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May 27, 2005

Sinn Fein Comitted to Peace

News about Ireland & the Irish

ML 05/27/05 McGuinness: SF Committed To Peace
SF 05/27/05 McGuinness: All Mandates Must Be Respected
ND 05/27/05 Peter King: IRA Expected To Disband
IO 05/27/05 Ahern: IRA Must Respond To Democracy Call
BT 05/27/05 US Wants To Be Able To Access Britons' ID Cards
BT 05/27/05 DUP Gets Belfast Lord Mayor Position
BB 05/27/05 Belfast Mayor May Visit Republican Areas
NL 05/27/05 PSNI Deny Any Role In Sinn Fein Attacks
BT 05/27/05 Inquiry Call Into Shock Level Of Army Suicides
BT 05/27/05 Ulster Beaches Stranded
BB 05/27/05 Lord 'Has No Squatter's Rights'
UT 05/27/05 McCrea Security Protection To Be Reviewed
BT 05/27/05 Heartbreak As Crash Victims Are Laid To Rest
EN 05/27/05 Ex-IRA Prisoner's Play To Get Star Billing At Fringe
UT 05/27/05 Minister Welcomes First New York Flight To Belfast
WN 05/27/05 Are You Interested In Family History Research?


Sinn Fein 'Committed To Peace'

Friday, May 27, 2005

WASHINGTON - A top Northern Ireland political figure who has ties with
the outlawed Irish Republican Army said yesterday that Sinn Fein, his
political party and the political arm of the IRA, are committed to

Martin McGuinness, the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein who served as
secretary of education under a new government created by the 1998
peace accord, said he and his political party believe "the best way
forward is by purely peaceful, political and democratic means."

McGuinness briefed House members in the Capitol Hill office of U.S.
Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, on the impasse of the stalled
peace talks between Catholics, or Republicans who want to be united
with the Irish Republic, and members of the Democratic Unionist Party,
Protestants who want to maintain a union with the British crown.

The Democratic Unionist Party, headed by extremist Ian Paisley, did
not participate in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that was brokered by
the United States, the British and Irish governments and Northern
Ireland political leaders. The agreement was overwhelmingly ratified
by citizens of both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Neal also was briefed this week by Mitchell Reiss, the U.S. envoy to
Northern Ireland.

"My sense is that there is going to be movement and that nobody is
talking about going back to the bad old days," Neal said.

"Mitchell Reiss was visibly upbeat," said Neal about the State
Department diplomat who spent last week in Northern Ireland meeting
with political parties.

McGuinness traveled across the Atlantic to translate to members of
Congress the significance of the recent elections in Northern Ireland
to the House of Commons at Westminster.

Paisley's party holds nine seats of the 18 available. Sinn Fein holds
five Members of Parliament seats. Three are held by the Catholic
political party, Social Democratic and Labor Party, and one is held by
the Protestant political party, Ulster Unionist Party, which supported
the peace accord.


All Mandates Must Be Respected

By Martin McGuinness

Ever since Sinn Fein entered electoral politics, we have been lectured
on the principles of democracy by the two governments and all of the
other parties on this island. At every juncture in the Peace
Process, it has been stated mainly by unionists but acquiesced to by
the governments and the other parties that they will only co-operate
with democratic parties, as if they had the copyright on democracy.
It is a common belief that it was only unionists who discriminated
against their political opponents, but a closer inspection of the SDLP
in the North and all of the parties in the South will demonstrate

Since Sinn Fein first entered local councils, unionists berated,
insulted and attacked our elected representatives in the council
chambers, while unionist paramilitaries murdered them outside. But
what is not so well documented is the role of the SDLP. Where it was
in control of councils or where their numbers combined with Ulster
Unionists had control, Sinn Fein was also frozen out of influential
positions and systematically discriminated against. In the South,
all of the other parties on many of the councils formed political
pacts in order to keep Sinn Fein out of influential positions.
Donegal County Council is a perfect example of this practice.

Only when Sinn Fein's electoral strength increased, posing a threat to
SDLP and Ulster Unionist control of councils in the North, did the
SDLP embrace the da'Hondt system of power sharing. This was not done
in the interests of democracy but for self-preservation in case Sinn
Fein took control of councils and was in a position to turn the
tables. Similar patterns occurred in the South.

