News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

May 31, 2005

Court Probes Collusion in '74 Bombings

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 05/31/05 Court Probes Collusion In 1974 Bombings
BB 05/31/05 Former UDA Leader Is Refused Bail
DJ 05/31/05 Nationalists Still Getting Raw Deal
SF 05/31/05 Adams: Investment Vital Tool In Tackling Inequality
BB 05/31/05 New York Financier Invests In NI
BT 05/31/05 Terrorised Gay Man Afraid To Leave His Home
DJ 05/31/05 Derry Is Gay Bashing Capital
DJ 05/31/05 Elderly 'Terrified' Because Of Stone-Throwing Attack
SF 05/31/05 Anger At Use Of Flags And Bunting In Mixed Area
UT 05/31/05 Omagh Accused In Legal Bid
DJ 05/31/05 'Cordial' Meeting Between IRSP And PUP
BB 05/31/05 Orde Defence On PSNI Intelligence
BT 05/31/05 Brits May Scrap Referendum If Dutch Vote 'No' Tomorrow
UT 05/31/05 French Prime Minister Resigns
IO 05/31/05 Young Poor Women 'More Likely To Smoke'
BB 05/31/05 Minister 'Should Ban NI Smoking'
BB 05/31/05 Old Masters Change Murals
BB 05/31/05 Geese Contest 'Reality Survival Show'


Court To Probe Claims Of Collusion In 1974 Bombings

Sean O'Neill
31 May 2005

The European Court of Human Rights will examine claims that British
agents collaborated with loyalist terrorists in carrying out the
Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

The Strasbourg court has told relatives of 33 people who died in the
1974 blasts that it will begin an examination of the allegations next

The campaign group, Justice for the Forgotten, has alleged that
Britain has withheld information from Irish inquiries into the
bombings because it does not want to reveal the extent of collusion
between RUC and army intelligence and loyalist gangs. The court's
intervention coincides with a new commission of investigation set up
by the Government and led by Patrick MacEntee, SC.

Three car bombs exploded without warning in Dublin and a fourth in
Monaghan on May 17, 1974, killing 33 civilians and an unborn child and
injuring 258 people. The bombings were carried out by a unit of the
Ulster Volunteer Force, known to have been penetrated by the security
forces' intelligence agents.

The cars had been stolen in the North and the bombs assembled there.
The identities of some of the perpetrators were known to police on
both sides of the border, but no one was charged.

In 1999 the Irish Government set up an inquiry, led by Mr Justice
Henry Barron. He made an official request to the Northern Ireland
Office for security files relevant to the incidents.

In his report, the judge said delays in getting information from
Belfast were "excessive". The NIO said it had to examine 68,000 files,
while "millions" of British Ministry of Defence files might have to be
looked at.

Margaret Urwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, said a joint British-
Irish inquiry was the only way to get to the truth of what happened.


Former UDA Leader Is Refused Bail

Former east Belfast UDA chief Jim Gray has been refused bail in the
High Court after a judge said he could not be certain he would not

The 47-year-old, from Knockwood Park in Belfast, is charged with
possessing and concealing criminal property and money laundering. He
denies the charges.

A Crown lawyer said more than 100,000 documents had been seized and
another person had been arrested on Tuesday.

Police had raided council offices and planning offices, the court

The offices of solicitors, estate agents and accountants were also
raided, said the lawyer.

Mr Gray was arrested near Banbridge in County Down on 7 April along
with his girlfriend Sharon Moss.

This is a man who went to his bank and withdrew his legitimately held
money - the police have had six weeks and have come up with nothing

Defence lawyer

Police allegedly found a bank draft for 10,000 euros and almost £3,000
in cash in his car.

Opposing bail, a Crown lawyer said Mr Gray had told police the bank
draft and cash represented part of the proceeds of the sale of two
pubs in east Belfast - the Avenue One and the Bunch of Grapes, which
earned him £130,000

'Standing down'

He said the defendant claimed he had saved up £10,000 as a deposit for
one of the pubs, but it was the prosecution's case the money was
obtained through criminal activities, as was the proceeds of the pub

"Gray is central to this investigation and it's feared that if he was
released he would remove evidence and interfere with witnesses," said
the lawyer.

