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March 19, 2005

Murder Probe: UVF Man "A Police Agent'

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Mar 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 03/17/05 O'Loan Team Probe Killing - UVF Man 'A Police Agent'
NL 03/17/05 UDA Statement On Death
BT 03/17/05 Family Of Dead Rioter May Meet Army Driver
GA 03/17/05 Gay Group Sidelined At NYC St Pat's Parade
ND 03/16/05 Firefighters May Back Out Of Parade
DN 03/17/05 Irish Peace Activists Protest U.S. Use Of Shannon Airport In Iraq War –V
WH 03/17/05 President Welcomes Irish Prime Minister Ahern For St. Patrick's Day
TE 03/15/05 Ireland's Siege Mentality
NP 03/17/05 Irish Immigrant Database Goes Online –A

CS 03/16/05 British House of Commons Prime Minister's Questions –VO
NP 03/17/05 Irish Pubs Go Global –AO
NP 03/17/05 Lúnasa: New Sounds In Celtic Music –AO
NP 03/17/05 The Chieftains CD: Live From Dublin –AO
NP 03/17/05 Black 47 CD: Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes –AO

British House of Commons Prime Minister's Questions - Prime Minister Tony Blair answers questions from the membership of the House of Commons on the Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army. Mr. Blair also answered questions on unemployment, the National Health Service and aid to Africa. 3/16/2005: LONDON, ENGLAND: 30 min.

Irish Pubs Go Global - by Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne Morning Edition, March 17, 2005 · On this St. Patrick's Day, a look at a Dublin man who is trying to bring the authentic Irish pub experience and authentic Irish craic to countries around the world. Mel McNally is the creator and director of the Irish Pub Company.

Mar. 17, 2005 Lúnasa: New Sounds In Celtic Music - Live at NPR
Lúnasa: New Sounds in Celtic Music

 Irish acoustic band Lúnasa. Giorgia Bertazzi © 2003
Irish acoustic band Lúnasa. Giorgia Bertazzi © 2003

 Julia Peck, NPR - Lúnasa performs in Studio 4A.
Julia Peck, NPR - Lúnasa performs in Studio 4A.

Performance Today, March 17, 2005 · When Lúnasa released a self-titled debut CD in 1997, the Irish quintet was immediately credited with launching a new chapter in Celtic music. Combining traditional melodies with driving rhythms, the band created a fresh improvisational sound with a distinct Irish flavor. Five recordings later, Lúnasa remains one of the most popular Irish acoustic groups on the international music scene. The band joins NPR's Fred Child in Studio 4A to share some music from the Emerald Isle.

Hear more Irish music:
The Chieftains CD: Live From Dublin - Song: "Derek's Tune" - Label: BMG

Black 47 CD: Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes Song: "Downtown Baghdad Blues" Label: Gadfly


O'Loan Team Probe Killing - UVF Man 'A Police Agent'

By David Gordon
17 March 2005

The Police Ombudsman's office is planning to complete one of its biggest ever investigations later this year, it can be revealed today.

The probe centres on allegations that a high-ranking north Belfast UVF terrorist worked for the RUC's Special Branch while his notorious unit carried out a string of murders.

It was sparked by claims by campaigning father Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was beaten to death by a UVF gang in 1997.

The Ombudsman's inquiry is believed to the largest undertaken by Nuala O'Loan's team since the controversial review of the Omagh bomb investigation.

It had been thought that Mrs O'Loan's report on the McCord allegations would not be published until 2006. But it's now scheduled for the second half of this year.

Mr McCord Snr is adamant that his son's murder was carried out on the orders of a UVF chief from north Belfast's Mount Vernon estate.

He claims the paramilitary, who was behind bars at the time, wanted Raymond Jnr dead to cover up his involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

"I have full confidence in Mrs O'Loan and I am confident she will get to the truth," he said today.

"I am expecting the report later this year and believe it will vindicate everything I have been saying for the past seven years."

Mr McCord Snr today underlined his allegation of "hypocrisy" against unionist politicians over their stance on the murder of Short Strand man Robert McCartney.

"I fully back the McCartney family's campaign to get justice and I have been to see them to show my support.

"But why haven't unionist politicians also been calling for the UVF to hand over their murderers in their ranks? Why haven't they been demanding sanctions against the PUP?

