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January 30, 2005

01/30/05 – 10,000 Commemorate Bloody Sunday

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IT 01/31/05 10,000 Commemorate Bloody Sunday Killings
IT 01/31/05 Ahern & Blair To Seek Ways To Safeguard Peace Process
IT 01/31/05 Orangemen May Meet President
SM 01/31/05 Scotland: Opin: Why Unionists Cannot Bridge This Divide
IP 01/27/05 Myth Making And Nation Building
IP 01/27/05 Derry People Angry At Bloody Sunday Inquiry Arrest
IP 01/27/05 Opin: Linda Coleman: On The Road With Murphy
IT 01/31/05 10,000 Shipwrecks Listed Off Coast


10,000 Commemorate Bloody Sunday Killings

A crowd estimated at up to 10,000 people marched in Derry yesterday to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Bloody Sunday killings, when 27 civilians were shot, 13 of them dead, by British army paratroopers on January 30th, 1972. George Jackson reports.

The march followed the route of the 1972 civil rights march, from the Creggan through the Brandywell and into the Bogside, where a rally was held at Free Derry Corner.

Yesterday's march took place two days after the final witness gave evidence to the inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings. That inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was announced seven years ago this month by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and was completed at a cost of £154 million. The inquiry's report is expected to be handed over to the British government this summer.

Mr John Kelly, a spokesman for the relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims, told the rally that this month's jailing of a local man who had refused to give evidence to the inquiry, stating he wasn't there, was "an absolute perversion of justice".

Martin "Ducksie" Doherty was jailed for six months by the High Court in Belfast for being in contempt of the inquiry. He is the only person to be jailed as a result of Bloody Sunday.

Taking part in his first Bloody Sunday commemoration march was Mr Billy Leonard, a former RUC officer who joined Sinn Féin last January, and who is now a member of Coleraine Borough Council. Asked to comment on the refusal of Sinn Féin national chairman Mr Mitchel McLaughlin to describe as a crime the 1972 killing by the Provisional IRA of Jean McConville, Cllr Leonard said many people were using Ms McConville's death for political gain.

He said "not too many people were talking about her" in the initial stages of the peace process.

"Many people have now used this case for political gains, particularly the likes of Michael McDowell," Mr Leonard said.

© The Irish Times


Ahern And Blair To Seek Ways To Safeguard NI Peace Process

Gerry Moriarty and Mark Hennessy

The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, and British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair will try to establish a strategy for safeguarding the peace process when they meet in London tomorrow.

The talks will take place as the issue of possible unilateral IRA decommissioning comes on to the political agenda.

Fine Gael leader Mr Enda Kenny yesterday urged the IRA to unilaterally decommission their weapons to restore republican credibility with the governments and other parties, which has been severely damaged by the £26.5 million Northern Bank raid for which the IRA has been blamed.

Mr Ahern meets the Independent Monitoring Commission at Government Buildings this morning to discuss the robbery. The IMC, which is due to conclude a special report into the robbery this week and publish it next week, is expected to recommend sanctions against Sinn Féin.

Financial penalties against the party are likely to be recommended. These could include docking Sinn Féin Assembly pay and allowances.

The IMC could also propose that the party's Dáil and Westminster allowances be hit, although the body's main remit relates to the non-sitting Assembly.

While any such proposals will trigger fierce resistance and condemnation from republicans, the governments essentially view it as a side issue.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair in Downing Street tomorrow will concentrate on exploring future options, though ideas are few.

The Garda Commissioner, Mr Noel Conroy, and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Mr Hugh Orde, will brief the two leaders on the latest details on the investigation into the raid.

The onus now rests on Sinn Féin and the IRA to at least create a climate where political progress could be possible, Mr Ahern and Mr Blair believe.

"If republicans recognise that they have gone too far this time then we may be able to do something," said a senior source about tomorrow's meeting. "But if they don't then the governments will have to start thinking about what else they can do."

Speculation carried in the Sunday Independent that the IRA is about to resume acts of terrorism have been dismissed by informed Government sources.

"Absolute rubbish," said one.

However, the sources point out that long-standing tensions remain within the organisation about the peace process.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Kenny said Sinn Féin and the IRA could show that they are "serious about following the path of democratic politics" by decommissioning unilaterally: "Call in General de Chastelain, and any other reporter or person they wish to verify that, and have that out of the way."

