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September 17, 2005

Loyalists Block City Road Again

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BB 09/17/05 Protesters Block City Road Again
BB 09/17/05 Petrol Bombers Attack Two Houses
DI 09/17/05 Loyalists Targeting GAA
DI 09/17/05 Loyalist Hatred Of PSNI Grows
SB 09/17/05 Decommissioning: How It Will Happen
ST 09/17/05 DUP Power Offer As IRA Seals Arms
BB 09/17/05 Man Denies Riot Murder Bid Charge
UN 09/17/05 Fifty-Five% Supported United Ireland: Poll
SB 09/17/05 McDowell Claims Adams & McGuinness Control IRA
UN 09/17/05 IRA Bulgarian Property Plot To Fund SF
TO 09/17/05 Opin: Orange Order Still Glories In Slaughter
SB 09/17/05 Unionism Reaches Crisis Point
GU 09/17/05 A 'Boycott' That Means Murder, Arson And Terror
SB 09/17/05 Opin: Unionism Belongs In A Trailer Park
TE 09/17/05 Clinton Leaves Them Calling For More
DI 09/17/05 Cash Windfall For Irish Americans


Protesters Block City Road Again

A crowd of mainly women and children blocked Donegall Road
in south Belfast for a time, in the sixth consecutive day
of loyalist protests in the city.

They gathered near Shaftesbury Square at about 1530 BST,
moved towards the Boyne Bridge for a time then returned.

The protest has now ended and the road has re-opened.

Rush-hour traffic has been disrupted since Monday by
loyalists angry at the police's response to disturbances
which followed a re-routed Orange march.

On Friday, UUP leader Sir Reg Empey called for an end to
the demonstrations, saying that they were causing loyalist
areas to suffer.

"The government's attention is now being focused on
concerns that people have in many of these loyalist areas,"
he said.

"There will be no progress made while these disturbances

However, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said there had been "a
total failure in unionist leadership".

"Like others, I have to ask why it has taken him (Sir Reg)
a week to scramble to that sort of line of sense," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/17 16:44:09 GMT


Petrol Bombers Attack Two Houses

Three migrant workers have escaped injury in a petrol bomb
attack on a house in Portadown, County Armagh.

A device was thrown at the Armagh Road house just before
0600 BST on Saturday, damaging the porch. Two Portuguese
and one Polish man were in the house.

Police said a racist motive was one line of inquiry they
were following.

Meanwhile, in County Antrim, a petrol bomb was thrown at a
house in Mosside shortly before 0200 BST. No-one was
injured and a man has been arrested.

Scorch damage was caused to the outside of the house.

SDLP Upper Bann assembly member Dolores Kelly condemned the
attack on the house in Portadown.

"There seems to be an ongoing campaign against migrant
workers here, who are contributing to the local economy and
indeed many would say keeping our factories open," she

It is understood the three factory workers have lived in
the house for two years without incident.

Neighours said they could not understand why the men were

Police removed a number of items for examination and
appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/17 12:14:04 GMT


Loyalists Targeting GAA

By Connla Young

GAA clubs in Co Derry have been urged to check their
premises after the PSNI warned they are being targeted by

County board officials contacted 18 clubs in the district
yesterday after the PSNI claimed they received intelligence
that GAA clubs in the Magherafelt District Command Unit
area were under threat of loyalist attack.

It is understood the loyalist plot involves scattering
crushed glass on playing surfaces at club grounds across
south Derry where hundreds of adults and children train and
play daily.

The PSNI last night confirmed that they have carried out
searches at GAA clubs in the Magherafelt area.

News of threat comes one week after a St John's Catholic
church, Magherafelt, which sits just yards from the town's
O' Donovan Rossa GAA club, was targeted in in a sectarian
graffiti attack. It was the second incident at the small
historical church in two weeks.

The adjacent GAA facility formed part of yesterday's PSNI
searches. The club has been the target of several loyalist
pipe bomb and glass attacks in recent years.

In the late 1990s a number of GAA clubs in the south Derry
area were targeted in a series of sectarian pipe bomb
attacks. These attacks were widely believed to have been
the work of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The GAA
community across the island was rocked in 1997 when
Bellaghy Wolfe Tones chairman Sean Brown was abducted and
gunned down by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) as he
locked up at club premises.

South Derry Board secretary Brian Smyth says the latest
warning is being taken seriously by members.

"We have sent word to all clubs that this is to be treated
as a serious warning. That is not a guarantee that
something is going to happen but we are putting everybody
on alert because of their seriousness of the calls we have

"Clubs in the area have been targeted in the past and of
course Sean Brown was murdered, which is still in the
headlines. These sorts of things do create fear but I would
like to think that this fear will not stop us playing our

"We were told when contacted that intelligence was received
that crushed glass would be used on local fields. But we
have advised clubs to be on the look out for anything

Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor Sean McPeake condemned the
latest attack.

"I would hope this is not the start of another campaign
against the GAA in this area.

"It's very worrying when you consider the attack on the
nearby church in recent weeks. The GAA provides an
important service for the youth of the area and it's
unacceptable that loyalist paramilitaries and people of
evil intent would act in this way."


Loyalist Hatred Of PSNI Grows

By Jarlath Kearney

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine has accused
the PSNI of becoming the SDLP's "military wing".

He told Daily Ireland last night that the "hatred of the
police" in unionist areas had reached an unprecedented

Mr Ervine also insisted that senior SDLP members had been
guilty of "astonishing hypocrisy" by criticising talks
between unionist politicians and paramilitary groups.

The former Ulster Volunteer Force prisoner urged the
unionist community to cut out the "middleman" of the
British government and instead directly challenge
nationalist and republican political representatives.

During the past week, unionists have protested on the
streets and attacked PSNI members on a continual basis
across the North.

The orchestrated trouble began in tandem with last
Saturday's Orange Order march, which was rerouted away from
the nationalist Springfield Road in west Belfast.

It emerged yesterday that unionist leaders are planning a
mass protest rally in Belfast city centre next month.

Seven Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist
Party (UUP) councillors have withdrawn from the Belfast
District Policing Partnership.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan heavily criticised that decision.

