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February 25, 2005

02/25/06 - Full Text of IRA Statement

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Feb 2005

IT 02/26/05 Full Text Of IRA Statement -V
IT 02/26/05 IRA Statement On Murder A Cynical Exercise, Says SDLP
IT 02/26/05 Consultant Who Travelled With Flynn Is Arrested
IT 02/26/05 Bulgaria Seeks To Resolve Flynn Visit Controversy
IT 02/26/05 Parties Know Being 'Nice' To SF Is Vital For Transfers
EX 02/26/05 Dev Had Good Reason To Be Nice To Hitler's Envoy
WG 02/26/05 Long-Dead James J. Shields Faces GOP In New Tussle
NF 02/26/05 NIreland Welcomes Near-100 Per Cent Broadband Coverage


IRA expels three over McCartney killing - Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, discusses the implications of the IRA statement

IRA Statement -V

The IRA statement on the killing of Robert McCartney.

Following our investigation the IRA leadership, along with the leadership of the Belfast Command, initiated disciplinary proceedings through Court Martial. This was in accordance with IRA Standing Orders. These proceedings were directed only against IRA volunteers.

The outcome of the Courts Martial include the dismissal of three volunteers, two of whom were high ranking Volunteers.

One of these Volunteers had already gone to a solicitor immediately after the incident to make a statement of his actions on that night.

The other two were advised in the strongest terms possible to come forward and to take responsibility for their actions, as the McCartney family have asked.

In our statement of February 15th, we made it absolutely clear that no one should hinder or impede the McCartney family in their search for truth and justice and that anyone who could help them in that search should do so.

A dispute broke out between a senior republican and a group of people that included Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine.

After an initial heated verbal exchange between the senior republican and Robert McCartney. At that point another man and the senior republican were involved in a further heated exchange. Blows were exchanged and a major melee erupted in the bar.

Neither that man nor the senior republican had weapons of any description in their possession though both were struck with bottles thrown by others. Robert McCartney played no part in the melee.

Both Brendan Devine and the senior republican received serious stab wounds inside the bar.

A crowd spilled out onto the street. Verbal abuse and threats were being shouted by many of those present.

Some of those at the scene, including some republicans, tried to calm the situation.

The senior republican's wounds were tended by people at the scene and he was quickly taken to hospital.

In the meantime Brendan Devine, Robert McCartney and another man ended up in Market Street. It is the view of our investigation that these men were leaving the scene.

They were followed into Market Street where Robert McCartney and Brendan Devine were attacked and stabbed.

Both men were stabbed by the same man. Robert McCartney died a short time later in hospital.

No materials under the control of or belonging to the IRA were produced or used at any time during this savage attack.

A member of the bar staff was threatened by an individual who then took the CCTV tape away and destroyed it.

Those at the scene are responsible for the clean-up or destruction of evidence at the scene.

There should be no misunderstanding of our position in that regard. Any intimidation or threats in the name of the IRA or otherwise to any person who wishes to help the McCartney family will not be tolerated.

The internal disciplinary steps taken by the IRA are a matter for the IRA. They are not intended to be, nor should they be, seen as a substitute for the requests of the McCartney family.

IRA volunteers fully understand that they are bound by rules and regulations and a Code of Conduct. There will be no tolerance of anyone who steps outside of these rules, regulations or code. Anyone who brings the IRA into disrepute will be held accountable.

(c) The Irish Times


IRA Statement On Murder A Cynical Exercise, Says SDLP

Mark Brennock & Mark Hennessy

Last night's IRA's statement on the killing of Robert McCartney has been described by the SDLP as a highly cynical exercise.

Deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said: "They offered three out of a gang of 12 who not only murdered Robert McCartney but concealed evidence and obstructed the investigation.

"There were 12 Provos involved and some of the culprits are being protected by sacrificing these three.

"There have been calculated efforts by some people in this cynical deal which won't stand up to public scrutiny and doesn't deserve public approval.

"The real test is evidence to the police and evidence to the court. The three expelled members giving statements to solicitors itself may amount to very little."

Speaking before last night's IRA's statement Sinn Fein's President, Mr Gerry Adams, said the party would do its best to ensure the killer or killers of Robert McCartney were brought to justice.He said lifelong Republicans were outraged at the murder.

His comments came as Fine Gael tabled a Dail motion to be debated next week deploring the murder and calling on all witnesses to give evidence to the police.

