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March 13, 2005

Cory Criticises Attempt To Limit Finucane Inquiry

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 03/14/05 Attempt To Limit Finucane Inquiry Criticised
IT 03/14/05 SF Increase Share In 'Critical' Poll
IT 03/14/05 McCabe Killing: Text Of Statement By Prisoners -V(2)
IT 03/14/05 Release Of McCabe Killers No Longer Part Of Deal - SF
IT 03/14/05 SF Members Give Statements On Murder
IT 03/14/05 McCabe Family Say Apology By Killers Is 'Disingenuous'
IT 03/14/05 Congressman King Urges IRA To Disband
UT 03/13/05 Adams Denounces McCartney Murder
IT 03/14/05 Alliance Calls For Devolution To Be Restored
SB 03/13/05 Money Laundering Suspect Burned Stg£1.5m, Say Gardai
SB 03/13/05 Sinn Fein Faces Split In Irish America
BB 03/13/05 Loyalist 'Link' May Hamper Probe
SB 03/13/05 Opin: IRA Insanity Hasn't Gone Away, You Know
IT 03/14/05 Bishops Highlights Plight Of Illegal Irish Living In US
IT 03/14/05 Ballymun Tower Reduced To Rubble - In Five Seconds
IT 03/14/05 Price Of A Pint

NP 03/13/05 Irish Politics: Sinn Fein And The IRA - VO
NP 03/13/05 Music - 'Bells Of Ireland' –VO
NP 03/13/05 Seeing Rare 'Beauty' In The World –VO
NP 03/13/99 John O'Donohue: 'Eternal Echoes' -VO

Irish Politics: Sinn Fein And The IRA - Weekend Edition - Sunday, March 13, 2005 · Sinn Fein, the republican party in Northern Ireland, is under increasing pressure to disassociate itself from the Irish Republican Army, as the IRA itself loses popularity with the Irish people. Sheilah Kast talks about this latest political turn in Ireland with Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe.

Music - 'Bells Of Ireland' Celebrates A Flower In Song - Weekend Edition - Sunday, March 13, 2005 · Rosalie Sorrels was prompted to write a song when she was inspired by a particular flower common throughout Ireland. The tune is part of our occasional series, "What's in a Song" which comes to us from the Western Folklife Center. The series explores different songs and their inspirations.

Seeing Rare 'Beauty' In The World - by Jacki Lyden All Things Considered, March 13, 2005 · Poet, philosopher, Heidegger scholar and former priest John O'Donohue has written several books on Celtic spirituality. O'Donohue lives in the Connemara region in the West of Ireland, a haunting landscape of stone, sea and rainbows. His latest book is Beauty.

John O'donohue: 'Eternal Echoes' - All Things Considered, March 13, 1999 · Jacki Lyden speaks to Irish philosopher and poet John O'Donohue about his latest book, Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Yearning to Belong. (Harper Collins, 1999). O'Donohue's writings are inspired by ancient Celtic traditions and are filled with vivid descriptions of the Irish imagination.


Attempt To Limit Finucane Inquiry Criticised

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

An attempt by Britain to limit the scope of an inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane would make an independent investigation "impossible", Canadian judge Peter Cory has said.

Judge Cory investigated some of the North's most controversial killings, including Mr Finucane's, Robert Hamill in Portadown in 1997, LVF leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison in 1997 and Rosemary Nelson in Lurgan in 1999.

The proposed Inquiries Bill would give British ministers the power to order an inquiry to hear evidence in private, and to bar the production of some evidence to protect national security.

The legislation, which would supersede the 1921 Tribunals of Inquiry Act, has already been passed by the House of Lords without any significant change and it will begin its passage in House of Commons tomorrow.

Judge Cory said yesterday: "I don't know how any self-respecting Canadian judge would be part of it in light of the restrictions on independence it would impose."

The 1921 legislation had been the only tribunal law in place when the Irish and British governments agreed in Weston Park in 2001 that the Finucane killing would be investigated. "There was only one standard for a public inquiry at the time of the Weston Park accord," said the judge.

"If this Act had been in place at the time to set up an inquiry I don't think that there is a judge who would take it on. Its provisions are too restrictive. Independence would be impossible," he said.

The judge may attend a Congressional hearing organised by Republican congressman Chris Smith in Washington on Wednesday into the 1989 killing of Mr Finucane by the UDA.

The 1921 legislation, said Judge Cory, offered "sufficient protection" to the British government "for all the things that might deal with the security of the realm".

"My view of the proposed legislation is that it would be extremely difficult to have a public inquiry that would be in any way significant," he told The Irish Times.

Serious divisions emerged on Friday in London between officials from the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of the Taoiseach.