"UVF members have committed murder after murder since its ceasefire and no one has been brought to justice," he added.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's office today said it could not comment on on going cases.


UDA Statement On Death

Thursday 17th March 2005

The UDA has claimed that there was no loyalist involvement in the alleged murder of Ardoyne man Stephen Montgomery in Belfast.

It said that any earlier claims that the Red Hand Defenders were involved in his death - which is being treated by the PSNI as a traffic collision or a hit-and-run - were false.

The UDA said that the Red Hand Defenders group no longer exists.

Mr Montgomery, 34, was killed on Jamaica Road on February 13.

Three men and two women were questioned about his death, which his family maintains was murder.


Family Of Dead Rioter May Meet Army Driver

By Brendan McDaid
17 March 2005

The family of a Bogside man who was crushed by an Army vehicle during riots over Drumcree may next month come face to face with the driver.

The revelation came as it was announced by Londonderry coroner David Hunter that a new investigation is to be launched into the death of Dermott 'Tonto' McShane in 1996.

Mr McShane, a 35-year-old machine tool operator, died on July 13, after being run over by an armoured personnel carrier as he sheltered under a wooden board.

His fatal injuries occurred during protests over the decision to force an Orange Order parade through the Nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

The coroner said yesterday the case will now be handed over to the newly-established Serious Crime Investigation Team.

Mr Hunter also said that the driver of the Saxon can now be called upon to give evidence in the case.

The decision comes three years after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the inquiry into Mr McShane's death had violated his right to life under article 2 of the Human Rights Convention.

It emerged at that time that the driver was not interviewed until six months after the incident.

Mr Hunter said during yesterday's hearing: "Some form of re-investigation would be of help. That may come in the form of additional statements.

"It would be useful to know what terms of reference and the time scales of this Serious Crime Team.

"The driver of the vehicle can now give evidence to the Inquest.

"I can refer the matter to the DPP at any stage if there are any criminal issues."

Mr Hunter ordered that a list of questions be presented to the jury by counsel for Mr McShane's wife and family and the PSNI and MoD when the inquest opens next month.

He also refused a request from the PSNI's representative to see the other parties' questions in advance of submitting their own.

"If certain evidence comes out during the inquiry any questions might have to be amended or added to," Mr Hunter ruled.


Gay Group Sidelined At NYC St Pat's Parade

by Doug Windsor New York Bureau
Posted: March 17, 2005 5:01 pm ET

New York City) A sea of green flowed down Fifth Avenue Thursday but the wearin' of the pink was relegated to the sidelines.

Once again members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization were barred from taking part in the annual St Patrick's Day Parade.

Several dozen members of the ILGO stood behind police barricades to protest the lack of inclusion in the parade.

More than a decade ago a federal judge ruled that the the Ancient Order of Hibernians could bar the gay group on the grounds of religious freedom.

The organization told the ILGO that its members could march as individuals but not under the gay banner.

Some of the protestors chanted "We're here, we're queer, we'll be here every year," as the parade marched by.

Johnfrancis Mulligan, 35, stood holding a sign that read "No city money for homophobia."

"It's important to let all the spectators know what they're participating in and draw attention to the religious right's takeover of the parade," he said.

Gays weren't the only ones sidelined this year.

City firefighters refused to march after FDNY told them they could not wear their green tams. A directive from Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta said they would have to wear their dress uniforms.

A large contingent of firefighters watched from the sidelines in civilian clothes and the tams. Whens Scopetta marched by, he was booed.

© 2005


Firefighters May Back Out Of Parade

By Deborah S. Morris
Staff Writer
March 16, 2005, 7:39 PM EST

City firefighters had a message for FDNY brass Wednesday: no green, no go.

After reciving a March 4 memo banning the wearing of hand-knit green berets with dress-blue uniforms, a battalion of Bronx firefighters filed suit against their bosses and vowed not to march in this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Firefighter Jim McCarthy, member of the 14th Battalion Firefighters in the Bronx, N.Y., at a press conference in Manhattan, Wednesday March 16, 2005. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Instead, the members of Engine 60, Ladder 17 and the 14th Battalion, say they will spend their time on the sidelines.

"We've decided to assemble on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and support our brothers and sisters as they march, as well as the fighting 69th, particularly those who were lost in the Iraq war," Lt. Ed Boles, a 12-year fire veteran, said at a Manhattan news conference.

