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May 21, 2005

Robert Hammill Probe in Plea For Witnesses

News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 05/21/05 Robert Hamill Probe In Plea For Witnesses
BT 05/21/05 Adair Associate Has Prison Sentence Cut
BT 05/20/05 UVF Killer 'In Hunt For Missing Bangor Girl'
IO 05/21/05 Police Appeal After Sectarian Attacks
IO 05/21/05 Masked Men Hold Up Belfast Bingo Hall
DI 05/20/05 Northern Bank Cash Link Claims Disputed
IT 05/21/05 McDowell To Intro Gun Amnesty Before Clampdown
DI 05/20/05 Leaders Meet Blair In Downing Street
BT 05/20/05 'Erase Maze From Map' Call
IO 05/21/05 Sinn Féin Rep O'Hare Refused US Access
BB 05/21/05 Looking Back Into To The Future
BT 05/21/05 Baby Died After Heart Drug Error
BT 05/21/05 How Ulster Reacted To The Movie
BT 05/21/05 Ireland Has Always Had Winning Habit
BT 05/21/05 Belfast Organist To Get Honour
TA 05/21/05 Saw Doctors Wax Irish
BT 05/21/05 Doh! Liam's Crusade To Convert The Simpsons


Robert Hamill Probe In Plea For Witnesses

By Chris Thornton, Political Correspondent
21 May 2005

THE chairman of the inquiry examining the murder of Robert Hamill made
an appeal for witnesses yesterday as he prepared for the first hearing
into the killing.

The public inquiry, which is due to examine the circumstances that led
to the fatal attack on the Portadown man in April 1997 in front of a
police patrol, will begin at Craigavon Courthouse on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Catholic, was attacked and beaten by loyalists in
Portadown town centre. He died in hospital 11 days later and never
regained consciousness.

Inquiry chairman, former High Court judge Sir Edwin Jowitt, is due to
make an opening statement on Tuesday, after which it will be

Sir Edwin said yesterday: "The Robert Hamill Inquiry intends to do its
best to find out the truth about the circumstances in which Robert
Hamill died and about the investigations which followed his death.

"We have no preconceived ideas and will make every effort to work
fairly and honestly to get to the bottom of what happened. We know
there is still more to learn about the circumstances of Mr Hamill's

"We would encourage anyone with information about the incident - no
matter how insignificant they feel it may be - to contact the Inquiry
team. "You can come along to the opening hearing and make yourself
known to any of the inquiry team.

"Alternatively, if it makes you more comfortable, get in touch with us
by phone, fax or email."

The Hamill Inquiry is one of three special collusion investigations
ordered by the Government after a review by Canadian Judge Peter Cory.

A probe into the death of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson, opened
last month.

The third inquiry will examine the killing of LVF leader Billy Wright
in the Maze Prison.

A fourth inquiry looking at the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane is pending.


Adair Associate Has Prison Sentence Cut

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
21 May 2005

A DRUG dealing ally of Johnny Adair has had his jail term in an
English prison cut.

Benjamin Dowie (23) of Chorley New Road, Bolton, was one of a number
of exiled Shankill loyalists arrested by Greater Manchester police in

They included Jonathan Adair, son of Johnny Adair, who was later
sentenced to five years in a young offenders centre for selling heroin
and crack cocaine. The sentence was later slashed.

Dowie pleaded guilty at Bolton Crown Court last year to conspiracy to
supply class A drugs.

The 23-year-old fled Ulster after following the murder of UDA
godfather John Gregg.

Dowie was last year sentenced to five years. However, since he was
sentenced, a number of his co-accused, including Jonathan Adair, have
had their sentences cut.

At the Court of Appeal in London yesterday, judges ruled that Dowie's
sentence should also be cut to bring it into line with his co-

Mr Justice David Clarke, sitting with Judge David Hodson, reduced the
sentence to three years and nine months.

The court was told Dowie and the other loyalists had moved to the
Horwich area of Bolton.

