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March 18, 2005

Bush To Press Blair on Finucane Inquiry

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/18/05 Bush To Press PM On Finucane Inquiry Legislation
BT 03/18/05 SF And Orde In War Of Words
DJ 03/18/05 Opin: PSNI Sincerity Questioned
ND 03/18/05 Questions For Sinn Fein Chief
SM 03/18/05 Peace Process 'Ball In Sinn Fein's Court'
BT 03/18/05 Murphy 'Pondering Control Orders'
UT 03/18/05 ARA Case Against Loyalist Portadown Duo
DJ 03/18/05 SF Need To Hear Voice Of Irish America – Durkan
DJ 03/18/05 McGuinness Warning Was 'Veiled Threat' - John McCain
BT 03/18/05 McCartneys In Pledge To Extend Campaign
DJ 03/18/05 Derry Man's Death To Be Investigated By New Team
DJ 03/18/05 Focus On Lowry's Lane Issues
DJ 03/18/05 Derry Leads The Way
BT 03/18/05 Should The Soldier's Song Get Its Marching Orders?


Bush To Press PM On Finucane Inquiry Legislation

By Chris Thornton
18 March 2005

President George W Bush appears to have given his backing to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's campaign for an open inquiry into collusion surrounding the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Bush has been enlisted to raise the controversial secrecy legislation brought in for the Finucane Inquiry the next time he meets Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Inquiries Bill, which will give Ministers powers to withhold information from the Finucane hearings, is already opposed by the Finucane family, the Irish government, US envoy Mitchell Reiss and key judicial figures. The Bill is currently being pushed through Parliament.

After meeting the President at the White House yesterday, Mr Ahern said that Mr Blair had made "a solemn agreement" at the Weston Park talks in 2001 that Canadian Judge Peter Cory would report on the matter.

"We agreed that whatever that report stated would be implemented," he said.

"The report, which he (Judge Cory) has reiterated at the Congressional hearings today is that there should be a full sworn inquiry and we have brought this up with the President.

"I have also asked him to raise this directly with Prime Minister Blair at an early date," said the Taoiseach.

"It is important for us to see that justice is done in every way and this is an outstanding issue since 1989," he said.

The Government agreed to inquiries in four cases highlighted by Judge Cory. Three of those are about to get underway under existing legislation, but the Government decided to bring in increased secrecy powers to deal with the Finucane case.

Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine has been in Washington this week and Mr Ahern promised her he would raise the issue with the President.

Lord Saville, who runs the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, has also publicly opposed the new legislation.

Earlier this week, Judge Cory set out his opposition to the Bill in a letter to US Congressmen examining the Finucane case.

"To change the ground rules at this late date seems unfair," he said. "It seems as well unnecessary since the security of the realm would be ensured by the courts when the issue arose in a true public inquiry."

Mr Reiss told Congressmen that there should be as much transparency as possible in the Finucane inquiry.


SF And Orde In War Of Words

Row over PSNI's response over McCartney suspect.

By Chris Thornton
18 March 2005

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde was "defensive, confused and, indeed, unbelievable" in explaining why a Robert McCartney murder suspect was not interviewed, Sinn Fein said today.

As Gerry Adams claimed that "there is sufficient evidence there to bring charges", Mr Orde said the PSNI knows how to run a murder inquiry better than Sinn Fein.

"We are the professionals. Not Sinn Fein. Not Provisional IRA," he said.

Throughout this week, Sinn Fein have attacked the PSNI for failing to interview a suspect who presented himself at a Belfast police station, accusing the police of using the case to attack the party.

"It has now been established that an individual believed to be a suspect in the murder of Robert McCartney offered to make himself available for interview.

"His solicitor was told that nobody from the PSNI was available to interview this man," said Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty.

"It has also been established that a number of eyewitnesses have made statements naming people. Again none of these people have been charged with any offence and no identity parade has been arranged," he said.

"There is a real belief that the PSNI are deliberately failing to arrest and charge those responsible for this murder in a bid to cause political damage to Sinn Fein."

