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April 04, 2005

Durkan in Finucane Call

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Table of Contents - Overall
Table of Contents – Apr 2005

News about Ireland & the Irish

UT 04/04/05
Durkan In Finucane Call
IO 04/04/05 SDLP Stands Firm On Restored NI Assembly
IO 04/04/05 PSNI Removes Paramilitary Flags
BT 04/04/05 Knock Changed Forever That Day
BT 04/04/05 1979: A Triumphant Irish Trip
BT 04/04/05 Ulster Priest Served Mass To Pope
BB 04/04/05 Job Losses As CD Factory Closes


Durkan In Finucane Call

The SDLP says the Irish government must stand up against attempts in the House of
Commons, to prevent a real inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane.

Party leader Mark Durkan is meeting with the Taoiseach today, to discuss ways on
moving on from the current deadlock in the peace process.

Mr Durkan is encouraging Bertie Ahern to stand strong against attempts to cover up
British collusion in his murder.

He says the truth will only emerge in a full public inquiry.

The SDLP is again ruling out a devolved government in Northern Ireland, without Sinn

Mr Durkan says the DUP`s attempts to row back on the Good Friday Agreement, by
leaving Sinn Féin out of the deal, must be resisted.


SDLP Stands Firm On Restored NI Assembly
2005-04-04 08:00:01+01

The SDLP has reiterated its refusal to co-operate with any plan to restore the Northern
Assembly without the involvement of Sinn Féin.

The move has been suggested by unionists in response to alleged ongoing IRA

However, speaking ahead of talks with the Taoiseach today, SDLP leader Mark Durkan
said he would resist any move to row back on the Good Friday Agreement by excluding
Sinn Féin.


PSNI Removes Paramilitary Flags
2005-04-04 11:00:06+01

Police in Northern Ireland have begun removing paramilitary flags from town centres
and main roads in the North.

The move is part of a new initiative by the PSNI, the North's Housing Executive and
other bodies to clear such paraphernalia from the streets.

Both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups traditionally fly flags in their strongholds
to mark out what they perceive as their territory.


Knock Changed Forever That Day

04 April 2005

Alf McCreary recalls covering the Pope's trip to Knock in Co Mayo as a young reporter
in 1979.

The overwhelming impression of the Pope's visit to Knock in September 1979 was that
of history being made. His entire visit to Ireland was historic, but his presence at Knock,
where people had reportedly witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary a century
earlier, was evidence of his willingness to travel even to a remote village in the west of
Ireland to meet the faithful.

On the day before his visit, the excitement slowly mounted and I noticed that the locals
were flying yellow and white Papal bunting, along with Polish flags in honour of the
Pope's native land. Something else caught my eye - a JCB vehicle was removing the
drink signs from the local pubs, lest His Holiness should be offended by such
advertisements of worldliness.

Protestant puritanism could have done no better on the day.

On the morning of the visit, the Basilica filled up rapidly. Many seriously ill people were
given a special place with their relatives, so that the Pope might touch them. Meanwhile,
the fields all around were filling up with pilgrims as tens of thousands of families were
marshalled into roped-off corrals to try to catch a glimpse of the Pope, who was
expected to travel around the crowds later in his German "Pope-mobile".

The atmosphere inside the Basilica was like that of a carnival. The assembled
congregation, including many young seminarians, were singing "Viva Espana", "He's
Got the Whole World in his Hands" and "When the Saints Go Marching in". The cynical
reporter from Le Monde whispered to me "Top of Ze Popes, is it not?".

The Pope arrived 75 minutes late, after a gloriously successful visit to Galway, in the
company of the then Bishop Dr Eamonn Casey.

After a sensitive homily, the Pope and his entourage passed right by me, like an
ecclesiastical river in full flow. He looked tired but still fit, rather than the shadow of the
man whom we had come to observe.

Outside the Basilica, where he celebrated Mass, it was cold and wet. The thousands of
worshippers waited patiently in the rain, as the solemn ceremony wound to its end.
Then there was consternation as people discovered that the Pontiff was not going to
visit the crowds in his Pope-mobile, but was returning to Dublin by helicopter to escape
from the worsening weather which was threatening to ground the flight.

Suddenly the Pope took off heaven-wards and left many thousands of people bitterly
disappointed. I remember moving among the crowds and sensing their feeling of
frustration. Significantly, however, no-one was prepared to go on the record to criticise
the Pope or the organisers, though a number of people complained bitterly to me in
private afterwards.

After the Pope left, there was an inevitable sense of anti-climax. I remember three
cameos in particular - how long it took to transport the sick people from the Basilica, the
sound of the Gardai band gleefully playing "The Sash", and the dozens of policemen
and women having a quiet off-duty drink in a pub that was officially closed because of
the Pope's visit!

As I left Knock the next morning the litter swirled about the streets and an air of
desolation hung over the place. But I felt that life would never be the same again - the
Holy Father had visited his children in this remote outpost, and Knock now had its own
niche in Papal and Irish history.


1979: A Triumphant Irish Trip

04 April 2005

Ben Lowry looks back at a Papal visit that drew biggest crowds ever seen in Ireland.

During his quarter century as head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope became
the most travelled pontiff in the history of the papacy.

His Holiness visited nearly every country in the world that would receive him, but
Northern Ireland was not among them.

The nearest the religious leader got to the province was in the autumn of 1979 during
the first ever papal visit to Ireland.

