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September 04, 2005

Katrina The Big Story in Ireland

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IE 09/04/05 Katrina Is The Big Story In Ireland
IT 09/05/05 Last Survivors Leave As NO Begins To Count Dead
UN 09/04/05 Requiem For The Land Of Dreams
DI 09/04/05 Katrina: Scramble For Survival
DI 09/04/05 Katrina: Priest Tries To Contact Parishioners
DI 09/04/05 Sinn Féin Invites DUP To Talks
IO 09/04/05 IRA Delay 'Undermining Peace Process'
UN 09/04/05 Paisley Condemns Attacks On Catholic Properties
IT 09/05/05 Paisley Plans Talks Soon With Catholic Primate
IT 09/05/05 Taoiseach Rules Out Cabinet Role For SF
IT 09/05/05 Irish Unity Cannot Be Built On Violence- Ahern
IT 09/05/05 Garda Trip To Colombia Officially Confirmed
BB 09/04/05 Ombudsman Is Asked To Probe Riot
IT 09/05/05 Jailed Protesters Made Their Point- Taoiseach
SF 09/04/05 Northern Ireland Visit Strikes Blow For Peace
IE 09/04/05 Airmail Packages From US No Longer Practical
IT 09/05/05 Tasting The Fare At Clarenbridge Festival


Katrina Is The Big Story In Ireland

On Tuesday the three main newspapers in the South led with
initial reports of the effects of hurricane Katrina after
it hit the US states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
That set the tenor for the week's news although it slipped
from the lead in the Irish Examiner and Irish Independent
more than once. The Irish Times only replaced it on
Thursday, with news of the tragedy in Baghdad. The misery
brought on by the weather in the US again dominated all
three front pages on Saturday. In Belfast the Irish News
always found a local story which the editor believed
warranted bigger headlines, even when he learned that
nothing had been heard from two young Co. Fermanagh cousins
who had been on holiday in New Orleans.

It was actually RTÉ which responded first by dispatching
its Washington correspondent, Robert Shortt, to Biloxi, MS.
From there he was able to give live first hand accounts of
the disaster in radio and television news bulletins. The
Irish Times carried reports from the region written by
journalists with unfamiliar names. That was until Saturday
when Denis Staunton sent in a report from somewhere in
Mississippi. The same edition of the newspaper carried the
announcement that Mr Staunton had been appointed Washington
Correspondent in succession to Conor O'Clery, who recently
retired. The Irish Independent carried reports written by
journalists working for other newspapers, some with the
IN&M group, while the Irish Examiner seemed to rely mainly
on Associated Press.

Some 40 Irish families contacted the Department of Foreign
Affairs to enquire about relatives who had been in the
stricken area and, as of Saturday, it was reported that up
to ten remained unaccounted for. Minister for Foreign
Affairs Dermot Ahern said, however, that he hoped that all
would eventually be located safely as communications

Úna Ní Dhúbhghaill, the Ireland's Vice-Consul General in
Chicago, travelled to Houston, Texas, where she established
an office to cater for any Irish who were evacuated to that
state. She was being assisted by the local Irish society.
According to the Irish Independent Ms Ní Dhúbhghaill was
expected to head for New Orleans by the weekend.

Honeymooners Michael and Jean (Whitfield) Leyden, from
Dromahair, Co. Leitrim, were still in their New Orleans
hotel when the storm struck. The hotel put them out on the
street when it ran out of provisions but they were able to
book into another hotel before an American whom they had
met contacted Jean's family on Thursday evening to say that
they were on their way to the Convention Centre. A day
later another American phoned Michael's parents to say that
they were all being evacuated from the city by the

Another honeymoon couple who went through a similar
experience in New Orleans were Dubliners Carol and James
Wynne who arrived back at Dublin Airport on Sunday morning.

Co. Fermanagh cousins John (19), from Monea, and Patrick
Maguire (22), from Enniskillen were unable to contact home
until late in the week when they phoned to say that they
were safe in a hotel which was being guarded by soldiers.
They had been staying with an uncle in New York and were on
a five-day visit to New Orleans when they discovered that
they could not leave as planned on Monday and spent a
harrowing few days in the Superdome, before being

Queen's University student Conor Lally (20), along with two
friends from Blackrock, Co. Louth, took refuge in the
Superdome and ended up in Texas from where they flew home
on Saturday. His father, Jim, was full of praise for the
support provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Interviewed at Dublin Airport on Sunday morning, Conor and
his friends Tomás McLaughlin and Patrick Clark were
critical of the official response to the disaster. One
attributed their early return home to "the infinite
kindness of complete strangers".

Sister Miriam Ludden, from Dublin's Sandymount, and her
fellow Carmelite sisters had to evacuate their convent in
Jackson, Mississippi. The storm left them without water or
electricity and caused a tree to collapse onto one of the

Jamie Caul (19), from Lusk, Co. Dublin, is on a soccer
scholarship in Jackson, MS. It is hoped that the breakdown
in communications infrastructure accounts for his silence.

Nothing has been heard from one Irish-born priest in New
Orleans and news is still awaited of a young Irishman who
was believed to be in Biloxi.


Last Survivors Leave As New Orleans Begins To Count Dead

A ghostly calm settled on New Orleans yesterday as the
last survivors left the makeshift shelters in the superdome
and the convention centre after a week in hell, writes
Denis Staunton, in New Orleans.