The Government has pushed for the Finucane inquiry to be held under the 1921 Act, or, at least, the dropping of Clause 20 of the Inquiries Bill so that British ministers would not be able to force hearings to be held in private.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has already warned British prime minister Tony Blair that he will raise the matter with President Bush and other senior US figures on Thursday.

The British government is also facing opposition from leading members of the British judiciary, including the head of the Bloody Sunday inquiry, Lord Saville.

The judge, whose concerns are shared by the British lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, and other legal figures, said: "I take the view that this provision makes a serious inroad into the independence of any inquiry."

© The Irish Times


SF Increase Share In 'Critical' Poll

Marie O' Halloran

The vote for Sinn Féin: The Meath byelection was "probably the most critical election we have fought in 20 years" according to Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, who described the party's increased vote as "an incredible performance".

Despite controversies including the murder of Belfast man Robert McCartney and the Northern Bank raid, Cllr Joe Reilly's share of the vote rose by almost 3 percentage points, from 9.43 per cent in the 2002 general election, to 12.25 per cent.

An "absolutely delighted" Mr McGuinness, who canvassed in Meath seven times in the three-week campaign, said it was the most critical election "simply because of the circumstances under which the election was fought and the fact that there was massive targeting of Sinn Féin by our political opponents and by the media". He said the people of Meath had shown that "they think more of Sinn Féin and Joe Reilly than they do of Michael McDowell and the PDs". The party had shown itself to be "very strong indeed".

The candidate himself said he was "a very happy man. We've both increased the vote and the percentage of the vote". With a turnout of just over 41 per cent, Cllr Reilly got 6,087 first preference votes, compared to 6,042 votes in 2002, when the turnout was almost 60 per cent.

"I think it's going to be a boost for the party and it augurs well for the Westminster elections," said Mr Reilly. Mr McGuinness described it as a "springboard" for further gains in the British general election.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said there "is no doubt about it that the Sinn Féin vote has held up well . . . I don't know what that says about us as a people, but I think we have to get used to the fact that there is a sliver of the population out there that are prepared to exercise a protest vote".

Fianna Fáil's director of elections, Noel Dempsey, said "the question that needs to be asked is what it might have been if all of the other things didn't happen".

Referring to the number of Sinn Féin voters who transferred to Fine Gael, Cllr Reilly said: "We are quite strong in north Meath where Shane McEntee comes from and number twos will go to McEntee. North Meath is still a rural area, and it's long felt itself to be excluded from the economic development of the county and so they're fairly clannish in that area. They would support one another, a local north Meath man."

© The Irish Times


Statement issued by McCabe killers - Barry Cummins reports on the statement released by the four men convicted of the manslaughter of garda Jerry McCabe

Ray Colgan reports on the reaction from the relatives of Mr McCabe

McCabe Killing: Text Of Statement By Prisoners –V(2)

The following statement was issued to RTÉ yesterday afternoon by Kevin Walsh, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill, who are serving sentences in Castlerea Prison for their roles in the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe:

"We deeply regret the death of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O'Sullivan during an IRA operation in Adare in June 1996. We deeply regret and apologise for this and the hurt and grief we have caused to their families. There was never any intent to attack any members of the Garda Síochána.

We are qualifying IRA prisoners under the Good Friday agreement. This has been confirmed by the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Irish Government have an obligation to release us. They have refused to do so and are now presenting our release as an obstacle to negotiations and an agreement.

For this reason we do not want our release to be part of any further negotiations with the Irish Government.

We are totally committed to the peace process. We will not allow ourselves to be used as political pawns or hostages to undermine this process. The cause of lasting peace is too important."

© The Irish Times


Release Of McCabe Killers No Longer Part Of Deal - SF

Sinn Féin has said it will no longer seek the release of the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe as part of a deal in the North, following a statement from the men that they no longer want their release to be considered in such talks, writes Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said last night this "belated statement" from the men "simply recognises the reality" that the Government has already ruled out any consideration of the early release of the men in future talks. However, the Sinn Féin statement from Martin Ferris TD accepts this position, thus removing the issue as an obstacle to any future progress.

In a statement yesterday from Castlerea Prison, the four men apologised for the killing of Det Garda McCabe and the serious wounding of Garda Ben O'Sullivan during an attempted IRA post office van robbery in Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

"We deeply regret and apologise for this and the hurt and grief we have caused the families," the men went on. "There was never any intent to attack any members of the Garda Síochána" during what they called "an IRA operation in Adare in June 1996".

While insisting that they qualified for release under the Belfast Agreement - a point that has always been disputed by the Government and the McCabe family - they said they no longer wanted their release to be part of negotiations. This was because the Government was "now presenting our release as an obstacle to negotiations and an agreement".

