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May 22, 2005

Only Way Forward Is Thru GFA

News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 05/22/05 Adams: Only Way Forward Is Through GFA
DI 05/22/05 Hamill Enquiry To Get Underway At Craigavon
SL 05/22/05 Loyalist Turf War Fear
SL 05/22/05 Insight Into The World Of A UDA Terror Boss
SL 05/22/05 Orange Grand Master Faces Court Action
SL 05/22/05 LVF Shift Blame On Lisa Murder
SL 05/22/05 UFF Hitman Offers To Meet Lisa's Killers
SL 05/22/05 LVF Attack 'Smearing' Campaign
SL 05/22/05 Is Killer Heading Up UVF Probe Into Lisa Murder?
BB 05/22/05 Probe Into Reports Of Shots Fired
BB 05/22/05 Two Held After 'Sectarian' Attack
SL 05/22/05 Northern Bank-Style Raid Being Planned Say Cops
SL 05/22/05 Divisions On The Frontier
RE 05/22/05 Anglo-Irish Aristos Revel In Eccentricity
VC 05/22/05 Who Are The Irish?
EX 05/22/05 Lassie Movie To Start Shooting In Dublin, Wicklow


Adams - Only Way Forward Is Through The Good Friday Agreement

Published: 22 May, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams speaking in Belfast this morning said
"The DUP leader Ian Paisley declared recently that the Good Friday
Agreement is dead. The reality, acknowledged by the Taoiseach on
Friday, is that any move forward in this post-election period has to
be bedded in the Good Friday Agreement and in the acceptance by the
DUP of the Agreement's core principles."

Mr. Adams said: "In the negotiations at the end of last year Sinn Fein
insisted that the core principles and fundamentals of the Good Friday
Agreement had to be defended. As a result the DUP moved reluctantly to
accept the fundamentals of the Agreement, which was expressed in those
elements of the Comprehensive Agreement published by the two
governments last December, which dealt with the Good Friday Agreement.

"The DUP leader Ian Paisley declared recently that the Good Friday
Agreement is dead. The reality, acknowledged by the Taoiseach on
Friday, is that any move forward in this post-election period has to
be bedded in the Good Friday Agreement and in the acceptance by the
DUP of the Agreement's core principles. These include:

:: Power-sharing government on the basis of the d'Hondt formula;

:: Working with Sinn Fein in the Executive and in the joint office of
the First and Deputy First Ministers;

:: Full participation in the other institutions established under the
Good Friday Agreement including the all-Ireland Ministerial Council;

:: The transfer of powers on policing and justice to the Executive;

:: Developing the all-Ireland institutions;

:: Accepting the need for equality and human rights;

:: Measures to counter sectarianism and racism;

:: Using their influence to remove all guns from society, including
the weapons of Ulster Resistance.

"There is now an unprecedented opportunity to move forward. But this
can only be achieved on the basis of equality, inclusion and mutual
respect. The DUP can be part of the process of change or they can opt
out. But they cannot veto progress. If they do not come on board, then
the responsibility falls to the two governments s to make progress
with the parties who are committed to the Agreement and to moving
forward in partnership and co-operation.

"Obviously there must be a little space to allow the governments to
make this clear to the DUP and to prepare the way forward. This has to
include preparations to ensure the Orange Marching season is peaceful.
The DUP has a role to play in this. So too do the Loyal Orders. But
the main responsibility lies with both governments. They have to
ensure that people can live free from sectarian harassment. This
includes freedom from contentious parades."ENDS


Second Collusion Enquiry To Get Underway At Craigavon

The sister of Portadown man Robert Hamill, who was killed in a
sectarian attack eight years ago, last night appealed for help to
resolve the case.

It was announced yesterday that a public inquiry into Mr Hamill's
killing will formally commence next Tuesday.

Speaking to Daily Ireland, Mr Hamill's sister Diane called on anyone
with information about the killing or the subsequent investigation to
come forward.

