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August 26, 2005

IRA Move A Historic Opportunity

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 08/26/05 IRA Move 'A Historic Opportunity'
SF 08/26/05 PSNI Comment On Bombing Causing Anger
BT 08/26/05 Anger As Loyalist Thugs Escape Prison
NH 08/26/05 Outrage At DUP Man's Hunger Strike Comments
BT 08/26/05 Outrage At £9m To Keep Assembly Politicians
BT 08/26/05 Viewpoint: Colombia 3 Issues Will Not Go Away
BT 08/26/05 Man Held Over Shooting Released
BT 08/26/05 PSNI Ignored Own Advice, Says Order
SF 08/26/05 Banner Announcing Rally For Irish Unity
BT 08/26/05 The US Vs The UN
DJ 08/26/05 Bloody Sunday Drama At Forum
CS 08/26/05 Students Memories Of A Lifetime On Ireland Trip
IO 08/26/05 N Lights May Be Visible From Ireland Tonight


IRA Move 'A Historic Opportunity'

Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris has told republicans in south
Armagh there was nothing to fear from the IRA going away.

At a summer school organised by an ex-prisoners' group in
Mullaghbawn, he said republicans could be militant without
being militaristic.

Mr Ferris said republicans were committed to effecting
social, economic and political change.

He said SF would remain "a catalyst for change and a threat
to the status quo".

Mr Ferris, a member of the Irish parliament, said: "We have
no fear that the IRA's decision to end its military
campaign will result in the republican movement losing its
militancy," he said.

"We understand the opportunities the historic IRA decision
gives to advance our goals and our political objectives."

UUP assembly member Danny Kennedy said people in Northern
Ireland were "sick, sore and tired of double speak" from

"Being militant and militaristic are both incompatible with
democratic politics in Northern Ireland.

"His comments will serve as a chilling reminder of what the
Republican movement are capable of."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/26 10:20:10 GMT


PSNI Comment On Dervock Bombing Causing Widespread Anger

Published: 26 August, 2005

Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan
today said that local people are angered after the local
PSNI commander claimed on the media last night to be
keeping an "open mind" into the sectarian petrol bomb
attack on a home in Dervock the previous evening.

Mr McGuigan said:

"Last night on the evening media the PSNI commander in
charge of the investigation stood in front of a burnt out
home in Dervock which had also been sprayed with the words
'Taigs Out' Unbelievably the PSNI commander announced that
he was keeping an 'open mind' into the motive behind the
attack. It is quite obvious to anyone looking on that the
attack was sectarian and part of a wider campaign targeting
Catholics and nationalists in North Antrim.

"The refusal by the PSNI to acknowledge this reality is
causing widespread anger and resentment within the
nationalist community in North Antrim. Last week senior
PSNI figure Paul Leighton tried to minimise the effect of
the campaign in Ahoghill and the sectarian motivation
behind it.

"It is becoming very clear to nationalists that there is a
tolerance of unionist paramilitary violence amongst senior
figures within the PSNI. There can be no other explanation
for their failure to tackle this campaign or at the very
least publicly acknowledge that it is happening at all."


Anger As Loyalist Thugs Escape Prison

By Deborah McAleese
26 August 2005

Loyalist paramilitaries have been sent the wrong message by
the Ulster legal system after four loyalist "foot soldiers"
escaped a custodial sentence despite being filmed attacking
an undercover policeman, it was claimed last night.

The officer was posing as an ice cream salesman in
Castlemara estate in Carrickfergus as part of a PSNI
investigation into a UDA extortion racket when a crowd
attacked his vehicle with golf clubs, batons and stones,
breaking the windscreen and showering him with glass.

The four men were all identified from footage of the attack
but escaped prison after a judge ruled they acted as part
of a crowd under the direction of two UDA men.

The decision led the SDLP's Alex Attwood to complain that
the courts should have taken a much tougher approach.

He said: "I think in a week when loyalists and others are
involved in intimidation and threats that we could have
expected more severe penalties.

"Loyalists need to get a very tough message from all
elements in the state.

"First impressions are that the penalties imposed here do
not fit the crime.

