News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

July 18, 2005

Fr Troy Calls For Sean Kelly's Release

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 07/18/05 Priest Calls For Bomber's Release
SF 07/18/05 SF Slams Petrol Bomb Attack On Brookfield Mill
BT 07/18/05 UVF Debates Future As LVF Feud Goes On
BT 07/18/05 Parades Issue 'Must Be On Talks Agenda'
IO 07/18/05 Tory Meets SF & Loyalists Over Peace Process
BT 07/18/05 Heath:Too Little Too Late Or Too Much Too Soon?
BT 07/18/05 Bomber's Wife Is From Ulster
TH 07/18/05 OO: It's Time To Make Sectarianism History
IO 07/18/05 Haughey 'Very Ill' As Cancer Worsens
CS 07/18/05 Students Record Belfast's Strides Toward Peace
TO 07/18/05 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' Set Visit


(Poster's Note: To hear Malachy McAllister on Irish Aires,
go to:

It starts about 7 minutes in the show. Jay)


Priest Calls For Bomber's Release

A Catholic priest from north Belfast has called for the
Shankill bomber, Sean Kelly, to be freed from prison.

Kelly was returned to jail last month after Northern
Ireland Secretary Peter Hain suspended his licence.

Mr Hain said he had been sent back to jail because he had
become involved in terrorism again.

However, Father Aiden Troy said there was no apparent
evidence to support that claim and Sean Kelly had been a
moderating influence in the area.

"If there is evidence and I am being misled then present it
and I will be the first to say 'I was wrong, I am sorry',"
he said.

"But in the absence (of evidence) I am absolutely certain
that this is something that has been wrongly done."

Kelly was one of two men who left a bomb in a Shankill Road
fish shop in 1993. Nine civilians died, as did Kelly's IRA

He received a total of nine life sentences but was freed
early from prison in July 2000 under the Good Friday

His early release licence was suspended by the Northern
Ireland Secretary Peter Hain after security information
indicated Kelly had become "re-involved in terrorism".

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said Kelly's return to prison
followed the terms of the Agreement.

Sir Hugh said it was one of those cases where a secretary
of state had made a decision and the police had acted on
it, in compliance with the law.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/18 12:22:57 GMT


Sinn Féin Slams Petrol Bomb Attack On Brookfield Mill

Published: 18 July, 2005

Sinn Fein Councillor for North Belfast Margaret
McClenaghan has slammed the petrol bomb attack on
Brookfield Mill. The attack which occured at 11:30pm on
Sunday night follows a day of sustained attacks against
nationalist homes on Alliance Avenue.

Speaking after the attack Cllr McClenaghan said:

"These attacks cannot be justified in any sense. They were
sectarian and only carried out to inflict damage and

"Tonights attacks come after a day of sustained attacks on
nationalist homes in Alliance Avenue in which the PSNI were
present but nothing to stop. In the attack against the Mill
there were at least ten petrol bombs thrown across the
Crumlin Raod at the Mill. This was not only dangerous to
the property but could very easily have hit passing

"These attacks are now spreading and it needs to be
addressed before somebody is seriously injured or killed. I
am calling once again for Unionist representatives to play
a leadership role and do all in their power to end these
attacks." ENDS


UVF Debates Future As LVF Feud Goes On

By David Gordon
18 July 2005

Growing speculation that the UVF is debating its future
role in the event of an IRA wind-down was met with a
guarded response today, with the terror group still locked
in a vicious street war with its loyalist enemies.

PUP leader, David Ervine, confirmed that an internal
discussion is under way within the UVF on its response to a
long-awaited IRA statement on its intentions.

But, referring to the ongoing feuding with the LVF, Mr
Ervine claimed "drug dealers" were "getting in the way" of
the process.

He also said: "I am very aware that such a consultation is
currently going on with the UVF. The discussions within
that group are based upon the knowledge that the IRA will
make a statement about a peaceful future. Isn't everyone
waiting for the IRA?"

The PUP leader also said of the UVF consultation: "It's
been going on for some time but drug dealers keep getting
in the way."

There were renewed calls for a review of the UVF ceasefire
last week, after two murders in a fortnight.

DUP MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, who was among those who spoke
out on the killings, today said: "I hope that this debate
leads to a firm decision about ending all paramilitary

He said all paramilitaries should end their terrorist and
criminal activities.