The Fine Gael leader Mr Enda Kenny yesterday called on all Dail parties including Sinn Fein to support the motion.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday the Sinn Fein President said: "Apart from his family the people who are most outraged at his murder are Republicans - people like us who have given our entire lives to the struggle, who have a sense of our own integrity.

He said he had met Mr McCartney's sisters, his partner and his father on Thursday and they had agreed to remain in contact. There was an onus on everybody to create the conditions in which the killers of Robert McCartney would be brought to justice.

"There is an onus on all of us to do that. We can only do our very very very best, and Sinn Fein will not be found wanting in doing our best on that issue.

"Insofar as we can do what we can do, we will not be found wanting", he said. "The family want closure brought by those who killed their brother being brought to justice. We have to get those who killed Robert McCartney or perhaps the one person who killed Robert McCartney in a position where they can be made accountable." Mr Kenny said yesterday that the public had been moved "by the huge bravery which has been displayed by Robert McCartney's sisters and his fiancée, Bridgeen, highlighting the circumstances of this brutal crime and in demanding that those responsible face justice in the courts.

"Fine Gael has decided to devote our Dáil Private Members time next week to allow Deputies to express their solidarity with the McCartney family and to call on those who have vital information about this crime to be actively encouraged to come forward to give statements to the investigating police so that the prosecutions can be undertaken.

"I am calling on all Parties in the Dáil to unite in support of the McCartneys at this critical time."

The motion, to be debated next Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, commends Robert McCartney's family and partner for their courage; notes Sinn Fein's recent statements that they support the McCartney family's quest for justice; says that all those responsible for killing, including those who attempted to remove evidence from the crime scene, should face prosecution in the Courts; regrets that no witnesses to this murder have yet come forward; and calls on all public representatives "to actively encourage those with knowledge of this crime to come forward and give statements to the investigating police so that the justice in the Courts sought by the McCartney family can be achieved.

(c) The Irish Times

A spokesman for the McCartney family said last night they were carefully studying the statement. "At the moment, the family is just assessing what the IRA have said and they do not want to make any hasty remarks about it. It is quite a lengthy statement and they don't feel it is right to comment on it just at the minute," the spokesman said.

"Once they get their thoughts together in the morning, they will write a statement and issue it publicly," he added.

The Government last night refused to comment on the IRA statement.

Mr McCartney's sisters have said they have confidence in the PSNI investigation and they want anyone with information to give it to the police - a position at odds with the traditional republican stance..

Eight people have been arrested and questioned by the PSNI in relation to the killing. All have been released without charge.

The Chief Constable of the PSNI, Mr Hugh Orde, had stated earlier that the murder was not carried out by a paramilitary organisation "in pursuance of its stated objectives".

Speaking in Navan yesterday before the IRA statement, the Sinn Féin chairman, Mr Mitchel McLauglin, said republicans had been slow to react appropriately because of the criticism they had faced in the aftermath of the Northern Bank robbery in December.

"My view is that republicans did not respond in the way in which they would have normally responded. Why? (It is) because everybody and their mother were jumping on republicans from a great height.

"I think that affected the ability of people, because here was an issue that was very close to home. It did involve republicans and it did involve a very decent family within our constituency," he said.


Parties Know Being 'Nice' To SF Is Vital For Transfers

By-elections: Every political party is attacking Sinn Féin nationally, but few are doing so in Meath, writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent.

Sinn Féin's Cllr Joe Reilly may not win the Meath by-election next month, but his transfers may well decide who does.

On Thursday, the Navan-based councillor appeared with other candidates on an election debate on the popular local radio station, LMFM.

"Everybody was very nice to me. Bar giving me bouquets they could not have been nicer," Cllr Reilly joked yesterday.

It is easy to see why. Over the last decade he has built up the party's share of the vote to 6,000 from a paltry 641 in 1992. Yesterday he canvassed voters in Navan Shopping Centre, alongside the party's Derry-based chairman, Mr Mitchel McLaughlin.

Happily greeting locals, Cllr Reilly is a natural canvasser, but Mr McLaughlin, a man who seems more comfortable in a committee room surrounded by documents, is less so. The young women running the ice-cream stand were in no mood for one-way traffic, however. A canvass was worth an ice cream, one of them told Cllr Reilly.

Though a few people passed by with pursed lips, refusing Sinn Féin canvassers' literature, most were content to accept it, even if they were more interested in finishing their shopping.

