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May 04, 2005

Adams Attends Hunger Strike Event

News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 05/04/05 SF President Attends Hunger Strike Event In Belfast
IT 05/05/05 Voters To Decide Fates Of Trimble And Durkan Today
SM 05/04/05 MEPs Back Call For McCartney Cash
IT 05/05/05 Waterford To Cut 1,800 Jobs In Bid To Reverse Downturn
IT 05/05/05 Crystal Workers Threaten To Picket Factory
IT 05/05/05 Man To Be Charged With Omagh Bombing
BT 05/04/05 Query Over Why DUP Not Present At Gay Rights Meeting
DJ 05/04/05 Opin: Derry - Crucial Council Elections
IE 05/04/05 Spicer Speared In Scathing U.S. Report
IT 05/05/05 Database Proposed For US Illegal Irish
IT 05/05/05 Ahern Urged To Commemorate Famine With Special Day
BT 05/04/05 School Defends Changing Room Camera


Sinn Féin President Attends Hunger Strike Event In Belfast

Published: 4 May, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was today joined by former Blanketmen
and Sinn Féin representatives for a short rededication ceremony at the
Bobby Sands mural on the party's Sevastopol Street offices. The event
came on the eve of the 24th Anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands on
Hunger Strike.

Former Blanketman and comrade of Bobby Sands, Jake Jackson said:

" Bobby Sands and the other Hunger Strikers transformed Irish politics by
the selfless stand which they took in confronting Thatcher and her
criminalisation agenda. The idealism of the Republican PoWs and their
supporters on the outside was in sharp contrast to the approach adopted
by the British government and the establishment parties in Ireland.

" It is ironic and symbolic that the people of the six counties will go to the
polls on the 24th Anniversary of Bobby's death. It was his election in
Fermanagh & South Tyrone which made the suffering in the H-Blocks and
Armagh Women's Prison an international issue. Republicans and
nationalists 24 years on would have the opportunity to send out a similarly
strong message to those within the British and Unionist establishments
who are still blocking

progress and still following a failed agenda of exclusion and demonisation
when they cast their ballot tomorrow."

Speaking to reporters at the event Gerry Adams reflected on the progress
which had been made since the Hunger Strikes of 1981 but said that much
work remained to be done in the time ahead.

Mr Adams said:

" May 5th is a hugely symbolic date for Irish Republicans. This year will it
will mark the 24th Anniversary of Bobby Sands death on Hunger Strike.

"Irish society has been transformed in the years since Bobby and his nine
comrades died confronting Thatcher and the British establishment and
since the people of Fermanagh & South Tyrone elected Bobby as their MP
and the people of Cavan/Monaghan elected Kieran Doherty as their TD.

"But much more work and effort is required from republicans in the time
ahead as we chart out a course to the sort of Ireland we want to see

"I believe the way forward that I have mapped out provides an
unprecedented opportunity to revive the peace process, to get the Good
Friday Agreement implemented, to drive forward the all-Ireland agenda and
to get political power back into local hands so that we can tackle water
charges, cuts in education and other essential services.

"I have travelled widely across the six counties in recent weeks and there is
a demand out there for the impasse in the process to be overcome and for
real political progress to be achieved. That will be our focus in the
immediate aftermath of these elections." ENDS


Voters To Decide Fates Of Trimble And Durkan Today

Dan Keenan, in Belfast and Frank Millar, in London

Voters in Northern Ireland and Britain go to the polls today in an election
that is likely to decide the political futures of David Trimble and Mark
Durkan and give a third Labour victory for prime minister Tony Blair.

Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party are widely expected to make
gains in Northern Ireland at the expense of the Ulster Unionists and the

Pundits and bookmakers expect the Rev Ian Paisley's DUP to increase its
share of Westminster seats from six to perhaps as many as 10, and for the
rise of Sinn Féin to continue. Sinn Féin workers believe they can increase
their Commons seats from the current four to six.

