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January 31, 2005

01/31/05 – Ahern Encourages IMC Not To Penalise SF

Overall Table of Contents
Table of Contents - Jan 2005

IT 02/01/05 Ahern Encourages Commission Not To Penalise SF –V(2)
IT 02/01/05 Family Mass Marks Death Anniversary
IO 01/31/05 US Ambassador Won't Attend Oireachtas Committee Meeting
IT 02/01/05 US Judge Rules Terror Suspect Tribunals Illegal
BB 01/31/05 IRA Is Not Yet In Its "New Mode"
BB 01/31/05 Arrest After Stabbing Victim Dies –V
GU 01/31/05 DUP Hits At Trimble Adviser's Gay Marriage
IT 02/01/05 Paisley Jnr's Remarks On Homosexuality Deplored
IT 02/01/05 'Daily Ireland' National Newspaper Launched Today
DM 02/01/05 Daily Ireland Set To Shake-Up Newpspapers
IT 02/01/05 U2 Guitarist Takes Legal Action Against Newspaper –V

NW 01/31/05 Holiday World Experience Underway At The RDS –VO(4)

Holiday World Experience Underway At The RDS –VO(4)
Geraldine Harney goes whale-watching in west Cork

Rowan Hand explores unusual holiday options in Northern Ireland

Hilary White, of Fáilte Ireland, talks about the Irish tourism industry

Nationwide: See the whole show at:


Taoiseach denies receiving IRA report - Charlie Bird, Chief News Correspondent, reports on talks between Bertie Ahern and the Independent Monitoring Commission

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, looks ahead to tomorrow's meeting between Mr Ahern and British PM Tony Blair

Ahern Encourages Commission Not To Penalise Sinn Fein –V(2)

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The Taoiseach has encouraged the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) not to recommend penalties against Sinn Féin in its report to be published next week.

During an hour-long meeting in Government Buildings with the four-strong commission, Mr Ahern said he had "given my views" on the subject.

Under the legislation setting up the body, the IMC has the power to recommend "remedial actions", including penalties, to bring paramilitary organisations into line.

However, Mr Ahern believes such a move now would cause considerable problems, though his less-than-discreet direction to an independent body could raise eyebrows in some quarters.

The IMC's special report on the Northern Bank raid and the resurgence in punishment beatings will be finished by the end of the week, following a special three-day meeting of the group.

The document will then go before the Irish and British governments and published late next week, Mr Ahern indicated.

"They informed me that it is their intention to complete a preliminary report on recent matters by the end of this week," he said.

Mr Ahern will meet the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, this afternoon in No 10 Downing Street to discuss the difficulties in the peace process.

The Garda Commissioner, Mr Noel Conroy, and the PSNI Chief Constable, Mr Hugh Orde, will attend, and will brief the two leaders on the latest details of the investigation into the £26.5 million bank robbery.

Both men are convinced the IRA orchestrated the robbery, and speculation is increasing that the investigation's first major arrest is imminent.

Speaking in Dublin, the Taoiseach said: "I do not think the politics of exclusion or penalties will bring us forward. We have serious issues that we have to find resolutions for. I will positively work to try to find resolutions for those.

"...It is difficult enough in terms of the British election, the G8 (Group of Eight), the (UK's upcoming) European Union presidency, the elections in the North. All of these things make it difficult enough.

" I do not think that the politics of exclusion will get us anywhere," he said shortly after his meeting with the IMC.

The decision of the IMC to produce a special interim report reflects its concern over the impact of the bank raid, though it is expected to lay the blame squarely upon the IRA.

It could recommend docking the pay and allowances of Sinn Féin's Northern Ireland Assembly members amongst other actions.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern has formally rejected suggestions that the IRA is ready to split or to resume terrorist acts in the North or in Britain.

"I have no information on that. I have no security intelligence on that. Needless to say, I can't go into my security briefings, but I do not have any of those reports.

"I have no such information. I have no such information of those reports," Mr Ahern told journalists at lunchtime in Dublin yesterday.