"The media is not reflecting what is happening on the ground. The media expects Sinn Féin to be met with hostility on the door. It isn't happening," Cllr Reilly said. "The people who were anti-Sinn Féin before all of this are more so. What we have to do now is reach out to the middle ground," he declared.

Sinn Féin's Newry and Armagh Westminster candidate, Mr Conor Murphy, had travelled south to help the canvass, joined by his son, Óisín. "He is off for the week from school. The wife is away for a week at a conference. He is used to this," said Mr Murphy, a member of the suspended Northern Assembly.

So, too, was Mr Breandán MacCionnaith, who was once a "regular" on television in the days when Garvaghy Road and Portadown made headlines.

Though events elsewhere may have hurt Sinn Féin, the withdrawal of Cllr Tommy Reilly from the Fianna Fáil ticket could help Sinn Féin in Navan, at least. "There is sympathy here for Tommy amongst Fianna Fáil voters. Some of them are not happy with the way the Progressive Democrats are driving things," he said.

In the 1980s, Cllr Reilly served time for IRA membership, an issue brought back into the headlines last weekend by Ireland on Sunday. "Everybody knew it around here. They know what they are getting. What you see is what you get," said Cllr Reilly, who, even according to his political enemies, works hard on community issues.

One of these issues raised its head at the centre's main door where Cllr Reilly spoke to four women. "One of those women won't go back to her home in Ashbrook on the Clogherboy estate in the town because of the intimidation that is going on there," he said.

Last weekend, gardaí were called to the estate to deal with a serious disturbance, which Cllr Reilly and others blame on one family. "The council has done nothing. There's havoc up there. I don't want people beaten up, or anything like that. That doesn't work. But there has to be a code. People should be evicted for behaving like that," he said.

(c) The Irish Times


Consultant Who Travelled With Flynn Is Arrested

Gardaí investigating the suspected money-laundering operation linked to a Cork businessman, Mr Ted Cunningham, have arrested an international business consultant who travelled with Mr Cunningham and Mr Phil Flynn to Bulgaria last month. Conor Lally & Colm Keena, Public Affairs Correspondent report.

The woman, originally from Northern Ireland but now based in Co Kildare, has worked for a well-known international consultancy firm and has experience of doing business in Bulgaria. In January she set up a meeting for the Irish party with the Bulgarian Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Ilia Lingorski, in Sofia. Mr Lingorski has special responsibility for inward investment.

Mr Flynn has told The Irish Times he was working on setting up three firms in Bulgaria, one of which would replicate the unlicensed lending company, Chesterton Finance, and another which would seek a Bulgarian licence to act as a mortgage company.

Mr Cunningham is the principal behind Chesterton in whose home in Co Cork earlier this month the Garda discovered more than €2 million in cash. Gardaí believe the Provisional IRA may have been laundering money through Chesterton, including money from the Northern Bank raid.

Following the disclosure that Mr Flynn was a director of Chesterton, he resigned as chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland).

A team of senior Garda investigators has spent the last few days in Bulgaria meeting officials. Officers in Dublin from the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have identified an Isle of Man-based man whom they wish to interview about his links to Mr Cunningham's operation.

Mr Flynn told The Irish Times that this man runs a business based in Germany and was providing legal advice on the Bulgarian projects. Gardaí believe this man and the woman arrested here on Thursday also worked on Mr Cunningham's behalf in Libya and Malta. The woman has worked for several clients on business deals in Bulgaria in recent years.

Gardaí have been anxious to speak to her since the raid on Mr Cunningham's home in Farran, Co Cork, 10 days ago. She was still being questioned yesterday.

Officers are expected to travel to the Isle of Man to interview the man who gave advice on the Bulgarian trip. The man was described as a "financier" by one Garda source, who said he was an expert on tax breaks and tax havens.

Mr Flynn said he had been travelling to Bulgaria since the 1970s. More recently he had been looking at the possibility of business ventures there. Mr Flynn is a former trade unionist who was vice president of Sinn Féin in the 1980s.

(c) The Irish Times


Bulgaria Seeks To Resolve Flynn Visit Controversy

Colm Keena, Public Affairs Correspondent

The Minister for the Interior in Bulgaria has said he wants to resolve a controversy surrounding the visit to his country by an Irish party that included Mr Phil Flynn, as it was damaging to Bulgaria.