This meant they were being used "as political pawns or hostages to undermine this process", and they would not allow this. "We are totally committed to the peace process. . . The cause of lasting peace is too important," they said.

The four men - Kevin Walsh, Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill - were convicted of the manslaughter of Det Garda McCabe, who was shot dead in Adare in June 1996. They were sentenced in 1999 to terms of up to 14 years and are due for release on dates ranging from May 2007 to August 2009. Last month, the Taoiseach ruled out the early release of the men, which had been on the table in discussions with Sinn Féin about a deal in the North.

A Government spokeswoman said last night the statement from the four men was irrelevant given the Taoiseach's statement that the issue was now off the table and would not be back on it while he is Taoiseach. She added: "The fact that they have apologised to the McCabe family is welcomed."

Mr Ferris immediately welcomed the statement from the men yesterday, saying that while his party would continue to campaign for their release, this would no longer be part of negotiations.

"This was a difficult decision for the men and their families, particularly as the Government has twice agreed to their release. I believe their apology to the McCabe and O'Sullivan families is genuine, as is their desire not to be used as a blockage to ongoing efforts to rebuild the peace process," he said.

A spokesman for the McCabe family, Pat Kearney, said last night their initial reaction was that an apology was very late in the day and did not alleviate the loss. "However, we are Christian people and an apology is always welcome from wrongdoers."

The Garda Representative Association said it was outraged at the suggestion that "there was never any intent to attack members of An Garda Síochána" during the incident in Adare.

"The evidence of the attack clearly indicates that their actions on the day made no attempt to spare the lives of the Garda officers, firing into their vehicle not once but twice and after doing so they made no attempt to take the money but left the scene."

In the North, unionists dismissed the prisoners' statement as dishonest and selfish, while the SDLP said it was beyond belief.

Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey queried the timing, bearing in mind the pressure republicans were under at the moment.

© The Irish Times


Criticism of SF from McCartney family

 Ms Cora Groogan, a Sinn Féin candidate in the 2003 Assembly election
Ms Cora Groogan, a Sinn Féin candidate in the 2003 Assembly election, who has admitted being in Magennis's bar in Belfast on the night Robert McCartney was murdered

SF Members Give Statements On Murder

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Sinn Féin has said that a number of its members have supplied statements on the McCartney murder to the Police Ombudsman through their solicitors.

Gerry Kelly, a senior party negotiator, made the claim as the McCartney sisters pointedly questioned Sinn Féin's attitude to the family's demand for justice following the disclosure that a Sinn Féin Assembly candidate had been in Magennis's bar in Belfast on the night Robert McCartney was murdered in January.

Cora Groogan, who stood in Mid-Ulster alongside Martin McGuinness in the November 2003 Assembly election, admitted that she was present on the night but said that she had seen nothing. A statement had been prepared through her solicitor and passed to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan.

However, Catherine McCartney said: "Initially, Sinn Féin's first response was that she left the bar at 8.30pm. Then they came back with the statement that she left at 11pm and saw nothing." People could examine the statement and draw their own conclusions, she said.

"Ultimately, this person could have been sitting as a government minister, overlooking policing and justice," Ms McCartney added. "This is an accountable political party. I think people are intelligent enough to figure out themselves whether this is the type of party they want running the country."

Ms Groogan had claimed: "I got to the bar about 10pm that Sunday. I was there for a short while. There was a commotion in the bar, but I witnessed nothing and left shortly after 11pm. I have given a full statement to my solicitor."

Responding to this, the McCartney family said it was not good enough: "Sinn Féin says she has given a statement to a solicitor to pass to the Police Ombudsman. We believe she should give that statement directly to the police or the Police Ombudsman."

The sisters leave for the United States tomorrow to highlight their campaign for justice through a series of meetings with senior political figures including Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman Peter King, culminating in a meeting at the White House on St Patrick's Day with President George Bush.

The UUP and SDLP yesterday continued to criticise Sinn Féin over its stance on the murder.

UUP leader David Trimble said that the incident proved the nature of relationships within the republican movement. "It just underlines the seamless connection which exists between Sinn Féin and the IRA," he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan described republicans' comments as deficient. "Each statement and each measure that they took still was not sufficient, because the questions were still there and they had to return to it," he said.

Mr Durkan's deputy, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, went further. "The truth is that Sinn Féin has been up to its neck in a political cover-up of the truth about this murder. Their only concern has been to limit damage to themselves," he claimed.

The SDLP will raise the issue again today when Mr Durkan meets the Taoiseach in Dublin.

