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)

August 03, 2005

Fr McManus: PSNI Have To Win Trust

To Index of Monthly Archives
To August 2005 Index

News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 08/03/05 Police Have To Win Trust, Claims Priest
BB 08/03/05 Man Arrested Over 1997 Shooting
BT 08/03/05 2/3 Of Army Sites Go Since IRA's First Truce
SF 08/02/05 Brits Begin To Dismantle Spy Post @ Divis Tower
BB 08/03/05 No Widows' Fund For RIR Families
GU 08/03/05 Paisley Rejects Power Share With Sinn Féin
BT 08/03/05 Warning To DUP Over Sinn Fein Side Deals
UT 08/03/05 Unionist MEP Condemns Speaking Rights Plan
BT 08/03/05 Hain Court Threat Over Kelly Release
BT 08/03/05 Ervine Defends Miami Murder Mural
BT 08/03/05 Arms 'Unlikely' To Be Recovered
BT 08/03/05 Parade Still On Despite SF Pressure
BT 08/03/05 Investment Call For Border Counties
WP 08/03/05 The Discreet Charm Of The Terrorist Cause
SF 08/03/05 Doolan-Supporting Rossport 5 Dublin Protest
BT 08/03/05 Ancient Fort Is Found


Police Have To Win Trust, Claims Priest

By Michael McHugh
03 August 2005

The PSNI must show nationalists that the force can be
trusted before they openly engage in policing, the West
Belfast Festival has heard.

Fr Sean McManus, a New York-based priest who heads the
Irish National Caucus which lobbies on Irish affairs in
America, told a gathering last night at St Mary's
University College on the Falls Road that a difficult
decision needed to be made on policing.

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has urged all nationalists to
make overt contact with his officers after last week's IRA
order to dump arms.

After his Damien Walsh Memorial lecture in tribute to a
Belfast teenager killed by loyalists in Twinbrook in 1993,
Fr McManus said there were some emotive times ahead for
Sinn Fein's leadership.

"Can Gerry Adams look at the Finucane family or the Damien
Walsh family or all the nationalist community in the face
and with his hand on his heart, truthfully and convincingly
say 'yes', the bad old days are over, the police are
completely changed, you can now totally trust them?" the Co
Fermanagh native asked.

"I am glad I don't have to make that decision. It is going
to be a very difficult one and yet if the nationalists and
republicans don't somehow feel they can trust the police
then nothing is going to work too well so its is a Catch 22
situation but I think it is really important that the onus
of proof is clearly seen to be on the police."

Fr McManus accused new Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey
of trying to out-do Ian Paisley and warned that he would
not succeed but said it could be a difficult couple of
years for local politics.

"The reluctance in a large section of the unionist
community to accept the concept of equality with Catholics
is at the core of the problem, that problem is still
there," he claimed.

"Although I am encouraged and pleased I think we have a
long way to go yet."

Meanwhile, Palestinian plane hijacker Leila Khaled appeared
via videolink, which failed for a time, at the same venue
to urge the assembled crowd to continue to support her

The Palestinian Council member had planned to appear in
person in Belfast but was forced to speak from Dublin after
the UK denied her a visa.


Man Arrested Over 1997 Shooting

A 44-year-old man has been arrested in the West Midlands in
connection with the murder of a sports official in Northern
Ireland eight years ago.

Sean Brown, 61, was shot dead in 1997 as he left his local
Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club in Bellaghy, County

The man was arrested at a house in the Whittleford area of
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, on Wednesday morning.

He is awaiting questioning by officers from Northern

New inquiry

A police spokesman said the man was originally from
Northern Ireland but was living in the Warwickshire area.

The murder of Mr Brown was featured in a reconstruction by
the BBC's Crimewatch programme in June.

A GAA match was recreated for the programme, and poet
Seamus Heaney and Church of Ireland primate Archbishop
Robin Eames were interviewed.

Last year Sean Brown's family reached agreement with PSNI
Chief Constable Hugh Orde on how a new investigation should

It followed a critical report from the police ombudsman on
the original Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation
into Mr Brown's death.

In January 2004, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan said she had
upheld two complaints from Mr Brown's family about the RUC
inquiry into his murder.

A new team of investigators, including officers from
outside forces, started a new inquiry.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/03 10:24:53 GMT


Two-Thirds Of Army Sites Go Since IRA's First Truce

By Chris Thornton
03 August 2005

The dismantling of Army posts that started this week means
that the Government has now closed more than two-thirds of
the military installations that existed in Northern Ireland
when the IRA first declared a ceasefire in 1994.