He said the firefighters will wear civilian clothes, topped off with their green berets.

Boles' comments came as lawyer Brian O'Dwyer announced that the firefighters had filed a complaint with the State Division of Human Rights, claiming that the ban violates their right to ethnic and religious expression.

"We are asking the New York State Division of Human Rights to issue an order that will rescind the order of the Fire Department," he said.

In the memo, fire brass outlined a dress code for the parade, stating in bold captial letters that the toppers, worn in the parade for about 30 years, are "strictly prohibited."

The memo is the latest firestorm in the seemingly always controversial parade, which winds its way up Fifth Avenue. In previous years, the parade's organizers, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, have battled the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, which repeatedly pushed to march under its own banner.

Members of ILGO also are expected to protest from the sidelines this year.

Firefighters first began weaing the green berets in 1974 after the mother-in-law of one firefighter knitted them. The berets were officially allowed in 1975 and have been worn ever since, with the number of firefighters wearing them numbering as many as 1,000.

"I think it will be a significantly larger amount of guys this time because of the slight we've had from the department," said Jim McCarthy, a firefighter with Ladder 55 in the Bronx.

In a statement yesterday, Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta said: "We are a paramilitary organization and when a member publicly represents this department in uniform, a proper dress code must be adhered to. It's about respecting the uniform and the position you hold."

The executive board of the Uniformed Firefighters Association has chosen to support the non-marchers and will not march in the parade.

O'Dwyer said he does not believe the department is within it's right to ban the berets.

"I think we have ample precendence," he said, citing a Sikh who recently won his battle with the MTA about wearing a religious symbol on his turban.

Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.


Watch video:

St. Patrick's Day Special: Irish Peace Activists Protest U.S. Use Of Shannon Airport In Iraq War -V

To commemorate St. Patrick's Day, we take a look at the use of Shannon airport by U.S. troops en route to Iraq as well as the case of three Irish peace activists recently acquitted after their arrest during a protest against President Bush. [includes rush transcript]

Today is May 17th - St. Patrick's Day - when people across the country celebrate the Saint credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

To commemorate the occasion, we look at the case of three Irish anti-war activists who were acquitted after their arrest during a protest against President Bush.

The three were arrested in a small rowing boat in the river Shannon as they held up a sign that read "Bush Go Home" during the president's visit to Ireland in June 2004. The Irish government said they failed to obey instructions to leave a temporary exclusion zone set up for Bush's visit.

The judge dismissed the case saying there was no evidence of any refusal by them to comply with the instructions.

Aron Baker, one of the defendants in the case. He is a member of the Mid-West Alliance Against Military Aggression

Another member of the group - Tim Hourigan - spoke about Shannon airport and its use as a stopover for U.S. troops in the Iraq war.

Tim Hourigan


AMY GOODMAN: On a trip to Ireland earlier this year, I spoke with Aron Baker, one of the defendants in the case. He began by explaining why he took part in his protest.

ARON BAKER: When President Bush came to visit Ireland, his little stopover to Shannon, Dromoland Castle, anti-war activists and similar were at a peace camp basically in the area, and some colleagues of mine, Ed Horgan, a retired army commandant from the Irish forces and a friend of ours, Eibhlin ni Hir, decided to basically take to the water to protest his visit, exercise our constitutional rights to protest, and we – Ed had organized it. He had his boat there, and it was a small boat, about 12 feet. And we took to the water at Bunratty, just maybe a couple of miles away from Shannon Airport. And we went out. We -- before taking to the water, Ed and Eibhlin did brief media interviews with interested media parties there. And then we took to the water and progressed out with a small engine we had, out towards the airport. In order to get out there, obviously, we were under engine power, but the water levels are very low. There’s a lot of mud flats. And as we were progressing out there, a police -- a garda patrol boat approached us and then just waved at us once and veered away. And we progressed on until a helicopter flew overhead, and then the navy and the gardi both kind of simultaneously zeroed in on us, and we -- at that stage, the engine was foul in the mud. We were in very shallow water. So we had stopped temporarily, and the navy approached us, and basically, despite what they claim, they basically arrested us on the spot for what they later claim was breaching the exclusion zone, which was not marked in any shape or form or pre-announced in any shape or form, or hugely minimally, not to our knowledge at all. And we were then arrested. We were towed into deeper water and then transferred onto the garda patrol boats before being taken to the Foynes Harbour, where the gardi and other powers that be had a huge private powwow about what to do with us and then took us to Askeaton Garda Station where we were held, and then we were taken to Ennis Court, where we were released on bail. And having been charged with breaching the exclusion zone under the Harbours Act, we were then later charged with a public order offense, failing to obey a garda, and from there, we went to trial, basically. The trial was drawn out over a period of time, and the actual trial took place last week. But we were well represented by counsel, a solicitor and barristers and the --

AMY GOODMAN: What did the judge say?

