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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
January 26, 2005
01/26/05 – Euro Parliament Urged To Act On Finucane Inquiry
Table of Contents - Jan 2005
SM 01/26/05 European Parliament Urged To Act On Finucane Inquiry
IT 01/27/05 White House Reception Likely –V
IT 01/27/05 Relatives Of Victims Seek Truth About Dublin Bombings
IO 01/26/05 Families Of Cavan Bomb Blast Death Teens Demand Inquiry
BB 01/26/05 Arrest After Loyalist Petrol Bombs Seizure
IE 01/26/05 Derryman Fails To Testify
BT 01/26/05 Council Fights Bloody Sunday Jailing
IO 01/26/05 Controversial Officer Put In Charge In W Belfast
SM 01/26/05 Why Not Just Tattoo 'I Am A Bigot' On Their Forehead?
SF 01/26/05 McDowell Misrepresented Content Of Engagement With Govt
IT 01/27/05 Taoiseach Makes His Strongest Attack On Sinn Féin –V(2)
IT 01/27/05 Exchange Between Ahern & Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Edited)
IT 01/27/05 Criminality The Key Issue, Says Ahern
UT 01/26/05 Ahern Telephones Paisley
IT 01/27/05 Time Is Running Out For Republicans, Says Blair
DH 01/26/05 Sinn Fein Blair Talks Postponed
IT 01/27/05 Paisley Rules Out Reopening Talks In Short Term
IT 01/27/05 McConvilles Urge SF Chair To Resign
AC 01/27/05 Sensenbrenner Renews Assault On Immigrants’ Rights
IT 01/27/05 Scottish & Irish Islands To Set Up Joint Working Group
GU 01/27/05 Why Bush Is Coy About His Irish Links
NW 01/26/05 Sculptor Finds Inspiration In Donegal Landscape –VO
NW 01/26/05 Internet Initiative To Save Historic NIreland Bldgs –VO
Sculptor Finds Inspiration In Donegal Landscape - Watch the report on the work of Redmond Herrity
Internet Initiative Aims To Save Historic Northern Ireland Buildings - Alasdair Jackson reports on the Buildings At Risk: Northern Ireland initiative
(Poster's Note: Lots of News Articles tonight. Don't miss the "Sensenbrenner Renews Assault On Immigrants’ Rights" story. 'They are comin' to take you away.. Ha Ha! Jay)
Pat Finucane, Belfast human rights lawyer brutally murdered in front of his wife and children through british state collusion. Fifteen years on and there is STILL no justice.
European Parliament Urged To Act On Finucane Inquiry
By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor
The European Parliament was today urged to put pressure on the British Government to drop restrictions on an inquiry into the controversial murder of a Belfast solicitor.
Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald attacked Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy’s plan to hold behind closed doors some of the inquiry into alleged security force collusion in the 1989 killing of solicitor Pat Finucane.
Following a warning from Mr Finucane’s family that they will not participate in the hearings if special legislation for it is implemented, Ms McDonald accused the Government of reneging on a promise to implement the recommendations of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who was appointed in 2001 to look into the case.
“Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Pat’s murder and identified the “basic requirements” for a public inquiry,” the Dublin MEP told the European Parliament.
“One of these was that ‘the Tribunal should have full power to subpoena witnesses and documents, together with all the powers usually exercised by a commissioner in a public inquiry’.
“Instead of implementing that recommendation, the British Government has recently published a draft Inquiries Bill.
“This Bill is a wholesale departure from the Weston Park agreement and the Cory recommendation, in that an inquiry established under this draft legislation will not have all the powers usually exercised by a public inquiry.
“Rather, it gives a Government minister the power to control inquiries and to determine whether an inquiry sits in private and what material is to be withheld.
“These provisions attack the very independence of any such inquiry since it will not be vested with exclusive jurisdiction and control, which is the very hallmark of independence.”
Mr Finucane was gunned down in front of his family in their north Belfast home in February 1989 in an attack carried out by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.
However the killing has been dogged by allegations of Army intelligence and Royal Ulster Constabulary collusion with loyalists.
An investigation by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens confirmed Mr Finucane was a victim of collusion.
But the Government resisted setting up an inquiry until loyalist Ken Barrett was sentenced last September to life imprisonment after admitting his role.
It is expected only part of the inquiry will be held in public because of the sensitive nature of some of the information relating to the case.
However new legislation setting up the inquiry has been labelled draconian by the Finucane family, the nationalist SDLP and human rights organisations.
British Irish Rights Watch director Jan Winter has claimed the new law will be used by the Government to suppress the truth in all inquiries, giving ministers, not judges, the power to withhold transcripts of hearings behind closed doors for 30 years.
Ms McDonald said the way the Finucane inquiry was conducted would have implications for every European Union member state.
“It is incumbent that the European Parliament make it forcefully clear to the British Government that to be Article Two compliant any tribunal must, as a minimum, have the characteristics identified by Judge Cory,” she said.
“Sinn Fein will be raising this matter with the European Council, Commission and Parliament in the near future.
“However today I wanted to take this opportunity to raise the matter and put the British Government on notice that it cannot hide the truth from either the Finucane family or the European Parliament for much longer.”
Robert Shortt, Washington Correspondent, reports on a series of meetings between SF and US Congressmen
White House Reception Likely -V
Conor O'Clery in New York
The St Patrick's Day White House reception to which Northern Ireland party leaders, including Sinn Féin, have been invited in the past is likely to take place again this year, despite the fall-out from the Northern Bank robbery.
"We will have St Patrick's Day like we always do," said Republican Congressman Mr Jim Walsh, after being briefed on recent developments along with a group of Irish American Congress members by US special envoy Mr Mitchell Reiss.
Sinn Féin's Mr Gerry Kelly said yesterday that a US state department official told him that speculation about the St Patrick's Day reception being cancelled to allow President Bush to avoid Mr Gerry Adams in the wake of the bank raid controversy had not come from his department.
© The Irish Times
Talbot Street Bomb (www.fantasyjackpalance.com)
Relatives Of Victims Seek Truth About Bombings
Families of victims of bombings in the State in the 1970s called yesterday on the Irish and British governments to "lift the smokescreen" and tell the truth about what happened.
At an Oireachtas sub-committee dealing with the aftermath of the Barron report, relatives gave emotional accounts of how the murders had devastated their families, while they received no information from the two governments or the Garda Síochána.
Mr Joe Douglas - a brother of Mr Tommy Douglas (21) , killed by a car-bomb in Dublin on January 20th, 1973 - came from Scotland to give his submission.
"Jack Lynch (the then Taoiseach) gave an assurance that there would be no stone left unturned to find the perpetrators, but there's been nothing. We never heard a word," he said.