He said: "One hundred and fifteen shots were fired by
loyalist paramilitaries at the police. Those self-same
paramilitary groups sit on the Northwest Parades Forum with
the UUP and DUP.

"Any normal democratic party would have withdrawn from the
forum after that. But not the UUP or the DUP. Instead, they
have withdrawn from the Belfast DPP.

"Clearly the UUP and DUP prefer to work with gunmen than
the police. They prefer to work with people who shoot at
the police than with the men and women whose job it is to
enforce the law," Mr Durkan said.

David Ervine said he was "shocked beyond belief at the
hypocrisy" of the SDLP.

Pointing to political dialogue between republicans and the
SDLP before the 1994 IRA ceasefire, Mr Ervine added:

"Maybe the PSNI is now the military wing of the SDLP. I
don't say it to promote it but there are [unionist] areas
where the hatred of the police is as palpable as it has
ever been within the republican community."

Mr Ervine called on nationalists and republicans to
recognise that unionist concerns about isolation from the
political process were "legitimate".

"The general groundswell is not at all taking into account
what the IRA are doing. The British government are in
barter mode with the Provos to the exclusion of all
others," he said.

"We need to deal with things calmly to try and address some
of the issues. Unionists regard the British Prime Minister
as a betrayer. They then demand that the betrayer looks
after their interests.

"So they sit in the pavilion as Sinn Féin and the
government take to the pitch. Then they complain when they
don't see the match and they don't influence the scoreline.
Now how are we going to address that problem?"


Decommissioning: How It Will Happen

18 September 2005 By Declan Power

The word is out. The IRA is finally to decommission, or so
it seems. Sources are indicating - as reported in last
weekend's Sunday Business Post - that there will soon be a
significant act in the drama that has become

While the act of decommissioning is relatively
straightforward, that is, putting the IRA's arsenal beyond
use, what does this mean and why is it dragging on for so

Part of it is because the IRA and the republican community
are intent on making the whole affair a lot more than
rendering weapons systems inoperable, according to an
agreed standard.

As the physical weapons are being decommissioned, the
psychological weapons are being reconstituted to continue
the struggle. For example, it has become a given that
decommissioning, having been accepted by the internal
audience that is the republican support base, be sold in a
certain way to the general public.

We are likely to see considerable effort at supplying
General John de Chastelain and his colleagues at the
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
(IICD) with suitable evidence for the rest of the world
that decommissioning has taken place.

Sinn Féin is likely to choreograph the operation in a very
meticulous way.

For this episode to be of political use to republicans, it
must be sold to the Irish public as the great moment of
turning the IRA swords into ploughshares.

To this end, it is likely that the IRA will allow de
Chastelain and his men to give details to the two
governments on where they have been taken.

This time they will undoubtedly be allowed to publicly
comment on the amount and type of weapons systems they

The most expedient way of dealing with the more
sophisticated weapons systems would involve damaging or
removing the ranging optics or the electronic components to
aim and fire the weapon.

Mortar shells and grenades would simply require fuses and
detonators to be unscrewed and removed.

In any case, it is best practice to keep detonators
separate from the explosives, thus rendering the explosive
inert and harmless.

In the case of small arms, such as automatic rifles,
pistols and machine guns, the most effective and labour-
saving method of neutralisation is to remove the firing
pin. This is found in the firing mechanism of all weapons
that fire any kind of ball ammunition.

While it is a simple operation to anyone with military
training to remove those components, it must be remembered
that de Chastelain has to account for the disabling of each
and every weapon and piece of munitions at all bunkers he

He must be able to reassure the two clergymen, one Catholic
and one Protestant, who are there as independent
verification witnesses, that these weapons are beyond
operational use.

De Chastelain must then compile a report to the two
governments outlining in detail the number and nature of
the weapons and munitions and the nature of their
decommissioning, including the permanent closure of the

For the IRA it will be easy to engage with the IICD, in
fact it will be a relief. The heavy weapons and explosives
are an albatross around Sinn Féin's neck when it comes to
dealing with Ian Paisley and the DUP.

The heavy weapons, such as the heavy machine guns, general
purpose machine guns, the prized surface to air missiles,
and various quantities of semtex and detonators, have
become a nuisance to the IRA.

It no longer needs or wants them as tools in its 'struggle'
and it certainly does not want dissidents getting their
hands on them.

The interesting point to note is that, in recent IRA
activities, only a small amount of pistols and weapons are
needed for internal enforcement or criminal activities.

The challenge for the two governments is to ensure that
Sinn Féin doesn't manage to get its 'Kodak moment' to sell
itself to the electorate, while still retaining a lightly
armed but potent military wing.

Declan Power is an independent defence and security


DUP Power Offer As IRA Seals Arms

Liam Clarke

SENIOR Northern Ireland security sources believe that the
completion of IRA decommissioning is "imminent" and that an
official announcement will be made by General John de
Chastelain this week or next.

News of the move has filtered through the Northern Ireland
political system as the British government has briefed
local parties on developments as they unfold.

Jeffrey Donaldson, the Democratic Unionist party MP who was
one of those briefed by the government, said: "We believe
that we will see the announcement on decommissioning in the
next couple of weeks."

In a further positive development indicating that the
political log jam in Northern Ireland may shortly be
broken, British government officials say the Rev Ian
Paisley's DUP has put forward a package of proposals that
the party said would "rebuild confidence in the unionist
community" and give it the grassroots support necessary to
enter a power-sharing coalition.

A DUP source said yesterday that if the British government
acted on the proposals and IRA activity was shown to be
over, negotiations for power sharing would be possible
within months rather than years.

"There needs to be confidence-building measures to
stabilise the unionist community. If you really want a deal
you need to create the basis on which it can not only take
place, but stick," the source said.

The DUP's demands include:

A severance package for the battalions of the Royal Irish
Regiment that are being phased out, and an agreement to
station at least two battalions in the province. This has
met opposition within the British Army, which wants to cut
its infantry strength and does not want to set a precedent
of high redundancy payments.

The replacement of the Parades Commission with a new body,
which will start with the presumption of a right to march.

