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May 29, 2005

SF: Debate on EU Crucial

News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 05/30/05 Debate On EU Crucial, Says SF MEP
IT 05/30/05 Chirac Accepts Defeat As French Vote No
SF 05/29/05 French 'NON' Will Be Repeated Across European Union
RE 05/30/05 Ireland To Go Ahead With EU Referendum
IT 05/30/05 Deal With Fine Gael Would Not Be Done At All Costs
IT 05/30/05 Pearse Museum Among Recipients Of Heritage Grants
IT 05/30/05 Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe Theatre Back In Action
IT 05/30/05 Irish Singer Deported From Australia
AD 05/29/05 Catherine Lee At Irish Museum Of Modern Art


Debate On EU Crucial, Says SF MEP

Deaglán de Breadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Sinn Féin would lead "a major campaign, north and south" to oppose
ratification of the EU constitution, Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald told
a special conference organised by the party in Dublin at the weekend.

Describing the constitution as "without doubt one of the most
important issues facing Ireland today", Ms McDonald said that, if
ratified, it would "mark an important shift in our relationship with
the EU".

Sinn Féin believed broad public debate was "absolutely essential" and
had organised the two-day conference precisely for this purpose.
"After this event, we will initiate a nationwide series of events and
activities to provoke discussion and debate."

It was not a question of being for or against the EU: "Our approach to
the EU is one of critical engagement, those things that are in the
interests of the Irish people we support and seek to further; those
things that are not, we oppose and campaign to change," Ms McDonald

Ms Lilian Halls-French, of the European Feminist Initiative Against
the Constitution, said the document reflected a "patriarchal and neo-
liberal" approach and "confirms the subordination of women".

The constitution promoted the dismantling of public services which
were mainly relied upon by women. It was also socially regressive.
"The constitution project marked by the refusal to harmonise rights to
contraception, abortion, divorce," she said.

Green Party councillor Deirdre de Búrca complained there was "less and
less tolerance" for those who questioned the current direction the EU
was taking.

"A broad progressive movement, largely of the left, is emerging across
Europe that is very pro-European but critical of the neo-liberal
direction of the European Union."

The constitution should be rejected because it "enshrined many
elements of the neo-liberal economic agenda".

Instead of the "centralisation of power" proposed by the constitution,
there should be "a truly multi-level system of governance for the EU",
Ms de Búrca said.

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South-Central Aengus Ó Snodaigh said he was
opposed to the constitution "because it repackages the EU as a
military and economic superpower" and the world did not need more
superpowers or military alliances.

Sinn Féin believed "another EU is possible", Mr Ó Snodaigh said. "We
are firmly opposed to the federalist agenda, but we also have our own
positive vision for what the EU could be. We have an agenda for
radical change at the European level."

Several speakers complained of widespread bias and imbalance in
coverage of EU affairs by the Irish media.

© The Irish Times


Chirac Accepts Defeat As French Vote No

Lara Marlowe, in Paris

The people of France created a political earthquake for their own
country and the entire European Union yesterday by becoming the first
country to reject the constitutional treaty, by a resounding 56 per

The official result showed that only 44 per cent of voters backed the

A haggard President Jacques Chirac took the unprecedented step of
going on television after initial results were announced to
acknowledge "the sovereign decision" of the French people.

"Nonetheless, our interests and ambitions are profoundly tied to
Europe," he said. "I want to tell our European partners and all the
peoples of Europe that France continues to maintain her full place, in
the respect of her commitments. I shall watch over it."

Nine other countries have already ratified the treaty, and Mr Chirac
said the process will continue.

Dismissing rumours that he might resign or dissolve the National
Assembly, Mr Chirac said he would represent France at the EU summit in
Brussels on June 16th.

"Let us not fool ourselves," he said. "The decision of France creates
a difficult context for the defence of our interests in Europe." Mr
Chirac said he would act "in the very next days" to "give a new
impetus" and new priorities to the French government.

Prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is expected to submit his
resignation this morning. He will probably be replaced quickly by the
interior minister, Dominique de Villepin.

The viability of continuing the ratification process is now in doubt,
especially if the Netherlands vote No as expected on June 1st. The
French No could make it problematic for the EU to complete difficult
budget negotiations for the next seven-year period.

The No victory was to a large extent motivated by dissatisfaction with
the French executive. The campaign muddled France's traditional left-
right divide, with the socialist party splitting between the mostly
pro-treaty leadership and 58 per cent of socialist voters who followed
opponents of the constitution.

Francois Hollande, the socialist leader, blamed Mr Chirac. "The French
expressed their anger and exasperation with the head of state, who not
only broke all his commitments but refused to hear them," he said.

The extreme left and extreme right formed a de facto alliance and
managed to persuade significant numbers of mainstream voters that
France's domestic problems were linked to European integration.

France's No vote was interpreted as a reaction to last year's
enlargement of the EU, and as an after-shock of April 21st 2002, when
the extreme right-wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen won a place in the
run-off in the presidential election. Mr Chirac won by 82 per cent in
the final round, but the left deeply resented having to vote for him.

The defeat of the treaty eliminates any possibility of a third term
for Mr Chirac (72). He will now go down in history as the leader who
dealt a severe blow to European integration.

The last two years of Mr Chirac's term are likely to be dominated by
the power struggle between Mr de Villepin and the UMP leader Nicolas
Sarkozy, both of whom want to succeed him. An opinion poll last week
gave Mr Sarkozy a 35 per cent popularity rating, compared with 18 per
cent for Mr de Villepin.

Mr Sarkozy started his presidential campaign last night. "The French
are urging us to end our immobility," he said, calling for "two
priorities: a way to make Europe function quickly" and a return to the
community preference within the EU.

He said France must fight outsourcing and bring immigration under
control. "A difficult period is beginning," Mr Sarkozy said. "I will
try. . .to help to find the path to bring France out of the situation
she is now in."

Deaglán de Bréadún writes: The Government intends to go ahead with its
planned referendum on the EU constitution despite the French result.
Minister of State for European Affairs Noel Treacy said the poll would
take place "in due course" but he gave no indication as to the timing.

Longtime Eurosceptic campaigner Anthony Coughlan called on the
Government to "abandon any talk of holding a referendum".

Green Party TD John Gormley said it made "little sense" to proceed
with the proposed Irish referendum and the ratification process as the
constitution required approval of all EU member-states.

© The Irish Times


French 'NON' Will Be Repeated In States Across The European Union

Published: 29 May, 2005

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald this evening congratulated the
French people on their success in having the EU Constitution rejected.
She said 'I have no doubt that the French 'NON' will be repeated by
states across the European Union. Ms. McDonald said:

"I want to congratulate the people of France on their success in
having the EU Constitution rejected. Over the last month there has
been a very intense debate in France, the people have now spoken and
their wishes must be respected. I have no doubt that the French 'NON'
will give huge heart to all those who are opposed to the EU
Constitution and the French success will be repeated in states across
the European Union.

"It is quite clear from the French experience that this debate is not
between pro and anti Europeans or whether you support or reject the
European Union. This debate is about the future. It is a debate
between those who want to see more powers taken away from national
parliaments and given to unaccountable officials and those who want an
EU where all members states are treated equally and co-operate in the
interests of all. It is a debate between those who want to transform
the EU into a global superpower with its own Foreign Minister, army
and armaments agency and those who want an EU where member states use
our influence not to fight the resource wars of the 21st century but
to promote peace, resolve conflict and eradicate poverty. It is a
debate between those who want to place right wing economic policies in
a constitution and those who want to see their governments able to
promote job creation, deliver public services and trade fairly.