He added: "If they made the decision to decommission, they could follow that through as a gesture of credibility and demonstration that they are serious about concluding the Good Friday agreement, and move on then to negotiations with both governments later."

The Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, meanwhile portrayed Mr Ahern's attack on Sinn Féin and the IRA in the Dáil last week, and his assertion that republicans could turn on and off "punishment" attacks, as a tactic to divert attention from the jailing of former government minister Mr Ray Burke.

Mr Adams said Mr Ahern well knew Sinn Féin's opposition to these attacks.

"What you saw for electoral reasons, for party political reasons, on that particular day, [ was] to get them past the embarrassment caused by the imprisonment of a cabinet minister, the reminder of all of the corruption of the brown envelope culture that permeated establishment politics for so long. And Bertie played a blinder," Mr Adams told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme.

The Progressive Unionist Party's Mr David Ervine said punishment beatings of suspected criminals and anti-social elements are demanded by working classes in Northern Ireland.

"If Sinn Féin and the IRA don't deliver summary justice then they will go somewhere else for it," he told RTÉ's Week in Politics programme.

Speaking on the same programme, the Minister for Education and Science, Ms Hanafin, said Sinn Féin and the IRA had robbed the Northern Bank "but also robbed the peace process" and had behaved in "a most duplicitous manner".

© The Irish Times


Orangemen May Meet President

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The Orange Order is to reconsider its decision not to travel to Dublin to meet the President, Mrs McAleese, in the wake of her apology for remarks in which she appeared to compare Northern Protestants to Nazis.

Ahead of the President's apology on Friday evening, the Orange Order abandoned plans to meet her in Dublin in March.

Her initial comments generated a fierce response. Before her apology, talk shows on BBC Radio Ulster were inundated with thousands of calls and messages condemning her remarks. Mrs McAleese said on Friday evening and in subsequent interviews that she was desperately sorry for her remarks. "Sectarianism is a shared problem. It is my fault for not saying that absolutely as clearly as I always do 110 times out of 111. This was 111 unfortunately."

As a result of the apology, her scheduled meeting could take place although the Order has not yet taken a formal decision on the matter. The Orange Order accepted the apology, although with some reservations, as did most unionist politicians and Protestant representatives.

Mr Drew Nelson, grand secretary of the Orange Order, said yesterday that his first reaction to to Mrs McAleese's comments was one of "utter disbelief" which translated to "anger as the implications of what she had said sank in".

He added: "We obviously accept that apology. When we call for an apology we are not going to be churlish in not accepting it."

Mr Nelson said, however, he had "one little niggling" concern "that may affect matters" and that was over why it took more than 24 hours for Mrs McAleese to issue her apology.

"The apology on the face of it is fulsome, but if it was to be a 100 per cent apology she would have realised right away that what she said was wrong, and should have apologised immediately," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Mr Nelson however indicated that the Orange Order may yet meet Mrs McAleese. "We will reconsider a future meeting because there are many issues that we want to talk to the authorities in the Republic of Ireland about," he said. These included "issues like the development of the Battle of the Boyne site, which is important to us and which is now owned by the Government of the Republic of Ireland" and the Nally report into the Omagh bombing.

"Two of our members were murdered at Omagh and we have a duty to the widows and orphans of our members who have been murdered not to forget about these things," said Mr Nelson.

Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams said the DUP response to the President's original remarks was "well over the top".

"The fact is there is sectarianism in the North. It is a sectarian state: those who proclaim a 'Protestant parliament for a Protestant people'; those who discriminated against people on the basis of their religion," he said. "I don't want to draw any comparison with the Nazis or anyone else but certainly there was a system of apartheid.

"One of the great difficulties is that . . . political unionism has yet to accept any responsibility for the conflict in Ireland, not least the conflict of the last 30 years. And until they do that you are always going to get this denial, and unfortunately the DUP is a party in denial."

Editorial comment: page 15

© The Irish Times


Opin: Why Unionists Cannot Bridge This Divide


Campbell Martin

Jack McConnell’s attempt to tackle sectarianism in Scotland will fail. Firstly, because the two big Glasgow football clubs on either side of the divide which spews forth Scotland’s sectarian bile need the revenue generated by their religion-motivated fans and, secondly, because the First Minister and his Scottish government are unionists, and unionists are a significant part of the problem.

