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 06, 2005

Poll May Pave Way To New Stormont Deal

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 05/06/05 Poll May Pave Way To A New Stormont Deal
BT 05/06/05 Tense Wait As Counting Begins
BB 05/06/05 Police Praise For Peaceful Poll
BB 05/06/05 Ahern Congratulates Blair On Win
IO 05/06/05 Concerns Expressed About Loyalist Parade In Belfast Tonight
BT 05/05/05 Crackdown On Drunken Revellers At Town March
BT 05/06/05 Father's Fury As Murder Charge Hopes Fade Again
IO 05/06/05 Politicians To Hold Talks With Emigrant Groups In US
SF 05/06/05 Government Asks People To Sign Blank Cheque
HC 05/06/05 New Dramas Offer Lessons On Human Cruelty


Poll May Pave Way To A New Stormont Deal

By Chris Thornton
06 May 2005

Today's election results could be paving the way for another
day at the polls.

London and Dublin want to quickly intensify efforts to shape
another power-sharing deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

While a deal is expected to take at least a year to forge, the
British and Irish governments are preparing to take soundings
from the DUP and Sinn Fein about how they want to use the
mandates they are expected to increase today.

That could lead to a new round of Assembly elections - an idea
already floated by DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson.

The new ministerial team at the Northern Ireland Office is due to
be in place by the start of next week.

Depending on who the Secretary of State is, soundings from
the parties will begin as soon as possible.

Formal meetings are expected within about two weeks. The
Irish Government will also be involved and the US
administration could also take soundings from the parties.

Talks aimed at putting the DUP and Sinn Fein in government
together collapsed last December.

The distance from a settlement widened later that month, with
the robbery of the Northern Bank and the accusation that the
IRA carried out the raid.

That robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney reinforced
government views - especially in Dublin - that the IRA would
need to stand down as a prerequisite for any deal.

At the start of the election campaign, Sinn Fein president Gerry
Adams announced that the IRA would be having an internal
debate about its future.

But the Irish Government and PSNI said the Provos continue to
train and recruit.

Clearly that hurdle - the future of the IRA - will be the most
significant facing the governments in the aftermath of this

Republicans have suggested an answer from the IRA could
come in July, although it seems unlikely that the group would
stand down immediately in the middle of the marching season.

Whenever the foundations for a deal can be laid, a strong result
for Sinn Fein and the DUP today will make them both hungry to
remove, or at least reduce the standing of, their opponents from
the place where it could matter most: Stormont.

As Mr Robinson has indicated, an Assembly election could be
proposed as a way of getting the electorate's approval for any

But for the parties that are now clearly the main players in
Northern Ireland, it would also be about further strengthening
their hands.


Tense Wait As Counting Begins

By Chris Thornton
06 May 2005

At least three new Northern Ireland MPs were due to be sent to
Westminster today as officials began counting more than a
million ballots from the two elections held here yesterday.

Even as the results from Great Britain were being finalised at
9am, counting was just beginning at eight election centres
across the province.

The first results from the Westminster election here were
expected by mid-afternoon, with most of the 18 seats decided
by teatime.

With John Hume, Seamus Mallon and Martin Smyth retiring,
voters in Foyle, Newry & Armagh, and South Belfast were
guaranteed new MPs by the time counting finishes.

But their replacements may not be the only changes in the
Westminster line-up.

Both SDLP leader Mark Durkan - fighting his first Westminster
election - and UUP leader David Trimble - running in his fifth -
are facing tough personal and party tests.

With Sinn Fein and the DUP both expected to make gains,
limited losses would be a positive day for the SDLP and Ulster

However, the SDLP and UUP leaders face the prospect of defeat
in the seats they are contesting.

DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
expect to be re-elected with comfortable majorities. Their
respective seats - North Antrim and West Belfast - were
expected to be among the first results declared.

The results of council balloting will not be known until next
week. The full counts for the local government poll are due to
take place on Monday and Tuesday.

However, council boxes were the first opened by election
officials this morning.

Officials will check for any Westminster ballots accidentally
cast in the local government boxes, then count the council
ballots to verify the number in the boxes against the number of
people who voted.

At 9am in Belfast City Hall - where the four city constituencies
are being counted - 1,840 fingers and thumbs were poised to
begin the long process of auditing and then counting the votes.

Each constituency has been assigned 46 vote- counting
assistants as well as supervisors.

Nationalists have expressed fears that a loyalist band parade
due to converge on the City Hall from four points in Belfast at
6.30pm will result in disorder.

