News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

September 29, 2005

Loyalists Blamed for Pipe Bomb Attack

To Index of Monthly Archives
To September 2005 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News about Ireland & the Irish

UT 09/29/05 Loyalists Blamed For Pipe Bomb Attack
UT 09/29/05 Paint Bomb Attack On Belfast Methodist Church
BB 09/29/05 DUP Quizzes Church Arms Witnesses
BT 09/29/05 DUP In New Attack Over IRA Arsenal
UN 09/29/05 Seanad Condemns SF Over 'Murder Foretold'
DI 09/29/05 Morrison: DUP Now Needs To Bite The IRA Bullet
BT 09/29/05 Blair Spells It Out But Is Anyone Listening?
BT 09/29/05 Opin: Day For Relief And Reflection
NH 09/29/05 Opin: DUP Exposed As Political Pygmies They Are
BT 09/29/05 Opin: Unionists In No Rush To Talks Table
ZW 09/29/05 Defuse The 'Irish Car Bomb'
BT 09/29/05 Opin: Big Business Eyes Up The Crown Jewels
UN 09/29/05 Flatley’s Celtic Tiger Brings NYC To Its Feet
BT 09/29/05 Metal Detector Gets Lucky With Viking Find
BT 09/29/05 Quiet Man Conference In Galway 53 Years On
BT 09/29/05 Poking Fun At Troubles

(Poster's Note: News might be slower this weekend. We have
two tickets to Pittsburgh. Hope to see many of you at the
IAUC Convention. Jay)


Paramilitaries Blamed For Pipe Bomb Attack

Loyalist paramilitaries were blamed today for a pipe bomb
attack on the home of a couple and their three-year-old

By:Press Association

Police said the explosion, which blasted two pieces of
steel into the living room, is being treated as attempted

The family were asleep when the device detonated at around
2.30am on the window sill of their home in Carnany Drive,
Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

Detective Inspector Nick McCaw said: "This is a very
serious crime which was perpetrated by loyalist
paramilitaries who set out with this bomb to injure or

He confirmed two 5-inch pieces of steel entered the living
room and became embedded in the ceiling and sofa.

Mr McCaw added: "Had either of these hit anyone, they would
have been seriously injured or killed."

A car in the driveway was also damaged by the bomb, which
sent debris hurtling into the street.

One bolt was found 50 yards away, next to a community

The family were unhurt but have been left traumatised by
their ordeal.

The estate where the blast happened is predominantly
Protestant but police declined to release any details about
the family who were targeted.

Mr McCaw said his officers were still trying to establish a
motive for the attack.

Army explosives experts were called in and the area was
sealed off while forensic experts hunted for clues.

The SDLP`s Sean Farren condemned those responsible and
urged anyone with information to contact the police.

The North Antrim MLA said: "A pipe bomb is a truly
horrendous thing and its only real purpose can be to kill
or seriously injure.

"Luckily this family escaped physical injury, but there
were pieces of steel left embedded in the ceiling and

"Whatever their motive, there is quite simply no place in
our society for people who will do this sort of thing.

"For the safety of everyone in the community, the police
must get every assistance in taking these and all other
pipebombers out of circulation."


Paint Bomb Attack On Belfast Methodist Church

A north Belfast Methodist church was targeted with paint
bombs today in a sectarian attack.

By:Press Association

Damage was caused to the front of Greencastle Methodist
Church on the Whitewell Road shortly before 2am.

Police have have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Two men have been arrested following paint bomb attacks in
Lisburn, police said.

They were detained for questioning about two attacks in the
Old warren area of the Co Antrim city on Wednesday.

Three more were arrested for making threats to kill in
Lisburn, said police.


DUP Quizzes Church Arms Witnesses

The DUP is meeting the two churchmen who witnessed the
IRA's final act of decommissioning.

The party requested the talks after questioning the
independence of former Methodist President Rev Harold Good
and Catholic priest Father Alec Reid.

Party leader Ian Paisley said the two clergymen were "IRA

The party will press the two men about how they were
appointed and what they saw, although it is unclear if they
will be able to give them more details.

The head of the arms decommissioning body, General John de
Chastelain, said on Monday that the IRA has put all of its
weapons beyond use.

The churchmen said in a statement that "beyond any shadow
of doubt, the arms of the IRA have now been

DUP MP Most computers will open PDF documents
automatically, but you may need to download Adobe Acrobat

Mr Paisley's comments on Tuesday were condemned by the
Ulster Unionist Party.

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said it was "a matter of
regret" that others from another Christian tradition had
chosen to question the churchmen's integrity.

DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson rejected this, accusing Mr
Kennedy of "misrepresenting" the party's position.

"No-one is disputing that the two men are faithfully
reporting what they saw. The question is did they see it
all?" he said.

After meeting General de Chastelain, Mr Paisley said the
witnesses were not appointed by the government or arms

The party said the list of IRA weapons had been "revised
and tampered with".

"These are the things that put a very big question over
what has taken place," said Mr Paisley.

Speaking on Tuesday, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said Mr
Paisley would need time to digest the move.

"His concern is (about) a process of change and... because
he has lived and built a career on frightening people and
on crisis," he said.