While over the period since the recent elections the SDLP has been
highlighting the lack of power sharing in unionist-dominated Lisburn
and Castlereagh Councils, no one was paying any notice to the practice
of the SDLP for the last 30-odd years where it dominated and excluded
Sinn Fein from chairs and deputy chairs of councils.

This week, following another increase in the Sinn Fein vote, the SDLP
in Down Council was finally forced to accept the da'Hondt system of
rotating senior positions for the first time. Up until now, the SDLP
and the UUP rotated the top positions between them and as recently as
last week, the SDLP's Eamon O'Neill insisted that they had no
intention of changing this practice. But just like unionists, they
only adopted democratic measures when they realised that their
dominance was threatened by the onward march of Sinn Fein, now the
second largest party on Down Council.

In Derry City Council, the same system was practiced by the SDLP and
unionists to exclude Sinn Fein from the position of mayor and deputy
mayor until the Sinn Fein group increased to the position that it was
threatening the dominance of those parties on the council. Then, and
only then, did the SDLP look to institutionalise power sharing in
Derry City Council to ensure that no party could ever discriminate
against the SDLP.

It was only in the year 2000-2001 that Councillor Cathal Crumley
became the first Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry. But thankfully now, the
last bastion of SDLP dominance has been broken and Down Council, due
to the increased political strength of Sinn Fein, has now introduced

I would urge the SDLP to learn from their own experience of having to
share power when they were threatened with losing it altogether. The
same logic can be applied to the DUP. I believe that by adopting a
cooperative approach to negotiations and applying the weight of our
joint mandates, the DUP can be convinced that in order for it to
exercise power here it will have to do so in partnership with
republicans and nationalists or lose it forever.

We need to use our combined strength to convince the two governments
to impress on the DUP that if it continues to block progress and the
full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement then the governments
will take joint responsibility and share power as co-equal partners in
an International Treaty.

The DUP needs to get real. Its proposal that the Assembly should be
re-established as some sort of super scrutiny committee is
unacceptable. The people voted for a fully functioning Assembly with
Executive powers and all-Ireland institutions. They deserve nothing
less and that is where Sinn Fein is putting its energies "towards
having the political institutions up and working and ensuring that the
Good Friday Agreement is implemented in full. I call on the SDLP to
support us in our efforts.

A super scrutiny committee is a non-runner. Ian Paisley needs to know
that the only way he is going to be able to exercise his mandate in an
Assembly is in partnership with Sinn Fein and the other parties that
have received sufficient mandate to be part of the Executive. He
needs to be told so in no uncertain terms and in one voice by Sinn
Fein, the SDLP, all of the other pro-Agreement parties and the two

The DUP needs to be reminded that although it may speak for the
majority of unionists, it still represents only a minority of the
people of the North and an even smaller minority of the people of
Ireland as a whole, who voted overwhelmingly for the Good Friday
Agreement. This is not just a Six-County Agreement; it is an all-
Ireland Agreement and I welcome an Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's assurance
that it will not be renegotiated.

Ian Paisley and the DUP should stop their stalling and respect the
will of the people. The DUP received a substantial mandate. But so
did Sinn Fein. We respect the rights of those who voted for the DUP
and we expect the DUP to respect the rights of those who voted Sinn
Fein. On that basis we should get on with what the people voted for,
get the political institutions up and working and reverse the damage
that Direct Rule Ministers have done to our economy and to our
infrastructure through swinging cuts to our education system, the
imposition of water taxes, etc.

The IRA has said that it is involved in an internal consultation
process and I would hope that it will be given the space to bring that
to a conclusion. I hope that it will be a positive outcome but that
is a matter for the IRA and its Volunteers.

But in the meantime we must continue to make progress and introducing
more preconditions serves no purpose whatsoever, especially when
everyone knows that eventually we will have to put our political
differences aside and work together.

Sinn Fein is ready to do business with the DUP, the UUP, SDLP and
others purely on the basis of our mandates. The DUP has the mandate
to represent the majority of unionism but does it possess the
confidence and courage to exercise that mandate based on the equal
democratic legitimacy of our respective votes?


IRA Expected To Disband – Peter King

Reporter's Notebook
By J. Jioni Palmer
Washington Bureau
May 27, 2005

The Irish Republican Army is expected to disband in several weeks,
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said yesterday after a Capitol Hill
meeting with the second-in-command of the group's political wing.

