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January 27, 2005

01/27/05 – Loyalist Vendetta Fears Deepen

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

BT 01/27/05 Loyalist Vendetta Fears Deepen
UT 01/27/05 Loyalist Taxi Bombed In North Belfast
IO 01/27/05 30 Bombs Found In PSNI Crackdown On Loyalist Feud
IO 01/27/05 Guildford 4's Conlon Meets Ahern For Brits Apology
UT 01/27/05 Adams: Peace Process In Grips Of 'Deep Sense Of Crisis'
BB 01/27/05 IMC Report Due On £26m Bank Robbery
BT 01/27/05 £26m Bank Heist Van Stolen In Wales
BT 01/27/05 Opin: No. 10 Is Now A Cold House For Sinn Fein
BT 01/27/05 Provo Victim Jean's Family Hit Back
BT 01/27/05 Burnside And Sinn Fein In War Of Words
BT 01/27/05 Opposition To Orange Halls Relief From Rates
BB 01/27/05 Witness Set To Deny IRA Gun Role
BT 01/27/05 Saville Probe Bill Now £154m And Rising
BT 01/27/05 Council Hired 80% Catholics
BT 01/27/05 GAA: Red Hand 'Is Not Sectarian'
IO 01/27/05 Half Of Irish Unaware Of Proposed EU Constitution
IO 01/27/05 Retail Outlet To Be Built On Site Of Bewleys Café
BT 01/27/05 Irish Dancing Championships Set For Belfast



Loyalist Vendetta Fears Deepen

Man held after latest taxi attack.

By Jonathan McCambridge
27 January 2005

There were fears of an upsurge in violence in north Belfast today after another taxi linked to a former PUP man was targeted by petrol bombers.

There have been a series of attacks on taxi drivers working for Jackie Mahood in the last week as part of an ongoing loyalist vendetta.

Police last night signalled their determination to deal with the violence by seizing 30 petrol bombs and making an arrest during searches in the Ballysillan area.

The Call-a-Cab taxi firm has been temporarily closed due to attacks on its drivers blamed on the UVF.

Mr Mahood said today the driver targeted last night, named locally as Robert Boyd, had worked for his firm until two weeks ago.

He said: "This looks like part of the ongoing campaign. We have had no overtures from the UVF yet that they will allow these taxi drivers to return to work free from threat."

The owner of the taxi was in bed last night when he was alerted to activity outside his house where he saw his car was on fire.

Neighbours managed to put out the flames using a garden hose but the inside of the vehicle was destroyed.

A police spokesman said the back window of the taxi was smashed with a brick and a petrol bomb was thrown inside.

Meanwhile, police have recovered more than 30 petrol bombs during searches in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast.

A quantity of drugs was also seized during the planned security operation.

One man was arrested and was later released on bail pending further inquiries.

Superintendent Mike Little said: "This seizure demonstrates the police service's commitment to crack down and tackle all kinds of criminality in north Belfast."

The number of officers patrolling north Belfast increased this week in response to the escalating loyalist paramilitary feud.

The escalating violence has been blamed on a dispute between the LVF and the UVF.


Taxi Bombed In North Belfast

Another taxi has been petrol bombed in north Belfast.

It belonged to a man who used to drive for the firm partly owned by the former PUP man Jackie Mahood.

His cabs have been the focus of a feud between the UVF and LVF over the past week.

He has been forced to close following a series of attacks, in which cars have been petrol bombed and drivers beaten and intimidated.

In the latest incident, the owner was in bed when the car was targeted outside his house shortly after midnight.

His neighbours managed to put the fire out, but the car was completely destroyed.


30 Petrol Bombs Found In PSNI Crackdown On Loyalist Feud

27/01/2005 - 07:42:54

Police in the North have arrested a man following the seizure of 30 petrol bombs during a raid in the loyalist Ballysillan area of north Belfast last night.

A quantity of drugs was also seized during the raid, which is believed to be linked to escalating loyalist violence in the area.

Scores of petrol bombings have taken place in north Belfast in recent days as part of an emerging feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

In the latest incident last night, a taxi was petrol bombed outside its owner's house on Silverstream Avenue.

The owner apparently used to work for a firm partly owned by the prominent loyalist Jackie Mahood. The company has been forced to close due to the feud.


”In the Name of the Father
From the Film “In the Name of the Father”

Guildford Four's Conlon Meets Ahern In Quest For British Apology

27/01/2005 - 08:17:05

A member of the Guildford Four will meet Bertie Ahern today in an attempt to persuade the British government to apologise publicly for jailing him and his father.