A programme of investment in deprived loyalist areas.

More unionists to be appointed to public bodies such as the
Equality Commission, headed by Monica McWilliams, and the
Human Rights Commission, headed by Bob Collins, the former
director-general of RTE.

Funding for unionist and Ulster-Scots festivals and
activities to match the funding for festivals in
nationalist areas, such as west Belfast's Feile an Phobail
or Londonderry's Gasyard Feile.

SDLP sources say they have also been briefed that IRA
decommissioning was "due any time now", but doubt if
agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein will follow.

"Continued direct rule with an enhanced cross-border
dimension, seems most likely and that is the basket we are
putting most of our eggs in," a senior SDLP figure said.

Fears that last week's loyalist violence would delay the
IRA move have been dismissed, with authoritative sources
saying "the process is completely on track".

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, was in Washington to
brief senior administration officials and speak at a
conference hosted by Bill Clinton.

He said: "I am confident the commitment made by the IRA
will be honoured" despite the loyalist unrest.

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

"Our understanding is that the IRA has made a tactical
decision to move out of the equation," Donaldson said.
"That has put the spotlight on the Ulster Defence
Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force. These loyalist
paramilitaries have been flexing their muscles, saying 'We
haven't gone away you know'. They want to stake their claim
for concessions."

The IRA announced on July 28 that it had formally abandoned
violence and intended to decommission all its weapons.

This prompted reciprocal concessions from the British
government including the dismantling of military bases, a
two-year timetable for the disbandment of the home service
battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, and a projected
halving of troop numbers in Northern Ireland to a garrison
strength of approximately 5,000 soldiers.

The IRA arsenal is believed to have been located in at
least three bunkers just south of the border. The first
bunker to be decommissioned is believed to have been in
Donegal near the border with Derry. For the past three
weeks arms have been collected from IRA units in Northern
Ireland in preparation for the move.

The decommissioning, which consists of covering the weapons
with concrete, is supervised by at least two of the three
Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
officials and by two independent clerical witnesses.

The political impact of the gesture will depend on how much
detail the IRA allows the witnesses to make public.

But even with minimal detail, any announcement from de
Chastelain that decommissioning has been completed will put
pressure on the loyalist para-militaries to reciprocate.

The DUP will also be under increased pressure to share
power with Sinn Fein within a reasonable period of time and
to enter into serious negotiations.


Man Denies Riot Murder Bid Charge

A north Belfast man who allegedly threw a pipe bomb and
shot at security forces during rioting last Saturday has
been remanded in custody.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard John Main, 35, of Highfield
Drive, was allegedly recorded on video throwing a bomb at
police on West Circular Road.

It is claimed he was seen coming from a house to shoot at
police and soldiers.

He denies charges of attempting to murder security force
members, riotous assembly and having a bomb and gun.

A detective sergeant told the court that during police
questioning the defendant made no admissions and also that
the evidence against him is "primarily video evidence".

The officer said he believed he could connect the defendant
to the charges.

He was remanded in custody to appear via video link on 23

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/09/17 11:05:59 GMT


Almost Half Of Us Would Reject United Ireland: Poll

Jerome Reilly

AS the IRA prepares to complete decommissioning of its
arsenal, possibly by the middle of this week, a Sunday
Independent poll has found that 45 per cent of the Irish
electorate would not vote for a united Ireland.

According to the poll, 55 per cent of the respondents
would, given recent developments in the peace process, be
open to a united Ireland.

Most cited patriotism, family ties to the North, or a
belief that most of the divisive issues have now been
settled, for reasons to favour unification.

But as rioting continued in Belfast on Friday night and
tensions remained high, many voters in the South are less
than enthusiastic about a 32-county Republic.

Of the 55 per cent who said they would vote for a united
Ireland, one out of every two said they would not be
prepared to pay for the costs of reuniting the island
through an unconditional tax hike.

Other respondents in favour of a united Ireland were wary
of unspecified increases in taxation without other tangible
economic benefits, over and above a united Ireland.

For 45 per cent of respondents a united Ireland held no
interest. Many described the concept as out of date and
that the Republic's focus should be on a European rather
than a narrow nationalistic level. Others said that
pursuing a 32-county republic would be regressive not

Recent criminal activity, including the murder of Robert
McCartney and the continuing intimidation of his family and
friends, also worried many respondents.

"Really, the paramilitaries have been proven to be
criminals. I would not want to invite that lawlessness and
level of organisation to the South," one female respondent

Another female voter said: "The identity of the South is
not linked to the North anymore. We are about economic
growth, house prices and Europe. The north is stigmatized
by violence and hate."

Yesterday it was reported that two potential overseas
investors had postponed trips to Belfast because of the
recent loyalist riots.

The disclosure came as the tourist industry warned of
widespread cancellations in hotels. Conference organisers
have also expressed concern about going to the North.

Meanwhile, a north Belfast man who allegedly threw a pipe
bomb and shot at security forces during rioting last
Saturday has been remanded in custody.

Belfast Magistrates Court heard that John Main, 35, of
Highfield Drive, was allegedly recorded on video throwing a
bomb at police on West Circular Road.

It is claimed he was seen coming from a house to shoot at
police and soldiers. He denies charges of attempting to
murder security force members, riotous assembly and having
a bomb and gun.

A detective sergeant told the court that the evidence
against the man was "primarily video evidence".


McDowell Claims Adams And McGuinness Still 'Control' IRA

18 September 2005 By Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has claimed that Sinn
Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are still in
"overall control" of the IRA.

"They're now sufficiently confident in their own leadership
of the entire Provisional movement to give over their
places on the [IRA] Army Council to three lesser-known
people who will continue to do their bidding," McDowell
said. "They are in overall control of the movement. There
is no challenge to their authority."

The minister also named Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris as the
third alleged former member of the Army Council.

Sinn Féin has dismissed the minister's claims.

"They all categorically deny these allegations," said a
Sinn Féin spokesman. "This is just Michael McDowell
engaging in his usual anti-republican rhetoric."

McDowell makes the assertions in a Channel 4 television
Dispatches documentary, to be broadcast this week.