Mr Orde, who has been visiting Washington and New York for Saint Patrick's Day, responded by saying that his officers are aware of who the suspects are and need to build a case against them.

He indicated there was no point in interviewing a suspect who does not answer questions.

"I think the public understand the difference between intelligence and evidence," he said.

"I think the public are ahead of us on this. They know very well that we need a case to put to people.

"There is no point bringing someone in who then, quite properly, if a suspect exercises their right to silence and says nothing. That does not develop the case.

"We know. We are the professionals. Not Sinn Fein. Not Provisional IRA. We know how to investigate crime and we are doing it very well."

But Mr Doherty claimed that nationalists saw that response "as defensive, confused and, indeed, unbelievable."


Opin: PSNI Sincerity Questioned

Friday 18th March 2005

Dear Sir, I have sat for the past few weeks and watched in horror the ups and downs, fears, tears, hopes and apprehensions of the McCartney family being played out in the public for all the world to see. My heart goes out to them and I hope they can have some closure in the future.

I do however, question the sincerity of the PSNI/RUC in this case as they seem to be dragging their heels in this very traumatic situation, postponing the grief process for the family and allowing establishment political parties cheap jibes at the expense of Sinn Fein (the only party that the PSNI/RUC political detectives have consistently targeted, spied on and spread rumours and lies about in the past 30 years). Why? because Sinn Fein, the only all Ireland party on this island, have consistently said that unless Britain transfers its hold on policing to the control of Irish people, there will never be proper and accountable policing in this part of Ireland.

Special Branch, MI5 and now the Policing Board puppets managed by Pro-British elements of the SDLP, including Dennis Bradley, (and well paid into the bargain) are now splitting the nationalist community by making it look as if British Rule is patriotic and the need to unite Ireland is criminal.

People will see through all the money that is being paid out to maintain British Rule, divide and conquer communities and destroy the souls of strong traditional republican people whose only wish is for a United Ireland. I have had personal experience within the past few years of losing a family member as a result of a drunken brawl. Not once did I or any member of my family ask the political allegiance of the people involved, not one member of any political party came to ask the circumstances, nor were they interested . Why? Because we made sure that noone would take advantage of our loss to further the ends of a police force that has not moved far enough yet. All we need is justice, not the selective justice demanded by the SDLP to suit their conservative political ends.

No doubt reading this letter people will draw their conclusions as to my political affiliations, not everyone in my family votes the same way but they want an open and accountable police service that is not controlled by British interest.

Justice for all (Name and address supplied)


Questions For Sinn Fein Chief

By J. Jioni Palmer
Washington Bureau
March 18, 2005

WASHINGTON -- He may have been barred from the official St. Patrick's Day festivities at the White House and on Capitol Hill yesterday, but where Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams did go the crowds were bigger and more fervent than in years past.

"The faction of Irish America that values Sinn Fein's contribution to the process and which supports Irish unity has been galvanized by the campaign against us," Adams said yesterday.

Yet it was voices within that community of friends who want to see peace in Northern Ireland endure and who urged him to put the Irish Republican Army out of business or risk thwarting progress they worked collectively to create.

"I am satisfied that Gerry Adams is going to do what he can do," said Rep. Peter King, one of Sinn Fein's staunchest supporters in Congress. "It's not going to be today or tomorrow, but he'll do what he can."

He said advancing toward that goal will require a lot of delicate maneuvers that are fraught with potential risks, but declined to elaborate except to say, "there are some things that just go unsaid."

King, who met privately with Adams yesterday morning before hosting a meeting in his Cannon Building office with about a dozen members later in the afternoon, caused a stir earlier this week when he publicly called for the IRA to be disbanded.

Over breakfast in Adams' hotel room, King, along with Reps. James Walsh (R-Syracuse) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.), pressed their case that as long as the IRA continued to exist, it would provide fodder for those elements in Ireland that want the peace process to fail.

Yesterday's meeting took place at a time of intense scrutiny for Adams and the IRA - here and in Ireland. For the first time since the peace process that produced the U.S.-brokered 1998 Good Friday Agreement got under way, Adams and all other Northern Ireland political parties were not invited to participate in official St. Patrick's Day events at the White House or on Capitol Hill this year. However, much of the attention has focused on Adams because of a spate of criminal acts allegedly committed by members of the IRA.