Gerry Conlon, whose case was highlighted in the Oscar-nominated movie In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day Lewis, was heading to Dublin after receiving a private acknowledgement that the family had been the victims of a major miscarriage of justice.

Five people were killed when the IRA planted a bomb in a bar in Guildford in October 1974. The attack in the Horse and Groom pub claimed the lives of four soldiers and a civilian.

Two groups of people known as the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven, were later jailed in connection with the attack and other bombings in Woolwich, south east London.

A number of MPs, church leaders, journalists and legal figures began to raise concerns about their convictions.

Gerry Conlon was one of the four people initially detained for the attack.

His father Guiseppe Conlon was also arrested along with members of Annie Maguire’s family after they were allegedly identified as being involved in the bomb plot in confessions extracted by the police.

Guiseppe Conlon, who had a history of bronchial problems, died in prison while serving his sentence in January 1980.

In October 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four after doubts were raised about the police evidence. In June 1991, the Court of Appeal also overturned the sentences on the Maguire Seven.

The case was brought to international attention by Jim Sheridan’s movie In The Name of the Father in 1993 which also starred Pete Postlethwaite as Guiseppe Conlon and Emma Thompson as the solicitor, Gareth Pierce.

Mr Sheridan was due to meet Gerry Conlon in Dublin today to sign the family’s petition calling for a public apology from the British Government.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was also accompanying Mr Conlon at a meeting with the Taoiseach.

Mr Durkan explained: “Everyone thinks the story of the Guildford Four is the story of the film, In The Name of the Father. In fact, there hasn’t been an easy, happy ending.

“The Conlon family still live with the trauma of the terrible injustice done to all of their family 30 years ago. Just last year, the SDLP was pleased to have got the first ever recognition of innocence, not only of Gerry Conlon but of his fater Guiseppe too.

“Amazingly, it was only 15 years after their release that they got such an acknowledgement of their innocence and the apology they deserved.

“But they have not yet got the support they need to overcome the results of their trauma. We are seeing the Taoiseach to ask him to do what he can to get the British government to face up to their responsibilities.”


Peace Process In Grips Of 'Deep Sense Of Crisis'

Northern Ireland's peace process is in the grips of a ''very deep sense of crisis'', Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams warned today.

By:Press Association

Speaking at Westminster ahead of a meeting tomorrow with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr Adams said both the British and Irish governments were contributing to the problem by suggesting that they are taking a hard-line approach to his party.

Mr Adams, who will have talks with Mr Blair at the Prime Minister`s country residence Chequers in Buckinghamshire, told journalists: ``I think it is very fair to say that there is a very deep sense of crisis in the peace process at this time.

``It predates the Northern Bank robbery and the accusations that have flowed from it.

``Obviously the accusations flowing from that robbery have compounded the difficulties, but the difficulties emerged in December when Ian Paisley of the DUP rejected what were seismic initiatives on a range of issues by Republicans

and the comprehensive agreement which would have flowed from that.``

The £26.5 million Northern Bank raid in Belfast - which Northern Ireland chief constable Hugh Orde has blamed on the IRA - had been seized on by ``anti-Republican elements`` for their own purposes, said Mr Adams.


N Bank
More Than £26m Was Stolen From The Northern Bank

Report Due On £26m Bank Robbery

A body monitoring paramilitary activity will meet next week to decide when it is going report on a £26.5m robbery at the Northern Bank in Belfast.

The Independent Monitoring Commission held a series of meetings last week, including one with the chief constable.

It is expected to endorse the police assessment north and south of the Irish border that the IRA carried out the robbery on 20 December.

It is understood the commissioners will be in a position to report within days.

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde has blamed the IRA for the bank raid. The IRA has denied this.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern has said that garda intelligence suggests the IRA was indeed responsible. The monitoring commission will meet Mr Ahern on Monday.

'Decision defended'

Earlier this week, Mr Ahern held his first face-to-face meeting with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams since the chief constable's assessment.

Mr Adams is due to hold talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair at his country residence at Chequers on Friday.

The prime minister has defended his decision to meet Mr Adams, but said he would make it clear at the talks the need for exclusively peaceful means.

Mr Blair is expected to hold talks with Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern next Tuesday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/27 12:35:15 GMT


£26m Bank Heist Van Stolen In Wales

By Tom Brady
27 January 2005

The van used by the gang responsible for the £26m robbery from the Northern Bank in Belfast last month was stolen in Wales, it emerged today.