Father of two (his partner was pregnant with their third child), Mr
Hamill was 25-years-old when he was kicked to death by a loyalist mob
on April 27, 1997.

The failure of a nearby RUC patrol to intervene during the attack,
alongside the handling of the RUC investigation, led to allegations of
collusion in Mr Hamill's case being considered by Canadian judge Peter

Judge Cory recommended the need for a public inquiry, which will now
proceed at Craigavon courthouse.

Diane Hamill yesterday paid tribute to solicitor Rosemary Nelson, who
represented the Hamill family before she was murdered by loyalist
paramilitaries in March, 1999.

An inquiry investigating state collusion in Mrs Nelson's case, which
was also recommended by Judge Cory, began in Craigavon last month.

Ms Hamill also urged the public to continue supporting the family of
murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in their sixteen-year-old
battle to secure truth and justice.

"We're so far supportive of the inquiry that's about to begin, but we
are also nervous about it," Ms Hamill said.

The family of Pat Finucane have refused to endorse the enquiry into
his death being proposed by the British Government, branding it
neither public nor transparent.

By Jarlath Kearney


Turf War Fear

By Sunday Life Reporter
22 May 2005

LVF fanatics may be set to trigger a new phase in their bloodstained
feud with the UVF in mid-Ulster.

Intelligence chiefs believe the countdown to mayhem could coincide
with the run-up to Twelfth celebrations.

They are convinced the terror group - formed by murdered loyalist
godfather Billy 'King Rat' Wright - is determined to escalate the
long-running vendetta.

Trouble between the rival paramilitary factions has been simmering in
recent months, over just who is the loyalist standard-bearer in mid-

Clashes erupted during a band parade in Lurgan, a fortnight ago, and
the homes of a number of leading paramilitaries have been targeted in
tit-for-tat attacks.

One key loyalist source in Belfast told Sunday Life: "This could
easily escalate out of control.

"They are a law onto themselves down there, and younger elements in
the LVF are demanding action against the UVF - particularly as there
would appear to be internal frictions in that organisation."

Added the source: "The involvement of Johnny Adair has also muddied
the waters.

"He has twice met with the LVF, since his release from prison, and
it's noticeable that tensions have risen considerably since then.

"The LVF now seems intent on expanding its territory, and that could
lead anywhere."

The feud dates back to 1996, when Wright and his terror gang were
"stood down" by the UVF, following the sectarian murder of Catholic
taxi driver, Michael McGoldrick.

It flared periodically, before exploding into violence in 2001, with
the murder of Richard Jameson, a local UVF commander, who was gunned
down as he drove to his home outside Portadown.

One intelligence source told us: "Clearly the friction between these
groups has moved up a notch with the approach of the marching season.

"Of the two, the LVF would be the bigger player in the drugs trade and
flush with the profits, AND the more extreme elements would appear to
want the shooting to begin in earnest.

"It's a situation that is being closely monitored."


Insight Into The World Of A UDA Terror Boss

By Darwin Templeton UTV Insight
22 May 2005

IT'S a heart-warming display of friendship that was shattered by
ruthless paramilitary terror and tragedy.

On a street in east Belfast in 1983, proud fathers Jim Gray and Len
McCreery pose happily with their young sons.

In the years that followed, Gray became a UDA 'brigadier', while the
terror group sentenced his old friend to death.

Len McCreery's son, Leon, was slashed and almost beaten to death by a
UFF gang, while his father was in jail.

And Jonathan Gray - just six months old in the photo - died suddenly
when only 19 years old.

Tomorrow night, Len McCreery, now 51, breaks cover to tell UTV Insight
about his relationship with Gray. It broke down in 1992, when the UFF
murdered his brother and one-time brigadier, Ned, accusing him of
being an informer.

In 1999, McCreery tried to kill a UDA man - and became a marked man.
Even in jail, he had to be held in segregation for his own safety, but
the UFF turned on his family.

Leon was lucky to survive a vicious knife attack in which he sustained
180 stitches.

"They were actually going to murder my son. They were going to shoot
him dead," he says.