"The sentences do not seem to be as severe as you would
have expected."


Outrage At DUP Man's Hunger Strike Comments


"I have friends who are prison officers, and they told me
that their best time in the Maze was when the Provos were
on hunger strike, because they lived like animals, and
that's what they were!"

Republicans and nationalists expressed outrage yesterday
(Wednesday), following the comments of a DUP councillor who
claimed his friends in the Prison Service revelled in the
suffering of the 1981 hunger strikers, and described them
as "animals".

Speaking at Lisburn City Council on Tuesday night,
Councillor Paul Given (above) expressed his views on why
councillors should bestow the freedom of the city on the
Northern Ireland Prison Service, saying: "I have friends
who are prison officers, and they told me that their best
time in the Maze was when the Provos were on hunger strike,
because they lived like animals, and that's what they

Minutes after Cllr Given's comment, members of the DUP, UUP
and Alliance passed a motion to bestow the freedom of the
city on the Prison Service.

Yesterday, nationalists and republicans reacted angrily to
Tuesday night's events. Former hunger striker Lawrence
McKeown said that he was "not surprised" by the alleged
mentality of the prison officers.

Angry reaction to DUP man's hunger strike comments

"The period from 1976 to 1981 was obviously a delight for
many prison guards in Long Kesh," he said. "They were
brought in to oversee a policy of criminalisation of
republicans, and earned substantially more money than
others in their field for doing so. This young councillor's
comment only verifies what we already knew, and it's also
no surprise to me that the DUP would want to commend people
of this twisted mentality by offering them the freedom of
the city, for what it's worth."

Mike Ritchie, who now works for Coiste na n-Iarchimí
promoting the economic and emotional well-being of
republican ex-prisoners, said Cllr Given's remarks are
"consistent with the demonisation of ex-prisoners that has
infused DUP thinking since the Good Friday Agreement."

He added: "The prison protests were caused by the refusal
of unionism and the British government to recognise the
political motivation which led people to involve themselves
in conflict."

Mr Ritchie added that all those involved in the Coiste are
"repulsed" by Cllr Given's statement. Coiste plan to send a
letter to Lisburn City Council expressing their
condemnation of what was said in council chambers.

"The people described as 'animals' by Mr Given are the
peace-builders of Ireland," he said. "When they stand for
election they are endorsed by the electorate, as was Bobby
Sands MP. When they speak in support of the peace process
they are listened to. The protest – and the sacrifice of
the hunger strikers – has been internationally recognised
as emblemetic of the justness of their cause.

"This is evidenced by the fact that the prison and the
hospital where the hunger strikers died has been listed as
a building of significant historical importance – an
argument we successfully made to the Maze Consultation
Panel that made proposals for the future of the site in
January 2005."

Mr Ritchie pointed out that the Prison Service has been
exposed as "a sectarian institution, which has no
confidence amongst nationalists, as evidenced by the fact
that less than 10% of staff are from a Catholic

Sinn Féin councillor Angela Nelson, who was in attendance
during Tuesday's meeting said the comment was "not only
offensive and disgraceful in its own right, but an
illustration of the sectarian and bigoted character of many
within the Prison Service, whom the DUP are only too happy
to commend through their motion to bestow freedom of the

SDLP councillor Brian Heading, who also attended Tuesday
night's meeting, said that if Cllr Given's claims were
true, they cast serious aspersions on the Northern Ireland
Prison Service.

"If it is the case that these prison officers have voiced
this opinion, then this is a grave matter and Cllr Given,
if he can stand by what he says, should pass on the names
of these employees who have failed to carry out their duty
as prison officers." He added that to bestow the freedom of
the city on the Prison Service minutes later, with no
condemnation of Cllr Given's remarks, was "highly

Responding to Mr Given's remarks, a spokesperson for the
Prison Service told the Andersonstown News: "There is a
duty on prison staff to ensure that prisoners are treated
with dignity, and when outside the prison environment they
shall not commit any action by word or by deed that is
likely to bring discredit on the Prison Service."

Speaking to the Andersonstown News last night Cllr Paul
Given said he stood by his comments.