For British unionists to continue to dominate and govern Scotland, the status quo has to be maintained. And for the status quo to be maintained, unionist politicians have to ensure that the people of Scotland, primarily the working-class people of Scotland, continue to be divided.

It is in the interests of Mr McConnell to have the people of Scotland divided along religious and perceived British/English versus Irish lines. The alternative would see the people of Scotland shake off historic indoctrination and come together as a nation.

The reality is, therefore, that, while the First Minister talks about ending sectarianism, for unionist control of Scotland to remain in place the benefits of being Scottish must remain hidden behind the sectarian banners and ideologies that scar our country.

In polite company, it’s said one should never discuss politics, religion or football, but if Scotland is to tackle sectarianism, we have to accept all three subjects are intrinsically linked and have to be tackled head on.

Scotland’s football is, of course, dominated by Rangers and Celtic. In public, both clubs will agree that sectarianism is a problem and say they will do everything they can to help eradicate it. In private, however, they know the religious affiliation of their supporters is the fundamental driving force of their allegiance to those clubs.

And if they were publicly to reject anyone whose primary reason for supporting the club was their religious background, they would be committing economic suicide.

Football-based sectarianism is the most visible aspect of a problem that blights Scottish society, but it is only a symptom. The real problem lies much deeper and links us back to politics and British unionist domination of Scotland.

We see the British at Ibrox with their Union flags singing Rule Britannia, while across the city the Irish will be at Parkhead waving the flag of the Irish Republic and signing the Fields of Athenry.

Scotland will only begin to tackle sectarianism when we get over the inferiority that drives sections of our population to aspire to being British/English or Irish.

For Mr McConnell’s initiative to work, he has to recognise that we first have to dismantle the structures that have created the Protestant/British, Catholic/Irish divides in Scotland.

A united Scottish people with the power to transform our nation will come about only when we retake our independence and raise our children to be proud of being Scottish. Mr McConnell, as a British unionist, will fight to prevent that happening - and his anti-sectarian initiative will fail.

• Campbell Martin is an independent MSP for the West of Scotland.


Myth Making And Nation Building

Commenting on the American media of his day, film maker John Ford once remarked that when the legend becomes accepted as fact, the only thing left to do is print the legend. And in recent weeks just such a process has been taking place within the British and Irish media.

It followed the collapse of negotiations precipitated by the DUP leader’s demand for the public humiliation of republicans and the opportunity presented by the Northern Bank robbery. It began with media speculation about the projected opinion of Hugh Orde, the PSNI Chief Constable and former London Metropolitan officer.

At this point we had three areas, in the terminology of Hollywood, of myth making, involving the (1) speculation of the media about an (2) opinion set in the (3) future. In doing this, the media was able to draw on a rich seam of notions with a long history of promotion by British counter insurgency and already prevalent within the public discourse.

The second phase involved confirmation of his position by the PSNI Chief Constable and the media upping the ante by further fudging the differences between speculation and inside information, opinion and evidence, fantasy and fact.

The media had prophesied Orde would confirm their imaginings and despite the fact that he said nothing which changed the status of the evidence — which still stands as none at all — in newsprint and broadcast commentary speculation was transformed into assertion.

As far as the media was concerned, the IRA was guilty and the only question to be asked was about the likely political fallout and how to punish Sinn Féin. Few journalists stopped to ask why one scenario necessarily flowed from the other. It was as if the engine pushing the whole process forward had been designed to attack Sinn Féin and now we’d arrived at the station.

Suddenly the platform was crowded with commuters eager to add their penny’s worth of condemnation. Amongst the usual passengers of anti-Agreement unionism, the SDLP was running in all directions and Bertie Ahern appeared to have joined the throng. There was a great deal of noise and smoke but as the air cleared, a few simple truths still remained standing.

No matter how much the British, unionism and elements within the South might wish republicans were excluded and marginalised, it remained a pure fantasy. Phase three of the post November onslaught was all about admitting it.

This week, the two governments announced a resumption of talks with Sinn Féin. Senior British Government sources admitted, as the largest nationalist party, any meaningful way forward must include Sinn Féin. Everyone was cross and tired but nothing much had changed.