Tragedy struck Gray himself in March 2002, Jonathan Gray - known as JJ
- died while on holiday in Thailand.

His mother, Anne Tedford, tells Insight she still doesn't know the
full story - but suspects a drugs link.

The UTV show charts the rise and fall of Jim Gray, who's now in
Maghaberry on money-laundering charges.

Detectives have frozen his assets and are carrying out a snowballing
international investigation into his affairs.

They've carried out more than 40 searches, seized computers and have
amassed thousands of documents from banks, lawyers and accountants.

Michael Stone also fell foul of Gray and describes how he escaped with
his life from a so-called "court martial" while UPRG supremo, Frankie
Gallagher, details the rank-and-file revolt that led to Gray's
expulsion from the UDA.

The End of the Line - Insight, UTV, tomorrow, 8pm


Orange Grand Master Faces Court Action

By Alan Murray
22 May 2005

ORANGE Order Grand Master Bobby Saulters could be hauled before the
courts - for taking part in an illegal parade in east Belfast.

The possible prosecution of the order's figurehead has added to
growing tensions between Orangemen and the Parades Commission and
police, over this summer's marching season.

Mr Saulters is one of a number of prominent Orangemen whose names are
included in a file being prepared by police, which has examined the
circumstances surrounding the parade in February, which commemorated
the murder of two UDR soldiers in 1988.

Mr Saulters took part in the parade to the city-centre, where east
Belfast soldier, Frederick Starrett and his colleague James Cummings,
from Rathcoole, were killed by an IRA bomb, which detonated as they
closed security gates.

Both soldiers were members of the Orange Order.

The Ballymacarrett District refused to comply with a Parades
Commission rule to nominate only one officer as the parade organiser,
and were warned by a senior police officer that they were breaking the

A spokesman for the commission said that the East Belfast District
refused to nominate just one officer on each parade application -
effectively making all their marches illegal.

He said: "The Order submitted a number of names on the 11/1 form and
that does not comply with the law in the United Kingdom.

"Because they did not comply with the law, we could not adjudicate on
the parade and, therefore, it was an unlawful parade."

Two members of the district have already been charged over a parade in
east Belfast last July, when bands played The Sash outside St
Matthew's Catholic Church.

With more senior Orangemen expected to be charged over the February
parade, tensions over the parades issue have risen in the area.

From last week, the Order has become responsible for the conduct of
all people attending, or following, parades under the new Processions
Act 2005.

Lodges and districts must advise police of the number of supporters
they expect will follow parades.

Said one senior Orangeman: "How do we know how many people will line
every street?

"This is just adding to the difficulties we are facing over parades
and adding to the tension.

"We're not prepared to see one individual in every district or lodge
singled out for prosecution. There are many people involved in
organising any parade.

"We are prepared to submit the names of several people who are
actually involved in organising parades, but the Parades Commission
won't accept this."


LVF Shift Blame On Lisa Murder

The Loyalist Volunteer Force has issued a statement naming six people
they believe are connected to the murder of missing Bangor woman Lisa
Dorrian, it was revealed yesterday.

The organisation sent the statement to Mervyn Gibson, a spokesman for
the Loyalist Commission, who said he has passed on the information to
the PSNI.

However, the statement is likely to be treated with extreme

On Thursday, Lisa's mother, Pat Dorrian, said she could not believe an
LVF statement claiming that the organisation was not involved in her

Lisa (25) went missing after attending a party at a caravan site in
Ballyhalbert, Co Down, on February 28.

"I received the letter and passed it on to the PSNI in connection with
their investigation into the murder," said Mr Gibson.

"I wouldn't want to get the family's hopes up with this.

"Just because the people are named that doesn't mean anything."

Mr Gibson also offered to pass the information on to the Dorrian

Mrs Dorrian said her family would contact Mr Gibson.

"We will be interested to see what new names have been added to the
ones already mentioned," she said.

A PSNI spokesperson yesterday confirmed the existence of the letter.

