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September 15, 2005

Loyalist Riot Again in Belfast

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 09/15/05 Water Cannon Used Against Loyalist Rioters
BG 09/15/05 Adams: Rioting Won't Stop Disarmament
BT 09/15/05 Many Order Members 'Re-Thinking Positions'
BB 09/15/05 Riots Reveal A Deeper Resentment
IT 09/16/05 Reform Parades Body, Says Paisley
SF 09/15/05 Paisley In Denial
BT 09/15/05 Families Increase Pressure On SF
UT 09/15/05 Ahern To Meet Colombian Minister
DI 09/15/05 Burning Ambition
SM 09/15/05 Painting The Walls In A Colour Of Peace & Hope
IT 09/16/05 Ahern Unveils de Valera Plaque
IT 09/16/05 Plan To Reduce Speed Limit In Centre Of Dublin
ST 09/15/05 Belfast Tour Links Today With Troubles Past


 Loyalist Violence
A burning lorry blocks a road on the West Circular Road in West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2005. Loyalist Protestants hi-jacked and burned vehicles across Belfast in protest at the police raids in relation to the recent violence across the city which began when a controversial Protestant parade was prevented from marching through a Catholic area. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Water Cannon Used Against Rioters

Police officers have used water cannon against rioters
after violence broke out in north Belfast.

A crowd gathered in the Forthriver estate off the
Ballygomartin Road and threw bricks, stones and other
missiles at the police.

A vehicle was also set on fire in the area.

Earlier, four people were arrested after roads in Belfast
were blocked by loyalist protesters causing traffic chaos
for the fourth day in a row.

Police cleared many protests off main roads, but were told
they faced paramilitary attack if they tried to move women
and children protesters.

Earlier, several vehicles were hijacked and set on fire
after police carried out searches in a loyalist estate.

One man was arrested during the search operation on the
Highfield estate.

Part of the Crumlin Road was closed after a car was
hijacked and set on fire and a lorry was set alight on the
Ballygomartin Road.

Several vehicles were also set on fire on the West Circular

Public transport company Translink has suspended bus
services to Springmartin and Glencairn because of the

Buses to Ligoniel and Silverstream have been diverted.

Police said they were stepping up operations to deal with
loyalist protests causing traffic disruption in parts of

They said an operation was in place in the city to keep the
main arterial routes at Broadway and the Westlink open and
that the Crumlin Road will be kept clear to ensure access
to the Mater Hospital.


Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said all road
protests were illegal and that community leaders should
exercise their influence to bring them to an end.

He said that the protests, mostly featuring women and
children had been peaceful, but that they were causing

"We have always said we would be proactive in dealing with
this activity on the streets of Belfast," he said.

There has been trouble, mainly in loyalist areas, sparked
by the re-routing of an Orange Order parade on Saturday.

Police and soldiers came under sustained attack over the

Shots were fired at the security forces as well as blast
and petrol bomb attacks in the wake of the Whiterock

A number of vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire.

There were a number of attacks on the police on Tuesday,
but not on the scale of the previous three nights.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/15 20:10:59 GMT


Adams: Rioting Won't Stop Disarmament

A burning lorry blocks a road on the West Circular Road in
West Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2005.
Loyalist Protestants hi-jacked and burned vehicles across
Belfast in protest at the police raids in relation to the
recent violence across the city which began when a
controversial Protestant parade was prevented from marching
through a Catholic area. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

By Harry Dunphy, Associated Press Writer September 15,

WASHINGTON --Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said Thursday
four nights of rioting in Northern Ireland will not disrupt
the Irish Republican Army's disarmament process.

"I am confident the commitment made by the IRA will be
honored," Adams said after a meeting with 11 members of the
U.S. Congress. Adams' party is linked to the IRA.

"I think that opens up an enormous opportunity for all of
us but also presents a huge challenge."

The IRA, which has observed a cease-fire since 1997,
announced July 28 it has formally abandoned its campaign to
overthrow Northern Ireland by force and will soon resume

Britain in response immediately began dismantling more army
bases and pledged to cut its Northern Ireland garrison in
half to 5,000 troops within the next two years.

Hard-line Protestants, who oppose the peace process saying
it has produced too many concessions to Roman Catholics,
this week vented their anger in riots across Belfast and
several other towns. Mobs blocked roads, hijacked and
burned more than 120 vehicles and attacked police and
British soldiers with gunfire and grenades. More than 80
police officers were wounded.

Adams said responsibility for the riots "lies squarely with
the unionists," who want to maintain British rule in the

He said the Democratic Unionists, led by Ian Paisley, must
engage in dialogue to bring about a power-sharing
administration with Sinn Fein. But Paisley has refused to
open negotiations until he had proof the IRA had fully
disarmed and disbanded.