A few yellow buses still stood outside the two buildings in
what used to be the city's business district. The streets
were almost deserted apart from scores of heavily armed
soldiers, police and fire officers.

The surrounding streets remained waterlogged and strewn
with every kind of debris - broken chairs, plastic sheeting
and pieces of masonry that the hurricane had blown away.

The French quarter was still above water, although a
massive tangled sheet of copper, part of a public
sculpture, lay across the French market.

Fallen trees blocked many of the district's smaller streets
but most of the city's best-known bars and restaurants
appeared to be intact. One bar, Moll's at the Market, had
opened for business, serving coffee to weary rescue workers
and the foreign television crews that arrived in the city
over the weekend.

Street after street was deserted except for a few
bewildered figures, some of them pushing shopping carts in
what appeared to be in no particular direction.

Further up town in the smart Jefferson parish most houses
escaped with little damage apart from a few fallen trees. A
gleaming glass fronted branch of Whole Foods, an upmarket
grocery, looked brand new.

The municipal zoo nearby was in ruins, however, with
upturned pagodas and shattered fences littering the
streets. Almost half of the city remains under water and
the emergency services are at the start of their most
sombre task: recovering the bodies of what could be
thousands of people who died in attics and rooftops waiting
for help that did not come.

Isolated disturbances were still being reported. Police
marksmen opened fire on a gang of eight people carrying
guns on a bridge, killing five or six of them.

The last evacuees left the convention centre and superdome
over the weekend to board buses with no idea where they
were heading. Texas has declared that it can take no more
refugees, or displaced persons, as the authorities prefer
to call them.

As the rescue and recovery operation continued yesterday
President Bush's administration sought to blame local and
State authorities for the slowness in dealing with the
aftermath of the hurricane. As public anger grew over the
slow response to the disaster, however, most political
analysts predicted Mr Bush would pay a political price for
not having acted sooner.

Six days after Hurricane Katrina struck, no-one yet knows
how many people were killed, but government officials say
the number is surely in the thousands.

"When we remove the water from New Orleans, we're going to
uncover people who died hiding in houses, who got caught by
the flood - people whose remains will be found in the
street," US homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff
said. "It is going to be about as ugly a scene as you can

Battered and sickened survivors made no attempt to disguise
their anger yesterday.

"We have been abandoned by our own country," Aaron
Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, just south of New
Orleans, told NBC's Meet the Press.

As an international aid effort gathers pace, a spokesman in
Dublin for the Defence Forces said contingency planning had
started to send personnel to the Gulf Coast to assist, if
requested to do so.

© The Irish Times


Requiem For The Land Of Dreams

Charlie Mallon

"RIOTS, rapes, gang warfare. Please get us out of here!"

That was the chilling and desperate text message plea sent
to a Co Louth mother from her son trapped in the New
Orleans Superdome.

Tomas McLaughlin, 20, from Blackrock, and his two friends
from the seaside village, had taken turns to send home SMS
text messages.

Tomas's mother Fiona received the shocking message as
anarchy broke out inside the sports stadium.

Yesterday she was relieved to receive another message, this
time from the safety of a bus on its way to Dallas.

"I got a text from him today. He is lucky to be alive. But
I know now that he is safe," she told the Sunday
Independent yesterday.

As several relieved Irish families prepare to welcome home
loved ones today, a Fine Gael TD has accused the Government
here of failing to give leadership in establishing an
international response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Billy Timmins, Fine Gael's defence spokesman, suggested
this is because Mr Ahern's government was scared to offend
the "vocal and hysterical anti-American lobby" in Ireland.

Mr Timmins, a former Irish Army Officer with service with
the UN in Lebanon and Cyprus, said that in addition to
financial help, Irish Army personnel could offer logistical
support in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, having
earned worldwide admiration for their crisis and rescue
management skills.

Last night, Mr Timmins asked: "Why has the Irish Government
not shown international leadership in the setting up of an
international response to this disaster? Why is Bertie
Ahern being so timid about offering support? Is it because
he is afraid of offending the vocal and hysterical anti-
American lobby in Ireland?"

Some Irish families are still waiting to hear news of loved
ones caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Last night a spokesman for the Department of Foreign
Affairs said that about six families here had not received
any contact as yet from sons and daughters believed to be
in the affected part of the US.

"Initially we were contacted by about 45 families, but on
Friday the number outstanding was down to 10 and today it
is about half a dozen.

"This may be because of communication difficulties in the
areas to which they have been evacuated," he said.

The Department spokesman said they had sent diplomats from
other embassies and consulates to Houston and Dallas to
liaise with Irish people involved. They also had been
receiving great assistance from various Irish societies and

Six Irish people, including Tomas McLaughlin, Patrick
Clarke and Conor Lally, from Blackrock and Daniel Murphy
from Dunleer, Co Louth have arrived in Dallas and are
expected to arrive into Dublin airport at 8.30am today.

Among the other Irish people brought to safety were
honeymoon couple Michael Leyden and Jean Whitefield.

Michael, a teacher from Dromahair, Co Leitrim and Dubliner
Jean travelled to New Orleans for their dream honeymoon
three weeks ago. After a terrifying ordeal on the streets,
they were airlifted to safety in Texas by the US military
on Friday.