"The ball is in his [Adams'] court," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), who attended the afternoon meeting. "Anyone who supports the Good Friday accord supports the end of paramilitary groups on all sides, including the IRA."

Meanwhile, unlike his critics, Adams said he is grateful that he met with the congressmen, who "were people who have been involved in this process from the very, very beginning, when I was not permitted in the U.S."

"I think they have a very very clear sense that Sinn Fein is resolute to this business of peace-making, is central to it and that we're willing to stand up to the challenges that will present," he said in an interview with Newsday.

Of his critics, he said, "I don't think any of them believe Sinn Fein does not have a continuous and positive role to play in the peace process."

Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.


Peace Process 'Ball In Sinn Fein's Court'

By Gary Kelly, PA

Political progress in Northern Ireland will be stalled until Sinn Fein deals with IRA criminality, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy said today.

The minister, speaking from Washington, said the ball was firmly in the court of republicans to deal with the issue once and for all.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “To all intents and purposes we are not talking about any future negotiations or discussions until the issue of criminal activity on the part of the IRA is addressed.

“The onus is entirely on the leadership now of Sinn Fein to resolve the issue of criminality, and until that happens we have not got any hope at all of making any progress towards restoring the institutions of Government in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Murphy said the visit of the McCartney sisters to the US capital over the St Patrick’s Day holiday had brought IRA violence and thuggery into sharp focus.

“The fact that they have got this remarkable campaign has personalised the issue of criminal activity in a way which, here in the US, has been very well understood because people see individual human beings being affected by brutality and savagery.”

The McCartney family travelled to Washington to highlight their campaign for the murderers of their brother Robert to be brought to justice.

The sisters and Mr McCartney’s partner have met President George Bush and other leading US politicians while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has been snubbed by the political establishment in the US capital.

Mr Murphy said the reaction of Irish Americans could have a positive impact on the family’s campaign back in Northern Ireland, encouraging witnesses to come forward and give evidence.

“I hope that people who have any knowledge at all of that murder can feel satisfied in the sense that everybody across the world would be behind them if they come forward with information.”

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Mark Durkan has said the unwavering stand of the five sisters had moved the peace process at unprecedented speed.

“The McCartney family is very clear about what justice demands and has held strong to those demands where the two Governments have faltered,” he said.

“By doing that they have moved the movement on five times in as many days.”

Mr Durkan claimed that the reason the McCartney sisters’ campaign to bring their brother’s killers to justice had had such resonance was because the public was used to accepting compromise.

He said it was their determination to accept nothing but the truth that had spurred leading politicians, including Mr Bush and Senators John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, to speak so strongly on their behalf.

“People are used to having progress done for them, even though it still falls short of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“Although it was not their intention, the McCartney family has sent out a clear message to the two Governments about how to deal with the Provisional movement. Vague statements will no longer be enough.”

Mr Durkan, who travelled to Washington for St Patrick’s Day, despite the White House snub issued to all Northern Ireland political leaders, said it would now be difficult for the Government and Sinn Fein to hide such criminal activity.

“There needs to be a clear and complete wind-up of the IRA, no fudge, nor more terminology about sequencing, just direct action,” he said.

“The McCartneys have made this case in a very direct way, and it raises contradictions that the process cannot afford to carry.”

The five McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans, the late 33-year-old’s fiancee, said Mr Bush’s detailed knowledge of their campaign had heartened them and given them hope.

As their whirlwind tour of Washington drew to a close, they said the president’s unconditional support had encouraged them to take their fight for justice as far afield as possible.

“I got the impression that he has a very good understanding of what our cause is about and what had happened to Robert – he didn’t need it explained,” said Catherine McCartney.

“We will be speaking to more people about raising the issue and its importance to all the people in Ireland and will be keeping in good contact with Bertie Ahern.”