Rep. Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who hosted
the closed-door meeting with Adams, said all present agreed
that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would play a pivotal
role in getting talks on power sharing going again.

Rep. Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat and co-chairman of
a congressional committee on Irish affairs, said a
political solution in Northern Ireland was the only way

"The unionists first and foremost must put an end to the
pattern of violence and intimidation," he said. "The level
of criminality has reached a breaking point and the people
of Northern Ireland deserve a concerted effort toward

Adams said he also planned a meeting with Sen. Hillary
Clinton during his trip.

The State Department said Adams also met Thursday with its

© Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,
or redistributed.


Many Order Members 'Re-Thinking Positions'

By Brendan McDaid and David Gordon
15 September 2005

A PROMINENT Presbyterian clergyman today said many
Orangemen are "thinking about their positions" in the wake
of the serious disorder of the last few days.

And the Reverend Dr Joseph Fell warned that Protestant
churches may have to consider their links with the
institution in the light of events.

But his comments were today challenged by a fellow
Presbyterian cleric and senior Orangeman.

Dr Fell, who is Clerk of the Derry and Strabane Presbytery,
said: "The violence we saw in Belfast was absolutely
horrific and I condemn the Orangemen involved in that. They
are not representative of the vast majority of Orangemen.

"A lot of Orangemen are thinking about their positions. The
whole Order is being contaminated by a few hotheads making
the whole thing ridiculous. I don't think the Orange Lodge
is very well led."

Dr Fell has been involved in Orange Order services held at
Glendermott Presbyterian Church in Londonderry and
negotiations for the Twelfth parade in the city.

"One of the basic tenants of Protestantism is love your
neighbour and obey the law," he added.

"The Parades Commission is a lawfully constituted body.
Their determinations have got to be obeyed. You cannot
really take the term Protestant and be prepared to deny
that. It is not part of the faith to go outside the law."

He added: "I was talking to a colleague this morning and
the days are coming when churches might have to reconsider
the whole idea of involvement, the way the Orange
leadership is going."

The Rev Stephen Dickinson, a Glenarm Presbyterian Minister
and Deputy Orange Order Grand Master, today said: "Dr Fell
would do well to contact the Orange institution first
before coming out into the public domain."

He also said that Dr Fell's comments was reacting to
"unfair" coverage of yesterday's Orange Order press

The Rev Dickinson took part in the conference himself and
claimed the media coverage of it was "unrepresentative of
what we were actually saying".

Other Protestant clerics, with links to the Order, have
also strongly hit out at the institution over the serious
trouble that followed Saturday's re-routing of the disputed
Whiterock parade.


Riots Reveal A Deeper Resentment

Kevin Connolly
BBC Ireland Correspondent

In the early hours of Sunday morning I was picking my way
through the rubble which carpeted one of the main roads
through east Belfast.

The searchlights mounted on the armoured truck which
carries the police water cannon threw out enough light for
me to avoid the worst of the scorched broken glass from the
hundreds of petrol bombs which had rained down on police

The area was catching its breath after a sudden explosion
of rioting whose ferocity had seemed even to catch the
rioters themselves by surprise.

One or two of the police officers had cautiously removed
their helmets for the first time in 10 hours and the
soldiers who had helped them restore order were sipping on
plastic cups of tea and instant soup.

On the far side of a burning barricade of vehicles,
including a bulldozer and a minibus, the rioters were still

You couldn't see them - because the fires were still too
bright - but you could hear them alright.

And every so often a stone the size of a house brick loomed
silently out of the darkness as if to remove any doubt.


It was not the first time that a row over the routing of a
parade by the Protestant Orange Order had degenerated into

Far from it - you can trace such disputes back around 200
years to 1813, or 1797, depending on which sources you

This time though, the parade itself was merely the trigger
for a release of a generalised rage against the general
drift of political life in Northern Ireland.

This has been building in working-class Protestant areas of
the province for some time.

It was pre-planned and pre-meditated stuff, with loyalist
paramilitaries opening fire on the security forces and
throwing the blast bombs.

They also directed the activities of the thousands of young
stone-throwers and petrol bombers who joined them on the

It was the worst street violence here for years.

No-one could immediately remember the last time that the
police and the army returned fire with live rounds at
paramilitary gunmen.

They once enjoyed primacy within the Unionist-run Northern
Irish state

So what lies behind the anger that led "loyalists", who
profess their attachment to all things British, to attack
Britain's soldiers and police officers with such sustained

Well, the phrase I've heard most to explain what happened
boils down to this: "The nationalists have been getting
everything out of the peace process, and we've been getting

Now nationalists would argue that what they are getting out
of the peace process is equality.

