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May 05, 2005

Focus on Turnout In Elections

News About Ireland & The Irish

SM 05/05/05 Focus On Turnout In Northern Ireland
IT 05/06/05 First Results Indicate Labour Win But Majority Down
SM 05/05/05 Long Wait For Northern Ireland Candidates
IT 05/06/05 Low-Key Campaign Ends With A 'Steady' Turnout
IO 05/05/05 Trimble In Battle To Hold Seat
CS 05/05/05 Opin: Practical Step In N. Ireland
BL 05/05/05 Blast At NYC Building Housing U.K. Consulate Probed
BB 05/05/05 DPP Criticised Over Omagh Charges
IO 05/05/05 Govt Urged To Tackle Suicide Problem
IT 05/06/05 Russia Honours Irishmen For Wartime Arctic Convoy Role
IT 05/06/05 Coroner Criticises 'Insensitive' Cliff-Jump Advert

On May 5, 1981, Irish Republican Army hunger-striker Bobby
Sands died at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in his 66th
day without food.


Focus On Turnout In Northern Ireland

Angus Howarth

UNIONISTS and nationalists in Northern Ireland spent a
sleepless night before counting for the province’s 18
Westminster seats was due to begin today.

Counting will get under way at 9am, with the first results
expected in the afternoon.

Early canvass returns from polling stations across Northern
Ireland showed voter turnout varied substantially from one
constituency to another.

The trend of previous elections, with turnout higher in
constituencies in the west of the province than those in the
east, appeared to have continued.

The greatest focus was on the key seats of Upper Bann and of
Foyle, where David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, and
Mark Durkan, the nationalist SDLP leader, were engaged in
desperate fights for their political lives.

In Upper Bann, where the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic
Unionists were hopeful of capturing David Trimble’s
constituency, initial reports suggested turnout was about 65
per cent to 70 per cent.

In the key area of Banbridge, which many pundits believe the
UUP must win, turnout was estimated at 60 per cent to 65 per

Sinn Fein was content with the turnout of the party’s core vote
in the battleground Foyle constituency, where the party’s
general secretary, Mitchel McLaughlin, is hoping to capture
former SDLP leader John Hume’s seat.

Sinn Fein was also pleased with West Tyrone, Fermanagh and
South Tyrone, and the target seat of Newry and Armagh where
its candidate, Conor Murphy, is the strong favourite to top the

During the evening rush, polling stations in Newry were
reporting hour-long queues as voters cast their Westminster
ballots under the first-past-the-post electoral system and their
local council ballots under a single transferable vote system.

In the DUP’s target constituency of South Antrim, supporters of
Ulster Unionist David Burnside were concerned at reports that
the turnout was 55 per cent to 60 per cent, fearing that could
enable the Rev William McCrea to regain the seat.

The DUP was hopeful about its prospects in East Antrim and in
South Belfast, amid reports of strong turnouts in loyalist areas
such as the Belvoir estate, Donegall Pass and the Cregagh


First Results Indicate Labour Win But Majority Down

Frank Millar in London and Dan Keenan in Belfast

First results from the British general election last night
appeared to support exit poll predictions of a historic third
victory for Labour but with a massive reduction in prime
minister Tony Blair's Commons majority.

A minute after polling stations closed across the United
Kingdom, NOP and MORI - jointly commissioned for the BBC
and ITN - had Labour scoring an unprecedented third win but
with only 37 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Conservatives on
33 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on 22 per cent.

On those figures Mr Blair's projected majority in the new House
of Commons would be slashed by almost 100, a fall certain to
renew questions about his tenure in 10 Downing Street.

And a long, nervous night for Labour's high command was
guaranteed within the hour when Sunderland South declared
foreign office minister Chris Mullin re-elected, but with a swing
to the Conservatives of 4 per cent. With Labour's share of the
vote down 5 per cent, the Conservatives up 2 per cent and the
Liberal Democrats up 3 per cent, expert Prof Anthony King said
if that pattern was repeated throughout the night the end result
for Mr Blair might be still worse than that suggested by the exit

Amid worrying reports for Labour that the Conservatives were
challenging hard in key target seats like Putney, Hove and
Birmingham Edgbaston, the pattern was then repeated in
neighbouring Sunderland North. Labour again held this safe
seat on a 50 per cent turnout but with its share of the vote down
a full 9 per cent.