Criminalisation as a strategy pursued by the British against republicans is nothing new and has been pursued since the imposition of partition and the creation of a sectarian unionist dominated body politic. Following the 1981 Hunger Strikes, criminalisation as a strategy was effectively defeated by international and national public opinion, but if the corpse was dead it has repeatedly refused to lie down.

The resurrection of criminalisation by sections of the media, the British establishment and unionists as a response to the collapse of negotiations just before Christmas came as no surprise to republicans. At every stage in the peace process, a crisis in unionism has routinely been translated into an attempt to criminalise republicans.

But if criminalisation as a failed British strategy still walks amongst us, it is a shadow of its former self. At one time, criminalisation was a prelude to brutal repression including death, torture and incarceration. Now it is little more than a propaganda ploy played out by reactionary forces hoping to undermine Sinn Féin’s growing electoral potential, and even their most devoted anti-republican advocates are already discouraged and pessimistic.

Liam Clarke of the Sunday Times was momentarily cock-a-hoop last week at the possibility of the SDLP doing “battle with the Provos”. But even before the SDLP leadership put paid to the ramblings of McGrady and McDonnell, Clarke was filled with doom and gloom. Any attempt to exclude Sinn Féin by capitulating to the unionist agenda was likely to hasten the SDLP’s inevitable decline. The SDLP risks being “snuffed out in one fell swoop”, concluded Clarke.

The SDLP had “set its sights on recovering support” after the bank robbery said the Sunday Business Post’s Paul T Colgan but there were “pitfalls” ahead and any decision by the SDLP to enter an executive without Sinn Féin would “bury the party”.

For Clarke, the “political battle” for the North is almost over and Sinn Féin success in eclipsing the SDLP in the forthcoming Westminster elections will build “a strong bridgehead” for the party to grow in the South. In the South, partitionist nationalism might be as fervently anti-republican as Liam Clarke but they’re also equally as pessimistic about containing Sinn Féin.

In the Six Counties the media has already largely admitted that blaming the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery “will have no bearing on the ballot box” and Sinn Féin’s position as the voice of nationalism is “unlikely to change”. In the 26 Counties a series of opinion polls told much the same story.

The “majority wants talks with SF on North deal to continue” ran the front page headlines of the Irish Times and worse still, even people who believed the IRA carried out the bank robbery also believed Sinn Féin was a fit partner of government in the 26 Counties.

After weeks of newsprint dedicated to portraying republicans as criminals and liars, no one was more disappointed than the Irish Times in their apparent inability to manipulate public opinion. And it wasn’t just Sinn Féin voters, “a significant proportion of the total electorate would be happy to see people associated with such behaviour participating in government”, said the Irish Times.

It’s an “appaling state of affairs”, ran the editorial. The “public are confused” and the blame lies with Bertie Ahern. “He has repeatedly failed to draw a line with the Sinn Féin leadership about what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. Luckily McDowell was there.” Without McDowell “the issue of criminality would not have become an issue for the Irish Government,” said the Irish Times.

A crisis in the media to manipulate public opinion in favour of the status quo is swiftly translated by the media’s political commentators into a crisis of state and their rhetoric is all dressed up in the borrowed rags of Britain’s criminalisation discourse.

“One of the downsides of the Peace Process,” writes the editor of the Sunday Tribune, “has been the erosion of democratic standards. That slide has been facilitated by the casual attitude of the Irish and British Governments to the criminal activities of republicans.”

Pat Leahy, writing in the Sunday Business Post, admits that the crisis is rooted in Sinn Féin’s electoral threat to Fianna Fáil and the rest of the southern political establishment.

“A certain amount of the vehemence of the media and political reaction of recent weeks can probably be ascribed to a certain amount of pent up frustration with Sinn Féin’s electoral success and seemingly inexorably increasing support in recent years,” writes Leahy.

Peel away the nonsense and what lies at the core of it all is plain enough to see. It is not a crisis of criminality, as David Adams, writing in the Irish Times, suggests. Instead of inclusive democracy we hoped for, says David Adams, “we are now closer to having built a mafia state”.

The crisis is not in the credibility of Sinn Féin: “Sinn Féin’s electoral support remains rock solid”, says Matt Cooper of the SBP. There is no crisis in democracy, as suggested by the Sunday Tribune. The crisis is not flowing from the Good Friday Agreement, “simply a mandate to re-define ongoing criminality as peace”, as Brenda Power of the Sunday Times suggests.