Both Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble and SDLP leader Mark
Durkan are involved in closely fought battles to retain their parties' seats in
Upper Bann and Foyle respectively. Mr Trimble has called on electors to
vote tactically in an effort to protect the centre ground while the former
SDLP leader and outgoing Foyle MP John Hume has warned against the
domination of Northern politics by the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Mr Blair's final day of campaigning saw him buoyed by opinion polls
suggesting a comfortable victory. The mean of several polls put Labour
nine points ahead of the Conservatives at 39 per cent to 30 per cent, with
23 per cent opting for the Liberal Democrats and 8 per cent undecided. One
poll, for today's Times of London newspaper, gave Labour a perhaps overly
generous 14 per cent lead.

Flanked by chancellor Gordon Brown and surrounded by his entire cabinet,
Mr Blair chose Baroness Thatcher's old Finchley constituency for a final
round of warnings that a protest vote for the Liberal Democrats risked
letting the Conservatives in "by the back door".

Conservative leader Michael Howard, a Liverpool FC supporter, sought
inspiration from his team's spirited Champions League semi-final victory
over Chelsea.

"My message," he told party activists, "is work hard and believe to the end
and we can win like Liverpool did."

Polling stations open at 7am throughout Britain and Northern Ireland and
close at 10pm. Some 45 million people - 1.1 million of them in the North,
where elections are also taking place for 26 local councils - are eligible to
cast their votes for the 646 MPs from England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland who will comprise the new Parliament of the United

Counting of votes cast in England, Scotland and Wales begins immediately
voting ends tonight and will continue into tomorrow morning. Exit polls are
expected shortly after 10pm with many constituencies declaring actual
results between midnight and 3am. Counting in Northern Ireland begins on
tomorrow morning.

© The Irish Times


MEPs Back Call For McCartney Cash

Geoff Meade

EURO MPs overwhelmingly called for EU cash yesterday to bring the
murderers of Robert McCartney to justice.

An unprecedented motion adopted in Brussels demanded the use of EU
budget money to back a civil action being planned by Mr McCartney’s

The motion will be debated in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on
Monday - in the presence of the campaigning McCartney sisters who have
already visited Brussels seeking EU backing.

Leaders of political groups representing 627 of the parliament’s 732
members have hammered out the terms of the motion in Brussels.

Those refusing to join the call include the left-wing GUE group - which
includes the two Sinn Fein MEPs. The motion condemned "violence and
criminality by the self-styled Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, in
particular the murderers of Robert McCartney".

The 33-year-old father of two was stabbed to death on 30 January in

The nine-point motion includes a request - which requires European
Commission approval - for the use of funds already set aside in the EU
budget to help victims of terrorist acts. Until now, that provision has never
been applied to efforts to bring terrorist criminals to justice.

Following Monday’s debate on the motion, the full parliament will vote on
Tuesday - almost certainly triggering the clearance of funds.


Waterford To Cut 1,800 Jobs In Bid To Reverse Downturn

Dominic Coyle and Paul Cullen, in Waterford

Waterford Wedgwood will shed a third of its Irish workforce and close its
Dungarvan factory as part of a radical restructuring aimed at reversing the
company's fortunes.

The job cuts will see 1,800 redundancies across the group.

A total of 485 employees will lose their jobs in Co Waterford, 375 at
Dungarvan and 110 at the company's sole remaining crystal production
plant at Kilbarry.

The recently-acquired Royal Doulton ceramics unit in Britain is shedding
950 jobs, 160 jobs are going at the Rosenthal division in Germany and a
further 200 across other operations.

The company, which owns some of the world's best known brands,
including Waterford Crystal, Royal Doulton and Wedgwood marque has
been struggling in recent years as tastes and fashion changed. Chief
executive Redmond O'Donoghue described the move as a "simple
economic fact of life. We cannot afford to have two plants that are running
at 70 per cent of capacity."

Confirmation of the Waterford job losses came as it emerged late last night
that technology giant IBM is to shed 13,000 jobs worldwide, mainly in its
European operations. The firm employs 3,700 people in the Republic, most
of them at a technology campus in Mulhuddart, Co Dublin. But last night a
spokesman was unable to comment on how the US multinational's Irish
operations would be affected by the restructuring which was first mooted
in January. He was also unable to say when the situation would be

Analysts said the Waterford Wedgwood restructuring was the most radical
yet at a company that has undergone a series of such exercises in the past
few years.