With the Conservatives also down 1 per cent and the Liberal
Democrats up 6 per cent, this suggested an even higher swing
to the Conservatives of 5 per cent, with the Lib Dems attracting
support from disillusioned Labour supporters.

Commenting on the early results and the exit poll, health
secretary John Reid said that, if broadly correct, the final
outcome would be a truly "historic" achievement for Labour
under Mr Blair. He anticipated an overall result equalling
Margaret Thatcher's previously unrivalled election winning

However Labour's election co-ordinator, while echoing the
same line, appeared to confirm reports that Labour strategists
in London were anticipating a night for further shocks and
reverses in some of the battleground marginal seats. Alan
Milburn said: "There's a health warning on any exit poll. But if
this exit poll is right, then Labour would have secured a third
term in government for the first time in our party's history."

Michael Howard, meanwhile, had his eyes on key Tory target
seats like Putney to discover if he had sufficiently increased his
party's overall share of the vote and gained sufficient seats to
stave off another Conservative leadership crisis.

Meanwhile, voting in the Northern Ireland constituencies with
1.1 million registered voters picked up last evening, providing a
brisk end to a day described by the electoral office as "steady".

Results due later today are widely expected to underscore the
positions of Sinn Féin and the DUP as unequivocal leaders of
the North's distinct political communities.

© The Irish Times


Long Wait For Northern Ireland Candidates

By Dan McGinn, PA Ireland Political Editor

Unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland are facing a
sleepless night before counting for the province’s 18
Westminster seats begins.

That will get under way at 9am tomorrow, with the first results
expected in the afternoon.

Early canvass returns from polling stations across Northern
Ireland showed voter turnout varied significantly from
constituency to constituency.

The trend of previous elections, with turnout higher in
constituencies in the west of the province than the east,
appeared to have continued.

The greatest focus was on the battles for the key seats of Upper
Bann and of Foyle, where Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
and nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan were engaged in
desperate fights for their political lives.

In Upper Bann, where the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic
Unionists are hopeful of capturing David Trimble’s
constituency, initial reports suggested the overall turnout could
be around 65% to 70%.

DUP candidate David Simpson’s election team were pleased
with their heartlands in Portadown and Lurgan.

In the key area of Banbridge, which many pundits believe the
UUP must win, turnout was estimated at 60% to 65%.

Sinn Fein was content with the turnout of the party’s core vote
in the battleground Foyle constituency, where general secretary
Mitchel McLaughlin is hoping to capture former SDLP leader
John Hume’s seat.

Sinn Fein was also pleased with West Tyrone, Fermanagh and
South Tyrone, and the target seat of Newry and Armagh where
its candidate Conor Murphy is the strong favourite to top the

During the evening rush, polling stations in Newry were
reporting hour-long queues as voters cast their Westminster
ballots under the first-past-the-post electoral system and their
local council ballots under a single transferable vote system.

In the DUP’s target constituency of South Antrim, supporters of
Ulster Unionist David Burnside were concerned at reports that
the turnout was 55% to 60%, fearing that could enable the Rev
William McCrea to regain the seat.

The DUP was also hopeful about its prospects in East Antrim
and in South Belfast, where the party was reporting strong
turnouts in working-class loyalist neighbourhoods such as the
Belvoir estate, Donegall Pass and the Cregagh Road.

Ulster Unionists were more confident about their candidate
Lady Sylvia Hermon’s prospects of holding on to the seat in
North Down, bolstered by support from the cross-community
Alliance Party.

Unionists in East and North Belfast reported a 55% turnout in
their areas.


