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March 31, 2005

Irish Quality Of Life Suffers As Wealth Rises

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 04/01/05
Irish Quality Of Life Suffers As Wealth Rises
IT 04/01/05 Garda Criticised In Human Rights Report
SF 03/31/05 SF On Verge Of Historic Breakthrough In Elections
IT 04/01/05 Colombia 3 Evidence Was Questionable
SF 03/31/05 Govt Must Intervene To Secure Release Of Colombia 3
SM 03/31/05 UVF Victim's Mother: We'll Go To Europe For Justice
LP 03/31/05 SF To Get Peace Process Back On Track Soon
SF 03/31/05 British Helicopter Crashes In South Armagh
UT 03/31/05 Gray Move 'A Con Job'
UT 03/31/05 Homes Of Loyalist Seized
SF 03/31/05 Minister To Bulldoze His Way Through Ireland's Past
EX 03/31/05 Why €2.7m Heist Blame Game Is A Major Cop-Out
GU 04/01/05 Sinn Féin 'Arrogance' Over Poll Pledge
IH 04/01/05 Musical Satire Takes Ireland To Task
IT 04/01/05 Jordan & McPherson Join Forces On New Film
IT 04/01/05 Asgard Finds Permanent Berth In Natl Museum
IT 04/01/05 Boat's Key Role In Events Leading To 1916 Rising


Ireland's Quality Of Life Suffers As Its Wealth Rises

Irish people on average are better off, better educated and more productive than
their European neighbours - but dirtier, more car-dependent and less sympathetic to
the poor. Joe Humphreys reports.

So says the Central Statistics Office in a new report of "national progress
indicators" aimed at informing debate between the social partners.

Measuring Ireland's Progress 2004, published yesterday, depicts a country
outperforming most other EU member states in economic terms but lagging behind on
quality-of-life issues.

A total of 108 indicators from 10 categories are included, ranging from income levels
to rates of crime.

The report says Ireland "remains one of the most successful EU states in attracting
foreign investment". But its "international trade competitiveness has deteriorated
since 2000", mainly because of higher inflation and an appreciating euro.

In 2004 Ireland had the second-lowest unemployment rate in the EU at less than half
the EU average, but the proportion of people living close to poverty was the joint-
highest of 21 EU member states surveyed. Some 21 per cent of people were at risk of
poverty in 2003, indicating a significant number of "working poor" in Ireland.

The CSO noted that pensions and social transfers had little impact on reducing the at-
risk-of-poverty rate compared to other EU member states.

Ireland had the lowest rate of spending on social protection in 2001 in the 15-member

Other black marks against Ireland were below-average spending on health and education
services, a relatively low voter turnout and a failure to meet commitments on overseas
development aid.

In addition, the report found that recycling rates in Ireland were poor by European
standards. However, the percentage of waste landfilled had decreased from 87 per cent
in 2001 to 72 per cent in 2003.

The report was published in response to a request in the partnership agreement
Sustaining Progress for a recognised set of national progress indicators.

The CSO said it had updated an initial set of indicators, published in December 2003,
for the report, adding that it delayed the release of the publication to include more
up-to-date data from the enlarged 25-member EU, as well as figures from applicant
states like Bulgaria and Romania.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said the report showed "a strong economy but a weakening
society, and a Government that has its back to the future."

Ireland ranks lowest in EU for homicides: page 7; Growth ahead of euro zone average:
Business This Week: 2

© The Irish Times


Garda Criticised In Human Rights Report

Conor Lally

An independent human rights audit of An Garda Síochána has found that procedures and
operating practices within the force "can lead to institutional racism" particularly
in relation to Nigerians, Travellers and Muslims.

The Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy said he accepted all of the recommendations arising
from the audit and said these would all be implemented by the end of 2007. Senior
officers had already been fully briefed.

Some members of the force expressed concern to the authors of the audit "about the
increase in racist attacks and the lack of police action to tackle these".

The report, which was published yesterday, also recommends a review of bullying and
anti-harassment procedures saying some gardaí questioned during the audit had
expressed concerns in this regard.

There was an "urgent need" for better race and diversity training in order that gardaí
would be better equipped to deal with Ireland's changing and diverse community.

The audit also found "little evidence that human rights are embedded" in the force's
policy or operational procedures.

It recommends that the Department of Justice review the role of An Garda Síochána in
enforcing immigration law. The force's role in this area had sometimes undermined its
efforts to develop good relations with minority communities giving rise to conflict

The audit will not make easy reading for Garda management and the Government, coming
as it does on the same day the Nigerian student Olukunle Elukanlo returns to Ireland
after strong public reaction against his deportation. There has also been strong
criticism at the handling of other recent deportations.

Several members of the force expressed concern to the report's authors, Ionann
Management Consultants, about nepotism in the promotions procedures. They also
complained about "procedures for progression which militated against women members".

The audit was carried out by Ionann and was commissioned by the force's Human Rights
Working Group. This group was established following a Council of Europe initiative on
policing and human rights which took place between 1997 and 2001.

Some 4,000 questionnaires were sent out to serving members and civilians working for
the force in July 2003. The questionnaires were sent to one-third of those serving
between the ranks of garda and sergeant and one- third of the civilian staff.

All of those ranked inspector to superintendent were sent a questionnaire. Some 1,242
were completed and returned.

Ionann also interviewed 20 of the force's most senior officers and 25 community groups
also took part in the process.

In a statement last night, the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy, who was interviewed for
the audit in July 2003, said he fully accepts the recommendations in the report and he
intended to implement them.