""We can confirm that police have received a letter today through an
intermediary which purports to name those involved in the murder of
Lisa Dorian," said the spokesperson.

It is understood that members of a family of LVF drug-dealers in east
Belfast, who have been implicated in the murder, are not named on the

PUP leader David Ervine refused to comment on the LVF statement but
said that the PSNI should be given full support in finding the

Meanwhile, Mrs Dorrian has called on the British and Irish governments
to do more to help her family.

She said both governments should take a more proactive role in
highlighting the family's plight.

When the campaign for the 'Disappeared' - nine people who were killed
and secretly buried by the IRA - was at its height in the late 1990s,
the Irish government paid for adverts asking the public for help.

"We need all the help we can get and we need this whole tragedy to be
brought to an end," she said.

"If the governments would pay for those type of adverts it would be a
great help, it would let people know what is going on and what needs
to be done.

"It is now nearly three months since Lisa went missing and we have
been going through a living hell.

"We want Lisa's body back so that we can grieve for her properly,"
said Mrs Dorrian. An appeal fund has been set up by the Dorrian family
to raise awareness of the murder.

Three people have been questioned by the PSNI in connection with the
murder but were released without charge.

Unionist politicians have so far refused to blame the LVF for the
murder, while the PSNI described speculation that the group was
involved as 'unhelpful'.

BY Colm Heatley


UFF Hitman Offers To Meet Lisa's Killers

22 May 2005

CEMETERY killer Michael Stone last night offered to meet the evil
killers of Lisa Dorrian.

The former UFF hitman told Sunday Life he would act as a 'go-between'
in a bid to recover the Co Down woman's body.

The pretty 25-year-old vanished, after being at a party in a
Ballyhalbert caravan site, on February 28.

Stone made the offer after cops confirmed this week that loyalist
paramilitaries - believed to be the LVF - were being linked to the

But, the Dorrian family were last night shocked at the killer's offer
of help.

Said Lisa's sister Joanne: "It just goes to show you how crazy the
situation my family finds itself in.

"The only thing we know about someone like Michael Stone is what we
read in the media - this is a world totally alien to ours.

"My mum said she would be willing to meet anyone if they had any
information on thewhereabouts of Lisa's body.

"We are begging people to help us, but we can't comment on Michael
Stone's offer because we know nothing about him."

The graveyard murderer said he would "go anywhere" to locate Lisa's

Said Stone: "The people who abducted, murdered and have still not
returned this young woman to her family, cannot be classed as true
loyalists. It must be terrible what this family is going through."


LVF Attack 'Smearing' Campaign

22 May 2005

THE LVF has slammed its bitter UVF rivals for pointing the finger of
blame at it over Lisa Dorrian's disappearance.

In a statement released yesterday, the terror group again denied
involvement in Lisa's disappearance - and accused its rivals of
conducting a "smearing campaign" for an unnamed intelligence agency.

The statement said: "The individuals directing this smearing campaign,
for whatever agency, should hang their heads in shame instead of
attempting to pretend that they have morals, decency or honour among

And, the LVF warned the UVF that its "usual policy of informing,
smearing and graffiti-painting against those who oppose their ways is
now well-documented and will be answered in due course".

The LVF statement was issued in a bid to refute allegations made in a
BBC programme, which claimed figures associated with the outlawed
group had murdered Lisa, and disposed of her body.

The LVF claimed it had conducted its own inquiries into "this terrible
and tragic event" and were satisfied none of its members was involved.

And, in a scathing attack on the UVF, from which it split nine years
ago, the LVF said it found it "repugnant" that the organisation was
trying to smear other loyalists.


Is Cut-Throat Killer Heading Up UVF Probe Into Lisa Murder?

By Stephen Breen
22 May 2005

A SENIOR loyalist last night denied that a cut-throat killer was
heading the UVF's probe into the murder of Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian.

PUP boss David Ervine claimed Samuel 'Uel' Cooke - jailed in 1994 for
the brutal sectarian murder of Anne-Marie Smyth - was not in charge of
the terror group's investigation into Lisa's killing.