The white Ford Transit box van with a rear-loading platform was taken from a compound in Gwent, a couple of weeks before the robbery, the Irish Independent reported today.

Anti-terrorist police are satisfied that the Provisional IRA opted for a vehicle overseas to cover their tracks in the run-up to the raid.

The gang required a 'clone' of a van which travelled regularly across the border on behalf of a Northern company. They then fitted it with number plates similar to those on the genuine vehicle.

Footage from CCTV cameras subsequently showed that the stolen van had travelled along the Newry- Forkhill road, a couple of hours from the border, two hours before the gang began the heist at the bank in Donegall Place in Belfast.

Investigations are being carried out to establish how and when the van was brought into the Republic from Wales and where it was adapted in preparation for the raid.

PSNI detectives have already checked out a number of other similar vehicles stolen in recent weeks, but these have all been ruled out of inquiries.

Meanwhile, police are investigating a theory that the IRA may have set up a special unit to carry out the recent spate of armed robberies, including the bank raid in Belfast.

This would suggest that members of the unit were told by the republican leadership that it would distance itself from the operation and anyone linked by police to one of the robberies was 'on his own'.

A similar stance was adopted initially by the leadership of the republican movement after the murder of Det Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996, when it refused to acknowledge that Adare and other robberies were the work of its so-called Munster unit.


Brian Walker: No. 10 Is Now A Cold House For Sinn Fein

By Brian Walker, London Editor
27 January 2005

Leaving aside the shock and the outrage, what were republicans trying to tell us with the robbery? That's the key question Tony Blair is soberly putting to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness tomorrow, in what could be the last of series of top table contacts for quite some time.

Echoing the Taoiseach, Blair will point out that the Republican Movement have blocked their own road to political progress. Only they can lift it. Exactly how is up to them.

Only now is it dawning on Sinn Fein that they face a credibility crisis, says Downing Street. I'm told the Premiers harbour not the smallest sliver of a doubt the Provos did it.

From now on the Prime Ministers will withdraw love. No more cosy fireside chats, I'm told, no more officious shuttling between the two Prime Ministers.

Adams will be given time to reply - but not too much time. The normally upbeat Blair sounded impatient in the Commons yesterday. But expect no quick consideration of the alternatives to Sinn Fein in government.

"That would be putting the cart before the horse" - however much that might frustrate the SDLP in particular, keen to exploit Sinn Fein on the defensive.

The robbery has not quite brought us back to year zero. Blair is keen to salvage the gains he still believes were made (at least on paper) since Leeds Castle. He will point out that IRA activity no longer strengthens Sinn Fein's hand but weakens it, if they still want to take the political road.

There are few more concessions left to give, even if the premiers wanted to. Financial sanctions are in prospect, although dismissed by Ahern as they would allow Sinn Fein to pose as victims. Designed to keep parties on the straight and narrow in a working Assembly, they will be shrugged off with contempt.

Sinn Fein's political strength may survive the robbery more or less intact and the IRA have shown they will remain far more active for far longer than the Premiers hoped.

They accept these realities but hope to convince republicans of their limited effect. So while a political deal may be lost in Limbo, the political dealing will continue, though at a less exalted level.

Were the Prime Ministers wrong to leave criminality off the list of paramilitary "must not dos" in their Joint Declaration?

Their vow in paragraph 17, to "respond immediately and vigorously to any form of criminal activity by these groups," rings pretty hollow in the light of the IRA 's criminality over the past two years.

Did the IRA think they had a blank cheque?

Attention will also focus on last month's abortive agreement. Rejecting the view that it was merely a cynical exercise, the Governments believe it's too valuable just to throw away.

In the Prime Minister's own draft (and in the same words in their own statement), the IRA promised a "new mode which reflects our determination to see the transition to a totally peaceful society".

Their omission in their statement of the draft's words of the key phrase "recognising the need to uphold and not to endanger anyone's personal rights and safety" was held to be sinister.

Were the IRA signalling a determination to hold on to personal weapons and command structures, to keep their grip on their own areas (and carry out robberies) and to act as defenders of the people against the volatile loyalists?

Up to what point? Until the devolution of justice and policing, which Sinn Fein had failed to deliver for the early stages of a new political deal?

To many people this kind of analysis is now beside the point but not, I suspect, to the Governments.

