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July 24, 2005

Hain: IRA Statement Would Be Welcomed

News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 07/24/05 Hain: IRA Statement 'Would Be Welcomed'
BB 07/24/05 The Police Marksman's Dilemma
BG 07/24/05 Sounds Of Ireland's 'Celtic Woman'
ST 07/24/05 The Importance Of Being Oscar Wilde


IRA Statement 'Would Be Welcomed'

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has said he would
welcome a statement from the IRA on its future.

On Saturday, there were new suggestions that a statement
from the IRA could emerge within days.

The organisation has been conducting an "internal debate"
since Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams called for it to
"embrace democracy".

Mr Hain said it was important the IRA statement made it
"clear the only future for them was a peaceful one".

BBC Northern Ireland security editor Brian Rowan said there
were new indications that the IRA's response could come
within days.

He said he understood that discussions were continuing both
inside the IRA and between Sinn Fein and both governments.

"There was speculation that the IRA statement could come
before the marching season, it didn't, and now there are
new suggestions of a significant development within days,"
he said.

Mr Rowan said that although this meant there could be a
statement from the organisation, there was still no
certainty at this stage.

"General de Chastelain has been in Ireland for a number of
days now and it's my understanding that he intends to stay
for a while longer," he added.

General John de Chastelain is head of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning.

So far he has been present at three IRA acts of

The commission was established in 1997 to oversee the
decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland
as part of the peace process.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/24 10:07:02 GMT


The Police Marksman's Dilemma

By Chris Summers
BBC News website

Scotland Yard's admission that an innocent man, Brazilian
electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot dead on
Friday by plain-clothed police searching for the 21 July
London bombers has focused attention on the record of
British firearms officers.

Jean Charles de Menezes was not the first person to die by
mistake at the hands of UK armed police.

Shot by mistake

14 Jan 1983: Stephen Waldorf (survived), Kensington, west
15 Jan 1998: James Ashley, St Leonards, East Sussex (above)
22 Sep 1999: Harry Stanley, Hackney, east London

His death, which came amid heightened tension caused by a
string of bomb attacks on London by Islamic extremists, is
the latest in a long line of controversies involving
firearms officers.

Only a month ago two Metropolitan Police officers were
arrested by detectives investigating the fatal shooting of
Scottish-born Harry Stanley in Hackney, east London, in

Family and friends of Mr Stanley have been campaigning for
the officers who shot him to face a criminal trial. There
have been two inquests and two judicial reviews during the

In November 2004 members of SO19, the Met's firearms unit,
staged an unofficial strike in protest after two officers
were suspended following the second inquest.

The Stanley case revolved around the question of whether
the officers had acted correctly in shooting the 46-year-

They claimed they shouted: "Stop, armed police" and fired
when Mr Stanley turned around while carrying a bag which
they believed contained a gun. In fact it only contained a
table leg.

Most police forces in the UK supply their firearms units
with rules of engagement based on guidelines from the
Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

These state that they:

Must identify themselves and declare intent to fire (unless
this risks serious harm).

Should aim for the biggest target (the torso) to
incapacitate and for greater accuracy.

Should reassess the situation after each shot.

These guidelines were introduced in the wake of the 1983
shooting of film editor Stephen Waldorf in Kensington, west

Mr Waldorf was shot five times but survived after being
fired at by police officers who were on the trail of a
dangerous escaped prisoner called David Martin.

Mistaken identity

The confusion apparently arose because police mistook Mr
Waldorf for Mr Martin, partly because they both had long
hair and partly because Mr Waldorf was accompanied by Mr
Martin's girlfriend Sue Stephens.

Two officers were eventually acquitted of attempted murder
in connection with the Waldorf case.

Lessons were learnt and the Acpo guidelines were drawn up
in an attempt to prevent a repetition.

Fifteen years later Sussex Police officers were criticised
after they shot dead a man called James Ashley as he lay
naked in bed with his girlfriend.

'Five shots'

Three senior police officers were cleared in 2001 of any
wrongdoing in the raid, but the circumstances surrounding
the shooting led to the resignation of Sussex Chief
Constable Paul Whitehouse.