© The Irish Times


McCabe Family Say Apology By Killers Is 'Disingenuous'

Kathryn Hayes

The family of Det Garda Jerry McCabe have condemned as "disingenuous" the statement by his killers that they are no longer seeking early release as part of the Northern negotiations.

Speaking in Limerick last night, Pat Kearney, a brother-in-law of the detective, said it was "a bit disingenuous" of the killers to withdraw an application that they were never entitled to make in the first place.

He said the apology by the killers had come "a bit late" and the McCabe family totally rejected their claim that they never intended to attack any member of the Garda Síochána.

"We would seriously take issue with this part of their apology, as it is the evidence of Ben O'Sullivan that there were two separate blasts of gunfire. If there had only been one, then one might have thought that there was no intent, but there was a second blast of gunfire," said Mr Kearney.

"The family also think that it's a bit disingenuous of these prisoners to say they are withdrawing their application for early release when they were never entitled to it in the first place," he said.

Speaking on behalf of Det Garda McCabe's widow, Ann, Mr Kearney said she had received some comfort from the knowledge that the issue of early release was now finally off the agenda.

"Ann is worn out from it all and she certainly receives some comfort knowing that this matter is finally off the negotiating table. At least she won't have to go to the public again to get support on this."

In the statement, the killers continued to protest that they were "qualifying prisoners under the Good Friday agreement" for release, adding that this had been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

The McCabe family have protested this claim, arguing that the court held that any early release was a matter at the discretion of the Government. "The reality is that were it not for the Northern Bank robbery or the murder of Robert McCartney, it may well be that the possibility of early release for these people would have been on the agenda and the release could have become a horrible reality," Mr Kearney said.

According to Mr Kearney, the McCabe family had been unhappy with the Taoiseach's handling of the affair. However, his recent statement in Limerick that the release would not happen "on his watch" left the killers with nowhere to go.

"At least now we don't have to go cap in hand again to the Government pointing out to them their responsibilities and their obligation to ensure they serve out their sentences," he said.

Mrs McCabe is due to visit New York this week to go to the John Jay College of Criminality where this year's recipient of a scholarship awarded to gardaí in memory of her late husband will be announced. "Ann travels every March to New York for this special event. At least this year she's travelling with some good news, " said Mr Kearney.

© The Irish Times


Congressman King Urges IRA To Disband

The IRA should disband, American Republican congressman Peter King said yesterday.

Mr King has been a strong supporter of Sinn Féin and has addressed the party's ardfheis in recent years. "From the American perspective, and looking at all the progress that has been made, it is hard to see what justification there is today for the continued existence of the IRA," said Mr King.

In an interview on RTÉ's This Week, Mr King added that the IRA's offer to shoot the killers of Robert McCartney showed how "tone deaf" the organisation was.

He said Sinn Féin should agree to a criminality clause, and the "IRA should not be involved in criminal conduct". The process had gone so far that there was no place for any type of illegal activities.

Mr King said that the murder of Robert McCartney had "a real severe impact" on the standing of the IRA in the US. However, he said there was still very strong support for Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin, primarily because Mr Adams had built good relations with political figures.

"He has political capital he can fall back on," said Mr King. "Having said that, there is a growing feeling that the issue of the IRA no longer existing has to be addressed."

Describing the Belfast bank robbery as disgraceful, he added: "If the IRA did do it, and I know the evidence appears to point in that direction, it was totally inexcusable."

Mr King said the failure to reach agreement in restoring devolution last December was very disappointing because so much progress had been made. However, it was important to "keep the eye" on how much progress had been made.

"Northern Ireland is a different place than it was five or six years ago," said Mr King. Probably the worst criticism of the IRA he could make was that it was making the Rev Ian Paisley look good, he said.

© The Irish Times


SUNDAY 13/03/2005 15:45:58

Adams Denounces McCartney Murder

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has again denounced the murder of Robert McCartney, calling it a "heinous, disgraceful act".

He has told a social gathering of about 100 Irish-American supporters in Cincinnati that Sinn Fein stands firmly in support of the McCartney family.

Mr Adams - who`s in the US for a week-long visit - also appealed to his audience to use all of its influence to get the U.S. government involved in helping restore a dialogue between the two sides.

And he said yesterday`s by-election result in Meath showed that Sinn Fein is actually gaining in support.

Mr Adams said he was unaware of calls by U.S. special envoy Mitchell Reiss - who`s he is due to meet in Washington on Wednesday - for Sinn Fein to make a "clear break" with the IRA.


Alliance Calls For Devolution To Be Restored

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor in Templepatrick, Co Antrim

The British government must work to re-establish devolution in Northern Ireland, without Sinn Féin if necessary, the Alliance Party annual conference was told at the weekend.