ARON BAKER: The judge for a finish dismissed all charges against us. He actually said that he found in all cases with the defense, and that basically, there was no -- there was no -- no warrant for our being arrested, none of -- all that we had been arrested for was pretty groundless, basically.

AMY GOODMAN: And why did you protest?

ARON BAKER: Why did I protest? I protested because I'm not happy with the use of Shannon Airport by U.S. military, the U.S. military machine. I don't like seeing them coming through the airport, because I know that what they're going to do is basically death and destruction, which is just not justified in any shape or form.

AMY GOODMAN: Aron Baker of the Mid-West Alliance Against Military Aggression, speaking in Dublin in January. Another member of the group, Tim Hourigan, talked about Shannon Airport and its use as a stopover for U.S. troops going to Iraq.

TIM HOURIGAN: My name is Tim Hourigan, and I'm with the Mid-West Alliance Against Military Aggression, which is a peace group based in Limerick, only 16 miles from Shannon Airport. And we have been monitoring Shannon Airport since late September, early October 2001, because of the U.S. military use of Shannon Airport in attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, and Shannon Airport, although it's supposedly a civilian international airport in the west of Ireland, is actually a vital hub for movement of troops and explosives and other weapons from the United States to the theater of war, where they’re used on innocent people. Last year, 158,000 U.S. troops came through Shannon Airport. With that figure is actually higher than the number of troops currently in Iraq, and they used Shannon Airport because it's got not only one of the longest civilian runways in Western Europe, but also because it’s the first major runway to get to. They can land at Shannon, save fuel and take more troops, more explosives that they wouldn't be able to bring if they needed to put more weight of fuel on the airport by flying farther. So it's actually the most efficient way for them to put the troops in harm's way, have them occupy the country and get the weapons of war out there from the continental U.S., is to come through Shannon Airport.

AMY GOODMAN: Do the troops know where they're going?

TIM HOURIGAN: Some of them don't know that they're in Shannon until they get off the plane. Some members of our group had an opportunity to meet some of the younger troops inside the airport, and I mean, they knew that they were going to Iraq, but they said that they didn't actually want to go there, but a lot of them, they know where they're going to, but they're not informed of any point in between, really. And it’s rare enough we get to talk to them, because myself and a number of others have had high court injunctions preventing us going to the airport anymore. So we don't get to talk to many of them, but we see them through telescopes, and they all look very young and quite nervous, most of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Why can’t you talk to them? What do you mean you have an injunction?

TIM HOURIGAN: The authority that runs the airport took an injunction against 22 people, including myself, who were involved in a peace camp that basically exposed the use of the airport. The government was trying to cover up and minimalize everything that was going on at the airport, everybody saying that, you know, there's nothing secretive or furtive going on at the airport. It was denied at the highest level in this country. And then some people set up a peace camp and started, you know, showing photographs of what was going on, giving figures, registration numbers of aircraft. And the state wasn't particularly happy with that. Following a few actions, including the disarmament actions by Mary Kelly and the Catholic Workers, a high court injunction was sought to evict everyone in the peace camp and to prevent us from entering the grounds of the airport, where we had been monitoring before. It has had very little effect, because we just got a telescope, and we do it from, you know, a mile away.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the position of the Irish government on Iraq?

TIM HOURIGAN: Their government -- the Irish government's position kept changing. I mean, they denied everything until the peace camp exposed what was going on, that we had no involvement. They tried -- at one stage, we -- there was a demonstration that actually saw troops in desert uniform coming through the airport, and the official government position was that these were – that they were returning from bases in Germany to go home to the U.S., even though they were in desert uniforms. So they denied -- they tried to deny that they were actually going to the war zone. Later, they admitted that the troops were coming through, but tried to pretend that the weapons were not coming through or that the troops were not armed. They kept moving this, everything else. It depends who our Taoiseach is talking to, the head of the government, because on one hand, he tries to say that we're not participating in the war, even though we're giving much more assistance than we could do by sending our tiny army to participate in it itself, but on the other hand, you know, when he puts George Bush and all the rest of us, he’ll say, you know, he won't apologize for helping to oust the likes of Saddam. So it’s just --they waffle and try to deny as much as they can.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think most people in Ireland know what's happening at Shannon Airport now?