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the proposed EU Constitution. We want
to see it comprehensively rejected and are already leading a major
campaign to bring this about. But I would challenge the Irish
government , given the French rejection of the Constitution, to tell
us exactly what we will be voting for if this is put to the people in
the Autumn. The proposed constitution requires unanimous support to be
adopted. This has not happened."ENDS


Ireland To Go Ahead With EU Referendum

Sun May 29, 2005 11:40 PM BST

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland said on Sunday it would go ahead with its
own referendum on the European constitution despite France having
rejected the treaty.

"For our part, the government is continuing to prepare for
ratification of the European constitution by the target date of
November 2006," a government spokesman said.

The government published a bill on Thursday in parliament which would
enable Ireland to stage its own referendum. Those plans have not
changed, officials said.

Dublin said it very much regretted the French decision but said it was
important that the European Union move forward in a "considered and
united way."

"We have recently published the referendum bill and look forward to
the start of the debate in parliament," it said.

"The government remains firmly of the view that a European
constitution is strongly in Ireland's interest and in that of the
European Union as a whole," it added.

No date has yet been set for Ireland's referendum.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


Deal With Fine Gael Would Not Be Done At All Costs

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Electoral strategy: Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats' only
chance of being returned to Government again was if they were faced
with a divided Opposition, the Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte told
the debate on electoral strategy.

He said he had "no illusions" that Fine Gael was anything other than a
conservative party. But being a "mudguard" for Fine Gael was
"marginally better than being a mudguard for Fianna Fáil because there
is more mud to guard".

A coalition deal with Fine Gael would not be done at all costs, and
Labour would present voters with "a strong, coherent, radical
manifesto", said Mr Rabbitte.

He said he believed in the words of the late, former Labour leader
Frank Cluskey who told Fine Gael during coalition negotiations: "'You
can join us on agreed terms in Government, or you can join us in

Frank Barry of the Amicus trade union said said there was no point in
deciding on a pact when "we don't know what the election result will
give us . . . Should we go into the election with one hand tied behind
our backs, or both for that matter?"

He said Labour should not "limit the number of options" it was giving
the electorate by entering a voting pact.

Cllr Seán Ó Hargáin from Kilkenny said that the pact was "a decision
about the here and now" in terms of how to get the current "ruthless
and right-wing" Government out of office. "I know we want to see the
back of Bertie . . . the question here is how," he said.

Cllr Declan Bree from Sligo said that if Labour agreed to enter
coalition with Fine Gael, it would "be giving the kiss of life to a
party that has nothing in common with the Labour party". Labour would
be "second fiddle in a Fine Gael-led coalition", according to Cllr
Bree, who claimed, amid boos from the audience, that some members
favoured a merger with Fine Gael.

John Bolger of the ATGWU said the union had put forward an alternative
strategy to make Labour the main opposition to Fianna Fáil, which
meant that the party should form no alliances with any party.

He said that the debate on the pact comprised of "old arguments over
strategies that have failed in the past".

Dublin North East TD Tommy Broughan said the party had always
performed well electorally "when we stood alone". The pact was
"dangerous and reckless" because it could see Labour squeezed between
Sinn Féin on the one side and Fine Gael on the other. He said Labour
had the chance to make or break Fine Gael, and that it should break
the party which he described as "an incubus on the back of Labour".

Cllr John McManus from Bray, said it was the job of the Labour party
to put a "radical but sustainable" programme of policies to the
electorate to give them an option to vote for an alternative

He said implementing Labour policies could only be done in a
Government "which does not contain parties which have squandered the
advantages they were given in 1997".

Delegate Frank Butler from Cabra said that when Labour fought as an
independent party in elections, it had performed better. He said Fine
Gael's strategy in 1997 was to "get seats back off the Labour party"
and that would be its strategy at the next general election.

A power-sharing pact on local authorities in Westmeath had worked
extremely well, Cllr Mick Dollard from Mullingar, told the conference,
and showed that there could be "a real and credible" alternative to
the current Government, and he believed there was a desire among the
electorate for a coherent alternative.