"The future is going to be good for everyone on this
island, so we have to give Ian Paisley a wee bit of space."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/29 11:13:42 GMT


DUP In New Attack Over IRA Arsenal

By Noel McAdam
29 September 2005

The DUP has rounded on the Government for refusing to make
public intelligence service estimates of the IRA's
terrorist arsenal.

The party also maintained its criticism of the two Church
leader witnesses to the disarmament process: no-one doubted
they had reported what they saw, the DUP asked: had they
seen it all?

Secretary of State Peter Hain was adamant he would not
contemplate compromising intelligence sources by revealing
the estimates which were given to the International
Decommissioning Commission.

But DUP party secretary Nigel Dodds said it was "startling"
that the Government had missed another opportunity to boost
unionist confidence.

"If the Secretary of State believes all weapons have been
put beyond use and that the IRA is no longer a threat, then
there is no excuse for the continued secrecy, unless of
course there is something to hide," the North Belfast MP

While the DUP and Ulster Unionists remained united over the
demand for an official inventory of IRA weaponry,
differences over independent witnesses Fr Alec Reid and the
Rev Harold Good sharpened.

North Down Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said she
had known former Methodist President Mr Good for 20 years
and his word was good enough for her.

She said her husband, former RUC chief constable Sir Jack
Hermon, had also worked closely with Mr Good and held him
in the very highest regard.

DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson, accusing the UUP of
misrepresenting his party's position, said no-one was
impugning the integrity of the Church witnesses.

"No-one is disputing that the two men are faithfully
reporting what they saw," he said.

"The question is - did they see it all?

"General (John) de Chastelain has indicated the observers
were not in possession of security estimates."


Seanad Condemns SF Over 'Murder Foretold'

Joseph Rafferty's sister, Esther, with Senator Brian Hayes
at Leinster House yesterday after the Seanad passed a
motion condemning the murder of Mr Rafferty (right).

SINN Fein was accused by Justice Minister Michael McDowell
last night of failing to cooperate fully with the
investigation into the murder of Joseph Rafferty.

Mr Rafferty was shot dead outside his home at Ongar in west
Dublin last April. A prime suspect for his killing is an
alleged member of the IRA.

The dead man's family approached a Sinn Fein councillor to
organise the lifting of death threats against Mr Rafferty.

Following his murder, the family asked Sinn Fein to help
bring his killers to justice.

In a Seanad debate last night Mr McDowell described the
murder as cold-blooded and "a death foretold".

The Garda authorities, he pointed out, believed the murder
stemmed from a row between the Raffertys and another family
who included Sinn Fein activists.

"There is no doubt that in the weeks immediately before the
murder, explicit violent threats were made against members
of the extended Rafferty family in which the name of the
Provisional IRA was clearly invoked," the minister added.

Those threats had the chilling effect of putting the family
in such fear and trepidation for its safety that members
approached a local Sinn Fein city councillor in an attempt
to get the threats lifted, he said.

It was a fact that after the murder the family once again
approached Sinn Fein representatives to seek their help in
bringing the perpetrators to justice and had been subjected
to intimidation as they sought to establish the truth.

Mr McDowell said a Sinn Fein councillor had publicly stated
he would co-operate with the investigation.

"But that co-operation, at least to date, has extended to
providing nothing more than an uninformative, perfunctory
written statement which has done nothing to progress the
murder investigation," he added.

But Sinn Fein last night accused the minister of attempting
to use the murder as a political football and described the
killing as a "cowardly and brutal act".

Sinn Fein said those responsible were criminals and thugs
and must be brought before the courts and face justice.

A spokesman said their local councillor had met the gardai
several times and extended full support to their
investigation. He called on anybody with information to
come forward to the gardai.

Members of the Rafferty family said they were not
interested in meeting Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams until
his party had supplied them with answers.

Mr Rafferty's sister, Esther Uzell, said the family had got
"nothing but lies and cover-ups" from Sinn Fein. The
murderer was a member of Mr Adams's party and "it is up to
him to bring this person forward for what he did to
Joseph," she said.

Mr McDowell acknowledged that gardai believed the Rafferty
murder was not a sanctioned operation by the Provisional
IRA and that it had been carried out without the tacit
approval of the Provisionals.

He disclosed that two people linked to the murder
investigation were currently before the courts in relation
to offences that included elements of intimidation.

At least 11 people had been arrested and gardai were
actively pursuing lines of inquiry that would lead to
further arrests.

Fine Gael senator Brian Hayes said the prime suspect was a
strong activist in the Sinn Fein/IRA organisation and it
was time for the IRA to hand him over to face the law.

The Seanad passed a motion condemning the murder and
calling on Sinn Fein to support the Garda investigation.

Tom Brady
Security Editor


DUP Now Needs To Bite The IRA Bullet

Danny Morrison

I received a letter on Monday from a reader, John, in
Ballina, Co Mayo. He was talking about Sinn Féin's response
to the DUP last July when the IRA announced an end to its
armed struggle.

He said: "The DUP's reaction to it was predictable – it
will take them a long time to adjust to the new realities.
But Sinn Féin should not be taunting them, by highlighting
its [the DUP's] inadequacy to deal with the new situation.
If Sinn Féin is truly republican it will try and entice
everyone along to share in the new and better society it
hopes to create for everyone. In the first instance it will
have to do this in cooperation with unionists in government
in the North."