King, who called on the paramilitary organization to disband two
months ago, said Sinn Fein Vice Present Martin McGuinness told a small
group of congressmen that he expected "a positive announcement" by the
end of next month.

"Basically he said he hopes that in the next three or four weeks the
IRA puts out a clear statement ceasing all activity," King said.

He said substantive talks among the various parties in Northern
Ireland will not likely get under way until September after Protestant
groups march through Catholic neighborhoods - a provocative act that
has often led to violence.

King said in the absence of the IRA it is "imperative that the police
make sure the Catholic neighborhoods are protected."


IRA Must Respond To Democracy Call: Ahern
2005-05-27 11:10:04+01

The IRA must give a clear and decisive response to calls from Sinn
Féin leader Gerry Adams to embrace politics, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said today.

He said an unambiguous statement that all republicans would pursue
their goals through political means would drive the peace process

But he warned a commitment to democracy had to be put into practice at
grass roots level.

Mr Ahern said: "I hope that this response will be translated into
clear reality on the ground. If this happens, then we will expect
unionists to fully participate in partnership and inclusive politics."

Mr Ahern said he was certain that a comprehensive debate was underway
involving all members of the IRA.

"That is a good thing. That engagement including all members and
activists of republicanism is what can at last help us to come to
finality if it is a positive response," he said.

Mr Adams called on the IRA to pursue its goals through democratic
means by embracing politics. The IRA is expected to respond in the
coming weeks or months.

But while the Taoiseach said he believed a statement could come during
the summer, he refused to put a deadline on it.

"I have avoided through all this process putting a deadline on it," he
said. "But I hope it is positive, I hope it is conclusive and I hope
there is no ambiguity about it."

Mr Ahern said a clear statement from the IRA could draw unionists back
towards the Good Friday Agreement.


US Wants To Be Able To Access Britons' ID Cards

By Kim Sengupta
27 May 2005

The United States wants Britain's proposed identity cards to have the
same microchip and technology as the ones used on American documents.

The aim of getting the same microchip is to ensure compatability in
screening terrorist suspects. But it will also mean that information
contained in the British cards can be accessed across the Atlantic.

Michael Chertoff, the newly appointed US Secretary for Homeland
Security, has already had talks with the Home Secretary, Charles
Clarke, and the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, to discuss the

Mr Chertoff said yesterday that it was vital to seek compatibility,
holding up the example of the "video war" of 25 years ago, when VHS
and Betamax were in fierce competition to win the status of industry
standard for video recording systems.

"I certainly hope we have the same chip... It would be very bad if we
all invested huge amounts of money in biometric systems and they
didn't work with each other.Hopefully, we are not going to do VHS and
Betamax with our chips. I was one of the ones who bought Betamax, and
that's now in the garbage," he said.

Mr Chertoff also proposed that British citizens wishing to visit the
US should consider entering a "Trusted Traveller" scheme. Under this,
they would forward their details to the US embassy to be vetted. If
successful, they would receive a document allowing "fast- tracking"
through the US immigration system.

A pilot scheme will start within a few months between the US and the
Netherlands, allowing Dutch visitors to use a Trusted Traveller card
to enter the US without being subjected to further questioning or

Britain is one of 27 countries whose citizens do not need visas to
enter the US if they intend to stay less than 90 days. The American
government has said it wants 27 to issue new passports by 26 October
this year containing a computer chip and a digital photograph.

Mr Chertoff said compatability and the checking system was intended
purely to track down "terrorists and criminals" and the main aim was
to provide a "fair and reasonable system".

US diplomatic sources stated later that Washington did not wish to
interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.

"When we screen based on names, we're screening on the most primitive
and least technological basis of identification - it's the most
susceptible to misspelling, or people changing their identity, or
fraud," he said.

The scheme will also, say diplomats, ease confusion over who exactly
constitutes a suspect. The most high-profile case was that of Yusuf
Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, who was barred from
entering the US because his activities "could be potentially linked to
terrorism". The British government is insistent that Mr Islam had no
such links.

However, this is the latest controversy to surround Britain's proposed
combined identity card and passport due to be introduced in three
years' time. Rising costs have pushed the cost up to £93 each after
the overall estimated 10-year cost of the project grew from £3.1bn to
£ 5.8 bn.

There have also been problems over the effectiveness of the biometric
technology which is supposed to safeguard the security of the cards.
There were also verification problems with 30 per cent of those whose
fingerprint was taken during an enrolment trial of 10,000 volunteers.