And only last month the family of Derek Bennett, shot dead
by police in July 2001 in Brixton, south London, after he
was seen brandishing a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun,
won the right to challenge the inquest verdict that he had
been lawfully killed.

After the suicide bomb attacks in London on 7 July it is
thought the Met's Anti-Terrorist Branch implemented its own
pre-arranged response to suicide bombers, based on Acpo

Codenamed Operation Kratos, and based on the experiences of
the Israeli security forces, the guidance reportedly states
that an officer can shoot a suspect in the head if it is
thought he is a suicide bomber who poses an imminent danger
to police or the public.

Eyewitnesses at Stockwell station on Friday said they saw
police officers fire five shots into the head of the

If Operation Kratos is being used, it would be the first
time a shoot-to-kill policy was officially allowed on
British streets.

Killed by SAS

Sinn Fein has long claimed the SAS and other British Army
units used a shoot-to-kill policy against IRA members in
Northern Ireland.

Among the cases highlighted are the 1992 shooting of four
IRA men - Kevin O'Donnell, Patrick Vincent, Sean O'Farrell
and Peter Clancy - in Clonoe, County Tyrone.

Three others - Peter Ryan, Tony Doris and Lawrence McNally
- were killed in Coagh, County Tyrone, in June 1991 when
SAS soldiers fired around 200 shots into the stolen car in
which they were travelling.

Shoot-to-kill was also allegedly used by the SAS in
Gibraltar in 1988 on three IRA suspects.

Many policing experts claim the threat posed by suicide
bombers today is so much more serious than the danger from
the Provisional IRA in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that a
shoot-to-kill policy is obligatory.

Former Scotland Yard commander Roy Ramm told the BBC:
"Generally speaking police officers have been taught to aim
at the largest target on the body, which is the torso and
that has worked well.

Almost invariably a shot to the head will kill - in a
sense it is a shoot-to-kill policy but by practice rather
than design

Roy Ramm

"People have died but others - robbers and drug dealers -
have lived.

"The problem with the police continuing with that strategy
is that if a round enters the body of a suicide bomber it
could detonate the charge, probably killing the person
wearing it, the police officers and anyone else who is
close to the suspect.

"That leaves no option for the police but to take head
shots. Almost invariably a shot to the head will kill. In a
sense it is a shoot-to-kill policy, but by practice rather
than design."

But the death of Mr Menezes shows the tragic consequences
which can lead from such a policy and there may now have to
be a rethink by Scotland Yard.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/24 07:11:08 GMT


Swept Away By The Sounds Of Ireland's 'Celtic Woman'

A PBS special turned tour has taken America by storm

By Steve Morse, Globe Staff July 24, 2005

Sharon Browne had a vision. She had signed a number of
young Irish women to her Dublin-based record label, Celtic
Collections, but they were largely ignored by Ireland's
radio and television stations. Feeling snubbed, Browne
decided to make her own TV special -- pooling the talents
of ''my girls," as she calls them, and targeting American
audiences instead.

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As luck would have it, Browne ran into PBS programming
chief Gustavo Sagastume in a bar in Cannes, France, during
an entertainment conference last year. He was hunting for
new talent, and Browne had just the answer. ''I was looking
for a way to launch my girls," she says.

Now what began as a PBS special called ''Celtic Woman" --
shot in Dublin and featuring four of Browne's singers --
has exploded into a phenomenon, spawning a chart-topping CD
and a tour that's crisscrossing America. A concert at the
Bank of America Pavilion on Tuesday is sold out. Another
local date is expected to be announced for the fall.

''I had never produced a PBS show and had no idea what I
was doing," Browne says. ''I was making it up as I went

The response to ''Celtic Woman" was immediate. Since
debuting in March, the TV special has aired on more than
200 PBS stations (WGBH was one of the first to play it) and
helped generate millions of dollars in pledges, Sagastume
says. The CD has been at the top of Billboard's world music
charts for five months and is approaching gold status
(500,000 sales). The DVD alone has sold another 50,000

The show's theatrical production recalls ''Riverdance,"
another touring phenomenon steeped in Celtic mythology and
pageantry. But where ''Riverdance" focuses on dance,
''Celtic Woman" is all about singing. There are some common
threads, however. Several members of the ''Celtic Woman"
cast worked on ''Riverdance," including music director
David Downes, singer Lisa Kelly, and some of the eight-
member chorus now on tour.

