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March 26, 2005

Adams: Don’t Down-Grade Equality Commission

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 03/26/05
Adams: Brits To Down-Grade of Equality Commission
BB 03/26/05 SDLP Considers Tactical Sidestep
BT 03/26/05 American Indians: When Mister Big Pond Came To Derry
BB 03/26/05 Two Remanded On Extortion Charges
IO 03/26/05 'Border Fox' Given Temporary Release
BB 03/26/05 Teenage Boy Is Stabbed On Falls Road
BT 03/26/05 Bonfire: What It Means To One Loyalist Estate
IO 03/26/05 Sectarianism 'Being Driven Out Of International Soccer'
SF 03/26/05 McGuinness Addresses Easter Commemoration
BB 03/26/05 Belfast: Postcards Take Trip Into The Past
FT 03/26/05 Rev: Danny Morrison’s “The Wrong Man”


British Attacked Over Move To Down-Grade Equality Commission - Adams

Published: 26 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, MLA has today called on the British government to reverse its decision to "down-grade the status of the Equality Commission by advertising for a part-time Chief Commissioner".

The Sinn Féin President said the decision represented "a retrograde move by the British government away from the Good Friday Agreement".

He said; "If successful this would undermine yet another key mechanism of the Good Friday Agreement at a time when the Commission requires additional, not less support to fulfil its role in combating inequalities across our society."

Mr. Adams added: "I have written to British Minister John Spellar calling on him to halt the current recruitment process and to re-advertise for a full-time Chief Commissioner.

"I also pointed out that British government assertions in the public advertisement - which claimed that the Equality Commission had now made „enough progress‰ to justify the post becoming part-time is totally at variance with the facts. These reveal that inequality across all the social and economic indicators continues to detrimentally affect our society, and in particular the nationalist section of our people.

"The scale and depth of inequality, sectarianism and racism are major challenges which must be confronted. While some progress has been made it is not enough to justify this disgraceful move by the British government.

"Much remains to be done to build equality and eradicate sectarianism and racism. This requires a concerted and comprehensive approach, backed by long-term strategies and sufficient resources to tackle these problems.

The British government‚s decision will be welcome news to those who see the equality agenda as a threat. It must be reversed." ENDS


SDLP Considers Tactical Sidestep

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said his party is still considering whether to stand aside in the general election in West Tyrone in favour of a local doctor

Independent candidate Kieran Deeney won a seat in the NI Assembly over a campaign for better health services.

SDLP members in the constituency see the move as a way to unseat the current MP, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty.

However, Mr Durkan said the SDLP would have to consider wider issues than those raised in West Tyrone.

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics on Saturday: "There is a very strong ground swell of opinion in West Tyrone that says the hospital issue is a classic issue that needs to be addressed in singular terms.

"There is also a very strong resentment of not just what they say is an abstentionist MP, but an absentee MP."

In the 5 May election, Dr Deeny is hoping to take the seat from Mr Doherty and has called on all other political parties to stand aside.

The doctor topped the poll in the Northern Ireland Assembly election of November 2003.

He had a surprise victory when he won a seat on a single issue ticket to save hospital services in Omagh.

In February 2004, he talked about setting up his own party.

"If I simply am seen as a protest vote, I will get nowhere," he said at that time.

"We are trying to achieve an objective and do it politically. Already we are a party, a coalition, working towards a just objective. There is a danger in being single issue, being limited and excluded.

"If becoming a political party is what it takes to be recognised and to be respected and to have some weight in an assembly, then we will do that."

Since his election, Dr Deeny has been at the centre of a campaign to reverse the decision of former Health Minister Des Browne to remove acute hospital services from Tyrone.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/26 10:06:25 GMT


American Indians: When Mister Big Pond Came To Derry

Gerry Anderson
26 March 2005

I remember thinking American Indians were just like our Derry people. Except their Dole looked different, and wasn't as crowded.

It was sad to note during the week that those most gentle and forgiving of people, the Native Americans, are now just like the rest of the Americans.

A young man on an Indian reservation in Minnesota managed to prove this by first shooting his grandparents and then, grinning and waving, mowing down pupils and staff of Red Lake High School.

It was a thoroughly American thing to do. The job of the white man is now done.

After a long and well-documented history of shooting Indians down like dogs, the white man has finally taught them, by example, how to wipe themselves out.

Anyone who has ever spent time on an Indian reservation will be astounded that such a thing should happen in such a closely-knit community.