Jean told American media of their experience: "I honestly
thought we were going to die on our honeymoon. We became
prisoners in our hotel as the waters rose. There was no
electricity, the toilets were overflowing.

"It was a hot, stinking mess. Outside we could hear gunfire
and explosions but we knew we had to try to escape because
the situation was getting more and more dangerous. People
were dying in the streets and we heard women were getting
raped by gangs," Jean said.

Michael said they were warned not to approach the
convention centre in New Orleans as it had turned from a
place of refuge to a centre of rape and murder. The newly-
weds were forced to sleep rough on the street.

"It was a terrifying night. There were people fighting and
looting right in front of us. They started shooting. There
were bullets racing past our heads," he said.

"The police turned up and tried to shoot the looter in the
head. They held him to the ground with a gun against his

The three friends from the Co Louth village of Blackrock,
where the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern lives,
are student. Tomas McLaughlin, 20, is a student at NUI
Galway. Conor Lally is a student in Queens University in
Belfast and Patrick Clarke is studying photography in Dun
Laoghaire, Dublin.

The three went to the US in June on J1 visas to work in
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the summer. They had made
enough money to take a short tour of the US, eventually
reaching New Orleans several weeks ago.

Last Saturday they went to the airport, hoping to get the
first flight on their journey home to Ireland. But when
they arrived, the airport was closed and they were told to
go back to their hostel.

When they returned to their hostel, however, it was being
boarded up. They were then evacuated, along with thousands
of others, to what was presumed to be the "safety" of the

As anarchy reigned inside the dome, the three took turns to
text message home.

Fiona McLaughlin took the chilling text for help,
containing the news of 'riots, rapes and gang warfare'.

"It was sent to me, and Tomas knew that I would pass it on
to the other boys' parents. I had to show the text to them.
We don't know how they survived, they couldn't talk about
their experiences.

"But they said they owe their lives to some very special
people. They haven't said who. They haven't been able to
talk about it.

"They said it was like a war zone . . . it was much worse
than it appeared on the television. But they haven't spoken
about it and we won't know until we have them home, in our
arms," said Fiona.

She revealed that while in the Dome, they met two men from
Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh, who had been unable to contact
their widowed mothers at home.

She managed to make contact with both mothers in
Enniskillen and assured them that they had survived.

Catherine Lally managed to speak to her son Conor yesterday
morning. "Conor had texted us last night to say they were
being bussed to Baton Rouge, but at the last minute were
redirected to Dallas."

John Lally said the family had a traumatic week but he
could not praise highly enough the Irish consul from
Chicago, Charles Sheehan, and his staff.

"Here Dermot Ahern, who I grew up with us, was available 24
hours a day. He was our first port of call and we had great
offers of help from Irish people and Irish societies of all
kinds. A woman rang the Garda station here from Tipperary
to tell us that her sister had a house in Dallas with five
bedrooms and it was there for them if they wanted to use

However, Wicklow TD Billy Timmins felt Ireland could do
much more.

Ireland, he said, owed America a huge debt, and the
Taoiseach should know that good relations "amount to more
than a bowl of shamrock presented to the US President on St
Patrick's Day."


Scramble For Survival

BY Connla Young

A man from Co Tyrone caught up in Hurricane Katrina last
night spoke of his scramble for survival amid scenes of
chaos in New Orleans.

Moy man Martin Doherty fled his New Orleans home of 15
years on Monday with just the shirt on his back, a few
treasured possessions stuffed into the back seat of his
saloon car and two loaded pistols for protection just hours
after the full fury of the hurricane was unleashed on the
historic Louisiana city.

Speaking to Daily Ireland from his sister's home in
Louisville, Kentucky last night, Mr Doherty told a tale of
murder, rape and mayhem as the city he had come to call
home descended into a spiral of violence and disregard for
human life as he battled through mobs to escape to safety.

Although happy to have left the misery and turmoil of the
Big Easy's waterlogged streets behind, the Tyrone man has
not escaped unscathed.

He suffered a back injury as Hurricane Katrina bashed New
Orleans' streets.

After abandoning his bar, Ryan's Irish Pub, in the city's
once fashionable French Quarter on Sunday, Mr Ryan and his
partner, New York native Jessica Deeds, made for a downtown
hotel, where he booked a room on the 12th floor.

Outside, torrential rain and howling gales were offloaded
by one of the worst storms to hit US shores in decades.

After escaping the worst ravages of the savage storm's
raging winds and fast flowing flood waters, attempting to
get out of New Orleans tested the Tyrone man's will to
survive to the absolute limit.

"I can't tell you the relief it is to be out of that city,"
he said.

"It was terrifying, absolutely terrifying.

"It is difficult to put what it was like into words.

"We knew the storm was coming and we booked into a room on
the 12th floor of a hotel near where I live.

"The night the hurricane hit New Orleans was incredible.
The force of the wind was incredible. Myself and my partner
Jessica were forced to go into the bathroom and huddle in
there with only a few blankets wrapped around us. We felt
pain in every muscle and sinew as the air pressure around
us dropped.

"I felt as if I was about to explode. I felt like my head
was just about to explode and all you could hear was the
noise of the wind gusting outside.