To Tony Blair, an incurable activist, the greater prize than devolution is the standing down of the paramilitaries.

In the past fortnight we have seen his Chief of Staff engaged with loyalists over the reconstruction for the ravaged Shankill - although not "in a negotiation" according to Blair.

Note the fine Blairite distinction. The issues on the republican side are different but Blair will remain just as engaged there, all the same.

The other parties may fume on the sidelines but there's little they can do to put pressure on the Republican Movement or on the Premiers.

So, however much they may fulminate, the ball is still firmly in Gerry Adams' court.


Provo Victim Jean's Family Hit Back

By Marie Foy
27 January 2005

The family of IRA murder victim Jean McConville today hit back at claims that her killing was not a crime.

The family said they were sickened and devastated over controversial remarks made by Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin.

The McConvilles said that the endorsement of his comments from other members of Sinn Fein had added immensely to their pain.

Mrs McConville, a mother of ten, was abducted from her west Belfast home in December 1972 and killed by the IRA. Her body was missing for 31 years.

Speaking on behalf of her family, Michael McConville said: "To leave a family of ten without a mother was morally wrong and can only be viewed as a criminal act of the worst kind.

"When our mother was taken we were left orphaned and our family ripped apart as we were all put into care. We grew up not knowing each other.

"Her murder was denied and her body secretly buried and yet this is not viewed by Sinn Fein as a crime.

"What happened to our mother was inhuman, just like all those named as 'the disappeared' that were treated in the same way.

"Their families were left with years of uncertainty dealing with the pain and grief of not knowing what happened and where their loved ones remains rest."

He called on Mr McLaughlin to resign and said those who supported him should "hang their heads in shame".

"Our mother was an innocent woman who was killed for her compassion and kindness," he said.

"For so long we have sought to have closure and a grave to go to. All we want now is the wrong to be acknowledged and for our mother's name to be cleared so that she might rest in peace."

Mitchel McLaughlin controversially claimed the use of an IRA court martial to sentence Mrs McConville to death meant the killing was not a crime.


Martin Meehan
David Burnside
Martin Meehan / David Burnside

Burnside And Sinn Fein In War Of Words

27 January 2005

Antrim Sinn Fein councillor Martin Meehan has accused South Antrim MP David Burnside of 'breath-taking hypocrisy' following the UUP man's condemnation of a proposed £70m 'peace dividend' for the UDA.

Mr Burnside slammed the speculation, insisting that any cash on offer should go to the 'innocent victims' of violence.

But Mr Meehan said that the UUP man was performing 'political somersaults' with his 'belated condemnation'.

"This is the same man who met with UDA boss Andy Tyrie back in the 1970s to discuss taking over the press work for an organisation that was terrorising and murdering hundreds of Catholics," the Sinn Fein representative said.

"The rights and wrongs of the £70m are issues for another day, but for him to castigate the UPRG and the UDA for asking on behalf of the people of west Belfast and the Shankill beggars belief.

"This wasn't a one-off either - let's not forget that he also met the UDA during the recent unrest in north Belfast too.

"He's certainly not in any position to take the moral high ground."

Mr Burnside admitted this week that he did meet the UDA boss 30 years ago, but stressed he had not applied for a post in the organisation.

"Back before they were a proscribed organisation, Andy Tyrie asked me along to their headquarters on the Newtownards Road and offered me a job looking after their public relations. I declined the offer," the MP revealed.

He added: "Like all statements from the republican movement, I treat this sort of mud-slinging with utter contempt.

"I don't need to be lectured by the same movement who carried out the biggest bank robbery in history - the movement who carried out a campaign of murder, intimidation and extortion spanning four decades.

"Martin Meehan should put his own house in order before attacking me.

"I can't believe I'm being preached to about morality by Sinn Fein when they apparently can't see that the terrible murder of Jean McConville was a crime.

"They can't open their mouths without telling lies - and that's why they are now discredited north and south of the border."


Opposition To Orange Halls Relief From Rates

27 January 2005

A Sinn Fein councillor in Antrim has threatened to mount a legal challenge to controversial proposals to offer rates relief to Orange halls - if there is no "parity of esteem" for nationalists.

Martin Meehan believes that the NIO is poised to announce plans to make Orange halls across the province exempt from payment.

But he warned that such a move would spark demands from the nationalist community.

"It appears that this was one of the sweeteners for the DUP which came out of the Leeds Castle talks," he said.

"Now I've nothing against this in principle - but only if it is carried out across the board.