Mr Conroy had studied the report's 15 recommendations and a clear timetable for the
implementation of these had already been drawn up. These were published along with the
audit yesterday. The recommendations would be introduced on a phased basis before the
end of 2007.

Mr Conroy has asked the Assistant Commissioner Nacie Rice to "oversee and ensure the
implementation of all aspects of the report".

At a management seminar two weeks ago at the Garda College, Templemore, senior
officers of Chief Supt rank or higher received an extensive briefing on the audit and
the action plan. Among the 15 main recommendations are as follows:

Identify and tackle institutional racism.

Deal robustly with racist crime and protect vulnerable communities.

Protect the human rights of the force's staff.

Undertake a human rights impact assessment of existing and forthcoming policy and
operational procedures and establish systems to monitor compliance with human rights.

Provide more support for staff to report human rights abuses.

© The Irish Times


Adams - Sinn Féin On Verge Of Historic Breakthrough In Údarás Na Gaeltachta Elections

Published: 31 March, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP was in Donegal today to canvas with the party‚s
candidate, Gráinne Mhic Géidigh in this weekend's Údarás na Gaeltachta elections. Sinn
Féin is standing three candidates in the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections - Colm Ó
Ceannabháin ˆ Galway, Seán Mac Donnchadh - Meath and Gráinne Mhic Géidigh - Donegal.

Mr. Adams said:

"Sinn Féin is on the verge of an historic breakthrough in the Údarás na Gaeltachta
elections this weekend. Our candidates are Colm Ó Ceannabháin - Galway, Seán Mac
Donnchadh - Meath and Gráinne Mhic Géidigh - Donegal. For the first time in the Údarás
na Gaeltachta elections, following an intervention by Sinn Féin's candidates, party
names will now be listed on ballot papers.

"Údarás na Gaeltachta has failed to deliver sufficiently for the Irish language or in
relation to job creation. Sinn Féín believes that it has the potential to achieve much
much more.

"A vote for Sinn Féin in this election is a vote for change. It is also a vote for the
peace process and for Irish re-unification.

"Among Sinn Féin‚s priorities in relation to Údarás na Gaeltachta are job creation,
reform of Údarás na Gaeltachta to make it relevant, accountable and democratic and an
integrated Strategic Plan, which would look at all the language needs of the

"I want to call on people to come out this Saturday and vote for change, vote Sinn

Summary of Sinn Féin‚s manifesto for the Údarás na Gaeltachta election


Sinn Féin agrees that the language is at the centre of the Gaeltacht.

Sinn Féin support the proposal of Coimisiún na Gaeltachta that support be given to
weak areas to strengthen language use.

Sinn Féin supports a review every ten years to assess new areas coming into the
Gaeltacht where 10-30% of people use Irish daily.


Sinn Féin proposes the creation of employment and the development of a Language Unit
for research and teaching in each Gaeltacht.

Sinn Féin will seek new forms of employment for the Gaeltachtaí.

Sinn Féin will seek ways of using the Gaeltacht's most valuable resource, the language
itself to create jobs.

Sinn Féin will seek to have the Údarás examine its own methods of creating jobs and
employment so as to achieve the best from its investment.

Democracy and Accountability

Sinn Féin proposes the publication of Údarás minutes, in a transparent and public way.

Sinn Féin proposes the development of an ethos of accountability within Údarás

Sinn Féin will support an end to the dual mandate.

Sinn Féin proposes a Comprehensive Action Plan with input from all the sectors of the
Gaeltacht and under the direction of the Údarás.

Sinn Féin proposes greater Údarás powers in respect of language planning.

Sinn Féin proposes that statutes be effected which would ensure that no County Council
decisions would work to the detriment of the Gaeltacht

Sinn Féin will demand the same rights for its Gaeltacht voters as for all its voters.

Sinn Féin will demand equality and parity for them.

Sinn Féin will seek a democratic accountable and transparent system for Údarás na


Sinn Féin proposes that the Údarás be responsible for the urgent development of an
integrated Strategic Plan which would look at all the language needs of the

Sinn Féin proposes a leadership role for the Údarás in language planning and in
questions of education in particular

Language conditions should be imposed on all building and development in the
Gaeltacht. A support structure should be in place to assist applicants to meet the
required language standard.

Litir ó Gearóid Mac Adaimh - Uachtarán Sinn Féin.

Ba mhaith liom an forógra toghcháin seo a mholadh do chách a bhfuil suim acu i
gcosaint agus i bhforbairt na nGaeltachtaí in Éirinn. Is le fada an lá anois a mbíonn
Sinn Féin i mbun toghchán ag gach leibhéal sa tír seo, ó thuaidh agus ó dheas. Anois,
sna toghcháin seo d‚Udarás na Gaeltachta tá an páirtí - tríd ár dtriúr iarrthóir - ag
tabhairt faoin dúshlán ionadaíocht chuí a dhéanamh ar son muintir na Gaeltachta

Ní rud nua é do phoblachtánaigh a bheith ag streachailt ar son na Gaeilge agus ní
strainséirí atá ionainn sna Gaeltachtaí ach an oiread. Go deimhin tá cumainn Sinn Féin
bunaithe i ngach Gaeltacht le blianta anuas. Mar sin is eol dúinn go maith na nithe a
chuireann isteach ar fhorbairt na Gaeltachta agus tuigimid go maith na fadhbanna
fostaíochta, oideachais, óige, eisimirce agus teanga a mbíonn muintir na Gaeltacha ag
iarraidh a sharú gach lá dá saolta.

