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April 04, 2005

Ahern Criticised Over Day of Mouning

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Apr 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 04/05/05 Taoiseach Criticised Over Day Of Mourning –V(2)
EX 04/04/05 Day Of Mourning The Least We Can Do
IC 04/04/05 When Fr Troy Met The Pope
IC 04/04/05 Loyalist Pope Graffiti Outrage
DI 04/04/05 Primate Hails Papal Legacy
IT 04/05/05 SDLP Leader Says People Fed Up With Failed Peace Deals
IT 04/05/05 New Plastic Bullet Approved For Use By Police In The North
IT 04/05/05 Minister 'Deeply Honoured' To Receive UN Post
BB 04/04/05 McCartney Murder Police Free Man
IT 04/05/05 Adams To Meet McGinleys Over Fatal Stabbing
IC 04/04/05 Gray May Face Drugs Charges
IT 04/05/05 FF Takes More Than Half Údarás Board Seats After Recount
IT 04/05/05 New Initiative To Boost Tourism In West
IT 04/05/05 Council To Seek New Legal Advice On Preserving Bewley's

QA 04/04/05 Questions & Answers -VO
NW 04/04/05 Feis Ceoil Special -VO

Questions And Answers - 04 April 2005

The Panel:
Gareth Fitzgerald, former Taoiseach.
Fr John Dardis, Jesuits of Ireland
Dr John Neil, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin
Brida O'Brien, Irish Times
Prof Ronan Fanning, UCD

Q1: What has been the historical impact of Pope John Paul II?
Q2: What would the Pope's reaction have been, had he made a second trip to Ireland?
Q3: What qualities should the cardinals be looking for when electing a new Pope?

Nationwide - 04 April 2005
Feis Ceoil Special


Pall-bearers carry the body of Pope John Paul II through a packed St Peter's Square on their to the Basilica at the Vatican yesterday. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

David McCullagh, Political Correspondent, reports on the Taoiseach's announcement
that schools will be allowed to close for the Pope's funeral

Tommie Gorman, Northern Editor, reports on a requiem mass for the Pope in Armagh

Taoiseach Criticised Over Day Of Mourning –V(2)

Liam Reid, Chris Dooley John Downes

As preparations began in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II on Friday, the
Taoiseach's plans to mark the day here were criticised by trade unions, opposition
politicians and parents' representatives.

While Bertie Ahern said on Sunday there would be no "national day of mourning as
such", he said yesterday "a period of official mourning" would be observed.

The Pope's funeral will take place at 10am local time (9am Irish time), cardinals
confirmed yesterday. Pope John Paul's body was carried on a bier from the Apostolic
Palace to St Peter's Basilica, where he will be buried, a journey witnessed by tens of
thousands of people in St Peter's Square. His body will lie in state inside the basilica
until the funeral.

The Taoiseach said schools would be allowed to shut on Friday at the discretion of their
boards of management. Civil servants will be allowed time off to attend services, in
consultation with their superiors. Private businesses have been asked to make similar
arrangements. Mr Ahern said the national flag would fly at half mast on all State
buildings until midnight on Friday.

He said the measures were sufficient and went further than many other countries. "The
requirement to close the entire country for the day I don't quite frankly think it's
necessary," he said.

The Taoiseach's comments were welcomed by the employers' group Ibec. It said each
company should decide what measures to put in place to facilitate staff requests to
attend religious services. "As religious ceremonies can be attended before or after work,
there should be no disruption to business," said director general Turlough O'Sullivan.

However, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said the fact that schools are to be
allowed to close "could cause real difficulties for working parents, who were themselves
expected to work as normal. Under the circumstances, a national day of mourning was
the sensitive and appropriate response." The Ictu said it "was clear that this option was
favoured by the vast majority of Irish people. Economic considerations should not
influence this decision".

