he could not stand them up," Mr Adams said.

"There can be no intelligence or no evidence because we simply didn't have any knowledge."

But Mr Ahern said he stood by his earlier claims after the bruising two-hour meeting.

"We had made it clear in the government that this meeting wasn't going to be about sharing intelligence or about giving explanations," he said.

"We repeated that in the meeting and repeated it again after the meeting."

Justice Minister Michael McDowell and Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern backed the Taoiseach's view and warned Sinn Féin to consider their position in the wake of the £26.5m (€37.4m) Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

The men said the Government had not ruled out political sanctions against republicans following the December heist.

Mr McDowell said: "Sinn Féin in victim mode isn't helpful to the process. This was not a meeting for intelligence or information to be shared with them.

"We made it clear that they would have to go away and consider their position, as long as it takes."

Mr Ahern added: "There may well be consequences for them in the next Independent Monitoring Commission report."

Mr McDowell said Garda intelligence had confirmed the Police Service of Northern Ireland's view that the IRA were behind the robbery. He also said the organisation's leadership must have been aware of the plans.

"An Garda Siochana has clearly stated and briefed me that in their professional assessment of the present situation.

"Firstly the Northern Bank robbery was carried out by the IRA. And secondly that the nature and skill of the operation was such that the carrying out of that operation must have had sanction and approval by the leadership of the Provisional movement."

He added: "There is no mandate for Sinn Féin to pursue a political path with violence."

Mr Adams refused to speculate on who carried out the heist after the explosive meeting but claimed the truth will out.

He also said the Taoiseach had assured him the Government was not in favour of excluding his party despite calls from unionists to push on with powersharing without Sinn Féin.

"He (Bertie Ahern) sought to assure us and he said a number of times in the course of the meeting, and I took a note of it, that the Government is against exclusion, is against trying to criminalise, demonise any party and is against sanctions," he said.

Sinn Féin leaders are to travel to London on Thursday to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair - their first face-to-face talks since the raid.

Last month Mr Ahern and Mr Blair believed they had come agonisingly close to achieving a comprehensive deal to revive the Stormont Assembly and end paramilitarism forever.

During talks, the DUP and Sinn Féin - traditionally sworn enemies - were considering going into a power-sharing executive.

But the deal collapsed after the IRA rejected DUP demands for photographic evidence of weapons decommissioning.

The IRA also failed to give an undertaking that all criminality would come to an end.

On December 20, hopes of a lasting settlement were shattered after a gang masterminded one of the biggest heists ever, stealing £26.5m (€37.4m) from the Northern Bank in Belfast.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde blamed the IRA for the theft, a move which was backed in London and Dublin, but denied by the republican movement.

The nationalist SDLP and the Ulster Unionist Party also travelled to Dublin today to hold talks with Mr Ahern.

Ulster Unionist negotiator Sir Reg Empey said the Northern Bank robbery was the straw that broke the camel's back and urged the British and Irish Governments to impose sanctions on Sinn Féin.

"You cannot do business with the political wing while its paramilitary wing is still in operation," he said.

"If they (both governments) do nothing they punish the democrats and the elected Assembly on this island will be effectively destroyed because of bank robbers."

Party leader David Trimble said there was no question of the old game continuing as he entered Government Buildings.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said Mr Ahern made it clear during their meeting that he continued to believe the IRA had carried out the robbery, a belief confirmed by Irish intelligence.

Mr Durkan also called for the British and Irish Governments to take action to move the process forward when Mr Ahern and Mr Blair hold talks at the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary body meeting on February 1.

"The two governments have to act in the current situation and exercise good authority," he said.

"Drift and stalemate isn't an option."


Parades Meeting: SDLP & Parades Commission

A CRUCIAL meeting between the Parades Commission and the SDLP is to take place this week with a focus on future parades in Limavady.

Local SDLP representatives hope to see a complete ban on the consumption of alcohol and all paramilitary regalia in public places during parades.

They will also ask the Parades Commission to ensure that these parades begin punctually and end well before nightfall or bedtime.

Local representative Gareth Peoples said: "This meeting is very important and will focus on previous parades in Limavady which both the SDLP and the Parades Commission monitored," said local representative Gareth Peoples.

"The SDLP upholds cultural diversity and respects the wishes of others to exercise their rights as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement but with rights comes responsibilities, and here there is much to be learned."

East Londonderry SDLP Assemblyman John Dallat will lead the delegation and has said he hopes the meeting will have a positive outcome for Limavady residents.