The Barron report seemed to leave a lot of loose ends. "They had an abundance of information and yet no one has been arrested. I find that incredible. It's astonishing that they had information there and nothing was done. We all want to move forward, but if there is no closure we can't move forward," Mr Douglas said.
Neither the governments nor gardaí had contacted the family.
"What I want to see is the Irish and British governments get together and push away this smokescreen and tell us what happened, tell the truth," he said.
The committee also heard from the relatives of Geraldine O'Reilly (15) and Patrick Stanley (16), who died in a car-bombing in Belturbet, Co Cavan, on December 28th, 1972.
Ms Frances McCann, the older sister of Ms O'Reilly, said: "There was an anger with why nobody was telling us about it and nobody was got for it. We were just left like that, like all the other families, left alone."
Since then life for them had never been the same. "Even 32 years later, we still feel so broken over this terrible, terrible tragedy in Belturbet," she said.
"December 28th is the feast of the Holy Innocents and certainly the bomb took two innocent people that night," she said.
Ms Greta Farrell, sister of Patrick Stanley, was 13 when her brother was killed.
"It didn't get any easier. We kept our grief to ourselves and nobody helped us come to terms with the grief. Now 32 years after the murder nobody has been arrested," she said.
No garda or politician ever called to tell them how the investigation was going. Their father had been writing for years to politicians and ministers for justice. One minister for justice told him to forget it and move on, Ms Farrell said.
Ms Susan Stanley, another sister, said her mother was six months pregnant with her at the time. "Yesterday, Mr Ahern said nobody was above the law. We're here to seek justice. We need to hear from people, from the British government and the PSNI," she said.
Fr James Carr's sister, Ms Bríd Carr, died on November 19th, 1971, as the result of injuries after being shot in Lifford, Co Donegal.
"There is a latent anger. My sister's case is being ignored. There was no message of sympathy from the State," he said.
Mr Cormac Ó Dulacháin SC, for the Justice for the Forgotten group, said for the families this was not a historical exercise.
© The Irish Times
Families Of Bomb Blast Death Teens Demand Inquiry
26/01/2005 - 15:04:52
Families of two young teenagers killed when a 100lb bomb exploded almost 35 years ago in a small Cavan town today demanded a public inquiry.
The relatives of 15-year-old Geraldine O’Reilly and Patrick Stanley, 16, who were killed in Belturbet on December 28, 1972, said the state, ministers and gardaí have ignored their attempts to seek answers for over three decades.
One of Patrick’s sisters, Susan Stanley, said: “We need a public inquiry. Someone needs to be held responsible. They physically got away with mass murder.”
Another sister, Gretta, told the Joint Oireachtas Committee, whish is examining Justice Henry Barron’s report into the series of terrorist bombings in the 1970s, that as far as the State was concerned the families did not exist.
Both families said no-one had informed them of any progress into the investigations despite contacting TDs, several Justice Ministers and Judge Barron.
“We need to hear from the British Government and the PSNI. It is important to us that we have the answers,” Gretta said.
“We had always been told it was a loyalist attack, a loyalist bombing.”
One of the members of the committee, Joe Costello, the Labour Party spokesman for Justice, said: “We certainly heard your pleas for justice for something to be done.”
Geraldine’s sister, Frances McCann, said the bomb, believed to have been planted by the UVF, had claimed two innocent young lives in the small town, close to the border with Northern Ireland.
The O’Reilly family said the gardaí were not getting any help from Northern Ireland in their attempts to investigate it.
The families said the three bombs that went off that December night in different locations around the country almost appeared like a practice run.
Cormac O’Dulachain, SC, for Justice for the Forgotten told the sitting of the Oireachtas Committee that for the families examining the bombings almost 35 years later was not a historical exercise.
“There are wells of unsolved murders in which families are left with no communication,” he said.
Mr O’Dulachain said there were photofits of the persons believed to have driven the car containing the bomb into Belturbet on that night, similarly for the Dublin bombings.
He said a series of bombings took place during a seven week period. Mr O’Dulachain added: “It raises the question if the same people were left at large so they could continue to commit crimes?”
Mr O’Dulachain said it seemed there was still state secrecy involved and the Department of Justice were reluctant to facilitate open disclosure.
Justice for the Forgotten said it all came down to British authorities co-operating with the inquiries.
The O’Reilly family said that Geraldine was in the town that night by chance to get a bag of chips, her brother Anthony, who attended the committee sitting but was too upset to speak, was with her in Belturbet as the bomb exploded that night.
All her belongings, including her Irish dancing dress and school uniform, hung for years afterwards exactly where she had left them.
They said it was a pity their parents would not get to see the monument to the two young teenagers which is finally being built in the town.
The Oireachtas Committee heard that Patrick, who had been nominated for a GAA All Star award, had travelled from their home in Clara, Offaly to Belturbet that night as he was working to earn money to buy football boots.
His sister said their parents never recovered from losing their eldest child, and they never informed their grandmother, who died six months later, as it would have devastated her.
Over the next few days the army, gardaí and Department of Justice personnel will give evidence on the investigations to the Oireachtas Committee which is examining Judge Barron’s report for the Dáil.
Arrest After Petrol Bombs Seizure
Police have recovered more than 30 petrol bombs during searches in north Belfast.
The haul was discovered in a house in the mainly loyalist Ballysillan area on Wednesday evening.
A quantity of drugs were also seized during the planned security operation. One man has been arrested.
PSNI District Commander, Superintendent Mike Little, said police in the north Belfast area were determined to crack down on crime.
"This seizure demonstrates the police service's commitment to crack down and tackle all kinds of criminality in north Belfast," he said.
The number of officers patrolling north Belfast increased this week in response to an escalating loyalist paramilitary feud.
There has been growing violence in a dispute between the Loyalist Volunteer Force and the Ulster Volunteer Force.
A taxi company part-owned by a prominent loyalist has been forced to close and several people have been beaten and intimidated.
Derryman Fails To Testify
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST -- A Derry republican has become the only person ever to spend a day in jail as a result of the shootings on Bloody Sunday - with only Sinn Féin demanding the Northern Secretary, Paul Murphy, release him from Maghaberry prison. Martin Doherty, aged 49, was arrested on foot of a warrant issued after he failed to appear before the Saville Tribunal.
He was named by a British informer as having fired a shot on Bloody Sunday, but he said the evidence is nonsense and he was not present during the shootings.
Before he was arrested, he said: "I am expected to answer allegations made by a man who supposedly saved me during a gun battle I wasn't there for. Later I am supposed to have shot at a helicopter.