Low-Key Campaign Ends With A 'Steady' Turnout

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Polling staff, like medical people, have their preferred clichés.
While hospital patients are usually "stable" or "comfortable",
turnout on polling day attracts only a small variety of

Yesterday's preferred description was "steady". This is
understood to mean that staff at polling stations had voters to
deal with more or less all day. Unscientific and anecdotal
evidence pointed to the absence everywhere of any "lull" -
another poll-clerk cliche - normally associated with European

Voters contended with two parallel elections, involving two
ballot papers, two electoral voting systems and two ballot

No wonder 27,000 spoiled ballots were recorded in 2001, the
last time the ploy of holding parliamentary and local elections
simultaneously was tried.

While bookies had long stopped taking bets on the likes of Ian
Paisley and Gerry Adams, what media interest there was left
after a low-key, month-long campaign centres on the handful of
seats that could change hands.

In Lagan Valley, David Trimble beamed for the cameras and
gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up, despite the many predictions
of his demise. Those holding the power to endorse or dismiss
him were, of course, in the neighbouring Upper Bann
constituency. But Mr Trimble has the honour of living in Jeffrey
Donaldson's constituency, in an area which has been visited
with enthusiasm by DUP canvassers.

David Simpson, Mr Trimble's DUP opponent and the favourite
to clinch the UUP leader's seat, spent much of his day
encouraging what he believes is an anti-Trimble majority to
state on their ballot papers what they have been telling him on
the doorstep.

In West Belfast, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams opted for
casual, woolly-jumper mode as voters no doubt set about
giving him another anxiety-free majority.

The Rev Ian Paisley, also near certain to retain his North Antrim
seat as he has at every general election since 1970, voted early,
sporting a red, white and blue rosette with matching tie.

Not so certain of his result was Sinn Féin general secretary
Mitchel McLaughlin in Foyle. Mark Durkan, bidding to retain an
SDLP majority of any size, turned out to vote with his infant
daughter Dearhaill, who cannot vote for her father for another
17 years and eight months.

Sinn Féin sources in Derry privately and confidently insisted
they would take the seat, just as SDLP workers forecast a
Durkan majority of 2,000.

In South Antrim, rebel Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside
looked to the heavens for indications of the likely turnout in his
battle with DUP man Willie McCrea.

The response was mixed - a bright, breezy spring morning gave
way to a rain-interrupted afternoon before settled weather
returned after teatime.

South Belfast, a two-way, three-way or four-way contest,
depending on which party you talk to, appeared to have
prompted greater than usual interest. Voter participation
seemed set to rise as the evening rush got under way.

No such turnout concerns west of the Bann, where substantial
numbers are the norm and reports referred to queues forming
at 7.05am in parts of Fermanagh.

North elections: the counts

Counting in the Northern Ireland Westminster constituencies
begins this morning at eight count centres. The first reliable
indications are not expected before mid afternoon. The 18 seats
are being contested by 105 candidates seeking the votes of the
1,148,486 people on the electoral register.

Voters were assigned to 1,543 polling stations at 614 centres
across the North. Polling ceased last night at 10pm having
opened at 7am.

Westminster elections, unlike all others in Northern Ireland,
employ a first-past-the-post system whereby electors must only
mark the ballot paper with an "X" opposite their single
candidate of choice.

This makes the count procedure much simpler than the single
transferable vote version of proportional representation which
is used in other elections.

Despite this, chief electoral officer Dennis Stanley has said he
wants a reliable and accurate count rather than an early one.

Bookies regard just five or six of the 18 seats as marginal. Party
leaders David Trimble and Mark Durkan are fighting David
Simpson and Mitchel McLaughlin to retain their party grip on
Upper Bann and on Foyle.

Lady Sylvia Hermon is seeking to hold North Down against the
first-time challenge of the DUP's Peter Weir.

There is intense unionist rivalry in South Antrim between the
DUP's Rev William McCrea and Ulster Unionist hardliner David

South Belfast also sees a convoluted struggle between UUP
former minister Michael McGimpsey and Jimmy Spratt, his DUP
challenger. If the unionist vote divides equally, then SDLP
deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell could break through the
middle to take the seat.