"Our local councillors and candidates for future elections will impress upon the Parades Commission the need to recognise that the tolerance and goodwill of the Limavady people must not be interpreted as acceptance of low standards of behaviour and lack of discipline during Loyalist and Orange band parades," he said.

"As well as the issue of drinking in public places we will be insisting that anyone urinating in public places must be dealt with by the PSNI.

"Local residents are not prepared to tolerate this kind of irresponsibility and our children and young people should not be exposed to this kind of degrading behaviour.

"Finally, we want to see some kind of limitation of parades which cause serious inconvenience to motorists who should not be sent on detours week in and week out and every effort should be made to ensure that there are credible alternative routes available within restricted time limits."


Irish Signs
Irish Signs

Irish Street Signs Row

A WAR of words has broken out between Limavady Borough councillors over the erection of Irish language street signs around the Roe Valley.

It has emerged that the council has spent almost £9,000 implementing the signs at various locations around the borough since September 1999.

And this week, DUP councillor Leslie Cubitt has accused Sinn Fein of wasting ratepayers money, while UUAP councillor Boyd Douglas said the introduction of Irish street signs is a political move by the republican members of council.

"I am absolutely disgusted at the waste of money of putting these signs up - the majority of which have occurred since Sinn Fein came into council," said Councillor Cubitt.

"There are streets and cul-de-sacs with only a couple of houses on them and the council is paying £500 or £600 to put up street names in Irish, which to me is an absolute waste of ratepayers money.

"I am further annoyed by the fact that while the council is spending thousands of pounds on these Irish signs, there are no street signs at all at Church Street, Alexander Road and Crawford Square in Limavady, despite my repeated requests for them to be erected."

Councillor Douglas has said he is surprised at the amount of money that has been spent on the implementation of the signs to date and has called upon Sinn Fein councillors to consider the cost to ratepayers before making any future requests.

However, Sinn Fein councillor Brenda Chivers has defended her party's position on the matter.

"Councillor Cubitt should know that under the Good Friday Agreement, council and government are obliged to provide Irish signs when requested and I certainly don't regard that as a complete waste of money," she said.

"Furthermore, if Councillor Cubitt wants to discuss wasting ratepayers money, I would remind him that he wanted a by-election and was willing to waste ratepayers money to stop me from taking up my seat on the council last year."

She added: "Sinn Fein councillors would be as happy to support the introduction of street names in Ulster Scots as they are in calling for Irish street signs."


Bloody Sunday
Public pressure for a new inquiry was mounting and on the 25th anniversary 40,000 people marched demanding a new inquiry. This Sunday is the 33rd anniversary.

Bloody Sunday Inquiry Reconvenes In London

26 January 2005

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry will reconvene tomorrow to hear evidence from Witness X.

The hearing will take place in the Video Conference Suite in Court 38 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London at 5pm.

Witness X's evidence will be given by video link.

He is entitled to benefit from the rulings of the tribunal granting him anonymity, and that he be screened from view when he gives his evidence.

Provision has been made to transmit the hearing to the Guildhall in Derry to enable members of the families, and the public to observe the hearing.


Eoin McKiernan
Eoin McKiernan

Irish Language Schools Land US Windfall

By Claire Regan
25 January 2005

Irish medium schools in Northern Ireland received a much-needed financial boost today with the announcement that a prominent Irish American has left the sector more than £20,000 in his will.

Eoin McKiernan, who died aged 89 last year, left 40,000 dollars (£21,400) in recognition of his particular passion for the Irish education sector here.

He was the founder of the Irish-American Cultural Institute and a regular visitor to Belfast.

Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaiochta, the body for funding Irish medium schools, said today it was delighted with the windfall.

"It's a tremendous fillip at a time for the Irish medium schools at a time when it is sorely needed," said Pilib O Runai.

"With the absence of an Assembly and political uncertainty future state funding isn't guaranteed so we are very dependent on donations and gifts such as this.

"40,000 dollars is a substantial amount of money and will make a real difference to the school kids in Irish medium schools who will benefit from it."

The fund to administer the donation will honour Jeannette O'Callaghan McKiernan, Eoin's wife, another language enthusiast.

There are 32 Irish medium primary schools in the Northern Ireland along with 44 nurseries and three secondary level schools.

Eoin was born in Manhattan in 1915 to Irish parents but spent much of his childhood in Co Galway where he learned Irish.