"For seven hours, I huddled in the bathroom in fear for my
life," said Mr Doherty.

When the worst of the storm eventually passed, Mr Doherty
says he was met with a scene he described as New Orleans'
"ground zero".

"I headed for the hotel lobby and it was blown away. It was
just gone.

"I went outside and looked up and the 16th and 17th floors
were gone — again, simply blown away.

"I am not joking when I say the place looked like it was
hit by a nuclear bomb.

"I saw bombs go off back home but the devastation caused
here was 100 times worse. I live in a condo above my pub
and it was fine at that stage — no broken windows or
flooding although the water was rising.

"We were thinking: This isn't too bad for us personally. We
have survived and we will be able to get things back to
normal in a few days.

"To be honest, we didn't really appreciate what was
happening in the city. Most lines of communication were

The Tyrone man said a dramatic rise in ordinary people's
desperation, as flood waters gradually encroached, had
forced him to flee the city.

"That decision set him on a perilous journey to his
sister's home. I only thought the hurricane was bad. I was
lucky I parked the car up nearby and filled it with gas.

"As we made our way through the city, people were trying to
hijack us and steal our car. We couldn't stop.

"We were sitting there in the car with a pistol in our
hands having to defend ourselves from people trying to jump
in and hijack us. Thankfully we didn't have to use the
guns. People were just desperate to get out of that city."

Amid the chaos and killing, the Tyrone man was able to
offer one grieving pilgrim some hope and humanity. A woman
was trying to get to her mother's funeral in California and
he helped her to escape New Orleans.

"There was anarchy going on all around us and I was happy
to take this woman as far as I could. When we got out of
the city, we stopped on high ground and looked back. It was
only then we realised how much water had poured into the
city after the levees fell," he said.

Despite his ordeal, Mr Doherty's thoughts turn to those
less fortunate and the friends he left behind.

"I am fortunate. Me and my partner got out more or less
unscathed. My business is insured and that's a weight off
the mind. People in there have died and there are people
who won't make it.

"A lot of the people affected are poor. I spoke to one man
who swam a mile to find a boat to rescue his wife and
mother. He says he was rowing through dead bodies on the
way back.

"I was able to contact a woman who worked for me who's
barricaded in her home with a .38 revolver. Outside, there
are mobs and her neighbours are lying on the street dead
and I'm trying to tell her to sit tight until help comes.

"All I can complain about is a back injury, which doctors
think was caused by the low pressure bearing down on old

"As for the business, I will know in a few weeks how I

"In the meantime, I will stay with my sister and might even
go home to see my mother Dot, who is in Craigavon hospital.

"To be honest, at the minute, I'm just glad to be alive,"
he said.

Last night, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin
said all but two of ten Irish citizens believed to have
been in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane have been
accounted for.

Latest estimates suggest that as many as 10,000 people
could have died in Louisiana alone in the wake of Katrina.

An additional 10,000 National Guard personnel have been
tasked to New Orleans with orders to shoot to kill looters.

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has lambasted US President
George Bush for the government's response to the crisis.

In a radio interview yesterday, the mayor said: "They flew
down here one time two days after the doggone event was
over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn —
excuse my French everybody in America but I am pissed.

"I have been all around this city and I am very frustrated
because we are not able to marshal resources and we are
outmanned in just about every respect."


Priest Tries To Contact Parishioners

A Donegal priest has been trying to contact members of his
parish in a town devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans was in the grip of anarchy last night in the
wake of the hurricane.

Fr Patrick McDermott is the administrator of Our Lady of
Victories parish church in the nearby town of Pascagoula.

Derry woman Lola Austin, formerly Boyle, is one of the
parishioners the priest has been trying to contact. The
cleric has lived in the area for the past 41 years.

The priest returned to his home area of Glenties in Co
Donegal two weeks ago and has been unable to make contact
with his parishioners.

His church was recently refurbished at a cost of $1 million
(£540,000; €800,000).

The building had lost its steeple as a result of a previous

Fr McDermott told Daily Ireland last night that
communications in the New Orleans region had collapsed.

"It's simply impossible to communicate with anyone.

"Every method of communication has gone. I would really
like to know what's going on.

"I suspect that the church has been badly damaged. The
whole of the region is likely to take years to restore,"
said the priest.

He spoke of a feeling of helplessness and said he was keen
to learn of the welfare of his parishioners.

A chemical explosion at a warehouse rocked the city
yesterday as corpses rotted along flooded roadsides and
bands of armed thieves and looters hampered rescue efforts.

The US Congress pushed through an aid package worth $10.5
billion (£5.7 billion; €8.4 million).

The Pentagon committed 1,400 National Guard members to stop

President George Bush yesterday faced a stern reception
from the populations affected by the hurricane.

Food and water are in scarce supply in areas hit by the

Pascagoula, home to Fr McDermott's parish accommodation on
Beach Boulevard, was washed away by tides from the Gulf of

People who lived in the area said their community had been

Some 25,000 people live in the town, 180 kilometres east of
New Orleans.

The town remained without power and running water last

Also hit badly was nearby Beloxi, which likewise contains a
large number of Irish emigrants.