Voters are also electing 582 members to sit on Northern
Ireland's 26 local councils. Turnout figures for the local
government elections are expected to be higher, thanks to the
decision to hold both polls simultaneously. Counting in the
council elections is being held over until Monday morning and
is expected to take two days. - Dan Keenan

© The Irish Times


Trimble In Battle To Hold Seat
2005-05-06 01:00:01+01

Voters in Northern Ireland will learn today if Ulster Unionist
leader David Trimble will still be in the House of Commons as
counting for the North's 18 Westminster seats gets under way.

Mr Trimble is fighting for his political life in his Upper Bann
constituency, and the Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists
believe their candidate David Smpson can claim the biggest
scalp of the UK general election.

But Sinn Féin is also hoping to capture another Nobel Peace
Prize winner's seat in Foyle, where the party's general secretary
Mitchel McLaughlin believes he can win former nationalist
SDLP leader John Hume's constituency.

Current SDLP leader Mark Durkan is defending the seat, a do-
or-die constituency for the party.

There were claims last night in Derry that turnout in the
constituency could be in late 60%s.

When the last Parliament was dissolved, the DUP had six seats,
one gained when Jeffrey Donaldson defected from the Ulster

The UUP had five MPs, Sinn Féin four, and the nationalist SDLP
three. During the election campaign, the DUP aggressively
targeted all five UUP seats.

Sinn Féin was hopeful it could take two of the SDLP's, including


Practical Step In N. Ireland

The Monitor's View

Before the British elections Thursday, Sinn Fein leader Gerry
Adams said all the right things about getting Northern Ireland
back on the peace-process track.

In the Monitor

Friday, 05/06/05

He called on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) - his Catholic
party's paramilitary wing - to embrace "purely political and
democratic activity." He also identified "real and lasting peace"
as the most important campaign issue, and he spoke of "a
return to the negotiating table."

These lofty words will float like puffy clouds of rhetoric unless
he grounds them with action. And nowhere is this more urgent
than in getting the IRA to give up its weapons and mafia-style

The 1998 Good Friday accord dealing with the Catholic-
Protestant dispute required just this step - an essential security
measure after three decades of sectarian violence claimed more
than 3,500 lives.

But the accord has yet to be fully implemented. The bomb
blasts and attacks are over; however, the power-sharing
government called for in the peace pact collapsed in 2002, and
rule reverted to London. Negotiations to reinstate an executive
government broke down in December over precisely this issue
of arms. Protestants demanded proof - photographs - of the IRA
disarming. The IRA refused.

The route to IRA progress on this issue is through its political
side and Mr. Adams. He's now on record, or at least sounds as
if he is, that the IRA must disarm. But while he waits for an IRA
conversion, he can further try to persuade the IRA by taking a
practical step away from paramilitarism.

That step would be to throw Sinn Fein support behind Northern
Ireland's relatively new Policing Board, tasked with building
impartial policing - another provision of the Good Friday
accord. Even though the Catholic church endorses the board,
Sinn Fein won't participate.

Unbiased policing speaks directly to the trust required to shape
a truly functioning democratic Northern Ireland. Nothing
illustrates this better than the case of Robert McCartney, a
Catholic killed outside a bar in an IRA neighborhood in Belfast
on Jan. 30. His sisters have undertaken a global publicity effort
to try his case in court. But for fear of IRA retaliation, no
witnesses will come forward, even though it's widely known
who the killers are.

In this case of IRA vigilantism, Adams appears to be on the side
of the law. He's called for people to speak up, and has expelled
two witnesses from Sinn Fein for failing to provide information.
But Adams could set an example by actually assisting law
enforcement, instead of internally working the Sinn Fein/IRA
system. Even more, he could use this as an opportunity to
encourage Catholics to join the police force.

As long as Sinn Fein tolerates IRA vigilante justice and
criminality, it's hard to take Adams's words seriously when he
says the IRA must change.


Blast At NYC Building Housing U.K. Consulate Probed

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Explosives packed in two replica
grenades detonated early this morning outside the entrance to
a glass-and-steel office building in New York City housing the
U.K. consulate, authorities said.