"These stories are nonsense. There is more sense in a goldfish and I will treat them with the contempt they deserve. I firmly believe this inquiry is trying to scapegoat the IRA. We all know who murdered the 14 people on Bloody Sunday and it was not the IRA.
"I have no evidence to give and if I go to prison, I am prepared to do so but it is a disgrace that a Derry republican can be the first, and possibly the only, person to be imprisoned over Bloody Sunday."
He is expected to serve about six weeks of his sentence. At the High Court earlier this month, the Lord Chief Justice said the court was concerned about having to send a person to jail with no previous convictions.
He adjourned the hearing to allow Doherty to reconsider his position. When the hearing resumed his lawyer said: "My client's attitude is unaltered."
Speaking outside the jail, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said people in Derry and beyond were outraged. "How dare the British government, which murdered 13 innocent people on Bloody Sunday and spent decades since concealing the truth, jail a republican as a result of their criminal actions?"
Meanwhile, as part of the annual Bloody Sunday commemorations, The Bloody Sunday Trust has launched plans for a "Museum of Free Derry." A spokesperson said plans were well underway towards creating the museum and archive on "one of the most important periods in the history of this city."
The group hopes to open the first phase of the museum this summer. "It will tell this part of the city's history from the point of view of the people who lived through, and were most affected by, these events", he said.
"It will be the community's story told from the community's perspective, not the distorted version parroted by the British government and much of the media over the years.
"We believe it is vital that all those involved in the events of the last almost 40 years take the opportunity to tell their own stories in a subjective but honest way as a first step towards a greater understanding of all the elements that led to the most recent phase of the conflict in Ireland."
The museum has an archive of over 15,000 individual items, virtually all donated by local residents. They include some items of immense historical importance such as an original, blood stained, Derry Civil Rights Association banner.
The items also include a helmet worn by a Parachute Regiment soldier on Bloody Sunday, a uniform as worn by the "B Specials", 1940s internment orders, thousands of original posters, photographs, leaflets from the civil rights era and photos and video footage of Bloody Sunday.
One of the most interesting exhibit is likely to be a receipt (original and one-off) for the petrol used in the Battle of the Bogside. It cost just £65 on Aug. 13, 1969.
This story appeared in the issue of January 26-February 1, 2005
Council Fights Bloody Sunday Jailing
By Brendan McDaid
26 January 2005
Derry City Council today called on Secretary of State Paul Murphy to secure the immediate release of a man jailed after failing to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
Standing orders were suspended as Sinn Fein brought an "emergency motion" before yesterday's full council meeting.
The SDLP have fully backed the proposal.
Martin "Ducksie" Doherty has become the only person to be jailed in connection with Bloody Sunday.
A warrant for his arrest was executed last week after he was sentenced to three months prison for contempt of court.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State said today he could not intervene as it would not be appropriate.
Councillor Maeve McLaughlin, who said she was raising the issue on behalf of the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday, said at yesterday's meeting: "I intend to put a motion forward calling on the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy to immediately release Derry man Martin Doherty, the only person imprisoned over Bloody Sunday."
"Derry City Council condemns the needless arrest and imprisonment of Derry man Martin Doherty, arising out of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, as a perversion of justice, and calls on Paul Murphy, Secretary of State, to order his immediate release."
David Boultwood & Gerry Kelly
Controversial Officer Put In Charge Of Policing In West Belfast
26/01/2005 - 07:54:05
The senior police officer who allowed loyalists to march past the Ardoyne against the wishes of the Parades Commission last summer has been put in charge of policing in nationalist West Belfast.
Chief superintendent David Boultwood allowed hundreds of supporters of an Orange Order parade to march through the flashpoint area last July, despite a Parades Commission ruling that said only the Orangemen should be allowed through the area.
The PSNI subsequently defended the decision, saying it was taken for public order reasons.
However, both Sinn Féin and the SDLP criticised the move.
Orange Parade Enters Catholic Area
Why Don't They Just Tattoo 'I Am A Bigot' On Their Forehead?
I’M SELDOM staggered these days - slightly surprised occasionally, seldom staggered - by any manifestation of human stupidity. But I was staggered by the news that there were more than 1,700 marches in Scotland during 2003 and probably more last year. Haven’t these people got homes to go to, jobs to do, books to read, football to watch?
I saw none of these marches, except the Royal Mile one towards the official opening of the Scottish Parliament last October, if that counts, and certainly didn’t take part in one.
Remarkable. Or it would be if it wasn’t that more than half of those marches were for members of the Orange Order and the great majority were held in the west of Scotland.
Not for the first time, I’m happy to live elsewhere than Ayrshire, Lanarkshire or Glasgow with the bowler-hat, umbrella and orange-sash brigade coming past the door every five minutes in high summer to back up their year-round religious bigotry.
As bizarre uniforms go, it’s up there with Jack’s kilt, Billy Connolly’s Highland chieftain look or the Royal Company of Archers and quite as silly as the men dressed as women who take part in the dozens of local carnival processions each summer that are also classed as marches.
Why would you wear an Orange Order uniform except to take part in a stupidity competition? If you desperately want to wear a silly outfit, why not join the Masons, do it in private and avoid frightening the horses?
Or, if you must make a statement to the world, why not simply have "I am a bigot" - or any other from the relatively small number of accurate one-word descriptions available - tattooed on your forehead?
Combine the tattooing operation with a lobotomy and you’re fine and dandy - think of the time saved ironing a sash, rolling a brolly, brushing a bowler and shining your shoes several times a year.
I’VE said it before, but it is well worth saying again until someone listens: there are only so many renditions of Holy Willie’s Prayer and Tam o’ Shanter a man can take. One of each per winter is my limit these days, and none of each would be better.
Concerns, as expressed in this newspaper yesterday, that young people are put off by the formality of Burns suppers have nothing to do with it. It’s the fear of yet another rendering of one or both of those poems, a fear that also afflicts the not quite so young, including a writer near you.
Nothing, or not very much, against the performers. Most renditions I’ve heard - and I’ve heard a puckle over the years - have been well done, some with the Holy Willie works of nightgown, nightcap and candle, Tam with a bunnet and once a cameo appearance by Cutty Sark.
It is simply that custom does stale their infinite variety. How those enthusiasts who attend a string of suppers each year manage without screaming I don’t know. It can only be that, like judges at a gymnastic competition, they pass the time by awarding points: "A good ‘chosen sample’ but only a moderate ‘ne’er lift a lawless leg’ and fell apart on the ‘a the glory shall be thine’ - 5.3. Next!"