The number of troops has fallen by almost half during the
same time period.

As the DUP travelled to London today to protest at the
security cuts, Ministry of Defence figures revealed that 33
military sites, including bases, training areas, joint
police and Army bases, communication sites and watchtowers,
stay in operation. Records show that there were about
19,000 troops using 106 sites shortly before the IRA began
its ceasefire.

Around one-third of the sites were closed in the five years
that followed and 5,000 troops were shipped out of Northern

Three weeks ago, there were 66 military sites closed, with
40 remaining in operation.

Seven more posts have been deemed to be closed since the
IRA announced an end to its armed campaign last Thursday,
although soldiers remain on those sites to carry out
demolition work that is expected to last for months.

On Friday the Army began dismantling three posts in south
Armagh, including its base at Forkhill.

Army engineers began working on two more south Armagh
installations on Monday, along with watchtowers at Masonic
in Londonderry.

Yesterday they started to tear down the observation post on
the top two floors of Divis Tower in west Belfast.

The number of troops has fallen to just over 10,000. About
6,000 are regular Army, around 3,000 are members of the
Royal Irish Regiment's home service battalions and
approximately 1,000 are RAF personnel.

Five thousand soldiers are due to go in the next two years.
The disbandment of the RIR battalions will account for most
of those cuts.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams visited Divis yesterday and
welcomed the removal of the observation post, saying it
"served no useful purpose".

"We are told that it was there for our protection but
people were killed in my constituency office, people were
killed in this neighbourhood - all within sight of the
squaddies on this tower," he said.

"Local people will warmly welcome the work which commenced
today to remove this spy post from this community."


British Army Begin To Dismantle Spy Post At Divis Tower

Published: 2 August, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was today joined by West
Belfast Assembly member Fra McCann and MEP Bairbre deBrún
as they met with residents of Divis Tower as work began to
dismantle the spy post on the roof of the tower block.

Speaking to reporters outside Mr Adams said:

"This spy post served no useful purpose over the years it
was positioned on the roof of Divis tower.

"We are told that it was there for our protection but
people were killed in my constituency office, people were
killed in this neighbourhood, all within sight of the
squaddies on this tower. Local people will warmly welcome
the work which commenced today to remove this spy post from
this community."

Addressing the challenges which lie ahead in the peace
process Mr Adams said:

" Given the reaction of the DUP in the days since the IRA
announcement it appears to many as if Mr Paisley would have
preferred that the IRA had not made its move at all.

" But it is time to move on with the peace process and
restore the political institutions. There is a challenge
for Mr Blair to advise the DUP that the Good Friday
Agreement is going to be delivered and that the
opportunities presented by last weeks IRA initiative have
to be seized."ENDS


No Widows' Fund For RIR Families

No extra fund will be set up for widows and relatives of
UDR and RIR soldiers killed in service in Northern Ireland,
the government has said.

It said they were already well cared for and that their
current benefits were similar to those paid by police.

The Ministry of Defence said benevolent funds were in place
in both regiments to aid individual cases of hardship.

One of the campaigners for widows of the soldiers, Reatha
Hassan, said they felt "very let down".

"We have families living here in Northern Ireland
traumatised and stressed over the last 30 to 35 years," she

She said 206 UDR soldiers were killed during the Troubles
and three widows in her group had died without ever seeing
"recognition from the government".

The Royal Irish Regiment was formed in 1992, with the
merger of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence

It was announced on Monday that the Northern Ireland-based
battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment are to be disbanded
as part of the Army response to the IRA ending its armed

The Army will end its support role to the police on 1
August 2007, the same day that the battalions will disband.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain set out a two-year
plan on demilitarisation which he said would be contingent
on the security situation.

Unionists reacted angrily to the move, which nationalists

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/03 12:36:03 GMT


Paisley Rejects Power Share With Sinn Féin

Matthew Tempest and agencies
Wednesday August 3, 2005

The Rev Ian Paisley today said uncompromisingly there could
be no role for Sinn Féin Northern Ireland's power-sharing
administration, ahead of talks with the Northern Ireland
secretary, Peter Hain.

Mr Paisley, the Democratic Unionist leader, has kept a
relatively low profile since the IRA's historic
announcement last week that it would end its terrorist
campaign, but today said unionists were "not to be duped".