In a wide-ranging interview, McDowell claims that, as
members of the Army Council, the Sinn Féin leaders knew in
advance about the record €38 million Northern Bank robbery
last December.

He says that he remains confident that gardai will prove
that €2.3 million seized from the home of Cork businessman
Ted Cunningham last February originated from the bank
robbery. Cunningham was questioned but released without
charge. The documentary also features an interview with a
Bulgarian developer who met members of an Irish business
consortium led by Cunningham.

The Cork businessman, who is head of Cork firm Chesterton
Finance Company, was accompanied on the trip to Sofia by
former banker Phil Flynn, who has denied any suggestion of

The Bulgarian developer claims that the consortium told him
that they had stg£14 million [€20 million] to invest in a
building scheme.

The consortium wanted to discuss an investment in 160
apartments, a hotel and a shopping centre.

Flynn, formerly chairman of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), has
described the trip as "a totally legal, innocent

He added: "We were trying to replicate the existing company
[Chesterton Finance] in Bulgaria. We were looking at short
and long-term property prospects. We canvassed a lot of
speculators and developers in Ireland before we left.

"We were looking for long-term stuff, land zoned as
agricultural that will be required for developments in five
to seven years, as well as short-term to medium-term

The Dispatches documentary features interviews with other
business people who met the Irish consortium during a trip
to Bulgaria's second city, Plovdiv, last January.

The group rented an office and met two Bulgarian government

This weekend, Flynn said that he did not want to comment on
the programme, but he cautioned against possible
inaccuracies and said he believed that the programme makers
were "in the process of changing it''.

Flynn, 60, a former president of the Irish Congress of
Trade Unions, had joined Chesterton five months earlier.

A former vice-president of Sinn Féin, Flynn has never made
any secret of his republican connections.

He is due to appear in Dublin District Court on October 10
to face charges of possession of a 'pen gun', two rounds of
.38 ammunition and tear gas canisters.

The decision to prosecute Flynn in the District Court is an
indication that the offences are seen as minor.


IRA Bulgarian Property Plot To Fund SF Election Battles


THE IRA planned to use millions stolen in the Northern Bank
heist to buy up a €25m allotment site in Bulgaria and turn
it into a luxury hotel and holiday complex to fund its
political wing, Sinn Fein.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said that the money was
to be used to "subvert the democratic process in Ireland"
and "buy votes" for Gerry Adam's party in years to come.

But the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's confidant and
"troubleshooter" Phil Flynn denied last night that he was
at the centre of the deal when he visited Bulgaria with a
Cork financier who is under investigation for money

Mr Flynn, a former Sinn Fein vice-president, government
advisor and chairman of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland),
said last night that he and Ted Cunningham were "looking at
what was available and what prices were like".

Mr Cunningham is the Cork businessman in whose garden
gardai recovered almost €3m worth of Sterling bank notes
from the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last December.

Mr Flynn denied that he was involved in any multi-million
euro deal to buy land in Bulgaria during his visit there.

"No. There was no property deal in Bulgaria. What happened
was we got presentations from a whole range of people but
there was no property deal and no negotiations," he

However, a Channel 4 documentary this week will claim that
Phil Flynn showed his business card to developers in
Plovdiv in Bulgaria who automatically assumed that the
investor was the Bank of Scotland.

IRA expert and author Kevin Toolis said that his
documentary will lift the lid on the plans the Provos had
for their loot.

"They were intending to spend £20m on a Bulgarian allotment
plot in Plovdiv. They met developers and looked at the
plans. Phil Flynn showed them his card and they assumed he
was investing the money on behalf of the Bank of Scotland,"
Mr Toolis said. "The documentary will cast light and
scrutiny on a crime that was shocking but that also has
potential to subvert the democratic process in Ireland."

Minister McDowell stated that the IRA still have 80 per
cent of the £26.5m stolen from the Northern Bank in Belfast
on December 20 last year. The raid was the biggest cash
bank heist in criminal history and, according to Toolis,
the IRA ended up robbing the bank a total of three times.

A massive investigation involving the PSNI and Assets
Recovery Agency in the North, and the Gardai and Criminal
Assets Bureau in the South has been on the trail of the
cash ever since the raid.

Banker and former government advisor Mr Flynn was one of a
number of high profile businessman who were arrested and
who is under investigation by the CriminalAssets Bureau.
The 64-year-old trade union leader and businessman has
since stepped down as chairman at Bank of Scotland
(Ireland) after his home and offices were raided by gardai
in connection with the Belfast bank raid.

Garda detectives were sent to Bulgaria, where Flynn and
Cunningham were shown details of property investments,
including one for a market garden site with potential hotel
and leisure development in the historic city of Plovdiv, in
the south of Bulgaria.

According to local sources the development would have cost
in the region of €14m.

But this kind of investment would have been way beyond the
capacity of Mr Cunningham, who ran a small but lucrative
finance company in Cork called Chesterton Finance - and
this is where Flynn and his connection to the Bank of
Scotland gave the deal credibility with the Bulgarian

Mr Flynn, Mr Cunningham, a Co Meath businesswoman and
another associate of Mr Cunningham visited Bulgaria in
January last and met the country's deputy finance minister,
Ilya Lingorski.

But less than a month later all four were under
investigation after gardai seized £1.6m (€2.4m) stuffed
into a wheelie bin in the back garden of Mr Cunningham's
Ballincollig home.

Two republicans from Derry and a man with connections to
the dissident Continuity IRA were also arrested with a
large amount of cash in a Daz detergent box.

During further raids, more cash and a quantity of cocaine
was seized. Gardai also discovered that a further large
sum, thought to be around £1m (€1.47m), was burned at a
house in Ballincollig and another associate of Mr
Cunningham surrendered some £50,000 (€74,0000) to gardai,
claiming that Mr Cunningham had asked him to mind it.

Gardai have not been able to ascertain for certain that the
Sterling notes, mostly in Northern Ireland bank
denominations, found at Mr Cunningham's house were stolen
from the Northern Bank. The notes stolen from the Northern
Bank are mostly untraceable.