"He may have access to or own property in Spain and when he was
arrested he had his passport and on his own admission could have
travelled to Spain if there had been any adverse reports about him
following his standing down from the UDA."

A defence lawyer said there was no evidence Mr Gray was a member of
any illegal organisation and was not charged with that.

"He was leaving quite legitimately with money which was legitimate,
too," said the lawyer.

"Police are suggesting he was going on the run. From what? This is a
man who went to his bank and withdrew his legitimately held money. The
police have had six weeks and have come up with nothing."

Lord Justice Campbell said the Crown had concerns about Gray
interfering with their investigation and also leaving the

"On both grounds it seems to me there is a risk," said the judge.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/05/31 11:39:45 GMT



Nationalists Still Getting Raw Deal

Tuesday 31st May 2005

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin says new figures highlighting the
inequality suffered by nationalists are completely unacceptable.

The Foyle MLA said: "Yet again we have evidence that Catholic women
are three-andahalf times and Catholic men are twice as likely to be
unemployed than their Protestant counterparts.

"It is significant, and an indication of the nature of the state in
the North of Ireland, that we have been consistently grappling with
the issue of Catholic/nationalist disadvantage.

"The multitude of laws, reports and recommendations going back more
than eighty years have all purportedly addressed this issue. Yet the
outcomes show the problem of discrimination against the Irish
nationalist community in the North of Ireland has not gone away."

Mr. McLaughlin says that, across every socioeconomic indicator of
deprivation, nationalists fare much worse and the gap is increasing.

"Irish nationalists are more likely to be unemployed, be amongst the
long-term unemployed, are more likely to live in poverty, are more
likely to suffer ill-health and are more likely to leave school with
no educational qualifications.

"Geographically, west of the Bann, north and west Belfast, and the
border counties - all of which are predominately nationalist - are
poorer, suffer higher unemployment levels, have higher economic
inactivity rates and are being continually ignored by government
departments and statutory agencies which are disregarding their legal
equality duties.

"When was the last time there was a major investment announcement west
of the Bann, in Derry or Strabane or in South Armagh?

"The British government made commitments in the Good Friday Agreement
to make rapid progress with a range of measures aimed at
'progressively eliminating the differential in unemployment rates
between the two communities by targeting objective need'.

They have singularly failed to do this. Seven years on from the
signing of the Good Friday Agreement this is completely unacceptable.

"Sinn Fein is of the view that the British government lacks the
political will to mainstream and advance the equality agenda in the
north of Ireland.

"We have a civil service which at its most senior levels remains
unionist-dominated and from which Irish citizens in the 26 counties
are barred. These are the policy-makers, the people who make the
decisions and who form the core of the institutional resistance to

"Equality remains a priority for Sinn Fein and we will continue to
challenge departments, statutory agencies and direct rule ministers to
account for failing to effectively implement policies and programmes
which skew resources on the basis of objective need to eradicate
disadvantage, discrimination and poverty wherever it exists."


Investment Vital Tool In Tackling Inequality

Published: 31 May, 2005

Speaking at a Press Conference today in Belfast's Europa Hotel the
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, MP, MLA, said:

"Today's announcement is to be warmly welcomed. It will undoubtedly
generate business growth and breathe further investment confidence
into the North's economy.

"Mr Hevesi's good will investment gesture is evidence of his
continuing and long-standing interest in economic development,
equality and the peace process. His role in encouraging the
introduction of workforce monitoring, of strengthening anti-
discrimination laws and his advocacy of the implementation of the Good
Friday Agreement are testament to his positive role in contributing to
a fairer and more prosperous society for all.

"Today's announcement is also significant in that this is the first
time that US pension fund investment has been used in the North.
Hopefully, it will represent the beginning of an equally long-standing
commitment that can develop in the time ahead."

In conclusion the Sinn Féin President said:

"While current economic and employment trends indicate a changing
upward trend, the undisputed realities are that neither the British
government or its investment agencies have succeeded in tackling the
deep-rooted social and economic decline that continues to largely
affect nationalist and to a lesser degree, protestant areas.

"There is clearly a need for the British government and investment
agencies like INI (Invest Northern Ireland) and the Strategic
Investment Board to ensure that they comprehensively address such
realities and are held accountable for delivering change." ENDS

Note for Editors: New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi will be
contributing approximately £5million of pension fund investment into a
total capital venture fund of up to £42m.