''The spirit and how we connect to our culture and
traditions is similar," Downes says. ''And there's a
certain excitement that we had in 'Riverdance.' "

The success of ''Celtic Woman" has Browne feeling giddy --
and proud that she's been able to pull off such a feat
without much help from the Irish media.

''I made a decision that we were going to come back to
Ireland victorious, so that's what we're doing," she says.
''They wouldn't have given us a chance anyway. I haven't
even released [the CD] yet in Ireland." It's slated for
release in the UK and Ireland later this year.

Credit must also go to Sagastume for nurturing the vision.

''You really have to fashion a customized special for the
US market," he told Browne at that bar in Cannes. ''You
need to have the fancifulness of a Sarah Brightman show,
the innocence of a Charlotte Church special, and you need
to bring the appeal and harmonic beauty of Enya's music."

He didn't mind that singers Chloe Agnew (who's 16), Lisa
Kelly, Orla Fallon, and Meav Ni Mhaolchatha and fiddler
Mairead Nesbitt were virtual unknowns in the United States.

When Sagastume attended the taping of the special at the
Helix Theatre in Dublin, he was delighted.

''It's really a mixture of Celtic music and classical
crossover and new age," he says of a repertoire that
includes ''Ave Maria," ''Nella Fantasia," the Enya hit
''Orinoco Flow," Irish traditional songs like ''She Moved
Through the Fair," as well as some original songs, all
performed with an orchestra and chorus. The singers wear
shimmering gowns with colors representing air, water,
earth, and fire.

''There's a strong belief in a Celtic woman being strong
and being the earth and the wind and fire -- just all
involved in nature," Kelly says. She portrays fire, and for
the new tour wears a fiery orange sash. Agnew is meant to
connote water and wears an aqua dress, while Fallon
represents the earth and has a ball gown with a train with
rust and champagne-colored beads. They also wear $500 Dolce
& Gabbana shoes.

''We're girls -- and gowns and shoes is what we do," Browne
says with a laugh. ''When you've got a girly record company
and a girls' cast, there's no skimping on style."

To promote the tour, PBS partnered with Clear Channel
Entertainment to buy the best seats and auction them off as
part of their fund-raising. PBS had exclusive rights to the
tickets for a month before they went on sale to the general
public. Local Clear Channel executive Dave Marsden, who
books the Bank of America Pavilion, says this is the first
time he can remember such a partnership in the Boston
market -- and he remains pleasantly surprised by the turn
of events.

''This has been one of the highlights of our summer,"
Marsden says. ''I don't remember the last time a show that
never toured anywhere before has sold out a 5,000-seat

''Our instinct was that this would be new and a little bit
different and would have to have the highest production
values," music director Downes says. ''The other important
thing was that it would have the next generation of Irish
stars." (That goal looks as if it may come to pass, since
Browne has just licensed the singers' solo albums to
Manhattan/Blue Note Records in the United States.)

High production values aren't inexpensive. The special,
along with the CD and DVD, ended up costing Browne close to
$1 million. But she isn't one to shrink from a difficult
task. She began her career as a receptionist for K-Tel
Records in Ireland. She later bought the company and turned
it into Celtic Collections. But she sold part of the label
to David Kavanagh (formerly U2's booking agent) to help
finance her new venture.

Browne clearly has an eye for talent. Although the singers
have stylistic differences and had never met one another
until three days before the taping, they mesh extremely

''I know it sounds like a cliche to say that we're like
sisters now, but we are," Kelly says. ''Orla is a very
traditional Irish singer. . . . And Deirdre Shannon [who
replaced the pregnant Meav for this tour] is more of a
classical singer. She has a lovely, big, rounded voice. And
Chloe sings all the traditional classic songs . . . like
'Ave Maria.' . . . And I get the more poppy numbers."

The TV special features an orchestra, but the tour, which
started in Cleveland last week, employs a six-piece band
and a choir of eight.

''We want this to be more intimate," says Downes. ''We had
done the big orchestral thing for the DVD. I wanted to make
it more for percussion and piano and guitars this time. I
wanted to bring it in a slightly different direction. I
think it's more exciting."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.


