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March 17, 2005

Cory Criticises Finucane Inquiry Plans

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 03/17/05 Finucane Inquiry Plans Criticised
SF 03/17/05 Gerry Adams Holds Talks With Taoiseach In Washington DC
BT 03/17/05 Taoiseach To Raise Finucane Case With President -V(2)
BT 03/17/05 Ard Fheis Speech 'Partly Incorrect'
BT 03/17/05 Councillor Who Took Stand Against UDA Set To Quit
BB 03/17/05 Family Encouraged By Bush Talks
SM 03/17/05 Bush Praises Irish Premier
IO 03/17/05 SF Not Allow Rogue Elements To Criminalise Struggle
BT 03/17/05 Senator In Blistering Attack On Sinn Fein
BT 03/17/05 Adams 'Must Tell The IRA To Disband'
WT 03/17/05 Control Orders Could Be Used On IRA
BT 03/17/05 Police Chief Hits Back At SF Over McCartney Probe
ZW 03/17/05 Ex-Belfast Mayor To Address Sons
FF 03/17/05 Films About The Irish Republican Movement

RT 03/17/05 The Best Of Today's Parades -V(3)

(Poster’s Note: To hear an interview with CIARAN FERRY on KPFT-FM click the following: Jay)


The Best Of Today's Parades - Orla O'Donnell reports on the largest parade in Dublin

Clare Murphy reports on the rest of today's parades around the country

Samatha Libreri reports on the New York St Patrick's Day parade


Finucane Inquiry Plans Criticised

The judge who investigated allegations of collusion in the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane has criticised government plans for a public inquiry.

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory told a Washington committee new legislation had been proposed "which would make a meaningful inquiry impossible".

Mr Finucane, 39, was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989.

Mr Finucane's son John welcomed the remarks and said the government should reconsider changes to the current law.

"We have said from the outset that the mechanism, which would be this inquiry, would not have the potential to get to the truth," he said.

The criticisms were outlined in a letter to committee chairman Congressman Chris Smith. The committee is holding a hearing into the killing.

The letter said Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy's Inquiries Bill would set up "impossible terms for any international judge asked to chair the inquiry".

"It really creates an intolerable Alice in Wonderland situation," Judge Cory said.

"There have been references in the press to an international judicial membership in the inquiry.

"If the new act were to become law, I would advise all Canadian judges to decline an appointment in light of the impossible situation they would be facing."


Meanwhile, speaking in Washington ahead of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, US special envoy to Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss said the government's inquiry into the killing must be "transparent and have the power to publish the full truth".

He also expressed concern that the new legislation being proposed could potentially reduce the independence and transparency of an investigation into the murder.

Mr Finucane's killing was one of the most controversial of the 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly because of the allegations of collusion between the Ulster Defence Association and members of the security forces.

In 2001, Judge Cory was appointed by the British and Irish governments to examine allegations of collusion surrounding the Finucane and other controversial killings.

Judge Cory recommended a public inquiry into Mr Finucane's death.

In a statement last December, the NIO said nothing would be withheld from the inquiry.

However, because of national security, it said a large proportion of evidence would "have to be considered in private".

Loyalist Ken Barrett, 41, was sentenced in September to life for Mr Finucane's murder, after admitting his part in the killing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/17 18:18:39 GMT


Gerry Adams Holds Talks With Taoiseach In Washington DC

Published: 17 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP accompanied by party colleague Rita O'Hare met the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern in Washington last night. The meeting lasted for just under an hour.

Speaking afterwards Mr. Adams said:

"The peace process is the most important issue facing the people of Ireland. It is in serious difficulties at this time following the failure of the December efforts to achieve a comprehensive agreement and subsequent events.

"I welcome the opportunity to meet the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was a useful meeting and an opportunity to focus on how we can collectively resolve the outstanding issues.

The Taoiseach and I agreed to meet after our return to Ireland."ENDS


Taoiseach & McCartneys meet Bush in White House - Robert Shortt, Washington Correspondent, reports on today's St Patrick's Day ceremonies

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, assess today's talks in Washington

Taoiseach To Raise Finucane Case With President –V(2)

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
17 March 2005

The case for a full public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane was being pressed in Washington today.

As Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, attended a number of key events, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was due to raise the issue with President Bush at their meeting later today.

The move came after retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who recommended an inquiry into Army and police involvement in the murder of Mr Finucane, launched another attack on Government legislation used to set it up.

In a letter to the chairman of a US Congressional committee probing the 1989 murder by loyalists, Judge Cory claimed Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy's Inquiries Bill would set up impossible terms for any international judge asked to chair it.

And it emerged today he said he would advise other Canadian judges to reject any offer to chair the Finucane inquiry if the legislation was passed by MPs.

Judge Cory told committee chairman, Congressman Chris Smith: "It seems to me that the proposed new Act would make a meaningful inquiry impossible.

Mrs Finucane was among the guests at the Ireland Fund dinner - one of the most important social gatherings of the Irish-American community.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "Tony Blair needs to be very clear, the Finucane family will not go away and Irish America will pursue it to the end."

Mr Durkan is also raising the Finucane case with Senator Ted Kennedy and United States special envoy Mitchell Reiss in meetings later today.

A Dublin government spokeswoman said the Finucane killing had "an iconic status that has affected nationalist confidence in the rule of law" and that the government continued vigorously to oppose British plans to limit the disclosure of evidence to any such inquiry.


Ard Fheis Speech 'Partly Incorrect'

By Chris Thornton
17 March 2005

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has told an American audience that he got part of his ard fheis speech wrong.

Mr Adams told the Council on Foreign Policy in New York this week that when he said it is okay to "break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives", he should have used the past tense.

The Sinn Fein leader said he made it clear later in the speech that he was talking about a retrospective situation.

During Monday's New York appearance, Mr Adams was asked if there was justification for breaking the law to achieve political objectives seven years after the Good Friday Agreement.

"No," Mr Adams replied.

He said the passage from his March 5 speech "should be past tense".

When it was pointed out that was not how he delivered the speech to Sinn Fein members, he replied: "I understand that, and I accept that entirely. That's my fault.

"But what our opponents are trying to do is to retrospectively criminalise a struggle.

"So, you know, am I a criminal? No, I'm not a criminal. Was Bobby Sands, the man who died in a hunger strike, or his compatriots criminals? No, they weren't. You might as well ask Americans 'Was George Washington a criminal?'"

During his ard fheis speech, Mr Adams told his party: "We know that breaking the law is a crime.

"But we refuse to criminalise those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives.

"Are we saying republicans can do no wrong? Of course not. We need to be as strong minded in facing up to wrong doing by republicans, as we are in opposing wrong doing by anyone else.

"But we refuse to retrospectively criminalise a legitimate century long struggle for freedom."


Councillor Who Took Stand Against UDA Set To Quit

By David Gordon
17 March 2005

A councillor who took a stand against loyalist paramilitaries in a UDA stronghold is quitting local government.

Newtownabbey Labour representative Mark Langhammer announced today that he will not be standing for re-election in May.

Mr Langhammer has represented the borough's Macedon area, which includes the Rathcoole estate, since 1993.

In September 2002, he and his family escaped injury when a pipe bomb partially exploded under his car outside his home.

The UDA attack was linked to Mr Langhammer's strong support for PSNI plans for a police drop-in clinic in Rathcoole - a move viewed as a challenge to paramilitary power in the loyalist estate.

Graffiti was also daubed on the proposed clinic location and the initiative was abandoned.

Mr Langhammer is now chairman of the Irish Labour Party's northern branch, the Labour Forum.

He said today he will now be concentrating on developing the party here and will be standing for election to its national executive in May.

The councillor said family and work commitments were also a factor in his decision not to stand.

He claimed the pending reorganisation of local government will mean that the next four years will be "largely dead time, with few serious initiatives likely".

He said that on the council front he has "few major local goals left to achieve."

Mr Langhammer, who was elected on the first count each time he stood, added: "Representing the Macedon area - from Rathcoole to Bawnmore, Whitehouse to Whiteabbey - has been a labour of love.

"I was brought up, and continue to live in the constituency.

"It's an area that I am very rooted within, and its people have been broad minded and fair to the Labour tradition over many years.