Statistics released last week bear testimony to the fact that on every
socio-economic indicator, despite legal and policy requirements
supposedly in place, that nationalists continue to suffer
disproportionately from the affects of deprivation, discrimination and

As the Comptroller of New York State's $120 billion pension funds Mr
Hevesi has had some considerable experience in setting such standards
of accountability among corporate business and governance circles.


New York Financier Invests In NI

An American financier is set to invest millions of pounds towards
business development in Northern Ireland.

Alan Hevesi, who is head of the New York Retirement Fund, is investing
£3.75m with the Belfast-based private equity fund, Crescent Capital.

It is part of a new £22.5m venture capital fund sponsored by Invest
Northern Ireland.

Crescent Capital is to target small technology companies to support
with funding.

Mr Hevesi, a past critic of employment practices in Northern Ireland,
said the investment had the potential to create new jobs and economic
prosperity for all communities by providing local technology companies
with much-needed capital.

"Northern Ireland represents tremendous opportunities for growth and
prosperity, regardless of religious, political or any other
affiliation," he said.

Adding that he expected a competitive return on the investment for the
New York Retirement Fund, Mr Hevesi said he believed there had been
big changes in Northern Ireland.

"The investment climate in Northern Ireland is much more favourable
today thanks to the ongoing peace process."

The New York Retirement Fund has more than 970,000 members.

Companies which benefited from an earlier round of Crescent Capital
funding included Andor Technologies, Lagan Technologies and Balcas.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/31 10:37:29 GMT


Terrorised Gay Man Afraid To Leave His Home

Politicians are urged to help end harassment

By Brendan McDaid
31 May 2005

A gay man who has been targeted by youths in Londonderry for the
seventh time today called on political leaders to intervene.

Brian McDermott, from the William Street area of the Bogside, said he
was now too afraid to venture outside his flat after dark and has
stayed in every night bar one for the past 16 weeks.

Recalling the latest in a catalogue of attacks, in which a paint bomb
smashed his sitting room window after midnight yesterday, he said: "I
was asleep when I was woken up by the bang.

"I phoned the police and they took a statement. There is nothing more
they can do.

"I'm fed up. I feel like I'm in a prison. This is just an existence;
putting in your days."

In the past two years, Mr McDermott has been beaten up in the city
centre and repeatedly threatened.

In January, thugs tried to beat his front door down, after which
wooden panels were erected with the help of Derry gay rights group the
Rainbow Centre.

Four months earlier, a compact explosive was shoved through his
letterbox and it set fire to curtains.

In another incident, a fire extinguisher was sprayed through the

Mr McDermott said he had previously handed the names of the youths
involved to both Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives in the area and
asked that they contact their parents.

"This has never been done," he said.

"I felt that they should be going to the homes of them to express
their discontent, but they sat back and did nothing."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan was yesterday personally looking into the
case, with both parties vowing to take action.

Mr McDermott said a gang of youths, aged between 15 and 19 and calling
themselves the Glenfada Hoods, were responsible for the attacks.

"They told a woman last week that they rule the area," he said.

"There has to be some form of law and order brought into this area.

"More people should be coming forward when they are getting harassed
in their homes and reporting it."

He added: "I think some of those attacking me have their own sexuality

"When you are not positive about your own sexuality, you feel very
uncomfortable and threatened by others who are."

Mr McDermott said he has been "up and down" with depression and is on
medication as a result of the attacks.

A neighbour, who witnessed the latest attack, branded those
responsible as "a pack of cowards".

"This man doesn't do anybody any harm. This is getting out of hand."

SDLP councillor for the area, Sean Carr, said everyone should be free
to live in the Bogside "free from intimidation".

Sinn Fein councillor Peter Anderson, meanwhile, expressed concern that
talking to the parents of the youths involved may not prove effective.


Derry Is Gay Bashing Capital

By Ian Cullen
Tuesday 31st May 2005

Derry's reputation as the 'gay bashing' capital of the North continues
to grow after two further homophobic attacks in the city at the

On Sunday local man Brian McDermott was the victim of a sixth serious
attack when his home in the Bogside area was paint bombed while in the
Waterside a man had his face bitten in a vicious assault outside a
chip shop.