And a next there will be. They only have to wait until the next supper where, let us not forget, there will be yet one more address to the ubiquitous chieftain o’ the pudden race, abune them a’ taking its place, gushing its entrails and with some over-enthusiastic declaimer clapping a blade in his walie nieve and making it wissle to risk of throats and fingers. Haud me back.
A HANDICAP bandit at golf is one thing. A Scrabble bandit is quite another. Beware an elderly relative who draws his first seven letters out of the bag with shaky fingers and quavers: "I don’t know if I’m up to this."
Three moves into the game, he played a seven-letter word worth 25 points, plus the 50-point bonus, and two moves later played the Q, worth ten points, on a triple in a double-score word.
Laugh? More than 100 points behind after five moves after offering to help him pass a little time? Only great restraint and my famous sportsmanship in adversity prevented me sweeping board and letters off the table. I was going to add: "Back to the dictionary." But it seems to be missing.
Michael McDowell Misrepresented Content Of Sinn Féin Engagement With Irish Government
Published: 26 January, 2005
Speaking today in Belfast in advance of tomorrows meeting with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP said:
"The Justice Minister Michael McDowell has misrepresented yesterdays meeting. Martin McGuinness and I did not agree that the Sinn Féin leadership must go away and reflect on the government's insistence that the criminality issue be dealt with.
On the contrary we argued that the government should not allow itself to be distracted from the difficult but necessary work needed to tackle all of the outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement.
We asked the Taoiseach to stand up his accusations that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery. He failed to do this either during our meeting or in subsequent media interviews.
In the course of our discussions yesterday the Taoiseach agreed with us that the process needed to be based on the broad principles of inclusivity, equality and dialogue. The Taoiseach and we agreed that all the outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement needed to be dealt with. It was also agreed that following on his meeting with the British Prime Minister we would meet again to continue with this work.
The Taoiseach said the government was opposed to sanctions. It is not good enough therefore for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to say that sanctions are primarily an issue for the British. The Irish government's stated opposition to sanctions obliges it to ensure that there are no sanctions. No one issue can be made a pre-condition. All matters are the collective responsibility of all parties.
We also rejected any suggestion that Sinn Féin was involved in criminality or that we have any special obligation to tackle any issue. We are opposed to criminality of any kind.
Finally, reluctant though I am to engage in recriminations, I want to deal with Michael McDowell's role in all of this. The Progressive Democrats have made no constructive contribution to the peace process. Minister McDowell's focus is on staying in power in this or any future coalition. It is a matter of concern that the Taoiseach is allowing Minister McDowell to lead for the government on these important issues."ENDS
Ahern in heated exchanges with Sinn Féin - David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports on the row between Bertie Ahern and Sinn Féin in today's Dáil session
David Davin-Power, Political Correspondent, analyses Bertie Ahern's remarks to SF in the Dáil
Taoiseach Makes His Strongest Attack On Sinn Féin –V(2)
Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent
The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, has made the most forceful Government attack on Sinn Féin since the peace process began, directly linking the party's five TDs to violent actions which, he said, were being turned on and off for political reasons.
In the most bitter Dáil exchanges ever heard between a Fianna Fáil leader and Sinn Féin, Mr Ahern yesterday detailed recent, brutal, so-called punishment attacks in Northern Ireland, which he said had been carried out by the IRA.
He said he found it "really offensive" that these attacks were stopped during the political talks before Christmas, only to be resumed as soon as those talks failed.
The Dáil confrontation follows a robust meeting between the Government and Sinn Féin on Tuesday at which the Taoiseach demanded that Sinn Féin now come up with a solution to the deadlock over the continuation of IRA criminal activity.
Yesterday's proceedings demonstrated the major deterioration in the relationship between the Government and Sinn Féin after several years of closeness during the slow evolution of the North's political process. This deterioration has followed the Northern Bank raid in Belfast in December, which the Irish and British Governments, the PSNI and the Garda Síochána say the IRA carried out.
Speaking largely without notes and in a tone of controlled anger, the Taoiseach said what had annoyed him most was the apparent control that could be exercised over the IRA during political talks.
"What I find really offensive . . . is that there was an ability to turn off all punishment beatings while negotiations were in progress, but as soon as the negotiations failed there was a string of them - they are again a nightly occurrence. I will give Sinn Féin full marks for discipline, but not for anything else."
The Taoiseach's vehemence was matched by Sinn Féin TD Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who accused the Taoiseach of making his "continual outbursts and allegations" solely because Sinn Féin is an electoral threat to Fianna Fáil.
Mr Ahern said if his motivation had been to prevent Sinn Féin's electoral progress, he would not have worked so hard to bring them to the centre of politics in Ireland.
He said Sinn Féin used to be a party with 2 per cent support, but the tolerance and encouragement extended to them by his party and other parties in the House had allowed them to develop a significant electoral mandate.
The Minister for Defence, Mr O'Dea, accused Sinn Féin of funding election campaigns with stolen money.
And speaking directly to Mr Ó Caoláin, the Taoiseach said: "you and some of your friends" had carried out a series of brutal attacks in Northern Ireland in recent days.
The Sinn Féin TDs sat stony- faced as Mr Ahern listed some of these attacks to a silent chamber. "An 18-year-old received gunshot wounds in both hands in an incident in Seaford Street in east Belfast, responsibility of the Provisional IRA. "A punishment attack was carried out on a 19-year-old man. He was shot in both hands and it is believed the Provisional IRA was responsible. The other day a 19-year-old man was shot in both ankles in an alley in Serbia Street, Lower Falls and it is believed the Provisional IRA was responsible."
When Mr Ó Caolain challenged him to provide evidence, he said: "Does the Deputy want me to name the individual? What would happen to him?"
Mr Ó Caoláin said the Taoiseach was "abusing his position without evidence".
Mr Ahern said: "I will defend the facts."
He said progress now depended on how Sinn Féin responded to the Government's questions on the issues of criminality and decommissioning and "that does not rest with me. "It is an issue which rests with the Sinn Féin leadership and the opposite side of the coin, the Provisional IRA."
© The Irish Times
'Things Must Be Equal. I Refer To The Kind Of Tactics In Which You And Some Of Your Friends Engage'
Exchange Between The Taoiseach And Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Edited)
Mr Ó Caoláin: "At the outset, I wish to make it very clear that I reject criminality in all its forms. Would the Taoiseach be able to make that statement as clearly before the House? With respect to the Taoiseach, I think he has a neck on him, trying to label any other political party with the criminality tag when one looks at the daily unfolding reality in respect of his own political party.
"I roundly reject the Taoiseach's repeated and baseless allegations against my party colleagues, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, that they had foreknowledge of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast and that they acted in bad faith in the course of the talks last December. I totally reject that charge and I call on the Taoiseach to provide the evidence for that charge, repeated again today in the House.