Party leader David Ford denounced the Blair government over its record since Good Friday 1998. He also accused the British prime minister of acting contrary to the agreement itself.

Mr Ford called for a voluntary coalition at Stormont, the third party leader to do so, and accused the British government of punishing all the parties for the sins of republicans.

"A voluntary coalition, a Stormont coalition of the willing, is not about keeping people out," he said. "But about keeping things going."

In a series of attacks on Mr Blair, Mr Ford demanded action from Downing Street. "I have no apology to make for helping to bring Sinn Féin in to the talks process," he said.

"That was the right thing to do, following after the IRA ceasefire. In the agreement, it was realistic to accept that there could not be a transformation to a totally normal society overnight. But the function of a peace process is to bring peace, not to continue forever as an indefinite process."

He said it was past time for Mr Blair to tackle "the moral ambiguities" of his position and "long past the time the [ British] government stood by its call for acts of completion".

The conference also heard strong criticism of the new security powers granted to the British government last week. "Internment was wrong in 1971," said Mr Ford. "And it is wrong now."

Criticising all other parties as sectarian, he accused the UUP's David Trimble, the SDLP's Séamus Mallon and later Mark Durkan of operating a "sectarian carve-up".

"Community relations was seen as a problem for the interfaces," he said. Presumably if someone is too far away to lob a half brick at him you don't have any need to understand him or work with him to better society."

But it was the custodianship of the process by the British government that attracted Mr Ford's most scathing criticism. He said devolution was needed"on sensible terms" and "not with the crude mathematics of the d'Hondt formula to guarantee ministries to parties that refuse to co-operate".

He also attacked the designation system at Stormont whereby Assembly members must opt for a unionist or nationalist label."We need an Executive in which there is collective responsibility, implementing an agreed Programme for Government, working as a voluntary coalition." The governments were wrong to focus on "a quick fix" between Sinn Féin and the DUP and of pandering to their sectarianism.


Money Laundering Suspect Burned Stg£1.5m, Say Gardai

13 March 2005 By Barry O'Kelly

A man linked to the IRA money laundering operation is believed by gardai to have burned up to stg£1.5 million, The Sunday Business Post has learned.

The man, described as a bit-part player in the laundering scheme, was identified by gardai after some of the notes escaped from his chimney.

“He was burning the money in his fireplace from 7pm until 3.30am, and we know that he had stg£1.5 million,” a garda source said.

Gardai believe the man was asked to conceal the money by a senior IRA man in Cork.

They say he panicked when gardai raided homes around the country three weeks ago.

A 47-year-old man from Passage West in Cork was arrested during the raids.

He is believed to have cooperated with gardai and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Garda sources said that upwards of 16 people had been directly implicated in the money-laundering network.

However, one detective said that, due to the complex nature of the case, it would be months before a file was sent to the DPP.

The source discounted earlier suggestions of a Libyan link with the scam. He said the main threads to the operation were in Dublin, Cork and Bulgaria.

Some of the players in the money-laundering scheme were identified during an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) into cross-border tobacco and oil smuggling.

The bureau is expected to use the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 to prosecute those involved.

Garda enquiries are targeting a well-known IRA man who is claimed to be running one of the biggest smuggling businesses on the border.


Sinn Fein Faces Split In Irish America

13 March 2005 By Niall O'Dowd

When P O'Neill revealed his extraordinary murder on demand proposal last week, Irish Americans were left wondering if they were looking at a particularly vicious episode of The Sopranos or real-life events from the North.

There was widespread disbelief at the statement, and many thought it was some kind of joke when it was first circulated.

Predictably, offering to kill people without trial, judge or jury also went down very poorly in the mainstream media.

There is a strong belief in Irish American circles that the IRA, unlike Sinn Féin, does politics very poorly and that the less it says on any political topic, the better.

Its five statements since Christmas - this last one making a mockery of its own ceasefire - has proved the point.

That the statement came on the eve of a visit by Gerry Adams to the US has led some Americans to speculate that it was deliberately done by internal opponents to cause him maximum damage.

Sinn Féin figures have strongly denied this, but a suspicion remains.

Ironically, it has weakened Adams' standing among Irish Americans, something that every other political party in the North, and the British and Irish governments, have tried and failed to do.

Irish America still views Adams as the gold standard – the man who, against all the odds, delivered an IRA ceasefire and who has strived, even at risk to his own life, to make a peace process work.

The only figure of comparable stature to them is John Hume.

Adams will have to draw on all his goodwill to convince Irish Americans that Sinn Féin knows where it is going. Right now, that appears to be backwards. There is no question that recent events have disastrously left the party in a position similar to where it was before the 1994 IRA ceasefire.