© The Irish Times


Family Mass Marks Death Anniversary

Gerry Conlon joined his mother Sarah and other members of his family for a special Mass in St Peter's Church in west Belfast last week to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Guiseppe Conlon. Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, reports.

They hope that shortly the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, will publicly apologise for one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice of the Troubles and thus bring a level of relief and comfort to the Conlon family.

Guiseppe Conlon, from the Falls Road area of Belfast, who suffered from tuberculosis and emphysema, died aged 56 on January 23rd, 1980 having been sentenced to 12 years in prison in 1976.

He was arrested after travelling to England to arrange a legal defence for his son Gerry, who with three others was convicted of the 1974 Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings. Guiseppe Conlon was charged with bomb-making along with six others, including Annie Maguire, who became known as the Maguire Seven. After several years of campaigning by the prisoners' families, politicians, clergy and journalists the Guildford Four convictions were overturned in 1989, while the Maguire Seven convictions were quashed two years later.

It was claimed at the time of the arrests that Paul Hill and Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four had been taught to make bombs by Gerry Conlon's aunt, Annie Maguire. Guiseppe Conlon was arrested after visiting Mrs Maguire's home in London to try to prepare a legal defence for his son.

Guiseppe Conlon, Annie Maguire, her husband Paddy, their two sons, Pat (14) and Vincent (17), Sean Smyth and Pat O'Neill (35) were all sentenced to varying terms in prison after they were found to have handled nitroglycerine.

Serious questions however were raised about the validity of the scientific tests that purportedly yielded traces of nitroglycerine, and a slow-building campaign for the release of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven started.

© The Irish Times


US Ambassador Won't Attend Oireachtas Committee Meeting

31/01/2005 - 19:26:40

The US Ambassador to Ireland has snubbed tomorrow's meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs.

James Kenny was due to face questions from TDs and Senators about the plight of illegal Irish emigrants in America.

However, the Ambassador has informed the Committee that he will not be attending.

In a statement issued this evening ambassador Kenny asked that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs to defer the planned Tuesday meeting due to an misunderstanding about the venue and the format of the discussion.

It also states, Ambassador Kenny is fully prepared to meet with TDs, Senators and other Irish officials to discuss this and other important issues, but the policy is for Ambassadors to meet with Parliament representatives only on an informal basis.


US Judge Rules Terror Suspect Tribunals Illegal

In a far-reaching setback to the Bush administration's "war on terror", a senior US judge in Washington has ruled that special military tribunals set up to try hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay are unconstitutional. Judge Joyce Hens Green of the DC District Court said the detentions "violate the petitioners' rights to due process of law" guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the US constitution, writes Conor O'Clery in New York

The ruling, the latest in a series of embarrassing judgments against US detention policies, leaves in doubt the fate of 540 detainees from 42 countries held incommunicado at the US base in Cuba.

The White House maintains that Guantanamo inmates have no constitutional rights and a spokesman for President Bush said last night, "We respectfully disagree with the decision."

Yesterday's ruling, which US officials will likely appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, challenges the action of Deputy Defence Secretary Mr Paul Wolfowitz last July in creating the military courts, known as Combatant Status Review tribunals.

He did so in response to a US Supreme Court decision in June, which the administration is appealing, that the detainees are entitled to have their cases heard by a non-government tribunal.

"Of course, it would be far easier for the government to prosecute the war on terrorism if it could imprison all suspected 'enemy combatants' at Guantanamo Bay without having to acknowledge and respect any constitutional rights of detainees," Judge Green said.

But while the President had to protect Americans, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."

The US constitution states that no one under US jurisdiction can "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

A group of American lawyers representing the detainees praised the ruling as a "smashing defeat for the Bush administration" and "a momentous victory for the rule of law, for human rights, and for our democracy."

Two weeks ago in the same court, Judge Richard Leon dismissed a lawsuit brought on behalf of seven detainees, ruling that foreign nationals captured and detained outside the US had no rights under the US constitution.

In her 75-page opinion on 11 cases involving Guantanamo prisoners, Judge Green also noted that the military tribunals failed to give the detainees access to material evidence or allowed lawyers to advise them.