"If this benefit only applies to one side of the community it will certainly open the floodgates for cultural groups like the GAA.

"I will certainly fight against any double standard, which I believe flies in the face of equality legislation."

He insisted that Sinn Fein would "not allow the DUP to turn the clock back".

"This is a throwback to the old Stormont regime which was quite rightly brushed away with direct rule.

"Since then it has been a level playing field for everyone, so I'm astounded that this has even been considered - particularly in the current political climate.

"If this ill-advised scheme goes ahead it will be challenged in the courts, I've no doubt about it."


Witness Set To Deny IRA Gun Role

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry will sit in special session in London to hear the evidence of an anonymous witness.

The inquiry wants to question him about a 1972 RUC interview note in which he is recorded as saying he was an IRA man who fired a rifle on Bloody Sunday.

Witness X is going to tell the tribunal he knows nothing about the note, that he was not in the IRA and not at the Bogside civil rights march that day.

He will testify via video link and be screened from public view.

The inquiry has been investigating the deaths of 14 civilians shot by soldiers during a civil rights march in Londonderry in January 1972.

The Bloody Sunday families will watch the proceedings on video screens in Londonderry.

But they will not see Witness X, they will only hear his voice.

Witness X has asked for these security measures because his job takes him into loyalist areas of the north west.

Medical reasons

Thursday's hearing is due to start at about 1700 GMT and is not expected to last more than a couple of hours.

It was thought the tribunal had finally ended last November, after seven years and at a cost of about £150m.

Witness X had been due to appear last January, but withdrew citing medical reasons.

The Bloody Sunday inquiry was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those killed and injured.

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the inquiry began hearing evidence in March 2000.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

Lord Saville's final report and conclusions are not expected to be made public until the summer.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/27 07:31:04 GMT


Saville Probe Bill Now £154m And Rising

By Chris Thornton
27 January 2005

The taxpayers' final bill for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry seemed set to break all estimates again as Lord Saville's team gathered in London today for an extra hearing.

New figures released in Parliament show the cost of the seven-year inquiry has climbed to £154m, with £80m going on legal fees.

This Sunday marks the 33rd anniversary of the Londonderry shootings which saw soldiers kill 13 civilians and fatally wound another man.

The Government currently estimates the final cost will be £155m, but costs seemed set to continue rising. The inquiry's final report is not expected before the end of this year and some final legal bills have not been submitted.

In 2002, the Government estimated the final cost would be £100m.

According to the latest figures, London solicitors Evershed has earned £12.6m from the inquiry. Belfast firm Madden & Finucane has earned £8.1m.

Inquiry barrister Christopher Clarke QC has been the highest individual earner. He has been paid £4.4m, while Edwin Glasgow QC, the main barrister for the soldiers, has been paid £3.9m.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell, who obtained the latest figures, said they "again demonstrate the staggering scale of this inquiry.

"This is 15 times more expensive that the second most expensive inquiry in British history. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry cost £10m. That's the scale of this.

"Anyone who harboured naive thoughts seven years ago that this could be wrapped up quickly, resolve an outstanding problem or be done economically has been proved wrong on all three fronts."


Council Hired 80% Catholics

By Deborah McAleese
27 January 2005

A probe has been demanded into the recruitment policies of Down District Council after it was discovered that Catholics filled 80% of job vacancies over a seven-year stretch.

From 1997 to 2003, 485 jobs were advertised and only 101 were filled by Protestants.

The latest figures show that in 2003 Protestants constituted less than a quarter of the permanent workforce, holding only 69 of 291 positions.

The figures, which were released by NIO minister Angela Smith in response to a parliamentary question by MP Iris Robinson, also show that the number of jobs held by Protestants is falling.

In 1998 Protestants held almost 30% of positions but that has fallen each year.

Mrs Robinson has demanded an inquiry.

"The council must take urgent action to change this very worrying situation and ensure that it does not become a 'cold house' for the Protestant community," said DUP Assemblyman Jim Wells.

DUP council candidate William Walker said the situation is "unacceptable".

However, an independent report to the Equality Commission, by HR Managed Services, showed the council's procedures comply with fair employment recommendations to a high degree.

Chief executive John McGrillen said the report found a number of Protestants rejected job offers and a large number of applicants, mainly Protestants failed to turn up for aptitude tests.