A United Nations employee was taken into custody in
connection with the incident, UN spokesman Frahan Haq said.
The Associated Press, citing law enforcement officials, said the
UN worker is a Dutch national who lives near the consulate.

No one was injured and there were no claims of responsibility
for the 3:35 a.m. blast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters
at the site, near the Citigroup Center in midtown Manhattan.

``We at this point have absolutely no knowledge what the
motive was,'' Bloomberg said. ``No one should jump to

The 21-story building at 845 Third Avenue, spanning the block
between 51st and 52nd Streets, is home to a variety of foreign
and domestic businesses. The street-level retail space is
shared by a branch of North Fork Bank, based in Melville, New
York, and a sporting goods chain, The Sports Authority, based
in Englewood, Colorado.

The explosion came on a day when Britons were voting in
parliamentary elections, and on the anniversary of the 1981
death of Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands following
a hunger strike that sparked riots in Northern Ireland.

Conference Board

The British consulate's presence isn't advertised on the exterior
of the building, which also houses the and the U.S.
headquarters of Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest
newspaper, and the Conference Board, a research group that
produces a monthly U.S. consumer confidence index and an
index of leading economic indicators, among other U.S.
economic barometers.

The two ``novelty-type'' grenades, placed in a concrete flower
planter outside the building's entrance, had evidently been
stuffed with black powder and detonated using a crude fuse,
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters. They blew
an hourglass-shaped hole in a glass panel between two
revolving doors.

``If someone was in the vicinity, they could have been seriously
injured,'' Kelly said.

Police closed Third Avenue between 50th and 53rd Streets, and
subway trains skipped the 51st Street stop on the Lexington
Avenue line for several hours while the blast was being
investigated. Other consulates in the city were checked as a
precaution and no other devices were found, Bloomberg said.

The UN tightened security at all entry points and called in about
a half-dozen bomb-sniffing dogs to search for possible
explosives, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Outside the building at mid-morning, Sayan Murkherjee, 35, of
Plainsboro, New Jersey, said he was ``pretty shocked'' when he
heard of the bombing, but decided to take a chance and go to
the consulate for a visa anyway.

`London Was Open'

``I thought that London was open for business during the blitz,
so I thought that a couple of firecrackers should not bother
them,'' Murkherjee said.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the
incident along with the New York police bomb squad, the police
arson and explosion squad and a joint local-federal terrorism
task force, a police statement said.

Police officers from the 17th Precinct stationhouse, around the
corner from the building, and firefighters from a nearby fire
station heard the explosions and ran to the scene. They didn't
see anyone running away, Bloomberg said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News
parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Todd Zeranski in New York at;
David M. Levitt in New York at;
Last Updated: May 5, 2005 14:46 EDT


DPP Criticised Over Omagh Charges

The solicitor acting for a man expected to face murder charges
in connection with the 1998 Omagh bomb has criticised the
Director of Public Prosecutions.

Peter Corrigan said it was unacceptable he had not been
informed that the DPP had directed police to bring charges
against 35-year-old Sean Gerard Hoey.

Mr Hoey, from Jonesborough, County Armagh, is currently in
custody at Maghaberry jail on terror charges.

His solicitor said he was disturbed at the way the decision was

"My reaction is one of profound shock," said Mr Corrigan.

"Whilst acknowledging that the Crown and the DPP have an
element of discretion in adding counts to an indictment, it is
surprising that the DPP didn't obtain the Attorney General's
consent for multitude murder offences.

"It just beggars belief."

He said he had spoken to a member of the DPP at length on
Wednesday, and "at no stage did they indicate that murder
charges would be preferred" against Mr Hoey.

The solicitor said it was "most unsatisfactory" that a defence
solicitor and a defendant should hear of impending murder
charges through the media.

"This isn't the way justice should be dispensed," he said.

Mr Corrigan said that he would be putting a case forward to the
Police Ombudsman that his client was being used as a
"political scapegoat to cover up for the botched police
investigation into the Omagh investigation".