"I considered it a privilege and honour to have represented the area.


Paula McCartney shakes hands with President George Bush

Family Encouraged By Bush Talks

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have said they are encouraged after meeting US President George W Bush at the White House.

Mr McCartney's sisters and partner gave Mr Bush a dossier which details their claims that IRA members murdered the father-of-two on 30 January.

They said they got the impression Mr Bush "had a very good understanding of what our campaign is about".

Catherine McCartney said the president was 100% behind them.

Mr McCartney, 33, was stabbed to death following a row in a Belfast bar. His family has blamed the IRA for the murder and subsequent interference with evidence and witnesses.

The meeting came a day after their campaign for justice received backing from some of America's most influential politicians.

Ann McCabe, the widow of Garda Jerry McCabe who was shot dead by the IRA in the Irish Republic in 1996, also attended the White House meeting.

Earlier, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern presented President Bush with a bowl of shamrock at the White House St Patrick's Day reception.

He said the Irish government was as fully committed as in 1998 to making the Good Friday Agreement work and knew they could count on President Bush's continued support.

He said inclusive government in Northern Ireland was only possible when there was "definitive closure to paramilitary capability and activity including all forms of criminality".

Unlike previous years, Northern Ireland's politicians were not invited to the annual celebrations.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who was denied a meeting with Mr Bush, held talks with Mr Ahern in Washington on Wednesday.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Adams described the meeting as "useful" and said it gave them the opportunity to focus collectively on how outstanding issues could be resolved.

Family's 'courage'

President Bush invited the McCartney family to the White House as part of a gesture to all those working towards peace in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday, the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss, met the McCartney family and said the US administration was doing all in its power to help them.

The family also held talks with US Senator Ted Kennedy, who has refused to meet Gerry Adams during the Sinn Fein leader's St Patrick's week trip to the US.

A spokeswoman for Senator Kennedy said he had cancelled a meeting because of the IRA's "ongoing criminal activity".

Senator Kennedy said the family's presence in Washington "sends a very powerful signal that it's time for the IRA to fully decommission, end all criminal activity and cease to exist as a paramilitary organisation".

The McCartney family's visit to America comes after Sinn Fein criticised the handling of the murder inquiry by police in Northern Ireland.

Martin McGuinness accused the police of "unprecedented and incredible delays" in questioning key suspects and witnesses just to damage his party.

Three men were expelled by the IRA after the killing, including the two main suspects in the case.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde, who has travelled to Washington, said the police would decide when the time was right to make arrests.

"I think the public understand the difference between intelligence and evidence - they are ahead of us on this," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"They know very well that we need a case to put to people."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/03/17 21:15:12 GMT


Bush Praises Irish Premier

By Victoria Ward, PA in Washington

US President George Bush commended the leadership of Irish Premier Bertie Ahern today as he faced a growing crisis in the Northern Ireland peace process.

At the traditional St Patrick’s Day shamrock ceremony at the White House, Mr Bush steered clear of Sinn Fein and the Belfast murder of Robert McCartney, instead focusing on the strong ties between the US and Ireland.

For the first time in a decade no Northern Ireland political leaders were invited to the annual celebration – a clear signal that patience is running out with the continued paramilitary activity.

Mr Bush said the shamrock he was presented with by Mr Ahern had come to represent the unity that could be achieved when people commit themselves to peace and freedom.

“The Irish have a way of turning adversity into opportunity,” he said.

“We are proud to welcome a friend of peace and a friend of freedom, my good friend Bertie Ahern.”

The President thanked Mr Ahern for his tireless work against terrorism.

“It takes courage to walk the path of peace,” he added. “As you work for peace our government and the American people stand with you.”

Mr Ahern acknowledged that political progress had taken a severe knock and that when the people of Ireland voted in 1998, they voted solely for peace.

“Recent events have damaged confidence but they have also crystallised what must now be done to finalise the process and achieve stable partnership government in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Partnership politics requires all parties to play their part. But if trust and confidence is to be established, tangible evidence of commitment to a democratic peace is essential.”

Mr Ahern said the Irish people had not voted for an armed peace nor a criminal peace but he said the Good Friday Agreement could only be realised when those who aspire to share in government brought definitive closure to all paramilitary activity and criminality.