Actually, Sinn Féin didn't taunt the DUP – though I have,
on many occasions, and on several occasions most recently,
because of a visceral disrespect I have for that party's
leader, Ian Paisley, which spans 40 years. The feeling is
no doubt mutual. To me he is false, a bluffer, a hypocrite,
a sectarian, a coward and an opportunist. However, if he
ever apologises for his wrongs, demonstrates contriteness
and makes good, in a verifiable fashion in front of
international and independent witnesses (there's no need
for a photograph), I am sure that over a period of time I
might be able to forgive him. But he really needs to begin
soon. Because I might move on without him.

But seriously, I also have to remember that Ian Paisley is
the chosen leader of the unionist people in the North – and
although that also provokes some despair it has to invoke
some respect, and I and many have to set aside our feelings
if we nationalists and unionists are to realise a deal,
share power and govern together. God bless Sinn Féin in
their dealings with the reverend. They will need an ocean
of patience and a ton of cotton wool.

On the nationalist and republican side there is willingness
to reconcile, ultimately demonstrated by the unprecedented
move of the IRA to put all its weapons beyond use,
witnessed by General John de Chastelain's commission and
two independents. The extent of this move was succinctly
described by former IRA prisoner Tommy McKearney in this
paper yesterday as "an incredibly significant demonstration
of republican hope over experience".

That experience involved sectarian attacks on the
nationalist community throughout the existence of the
Northern Ireland state. The existence of an armed IRA,
particularly after 1969, and because of 1969, was a comfort
blanket to nationalists in interface areas and acted as a
check on loyalist paramilitaries. The demobilisation of the
IRA has, undoubtedly, unnerved many, many republicans. But
times have changed. Despite the likeness, the PSNI is not
the RUC and will not be leading any charge into the Falls,
the way the RUC did in 1969. Increased scrutiny of the PSNI
can only make it more accountable.

Leaders within both unionism and republicanism will be
required to gamble: unionists taking the IRA at its word,
republicans the public pledges of the British government,
guaranteed by the Irish government, in lieu of or in
combination with unionist pledges to work the institutions.
Deceit on either side would blow up in all our faces and
lead to distrust on an unimaginable scale.

The great irony now is that Ian Paisley, the man who
destabilised any predecessor who dared to depart an inch
from unionist fundamentalism, is himself now in the
position of having to make a choice between pragmatism and
dogmatism, which would only further impoverish his own

So what about the willingness of the DUP to deal? How are
we to read its press conference on Monday?

There are many theories. Some are of the view that Ian
Paisley would like to retire having become first minister.
However, the cost for him personally might be too great,
having as his deputy first minister, Gerry Adams or Martin
McGuinness, both of whom he has described as 'Sinn
Féin/IRA' and pledged throughout his career to smash. There
could be no greater demonstration of his failure than for
him to have to share power with them. Nor does the ongoing
invective of the DUP suggest a party that is preparing its
base for a return to power-sharing government. Indeed,
Paisley came out of his meeting with John de Chastelain
yesterday stating that the whole act of the IRA putting all
of its weapons beyond use was a 'cover-up'!

Another theory has it that Peter Robinson would like to do
a deal, and thought that he might be first minister, but
was thwarted by Ian Og who talked his father out of a deal.
That conversation wouldn't have taken long. Last week Ian
Og said that unionists preferred direct rule than to
sharing power with Sinn Féin, except his language was more

It would be patronising to feel sorry for the unionists,
the debacle of the recent rioting, for their PR
deficiencies and for a leadership which lacks courage and
substitutes ranting for rational discussion. The majority
voted for Paisley but there must be scores of thousands of
unionists who despair at where he is leading them.

But we have lives to live and to get on with. We need good
government and we need representative government. If the
DUP regrettably opts out of this process it does so as an
act of free will not as an act of persecution or
discrimination. And so we'll need a different type of
government or a rearrangement in the current system of
government – one which takes on the views of elected
representatives not opposed to reconciliation. That
certainly requires greater involvement from Dublin to add
its weight to ensuring that the British address the many
outstanding issues, from inequality to policing, and get on
with implementing change and tackling the institutionalised
sectarianism within northern society.

What historic times we live in! Those who justified
repression and repressive laws, and the state of the state,
or who refused to negotiate on the pretext that there was
an IRA armed campaign no longer have an excuse. With all
due apologies to John from Ballina, Co Mayo, the party
which really has to bite the IRA bullet is the DUP.

Danny Morrison is a regular media commentator on Irish
politics. He is the author of three novels and three works
of non-fiction. His play about the IRA, 'The Wrong Man',
begins a three-week run in the Pleasance Theatre, London,
from March 12.


Blair Spells It Out But Is Anyone Listening?

Brian Walker examines what Tony Blair's message to Labour
this week means for Northern Ireland

29 September 2005

Unless it's all a gigantic bluff, he's sticking around for
at least three years.

So no awkward handover from Blair to Brown will provide a
pretext for stalling by any of our parties.

That is message number one from the Labour conference.

Message two on Tuesday night is that Blair is personally
taking over the Northern Ireland reins again, starting with
summoning Paisley and Adams to No 10 next week - "not
forcing the pace" after IRA decommissioning, "but not just
watching how things will go either".

Time is needed to absorb the significance of the IRA's arms
disposal and allow a different political atmosphere to
develop, of whatever kind.