But that's not how it feels to working-class Protestants.

They once enjoyed primacy within the unionist-run Northern
Irish state.

Snapped elastic

That sense began to unravel when Britain imposed direct
rule in 1972 and the process of disillusionment speeded up
with the peace process.

It would probably reach a climax of grief and pain if any
future power-sharing deal were to put former IRA leaders in
the ranks of Sinn Fein into government.

It is all a reminder, as if one were needed, that Northern
Irish politics, whatever they say in Downing Street,
remains a zero-sum game.

One in which you lose, if your opponents make gains.

This is the difficult background against which the British
authorities have felt obliged to declare that they no
longer regard the loyalist paramilitary organisation the
Ulster Volunteer Force as being on ceasefire.

It was pivotally involved in the weekend's rioting, and it
has been engaged in a bloody feud with a rival group, the
Loyalist Volunteer Force, in which it has been responsible
for four murders.

The government obviously took this step with great

It has been criticised in the past for operating
definitions of paramilitary ceasefires so elastic that bank
robberies, beatings and even the occasional murder have
somehow been accommodated within them.

That is of course because the whole point of the peace
process was to bring people who had been dedicated to
violence into the political mainstream so there was never
any point in being too quick to exclude them.


The truth was that as long as the IRA refrained from
bombings, the UVF and the UDA refrained from sectarian
shootings, and all three refrained from attacks on the
security forces, that that was good enough - if far from

The UVF just strained that elastic concept a little too

And the lesson of all this, apart from the obvious one that
the tradition of Orange parading is an extraordinarily hard
one to accommodate in a modern society?

Well, it's probably this. The government's standard line at
moments of difficulty here is that life is vastly better
than it was 10, 20 and especially 30 years ago, and that's

But every so often we're given a reminder that the
poisonous reservoirs of hatred and mutual resentment that
fuelled much of the violence during the outbreak of the
Troubles are deep.

And the political manoeuvrings that we refer to as the
peace process have done nothing to drain them.

If there is to be long term peace here - as opposed to
continued incremental progress in power-sharing
negotiations - that issue will one day have to be tackled.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/14 17:33:21 GMT


Reform Parades Body, Says Paisley

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Root-and-branch reform of the Parades Commission has been
demanded by the DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley.

He was speaking after a meeting with Northern Secretary
Peter Hain, who also hosted meetings with the Ulster
Unionists and the Alliance Party.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey urged Mr Hain to go
and see for himself the reality of life in loyalist areas,
and to get a "real taste" of the people who live there.

Dr Paisley, leading a delegation of DUP MPs, called on Mr
Hain to come up with a "complete alternative" to the
Parades Commission, which, he said, had "failed the

He also called for financial aid packages to be directed to
those loyalist communities that have been severely
disrupted by the nightly street violence since the rerouted
Whiterock Orange parade last weekend.

The DUP also called for an end to the violence, saying the
rioters only damaged the very communities they came from.

Sir Reg accused the British government of apparently
choreographing concessions which included the release of
Sean Kelly, which was followed by the release of July's IRA
statement in which the organisation called off its

"There is an all-too-obvious choreography taking shape
which began with the IRA statement and the release of Sean

Mr Hain should get out and meet the "communities which
inexcusably erupted in violence at the weekend", he added.
"Mr Hain should have engaged directly with these
communities at an earlier stage," said Sir Reg.

David Ford, the Alliance leader, rejected the Orange
Order's denial of responsibility for any violence at the

"The Alliance Party will put the blame where it lies, with
the paramilitaries and the Orange Order, not with those who
enforce the law and deserve support from everybody."

© The Irish Times


Paisley In Denial

Published: 15 September, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has expressed
disappointment over Ian Paisley's attack on party president
Gerry Adams and accused the DUP leader of compounding the
negative leadership of recent months and being in denial
about his responsibility to get the peace process back on

Mr McGuinness said:

"Ian Paisley's attack on Gerry Adam's only serves to
highlight how deeply in denial the leadership of unionism
is about it's responsibility for the Loyalist sectarian
campaign of the summer and the violence of recent days.

"Last weekend's violence is a response to the realisation
that the status quo is not an option and to the
uncertainties of a process of change which demands
equality, human rights, proper policing, justice and
inclusion. It is a response to the dawning reality that the
days of domination, triumphalism and second class
citizenships are gone forever.

"This is compounded by the negative approach of the DUP and

"The unease and instability in unionist communities stems
from a political vacuum created by unionist politicians and
now filled by loyalist violence. Ian Paisley and his
colleagues are running out of excuses." ENDS


Families Increase Pressure On SF

Murder relatives hit out at attacks

By Ben Lowry
15 September 2005

THERE was fresh pressure on Sinn Fein today when the family
of a Dublin murder victim arrived in Belfast to show their
support for relatives of murdered man Robert McCartney.