"Everybody knows that we represent competing parties in respect of not only general elections but all other electoral endeavours in this State. It has become ever more apparent that with the realisation that Sinn Féin presents a real and substantial threat to the Taoiseach's party at the polls in this State that he has more and more moved - as I see it - a situation where he seeks to misrepresent Sinn Féin intent.
"I do not believe for a moment that his continual outbursts and allegations have anything to do with a bank robbery in Belfast but everything to do with votes in Ballybough and Ballyconnell and everywhere else throughout this jurisdiction."
Minister for Defence, Mr O'Dea: "Where is the deputy's party getting the money to buy those votes? It is robbed money?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "With respect to the little whipper at the Taoiseach's side, we never interrupted you or any of the participants . . . "
Mr O'Dea: "Robbed money. . ."
Mr Ó Caoláin: "Deputy O'Dea would serve his position and ministerial responsibilities better if he learned to behave himself in this House. Will the Taoiseach not agree that in December we were closer to a comprehensive agreement than at any time previously? Will he accept and acknowledge that Sinn Féin, with the Irish Government and others, played a substantive part in the achievement of all that was to be delivered post-December 8th?
Mr Ahern: "I can understand why Deputy Ó Caoláin is looking around for an angle and his angle is that the reasons are to do with party politics.
"If I wished to fight his political party in a party political way, I certainly would not do what I have been doing for the past number of years, such as doing everything possible to bring his party into the centre by ignoring all kinds of things, and by trying to convince the DUP recently and the UUP for years of the benefits of working with Sinn Féin.
"I have tried to convince presidents Bush and Clinton and President Prodi and others to put money into Northern Ireland to help peace and reconciliation. If I was only interested in a political fight, I would not have taken those actions.
"Before we began taking those actions, the deputy's party was a party with 2 per cent, but it now has quite a strong political mandate because people on all sides of this House, the Labour Party, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Progressive Democrats, the Green Party, all worked to try to bring Sinn Féin in."
Mr Ó Caoláin: "Not at all."
Mr Ahern: "We have done so because of our history. The deputy must understand that things must be equal. I refer to the kind of tactics in which you and some of your friends engage. In recent days a man suffered a broken jaw. He was taken to a layby and shot in both hands. The reason for this assault was not known but it was carried out by the Provisional IRA.
"An 18-year-old received gunshot wounds in both hands in an incident in Seaford Street in east Belfast, responsibility of the Provisional IRA.
"A punishment attack was carried out on a 19-year-old man. He was shot in both hands and it is believed the Provisional IRA was responsible.
"The other day a 19-year-old man was shot in both ankles in an alley in Serbia Street, Lower Falls, and it is believed the Provisional IRA was responsible and blah, blah."
Mr Ó Caoláin: "It is blah, blah, blah."
Mr Ahern: "I will fight Deputy Kenny's party. We will fight tough and hard politically.I will fight Deputy Rabbitte's party. However, it is very hard to fight that. The deputy refers to evidence."
Mr Ó Caoláin: "What evidence?"
Mr Ahern: "Does the deputy want me to name the individual? What would happen to him?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "The Taoiseach is abusing his position without evidence."
Mr Ahern: "I will defend the facts. I will not go about this every day, but neither will I take it.The deputy asked where is the evidence. Before I said anything, I did not say much by the way?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "The Taoiseach said more and should not have said it."
Mr Ahern: "That is not the position. I spoke to Prime Minister Mr Blair, I got a report on what British intelligence has, I got a report from Hugh Orde?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "Is that what the Taoiseach is relying on?"
Mr Ahern: "I am answerable to something with which the deputy's party has a difficulty. This is the difficulty. When I come into this House, I have to listen to what the Garda Síochána of this country says. Sometimes what it says is not suitable but I have to accept it. In this case, it said that its professional assessment is that it shares the view that the Northern Bank robbery was carried out by the Provisional IRA and that an operation of this scale could not have been undertaken without the knowledge of the leadership of the provisional movement. That is the position."
Mr Aengus Ó Snodaigh: "The Taoiseach is relying on British intelligence."
Mr Ahern: "Yes, because I have to listen to it."
Mr Ó Caoláin: "He does not have to listen to it."
Mr Ahern: "Should I ignore the Garda?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "Shame on the Taoiseach."
Mr Ahern: "Does the Garda not tell the truth either?"
Mr Ó Caoláin: "Let us get to some specifics.Does the Taoiseach acknowledge that when the effort to get a comprehensive agreement failed, Sinn Féin and the British government proceeded to explore how the governments could deliver on the contributions they had made and that this continued up to Christmas? Will he acknowledge that the Government was less than enthusiastic about that?Will he acknowledge that those efforts must continue if we are to get out of this impasse and this exchange of bile? Did the British government present the Irish Government with a paper on the exchanges from December 8th up to Christmas? The Taoiseach should make no mistake that my colleagues and I stand here on our mandate received from the Irish electorate and we will continue to represent that electorate.
"They are not second-class citizens and nor are we. We will continue to present a republican challenge to a continued failure on the part of the Taoiseach and his party in ceding responsibility for all public utterances on the most important issue to be addressed in this country today to a Minister for Justice who would label Bobby Sands MP a criminal and, by the same criteria, would label as criminals the man whose portrait hangs in the Taoiseach's office and all those who were executed in 1916.
"The grassroots of his organisation are saying repeatedly that it is a shame and scandal that he has handed responsibility for the peace process to a man and party who have made zero contribution to it from its inception."
Mr Ahern: "What Deputy Ó Caoláin said at the start of his contribution is correct. We have to move forward. As I said in reply to deputies Kenny and Rabbitte, what would be enormously helpful is the answers to the questions and issues we put yesterday. If we can make progress on those, we can all move forward. I am always amused at how things change. A few weeks ago I was under some question in this House for being over-generous to Sinn Féin in the comprehensive settlement. Now, a few weeks later, matters have moved so differently."
© The Irish Times
Criminality The Key Issue, Says Ahern
The Taoiseach said that events in the North had taken "a bad turn"since before Christmas. "The fall-out from the Northern Bank raid is that trust and confidence in the process are now at a very low level," he added when he replied to questions from Opposition leaders.
"The sooner we can deal with these issues straight up with the republican movement, the better.In my meetings yesterday, I outlined that in detail.I avoided doing so over the past few weeks as I wanted to do it in person, which I thought was the right and proper way, since I have been involved in the peace process for many years."