DUP Gets Lord Mayor Position

SDLP man to serve as deputy

By Andrea Clements
27 May 2005

A DUP Lord Mayor was elected in Belfast last night with the support of
the Alliance Party and SDLP, prompting Sinn Fein to allege a "city
hall pact".

Thirty-seven of the 51 councillors, including Ulster Unionists, voted
for Wallace Browne to wear the mayoral chain this year.

Sinn Fein's mayoral candidate, Caral Ni Chuilin, obtained votes solely
from her own party, which claimed it had been blocked from the top

Upper Falls councillor Paul Maskey, who is also the Sinn Fein leader
on the council, said: "This will disappoint the many citizens of
Belfast who believed that with the election of Alex Maskey as Lord
Mayor, Belfast City Council had abandoned the failed politics of
exclusion and had moved into a new era of fair play and equality."

Support from the Alliance Party and the council's unionists, totalling
29 votes, would have been enough to make Mr Browne first citizen
without any support from the SDLP.

The four Alliance councillors gave him their votes because they felt
he had indicated a willingness to carry on some of the initiatives
driven forward by Alliance's Tom Ekin during his term of office over
the last year.

But the DUP returned the SDLP's support when it came to electing a
deputy mayor, leaving Sinn Fein standing alone again.

Pat Convery was voted into the position with the support of 33
councillors, while Sinn Fein's Danny Lavery received just his own
party's votes.

Four councillors, three of them UUP, abstained from voting on this

Mr Browne, who has been a councillor for 20 years, is a retired

"With the introduction of anti-social behaviour orders, district
policing partnerships and other new powers, local government has an
expanding role in ensuring the safety of the community," said Mr

He also paid tribute to outgoing Lord Mayor Tom Ekin's efforts to
improve Belfast.


Mayor May Visit Republican Areas

The new DUP Lord Mayor of Belfast has refused to rule out making
official visits to republican areas of the city.

Wallace Browne saw off the challenge of the only other candidate, Sinn
Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin, by 37 votes to 14.

The SDLP's Pat Convery, a councillor for north Belfast, was elected as
deputy lord mayor.

The new first citizen, who is regarded as a moderate, was elected with
the support of the UUP, Alliance Party and the SDLP.

"I see myself as a party politician, a party man that abides by the
rules," he said.

"But at the same time I think we have to move forward, and I believe
that the DUP, now that it's the largest party in Northern Ireland, has
got certain responsibilities.

"I believe that we can proceed with programmes that can benefit all
the people of Northern Ireland."

Paul Maskey, leader of the Sinn Fein group, said his party had been
"blocked" from top council posts.

Poll topper

"Sinn Fein remains the largest party in Belfast in terms of votes
secured at the last election. This must be reflected in the allocation
of senior positions at City Hall," he said.

"Sinn Fein will strenuously oppose any squalid cross-party arrangement
geared toward denying democratic rights to our party and electors."

The party's Alex Maskey became the city's first republican lord mayor
in 2002 and the party's Joe O'Donnell was the city's last deputy

Mr Browne, a retired teacher, has been on the council since 1985, and
topped the poll in the Victoria ward in the election.

The leader of the Alliance Party group, Naomi Long, said they
discussed Mr Browne's vision of his year in office with him before
supporting him.

"As a group we would have preferred to have agreement as to a way
forward for the next four years, in order to deliver continuity from
one mayoral term to the next and to maximise the impact which
successive lord mayors can have on promoting and enhancing the image
of the city," she said.

"However, given the difficult political context in which these
discussions are taking place, this has not been possible, and so we
have been working hard to bring about maximum consensus for this

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/27 06:12:28 GMT


PSNI Deny Any Role In Sinn Fein Attacks

Friday 27th May 2005

The Police Service last night dismissed the suggestion by Sinn Fein
that it had any role in attacks on senior party members in west
Belfast on Wednesday night.

The homes of Gerry Adams and others were targeted in ball bearing
attacks, the party claimed yesterday.

However, the claim by general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin that the
PSNI could have passed on addresses to the attackers was firmly

A spokesperson for the PSNI strongly refuted the "unfounded
allegation" and urged anyone with information to come forward.