The Importance Of Being Oscar Wilde

July 24, 2005
By Charles Kaiser

The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna suggests
Oscar Wilde was at the centre of a gay sexual revolution,
writes Charles Kaiser.

Oscar Wilde's plays, ensured the Irish-born author a
permanent place in the English canon which is one reason
why most previous biographies have focused on his literary

Yet it was Wilde's sexual proclivities that created nearly
all the public drama in his life. Drawing on newly
discovered interviews as well as numerous unpublished
memoirs and diaries, Neil McKenna has produced a superb new
portrait of the secret life of one of the 19th century's
most tragic figures.

This meticulous reconstruction of Wilde's "sexual journey"
breaks important new ground by placing Wilde at the centre
of a pantheon of gay sexual revolutionaries. And McKenna
makes a powerful argument that Wilde's "commitment to 'The
Cause' accounts for many of his otherwise inexplicable

Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854, and he lived his entire
life during the reign of Queen Victoria. His youth was
circumscribed by the suffocating morals of Victorian life,
but thanks to the British addiction to contradiction, gay
sex was rampant among upper-class 19th century boys and

Wilde's future lover, Lord Alfred Douglas "Bosie",
estimated that "at least 90% of his contemporaries" at
Winchester had sex with boys. He came of age just as Europe
was witnessing the first stirrings of a scientific movement
that challenged centuries of Judeo-Christian condemnation
of same-sex love.

In the 1860s, a German lawyer named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs,
probably the first modern European to publicly declare his
homosexuality, introduced the word "Uranian" as a synonym
for homosexual relations, and demanded that homosexuals be
granted the right to marry.

Slightly less radical thinkers in Germany, Austria and
France began to argue that sex between men was a
psychological disturbance to be treated by physicians,
rather than as a crime. As a result, by 1876
"psychological" had become a term that Wilde and his peers
used to describe anything pertaining to gay sex.

In 1893, shortly after meeting Wilde, George Ives, a friend
of Wilde's,founded a secret society, the Order of
Chaeronea, named "after the battle where the male lovers of
the Theban Band were slaughtered in 338BC."

New members of the Order were required to swear "That you
will never vex or persecute lovers" and "That all real love
shall be to you as sanctuary."

These revolutionary currents - and a highly publicised
scandal linking upper-class men to "rent-boys" - produced a
predictable Victorian reaction.

Before 1885, only the specific act of sodomy had been a
crime in Britain. But that year the law was broadened and
made any act of "gross indecency" between two men a
misdemeanour punishable by up to two years in prison. This
was Wilde's undoing.

Like nearly all gay men of his era, Wilde struggled to put
his gay desires behind him. In 1884 he married Constance
Mary Lloyd, who quickly produced two sons. But Wilde's
experiment with marriage as cure was a failure.

As McKenna demonstrates, Wilde used his fictional
characters to convey all of his forbidden feelings. McKenna
points to The Picture of Dorian Gray as being replete with

Wilde's life imitated his art most disastrously when he
became fatally obsessed with "Bosie" (Lord Douglas). Bosie
was "addicted to sex" with "dangerous young men," including
male prostitutes. Soon, Wilde was sharing his proclivities.

Even in Victorian England, they might have gotten away with
their brazen displays of public affection, but two facts
guaranteed Wilde's fall: Bosie's father, the Marquis of
Queensberry, was violently homophobic, and Bosie was one of
his two gay sons.

The other, Viscount Francis Drumlanrig, was the lover of
Lord Rosebery, who became a Liberal prime minister.
Viscount Drumlanrig died after an hunting "accident" which,
McKenna suggests, was a suicide intended to protect his
famous lover. This inflamed Queensberry.

The biography presents strong circumstantial evidence that
Queensberry sent an ultimatum to the Liberal government:
Send Oscar Wilde to prison or face the exposure of several
senior Liberal politicians as sodomites.

As for Wilde's inexplicable decision to press charges
against Queensberry for libel, after the marquis's entirely
accurate accusation that Wilde was "posing as a sodomite",
McKenna believes Wilde's action was "an expression of his
love for Bosie and an article of his Uranian faith".

Wilde once said there were only three ways to get into
society: feed it, amuse it or shock it. "He used all three
tactics simultaneously," McKenna observes.

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