I was lucky enough to hang about one or two of them in the 70s.

I liked these reservations right away, although I could see that the Indians (let's call them Indians, it's what they themselves prefer) were not being treated well by the United States government.

The inmates of the reservations I visited were generally cheerful souls although it was clear that chronic unemployment, gambling, alcoholism and a general lack of pride and loss of identity had clearly taken its toll.

I remember thinking they were just like Derry people. I bonded with them. We were one. Except that their Dole looked different, and wasn't as crowded.

And I have always been amazed at their total lack of rancour towards the Irish.

Indians have a soft spot for us. It's almost as if nobody told them that the United States Cavalry, the outfit that practically wiped the redman from the Great Plains in the latter half of the 19th century, consisted almost entirely of post-Famine Irish emigrant bucks from the likes of Mayo and Galway who would think no more about running a sabre through a crowded tepee than they would of lighting up a cheroot after eating a plate of beans. I wasn't going to tell them. Not me. And speaking of the Irish Famine, weren't the Indians the only people in the world who sent aid to us starving Paddies? Don't ask me how, but the sum of precisely £114 apparently arrived on these shores in the late 1840s, a gift from Indians (I think it was one of the Dakota tribes) to our great-grandas. And this was round about the time the Ulster-Scots were frog-marching them to places they didn't want to go and just before the Bog Irish came over to finish off their brothers further west.

And, in spite of it all, they still like us.

A delegation of Indians recently arrived in Derry/Londonderry. A few eyebrows were raised when they conferred warrior-status on the current Sinn Fein mayor. The surprised mayor was made up as a warrior by an individual known as Chief Nigel Big Pond.

This very newspaper briefly chronicled the event and I was pleased to see that the delegated hack referred to the chief as Mister Big Pond. It reminded me of the time pop singer Meat Loaf and I happened to be staying at the same London hotel. A voice came over the public address system in the lobby announcing that a limousine had arrived for a Mister Loaf.

Anyway, Mister Big Pond said that the Indian people were extending the hand of friendship after two centuries of hurt over the Trail of Tears, during which 4,000 Cherokee lost their lives (1838-9) when they were (as I briefly alluded to earlier) marched west of Georgia to Oklahoma by men under Commander-In-Chief and President, Andrew Jackson, an Ulster-Scot who regarded Carrickfergus as home.

The mayor addressed the assembled Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole representatives and compared the annihilation of Native American Culture to the erosion of Irish culture and language during the same period.

"During the cowboy and Indian films," trumpeted the Mayor. "I was always on the side of the Indians!"

That's pushing the envelope a bit, I thought ? even for Sinn Fein.


Two Remanded On Extortion Charges

A Belfast man has appeared at the city's magistrates court charged with terrorist offences and extortion.

Martin Overend, 35, of Broadway Tower, is accused of having information about police and security force members likely to be of use to terrorists.

He and another man, Thomas Patrick Crossan, 24, of Norfolk Road, Belfast, are also accused of demanding £60,000 and making threats to kill.

Both men made no reply when charged and were remanded in custody.

Mr Overend is also accused of possessing weapons, ammunition and component parts for a pipe bomb.

An earllier charge of attempted murder against both men was withdrawn by the prosecution.

The defendants are due to appear in court again on 21 April.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/03/26 12:12:10 GMT



'Border Fox' Given Temporary Release

25/03/2005 - 17:41:12

Republican prisoner Dessie O’Hare is out on temporary release from Castlerea Prison, it was confirmed today.

O’Hare, the former leader of the INLA who was known as the "Border Fox", is serving a 40-year sentence for the ransom kidnapping of a Dublin dentist, Dr John O’Grady, during which the tops of two of the man’s fingers were cut off.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: “He is out for a couple of days from prison on a programme that has been put in place. It is standard prison practice.

“He has had a couple of outings in the past few years, they passed without any incident.”

O’Hare, from Co Armagh, has served over 17-years in prison for the attack and kidnapping during 1987. He was transferred from Portlaoise Prison to Co Roscommon prison in late 2002.

The spokesman for the Prison Service said that O’Hare was only one of around 200 prisoners currently out on temporary release. “He is due back in this weekend,” he said.

O’Hare, who was also released for four-days last Christmas, would be required to report daily to a designated garda station during his release and Castlerea Prison may also have put other restrictions in place.


Teenage Boy Is Stabbed In Street

A teenager has been stabbed in the head in west Belfast.