In 2003 undercover police targeted drug dealers in the district, and
were dealt crack cocaine and heroin by Dowie and his associates. Dowie
was involved in the sale of drugs to the officers on five occasions,
three times as the supplier and twice as the driver to Adair.

He was arrested on November 12, 2003 and later admitted his guilt.


UVF Killer 'In Hunt For Missing Bangor Girl'

Ervine denies activist's allegations

By David Gordon
20 May 2005

An anti-UVF campaigner today lambasted the terror group's
investigation of the Lisa Dorrian murder and claimed it involves a man
convicted of a gruesome killing of a 26-year-old woman.

The allegation has, however, been rejected by PUP leader David Ervine.

Mr Ervine has blamed the LVF for the murder of 25-year-old Lisa, whose
body has still not been found nearly three months after her
disappearance in Ballyhalbert, Co Down.

The PUP leader also said that the UVF may take the law into their own
hands and act against the killers.

The paramilitary group has been accused of "hypocrisy" by north
Belfast man Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was beaten to death
by a UVF gang in 1997.

"It is my understanding that one of those involved in the UVF's Lisa
Dorrian investigation was convicted in connection with the killing of
Anne Marie Smyth in Belfast in 1992," Mr McCord said.

"It's just another example of the hypocrisy of the UVF."

Mr Ervine stated: "That, I imagine, would be so far from the truth as
to be laughable. It's just not true."

Anne Marie Smyth, a 26-year-old Catholic mother of two from Armagh,
was strangled and had her throat cut after straying into loyalist
company in east Belfast.

A number of those involved in the sectarian murder had connections
with the UVF.

Mr Ervine has, meanwhile, agreed to a public debate with Mr McCord.

A date and venue for the event have still to be arranged.

Mr McCord today welcomed Mr Ervine's agreement as "an important step

Allegations made by the campaigning father about his son's murder are
the subject of a major Police Ombudsman investigation.

He believes the November 1997 killing was carried out on the orders of
a high-level police informer within the UVF in Mount Vernon, north

The Ombudsman investigation is believed to be in its final stages,
with a report expected later this year.


Police Appeal After Sectarian Attacks

21/05/2005 - 10:41:35

There were a number of sectarian attacks overnight in north Belfast,
police said today.

Police are appealing for information after several cars and houses
were damaged in a crime spree which began at about 11pm last night.

Officers said early indications were that the attacks were sectarian
and connected.

The PSNI confirmed a Peugeot 406 car was destroyed by a petrol bomb
and three houses were damaged by paint bombs at Cliftondene Crescent.

Shortly after that the windows of a Rover car were broken with stones
and paint was thrown over two houses at Abbeydale Park in the lower
Ballysillan area.

North Belfast police, who are appealing for information on the
incidents, confirmed another two houses at Ligoniel Road and a home at
Summerdale Park were damaged by paint bombs.

After midnight a BMW car at Hazelwood park in Newtownabbey was
destroyed by fire. Meanwhile, in a separate incident in Glengormley,
petrol bombs were thrown at two cars.

Police said the incidents were not believed to be linked to the other
crime spree in the city.

Shortly before 12.40am a Peugeot 106 car was destroyed by a petrol
bomb at Farmley Gardens, while a Mitsubishi car nearby on the same
street failed to ignite.

Officers said three youths wearing baseball caps may have been


Masked Men Hold Up Belfast Bingo Hall

21/05/2005 - 09:08:05

Two masked men held up a hall full of bingo customers at gunpoint
before making off with their loot, police said today.

The robbers, who were armed with a handgun and baton, forced the
terrified players to lie on the ground at the premises on Stoneyford
Street in east Belfast during the raid at 10.15pm on Friday.

East Belfast Police, who are appealing for information, said one
member was made to help remove cash from an office area of the

The man who was armed with the handgun was described as six ft tall,
well-built, wearing a balaclava, blue jeans, black gloves and a combat
jacket. The other robber was also said to be six ft tall, thin build,
wearing a dark blue fleece with a white band across the chest and blue

Meanwhile, police in Derry are appealing for information over a
shooting incident in a bar packed with about 200 people.