However, gardai say they have still to come up with an
adequate explanation as to what £1.6m in banks notes from
Northern Ireland banks was doing in the back garden of a
house in Cork.

The head of the Bulgarian interior ministry, Lieut Gen
Boiko Borissov, said earlier this year that four Irish
representatives "came to Bulgaria as representatives of a
financial institution registered in Amsterdam with capital
of roughly €14m".

But Mr Flynn said he knew nothing about this and there must
have been an error.

During their January meeting, the Bulgarian deputy finance
minister, Mr Lingorski, met Mr Flynn and the rest of the
party in a restaurant in the capital, Sofia.

The Sunday Independent has learned that gardai were tipped
off about suspicious financial transactions linked to Mr
Cunningham's company, Chesterton Finance, as early as 2003.

At the end of last year, Bulgaria's Interior Minister froze
€300,000 that had come into the country from an Irish bank.

Seven months after the arrest of Mr Cunningham and six
other people in relation to suspected money laundering, no
charges have been brought.

The only development since the raids has been the sending
of a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions in respect
of a pen gun allegedly found in Mr Flynn's office.

He is due to appear in court on the firearms charge on
October 10.

The Channel 4 programme Dispatches: The Big Heist, which
will be screened on Thursday night, includes interviews
with Bulgarian government officials.


Comment: Liam Clarke: Orange Order Still Glories In

If you visit the Orange Order's Belfast headquarters, you
can buy all sorts of endearing kitsch. There are postcards
with Santa Claus wearing Orange regalia, Orange Mr Men
figures, reproduction Williamite coins and jars of Orange
marmalade with King Billy and his white horse on the label.

That's the folksy side of the order — it's funny and a
little bit outrageous.

Another side is more serious. The order proclaims itself
"primarily a religious organisation", which is "Christ-
centred, Bible-based, and Church-grounded". It preaches
sobriety and rectitude to its members, and stands for civil
and religious liberty. But it slips into questionable
territory with the requirement that its members must sign a
declaration before joining that both their parents are
Protestants, and leave if they marry a Catholic.

Nestling in among the merchandise at the House of Orange in
Belfast is a special "diamond" or medal sold at £20 to be
hung on collarettes to commemorate one of the most
significant pieces of sectarian mayhem the order had ever
engaged in: the Battle of Dolly's Brae.

Dolly's Brae was an almost entirely Catholic village near
Castlewellan in Co Down, which the order determined to walk
through for the first time in 1849. Police and dragoons
lined the route and allowed them to pass, seeing it as the
option least likely to cause trouble. The marchers, many of
them armed, took advantage of the occasion to sing anti-
Catholic songs, with the result that a Catholic
paramilitary gang, the Ribbonmen, decided to contest their
journey on the way back.

After the demonstration Lord Roden took the Orange marchers
to his estate, gave them whiskey, incited them to fight and
agreed to lead them on the return leg. In the ensuing mêlée
30 Ribbonmen were killed. There is no mention of Orange
fatalities. As a result, Orange marches were banned from
1850 until 1872, and Roden was forced to stand down as a
justice of the peace.

In the cold light of day, the Battle of Dolly's Brae must
be seen as one of the most disastrous episodes in the
order's history. It alienated it from the state to which it
was supposed to be loyal and all but led to it being
formally suppressed as it had been in 1825. Today Dolly's
Brae is celebrated as an Orange victory. Songs are sung
about it, the anniversary is commemorated and Orange
Brethren carry banners eulogising the day they pushed a
march through against determined opposition and killed 30
people who tried to stand in their way.

These are the only sort of victories the order has to
celebrate. On the big historical issues it has fought a
largely unsuccessful rearguard battle and, its founding
myths are little more than wishful thinking. King William
III, whose victory at the Boyne it celebrates, probably
could not have joined the order because he was allied to
the Pope. His principles of civil and religious liberty
were adopted by the order, but when the decisive test of
Catholic emancipation came up, it campaigned for the
retention of the penal laws. Today the House of Orange in
Holland, from which they derive their name and which
honours him to this day, want no more to do with them than
they do to the British royal family.

Of course that is not the whole of the Orange story. The
order has provided a men's club in many areas, it has held
scattered Protestant communities together, extended mutual
help to its members and its tunes have contributed a great
deal to Ireland's musical heritage. Its bands have nurtured
musical talents and its halls have been cheap and
convenient meeting places for everything from youth clubs
to dog-training classes. It has helped thousands of people
in its history and many Orangemen have been good neighbours
and friends to Catholics.

My own grandfather, who played in an Orange band in Co
Monaghan, is remembered there for aiding a revival of Irish
piping in the area in the 1920s and the 1930s, and had
friends across the community divide.

Many Orangemen today are decent and upstanding men who pay
as little attention as they can to the sectarian
antecedents of the order and seek to experience it as a
purely religious and fraternal body.

They point to the qualifications of an Orangeman, which
members must assent to before joining, as evidence of the
order's basic decency. They enjoin members to be "gentle
and compassionate, kind and courteous". The qualifications
say he should "seek a society of the virtuous, and avoid
that of the evil" and "abstain from all uncharitable words,
actions or sentiments towards his Roman Catholic brethren",
even while refusing to countenance " by his presence or
otherwise any act of ceremony of Popish worship".

Many hold these principles as an ideal, but the aspiration
to avoid the company "of the evil" was honoured in the
breach at Whiterock, when men in collarettes stood shoulder
to shoulder with masked paramilitaries. Both before and
after last weekend's march, gentleness, compassion and
courtesy were in short supply as Orange leaders pronounced
themselves free of all blame for the violence and hit out
at the police.

The truth is that enough of Orange history is in the
Dolly's Brae mode — violent, sectarian and triumphalist —
to stop the celebration of Orange culture from being a
simple and straightforward matter in the 21st century.

Any examination of the role of the Orange Order must start
with a frank admission that it has its origins in
paramilitarism and that it has never succeeded in freeing
itself of that taint. It evolved from the Peep o Day boys,
the main loyalist players in the sectarian faction fights
of the 1790s, and it has never entirely exorcised the raw
passions of that violent era. Indeed the order and its
sanctification of a sectarian past has been one of the main
vehicles for transmitting those deadly rivalries to each
new century since then.