SF Will Not Allow 'Rogue Elements To Criminalise Struggle'

2005-03-17 18:30:03+00

Gerry Adams was met with a standing ovation at a speech to supporters at a Washington hotel today.

He told Friends of Sinn Féin that neither the McCartney killing nor the cold shoulder from some US officials would weaken his party.

"We who would not allow the British government to criminalise us, we will also not allow any rogue elements on the fringes of Republicanism to criminalise our struggle," said Adams.


Senator In Blistering Attack On Sinn Fein

Adams hears IRA denounced as cowards.

By Sean O'Driscoll
17 March 2005

The man tipped by some to be the next President of the United States launched a blistering attack on Sinn Fein in front of Gerry Adams and the McCartney sisters early this morning.

In a speech unprecedented for any leading US politician, Senator John McCain looked down towards Gerry Adams' table at a Washington reception and denounced the IRA as cowards who did not deserve to be called republicans.

He also hit out at Martin McGuinness for making a "veiled threat" against the McCartney sisters and said that grassroots republicans were standing up to those who claimed to be freedom fighters but were "stealing from banks and slaying men on the streets".

Speaking at the American Ireland Fund gala in Washington, where he received an award, Senator McCain said that the IRA were no better than any other organised crime group that rob and murder for the selfish interests of its members.

The McCartney sisters clapped to the speech, while Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein US representative, Rita O'Hare, who were sitting only a few tables away from the stage, left the gala as soon as Senator McCain finished speaking.

Asked for a comment by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Adams said to contact him today and that he had no immediate comment on the speech.

The speech was a huge departure for the American Ireland Fund gala, where award recipients often give bland speeches about the need for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Senator McCain, who is favourite to win the Republican Party nomination for President in 2008 and was the only Republican leader to run against President Bush in 2004, said that anyone who desired peace and justice should denounce any political group associated with the IRA.

"There is an the endless debate about Sinn Fein and its ties to the IRA but what we all know for years is that there is no place in a democracy for a private army engaged in criminal activity. It is not enough for the Sinn Fein leadership to cut its ties to the IRA, the political leadership should call for the IRA to disarm, demobilise and disband once and for all," he said, to loud applause from the over 2,000 guests at the black-tie event.

The Sinn Fein table remained motionless as Senator McCain said the IRA was hurting the very people it claimed to protect.

"Stealing from banks and slaying men on the streets to settle personal grievances are not the acts of freedom fighters, they are the work of a small minority trying to hold back the forces of history and democracy and they hurt the very people for whom they claim to fight," he said. "Nobody can honestly claim today that the IRA are any better than an organised crime syndicate that steals and murders for its own members' personal interests. There is nothing republican about the Irish Republican Army."


Adams 'Must Tell The IRA To Disband'

By Chris Thornton
17 March 2005

GERRY Adams "owes it to himself" to call for the IRA to disband, one of his staunchest American supporters has said.

Peter King - one of the American politicians who has agreed to meet Adams during his St Patrick's Day visit - said he believes the Provos "must disband without delay".

Before the Good Friday Agreement was reached, Mr King described the IRA as a legitimate guerrilla army.

In a St Patrick's Day message written for the New York Post, Mr King said the day can only be truly celebrated when the IRA realises the war is over.

He noted that a peace deal was "tantalizingly close" last December.

"Then, out of left field, the IRA pulled off a $$50m bank robbery - followed by the brutal murder of an innocent Catholic by IRA men in a Belfast bar room brawl," Mr King wrote.

"This has caused me and other concerned Irish-Americans to conclude that the IRA must disband without delay.

"So much has been achieved in Northern Ireland and there is no place for a private army in a burgeoning democratic society.

"No one has done more to advance the peace process or has acted more courageously than Gerry Adams.

"But, now, all that has been attained is being put at risk by an unreconstructed minority who can't put down the gun and replace the bullet with the ballot.

"Gerry Adams can't allow these hard men to deny the people of Ireland the society of peace and justice for which he and others have struggled so valiantly.

"He owes it to himself and the cause of Irish freedom to call upon these remaining IRA fighters to disband and go home.