SDLP MLA, Alex Att- wood, said: "Like every paramilitary
organisation, we judge them on what they do, not on what
they're thinking. Recent events do not fit with a ceasefire
or an exclusively peaceful approach.

"We would encourage any paramilitary group not just to
consult on their future, but to end that consultation by
committing itself to exclusively peaceful means."

The UVF was blamed for murdering north Belfast men Jameson
Lockhart and Craig McCausland this month, with police
linking both killings to tensions with the LVF.

Mr McCausland's family denied he had any connection with


Parades Issue 'Must Be On Talks Agenda'

By Chris Thornton
18 July 2005

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey says the Government and other
parties are falling in with his push for parades reform.

Sir Reg, who said he was making parading a key platform for
his leadership when he took over the UUP last month, said
there is a "growing acceptance" after the Twelfth clashes
that parades need to be looked at again.

He said he now hopes the issue will be on to the agenda for
political talks.

"It now appears that the Secretary of State, the DUP and
Sinn Fein leaders are now agreeing with me that the
parading issue has to be raised up the agenda and resolved
once and for all," he said.

"In the next few weeks I will be working hard to get a firm
commitment from Government that parades will be firmly on
the political agenda when talks resume in the autumn."

Any such talks would talk place just before the current
Parades Commission's term of office expires.

Sir Reg wants the "discredited" Commission replaced and
says the whole issue cannot be left outside a wider


Tory Meets Sinn Féin And Loyalists Over Peace Process
2005-07-18 07:20:02+01

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary David Lidington will hold
talks today with Sinn Féin chief Martin McGuinness and a
group involving loyalist paramilitaries.

The Conservative MP is expected in the North for separate
briefings from the two sides on developments in the peace

Although Mr Lidington was unavailable fo comment, a Sinn
Féin spokesman confirmed Mr McGuinness would be meeting

With rioting having erupted at a flashpoint Orange Order
march in north Belfast last week, the spokesman said: "We
will be updating him on the parading situation.

"Engagement is important to us, whether with the southern
parties, America or the British.

"Maintaining support for the peace process and making
people aware of what's happening is vital."

It is understood Mr Lidington will also hold talks with
members of the Loyalist Commission, an umbrella
organisation set up to defuse tensions among rival
Protestant factions.

His trip comes days after a man was shot dead in north
Belfast as part of a deepening feud between the Ulster
Volunteer Force and splinter Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Terror bosses sit on the commission, alongside clergymen
and political representatives.

A source close to the body suggested the meeting with Mr
Lidington may have been arranged months earlier.


Heath: Was It Too Little Too Late Or Too Much Too Soon?

By Brian Walker
18 July 2005

Ted Heath made the biggest mark on Northern Ireland of any
British Prime Minister, up to and perhaps including Tony

Only time will tell if Mr Blair will finally have been any
more successful at steering the local parties towards a
deal than Sir Edward was at Sunningdale in 1973.

As Prime Minister from 1970, he was blamed - or credited -
with taking a notably tougher line against the IRA than the
previous Wilson Government, beginning with the
controversial Falls curfew.

Persuaded by Brian Faulkner into imposing disastrously one-
sided internment in 1971, he also had to take political
responsibility for Bloody Sunday.

The ensuing violence after that fateful day and its
political result Direct Rule, produced over 800 dead in the
worst two years of the Troubles, both from the IRA and the
rapidly expanding UDA and UVF.

Heath was a stiff, awkward man. Although elected as Tory
leader to rival the modernising Harold Wilson, he was at
first a personal PR disaster. I remember my crushing
disappointment as a schoolboy, listening to the great man
from Westminster boring Londonderry Chamber of Commerce
with advice on how to keep tidy accounts.

To be fair, British politicians in those days observed a
vow of silence about Unionist Ulster.

In his memoirs, Heath himself records how he once slipped
into Donegal in a car driven by his friend the Londonderry
MP Robin Chichester Clark, hidden under a blanket, in case
unionists might spot him and call him a traitor.

As Prime Minister from 1970, Heath was a tough, even
radical Prime Minister and no sentimentalist. Although
friendly with the old Unionist establishment from his days
as Conservative Chief Whip in the Fifties, when the time
came he didn't hesitate to plunge in the dagger.

