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August 24, 2005

Petrol Bomb Attack On Belfast House

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/24/05 Petrol Bomb Attack On Belfast House
GO 08/24/05 Opin: Players In Peace Drama Risked Their Lives
WP 08/24/05 If Walls Could Talk Barracks Would Tell Tales
IO 08/24/05 8,000 Superbug Infections In Hospitals Last Yr
HJ 08/24/05 Theatre Review: Justice


Petrol Bomb Attack On Belfast House

24/08/2005 - 08:02:40

A petrol bomb with a firework attached to it was launched
at a house in Belfast overnight, police said today.

The incident was one of six attacks on properties in the
north of the city, which included a paint bomb being thrown
through a window at the home of a couple in their 80s.

Police said a house in Skegoneill Avenue was targeted with
the petrol bomb, which did not ignite, shortly before 11pm.

Half an hour earlier, a paint bomb struck a house and a car
was set alight in Somerdale Park.

Meanwhile, a cancer sufferer and his wife were left
traumatised when their home was paint-bombed by

John Mussen, 82, said he and his wife were attacked
"because we never go out".

A window in the living room of their home at Hesketh Road
was smashed and paint splattered all over the furniture
shortly after 8pm yesterday.

Three neighbouring houses were also paint-bombed.

The Democratic Unionist Party condemned the attacks and
accused republicans of being responsible.

Assembly member Nelson McCausland said the attack was
"blatantly sectarian and designed to ensure the
continuation of unrest in the area".

He added: "This area has had to endure these types of
attacks over a long period of time. This attack is a
deliberate attempt to ensure that tension in the area
remains high. It is blatantly sectarian and clearly well-


Opin: Key Players In Historic Irish Peace Drama Risked
Their Lives

If history is a nightmare from which we are trying to
awaken, as James Joyce said, then the people of Ireland
finally woke up from troubled slumber this summer.

The announcement that the Irish Republican Army was
abandoning its more than 30 years of violence signaled an
epochal event unlike any other in modern Irish history.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called it "a step of
unparalleled magnitude."

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern called it "a momentous
... development."

But the IRA did not lay down its arms on the spur of the
moment. Rather, its statement was the result of decades of
painstaking work by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the
leaders of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA.

They took on one of the immutable forces in Irish life and
changed it from within.

It's been a delicate, often dangerous walk for Adams and
McGuinness as they sought to win support for peace without
moving too far ahead of their core constituency.

Many people around the world distrust Adams and see him as
an unrepentant terrorist putting on a moderate front for
the IRA, while some partisans of the Republican cause
believe that he has gone soft.

Under the circumstances, it is remarkable that Adams and
McGuinness have accomplished as much as they have.

The name of the IRA has been writ large in Irish history
for more than a century. It fought a war of independence,
which was followed by the British partition of Ireland in
1921, which in turn was followed by another vicious civil
war after an IRA split. Then, successive IRA campaigns to
end the partition ensued.

In the latest burst of violence, which started in 1969,
more than 3,600 lives were sacrificed as the consequences
of partition came home to roost.

The nightmare was in full flood. Now, the IRA's statement
has changed everything. How Adams, the president of Sinn
Fein, and McGuinness, his chief negotiator, succeeded in
taking an armed revolutionary movement and placing it on a
road to peaceful political activism is an extraordinary
story. Many times in the past, Irish leaders have tried and

Michael Collins, who in many ways created the IRA's
revolutionary tradition, lost his life attempting to turn
it against violence during the civil war in 1922.Adams and
McGuinness came of age four decades later, as young
partisans of the Republican cause in the 1960s. But they
recognized very early on that the war was not winnable,
that the British army and the IRA had essentially fought
each other to a standstill.

Imperceptibly at first, the two men began to change the
fundamental premise on which the movement was based --that
an armed campaign was the only solution. In 1972, shortly
after 23-year-old Adams was released from internment on a
British prison ship (where he'd been held as a suspected
IRA member), he and McGuinness convened a secret dialogue
with an influential Northern Ireland politician, John Hume,
then leader of the province's major Roman Catholic party.
They formulated what became the Hume-Adams document --
essentially a wish list for nationalists.