But security sources told us Cooke - believed to be the UVF's second-
in-command in the east of the city - had been tasked with
orchestrating the group - and the Red Hand Commando's - probe into
Lisa's disappearance.

Sources claimed the UVF leadership's appointment had caused anger
among the terror group's rank-and-file, because of Cooke's role in the
killing of Ms Smyth.

The 26-year-old mum-of-two was found dead with her throat cut in a
pool of blood on waste ground in east Belfast, in 1992.

Ms Smyth was lured to Cooke's house where she was strangled. She was
then driven to waste ground at Ballarat Street, where her throat was

Said the source: "The word on the ground is that Cooke is in charge of
the investigation into Lisa's murder, and that he has already
interviewed a number of people.

"But a number of top UVF men don't see why Cooke is heading the
inquiry, because he is a convicted killer of an innocent women.

"Some of the men think he is being a bit hypocritical - especially
after what he did to a defenceless woman.

"The UVF are determined to get to the bottom of this, because the
community is outraged at this horrific act."

Mr Ervine denied reports the convicted killer was hunting for Lisa's

Said the PUP man: "I've already made my position clear on the UVF's
and Red Hand Commando's position into Lisa Dorrian's murder.

"I don't know who the individuals are who are conducting the
investigation, but the belief that it is Samuel Cooke is simply not


Probe Into Reports Of Shots Fired

Police in Londonderry have appealed for information after receiving
reports of shots possibly being fired in the Creggan estate.

Noises which sounded like shots were heard at about 0020 BST in the
Lislane Drive area, a police spokesperson said.

It followed a separate incident on Friday evening in the city where
shots were fired in a crowded bar.

Three hooded men walked into Jackie Mullan's in Sackville Street and
fired three shots into the pub's ceiling.

A police spokesman said the three men made off on foot. They were
described as wearing black jeans, black jackets and baseball caps.

There were about 200 people in the bar at the time. No-one was
injured. Police have appealed for information.

Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry, Gerry O'hEara, said it was a reckless act.

"It think that to go into a crowded city centre bar on a Friday night,
the potential for this to go wrong and someone getting injured was
very great," he said.

"I don't understand the rationale behind it."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/22 09:22:37 GMT


Two Held After 'Sectarian' Attack

Two men have been arrested following what police have described as a
sectarian attack on a house in County Antrim.

A petrol bomb was thrown at the front of the house in the Brookfield
Gardens area of Ahoghill just before 0400 BST on Sunday.

It missed the house, hit a tree and burnt out. A woman who was in the
house at the time was unhurt.

Police have appealed for any witnesses to contact them.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/22 08:08:11 GMT



Northern Bank-Style Raid Being Planned Say Cops

By Alan Murray
22 May 2005

COPS believe the IRA is on the brink of a massive 'Northern Bank'-
style heist.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde has waived overtime restrictions for
specialist surveillance units to mount round-the-clock operations
against the Provo team.

In spite of the political fallout from last December's £26.5m robbery,
it's suspected the same IRA gang has another major 'spectacular'

It's not known what the target is - but it may be a moving consignment
of cash or cigarettes, or even a shipment of hi-tech equipment rather
than another bank.

Since the Christmas week raid, additional wiretap warrants have been
signed to monitor key suspects and their associates.

Lapsed warrants for the phones of leading republicans were also
restored by former Secretary of State Paul Murphy.

Members of the tight-knit IRA gang are being closely monitored, in the
hope that a vital clue will reveal their next plan.

But security sources admit that the unit is so tightly-controlled by
the organisation's director of intelligence, that it hasn't been
possible to infiltrate it.

Said a senior security source: "It's surveillance, surveillance,
surveillance all the way.

"It isn't denied that the IRA unit behind the Northern Bank robbery is
so tightly-controlled that no human intelligence source can learn what
it is planning.

"But there are little signs that something is in the offing."