Rightly or wrongly, conventional wisdom says it will take
around two years to reach a new political deal, with a new
Assembly election coming somewhere towards the end.

If that's right, it means that Tony Blair will still be
around to preside over an Agreement Mark 2.

And in getting there, he will do all he can to shorten the
time frame in line with last year's failed comprehensive

As Blair pitches in with his usual self-belief and optimism
apparently undimmed, he will have picked up the warnings
from the bruised SDLP and Ulster Unionists from the fringes
of this conference: "No side deals with Sinn Fein and the

Of his renewed commitment there is no doubt.

His party will barely have noticed, but he put the Good
Friday Agreement high in the list of his achievements this
week and its renewal among "so much more to do".

He added: "There is a lesson from Northern Ireland. Nothing
good comes easy. And in Government, whatever the noise
around you, you have to persevere at the things that really

Message three from Peter Hain is that two years or however
long it takes, is too long a time for the domestic agenda
to remain in limbo.

In the meantime how much of new Labour will we get?

Try these samples from Blair's list. "No return to school
selection at 11."

"An average of nine week's waiting time from GP's surgery
to operating table."

And how about this?

"The criminal justice system starts from the proposition
that its duty is to protect the innocent from being wrongly
convicted ... but surely the primary duty should be to
allow law-abiding people to live in safety."

By this (English) measure our parties are light years away
from agreement.

In his own speech, Peter Hain again trailed the long
overdue reforms of a public administration system that in
health has managed to absorb 60% of new money in salaries
due, according to his analysis to "the enormous costs that
flow from separated communities".

Now there's a radical thought. What price a squeeze towards
integration from New Labour? (in fact the NHS in England
carries similar costs).

The bolder Hain approach is a deeply political, classic
stick and carrot approach to give the parties a prod
towards a deal.

The carrot, tens of millions transferred to front-line

And the stick? New Labour will do it for you, if you won't
do it yourselves.

A bold strategy indeed, to promise tougher and more pro-
active Direct Rule just at the point when the physical
obstacles to local powersharing are in process of being

Already the squeals have come from those unreconstructed
socialists in Sinn Fein.

At their Brighton fringe meeting yesterday, they urged all
the other parties to unite with them against Hain's
"strategy of privatisation, school closures and double tax
on water".

On the future of policing, Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy
promised " a huge dialogue with the people" about policing,
"but we may still not be able to persuade them to accept
the police".

No raising of hopes for a quick breakthrough there.

It is of course early days of a possible new era. New lines
of debate have yet to be formed, never mind their

Hain drew on his experience of South Africa from Mandela's
release from prison to his election as President four years
later, to conclude that the endgame to bitter conflict can
be the most tortuous.

He said: "People forget that in those four years, there was
more violence, more people killed than in any time in South
Africa's history."

After the IRA move and as pressure mounts for loyalist
decommissioning, we can at least be hopeful that an
emerging new Northern Ireland, however long it takes, will
be spared that part of the fate of the emerging new South


Opin: Day For Relief And Reflection

History is made as arms put beyond use

IRA MOVE: Next test is a verifiable end to all republican

27 September 2005

The IRA has come a long way from the days of "not a bullet,
not an ounce". In Northern Ireland today there will in most
quarters be a widespread if weary sense of relief that the
organisation has finally grasped the decommissioning

The absence of photographs or any detail as to how the
weapons were disposed of will cause concern. It is also a
measure of level of distrust within this community that
even the decommissioning of the IRA's weaponry is still met
with more than a little scepticism within the unionist

Republicans may not understand that but they have only
themselves to blame because for too long, they flew in the
face of public opinion on this island and failed to deliver
on their Good Friday promises.

That said, yesterday's announcement from General John de
Chastelain must represent another watershed moment in the
peace process.

We must take at face value the General's assurances that
the process involves "the totality" of the IRA's arsenal,
and that the inventory he now has in his possession is
consistent with security force estimates.

However, the extent of that arsenal serves as a reminder to
many people in Northern Ireland of the horrors that were
inflicted on this province over 30 grim years.

For those who lost loved ones or were themselves injured in
the violence, the very mention of weapons such as AK47
rifles, SAM missiles, barrack-buster bombs and machine guns
will evoke nightmarish flashbacks.

It is to be hoped that those grim days are now behind this
province. Yet people are bound to need time and space to
evaluate the IRA's move.

The IRA has treated this community with such disdain over
so many years that some unionist people will not accept
anything it says. But the evidence of the Rev Harold Good,
who says it is beyond any shadow of doubt that the IRA has
now decommissioned its arms is reassuring.

At last, seven and a half years after the signing of the
Good Friday Agreement, General de Chastelain, Mr Good and
their colleagues have provided the hardest evidence to date
that the IRA's terrorist war is over.

Whether abandoning its arms really means an end to "all
other activities" remains to be seen but what appears clear
is that the old "Armalite and ballot box" strategy has
finally been consigned to history.

The question remains as to the extent of the IRA's other
activities, ranging from punishment beatings in nationalist
areas to criminality which affects this society as a whole.

As this issue becomes dominant, much will hinge on the
report due to be published next January of the
International Monitoring Commission.

If the IMC confirms that the republican movement has ceased
such activities, then the pressure will grow on unionism to
engage in talks next spring with a view to reaching an
accommodation with Sinn Fein.