Parents groups were also critical of the decision. Eleanor Petrie, president of the
National Parents Council (post-primary) said: "If what you have is parents that both
work, who is going to look after the children?" Fionnuala Kilfeather, chief executive of
the National Parents Council (primary), said parents would now be "frantically looking"
to secure childcare.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who had called for next Sunday to be designated a day
of mourning, criticised the Taoiseach for being inconsistent. "If the Taoiseach had
shown more clarity when he first spoke on this matter, then we wouldn't be engaged on
this debate now. I welcome the Taoiseach's U-turn, in people being facilitated to attend
services on Friday, but still believe there is an appetite amongst the public to show their
solidarity and support and grieve collectively."

US President George W. Bush will be among some 200 world leaders to attend the
funeral. Britain's Prince Charles announced that he was postponing his marriage to
Camilla Parker Bowles from Friday to Saturday so that he could be at the Vatican.

Irish diplomats are finalising details of the State delegation which will attend the funeral.
President McAleese will lead the delegation, and the Taoiseach will also attend. Mr
Kenny is likely to be invited as leader of the main opposition party.

The Tánaiste, Mary Harney is also expected to attend, although the Progressive
Democrats conference will go ahead this weekend in Cork. Ms Harney is scheduled to
deliver a speech to a private dinner to open the conference on Friday night. A dance
following the dinner has been cancelled as a mark of respect.

© The Irish Times


Day Of Mourning The Least We Can Do

Considering all he has done for Ireland, Pope John Paul II deserves a day of mourning,
writes Dan Buckley.

WHEN Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in September, 1979, he made a dramatic plea
to the gunmen of the North.

"On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the
ways of peace."

The IRA at the time rejected his plea, yet it struck a chord in the hearts of people on
both sides of the Border and still resonates today. His work since then has been
acknowledged as instrumental in bringing a cessation of hostilities in the North.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and in particular, the movers and shakers of our economy,
should bear that in mind when considering it too expensive for Ireland to declare a
national day of mourning in his honour.

Mr Ahern says the Pope played a decisive role in bringing an end to violence in Ireland
and supported peaceful integration to Europe, and it is widely acknowledged by even
the most conservative economists that part of the dividend of peace in the North has
been economic prosperity in the south.

Yet the man who was a catalyst for peace in so many parts of a troubled world is not
even to be accorded a single public holiday in his honour by the land and a people that
were so dear to his heart.

Instead, in a classic Mr Ahern fudge, we are to have a 'period of official mourning' for
Pope John Paul II. While schools will have the option of closing on Friday, and public
servants will be given time off to pay their respects, there is to be no public holiday.

"If people want to call Friday the national day of mourning, I have no difficulty with that.
The whole idea is that we use it as a day of reflection," Mr Ahern said yesterday,
responding to pressure for the day of mourning from the public, some senior members
of the Catholic clergy and from opposition politicians.

Business leaders are in no doubt.

The Small Firms Association has said it is strongly opposed to the holding of a national
day of mourning, which it claims will cost the country €600 million.

Association director Pat Delaney said it would also set "a dangerous precedent".

The reason for the decision seems to have more to do with money- making than
ecumenical sensitivities. Employers' group IBEC supports Mr Ahern and estimates it
would cost employers €360m in wages alone.

The Consumers' Association thinks otherwise.

Spokesman Michael Kilcoyne said: "People should be given the opportunity to take part
in church services and religious services and to mourn one of the greatest leaders
we've had."

The Government's decision is in stark contrast to Ireland's last day of national
mourning, held on September 14, 2001, three days after the terrorist attacks on the US.

There was no fudge then when Mr Ahern acknowledged Ireland's special relationship
with the US and felt it appropriate to reflect national revulsion at the attacks and
solidarity with the families of the victims. The official public holiday cost in the region of
€300m, but nobody objected.

Pope John Paul II was more than a head of state, a religious leader and a pastor to his
people. For all his theological conservatism and his opposition to liberation theology, he
was a liberator.

He brought the éclat of internationalism to the throne of St Peter.