It is a crisis in Partition. The imposition of partition by definition outlawed aspirations of re-unification, whether by military, political or social means. In this, republicans have always been outside the law, beyond the Pale and their aspirations have been repeatedly criminalised. The unravelling of an unstable and unsustainable sectarian state in the Six Counties will necessarily rock the political establishment both sides of the border. And there will be tantrums and tears before bedtime.


Derry People Angry At Bloody Sunday Inquiry Arrest

After visiting Martin Doherty in Maghaberry Prison on Friday 21 January, Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair demanding the immediate release of the Derry man, who was sentenced to three months in prison for refusing to co-operate with the Bloody Sunday Tribunal

There was an angry reaction in Derry last week after the arrest of Doherty at his Creggan home on Wednesday 19 January and over 60 people gathered at the

Speaking at the gathering, Mickey McKinney whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, slammed the decision to imprison Doherty, pointing out that “not one British soldier had ever been sent to prison over the events of Bloody Sunday”.

At the protest, Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney called on Paul Murphy to intervene and release the Derry man.

McCartney said he believed Doherty was being scapegoated by a vindictive British judicial system. “Martin Doherty maintains he has nothing to offer the inquiry as he was not there on the day and now he is being imprisoned for not testifying about events he knows nothing about”.

In his letter to Blair, McGuinness said that Doherty is, to date, the only person who has been imprisoned over Bloody Sunday and that many people in Derry see this as a huge injustice”.

The Sinn Féin MP’s demand for Doherty’s immediate release has been echoed by the Bloody Sunday relatives, who are planning to highlight Doherty’s case at next week’s commemoration.

A spokesperson said that the families were solidly behind Doherty’s wife Helen and would be calling for meetings with the 26-County Government, the SDLP and Sinn Féin. The spokesperson also called on Derry City Council to pass a motion in support of Doherty’s release.


Opin: Linda Coleman: On The Road With Murphy

By Linda Coleman

So, how’s everybody doing with those New Year’s Resolutions? Still keeping those eleventh-hour promises to yourself, or have you already forgotten them all? Ah, well, no problem. If you break a resolution, just put it back on the list and start again tomorrow. If you think of something new, don’t wait until the end of the year, add it to the list right now. I put a new resolution on my list just today: steer clear of that guy Murphy.

You know Murphy. Irish guy. Real pessimist. Author of the famous Law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

I had a brief encounter with Murphy over the New Year’s weekend, on a road trip with Himself to his sister’s wedding.

I’m the designated family photographer, having been given the task by the patriarch of our clan, who decided at the age of 80-something that it was time to relax and enjoy the weddings, birthdays, and family gatherings without the responsibility of capturing the whole event on film.

Along with the job came a fine piece of equipment, a 1960’s era camera with a detachable electronic flash bar. It’s not your modern, plastic, point-and-shoot sissy contraption with delicate parts that break if you accidentally drop it. This camera has a metal body designed to withstand battlefield conditions. Not that a person is likely to encounter shrapnel fire at a family wedding, of course, but it’s nice to have a good solid camera just in case things get a bit wild.

The night before the wedding, I did a test roll of film at the rehearsal dinner, walking around to each table trying to catch people in candid moments. It’s exceedingly difficult to sneak up on people carrying this huge camera. Once I’ve picked out a subject, I have to focus the lens, check the light meter, set the f-stop and shutter speed. By the time I’ve done all that, the element of surprise has pretty much been lost. At this particular dinner, two lovely ladies giggled when they saw me coming. “Oh, don’t take our picture,” they joked. “You’ll break your camera!”

At the time, I laughed. Little did I know that Murphy’s Law was hard at work behind the scene.

The morning of the wedding, I took my film to a one-hour photo place, confident that my shots would be picture perfect. When they were ready—four hours before the wedding—I checked the prints. To my horror, there were inexplicable streaks of light through the photos on the end of the roll. I opened the camera to discover a tear in the shutter cloth, which was exposing the film to light. After nearly 40 years of faithful service, the cloth picked that moment to wear out. Camera buffs will know what I’m talking about. For everybody else, the explanation is simple: those giggly ladies broke my camera.