The Rafferty family - whose son was allegedly killed by
republicans - were this afternoon holding a press
conference outside the Short Strand house of Mr McCartney's
sister, Paula, amid alleged intimidation in the area.

Sinn Fein has insisted that the republican movement had
nothing to do with the killing of Joseph Rafferty (29), who
was shot dead in Dublin in April.

Earlier this month, Dublin City Council unanimously passed
an emergency motion condemning the intimidation of the
Rafferty family.

Now his relatives have linked up with the McCartney family,
who say that intimidation against them in the Short Strand
is intensifying.

"The two families are supporting each other," Ms McCartney
said today.

Scores of people demonstrated their support for Mr
McCartney's partner, Bridgeen Hagans, last night outside
her house, where on Monday there had been a picket by the
wives and children of republicans.

The protest was carried out by the Short Strand Women's
Group, which has strongly denied that it was seeking to
intimidate the family. In a letter to Ms Hagans and Ms
McCartney, the group said it had been protesting about
anti-social behaviour in the area.

But Ms McCartney today continued to insist that the family
is being intimidated. She said they had not asked anyone to
attend last night's "display of support".

"People just turned out in disgust that people would
intimidate Bridgeen, when she was the victim whose husband
was murdered," she said.

"She is living alone with two children."

Ms McCartney accused Sinn Fein of not making clear its
position on the alleged intimidation, including the recent
assault of a close friend of Mr McCartney, Jeff Commander.
The attack was blamed on republicans.

"The community is confused. Sinn Fein did not condemn the
picket," she said.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly called for mediation to deal with
"these disputes".

He added: "Sinn Fein is totally opposed to intimidation of
any type, no matter where it comes from, or who it is aimed

"Intimidation is wrong and should not be happening."


THURSDAY 15/09/2005 18:10:58

Ahern To Meet Colombian Minister

Irish foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern is to hold
talks with his Colombian counterpart about the Colombian
Three, on the fringes of the UN World Summit in New York,
it was claimed tonight.

By:Press Association

As the Irish Justice Department confirmed today that
officials were still considering the extradition documents
sent by Bogota authorities, sources close to Mr Ahern say
he is seeking a meeting with Foreign Minister Carolina
Barco before the three-day summit winds up tomorrow

"Mr Ahern is anxious to speak to Minister Barco on the
issue while both are attending the same event," one
official said.

Minister Barco confirmed yesterday that the extradition
documents had been sent via diplomatic routes to Irish
authorities on the three men convicted on appeal last
December of training Farc rebels.

"The Irish government now has everything it needs to make a
decision. We have received a response saying the Irish
government is interested in studying, very carefully, the
possibility of extradition according to Irish law,"
Minister Barco added.

An Irish Justice Department spokesman said tonight:
"Officials are still considering the documents."

The Colombian government has said it wants to have James
Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley returned to
the South American country to serve their 17 years in jail.

The Irish government has said that any request to return
the three men would have to be considered by the country`s

As no extradition treaty exists between the two states,
doubt has been cast on whether any such move could be
successful. The men were first arrested four years ago and
were initially acquitted of charges of training Farc

But they were sentenced to 17 years in jail in their
absence last December following an appeal by Colombia`s
state prosecutor.

The whereabouts of the three men was unknown until one of
them appeared on Irish television on August 5.

Their re-appearance in Ireland came a week after the IRA`s
July 28 pledge to end its 36-year armed campaign and pursue
its aims through peaceful means.

The three men presented themselves at Dublin garda stations
in mid August for voluntary garda questioning about how
they arrived in Ireland.

Mr Connolly was later arrested on a charge of obtaining a
false Irish passport and detectives sent a file to the
Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter.

Gardai have been investigating how the three men got back
to Ireland.

There have also been calls from Irish opposition parties
and unionists in Northern Ireland for the men either to be
returned to Colombia, or to serve their jail sentences in


Burning Ambition

Ciarán Barnes

Reports show that in areas such as community
infrastructure, employment opportunities and education,
Catholics still fare much worse than Protestants

Official statistics compiled by a range of agencies over
the past year challenge the assertions of unionist
politicians that the recent outbreak of loyalist violence
can be attributed to inequality in Protestant areas.

Reports by the Department for Social Development (DSD),
Equality Commission and Office of the First Minister and
Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) reveal Catholic areas still
suffer more deprivation than their Protestant counterparts.

The reports show that in areas such as community
infrastructure, employment opportunities and education,
Catholics still fare much worse than Protestants.