Tá ana-thaithí ag ionadaithe tofa de chuid Sinn Féin ag gach leibhéal Rialtas ó
thuaidh agus ó dheas in Éirinn ag cur ár bpolasaithe chun tosaí.

Aithnítear go forleathan cé chomh éifeachtach agus díograsach a mbíonn ionadaithe
tofa, agus oibrithe deonacha an pháirtí ag troid ar son a muintire. Níl aon rud
difriúil ó thaobh na Gaeltachta de: beidh oibrithe agus ionadaithe Shinn Féin dílis
agus dian ar bhur son agus is ar mhaitheas an phobail a fheidhmeoidh siad i gcónaí.

Tá vóta Shinn Féin ag fás. I ngach toghchán ar throid muid le blianta cuirtear na
heolaithe as riocht le fás agus méadú an lín daoine a vótálann ar son Sinn Féin. Ach
níl an páirtí seo ag iarraidh do vóta ar mhaithe vóta féin. Nuair a chuirtear do vóta
leis na vótaí eile ar fud na hÉireann déantar sainordú poblachtach níos láidre as agus
bíonn bhur n-ionadaithe níos láidre dá bharr.

Tá Sinn Féin, mar pháirtí, geallta do chearta: cearta ár vótóirí, cearta daoine ar an
imeall agus cearta ár n-ionadaithe tofa ionadaíocht cuí, cothrom agus macánta a

Iarraim oraibh ar fad bhur vótaí a thabhairt don iarrthóir Sinn Féin i do cheantar sna
toghcháin seo.

Ní neart go cur le chéile. Cuirimis le chéile anois.

Aontaíonn Sinn Féin gurb í an Ghaeilge bun agus barr na Gaeltachta

Molann Sinn Féin go leanfar moltaí Choimisiún na Gaeltachta agus tugtar tacaíocht agus
spreagadh do na ceantair laga teacht aniar

Molann Sinn Féin go ndéanfaí athbhreithniú gach deich mbliana ar mhionteorainneacha na
Gaeltachta a cheartú agus le deis a thabhairt do cheantair nua ina bhfuil 10%-30% a
labhrann Gaeilge gach lá a bheith aitheanta mar Bhreac-Ghaeltachta

Molann Sinn Féin gurbh fhiú fostaíocht a chruthú tríd Aonad Teangan i gcomhair Taighde
agus Teagaisc a bhunú i ngach Gaeltacht

Éileoidh ionadaithe Shinn Féin fostaíocht nua do cheantair Ghaeltachta

lorgóidh Sinn Féin bealaí leis an acmhainn is luachmhaire sa Ghaeltacht, an teanga
féin, a úsáid le fostaíocht a chruthú

beidh Sinn Féin ag éileamh go bhféachfaidh an tÚdarás ar a mhodhanna le postanna agus
fostaíocht a mhealladh isteach chun an tairbhe is fearr a bhaint as an infheistíocht
agus chun postanna buana le craobhaithe agus scileanna a tharraingt isteach

Molann Sinn Féin gur chóir go mbeadh cruinnithe agus taifead de bhreitheanna an
Údaráis trédhearcach agus oscailte don phobal

Molann Sinn Féin gur chóir córas freagrachta agus meon freagrachta a chothú i measc
fheidhmeannas an Údaráis.

Molann Sinn Féin go gcuirfí deireadh leis an Œdé-shainordú

Molann Sinn Féin go mbeadh Plean Gnímh Cuimsitheach ullmhaithe idir na páirtithe uile
sna Gaeltachtaí, faoi stiúir agus faoi threoir an Údaráis

Molann Sinn Féin gur chóir go mbeadh tuilleadh cumhachta ag an Údarás i leith pleanála

Molann Sinn Féin nár chóir go mbeadh breitheanna na Comhairlí Chontae ná forbairtí a
cheadódh an Chomhairle Chontae ag teacht salach ar an Ghaeilge

Molann Sinn Féin go mbeadh an tÚdarás freagrach as Straitéis Chomhtháite Theangan a
fhorbairt go práinneach a dhéanfadh freastal cuimsitheach ar riachtanais teangan
pobail éagsúla na Gaeltachta

Molann Sinn Féin go mbeadh ról ceannaireachta ag an Údarás ar gach gné de phleanáil
teangan, ar chúrsaí oideachais go háirithe

Ní mór coinníollacha teanga a chur ar fhorbairtí agus ar thógáil sna Gaeltachtaí. Níor
mhór struchtúr tacaíochta a bheith ann chun cabhrú le hiarrthóirí an caighdeán
riachtanach teanga a bhaint amach

Éileoidh Sinn Féin na cearta agus an meas céanna dár vótóirí sa Ghaeltacht agus sa

Éileoidh Sinn Féin cothromaíocht agus comhurraim dóibh.

Éileoidh Sinn Féin córas daonlathach, freagrach, trédhearcach a bhaint amach don


'Colombia 3' Evidence Was 'Questionable'

Deaglán de Bréadún

Much of the evidence used against the so-called "Colombia Three" was questionable,
according to a dissenting opinion attributed to a judge on the three-member appeal

The three Irishmen, James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly, went missing
last December after a majority of the appeal tribunal imposed 17-year jail sentences
on charges of training the Farc guerrillas and using false passports.

At a press conference in Bogota yesterday, defence lawyers presented what they
regarded as a sharply dissenting opinion signed by Magistrate Jorge Enrique Torres,
who said much of the evidence used to convict the men was "questionable".