Prof Georgi Petkanov said it was in the interest of his country that the controversy over the visit be resolved "in an undoubted way".

Mr Flynn is a director of Chesterton Finance Company, the Co Cork-based firm at the centre of the Garda investigation into money laundering.

A representative of the Bulgarian security service is in Ireland to establish contacts with the Irish authorities and "to clear up this case that is unpleasant for our country", the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The controversy has been receiving extensive coverage in Bulgaria, which is sensitive to suggestions it might be an attractive location for money laundering. It hopes to join the EU by 2007.

The chief secretary of the Bulgarian interior ministry, Lieut Gen Boiko Borissov, has discussed the case with the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Mr Simeon Saxe Coburg Gotha, according to reports.

Corporate Commercial Bank in Sofia issued a statement to The Irish Times in which it said that "two accounts of Irish citizens were opened in the bank with €1,000 each and there had been no subsequent movements on the accounts".

The ministry has said that four Irish representatives "came to Bulgaria as representatives of a financial institution registered in Amsterdam with capital of roughly €14 million".

A spokeswoman said she could not give the name of the financial institution.

Mr Flynn said that this must be an error and no such financial institution was involved. "I've no idea what they're referring to."

The Irish party stayed in a hotel in Sofia, rented offices, engaged lawyers and opened bank accounts, the ministry said.

The party included Mr Flynn, Mr Ted Cunningham of Chesterton Finance, and a female consultant based in Ireland with experience of doing business in Bulgaria, who was yesterday in Garda custody.

The Bulgarian deputy finance minister, Mr Ilya Lingorski, met with Mr Flynn and the rest of the party in a restaurant in Sofia, the Pri Orlite. The meeting was a "working lunch", according to a spokeswoman for the ministry. Mr Lingorski was not available for comment.

The meeting is understood to have been set up by the woman who is in custody.

The Bulgarian authorities have said on a number of occasions that all inquiries to date had found no evidence of anything illegal about the visit.

They aim to identify all Bulgarians who met with the Irish party during their visit.

The head of the Financial Intelligence Agency in Bulgaria, Mr Vassil Kirov, told The Irish Times that Bulgaria had a very well- developed system for monitoring money laundering.

Accounts can be accessed without court orders. "Our system is better than that of many EU member-states," he said. "I wouldn't advise anyone who wanted to launder money to come to Bulgaria."

He said he did not want to comment directly on the controversy concerning Mr Flynn's visit. "I wouldn't want to make a statement that would not help my colleagues in Ireland."

Agreements between Ireland and Bulgaria can allow real-time, secure exchanges of information between the two states, he said.

"Last year money linked with fraud in Ireland was frozen in an account in Bulgaria before we had been contacted by the Irish authorities," he said. He did not want to name the Irish bank involved, but said €300,000 was sent to Bulgaria by someone who pretended to be a client of the bank. Mr Kirov said his agency is involved in vetting applicants for banking licences and that very thorough checks are made as to people's suitability.

(c) The Irish Times


Dev Had Good Reason To Be Nice To Hitler's Envoy Until The Bitter End

By Ryle Dwyer

NOT content with President Mary McAleese's apology for her recent gaffe, people are now looking for an apology to Jewish people for Eamon de Valera's condolence gesture to the German minister following the death of Hitler.

With the approach of the 60th anniversary, we are likely to hear more of this, and Sinn Féin might even try to justify their fascist tactics on the distorted premise that the Long Fellow was some kind of closet Nazi.

De Valera publicly proclaimed his determination to stay out of World War II long before the first shot was fired. Early in the hostilities he assured the British he would do what he could, short of war, to help them. He believed Britain had right on her side because Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had done "everything a man could do to prevent this tragedy".

The Taoiseach told British representative Sir John Maffey in September 1939: "England has a moral position today. Hitler might have his early success, but the moral position would tell."

Edouard Hempel, the German minister, reported that De Valera candidly told him the Irish Government would have to show "a certain consideration" for Britain out of economic necessity.

David Gray, the American minister, was the greatest danger. He knew as much about statesmanship as a goose knows about geometry. He even conspired against the Irish Government.

At one point, he advocated that Britain should provoke a famine here and then seize Irish bases on the pretext of needing them to protect food shipments to this country. His proposal was as impractical as it was amoral.