Catholic children are also more likely to have jobless
parents, suffer long-term unemployment and earn less.

Although acknowledging the deprivation faced by many
Protestant areas, SDLP MLA Alban Maginnis last night
questioned unionism's leaders on their response to the
difficulties faced.

His comments came as Belfast students gathered in Coláiste
Feirste on the Falls Road to receive educational bursaries
as part of the Aisling Award programme. A boost to students
wanting to further their educations, the award programme is
now in its sixth year.

It is organised by the West Belfast Partnership Board and
the Andersonstown News Group, Daily Ireland's parent

More than £200,000 (€296,000) has been awarded to over 200
students in west Belfast, one of the most deprived areas in
the North.


Painting The Walls In A Colour Of Peace And Hope

Lesley Riddoch

A FEW HUNDRED yards from the violence of last Saturday, a
minor revolution is happening on Belfast's Peace Wall. The
infamous murals depicting guns, paramilitaries, barricades
and threats are being phased out. Murals featuring sporting
heroes, taxi tours and peace messages are replacing them.
The loyalist ex-prisoners behind the change now want to
transform the Peace Wall into Europe's largest open-air art
gallery. Meanwhile, on the Wall's republican side, former
prisoners have set up a mural tour business to give locals
a slice of Belfast's lucrative tourist trade.

The former prisoners are so determined to transform the
unemployment blackspot of West Belfast, they are prepared
to do the most dangerous thing possible - cooperate with
each other.

Open-topped double-decker buses have been weaving hourly
through the narrow, terraced streets on either side of the
Peace Wall since life in Belfast "normalised" five years
ago. Since then, watching and photographing the divided
world of West Belfast has become big business. And, after
two days' interruption, they are travelling again as usual
- past the barricades, past cranes removing burnt-out cars,
to take visitors to sites of old bombings, shootings,
hijackings, riots, hunger strikers' graves, and, of course,
the 20ft high sections of the concrete Peace Wall itself .

A new boutique hotel, part of the Glasgow-based Malmaison
group, features political murals throughout its city-centre
upmarket building. Black cabs transport around a quarter of
a million people round the "hotspots" on guided tours.
Drivers are well informed and surprisingly neutral - they
have acted as public transport since buses were withdrawn
on West Belfast routes after hijacks in the 1980s.

West Belfast isn't a neutral place, though. It's living
history - a real frontline with dangerous street life,
infamous street names, memorials, flags and paramilitary
slogans everywhere - not to mention the blackened relics of
the last week's streetfighting. However, although the Falls
and Shankill are the focal points of every Belfast tour,
hardly a penny is spent in the area.

That's where the two warring clans of West Belfast are
agreed: something's got to change. Although they have no
formal contact - and once lived simply to oppose one
another's right to exist - it's the former political
prisoners who are leading the way and negotiating with
their own paramilitaries to replace the armed struggle with
a search for cultural identity and prosperity.

As the events of the weekend show, that's easier said than
done. But when touring the divided walls of West Belfast it
becomes clear a lot has been done quietly over recent
years. In fact, commercialising the world's fascination
with the Troubles may be the only way to find employment
for former prisoners, who are barred from civil service and
local government jobs, adoption, foreign travel, taxi-
driving licences, bank loans and mortgages.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 secured the release of
15,000 political prisoners. Many were surprised to be freed
under such controversial circumstances, but now complain
about the limitations imposed by their criminal records.
Former doctors, lawyers and accountants remained

"It certainly gives you time to think," says William Smith,
a loyalist former prisoner who now runs a support group,

From his bright-yellow office at the very top of the
Shankill Road, William surveys a road strewn with Union
Jack bunting for the best part of two miles. This, he says,
is progress.

"Until a few months ago those flags were UVF and UDA
paramilitary flags. We're trying to rediscover our culture
- stop the children walking past images of guns and men in
masks. We're so used to those images we don't even see them
any more. But the children do."

He's curious about what the republicans are doing - the
International Wall on the Falls is a site he's heard of but
never seen.

"Unlike them [the republicans] we don't care what the rest
of the world thinks. We are defending the status quo. It's
that simple. Our way of thinking has been, 'Why should a
Unionist community have to persuade anyone. Or apply for
money to set up projects. It's our society and we just want
it kept that way.'"

Three years ago Smith visited Los Angeles in a cross-
community tour and was amazed to see powerful murals
telling the story of the Hispanic and Mexican populations -
overseen by a council-funded Director of Murals.

"What they were doing was like us but much more powerful.
They were explaining their history, exploring their
culture, converting onlookers, creating sympathy - we've
been sticking two fingers up," he says. "I realised if we
changed the murals, we could use art to our advantage."