The judge found, moreover, that the detainees had valid claims against their continued detention under the Geneva Conventions, despite administration claims that the suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members arrested in Afghanistan, who make up the bulk of prisoners held in Cuba, are not entitled to the rights of prisoners of war.

Judge Green, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and was promoted to president of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under President George H. W. Bush in 1990, also found that confessions from detainees on which the government relied were cast in doubt by widespread allegations of abuse.

A US army general is currently investigating accounts of brutal treatment of detainees witnessed by FBI agents last summer at Guantanamo Bay, condemned as an "icon of lawlessness" by Amnesty International.

Before they were suspended in November, the tribunals had reviewed just over 400 cases but only two detainees were released.

The process was stalled when US District Judge James Robertson ruled in the case of Mr Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, that a detainee could not be tried there unless a proper court decided he was not entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions.

The FBI witnesses reported incidents where a prisoner was shackled and forced to lie in his own faeces and others where prisoners were chained to the floor in bare cells and threatened with dogs.

The Red Cross reportedly told the US government that the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo involved psychological and physical coercion "tantamount to torture".

Last week, four British detainees were handed over to British authorities and released.

© The Irish Times


IRA Is Not Yet In Its "New Mode"

By Brian Rowan
BBC Northern Ireland security editor

The IRA is in the political dock right now - accused of being behind the massive robbery at the Northern Bank in December and of scuppering hopes of any new deal in Northern Ireland, certainly in the short term.

This is the same IRA that only weeks before the Belfast bank raid indicated a willingness to move into a "new mode" and put all of its weapons beyond use - the republican contribution in trying to achieve a comprehensive political agreement.

Now, something very different is being suggested. There is talk of splits and of a threat to the ceasefire.

But is this really what is going on inside the IRA and the broader republican family? My sources say: "No".

"I would have heard," one told me. "I've heard nothing. (Are there) internal problems? Yes. Splits? No. People leaving? Yes. Anger? Yes."

All of this can apparently be traced back to the political negotiations of last year and to the contribution the IRA said it was prepared to make to secure a deal.

That deal would include power-sharing with Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists, sweeping security changes, more progress on policing and an end to "physical force republicanism" as part of the IRA's "new mode".

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness negotiated that IRA contribution at the very top of the organisation, inside the "army council".

But other senior IRA figures then had to explain and sell that contribution on the ground, and it is here that the problems have emerged.

Not because there is a push for a return to "war", but because there is a view that the IRA offered too much - went too far - both in spelling out the organisation's future and what it intended to do with its guns.

'Another negotiation'

Was this an IRA pandering to Paisley without a guaranteed outcome to the political negotiations? Was this an IRA about to be "fooled" for a second time by another unionist leader?

The IRA still remembers the decommissioning of October 2003 - the weapons that were put beyond use as part of an apparent deal with David Trimble, only for that deal to stall.

The "new mode" and the complete decommissioning offered at the end of last year, was not enough for the DUP.

Ian Paisley wanted photographic proof of the weapons being put beyond use and suggested the IRA should humiliate itself - should wear "sackcloth and ashes".

The deal of all deals was not going to be done on those terms, and another negotiation in which the IRA had declared its hand had failed.

In the fall-out there has unquestionably been a hint of "I told you so" and all of this has to be managed inside the IRA - managed by some of the organisation's most senior figures who have put their IRA reputations on the line.

"The management team got roasted right across the country," one source told me.

But, however difficult it might be to settle the IRA organisation, no-one is suggesting that ending the ceasefire or letting off a bomb would be a good idea.

'Accepted that denial'

But what about the bank robbery? Was letting it happen the IRA's way of "settling its troops" and calming things internally?

Was this a kind of "reverse humiliation", was it the IRA refusing to wear "sackcloth and ashes"?

No-one in the republican community will enter into this discussion.

They say the republican position is clear.

The IRA has denied any involvement in the bank raid, and the Sinn Fein leadership has accepted that denial.

So, the reputations of "P O'Neill", Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are on the line.