The Chief Constable and the Policing Board are aware that another
successful IRA heist will further erode public confidence.

The DUP is already demanding greater representation on the board,
because of its election success.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said yesterday that it was
"astonishing" the IRA could be contemplating another major robbery.

He said: "It makes you wonder if they have any intention of truly
embracing the democratic process.

"But if they were to pull off another spectacular, it would raise
questions about the inability of the new PSNI crime and intelligence
department to thwart terrorist crime.

"The cuts imposed under Patten, to decimate Special Branch have
already undermined public confidence, and another major IRA robbery
would erode more public confidence in the PSNI and the Chief


Divisions On The Frontier

By Stephen Breen
22 May 2005

PROTESTANTS living in border counties are becoming more insular and
marginalised, according to a new report.

And the document - entitled Border Protestant Perspectives - also
reveals that young Protestants have reservations about marrying people
from other religions.

The research - commissioned by Belfast-based Locus Management -
sampled the attitudes of different age-groups living in the border
counties of Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal and Louth.

Findings include that only 13pc of 25 to 35-year-olds would approve
without reservation of one of their offspring marrying a Catholic -
compared with 23pc of those aged 51-to-65.

Other findings revealed that just 6pc of the survey's 453 respondents
were in mixed religion marriages.

And, while there was support for a sense of national identity, there
was a small number who did not identify easily with the Irish state.

The views of some of the respondents in the household survey are
different to the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon - son of the former
Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher - who married his wife, Orla, in a
Catholic ceremony jointly celebrated by his father and a Catholic

The initiative took two years to complete and was funded by European
Union's Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.

Similar findings have also been completed in Northern Ireland - and a
number of surveys based on the attitudes of Protestants living in
interface areas are set to be completed later this year.

Maria Curran, a director with Locus Management, told Sunday Life there
was "anecdotal evidence" to suggest Protestants were becoming more
marginalised in the Republic.

Said Mrs Curran: "The main issues which were discussed in the survey
were social inclusion, community relations and community

"The survey was conducted because there was a feeling that the
Protestant community did not benefit from European funding in the same
way as the Catholic community. The survey was a very long process,
because respondents wanted to maintain their anonymity.

"We had to rely on churches, schools and community groups to deliver
the questionnaires.

"The survey was quite long and quite challenging and there was a lot
of issues around identity.

"We are very happy with the survey's findings and a substantial number
of people took part."

In 2002, there were 120,000 Protestants in the Irish Republic -
compared with 340,000 in 1902.


Anglo-Irish Aristos Revel In Eccentricity

Sun May 22, 2005 10:51 AM BST

By Paul Majendie

CASTLE LESLIE (Reuters) - At the ripe old age of 88, Anglo-Irish
aristocrat Sir John Leslie has found the secret of eternal youth -- he
goes disco-dancing every weekend.

In a land where stately homes were once hated symbols of British
colonial oppression, the "boogie baronet" is a target of affection,
not derision.

Struggling against dry rot and crippling taxes to keep their gothic
piles from falling down, the owners of Ireland's great houses try
everything from rock concerts to grand weddings.

For only about a quarter of the 400 ancestral homes that flourished in
the 19th century are surviving.

History left many bitter memories.

They were mostly built for Anglo-Irish rulers -- the descendants of
army generals and officials who accompanied Oliver Cromwell and King
William III to Ireland in the 17th century.

After Irish independence from Britain in 1921, they became hated
symbols of the past. Along the border with British-ruled Northern
Ireland, many were burned down by the Irish Republican Army as late as
the 1980s.

Now the Celtic Tiger with one of Europe's booming economies is very
much more at ease with its past.

"The Anglo-Irish combine the best of the British, the best of the
Irish and a healthy dose of eccentricity," Sir John Leslie told
Reuters in an interview at the family's stately 17th century home in
the border county of Monaghan.

Few would dispute that view watching Sir John, resplendent in tweed
jacket, cowboy belt and elegant beret topped with a goose feather,
wandering down to feed the peacocks in their lakeside pen.