Bloody Sunday was the tipping point. Weeks later, Heath
summoned a shocked Brian Faulkner to tell him he was now
determined to run security directly from London. Faulkner
refused to maintain the husk of government and the old
Stormont disappeared almost overnight.

It was a huge gamble and a desperately dangerous moment. As
nationalist bonfires blazed in celebration, Heath went on
television, speaking as "the Prime Minister of Great
Britain - (pause) - AND Northern Ireland."

But Unionists felt the betrayal keenly and the loyalist
backlash duly happened.

As well as their monopoly on power, the Ulster Unionists
finally lost control of their own people, never to regain

Heath, now loathed by many unionists, was booed entering St
Anne's Cathedral for Lord Brookeborough's funeral.

Meanwhile, across the divide, the first short-lived IRA
ceasefire failed to produce the only concession that would
appease them. Direct Rule was not to be the prelude of
Brits Out after all.

In this unpromising climate Heath used his closest crony
Willie Whitelaw as his agent to drive the local politicians
fast and hard towards a political revolution. Amazing to
think of it now, that only 21 months into Direct Rule, it
seemed for a while that a powersharing deal with an Irish
dimension had actually been clinched.

But the Sunningdale settlement turned out like so much of
the Heath record, to be either a glorious failure or too
much too soon.

By the time of Sunningdale, the skids were under Heath's
Government. Electricity cuts caused by the miners' strike
accompanied the Who Governs Britain General Election of
February 1974. Heath was out, replaced by the slippery

In Northern Ireland, the Executive collapsed amid eerily
similar power cuts three months later. Power sharing
unionism was smashed for a generation.

In his long years in the wilderness, Heath lost interest in
Northern Ireland until the dramatic coda of his appearance
at the Saville Sunday tribunal early in 2003.

He had to admit that he reminded Lord Widgery when he
appointed him that "we are fighting a propaganda war",
whatever that meant.

But he swatted aside charges that he backed any attempt by
the Army to "teach Derry young Catholics a lesson".

Deprived of an admission or a smoking gun, his fairly rough
interrogators couldn't budge him.

We got a glimpse of a stubborn, steely-minded man of power
who could hold his nerve and his original judgments of 30
years ago.

It was, I believe, the authentic Ted Heath.


Bomber's Wife Is From Ulster

He's innocent, says pregnant widow

By Neil Loughran
16 July 2005

The wife of a suicide bomber is originally from Co Down and
today she was in denial that her husband was involved in
the July 7 terror attacks in London.

The 21-year-old former Banbridge woman, Samantha Louise
Lewthwaite, was the wife of Jamaican-born Briton Lindsay
Jamal it was widely reported today.

The 19-year-old carpet fitter is suspected of killing 26
people, including himself, in the Piccadilly Line blast
between King's Cross and Russell Square nine days ago.

Pregnant Samantha, who changed her name to Sherafiyah after
converting to Islam aged 17, was born on December 5 1983
and lived in the Banbridge's Whyte Acres estate for two
years before moving to England with her German-born father
Andrew George, a lorry driver who had served in the 9th
Lancers, and mum Elizabeth Christine - a Banbridge native.
Newspaper reports today described Samantha as second
generation Irish-Catholic.

Her separated parents reportedly never came to terms with
their daughter's conversion.

Samantha is reported as saying that her husband "wasn't the
sort of person who'd do this".

She said: "I had everything but if this is true, then I
have nothing. I won't believe it until they show me the

Samantha met Jamal three years ago through their religion
when both were at college in Luton. They had a 15-month-old
son named Abdullah Shaheed Ibn-Jamal and Samantha is
currently eight months pregnant.

As the death toll from the blasts rose to 55 overnight,
after architect Lee Harris died, the family of Mohammad
Sidique Khan - who blew himself up and killed seven at
Edgware Road - urged the public to "expose the terror
networks which target and groom our sons to carry out such


It's Time We Got On The March To Make Sectarianism History

Ruth Wishart July 18 2005

Deeply ingrained, this marching business. In the twentieth
century the men from Jarrow did it to highlight the
devastation of unemployment-related poverty. The
Aldermaston armies put CND on the map and nuclear warfare
on the political agenda.