The prosecution service is believed to have directed police to
bring charges against Mr Hoey, an electrician, after a review of
forensic and scientific evidence.

On Wednesday, a police spokesperson said "significant time
and resources" had been dedicated to the ongoing

"The current position is that the senior investigating officer has
received directions from the DPP which are being processed."

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden was killed in the blast,
welcomed the news.

"It's what we've been waiting for and I would hope this will be
the beginning of the end for the families," he said.

Investigation criticised

"The investigation team has worked very, very hard and they've
had our full support. We're delighted things are starting to

Victor Barker from Surrey, whose son James, 12, was also
killed, said he was delighted by the development.

"It's marvellous, but it has taken an awful long time," he said.

The dissident republican grouping, the Real IRA, carried out the
attack on the County Tyrone market town.

More than 300 people were injured in the no warning car bomb,
the worst single terrorist outrage in Northern Ireland.

One of the 29 fatalities was a woman pregnant with twins.

A new police inquiry began in May 2002 and followed criticism
by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, of
the original investigation by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and
the then chief constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

Containing thousands of documents, the police files in the case
have been with the DPP since last summer - following an 18-
month review of all the forensic and scientific evidence in the

Relatives of some of the victims feared no-one would ever be
charged with the murders and mounted their own civil case
against five men they believed were responsible.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/05 17:37:46 GMT


Govt Urged To Tackle Suicide Problem

05/05/2005 - 13:39:17

The Government must establish a national agency to co-
ordinate radically-improved services for suicide – the biggest
killer of 15 to 24 year-olds, it was claimed today.

Ten Dáil TDs have demanded a National Suicide Prevention
Agency to oversee advice, counselling and treatment for people
at risk in schools, colleges and across communities.

The Technical Group called for the immediate implementation
of 86 recommendations of the 1998 Report of the National Task
Force on Suicide and a Strategic Action Plan to treat the issue
as a national priority.

A two-day Dáil debate has been sparked by a private members’
motion in the name of TDs Paudge Connolly, Tony Gregory,
Jerry Cowley, James Breen, Seamus Healy, Catherine Murphy,
Finian McGrath, Paddy McHugh, Joe Higgins and Marian

Mr Connolly, who moved the motion on behalf of his
colleagues, said: “Official statistics show 444 people died from
suicide in Ireland in 2004: 50% more than the road death

“Ireland’s suicide rate is now rising faster than any other EU
country and the rate of females taking their own lives has
doubled between 1992 and 2000.

“There isn’t a neighbourhood that hasn’t been touched by this
hidden tragedy,” said Green Party TD John Gormley, speaking
on the motion.

He described alcohol as “Ireland’s biggest drug problem” and
blamed it for causing depression.

Replying to the motion, Minister of State for Health Brian
Lenihan said that the Government had initiated a number of
measures to tackle suicide, including a National Suicide Review
Group, and had hired Suicide Resource Officers in each health
service area.

The Government today proposed an amendment to the motion,
which was described as ‘disgraceful’ by Technical Group

The motion is due to be voted upon this afternoon.

Speaking earlier on the motion, Labour health spokesperson
Liz McManus said that only some 20% of young males in Ireland
who kill themselves have been in contact with a health
professional in the year prior to their death.

She explained: “There are simply too few social workers,
clinical psychologists and addiction counsellors. Community
mental health teams are often only available between 9am and

“The development of Primary Care teams and Primary Care
networks would provide more accessible health professionals
so that GPs and hospitals have support in managing at risk

“As things stand nearly 50% of the country’s medical card-
holders do not have access to general counselling services.

“Three of the Health Service Executive areas covering 12
counties do not have any counsellors to deal with routine cases
of anxiety and depression.”

Sinn Féin TD Sean Crowe described suicide as a "massive
social problem" and called for Government leadership on the

“Of course suicide can never be completely eliminated but
experience in other countries has shown that with proper
planning, with resources and services, and with a determination
on the part of policy-makers, lives can be saved and many
families can be spared the grief of the death of a loved one.”