"The war is over - there is a new Ireland north and south. It is only when the IRA accepts this reality that we will truly be able to celebrate St Patrick's Day."


Control Orders Could Be Used On IRA

London, England, Mar. 17 (UPI) -- The British government has refused to rule out using its new anti-terror powers against the Irish Republican Army.

During a visit to Kent Thursday, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said it was possible control orders could be used against Northern Ireland's paramilitaries.

"Recommendations may be made and if they are made I will make a report to Parliament in the way set out in the legislation," he said.

The controversial detention-without-trial orders were approved last week under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Chief Inspector of the Police Service of Northern Ireland Stephen Crockard told UPI such orders would be "political dynamite" in Northern Ireland, given the history of internment without trial practiced by the British government against terror suspects during the 1970s.

Hundreds of extremists were rounded up and detained over four years, including Gerry Adams, now leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing. Many detainees alleged torture. The practice is now widely regarded as having furthered the cause of republican paramilitaries.


Police Chief Hits Back At SF Over McCartney Probe

By Jonathan McCambridge
17 March 2005

The Chief Constable has hit back at Sinn Fein criticisms of the delay in questioning suspects in the Robert McCartney murder investigation.

Speaking from Washington, Hugh Orde said the PSNI "were the professionals" at solving crime, not Sinn Fein.

Mr Orde is in the US where he is briefing politicians on policing developments in the province.

Earlier this week Martin McGuinness accused the police of "unprecedented and incredible delays" in questioning key suspects and witnesses following the murder of Robert McCartney.

But the Chief Constable said the police would decide when the time was right to make arrests.

"I think the public understand the difference between intelligence and evidence - they are ahead of us on this," he said.

"They know very well that we need a case to put to people.

"There is no point bringing someone in if a suspect exercises their right to silence and says nothing - that does not develop the case.

"We are the professionals at solving crime, not Sinn Fein."


Ex-Belfast Mayor To Address Sons

By Chris Birk
Staff Writer

Celebrated for being a champion of unity in Northern Ireland, Alex Maskey will honor the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County tonight by delivering the principal remarks to more than 1,200 at the 100th annual gathering at Genetti Manor in Dickson City.

An amateur boxer in his youth, Mr. Maskey, 53, has fought for the last 20 years as Sinn Fein's first elected representative in Belfast. In 1983, he became the first member of the party elected to Belfast City Council. Nine years later, he became the first Sinn Fein mayor of the city.

Mr. Maskey served as mayor for a year, then returned to his City Council seat. Northern Ireland's largest Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein is the political arm of the IRA.

"By the time he was finished, even his most severe critics had to say, 'He really had the right attitude,' " said Dr. Joseph T. Kelly Sr., D.D.S., president of the Friendly Sons.

Mr. Maskey has survived multiple attempts on his life, including a gunshot to the stomach in 1987.

As Belfast mayor, he roused the ire of unionists after hanging an Irish tricolor flag alongside the Union flag in his mayoral office. He also became, it is believed, the first Republican political representative in Northern Ireland to lay a wreath in honor of those killed in the Battle of the Somme.

Former regional Republican leaders had refused to attend the ceremony, saying the World War I battle was too deeply connected with Britain's military establishment, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

Mr. Maskey's remarks can be heard on WEJL 630 AM and WBAX 1240 AM tonight at 8:30

Alex Maskey

Born: Jan. 8, 1952

Political career: Elected to Belfast City Council in 1983, the first Sinn Fein party member to gain a seat; a Sinn Fein Councilor for Laganbank in South Belfast in 2001 and was elected as a peace negotiator in 1996; elected an assembly member for West Belfast in 1998 and served as the party's chief whip; elected first Sinn Fein mayor of Belfast in 2002; elected council member for South Belfast area in 2003.

©Scranton Times Tribune 2005


The Stax Report's ''IRA'' Edition

Films About The Irish Republican Movement

March 17, 2005 - Stax here with a special edition of The Stax Report. For the last few St. Patrick's Days, I've written columns focusing on
films about the Irish and Irish-American experience. Given that the IRA (Irish Republican Army) has been in the news more lately, I thought for this St. Patrick's Day edition I'd showcase some films that deal with them.