In Grosvenor Square, London, they strode out against
American policy in Vietnam; in Glasgow they gathered to
protest against the demise of industrial giants such as
Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and the Ravenscraig steelworks.
The miners marched against pit closures, the teachers
against educational policies, a remarkable cross section of
society against going to war in Iraq. Sometimes annual
marches are a celebratory affirmation of identity:
International Women's Day, Notting Hill Carnival, Gay
Pride. Sometimes they are about solidarity as in
Edinburgh's white-robed gathering two weeks ago, which
nobly eclipsed the self-indulgent reprise of a handful of
adolescent anarchists.

Then there are marches which use the camouflage of
tradition and democracy to mask less savoury motives. The
so-called marching season in Northern Ireland, now subject
to negotiation via the Parades Commission, chooses to
"celebrate" an event 315 years ago and in so doing has,
over the years, ensured that the ancient Battle of the
Boyne instigated the moderns skirmishes of Drumcree and
elsewhere in the familiar flashpoints of the Province.

The contentious routes of these marches also wear the fig-
leaf of custom and practice, barely covering an ill-
disguised imperative to thumb a noisy nose at those from a
different tradition whose homes lie adjacent.

To most residents of the Scottish mainland this evokes
bemusement and a residual irritation at the millions of
pounds of UK taxes diverted to prevent bloodshed between
fellow citizens who seem unable to set aside tribal
hostilities. Visiting Belfast two years ago with a group
calibrating the competing claims of 12 areas to represent
the UK as European City of Culture in 2008, two contrasting
images impinged on my consciousness.

One, a modern, vibrant city with some handsome
architecture, innovative tourist attractions, fine concert
hall and healthy club and pub scene. The second, a
dispiriting home to entrenched ideologies separated not
just by history, religion and psychology but by physical
barriers of walls and wire.

In that Belfast, the borderlines regularly played host to
casual sectarian violence, and the painted kerbstones and
ubiquitous bunting offered visual clues as to when you had
passed through the fortifications from one territory to the

Our amiable hosts, inured to the regularity of these
hostilities, seemed surprised that we should be shocked.
Indeed, the painted gable ends, often featuring weaponry
and balaclava-clad urban warriors, was promoted as an
interesting local visual-arts tradition.

As we continue to pay for a parliament that doesn't sit and
a peace process which has diminished violence but hardly
entrenched democracy, the political endgame in Northern
Ireland seems as confused as ever. But let us fast-forward
now to my home town of Glasgow, which this month held its
own marching season, also commemorating the distant events
of 1690. The first led to some 85 arrests.

The second, just under a week ago, led to what police have
called disgraceful scenes. Its route through the east end
took it into an area filled with pubs where fans of the
city's green-and-white team are wont to congregate.

Many of these, on police advice, closed their doors during
the procession. That did not prevent the kind of drunken
hooliganism, singing and chanting which resulted in over
half those arrested being detained "on suspicion of
sectarian hatred".

This is a truly disheartening development at a juncture
when the Scottish Executive has made sectarianism in all
its unsavoury guises a high-profile target.

The Orange Order's ritual response to all of this is to
reiterate that its marches are nothing but a family day
out, and that they cannot be held responsible for yobbish
elements who choose to attach themselves to the event. This
is the kind of weasel-worded claptrap which gives
disingenuousness a bad name.

And yesterday, when it emerged that the Council of Scottish
Local Authorities had asked for a meeting with the
executive with a view to giving councils greater control of
marching rights which are currently under the sole
jurisdiction of chief constables, the executive officer of
the Grand Orange Lodge got even hotter under his sash. He
warned of "a threat to our democratic right to peaceful
procession and assembly".

Let us concede that banning marches is not a step which any
country with pretensions to free speech and association
should take lightly. But let us set the laudable tradition
of democratic assembly and procession against the
motivation of those whose urge to celebrate their religious
affiliation in the public highways and byways is apparently
only prompted once a year on the anniversary of a
Protestant/Catholic conflict.

Let us wonder aloud why the highways and byways in question
invariably involve those parts of our towns where the
marches will be a guaranteed source of provocation. This is
no O in the Park where jolly crowds of Orange families camp
out to cheer their favourite flute bands in remote rural
fields. I was brought up a Protestant and those who use
historical battles to fan the flames of contemporary
sectarianism do not do so in my name.