Cllr Danny O'Brien from Trim said he was against a pact as his primary
concern was that Labour should get into power in order to implement
its policies. "It doesn't matter who we are in Government with," he

The ongoing debate had "all the hallmarks of a fight with your
girlfriend," Dublin South East delegate Nap Keeling told the
conference. "It's not what the fight is about at all." He also accused
some who were against the pact of mounting "a collateral attack on the
leadership of the party".

Rebecca Moynihan from Inchicore said the debate was not an
ideological, but a tactical one. She said that smaller parties were
traditionally "squeezed" in pacts, with the exception of the
Progressive Democrats "with their right-wing economics and the bigot
from Ranelagh".

Senator Derek McDowell said there had been a major increase in the
numbers voting for non Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael from 15 per cent 20
years ago to 40 per cent today. "There's a far larger pool in which we
can fish," he said.

Fine Gael was in a weak position electorally, and with the proposed
pact, Labour was "in effect being invited to come to their rescue . .
. There's a lot, a lot in a pre-election pact for Fine Gael, but
precious little in it for the Labour party."

Wexford TD Brendan Howlin said that after 20 years of debate within
the party, there was "no wholly right or wholly wrong answer" in
relation to pre-election pacts. He said there was a danger that the
pact would see Labour lose its "critical relevance" during the
election campaign, and the party members could find themselves "as
cheerleaders for Enda [ Kenny]" in the run-up to an election.

If Labour "fudged" on a pact, it would be certain to spend a further
five years in opposition, said John Mulvihill from Cork East. He said
he had described Fianna Fáil as "tricky people" in 1994. "I tell you.
they're trickier now."

Labour National Executive Council member David Leach said that he was
not only opposed to coalition with Fianna Fáil, but with coalition
with Fine Gael. He had "no intention propping up" the Fine Gael Barry
and Coveny political dynasties in Cork because of a pre-election pact.
A pact would also be "a gilt-edged invitation to the media to take us
for granted".

Meath by-election candidate Cllr Dominic Halligan said that the
experience of the recent election showed that the pact did work, and
that tallies showed Fine Gael voters transferring in significant
numbers to Labour.

Labour vice-chairman Henry Haughton said his opposition was not based
on opposition to the leadership, and that he would be working hard for
the party, regardless of the outcome of the debate. "I'm no dissident,
I'm an activist, I had my view and I'm entitled to express it."

By keeping coalition options open, Labour would be "leaving the door
open for Fianna Fáil" Dublin North West TD Róisín Shortall told

She said the electorate had punished Labour when it last entered
coalition with Fianna Fáil and some voters had yet to forgive the
party for that.

Labour student activist Dermot Looney from UCD said the pact "puts
Fine Gael first" and it did not offer the "categorical shift in
politics that this society needs".

Dún Laoghaire TD Eamon Gilmore said the party could not go and ask the
electorate to make a change in Government "and not offer an

Delegates should vote for the pact because it showed Labour was
serious about Government, and that the party would "not play second
fiddle to anybody".

Waterford TD Brian O'Shea said the debate was about "differences of
judgment, not principle", and that the best strategy to increase seats
was to stand as an independent party with the possibility of having
either a Labour Taoiseach or Tánaiste. In a direct response to ATGWU
leader Mick O'Reilly, one of the staunchest critics of the pre-
election pact, TD Emmet Stagg accused him of undermining the party.
"If you really want to promote the cause of Labour, you might find a
target other than you Labour party colleagues."

Cork TD Kathleen Lynch said her opposition to the pact was based on
the fact that she and other colleagues lost seats in 1997 because of a
pre-election pact.

Jack O'Connor of Siptu said the union was supporting a pre-election
pact, but it would not support the ratification of a coalition deal
following the election if was not centre-left coalition. "We will
oppose it and actively campaign against it," he said.