This column isn't meant to insult or incite anyone; regardless of your feelings about the IRA and their cause, they have been depicted in a number of films that deserve discussion. Here are some of them:

Michael Collins, 1996, wr./dir. Neil Jordan. A flawed but compelling biopic of Irish rebel leader and statesman Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) whose wartime actions would inspire later 20th century revolutionary figures. Jordan's film examines Collins' role in the Irish uprising against British rule, his relationships with compatriots Eamon DeValera (Alan Rickman) and Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn), and his romance with the devoted Kitty (Julia Roberts, who anchors the film's weakest subplot). The film also recreates the Irish Civil War and Collins' tragic falling out with his former allies.

One of the things that I liked most about Jordan's film was that he made it a thriller rather than a stately (boring) epic. Particularly effective are the moments leading up to Collins' assassination, which illuminate the growing dissension that cost Collins his life. Although it sometimes gets its facts wrong, Michael Collins is nevertheless a vibrant, suspenseful, and humanized portrait of a controversial figure.

The Devil's Own, 1997, dir.
Alan J. Pakula. The turbulent production of this thriller is better remembered than the film itself, which never quite works on all levels. NYPD officer Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford) takes in Irish immigrant "Rory" (Brad Pitt, who was reportedly heartbroken over how his dream project went awry). "Rory" turns out to be notorious IRA fugitive Frankie McGuire who is stateside to buy weaponry from an Irish-American source (Treat Williams). Despite his fatherly bond with the young rebel, Tom must take Frankie down.

Bloody Sunday, 2002, dir. Paul Greengrass. Shot in cinema verite style, this docudrama recounts the deadly Jan. 30, 1972 civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland that ended with fourteen Irish marchers slain by British troops (none of whom were killed). The story follows Protestant politician Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) who organizes and leads the demonstration after Catholic leaders are imprisoned without a trial. Cooper's efforts, however, are tragically undermined by British military brass looking to crack down and IRA militants desiring a less than peaceful protest. Bloody Sunday employed hundreds of extras, including many who participated in the actual march,

In the Name of the Father, 1993, wr/dir. Jim Sheridan. This is another fact-based "Wrong Man" drama. Oscar-nominee Daniel Day-Lewis reteamed with his My Left Foot director Jim Sheridan to portray "Guildford Four" member Gerry Conlon, one of a quartet of Irishmen wrongfully convicted for a fatal IRA bombing in 1974 after having a false confession tortured out of him by British authorities. Not only did Gerry do time in prison but so did his dad Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite, another Oscar nominee), who was convicted on trumped-up charges of being Gerry's accomplice. During their years in prison, the estranged father and son come to terms with their relationship. Emma Thompson plays the attorney that helps win Gerry's freedom but only after he's suffered tremendous personal loss.

Odd Man Out, 1947, dir. Carol Reed. The director of The Third Man made this atmospheric thriller about an IRA gunman (James Mason) on the run after being seriously wounded during a botched heist meant to bankroll IRA activities. Now pursued by a bounty hunter, the police, a priest, and his devoted girlfriend, Mason tries to stay alive long enough for his cohorts to smuggle him home. I discovered this suspenseful gem a few years ago and was immediately won over by its moody cinematography and taut storytelling. Mason delivers a bravura performance as an outlaw who has run out of time and people to trust.

Some Mother's Son, 1996, wr/dir. Terry George. Co-written and produced by Jim Sheridan, this hard-hitting drama starring Helen Mirren, Fionnula Flanagan (The Others), and John Lynch was inspired by the IRA's 1981 hunger strikes. Mirren and Flanagan excel as two very different Belfast mothers whose sons are convicted IRA members that join a prison hunger strike. These two mothers may belong to the same religion but their backgrounds and values make them as wary of each other as they are of the British.

The Boxer, 1997, dir. Jim Sheridan. Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) returns to war-torn Belfast after fourteen years behind bars for IRA-related crimes. Danny has turned his back on his violent sectarian past. He reopens an old gym for the purposes of teaching boxing to the young men of Belfast, both Catholic and Protestant. He also wants to restart his relationship with old flame Maggie (Emily Watson). Maggie, however, married another IRA member while Danny was incarcerated and now her husband is in jail.