Counting is unlikely to have finished by then.


Police Praise For Peaceful Poll

Polling in Londonderry has passed off peacefully for the first
time in 30 years, the police have said.

Chief Superintendent Ricky Russell praised voters and
organisers of the poll in the Foyle constituency.

He said the hard work of electoral staff, community workers,
teachers, clergy and others had ensured the day passed off
without incident.

In past elections, police had been attacked at some polling
stations in nationalist areas of the city.

Chief Supt Russell said he looked forward to the pattern on
Thursday night being repeated in the future.

Community worker Tony O'Doherty was among observers at
the collection of ballot boxes from Holy Child Primary School in

Integrity preserved

He said: "Voting is a civil procedure and that's the way it should

"There are hundreds of witnesses here, the integrity of the
process is totally preserved. This is a good example of

Bystanders applauded as the ballot boxes were carried from the
polling station.

Holy Child school principal Charlie O'Donnell, said the peaceful
collection of boxes was the result of "the work of several

"The atmosphere was very different from last year's European

"Last year at this time, everything was extremely tense.

"There was a group of hundreds of youths floating about at the
end of the street.

"There were petrol bombs and paint bombs and bottles
thrown," Mr O'Donnell said.

The Holy Child School had been taken off the list of polling
centres after trouble last year.

But that decision was reversed after a local deal was reached to
ensure ballot boxes would be removed by local community

Violence erupted last June as police escorted electoral officers
and ballot boxes from some polling stations in Derry.

The police were attacked with petrol bombs for two consecutive
nights at the close of polling in the European elections.

Trouble flared in the nationalist Creggan, Shantallow and
Ballymagroarty areas of the city.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/06 09:26:53 GMT


Ahern Congratulates Blair On Win

Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern has congratulated his British
counterpart Tony Blair on his victory in the general election.

Mr Ahern said he looked forward to continuing the friendship
and working relationship he had with Mr Blair.

He said as joint guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement they
were "absolutely committed" to the full implementation of the

He said now the poll is over "it's time to get on with this vital

Mr Ahern said both governments are "completely convinced"
the only possible political way forward is through exclusively
peaceful and democratic means and commitment to inclusive
politics on all sides.

"This real and stable partnership between the Irish and British
governments has been vitally important in recent years and it
will remain so as we seek to bring all outstanding issues to
successful finality," he added.

Mr Ahern also wished Mr Blair well with the presidency of the
EU, which Britain assumes in July, and his presidency of the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/06 08:56:49 GMT


Concerns Expressed About Loyalist Parade In Belfast Tonight
2005-05-06 11:30:02+01

Nationalist politicians in the North have expressed concern that
a loyalist parade is due to pass Belfast City Hall tonight while
the Westminster election count is continuing inside.

Around 4,000 loyalists are due to stage a First World War
commemoration parade in the city centre while Sinn Féin and
SDLP supporters are still at the count centre.

The SDLP has described the decision to go ahead with the
parade as madness, while unionists have appealed for calm.


Crackdown On Drunken Revellers At Town March

By Nevin Farrell
05 May 2005

A police crackdown against boozed up yobs at loyalist band
parades in Ballymena will continue this year at the first major
event of the marching season in the town this weekend.

Hundreds of bandsmen and women are set to take to the
streets on Saturday night for a march organised by a band from
the Co Antrim town - Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster.

In recent years police have become particularly concerned
about drunken spectators and band followers at parades in
Ballymena and last year they announced a clampdown.

A special 'booze checkpoint' was set up and alcohol
confiscated from supporters who marched behind bands after
police consulted with various community officials and parade

The scheme, which had the support of loyalist community
representatives, was deemed a success last year and there was
a similar police approach at Larne over Easter this year when
over 100 tins and bottles of alcohol were disposed off during a
Junior Orange Order parade.

Town centre areas in Ballymena are governed by on-street anti-
drink bans, but police admitted in the past it was difficult to
police the large numbers of people defying the ban without the
risk of sparking trouble.

However, that has been helped with the ongoing consultations
with people in the loyalist community.

And organisers admit the image of their parades is helped by
less drink being available.

One said: "It should lead to added enjoyment and a more
pleasant atmosphere for everyone."