"Our job is to make west Belfast safer for everyone and we abhor
incidents such as these where property belonging to anyone is

No-one was injured in the attacks though some minor damage was caused.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Mr McLaughlin said three houses owned by
Sinn Fein members including Mr Adams and a number of other republican
homes had been attacked.

"This wave of attacks replicates similar incidents last year when
dozens of republicans homes were targeted in Belfast.

"It is clear that all of the attacks last night were linked and those
responsible were operating with accurate information regarding the
addresses of republicans. One source of this information could
obviously be the PSNI."

The home of Mr Adams' Assembly colleague Fra McCann suffered damage to
outer panes of glass.

Mr McCann said the attack on his home occurred shortly after 11pm.

"Thankfully only the outer panes of glass were broken and the ball
bearings failed to enter the inside of the house. This attack has
obviously caused distress for my family and has caused a great deal of
anger locally.

"Whichever group or individual was behind this attack on my home need
to realise that they will not prevent me or my colleagues from
representing the people of this area.

"We will not be intimidated by attacks like this. Along with the local
community we will continue to stand up against criminality and against
those who are attempting to intimidate and threaten this community."

Mr McLaughlin urged republicans to be vigilant following the incident.

"I would also wish to make it very clear to those behind these attacks
and those directing and controlling them that Sinn Fein will not be
intimidated by this sort of activity," he said.


Inquiry Call Into Shock Level Of Army Suicides

By Michael McHugh
27 May 2005

Shock figures for suicide among Army recruits should prompt an urgent
inquiry, an MP said yesterday.

North Down representative Lady Sylvia Hermon was speaking after
learning that almost a fifth of soldiers' deaths can be attributed to

The statistics have raised questions about the welfare systems within
the Army and sparked calls for an official investigation.

The father of victim Paul Cochrane has backed calls for a probe into
the premature deaths.

Coroners have recorded suicide or open verdicts for the deaths of 55
soldiers since January 1984.

In total, 260 soldiers have died through accidents, suicides and while
on duty.

Lady Hermon said she was shocked by the revelations and would be
taking the matter up with the Government.

"The Army owes a duty of care to all those serving within its ranks in
terms of pastoral and other support," she said.

"These figures obviously put that support structure right in the
spotlight, because it has clearly failed all those who so sadly felt
driven to suicide and those who have died in unexplained

"Whilst there have been police inquiries and significant media
attention paid to the sudden unexplained deaths of Army trainees at
the Deepcut Barracks in Surrey, I am astounded that similar inquiries
appear not to have been conducted into this very high number of
unexplained deaths of Army personnel here in Northern Ireland."

One of the well-known victims, Paul Cochrane from Castlereagh in east
Belfast, was 18 when he shot himself at Drumadd Barracks in Co Armagh
in 2001.

His father Billy and mother Lynn have been pressing for information
about events surrounding his death.

"I would support calls for an inquiry but it would have to be
completely independent without any PSNI involvement," Mr Cochrane

"You can't have state forces investigating state forces."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The premature death of
any member of the armed forces is a tragedy.

"We have a duty of care which we take seriously, and to that end
there's an extensive and comprehensive welfare infrastructure designed
to meet the needs of personnel."


Ulster Beaches Stranded

Only six out of 24 meet water quality standard

By Debra Douglas
27 May 2005

The number of beaches failing the EC water quality standard in
Northern Ireland has jumped from none last year to five this year, a
new report revealed today.

The Good Beach Guide 2005, regarded as the ultimate independent guide
to UK bathing water quality in Britain, reveals only six of the 24
beaches surveyed in Northern Ireland have been recommended for their
excellent water quality, compared to eight in 2004.

They are Benone Strand and Downhill, Co Londonderry; Murlough Beach,
Co Down; Tyrella Beach, Co Down; Clough, Co Down; and Cranfield-
Nicholson's Strand, Co Down.

The report also shows that Northern Ireland could more than double the
number of recommended beaches if improvements were made at 12 bathing
sites where there are currently poorly treated sewage discharge

Across the UK, the story was the same with a doubling in the number of
beaches failing the water quality standard test.

In total, 52 beaches failed to make the grade compared to 26 in 2003.

The number of recommended beaches has also fallen.

Thomas Bell, Marine Conservation Society coastal pollution officer,
said: "The summer of 2004 was one of the wettest on record. The Met
office issued 100 flash weather warnings in August alone, and big
storms produce poor water quality.