The assault victim received five stitches to his face in hospital. A
25-year-old man was arrested but later released pending police

Derry-based gay support group, the Rainbow Project has warned that it
"will not be long" before a gay victim is murdered following the
latest incidents.

David McCartney of the Rainbow Project told the 'Journal' last night
that the "serious social problem" of homophobic attacks was becoming
more pronounced in the city.

"Derry still tops the league for attacks on members of the gay
community. Incidents in the Derry City Council area last year saw a
300% increase," he said.

Mr McCartney called on all corners of society to take responsibility
for ensuring such attacks become a thing of the past.

In particular he singled out the case of Mr McDermott who has been
subjected to "terrible abuse" in recent times. Mr McCartney blamed
politicians, community groups and parents for failing to control
teenage "hoods" alleged to be behind the series of attacks and abuse
targeting Mr McDermott, both in the street and at his Abbey Street
home in the Bogside.

"There has been a complete failure to do anything about these attacks,
right from the police to the local elected representatives and the

"The names [of those behind the attacks] have handed over to local
politicians, community groups and parents - everybody knows who is

"The parents, especially, are failing to do anything to control these
hoods who are being allowed to wreak havoc in the Bogside.

"Brian is not the only one under attack; they are intimidating another
gay man living in the area. They are being allowed to run riot in the
Bogside," he said.

Mr McCartney demanded action to stamp out the attacks sooner rather
than later.

"Resources are needed to to bring these people before the courts.

"Hoods is as good of a description that you can get to describe these

Their parents should be hanging their heads in shame - they couldn't
possibly be proud of them, that's for sure," he added.

Mr McDermott said yesterday that something must be done about the
campaign of intimidation against him.

"We are looking at what I was told last night is a paint bomb. It has
totally smashed the window --there is paint and glass everywhere," he

"I believe it is the same people continually and I have also given a
list of names to my elected representatives

in the area, who I feel should be visiting the homes of these people
and talking to their parents."

A third of all attacks on gay people in the North last year happened
in Derry, according to police figures. They show that of almost 200
attacks, 69 were reported in the city.

There have been 17 homophobic incidents in the Foyle area this year. A
police spokesman said that figure equalled the total number of attacks
for 2003.


Elderly 'Terrified' Because Of Stone-Throwing Attack

Tuesday 31st May 2005

Elderly residents of the sheltered accommodation at Alexander House on
Bishop Street were "terrified" because of a stone-throwing attack on
Thursday night, according to local Sinn Fein Councilor Gerry

And SLDP Councillor Pat Ramsey has called on parents to ensure that
their children are not involved in stonethrowing.

Councillor MacLochlainn said he hoped the attack on Alexander House,
which he claimed was mounted from the Fountain Estate, was not the
start of a campaign to raise tensions leading up to the marching

"Alexander House came under attack from a gang of young people in the
Fountain Estate who pelted the building with stones. Many of the
elderly residents of the sheltered accommodation were terrified at the
intensity of the attack.

"I hope that this attack was not the start of a campaign to raise
tensions in the area leading up to the marching season. This area has
been relatively quiet over the past while and community workers on
both sides have worked hard to ensure that problems that have occurred
have been resolved swiftly.

"I would call on both the community workers and political
representatives to intervene immediately so that this attack will be
the last in the area," he said.

Condemning the attack, Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said: "It's horrible to
think that older people who clearly moved into the sheltered
accommodation for security and comfort in their later years are now
finding themselves targets in their own homes.

"Unfortunately this is an area where people don't seem to need an
excuse to throw stones as it is almost seen as an acceptable level of
violence but, from talking to people in the local area, I can say that
is not acceptable. Whatever side of the interface these stones are
thrown from, attacks on the houses of old people are wrong.

"It is obvious that it is young people that are involved in this type
of activity. I would call on the parents of these young people to make
sure they know where their children are and that they are not out
throwing stones," he said.


Anger At Use Of Flags And Bunting In Mixed Area

Published: 31 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Limavady Town councillor Anne Brolly has said that she has
been inundated with complaints about Loyalist flags and bunting that
have gone up in the mixed Edenmore Road area of the town.

Ms Brolly said:

"This is a mixed area. The last thing that people want to see is an
increase in tensions ahead of the marching season. Yet the bunting and
flags seem to go up earlier and earlier every year and local residents
have said that there are at least 80 flags up in this area.