Murphy 'Pondering Control Orders'

By Brian Walker, London Editor
18 March 2005

The Secretary of State has been "considering carefully" how new control orders restricting suspect terrorists' movements up to the level of house arrest, could apply to Northern Ireland, the House of Lords has been told.

Tory spokesman and Ulster resident Lord Glentoran said that in Northern Ireland, there was more than reasonable suspicion that people, both loyalist and republican, were involved in terrorist gangs that carry out all forms of criminality.

The Leader of the Lords Baroness Amos told him: "The Northern Ireland Secretary has been considering carefully the application of the powers of that Act to Northern Ireland.

"It is, however, an exceptional piece of legislation, aimed at exceptional circumstances, and we would not expect these provisions to be used routinely. Our aim is that if individuals are suspected of involvement in terrorist acts, the police will seek to gather the evidence necessary to secure a conviction in court," she said.

The irony of introducing control orders against Islamic militants if evidence to prosecute isn't strong enough, was not lost on Conservative and unionist MPs of both parties, during the recent marathon sittings to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

To some, a prolonged wall of silence over the McCartney murder and other violence crimes would be suitable cases for using the orders to detain IRA and other paramilitary suspects without trial.

During Commons exchanges, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke confirmed that control orders would legally apply to Northern Ireland but deflected the question of how, to Paul Murphy.

Labour's Lord Dubs said: "It is much better to give the police in Northern Ireland time to conduct their investigations, in order to bring people before the courts.

"Just when public opinion in Northern Ireland is moving stronger than ever against terrorism and criminals there, the worst thing we could do would be give the people who perpetrated these crimes a sense of being victims.

"We would lose the political argument which at the moment is going very much on the side of the Government," he said.


ARA Case Against Portadown Duo

The Assets Recovery Agency was granted an Interim Receiving Order at the High Court in Belfast for assets valued at an estimated £300,000.

The assets in question are held by Walter John Black and Finulla Black of Birches Road, Portadown, and include:

• A property at 11 Birches Road, Portadown;
• £41,268 invested in an Assurance Society in the name of Walter Black;
• £25,496 invested in an Assurance Society in the name of Finulla Black;
• A portfolio of shares with an estimated value in excess of £24,000 in the name of Walter Black;
• A portfolio of shares with an estimated value of £1,000 in the name of Finulla Black.
• A Peugeot Boxer 320 motor home;
• Money held in six bank accounts.

In a statement the Agency :

"The Agency contends that a proportion of these assets were derived from legitimate sources but another part – estimated to be at least £100,000 in value - was obtained as a result of a range of criminal activities including manufacturing alcohol and counterfeiting currency.

"The Agency has alleged that Walter Black was involved in those activities. In the case of Finulla Black the Agency is not alleging that she has committed any acquisitive crime but simply that she holds some of the assets that have been derived from the proceeds of criminal activities.

ARA Assistant Director Alan McQuillan said: “This case was referred to the Agency by PSNI ARA has alleged to the High Court that Mr Black is associated with a loyalist terrorist group, the LVF. We have alleged that when Mr Black’s home was searched by police in 2001 a firearm, ammunition, a colour photocopier and counterfeit currency was recovered. A still was also found."

Mr McQuillan said :

"ARA has carried out a detailed investigation into Mr and Mrs Blacks’ assets. This has taken a number of months and has included the search of their home and interviews with Mr and Mrs Black. Through this we have found that, while some of the assets held by them are explained by legitimate sources of income, others are not.

"To obtain the Interim Receiving Order ARA has persuaded the High Court that the Agency has a good arguable case that a proportion of the assets specified in the Order represents the proceeds of crime and may later be forfeited under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act,” he said.


SF Need To Hear Voice Of Irish America - Durkan

Friday 18th March 2005

SDLP leader Mark Durkan, speaking to the 'Journal' from Washington last night, says it is vital Sinn Fein "hears the clear voice of Irish America."

The Foyle MLA, who is in the US capital for a round of highlevel political meetings, said: "The most important Senators in the United States are very clear in what they are saying.