Loyalist killers are still embraced by sections of
Orangeism. To take one example, each year Old Boyne Island
Heroes LOL 633 in Belfast lays a wreath at a plaque in
honour of one its members. He is Brian Robinson, a UVF man
who was shot dead by a British Army undercover unit minutes
after he had himself murdered a Catholic, Patrick McKenna,
in Ardoyne. When the lodge was questioned, it said of
Robinson, "His private life was his own affair".

It isn't a small event. Each year up to 40 bands take part,
and in 2000, Dawson Bailie defended it in a BBC interview
by describing the Orange Order as "a broad church". Broad
enough, it seems, to include people who murder Catholics,
but not those who marry them.

Bailie went on to say that, he had "no axe to grind
whatsoever" with those who took part in the parade in
memory of Robinson.

This is the same Dawson Bailie who, this year, called for
unionists to take to the streets before the disputed march
and then inflamed them with talk of an "attempt to
humiliate and suppress our culture". Afterwards he refused
to accept responsibility for what had occurred, saying: "As
far as I'm concerned the people to blame for that (the
violence) are the secretary of state, the chief constable
and the Parades Commission, fairly and squarely."

Bailie was later satirised in an e-mail that circulated
among some disgruntled Orangemen. It read: "See no evil,
hear no evil, speak no sense."

His leadership has been poor, but if the Orange Order is to
have a long-term future it needs to do more than change its
top table. It must stop exalting its own worst excesses and
re-invent itself as a cultural organisation free of the
taint of sectarian triumphalism.


Unionism Reaches Crisis Point

18 September 2005 By Colm Heatley

Images of burning vehicles, masked men shooting at the
British army and rioters attacking police are not new to
the North. But they are no longer familiar, and even less
so when the attackers are unionists who profess loyalty to

The pretext for last week's rioting was the re-routing of
an Orange Order parade away from a nationalist area of west
Belfast, a decision that infuriated unionists. It was clear
days before the planned parade that the various strands of
unionism - the Orange Order, loyalist paramilitaries and
unionist politicians - sensed they had found a rallying
point for their long-held grievances about the political
process in the North.

The Orange Order called on Protestants to come out in their
thousands and protest at the decision.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley said the
re-routing of the parade "could be the spark that kindles a
fire there is no putting out''.

The election of the DUP as the biggest party in the North
has done little, in unionist eyes, to halt the peace
process. The last bulwark against progress is proving
ineffective. The re-routing of the march provided the
opportunity for unionists to show that they could cause

Simmering political resentment at the direction of the
peace process, the political rise of Northern nationalism
as embodied by Sinn Féin, declining economic prospects for
Protestants and a culture of political disengagement merged
to cause the violent backlash by unionists last week.

Many working-class Protestants believe the peace process is
weighted against them and that they are destined for a
united Ireland, ignored by Britain. The IRA's recent
statement that it will disarm - and the inevitable next
step of Sinn Féin sharing government in the North - has
left unionism in crisis.

Many unionists feel they have nothing left to lose - a fact
loyalist paramilitaries have played upon.

Even as the violence in Belfast lessened late last week,
handfuls of loyalist protesters - unchallenged by the
police - blocked roads and caused gridlock.

The DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) reluctantly
condemned the violence but insisted that all of society
must shoulder the blame. UUP leader Reg Empey said
loyalists were "copying republicans who have clearly
benefited from violence''.

After four days of silence about the loyalist rioting, the
Orange Order last Wednesday condemned "all violence'' in
the North. It rejected the claim of PSNI chief constable
Hugh Orde that the order was largely responsible for the

Such reluctant condemnations and the seeming inability of
the PSNI to tackle loyalist protesters has left
nationalists anxious that loyalist violence will be allowed
to halt political progress in the North.

Within the unionist community, however, the violence is
seen as "inevitable''.

"The Catholic community is on a roll at the minute," said
Sammy Douglas, the director of the East Belfast Partnership
Board. "They are streets ahead of us in terms of education,
community development, culture, everything.

"There is a lot of resentment about that. This violence
should be seen as a wake-up call, especially for Sinn Féin,
who are going to have to be more sensitive towards us.

"Things have changed a lot for unionists. They can't get
jobs in the shipyards any longer and there are far too few
young Protestants going into education.

"They are tough times. Look at the unionist community - we
are completely splintered by feuds. Politically, we are
totally fragmented."

While some republican districts suffer the highest levels
of deprivation in western Europe, Protestant areas are also
increasingly deprived.

Over the past decade, once thriving areas, such as the
lower Shankill in Belfast, have become virtual ghost towns.
In east Belfast, hundreds of Protestant men lost their jobs
when the Harland & Wolff shipyard closed down, depriving
them and their sons of an income and security.

A legacy of educational neglect exists in working-class
Protestant areas because, in the past, the best jobs were
open to Protestants, with or without qualifications. In
some districts of east Belfast, just 2 per cent of
Protestants aged 16 or over are involved in full-time

The relatively moderate reforms to the RUC, which produced
the PSNI, also left a sizeable section of unionists
resentful that "their'' police were taken from them. It has
led to a heightened sense among unionists that they are
slowly being stripped of their defences.

"We just can't identify with the PSNI, because they don't
have 'royal' in the name," one working-class Protestant
woman said last week.

"You need to put 'royal' in to get Protestant support."

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), whose members were
involved in last week's rioting, has its own gripes with
the PSNI. Before last week's violence, the UVF orchestrated
two days of rioting against the PSNI in the Woodvale
district of north Belfast after the police seized some of
its guns.

Loyalist paramilitary attacks on the police and British
army are not new. Indeed, the first RUC man to die in the
Troubles, Victor Arbuckle, was shot dead by the UVF during
riots on the Shankill Road in October 1969.

But if loyalism has been excluded from the top table of the
peace process, it has also been excused the price of entry.
The UVF and Ulster Defence Association (UDA) have come
under no pressure to decommission their arsenals.