The DUP, now the largest Northern Ireland party both in the
suspended Belfast assembly and at Westminster, are also
angered by the rapid moves to demilitarisation, and the
disbandment of Royal Irish Regiment battalions.

Ahead of his first talks with Mr Hain since last Thursday's
IRA statement, Mr Paisley said: "It will be my business and
the business of my colleagues to lay it on the line to both
the secretary of state and the prime minister that there
can be no place in any future government of Northern
Ireland for IRA/Sinn Féin.

"As the representatives of the majority of the Ulster
population, we will not be engaged in any negotiations with
that aim.

"The aim of the Belfast agreement to put terrorists into
government will not take place and if the government,
allied with IRA/Sinn Féin and the Dublin government, press
forward with such measures, then they will have to face the
righteous indignation of the unionist population."

Within 24 hours of last week's IRA statement, soldiers
began dismantling army watchtowers in south Armagh,
Londonderry and west Belfast.

But the head of the body responsible for overseeing
decommissioning, General John de Chastelain, has returned
home to Canada after fresh talks with an IRA representative
- dimming hopes of that the IRA would immediately destroy
their weapons.

The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, has urged Mr Paisley to
enter new political negotiations in a bid to revive
Northern Ireland's devolved Stormont assembly.

But the DUP leader appeared in no mood for compromise.

He insisted: "There is no way forward for this province to
have peace until all terrorists are banned from its
government and only democrats hold and control the levers
of power.

"Into their counsels the unionists of Ulster will never
enter nor will they gain their goal of a united Ireland."

The Stormont assembly, created by the Good Friday agreement
to share power between nationalists and unionists, was
suspended in 2002 after allegations of an IRA spy ring.

Since then, the IRA, and by association the Sinn Féin
leadership, have been under pressure after first being
accused of masterminding last year's £26m Belfast bank
raid, then blamed for the murder of a Catholic man, Robert


Warning To DUP Over Sinn Fein Side Deals

Sir Reg tells of 'political reality'

By Noel McAdam
03 August 2005

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey today warned the DUP
the political reality is that the British and Irish
governments will do side deals with republicans.

Sir Reg, who took a lead role in the negotiations which led
to the Good Friday Agreement, said a determined British
Government with its own agenda would pursue its own
interests "despite what Ian Paisley says or threatens".

Following a number of Government moves which unionists view
as concessions to republicans, Sir Reg said it must be
becoming clear to the DUP "that it is not as easy as they

And the east Belfast MLA also repeated his offer to work
with the DUP and "like-minded" unionists to oppose the
disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment.

His overture came as a number of senior party figures,
including a recent contender for the party leadership, also
urged an end to inter-unionist bickering and rivalry.

Assembly member David McNarry said: "If unionists are
serious about unity then now is the time to demonstrate
their sincerity by getting together under the umbrella of a
joint unionist convention".

And former Assembly group deputy leader Lord Kilclooney
said both parties must stop pointing the figure of
accusation against each other.

"It is pathetic and bores the unionist electorate," said
the ex-MP, who suggested a joint delegation to Tony Blair
to alert the PM to the "collapse of unionist morale".

Sir Reg said: "It is a matter of regret but a political
reality that frequently side deals are made between
republicans and both Governments.

"This happened when we were the lead unionist party and
seems to have accelerated under the DUP's tenure despite
promises to end all concessions. "

But he said unionists could play the blame game back and
forward between each other "until the cows come home".

Sir Reg said: "I will trade blow for blow if I have to. I
am not prepared to be the DUP's whipping boy every time
something happens that displeases unionists.

"The DUP is the larger unionist party. They will have to
take responsibility upon their own shoulders."


Unionist MEP Condemns Speaking Rights Plan

An Ulster Unionist MEP today vowed never to set foot in the
Dail if he and other Northern Ireland politicians are given
speaking rights there.

By:Press Association

Jim Nicholson said he would vigorously oppose moves to
grant Northern Ireland`s 18 MPs and three MEPs the right to
participate in Dail debates and committee meetings.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey claimed last weekend
that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will begin consultations on the
move this autumn.

The UUP believes the move will be intended as a confidence-
building measure for nationalists and republicans following
the IRA`s decision to end its armed campaign.