In 1943 and '44, Gray conspired with Roosevelt and Churchill to discredit De Valera by depicting him as a threat to the lives of American soldiers because he would not close down the German legation in Dublin. Last year, Tim Pat Coogan, who seems ever ready to smear De Valera these days, suggested that Hempel was using his transmitter to help sink American ships.

No shred of credible evidence has ever been produced to support that charge. If Gray had any, he would certainly have used it.

Tim Pat suggested that the sinking of "the Iroquois in September 1939 is certainly attributed to Hempel (Ireland in the 20th Century, p 269)".

That was pure crap, as Albert Reynolds might say. The passenger liner Iroquois left Cobh on October 3, 1939, with 566 American passengers and arrived unscathed in New York eight days later. It was subsequently converted to a hospital ship and used in the Pacific until damaged at Iwo Jima in 1945. Even Tim Pat couldn't blame Dev for that!

Maffey quietly told his government it could be assured Hempel would be of no more effective use to Germany than the polar bear in Dublin Zoo would be to Greenland. The American note suggested, however, that Ireland should realise that diplomats were often used as spies.

In September 1943, De Valera secretly authorised the use of Irish diplomats in Berlin, Rome and Vichy as American spies, at the request of American intelligence. The Long Fellow sent Joe Walshe of the Department of External Affairs to London to warn the Americans that if they disclosed this, all co-operation would be terminated.

American intelligence promptly used its influence with the White House to block a follow-up note in relation to the diplomats. But that did not stop Gray and Roosevelt from smearing De Valera with other scams, such as a request for an assurance that Dublin would not grant asylum to any Germans who assisted their country's war effort in any way.

De Valera refused to bind himself in advance, which the Americans depicted as a rejection of their request. On April 30, 1945, Gray presented another request for American forces be allowed to seize the German legation in Dublin in order to get hold of German codes in case some U-boats tried to carry on the struggle after Germany's impending surrender.

As Gray lectured him, "De Valera grew red and looked very sour. He was evidently annoyed, but his manners were correct".

"When I finished, he slapped the copy of the memorandum, which I had presented him, on his desk. 'This is a matter for my legal advisers,' the Taoiseach said; 'it is not a matter I can discuss with you now'."

Time was of the essence, Gray argued, but De Valera terminated the discussion.

Next day Gray was informed that Hempel would be told to hand over his keys once Germany surrendered. The Americans could then, and only then, take charge of the legation.

THEY were not going to have to wait very long because the news broke that day of Hitler's death.

De Valera responded by going to express condolence to Hempel, who warned that there could be trouble over the visit. "I do what I think is right," De Valera told him.

Following the death of US President Roosevelt little over two weeks earlier, de Valera paid a moving tribute and had the Dáil adjourn as a mark a respect, but there were no such gestures for Hitler. Why did the Taoiseach go to such lengths to express sympathy for the death of a man he despised? "Common gentlemanly feelings of sympathy with Dr Hempel in the hour of the country's collapse called for a gesture," De Valera explained privately. "Hitler was dead and there was no possibility of my reinforcing an already lost cause."

It would have been an "unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel himself" not to have made an official gesture, De Valera added. And he was not about to insult Hempel, for whom he had a much higher regard than he had for Gray.

"During the whole of the war," the Taoiseach wrote, "Dr Hempel's conduct was irreproachable. He was always friendly and invariably correct in marked contrast with Gray. I certainly was not going to add to his humiliation in the hour of defeat."

De Valera's sympathy was not for Hitler or the Nazis, but for Edouard Hempel, a diplomat of the old school who helped the Irish Government to stay out of the war.

One irate writer indicated a couple of weeks ago that he was getting in touch with the family of Paddy Moran to have them demand a retraction of my comments in this column about Moran being hanged for the wrong crime in 1921.

He was hanged for a killing in Mount Street on Bloody Sunday, whereas he was actually in charge of two killings in the Gresham Hotel. The same person wrote again a couple of days later to explain that Moran's family "always held that he was completely innocent and that was the position up until a few months ago".

But the family "now accepts that he was involved with the squad on Bloody Sunday and took part in the execution of British agents in the Gresham Hotel".

Lest the IRA try to exploit those, let it be understood that one of the men killed, Capt Patrick McCormack, was a veterinarian who had nothing to do with intelligence and was not on the list to be killed.

The IRA got the wrong man.