"Nationalists living in this area feel under threat from this
activity. People have a right to live free from fear and sectarian
intimidation but the number of flags and bunting is having exactly
this effect.

"Unionists political and community leaders have a responsibility to
tackle this problem and to show civic leadership. It is unacceptable
for any unionist to stand idly by and let this intimidation continue
unchallenged." ENDS


Omagh Accused In Legal Bid

The man accused of murdering 29 people in the Omagh bomb massacre will
launch a new bid today to stop the case against him.

By:Press Association

Lawyers for Sean Hoey, 35, will argue that no new evidence has been
provided to incriminate their client.

They claim delays in bringing the case to court amount to an abuse of

Hoey, an electrician from Molly Road, Jonesborough, south Armagh, was
remanded in custody after being charged with 61 new offences last

As well as the Omagh killings, he has been accused of 23 explosives
offences and plotting to murder members of the security forces.

Hundreds of people were injured in the Real IRA strike on Omagh in
August 1998 - the worst single atrocity in Northern Ireland.

Relatives of some of the victims who are also taking a multi-million
pound civil action against five men they suspect of being behind the
atrocity, were in Craigavon Magistrates Court in County Armagh to see
Hoey appear in the dock.

He was already in custody facing a series of terrorist and explosives
related charges, including membership of the dissident republican
organisation that caused mayhem in the County Tyrone market town.

But after the defence protested on behalf of the accused, it was
granted a request to have the hearing referred to Belfast Crown Court,
where Hoey will appear today via video link from Maghaberry Prison.


'Cordial' Meeting Between IRSP And PUP

Tuesday 31st May 2005

The IRSP in Derry have held talks with the Progressive Unionist Party
after it was alleged that the INLA are targeting loyalists.

An IRSP spokesperson confirmed to the SUNDAY that talks took place
between the two groups in Derry this week. The meeting came after the
PUP, which has links with the UVF, claimed that republicans from the
INLA are targeting local loyalists.

It is believed that this was the first meeting between the two groups
in the local area. An IRSP spokesperson described the meeting as
'cordial.' "The IRSP met with the Progressive Unionist Party in Derry
this week to discuss the allegations about targeting. Our position is
quite clear. The INLA is not involved in targeting loyalists. Our view
is that it is nationalists who are being attacked and the PUP and UPRG
are jumping on the bandwagon of blaming republicans to cover up for
what is going on within loyalism," the spokesperson said.

Before the meeting, local PUP spokesperson, Leslie Mitchell called for
an end to the alleged targeting of loyalists.


Orde Defence On PSNI Intelligence

The Chief Constable of the PSNI, Hugh Orde, has defended his force
against criticism of its intelligence gathering capabilities.

It follows the robbery in Belfast city centre at the weekend in which
about £118,000 was stolen from Boots.

Former chairman of the Police Federation, Jimmy Spratt, said
intelligence on such crimes "was now non-existent".

But Mr Orde said the PSNI's systems were among the world's most

Mr Spratt, who is now a DUP councillor, said he believed there was a
reluctance on the part of the police to say there was paramilitary
involvement in the robbery at the Boots store.

"If you look at the robberies that are taking place, there doesn't
appear to be any intelligence coming in that the police are able to
prevent any of these robberies taking place.

"The police service are now just not getting intelligence at all - all
of the intelligence structures are completely stripped," Mr Spratt

Orde comments

But Hugh Orde said: "I'm very proud of my officers that work in the
intelligence gathering systems here. It is fit for purpose.

"It is a very competent, capable and comprehensive system.

"We have one of the most advanced intelligence systems in the world."

On Monday, police said paramilitary involvement in Saturday's robbery
at Boots was not their main line of inquiry.

It is thought a gang of six to 10 people was involved in the robbery.

The families of two members of staff were held hostage while the
robbery took place.

The cash, which was hidden in sports bags, was handed over to the
thieves at Wellington Place at about 0915 BST.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Gilchrist said police were concentrating
on criminal involvement.

"The investigation's at a very early stage. I'm saying at this stage
paramilitary involvement is not our main line of inquiry," Mr
Gilchrist said.


The chief constable made his comments on Tuesday as his force unveiled
a new helicopter which will be operational from June.