He addressed the material poverty of the Third World and the spiritual poverty of the
First. He will be remembered as a colossus of the 20th century, an iconoclastic figure
who was fearless in his pursuit of freedom from communist totalitarianism and equally
courageous in condemning the US-led war on Iraq.

He formally recognised the state of Israel and made a momentous apology for the sin of
anti-Semitism. He also supported the rights of Palestinians to their own homeland. Like
few religious leaders before him, he enjoyed not just the respect but the affection of
billions, regardless of their religious beliefs.

It borders on the ridiculous to suggest an Irish day of mourning would set a "dangerous

Pope John Paul II, the 264th Pope to follow Peter, was without precedence. A national
day of mourning by a supposedly Christian nation is the least he and those who revered
him deserve.

National days of mourning

India: Three days of mourning. Offices closed for funeral.
Italy: three days of mourning. Offices open.
France: No decision until today.
Spain: Day of mourning yesterday. Offices open.
Portugal: Three days of mourning. Flags lowered.
Cuba: Three days of mourning: Public events cancelled.
Brazil: Seven days of mourning.
Egypt: Three days of mourning.
Britain: Flags lowered. Royal wedding transferred to Saturday.
Luxembourg: Flags lowered
Poland: Period of national mourning until funeral on Friday. State offices closed on day
of funeral


When Fr Troy Met The Pope

The Parish Priest of Holy Cross, Fr Aidan Troy, has spoken warmly of the first time he
met the late Pope in Rome over 20 years ago.

The Passionist priest, who has served in the Ardoyne parish for four years now, met
Pope John Paul II in the Pope's private study in 1982 after he was asked to accompany
an African bishop to a meeting with the Pope in Rome.

Fr Aidan was 36 years old at the time and the Pope was aged 62 and just four years
into his Papal reign.

"It's normal for a bishop to ask a chaplain to accompany him and we knew each other
so he asked me to go with him," Fr Aidan said, speaking to the Andersonstown News
from Holy Cross Monastery.

"He had a meeting with the Pope and I sat outside. After about half an hour this priest
came out and spoke Italian to me. At that stage I couldn't understand the language and
I really didn't know what he was saying. Then he clicked his fingers, as in follow me,
and I followed him upstairs and then downstairs for ages. I didn't have a clue where we
were going. Then he just left me. I was standing in front of a door. And all of a sudden
the door just opened from the inside and there was the Pope just standing there.

"I couldn't say anything! I couldn't believe it. He just smiled and said hello, and then he
brought me into his private study.

"We had a chat and he asked me about my family in Ireland and I told him that my
mother was dead, but that my father was there and my sisters.

"He said he wanted to give them a gift and he gave me two little boxes with rosary
beads in them. They were so ornate, and then he blessed them. He said to tell my
family the rosary beads were from him and that he had blessed them.

"Then he said that we should have a photograph and the Vatican photographer stepped
forward out of nowhere and took our photograph. It was amazing. I had seen the Pope
in Drogheda in '79 and several times after that in various contexts, but that was my
most personal experience with him, and he was absolutely wonderful."

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Loyalist Pope Graffiti Outrage

Sickening sectarian graffiti about the late Pope John Paul has sprung up overnight at an
Ardoyne interface, sprayed on the shutters of a local bar.

The graffiti (above), which reads 'No Pope in Rome', was sprayed in the early hours of
Sunday morning and was a sight which met people as they went to church to pay their
respects to the late Pope.

And the Andersonstown News can reveal that when news of the Pope's death broke
loyalist bandsmen in the Village and near Short Strand began playing 'party tunes' for
over an hour. The PSNI say there were no legal parades in either area.

Parish Priest Fr Aidan Troy said the graffiti in Ardoyne, which many believe sprung from
the nearby Protestant community, was sickening. Other graffiti has also appeared in the
Ormeau Road.


Primate Hails Papal Legacy

Pope John Paul II's death deprived Ireland of a historic return visit, Archbishop Seán
Brady said yesterday.