"This is the last throw of the dice," said Stuart Draper of Dolmen
Stockbrokers. "If it doesn't work, things for Waterford Wedgwood will be
particularly serious."

Angry Dungarvan workers, who were told the news at a meeting in a local
hotel yesterday blamed management for the plant's closure and vowed to
fight for a substantial payoff. Unions and management meet today to
discuss the redundancy package.

The Dungarvan plant will close at the end of the summer and its
manufacturing capacity will be transferred to the Waterford plant. Up to
one-quarter of Waterford production will be outsourced to Germany and
other European states, a spokesman said.

Mr O'Donoghue said the company would be investing around €6 million in
the Kilbarry plant to "underpin the nearly 1,000 jobs there and see crystal
manufacture stay in Waterford". He said the restructuring was designed to
return the company to profitability at current sales levels and current
adverse exchange rates. "Our challenge is how to make money on sales of
€800 million," he said.

Waterford Wedgwood made an operating loss of €14.8 million in the year to
March 2004 on sales of €832 million, the most recent for which full figures
have been reported.

Last March, the company issued a profit warning, saying sales had fallen
further this year.

Shareholders are being asked to fund the €90 million redundancy
programme through a €100 million rights issue, details of which were also
announced yesterday.

Last night the company had market capitalisation of almost €133 million,
having jumped almost 37 per cent following the company announcement.

Company chairman Sir Anthony O'Reilly and his brother-in-law Peter
Goulandris have agreed to underwrite the entire issue. The two men
currently control 24.6 per cent of the company's stock.

© The Irish Times


Crystal Workers Threaten To Picket Factory

Paul Cullen in Dungarvan

Workers at the Waterford Crystal plant in Dungarvan, which is to close
with the loss of almost 400 jobs, have threatened to picket the company's
remaining plant in Waterford city in pursuit of a favourable redundancy

Unions and management at the troubled crystalware company meet today
to discuss the redundancy package for the Dungarvan workers and a
further 95 staff in the flagship plant at Kilbarry, Waterford, who are also
losing their jobs.

The Irish job cuts are part of a wider rationalisation programme announced
by parent company Waterford Wedgwood yesterday, which will see the
company's workforce worldwide reduced by 1,800.

Angry Dungarvan workers, told the news at a meeting in a local hotel
yesterday, blamed management for the closure of the plant and vowed to
fight for a substantial payoff.

Many of those who emerged from the stormy two-hour meeting accused
the company of lying about its intentions for Dungarvan, whose future has
been the subject of intense speculation over the past year. Staff said that,
until yesterday, they believed Waterford was planning to make a multi-
million euro investment in a new furnace at the plant to guarantee its
continued future.

Over 5 per cent of Dungarvan's population worked in the glass plant and its
closure will mean an annual loss of €10 million to the town in wages,
according to the local chamber of commerce.

ATGWU branch secretary Walter Cullen said workers were "distraught and
upset" at the news. He insisted there had been no negotiations on the size
of the redundancy package and no details had been agreed.

Workers emerging from the meeting said managers had offered six weeks'
pay per year of service, but this would be capped at 16 years of service.
This is unlikely to prove acceptable as many of the staff have worked at the
plant for over 20 years.

In its official statement, Waterford Wedgwood said the worldwide
restructuring package would cost €90 million, to be funded by a €100
million rights issue.

With profits tumbling in recent years from poor sales in the US and a weak
dollar, the company said the restructuring programme was designed to
remove "excess capacity", improve manufacturing efficiency and integrate
the Wedgwood division with the recently-acquired china-maker, Royal

The Dungarvan plant will close at the end of summer and its manufacturing
capacity will be transferred to the Waterford city plant. Up to 25 per cent of
Waterford production will be outsourced to Germany and other European
states, a spokesman said.