It is probably unrealistic to believe much if any political
progress can be made before the IMC report but 2006 now
looks like being a year in which fundamental political
issues will have to be addressed.

The unionist community does not appear to be in any mood to
grasp any republican hands and indeed seems torn between a
continuation of direct rule and a devolved administration
at Stormont.

Unionist confidence in the peace process has been
undermined by the IRA's foot-dragging yet what price the
future of Northern Ireland if at some point in the near
future a new accommodation cannot be reached?

If the republican movement is now genuinely prepared to
adopt exclusively peaceful means, it will not be
sustainable for unionists to adhere to the "never, never,
never" mantra.

As the public takes stock of the IRA's actions, another
positive step has been taken on the long road to an elusive

A window of opportunity is opening. If the decommissioning
process can be satisfactorily verified, and the IRA
genuinely moves away from criminality, the political
context will surely change and a more meaningful dialogue
can be established across the political divide.

The IRA has passed a major test but it has far from
completed the full examination of its bona fides. Over the
next few months, satisfactory answers must be provided to
the outstanding questions.


DUP Exposed As Political Pygmies They Are

(Brian Feeney, Irish News)

So far so predictable. Once again the leaders of unionism
have positioned themselves where they are happiest –
isolated, beleaguered and looking stupid. Everyone knew
that's where they would seek refuge. While the Irish and
British governments, the US and the world's media all take
as read that the IRA has disposed of its arsenal and ceded
control of the republican movement to Sinn Féin, only the
DUP pretends to believe it hasn't happened. They are the
flat-earthers of politics.

The really tedious aspect is the credibility local
journalists lend to the nonsense the DUP churns out. The
DUP expects people to believe that General de Chastelain,
Tauno Nieminen and Andrew Sens travelled half-way round the
world to meet up with Fr Alex Reid and the Rev Harold Good
for the sole purpose of constructing an elaborate con trick
to dupe the DUP in the full knowledge that whatever they
said the DUP would reject. Does the DUP seriously expect
anyone to believe that?

Yet instead of treating them with ridicule, local
journalists indulge the DUP's bare-faced political
dishonesty and cowardice with real questions. In response
they receive a torrent of incoherent half-truth and non
sequiturs. Typical is the non-issue of whether all IRA
weapons have been disposed of. How would anyone, including
the IRA, ever know? There's absolutely no doubt that years
from now rusty revolvers and rifles will be uncovered in
hedges and ditches. So what? They are no longer part of an
IRA arsenal. The DUP knows full well that arsenal had been
rendered unusable which is what the Irish and British
governments wanted and are satisfied has happened.

Even more important for the purposes of the exercise, that
is what the republican leadership wanted.

For some years now they have been anxious to unburden
themselves of the IRA's weaponry. The breakthrough in the
2002 Dail elections demonstrated that the continued
existence of the IRA as a fully armed guerrilla army was a
hindrance rather than a help to republican political
ambitions. The decision to get rid of the weapons was not
to please the DUP but because, for the first time in
history, holding weapons was no longer a way of advancing
republicans' goals.

In fact, since last Christmas convincing the IRA to stand
down as a military organisation rather than just getting
rid of weapons became republicans' priority. The principle
of decommissioning had been accepted by the movement years

Sinn Féin is now free from the encumbrance of an IRA which
has been redundant as a military force since 1997.

Sinn Féin can now participate fully in Irish political life
north and south of the border. It remains to be seen how
long it will take the unionist community to catch up with
this reality. At present they seem unable to raise their
eyes above their own wee dunghill which they elect the
risible DUP to crow from the top of.

As Gerry Adams addressed himself to the British and Irish
governments, American supporters and unionists, the DUP's
leaders resolutely confined their response to their own
voters, the only people in the universe who could possibly
believe their nonsense. Never were they more exposed for
the political pygmies they are, preying on the fears of an
electorate they have gulled for years. Their press
conference on Monday can be summed up in the phrase. 'Stop
the world, I want to get off'.

The political task for the British administration is to
find a way to lure the DUP from their hideyhole and
persuade them to sit around a table with Sinn Féin.

What the British cannot be allowed to slide away from in
the meantime is the disarmament of loyalist paramilitary

Like unionist politicians, British ministers here have
never exerted any pressure on the UVF and UDA to disarm and

True, it was rather difficult since the Stevens report
revealed that the security forces acted as accomplices of
both organisations in murder and therefore members of both
UVF and UDA could testify to the nefarious activities of
RUC Special Branch and MI5 over the years. So there's no
reason to be confident of an end to the British ambivalence
towards loyalist paramilitaries which remains unchanged
after 35 years.

September 29, 2005


Viewpoint: Unionists In No Rush To Talks Table

HAIN'S AGENDA: Devolution deadlock will take time to break

29 September 2005

Even the most optimistic forecasts do not see devolution
returning inside the next year, so the government has given
fair warning that it is pressing ahead with reforms. The
IRA's decommissioning has made political progress possible,
but it would be unrealistic to expect unionists to accept
Sinn Fein as executive partners until their sincerity has
been tested.

How long this will take depends not only on the next two
reports of the International Monitoring Commission, but on
clear evidence that republicans have left criminality
behind, with no more bank raids, smuggling, or covered-up
murders, like that of Robert McCartney. With no sign that
dissident republicans intend to follow the IRA's example,
proving that Sinn Fein have no links with any future
violence may be problematical.