In 1962 he founded the Irish American Cultural Institute, an organisation which is still going strong today.


Eoin McKiernan: ‘A Virtual Irish Treasure,’ Irish Cultural Leader

By Mary Lou Brooks

Ireland and the Irish lost a great champion with the death of Dr. Eoin McKiernan last month. The 89-year-old scholar, writer and innovator is credited with laying the groundwork for the explosion of interest in Irish culture over the last few decades. McKiernan founded the Irish American Cultural Institute 40 years ago as an educational, cultural and information resource. His intent was not only to preserve the rich heritage of Irish arts but also to combat the sentimental, often offensive, image of the Irish characterized in films and in St. Patrick’s Day buffoonery.

Over the years, the Institute, which he began at St. Thomas in 1962 and later moved to the East Coast, gained interest and respect, and McKiernan found innovative ways to attain his goals. During the 1960s, he wrote over a dozen films and more than 50 TV programs on Irish history and literature, which appeared on public broadcasting stations. His Irish Books and Media brings Irish-published literature to U.S. readers; Irish Educational Services supports Irish-language schools in Ireland; Eire-Ireland, the quarterly publication from the Institute, was the first American journal of Irish studies. Since 1975 the Institute’s Irish Way program has been sending American high school students to Ireland for a 5-week program immersing them in Irish culture through classes, field trips, travel and by living with Irish families.

In 1998 McKiernan was named a “A Virtual Irish Treasure” by the Dail (the Irish Parliament). The award was presented to McKiernan at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul by Sean Ó Huiginn , the Irish Ambassador to the U.S. at that time.

In addition to the many contributions that earned him a place on Irish America magazine’s list of the Greatest Irish-Americans of the century (along with John F. Kennedy and Georgia O’Keefe), McKiernan leaves the world nine children — Deirdre, Kevin, Brendan, Nuala, Ethna, Fergus, Grania, Gillisa and Liadan — 34 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. His wife, Jeannette, preceded him in death.

The funeral Mass at St. Luke’s Catholic Church was followed by a poignant graveside ceremony under a sunny sky near the Mississippi River. McKiernan’s nine children transferred his coffin from the hearse to its final resting place. Ultan Duggan, Frank Joyce and Mairtin O’Muilleor performed an acappella rendition of the Irish National Anthem, their strong voices blending in sweet harmony. The traditional bagpiper keened an Irish lullaby as the mourners paid their respects.

Above the crowd at the cemetery an eagle appeared, slowly riding the wind from the west. The majestic bird hovered, wings outstretched, then caught an updraft, banked slowly and soared toward the sun.

It was a fitting farewell to a gallant spirit.



A Tribute To Eoin McKiernan

By Ultan Duggan

To the ends of the earth
He’d go for a hot cup of tea.
Not just hot, scalding please
So hot it would bring you to your knees.
Stronger than tea his passion
For language. “Irish first” Eoin’s slogan
“Twas there before English,” He declared to all
From the Cathedral pulpit in St. Paul.

Yet he mastered English with ease.
His “Focal Scoir” attests to his expertise.
That passion for subjects of Irish root
Ran stronger than the strum of harp
The trill of fiddle, the sweet warble of flute
More striking than bagpipes, forsooth.

Prodigious his knowledge of events, dates
and people of note, in Language, Lit and Politic!
When Eoin tapped you on the shoulder
You couldn’t say “no”
He’d already figured it out,
But wanted you to make it go.

Lavish with praise, critically spare,
Always a smile, maybe a dig.
A slight from Eoin, now that was rare.
Flashes of wit, a phrase, a quote
His contribution always was of note.

The limelight he did not seek
Of supporting Irish causes he wasn’t meek.
Shamrockery he abhorred
Living Irish culture he adored.
In difficulty he knew not retreat
His faith was purer than Belleek,
His vision Waterford clear.

His determination soared like an Irish tenor
His attention to detail more like Renoir.
His mirth, as a Donegal turf fire, put you at ease.
His goodness enveloped you like a Galway breeze.

Of stature tall and spare, of his own legend
He did not care.
Strongest of all, Eoin’s family and faith,
In them his pride was evident,
unlike his usual modest bent.
Often he spoke of their coming and going:
His one indulgence, all his own.
And that’s just a part of Eoin.

So when making your next cup of tea
As you stir and add a lump or two,
Think of Eoin and say: “Maith Thu.”

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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