The £3.7 million helicopter will be used to pursue stolen vehicles and
suspects, traffic management and gathering video evidence among other

The chief constable said the helicopter was widely used in the UK and
described it as "another step towards normalisation."

He said it would minimise the danger to the public when the police
needed to chase car thieves and said it would also be useful in public
order environments.

"Bearing in mind the marching season is about to start, we'll be
seeing this as an important asset in our armoury to deal with that
particular issue."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/31 11:52:39 GMT


Britain May Scrap EU Referendum Plan If Dutch Vote 'No' Tomorrow

By Brian Walker, London Editor
31 May 2005

Britain is expected to ditch plans for a Europe referendum if the
Dutch vote "no" tomorrow.

The UK will be joined by Poland and the Czech Republic which face
tough referendums of their own.

Official sources say this would be the inevitable result of the fall-
out from the French referendum, when a swingeing 55% threw out the
constitutional treaty, the brain-child of their own former President
Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

Scrapping the British poll could come next Monday in a statement from
Jack Straw, suspending the Referendum Bill launched last week.

A British pull-out would deal a final blow to hopes lingering in
Brussels that the French vote is little more than a big hiccup on the
road to approving the treaty.

Theoretically, the treaty could survive.

Nine countries have given their approval with 15 to go, eight of them
with referendums, and France against.

Only if six countries reject the treaty is it formally killed off in
advance of a final deadline next autumn.

There is therefore time for EU countries to try to salvage new
unanimity in fresh votes.

The Taoiseach belongs to this school, urging the French to consider a
second vote, following previous Irish and Danish precedents.

In practice though, the French have, in the UK's view, dealt the
treaty a mortal blow and a Dutch "no" would finish it off.

With the UK taking over the EU Presidency at the end of next month,
Tony Blair will join other EU leaders in pressing French President
Jacques Chirac to declare his abandonment of the treaty.

"What emerges so strongly from the French referendum campaign is this
deep, profound, underlying anxiety that people in Europe have about
how the economy of Europe faces up to the challenges of the modern
world," said Mr Blair.

A confrontation with Mr Chirac now seems likely over British efforts
to increase EU labour and trading flexibility.

Reacting to the political confusion, the euro fell 0.71 cents against
the dollar to a seven-month low of $$1.2469. Jean-Claude Trichet,
European Central Bank president, said it would act to preserve
confidence in the euro.


French Prime Minister Resigns

France has a new Prime Minister in the wake of the referendum defeat.

Fifty one-year-old Dominiqe de Villepin has been appointed to the
post, marking the start of a major cabinet reshuffle by President

The resignation of Jean-Pierre Raffarin was widely expected when
voters rejected the EU constitution at the weekend.

De Villepin came to prominence as French Foreign Minister with an
impassioned protest against US plans to invade Iraq.


Young Poor Women 'More Likely To Smoke'

31/05/2005 - 13:32:15

There has been a massive increase in the number of young girls from
low-income backgrounds taking up smoking, it was warned today.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said the highest smoking rates were
among younger people and in lower socio-economic groups in Ireland.

Norma Cronin, the society's health promotion manager, said the self-
esteem of women from less well off areas must be boosted to help them
give up cigarettes.

Ms Cronin said: "Tobacco therefore cannot be treated in isolation from
social context and lifestyle issues.

"Building self-esteem of women from low income backgrounds is crucial.
In order to encourage smoking cessation, support is required for other
areas of life, such as lifestyle issues, medical and social issues,
childcare techniques and helping low income women to break down
barriers to access smoking cessation services."

The latest statistics show about 48% of 18 to 34-year-old female
smokers are from less well off backgrounds, with only primary or some
secondary school education.

At the conference to mark World No Tobacco Day, the society
highlighted that smoking among young girls had increased drastically
around the globe, particularly in developing countries.

Professor Robert West of the health behaviour unit at University
College London told the meeting: "Women report more smoking for stress
and weight control than men. In particular lone mothers report low
self-esteem as a key factor for taking up smoking and say that smoking
gives them a way to take a break and have some time for themselves."

At the Dublin-based conference on the Role of Health Professionals in
Tobacco Control, he warned: "Overall therefore the smoker's
environment is crucial and if there is a high level of use in the
social environment and absence of alternative rewards, then smoking
levels soar."

Ms Cronin told the 160 health care professionals from around the
country that workers could be trained in smoking cessation techniques
to offer one-to-one support, drop-in clinics and community events.