Smith came back convinced the isolated and defensive
culture of the Shankill fitted into a worldwide community
of street art. He persuaded the loyalist paramilitaries to
allow some murals to be painted over and replaced with "no-
guns storyboard" murals. One massive mural portrays the
aftermath of IRA attacks on local civilians - questioning
republican integrity without a display of guns. Other
murals celebrate the loyalists' high points of British rule
- the Queen's Jubilees and the life of the late Queen

Right beside a local school is the spray-painted image
which could hold the key to the future. Created by American
street artist John "Zender" Estrada, it has nothing to do
with the political situation and everything to do with the
youth centre it advertises. Now he wants to apply Zender's
approach to the Belfast Peace Wall.

A six-metre-high steel, concrete and chain-link series of
walls - flung up over decades to protect "interface
communities" - it is a symbol of all that is wrong in
Northern Ireland. Built right up to the backs of houses on
the republican side, it's visible only on the loyalist side
- especially at Cupar Street where facing houses have been
demolished and a glass-strewn no-man's-land allows visitors
to survey Western Europe's last community fortress.

Zender and local children have already drawn pilot
community murals on some walls but visitors - including the
Dalai Lama and Bill Clinton - have all but obliterated the
artwork by writing peace messages over them. Smith views
the graffiti positively.

"Tourists want to see our story. They want to leave
messages of hope, too. There's going to be room for both."
He envisages a future where the 166 bleak cement panels are
transformed into a colourful art history of the Shankill
with a large peace message wall. The project - "If Walls
Could Talk" - would base international mural artists in the
Shankill and train 12 local children to work with 12 local
schools and fill the 700-yard section of Peace Wall with
murals 20ft high.

Smith could do worse than discuss the idea with his
opposite number, Caoimhin Mac Giolla Mhin, of An Coiste,
who sits in another bright-yellow office at the top of a
terraced house less than half a mile from Smith's.

The two men have met once -in government offices in the
city centre. The An Coiste office sits just off the Falls
Road, where street signs are in Irish, green flags and
Irish newspapers abound and "Eurozone" signs in shop
windows proclaim a European, not British, frame of mind.

Set up in the wake of the prisoner release in the late
1990s, An Coiste realised the republican story had become
the focus of worldwide academic interest. Political tours
were set up to try and professionalise and commercialise
the Republican response. Or, as Caoimhin puts it: "Why
should some bloke from Donaghadee [a rural beauty spot] be
employed to drive round our streets telling his story not

Earlier this summer 50 European academics, hosted by Queens
University, were given talks and tours by Republican former
prisoners for two days. In an unprecedented move, the group
were then taken by bus to the Peace Wall, where a loyalist
guide boarded in a handover operation akin to the prisoner
swaps across the old Berlin Wall. The group was then given
an account of the conflict by EPIC former prisoners.

It worked. But Caoimhin would go further. His vision - now
perhaps unattainable - is a cross-community organisation,
Welcome to West Belfast, allowing representatives of local
people from the Falls and Shankill to plan and market daily
bus and walking tours run by locals on each side.

Whether the loyalist infighting on the Shankill will ever
allow such formal cooperation is doubtful, but the
Republicans have pressed ahead with their own political
walking tours. They've been running daily for a month. They
start at the Divis Tower - either scarily infamous or
utterly unfindable for visitors - and there has been
relatively little take-up. Tour guide Sean was uncertain
about the wisdom of a city-centre pick-up point: "It would
only take one confrontation with Ian Paisley to lose
business completely."

Meantime the International Wall on the Falls has been
developing business of a different kind. Sympathetic groups
such as the West Belfast Taxi Tours and a government-funded
anti-racism quango have paid for mural ads. The going rate
is between £500-£1,000 - a fraction of the cost of a
billboard ad.

The wall comments on international disputes - the
occupation of Iraq is currently centre-stage - and is
updated regularly, like a monthly mural comment strip. One
thing's clear, though. If both sides are determined to
"stuff the red tourist buses" and snatch a share of the
lucrative tourist trade, they'll need to co-operate, even
if it's done so covertly that it makes the talks between
the British government and the IRA in the 1980s appear
positively public.

Will the former prisoners prove to be misguided optimists
or the only effective agents of social change in their
warring communities? Watch the walls.


Ahern Unveils de Valera Plaque

Seán O'Driscoll in New York

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern unveiled a plaque in New York
yesterday at the birthplace of Fianna Fáil founder and
first leader, Eamon de Valera.

De Valera was born in 1882 at the New York Nursery and
Child Hospital. Today, the building is home to the
Metropolitan Hotel,

Welcomed by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Taoiseach
recalled de Valera's long political career which ended with
him serving two terms as president before he retired in
1973, aged 93.