Mr Ahern said that two key issues were outstanding, and it would be impossible to move forward in any agreement until there was certainty on them. "One of the issues, the decommissioning of arms in order to take the gun out of politics, has been outstanding for a long time. The basis of discussions on that has been well documented.
"There is no possibility of building confidence with the parties unless the issue is resolved.I have been talking to all parties, the party leaders and others in Northern Ireland.
"That issue must be dealt with before we can even start, and it will probably be difficult to do it anyway with the (British) election only a few months off.We are totally committed to implementing the Good Friday Agreement because it is what the people on this island, North and South, voted for in such huge numbers."
Mr Ahern said that all aspects of the comprehensive deal were off the table because there was no comprehensive agreement. "Each time we tried to move, from April 2003, October 2003, November or December 2004, while the comprehensive agreement was still being built upon,these elements still remained in play," he added.
"That ended in the aftermath of December 8th, and these issues are no longer on the table."
Mr Ahern said he was conscious that the Government had a solemn obligation to the Irish people. "The Government is determined to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full and will do everything it can to make that happen. It is now more difficult," he added.
"I have asked Sinn Féin to reflect on how it can genuinely bring this process forward and, following such reflection, to come back on the two issues I mentioned. This must include a definitive and demonstrative end to all forms of criminal activity. We will see what happens.I will meet prime minister Blair next week and, prior to that, I will meet the International Monitoring Commission. I hope it will also be possible for me to meet Mr Hugh Orde and our own Garda Commissioner."
The Fine Gael leader, Mr Enda Kenny, said he hoped that the matter of the early release of the killers of Det Gda Jerry McCabe would not appear in any circumstances. "The Taoiseach understands my view of bipartisanship. We have always and will always support the Government's efforts to complete the Good Friday Agreement and rid this country of terrorism and criminal activity,"
Mr Kenny asked if the Taoiseach had at his disposal, based on information from intelligence sources, knowledge of the whereabouts of illegal arms dumps in the Republic.
Mr Ahern said he did not know the make-up of the present Army Council."I had some heated exchanges about that yesterday. I will not go over that ground again.I do not know the whereabouts of any arms dumps. The position of the Garda is that we will continue to seek out arms anywhere. No easy line will be taken on that," he added.
"There have been comments in recent days regarding appeasement and the failure of the system.In dealing with these issues one must have a steady nerve."
He said there seemed to be a sinister view that one could, on the one hand, continue the development of democratic politics of a kind and, on the other, that it was all right to engage in criminality. "There is a view that this was tolerated in order to try to move the process forward," he added. "However, 10 years on, we cannot continue to do that."
© The Irish Times
WEDNESDAY 26/01/2005 17:08:47
Ahern Telephones Paisley
Irish Premier Bertie Ahern today had a telephone conversation with Democratic Unionist Party Leader the Rev Ian Paisley to discuss the difficulties in the Northern Ireland peace process.
An Irish Government spokesperson said the 15-minute lunchtime talks gave Mr Ahern an opportunity to update Mr Paisley on yesterday`s meetings in Dublin with Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP.
The Irish premier gave a clear message to Sinn Fein that it must abandon all paramilitary and criminal activity for good to take part in power sharing talks, according to the spokesperson.
Mr Ahern will meet the Independent Monitoring Commission in Dublin next Monday and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday.
Mr Ahern also said today that releasing the IRA killers of a garda was off the agenda since a power-sharing deal with Sinn Fein failed last month.
He caused public outrage when he said early last month that freeing the four men convicted of the 1996 manslaughter of Detective Garda Jerry McCade would have to be considered as part of an overall comprehensive settlement.
But he told Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in the Dail today: "None of these issues are on the table anymore."
The Irish Premier also said he did not know if Dail Sinn Fein member Martin Ferris sat on the IRA`s ruling Army Council but said he had `heated exchanges` with Gerry Adams on the issue at their meeting in Dublin yesterday.
Mr Ahern came under pressure in the chamber from Sinn Fein to produce evidence that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank robbery last month and that Sinn Fein leaders had prior knowledge of the crime.
Meanwhile,commenting after speaking to Mr Blair and Mr Ahern, Dr Paisley said:"I made it clear to both the Prime Minister and the Irish Prime Minister that the essence of any future progress will be based upon two issues.
"There will have to be full, complete and transparent decommissioning with witnesses and the production of immediate photographic evidence.
"Nothing short of that will be sufficient to build confidence with the law abiding community in Northern Ireland.
"Secondly, all terrorist and criminal activities conducted by Sinn Fein/IRA must cease and the criminal and paramilitary machinery abandoned.
Dr Paisley said that substantial time would be needed for the people of Northern Ireland to be convinced that paramilitary and criminal activity had completely ended.
"It is the people of Northern Ireland, not government agencies that will have to be satisfied that all IRA activity is over," he said.
"There can be no question of the talks process that was brought to an end by Sinn Fein/IRA being renewed.
"We are now in a completely different situation and I have told both governments that they have an obligation to serve an ultimatum on IRA/Sinn Fein to cease immediately from their terrorist and criminal activity and to prove so by their deeds.
"The Province cannot be expected to tolerate another campaign of lies, treachery and deceit from Sinn Fein/IRA. They must stop their denials immediately."
Dr Paisley said recent comments by Mitchel McLaughlin revealed the real attitude and motivation of Sinn Fein and were an attempt to `justify deeds of blood and thuggery`.
"The claim that Sinn Fein/IRA is the real government in Ireland is outrageous nonsense and a ploy designed to support their diabolical deeds," he added.
An Alliance Party delegation, led by leader David Ford, will meet with the Taoiseach tomorrow in Dublin.
Time Is Running Out For Republicans, Says Blair
Frank Millar, London Editor
The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, has suggested "time is running out" for republicans to decide whether they are to be part of the democratic process.
And he has again raised the possibility of finding "another way forward" if it proves impossible to restore Northern Ireland's devolved administration on an "inclusive" basis.
But Mr Blair faced sceptical unionist questions in the Commons yesterday as he defended today's face-to-face meeting with Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams at Chequers. And he also heard an indignant Mr Séamus Mallon for the SDLP demand: "Would the two [ British and Irish] governments finally realise that you cannot buy peace, you cannot buy a political process and that you cannot buy political stability."
Stung by that intervention, and a similar question from Ulster Unionist Mr David Burnside, Mr Blair denied that his office or government was in negotiation with the Ulster Defence Association over a reported £78 million (€112 million) package "to stop their criminality."
Mr Blair said: "There isn't such a negotiation." And he told Ulster Unionist the Rev Martin Smyth that it was not his intention to "pamper" terrorists. On the contrary, he said his purpose was "to get them to give up violence" and join the political process. "We are at the point where everybody, not just in Northern Ireland but in the Republic as well, is making it clear they have had enough of political parties allied to paramilitary activity and it has to stop."