Strand Road detectives said that three hooded men entered a bar,
believed to be the Jackie Mullins’ bar, and fired a handgun into the
ceiling shortly before midnight.

The gang fired three shots, terrifying customers. However, police have
confirmed that no one was injured in the incident.

The men made their escape on foot and were described as wearing black
jeans, black jackets and baseball caps.


Northern Bank Cash Link Claims Disputed

By Conor McMorrow

Leading experts and sources close to the investigation into money
seized in the Republic during a series of Garda raids three months ago
now doubt that the money came from the Northern Bank heist.

These doubts pour cold water on claims made by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
on the BBC’s Hearts and Minds programme on March 21 that gardaí were
sure the cash “was part of the haul from the North”.

At that time, Mr Ahern said: “They are quite satisfied —
professionally, absolutely and totally satisfied — as I understand it,
that the money was part of the haul from the North.”

However, a leading money-laundering expert said he found it “bizarre”
that gardaí and PSNI forensic experts had been unable to establish
whether money seized in raids was from the £26.5 million (€38.4
million) Northern Bank robbery.

“I find it bizarre that they have not been able to identify if the
money seized in the South is from the Northern Bank raid,” said John
Horan, a money-laundering expert with the Belfast accountancy firm
Harbinson Mulholland.

“This would tend to suggest that they are not able to link the money
to the raid.”

Mr Horan added: “I am surprised that neither the PSNI nor the gardaí
have been able to positively identity if the money is from the
Northern Bank raid or not.”

Forensic tests on the thousands of notes seized in the Republic have
been carried out since February using sophisticated equipment from the
two forces.

A Garda spokesperson said: “A detailed forensic and technical
examination of the money seized remains ongoing, along with many other
inquiries regarding this operation.

“Due to the widespread nature of this inquiry, it is not possible to
estimate at this stage when or where it will conclude.”

Meanwhile, a solicitor representing two men arrested outside Heuston
Station in Dublin as part of a Garda money-laundering probe has
questioned why neither police force had established a link between the
cash and the bank raid. The two men were released without charge.

Paddy MacDermott of the Derry-based MacDermott and McGurk Solicitors
said: “My clients have always denied any connection between the
Northern Bank robbery and themselves.

“The PSNI were able to say that the money seized at the Newforge
Country Club was from the Northern Bank straightaway yet, three months
down the line, they are not able to say the money my clients had in
their vehicle is from the Northern Bank raid.”

A senior Garda source told Daily Ireland last night that the general
feeling among gardaí working on the case was that the money seized in
Dublin and Cork was not linked to the Northern Bank raid.

Money-laundering expert John Horan said: “Laundering is going on on a
massive scale across the 32 counties and, as there is only four types
of notes in circulation in Northern Ireland, it is conceivable that
there are large amounts of other Northern Bank notes being laundered
across the country.

“I wouldn’t be too quick to jump to conclusions about where the money
seized during the raids in the South came from.”


McDowell To Introduce Gun Amnesty Before Clampdown

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell is to introduce a weapons
amnesty in advance of his planned clampdown on gun offences, writes
Liam Reid, Political Reporter

The provision, which will be included as an amendment to the Criminal
Justice Bill currently before the Dáil, will allow people with
unlicensed or unregistered firearms and weapons to hand them over to
gardaí in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

The move is linked to mandatory sentencing for possession of firearms,
which will introduce minimum custodial sentences for those caught with
an unlicensed firearm, regardless of circumstances.

The amnesty will not apply to weapons that have been used in a crime,
and the guns handed over during the amnesty are expected to be
forensically tested to identify whether they were used during any
recorded criminal offences.

It is one of a number of legal changes Mr McDowell is planning as part
of a response to growing concerns about the number of serious crimes
involving firearms.