"They want paramilitarism brought to an end. They want peace. They want justice. They have invested over a decade in

our peace process. "They, like us, are frustrated that all paramilitaries, loyalist and republican, are still not off our backs, preventing our communities from getting off their knees.

"When we meet with Senator Kennedy, Mitchell Reiss and other key politicians, we will be giving them the positive message that we can get out of this crisis, if like them, we all take a strong stand against paramilitarism, violence, and for inclusion and the Good Friday Agreement."

Commenting on Geraldine Finucane's visit to Washington, Mr. Durkan added: "The welcome hearing that Geraldine Finucane is receiving in the United States shows the consistent interest in the Finucane case and their determination to see a fully Cory compliant public inquiry. "Tony Blair needs to be very clear, the Finucane family will not go away and Irish America will pursue it to the end. I will be raising the Finucane case directly with Senator Kennedy and Mitchell Reiss when I meet with them tomorrow.

"The Finucane and McCartneys are two families looking for justice, two families demanding the rule of law. Tony Blair and Gerry Adams need to know that neither family is going away."


McGuinness Warning Was 'Veiled Threat' - US Senator, John McCain

Friday 18th March 2005

A leading US senator has accused Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness of making a "veiled threat" against the family of murdered Belfast man, Robert McCartney.

Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Mr. McGuinness' warning that the family "be careful not to step over the line into party politics" as a veiled threat and questioned the Derry politician's qualifications as a spiritual adviser.

Mr.McGuinness has strongly denied the allegation, claiming that he was simply pointing out to the family not to get involved in party politics.

In an address to the American Ireland Fund Dinner in Washington, John McCain warned Sinn Fein that enough was enough.

"Anyone, Irish, American or British who desires and works for the success of peace, freedom and justice must denounce in the strongest possible terms not only the cowards who murdered Robert McCartney but the IRA itself and any political organisation that would associate with them," he said.

"Nor should they tolerate the veiled threat to the McCartney sisters or to anyone else with the courage and decency to speak the truth about the IRA."

Senator McCain, who was honoured with a Distinguished Leadership Award, said any political party who denied them the right to demand justice did so at the cost of exposing their own hypocrisy and complicity.

He said the failure of peace talks, followed by the Northern Bank robbery and Mr. McCartney's murder had unleashed great courage at grass roots level, and commended the McCartney sisters for bravely speaking out loud what everyone has "known for years" - that it is time for change.

"Northern Ireland should take inspiration from the McCartney sisters and others who have spoken up," he said. "Change does not happen on its own and it takes brave individuals to make history.

"The world of party politics has failed them, Sinn Fein has failed them, and at such a terrible cost to their family."

Senator McCain said Sinn Fein was facing a historic choice and that there had been enough endless debate about its ties to the IRA.

It is not enough for them to sever ties to the IRA, he said, they must join the call for them to disarm, demobilise and disband once and for all.

"Stealing from banks and slaying men in the streets to settle personal grievances are not the acts of freedom fighters," he added.

"No one can honestly claim today that the IRA is anything better than an organised crime syndicate that steals and murders to serve members personal interests."

Senator McCain addressed the annual St Patrick's Day event, attended by both Gerry Adams and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern as the McCartney family prepared to meet President George Bush.


McCartneys In Pledge To Extend Campaign

By Chris Thornton
18 March 2005

The family of Robert McCartney are prepared to take their campaign for justice on to Britain and Europe, they indicated today as they continued to send out their message in America.

The five sisters and the fiancee of the murdered Short Strand man were continuing their visit to Washington DC after personally telling President George W Bush about their push to have the killers brought to court.

"We will now take the campaign back to Ireland and we're going to keep in close contact with Bertie Ahern and we're going to be speaking again with politicians in Ireland and obviously in Britain also, and we'll be looking forward then on to Europe," Catherine McCartney said yesterday.

She said Mr Bush, who spoke to Robert's partner Bridgeen Hagans about the impact of the killing on their children, seemed confident that their campaign will succeed.

After the White House visit, Mr Ahern said Sinn Fein risks "total exclusion" in America.