Mr Blair said there could no longer be a question of the republican movement being in a process of transition: "People have to decide: they are either part of the democratic process or they are not. That moment of decision has long since passed and it has simply got to be clear whether people have made their decision or not."
He said: "If it proves impossible to go forward on that inclusive basis we will have to look for another way forward, it is as simple as that."
© The Irish Times
Sinn Fein Talks Postponed
Tony Blair has rescheduled his meeting with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for Friday, Downing Street said last night.
The prime minister was due to meet Mr Adams at Chequers this afternoon to discuss the stalled Northern Ireland peace and lingering questions over the IRA's alleged involvement in the £26.5 Northern Bank and Sinn Fein's foreknowledge that the heist was due to take place.
A No 10 spokesman said the talks would proceed a day later for "logistical reasons".
Both the governments in London and Dublin believe the IRA carried out the raid.
The IRA has officially stated it did not.
In the wake of the robbery in December, unionists in Northern Ireland charged the IRA and Sinn Fein with retaining links to sectarian violence and organised crime and failing to commit themselves to a peaceful and democratic power-sharing in the province.
Yesterday, Irish leader Bertie Ahern warned Sinn Fein - Ireland's second largest party - they risked exclusion from power sharing if they did not come forward with "a major commitment".
Mr Blair is thought to be broadly in favour of inclusive movement on the peace process but at prime minister questions yesterday refused to rule out an alternative agenda that would freeze out Sinn Fein.
He told MPs: "People have to decide: they are either part of the democratic process or they are not.
"That moment of decision has long since passed and it has simply got to be clear whether people have made their decision or not."
Unionists urged Mr Blair to issue an ultimatum to the republicans demanding the cessation of all paramilitary and criminal activity.
"We are now in a completely different situation and I have told both governments that they have an obligation to serve an ultimatum on IRA/Sinn Fein to cease immediately from their terrorist and criminal activity and to prove so by their deeds," DUP leader Rev Ian Paisley said.
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Paisley Rules Out Reopening Talks In Short Term
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
The Rev Ian Paisley has signalled that even if the IRA decommissions and ends paramilitary and criminal activity, it could be well into 2006 before there is a chance of restoring a power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland.
The DUP leader, after speaking by phone with the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister yesterday, made it clear that Sinn Féin and the IRA now must deliver more than was expected from the republican movement in December to close a political deal.
"There will have to be full, complete and transparent decommissioning with witnesses and the production of immediate photographic evidence. Nothing short of that will be sufficient to build confidence with the law-abiding community in Northern Ireland," said Dr Paisley.
"Secondly, all terrorist and criminal activities conducted by Sinn Féin/IRA must cease and the criminal and paramilitary machinery abandoned," he added.
Had the September-December negotiations succeeded the DUP was expected to enter into a Northern Executive about three to five months after the IRA ended activity and decommissioned. This period was to test the bona fides of the republican movement but significantly Dr Paisley indicated a much longer period to establish trust would be required in any future deal.
"Substantial time will be needed for the people of Northern Ireland to be convinced that paramilitary and criminal activity has completely ended. It is the people of Northern Ireland, not government agencies that will have to be satisfied that all IRA activity is over," he said.
"There can be no question of the talks process that was brought to an end by Sinn Féin/IRA being renewed. We are now in a completely different situation and I have told both governments that they have an obligation to serve an ultimatum on IRA/Sinn Féin to cease immediately from their terrorist and criminal activity and to prove so by their deeds," added Dr Paisley.
"The province cannot be expected to tolerate another campaign of lies, treachery and deceit from Sinn Féin/IRA. They must stop their denials immediately. No one believes them. There can be no place in government for bank robbers and criminals."
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams, speaking before his meeting with Mr Blair at Chequers this evening, accused the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, of misrepresenting his and Mr Martin McGuinness's meeting on Tuesday with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, and Mr McDowell.
"Martin McGuinness and I did not agree that the Sinn Féin leadership must go away and reflect on the Government's insistence that the criminality issue be dealt with," said Mr Adams.
"On the contrary we argued that the Government should not allow itself to be distracted from the difficult but necessary work needed to tackle all of the outstanding elements of the Good Friday agreement," he added.
© The Irish Times
McConvilles Urge SF Chair To Resign
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
The family of Jean McConville, who was murdered by the IRA over 32 years ago but whose body was only recovered 18 months ago, has formally called on Sinn Féin chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin to resign.
Mr Michael McConville, in a statement on behalf of the McConvilles yesterday, again criticised Mr McLaughlin and other Sinn Féin members for refusing to accept that the murder of his mother was a crime.
"We were sickened and devastated over Mitchel McLaughlin's remarks last week that the abduction, death and secret burial of our mother was not a crime," he said.
"The endorsement of his comments from other members of Sinn Féin adds immensely to our pain," he added.
"Mitchel McLaughlin should do the decent thing and resign and all those within Sinn Féin who supported his comments should hang their heads in shame."
© The Irish Times
Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner
Sensenbrenner Renews Assault On Immigrants’ Rights; ACLU Says Measure Would Hurt Persecuted Seeking Sanctuary
January 26, 2005
For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today opposed legislation introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), calling it an unnecessary assault on immigrants. The Sensenbrenner legislation includes several controversial provisions that were pulled from the intelligence reform legislation adopted by Congress last year.
"The Sensenbrenner legislation seeks to create significant hurdles to those suffering persecution in their home countries who seek the safe haven of American shores," said Timothy H. Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "The bill would do little to enhance our security, but it would undermine our national commitment to freedom and liberty."
The Sensenbrenner legislation exacerbates already troubling drivers license provisions in the intelligence reform legislation by forcing states to deny drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants in violation of their own policies. The use of state motor vehicle agencies as agents of the federal immigration service would further the growing trend, alarming both conservatives and progressives, of transforming drivers licenses into de facto national ID cards.
The ACLU noted that the Sensenbrenner legislation is the first of what could be many attempts to further federalize the issuance of identification cards - a power normally delegated to the states. The use of state motor vehicle agencies as agents of the federal immigration service would also lead to an increase in unlicensed drivers, undermining public safety and increasing insurance rates for everyone. Motor vehicles employees lack training in federal immigration law, and are likely instead to rely on ethnic profiling based on notions of who "looks foreign."
The bill is also expected to include a measure that allows government officials, contrary to international law, to demand written "corroboration," such as police reports or other official documents, of asylum claims. Federal law already gives officials ample discretion to deny improper asylum claims, and asylum applicants are subject to much more extensive scrutiny than virtually any other pool of non-citizens seeking to come to the United States.