The 17-year-old youth is recovering in the Royal Victoria Hospital where his injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

He was walking along the Falls Road at 0245 GMT on Saturday after a night out with friends when four men chased him and attacked him.

Two knives were removed from the scene for forensic examination. Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Sinn Fein assembly member Fra McCann said the local community were working hard to minimise such violent attacks.

"Over a period of time, there have been a number of attacks that have taken place in and around this area," he said.

"The community would be appalled that this has taken place in their midst. As always they would believe that the people who carried out this attack and other attacks in this area have no place within the community at large."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/26 13:00:36 GMT


Firing Community Spirit

The inside story of building a bonfire and what it means to one estate

26 March 2005

For the children of the Springmartin estate in Belfast, life does not mean many luxuries. Springmartin, "as far up the Shankill as you can get", is home to 160 families, many of whom are single parent. Unemployment is estimated at around 70% in the predominantly loyalist estate. Educational attainment is low.

For the children of the estate there is little to do with their time - and plenty of time to do it in.

But once a year they launch themselves into a communal project that for weeks on end consumes their every waking hour and gives them a sense of purpose and belonging.

The Bonfire, a new BBC NI documentary, charts the building of Springmartin's Eleventh night bonfire and talks to the children and teenagers for whom this is less an expression of cultural identity - more an annual escape from the grimmer reality of their surroundings.

One mother explains: "It's just a tradition they do every year. If you talk to the kids they'll not mention loyalism, church, Orangeism or whatever.

"It's comradeship, teamwork and it is building friendships. Those friendships last for life."

Filmed over several months in 2004, the hour-long documentary depicts how the easy-paced life within the estate is overshadowed by the collection and protection of the towering pile of wood and tyres on the local green.

The tradition of building these particular bonfires may be exclusive to loyalist estates, but as film maker Ian Kirk-Smith explains, the film has a much wider relevance.

"This is a portrait of a working class community and its many acts of small kindness. The subject of the film is the bonfire and through it we explore a sense of belonging, of identity, of place. This could be the story of any estate across the UK or Ireland."

Gathering the wood takes time, effort and a van. The bonfire gang, with members aged four to 18, build huts, friendships and a sense of pride.

Disaster strikes at one point as a rival bonfire team from the top of the estate are blamed for an arson attack on the youngsters' stockpile of wood.

Undeterred, the children continue to collect their truly staggering pile of pallets and old tyres. The bonfire's location has been carefully chosen to be as far from local houses as possible.

As one boy puts it with considerable understatement: "People start complaining if their windows are melting."

Meanwhile, the older members of the community reminisce about times past in what was once a mixed estate, monitoring the quality of the furniture discarded and recalling how, "if you spotted a suite that was better than yer ma's, you took that into yer ma's and threw hers out."

The bonfire builders show little interest in matters sectarian. Pushed for their views on their Catholic counterparts on the other side of the peace line one notes: "When you get to know them, they can be all right." Another adds: "They're just the same people as us when you come to think about it."

The time and effort they devote to their towering creation - a massive honeycomb of pallets nailed together and filled with tyres - is impressive. But inevitably other work suffers as they become consumed with its completion.

The kindly and common sense headmaster of the local primary school admits he has moved end of term exams back a month to May. By June, the children are too caught up in the excitement of bonfire building to concentrate properly.

The young people are asked how they see their futures. Nobody talks about wanting to be a doctor or a lawyer. One boy concedes he'd like to be a joiner. Another says he just can't wait until he's out, bringing in money.

Their parents hopes are equally modest.

In one scene, as firelight flickers across the faces of the children camping out in their bonfire hut, a mother explains: "What I'd like for their future? Just that it would be better than ours."

lThe Bonfire can be seen on Wednesday, March 30, at 10.40pm on BBC1 NI.


Sectarianism 'Being Driven Out Of International Soccer'

26/03/2005 - 11:52:25

Sectarian bigots are being driven out of Northern Ireland international soccer matches, a Catholic fan claimed today.

With IFA chiefs desperate to get both sides of the community behind the national team, followers who gathered in Manchester for the World Cup qualifier against England said they were winning the fight.

In a city centre nightclub hired out by 450 fans for a charity fund-raising event, members of a supporters’ club from Queen’s University in Belfast spoke of their loathing for the loyalist chanting that once dominated all games.

One of their number was a man from Co Down who only felt able to go to a match three years ago.