Glasgow is not Belfast, Lanarkshire is not Northern
Ireland, and those who seek to import inter-faith hostility
and suspicion into this country make a mockery of the
traditions they purport to represent.

We need to stop being mealy mouthed about this scar on the
face of modern Scotland. Stop being indulgent about idiots
at Parkhead trapped in a time-warp who bawl out ditties
supportive of terrorist activities. Stop the bampots who
come into Ibrox kitted out with Ulster regalia overprinted
with hostile slogans. Stop slapping the wrists of people
indulging in singing "football" songs which are nothing
less than an incitement to hatred and intolerance. Chuck
them out of football for the duration.

Indoctrinating children in this fashion may seem small beer
beside encouraging young people on a path which leads to
fundamentalist terrorism. But in truth, all activities
which instil in the young a sense of hostility towards
those from different faiths and backgrounds, are branches
of the same rotten tree and need to be pruned.

There will be many more Protestants out there, some a
trifled lapsed like myself, others still staunch adherents,
who also found the activities in Scottish streets over the
past fortnight completely alien and reprehensible. As would
many Scottish Catholics who are thirled to ecumenism, many
Muslims anxious for peaceful co-existence, many Jews
appalled at the mess in the Middle East. Perhaps we could
get together. Go on a march. Wear white sashes maybe. Carry
banners bearing the legend Make Sectarianism History. Now
there's a cause worth living for.


Haughey 'Very Ill' As Cancer Worsens

18/07/2005 - 08:22:16

Former Taoiseach Charles Haughey is reportedly "very ill"
after suffering a worsening of his prostate cancer.

Reports this morning said the former Fianna Fáil leader's
illness was believed to have spread to other areas and he
had recently spent stints at two private hospitals in

Mr Haughey, who was first diagnosed with prostate cancer a
decade ago, has returned to health several times in recent
years following media reports about his imminent demise.


Chico State Students To Record Belfast's Strides Toward


Chico State University students David O'Connor (left),
Calen Huff (left, seated), and Kevin Puotinen (standing)
prepare for an interview with former U.S. Sen. George
Mitchell at the Beverly Hills Hilton last April. Mitchell
was instrumental in negotiations that led to the Good
Friday Agreement in 1998.(Catherine Growdon/Special to the

All Chico E-R photos are available here.

When David O'Connor found out about an opportunity to
travel to Northern Ireland, to meet its people and get a
glimpse into the history of the region, he jumped at the

The Chico State University student sold his car to help
fund the journey, one he'll share with 14 other students
who embarked Friday for Belfast - the once-embattled city
that's in the midst of a great historic transition.

There are many reasons for the trip, not the least of which
is to shoot a documentary film on reconciliation. It'll be
composed of interviews with leaders who were instrumental
in the Good Friday Agreement - the 1998 peace accord that's
been viewed as a new beginning for the area.

"I get to go to Northern Ireland and talk to people who've
changed the world," said O'Connor, who'll work on the
production of the film.

O'Connor was referring to Gerry Adams, president of the
Irish Republican party Sinn Féin, John Hume, winner of the
Nobel Peace Prize, Chris O'Halloran, community activist in
Belfast, dozens of others involved in the peace process and
residents of the city's segregated streets.

In April, several of the students traveled to Southern
California to meet with and interview former U.S. Sen.
George Mitchell, who was a key figure in the accord.

The trip abroad is an exciting venture for 34-year-old
O'Connor, a media arts major, who's hoping the end result
will open the eyes of people who, like himself, have never
lived in a region of such high religious and political

Violence fueled by the deeply divided Catholic nationalist
and Protestant unionist communities led to the deaths of
more than 3,000 people during a stretch of about three
decades, starting in the late '60s, known as The Troubles.

Today, the region is a place where day-to-day efforts are
vital to keeping peace. It's also an example of how change
is possible, O'Connor said.

"And everybody needs to see what's going on over there," he
said. "This can happen, peace can happen, with a little bit
of talk and interest."

The idea for the visit and the documentary came from the
imagination of Kelly Candaele, a Chico State alumnus who
described the endeavor as an experiment.