Sinn Féin Invites DUP To Talks

By Connla Young

Sinn Féin has invited the Democratic Unionist Party to
enter talks as speculation mounts that the IRA is preparing
for a significant act of weapons decommissioning in the
coming weeks.

Senior negotiator Martin McGuinness extended the invitation
yesterday after unionist politicians had raised concerns
about the process involved in what is expected to be the
IRA's final act of decommissioning.

A move to deal conclusively with the weapons issue has been
expected since the IRA statement of July 28 announcing the
end of its armed campaign.

The statement also ordered volunteers to dump arms.

Reports that the retired Canadian general John de
Chastelain, the chairman of the Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning, has recently returned to
Belfast has heightened speculation that the next round of
decommissioning is to begin.

Speculation was further fuelled this week when Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern said he believed a third act of
decommissioning was imminent.

The reappointment this week of the Finnish brigadier Tauno
Nieminen to the international commission has added to

John de Chastelain and the commission's third member Andrew
Sens met an IRA representative in July to discuss
decommissioning issues.

The return of several key political leaders from holiday in
recent weeks will allow local political negotiations to
restart after a month-long lay-off.

Sinn Féin extended an invitation to talks after reports
that the DUP leaders had voiced concern over whom
republicans would choose as independent witnesses to the

"If Ian Paisley wants to try to influence this issue, then
Gerry Adams is prepared to meet him or to authorise a
senior Sinn Féin delegation to meet with the DUP," said Mr

"If the DUP are concerned about this issue, then they
should have no problem explaining their position first
hand. Otherwise, this is an issue for the IRA and the


IRA Delay 'Undermining Peace Process'

04/09/2005 - 17:33:08

The IRA was put under renewed pressure today to hurry up
and get on with its promised final decommissioning of all

With speculation mounting that the long-awaited act marking
the ending of their terrorist activity will come this
month, the SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said it
was time they got on with it.

The Assembly member said lack of activity by the IRA since
their pledge in July was giving loyalist paramilitaries the
opportunity to undermine the peace process.

Dr McDonnell said: "A month has come and gone since the
Provisional IRA statement. Since then, there has been a
determined effort by extremists, particularly on the
loyalist side, to undermine peace."

He said there was a need to rebuild confidence as quickly
as possible, and an onus of the IRA to do it – if only
because of the enormous damage to confidence done by the
Colombia Three.

Dr McDonnell added: "One month on from the IRA statement
and 63 months on from the deadline for completing
decommissioning in the (Good Friday) Agreement - the
scrapping of IRA weapons is long overdue. It needs to
happen now."

To rebuild confidence people needed to know that "words
will be honoured, promises will be delivered on, that
standards will apply and, above all, that the judgement of
governments will be honest".

It has been reported that the IRA has begun moving its
weapons to central dumps in the Republic ready to complete
decommissioning within weeks.

Meanwhile, DUP, the Rev Ian Paisley reiterated his demands
that the process is undertaken in an open manner.

"There must be full decommissioning, it must be transparent
but the IRA say no photographs," he said.

Speaking on RTE's This Week programme, he said: "There must
be the ending of criminality. And when I say the ending,
the ending must be so the people on the street can say it's
gone. Those are reasonable things to say.

"Words are not enough. It must be transparent."


Paisley Condemns Attacks On Catholic Properties

16:48 Sunday September 4th 2005

The Rev Ian Paisley said today that sectarian attacks on
Catholic homes in the north Antrim area must stop and those
responsible for the violence must be brought to justice,.

Following weeks of sporadic petrol and paint bomb attacks
on homes in Ballymena and nearby towns, the Democratic
Unionist Party leader insisted convicting the culprits was
the only solution.

Nationalist politicians have claimed the DUP had avoided
condemning the intimidation, but Mr Paisley rejected the
allegations outright. ``There is no excuse for it, it has
to stop and I have made that clear in the recent attacks on
church property, Roman Catholic church property in

``The sad thing about it is that those who are so loud in
shouting today never make any remarks when Free
Presbyterian churches are attacked.''

Homes in the Harryville estate in Ballymena, the local
Catholic church and a nearby school have all borne the
brunt of sectarian attacks in the last few weeks.

Families in Ahoghill and Rasharkin were also living in fear
for their lives after petrol and paint bomb attacks. Police
in the are even took the unprecedented step of issuing
Catholic families with fire blankets to protect them
against arson.

Mr Paisley said he had met with Catholics in Ballymena to
discuss the sustained attacks. He also said he had visited
staff at St Louis' school in the town which was badly burnt
in a petrol bomb attack.

``What you have to do, we have to insist that both
communities reveal to the police what they know and the
sooner people are charged and found guilty and imprisoned
if needs be, that will stop it, nothing else will stop
it,'' he said.

``I have no reservations in condemning any attack because
that is not the way you fight your democratic programme. In
fact you have lost the argument when you take to strife,
that's not democracy, that's anarchy.

``It can't be tolerated, it must be put down and it must be
put down by a very heavy and determined foot.''


Paisley Plans Talks Soon With Catholic Primate

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Ground-breaking talks between the Catholic primate and
the Rev Ian Paisley will take place before the end of this
month if Dr Seán Brady's officials and the DUP can find a
suitable date.

Dr Paisley said yesterday he was willing to meet the
archbishop, while Catholic sources revealed that moves
involving senior DUP figures to organise talks were well
under way.