IRA rules forbid Danny and Maggie from having an affair but their love prevents them from following such a code. Like a Western gunfighter who can't escape his past, trouble seems headed Danny's way. Maggie's dad Joe (Brian Cox) is a local IRA boss and Maggie's romance with Danny could upset the fragile peace between himself and a rival IRA faction.

The General, 1998, wr./dir. John Boorman. A romanticized biopic of Dublin crimelord Martin Cahill (
Brendan Gleeson), The General is a fast-paced and often hilarious yarn about a master crook who ends up eluding the cops (led by Jon Voight) and the IRA after a falling out over an art heist. Gleeson gives a remarkable performance here as Cahill, alternately child-like and brutal (the film has an infamous crucifixion scene). An ultimately tragic story, The General is also vastly entertaining and is easily one of Boorman's best films in years.

Shake Hands with the Devil, 1959, dir. Michael Anderson. One of
Richard Harris' earliest film roles was as an IRA underling in this lost gem. Irish-America's foremost movie icon James Cagney stars in this big screen adaptation of Rearden Conner's novel as Dr. Lenihan, an Irish medical professor with secret ties to the IRA. Set during the Irish Rebellion of 1921, Shake Hands with the Devil follows Irish-American medical student Kerry O'Shea (Don Murray) as he's pulled deeper into the conflict after a friend is gunned down. After discovering that his mentor Lenihan is actually the leader of a guerrilla faction, Kerry's loyalties become conflicted.

The Long Good Friday, 1980, dir. John Mackenzie. Bob Hoskins became a star after this
British gangster flick was released. He plays Harold Shand, a little fireplug of a Cockney crime boss who's seemingly at the top of his game. Harold's trying to seal a big real estate deal with an American Mafioso (Eddie Constantine) when a mystery foe starts killing off his best friends, henchmen, and bombing out his places of operation. Harold thought there was peace in the underworld. Who is out to get him and why?

Harold Shand comes to realize too late that he's dealing with a foe he doesn't understand and who he has underestimated. Violent, exciting, and intelligent, The Long Good Friday is a well-written, character-driven thriller (with a very swanky score) that's ripe with political subtext about Britain and the IRA. Look for young Pierce Brosnan in his big screen debut as one of the killers.

Patriot Games, 1992, dir. Phillip Noyce. Based on the
Tom Clancy novel, this revenge thriller follows heroic CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) who, while in London, foils an IRA attempt on a British lord (James Fox), killing an IRA man in the process. Now the dead man's brother (Sean Bean) joins with other IRA members (led by Patrick Bergin) to get their revenge on Ryan. They take their fight stateside even as Ryan and the CIA target IRA training camps abroad. Richard Harris has a brief turn as a savvy IRA supporter.

The Crying Game, 1992, wr/dir. Neil Jordan. Fergus (Stephen Rea) is an IRA member who develops an unlikely bond with Jody (Forest Whitaker), a British soldier caught in a trap hatched by Jude (Miranda Richardson). After the kidnapping turns tragic, Fergus escapes to London where he assumes another identity and becomes involved with Jody's girlfriend Dil (Oscar-nominee Jaye Davidson). While Fergus hasn't revealed his dark past to Dil, she has a surprise of her own in store for him.

Cal, 1984, dir. Pat O'Connor. The title character (John Lynch) is a fringe IRA member who falls in love with Marcella (Helen Mirren). She is a Catholic whose Protestant husband was a cop killed by the IRA a year earlier, a murder in which Cal was involved. He wants to leave the IRA and his memories behind him but the reality of life in war-torn Northern Ireland will not let Cal and Marcella's secret love affair go unpunished.

Related Links

The Stax Report: Special St. Pat's '04 Edition
In honor of the coming holiday, Stax showcases more of his favorite Irish-themed films.

Featured Filmmaker: Jim Sheridan
IGN FilmForce salutes the director of In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot and The Boxer.

The Stax Report: Special St. Pat's Edition
In honor of the coming holiday, Stax showcases some of his favorite Irish-themed films.

The Stax Report: Special St. Patrick's Day Edition
In honor of the coming holiday, Stax spotlights some of his favorite Irish movies.

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