Candaele sits on the board of Chico State's newly formed
Peace Institute, has a decades-long fascination with
Ireland since first traveling there in the early '80s, and
a particular interest in the peace process, having watched
it develop. In fact, he accompanied President Bill Clinton
during his efforts in the peace negotiations in the mid-

He knew that in order for the students to better understand
the struggles of Northern Ireland, they would need to
immerse themselves in the culture. And so they will. For
three weeks, the group will stay at Queen's College in
Belfast, taking classes, exploring and conducting

About half are film students. The rest are of various other
disciplines, including political science. Several of them
have never been out of the United States.

The Los Angeles-based Candaele said he's never felt unsafe
in his 15 or so trips to Northern Ireland where, generally
speaking, there are no longer bombings and shootings
between the communities.

Still, the residue of war is visible.

It shows in the words of the communities' members, who are
passionate, assertive and, as is common with the Irish,
eager to tell their story, Candaele said. "The wounds are
very close to the surface, on both sides," he said.

Chico State student Jonny Lewis said he's curious just how
palpable the tensions will be.

The trip is a first for the political science major and
something he's been looking forward to since applying in
March. The decision to go, the 19-year-old said, was an
easy one.

"I just figured for somebody in my major it's a once-in-a-
lifetime deal," he said.

Lewis' role is one of researcher. For months he's been
pouring over the history of the conflicts and the peace
process. The Chico State sophomore admitted he had his work
cut out for him.

"I had no idea of what was going on there," he said.

To better prepare the students for their arrival, Catherine
Growdon, a Chico State alumna also instrumental in the
formation of the journey, visited the region in May to set
up lodging at Queen's College and work out other details.

It was her first time in Ireland and she wasn't

"The Irish have a long-standing reputation for their
hospitality, their gifted use of the language and a
quickness of wit," said Growdon, who met Candaele in the
'70s while the two were students at Chico State. "But one
has to go there, to be surrounded by the culture, to get
the full effect."

Those Growdon met during her stay were welcoming and
interested in the project. And that was a relief since she,
on several occasions while in Northern Ireland, heard
stories of frustrations with the media - about outlets that
come into the area looking for titillation, to film
violence, rather than the strides toward peace.

"And there are tremendous efforts being made by various
agencies and citizens groups," said Growdon, who sits on
the board of Chico State's Peace Institute.

While there, she attended a workshop organized by the
Belfast Interface Project at which representatives of
reconciliation groups, both Catholic and Protestant, met to
plan ways to avoid problems, such as rioting, during the
summer months' parade season - the time when there are
parades commemorating military victories over the Irish
Catholics hundreds of years ago.

Growdon realized during the meeting that the students would
come away from Ireland with far more than an education
about the politics of reconciliation efforts and film

"... I suspect that they'll carry home with them the
knowledge and belief that each and every one of us has the
ability to contribute to making our communities better
places," she said.

University president Paul Zingg, who has traveled to
Ireland many times, wishes he could tag along on the trip,
one he said will be an adventure for the students.

"This will be for many of them, if not already, a
transformative experience in terms of their values and
outlooks," he said.

He credited Candaele, and others, like Chico State
philosophy professor Ron Hirschbein, who he said recognized
the rare learning opportunity the trip would present.
Hirschbein, a founder of Chico State's Peace Institute,
along with Growdon and Candaele, is accompanying the
students on the trip.

Students will edit the film during the fall semester.
Candaele said it'll eventually be offered throughout the
college system in different departments and to the Public
Broadcasting System. The experience, he hopes, will last
them a lifetime.

"It's a fascinating chance for students who are going into
the real world," he said.

Staff writer Melissa Daugherty can be reached at 896-7761


'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' Set Visit

Dave Calhoun catches up with Ken Loach on location in

July 18 2005

'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' 'In your own time, and
off you go,' says Ken Loach calmly to two of his actors as
another scene rolls on his latest, Irish-set film 'The Wind
That Shakes The Barley', ditching the traditional yell of
'Action!' for a gentler, more characteristic approach.

This is Loach's first period tale since 'Land and Freedom'
(1995), and there are certainly parallels between this new
film and that earlier story of internal struggle among
freedom fighters during the Spanish Civil War.