Besides the 485 Irish job losses, 160 jobs will go at Rosenthal in Germany,
200 in the wider Waterford Crystal group and 950, most of them in Britain,
in Wedgwood and Royal Doulton.

The chairman of Waterford Wedgwood, Sir Anthony O'Reilly, said he
regretted the job losses, but claimed they were vital to ensure the long-
term prosperity of "this historic company and its key heritage plants" in
Ireland, Britain and Germany, in the face of low-cost competition from the
Far East and elsewhere.

"The task is clear but the challenge is great: we must ensure that our cost
base matches revenue levels, so that the company is returned to sustained

"I am determined that Waterford Wedgwood will become the low-cost
operator in its sector," he said.

© The Irish Times


Man To Be Charged With Omagh Bombing

Gerry Moriarty Northern Editor

A 35-year-old man is to be charged in the coming weeks with murdering
29 people and unborn twin girls in the "Real IRA" Omagh bombing of 1998,
it has emerged.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the North has recommended that
Seán Gerard Hoey, from Jonesborough in south Armagh, who is on remand
in Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland on a variety of terrorist charges,
should be charged with the bombing.

Security and other well-placed sources last night confirmed a Press
Association report of the major breakthrough in the PSNI and Garda
investigation into the worst single atrocity of the Troubles.

Papers detailing the charges are due to be served on Mr Hoey, an
electrician, in the coming weeks, the sources revealed. He will be the first
person to be charged in Northern Ireland with the bombing.

The case will be one of the biggest mass murder trials in British and Irish
legal history. It could last six months or more. Among the scores of people
giving evidence will be Garda officers involved in the Southern element of
the investigation.

It could delay a civil case being taken by the Omagh families against five
men - including jailed "Real IRA" leader Michael McKevitt - they believe
were also behind the attack.

Mr Hoey, who has been in custody since September 2003, previously failed
to be released on bail pending his trial on 18 charges involving explosives
and membership of the "Real IRA". At one hearing last year the
prosecution lawyer said that Mr Hoey was almost certain to charged with
the bombing.

Mr Hoey denies involvement in a series of "Real IRA" bombings leading up
to the no-warning Omagh blast of August 15th, 1998. These include
conspiring to cause explosions at a police station in Armagh, in nearby
Blackwatertown and in Banbridge, Co Down in the run-up to the Omagh

He is also charged with possession of a timer power unit between March
1997 and August 16th 1998 - the day after the Omagh bombing.

The DPP's decision that Mr Hoey should be charged with the Omagh
bombing comes after a complex 18-month review of all the forensic
evidence by scientists from Toronto, New York and Switzerland.

The PSNI said last night, "The Omagh inquiry is very much a live
investigation to which police continue to dedicate significant time and
resources. The current position is that the senior investigating officer has
received instructions from the DPP which are being processed."

Dundalk builder Colm Murphy, whom the Press Association described as
an uncle of Mr Hoey, was the only person convicted in connection with the

Mr Murphy has been granted a retrial in the Republic's Court of Criminal
Appeal after doubt was cast on the evidence of two Garda officers during
his original trial.

© The Irish Times


Query Over Why DUP Not Present At Gay Rights Meeting

By Brendan McDaid and Clare Weir
04 May 2005

Questions have been asked over why the DUP was the only Ulster party not
to send a representative to an important debate on equal rights for the gay
and lesbian community.

A ten-point protocol, drawn up by the Belfast-based Coalition On Sexual
Orientation( CoSO), was last weekend disseminated throughout Ulster's
gay population ahead of the Westminster and local elections.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Socialist Environmental Alliance, have all
supported the pledge along with the Ulster Unionist Party.

In Belfast on Saturday, politicians were grilled by an audience on their
views on gay issues, with just one seat empty after Northern Ireland's
political party, the DUP, failed to send a representative despite a manifesto
pledge to ensure "equality for all".

CoSO Convenor James Knox said he was "disappointed" at the no-show.

"The non attendance of the DUP is noted as another example of the party's
lack of commitment to lesbian and gay equality." he said.