Contact between the two sides began last Christmas and it
is hoped a date can be found in late September before Dr
Brady travels to Rome for three weeks.

Dr Paisley said on RTÉ yesterday: "On the issue he wants to
talk about, I'd like to hear from him. Having a secret
meeting with the archbishop would get us nowhere. Let's get
it above board."

A statement issued on behalf of the archbishop last night
claimed Dr Brady had already indicated his willingness to
meet Dr Paisley and other political leaders.

Dr Brady said: "I look forward to the prospect of engaging
with ministers from all parties in the exercise of the
civic, social and educational responsibilities of the
Catholic Church in a modern, pluralist democracy.

"Such engagement would be an important signal to the whole
community that the normal standards of decency, respect and
tolerance associated with a modern democracy have become
the new backdrop to a more mature and confident Northern

"Such engagement on matters of mutual responsibility in the
civic domain does not compromise the sincerely held
religious convictions of anyone. Indeed, there are many
aspects of public policy and social concern, including the
defence of religious liberty and certain fundamental moral
values, about which we could all agree."

Dr Brady's spokesman said the archbishop "responded
positively in July to a letter from Mr Gregory Campbell (a
DUP MP) suggesting dialogue on matters of mutual concern.
Representatives of Archbishop Brady have also been in touch
with representatives of the DUP to progress a meeting
between the Catholic bishops and the DUP on an agreed

Contact has also been made with Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey
Donaldson regarding a meeting between Dr Paisley and
Archbishop Brady.

Moves towards a meeting follow calls from the PSNI Chief
Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, for politicians to follow words
of condemnation of sectarian violence with initiatives to
build harmony.

The Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, also
appealed to community and political representatives to be
seen standing together to combat sectarianism.

The Rev Ian Paisley said yesterday he condemned "across the
board" sectarian attacks in Ballymena and elsewhere. But he
said nationalist leaders also had a responsibility to
condemn attacks on Protestant property.

"You have lost the argument when you take to strife," he
said. "That's not democracy, that's anarchy. It must be put
down with a very heavy and determined foot."

The 79-year-old DUP leader said a stable political future
based on power-sharing was achievable in his lifetime, so
long as democratic fundamentals have been met.

He would publicly shake the hand of senior republicans only
when the constitutional conditions set by prime minister
Tony Blair had been met.

© The Irish Times


Taoiseach Rules Out Cabinet Role For SF

Mark Brennock

The Taoiseach has said he sees no circumstances in which
Sinn Féin would be in Government with Fianna Fáil after the
next general election.

In an interview yesterday, Mr Ahern also said he believed
the Government would run its full term until 2007. While he
would have no difficulty doing business with the Labour
Party, he believed Fianna Fáil and the Progressive
Democrats would shape the State's economic policy for the
next eight years or more.

Mr Ahern said he believed Sinn Féin was on the way towards
embracing totally peaceful means. But their economic policy
was "the length and breadth of the country apart" from
Fianna Fáil's.

"I do hope that Sinn Féin finish the transformation to
totally peaceful means," Mr Ahern told Today FM's Sunday
Supplement programme. "I think they are on the road to
doing that," he added.

"I haven't got a clue what their economic policy is, Éire
Nua I think was the last one they wrote and that is a long
time ago. But they are against inward investment and they
are against multi-nationals."

He said he would have no difficulty working with the Labour
Party, and had worked well with them in government in the

"Mary Harney and Michael McDowell are caring people as much
as anybody else. She is passionate about trying to help the
elderly of this country, to try to improve the problems we
have in the A&E and it's a pleasure working with them on
this agenda," Mr Ahern said.

© The Irish Times


Irish Unity Cannot Be Built On Violence And Pain, Says

Dan Keenan and Gordon Deegan

Irish unity cannot be built on violence and pain, the
Taoiseach Mr Ahern said at the weekend.

He said the IRA would show it had "come round to accepting
this peaceful analysis" if it followed July's formal ending
of its campaign with what he called "necessary actions".

Addressing an Eamon de Valera commemoration in Co Clare, Mr
Ahern said it was important to acknowledge the role de
Valera played in the aftermath of the Civil War "in
persuading the majority of republicans to lay down the gun
in the knowledge that circumstances had changed and that it
was time to move on".

He added: "By the time our mandate is complete in 2007, I
am determined that there will be three enduring legacies
from our terms in office: lasting peace in Northern
Ireland, irreversible economic and social progress and
honest and open politics in 21st century Ireland."

DUP leader Ian Paisley yesterday also pressed for the
"putting beyond use" of all IRA weapons in a transparent
manner. He said the IRA was still unwilling to permit
photographic evidence and was insisting that it, not
others, appoint one of the two independent clergymen to
witness the process.

© The Irish Times


Garda Trip To Colombia Officially Confirmed In New Twist

Mark Brennock

The Garda will send two officers to Colombia on Wednesday
in relation to the "Colombia Three", having spent several
days last week casting doubt on the Minister for Justice's
assertion that such a development was likely or certain.

A Garda spokesman said yesterday that two officers, one
from the National Bureau of Crime and Security and the
other from the crime and security division, will spend as
long as is necessary in Colombia to see if this can advance
their investigation.