Derry Man's Death To Be Investigated By New Team

Friday 18th March 2005

The death of Derry man Dermot McShane, who was crushed by a British Army vehicle nine years ago, is to be reinvestigated by the PSNI's Special Case Review Team.

It is the first acknowledged case to be investigated by the new team announced last week and it was revealed during an inquest into Mr. McShane's death that the papers would be forwarded to the investigating body.

In a letter to the coroner PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid said: "It is important to note that the PSNI have been granted additional funds by the NIO to review all unsolved and disputed deaths arising from the 'troubles'.

"The death of Mr. McShane would clearly be a case for the new team. I will ensure that all the relevant papers are forwarded to them."

Welcoming the decision the solicitor for the McShane family, Mr. Paddy MacDermott, said: "The McShane family welcome this decision to reinvestigate this death.

"They also welcome the fact that he coroner has stated he is anxious for the inquest to proceed.

"But more importantly he has also indicated that the driver of the British army vehicle can now be compelled to give evidence

"The McShane family are anxious to see their brother's killer cross examined in court as previously this had been denied them by a decision taken by the RUC and DPP."

Dermot McShane, a 35 years old machine tool operator from Lone Moor Road, died in July 1996 during one of the worst riots Derry had seen for two decades following the forcing of an Orange Order march down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

Nationalists in Derry, angered that Orangemen were allowed to complete their walk along Garvaghy Road, had hijacked vehicles and blocked streets in the city centre and a full scale riot ensued with the RUC firing thousands of plastic bullets.

Dermot McShane was among those rioting in the Little James Street area in the early hours of July 13.

He was caught by television cameras using a makeshift wooden shield for cover as an Army Saxon armoured personnel carrier --weighing almost ten tonnes - advanced towards him.

It drove over his wooden shield, crushing Mister McShane underneath and inflicting horrific injuries.

Post-mortem reports presented to the Coroner's court show he sustained 14 fractured ribs, a fractured pelvis, numerous internal injuries and multiple lacerations.

He had major surgery at Altnagelvin Hospital, but died four and a half hours after he was crushed.

The coroner's court heard his death was investigated by the RUC, but it took almost six months before officers interviewed the driver of the Army vehicle. Eleven months went by before a file was sent to the DPP.

The police investigation was subsequently criticised by the European Court of Human Rights which raised concerns over its speed and its independence.

Relatives of Mister McShane were present at the coroner's court hearing when the city's deputy coroner David Hunter revealed he'd written to the PSNI and to the Police Ombudsman inviting them to reexamine the case.

Mr Hunter said the PSNI's Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid had written to him to state that Mister McShane's death was clearly a case for the brand new Special Case Review Team.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence is also to be asked if any disciplinary proceedings were ever instigated in relation to Dermot McShane's death.

And the McShane family want to know if the Army driver is still a serving soldier.

The hearing also learned that although Mister McShane was killed by an Army vehicle, the Army never convened a Board of Inquiry.


Focus On Lowry's Lane Issues

Friday 18th March 2005

Sinn Fein candidate Joanne McDaid has said the SDLP should focus on the issues raised by the Lowry's Lane Environmental Group rather than make allegations against them.

She said: "I was sorry that the SDLP have attempted to politicise the work carried out by the Lowry's Lane Environmental Group rather than focus on the issues that need addressed.

"The Lowry's Lane Environmental Group was established following numerous complaints regarding the problems caused by young people gathering in the Lowry's Lane area.

"The aim of the group was to address the short-term problems that this caused to the residents of the area and also to plan for the long-term development of the Lane itself."

She continued: "The group contacted each house in the area and held public meetings at which several members of the SDLP were present.

"None of the SDLP people put themselves forward for election to the group "After a period of consultation, our group decided to take a number of initiatives. Firstly, it was seen as essential that business owners in the area recognised their responsibility to the community and that they must be part of a collective effort to eliminate the problems.

"There has been a positive response from the business community and as a result young people are finding it more difficult to access alcohol and use the Hatmore Stores as a gathering point."