The event was attended by Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party, Patricia
Lewsley of the SDLP, Eoin O'Broin from Sinn Fein and an officer from the
Ulster Unionist Party.

Saturday's event covered a number of topics including civil partnerships,
domestic violence and increased dialogue.

All parties except the Ulster Unionist Party recognised that commitment to
equality was a matter of party policy and not individual conscience.

Mr Knox said that a meeting would be arranged with party leader David
Trimble to ask for a stronger and more visible commitment to gay equality.

Mr Knox warned that politicians ran the risk of alienating a potential 10% of
the electorate at least by refusing to take the pledge.

Mr Knox said: "For far too long we have allowed politicians in Northern
Ireland to negate their obligations, duties and responsibilities as our
elected representatives. This ends with this election."

A spokesman from the DUP denied that the meeting was snubbed because
of the issues it concerned.

"We have hundreds of invites to a range of groups at election time" he

"I am not aware of this invite or the nature of the event so I doubt it was any
sort of boycott."


Opin: Derry - Crucial Council Elections

Wednesday 4th May 2005

WITH THE last three weeks dominated by saturation coverage of the race
for Westminster, people could be forgiven for forgetting that another
election is to take place.

A grand total of 918 people are contesting 582 seats in Northern Ireland's
local councils - 30 of them here in Derry.

And while the focus has been firmly on the battle for the 18 seats at
Westminster, the results of the local government elections could have just
as big an impact on the peace process.

For example, significant Ulster Unionist losses on the back of a bad
general election could spell the end for David Trimble's leadership.

Meanwhile, an increased vote for Sinn Fein in both contests will also pile
fresh pressure on the SDLP which has sustained heavy electoral blows in
recent polls.

Indeed, the local government elections could take on an added significance
if it emerges that the electorate has voted tactically along pro or anti-
Agreement lines in the Westminster poll.

Were this to happen, some commentators argue that the council results
would actually be a more accurate reflection of where support for the
parties really lies.

This, in turn, could inform party strategies in the run-up to any planned
future negotiations.

Turning to the overall election picture, there has been much talk in the run-
up to this week's polls about demographics. On the one hand, some
politicians have predicted that more and more nationalists are coming on
the electoral register and that this will be evident when the Westminster
and local government counts are completed.

By the same token, unionists insist it won't be like this at all. They are
argue that, in terms of the Catholic-Protestant head count, matters are
beginning to reach a plateau and, even if there was a shift, it doesn't mean
all Catholics would favour a united Ireland.

However, most politicians are well aware of the inherent dangers of dealing
with constitutional politics on the basis of sectarian head counts. It should
never be forgotten that such tactics resulted in civil war in the Balkans.

Meanwhile, the Westminster election results in Britain also hold
significance for the North - not least in that our nearest neighbour should
have an intelligent and informed interest in Northern Ireland. At present,
Tony Blair is the only man for the job. It is undeniably the case that, along
with Bertie Ahern - not forgetting Bill Clinton's immense effort - the British
premier contributed much to the Good Friday Agreement. His input has
been vital and the pro-Agreement parties no doubt wish it to continue.

By contrast, Michael Howard has always been a prisoner of the
Conservatives' pro-unionist wing while his own personal application to
Irish issues has been, at best, minimal. Amid the confusion, uncertainty
and upheaval often associated with election time, one thing is for certain: it
is going to be an interesting few days.


Spicer Speared In Scathing U.S. Report

By Ray O'Hanlon

One arm of the U.S. government is happy. The other is not. Aegis Defense
Services, the private security company run by controversial former British
army officer Tim Spicer is this week in the crosshairs of the government
agency is charge of reconstruction in Iraq.

A strongly critical report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for
Iraq Reconstruction cites Aegis for not complying with a number of
requirements of its $293 million contract with the U.S. Department of

However, and in stark contrast, the Pentagon recently defended its contract
with Spicer in a letter to the Derry-based Pat Finucane Center.

The center, together with the Washington D.C.-based Irish National Caucus,
has been vehemently critical of the contract because of Spicer's link to the
shooting dead of Belfast teenager Peter McBride.