Nevertheless, the government is obviously determined to
keep devolution at the top of its agenda, in the hope that
present doubts will diminish in time.

The pressure will be on unionists to respond positively to
the IRA's gesture but, even as all doors are opened to the
likely negotiators, NIO ministers and their civil servants
are preparing to fill the gap with decision-making.

As the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, sees it, Northern
Ireland cannot afford to wait for society's divisions to be
healed if it is to compete in tomorrow's world. Bureaucracy
must be reduced and new charges for rates and water
introduced to provide the improved infrastructure on which
prosperity will be based.

Too many important decisions have been put off, so there
will be a concerted attempt to get the difficult ones out
of the way, to minimise problems for a locally-based
executive. Fewer but more powerful councils are forecast,
as well as simpler structures for the health service and a
major investment in child care.

Environmental protection will be given a higher priority,
in keeping with internationally-imposed standards, and
apparently there is no intention of reversing the abolition
of the 11-plus, despite disillusionment in Britain.

Interestingly, the decline in pupil numbers is forcing
grammar schools to enrol a wider range of abilities, making
them more comprehensive-minded than narrowly academic.

As government spokesmen repeat, they would rather these
decisions were taken by local politicians, with local
mandates, but in the absence of devolution time cannot
stand still.

Although caution is understandable, as unionist politicians
contemplate a post-IRA scenario, they should be preparing
themselves for the opportunities, as well as sacrifices, in
a restored Assembly.

Ideally, the loyalist paramilitaries would also be studying
the IRA's approach, making decisive moves on
decommissioning while re-engaging with politics.


Hal Wastes His Wages

Defuse The 'Irish Car Bomb'

By: Christopher Halleron 09/28/2005

Buried in the back of the American mass media conscience is
a breaking story of historical significance. While the
United States wades through the wake of hurricane season, a
new tide of enthusiasm is building in Northern Ireland,
where the Irish Republican Army has made the remarkable
move of decommissioning all its weapons, essentially ending
its armed struggle for a united Republic of Ireland and
allowing doors to be opened for dialogue that could in fact
bring about the result they have spent the last 36 years
fighting for.

While similar gestures have been made in the past, and
splinter groups outside the IRA still pose a threat to
peace, there is a general feeling of plausibility resulting
from the timeliness of this move. For one thing, the United
Kingdom is involved in another armed conflict and would
obviously benefit from being able to reduce, if not remove,
its troop presence in Northern Ireland.

But primarily, in my opinion, one would think the Irish
Republican Army has experienced a bit of a difficulty in
its fundraising campaigns, since most of its support came
from misguided Irish-Americans who, upon seeing first-hand
the trauma and devastation that comes from a campaign of
terror on civilian targets, lost whatever romantic notions
they might have had about fighting to free the land of
their fathers. So with the IRA broke and the Brits a bit
distracted, this thing might actually work this time.

This is a topic that is near and dear to me, so in an
effort to show support and solidarity for the peace
movement in Northern Ireland, as a bartender I hereby
refuse to serve another Irish Car Bomb.

What the hell is an Irish Car Bomb?

An Irish Car Bomb is an appallingly named drink that
consists of a pint glass half-filled with Guinness Stout,
and a shot glass filled with one part Irish Cream liqueur
and one part Irish whiskey. The shot glass is dropped into
the pint and the entire mixture is slugged back, normally
in a race between some guy named Sully wearing a Notre Dame
t-shirt and another guy named Murph in a Red Sox hat, who
loves to get wicked retaahded off Caah Bowmbs every St.
Pat's day.

But Hal, you're Irish - shouldn't you love Car Bombs?!?

First of all, I'm Irish-American; there's a difference (if
you don't believe me go over there and they'll let you
know!) Secondly, any so-called Irishman would have more
respect for Guinness and Irish whiskey than to whack it
back like a boilermaker. And finally, anyone with an ounce
of Celtic blood in them should be deeply offended by the
naming of a novelty drink after an act of terror against
his or her purported brethren.

Hal, don't you think you're being a little sensitive? I
mean really, it's just a drink.

Screw that - if political correctness can make Florida
State question the Seminoles, dub Syracuse's minor league
team the "Sky Chiefs" and turn St. John's Athletics into
the "Red Storm," then why not keep running with it?

Hal, doesn't this have more to do with the fact that you
hate cleaning out the sinks after a round of Car Bombs?

Sure, I hate the curdled, putrid mess in the sink from
cleaning up Irish Car Bombs, but that just means the drink
is offensive on numerous levels. Fact is, an ugly chapter
of Irish history may in fact be nearing its end. The
conflict in Northern Ireland has claimed well over 3,600
lives since The Troubles, as they've come to be known,
began in 1969 - raising a glass to that might be a bit
cavalier. Why not toast the historic strides with a drink
that doesn't make people cringe? Tell your friends, tell
your bartender, tell your bartender's bartender, and let's
defuse the Irish Car Bomb once and for all. Let's see if a
trivial act of social conscience can't make a difference.
And for $*@% sake, drink Guinness the way it should be
drank, ye durty bollocks, ye.

Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender,
writes a biweekly humor column for The Hudson Current and
websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his
time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New
Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his
tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free
to drop him a line at

©The Hudson Reporter 2005


Opin: Big Business Eyes Up The Crown Jewels

Eamonn McCann
29 September 2005

Is the Rev Ian Paisley doting? I only ask because I turned
the television over on Monday night in a desperate effort
to escape from the exultant guldering of Tyrone fans (any
event which enables Strabane people to claim that "We are
the champions" is not only contrary to nature but
incompatible with the notion of Intelligent Design) and
what did I encounter but Big Ian asserting that "Northern
Ireland is not for sale!"

But, oh yes, it is. It's up for grabs. Mr Paisley may not
have noticed, because little notice is being paid in
political circles generally as it's hawked around the

And despite all the hot and bothered disputation about
respect for mandates, nobody asks where the mandate is for
this fundamental change in the way Northern Ireland is run.

Last week, Lord Rooker announced that virtually all the
Civil Service buildings in Northern Ireland are to be sold
off to private interests and then rented back.

Under the scheme, the private sector will not only own the
buildings, it will also provide the catering, security and
cleaning services currently carried out within the public

The plan was greeted with hosannas of joy by the
entrepreneurial ideologues who seem to operate a relay
system these days, so that there's always one available to
explain that the public sector in Northern Ireland is just
too big and burdensome and the sooner we ditch all those
jobs at half-decent pay and conditions and replace them
with casualised, minimum-wage and preferrably non-union
labour the better for us all. Or at least for them all.

Lord Rooker has no mandate from anybody for any of this.

On Monday of last week, at a moment when the news agenda
was still clouded by smoke and rhetoric arising from
anxious Protestant areas of Belfast, another man with no
mandate, NIO Minister Shaun Woodward, quietly announced
that water treatment facilities across Northern Ireland are
to be taken over by a consortium called Dalriada Water via
a £110m public private partnership.

We have major parties which, when asked, speak in strident
tones of their total opposition to water privatisation. But
there's been no uproar from them over Woodward
contemptuously ignoring their mandates and proceeding with
his plan.

(One of the components of Dalriada Water, Tyco
International, based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, was
in the news the same day for a different reason. Former
chief executive Dennis Kozlowski and finance chief Mark
Swartz were jailed in New York. The jury heard that
Kozlowski has used company money to pay for a 40th birthday
party on Sardinia for his wife, the centre-pieces of which
had been a life-sized ice-sculpture of Michelangelo's David
spewing vodka from its private parts and a cake in the
shape of a woman's breasts. Gawd, the style of these new
saviours of our quaint and decrepit society!)

Talking of Tyco reminds me of Accenture. Until a few years
ago, this outfit formed one half of Arthur Andersen, the
"management consultants" who leapt to fame for their
prominent role in the affairs of the Texas-based company,
Enron, which readers might remember went wallop a couple of
years back amid revelations which would have done discredit
to the Roman Empire, with desperate consequences for
thousands of employees and pensioners.

Accenture is in the running for a PFI contract, to be
completed in November, which will involve cutting the
entire human resources component of the Northern Ireland
Civil Service out from the public sector and handing it
over to private enterprise.

This will involve a loss of jobs and a significant
deterioration in the security, wages and working conditions
associated with the jobs which remain. Among the workers
who predictably will be hit hardest are hundreds in Derry.

Accenture has let it be known that if it wins the contract,
it will locate some of its operation in Derry.

What has been the response of the main local parties to
this development?

One and all, they have become cheerleaders for the
Accenture bid. It's become the Derry entrant in the race.

I wouldn't rule out a campaign for local people to barrage
the NIO with phone calls voting for the Derry favourite.

The Sinn Fein mayor of the city said: "Accenture's interest
is a welcome indication that all efforts to rebuild the
economic future of this city and region are beginning to
take shape."

And Sinn Fein is an anti-privatisation party!

Dear God.


Flatley Brings Big Apple To Its Feet With Rip-Roaring
Celtic Tiger

Thursday September 29th 2005

Hitting the right note . . . Michael Flatley received three
standing ovations at the opening of his new show 'Celtic
Tiger' in New York, on Tuesday. Crowds danced in the aisles
throughout the show at Madison Square Gardens.

FORMER Riverdance star Michael Flatley has put himself back
in the spotlight by launching his new show, Celtic Tiger,
in New York.

The 47-year-old Lord of the Dance unveiled his latest
extravaganza in front of a delighted audience at Madison
Square Gardens and received three standing ovations for his

A rapt crowd danced in the aisles during the entire show on
Tuesday night, cheering for Flatley throughout.

The star was also cheered from backstage by delighted
girlfriend Lisa Murphy.

The US debut of Celtic Tiger was the hottest ticket in town
and all of the Big Apple's newspapers and magazines flagged
the show, with the 'New York Post' referring to Flatley as
'the next jig thing'.

Flatley turned a quiet Tuesday night in Manhattan into a
lively affair with all the limos heading for the Gardens
causing traffic jams in the grid between 31st and 33rd

Among the strong Irish-American element in the audience was
New York's Chief of Police Michael Collins and most of the
top brass from the city's police force.

Also in attendance were musicians Tommy Makem and Matt
Molloy, Bruxelles owner Dave Egan and his wife Mairead,
Celtic Tiger composer Ronan Hardiman and soccer star Keith
O'Neill and his new wife Zoe.