TIM HOURIGAN: They didn't before, but they certainly do now. They know that it has been used, but they -- there's still more that's being covered up like the renditions you referred to. The jet involved in that, I have seen it at Shannon Airport and we have logged it a few times. And it's never been inspected at Shannon Airport. None of the military flights at Shannon Airport have been inspected. The particular jet has been -- has come through Shannon last year, the year before, going from the Middle East to the States. It's never been inspected. We have lodged complaints with the police, who are known as the Garda Siochana in this country, and they have never inspected that. So there’s still a lot more we don't know, like are people being brought through in chains off to Guantanamo Bay. You know, we know there's troops coming through. That's not even disputed anymore, but what's on the military cargo flights, what type of weapons are being brought, what type of explosives, and are people being brought through for torture? That's still being covered up by the authorities.

AMY GOODMAN: Tim Hourigan of the Mid-West Alliance Against Military Aggression, speaking in Dublin last month.


Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern delivers remarks before presenting President George W. Bush with the traditional bowl of shamrocks during a St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Ceremony in the Roosevelt Room Thursday, March 17, 2005. © White House photo by Paul Morse

President Welcomes Irish Prime Minister Ahern For St. Patrick's Day

The White House

PRIME MINISTER AHERN: Mr. President, First Lady, it's a great honor to be, again, with you on this very special day. St. Patrick's Day is one of joy and celebration for Irish communities all over the world. It's a time when members of the extended Irish family and friends express pride in our homeland and in the bonds that tie us to Ireland. Nowhere is this more true than in the United States, where Irish heritage has been fostered and cherished for generations. Mr. President, we're very honored that we again share this special Irish day with you here at the White House.

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern delivers remarks before presenting President George W. Bush with the traditional bowl of shamrocks during a St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Ceremony in the Roosevelt Room Thursday, March 17, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse This symbolic ceremony of the presentation of shamrock epitomizes the enduring ties between Ireland and the United States. Today provides a unique opportunity to celebrate our shared heritage, as well as the strength and diversity of our bilateral relations, which continue to prosper and evolve in an ever-changing world.

The shamrock, President, was originally used by St. Patrick as a Christian symbol of unity. It has also become an emblem worn with enormous pride by people of Irish descent, and friends of Ireland, wherever they may be. And this is a heritage and symbol of inclusion that we are proud to share with all traditions on the island of Ireland, in the United States, and indeed, today, around the world.

Mr. President, today we also acknowledge the true and constant friendship which we receive from this country for the efforts to secure peace and stability in Northern Ireland. Your even-handed support and wise counsel continues to be an invaluable resource to us in our search for lasting peace.

As you know, we were very close last December to bringing an end to the journey we first began with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April of 1998. The United States has been with us every step of the way. And I greatly appreciate the work of your administration, of your Special Envoy, Mitchell Reiss. Above all, I want to thank you for your personal interventions late last year to encourage the parties to face up to the challenges of peace and partnership, and to take the courageous steps required to secure agreement.

We've come a long way, President, over the last seven years, and we've achieved a great deal of progress in Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement has positively transformed the political landscape. But we need to complete the work of achieving lasting peace and political partnership in Northern Ireland. We need to ensure that the agreement's vision of a new beginning to relationships is fully realized and secured for the benefit of this and future generations. That is what the people of Ireland, North and South, voted for in 1998, when they overwhelmingly endorsed the agreement. They did not vote, President, for an armed peace, neither did they vote for a criminal peace. They voted for a democratic peace. With your continued support and encouragement, Mr. President, we will deliver that outcome.

President George W. Bush accepts a bowl of shamrocks from Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern during a ceremony celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the Roosevelt Room Thursday, March 17, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse My government remains as fully committed today as we were in 1998 to making the Good Friday Agreement work. Recent events have damaged confidence, but they've also crystalized what must now be done to finalize the process and achieve stable partnership of government in Northern Ireland. 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. The political conclusion envisaged by the agreement can only be realized when those who aspire to share in government have brought definitive closure to paramilitary capability and activity, including all forms of criminality.