The Sinn Fein candidate went on: "While recognising that many of the problems are as a result of large numbers of young people gathering at certain points in the area, it must also be recognised that many of these young people actually belong to this community and find themselves with no alternatives due to a lack of community infrastructure.

"The group has expressed the view that it is not its intention to isolate young people but rather to consult with them in order to lobby for viable alternatives.

"We have been able to secure a sum of money from the WELB, which will be used to develop the ideas raised by the youth of the area. Through this approach we hope that the young people will develop an understanding of the problems caused to the community by their activity. She continued: "In order to assess the long-term development of the Lane, a survey was carried out amongst residents to establish the ways in which residents would like to see the Lane developed for the future and a number of solutions were recorded and it is hoped that due to the size of the Lane several of these ideas could be incorporated in order to create an amenity that will be enjoyed by everyone in the community.

"It is essential that residents and the statutory agencies buy into this project in order to develop this area. It is obvious that the problems stem from a lack of funding and amenities for young people and in an area were so many young families reside it is vital that this problem be addressed.

"Rather than attempt to politicise the project I would ask the SDLP to come forward and be part of the solution to the problems of Lowry's Lane."


Derry Leads The Way

Friday 18th March 2005

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Gerry O'hEara, has hailed yesterday's St. Patrick's Day parade and carnival as a 'massive success' that united all sections of the community in 'a celebration of Irishness'.

In the first St. Patrick's Day parade in the city for many years bands, floats and dancers paraded through the city centre in what Councillor O'hEara described as a 'multicultural celebration.'

The parade route to the Guildhall Square was lined with crowds and in the Square itself a large crowd was entertained by musicians.

Hailing the parade and carnival as a success Councillor O'hEara said: "This is a massive success both in terms of the parade itself and the turn out.

"In the parade we had people from all over the community. We had ethnic groups from around the world with the Chinese community, the Indian community, a Ukranian dancing troupe all taking part in what is essentially a celebration of Irishness in 2005.

Every section of the town was represented here and we showed how St. Patrick's Day can be a celebration for everyone."

He continued: "When this idea was first proposed by myself my aim was to move St. Patrick's Day away from being seen as a strictly nationalist event and into something that everyone can celebrate. "I think the fact that this parade has been such a success shows just what can be done and I would be hopeful that we can build upon this and turn St. Patrick's Day into a festival to rival Halloween."

Jeanette Warke of the Cathedral Youth Club, whose samba band led the parade, said the atmosphere had been 'great.'

She said: "We led the parade off and it was a great atmosphere as we went down Shipquay Street. Our drummers were great and everyone was cheering and it showed what St. Patrick's Day should be - a bit of fun for the whole community."

She continued: "It was great to see all the flags of different colours and they brought such a great atmosphere to the parade. We were so impressed with the flags that we have decided to design one for the club."

One American visitor, Mr. Mark Groener, said he enjoyed the Derry parade more than the traditional celebrations in new York.

He said: "New York puts on a great parade but it can be a wee bit too formal.

"Today was great and everyone seemed to be having a great time which is what it is supposed to be all about."

The parade was led by the Cathedral Youth Club's Samba Group who were followed by a variety of groups representing ethnic minorities and groups.

The Chinese community were represented by dancing dragons and the Rainbow Project were led by a banner stating 'Somewhere over the Rainbow.'

There were also Irish dancers from the McLaughlin School of Dancing, various floats and groups from different communities across the city.

Around the Guildhall and Waterloo Place an alcohol free zone had been declared to try and reduce any problems associated with young people drinking.


Should The Soldier's Song Get Its Marching Orders?

The playing of the Irish national anthem at some rugby internationals has long been a matter of debate in Northern Ireland. But in the Republic, the debate has been more about the quality of the song itself. DAMIAN CORLESS is among those in the South who feel their national anthem doesn't hit the right note.

18 March 2005

If there was a useful lesson to be taken from Ireland's flop rugby encounter with France last weekend, it's that it is high time we dumped an Irish national anthem that sags in the middle and at both ends.

Admittedly, there's probably not an anthem in the world that wouldn't sound feeble trailing the rousing Marseillaise but there's no good reason why we should continue to wallow in this sludgy porridge of a dirge.