Mr McGrillen said: "Management at Down District Council are trying to address these two issues but our efforts to do so are continually undermined by individuals who are seeking to suggest that members of the Protestant community are unwelcome and discriminated against, which is patently incorrect.

"Statements such as that made by Mrs Robinson only serve to reinforce these difficulties."


Red Hand
Red Hand of Ulster

Red Hand 'Is Not Sectarian'

GAA official defends symbol

By Alice McVicker
27 January 2005

A leading GAA member today argued that the Red Hand of Ulster, the official logo of the Association's Tyrone branch, is not necessarily a sectarian symbol.

Damian Cahalon, a former chairman of Dungannon GAA, said the emblem, which appears on all members' jerseys, is an ancient Ulster symbol relating to the O'Neills of Dungannon and should not be interpreted as a sectarian design.

His comments follow the controversy created by former Miss Northern Ireland Zoe Salmon, who as the latest presenter of BBC children's show Blue Peter selected the symbol as a "Best of British" airline logo.

Her choice led to a number of complaints being filed to the BBC, including one from sociology professor David Miller, who likened paramilitary use of the Red Hand to Nazi use of the swastika.

Mr Miller said: "This symbol has sectarian connotations. It's used on the loyalist murals by paramilitaries and would cause offence to a lot of people."

The BBC were forced to apologise to those who complained.

But Mr Cahalon described the incident as "a lot of fuss about nothing".

He said: "The Red Hand of Ulster is an ancient symbol which originated with the O'Neills of Dungannon.

"I thought the incident was a lot of fuss about nothing.

He added: "I would be very surprised if anyone from Tyrone GAA would have a different view."

Meanwhile, the BBC response to the complaints has provoked anger from Ulster Unionist Assembly member Michael Copeland.

He said the channel's apology, from head of Blue Peter Anne Gilchrist, was "political correctness gone mad."

The East Belfast representative was last night pushing for a meeting with BBC bosses and to demand they retract the apology.

He has written to the BBC's Controller for Northern Ireland Anna Carragher and telephoned the Director General's office in London to arrange a meeting.

"The Red Hand is the symbol of Ulster and transcends religious or cultural boundaries both north and south of the border.

"To suggest that it is sectarian or could somehow cause offence is a ludicrous proposition," he said.


Half Of Irish People Unaware Of Proposed EU Constitution

27/01/2005 - 11:51:31

Almost half the Irish population have never heard of the proposed EU constitution, according to a Eurobarometer opinion poll published today.

One-third of the 25,000 Europeans questioned as part of the poll said they were unaware of the document, but this figure was 45% among Irish respondents.

Twenty-eight per cent of Irish people questioned in the survey said they supported the proposed constitution, while 5% said they opposed it, the lowest figure in any EU member state.

The constitution was negotiated by EU leaders during Ireland's presidency of the union last year.

The Irish electorate will be able to vote on whether to accept or reject the document in a referendum some time in the next two years.


Retail Outlet To Be Built On Site Of Bewleys Café

27/01/2005 - 11:24:14

Dublin City Council has approved plans to construct a retail outlet at the site of the former Bewleys Café on Westmoreland Street.

The plans were put forward by the owners of the café, who closed the facility and its sister café on Grafton Street late last year due to mounting financial losses.

The council's decision to alter the use of the shop from café to retail outlet flies in the face of a motion passed by local councillors last year calling for the two cafés to be protected in their current form.

The Save Bewleys Campaign has condemned the decision, saying the café was a cultural and historical monument.


Irish Dancing Championships Set For Belfast

By Ashleigh Wallace
27 January 2005

Around 3,000 dancers are due to descend on Belfast next week for the All-Ireland Irish dancing championships.

The Waterfront Hall is playing host to the competition, which is taking place over a six-day period from Monday February 7.

Belfast is hosting the All-Ireland championships - the biggest Irish dancing competition outside the World Championships - for the first time and around 3,000 competitors from across Britain and Ireland are expected to participate.

Belfast has already played host to the World Championships, which were held in the city in 2002 and last year. And the city has been chosen to once again host the international competition next year.

During the six days of the competition, dancers will be competing in categories including step, ceili and figure dancing.

Looking forward to welcoming the dancers to Belfast is Lord Mayor Tom Ekin, who said: "The two world championships hosted in Belfast have been the biggest in the event's history.

"We are looking forward to repeating that success with the All-Ireland championships, by hosting a competition that is bigger and better than ever before."

For all event and ticket information, call 00353 1 475 2220 or visit

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Table of Contents - Jan 2005
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