What Adams achieved in gaining access to the White House throughout the mid-1990s was unparalleled in the history of Sinn Féin.

The images of Bill Clinton, and later George W Bush, shaking hands with Adams at the White House and of Clinton strolling down the Falls Road to meet Adams played a significant role in bringing Sinn Féin in from the cold.

That Clinton was later given a major role in the Belfast Agreement indicated that it was a winning proposition for both sides. At least, until now. Everything that was achieved - first access to the US, then access to fundraising and finally to the White House - is suddenly at stake.

The White House access is gone and fundraising is under severe pressure - so much so that Sinn Féin voluntarily passed it up on this trip by Adams. And there will no doubt now be attempts to keep members out of the country altogether.

There may be even worse news for the party on the horizon. There are very real fears among Irish Americans that the British and Irish governments will opt to exclude Sinn Féin from the political process in the North after the British elections, unless the IRA disbands.

The fear is that both governments will decide on a lowest common denominator approach and put a makeshift solution in place, rather than face the collapse of the peace process.

It is clear in the US that the Irish government has lost all patience with Sinn Féin and may be preparing the ground in the US to move the peace process in a different direction.

Many of the recent briefings, especially those by foreign minister Dermot Ahern when he was in the US on a recent visit, have been unremittingly hostile to Sinn Féin.

Such briefings have received mixed notices from many Irish Americans who feel that not all the problems of the peace process begin and end with Sinn Féin.

However, senior diplomats have been very much on message with Ahern's tough talk, so much so that Sinn Féin has complained bitterly in private about them.

It is all eerily reminiscent of pre-ceasefire days, when activist Irish America and the Irish government were at loggerheads with each other for decades. And there are fears that this stand-off may happen again.

Some of the most progressive steps of the peace process - the visa for Adams, the involvement of Clinton and the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy - all happened because Irish Americans and the Irish government were in agreement about the direction of the process.

It was activist Irish Americans who first brought Clinton into the equation, created the opening for the visa for Adams and then lobbied hard for the appointment of Mitchell. Indeed, the very concept of a special envoy from the US was an Irish American one, going back decades.

If a division develops and an alternative peace plan emerges, there is no doubt that official Irish America, including leading politicians such as Senator Edward Kennedy, will side with the British and Irish governments.

However, it will be no surprise that most Irish American organisations will strongly oppose such a move - a schism that can only deepen the already considerable tensions between the two camps.

From long and hard experience, Irish America has learned that pressure on the IRA does not come from a flood of denunciations, no matter how sharp edged. Nor does it come from threats to exclude it.

The idea of a split between the IRA and Sinn Féin, much touted in Ireland, would be seen in the US as the worst solution of all. In general, Irish America wants the IRA to disband, not divide. But Irish Americans are also certain that the two governments hurling abuse at the IRA at every opportunity is not the way to achieve a peaceful resolution to the problem.

The real problem, as many Irish Americans see it, is that, somewhere along the line, Sinn Féin forgot to declare victory. It has the support of over 300,000 voters in the North, five seats in the Republic and the beginning of a political harvest that could, someday, see the party in power in both jurisdictions in Ireland.

Yet the party has been far too tentative and defensive in its political negotiations and in reflecting its popular support.

Many Irish Americans believe convincing the republican movement of that support is the key to IRA disbandment.


Loyalist 'Link' May Hamper Probe

There are fears that alleged loyalist paramilitary involvement in the murder of Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian may be hampering the police investigation.

The 25-year-old County Down woman has not been seen since leaving a party in Ballyhalbert almost two weeks ago.

Recent reports and graffiti suggest a link between the case and the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Alliance assembly member Kieran McCarthy said people must not be prevented from helping the police.

"If there were people, and there must be people, that know something, they may well be inclined to not do what would be their duty to report to the police even the slightest bit of information," he said.

"And that is very worrying indeed.

"We have seen what's going on in recent times in Belfast in the Robert McCartney case and that's the last thing we would want to find in this case and I hope it doesn't happen."

When she disappeared on 28 February, Lisa, a shop assistant, left her handbag and personal belongings behind her and has not made contact with friends or family since.

Loyalist graffiti

Police have said they are treating her disappearance as murder. Her body has not yet been found.

Walls have been daubed with graffiti in the village linking the Loyalist Volunteer Force to her murder.

However, the police said speculation over the case was not helpful and they were concentrating on solid lines of inquiry.

Detectives investigating the murder returned to the caravan park on Saturday to talk to caravan owners and local residents.