McBride was shot in the back by soldiers of the Scots Guards regiment in
September, 1992. The regiment was commanded by Spicer at that time and
he subsequently defended the shooting.

In a letter to the Pentagon several months ago, the Pat Finucane Center
pressed the U.S. Army to justify its decision to award Aegis Defense
Services, of which Spicer is CEO, the $293 million contract for private
security work in Iraq.

The Pentagon has also been pressed on the issue by a group of U.S.
senators, Father Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus, and Sarah
Teather, a Liberal Democrat member of the British parliament.

Teather recently told the Echo that "serious questions" were still in need of
answers with regard to Spicer and his role in the death of Peter McBride.

In its letter to the Pentagon, the Pat Finucane Center argued that in addition
to the questions surrounding the Aegis contract, a previous company of
which Spicer was CEO, Sandline International, was "involved in major
violations of international and British law and has been the subject of
international and British investigations."

Spicer's actions, both as an officer in the British army and as CEO of
Sandline, the PFC argued, had a bearing on Spicer's record of integrity and
business ethics, both of which had to be above reproach according to the
U.S. Army's own standards.

The letter asked the Pentagon to "review" the $293 million contract
awarded a year ago to Aegis and Spicer, who has variously been referred
to in British press reports as Britain's "most notorious mercenary" and a
"soldier of fortune."

In a recent reply, however, the U.S. Army Contracting Agency stated that
the U.S. had determined that Spicer and Aegis Defense Services possessed
satisfactory records of integrity and business ethics.

"The issue you have raised, though surrounded in political controversy,
does not support any grounds for overturning the responsibility
determination by our contracting officer," a spokeswoman for the ACA
wrote in the response letter.

"The actions you attribute to Mr. Spicer do not appear to have resulted in
any conviction for any illegal activity bearing on his integrity and business
ethics. The fact that others could have reached a different conclusion does
not mean that this determination was unreasonable."

The letter concluded by stating that the Army Contracting Agency now
considered the matter closed.

However, the controversy over Aegis erupted anew last week when the
Special Inspector General's critical audit report was obtained by the
Reuters news agency.

The report stated that Aegis had been unable to provide correct documents
to verify that its employees were qualified to use weapons. It warned that
many Iraqi employees were not properly vetted to ensure they were not a
security threat.

"As a result there is no assurance that Aegis is providing the best possible
safety and security for government and reconstruction contractor
personnel and facilities," the report stated.

Fr. McManus of the INC said that the report's view that Aegis was not doing
its job properly came as no surprise.

"I told President Bush that he would rue the day he funded the notorious
Spicer," McManus said.

"The real issue, here, however is not that Spicer's employees are
unqualified. The real issue is that Spicer is unqualified. He practiced and
condoned state terrorism in Northern Ireland and he will leave a trail of
mischief and tears in Iraq."

This story appeared in the issue of May 4-10, 2005


Database Proposed For US Illegal Irish

Sean O'Driscoll in New York

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has proposed an online
database for illegal Irish emigrants living in the US after he was unable to
answer a query by President Bush on the number of illegal Irish currently
living there.

He said that Irish estimates of the number of illegal emigrants ranges from
20,000 to 50,000, whereas the US government estimate is 3,000.

Mr Ahern said he had to concede to President Bush on St Patrick's Day that
he couldn't give an accurate estimate on the number of illegal Irish

Under the database scheme, illegal Irish emigrants living in the US would
enter their details anonymously on to a secure website operated by the
Irish government.

The Minister hoped that the database would help the government get a fix
on the quantity and profile of illegal emigrants.

However, Mr Ahern said that Irish emigrant lobby groups in the US were
"pouring cold water on the idea" because they believed it was unworkable.

He made his comments at the end of a visit to New York to address a UN
disarmament conference.

He said Irish American politicians had told him that Irish people living in
the US were not being forceful enough in helping defeat the Real ID Act,
tough new legislation that would stop many illegal emigrants from
obtaining driver's licences.