"Fortunately, huge investment by the water companies in the sewage
infrastructure over recent years offset the storm pollution effect,
and the overall picture is not as bad as might have been expected,
perhaps, five years ago."


Lord 'Has No Squatter's Rights'

Millionaire industrialist Edward Haughey has lost a High Court action
over a derelict cottage adjoining his estate in County Down.

The Norbrook Laboratories chief claimed he acquired title to the
cottage and garden by "adverse possession".

This is a legal term for squatter's rights where ownership can be
acquired after 12 years.

The judge said Mr Haughey - now Lord Ballyedmond - at one stage
ordered the actual owner off the land at Rostrevor.

The disputed site has uninterrupted views of Carlingford Lough and is
believed to be worth £300,000.

Guy Scott-Foxwell, who was brought up in the cottage and now lives in
Scotland, sued Lord Ballyedmond for trespass.

It was a classical case of the little man against the big
industrialist and the attendant financial risks involved - it is
gratifying to know that at the end of the day justice has been done

Solicitor for Mr Scott-Foxwell

In a reserved judgement on Thursday, Lord Justice Campbell said it was
apparent that in recent years Lord Ballyedmond and his two companies -
Norbrook Laboratories and Ballyedmond Castle Farms - had a firm
intention to possess the disputed land and had been in factual
possession of it.

But he said: "They have failed to discharge the onus of proving that
they have had a sufficient degree of physical control or an intention
to exercise such custody and control over it for the requisite period
of 12 years.

"Accordingly, I find that Mr Scott-Foxwell has not been dispossessed
and that he is entitled to a declaration."

A solicitor for Mr Scott-Foxwell, said: "It was a classical case of
the little man against the big industrialist and the attendant
financial risks involved. It is gratifying to know that at the end of
the day justice has been done."

A small fence a member of the Scott-Foxwell family had erected between
the cottage garden and shore field was removed by Mr Haughey, the
court heard.

When Mr Scott-Foxwell returned to the cottage in 1998 after being told
of activity there, he met Mr Haughey who ordered him off the land.

Lord Justice Campbell ordered the industrialist and his companies to
pay the legal costs of the action.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/05/26 12:07:37 GMT


McCrea Security Protection To Be Reviewed

A decision to withdraw the Rev William McCrea's armed bodguard is
being reviewed, the High Court heard today.

The PSNI decided to strip the DUP politician of Close Protection - an
armoured car and armed police which he has had for the past 23 years -
because he was no longer an MP.

Mr McCrea, 56, who lives at Magherafelt, applied for a judicial review
of the decision and a hearing was due next week.

But today`s court was told that a review was being carried out arising
out of Mr McCrea`s recent election as an MP.

Barrister David McMillan said a previous undertaking not to withdraw
the armed protection would remain in force until the case was disposed

Welcoming the review, Mr McCrea`s lawyer Alan Kane said it was
disappointing that replying affidavits had only been served yesterday
- and in draft form.

Mr Justice Weatherup agreed to an application to take the case out of
next week`s list and provisionally fixed the hearing for September 26
and said he noted that the matter at issue was to be reviewed in the
light of Mr McCrea`s new status.


Heartbreak As Crash Victims Are Laid To Rest

Thousands mourn tragic schoolgirls

By Louise Hogan and Michael Brennan
27 May 2005

Communities around Navan in the Irish Republic were in mourning last
night after the burials of four of the girls killed in the horrific
school bus crash.

Thousands of people turned out for the funerals of Sinead Ledwidge
(15), Deirdre Scanlon (17), Lisa Callan (15) and Claire McCluskey (18)
at two churches only miles apart.

There were tearful scenes as the funeral corteges left the churches to
bring them to their final resting places.

Over a thousand people gathered in and around the church in the small
parish of Beauparc to accompany Deirdre Scanlon and Sinead Ledwidge on
their last journey from the sunlit church.

Dozens of sobbing students from the girls' school, St Michael's Loreto
Convent and Beaufort College in Navan, Co Meath, lined the short
route, which was just yards away from the Scanlon's family home.

In a poignant homily, Fr Peter Farrelly described Deirdre, who was to
sit her Leaving Certificate exams, as "a true character".

He said she would be sorely missed by her two grandmothers, Catherine
and Detta, with whom she spent a lot of time.

"The number of years is not the true measure of life," he said.