August 26, 2005


Outrage At £9m Bill To Keep Politicians
In Jobs At Assembly Which Does Not Sit

By David Gordon
26 August 2005

Ulster politicians were under fire today after it was
revealed that more than £9m was paid out in just one year
to keep them in jobs at the suspended Stormont Assembly.

Newly-released official figures spelt out the cost to
taxpayers of the salaries and expenses of MLAs in 2003/04 -
a 12-month period that did not witness a single sitting of
the Assembly.

The publication of the payments, which totalled £9.2m,
comes amid pessimism over the prospects for an early
restoration of devolution.

The publicly-funded bill included expenses and special
allowances totalling £6.6m. Payouts worth some £1.4m were
handed over to members who lost their seats or did not
contest the November 2003 election.

In 2001/02, when the Assembly was fully functioning, the
salaries and expenses paid to members came to £10.1m.

During the following financial year - which saw the
suspension of devolution in October 2002 - MLAs were paid a
total of £10.2m.

The new figures caused an immediate outcry today and were
branded "absolutely crazy" by a senior trade unionist.

Peter Williamson, regional secretary of Amicus, also
stated: "It's about time the politicians got their act
together and started doing the job they are being paid to

Former Newtownabbey Labour councillor, Mark Langhammer,
said: "The Assembly has been a failure and should be
scrapped immediately. It's also an increasingly costly
failure at a time when our vital public services are crying
out for more funding."

The newly released figures for 2003/04 have been published
on the Assembly's own web site and include:

The full salary bill for MLAs in the 12-month period came
to £2,623,758.

Travel expenses claimed by members added up to £524,176.

Allowances paid to Assembly members for the running and
staffing of their offices cost £4,636,069.

Members who stood down or were voted out in the November
election were paid resettlement expenses totalling
£860,832, as well as "winding up" allowances worth a
further £540,861.

Subsistence expenses, covering items like overnight stays
while on Assembly business, added just £841 to the overall
bill - a reflection of the lack of official activity at

The "other expenses" category, for items like public
transport, air fares and child care allowances, cost a
total of £19,488.

According to the official figures, Sinn Fein's John Kelly
received the highest individual pay and expenses total for
the year, £103,457. The Mid-Ulster MLA did not stand in the
November election and received a total of £36,640 in
resettlement and winding-up allowances.

Mr Kelly also had the biggest mileage expenses total with
£20,676, followed by the Rev Robert Coulter, a North Antrim
UUP MLA, who is listed as receiving £16,999 for travel.

There were wide variations in the travel allowances claimed
by MLAs in 2003/2004. A number of members, including DUP
leader the Rev Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams,
received zero mileage payouts.

SDLP North Belfast representative Alban Maginness was
listed as having the highest travel expenses of any Belfast
MLA with a sum of £12,273, followed by South Belfast DUP
MLA Mark Robinson (£12,248).

Additional payments to office holders slumped in 2003/04,
due to the lack of Ministers and committee chairmen.
However, Lord Alderdice received an additional £15,613 in
the year for serving as Speaker up to his resignation in
February 2004. He also had use of an official car.

The suspension of the Assembly led to the annual salaries
of MLAs being reduced from £41,321 to £31,817.

But successive Secretaries of State have rebuffed calls for
the payouts to be further cut or axed altogether.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office today said:
"The salaries of MLAs and related matters are kept under
regular review."


Viewpoint: Colombia 3 Issues Will Not Go Away

HOT POTATO: Dublin must not shirk its duty on this case

26 August 2005

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell has returned from
his summer holidays to find one issue dominating his in-
tray - the case of the Colombia Three. In his absence the
Irish Government has been going through the motions but now
the forthright Mr McDowell will need to bring the issue
into sharper focus.

As the Minister is aware, the Irish Government has been
placed in a most invidious position by the surprise
reappearance in Dublin of the three fugitives. At a time
when most democratic countries are showing a united front
against terrorism, Ireland stands accused of harbouring
three men involved in training guerrillas in a country
which is a close ally of the US.