The decision to send gardaí, which the spokesman said was
made only last Friday, came after two days of contradictory
statements from Minister for Justice Michael McDowell and
the Garda's senior spokesman.

On Wednesday, Mr McDowell briefed the Cabinet to the effect
that the Garda would "probably" visit Colombia, only for
the Garda to counter that such a trip was merely one of
many "possible" options.

On Thursday morning, Mr McDowell said such a visit was now
"certain", only for the spokesman for Garda Commissioner
Noel Conroy to indicate that it was not, and that the
decision had not been made on whether or not to send

The spokesman said yesterday that "this information was
accurate and correct and given in good faith at the time".

He added: "But you appreciate that this has always been a
fluid investigation, and in any investigation you can
change tack on a daily or an hourly basis, and this is what
happened in this case."

Circumstances had changed between Thursday and Friday and
the decision was an operational one, he said.

The affair, in which the Garda implicitly insisted that it
was it, and not the Minister, who should make decisions and
announcements on operational matters, points to tension
between the Garda and the Minister over conduct of the
"Colombia Three" investigation.

Last month, Mr McDowell and his party were annoyed at the
manner in which the Garda allowed the three men arrive at
Garda stations and walk free again in a blaze of publicity.

Reliable sources report that gardaí for their part have
been irritated at Progressive Democrat demands for "action"
in the case. These included demands that the men be
arrested, when there appeared to be no legal basis for
their arrest.

It is also understood that gardaí were irritated at Mr
McDowell's demands for detailed briefings on the
investigation, which they believe suggested the
investigation was under Government supervision. The
Minister is entitled to seek such briefings, and to demand
access to any Garda documentation under new legislation
passed this year.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said yesterday he did not
think the Sinn Féin leadership had orchestrated the return
to Ireland of the "Colombia Three".

"I think IRA sources were probably more running this whole
operation because Martin McGuinness told me at the time
that he didn't know what the operations of these people in
Columbia and I believed him at that time," he said on Today

Asked if police intelligence suggested the "Colombia Three"
had been on IRA business, he said: "What kind of an
operation they were up to I think is uncertain. But they
certainly were on some business . . . anything we know
would indicate that it was an operational issue on some
basis. I don't think it's quite clear on what."

© The Irish Times


Ombudsman Is Asked To Probe Riot

The Police Ombudsman is to be asked to investigate trouble
involving police officers and residents in Cushendall.

Officers were surrounded by a crowd of up to 50 people as
they tried to make an arrest in the Bridge Street area.

Three officers were hurt during the incident and CS spray
was used as they escaped from the angry crowd.

Sinn Fein councillor Oliver McMullan, who owns a bar in the
County Antrim village, has accused officers of being heavy-
handed. Police have denied this.

He alleged that he was hit with batons and sprayed with CS
gas during the disturbance which took place shortly after
midnight on Sunday.

He has called for the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, to
investigate what happened and also claimed children were
caught up in the violence.

"I had one young boy of 14 who was on his way to get chips
when he was sprayed in the face with CS gas, now that is
quite serious," he said.

"We need to get this whole thing investigated, I would like
to know what this attempted arrest was all about."

However, DUP assembly member Mervyn Storey said cuts to
police resources were to blame for the trouble.

He said despite all the "concessions that have been given
to republicans on the issue of policing" they were "still
not satisfied".

"When police officers move in to deal with an issue of law
and order they are turned upon in this vicious way," he

"The other issue that is gravely concerning me... is the
fact that the police had not the adequate resources to be
able to deal with the situation and we have officers that
now have been injured as a result of this."

A PSNI spokesman denied officers were heavy-handed but said
anyone with complaints should contact the Police Ombudsman.

One of the three officers hurt in the attack was treated in
hospital for cuts, bruises and a suspected broken nose.

A man arrested following the trouble is being questioned
about assault and public order offences.

Meanwhile, in a separate disturbance in west Belfast,
police were attacked by 40 people in Andersonstown at about
0200 BST on Sunday.

They had been called to the area to investigate reports of
men armed with baseball bats near South Link.

Police also used CS spray in this incident.

An officer who was hurt in the trouble received hospital
treatment for a suspected broken wrist after being punched
and kicked to the ground.

One man is being held by police in connection with the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/04 17:14:10 GMT


Jailed Protesters Made Their Point, Says Taoiseach

Gordon Deegan

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said the five Mayo men
imprisoned for contempt of court in connection with their
opposition to the proposed Corrib gas pipeline have made
their point and it is beyond him why they wish to remain in

The men are today in their 69th day in Cloverhill Prison in

Speaking in Ennis on Saturday, Mr Ahern said unfortunately
he had no power to release them from jail.

"The law would be the same for me if I was in contempt of
court, I'd suffer the same fate and that's how it is," he

Mr Ahern said the five have a very easy way of resolving
the issue.

"They made their point many weeks ago. I really think for
their families sake they are not actually making any
further point by staying in jail.

"It is a decision for them and for those who advise them,
whoever they are," he said.

"So hopefully, they'll reflect on it. They've made their
point. We took these issues on board, months ago."

"I am very sad that anyone should find themselves in jail
for protest over an issue. Minister Dempsey has literally
stood on his head all summer to assure them that their
safety concerns [ would] be taken account of, that we get
the best international practice from anywhere in the world
to look at the issues, and we've convinced Shell of the
rights of doing all of that."