"I was overwhelmed by the countless amount of technical evidence used in this case
that was questionable," Judge Torres was quoted as saying.

Judge Torres was the third member of the appeal tribunal which overturned the initial
verdict by Judge Jairo Acosta, who found the men not guilty last April on the major
charge of training the Farc and imposed sentences of up to two years on the passports

Judge Acosta's verdict was appealed by the Colombian attorney general and the men were
freed on bail to await the verdict of the tribunal. When heavy sentences and fines
were imposed, they could not be found. The defence team said they hoped the appeal
verdict would now be overturned. According AP, they said they would use the dissenting
opinion as part of their appeal to Colombia's Supreme Court.

Defence lawyer Pedro Mahecha claimed the dissenting opinion showed the other two
appeal judges were swayed by pressure from Colombian politicians and military
officials. "Torres clearly points out that there was no certainty of guilt in the
case. The ruling was completely politicised."

© The Irish Times


Irish Government Must Now Intervene Urgently To Secure Release Of Colombia 3

Published: 31 March, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for South Down and Chairperson of the 'Bring Them Home Campaign',
Caitriona Ruane has today called upon the Irish Government to 'intervene urgently with
the Colombian Government in the case of the three Irish citizens' after Colombian
Appeal Judge Jorge Torres Romero said in his signed dissenting opinion that much of
the evidence brought before the court was 'questionable'.

Speaking today Ms Ruane said:

"This is a scathing indictment of the Colombian legal system and reinforces what has
been said all along by those campaigning for the men's release. It is clear that the
case against the men was based upon pure fantasy and that the ruling was a highly
politicized decision as stated by Judge Romero.

"This Irish Government has a duty to safeguard the rights of Irish citizens at home
and throughout the world. I am calling upon the Irish Government to intervene urgently
to help secure the immediate return of James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin
McCauley whose lives remain inconstant and continuous danger.

"Whilst we are exploring all of the legal avenues available both in Colombia and
internationally, the reality remains that legal procedures will take a considerable
length of time. Time is against James, Niall and Martin." ENDS


1:36pm (UK)

Terror Victim's Mother: We'll Go To Europe For Justice

By Alan Erwin, PA

The mother of a loyalist paramilitary murder victim vowed today to go to Europe in a
bid to unmask the informers she believes carried out the killing.

As Ann Robb prepared for a new High Court battle over her demand to see papers on her
son's death, she also urged terror bosses to hand over the suspects.

Andrew Robb, 19, was stabbed to death along with another teenager, David McIlwaine, on
an isolated Co Armagh road five years ago.

The pair were abducted from a nightclub in Tandragee by Ulster Volunteer Force men
during a feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Both police and the LVF stressed the victims had no terror links, and 18-year-old Mr
McIlwaine's father Paul told how his innocent son had tragically been in the wrong
place at the wrong time.

With detectives yet to charge anyone over the February 2000 killings, both families
have hit out at the secrecy they claim has cloaked the case.

Frustrated in their attempts to have a full inquest into the two deaths, a High Court
judge ruled the families should receive access to the relevant papers.

But on Monday the decision will be appealed after the coroner confirmed serious issues
had been raised by police.

Fears that a Public Interest Immunity Certificate may be used to halt details emerging
have also dogged the case.

Mrs Robb said today: "We want to get to the truth. We have believed from the start
there were maybe two informers involved in the murders of Andrew and David who are
being protected.

"We can't even register Andrew's death because there hasn't been an inquest.

"But if it goes against us on Monday we will apply to the House of Lords and if that
fails we will take it to the European Courts."

The 45-year-old from Portadown, Co Armagh, also launched a withering attack on the UVF
and its political wing, the Progressive Unionist Party.

"If they keep saying the murders weren't sanctioned why don't they hand over the
people responsible," she added.

"Every murder carried out by the UVF since its ceasefire, none of them were

"As long as they were murdering their own community it was not breaking their
ceasefire and people said it was just internal housekeeping.

"We just want justice for our boys in Portadown and the rest of the UVF victims."

The outspoken father of another man killed by the paramilitary organisation has backed
Mrs Robb's fight.

Raymond McCord's son, 22-year-old Raymond Jr, was beaten to death and his body dumped
in a north Belfast quarry in November 1997.

Allegations that an informer was involved in the killing are being probed by the
Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan.

Mr McCord, who says he has received numerous death threats, claimed that his campaign
should be an issue in the forthcoming elections.

"Will the PUP approach the UVF and say these people deserve justice?" he asked.


Sinn Fein To Get Peace Process Back On Track Soon

OVER 70 people attended the Easter commemoration held at the Republican Plot in Mount
St Laurence Cemetery on Easter Sunday.

A wreath was laid by former Republican prisoner, Eddie Butler and the Proclamation of
1916 was read by Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Fein. Guest speaker was Cllr Killian Forde.

In his oration, Cllr Forde said that over 100 commemorations of The 1916 Rising took
place across Ireland on Easter Sunday.

"These events coincide with the most sustained and vitriolic campaign against
republicanism in more than 20 years but Republicanism and Sinn Fein is stronger than
ever before - strength recently tested in the Meath by election and it will continue
to grow."

Describing the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the Easter Rising as "the most
defining events in modern Irish history, Cllr Forde said that in this, the centenary
year of Sinn Fein, the party is renewing its commitment to achieve Irish unity.