In his first assessment of the situation, Mr McDowell has
insisted that Ireland will not provide a safe haven for
criminals but so far the evidence is not compelling. Dublin
has been far from energetic in its attempts to address the
problem, preferring to fend off the request from the
Colombian vice-president for the return of the prisoners on
the basis that no extradition treaty is in place.

As Colombian demands intensify, the Irish Government's
laissez-faire approach is looking increasingly suspect.
Dublin's credentials in the worldwide campaign to counter
terrorism are being called into question, not just by
Ulster Unionists but also by Washington and other EU
countries which have suffered from terror.

To his credit, Mr McDowell has already spoken out with
characteristic directness, accusing the IRA Army Council of
sanctioning the Colombian trip and warning Sinn Fein's
Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris that they
must carry the can.

As the Minister says, the Colombian Three affair is
undermining trust at a crucial point in the peace process.
Mr McDowell must ensure that no stone is left unturned in
the Irish Government's attempts to call the fugitives to

While the trio appear to have dodged extradition for the
time being, other avenues remain open. One proposal which
deserves closer scrutiny is Mr McDowell's suggestion that a
Council of Europe Convention could be invoked, allowing on-
the-run offenders to serve out their sentences in the
country to which they have fled.

The fate of the Colombian Three is a real test not just for
Mr McDowell but also for Bertie Ahern's entire Cabinet.
When it comes to the battle against international
terrorism, no country in the civilised world can shirk its


Man Held Over Shooting Released

By Debra Douglas
26 August 2005

A man questioned about the murder of 20-year-old Craig
McCausland has been released without charge, it was
confirmed today.

The man, in his early 30s, was arrested yesterday afternoon
but later released.

He is the seventh person to be arrested in connection with
the murder which has been linked to the loyalist feud.

Mr McCausland was shot by the UVF on July 11 in his Belfast

Detectives investigating the feud have questioned several
people about the murders this week but no-one has been


PSNI Ignored Own Advice, Says Order

By Jonathan McCambridge
26 August 2005

Police have been accused of ignoring their own legal advice
about how Parades Commission application forms should be
filled in - leaving a number of Orange Order officials
facing possible prosecution.

The commission refused to sanction several Orange parades
this year because individual lodge members' names were not
entered on controversial 11/1 application forms. The Order
had instead provided multiple names of parade organisers.

Several Ballymacarett Orange officials were questioned by
police after they went ahead with a parade in east Belfast
in February which had been banned.

Files have now been sent to the Public Prosecution Service
(PPS) which is set to decide on the viability of

The Government has since said there is confusion over the
laws and that its legal advice has suggested forms may be
legally completed even if the names of individuals were not

However, at a public meeting of the east Belfast District
Policing Partnership this week, UUP MLA Michael Copeland
asked Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine if the PSNI and
Parades Commission received opposing legal advice on the

Mr Irvine said there were two sets of legal advice. He said
the view taken by the Parades Commission was that the
completion of the 11/1 forms with multiple names was not

He said he had taken guidance from the PSNI legal adviser
and that because there was a difference in the two sets of
advice, the matter should go to the PPS.

He said: "There were different pieces of legal advice, but
they were only advice. They do not become guidance until
the courts adjudicate."

But Mr Copeland countered: "I find it hard to accept that
the PSNI ignored their own legal advice, the consequences
of that are frightful.

"I find myself in the middle of an experiment between two
wings of Government who had different views on how a piece
of paper should be filled in."


Building Size Banner To Be Unveiled Announcing Rally For
Irish Unity

Published: 26 August, 2005

Sinn Féin will unveil a building size banner announcing a
national carnival and rally, "Make Partition History -
Support Irish Unity", tomorrow, Saturday 27 August 2005 at
11:00AM at 58 Parnell Sq Dublin 1.

The "Make Partition History - Support Irish Unity"
carnival, which is part of Sinn Féin's Céad Bliain
celebrations, will take place in Dublin on September 24 at
2PM at Parnell Sq. The rally in support of Irish Unity will
consist of street theatre, costumes, and live music.

Highlighting the demand for Irish unity across the island
of Ireland, Sinn Féin Mayors north and south will attend
the unveiling. Toireasa Ferris, Mayor of Kerry Council
Council and Mayor of Dungannon and South Tryone District
Council, Francie Molloy will represent the party from each
side of the border.