"I feel the ghosts of the past all around me," said the gaunt and
angular aristocrat as he toured the house, in the tiny village of
Glaslough, that holds so many memories. But he could never be accused
of just living on them.

Disco dancing every weekend keeps him young.

"I have been to discos in Ibiza and Monte Carlo but nothing beats
County Monaghan," he said. "That thunder music really gets into your
bones and gets the circulation going. I always feel better the next

"Some boys offer me white tablets but I tell them the only drug I take
is whiskey. To my utter amazement, the girls keep inviting me to
dance. They hug and kiss me."

Sir John won instant notoriety three years ago when he let slip that
the castle was to be the venue for the marriage of former Beatle Paul
McCartney to Heather Mills.

"It certainly was on a very grand scale. The guests all ate off gold
plates and got to keep them as souvenirs afterwards," he recalled.

Staying at Castle Leslie feels like a weekend in a time machine and
guests from as far afield as Australia, Japan and Russia lap up its
faded splendours.

Ramshackle elegance abounds from the moment they are greeted by two
muddy hounds who make their homes in baskets laid out in the stone
porch. Inside it's all grand pianos, Italianate tables and musty
portraits of past peers.

Few could top Sir John's guided tour around the home of one of
Ireland's most colourful families, who claim to be descended from
Attila the Hun.

The cast ranges from the future Duke of Wellington to the Chief
Justice of Samoa.

John's brother Desmond was a wartime Spitfire pilot who wrote a study
of UFO's and even organised a landing pad for them in the castle

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Who Are The Irish?

By Alicia A. Reynolds
May 22, 2005

DERRY, Northern Ireland -- Sitting at a bar in Stansted Airport
sharing a pint with fellow travelers from the United Kingdom, I was
asked, "How do you find the Irish?"

I wasn't sure how to answer that loaded question beyond the customary
response, "They're very friendly." This, of course, is true, but the
"Irish," if there truly is such a people, are much more than the
stereotypical pint-drinking, fiddle-playing, joke-telling, how-are-ya,
gregarious folks featured in all those travel books that fill U.S.
bookstores coast to coast.

The truth is, that after being in Ireland for 10 months now, I've yet
to meet any Irish people. Instead, I've met people from Donegal,
County Tyrone, Dubliners, those from Cork and Limerick and, of course,
the proud people of Derry.

Ireland is not so much populated by people who see themselves as Irish
but as members of distinct regions and clans. What I have discovered
is that the term "Irish" is really used for the sake of the foreigner,
the nonindigenous outside world that can't truly begin to comprehend
the subtle cultural diversity that exists within this small island.

It's particularly amazing to me, as a Californian, to drive a mere 50
miles in any direction here in Ireland and find a noticeable
difference in accents and sensibility. Donegal people aren't Derry
people, and you'll not mistake a native Dubliner with someone reared
in Cork.

However, you can literally drive for hundreds of miles throughout
California, and most of the western United States, and hardly notice
any change in accents or cultural norms.

But not here, people from, say, Omagh or Portstewart, both less than
50 miles from Derry, feel absolutely distinct from each other and from
Derry as well. This is particularly true here in Northern Ireland
where so many towns have been divided along sectarian lines. But even
prior to the religious divide, Ireland was a land of clans, which have
ancient roots. Indigenous people of this island have been continuous
members of some of the most ancient cultures within Europe. This
accounts for why people who live within a stone's throw can have such
a divergent sense of identity.

This is also why a nonindigenous person living in Ireland, or even
born in Ireland, can never become "Irish." Because there is no "Irish"
identity in the way there is an American identity. America is based on
a concept, a political ideology that can be adopted by quite literally
anyone who finds his or her way to the United States.

Irish identity is based on cultural affinity to various regions and
clans within Ireland. It's an intrinsic cultural identity that stems
back for generations upon generations. That's why my aunt, who has
lived in Ireland for 30 years and is an Irish citizen, will
nonetheless never be Irish. She is an "American" who has lived, worked
and raised her family in Dublin.