But Mr Nicholson said today: "The decision is deplorable
and undermines the constitutional position of Northern

"It drives a horse and cart through the principle of
consent and must be opposed by unionists throughout the

"The unionist community will not tolerate such an
aggressive assault on our sovereignty by a jurisdiction
which has been so hostile in the past.

"The Irish Government, like our own, has capitulated to
Sinn Fein`s insatiable demands and has undermined any
future relationship unionists may have with Dublin."

Sinn Fein, which has five MPs and an MEP in Northern
Ireland, has long advocated the need for politicians north
of the Irish border to be given speaking rights in the

Mark Durkan`s nationalist SDLP, which has three MPs, would
also be expected to take part.

However, unionists are likely to shun the idea.

The Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP would have nine MPs and one MEP
who would qualify, while the Ulster Unionists would have
one MP and one MEP.

Mr Nicholson said unionists must unite in opposition to the

"The DUP`s childish attempts to pass the buck and save face
are most unhelpful. As the lead party within unionism, it
is a shame they couldn`t do more to stop this," he said.

"Make no mistake, as my party leader said at the weekend,
we will not hesitate in introducing sanctions should
speaking rights be granted in the autumn."


Hain Court Threat Over Kelly Release

Victims' anger as Shankill bomber keeps his freedom

By Chris Thornton
03 August 2005

Shankill bomb victims were today threatening to take
Secretary of State Peter Hain to court because he withheld
the evidence allegedly showing bomber Sean Kelly was a
danger to society.

Kelly was a free man today after Mr Hain failed to meet
last night's deadline for putting forward evidence to
justify keeping the killer in jail.

The decision means the Sentence Review Commission has no
option but to rubber stamp the IRA bomber's release.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson - who was bringing bomb victims
Michelle Williamson and Bobby Baird to meet Mr Hain today -
accused the Secretary of State of failing in his duties to
protect the public. Both Ms Williamson and Mr Baird lost
relatives in the 1993 blast.

Mr Hain ordered Kelly's arrest in June because he said he
had evidence that the bomber - who murdered nine people by
bombing Frizzell's fish shop on the Shankill Road - had
become re-involved in terrorism.

But he released him last week, and has kept the evidence
against Kelly out of the hands of the Commission, which has
the power to revoke Kelly's release.

"I think it's disgraceful that the Secretary of State has
information in his possession that Sean Kelly has re-
engaged in terrorist activity but he has refused to give
that information to the statutory body established to look
at such matters," Mr Donaldson said.

"We are seeking legal advice about launching a judicial
review because we believe Mr Hain may have failed to fulfil
his obligations under the legislation and believe this
should be challenged.

"We believe that he may have acted beyond his powers. There
is a deep sense of hurt at what the Secretary of State has
done in releasing a mass murderer onto the streets."

Ms Williamson failed in legal action to oppose Kelly's
initial release from prison under the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement in 2000. The conditions of that release
specified that he could be brought back to prison if he
returned to terrorism.

He was unexpectedly returned to prison in June, the day
after the Orange Order's Tour of the North parade sparked
rioting in Ardoyne.

Mr Hain said last week that he approved Kelly's detention
because the PSNI had shown him evidence indicating that the
bomber had become a danger to society.

Kelly spent just over a month in Maghaberry prison. Mr Hain
released him on the eve of last Thursday's IRA statement,
which pledged an end to the Provos' armed campaign.

At that stage, Mr Hain said Kelly was on "temporary
release" pending a decision by the Sentence Review
Commission. The Commission could have revoked Kelly's
licence if shown evidence that Kelly had become involved in

But the Secretary of State decided that the evidence he
relied on to return Kelly to jail would remain secret once
the IRA made its pledge. He had until last night to show
the evidence to the Commission, but did not do so.

Last week Mr Hain indicated that the evidence would not be
shown to the Commission. He said the IRA statement
"materially affected the evidence that I would have
submitted to the Sentence Review Commissioners".

"I have therefore concluded that I should not submit this
material to the SRC," he said.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde has confirmed that Mr
Hain was shown material concerning Kelly, but said Kelly's
detention was no longer a policing matter.

Throughout Kelly's return to prison, Sinn Fein suggested
there was no evidence against Kelly.

But after Kelly was released, unionists said he had been
given his freedom to appease the IRA.

In a separate meeting today DUP leader Ian Paisley was due
to confront Mr Hain on the Government's decision to disband
the RIR. Mr Paisley was also due to raise the issue with
Tony Blair tomorrow.