And it will not matter if the police produce the most convincing evidence that the IRA was behind this robbery, the republican position will not change.

So, where does all of this leave the political process? Not for the first time, it has been left jogging on the spot.

More elections are coming, and, unquestionably, so too are more negotiations.

The IRA is not yet in that "new mode" and internally the job of calming continues. That is very different from the suggestion that the ceasefire is under threat.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/31 17:36:16 GMT


Tommie Gorman brings breaking news regarding yesterday's row in a Belfast pub which lead to a man's death

Arrest After Stabbing Victim Dies -V

A 33-year-old man found stabbed in Belfast city centre has died in hospital, police have said.

The man was found unconscious in Cromac Street after a fight broke out in a bar in May Street on Sunday.

He was Robert McCartney from the Short Strand area of east Belfast. One man has been arrested.

The police have launched a murder investigation. Another man, 31, was also taken to hospital with a stab wound.

However, his injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

It is understood the fight broke out at about 2300 GMT. Police are appealing for information.

Police carrying out searches in the Markets area of Belfast in connection with the fatal stabbing have been attacked by stonethrowers.

Earlier on Monday, the police pulled out of a search operation in Friendly Place after they were stoned by youths. Officers in riot gear returned later in the evening and were also attacked.

Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said: "It appears the PSNI is using last night's tragic stabbing incident as an excuse to disrupt life within this community, and the scale and approach of their operation is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/01/31 22:57:13 GMT

Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell, who knew the dead man's family, said it was another tragic example of Northern Ireland's burgeoning knife culture.


DUP Hits At Trimble Adviser's Gay Marriage

Ian Paisley Jnr accused of stoking homophobia

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Tuesday February 1, 2005
The Guardian

Ian Paisley Jr was last night accused of stoking homophobia in Northern Ireland after saying a senior political adviser should not work for the Ulster Unionist party because he had married his gay partner.

Steven King, the adviser to the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, is reported to have married his French Canadian partner Jean Claude in a ceremony in Canada before returning to Belfast.

Mr Paisley, justice spokesman for the biggest unionist party, the Democratic Unionist party, told the BBC: "Most people in Northern Ireland find homosexual relationships offensive and indeed obnoxious and I say that from the position of research I have done."

He said his political post-bag was full of letters from people opposed to the civil partnership bill granting rights to same-sex couples.

"David Trimble's party actively opposed civil partnerships - it just seems a wee bit perverse that the person advising their leadership leaves the country and enjoins in one [civil partnership] in another country," he said. "People are right to comment about the nature of that relationship."

Asked if he worked with Peter Mandelson when he was Northern Ireland secretary, Mr Paisley said: "I didn't find it any less offensive, I must say. At least Peter Mandelson did not promote his relationship to this degree that he would go away and get married or create a civil partnership in it ... The catch-all is that I find this sort of relationship as both immoral, offensive and obnoxious.

"The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland feel the same and have expressed that they feel that way."

Mr Paisley denied he was encouraging homophobia. "I am not speaking from a position of hatred. I don't hate gay people.

"I am just stating my personal view that it is incongruous when you are opposed to gay marriage to have an adviser in a gay marriage. It would be like the DUP taking advice from an IRA man on constitutional matters."

Deeply conservative and religious Northern Ireland - where Ian Paisley senior once led the "Save Ulster from sodomy" campaign - is struggling with a growing problem of homophobic crime.

The number of violent homophobic attacks reported in Derry is rising. One young gay man recently spoke of fleeing the city because of abuse. Others have told of excrement smeared on their doors and gay teenagers have reported contemplating suicide because of bullying.

Last year a DUP councillor was found guilty of harassment and fined after making homophobic taunts against a council candidate while canvassing.

Mr King refused to comment or confirm his marriage last night.

The Ulster Unionist Chris McGimpsey accused Mr Paisley Jr of using any excuse to attack David Trimble.

"What he is saying is that when Steven King was living with his boyfriend it was all right, now that he has married he should be sacked," he said.

"Should no gay or lesbian have a job? ... I wonder if the DUP would like to purge the gays from their own ranks."