A caravan from the site has been removed for examination and a number of premises in Ballyhalbert and elsewhere in County Down were searched last week.

Extensive air and land searches have taken place since her disappearance. Underwater search teams were also used.

Two men questioned about the murder were released without charge on Friday.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/13 16:41:39 GMT


Opin: IRA Insanity Hasn't Gone Away, You Know

13 March 2005 By Vincent Browne

More than 30 years ago, I was in a house in Dublin with three IRA members and a friend who was not in the IRA. I was waiting to meet the then chief of staff of the IRA, Seán Mac Stiofáin.

He arrived at the house and entered the room. As he did so, one of the IRA people present leaped up, saluted and said: “On your feet. The chief of staff.” The others also leaped up and saluted.

My friend and I went into convulsions of laughter, which did not amuse the others - and certainly did not amuse the chief of staff.

The make-believe world of the IRA was, I thought, hilarious. They professed to believe all that codology, but you really didn't accept that they went along with it in their heart of hearts.

The truth is that they did - and they do. The IRA statement last week, which said they had offered to shoot the murderers of Robert McCartney, shows that the codology persists.

I confess I had long discarded the idea that anybody still believed that the legitimate government of Ireland was the IRA Army Council, which derived its authority from the first Dáil, elected in 1918.The idea is so stark raving bonkers that one assumes nobody could accept it.

So many people believe other pieces of baloney (I don't want to offend the sensibilities of churchgoing readers of The Sunday Business Post by being more specific) that, I suppose, anything is possible. But I was formidably challenged on the issue on the Tonight radio programme during the week by journalist Brendan O'Brien, and I have revised my view.

My God, there are people out there who think the IRA Army Council is the real government.

They think the IRA Army Council has a legitimate authority to set up courts martial, to try people, to sentence them to death and have them executed.

Not even the crudeness of the process offends them or causes them to demur.

I can see how people in particular circumstances might think that an injustice is so great as to justify resorting to violence to overturn it, although I do not accept that such a situation ever pertained in the North. I think it would have been legitimate to resist through force of arms the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Mobutu regime in Congo, the Nazi regime in Germany or the Stalinist regime in the old Soviet Union.

But I can't see how one might go from believing one had a right to resort to arms to overturn an otherwise unremovable unjust regime to believing the gobbledygook about deriving authority from an election that nobody who is still alive voted in.

There are headers who believe that. They are not like other headers, like those who think the problem of domestic violence has mainly to do with women, that daily colonic irrigation is a must, that there is any way back for Manchester United.

The headers who believe in the 1918 authority theory are not just quaint eccentrics who talk to themselves on the street or on Questions & Answers.

They believe they have a right to go out and murder people on the basis of this hogwash.

They are not just dangerous as other murderers are dangerous. They believe they have a divine right to murder, or at least a 1918 right to murder - which in their eyes is the same thing.

What is eerie about the IRA statement last week is that it is a reminder that this mindset hasn't gone away, you know.

Worse than that, the implication is that the likes of Gerry Adams buy into it.

However debonair that exterior, however media-savvy, however clever, far-seeing and dispassionate, there is another side of him that actually believes there is no legitimate authority in Ireland that does not derive its legitimacy from the 1918 election - and only the IRA Army Council can claim that.

Or at least he pretends to buy into that hokum, because he thinks so many others who matter to him do so.

Ask him whether he believes that the IRA Army Council - or any so-called authority associated with the IRA (you have to be careful, for they may have changed the names) - has any valid claim on the allegiance of Irish people or any justification to try people for offences, pass sentence and inflict punishment on them.

His reply would be along the following lines: “Well, you see, several institutions claim jurisdiction in Ireland, claim the right to try people, to sentence them and so on.

“As an Irish republican, I do not go along with that. I don't accept that any British authority has any valid jurisdiction in any part of Ireland.

“I think the Irish people are sovereign, and alone have the right to determine these issues.

“As for the IRA, that is a matter for them. Some republicans I know believe it has legitimacy, and, as far as I am concerned, it has more legitimacy here than the British do.

“Anyway, the whole point of the peace process is to put all these issues to rest and I don't think pursuing such speculative lines of inquiry is helpful or even relevant to that project.”

Somewhere during the course of this you will probably have been thinking about women being responsible for domestic violence, colonic irrigation, Manchester United or Questions & Answers.

There is a story told about Brendan Behan, who (according to the story) was sentenced to death by the IRA while he was in prison in England in the 1940s or 1950s.

When he was released from prison, he kept his head down for a few months, but eventually surfaced one night in Dublin, in Grogan's pub on South William Street.

It was a haunt of IRA latchicos at the time. Behan was already well on when he got there, and after six or seven more pints, he made a speech, directed at the IRA confraternity.