“Did anybody think to bring a camera?” I asked around to family members gathered at my parents-in-law’s house.

“I have a great Pentax camera,” someone volunteered. “But I didn’t bring it, because you always take the pictures…”

While the assembled relatives compared notes about the features of the great cameras they had left at home, my other half, his brother and I threw on our wedding clothes and headed out early, stopping by the Everything Mart on the way (you know the store—the only place you can get a replacement camera in a small town on New Year’s Eve).

Picking a camera was pretty easy—there were only three film cameras to choose from, all others being of the digital persuasion. Still heartbroken over my crippled “good” camera, I unenthusiastically picked out the mid-range idiot camera, one with a decent zoom, but without too many extra features to learn during the one-hour drive to the church.

“I’ll read the instructions to you,” my brother-in-law assured me from the backseat, as I sat in the passenger seat unpacking the camera with Himself at the wheel, peeling out of the Everything Mart parking lot and speeding towards the highway. “Automatic film loading,” he read. “Slide film door closure latch in the direction of the arrow….”

To make an already too-long story a bit shorter, the pictures turned out just fine and my sister-in-law was delighted with them.

But next time…

Next time—whatever the occasion—I’ll have a backup plan, along with a backup to the backup plan, just in case the first two plans goes horribly wrong.

Back to those New Year’s resolutions everyone made. Hopefully, Paul Doris’ statement about increasing your level of activism is included among your own personal resolutions for 2005. If not, add these items to your list today: “If you made one phone call to your elected officials last year, make two this year; if you wrote one letter to the editor, write two...”

I know, I know, there’s probably someone in your INA unit who “always” writes the letters and can “always” be counted on to make the phone calls. Don’t worry, there’s room for more letters on every representative’s desk. Every time there’s an action item, just jump on in there and do your part. No need to wait for someone to take the lead. And if it’s your job to take the pictures, buy some of those disposable cameras and hand them out to your group, so someone will catch the perfect pictures of your next event, in case your camera picks that very moment to break. Steer clear of giggly ladies and most of all, stay away from that guy Murphy. He’s a bad egg.


10,000 Shipwrecks Listed Off Coast

A list of over 10,000 wrecks of ships off the Irish coast has so far been compiled by a specialised unit of the National Monuments Service. Anne Lucey reports.

The unit is now beginning to look at the sites, said Mr Fionnbarr Moore, senior archaeologist with the underwater archaeology unit of the service. Mr Moore has been asked to investigate whether two wrecks which have emerged in recent weeks at low tide on Banna Strand, Co Kerry, might be those of large merchant ships which went missing in the early 18th century.

In 1730 the Golden Lion, a frigate, was on her way for the Danish East India company from Copenhagen to pick up a cargo at the Indian port of Tranquebar.

It had on board 12 chests of silver bullion when the ship stranded near Ballyheigue. The captain and all 80 crew, along with the silver, were rescued. However, the silver was later robbed and became the centre of a celebrated court case.

The second vessel, Wind Trader, a sailing ship, went down in 1729 in the same area. Bottles and coins have been recovered in recent years.

Mr Moore suspects the wrecks which have appeared on Banna may not be these ships, but he is to investigate the reports.

The underwater archaeology unit was set up in 1997, and has compiled lists of wrecks from documents including Lloyds insurance lists, shipping newspapers and registers.

"We are trying to do it in a systematic way. We now have a dive unit and are beginning to look at the sites of these wrecks," Mr Moore said. The dive unit was set up in 2000.

There are more records of ships along the east coast because of the busy trade between the UK and Ireland. However, Kerry and Donegal have high numbers of wrecks including ships plying international routes.

Kerry has over 600 wrecks off its coast, an initial survey has found. These stem from ships of the Spanish armada, some of which have been located, to 19th century gun ships, to smuggling vessels associated with Daniel O'Connell's uncle in Derrynane.

There is some evidence that ships were lured onto the rocks by wreckers, Mr Moore said.Wreckers would light a fire in stormy weather to lure the ship knowing it would founder. Some 18th century histories mention Kerry as being "infamous" for shipwrecks, he said.

The first of four volumes entitled An Inventory of Shipwrecks is to be published early next year and it will cover the area from Louth to Wicklow. Maps are also being drawn up where wrecks have been located and identified.

© The Irish Times

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