"Last month we launched a campaign to get the Irish Government to bring forward a
Green Paper on Irish unity - we need to take this debate into every county in
Ireland," he said.

Referring to the murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast, he said this has sullied the
good name of republicans and that those responsible should own up to their actions.

"The men and women we honour here today gave their all for freedom and their example
demands political commitment, discipline and diligence from all who follow in their
footsteps," he said.

Stressing that these are difficult times in the peace process, he said his party's
primary focus has to be on moving out of the current crisis.

"But we need to do more than that - we need to put the peace process back on track and
ensure that what we achieve is real democracy, a permanent peace which is best
achieved through Irish unity and independence," he said.


British Helicopter Crashes In South Armagh

Published: 31 March, 2005

Sinn Fein Assembly member for Newry & Armagh has demanded that all British Army
helicopters in South Armagh are immediately grounded. Mr Murphy's comments come after
a British Army helicopter crash landed this morning at Sturgon Bray just outside

Mr Murphy said:

" I was contacted this morning by a local farmer in the Sturgon Bray area outside
Camlough who reported that a British Army helicopter had come down close to his home.
I am now at the scene and the helicopter is positioned precariously on a hillside
close to a British Army spy post. This is not the first such incident of a British
helcopter crashing near local homes.

" There have been serious concerns expressed over a number of years about the safety
record of British military equipment in South Armagh. There is no purpose to the
continuing low level flights in the area and no purpose behind the ongoing presence of
British spy posts on our hillsides. Given the nature of this very serious incident
this morning I am demanding that all British military helicopters in this area are
immediately grounded." ENDS


Gray Move 'A Con Job'

Ulster Defence Association crime bosses have tried to con the public by ousting one of
their top commanders, it was claimed tonight.

By:Press Association

Although the move to topple Jim Gray was seen as an attempt to clean up its image,
SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell insisted the paramilitary organisation was up to
its neck in racketeering.

He said: "The UDA are trying to make themselves out as the paragons of virtue in this

Gray, 43, was one of six so-called brigadiers on the inner council of Northern
Ireland`s largest loyalist terror grouping.

But he was deposed yesterday, along with other senior members of his East Belfast
unit, in a ruthless move by the organisation.

His bleach-blond hair, heavy gold jewellery, year-round tan and lavish lifestyle were
an increasing source of embarrassment as the UDA attempted to restore its tattered

Once complaints reached leadership level his fate was sealed.

The UDA declared yesterday its East Belfast leadership had been stood down and was now
under the direct command of an Inner Council trying to restore its credibility.

The organisation has claimed to be on ceasefire for two years, although many remain
sceptical about the UDA`s commitment to peace.

Nationalists and republicans insist the organisation, which murdered scores of
Catholics at the height of the bloodshed in Northern Ireland, remains nakedly

But the Government acknowledged UDA guns were silent last November in an attempt to
lure it away from crime and violence and into the political process.

Dr McDonnell claimed the UDA`s crime levels show no sign of diminishing.

The South Belfast MLA said: "The UDA do not want to give up criminality - they are
making too much money out of it."


Homes Of Loyalist Seized

Two homes and a speedboat have been seized in a £200,000 offensive against alleged
loyalist paramilitary racketeering, it emerged today.

By:Press Association

More than 20 bank accounts and cash from the sale of a villa in Florida were also
frozen after the Assets Recovery Agency targeted David Hill.

Hill, of Woodland Place, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, has alleged links with the Ulster
Defence Association.

He was convicted of blackmail in October 2003 and sentenced to 42 months in jail.

After months probing his finances, the Agency told Belfast High Court his income came
from extortion and fraud.

Assistant Director Alan McQuillan was granted an Interim Receiving Order last week,
with officials taking control of assets valued at £200,000.

Mr McQuillan said today: "This is a very positive development.

"The agency is currently working with the police and customs to target all levels of
criminality, including significant criminal figures in local communities."

The assets held by the suspect, and his wife Pauline Hill, include their terraced
house at Woodland Place and another in nearby Doonbeg Drive, Newtownabbey.

Proceeds from the property sale in Florida, a Bayliner Capri speedboat and more than
20 accounts were also frozen.

Although the agency has argued that Hill is involved in crime, there is no suggestion
that his wife is guilty of any wrongdoing. She simply holds some of the assets under
investigation, it was claimed.

The latest move comes a week after assets which include nearly 50 properties were
frozen as part of a major investigation into the affairs of an alleged Northern
Ireland based drugs dealer.

Former police officer Colin Armstrong, who lives with his partner at a luxury home at
Glenavy, Co Antrim also owns apartments in the south of France and Dublin.

His properties, worth an estimated £4.8 million, are also under the control of an
interim receiver appointed by the High Court in Belfast.

It followed an 18-month long undercover investigation, the biggest in Northern Ireland
since the agency was set up in February 2003.


Minister Prepared To Bulldoze His Way Through Ireland's Archaeological Past

Published: 31 March, 2005

Sinn Féin Meath County Councillor, Joe Reilly, has accused the Minister for the
Environment, Dick Roche, of being prepared "to bulldoze his way through Ireland's
archaeological past".

Councillor Reilly said, "The intention of the Minister to issue licences for
excavation work along the proposed route of the M3 through the Tara-Skryne valley
shows that he has turned a deaf ear to the protests of a wide body of public opinion.
It wasn‚t only ordinary members of the public who were incensed by the proposal of the
NRA and tear a motorway through the valley it was also the considered opinion of many
experts in the field that this was the wrong thing to do. There were alternatives and
they should have been looked at. Unfortunately this Minister is clearly prepared to
bulldoze his way through Ireland‚s archaeological past at any cost.