The US Vs The UN

American ambassador seeks to scupper UN's global strategy
with 750 amendments after just three weeks in the job

By David Usborne in New York
26 August 2005

America's controversial new ambassador to the United
Nations is seeking to shred an agreement on strengthening
the world body and fighting poverty intended to be the
highlight of a 60th anniversary summit next month. In the
extraordinary intervention, John Bolton has sought to roll
back proposed UN commitments on aid to developing
countries, combating global warming and nuclear

Mr Bolton has demanded no fewer than 750 amendments to the
blueprint restating the ideals of the international body,
which was originally drafted by the UN secretary general,
Kofi Annan.

The amendments are spelt out in a 32-page US version, first
reported by the Washington Post and acquired yesterday by
The Independent. The document is littered with deletions
and exclusions. Most strikingly, the changes eliminate all
specific reference to the so-called Millennium Development
Goals, accepted by all countries at the last major UN
summit in 2000, including the United States.

The Americans are also seeking virtually to remove all
references to the Kyoto treaty and the battle against
global warming. They are striking out mention of the
disputed International Criminal Court and drawing a red
line through any suggestion that the nuclear powers should
dismantle their arsenals. Instead, the US is seeking to add
emphasis to passages on fighting terrorism and spreading

Very quickly, Mr Bolton has given the answer to anyone
still wondering whether his long and difficult journey to
New York - President George Bush confirmed him to the post
after the US Senate was unable to - would render him coy or
cautious. Far from that, he seems intent on taking the UN
by the collar and plainly saying to its face what America
expects - and does not expect - from it.

To the dismay of many other delegations, the US has even
scored out pledges that would have asked nations to
"achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national
product for official development assistance by no later
than 2015". All references to the date or the percentage
level are gone in the Bolton version.

Passages that look forward to a larger role for the General
Assembly are gone. Rejected also is a promise to create a
standing military capacity for UN peacekeeping.

This show of contempt from Washington and its new envoy
comes at a time when Mr Annan has been severely weakened by
allegations of widespread corruption, fraud and nepotism.
The White House is aware, for example, that Mr Annan
himself could be further undermined when investigators into
corruption in the oil-for-food programme in Iraq issue
their final report, probably just days before the summit
itself, due to be held from 14 to 16 September.

The move by MrBolton has thrown preparations for the summit
into turmoil, prompting some to question whether there will
be anything for the leaders to put their pens to in New
York. "We can't be entirely sure there will be an
agreement," one senior United Nations aide admitted last
night. Failure to reach an agreement could embarrass Tony
Blair, who is believed to have given broad backing to Mr
Annan's original draft.

"It is not great news," said one Western diplomat of the
American paper, which had been distributed only to a select
group of UN ambassadors by yesterday. "What they are
proposing is quite radical. If we start negotiating now the
way the Americans want, it is going to make for a very
difficult process."

Some UN insiders concede that at 29 pages the proposed text
was probably far too long for many of the world's
presidents and prime ministers to accept. They all also see
that in its present form it would ask the US to promise to
uphold treaties and conventions it has already rejected,
including the Kyoto pact.

The president of the General Assembly, Jean Ping of Gambia,
must now try to save the summit from disaster. He will
bring together a core group of 20 to 30 countries in the
days ahead, with Britain and the US included, to see what,
if anything, can be found to overcome so many American
objections. There is no doubt in the corridors of New York
that something must be stitched together before the summit,
even if it ends up being very short.

"The purpose of the summit," said Shashi Tharoor, a senior
aide to Mr Annan, "is to rekindle the idealism with which
the UN was created 60 years ago and to use the birthday to
renew the organisation for the purposes of the 21st
century. The rest is process and details."