The act is expected to be passed shortly by the Republicancontrolled
Senate and House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Spokesman on emigrant affairs, Mr Paul
Connaughton TD, is leading a party delegation to New York and
Washington this week to lobby for the Kennedy/McCain Immigration Act,
which would allow illegal emigrants to achieve legal status and is expected
to go before Congress next month.

He said there was a real fear among undocumented Irish emigrants that the
Real ID Act would lead to their deportation before they had an opportunity
to achieve legal status. Speaking in New York yesterday where the group
visited the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre, Mr Connaughton said that it
looked almost certain that Congress would pass the Real ID Act.

"It's going to be very, very difficult for the undocumented Irish because if
you don't have your driver's licence you cannot work. We're talking to
anyone who will listen, including the New York police department because
the Real ID Act won't solve the problem of the undocumented from any
country," he said.

The delegation departed for Washington last night where it is to meet with
Democratic and Republican politicians. It will also meet with the European
Union ambassador to the US and former Fine Gael leader, Mr John Bruton.

© The Irish Times


Ahern Urged To Commemorate Famine With Special Day

Michael O'Regan

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he was in favour of commemorating the
Famine on the same day as other commemorations.

He was replying to Labour leader Pat Rabbitte who urged him to have a
rethink on the issue and have a day solely devoted to commemorating the

"The Famine is the most cataclysmic event in our history in its impact on
this island and its effect on so many countries outside Ireland," he added.

"Up to one million of our people poured out of this country at the time in an
effort to stay alive."

Mr Ahern said that, personally, he had no great feeling one way or another
on the issue.

"If people feel we should commemorate the Famine, we can do so," he

He said he had read the files on the matter and the debates which went on
in the House for years, between the political parties and with departments
and agencies, about a national day of commemoration.

Some 20 years ago, there was a sense of a political decision being reached
whereby all the different days commemorated, and those which people
were requesting to be commemorated, would all be subsumed into the
national day of commemoration, he added.

"Currently we are trying to attract members of certain faiths to join in this
year's day of commemoration," he added. "I am not trying to detract from
the merits of different commemorations, but trying to involve all in one
day." Mr Rabbitte said he saw some merit in what the Taoiseach said, but
he regarded the Famine as being quite an exception.

He added that the committee for the commemoration of the Famine victims
was very earnest. "It has furnished the Taoiseach's Department, and the
various political parties, with a cogent argument why this country . . .
should now be prepared to commemorate that event in our history," he

Repeating that he had no strong feelings on the matter, Mr Ahern said there
might be a cross-party feeling in the House that there should be a day to
commemorate the Famine. "A good case for individual days has been made
by various groups," he added.

Historically, he added, since the foundation of the State, events were
commemorated every 25 years, 50 years, 75 years, on centenaries and

© The Irish Times


School Defends Changing Room Camera

By Maureen Coleman

04 May 2005

A leading Ulster grammar school where pupils were secretly filmed in a
boys' changing room today defended its actions.

Abbey Christian Brothers' Grammar School in Newry came under fire when
it emerged that a camera had been installed in the locker room and that a
small number of pupils had seen the recording.

Sinn Fein councillor, Brendan Curran, whose son attends the school, said
parents had been kept in the dark and demanded answers.

"Under no circumstances should children ever be filmed in a state of
undress," he said.

The school today confirmed that a camera was installed for a brief period
to help identify a thief and that once this had been done, the camera had
been disconnected.

A statement from Abbey Grammar said the camera had been in position for
a "very short period of time" and that a record of it had been "inadvertently
seen by a limited number of pupils".

The school said it regretted the "unfortunate occurrence".

The statement said: "The school has explained the position to all parents
and the school is satisfied that its actions were necessary and
proportionate and that the school has acted appropriately to resolve the

According to newspaper reports, the school had been threatened with legal
action and that the PSNI was being called in to investigate.

However, a spokesman for the PSNI said it was not investigating the
incident as it had not received any formal complaints.

A spokesman for the Southern Education and Library Board also said it
was not dealing with the matter.

He said: "Voluntary grammar schools operate independently of the SELB
and the board has not been involved in this instance referred to."
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