Communications Minister Noel Dempsey and several local TDs attended
Sinead's funeral later in the afternoon.

The congregation heard that Sinead was artistic, athletic and an
academic all-rounder.

Fr Peter Farrelly said: "All the glory that she brought to her school,
and suddenly brought to an end. We say such promise, such a waste,
such a tragedy."

But he added: "Let no-one tell me that Sinead's life was a waste. She
gave such joy."

At Rosnaree church just two miles away, thousands more turned out for
the funerals of Leaving Certificate student Claire McCluskey and
Junior Certificate student Lisa Callan.

Father John Brogan said the community had been shattered by their

He described Claire as a beautiful, intelligent girl and added that
her family could take great comfort in the fact that she would be
sharing eternal life and peace today.

The 16 rows in the small chapel were packed to capacity with around
130 family members and neighbours, while hundreds more listened to the
Mass on the loudspeaker in the churchyard outside.

Christy McCluskey said his daughter was full of happiness.

He told the congregation that she had originally wanted to be a
teacher and then changed her mind and wanted to be a nurse.

Schoolgirls formed a second guard of honour for the funeral of Lisa,
who was laid to rest afterwards in Ballapousta Cemetery in Ardee, Co
Louth, in a plot where her grandparents' are also buried.

Fr Brogan said she would be remembered in people's hearts and minds
forever as "the lively character she was".

"She was outgoing, loved everybody, cared for everybody and had time
for everyone," he said.

The four funerals were attended by representatives of President Mary
McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as well as Transport Minister Martin
Cullen and Education Minister Mary Hanafin.

There were also members of the Gardai, fire brigade, civil defence,
Bus Eireann and Meath County Council.

Local farmers beside the churches cut the long grass in their fields
and opened them up to accommodate the cars of mourners.

Businesses in the town shut down during the funerals and the roads
were empty, while Bus Eireann workers held a minute's silence
yesterday at noon.

The funeral of Aimee McCabe will take place at the Church of the
Assumption in Beauparc at 11am today.

Although all 46 people injured in the bus crash were taken to
hospital, just one student now remains in Our Lady's Hospital in Navan
in a stable condition.

Another injured student is in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in
Drogheda, along with the female driver of one of the two cars

Gardai said they would not be making substantial progress in the crash
investigation until the weekend as many of the students who were on
the bus were attending funerals.

Superintendent Gerry Smith said the bus driver had not yet been
formally interviewed.


Ex-IRA Prisoner's Violent Play To Get Star Billing At Fringe

Brian Ferguson

A HARD-HITTING play by a former IRA prisoner is to be given star
billing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it emerged today.

The Wrong Man, written by ex-Sinn Fein spin doctor Danny Morrison, is
expected to be one of the most high-profile shows at The Pleasance
this August.

Its writer has served time after being convicted of kidnapping and
conspiracy to murder.

The plot centres on an IRA cell and ticket-holders can expect graphic
violence on stage.

The play features a largely Northern Irish cast and is the first
production by the New Strung Theatre Company.

Belfast-born Mr Morrison, who spent eight years behind bars after
being caught in a house where an IRA informer was being interrogated,
was Bobby Sands' official spokesman during the hunger strikes in the
1980s. Sands was the first of the hunger strikers to die.

Mr Morrison, who claims to have given up political activism when he
was released from jail in 1995 during the IRA ceasefire, has already
written a string of books.

The Wrong Man is his debut play, which he says has so far been shunned
by theatres in Dublin and Belfast because of political prejudice - a
claim strongly denied by leading venues.

Mr Morrison, who joined the IRA as a teenager, has been one of the
closest aides to both leading Sinn Fein party figures, Martin
McGuinness and Gerry Adams, in the past, thanks to his former role as
Sinn Fein's national director of publicity.

His play - billed as offering audiences the chance to catch "a glimpse
inside the IRA" - is said to focus on the final days of an IRA
informer and the fear and paranoia caused by "the knowledge of an
informer at work".

It has already sparked controversy with a three-week run in London,
which began just after the notorious murder of Robert McCartney.
Ticket-holders will have to be aged 16 or over to be admitted to the
venue in Edinburgh because of the terrifying scenes of violence and
the harrowing subject matter featured.

Mr Morrison, who famously urged the Republican movement to pursue its
strategy with "an Armalite in one hand and a ballot box in the other",
told the Evening News he felt audiences in Edinburgh would be "broad-
minded" enough to accept the play's subject matter.