This time, Loach's focus is the lead-up to the Irish Civil
War of 1922 and the complexities of Ireland's struggle for
independence at a grass-roots level. Once again, the
director is showing concern for ordinary people who
organise themselves to fight against foreign or oppressive

The film has contemporary significance too. While 'Land and
Freedom' reflected the problem of fascist resurgence in
mid-'90s Europe, so the occupation of Iraq is surely not
irrelevant to this new project.

We're in Bandon, a small town about half an hour outside
Cork. Loach and two of his lead actors – Cillian Murphy
('28 Days Later', 'Batman Begins') and Liam Cunningham –
are squeezed into a grey, windowless room in the basement
of a former town hall.

Today, this dismal and cramped space represents an austere
prison cell in County Cork in 1919. Dressed in period gear,
Murphy and Cunningham are playing two captured members of
Ireland's organised, armed resistance to British rule; they
are members of one of the Irish Republican Army's 'flying

Neither character is a celebrated political figure or
legendary military leader as this film is not a grand
historical epic driven by well-known personalities and

Instead, Loach is exploring this tumultuous period in Irish
history via fictional characters: two brothers, Damien
(Murphy) and Teddy (Padraig Delaney), and their friend Dan
(Cunningham). All three abandon their former lives to help
execute a violent underground campaign against British

'It's about the civil war in microcosm,' explains Loach's
producer Rebecca O'Brien, a veteran of nine Loach films.

Several other key crew members – such as cinematographer
Barry Ackroyd and sound mixer Ray Beckett – have also
worked with Loach for years.

'It's not a story like 'Michael Collins', O'Brien
continues. 'It's not seeking that sort of biographical
accuracy, but rather will express the themes of the period.
This is the core of the later Troubles, which is why it's
so fascinating to make.'

Loach and his crew have been on location in Cork for five
weeks now. Almost the entire cast are from the area, even
Cillian Murphy the lead actor, who's better known, has a
local pedigree.

The film has lingered long in Loach's mind. O'Brien
explains that he first thought of telling the 'Irish story'
when he made the inter-war drama series 'Days of Hope' for
television in the mid-'70s.

Indeed his long-time screenwriter Jim Allen was working on
a script (then titled 'The Stolen Republic') when he died
in 1999. Two years ago, Loach's most recent writer, Paul
Laverty ('Carla's Song', 'Ae Fond Kiss') took up the baton
and has approached the story from scratch with a new script
and an intense period of research in Ireland.

Later the same day, Loach fills a local hall with around 70
extras, old and young, all of whom are dressed up for a
rousing ceilidh scene which takes place in that brief
period of peace and optimism between the signing of the
Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 and the outbreak of civil war
the next year.

A local band – including a singer with a fantastic bird's
nest of a white beard – plays traditional Irish party songs
and the crowd dances wildly. Photos of heroes of the 1916
Easter Rising – James Connolly, Joseph Plunkett, Padraig
Pearse – line the wall and the Irish tricolour flag hangs
behind the stage .

Loach gives a quick pep-talk to the crowd: 'It's the summer
of 1921, and you're all either members of a flying column
or at least Republicans, and so are very enthusiastic about
Irish culture. There's a real bar, but please don't go too
wild. Still, this is a big film, so we can afford a drink
for all of you.'

O'Brien, the producer, rolls her eyes in mock-horror at the
words 'big film'. 'It's costing the equivalent of about
four-and-a-half Batmobiles,' she later jokes. She then
explains how costly it is to ensure the accuracy of the
period detail, pointing to a modern phone box that the crew
obscured with a horse-and-cart for an earlier scene rather
than pay £400 for its temporary removal.

Before the party scene kicks off, Loach comes over for a
quick word. 'It's typical, you managed to be here this
morning for the only scene in which the word 'socialism' is
used,' he grins, referring to an earlier prison-cell
conversation between Damien and Dan in which they quote a
speech by James Connolly, one of the martyrs of the Easter

Loach is quite aware of those detractors who criticise him
for banging the political drum. 'But why do we shy away
from these issues?' asks O'Brien. 'People fear politics.
But here we're always trying not to shy away, to lay out
the facts in a grown-up way. We don't want to pander to the
lowest common denominator. We want to raise discussion.'

'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' recently wrapped and will
be ready for release next year.

Dave Calhoun

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