The primate of all Ireland said the pontiff's legacy to both the Catholic Church and the
world would be immense.

Speaking from his home in Armagh, Dr Brady said: "We mourn with heavy hearts and
an immense sense of loss the death of a loving pastor, a gentle teacher and a
courageous leader."

The Pope would be remembered for his desire to be with his Catholic flock across the
world, he said.

Yet in every country he visited, John Paul II held out the hand of friendship to people of
every religion, the archbishop stressed.

Dr Brady spoke of the pontiff's unfailing affection for Ireland and the Irish people.

Mass crowds turned out for his only papal visit to the country a quarter of a century ago.

Since then, Catholics have clung to the hope that he would some day return, despite his
failing health.

Dr Brady said: "We remember with particular joy and gratitude this morning the visit to
our country in 1979, a visit we had hoped he would be able to complete later this year.

"But alas the Lord has called him on another journey."

As he assessed the legacy of his leader, the archbishop pointed to the Pope's deep
reverence for human life, his solidarity with those who suffer around the world, and his
immense intellectual capacity, evidenced in the extent of his writings and teaching.

"Pope John Paul II was a man of our time, yet not afraid to challenge the culture and
values of our age. He gave it reasons for living and reasons for hope.

"But he was also ahead of his time in his message of global solidarity and his vision of a
civilisation of love among all the peoples and nations of the world, in his deep respect
for the human person and, to the very moment of his death, in his powerful witness to
the gospel of life.

"He was in every sense a witness to hope and a champion to life."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan joined the ranks of political leaders paying tribute.

"Like so many people, I have very fond memories of the Pope's visit to Ireland in 1979.

"His powerful spirituality inspired us all at that time and ever since.

"His impassioned plea for peace touched the heart of our nation and left a deep
impression on me and countless others across Ireland," said the SDLP leader.

Alliance Party leader David Ford said John Paul II had commanded global respect.

"Even those who disagreed with the stance he took on certain social issues will respect
the role he played in the liberation of central Europe from communism," Mr Ford said.

"The Pope's courage in the face of ill health and adversity was an example to us all."


SDLP Leader Says People Fed Up With Failed Peace Deals

People across the North should use their votes in next month's local and general
elections to show they are fed up with the failed peace deals of the past, SDLP leader
Mark Durkan said yesterday.

Mr Durkan, who was in Dublin for talks with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, said the Stormont
Assembly was now suspended for 30 months, and people were impatient with the lack
of progress in setting up a power-sharing government.

"Obviously a lot of people in the North are a bit fed up and frustrated and indeed cynical
when they hear parties who produced flawed and failed deals over the last couple of
years now asking to give them a few more votes."

Mr Durkan said Mr Ahern supported his view that there should be no more side deals,
and that the Belfast Agreement must be implemented in full.

He called for an end to "stalemate, stand-off and set-piece politicking", and urged
parties to face up to their responsibilities.

He also demanded that the British government stand by its commitment to hold a full
public inquiry into the death of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.

He was very concerned that the British seemed to be reneging on promises given to the
Irish Government and the Finucane family during the Weston Park Agreement. "The
British government is preparing legislation which is going to fillet the whole concept of a
public inquiry. It will mean that ministers will be in editorial control of what an inquiry will
look at."

He called on the Taoiseach and Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern to make it clear that the
British government must honour commitments on the Finucane inquiry.

On the official mourning for the Pope, Mr Durkan said his party's offices would be
closing on Friday.

"It is important that people of all walks of life are afforded the opportunity to mourn the
passing of a great man."

Additional Reporting : PA
© The Irish Times


New Plastic Bullet Approved For Use By Police In The North

British ministers have approved a new less lethal plastic bullet for use by police and
the British army in Northern Ireland, it was announced yesterday.

The so-called Attenuating Energy Projectile or AEP will be available to firearms officers
in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from June 21st. It will also be used by the army
in the North.