"It's something I wouldn't mind doing myself," said the
Taoiseach, before Mayor Bloomberg, facing a re-election
battle, shouted out that he would settle for eight years in

Mayor Bloomberg said that de Valera was "not without his
flaws", but had shown great dedication in achieve
independence for Ireland. "I'd doubt he'd recognise New
York today, he probably wouldn't recognise Ireland either,"
he said.

The Taoiseach later went on to the New York Stock Exchange
where he rang the stock exchange's closing bell.

© The Irish Times


Plan To Reduce Speed Limit In Centre Of Dublin

Olivia Kelly

Dublin City Council plans to reduce speed limits through
much of the city centre from 50kph to 30kph as part of its
proposals for new speed limit bylaws.

It also intends to increase the speed limit on the N11
Stillorgan Road from 60kph to 80kph - but only on one side
of the dual-carriage way.

The council has the power to introduce new speed limits on
certain roads in line with guidelines issued by Minister
for Transport Martin Cullen to all local authorities in

Proposals put before the council's traffic committee by the
city's director of traffic Owen Keegan recommended the
introduction of 30kph limits on O'Connell Street, the
suburb of Marino, and in parts of Ringsend and Irishtown as
a pilot scheme.

However councillors voted to widen the pilot area to
include most of the city centre from Parnell Street to St
Stephen's Green, excluding the Liffey quays.

The council says the lower speed limits will help reduce
the number of pedestrians killed on the roads.

Statistics from the UK department of transport which were
used by the council show that a vehicle hitting a
pedestrian at 50kph results in death in some 45 per cent of
cases. If the speed is reduced to 30kph the likelihood of a
fatality is just 5 per cent.

The speed limit proposals will be put to public
consultation in around four weeks' time.

It is expected that any new limits will be in place in
three to four months.

© The Irish Times


Belfast Tour Links Today With Troubles Past

By claire morris

Publish Date: 15-Sep-2005

Murals on West Belfast's Protestant Shankill Road remind
all that the conflict is far from over. Claire Morris

West Belfast: for years a no-go zone, frontline of the
Troubles. During Northern Ireland's conflict between
Catholics and Protestants, most recently from the late
1960s to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, more than 3,000
people, most of them civilians, were killed. Growing up in
peaceful Canada, I watched TV newscasts of this unrest: men
hurling bombs over walls crowned with razor wire, troops
leaping from armoured vehicles into graffiti-lined streets.
Now I am in Belfast, staying at a converted linen factory
just three hundred metres from the Shankill Road, where the
battles once raged. Taped to the hostel's front desk is a
poster that urges me to book a black taxi tour of the
former battleground.

I'd read about these tours. Browse any current travel guide
on Northern Ireland and you'll find them highlighted as a
must-do activity. On a black taxi tour, local drivers show
outsiders what remains of the war zone, now that Northern
Ireland's peace process has removed daily violence from
West Belfast. The notorious Peace Line, a wall that has
separated Protestant and Catholic communities for more than
30 years. An apartment tower topped with a military post.
Murals painted on the sides of housing estates, often as
memorials to family members who have died since the
Troubles erupted.

Dissension between Protestants and Catholics had been a
part of the region for centuries when, in 1968, civil
rights marches turned violent, and subsequent actions
enforced by the British Army—including internment without
due process and the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre of
1972—prompted the Irish Republican Army to initiate a
campaign against the British government and its loyalist
supporters. Protestant paramilitary groups began their own
campaign against Catholics, and the next three decades
became a virtually uninterrupted struggle that disrupted
lives across Northern Ireland. Nowhere was this more the
case than in West Belfast, where the Protestant and
Catholic communities remain divided to this day by
generations of war.

Knowing this, should tourists really venture into
politically volatile areas like the Catholic Falls Road and
Protestant Shankill Road?

On a September Sunday morning in 2004, three of us climb
into Patrick's black taxi, which has a large rear section
with fold-down seats, accommodating four to five people.
Parked on the edge of West Belfast, Patrick explains the
origin of the "people's taxis", which operate more like
buses than regular cabs, using fixed routes and picking up
passengers along the way. "As the Troubles escalated in the
1970s, local bus service became virtually nonexistent,"
Patrick says. "They were replaced by the taxis, which were
organized by community associations who often employed men
who'd been interned as a result of the conflict."

Our first stop is the Shankill Road. In the centre of a
housing estate, Patrick encourages us to get out of the
taxi and walk around. There is no one about—no one to stare
as we wander across the green, scanning the murals, in-
your-face reminders of recent history.