Mr. President, in our continuing efforts to implement the agreement and achieve political progress in Northern Ireland, I know I can count on your continued support. We in Ireland deeply appreciate your generosity, your friendship, and the goodwill and encouragement of the United States.

I'm very pleased, therefore, to present you with this shamrock as a token of our esteem and heartfelt gratitude for all that you, Mr. President, and the United States have done for my country, and for all the people of Ireland. Thank you.

(The shamrock is presented.)

THE PRESIDENT: Taoiseach, thank you very much, and welcome back to the White House. It's -- Laura and I are delighted to continue the tradition of accepting the crystal bowl overflowing with shamrocks. It's a wonderful gift, symbolizing Ireland's world-renowned hospitality.

Today is a joyous celebration of the deep friendship between the Irish and the American peoples. The histories and blood lines of our two countries are deeply intertwined. And that is why, in cities and towns across our nation, millions of Americans celebrate this feast day of the Apostle of Ireland.

St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity. The shamrock has also come to represent the unity that people can achieve when they commit themselves to peace and freedom.

In America, we have a phrase for that -- it's called e pluribus unum, out of many, one. You'll find that on the great seal of the United States, which, by the way, was largely designed by Charles Thompson, a native of Derry. The hearts of the Irish burn for freedom and they brought that love for liberty to America. The Irish fought in our nation's war of independence, and over the past two centuries they devoted their blood and sweat to defending and building America.

The fiancée and two sisters of Robert McCartney, a Catholic man who was killed in January, meet with President George W. Bush and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House Thursday, March 17, 2005. From left, they are: sister Paula Arnold; fiancée Bridgeen Hagans; sister Catherine McCartney; and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. White House photo by Eric Draper When terrorists struck our nation, the Irish were well-represented among the firefighters and police officers who sacrificed their lives to save others at the World Trade Center. In a great Irish tradition, Marines preparing to retake the city of Fallujah prepared for battle to the strains of Lt. Colonel Paul Sweeney's bagpipes echoing across the Iraqi plains.

The Irish have a way of turning adversity into opportunity. About a million came to our shores seeking refuge from the Great Potato Famine. Once they came, they built and they toiled and they produced. They constructed railroads and great cathedrals; they even helped build the U.S. Capitol. They added to our literature with a genius, with their words. And, of course, a few even entered politics. (Laughter.)

The Irish talent for statesmanship has been evident on both sides of the Atlantic. And today we're proud to welcome a friend of peace, and a friend of freedom, my good friend, Bertie Ahern.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your tireless work in the struggle against terrorism on St. Patrick's Island. I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate your strength of character. I appreciate your vision. It takes courage to work the path -- to walk the path of peace. And your leadership, Mr. Prime Minister, is appreciated not only in your nation but in ours, as well. As you work for peace, our government and the American people will stand with you.

Today, America and Ireland are united in many ways. The economies of our two countries are closely tied. We're working together to bring freedom and justice to Afghanistan and the Balkans and other countries that have now known it. We share a common commitment to the values preached by St. Patrick: liberty under God and the dignity of all human persons.

Taoiseach, we pay tribute to the role the Irish have played in defending and renewing the ideals that Americans cherish. May our friendship remain steadfast, and may the citizens of both our nations enjoy a happy and blessed St. Patrick's Day. Welcome back. (Applause.)

END 10:34 A.M. EST


Ireland's Siege Mentality

(Filed: 15/03/2005)

Jenny McCartney reviews The Siege of Derry by Carlo Gébler.

The siege of Derry - during which Protestants loyal to William of Orange locked the city gates and held out for 105 days against the besieging forces of Irish Catholics fighting for King James II - impressed itself indelibly upon Ireland's troubled psyche. Today, it still has the power to inflame passions: for Protestants, particularly Orangemen, it remains a flaunted source of ancestral pride; for many Catholics, it is an historical irritant.

Carlo Gébler, however, has returned to the thick of contemporary detail on the siege, its fevered politics and clamorous personalities. The result is a vivid and fascinating portrait of 17th-century Irish politics, in particular those few months when Derry - a famished, stubborn garrison city - was the crucible for a much wider religious and political quarrel.