Loyalist feuds have continued unabated in recent years,
claiming more than 30 lives since 2000. In recent weeks,
the UVF evicted Protestants from a housing estate in east
Belfast as PSNI members looked on.

The sustained ferocity of last week's violence - which
comes as the IRA prepares to decommission its weapons - has
put the focus on the direction unionism will now take. With
the UVF's ceasefire officially declared void, it is
difficult to predict how the group will react.

Despite well-documented violence and murders, it is the
first time in 11 years that the UVF ceasefire has not been
officially recognised by the British government.

The current situation puts loyalism beyond the political
pale and will force a rethink of strategy within the UVF

Perhaps the litmus test will be whether it calls off its
feud with the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), which seems

When the UDA's ceasefire was declared void in 2001 - over
its role in loyalist feuding - it continued its activities
in private and has since abandoned any pretence of

With no political direction, the UVF will either wind up or
- more likely - escalate its criminal activities. Since
most loyalist paramilitaries look to the DUP for political
guidance, perhaps it is time for DUP politicians to treat
them as a de facto part of their mandate.

The challenge facing unionism is twofold.

The issue of loyalist paramilitarism must be dealt with if
unionism is to move forward politically, and leaders such
as Paisley need to show confidence in the political system
if the unionist community is to have faith in the peace
process once more.


A 'Boycott' That Means Murder, Arson And Terror

Henry MacDonald on loyalist criminals turning their wrath
on a Sunday newspaper in Belfast

Sunday September 18, 2005
The Observer

Shopkeepers have been told they will be shot and their
premises torched if they sell this newspaper. Lorry drivers
have received threatening phone calls advising them not to
transport it from the printing press to retailers. Staff at
garages have had visits from men in balaclavas warning them
to take the paper off the shelves. Meanwhile, the
journalists who produce the publication feel increasingly
under siege.

This is not a summary of life at a campaigning newspaper
under threat from Islamic insurgents in Baghdad or Basra -
it is actually happening today in a British city, where
threats of murder and arson have denied thousands the right
to read their newspaper of choice.

Since the end of July, the Ulster Defence Association - the
largest illegal loyalist paramilitary group in Northern
Ireland - has subjected the Sunday World to a campaign of
intimidation and terror.

The tabloid specialises in highlighting the ongoing
violence of paramilitary organisations and exposing some of
their leadership's lavish lifestyles.

One of the paper's repeated targets is the UDA's 'North
Belfast Brigadier', Andre Shoukri. The son of an Egyptian
Copt, he rose through the ranks of the UDA after leaving
prison and now heads a criminal empire built on drugs and

He took umbrage at a particular story in the Sunday World
that he was holidaying in the ritzy parts of southern
France while his native North Belfast burnt over the
loyalist marching season. On his return, Shoukri forced
through a motion at a meeting of the Combined Loyalist
Military Command (the umbrella body for all loyalist
terrorist groups) that the Sunday World be 'boycotted' in
Protestant areas.

In reality, 'boycott' meant no one in loyalist areas was
allowed to read the Sunday World - and in the first week of
the campaign the paper lost up to 7,000 sales.

Intimidation did not just apply to shopowners running small
businesses on Protestant working-class estates; even retail
giant Sainsbury's was targeted. A week after the 'boycott'
began, staff at Forestside Garage - Sainsbury's busiest
filling station in Northern Ireland - were warned by
loyalists to stop selling the Sunday World. For at least a
week it was impossible to buy the tabloid at the garage,
though Sainsbury's has since started selling it again.

Inside the paper's heavily fortified office in central
Belfast is a plaque dedicated to the only reporter
deliberately killed by terrorists in Northern Ireland. In
September 2001 the Loyalist Volunteer Force shot journalist
Martin O'Hagan as he walked home from a night out with his
wife in Lurgan. His editor, Jim McDowell, is scathing about
the lack of support he has received from the British

'If this intimidation was happening on the streets of
Liverpool or Manchester, if newspapers in those cities were
being targeted this way, there would be a national outcry,'
he says. 'Tony Blair would take charge of the situation,
but because it's Northern Ireland we don't seem to count.'

However, the six-foot shaven-headed rugby-playing editor is
not the type to bend in a crisis. The Sunday World has
continued to report the nefarious activities of loyalists
paramilitaries since the 'boycott' began.

'I had a personal one-to-one meeting at Hillsborough Castle
[last month] with Peter Hain [the Northern Ireland
Secretary], yet nothing has happened since. The British
government continues to recognise the UDA's cease-fire,
which is a joke.'

Many Sunday World journalists feel that there has been a
lack of editorial and political support. The paper is owned
by Tony O'Reilly, whose other titles include the London
Independent, the Dublin-based Sunday Independent and the
Belfast Telegraph

Articles about the UDA campaign against the Sunday World
have been few and far between across the newspaper empire.

Frustration over the dearth of coverage boiled over
recently at the Belfast Telegraph after the paper's
National Union of Journalists chapel attempted to table a
motion calling for more exposure in its publication of the
UDA 'boycott'.

News executives at the O'Reilly-owned paper fear that too
much exposure of the issue might prompt the UDA or other
terror groups to start targeting the lucrative Belfast
printing press, which has contracts to publish a range of
titles including the Sun and the News of the World in

A spokesman for the Independent group rejected any
suggestion that its titles had ignored the 'boycott'. He
said there was evidence that columnists and editorial
writers had tackled the issue head on, adding: 'These
editors will continue to pursue the truth without fear or

Meanwhile, there is some heartening news for McDowell and
his besieged staff - in recent weeks, sales figures have
risen to about 65,000.

And the paper has now run a special story relating to the
'boycott' that tells how leading loyalists are driving from
the Protestant Shankill Road on to the Catholic Falls,
finding the nearest garage and stocking up with dozens of
copies of the Sunday World, which they then distribute
among their mates in loyalist estates across Belfast.


Opin: North Heartland's Unionism Belongs In A Trailer Park

18 September 2005 By Tom McGurk

Last Saturday night the unionists of Belfast treated us to
an evening of truly surreal proportions. Outside City Hall,
thousands waving Union Jacks were part of a live BBC
broadcast of the last night of the proms. They sang
lustily. Donegal Square echoed to Jerusalem and Land of
Hope and Glory.