These include new offences for modifying firearms, and heavier
penalties for being in possession of a sawn-off shotgun, and a new
offence of belonging to a criminal gang.

Eight people have been killed by firearms since January this year,
most of them in gangland assassinations. This compares with nine such
murders last year. There has also been a spate of armed robberies
where families have been held hostage.

The amnesty will be one-off and will last for a number of weeks in
advance of the introduction of the mandatory sentencing policy.

There are no reliable estimates from gardaí or the Department of
Justice as to the exact number of unlicensed firearms in the State,
although it is believed to be in the thousands. A similar initiative
in Britain in 2003 resulted in 43,000 weapons and one million rounds
of ammunition being handed over to police.

The majority of unlicensed firearms in Ireland are believed to be
disused weapons, mainly shotguns, hunting rifles and old military
weapons that belonged to family members.

The chief concern of the Garda is that these firearms could be stolen
and subsequently used in armed raids or other crimes.

Mr McDowell had hoped to have the legislation passed by the summer
recess but because of controversial amendments, including anti-social
behaviour orders, electronic tagging and on-the-spot fines for public
order breaches, Opposition TDs are expected to insist on a
comprehensive debate.

The rise in firearm offences, especially in Dublin, has emerged as one
of the main policing concerns at present, and the Government has been
criticised by Opposition parties for failing to take adequate steps
against it.

© The Irish Times


Leaders Meet Blair In Downing Street

By Jarlath Kearney

Tough political negotiations aimed at rebuilding the peace process
took place in London yesterday.

In the first intensive talks since the general election, Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams and Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley
led separate delegations for meetings with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and senior advisers.

Last night, Mr Adams told Daily Ireland that Sinn Féin had pressed Mr
Blair to stick with the Good Friday Agreement despite assertions from
Ian Paisley that the Good Friday Agreement was “dead”.

“Of course, while we have been in touch with both governments in
recent weeks, the fact that Mr Blair continues to make this issue a
matter of priority is encouraging,” Mr Adams said.

“Our position is that the British government need to make it very
clear that the only way forward is the Good Friday Agreement and that
he remains committed to the Agreement and then prepared to proceed on
that basis.

“Both governments have to create the conditions in which the power-
sharing and all-Ireland institutions are back up and working and also
fulfilling their obligations under the Agreement with regard to issues
like the equality agenda, human rights and so on.”

Mr Adams declined to speculate on the position of the British
government or the DUP, except to state that Ian Paisley could not be
first minister without serving alongside a Sinn Féin deputy first

After his meeting, DUP leader Ian Paisley declared that the Good
Friday Agreement was now dead. He called for a “new beginning”.

“That new beginning outlaws all who outlaw themselves by clinging to
violence,” he told reporters.

The DUP’s position is that, short of the establishment of a fully
operational devolved Stormont executive, the party wants to find “some
way to incorparate the elected members of the assembly who want to
embrace democracy [and] to find some way for their talents to be

Referring to Mr Blair’s speech at the Harbour Commissioner’s Office in
Belfast in October 2002, Mr Paisley claimed that the Prime Minister
now agreed with the DUP on the need for “verifiable decommissioning…
[so] that there was no question from IRA/Sinn Féin that it hadn’t
taken place and secondly the eradication of the criminality that is
going on in our country”.

Calling for the 1998 Agreement to be “given a reasonable burial”, Mr
Paisley said he could not see himself sharing power as first minister
with a Sinn Féín deputy first minister at this point in time.

“They have had their chance and they have failed. We’re too tough in
the hide to have any pressure put on us,” he added.

Following the DUP leader’s comments, the SDLP issued a statement
calling on both governments “to press ahead with the Agreement and
stop the go-slow on it”.

Dominic Bradley, assembly member for Newry and Armagh, said: “Just
because the DUP has a mandate from a third of the people in the North,
it does not mean that they can override the overwhelming mandate given
by the people of Ireland to the Good Friday Agreement.”