"The M3 motorway can be accommodated - but not through the Tara and Skryne valley. The
disputed section of the M3 motorway is only 3 kilometres in length out of a total of
70 kilometres. Sinn Féin is calling upon the NRA and archaeologists to come together
and sort this out.

"The other thing that should be remembered is that this decision if it is pursued will
not bring an end to the misery of motorists any time quick. With the amount of
opposition to this proposal it is clear that there will be litigation and that court
proceedings will delay the project indefinitely. It is not too late to reconsider the
alternative options available." ENDS


Why The €2.7m Brinks Heist Blame Game Is A Major Cop-Out

MINISTER for Justice Michael McDowell didn't have to wait for PSNI Chief Constable
Hugh Orde to tell us who was responsible for the €2.7 million robbery from Brinks
Allied at Coolock.

Within hours of the raid, the minister had already made up his mind about the most
expensive coffee break since coffee was discovered, and shared his insight with us on
national television.

He blamed it on the security industry and a "procedural lapse", although I'm fairly
sure a successful prosecution has never been brought against such a suspect.

However, a subsequent Department of Justice statement noted that the minister felt
that the security industry had let down the wider community through an apparent
procedural lapse which had enabled criminals to steal a significant amount of money.

Mr McDowell may well have felt let down, but somehow I doubt the wider community took
it quite so personally.

What the wider community felt, I venture to suggest, was a certain amount of
bewilderment as to how so much money was even allowed to leave the Brinks depot
without armed protection by the gardaí and army.

Anyway, given that there are about 20,000 full-time and part-time workers employed in
the security industry, it's not an exaggeration to describe the minister's conclusion
as a sweeping statement.

From the odd Brinks security van I've seen, it would be impossible to get 20,000
people into it, although, apparently, it was relatively easy to get €2.7m out of one.

Shortly after this latest security van heist, the gardaí, among other things, started
looking for a white van. It's a remarkable feature of serious crime in this country
that, inevitably, there's always a white van that the gardaí are looking for.

In fact, it has become such standard procedure, it's a wonder the gardaí have not got
a list of all white van owners on PULSE whose whereabouts they could check on any
given day of any robbery.

It would surely be a relief to the general public, who are constantly being asked to
keep an eye out for one.

Possibly it's naive on my part, but I was always under the impression that when large
sums of money are being transported around the country, there is always a garda and
army escort.

But no. Only one-in-10 deliveries receives an escort, so the odds are loaded in favour
of robbers, even without the fortuitous coffee break.

It's a comment on the trustworthiness of the people along the few miles' stretch into
the city that nobody thought for a moment that there was the slightest risk that the
security van would be robbed.

Now, we know differently.

Not that I'm suggesting for a moment that anyone from Coolock was implicated.

In any case, the 20,000 suspects in the security industry are more than enough for the
gardaí to be getting on with, without me adding the population of Coolock.

WHILE the gardaí and the army lads were waiting at the Spire, or wherever, for the van
to show up with the cash, the crew in the van decided to take a coffee break and
wheeled into a handy Maxol filling station somewhere in Coolock. Some wag will
probably rechristen it the Maxwell station.

Possibly, that was not a good idea but then nobody told them to skip the coffee, and
in any case the fact that there was no need for an escort at that stage meant they
must have felt pretty safe.

And they were safe - until the fellow with the gun showed up and that was the end of
the coffee break.

It was also the end of the €2.7m.

It must be acknowledged that Plan A was to originally drive an empty security van into
Dublin that morning to collect the money.

But because the bank wouldn't pay staff to come in early that morning, the money was
collected the previous night and brought to the Brinks depot.

No wonder a gardaí source described the whole episode as a "complete joke".

Eventually, the news percolated to the boys at the Spike.

The robbery, obviously, was better planned than the transit of the money and it was a
classic example of criminality, which the minister thinks happens only in Northern

Instead of blaming the usual suspects - the IRA or Sinn Féin, or both - he immediately
targeted the "procedural lapse" in the security industry.

There was no mention of the gardaí or the army and why they were in the city centre
while the dosh was disappearing from the back of the van almost as fast as a TD's

Afterward, the minister said: "The indications are that the vehicle, which had a large
sum of money in it, went into a service station for a purpose which had nothing to do
with the delivery or receipt of money.

"One of the staff," he continued, "got out of the vehicle and, I understand, was
purchasing coffee. The raid took place at that point. That is just not acceptable in
this day and age."

Whether purchasing the coffee or the raid was unacceptable in this day and age, he did
not make clear.

Neither did he say in what day or age such a raid might possibly be acceptable.

A statement from the gardaí said the van was not due to be under escort from the depot
or at the time of the robbery.

"As per standing arrangements, the security vehicle was due to rendezvous later with a
garda/army escort at a location in the city centre.

"The garda/army escort was in place at the agreed location and awaiting the arrival of
the security vehicle," the statement said.

So, the gardaí and the army were stood up and the baddies got the money.

Pardon the pun, but that is nothing short of a major cop-out. It beggars belief that
the gardaí, the primary security force in the State, did not insist that such a large
sum of money be given an armed escort along all stages of the route.

Kevin McMahon, the secretary of SIPTU's security services branch, was right to reject
the minister's suggestion that the raid was caused by a lapse on the part of the crew
of the security van.

This was the second such serious raid from security vans in two weeks in north Dublin.
The gardaí needn't bother looking up the trees there for any clues.