The 25-year-old, who claimed he would be labelled a token Catholic if he was identified, said: “There has been a sea change in attitudes among the fans.

“In any game some idiot will say something to offend you, but it’s your choice whether you let them.

“Three years ago I wouldn’t have gone to a Northern Ireland match because of the preconceptions. But if it was sectarian I would walk out. I wouldn’t stand for it because this trip has cost a lot of money – I’m heading out to Poland for the game on Wednesday as well.”

As he spoke the bar was emptying after a night when around £4,000 (€5,800) had been raised by cancer charities in Manchester and Belfast.

For hours fans had drunk and sung without a single rendition of The Sash or any anti-IRA chants so long associated with elements of the Northern Ireland faithful.

At the end of the night a cluster gave a rendition of God Save The Queen. The Catholic fan insisted this didn’t bother him.

“I might feel an affinity towards the Republic (of Ireland) but the fact is I was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in Northern Ireland,” he added.

“You might agree with a united Ireland and if we ever get there we will see about it then. But apart from casting my vote at the ballot box there’s not a lot I can do about it, so right now I’ll support my football team because that’s all it is, a football team.”

According to Alan Roulston, chairman of the Queen’s University club, the sectarian atmosphere during home games at Windsor Park in Belfast, has been diminishing over the last four years.

The accountancy undergraduate praised the IFA’s Football for All campaign as a major reason for the improvements.

“There’s still some bigots and chanting, but nothing in the ground,” he said.

“There are hangers-on, but if you go to an away game like Poland you will hear nothing. The IFA and fans have admitted there are those who are sectarian but we’re trying to change that, we’re trying to educate them.

“It’s not about telling them to clear off, just that we don’t want to be like that.”


Martin McGuinness To Address Dublin Easter Commemoration

Published: 26 March, 2005

Ceremonies commemorating the 1916 Rising will take place at various locations in Dublin on Saturday, 26 March and Sunday 27 March.


Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness will address the Dublin Easter Commemoration on Sunday 27th March. People will assembly at 1.30pm at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square and march to GPO.


A wreath laying ceremony will take place at Arbour Hill Cemetery, the final resting place of the executed leaders of the Rising. Ceremonies will be chaired by Fingal Sinn Fein Councillor Felix Gallagher and an address will be delivered by former republican hunger-striker Bernard Fox. Those attending the Arbour Hill ceremony are asked to assemble at 11am

A ceremony commemorating the importation of weapons for use in the Rising aboard the Asgard, owned and skippered by Erskine Childers, will take place at Howth at 2pm.

On the south side of the city commemorative events will take place at Markievicz Park, Ballyfermot and at Eamon Ceannt Park, Crumlin. Those attending are asked to assemble at 12pm on Ballyfermot Road and at 2.45 Crumlin Shopping Centre respectively.


Souvenirs Of The Past In Sepia

Souvenirs In Sepia

Two Belfast families have taken a sentimental journey into the past.

Jimmy McClarnon turned historian when he discovered a stash of postcards while clearing out his daughter's house.

They were sent nearly 100 years ago to members of the Cheddy family in north Belfast.

He met up with Tom Cheddy and together they looked at cards and pictures which safeguarded in sepia the world of their ancestors.

Each item was an important - and touching - link to the past, none more so than a Valentine's card to Tom's late aunt Minnie which read: "The sky is high, the sea is deep, I love you, so I cannot sleep."

Reading the cards has brought history to life.

"You are really looking at history - the intimate stories on the back and the photos," said Jimmy.

"The pictures of Belfast and the postcards tell you where people have been - in the Army, at Tangiers. It is really fascinating to look at them all."

For Tom, the postcards brought back memories of his youth.

Jimmy McClarnon and Tom Cheddy enjoy their postcards

"Whenever I look at my father and uncles and their life then, it is good," he said.

It will take Tom a while to sort through the collection of more than 200 cards - each one bringing him a little bit closer to those who have gone before.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/25 13:13:47 GMT


Patriot Aims

By Michael Coveney

Published: March 25 2005 17:14 Last updated: March 25 2005 17:14

Irish republicanism had been one of the streams that flowed into the great pool of literary creativity in the Ireland of the early 20th century. That stream, which helped power the Gaelic revival, flowed through the bars, theatres and salons of Dublin, where W.B. Yeats and his fellow writer Lady Gregory launched the Abbey Theatre in 1904 - bank-rolled by an English benefactor, the tea heiress Annie Horniman. There followed the great plays of J.M. Synge and Sean O’Casey, which both satirised and celebrated nationalism and the spirit of independence.