Mr Ahern said that endless moves have been made to secure
the release of the five.

"We have been in touch with church leaders, community
leaders, local leaders, political leaders. Anything that
assists in getting these people back in their community."

Initiatives by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party
leader Pat Rabbitte to have the men released failed last
week after Shell said that there were legal impediments to
its lifting the injunction.

© The Irish Times


Northern Ireland Visit Strikes Blow For Peace

Arthur Frommer
Sunday, September 4, 2005

The Irish Republican Army's recent announcement that it
will disarm and embrace peace will encourage tourism to
Northern Ireland if the statement turns out to be sincere.
Most Americans avoid travel to that uneasy part of Britain,
convinced that a visit is full of danger.

In fact, it never has been -- for the tourist. I traveled
extensively within Northern Ireland in the 1980s and saw
that the bitter Protestant/Catholic conflict had almost no
effect on the life of the visitor from abroad. Neither side
saw tourists as targets, which resulted in an influx of
visitors from continental Europe, especially the
Netherlands, who reveled in the low prices and hotel
vacancies that the alarming headlines brought about.

To be sure, there were British Army roadblocks on the route
from the airport into Belfast and barbed wire outside one
main hotel. When you knocked at a restaurant's door, the
staff often unlocked it, ushered you inside, and then
locked the door behind you. And there was constant,
unsettling propaganda: One night I'd be in a Catholic
nightspot hearing comics make jokes about ministers; the
next night in a Protestant club, I'd hear the same
jokesters snarling about priests.

Yet the entire population, both Catholic and Protestant,
seemed eager to end their isolation. The welcome that we
few Americans received was almost overly gracious. People
smiled, uttered a special greeting, went out of their way
to inquire about our needs. When I mentioned to a Belfast
interviewer that I loved the popular local song called "The
Mountains o' Mourne," and that admission appeared in the
press, cafe orchestras struck up the melody unbidden
whenever I arrived for a meal.

The scenery of Northern Ireland surpasses, in my view,
anything in the rest of the British Isles. The natural
wonders, like the awesome Giant's Causeway, an eerie
natural pier of rectangular stones jutting out into the
sea, is stunning. The carefully preserved farmhouses of the
1700s, which likely housed the ancestors of more American
presidents than any other country, are a touching sight,
with their dirt floors and bare amenities that helped
inspire emigration to the new and promising land across the

Northern Ireland's people seem to have embarked on a
genuine campaign to maintain peace and order. Nothing would
encourage them in this more than a heavy influx of American
visitors. No visa is required. No barriers exist. Prices
are low. And the tourist board's unusually comprehensive
Web site,, will tell you
how to get there and how to get around.

Arthur Frommer is a syndicated columnist. To comment, e-


Airmail Packages From The US No Longer Practical

The traditional American parcel has become an extremely
expensive item for those homes which still receive it. It
is more than a year now since the US postal service decided
to bypass 23 of its European counterparts and signed a deal
with a British company, General Logistics Systems, to
deliver airmail packages in Europe. The problem was
highlighted by a letter writer to the Irish Times who was
asked to pay €124.44 to cover VAT, import duty and an
administrative fee added by GLS, in respect of what he
described as a "modest gift parcel" from his brother in the
US. The man refused to pay the amount, which means that the
package will be returned to his brother who will be asked
to pay a fee before it is handed over.


Tasting The Fare At Clarenbridge Festival

Michelle McDonagh

Thousands of oysters were washed down with gallons of
Guinness to the accompaniment of top-class musical
entertainment during the 51st Clarenbridge Oyster Festival
over the weekend.

While the sun may not have deigned to shine very brightly
in honour of the first oysters of the Galway season, there
was no shortage of vibrant summery colours in the festival
marquee on Saturday afternoon, the traditional style
highlight of the event.

Pretty pink, aquamarine, lemon and lime ensembles rubbed
shoulders with autumnal hues of chocolate browns, coffee
beiges and blacks. Some ladies opted for a more casual
look, teaming denims with dressy tops, many more wore
stylish cocktail dresses, while some went all out and
strutted their stuff in ballgowns.

Comedian Alan Shortt stepped in as MC for the event at the
last minute in place of Aonghus McAnally, who has performed
this duty for the past 10 years but had to cry off this
year after suffering a ruptured appendix.

Shortt's fellow Celebrity You're a Star contestant, Síle
Seoige, was guest of honour at the festival.

"The atmosphere here has been unbelievable all weekend,"
said Seoige. "I was here a few years ago and it was lovely
to be asked back as special guest."

Among the 1,750 revellers in the marquee on Saturday were
50 Californians who made the festival the centrepiece of a
wedding which takes place in Kilcolgan Castle today.

Another group of 40 beer-loving Germans swapped Munich for
Clarenbridge over the weekend where they were joined by
fellow Germans, Italians, French, Americans and a large
contingent of locals.

Festival chairman Dermot Comerford was delighted the
weekend's events were all sold out. He attributed the
success of the 2005 festival to the top-class line-up of
entertainment from the US, South America, the UK and

"The festival has brought huge business into the village
and surrounding area. All of the local hotels and guest
houses were booked out and the bars and restaurants were
all full."

© The Irish Times

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