UK police minister Caroline Flint said independent medical tests had shown the new
plastic bullet was safer than its predecessor, the L21A1.

Each AEP round has a hollow "nose" which collapses on impact to reduce the risk of
serious injury, according to the test report published by the Home Office yesterday.

The new bullet would be used only against "individual aggressors" and not as a crowd-
control measure, said Ms Flint.

"Although there will be a reduced risk of serious injury or death when the AEP is used,
that risk has not been completely eliminated," she said.

"Where a round inadvertently strikes the head, the risk of serious and life-threatening
injury from the AEP will be less than that from the L21A1 baton round, which already
has a low risk of such injury."

She said the L21A1 would be withdrawn once all personnel had been trained in the use
of the AEP."

Seventeen people have been killed by baton rounds in Northern Ireland.

Additional Reporting : PA
© The Irish Times


Minister 'Deeply Honoured' To Receive UN Post

Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said yesterday he was "deeply honoured" to
be appointed one of four Special Envoys for UN Reform by secretary general Kofi

"I will do my best to fulfil the important mandate the secretarygeneral has given me, and
to justify his confidence," Mr Ahern said in a statement.

"This appointment is a measure of Ireland's long-standing commitment to the UN and
the esteem it enjoys in all sectors of the membership."

He had accepted "this onerous mandate" because the UN had long been a "corner-
stone" of Ireland's foreign policy.

"I believe the secretary general's proposals form an excellent basis for agreement at
September's summit and I will be proud to act as an advocate for them and for a
strengthened and enhanced UN system."

The appointment of Mr Ahern is seen as a reflection of Ireland's standing at the UN,
particularly in the eyes of the secretary general. In an interview with The Irish Times
prior to visiting Dublin last October, Mr Annan described Ireland as one of the "model
members" of the world organisation. He said Ireland's diplomatic skills were "very good"
and, at the UN level, "you do punch above your weight"

At a meeting with Mr Annan in UN headquarters in New York last February, Mr Ahern
offered Ireland's active support for moves to reform the world body. He said afterwards
that the secretary general was "very positively disposed to our initiative and our offer".

The Minister was due to visit the Middle East this week, although, perhaps anticipating
the UN appointment, this was not officially announced. His schedule was expected to
include Bahrain, for today's talks between the EU and the Gulf Co-operation Council;
Egypt; Israel and the Palestinian territories. His new UN role meant a change of
schedule to allow him to depart for New York yesterday to hold discussions with the UN
Secretariat and meet the president of the General Assembly, Jean Ping. He returns on

Speaking to journalists at Government Buildings, Mr Ahern said that, "Basically, I will be
the eyes and ears of Kofi Annan in western and eastern Europe - 45 states - between
now and September." He would be liaising with the capitals and political leaders of
those countries on "the UN reform package" which was due to be considered and
"hopefully" finalised by all 191 UN member-states in September.

But he added: "Obviously I have to keep an eye on the home base as well." He had
"made it clear" to Mr Annan and his officials that he would continue to be "very heavily
involved" in the peace process and they had accepted that.

He would not be "a negotiator as such" and would not be urging, for example, that a
particular formula for expansion of the Security Council should be accepted. "I'll
basically be trying to whittle down what the issues are."

He would not be promoting Ireland's position, as such, which was one of pressing for
participation by small states in the Security Council "into the future".

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there would be "a support
mechanism put in place" for the Minister's new responsibilities but no new staff would
be hired. Much of the "logistical" support would be coming from the UN Secretariat.

© The Irish Times


McCartney Murder Police Free Man

Police have released a man without charge after questioning him about the murder of
Robert McCartney, who was stabbed to death in a Belfast bar.

The 31-year-old man went to a police station with a solicitor on Sunday to be

Mr McCartney, 33, who was from the Short Strand area, was stabbed to death after a
row in a bar near Belfast city centre on 30 January.

His family has blamed IRA members for the murder.