Labour activist and former Attorney General John Rogers said the pact
would be "a major tactical error". He said: "It's an absolutely clear
thing to me, you should not vote for something if you don't know what
it's going to lead to."

Joe Kemmy from Limerick told delegates that members who voted for Pat
Rabbitte, like himself "knew what we were buying into".

© The Irish Times


Pearse Museum Among Recipients Of Heritage Grants

Tim O'Brien

The Pearse Museum at St Enda's in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, and Lucan
Demense have emerged as the largest beneficiaries of the 2005 Built
Heritage grants announced by Minister for Environment Dick Roche at
the weekend.

St Enda's is to receive €1.75 million while Lucan Demesne is to
receive €1.25 million. Formerly a school run by Pádraig Pearse, St
Enda's is now a museum with a nature study room showing attractive
displays of Irish flora and fauna and an audio-visual show.

Lucan Demesne is the embryonic Liffey Valley Park being developed by
Fingal, South Dublin and Kildare county councils. The money will go
towards a study on the development of the park and the building of two
weirs on the Liffey. Castletown House, Co Kildare, is set to receive
€1.1 million. Some €900,000 is to be spend on restoration work on
historic lodges and Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park. A
spokesman for the Minister said he believed most of the money would go
towards the Chesterfield Avenue approach to Farmleigh House.

About €800,000 is to go towards the excavation of walls found at the
Viking site at Woodstown, on the Suir estuary in Co Waterford.

Garnish Island in Co Cork is to receive €538,000 for the restoration
of a number of buildings while Fota Island will get €350,000.

Russborough House in Blessington, Co Wicklow, where the funding grants
were announced on Saturday night, is to receive €400,000. The Botanic
Gardens in Glasnevin will receive €250,000. Emo Court in Co Laois is
to receive €100,000.


Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe Theatre Back In Action

Frank McNally

Six months after it closed, Bewley's Grafton Street Cafe takes
another step towards full reopening today when its theatre returns to

The Dublin landmark began a phased comeback last week when a branch of
the restaurant chain Cafe Bar Deli started operations, along with a
separate fish restaurant, Mackerel.

Today at 1pm, Bewley's Cafe Theatre reopens with a specially
commissioned show, while Bewley's Cafe itself - now occupying only
part of the premises - will open for breakfast from 8am tomorrow.

Cafe Bar Deli - a Mediterranean-style restaurant with beer and wine
licence, which is also in George's Street and Ranelagh - will occupy
the famous Harry Clarke Room and the first floor, and operate between
noon and 11pm daily.

Bewley's Cafe will be based in the front of the shop and mezzanine,
expanding into the Harry Clarke Room during breakfast hours (8-11am),
and thereafter serving teas, coffees and pastries.

Mackerel, an "intimate" restaurant seating about 50 people, occupies
the second floor, where the theatre will again be based.

Today's show - Coming Up Roses - is presented by Finnish theatre group
Rakastajat, which was originally invited a year ago, before the
closure was announced.

The theatre will also host jazz evenings from Thursday onwards.

The Save Bewley's Campaign has welcomed the reopening.

However, last night a spokesman said the campaign would continue, with
a view to preserving the cafe's long-term future and preventing part
of the Westmoreland Street branch being turned into a cocktail bar and
hotel reception.

© The Irish Times


Irish Singer Deported From Australia

Colin O'Donnell, who made a name for himself on the Australian pub
circuit and was known to "pack a house" with his Irish Rebel Night
gigs, is back in his Cork home after Australian immigration officials
deported him last week.

Immigration officers arrested the entertainer while he was playing in
a Sydney bar. Astonished punters watched in amazement when four
immigration officers arrested him and took him to Villawood
Immigration Detention Centre. O'Donnell said he spent six days in
detention until his flatmate paid $8,000 (about €4,860) bail to secure
his conditional release.