Ervine Defends Miami Murder Mural

By Michael McHugh
03 August 2005

Loyalists last night responded to criticism of a mural
commemorating two UVF men who died while attempting to blow
up the Miami Showband 30 years ago.

David Ervine from the Progressive Unionist Party defended
the paramilitary group's launch of the wall painting the
same night as a ceremony in Dublin to remember the three
Dublin victims of the UVF gang who ambushed the musicians
on the A1.

The entertainers were returning from a Banbridge gig on
July 31, 1975, when they were stopped by loyalists posing
as soldiers.

UVF members Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville died when
the bomb they were trying to plant in the musicians' car
exploded prematurely and the remaining terrorists then
opened fire on the band.

Mr Ervine said all armed groups commemorated their dead.

"Irrespective of individual circumstances the IRA, UVF and
UDA will all commemorate those who belong to them," he

The unveiling of the wall painting followed a parade
through the area organised by the Mid-Ulster Armagh 36th
Ulster Division and involved 16 bands and 400 participants.

But the mural has been criticised by religious and
political leaders.

The Rev Stafford Carson, First Presbyterian Church minister
in Portadown, said: "No terrorist action is worthy of

SDLP Upper Bann Assemblywoman Dolores Kelly said she was

"What the paramilitaries of all colours and stripes did was
evil and it is an affront to all those who died that these
evil people should be portrayed or allowed to portray
themselves as heroes," she added.


Arms 'Unlikely' To Be Recovered

Expert says many IRA guns now untraceable

By Michael McHugh
03 August 2005

All the IRA's arms are unlikely to be recovered, an expert
on weapons decommissioning warned last night.

Sean Boyne, a defence analyst with Jane's Information
Group, is publishing a book later this year about the
decommissioning process and said that some of the IRA's
weaponry, largely received from Libya during the mid-80s,
would now be untraceable.

Decommissioning is the eagerly awaited next step after last
week's IRA statement telling its members to stand down.

Mr Boyne said that General John de Chastelain and his
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
would have an estimate of the IRA's munitions but added
that it was impossible to be sure if all weapons would be
handed in.

"Nobody knows what is still out there apart from the
Provisionals themselves. De Chastelain has his estimates.
If they destroy the main arsenal, even if some of it is
still out there, it will be a confidence boosting measure,"
he said.

"Some of the stuff would have been taken by dissident
republicans when they defected (to the Real IRA), that is
another complication and there will have been stuff given
to active service units which will have gone astray, but
there is still the possibility that you could estimate the
broad mass of the stuff.

"Some people may hold back a few weapons for emergencies
and there is bound to be stuff which has gone missing."

Colonel Gaddafi from Libya supplied most of the IRA's
arsenal in the mid-80s and only one ship, the Eskund, was
captured and its cargo seized.

At least four other shipments may have made it to Ireland
and gunrunning from the United States accounts for the rest
of the arms.

Pre-decommissioning estimates include 500 rifles, a number
of machine guns and a quantity of semtex.

"In 1998 the security forces came up with an estimate and
that was given to General De Chastelain," Mr Boyne added.

"De Chastelain would have kept an inventory of what was
decommissioned in terms of the estimates based on the five
shipments from Libya, one of which was seized by the
security forces."


Parade Still On Despite SF Pressure

By Deborah McAleese
03 August 2005

The organisers of a controversial republican parade in
Ballymena last night vowed not to give in to pressure to
cancel the event.

The William Orr Commemoration Committee said it has
"absolutely no intention" of scrapping the parade despite
calls from Sinn Fein to cancel.

Organiser Paddy Murray said the parade will be "carried out
with dignity" and refuted Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan's
claims that the local community does not want it.

Mr Murray also invited members of the public, the Parades
Commission and police to film the parade.

The proposed anti-internment parade - due to be held on
August 9 - is believed to have sparked a number of
sectarian attacks on the Catholic community, including
recent firebomb attacks on Catholic pubs and churches in
the area.

The increased tensions led to Sinn Fein's Philip McGuigan
to call for the parade's cancellation.

However, Mr Murray said: "We are not looking for conflict
or trouble. In fact we are more than happy for the event to
be recorded to see if we do anything wrong, we are
confident we won't. We intend to stick by the Parades
Commission's rulings and the parade will be held with

"On a regular basis in Ballymena loyalists will get up and
threaten murder and mayhem. They have nothing to fear from
this parade. We are just asking for the same equality as
they have. We are just trying to promote something

Mr Murray also said that Sinn Fein refused to meet him when
the committee first organised the event and added that he
has spoken to many members of the community and they do not
have a problem with the parade going ahead.