(Poster's Note: Visit The Wild Geese site to see 7 associated graphics and various links to additional information. Jay)

Long-Dead James J. Shields Faces GOP In New Tussle

By Gerry Regan

After battling Republicans in elections throughout much of his nearly 50-year-long career, Irish-American politico and Civil War hero James J. Shields may go another round with the GOP in a fight for his 112-year-old perch in Washington, D.C.

Illinois State Rep. Robert Pritchard, a Republican from Hinckley, has set the stage for this rumble by introducing a resolution in the state house seeking the removal of Shields' statue from the Capitol to make way for a statue of native son and Republican icon Ronald Reagan.

Some Irish-Americans in the state, though, have begun resisting any move to yield the place of honor of the long-dead Irish-born general, whose statue Illinois provided in 1893 for the Capitol's National Statuary Hall.

"My reaction (to the resolution) is not one so much pro-Shields but anti-Reagan," said J. Sean Callan, a Lake Forest, Ill.-based psychiatrist and author of "Courage and Country: James Shields, More Than Irish Luck," a 512-page biography on Shields. "Reagan did nothing specifically for the state of Illinois. Shields did."

With the resolution, though, Pritchard said in a phone interview, he wants to honor the only U.S. president born in Illinois. "(Reagan) achieved great things for democracy around the world."

Pritchard represents Illinois' 70th House District. He said the idea for the resolution came from a constituent who spent last summer as an intern in the office of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a fellow Republican from Illinois. The student's duties included leading visitors on tours through the Capitol. "He observed that a lot of people didn't know James Shields, and (they) marveled that President Reagan wasn't honored (there) as an outstanding Illinois citizen."

Shields, who died in 1879 at age 73, may have a particularly strong base of support in heavily Democratic Chicago, where Irish activists still hold considerable sway. Some, like Chicago native Pat Hickey and Dublin-born Callan, have closely examined Shields' career.

"I've got my mick up about this," Hickey said. Hickey, director of development for the city's Leo High School, calls Pritchard's effort an affront to Irish-Americans and Catholics, and he's been working the phones on Shields' behalf.

"To completely assign (Shields) to historical oblivion is a real injustice to the man's life," Hickey said. He pointed to Shields' courage in starting his life anew in America after immigrating as a teen-ager, his distinction as the only U.S. senator to gain election from three states (Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri), and his valiant service commanding soldiers in both the Mexican and Civil War. Shields is also the only individual to ever challenge political rival Abraham Lincoln to a duel. (See Hickey's accompanying profile of Shields on WGT.)

James J. Shields: A Chronology

1806 - Born to Charles and Anne McDonnell Shields, Co. Tyrone, Ireland.
1822-23 - Immigrated to the United States.
1826? - Settled in Kaskaskia, Ill.; taught school and studied law.
1832 - Fought in Black Hawk War. Later, admitted to the Illinois Bar.
1836 - Elected to Illinois Legislature.
1839 - Becomes Illinois State Auditor.
1842 - Challenges Abraham Lincoln to a duel, settles dispute peacefully.
1843 - Named to Illinois Supreme Court.
1845 - Appointed General Land Office Commissioner by President Polk.
1846 - Resigns post and is commissioned Brigadier General of Illinois Volunteers: Grievously wounded leading troops during Mexican War. Serves as Governor General of Tampico, Mexico.
1848 - Mustered out of military, President Polk appoints Shields Territorial Governor of Oregon. (Shields declines the post.) Elected to U.S. Senate to represent Illinois, serves one term.
1855 - Shields' reelection bid fails. He moves to Minnesota.
1857 - Elected U. S. Senator for Minnesota, defeated for reelection in 1859.
1861 - Settles in California, marries Mary Ann Carr. Three of their five children survive to adulthood. Appointed Railroad Commissioner. Later, appointed brigadier general by Pres. Lincoln.
1862 - Shields, though severely wounded, defeats Confederate genius, Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson at Kernstown, Va.
1863 - Resigns his commission. Returns to California, again serves as Railroad Commissioner.
1866 - Settles his family in Carrollton, Mo.
1874 to 1877 - Serves as Adjutant General of Missouri. Elected to Missouri Legislature.
1879 - Elected to fill out an unexpired term for Missouri in the U.S. Senate. He dies at Ottumwa, Iowa, while delivering a speech on June 1, 1879.
To this, Pritchard replied: "Reagan is of Irish descent, so this is certainly not an attempt to demean the contributions that Irish citizens have made to our history.