Similarly, city residents often tell her 42-year-old son who has lived
in Dublin since the age of 4 and has raised his own family in Dublin
that he's not a "real Dubliner." While many in the United States
proudly think of themselves as Irish-American, my aunt doesn't have
the option of calling herself American-Irish.

Having a "hyphenated" sense of cultural identity is not a concept that
exists here.

Ironically, the people of Ireland who were often forced to emigrate to
many nations, are finding it difficult to deal with the immigrants
they now find moving into their own towns and cities. TV and radio
shows here in Ireland are often abuzz with the question of what to do
with all the Poles, Turks, Nigerians and Chinese workers who have come
to Ireland to partake of the Celtic Tiger bounty. At long last a
nation that was so impoverished that millions fled its shores now is
experiencing a prosperity that is attracting the world's poor in the

However unlike in America, there is no real mechanism in Ireland for
assimilating people from different cultures. Strangers like myself are
certainly welcome in Ireland, but no matter how long we may choose to
stay, we can't ever really become Irish. It's akin to being Jewish.
You can convert to Judaism but you can never really be a Jew unless
you have been raised in that ancient culture. Ireland is a nation
populated by native peoples who can trace their heritage back to this
land for hundreds and hundreds of years. And that is essentially at
the heart of the "Irish" identity -- an identity steeped in ties to
land and clan. It's one thing to buy a house in Donegal, it's another
thing to pass the local cemetery where great-great-grandparents are
buried -- now that's what I call having a sense of identity that is
tied to the very land on which you walk. Such is the reality for many
who live here; they're family is quite literally rooted in the very
soil of where they live.

"How do I find the 'Irish'?" Well, I suppose what I can say is that I
am still looking. So far, what I have discovered is a rich tapestry of
people whose deep and subtle differences are only now becoming
apparent to an outsider like myself -- a welcomed stranger.

-- Alicia A. Reynolds, of Ventura, is spending a year as a Fulbright
Exchange Teacher in Derry, Northern Ireland. Her "Derry Diaries" can
be viewed on the Web site,


Lassie Movie To Start Shooting In Dublin, Wicklow

The new Lassie film starring legendary actor Peter O'Toole and
Samantha Morton is to begin shooting in Dublin and Wicklow tomorrow.

The cast, including O'Toole renowned for his part in Lawrence of
Arabia, Morton and Peter Dinklage, have been preparing for the six-
week shoot in locations across Wicklow, Dublin and the Isle of Man.

Director Charles Sturridge also wrote the script which was based on
Eric Knight's classic 1938 novel 'Lassie Come Home'.

Ireland was chosen as the prime shooting destination with the
filmmakers availing of the tax incentive, Section 481, for filming on
locations around the country.

The new film is set on the eve of World War II in a Yorkshire mining
town, where the Carraclough family fall on hard times and are forced
to sell their plucky collie, Lassie, to the Duke of Rudling.

Lassie is determined to return home despite being taken 500 miles
away. The feel-good movie sees Lassie confronting danger and seeking
help from strangers as she makes her way home in time for Christmas.

The film on the world's most famous dog will be produced by Ireland's
Element Films, producers of Omagh and The Magdalene Sisters,
Firstsight Films and Classic Media.

The cast includes the seven-time Academy Award nominee O'Toole as the
Duke of Rudling, Morton from Minority Report as Sarah Carraclough and
Peter Dinklage as Rowlie. Some of the other cast includes Steve
Pemberton from the League of Gentlemen, John Lynch, Jemma Redgrave and
Gregor Fisher.

The dog became a firm favourite with audiences from the first film,
Lassie Come Home, in 1943 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy

Around 10 feature films followed on the adventures of the plucky
collie as well as 675 half-hour television episodes.

The two-time Emmy Award winning TV series was one of the longest
running programmes in television history.

Deals to distribute the film have already been made in many places
including the UK, Japan, Taiwan, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Middle East,
Israel and Greece.
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