"I'm sure nothing like this will have been at the Fringe before. I'm
really looking forward to it.

"I'm sure audiences are going to respond to it well. There's a lot of
violence and a lot of passion in the play, but in my experience
Edinburgh audiences are pretty broad-minded."

The show's promoter Dan Pursey said the show would provide "a unique
view inside the IRA".

Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie, one of the leading campaigners
against sectarianism in Scotland, said: "It's really up to audiences
and critics to make their own minds up, but it's not very helpful with
all the efforts that are on-going to tackle sectarianism."

However, city Tory councillor Alastair Paisley said: "I think we can
well do without this kind of thing at the Fringe.

It sounds completely abhorrent."

First Minister Jack McConnell's office declined to comment today.


Minister Welcomes First New York Flight To Belfast

The first ever non-stop scheduled air service between New York and
Belfast touched down today.

Continental Airlines` new daily service was given a ministerial
welcome at Belfast International Airport by Northern Ireland
Enterprise Minister Angela Smith, who greeted the first passengers and
saw off the first leaving on the return flight to Newark Airport in
New Jersey.

The service, which has been made possible with support from the
Government`s Air Route Development programme, will operate seven days
a week during the summer months and four days a week in winter.

Tourism chiefs see the new route as crucial to the development of
their strategy to draw more American visitors to the province.

The cross-border tourism body Tourism Ireland is mounting a drive to
encourage Americans with strong family ties to head across the
Atlantic to visit their ancestral homeland.

Alan Clarke, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board,
said the impact of direct access to Northern Ireland for American
tourists could not be overestimated.

He said those from North America "tend to stay longer and spend more"
than others.

Mr Clarke added: "Last year US visitor numbers increased by one fifth
to 100,000 and by 2007 we aim to increase that to 145,000.

"Direct access from New York will certainly help us achieve this
ambitious target."

Ms Smith said the new route was a very significant development and
"tremendous news for business travellers and tourists alike."

She said it was also "a wonderful expression of confidence in the
future of Northern Ireland".

The minister said the start of the new direct service was the result
of a great team effort involving many organisations."

She added: "Improved access has been a strategic priority for economic
development in Northern Ireland and, with nine new air routes secured
over the past year, the Air Route Development company has succeeded in
transforming the local air transport scene."

She said she was sure the Northern Ireland economy would feel the
benefits of the new services in the years ahead.

Leslie Morrison, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, said
North America was a key export market for local manufacturing
companies, accounting for 22% of total Northern Ireland manufactured

The direct service would make access much easier for business.

Airport boss Albert Harrison echoed the message, saying the airline
had been surprised at the level of bookings for business class.

"They thought they would have filled up the back end of the aircraft

For a short time the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus operated a
service from Belfast via Shannon in Co Limerick to New York but it was
axed post-September 11 as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Meanwhile, Belfast International Airport is looking forward to opening
three new routes to Europe to add to the ever-growing list of

On July 1, budget airline easyJet begins flights to Berlin, Rome and


Are You Interested In Family History Research?

Waterford County Archive Service is pleased to welcome a new addition
to its staff. Catherine Nugent has taken up the position of
Genealogist with the Celtic Trí Project.

The project has recently received funding under the European Union
INTERREG IIIA Ireland/Wales Community Initiative Programme. As the
name suggests, this is a threeway project between partners Dublin City
Archives and Waterford County Archives (Ireland Strand) and Gwynedd
County Archives (Wales Strand).It aims to foster cultural connections
between Ireland and Wales, exploring links between the two
nations.Family history is an important component of Celtic Trí, and
all three archives services are featuring this in their scheduled
projects for the coming year, with funding being provided by

INTERREG for the appointment of genealogists in each service on a
contract basis. In addition, Waterford County Archives has been
awarded INTERREG funding for the creation of databases of records of
genealogical interest and the production of a publication on
genealogical sources in the County. If you are interested in tracing
your families' history and need advice and guidance on how to begin,
or indeed require access to any of our genealogical records, then why
not drop into Waterford County Archives to avail of this service.

For further information on this and upcoming events contact: Catherine
Nugent, Genealogist-In-Residence, Celtic Trí Project, Waterford County
Archive Service, Dungarvan Library, Davitts Quay, Dungarvan, Co.
Waterford on 353 58 23673
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