Adams and McGuinness approached the Irish and British
governments in discussions based on that document, which
argued for power-sharing and a greater involvement in
Northern Ireland by the Irish government. After initial
deep suspicion, both governments agreed to talk.

The first public indication that a new era was arriving
came during the most inflammatory episode of recent Irish
history, when 10 IRA men died during hunger strikes at the
Maze prison in the early 1980s. On his deathbed, hunger-
strike leader Bobby Sands was elected to the British
Parliament. The incredible groundswell of support showed
the political potential for the movement. The significance
was something that Adams and McGuinness grasped.

In the 1990s, another factor emerged. Irish American
supporters of President Clinton convinced him that major
change was stirring in Ireland and that the United States
could help. Thus, a powerful outside force was brought to
bear on the peace process.

Most vital, however, was the internal debate within Sinn
Fein and the IRA. Adams worked slowly and deliberatively,
never moving too far in front of the rank and file.
Sometimes he had to perform tasks that won him harsh
international criticism, such as carrying the coffin of an
IRA bomber who had killed many innocent people.

It was the price he had to pay to retain leadership over a
group notoriously suspicious of politics.

By increments, the strategy began to work. The new peace
policy led to significant electoral support. Soon a party
that had started with less than 2 percent popular support
became the second-largest party in Northern Ireland.

It was within that framework that Adams and McGuinness
persuaded the IRA to carry out the 1994 cease-fire. A few
years later the Good Friday agreement, including many of
the original Hume-Adams proposals, was adopted. Adams now
had a fair wind behind him.

His colleagues saw him working the grass-roots, being
welcomed at the White House, meeting the British and Irish
prime ministers.

In the end, he and McGuinness simply outworked, outthought
and outmaneuvered their opponents, both internal and
external. Sinn Fein's spectacular election success, and the
appointment of McGuinness as Northern Ireland's education
minister had a dramatic psychological effect on the
citizens who had been locked out of power for so long.

The IRA decision to abandon its armed campaign was an
inevitable outgrowth of the long-held plans of Adams and

They had replaced the nightmare with a dream.

NIALL O'DOWD, is publisher of the Irish Voice newspaper in
New York. This first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
E.J. Dionne is on vacation.


If Walls Could Talk Ballina's Famous Barracks Would Tell
Some Great Tales

By Denis Daly

Last Friday at 2 pm. Garda Sergeant Joe Doherty closed the
door of Ballina Garda Station, bringing an end to policing
from the building at Walsh Street that served the Royal
Irish Constabulary (RIC) for many years and the Civic Guard
or Garda Siochana from 1922.

The building in Walsh Street in the centre of the town -
unbelievably located at the end of a cul de sac -has seen
all the big and small changes that have taken place in
Irish society and, indeed, in the making of national and
local history for one hundred and fifty years.

What stories the old RIC cells and the more "modern" Garda
ones could tell if walls could talk and what shocks there
would be in Ballina and surrounding areas if all of the
files and reports, transferred to the new Garda
headquarters at Lord Edward Street, could be opened to the

The old barracks felt the shock waves of Fenian rebellion,
Land League agitation, the War of Independence, the Civil
War (when the building was burned out) and the many social
changes that took place in Irish society from the time of
the formation of the Free State to the present time.

Retired Sergeant Brendan Cafferty, who served in the area
from the late 1970's, researched the history of the
"barracks" and came up with a wealth of interesting
information about its life and times.

He notes that Walsh Street is named after a local Irishman
who was hanged for his part in the Rebellion of 1798 after
the arrival of General Humbert in Killala. Inspector Mick
Murray adds the interesting titbit that Walsh was merely
the messenger who brought news of Humbert's landing at
Kilcummin and that he was hung by a meathook from a yardarm
in the street.