The problem is that the summit is less than three weeks
away. "Time is short," Mr Bolton warned in a letter to
other UN envoys earlier this week. "In order to maximise
our chances of success, I suggest we begin the negotiations

Guide to the differences in approach

Millennium goals

What the UN wants

Specific references to the UN Millennium Development Goals
which set targets to be achieved by 2015 on issues such as
poverty, education, disease, trade and aid

What the US wants

References to the Millennium Development Goals
systematically removed and replaced by vague references to
the reduction of poverty, and a promise to reinforce the

The likely outcome

Unlikely to reach agreement. Developing countries will
fight hard to keep references to Millennium Development
Goals which were agreed by all UN members in 2000

Foreign aid

What the UN wants

To re-state development goals calling for wealthy
countries, including the US, to contribute 0.7 per cent of
their gross national product to aid

What the US wants

Deletion of all references to 0.7 per cent figure. Wants to
link further increases to good housekeeping - and further
liberalisation of markets

The likely outcome

Hard to see how there can be a compromise

Climate change

What the UN wants

Concerted global action to address climate change. Further
negotiations to look beyond 2012 by broadening Kyoto
agreement to include greater participation by developing
and developed nations

What the US wants

Stresses energy efficiency and development of new
technologies, and rejects global action plan. Rejects
assertion that climate change is a long-term challenge that
could potentially affect every part of the world

The likely outcome

Could be compromise, as US is prepared to recommit to the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Nuclear disarmament

What the UN wants

An appeal to the five nuclear powers - Britain, US, France,
China and Russia - to take concrete steps towards nuclear

What the US wants

To shift focus to halting the spread of the world's
deadliest weapons. Will not specifically recommit to
working towards nuclear disarmament, although will recommit
to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The likely outcome

Difficult to envisage agreement after negotiations on a
five-year review of the NPT broke up in May without a

International Criminal Court

What the UN wants

Commitment to end impunity for the most serious violations
of international humanitarian law, including genocide, by
co-operating with the International Criminal Court

What the US wants

No reference to International Criminal Court, whose
statutes the Bush administration controversially withdrew
from in 2002

The likely outcome

No agreement. America is out in the cold on this one,
although the commitment of a number of other states to the
court has been wavering under US pressure


What the UN wants

Help for developing countries to join the World Trade

What the US wants

Insistence that countries seeking to join the WTO must be
willing and able to undertake WTO commitments. Baulks at
"facilitating" entry of developing countries

The likely outcome

Big fight, with developing countries clamouring for access
to markets. Probably no agreement


Bloody Sunday Drama At Forum

Friday 26th August 2005

The Millennium Forum are thrilled to welcome the Tricycle
Theatre's production of the powerful drama, 'Bloody Sunday:
Scenes from the Saville Inquiry' on Friday 16th and
Saturday 17th September.

On Sunday 30th January 1972, 13 Civil Rights marchers were
shot dead and another 13 wounded when British soldiers
opened fire during an anti-internment Civil Rights march.

Since March 2000 the Saville Inquiry has heard evidence
from over one thousand witnesses. This play is a dramatic
overview of some of that evidence.

From the company who brought you 'The Colour of Justice -
The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry,' comes 'Bloody Sunday: Scenes
from the Saville Inquiry,' a docudrama that takes a closer
look at the day's events.

With a cast of 23 including acclaimed Irish actress, Sorcha
Cusack, this reconstruction moves swiftly from painful
eyewitness accounts of how people died to the cross-
examination of the soldiers who fired.

Reviews include - "I can't praise this enthralling
production too highly." Daily Telegraph.

Tickets are now available from the Millennium Forum Box
Office. Telephone 71 264455 for bookings and enquiries.


CSUC Students Make Memories Of A Lifetime On Ireland Trip


Chico State University student Ben Olberg (right) films
fellow Chico State student Chekechea Pryor (far left) as
she interviews a local taxi cab driver in a Protestant
neighborhood in Belfast, North Ireland, late last month.
The students were taken through Catholic and Protestant
areas and shown dozens of murals during what's known as a
"black taxi tour."

All Chico E-R photos are available here.

There are events in everyone's lives that are unforgettable
— moments that inspire stories that undoubtedly will be
told again and again, without becoming stale.

And for 15 Chico State University students on a mission to
create a documentary, many of those tales will have come
from a place called Northern Ireland.

A day spent with John Hume lent itself to just such an
occasion when the Nobel Peace Prize laureate did something
highly unexpected.