Eileen Bell, deputy leader of the Alliance party, said: "This personal attack clearly demonstrates both the lack of tolerance and the extent of homophobia in the DUP. It is a pity that the DUP feels it has to deny equality to people from the gay community at every opportunity, but not surprising."

David Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist party, accused the DUP of "rank hypocrisy."

· The Independent Monitoring Commission, which assesses continuing paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland, is to issue a preliminary report this week considering the £26.5m Belfast bank robbery which has been blamed on the IRA. Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, said the report would be handed to the British and Irish governments early next week.

Last April, the government imposed financial sanctions on Sinn Fein after the IMC recommended that the party should be punished because of continuing paramilitary activity by the IRA. Sinn Fein is challenging the sanctions in the high court in Belfast.


Paisley Jnr's Remarks On Homosexuality Deplored

Ulster Unionist councillor Dr Chris McGimpsey has deplored statements by DUP justice spokesman Mr Ian Paisley jnr describing homosexual relationships as "immoral, offensive and obnoxious". Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, reports.

Mr Paisley made his comments after Ulster Unionist leader Mr David Trimble's senior adviser, Dr Steven King, married his gay partner four weeks ago in Canada. Mr Paisley said it was "a wee bit perverse" that while Ulster Unionist MPs opposed the Civil Partnership Bill, which will allow such partnerships, that Mr Trimble's main adviser was getting married.

Dr King would not comment on Mr Paisley remarks published in yesterday's Daily Mirror and made on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

"I find those sorts of relationships immoral, offensive and obnoxious, and I think the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland feel the same, and have expressed the view that they feel that way," said Mr Paisley.

Mr Paisley said it was wrong to infer from what he said that gays ought not to be employed or that he did not "have some sort of desire to see them change" or that he did not care for them, or that he hated them.

"I do not hate gay people," he said.

"But I do think people are allowed to draw a conclusion that if you are, supposedly, opposed to this and your party acts in opposition to it in the House of Commons and votes against civil partnerships, is it not obnoxious, is it not a bit perverse that a key adviser to your party leaves the country to enjoin in one somewhere else," added Mr Paisley.

The UUP would not comment on Mr Paisley's remarks as they referred to Dr King's personal life.

UUP Belfast city councillor Dr McGimpsey, however, said Mr Paisley was being "opportunistic" in attacking Mr Trimble through Dr King.

"What he is actually saying is that while Steven King was 'living in sin' with his boyfriend it was all right to be David Trimble's adviser.

"But now that he is married and made a commitment to his boyfriend that he should be sacked," he added.

"Now how far does he want to take this? Would he want to throw all gays out of employment? Does he want everybody who is homosexual or lesbian never to be allowed to have a job? How far does Ian Paisley junior want to go?

"What he is saying is that homosexuals should not be in employment," said Dr McGimpsey.

© The Irish Times


'Daily Ireland' National Newspaper Launched Today

Dan Keenan Northern News Editor

A new national newspaper with a strong nationalist identity hits the news stands this morning.

The Daily Ireland, part of Belfast's Andersonstown News stable, will compete in an already crowded marketplace with some 17 titles and aims to reach a circulation of 20,000. The established Belfast newspapers have announced redesign and investment programmes, marking an intensification in the shake-up of the local market.

Daily Ireland will be compact in design and will adopt a "national and nationalist" identity. It "will be different from anything else on the news stand and will wear its heart on its sleeve", according to Mr Mairtín Ó Muilleoir, managing director of the Andersonstown News Group. The new title will concentrate on Northern news coverage from a "green perspective".

"We will oppose violence both at home and abroad," Mr Ó Muilleoir told The Irish Times last night. Daily Ireland will target readers from the rival Irish News, which currently sells just over 50,000 copies per day, and hopes to encourage readers of the bi-weekly Andersonstown News to opt also for the new daily.

Former Irish rugby international and Ulster Unionist member Trevor Ringland contributes to today's edition. Contributors will also include Damien Kiberd and Patricia McKenna. Some 40 employees are involved, including one from each of the 12 counties specifically targeted by the newspaper.