Meanwhile in Dublin yesterday, Washington’s special envoy Mitchell
Reiss met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.


'Erase Maze From Map' Call

Prison officers' leader slams Sinn Fein claim

By David Gordon
20 May 2005

An Ulster prison officers' leader today rubbished a Sinn Fein attempt
to liken the Maze Prison to the South African jail that held Nelson

Finlay Spratt also underlined the Prison Officers' Association view
that the Maze site should be "erased from the map" rather than
preserved on historical grounds.

As the Belfast Telegraph reported on Monday, the DoE has granted
listed building status to a number of structures at the former jail.

These include one of the H blocks and the prison hospital where
republican hunger strikers died in the early 1980s.

Proposals have been tabled to include the buildings within a Centre
for Conflict Transformation.

Welcoming the listing move, Sinn Fein Lisburn Councillor Paul Butler

"We would appeal to the Prison Officers' Association, who have
criticised the decision, to join with us in making sure the whole
story of the jail is told.

"I believe they have a contribution to make and they should play a
part in the proposed International Centre for Conflict Transformation.

"Long Kesh is on a standing with other historical jails such as Robben
Island in South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and
Kilmainham jail, where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed."

Responding to the comments, Mr Spratt today said: "Nelson Mandela was
a world statesman. I wouldn't compare the conflict which took place
here with anything to do with Nelson Mandela, or blight the man's name
in any fashion."

The Prison Officers' Association chairman said his views on the future
of the Maze Prison buildings had not changed.

"They should be completely erased from the map. They're making a
laughing stock out of us with an International Centre for Conflict

"Millions of pounds are going to be spent glorifying this place. It's
a total disgrace and it is just appeasement to terrorism on both
sides," he added.


Sinn Féin Rep O'Hare Refused US Access

2005-05-21 09:00:03+01

Sinn Féin's Washington representative Rita O'Hare has been refused
permission to visit America next week.

She had been planning to accompany Martin McGuinness on a trip he is
making to New York and Washington.

Mr McGuiness has been given permission to travel and is expected to
meet US government officials while in Washington.

American officials say the decision to refuse Rita O'Hare a visa does
not represent a change of policy towards Sinn Féin. She is not
eligible for a visa because of her IRA past.

She has a conviction for trying to smuggle explosives into Portlaoise
Prison. She has to apply for a waiver each time she wants to visit the
United States.

She has travelled to the States regularly in the last six years.


Looking Back Into To The Future

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

With BBC Radio Ulster celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Inside
Politics programme this week looked at how the corporation in
particular and broadcasters in general have covered Northern Ireland
over the last three decades.

Inside Politics doesn't quite date back to the birth of Radio Ulster,
but it comes close.

The first edition of the programme was broadcast on 21 April 1977.

WD Flackes profiled the then South Down MP Enoch Powell.

Apart from dissecting Powell's views on devolution, integration and
security, WD also revealed the politician's less well publicised DIY

According to his wife Pamela, Enoch was a wizard at putting up shelves
and hooks around their constituency home.

Inside Politics is just a small part of the coverage the BBC has
devoted to Northern Ireland politics and over the decades the
corporation has faced accusations of bias, rabble rousing and timidity
in the face of government pressure.

The former BBC NI Controller, James Hawthorne, describes an incident
soon after his appointment with the then Secretary of State Roy Mason.

Referring to him dismissively as "Jimmy Boy", Mason accused Hawthorne
of not being committed to the future of Northern Ireland and
threatened consequences for the licence fee if the BBC did not change
its ways.

'Real people'

Hawthorne stood his ground, as he did in 1985, when he quit for 36
hours over the BBC governors' decision to postpone the transmission of
the Real Lives programme, which profiled Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness
and the DUP's Gregory Campbell.

When I caught up with Martin McGuinness on his way over to see Tony
Blair in London, he gave the BBC a mixed assessment.

Most republicans, he said, saw the corporation as a mouthpiece of the

But he also pointed to the Real Lives episode as proof that the BBC
could stand up to the government and portray republicans as real
people, rather than caricatures.