The republican terror campaign that has rolled, in various forms and intensities, mostly, through Northern Ireland for the past 35 years has produced theatre, too. Most recently, that theatre has been added to by a play written by a man who was a senior member of the IRA’s political front group, Sinn Fein. Danny Morrison is the party’s former publicity director: he famously declared, in 1981, that the war could be won “with a ballot paper in one hand and the Armalite in the other”. The play - The Wrong Man, adapted from his novel of the same name - has highlighted the question of whether or not contemporary Irish republicanism necessarily leads to a vital theatre experience.

Like Morrison, Sean O’Casey was part of the political process that shaped his times. He served as secretary of the Irish Citizen Army in 1914 and indeed wrote its history in 1919. The Abbey became the first state-subsidised theatre in the English-speaking world in 1924, one year after O’Casey’s first Abbey play, The Shadow of a Gunman, presented a presumed IRA terrorist, Donal Davoren, as both a poet and a cowardly poltroon.

The Wrong Man was rejected by the Abbey - but then so was Bernard Shaw’s great “two nations” comedy John Bull’s Other Island in 1904. The Wrong Man is a grimly compelling little play, which shows, in scenes of reverse chronology, the entrapment of an IRA informer by the RUC in 1984 after the acquisition of tapes of him canoodling with his commanding officer.

It is impossible to separate the dramatic content of The Wrong Man from the political circumstances of its composition. And unlike most of what we now recognise as the “official” Irish drama - the plays of Brian Friel, Thomas Murphy, Frank McGuinness and the hilariously subversive variations on nationalist themes by the London-based Martin McDonagh - The Wrong Man is first and foremost a Belfast play, abrasive and flinty. It has no consoling Frielian poetry or metaphor about it, nor too much subtlety. It’s riveting alright, but not very good.

In the first scene, the IRA informer is shown, hooded and bound, being tortured and abused. He is then taken out and shot by his own colleagues. At the end, we see the RUC officers subjecting him to a brutal, sneering interrogation. These scenes have a raw authenticity, even if some of the domestic, non-political dialogue in between is thin to the point of anorexia and the construction, though adventurous, clumsy and confusing.

Morrison himself was interned in Long Kesh in 1972 as a suspected terrorist. In 1981 he acted as external spokesman for the IRA volunteer Bobby Sands when Sands was on hunger strike. In 1990 he was arrested and imprisoned in connection with the abduction of an IRA informer. He claimed innocence. On his release in 1995 he gave up “active” politics to concentrate on writing and running the literary programme of an arts festival in west Belfast.

Sinn Fein, and its IRA military wing, are embedded in the life of West Belfast to an extent inconceivable to the public, and indeed most politicians, in London. Even after the recent allegations of the IRA’s involvement in the raid on the Northern Bank, and the extraordinary developments of back-peddling and expulsions since the sisters and fiancee of the murdered Robert McCartney stood up for justice, many people who live there continue to support Sinn Fein because they believe the party represents their working-class interests.

Ten years ago, I visited the Falls Road, in Catholic West Belfast, to see a play by Marie Jones, now feted as the author of Stones in His Pockets. The IRA ceasefire had just begun, but it was the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland in 1971, so bonfires were lit all over the city. A Night in November was only a monologue, but it told the story of a Belfast Protestant, a wimpish dole clerk, who reassesses his life and beliefs during a World Cup qualifying game between Northern Ireland and the Republic (this game had indeed occurred). He ended up cheering the victorious Republic team and asserting a sort of non-partisan nationalist identity in New York on the night of the Republic’s game against Italy. Back home, six Catholics were murdered in O’Toole’s bar in Loughinisland.

That play was funny, profound, humanist and optimistic, full of rudery and colour. The Wrong Man has none of those qualities - O’Casey qualities if you like. It does have one good scene in which the informer pulls out of an assassination job because he thinks there is a child in the car of the appointed victim. His relationship with his commanding officer is briefly similar to that of Jack Clitheroe and his superior in O’Casey’s masterpiece about the Easter Rising, The Plough and the Stars; he’s not all that keen on the bloody reality of “the struggle”.