"(Shields) served the state and country very well. I think, though, 100 years is a good (enough amount of) time to honor an individual." Pritchard said he still wants Shields' statue to have a place of honor, though in the state capitol in Springfield.

But that attitude doesn't placate Tom Boyle, vice president of Chicago's Irish American Heritage Center, which has 1,900 members. "If you take a look at the history of James Shields, the man was an Irish immigrant for openers and went to on to become a general in the Union Army. As somebody already put it to me, Ronald Reagan never held office in Illinois." Boyle also points out that Reagan, though he served in the Army during World War II, never saw combat, while the highly decorated Shields was severely wounded twice.

As well, Boyle said, the Irish in the state are unlikely to embrace Reagan as one of their own. "I don't know that the man was ever active in Irish affairs. ... He never picked up the challenge to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland."

The statue of Shields, created by Leonard W. Volk, is located in the Capitol's Hall of Columns. It is part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, created in 1864 to honor persons notable in each state's history. The entire collection consists of 98 statues, contributed by 50 states. Each state is allowed two statues, furnished by the states themselves. Nevada and New Mexico have provided one each. Illinois' other statue in the collection is that of New York native Frances Willard, a noted 19th century anti-alcohol crusader and the first woman to be so honored.

Why not propose that Reagan's statue replace that of Willard, given by Illinois in 1905, instead of Shields, Pritchard was asked.

"(Shields') is the oldest. My philosophy is, at an appropriate time period, we should rotate our statues. We should bring Miss Willard back to Illinois (eventually), as well. Congress granted a process (for doing that)."

Shields was born in Altmore, County Tyrone, in 1806 and immigrated circa 1822, settling in Illinois. Becoming state auditor, the Democrat challenged eventual Republican standard-bearer Abraham Lincoln to a duel in 1842, feeling maligned by three letters in a Springfield newspaper accusing him of malfeasance. Lincoln begrudgingly accepted, and, holding a 7-inch height advantage, chose cavalry broadswords as the weapons. Fortunately for posterity, cooler heads prevailed, and Lincoln apologized for his role in the letters. They later became friends, with Lincoln appointing Shields a brigadier general during the Civil War.

Ronald Reagan, the United States' 40th president, was born Feb. 6, 1911, to Nelle and John Reagan, a shoe salesman, in Tampico, Ill. He grew up in Dixon, Ill., and graduated from the state's Eureka College in 1932. The former president's great-grandfather emigrated from Ballyporeen, County Tipperary. Ronald Reagan died June 5, 2004, at age 93 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease since at least 1994.

Pritchard's resolution states about Reagan: "During his presidency, he worked in a bipartisan manner to enact his bold agenda of restoring accountability and common sense to government which led to an unprecedented economic expansion ... his commitment to our armed forces contributed to the restoration of pride in America, her values and those cherished by the free world, and prepared America's Armed Forces to win the Gulf War; his vision of 'peace through strength' led to the end of the Cold War and the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union, guaranteeing basic human rights for millions of people."

Many Irish-American supporters of a united Ireland were repelled by Reagan's warm friendship with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who many Irish blame for presiding over the death of 10 IRA and INLA hunger strikers in 1981. Critics of Reagan also point to his creation of a budget deficit larger than the combined total of all of his 39 predecessors and support for right-wing guerrillas in Nicaragua with profits from illicit arms sales to Iran.

The little-known National Statuary Hall Collection was established July 2, 1864. In advocating for its creation, U.S. Rep. Justin S. Morrill, asked rhetorically: "To what end more useful or grand, and at the same time simple and inexpensive, can we devote it (the Chamber of the Capitol) than to ordain that it shall be set apart for the reception of such statuary as each State shall elect to be deserving of in this lasting commemoration?"

Pritchard's resolution, if passed by the House, would require approval by the state Senate and Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat. The measure had one co-sponsor as of Feb. 18, fellow Republican David Reis. Passage is far from certain as the Democrats hold majorities in both the House and Senate. The current legislative session ends May 27.

The process for replacing statues was set out in a federal law passed in 2000, despite Morrill's purpose of a "lasting commemoration." Only one state to date has availed itself of the law, with Kansas replacing a statue of 19th century Gov. George Washington Glick with one of Dwight Eisenhower.

"Shields has vanished from the face of American history," though not from American politics, lamented Callan, who noted the great difficulty he had in learning about Shields even in Shields Township, where Callan lives. Callan recalled unflattering attention Shields garnered five years ago, during the successful Senate campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton in New York. Some pundits compared her move to New York prior to her campaign to Shields' shifting his residence while gaining election to Senate terms for three states.