They have also accused the IRA of subsequent interference with evidence and

The IRA has expelled three members over the stabbing and Sinn Fein subsequently
suspended seven of its members while the police investigation takes place.

Mr McCartney's five sisters and his partner Bridgeen Hagans have launched a
campaign in an attempt to bring the killers to justice.

Catherine McCartney said of the man's questioning on Sunday: "We expected this to
happen and we think it's part of the strategy to trivialise the charges. We know what
they are (IRA) at."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/04/05 00:10:15 GMT


Adams To Meet McGinleys Over Fatal Stabbing

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams is due to meet the family of Derry stabbing victim
Jimmy McGinley tomorrow. The family claims the killer is a member of the IRA and
should be expelled from the paramilitary organisation.

The McGinleys, like the McCartney family in Belfast, claim they were subjected to IRA
intimidation during the recent trial of his killer, Bart Fisher (43), who in February was
sentenced to three years in prison on a manslaughter charge.

The family was outraged at the sentence and last month at a vigil and prayer service in
Derry launched a "Justice for Jimmy" campaign.

James McGinley (23) died from a single knife wound to the heart outside Fisher's
Sackville Court home in Derry on October 2003.

The family demanded the IRA acknowledge Fisher as a member and expel him from the
organisation. It said it was "bullied" during Fisher's court case and that the IRA tried to
dictate which members of the family could attend the hearing.

The family decided to go public on the killing after the McCartney sisters and Robert
McCartney's fiancée Bridgeen embarked on their campaign to have Robert's killers tried
in court.

Mr Adams has decided to hear the family's complaints in person. A meeting is likely to
take place tomorrow between Mr Adams and the family, a Sinn Féin spokesman said

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Belfast Alex Maskey has accused
the SDLP of "manipulating the murder of Robert McCartney in a despicable pre-election

Mr Maskey added that he served writs on the SDLP deputy leader Dr Alisdair
McDonnell and the SDLP after they issued statements about him.

"The Sinn Féin position surrounding the murder of Robert McCartney is very clear. Sinn
Féin support and continue to support the McCartney family in their campaign for truth
and justice.

"However others, and in particular the SDLP, have sought to manipulate the murder of
Robert McCartney in what can only be described as a despicable pre-election
campaign," said Mr Maskey.

No one has been charged in connection with Mr McCartney's murder, although PSNI
detectives were questioning a man about the murder last night.

It is understood the man being questioned comes from the Markets area of Belfast.

Speaking of the arrest, Catherine McCartney said last night: "We expected this to
happen and we think it's part of the strategy to trivialise the charges. We know what
they [ the IRA] are at."

Sinn Féin has suspended seven of its members while the police investigation takes

© The Irish Times


Gray May Face Drugs Charges

The East Belfast UDA commander stood down by the organisation last week could be
facing drugs charges, the Andersonstown News can reveal.

On December 4, 2004 the PSNI stopped Jim Gray and two other men in a car on the
King's Road.

Quantities of cocaine and cannabis were found in the vehicle.

One of the men stopped with Gray was leading East Belfast loyalist William 'Murph'
Murphy. He was subsequently charged with two counts of possession of cocaine, one
count of possession of cocaine with intent to supply and one count of possession of

Murphy is due in court for the third time in four months on Tuesday for sentencing.

The PSNI has still to decide whether to bring charges against Gray and the third man.

A spokesperson for the PSNI said, "One man has appeared in court, another two have
been released pending police enquiries."

If detectives do decide to charge Gray it could result in the 43-year-old's third court
appearance in 18 months.

On June 15, 2004 the flamboyant former UDA brigadier appeared in Belfast Magistrates
Court charged with unlawfully having a samurai sword in public.

The three-foot ornamental sword was in its scabbard in the back seat of Gray's car
when the PSNI stopped him as he drove alone along the Upper Newtownards Road in
October 2002.

Gray said in evidence that he had collected the sword from his father's house and was
taking it to his own home to hang over the fireplace.

Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon dismissed the summons.

On January 31 Gray appeared in court again following an incident in which a PSNI man
was struck by Gray's car.

Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon found Gray guilty, fining him £150 and giving him three
penalty points.

Gray was accompanied to court on the day by William Murphy and North Belfast UDA
boss Andre Shoukri.

It is believed the UDA stood down Gray over reports that the Assets Recovery Agency
is about to move against him.

During his tenure as boss of the east Belfast UDA, the loyalist who goes by the
nickname 'Doris Day' led an extravagant lifestyle. However, since being shot in the face
in 2002 during an internal UDA feud he has tried to maintain a low profile.

He even sold off one of his businesses, the Avenue One Bar in East Belfast.

Loyalist sources believe that since being stood down, Gray is now planning to move to

Gray's son, Jonathan 'JJ' Gray, died of a heroin overdose in Thailand in January 2002.

Journalist:: Ciaran Donaghy


FF Takes More Than Half Údarás Board Seats After Recount

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Fianna Fáil has once again taken almost half the seats on Údarás na Gaeltachta,
following a recount in the largest Gaeltacht area of Galway yesterday.

Eight of the 17 seats open to election on the 20-strong Gaeltacht development
authority's board were secured by Fianna Fáil candidates, with Fine Gael taking four,
Independent candidates two, while Labour, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Democrats
secured one seat each.

The remaining three seats, including that of chair, are at the discretion of the Minister for
Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, and it is expected he may nominate one PD
member in that group - as occurred after the last Údarás election in 1999.

Turnout across seven Gaeltacht constituencies ranged from 40 per cent in the largest
Gaeltacht area of Galway to 70 per cent in the smaller Irish-speaking areas of Meath
and Waterford.

The Galway recount, at Carraroe Community College, was called by Fine Gael when 10
votes separated one of its candidates, Seosamh Ó Laoi, from the Progressive
Democrats (PD) candidate, Seán Creaven.

Mr Creaven, an outgoing board member as ministerial nominee, was awarded the sixth
and final seat late on Sunday, with five seats going to Seán Ó Tuarisg (FF), Seosamh Ó
Cuaig (Ind), Connie Ní Fhatharta (FF), Séamus Breathnach (FF) and former Galway city
councillor Val Hanley.

Mr Ó Laoi said as a GAA and football player he did not intend to give up easily, and that
the recount was also being held on behalf of the "fíor-Ghaeltacht" which, he claimed,
had lost out in this year's Údarás na Gaeltachta election. The results in the Galway
constituency had seen the balance of power shift from existing Irish-speaking areas in
Connemara to the city, he said.

The offshore islands are also not represented in the new line-up.

After the recount by returning officer Tony Murphy was concluded, the margin between
the PDs and Fine Gael remained the same, at 10 votes, and Mr Ó Laoi conceded

The shift in influence in Galway saw Val Hanley polling a high number of votes in non-
Irish speaking city areas within the Gaeltacht.

Mr Hanley, a vintner who resigned as chair of the Western Health Board over a year
ago due to his opposition to the smoking ban, lost his city council seat in last year's local

Although admitting that his Irish would not be as fluent as some of the other candidates,
Mr Hanley said that he was born in the Gaeltacht area of Claregalway and had run a
pub in Lettermore for a number of years. He said that he been practising his "cúpla
focal" over the past month and aimed to improve it further by reading and listening to
other Irish speakers.

Mr Hanley topped the poll at the first count at Carraroe Community College with 1,208
votes and stayed ahead until the eighth count when FF's sitting candidate, Mr Ó
Tuairisg, took the lead. He described the Údarás results as a badly needed vote of
confidence for the Fianna Fáil party - although Fianna Fáil's resident board member,
Pádraig Ó Biadha, lost his seat.

A plea by Fine Gael to the Galway electorate to secure the seat formerly held by the
party's councillor, Pól Ó Foighil, who died last month, was not successful.