Dr David Butler from the University of East London, author of the book
The Trouble Reporting Northern Ireland, argues that from the late
seventies there was a growing disconnect between coverage of politics
within Northern Ireland and in BBC programmes elsewhere.

He says Real Lives had far more capacity to shock audiences in England
than closer to home, because local broadcasting was already starting
to reflect the republican journey into the political realm.

After Real Lives came Margaret Thatcher's broadcasting ban.

While Martin McGuinness believes the BBC over zealously policed the
ban, ultimately both he and the DUP's Nigel Dodds agree that the
policy of using actors' voices to mouth Sinn Fein and the UDA's words
undermined the ban by holding it up to ridicule.

Nigel Dodds feels some frustration that, as he sees it, democratic
politicians are subjected to more rigorous cross-questioning than
their counterparts with links to paramilitary organisations.

But he acknowledges that broadcasters have a difficult balance to

Looking to the future, he hopes journalists will devote more time to
the local parties' policies on issues like health and education,
rather then focussing exclusively on constitutional matters.

But there is no doubt the BBC will from time to time face criticism
of its coverage from listeners and viewers, government ministers and
party leaders

Martin McGuinness believes the BBC is now more willing to reflect the
concerns of people with an Irish ethos, pointing to its increased
Irish language and Gaelic sports programming.

However, he still wants to see the corporation designated under
Section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act, which says public
authorities should "have regard to the desirability of promoting good
relations between persons of different religious belief, political
opinion or racial group".

The BBC has resisted this for fear that it could encroach on its
editorial independence.

It is hard to imagine the next three decades being quite so bitterly
controversial as the three that have gone.

But there is no doubt the BBC will from time to time face criticism of
its coverage from listeners and viewers, government ministers and
party leaders.

On the airwaves and off, the tussles will go on, and I suppose we
would not be broadcasters and they would not be politicians if they
did not.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/21 09:16:50 GMT


Baby Died After Heart Drug Error

By Andrew Barrow
21 May 2005

A MISTAKE over a decimal point by two nurses caused the death of a 15-
day-old baby who was given 10 times the prescribed dose of drugs to
rectify a heart problem, a coroner ruled yesterday.

The two nurses gave the wrong dosage to baby George Bartram when
trying to reduce his rapid heartbeat. The massive influx of the drugs
caused him to have a cardiac arrest.

Leicestershire Coroner Martin Symington ruled that the two nurses had
not been guilty of neglect when caring for the baby but said a verdict
of accidental death would not tell the full story.

"The mistake made by the nurses was a mathematical miscalculation
which in other working environments might not have been quite so
catastrophic," the coroner said.

Baby George was taken to Leicester's Glenfield Hospital less than two
weeks after his birth in March 2002 after experiencing breathing

He died a few days later after being given the drug Digoxin, which
slows the rate of heartbeat.

Three doses of the medication were administered. The second and third
doses, the inquest heard, were miscalculated and the child received a
fatal overdose that led to a cardiac arrest.

The third dose was calculated at 220 micrograms when the correct
amount should have been 22 micrograms.

In evidence to the hearing Yvonne Jordan and Angela Fitzsimmons said
they checked and double-checked the drug levels before administering
the injection to baby George.

Blaming pressure and time on the ward, Ms Fitzsimmons said:

"If we had any doubt whatsoever we would not have given the dose."

Mrs Jordan added: "It was not until the third dose was coming to an
end that there was something to alert us that he was unwell.

The inquest was told that George had been diagnosed with a congenital
heart condition after his birth, on March 7, 2002.

Following the hearing, George's parents issued a statement which said
the couple hoped that lessons had been learned following the tragedy.


How Ulster Reacted To The Movie The Whole World Is Talking About

By Maureen Coleman
21 May 2005

A BELFAST cinema notched up the highest admissions figure in Ireland
for the opening night of the latest Star Wars film.