"He sang to us," recalled Spencer Crooks, a Chico State
journalism graduate.

Crooks, who earned his degree in May, was part of a crew
that spent three weeks abroad, filming aspects of the peace
process and life in Belfast — a region once so war-torn
that its residents feared walking the streets.

Most of the students were present during Hume's impromptu
rendition of the Irish anthem "Danny Boy," sung within a
hotel sitting room set in a small village outside of Derry,
near where he grew up.

The peace leader was one of many dignitaries the students
filmed to capture the strides the region has made since the
period known as The Troubles — a decades-long stretch
beginning in the late '60s when violence plagued Belfast.

More than 3,000 died as a result of warring between
Catholic nationalists, who fought for a united Ireland, and
Protestant unionists, who fought to stay a part of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Crooks, like most he traveled with, knew little about the
conflicts before committing to the journey. But that
quickly changed as he took on his role as researcher.

David O'Connor read up on The Troubles, too, before heading
abroad with the crew — half of which was composed of film
students, like himself, with the rest from various other

But seeing the lingering effects, he said, startled him at
times. Twenty- and 30-foot "peace walls" divided many
Catholic and Protestant communities. It was odd to see a
segregation of people who from all outward appearances look
no different from each other.

"Coming from the United States, where intolerance is
generally racially motivated, you wonder why it is they
can't be nice to each other," O'Connor said.

And as he learned through the interviews conducted with
residents of those divided neighborhoods, the answer isn't
easy to grasp. Some said the conflicts stemmed from land,
others from religion. Some people thought money was at the
root, O'Connor recalled.

"But nobody had a general thought to what it's all about,"
he said.

It's complicated, said Chekechea Pryor, who graduated from
Chico State in May with a degree in film. That's partly
because the feud is centuries old.

"It's hard to understand that hate," she said.

Pryor toured the segregated neighborhoods, which are
painted with murals and lined with flags. The different
territories are unmistakable.

During the trip, she interviewed Gerry Adams, president of
the Irish Republican party Sinn Féin. Adams, who has long
been linked to the Irish Republican Army, was kind and
interested, not at all the militant man she'd expected,
Pryor said.

As luck would have it, the students were in Belfast when
the IRA made its historic announcement, in late July, that
it was going to embrace a completely non-violent path

Kelly Candaele, an expert on the conflicts, said since 1998
and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement — an accord
that was a monumental step toward peace at the time — the
region has been operating through crisis upon crisis.

The IRA announcement was reported around the world. It was
an extraordinary thing to witness, especially considering
the organization once vowed not to surrender one bullet
until the British were gone from Northern Ireland, Candaele

"It certainly changed the political atmosphere there," he

The Los Angeles-based Candaele is the mastermind behind the
documentary. The Chico State alumnus spoke to classes,
looking for students who'd be interested in the project.

Those who came forward, he said, came through in a big way,
working in the rain, dealing with broken equipment during a
rigorous schedule where filming took place nearly every
day. Part-way into the trip, Candaele said he began
referring to the group as "our platoon."

"Whatever happens in their lives from now on, they've been
through this, in a sense a test case for things we're
dealing with throughout the world," he said.

Candaele and some of the students are now in the process of
paring down more than 50 hours of footage to about 50

O'Connor, who is a senior at Chico State, is involved in
the process. Back in classes this week, he said he plans to
return to Ireland, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
In fact, he's already established his own Ireland fund.

He sold his car to be able to take his first trip.

"It was worth the sacrifice, by all means, and much more."

Staff writer Melissa Daugherty can be reached at 896-7761


Northern Lights May Be Visible From Ireland Tonight

26/08/2005 - 07:53:03

Star-gazers will be hoping for clear skies tonight
following predictions that the Northern Lights may be
visible from Ireland.

The display is normally seen only in the polar regions, but
Astronomy Ireland has said it may be visible from Ireland
tonight following two explosions on the sun earlier this

However, forecasters are predicting cloudy skies, which
could ruin the event for many astronomy enthusiasts.

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are caused when
radiation accelerating from the sun collides with the
Earth's atmosphere, creating a vast display of shimmering
lights and colours.

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