By the time the siege began, the Protestant siege mentality had already been many decades in the making, nourished by the flow of terror and rumour. Thousands of Protestant settlers had been slaughtered or evicted in 1641-2 by uprisings of the Gaelic Catholic Irish, who were resentful at the loss of their land and status. These events received enormous publicity in England, and Cromwell enacted harsh revenges upon the Catholic Irish in 1649, with massacres at Drogheda and Wexford.

When the Dutch king William of Orange ousted his father-in-law King James II from the English throne in 1688, the Protestant community grew terrified once more, fearing Jacobite reprisals in Ireland. Thus, when a regiment of Jacobite Redshanks arrived at Derry in December of that year, looking more like an ill-uniformed rabble bent on plunder than professional soldiers, Protestant nerves were badly jangled. The original decision to bar the king's soldiers entry - as it appears here - was based on a mixture of understandable fear, misunderstanding and the precipitate actions of 13 hotheaded apprentices who raced round the city, locked all the gates, and drew up the bridge while their elders were still chewing over what to do.

The author, who lives in Northern Ireland and has been steeped in its myriad sensitivities, treads through this heavily mined historical landscape with admirable balance. But he is also skilled at bringing its characters to life with a waspish quote or dry aside. When the newly exiled James II sought assistance in France, for example, we are told that his lengthy lamentations won him few friends: "Madame de la Fayette observed that the more the French court saw of him, the less they pitied him for the loss of his kingdom."

It is Gébler's account of the siege's tightening vice, however - lent added drama by James's landing in Ireland - that constitutes the most gripping part of the book. A whiff of desperate confusion arises from the personality of Derry's Governor Lundy, who opposed the Jacobite advance with a mixture of military incompetence and questionable will. He eventually left the city by arrangement, with a mutinous mob at his heels, but has since achieved a kind of negative immortality: the traitor-figure of "the Lundy" is still burnt in effigy every year by Protestants bent on celebrating a victory in which he played no part.

Lundy was replaced by the Reverend George Walker, who was brave, wily, pompous, and less minded to compromise. He and his council upheld the defiant policy of "No Surrender" as their starving but equally determined populace - relentlessly pounded by Jacobite cannon - slowly consumed their remaining provisions and moved on to cats, rats, and tallow, all the while holding out for relief from William. By the time it arrived in the form of The Mountjoy ship, they were dying in their droves.

Gébler evidently prefers Williamites such as Adam Murray - an Ulster Scots colonel of notable courage and sense - to Walker, who garnered the greatest celebrity. After the siege, Walker was briefly fêted in London, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a risibly self-glorifying memoir which haughtily denied the great part that nonconformists had played during the siege.

This book is more than a stirringly written drama: it explores how, in the rigours of the siege and the subsequent battles, both Protestants and Catholics forged self-definitions which still endure. That makes The Siege of Derry invaluable for anyone who wishes to understand not only Ireland in the 17th century, but also Ireland as it is today.


Hear this at:

'Extremely Anxious to Hear from Him' - An ad seeking Patrick McDermott of County Kildare, which appeared in an October 1831 edition of The Boston Pilot. The ad says his wife and four children "are extremely anxious to hear from him." Credit: Boston College

Irish Immigrant Database Goes Online -A

Search the Database

'Information Wanted' Ad Database

All Things Considered, March 17, 2005 · For 90 years, a Catholic newspaper in Boston ran a "missing friends" column with advertisements that helped newly arrived Irish immigrants find lost friends and relatives. On this St. Patrick's Day, Boston College is unveiling a searchable online database of more than 30,000 records of those ads.

Michele Norris discusses the database -- which includes columns from The Boston Pilot that ran from 1831 to 1921 -- with Boston College Irish studies professor Ruth-Ann Harris.

Harris' research reveals that 65 percent of the ads were of siblings looking for each other, and that men were reported missing more often than women. Many ads were placed by wives searching for their husbands who were off building the nation's canals. The database has helped researchers learn more about migration patterns of immigrants, Harris says.

The Pilot claimed a 75 percent success rate of finding missing persons through the ads, but Harris says she's been unable to prove that figure.

"I've been amazed at what people have told me about finding relatives... So many Irish people don't know where [their families] came from in Ireland. So you can do a search and see where there are frequencies of that name and then you can go to other sources from there."

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