© The Irish Times


Daily Ireland Set To Shake-Up Newpspapers

Tuesday, 01 February 2005

A political argument has erupted in Northern Ireland about the launch of a new newspaper which is promising to give a political voice to Irish republicans, but the real story is how the independent press in Ireland has become increasingly corporate.

By Jason Walsh

A new newspaper, Daily Ireland, hits newstands in Belfast and Monaghan tomorrow morning, published by the Belfast-based newspaper group, Nuachtáin – the Irish-language word for “news”. The group already publishes three weekly newspapers and an Irish-language daily called Lá, meaning “today”.

Editor, Maria McCourt says Daily Ireland will be: “tabloid sized but with clean design reminiscent of a broadsheet. We want to achieve readability and credibility. We’ll be aiming to take readers from both the Irish News and the Daily Mirror.”

Based in the nationalist Andersonstown district of Belfast, Daily Ireland’s sister papers, the Andersonstown News, the South Belfast News and the North Belfast News are seen as broadly sympathetic to Irish republicanism, and Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in particular.

Most newspapers take political positions — the Guardian and New York Times are known as liberal titles and the Washington Times takes a conservative view, but in Northern Ireland these kinds of divisions are dwarfed by the constitutional question: should Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom, or should it reunite with the Republic of Ireland?

The slow-burning 30-year conflict in Ireland spawned more column inches than probably any other modern civil-war and the subsequent on-again, off-again peace process has provided no less fascinating for journalists – and readers. Pro-British unionists are served by the Belfast Telegraph and News Letter — both conservative dailies — while pro-Irish nationalists have tended to read the liberal Irish News. However, the Irish News is seen by some commentators as antagonistic to Irish republicanism.

Independent writer Liam O’Ruairc says: “If you studied its history closely, you would see that its allegiance was to Home Rule, later the Irish Nationalist party and finally the SDLP. The old slogan was ‘Irish News equals British news equals Bad news.’ I think that it would be more accurate to see the Irish news as antagonistic to republicanism rather than to Sinn Féin.”

Edmund Curran, editor of the Belfast Telegraph, says that the party would “see a sympathetic daily as advantageous.”

The new newspaper will clearly be competition for the Irish News which sells 50,000 copies daily. Irish News editor, Noel Doran remains unconvinced by Daily Ireland’s claims: “We’ve been publishing continuously since 1891. They’ve made a a lot of being a ‘national’ newspaper but the fact remains that it will only be available in 12 counties – about a third of Ireland.” He continues: “It will certainly be competition, but we’re already competing with the Belfast Telegraph, the British tabloids and to a lesser degree, the southern papers.”

Nevertheless, the Irish News is about to undergo an expensive format change, moving to tabloid from its current larger “Berliner” size popular in Europe. The newspaper also now features a daily page in the Irish-language.

Media Politics

During the peace process Sinn Féin have sought to avoid being closely associated with terrorism and gain acceptance as a mainstream political party. They now out-poll the moderate – and increasingly conservative – Social Democratic and Labour Party. The trajectory of the Nuachtáin newspapers mirror this, founded as political publications during a rent strike in West-Belfast in 1972, they are now part of the mainstream media — though they remain advocates for Sinn Féin.

Liam O’Ruairc know the history of the Nuactáin newspapers well. “The group has definitely moved from the alternative press to the corporate mainstream. You have to remember that when Andersonstown News first came out in 1972, it was published by the Andersonstown Central Civil Resistance Committee. As the name of the publisher indicates it was a ‘resistance’ paper, part of the alternative press which existed then. In terms of production, distribution, orientation and so on the paper clearly wasn’t part of the commercial mainstream,” he says.

As O’Ruairc explains the newspapers have been shorn of their radical content: “Today, it is a real corporate enterprise. It has a clear corporate orientation: its central aim is to be a profitable venture and is able to court the commercial mainstream in terms of advertisements. The paper’s earlier support for “No Rent” and “No Rates” wouldn’t go down well with the estates agents and landlords advertising in its pages today. Politically, it has moved away from its earlier radicalism — otherwise how would it receive funding from the British government? The Andersonstown News has absorbed the dominant values, attitudes and styles of the corporate mainstream.”