"Philip McGuigan said Sinn Fein members have carried out
extensive consultation with the local community but they
did not. Anyone we have met is happy enough. We are
definitely not giving into pressure, not even from fellow

Last week the Parades Commission banned the parade from
marching along main routes in the town, restricting it to
the nationalist Fisherwick estate.

The Parades Commission said its decision was set against
the background of continuing local community tension.


Investment Call For Border Counties

By Brian Hutton
03 August 2005

The economic neglect of the border regions during the
Troubles must now be reversed in the wake of the new
political climate, the Bishop of Clogher has said.

Dr Joseph Duffy, who presides over parishes in Fermanagh,
Monaghan and parts of Tyrone and Donegal, said the counties
were "crying out" for immediate investment.

"Last Thursday's statement of the IRA in declaring without
ambiguity or reservation a complete cessation of violence
as a political weapon can only be welcomed by all shades of
opinion on both sides of the border," he said.

"The immediate value of the statement is to draw attention
to the extreme urgency of continuing to address the legacy
of the conflict, to renew our resolution to healing the
scars of generations."

Dr Duffy said a lot of work lay ahead to encourage mutual
understanding and a genuine sense of interdependence on all

He added: "The issue is especially critical in our cross-
border communities.

"The ongoing economic neglect of these communities on both
sides of the border over years is an obvious and urgent
need, crying out for immediate and vigorous attention, to
be addressed as intrinsic to the overall social health of
the country, north and south."


The Discreet Charm Of The Terrorist Cause

By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, August 3, 2005; Page A19

Since the bombing attacks in London last month, a welter of
columnists, writers, talking heads and ordinary people have
puzzled over the mystery of British Muslims, one in four of
whom recently told pollsters that they sympathize with the
July 7 suicide bombers.

The idea that British Muslims, whose parents received
asylum, found jobs, and made lives in Britain, could be so
deeply affected by the "oppression" of Muslims in countries
they have never visited seems incomprehensible. The notion
that events in distant deserts should lead the middle-class
inhabitants of London or Leeds to admire terrorists seems
inexplicable. But why should this phenomenon be so
incomprehensible or inexplicable, at least to Americans? We
did, after all, once tolerate a similar phenomenon

I am talking about the sympathy for the Irish Republican
Army that persisted for decades in some Irish American
communities and is only now fading away. Like British
Muslim support for Muslim extremist terrorism, Irish
American support for Irish terrorism came in many forms.
There were Irish Americans who waved the Irish flag once a
year on St. Patrick's Day and admired the IRA's cause but
felt queasy about the methods. There were Irish Americans
who collected money for Catholic charities in Northern
Ireland without condoning the IRA at all. There were also
Irish Americans who, while claiming to be "aiding the
families of political prisoners," were in fact helping to
arm IRA terrorists. Throughout the 1970s, until Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher asked President Ronald Reagan to
stop them, they were the IRA's primary source of funding.
And even after that they were widely tolerated.

I concede there is one major difference: The Irish
terrorists were setting off their bombs across the ocean
and not in New York or Boston, which somehow made the whole
thing seem less real. But in Britain the explosions were
real enough. In 1982 -- the year an IRA bomb killed eight
people in Hyde Park -- four IRA men were arrested in New
York after trying to buy surface-to-air missiles from an
FBI agent. In 1984 -- the year the IRA tried to kill the
whole British cabinet in Brighton -- an IRA plot to smuggle
seven tons of explosives was foiled, an action that led to
the arrests of several Americans. As recently as 1999, long
after the IRA had declared its cease-fire, members of an
IRA group connected to an American organization, the Irish
Northern Aid Committee (Noraid), were arrested for gun-
running in Florida.

The range of Americans who were unbothered by this sort of
thing was surprisingly wide. Some were members of Congress,
such as Republican Rep. Peter King of Long Island, who
stayed with IRA supporters on visits to Northern Ireland
and drank at a Belfast club called the Felons, whose
members were all IRA ex-cons. Some were born in Ireland,
such as Michael Flannery, Noraid's founder, who once said
that "the more British soldiers sent home from Ulster in
coffins, the better," and whose flattering obituary in 1995
described him as a man who "treated everyone he met with
gentle respect." Some were Americans of Irish descent, such
as Tom McBride, a businessman who is still the chairman of
the Hartford chapter of Noraid, and who still refuses to
condemn IRA terrorism. "I think they are protecting a
segment of the population that needs to be protected," he
told me over the phone.