The society said the Health Services Executive in the North East has
already begun offering these services in six housing estates in less
well off areas, where smoking rates are above the national average.

The latest figures from the National Cancer Registry show there were
1,618 cases of lung cancer in Ireland in 2000.

The society has pledged to continue its anti-tobacco measures with 95%
of lung cancer cases caused by smoking.

Ms Cronin said smoking was one of the largest preventable causes of
cancer and premature death in the world, with around 30% of all cancer
deaths in high-income countries due to tobacco.

There are around 1.3 billion smokers in the world with tobacco
addiction claiming around 4.9 million lives a year.

It is estimated that halving tobacco consumption now could save about
170 million lives by 2050.


Minister 'Should Ban NI Smoking'

New Health Minister Shaun Woodward is being urged to ban smoking in
Northern Ireland.

The call to Mr Woodward coincides with World No Tobacco Day.

The Health Promotion Agency said the minister should make an
announcement on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Chief Executive Dr Brian Gaffney said the Department of Health
received 70,000 responses to the consultation on smoking which ended
in March.

He said it was "now time a decision was made".

He added: "Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of
premature death and avoidable illness and around 3,000 people die from
smoking related diseases in Northern Ireland every year."

The HPA said research it carried out in February revealed an increase
in support for smokefree workplaces.

The results suggested 74% believed enclosed public places in Northern
Ireland should be completely smokefree and 68% said they would support
a law to make all workplaces smokefree.

"Bringing in smokefree workplaces would be one of the best ways to
tackle smoking related illnesses and we would ask the government to
stop dragging their heels and make a decision imminently," said Dr

"There is growing demand for a smokefree Northern Ireland and already
a number of businesses and organisations are operating smokefree

"We would encourage those employers who don't already have a no-
smoking policy in their workplace to implement one now and not to wait
for it to be enforced."

A smoking ban in all Northern Ireland government departments came into
effect in January.

The ban sees smoking facilities removed and staff forbidden to light
up on site. Prisons are exempt from the ban.

Many in Northern Ireland, particularly doctors and politicians, have
called for a universal ban.

Since March 2004, smoking has been illegal in workplaces, including
pubs and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland.

It was the first country in the world to introduce such a nationwide

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/31 05:57:09 GMT


Old Masters Change Murals

Northern Ireland's political street art is one of the main tourist
attractions for visitors to its principal cities of Belfast and

In the second of two reports, the BBC News website's Marie Irvine
reports on the moves to change the face of some of east Belfast's
loyalist paramilitary inspired art.

Paul Hoey is a self-confessed "bad boy".

At least that's how he introduces himself to me with a rueful grin
when I meet the lanky loyalist for a tour of the political street art
of east Belfast.

Hoey is referring to his past. He is simply wise enough to acknowledge
that in some eyes he will never escape the label he earned as a former
UVF prisoner who served five years in prison during Northern Ireland's

Now, like so many ex-paramilitaries, he is involved in a variety of
community projects.

Paul is meeting me to explain the reasoning behind the decision - made
over the last year or so - to transform some of east Belfast's hard-
edged militaristic murals into softer canvasses.

Sons of Ulster

The new emphasis will be on celebrating the achievements in sport,
literature or music of the "sons of Ulster" rather than the dogs of

Traditionally, the art of the paramilitaries in this part of the city,
like many others has been obsessed with the insignia and weaponry of
the paramilitary world.

The painted images often feature balaclava clad men, in guns and
camouflage uniform.

Although the murals are striking they are also a fairly frightening
clue to the darker side of conflict for visitors and those passing
from one part of town to another.

But Paul Hoey says they are not about staking out turf or intimidating

There's no doubt they are a tourist attraction and they help generate
income for the wee shops along the road

Paul Hoey, ex-UVF prisoner

"They're just a legacy of the last 30 odd years. It's not about
marking out territory - if it was there could be another 50 or 60
murals up."

In fact, he says, the UDA's murals along the Newtownards Road at the
locally nicknamed "Freedom corner" continue to be a major draw for

"You get busloads of tourists stopping there. You see people trooping
out and getting their photos taken in front of them.

"There's no doubt they are a tourist attraction and they help generate
income for the wee shops along the road."