And in a sign that the Celtic Tiger show could be coming to
Dublin, GAA boss Sean Kelly, Croke Park staging manager
Peter McKenna and concert promoter Peter Aiken were in the

It is likely that the trio were considering staging the
show in Croke Park next summer. Before the performance,
there was a reception in Fitzpatrick's Hotel for Flatley's
guests, who included his brothers and sisters, as well as
Lisa Murphy's parents, Des and Eileen.

After the show a party, which went on into the small hours,
was thrown backstage at Madison Square Gardens.

Flatley himself was jubilant after the high-kicking
performance and said he was already looking forward to the
next gig in Montreal later this week.

The former Champion Irish dancer will be on stage up until
Christmas when he will return home to his Castlehyde estate
in Cork.

Then it's back on the road to delight his legions of fans
across the globe.


Metal Detector Enthusiast Gets Lucky With Viking Find

By Brian Hutton
29 September 2005

The finder of a 1,200-year-old Viking silver ingot on the
banks of the lower Bann is to share in a reward for the
unusual discovery.

The artefact, along with remnants of a bronze brooch dug up
within 10 yards of it, in the townland of Moneygran,
outside Kilrea, Co Derry, have been legally declared

Under the law, a treasure trove inquest must be held by the
district coroner to determine the significance of such

After Coroner David Hunter, sitting at Magherafelt
courthouse, made his ruling yesterday, the archaeological
items are to be sent to the Government's Treasure Valuation
Committee in London.

"They will determine the market value of the items. Then,
if the Ulster Museum wishes to purchase them, they will
raise the funds and the payments will then be distributed
between the finder and the landowner," said Declan Hurl of
the Environment and Heritage Service.

Eugene Burns, a metal detector enthusiast for the past
eight years, discovered the treasures, which date from the
9th century, on land owned by a Mr Rea.

"I hadn't a clue what it was when I found it. I knew it was
something of significance because it was silver," he said.

"But it had no real shape of anything I had ever seen

"I've found plenty of old coins and the like but never
anything as significant as that. I hope I find more."

Cormac Burke, curator of medieval antiquities at the Ulster
Museum, confirmed he was interested in securing the

"It's from these small building blocks that the total story
is put together," he said.

"The ingot is exactly three quarters of a Viking ounce,
which shows how carefully they were weighed.

"They knew exactly what they were doing and it was, more or
less, a form of coinage at the time.

"The Bann is chockfull of antiquities, and this is another
example," added Mr Burke.


Quiet Man Conference In Galway 53 Years On

By Linda McKee
29 September 2005

Fifty-three years after its release, Irish movie The Quiet
Man, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara is going
under the academic spotlight at an international conference
in Galway.

This weekend, fans and academics will examine the cult John
Ford movie at the New Perspectives on the Quiet Man
conference, at the Houston School of Film and Digital Media
at the National University of Ireland.

Conference co-ordinator Sean Crosson explains: "Looking at
the film today half a century after it was made still
provides much food for thought and leading students of the
cinema will be discussing, among other things, why it has
enjoyed such enduring success."

The conference will be treated to the screening of a rare
35mm print of The Quiet Man, brought from an archive in Los

"This will give the audience a chance to view the film as
they might have done when it was first released in 1962,"
Mr Crosson says.

"And we will also be showing rare footage of the making of
the movie in Connemara and Ashford Castle. On Sunday there
will be a guided tour of Quiet Man locations in the village
of Cong on the Galway/Mayo border.

"The village of Cong is really a living museum - themed on
the film - and, as a must-see for tourists, has benefited
greatly from the connection down the years.

"I suppose you could say this conference is trying to
appeal to everyone, from people who just find the film
enchanting to serious academic students who probe for more
profound issues underneath the surface."


Poking Fun At Troubles

By Ashleigh Wallace
29 September 2005

The good folk of Northern Ireland have always relied on a
black sense of humour to keep their spirits up - even
through some of the darkest days of the Troubles.

And now, thanks to several internet sites, the political
situation has become the butt of satirical humour which can
be accessed across the globe.

From Gerry Adams to Tony Blair and from the recent loyalist
rioting to IRA decommissioning, no-one is spared from the
satirists' cutting remarks.

On websites such as, this week's
decommissioning has already been satirised.

In one doctored picture, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
can be seen pushing the DUP's Ian Paisley in a wheelchair.
Playing on the Lou and Andy characters from the TV series
Little Britain, Mr Adams says to Dr Paisley 'Now I've
decommissioned all my arms. Are you sure that's what you
want?' to which Dr Paisley replies - in a skit on the
Little Britain character - 'No, I don't like it'.

The website also pokes fun at the collapse of Stormont.
Another picture features Tony Blair and an image of
Stormont. His eyes have been replaced with the 'Big
Brother' eyes, with the caption reading "Day 973: Still no

Both loyalist and republican paramilitaries also get a
touch, with the Northern Bank robbery and the recent
loyalist rioting mocked.

One picture features an image of a petrol bomb bearing the
caption "Belfast petrol crisis - prices soar to over 50p a
bottle", while another shows a row of bank robbers and the
logos of all the main banks, accompanied by the caption
"Northern Ireland's banking system...that'll do nicely".

Another website which pokes fun at Northern Ireland's
unique political wranglings is

One spoof advert features a board game called 'Blame' which
can be played by one or two communities.

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To September 2005 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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