© The Irish Times


New Initiative To Boost Tourism In West

Events such as Galway Arts Festival will get advance publicity in New York and London

Lorna Siggins

The west of Ireland is to be rebranded as part of a drive to woo tourists back to the
Atlantic seaboard.

The initiative, by Ireland-West Tourism, follows a strategic review of tourism marketing
and promotion. This identified a need to create a new visual identity for the region,
which covers Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

Tourism is worth almost €2 billion annually to the west, but an analysis of figures for the
region has shown a dramatic decline in specialist holidays, including walking and
angling, while Irish people are now spending more money abroad than visitors are
spending here.

The decline involves a 21 per cent drop in holiday bed-nights in the west since 1999,
compared to 3 per cent nationally, and almost half a million fewer bed-nights for angling
and walking holidays in the past five years.

The analysis also shows that the industry has become very fragmented. It says
significant change is required if the west is to pull itself up, or - to quote Ireland-West's
new chief executive John Concannon - move off its "burning platform".

Although the landscape is under severe pressure from planning in certain areas, the
new branding is based on a belief that Ireland's west coast is the best holiday
destination on the island.

The area is to be sold not just as a region, but as a "unique experience in the vibrant
heart of Ireland".

One of the tourism body's key objectives is to co-ordinate the work of a plethora of
organisations set up in recent years to market certain areas.

The initiative, which was announced last night in Galway by Minister for Community,
Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív, involves a new website and web strategy
with online bookings in partnership with Fáilte Ireland.

A new regional guidebook and holiday planner and a new calendar of events covering
the three counties has also been published.

The calendar covers well-known events such as the Galway Races and Galway Arts
Festival, but also smaller community-based festivals such as Patrún on Inis Mór on the
Aran Islands in June, Clare Regatta in July and the Curlew Walking Club Festival in
Roscommon in September. The calendar will be updated constantly on the new website.

Ireland-West Tourism recently announced a new funding boost for the Galway Arts
Festival, which will involve marketing it abroad.

Under this initiative the festival's programme is to be published at functions in New York
and London for the first time, with targeted advertising emphasising the increase in
access by air to the west of Ireland through Shannon, Knock in Co Mayo and Galway.

© The Irish Times


Council To Seek New Legal Advice On Preserving Bewley's

Olivia Kelly

Dublin City Council is to seek new legal advice on its powers to protect Bewley's cafes
following the news that the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, will not intervene
to save them.

The council had asked Mr Roche to use his powers to preserve the cafes because of
their cultural and historic value.

However, in a letter circulated at last night's council meeting, the Minister has indicated
that he would not become involved in the matter.

The Campbell Bewley Group closed the Grafton Street and Westmoreland Street stores
late last year, claiming that the operation had become unviable.

The response from the Department of the Environment, on Mr Roche's behalf, states
that the Minister is "not in a position" to dictate the usage of buildings, and that it is the
responsibility of the council to use what powers it has to protect "the architectural
integrity" of the property.

Following the Minister's response, the city management received legal advice that under
the terms of the current planning legislation, the council would be unable to preserve the

However, councillors last night said they were dissatisfied with the legal opinion and
have instructed the city manager to seek new legal advice.

Lord Mayor Michael Conaghan, chairman of the Save Bewley's Cafe Campaign, said he
believed the legal opinion was an "inadequate interpretation" of the planning laws.

"It's a very conservative opinion based on flimsy grounds," he added.

"If we allow Bewley's to go, this city council will have failed a very important test about
the future of the city."

However, Cllr Conaghan's Labour Party colleague, Eric Byrne, said he was being overly
romantic and sentimental about the cafes.

"The Bewley's of the past is not the Bewley's of today, it's not a Bewley's of a romantic
Ireland that's dead and gone," Cllr Byrne said.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tom Stafford said he supported the Minister's reluctance to
become involved.

"We can't condemn owners of a building to run a non-profitable business," he said.

© The Irish Times

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