He said he was disappointed, but not bitter. "After seven years it was
like my home. I had made many friends in that time and starting all
over again in Ireland is going to be hard."

About 400 Irish nationals are found to be working illegally in
Australia each year. Some own up to their illegal status in the hope
of having their subsequent visa applications treated favourably. All
illegal immigrants in Australia face mandatory detention at one of the
government's privately-run jails.

© The Irish Times


Catherine Lee At Irish Museum Of Modern Art

DUBLIN, IRELAND.- An exhibition of some 30 works by the American
sculptor Catherine Lee opens to the public at the Irish Museum of
Modern Art on Wednesday 22 June 2005. Entitled Catherine Lee, this
small retrospective focuses on the artist's work from the past decade,
exploring the period from which her work began to deploy three-
dimensional space through the powerful use of material, colour and

Catherine Lee's works are a hybrid of painting, sculpture and
installation. Juxtaposing the simplicity of a repeated form with an
astonishing variety of materials, they give _expression to the
artist's preference for materials that are changeable, for "anything
that has been in a liquid state - clay, concrete, fibreglass, all
sorts of metals. I have difficulty with wood, because it begins as one
thing and remains that thing. Mutability is what interests me". Her
small table-top objects, such as White Cubic, 2004, made of fired clay
have a delightful fluidity, which can also be seen in the glazed
surfaces of Russian Cubic, 2005 and Red Cubic Copper, 2005, with their
almost watery shimmer.

Lee's work is frequently presented in groups or "families", ranging
from simple wall pieces to large formal arrangements comprising a
number of separate elements. In this exhibition, however, the families
have been dismantled and the works are displayed chronologically,
giving a clear overview of the development of her work since the mid-
1990s. Lee began her career as a painter and her wall sculptures,
mostly dating from the late 1980s, could be seen as a continuation by
other means of her early interest in two-dimensional works.

Her free-standing sculptures, mark an acceleration of this process. In
Union Two, 1992, a figure reaching upwards seems to cast a shadow
above and behind it, simultaneously embracing and threatening the very
figure which created it in the first place. Lee's recent large-scale
bronzes, The Hebrides Series, which will be shown in the courtyard at
IMMA, mark the latest stage in this evolution. Several of the artist's
works also evoke tribal artefacts, such as shields and masks. Archaic
Figures, 2004, comprises eight glazed shapes closely resembling broad-
bladed knives, although the material from which they are made might
also suggest serving trays.

Above and beyond all of this writer Nancy Princenthal, in her
catalogue essay, describes the central quality of Lee's work as an
ability to dissolve the distinction between the animate and the
inanimate. "From her most intimate table-top ceramic objects to the
large free-standing bronze sculptures, Lee's work is endowed with a
presence that is simultaneously geological and human. Indeed, although
all sculpture can be said to participate in the fourth dimension . . .
Lee's sculptures cross a further threshold between still imagery and
moving pictures; their painterly surfaces and distinct, eccentrically
shaped facets create isolated images that assemble themselves, as one
engages with them I turn, into almost filmic sequences".

Born in Texas in 1950, Catherine Lee first exhibited in New York at
P.S.1 in 1980 and since then has participated in numerous exhibitions
internationally. Her exhibition, The Alphabet Series, was shown in
Texas, Washington, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. More recently her
work has been shown in Barcelona, Salzburg, Milan and Copenhagen. Her
work is included in the collections of SFMOMA, San Francisco; the
Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London, and the Carnegie
Institute, Pittsburgh.

A catalogue, with essays by Enrique Juncosa, Director, IMMA; Caoimhin
Mac Giolla Leith, curator and critic; Lorand Hegyi, Director, Musee
d'Art Moderne, Saint Etienne, France, and Nancy Princenthal, critic
and curator, accompanies the exhibition. Catherine Lee continues at
IMMA until Sunday 4 September 2005. Admission is free.
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