Brendan Cafferty says that Walsh Street was built in the
mid 1800's. The Presbyterian Church was built in 1851, the
Imperial Hotel (now Bartra House Hotel) in 1846, the Manse
in 1851, and the police barracks around the same time. The
Presbyterian Minister, the Revd. Thomas Armstrong in his
book, "My Life and Times in Connacht" expressed the fear
that his Church might be attacked during the course of a
Fenian attack on the barracks opposite - collateral

The Irish Constabulary was founded after the arrival of Sir
Robert Peel in Ireland. It is interesting that the
headquarters in Connacht for this force was in Ballinrobe.

Brendan Cafferty records that while the RIC was drawn
mainly from the local Irish community they had to serve
their masters as all forces have to and this led them into
conflict with the people from whence they came.

"An example of this was in Ballina on May 5, 1882 when a
parade was organised in the town to celebrate the release
of Charles Steward Parnell from prison. Sup. Inspector Ball
of the RIC let it be known that he would not allow any
parade and while the organisers agreed to cancel it, some
young people came down from Ardnaree and went ahead with
their own parade.

"They were beaten unmercifully by the RIC and this enraged
the locals and rioting took place during which a young boy
by the name of Melody was killed. Protests were made about
this in the press and it was raised in the House of
Commons. The only action taken was to move Ball and to pay
Melody's father, a poor working man, the sum of £100."

During the war of Independence the local people turned
against the RIC and Brendan Cafferty notes that it is usual
in any society where there is rebellion that the police
force is at the cutting edge of upholding the law made by
their masters.

While the Ballina barracks was not burned like Cloghans and
many others in the area during the War of Independence it
was in fact torched during the Civil War.

In mid-February 1922 the RIC Barracks was handed over to a
company of IRA under Dr. Madden amid signs of great emotion
in Walsh Street at 5.30 in the evening. The majority of the
RIC had already left and when Ford cars conveying four
policemen, a District Inspector and a Head Constable drove
away there was cheering from the large crowd gathered.

Brendan Cafferty says the new unarmed police force was a
brave venture and was one of the great successes of the new
State after centuries of armed insurrection and rebellion.
One of its founders Michael Staines said it would succeed
not by force of arms but by the moral authority of the
people it served.

When the Garda arrived in Ballina in 1922 their natural
home was burned out and they were billeted in one or two
places for a time, one being possibly the house now
occupied by Mr Liam Ruane. The rebuilding of the barracks
commenced and it was ready for reoccupation in 1927.

An observation from retired Sergeant Cafferty is that if
the Revd. Armstrong came back today he might not be afraid
of the proximity of the police station. Rather he might be
fearful of the departure of the force because when the
Gardai leave his Church could become the target of the
vandals and hooligans who will no doubt stray into the cul
de sac with their cans of beer.

Buildings in the area, including the barracks itself, may
become a target.


8,000 'Superbug' Infections In Irish Hospitals Last Year

24/08/2005 - 07:59:25

More than 8,000 people reportedly tested positive for a
range of potentially fatal "superbugs" in Irish hospitals
last year.

Reports this morning quote figures released under the
Freedom of Information Act which showed that 6,000 of these
patients had been infected by MRSA.

However, the vast majority of these patients did not have
serious infections and were not ill as a result of the

The reports said the highest number of serious MRSA
infections was in large hospitals such as the Mater and St
James' in Dublin.



Old Red Lion Theatre, St John Street, EC1

Justice is an honest and brutal look at the tensions
between the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and the LVF
(Loyalist Volunteer Force) in Portadown, Northern Ireland.

The UVF. has been in a ceasefire since 1994 and is in a
bloody conflict with the LVF over its drug empire. The LVF
oppose the ceasefire and continue the war.

Written by Christopher Hanvey, it is an excellent insight
into the blood feuds in Northern Ireland, which most people
outside would not understand.

It is a moving, realistic and very powerful play and it
will shock you with its realistic scenes of violence,
betrayal and politics from a Protestant point of view.

An excellent cast all around, particularly the very drug-
crazed violent LVF member Steve Davidson played by Leon
Bearman, who was frighteningly realistic. Great direction
by Jessica Hrabowsky.

This is a play that will leave you stunned at the end and
will stay with you. - VIVIENNE MCKONE

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