Callan said this analogy was unfair, as Shields didn't relocate to better position himself for office. He said, turning the argument around, "Talk about carpetbaggers, (recently defeated Republican Senate candidate in Illinois Alan) Keyes is from Maryland." WGT

How Shields Beat 'Stonewall'

James J. Shield's military career was capped by his division's defeat of legendary Confederate commander Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at the Battle of Kernstown on March 23, 1862.

There is no question that Shields' soldiers won at Kernstown, about 3 miles south of Winchester in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The question of who commanded them that day is less certain, though. For the third time in his military career, Shields suffered a serious battlefield wound, having his arm broken by a shell fragment during the skirmishing the day before the battle. As he had done in Mexico, where he gained a promotion to major general, he was leading from the front.

Sidelined by his wound, Shields told Col. Nathan Kimball to assume command, but he continued to issue orders to Kimball. One of these orders was to keep Col. Turner Ashby's cavalry from giving Jackson accurate information about the disposition of Shields' division. Shields then marched a brigade north through Winchester, to make it appear he was retreating, while keeping the remainder of his division near by. People in town apparently told Ashby of Shields' seeming retreat, and Ashby informed Jackson. The battle resulted.

Thinking his force of just under 4,000 would be facing a rear guard, Jackson attacked. Shields actually had nearly 9,000 soldiers, and would place more than 6,000 into the action. Much of the tactical action in the battle was directed by Kimball, and he deserves credit for that, but Jackson's defeat under such circumstances was nearly assured, barring any large tactical blunder. - Joseph E. Gannon


Website of Illinois State Representative Robert Pritchard
Biography of Ronald Reagan from The Official Website of The White House
BBC (June 6, 2004): "Reagan's Mixed White House Legacy"
President Ronald W. Reagan's June 3, 1984, Remarks to the People of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary.
Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library
Full Text of Illinois House Representative Robert Pritchard's HJR 0008
This page was edited by Rick Grant, and produced by Joseph E. Gannon.

Copyright (c) 2005 by GAR Media LLC. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to



Northern Ireland Welcomes Near-100 Per Cent Broadband Coverage

Availability above that of Spain, France and Germany

Belfast (pte, Feb 25, 2005 15:30) - Northern Ireland has heralded a near-100 per cent broadband coverage in the area. As the British IT portal The Register reports, the final nine telephone exchanges in Northern Ireland have now been enabled with ADSL technology, giving broadband availability to 98.5 per cent of the region. The announcement was made by BT Northern Ireland in association with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and the Building Sustainable Prosperity programme.

A total of 191 exchanges have been unbundled in the area since loop unbundling began in the UK. In doing so, Northern Ireland ha become the first UK region outside of London to have every one of its exchanges enabled for broadband. A contract to provide 100 per cent broadband coverage in Northern Ireland, which was to be funded under the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity programme, was awarded to BT at the end of March 2004. Prior to winning their contract, BT had enabled between 55 and 60 per cent of exchanges in Northern Ireland. Following the enablement of BT's exchanges, over 200 internet service providers and other companies will be able to use the upgraded infrastructure to deliver broadband services to customers in Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland now has a first-class telecommunications infrastructure, allowing our businesses to compete in the global marketplace and enabling all citizens to make full use of the possibilities of the internet," said Barry Gardiner, Enterprise Minister. "Our goal now is to become the first region in Europe with 100 per cent broadband access. Therefore, over the coming months, BT will focus on providing wireless broadband infrastructure to the remaining 1.5 per cent of the population that cannot access broadband via the existing BT exchanges."

As exchanges have gone live, demand for broadband in Northern Ireland has increased dramatically. In just 12 months, the region has moved from having one of the lowest levels of broadband uptake in the UK to becoming the fastest growing area. The latest industry figures show 150,000 broadband users and demand is still growing. This contrasts sharply with that of the Republic of Ireland, where only a handful of exchanges have been enabled. "From a geographical point of view, broadband availability in Northern Ireland is now above that of Spain, France and Germany," said Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Regions and CEO of Esat BT. "I've been saying for a long time that there are ways of building public/private partnerships in order to push broadband coverage. What has been done in the North can also be achieved in the Republic, but in order for that to happen, there needs to be more government intervention."

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