On Saturday, September 29 of that year, an Aer Lingus Boeing 747 carrying the Pope
landed in Dublin. As the plane approached the airport that sunny morning, it flew low
over Phoenix Park where the vast gathering crowd, awaiting Papal Mass, roared its

A global television audience of many millions watched as the Pope descended from the
plane to kiss the tarmac. The pontiff was met by the then President Dr Patrick Hillery
and the Taioseach Jack Lynch. Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich, Primate of All Ireland, was
also there to greet the "messenger of peace to a troubled land".

At every stage of the three-day visit, the Pope was met with huge crowds. Around two
thirds of the population of the Republic saw some part of the tour.

The audience in Phoenix Park in Dublin was the largest of all, estimated at 1.25 million
by the Guinness Book of Records. There was near hysteria when the Pope ascended
the steps to the altar.

At Mass, the pontiff warned against materialism. He stressed the centricity of the
Eucharist in the Catholic faith and recalled the devotion of the Irish people to the Mass
in many different circumstances down through the centuries. And he repeatedly urged
the use of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance.

To cheers, he told the crowd: "It was with great joy that I received the news that the Irish
bishops had asked all the faithful to go to confession as part of a great spiritual
preparation for my visit to Ireland."

Many in the crowd wept openly as the Pope then drove among them.

After Mass in Drogheda, the Pope returned to Dublin that evening where he was driven
through huge crowds. The day finished at a meeting with other church leaders. The
presence of a delegation of 12 Presbyterians led by Dr Jack Weir caused controversy
within their church. The group did not include the Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev
William Craig, who said he did not want to meet the Pope because of doctrinal

Sunday morning began with a Youth Mass at Ballybrit racecourse in Galway. An
audience of 300,000 was present to witness a Belfast boy who had lost his leg in a
bomb and a 19-year-old man who had been blinded by a plastic bullet assist in the

In Knock that afternoon, the Pope conducted a two hour Mass to a crowd of 400,000
where he emphasised traditional values. The pontiff announced that a new £1m chapel
in Knock would henceforth be known as a Basilica. But there was disappointment when
a drive through the crowd was cancelled because the whole event was running two
hours late.

On Monday morning, the Pope visited St Patrick's College Maynooth. A crowd
estimated at 50,000 thronged the grounds and heard the head of their church saying
that the decade ahead could be "crucial and decisive" for the future of faith in Ireland.

The final event was at Greenpark racecourse in Limerick, Munster. This time the crowd
was estimated at 400,000, covering a 37-acre site. In his homily at the Mass the Pope
urged family prayer. He was critical of easier divorce laws and he described abortion as
an abominable crime.

At lunchtime there was an emotional farewell at Shannon Airport when the Pope left for
the United States.

On the day of his departure, the Belfast Telegraph reported that Dublin was a city with
post-papal depression, "with pilgrims gone and only the bright yellow and white papal
flags remaining to show the Pope was there".

Later, the Pope disclosed that he had gone against the wishes of some advisers in
visiting Ireland.

In mid-October, he sent a telegram of gratitude for the reception he received during the
visit, saying the welcome given by the church in Ireland "remains a treasure in my


Ulster Priest Served Mass To Pope

By Alf McCreary
04 April 2005

A young Ulster priest who served Mass to the late Pope John Paul II on two occasions
remembers him as a church leader with "great charisma".

The Rev Fr John Burns, who is now a curate near Ballymena, spent several years at the
Irish College in Rome, during which time he met the Pope on four occasions.

Fr Burns told the Belfast Telegraph today: "I remember each occasion well, but
particularly the times when I had the honour of serving the Pope during Mass."

The first occasion occurred in 1995.

"The Mass took place at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens at

"I noticed even then that the Holy Father needed a lot of help, and had to be helped out
of his Papal Car by his assistants. I also witnessed his great determination and

The second time Father Burns took part in a Mass in the presence of the Pope occurred
in St Peter's Basilica in 1998.

He said: "It was a particularly great honour to be there, and to act as a Deacon serving
the Pope.

"What impressed me greatly about the Pope was his piercing eyes. He looked at me
very directly, and I felt that I was really meeting him."

Fr Burns believes it is too early to judge the late Pope's leadership in an historical

"He was obviously a great leader of immense authority and great charisma, but I believe
that his true contribution will not be assessed properly until time passes.

"I just felt that it was a tremendous honour to meet him."


Job Losses As CD Factory Closes

A factory in County Tyrone which makes recordable CDs is to close with the loss of 85

Rixell CD in Omagh, owned by Taiwanese disc manufacturer Ritek, will shut next
month, the company said.

The company blamed rising costs and the "dumping of product in Europe by low-cost
producers in India and China".

"Ritek Corporation greatly regrets the decision and the impact it is likely to have in the
Omagh district," it said in a statement.

"It has been taken with the utmost reluctance and only after every avenue had been
explored for keeping the facility open.

"Although productivity at the plant compares favourably with other sites, its financial
position has worsened considerably in recent months because of continuing extremely
difficult conditions affecting the CD industry and the market as a whole."

Ritek announced it would set up in the town in 2002, investing £27.7m in its factory with
£3.5m backing from the Industrial Development Board.

Two years ago 55 jobs at the plant were lost when the firm moved its printing and
packaging operation to mainland Europe.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/04/04 10:10:26 GMT

Table of Contents - Overall
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