“You charged me in my absence, you tried me in my absence, you convicted me in my absence, you sentenced me to death in my absence,” he declared. “Now you can fuckin' execute me in my absence.”


Bishops To Highlight Plight Of Illegal Irish Living In US

Patsy McGarry

A commission of Ireland's Catholic Bishops' Conference will this week launch a campaign to draw attention to the plight of the illegal Irish living in the US.

Launching the bishops' 2005 "Supporting the Irish Abroad" (SIA) campaign, the chairman of the Commission for Emigrants, Bishop Séamus Hegarty of Derry, said "this year's awareness campaign focuses on the challenges facing our people who are living furtive lives in the US. Many families at home are keenly aware of this situation as it may apply to their brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and friends.

In order, he said "to improve the plight of the undocumented, we are currently working with the Migration and Refugee Service of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops."

He pointed out that the American bishops have initiated a campaign calling for immigration reform and that this is based on the principles set out in their pastoral letter Strangers no Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. It was jointly published with the bishops of Mexico in 2003.

Bishop Hegarty said he intended travelling to the US soon to visit the Irish Church's pastoral centres for emigrants there and to meet with the chaplains and those working with Irish people.

"I will also discuss with my colleagues in the US Catholic Bishops' Conference how best the Irish and US bishops can work together to alleviate the plight of most vulnerable of migrants," he said."This year we will raise funds to support our outreach services for vulnerable Irish emigrants," he said.

Those services included volunteer outreach programmes to the elderly, supporting members of the Irish Travelling community in Britain, increasing the frequency of visits to Irish prisoners abroad, supporting immigration reform in the US, and the assistance of other agencies to reach Irish people in need.

Bishop Hegarty concluded, "on behalf of all bishops, priests and laity working with the Irish abroad I wish to sincerely thank all those who have generously supported our campaign to date.

© The Irish Times


MacDermott Tower
END OF AN ERA: the demolition of the MacDermott Tower in Ballymun Photograph : Alan Betson

Ballymun Tower Reduced To Rubble - In Five Seconds

Conor Lally

Hundreds of Dubliners braved cold conditions yesterday morning to witness a little piece of Dublin's history, and a big part of its skyline, being razed. Ballymun's 15-storey Seán MacDermott tower block has stood for four decades but it came crashing down in just five seconds.

The tower was demolished with the touch of a button shortly after 10am, having been wired with explosives over the last six weeks by the Newry-based Tinnelly Demolition company.

The 60kg of PETN explosives drilled into 1,500 shot holes in the tower's walls took a little more than a second to detonate - and then another four seconds for the 90-flat building to collapse on itself.

A massive dust cloud filled the north Dublin air and when it - and the cheers from the assembled crowd - faded away, all that remained was 8,500 tonnes of rubble. This will be removed from the site in coming weeks and recycled, paving the way for a hotel to be built on the site.

Minister for Housing Noel Ahern was on hand yesterday to deliver a brief address to the assembled crowd. Unfortunately for him, he ran out of things to say before the demolition went ahead and filled the time nervously joking with the crowd, much to their amusement.

The hapless Minister then started counting down to the moment of demolition from 10 seconds. He got this wrong, too. When he and the crowd reached zero, nothing happened.

The workers preparing to push the demolition button could then be heard over the public address system at number five in their countdown.

To everyone's relief, not least Mr Ahern's, when this second countdown reached zero, the sound of an explosion filled the air and the tower fell. A massive dust cloud rose from the rubble and everybody went home with a smile on their face.

The MacDermott tower is one of seven 15-storey blocks in the old 36-block Ballymun scheme. Seven of these blocks are now gone, with the other six having been dismantled rather than imploded. Most of the remaining blocks will also be dismantled as part of the €2.5 billion regeneration of Ballymun, which will not be completed until between 2012 and 2015.

© The Irish Times


Price Of A Pint

What pubs charged:


Price last Tuesday ... Price last Saturday

The 51, Haddington Rd €4.20 ... 4.50
Ryan's Beggar's Bush €3.35 ... 3.35
Waterloo, Baggot Street €4.20 ... €4.50
Foley's Merrion Row €4.20 ... 4.20
Horseshow House, Ballsbridge €3.70 ... €3.70
Toner's, Baggot St €4.10 ... €4.10
Mary Mac's, Merrion Road €3.90 ... €3.90
Slattery's, Grand Canal St €3.80 ... €3.80
Larry Murphy's, Baggot St Lower €4.00 ... 4.00
Searsons, Baggot St Upper 4.15 ... 4.15

© The Irish Times

Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005
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