Meanwhile, a special working group has been set up in
Ballymena to consider a request for funding from the Orange
Order towards its members taking part in a parade marshalling

Ballymena Community Safety Partnership has been contacted
by Ballymena District LOL No 8 and also the Loyalist Parades
Forum seeking cash support for individuals to engage in the
marshalling course held by East Tyrone College of Further and
Higher Education.


Father's Fury As Murder Charge Hopes Fade Again

No-one to face court over killing of teens

By Michael McHugh and Chris Thornton
06 May 2005

No one is likely to be charged with the murders of Portadown
teenagers Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine, it emerged last

Prosecutors have decided that new material submitted to them
by police is not enough to secure a conviction for the five-year-
old double murder.

Paul McIlwaine, David's father, said the decision "beggars

"Police have told us that they recommended a prosecution on
the strength of the new evidence," he said.

"All this does is strengthen our opinion that someone from the
State was involved in the killing."

Mr Robb (19) and Mr McIlwaine (18) were found dead outside
Tandragee in February 2000.

Their throats had been cut and they had been stabbed
repeatedly by UVF members searching for victims in their feud
with the LVF.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed last month that new material
had been submitted by the police, but the DPP's office now
says the case will not go to court.

A spokesman for the DPP said: "Police submitted some
additional papers to the director's office which were
considered, but it was concluded that the decision for no
prosecution would stand."

Mr McIlwaine said: "It's an absolute disgrace. They have more
evidence now than ever before."

Jane Winter, director of the British Irish Rights Watch pressure
group, said it was time for the PSNI's historic inquiries team to
investigate the case and said she was not happy with the way
the current inquiry was being conducted.

"David McIlwaine was just a college student who was in the
wrong place at the wrong time. If the police can't solve that sort
of crime then what does it say about policing in general?" she

"I think it is very difficult to measure how far the PSNI has
improved, but I think that the gap is much bigger than people

"The distance which the PSNI will have to travel is going to take
some time and some effort.

"We need to learn the lessons of the past if we are to avoid
making the same mistakes again."


FF Politicians To Hold Talks With Irish Emigrant Groups In US

06/05/2005 - 08:09:50

Three Fianna Fáil politicians are due to travel to the United
States today to discuss the situation facing illegal Irish
immigrants in the country.

Junior Minister Tony Killeen, Limerick TD John Cregan and
Senator Paschal Mooney are due to meet the Irish Apostolate
Conference in Washington DC and Irish emigrant groups in
New York during the trip.

An estimated 50,000 Irish people are living illegally in the United
States without proper documentation.

These people are usually unable to travel home to Ireland for
family events or holidays as they would not be allowed back
into the United States.

The US government is considering proposals that would allow
immigrants to become legal US residents if they register with
the authorities and pay a fine.


Government Asks People To Sign Blank Cheque

Sinn Féin European Affairs spokesperson in the Dáil, Aengus Ó
Snodaigh TD, has said the Government's draft constitutional
amendments go further than ratifying the EU Constitution and
would rule out almost any future referral of fundamental
matters of Irish sovereignty to the people. He slammed the
Government for providing private advance briefings to Fine
Gael and Labour and releasing the proposals to the media before they were
placed before the Oireachtas. He said:

"The Fianna Fáil/PD Government will be asking the people to
sign a blank cheque to by making these amendments to the
Constitution. Not only would this ratify the fundamentally
flawed EU Draft Constitution it would also allow the
Government to dispense with the need for any future
referendum on

EU matters.

"The Government wants to over-turn the historic judgement in
the case taken by a private citizen, the late Ray Crotty, in 1987
which established the right of the electorate in this State to be
consulted about matters of Irish sovereignty as they are
effected by the EU.

"The Government has insulted the Oireachtas by providing
private briefings to two parties - Fine Gael and Labour who are
complicit in the sell-out of Irish sovereignty - and ignoring the
other members of the Oireachtas.

"Sinn Féin will oppose these amendments and will defend Irish
sovereignty and neutrality."


New Dramas Offer Lessons On Human Cruelty

In varying styles, plays explore guilt, innocence

By Everett Evans
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

NEW YORK - Though vastly different in style, the two most
powerful new dramas on Broadway this season share a
common denominator: a protagonist suspected of abusing
children. The theme resonates with today's church scandals,
child slayings and accusations of celebrity misdeeds against


In John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, Father Flynn, a personable
young priest in a Bronx parish, is confronted by the parish
school's principal, who suspects he has molested a male
student. Despite his protestations of innocence and her lack of
proof, Sister Aloysius is determined to drive Flynn from his job.

In Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, Katurian, a writer in an
unnamed totalitarian state, is hauled to prison. Two cops grill
him about his dark stories of children who meet grisly ends —
strangely similar to real-life crimes they are investigating.
Holding Katurian's mentally challenged brother in an adjacent
cell, they try to force one or the other to confess or implicate
his brother.

All about Doubt

Doubt marks the Broadway debut of Shanley, who has written
20-plus plays but likely is best known for his Oscar-winning
screenplay Moonstruck. Doubt, which recently won this year's
Pulitzer Prize for drama, may change that.

Shanley roots Doubt in the intense clash between Father Flynn
and Sister Aloysius. Flynn believes in leniency, openness to
new ideas and treating students as friends. Sister Aloysius is a
hard-liner opposed to ball point pens and the inclusion of
secular tunes like Frosty the Snowman in the Christmas
pageant. Told that she terrifies the kids, she replies, "That's
how it works."

Cherry Jones (Tony winner for The Heiress) and Brian F.
O'Byrne (Tony winner for Frozen) bring the leads to vivid life.
Jones' formidable Sister Aloysius is cranky, wily, sour-faced
yet firmly devoted to good. O'Byrne's heartbreakingly human
Father Flynn exudes compassion and anguish.

Caught between the two is softhearted young Sister James (the
poignantly malleable Heather Goldenhersh), recruited as Sister
Aloysius' unwilling agent in her campaign to oust Father Flynn.
The crisis destroys both Sister James' friendship with the priest
and her joy in teaching.

Shanley's details are inspired. Sister Aloysius, for instance,
reveals that she's mistrusted Flynn from the start because his
nails are too long.

Shanley leaves the question of Flynn's guilt to the play goer. He
finds shades of gray in the matrix of moral issues: that the
child's mother (poised Adriane Lenox) is less concerned with
learning whether her son was molested than with ensuring he
advances to high school without scandal; that Sister Aloysius
will lie if she deems it necessary for "right" to prevail.

In director Doug Hughes' taut production, the focus is on
character interplay, human frailty and Shanley's provocative
reflection on the relative merits of doubt and certainty in
shaping one's moral universe.

The pillow awaits

Pillowman is the latest from McDonagh, best known for stark
dramas of life in rural Ireland, such as The Beauty Queen of
Leenane. Pillowman recently moved to Broadway after a lauded
run at the Royal National Theatre, where it won London's Olivier

Where Doubt is naturalistic and concise, Pillowman is
fantastical and multifarious, an expressionist nightmare with
echoes of Kafka, Poe and the Brothers Grimm. McDonagh's
script brims with gallows humor and sadistic shocks —
including a box of severed toes.

"It feels like school somehow," Katurian says, when the cops
order him to read one of his stories. The meaner cop interjects:
"Except in school, they didn't execute you at the end."

McDonagh's "puzzle without a solution" is less concerned with
solving the mystery than exploring the cruel-and-crueler cop
team's gamesmanship, the brothers' interdependence and the
generational cycle of abuse.

Weird experiment

As one of Katurian's tales reveals, he and his brother were
victims of their parents' weird experiment — raising one son
lovingly while torturing the other each night in the room next
door. (The more sadistic cop also turns out to be the victim of
paternal abuse.)

Director John Crowley achieves an astonishing blend of humor
and horror. As Katurian recites his tales, they are wordlessly
enacted in boxes that open over Scott Pask's grim prison set.

Billy Crudup's intense Katurian ranges from bewilderment to
defiance, by turns solicitous and cruel with his damaged
brother. Jeff Goldblum's slyly manipulative Tupolski and Zeljko
Ivanek's thuggish, trigger-tempered Ariel play new variations
on the bad-cop, worse-cop theme. Michael Stuhlbarg is
unforgettable as Michal — pathetic, inquisitive, tempestuously
childlike in his eagerness and pain.

Primal need

Pillowman reflects the primal need to tell and hear stories,
particularly those that terrify us. It raises questions about
artistic expression, censorship and social control. Katurian is
less afraid of being executed than of the cops' threat to burn
his stories.

Katurian's most haunting invention is the Pillowman, a 9-foot-
tall creature made of fluffy pink pillows who appears to children
doomed to lead miserable lives and gently persuades them to
kill themselves before their sorrows begin — but in ways (such
as skating on thin ice) that will look like accidents.

Now see if, having heard this concept, you can ever, ever forget
it. That's the power of great theater — the force that fuels both
The Pillowman and Doubt.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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