Sinn Féin 'Arrogance' Over Poll Pledge

Friday April 1, 2005
The Guardian

Sinn Féin's arrogance was leading them to again tell voters that a deal to revive
devolution would just fall in place after the election, said nationalist SDLP leader
Mark Durkan yesterday.

Each time in the past, the political situation had deteriorated afterwards, the
assembly member for Foyle told his local party. "Sinn Féin are telling people a deal
will just click into place. They ask people to strengthen Sinn Féin's hand for one
last bit of negotiation.

"That is what they told people before the last election, the one before that, and the
one before that again_

"Each time they failed to deliver - and things got worse. The truth is that, while
Sinn Féin's vote has grown, the Provisional movement has had no incentive to clean up
its act.

"All that a vote for Sinn Féin strengthened was Sinn Féin's arrogance and the IRA's

Mr Durkan faces a strong challenge from Mitchel McLaughlin, Sinn Féin's gen eral
secretary, for the Westminster seat in Foyle following former SDLP leader John Hume's
decision to stand down. Many believe the contest is too close to call.

The SDLP assembly member for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley, is defending Seamus
Mallon's seat following his stepping down - but Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy could take
it. South Down MP Eddie McGrady is the favourite to hold his seat but Sinn Féin has
high hopes for its candidate, assembly member Caitriona Ru ane. Council elections are
expected to be held in Northern Ireland on the same day as the general election.

Talks to revive power sharing stalled after December's failure to strike a deal with
Sinn Féin, the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists and the British and Irish
governments. They were further set back by the murder by IRA members of Robert
McCartney in January, and the government view that the IRA was behind December's
£26.5m bank raid. Press Association


Musical Satire Takes Ireland To Task

By Brian Lavery International Herald Tribune

Friday, April 1, 2005

DUBLIN The Irish have always felt somewhat ambivalent toward their country's
constitutional neutrality. For decades, they were embarrassed to admit that Eamonn de
Valera, the nationalist prime minister who molded 20th-century Ireland, was so
dedicated to being neutral - and maybe was ever so slightly enamored of fascist
ideology and aesthetics - that he visited the German consulate in Dublin at the end of
World War II to offer his condolences on the death of Hitler.

Now that Ireland is rich, bold and confident, it accepts such historical foibles
without feeling too insecure, and that particular piece of trivia is repeated so often
by taxi drivers and barstool historians that it feels like an apocryphal urban legend.
But even as the Irish squabble about whether neutrality is a sacred principle or an
outdated relic, most people here accept that it's also fair territory for satire.

That's certainly the case with the audiences who have packed into the Abbey Theater
last month to see "Improbable Frequency," a new musical running until April 9 that
mercilessly lampoons Ireland's wartime foreign policy, its befuddled relationship with
Britain and, in the playwright's eyes, its overly earnest sense of self-importance.

There is a serious intent, however, in poking fun at how Ireland turned a blind eye to
the horrors of the 1940s. "The Second World War just asks a lot of questions of
mankind's conscience," Arthur Riordan, the show's author, said in a recent interview.
"Not in all cases can neutrality be a moral option."

But with a dramatis personae that includes bumbling British spies, Wiemar-style
cabaret dancers, a sadistic Irish Republican Army commander and an oversexed mad
scientist, the play is firmly in Mel Brooks territory, somewhere between "The
Producers" and Brooks's classic "Hitler on Ice" figure-skating sketch.

Riordan, who is also an actor, has written de Valera into several previous comedies,
including one in rap lyrics, and has taken the politician's iconic role several times.
But for his debut musical, he created an innocent outsider, a bookish British
crossword fan called Tristram Faraday, played by Peter Hanly, who assumes that the
Irish are "pretty much" British and is bewildered by the attitudes he finds in Dublin.
The relationship between Britain and Ireland "is always worth exploring," Riordan
said. "A lot of the time we just miss the point about each other."

After unwittingly answering a covert recruiting ad in a newspaper riddle, Faraday
joins military intelligence as a code breaker and is sent to spy on Irish Nazi
sympathizers. In Dublin, he uncovers a conspiracy surrounding an eccentric radio show
host, played with wonderfully wild energy by Rory Nolan, who may be telling the
Luftwaffe about flight conditions in Britain by broadcasting songs about the weather.
Reality, of course, is rarely so straightforward.

Neither is the text of the play. Riordan used his character's love of wordplay as an
excuse to weave dozens of puns into the book, which is so densely layered with jokes
that audiences strain to catch them all. During a romantic number, Faraday and an old
flame sing to each other, "At the crossword solvers' lunch / In the Savoy, in London
town / You were the one across from me / So I was not too down."

The convoluted plot has its basis in fact, Riordan said. A radio station did air
German propaganda in Ireland, and censorship prevented broadcasters from mentioning
the weather - or even a woman wearing a cotton dress, which would imply sunny skies
with no cloud cover. Ireland was a haven for intellectuals fleeing repressive
conditions on the Continent, like the physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who in "Improbable
Frequency" is rumored to be developing a nuclear weapon.

The writer Myles na gCopaleen, played by Darragh Kelly, sings to Faraday: "Should we
be supporting your forces / As they struggle to keep us all free? / Well, horses for
courses / We've known those same forces / A little too intimately."

Na gCopaleen is one of several real figures in "Improbable Frequency." In the play,
the bilious writer verbally spars with the poet John Betjeman (also played by Nolan),
who was posted to the British Embassy in Dublin during the war and serves as Faraday's
advisor; Betjeman later became Britain's poet laureate.