But it is changing some of the murals that is dominating discussion at

Van Morrison request

A year or so ago, after much community consultation a decision was
taken to remove some of the old warlike UVF and Red Hand Commando
murals in favour of a softer approach.

Paul explains the thinking: "If there is somebody coming to invest in
east Belfast and there's a militaristic mural on a wall near where
they are thinking of opening a business, it will put them off."

To date five murals have been changed and another is under

"They won't all come down, that is a nailed on certainty," said Hoey
who adds that many people in the UVF are waiting to see if the UDA
will reciprocate its move and take down any of their murals too.

Among the new images are paintings of footballing legend George Best
and the children's writer C.S. Lewis.

Belfast born singer Van Morrison is understood to have turned down a
request to feature his face on a mural.

The murals which have been changed are simply painted over, one canvas
disappearing under another like the hidden paintings of the old

"They're not lost, we take photographs before, during and after"
explains Paul.

"You can also buy copies of those in the Union Jack shop along the
road here."

Hidden talent

Despite the changes, the wall space where the murals stand is still
associated with the UVF and Paul Hoey says this creates a reticence
among the artists to be identified in public.

"Way back when the Troubles first started, you had people you wouldn't
think would be involved from a variety of backgrounds like school
teachers, civil servants, a whole range of different people who've
been involved as artists on the murals.

"Obviously, there is the connotation that if the artist is doing UVF
murals then maybe that would make him part of the UVF organisation.

"These people aren't involved in anything they are just artists but
there is still targeting going on in Northern Ireland."

It is a peculiar state of affairs for outsiders to think of a
paramilitary group commissioning artists to paint pieces but that is
exactly what happens.

A firm is contracted in to put up the scaffolding, insurance is taken
out against accidents and the rough work is completed by less skilled
workers before the main artist comes in.

He will sketch and then fill in the final outline, sometimes by hand,
sometimes using a projector to scan the image onto the wall.

As a result, each mural has a final cost of something in the region of
£3,500 to £4,000.

Perhaps it is not a bad price for a one-off original.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/31 07:57:11 GMT


Geese Contest 'Reality Survival Show'

The latest reality survival show is about to hit Northern Ireland's
television screens.

But this time the contestants must avoid being eaten by arctic foxes,
hunted or killed by cold and hunger.

Supergoose is a unique BBC Northern Ireland natural history project on
TV, online and radio.

The stars of the show live on Strangford Lough during the winter and
make an 8,000km round trip - the toughest migration of geese anywhere.

For the first time, people can follow this natural phenomenon and tale
of survival against the odds by the Brent Goose.

A protected species in the UK, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, the
bird winters exclusively in Ireland before leaving in late spring to
make the hazardous journey to their breeding grounds in north east

The BBC has teamed up with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at
Castle Espie on Strangford Lough, which has the biggest concentration
of Brent Geese.

Viewers and listeners will be able to follow the progress of six birds
fitted with special transmitters.

There will be two special programmes on BBC NI television presented by
Darryl Grimason who will pick-up the birds' journey from Iceland.

This is where they embark on the most perilous leg of their journey
over the Greenland ice cap to Arctic Canada.

There will be regular updates on The Saturday Magazine on BBC Radio
Ulster and on a dedicated BBC website.

Kendrew Colhoun, lead scientist with the Brent Goose Project, said the
project would provide essential information for the conservation and
protection of the small and vulnerable population.

"Iceland is a crucial stepping stone on the long and arduous migration
to the Canadian breeding grounds and undoubtedly the most difficult
leg is that which lies ahead," he said.

"In the next week or so, some 25,000 Brent Geese will head west,
making two sea crossings and going up and over the massive Greenland
ice cap.

"This is a migration of epic proportions and through the satellite
telemetry we will be able to find out how it is conducted."

Producer John Deering of independent production company Yamal
Productions said what made the project so unusual "is that we have no
control over what happens to our six geese".

"In an earlier experiment, not all of the geese survived - one was
found in an arctic fox's lair, another on the kitchen table of an
Inuit hunter," he said.

"But that's what makes this journey so captivating and you can follow
the drama of the journey from your living room."

The six geese have also been named - Resolute, Homer, Geysir, Espie,
Lagan and Myrar - the names being suggested by schools in Iceland and
Northern Ireland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/30 11:06:48 GMT
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?