We're surrounded by them— gaudily coloured, statement-
making paintings, covering the sides of the cream-washed
row houses. One depicts King Billy, the Protestant William
of Orange, who gave his name to the Orange Order, the
largest Protestant organization in Northern Ireland. On a
white charger, he triumphs over Catholics at the 1690
Battle of the Boyne. Another illustrates the infamous H-
Blocks, a series of buildings at the Prison Maze, which
housed interned Protestant and Catholic political
prisoners, in conditions that were dangerous and degrading,
until its closure in 2000. The most disturbing of the
murals shows a masked man in combat fatigues aiming a
firearm directly ahead. "Wherever you go, the gunman's
sights follow you," Patrick points out as we return to his

He tells us that murals are only painted on the sides of
houses where residents have lost a loved one to the
conflict. He tries, very succinctly, to explain
fragmentation in the loyalist paramilitary groups, hinting
at tales of deception and shallow graves somewhere to the
north of Belfast.

We leave the Shankill Road and head for the Peace Line,
where we spend time wandering up and down one section. More
than six metres high, this barrier of corrugated metal,
chain link, wire, and concrete has divided the Shankill
Road from the Falls Road since 1970. It stretches four
kilometres through West Belfast and looks foreboding even
without the angry people I'd seen swarming it on TV circa
1981. Murals brighten its length, including one of a black
taxi. Messages are scrawled between the murals. Some
reference Che Guevara and Nelson Mandela; one reads, "Irish
boys are cute—stop the fighting."

Patrick loads us back into his taxi and ferries us through
one of the gates in the wall to the Falls Road. Once
carefully guarded, these gates are now open during the day.
Usually locked after 5 p.m., the keys have been kept for
the past three years by members of the local community
instead of security forces.

On the far side of the wall, we swing past the Divis Tower,
a 19-storey apartment building. Patrick suggests we peer at
the top two floors. "The British Army commandeered them in
the 1970s and had them outfitted with surveillance
equipment and machine guns," he tells us. "If you look hard
enough, you'll see someone watching us now." (The army
started dismantling the post in early August 2005, as part
of a program to scale down security for the peace process.)

We pass a school whose walls are fitted with razor wire so
dense that I can barely see the roof. In the neighbourhood
of Clonard, we climb out of the taxi onto Bombay Street.
Here a haunting mural memorializes Gerald McAuley, a
Catholic youth killed at the start of the Troubles in 1969.
"Bombay Street Never Again," it reads, referring to the
burning of this area by a Protestant mob, leaving many
families homeless. A memorial garden, marked with a Celtic
cross and a Gaelic inscription, lists the locals who were
killed throughout the conflict, many from the 1970s, some
far more recently. The back yard of the house next door is
protected by a pergola of wire mesh and metal grills,
secured to the Peace Line at one end, the rooftop at the
other. "So bombs won't land on them," Patrick explains.

The final stop on our black taxi tour is Sinn Fein
headquarters. On the side of this building is a mural of
Bobby Sands, the poet and revolutionary who died during the
H-Blocks hunger strikes in 1981. While Sands was in prison
and on his deathbed, people who hoped that the British
government would not let one of their own representatives
perish elected him a Member of Parliament. He died three
weeks later.. "Our revenge will be the laughter of our
children," reads the slogan painted beside Sands's face—
words he penned while dying in prison.

A week after my black taxi tour, a Protestant is gunned
down on a Belfast street corner, and a Catholic publican is
shot behind his bar in retaliation, reminding me that the
conflict is far from over. Outside of Ireland, we hear
little or nothing of it, and it's tempting to believe that
the 1998 Good Friday Agreement has removed the fight from
both sides. Major outbreaks, such as the riots in the news
this week, show it hasn't.

In July 2005, the IRA declared an end to its armed struggle
against British rule in Northern Ireland. They pledged to
pursue their aim of uniting Ireland through "exclusively
peaceful means". We hope that this will happen, the other
side will also negotiate peacefully, and this struggle will
become history.

Touring West Belfast, it's easy to accept the murals simply
as depictions of history or expressions of politics and
culture. Yet they continue to mark territory, to raise
awareness of a divide. They also provide context to the
recent past. And they have given me a reason to ask why.

ACCESS: Black taxi tours of West Belfast last about 90
minutes, and cost £6–7 ($13–16) per person, which includes
pick-up and drop-off around the city centre. Tours can be
booked at the very helpful Belfast Welcome Centre
( and through most hotels,
guesthouses, and hostels. For an additional charge, some
taxi drivers will extend the range of their tours to cover
other parts of Belfast.

For budget accommodation within walking distance of Belfast
City Centre, try the Linen House Hostel. A dorm bed costs
£6.50–10 ($14–22); a double room costs £12.00 ($26). See

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