Up to 1,300 fans packed into the Movie House Cinema at Dublin Road on
Thursday to watch a special midnight screening of the final instalment
of the sci-fi saga.

Cinema-goers were able to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the
Sith across five screens at 12.25pm.

Michael McAdam, of Movie House Cinemas, said the Dublin Road venue had
enjoyed the top admissions and box office takings throughout Ireland.

"We even beat cinemas in Dublin which we're delighted about," he said.

"We had around 1,300 in for the special midnight screenings and there
was a brilliant atmosphere. The reaction to this movie has been
phenomenal. On Thursday night we had full houses as well and we are
very heavily booked over the weekend."

Tickets for the film went on sale last month and die-hard fans began
queuing at cinemas in both the UK and the US, many dressed in full
Star Wars regalia.

The movie, which is due to be screened in more than 100 countries, was
leaked on to the internet hours after opening.

Revenge Of The Sith is the third prequel to the original Star Wars

It focuses on the development of young Anakin Skywalker as he develops
from a promising Jedi Knight before turning to the dark side and
becoming Darth Vader.


Ireland Has Always Had Winning Habit

21 May 2005

SINCE it first hit television screens in 1956, Ireland has won the
Eurovision Song Contest more than any other participating country.

And it is the only country to ever win the competition three years in
a row.

Dana was the first singer to win the competition for Ireland with her
performance of All Kinds Of Everything in 1970.

Eimear Quinn was the last singer to win the contest with The Voice in

In 1994, Harrington and McGettigan won with Rock 'n' Roll Kids, and in
1993 Niamh Kavanagh won with her performance of In Your Eyes.

Ireland came up trumps again in 1992 with Why Me? by Linda Martin.

And in 1987, Johnny Logan won for Ireland for the second time with
Hold Me Now. He first won in 1980 with What's Another Year?

This year, of course, Ireland has no chance of winning after brother
and sister pairing Joe and Donna McCaul, from Athlone in Co Westmeath,
failed to make it into the final.


Belfast Organist To Get Honour

21 May 2005

AN east Belfast organist will be the first Irishman to receive a
Lambeth degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury when he travels to
London next month.

Dr Harry Grindle from Cairnburn Crescent, a former organist and master
of choristers at St Anne's Cathedral, will pick up the prestigious
honour during a special ceremony in Lambeth Palace on June 6.

The father-of-two has been awarded a doctorate in recognition of his
contribution to the Church of Ireland and for his efforts in bringing
church music to the forefront of community life.

During his long and distinguished career, Dr Grindle has received many
accolades, but this is the icing on the cake.

"It really is a considerable honour. It is very unusual for anyone in
Ireland to be given an honour, particularly a doctorate in music from
the Archbishop of Canterbury," he said.

As a former head of music at Stranmillis College,, he is widely
acknowledged as the definitive expert on Irish cathedral music.

His career began in Bangor Abbey, where he learned to play the organ.

After reading French language and literature at Queen's University and
the University of Strasbourg, he continued his musical studies while
teaching in London.

He studied with Flor Peeters in Belgium and took a course in
orchestral conducting at the Igor Markevitch International Summer
School in Monte Carlo.

Later Dr Grindle graduated with a first-class MusB degree from Trinity
College, Dublin, a Master's degree from Queen's and a PhD from

He holds Fellowships of the Royal College of Organists and Trinity
College of Music, London, and has received top awards including the
Stewart and Prout Prizes, (Trinity College, Dublin) and the John
Brooke Memorial Prize for Choir-training (the Royal College of

Dr Grindle currently conducts the Priory Singers, a hugely successful
chamber choir which he founded in 1986. He was instrumental in
producing the fifth edition of the Church of Ireland hymnal and at was
invited to serve as music editor on the Sing and Pray children's

Also, his hymn-tune 'Stranmillis' was a prizewinner in the St Paul's
Cathedral Millennium Hymn competition and is included in the latest
edition of St Paul's Cathedral hymnal.