The shortcomings of The Soldier's Song come up for debate from time to time but the flak tends to rattle against the Brit-bashing lyrics rather than the drudge of a tune.

Ten years ago, with Northern Ireland in thaw, Taoiseach John Bruton told the Dail: "I am having the position regarding the required procedures for the commissioning and putting in place of a new anthem checked to see if any exist and I will advise as soon as the relevant information is available." And that was the last we heard of that.

Public debate on the anaemic anthem has been sporadic and muted, probably because we're all conditioned to venerate tradition. But we need look no further than witch-burning or slavery to see that traditions aren't always good, and neither are they necessarily born of either merit or planning.

The Soldier's Song got to be the Irish national anthem largely by default while the architects of the Free State wrestled with more pressing matters, like quelling the bandit counties of Sligo and Leitrim. In this regard at least, The Soldier's Song is a truly fitting anthem for Ireland, an embodiment of that native spirit that says: "Ah sure, it'll do."

The Soldier's Song was composed in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney and was later adopted as the marching song of the Irish Volunteers. It became one of the theme tunes of the Easter Rising and reached a wider audience in late 1916 when it was published in New York.

Established in 1922, the Free State got by without a national anthem for a while but in 1924, Sean Lester, Director of Publicity at External Affairs, urged selecting one because "pro-British elements" were taking advantage of its absence to sing God Save The King at public functions.

Lester argued that The Soldier's Song was "unsuitable" and suggested holding a competition to pen new lyrics for Thomas Moore's Let Erin Remember The Days Of Old.

Ruling out a competition, the Government decided to have two anthems, using The Soldier's Song for home fixtures and Let Erin Remember away. However, the Dublin Evening Mail picked up on the idea of a competition and put up 50 guineas for the best new lyrics to Moore's melody. When WB Yeats and his fellow judges declared that not one of the entries was "worthy of 50 guineas or any portion of it", the Mail asked readers to pick from six of the lyrics.

If the votes of the Mail's readers had counted, Lansdowne Road last Saturday would have reverberated with the opening lines: "God of our Ireland, by Whose hand/Her glory and her beauty grew/Just as the shamrock o'er the land/Grows green beneath thy sparkling dew."

But the media-led campaign fell on deaf ears and the new State muddled on with two anthems. That this couldn't go on was highlighted in early 1926 when the Ceann Comhairle ruled that the President of the Executive, WT Cosgrave, was under no obligation to reveal the true identity of the national anthem to the Dail.

In July 1926 the National Executive formally adopted The Soldier's Song as the national anthem for all State fixtures, home and away. For some, this was like granting retention planning permission for an illegal dump.

The anthem's critics had their say in 1933 after Peadar Kearney sued the State for ripping him off. As the Dail agreed to buy out the copyright from Kearney and his late co-writer for £980, Deputy MacDermot branded their composition "unworthy" and "a jaunty little piece of vulgarity".

General Mulcahy didn't think there was much point in replacing The Soldier's Song "until we have raised the standard of music and musical construction in the country". Deputy Anthony favoured more urgent action because "anyone with the most elementary knowledge of music ... could not for a moment suggest that the music of The Soldier's Song is either inspiring or even musical".

He continued: "The whole thing is an abomination to anyone who knows anything about music. I have hopes that some musician and some poet will collaborate one day and give us a national anthem something like the Marseillaise."

Which is where we came in.

Back in the 1970s Southern band, Brush Shiels and Skid Row played a gig at a hotel in Larne, Co Antrim. The promoter told them to finish the evening with the national anthem, as was customary at the time. However, after just a few chords of The Soldier's Song, the promoter was on stage screaming at Brush: "Play The Cream, play The Cream."

Slightly bewildered, the band segued into Sunshine Of Your Love by Eric Clapton's Cream, before riffing back into The Soldier's Song. With missiles hurtling past, it dawned that the request was for God Save The Queen. After the band passed the night hiding in fear of their lives, the promoter finally persuaded the local loyalist heavies to grant safe passage out of the area.

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