So what is Morrison’s point in writing the play? His characters are paper thin. The RUC officers are grotesque cartoons. The women, unlike in O’Casey, are milksops. Sure, he is showing the mechanism by which a good patriot can get sucked into a rotten situation and pay the ultimate cost, but so what? The coward has already killed one Ulster Defence Association man but is only edging towards a sense of decency out of self interest. Is Morrison illuminating an episode, or an era, in recent Irish history in any constructive or even imaginative way? Not really. If he is such a big cheese on his home patch, you begin to wonder why the play has not been presented there, addressed directly to the very people he is writing about. Morrison himself told me that a reading of the play had been arranged at the Abbey in Dublin, but that the artistic directorate had been ordered by the board to forbid any production of a play by “that man” (Morrison) in its repertoire.

The harsh truth is that a whole series of Northern Irish plays by Gary Mitchell, some of them produced at the Royal Court in London, has covered this territory more effectively, taking us right inside the police stations and homes of political activists and victims during the Troubles of the past 30 years. None of these plays, however, have resonated for long in the public imagination, and the same is true of one of the funniest Belfast farces of the modern period, Bill Morrison’s Flying Blind (1977), which had people jumping in and out of bed in their underwear while a pair of gormless terrorists demanded serious attention - in vain - for their increasingly demented boasts and bleats.

Flying Blind contained the idea that terrorism was so nasty it was ridiculous. When the playwright Martin McDonagh came along - prepared to write in competition, almost, with the Abbey tradition - he took the potential within Morrison’s black farce and fully exploited it.

McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which the Royal Shakespeare Company presented four years ago, was written in what the author called “a pacifist rage (it had been turned down too - by the National and the Royal Court ). It paralleled the comic savagery of republican terrorism and torture - a trussed-up victim has his toenails removed - with the torturer’s love of his cat. When the Irish National Liberation Army man returns home to Inishmore from a little light drugs-related criminality, all hell breaks loose: we end up with two dead cats, a live substitute (cat) painted orange, a roomful of hacked-off human limbs and blood everywhere. “It’s incidents like this do put tourists off Ireland,” someone remarks in the mayhem. And using the quaint syntactical soft-shoe shuffle of Synge and O’Casey, the question is posed: “Is it happy cats or a free Ireland we’re after?”

As more than one critic has remarked, the experience of watching a McDonagh play is like watching a Quentin Tarantino re-make of The Playboy of the Western World. The experience of watching the Danny Morrison play, by contrast, is like being trapped in a dark room with people you’d cross the road, or the Irish Sea, to avoid. McDonagh reaches out towards landscape, tradition, theatrical possibilities and humanity. Morrison bangs you on the head with a truncheon. McDonagh would, at least, pick up a shillelagh and give you a laugh at the same time, just as Christy Mahon, Synge’s playboy, comically lays his old “da” low with a loy (a small spade) in the field beyond.

One of Sinn Fein’s recent historians, Brian Feeney, points out that the first printed reference to the words “Sinn Fein” in the context of separatist sentiments (the term is usually translated as “We Ourselves”, or “Ourselves Alone”) is the title of a play written in 1882 by Thomas Stanislaus Cleary. The cast of characters include Erin and the Spirit of Self-Reliance. “Sinn Fein” was the motto of the Gaelic League, formed in 1893, and the political party itself emerged exactly 100 years ago, but was not allied to a military force (the Volunteers, later the IRA) until it emerged anew from the Easter Rising under the presidency of Eamon de Valera in 1917.

By the time O’Casey wrote The Plough and the Stars, his classic account of events in a Dublin tenement in the months leading up to Easter 1916, the new state was five years old. Yet the Republican diehards and puritans could not stomach a play that made a mockery of them and showed a prostitute lounging in a public bar while the voice of the rebel leader, Patrick Pearse, could be heard outside declaring that “bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing, and the nation that regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood”.

On the first night of the play, the audience rioted and Yeats took to the stage to defend O’Casey and berate the audience for disgracing themselves again - as they had at the opening of Synge’s Playboy. Danny Morrison’s play will offend no one except people hoping for a really good night out in the theatre. For that, at the moment, you have to cross back to Dublin and visit the Gate Theatre, where Brian Friel’s latest play, The Home Place, shows time running out for a 19th-century Anglo-Irish landlord in Donegal. The politics of home rule are creeping up on the landowners, and the consequences are allowed to reverberate in the music of the drama and the humanity of the characters.

”The Wrong Man”, Pleasance Theatre, London, until April 3 (020 7609 1800).

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