Russia Honours Irishmen For Wartime Arctic Convoy Role

James Fitzgerald

Six Irish ex-sailors or pilots from the second World War were
honoured by the Russian government yesterday for the part
they played in the Arctic convoys during the early 1940s.

At a ceremony in the Russian Embassy, Ambassador Vladimir
Rakhmanin presented medals to the six ex-servicemen "to
express our gratitude to these heroes who participated in that
struggle of epic proportions".

By the age of 19, Ted Jones was an RAF captain leading nine
others in his Catalina Flying Boat that patrolled the skies
around Iceland and the Faroe Islands. His mission was to help
secure a safe passage for the convoys bringing vital supplies to
the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangelsk from other
Allied countries and, if necessary, drop depth charges on
enemy U-boats.

"I was lucky. To be a pilot was marvellous. We never really
thought of the danger. We were just doing our part," said Mr
Jones (82).

May 9th is the 60th anniversary of Victory Day when Russians
celebrate the end of the war. Some 27 million Russians were

"It's our common victory and we don't want to divide it. We all
stood together. For Russia it was a fight for survival," said Mr

The ceremony, which included a short service conducted by
Russian Orthodox Archpriest Michael Gogoleff, was attended
by officials from most embassies in Dublin.

© The Irish Times


Coroner Criticises 'Insensitive' Cliff-Jump Advert

Gordon Deegan

A Guinness advertisement depicting a man about to jump off
the Cliffs of Moher was insensitive to families who have lost
loved ones through suicide at the world-renowned location, a
coroner said yesterday.

The Guinness advert, entitled "Quarrel", depicts a young man
diving into water off the Cliffs of Moher before swimming to
New York, where he walks into a bar to say "sorry" to a friend.

Clare county coroner, Isobel O'Dea, said the advertisement was
"insensitive and could cause distress to families that have been

In 2003 and 2004 an estimated 10 people lost their lives off the
Cliffs of Moher. There has been no recorded suicide at the 200m
(700ft) cliffs so far this year.

A letter released by RTÉ under the Freedom of Information Act
shows that local Garda superintendent Seán Corcoran, who has
been involved in a number of recovery operations of suicide
victims at the cliffs, wrote to Guinness and RTÉ to express his
serious concern over the advertisement.

Supt Corcoran wrote: "The advert is, to say the least, utterly
thoughtless, needlessly cruel and distasteful.

"The Cliffs of Moher are known not only for their beauty but
also, unfortunately, as a place where an untold number of
suicides have been committed.

"Your advert is callous, insensitive, stressful and downright
offensive to the parents and families of the many people of all
ages who have unfortunately committed suicide from the cliffs.
These people come not from Clare alone, but from all over

The advert continues to be shown in Irish cinemas and had
been running on Irish TV for over a year before ending its run in

In the response, Paul Mulligan, RTÉ's head of operations in
commercial TV, said that the station's copy clearance
committee shared Supt Corcoran's concerns at script stage.

However, the committee felt that the concept was far from
reality and the execution of the particular scene in question was
such that the advertisement was approved for broadcast.

The advert was also the subject of a number of complaints to
the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

In response to complaints, the advertising agency who
developed the advert, Irish International BBDO, said the
advertisement went through much consumer research before
and after its production. At no point did the issue of dangerous
behaviour or suicide come up, they said.

There is no suggestion that the main character in the advert is
committing suicide as in fact he emerges swimming and we see
him arriving safely in New York. The tenor and mood of this
advertisement is uplifting, the agency added.

In its ruling, the ASA did not uphold the complaint as "it did not
consider that the advertisement either condoned or encouraged
dangerous behaviour or suicide. Nevertheless, it was
concerned that it appeared to have given rise to offence."

A spokeswoman for Guinness said that the man in the
advertisement is seen emerging from the water and arriving to
meet his friend, and there is no indication of how he entered the
water to start his swim.

"Surely, therefore, despite the fact that people have lost loved
ones at the Cliffs of Moher, the context of the film and its
sequences create a very different and positive image."

© The Irish Times
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