Nor were these opinions irrelevant. The Irish journalist
Conor O'Clery, who has followed Irish-American relations
for more than a decade, says the IRA has "always looked to
the diaspora for moral backing" as well as money. That
meant that when, in the 1990s, prominent Irish Americans
began to advocate "constitutional nationalism" (meaning the
political process) instead of "armed struggle" (meaning
terrorism), the views of many in Northern Ireland shifted,
too. The IRA's announcement last week that it would finally
abandon armed struggle was at least partly the result of a
decade of Irish American pressure. Which means, of course,
that if Irish American pressure had been applied much
earlier, the whole thing might have been over long ago.

My point here isn't really about Northern Irish politics,
however, but about the extraordinarily powerful appeal of
foreign, "revolutionary," "idealistic" violence to the
inhabitants of otherwise peaceful societies. You don't have
to be Muslim, or poor, or an extremist, to feel the
romantic pull of terrorism. You can be a middle-class
American and a lapsed Catholic whose grandmother happened
to come from Donegal.

But the appeal of foreign violence can also be destroyed,
or at least reduced, if community leaders agree that they
want that to happen. If British Muslims deploy every one of
their religious, civic and business institutions, they may,
over time, be able to eliminate the climate of tolerance
that made the London bombings possible, just as Irish
Americans -- as well as Rep. King, who has now called on
the IRA to disband -- eventually helped eliminate the
climate of tolerance around the IRA. And if they don't --
there will always be recruits willing to die for a
glamorous foreign cause.


Doolan-Supporting Rossport 5 Dublin Protest

Published: 3 August, 2005

Sinn Féin's Dublin Spokesperson on the Environment & Dublin
South East Representative, Councillor Daithí Doolan, today
called on, "Minister for Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey,
to add his weight to the campaign to have 5 Mayo men
released from jail."

Speaking ahead of today's protest at the Shell Garage
Donnybrook, Dublin, Cllr. Doolan said:

"I will be supporting today's protest called by the
Shelltosea Campaign. It is a total disgrace that these 5
men from Rossport, Co. Mayo are still languishing in a
Dublin jail while the Minister himself has admitted that
Shell did not have the proper planning permission for the
construction of the controversial pipe line. These men are
in jail at the request of Shell Oil for simply highlighting
the fact that the pipeline bringing the oil in from the
Corrib gas field is dangerous and poses a real threat to
the community of Rossport.

"The sale of Corrib by our government was a travesty. We
are now reaping the sorry harvest that was sown by previous
Fianna Fáil government ministers. The nation's natural
resources belong to the nation and must be used to benefit
the people on this island. Resources should never be simply
sold and stripped for private gain, which is exactly what
is happening in Mayo."

In conclusion Cllr. Doolan, demanded the Minister Noel
Dempsey, "to intervene and support the call for the men's
immediate release."

The protest takes place today, 5:30pm at the Shell Petrol
Station, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.


Ancient Fort Is Found

By Sarah Brett
03 August 2005

Expectations were high today that Ireland's largest Rath,
an ancient fort, has been uncovered outside Londonderry.

Archaeologists unexpectedly unearthed the 100m diameter
ringfort, or Rath, while searching in Newbuildings for a
souterrian - an underground tunnel used by natives to hide
from invading Vikings.

Thousands of Raths exist in Ireland dating from early
Christian times, the most famous being the Hill of Tara in
Co Meath.

A piece of land was surrounded by a series of ditches which
were dug up to 7m deep with the excavated earth piled up
behind them to form a defensive bank, creating a fortified
living area for both people and livestock.

The ditches were a formidable means of defence and required
the movement of many thousands of tonnes of earth to
complete them.

Archaeologist Chris Long, who is working with the local
historical society, said the potentially record- breaking
discovery was "huge by Rath standards".

"Most Raths would be about 35m in diameter but from what
we've uncovered it looks like this one could be up to 100m
and is between 1,000 and 1,500 years old," he added. "There
is quite a lot I know about a souterrain in this area but
nothing about a Rath, however, it is not uncommon to find
the two together."

To August 2005 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?