Others have expressed concerns over the immigration proposals. Former Congressman Bob Barr and the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt, wrote in a Washington Times op-ed last November that the asylum provisions called for by Sensenbrenner would "[force] Christians and others fleeing prosecution to provide written ‘corroboration’ from the very officials they are fleeing." The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society issued a report on Monday denouncing the measures.
Judge Michael Chertoff, the Bush Administration’s nominee to head the Homeland Security Department, also has protested the practice of improperly demanding corroborating documents from repressive governments. In Chen v. Attorney General (Nov. 25, 2003), the Third Circuit affirmed the denial of an asylum claim involving a Chinese woman who was forced to undergo sterilization procedures and an abortion.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Chertoff castigated the immigration appeals board for relying on the lack of a certificate showing the date of the abortion in denying the claim. Chertoff noted that, "Chen submitted a State Department report stating that Chinese authorities do not issue abortion certificates for involuntary abortions. If so, that would seem a pretty persuasive reason why no such certificate could be provided to corroborate an involuntary abortion."
Another provision of the Sensenbrenner bill, which has been strongly opposed by Irish-American groups, would make it possible to deport long-term lawful permanent residents for providing non-violent, humanitarian support to organizations later labeled as "terrorist" by the government, even where such support was completely legal at the time it was provided.
The bill would retroactively make entirely legal donations, even donations made decades ago, a ground of deportation to green-card holders who have lived here for decades if the organization to which a donation was made is later added to a government terrorist list. The Patriot Act already allows the government to deny entry to non-citizens outside the country on this basis.
"This bill would make it increasingly difficult for persecuted people to obtain asylum in America," Edgar added. "Those fleeing their home countries to seek asylum in American don’t have the luxury to obtain what amount to an explanatory note from their persecutors. This wrong-headed measure must be rejected."
Scottish And Irish Islands Hope To Set Up Joint Working Group
Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent
Scottish islands hope to set up a joint working group with their Irish offshore counterparts to share expertise on transport links, renewable energy, fishing and infrastructure.
A delegation from the West Islands Council has met the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Ó Cuív, to establish a shared initiative. The delegation visited the Aran Islands last week to compare experiences with the Scottish communities. Mr Donald Manford, Mr Murdo McMurray and Mr Calum MacLeod also met officials from the Minister's Department in Furbo, Co Galway. Mr McMurray said there was a false perception that island communities simply wanted more state subsidies.
"Historically, islands have been subsidised, but most people want some measure of independence, and the economic means to achieve this," he said. Renewable energy initiatives could offer a measure of greater autonomy.
Changes in the fishing industry which had forced island owners of larger vessels to move to deep-water harbours were a common experience in Scotland and Ireland, he said. The depopulation implications of such developments had to be considered in the context of overall marine policies, Mr McMurray noted.
© The Irish Times
Scion Of Traitors And Warlords: Why Bush Is Coy About His Irish Links
Tapestry artist reveals ancestors of US president as murderous bunch
Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Thursday January 27, 2005
It is perhaps not the best omen for US foreign affairs. Local historians in Wexford have discovered that George Bush is a descendant of Strongbow, the power-hungry warlord who led the Norman invasion of Ireland thus heralding 800 years of mutual misery.
With a long line of Scots Irish presidents including Woodrow Wilson, the Irish are normally quick to claim US leaders as their own. But, despite President Bush's large Ulster Scots vote in the American Bible belt, Ireland had let his family escape the genealogical microscope.
But now Ann Griffin Bernstorff, an artist working on a tapestry to commemorate Ireland's Norman heritage, has discovered what she claims is the Bushs' missing Irish link.
Ms Griffin Bernstorff was researching Strongbow's son-in-law, William Marshal, when she discovered the connection. A descendant of Marshal married Anne Marbury Hutchinson, a famous 16th century religious dissenter who had already been linked to Mr Bush.
"It is one of those bizarre developments," she said. "We traced the Bush genealogy through a Republican source in Chicago and found it was correct. People here are absolutely shocked. I'm not sure what the wider reaction will be, Bush has not been seen as a great friend of the Irish."
Indeed, when Mr Bush visited a County Clare castle last year, radio talk-show hosts asked: "Is this the most hated American ever to set foot on Irish soil?"
The US president's now apparent ancestor, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke - known as Strongbow for his arrow skills - is remembered as a desperate, land-grabbing warlord whose calamitous foreign adventure led to the suffering of generations. Shunned by Henry II, he offered his services as a mercenary in the 12th century invasion of Wexford in exchange for power and land. When he eventually died of a festering ulcer in his foot, his enemies said it was the revenge of Irish saints whose shrines he had violated.
The Bush clan - who pride themselves on a distinguished New England family history that can be traced back to the first English in America - may well be looking for a healthy spin on the news. But it seems that Strongbow is not the worst of Bush's newfound ancestors.
The genetic line can also be traced to Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster reviled in history books as the man who sold Ireland for personal gain.
Even before MacMurrough earned the title of Ireland's worst traitor by inviting Strongbow's invasion to save himself from a local feud, the Irish chieftain had a reputation for gore. One English chronicler told how MacMurrough, recognising the features of a personal enemy poking from a pile of severed heads after a battle, snatched up the rotting flesh and tore it with his teeth in a "hideous frenzy".
As if it were not enough to be related to two of the most notorious figures in Irish history, Bush's relatives are also thought to have founded the Norman settlement of New Ross, in County Wexford. A quiet place, New Ross has a stunning Norman church and another claim to fame: it is the ancestral home of John F Kennedy.
During his first election campaign in 2000, English genealogists found that Mr Bush was descended from Essex yeomanry. But unlike many US presidents keen to impress the Irish-American voters, he never before claimed an Irish link.
In the recent election campaign, the Democrat John Kerry had to deny rumours he was Irish. But Ronald Reagan and John F Kennedy played the Irish card. And Bill Clinton, perhaps aware that portraits of JFK hung beside the Pope above rural Irish fireplaces, once punched the air at a St Patrick's Day parade, declaring: "I feel more Irish each day."
The jury is out on whether Strongbow had a "conquering" gene that drove him to invade. Michael Staunton, a lecturer in history at University College Dublin, felt Strongbow was simply desperate. "It was a typical colonial situation, the people who don't have much going for them decided to hop off to another country."
Perhaps the most worrying question in New Ross is whether Mr Bush now has a claim on Leinster. "Yes of course, he probably does," Ms Griffin Bernstorff said. "But there are other families in the area who have a claim and neighbours and friends here would put up a pretty stiff fight."
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