Nevertheless, eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that the publisher had received almost $1.4 million in grant aid from the British government since 1999 and had applied for a further $9 million. Ulster Unionist party politician, Lady Sylvia Hermon asked questions in parliament about the compatibility of the group with state aid. It now seems that the application has been rejected.

The chief executive of the Nuachtáin group, Mairtin O’Muilleoir — a former Sinn Féin politician — dismissed concerns about funding and said that Daily Ireland is “virtually entirely privately funded.” Reports indicate that one third of the capital is coming from US investors.

Despite having a population of only 1.6 million, there are already seventeen daily newspapers available in Northern Ireland, including British and southern Irish imports. The launch of Daily Ireland now seems like just the opening salvo in a full-scale newspaper war. The News Letter, long seen at the “sick man” of Northern Irish newspapers, launched a new Belfast-centric edition in January and the Belfast Telegraph, an evening title, is planning to launch a new morning tabloid.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin have begun to poll well in the Republic of Ireland on a quasi-socialist ticket, rarely mentioning the conflict in Northern Ireland. The party has a war-chest estimated at $30 million for use in the next round of elections. Having a newspaper which is on-message on both sides of the border is clearly of strategic importance for Sinn Féin.

However, the Irish Independent’s deputy editor Michael Woolsey doubts the newspaper’s chances of finding a market in the Republic of Ireland: “If this paper had any impact in the south at all I’d be surprised. It will be perceived as northern and I know that the Irish News sells poorly in the south. Being an ideological paper won’t help it overall — if it sold a thousand copies in the Republic, it would be doing well.”

The new newspaper will also have a battle on its hand north of the border. Even in the nationalist and republican communities of Northern Ireland localised editions British tabloids, the Sun and the Daily Mirror outsell all of the local titles combined. The left-of-centre Daily Mirror sells well among nationalists in particular.

There is also the problem that the traditionally homogenous nationalist community is more fragmented than ever before. Although Sinn Féin now regularly out-poll the SDLP, there are also small but significant socialist and conservative republican parties vying for votes. O’Ruairc explains: “The [Nuachtáin] editorial stance does reflect the views of only one section of the nationalist community and not the nationalist community as a whole.”

He has a point – on June 11, 2003 Eamon Lynch, a columnist for the New York Irish Echo said “the Andersonstown News serves much the same function for Sinn Fein as Pravda once did for the Soviet politbureau and that Fox News now does for the Bush administration. It is a dependable organ of banana republicanism, promoting Dear Leadership and attacking dissenters with zeal.”

Moreover, despite their socialist rhetoric Sinn Féin, the party — and its mouthpieces are pro-business. The social interests represented by the paper are those of interests of the landlords, the construction companies, the pubs, the business owners, the managers of various community initiatives (the so-called “Armani Brigade”).


Privacy action of U2's The Edge before court - Mary Wilson, Legal Affairs Editor, reports on the legal bid by Dave Evans and his wife to stop media reporting on a family illness

U2 Guitarist Takes Legal Action Against Newspaper -V

A High Court action by U2 guitarist David Evans - the Edge - and his wife to prevent the Sunday World newspaper publishing details relating to a family illness was adjourned for two weeks yesterday.

Last month, the Edge and his wife, Ms Morleigh Steinberg, secured a temporary injunction against the newspaper. They are now seeking an interlocutory injunction which would apply pending a full hearing of the case.

Yesterday, Ms Antonia Melvin, for the plaintiffs, applied for a two-week adjournment of the application. The adjournment was consented to by both sides. She said the temporary injunction of January 9th last was to continue in the interim.

Ms Justice Macken adjourned the application for a fortnight with the interim injunction continuing. That prevents the newspaper publishing any material concerning the physical health, condition or wellbeing of a family member and the treatment being received. It also prevents publication of material relating to the cares and concerns of the plaintiffs in relation to the illness. Neither the Edge nor Ms Steinberg were in the High Court yesterday.

© The Irish Times

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