In 1977, Dr Grindle became the first Irish musician to be elected to
an Associateship of the Royal School of Church Music in recognition of
his distinguished services to the music of the church.


Saw Doctors Wax Irish

May 20, 2005

LEBANON, N.H. – County Galway's favorite sons, The Saw Doctors kick
off Memorial Day weekend with their first-ever North American concert
at a performing arts center, at Lebanon Opera House, on Friday, May
27, at 7:30 p.m.

Musically, the distance between the U.S. and Europe (particularly
England, Ireland and Scotland), has become so slight that it's hard to
imagine a rock/pop band on the other side of the Atlantic topping the
charts, posting record sales numbers at home, becoming the toast of
summer festivals, and yet remaining a mystery to most American fans.
Perhaps it's time to meet the Saw Doctors.

These Irish rock stalwarts from county Galway are bigger in their
homeland than U2 or Sinead O'Connor. In 1989, their first hit "I Useta
Lover" became virtually a second national anthem, dominating the No. 1
slot in Ireland for nine weeks and becoming that country's biggest-
selling single of all time. Contrary to rock stereotype, the band
exudes not an ounce of angst, but rather pure delight in the moment.

In a recent tour program, the Saw Doctors advanced this description of
their approach: "Born into a repressed, Catholic, conservative, small-
town, agrarian, angst-ridden and showband infested society, we're
trying to preserve the positive elements of our backgrounds and marry
them to the sounds which have culturally invaded our milieu through
TV, radio, 45s, fast food restaurants, 24 hour petrol stations and
electric blankets."

Quite a mouthful, but it sums up the group's attitude and demonstrates
their wit.

In keeping with this philosophy of celebrating the local as well as
the global, guitarist Leo Moran doesn't believe there is such a thing
as being "too local" in his songwriting. Esoteric references to the
rural working class abound in the Saw Doctors' repertoire. Even their
name is an example; as Moran explains, saw doctors are "people who fix
saws. It used to be an itinerant craftsman who would travel around the
country and be very well-respected and very well-paid. He would go
from sawmill to sawmill, fixing them or setting them. It's a very
particular skill."

As one critic from England's Q Magazine put it, "The Saw Doctors are
the very definition of the people's band." They've shown that during
the last few summers at the Guinness Fleadh festival, where so many
American fans who went to see Sinead O'Connor or Van Morrison left
buzzing about the Saw Doctors and their ecstatic shows.

Tickets are $19 and $24, and may be purchased by calling the Box
Office at (603) 448-0400, online at:


Doh! Liam's Crusade To Convert The Simpsons

By Maureen Coleman
20 May 2005

Ulster actor Liam Neeson is to guest star in the Simpsons as an Irish
priest converting the cartoon family to Catholicism.

The episode in which Neeson's character Fr Sean encourages Homer and
Bart to turn Catholic has already gone out on US television and will
be shown on Sky this summer.

It was due to be shown in America earlier, but had to be rescheduled
due to the death of Pope John II.

In one scene Homer says: "Catholics Rule! We've got Boston, South
America and the good part of Ireland."

In another scene involving a dream sequence, Marge ends up in
Protestant heaven where people in polo shirts are playing badminton,
while Homer's living it up in Catholic heaven - a massive Irish bar
full of Riverdancers and brawling.

Jesus himself is portrayed as being in Catholic heaven.

When talking about Mass, Marge is heard to say: "It's like Simon Says
without a winner."

According to website messages posted by US viewers who have already
watched it, the episode featuring Neeson is funny but inoffensive.

One viewer says: "In the end, it's a general swipe at religion as a
whole, but the Catholics come out looking more diverse and fun-

Another viewer said: "The episode was rather pro-Catholic and a
surprising amount of Catholic dogma was described accurately."

The show also refers to Catholic beliefs and practices such as
confession, natural family planning and transubstantiation.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church declined to comment on the show,
adding that he had never watched the Simpsons on TV.
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