The show is not designed for export, since foreign audiences might not comprehend the
politics or see the humor in Betjeman's portrayal as a prancing buffoon and na
gCopaleen as a crotchety drunk. And the six actors, who juggle more than a dozen
parts, lack the robust singing voices demanded by international stages. (The music is
by a London-based composing duo called Bell Helicopter.)

But in-jokes press all the right buttons for Dubliners. Alan Farquharson's cleverly
functional set wins laughs on its own when replicas of the city's absurdly large and
antiquated neon signs are illuminated, or when, during an IRA rally, Nazi-style red
banners unfurl beside the stage with green shamrocks twisted into swastikas.

That slick presentation and its ambitious agenda helped "Improbable Frequency" to
sweep Ireland's annual theater awards in January (for a short debut run during the
Dublin Theater Festival last autumn). Rough Magic, a 20-year-old independent theater
company that counts Riordan and the director Lynne Parker among its founders, produced
the show and has basked in the success.

For Riordan, writing a historical comedy has been an opportunity to address topics
that are still sensitive in Irish society and to make people laugh in the process. "I
never underestimate an audience's curiosity," he said. "I like to take some attitudes
that are so deeply held that we don't even notice them, and twist them around a little


Jordan And McPherson To Join Forces On New Film Project

Michael Dwyer, Film Correspondent

Writer-director Neil Jordan will collaborate on a new film with playwright and film
director Conor McPherson, it was announced yesterday.

The film, Our Lady of the Forest, deals with a troubled 16-year-old girl who claims to
have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

The girl is a runaway who left the family home after being repeatedly raped by her
mother's boyfriend. The film is based on the novel of the same name by US author David
Guterson, whose book, Snow Falling on Cedars, was filmed in 1998.

McPherson, whose plays include The Weir and the recent Shining City, has adapted
Guterson's book for the screen. McPherson has written and directed two feature films,
The Actors, on which Jordan was a producer, and Saltwater, in addition to writing the
screenplay for the Irish road movie, I Went Down.

The film of Our Lady of the Forest has the financial backing of Film Four, the film
division of broadcaster Channel 4, which is producing the film with Wild Child Films.
Additional financing comes from the development fund at the British government-backed
support body, the Film Council.

"I am an enormous fan of Neil Jordan and of Conor McPherson," said Tessa Ross, head of
Film Four. "I've no doubt that these two will form a fantastic creative team, and will
bring David Guterson's compelling novel to life."

Jordan, who won the 1993 Oscar for best original screenplay for The Crying Game, is at
present in the final stages of post-production on his 14th feature film, Breakfast on
Pluto, his second film based on a Patrick McCabe novel after The Butcher Boy in 1997.

Breakfast on Pluto stars Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson.

© The Irish Times


'Asgard' Finds Permanent Berth In National Museum

Liam Reid

After nearly three decades of languishing in various sheds and yards around Dublin
in a poor state of repair, the Asgard - the boat used by Erskine Childers to smuggle
arms that were used in the 1916 Rising - is to get a permanent home at the National
Museum in Collins Barracks.

Following an aborted attempt four years ago to have the yacht restored and refloated,
a decision has now been made to keep it on dry land. The feasibility of restoring the
vessel and putting it on permanent display at the museum is now being examined.

The boat, which is designated a national monument, played a key role in Irish history
and was used by Erskine Childers in 1914 to land the guns that were eventually used in
the 1916 Rising in Dublin.

Its future was the subject of considerable controversy after its poor condition was
raised by a voluntary group proposing its restoration in 1998.

By this stage the boat had lain in an open shed at Kilmainham Gaol where it was
decaying due to its exposure to the elements.

The Asgard Restoration Project proposed its refurbishment to get it into a seaworthy
condition, at a cost of €650,000, with the Government agreeing to fund half of the

The proposal faced opposition, however, mostly from the Department of Defence, because
concerns about cost and the fact that so much of the boat would have to be replaced
that the refurbished model would effectively be a new boat.

In 2001, after the restoration project took possession of the Asgard, the Government
sought its return, due to worries about the fact that it was being stored outside.
Since then it has been in the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW) and is held at
its St John's Road site in Inchicore.

With this site having been sold, the vessel is due to be moved again to the gym at
Collins Barracks where it will be stored temporarily.

Yesterday a spokesman for the Minister for Arts, John O'Donoghue, said a feasibility
study on preserving and creating a permanent display for the yacht was now being
carried out. A decision had also been made not to restore the boat to seagoing

The Minister was "anxious that the Asgard be put on permanent display at the museum",
and it was hoped this could be done in time for a planned major public display of
Irish military history next year.

© The Irish Times


Boat's Key Role In Events Leading To 1916 Rising

The Asgard is seen as having played a key role in the events leading to the 1916

Erskine Childers, an English civil servant and novelist with Irish nationalist
sympathies, used his boat to land 900 rifles and 20,000 rounds of ammunition at Howth
in July 1914, to be used to arm the Irish National Volunteers, the nationalist force
set up in response to the Ulster Volunteer Force.

He went on to join the British intelligence service during the first World War.

He returned to Ireland afterwards, becoming involved in the first Dáil as director of
publicity. He sided with anti-Treaty deputies in 1922, but was arrested in possession
of a pistol later that year and executed by a Free State firing squad at Beggars Bush

The Asgard was sold by the Childers family in 1926 and purchased by the State in the
early 1960s.

© The Irish Times

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