Meanwhile, not a mile away in North Belfast others had also
hoisted the Union Jack and were aiming automatic gunfire
and blast bombs at their Queen's soldiers. Imperial sunsets
are inevitably bizarre but who could have scripted this

To readers of this column, the loyalist riots in Belfast
will have come as no surprise. The endemic political and
social crisis in the loyalist heartlands is something we
were considering long before it finally made last week's
headlines. Here is a community in self-destruction mode. A
community whose leaders seem utterly incapable of
understanding the new political realities in the North.

The imposition of equality of citizenship on the old colony
makes for painful learning; unionism is fast running out of
people to blame for its own collapse into sectarian

As the smoke cleared across North Belfast, the bombast of
rhetoric about law and order and paramilitarism and arms
and violence we have been hearing for years from political
unionism emerged in a whole new subtext.

In the face of the attempted murder of police officers,
widespread anarchy, robbery, intimidation, arson, looting
and carjacking, not a single unionist political leader
could bring himself to utter a single word of condemnation.
The Orange Order press conference that followed the riots
left one gasping at a display of utter hypocrisy.

For many years, some of us have known about the deeply
dysfunctional political and sectarian psychosis at the
heart of loyalism. Perhaps the only consolation to emerge
from last weekend's performance is that the rest of the
world now knows it as well. And, as has been his wont for
years, the moment the reality of Paisleyism's panaceas
emerged in its true colours on the streets, the Big Man was
nowhere to be seen or heard.

It is important to understand just how different this riot
was from the traditional Belfast riot scenarios in order to
understand the dimensions of the crisis that unionism is
now facing.

Days before the march erupted on the Springfield road, a
source in Belfast told me the bush telegraph was indicating
that loyalist paramilitaries would use the parade ban to
provoke a major confrontation. Their preparations were
already well advanced and their rationale was two-fold.

First, under increasing pressure in their own communities
due to sustained criminality they needed a device to
reemerge as "protectors'' in those communities. Second, and
most remarkably, they are seemingly deeply disturbed by the
notion of IRA weapons decommissioning.

Over and beyond the wider politics of the North, the self-
defence role of the IRA in Catholic communities has been
understood for many decades. Such was the implicit
sectarian nature of partition, the lives of front-line
Catholic communities - particularly in Belfast - have
always been held hostage to fortune by loyalism. Any
perceived change in the wider political status of the
Catholic community and they were liable to get it in the
neck. It was precisely this historical, Pavlovian response
in 1969 that induced the birth of the Provisional IRA.

Last weekend was, at one level, an exploration by loyalist
paramilitarism into new post-IRA ghetto politics. Would the
PSNI be able to protect nationalist areas, and, equally,
might a sustained attack shake or undermine the new IRA

The PSNI also was well aware of the new subtext and perhaps
this goes some way to explaining the Orange leaders'
accusations of heavy-handed police tactics. Importantly,
given the reality of ghetto politics in the North, the fact
that the PSNI was so effective in a post-IRA ghetto
confrontation is one of the few consolations to come out of
the battlefield.

What was also singularly different about this riot was the
careful planning and the extent to which violently anti-
social elements in the loyalist communities used it as a
cover for their own criminality. The widespread incidents
of armed robbery, the removal of a cash machine, the
looting of shops and even the targeting of carefully
selected business premises - perhaps with a view to
subsequent loyalist paramilitary business - suggests that
this wasn't just a spontaneous reaction to a march ban.

Perhaps the most significant implication for unionism in
the long run was the signals from their heartlands last
weekend that the paramilitary gangsterism now dominant in
these communities had eclipsed elected political

Now the unionist political obsession with an IRA on
ceasefire over the last decade, to the exclusion of any
consideration of the threat of loyalist paramilitarism, has
exploded in their faces. Who couldn't argue now that
loyalist paramilitaries actually represent the greatest
threat to their own communities?

In the face of this eruption of sectarian fury and civil
anarchy, the DUP and UUP now look like players without a
plot. From the beginnings of the peace process, their
agenda was to resist any attempt at fundamental change in
the hope that, sooner or later, the republican agenda would
collapse under the weight of its paramilitarism.

Now, to their utter dismay, that hasn't happened and with
IRA decommissioning. about to utterly change the face of
Northern politics, political unionism is up the creek
without a paddle. They can, of course, continue to refuse
to come on board politically, but perhaps some may even
consider the consequences of that decision, given the
social crisis their own communities face.

With its vicious sectarianism, its educational and
financial failure and its dysfunctional inability to seek
an objective critique of its crisis, heartland unionism is
now most reminiscent of an American white-trash trailer-
park. Loyalism is now synonymous with poverty,
dysfunctionality and social breakdown.

Somebody has to do something to save these people from the
hellish logic of their own prejudices. It clearly isn't
going to be political unionism as currently constituted.


No Longer Centre Stage, But Clinton Leaves Them Calling For

By Philip Sherwell in New York
(Filed: 18/09/2005)

If there was any doubt that Bill Clinton still elicits the
adoration of women, Barbra Streisand was on hand last week
to squash it.

As the former president laid out his agenda for world
change from a podium flanked by Tony Blair, Condoleezza
Rice and King Abdullah of Jordan, the singer-actress
emitted a series of gentle but disconcerting squeals of
approval, interspersed with admiring sighs.

Bill Clinton and Tony Bennett

Hers was typical of the audience reaction at launch of the
modestly named Clinton Global Initiative in New York.

Streisand and her husband, the actor James Brolin, had sat
down next to The Sunday Telegraph at the glitzy gathering
of international leaders, old White House allies, business
chiefs, showbiz celebrities and Third World campaigners,
aimed at solving the world's most pressing problems.

In fact, they made more concrete progress than the United
Nations summit held just across town. Mr Clinton required
all participants to contribute time or money to one of four
"critical challenges" - poverty, religious conflict,
climate change and good governance. Sir Tom Hunter, a
Scottish entrepreneur turned philanthropist, made one of
the biggest donations: $100 million (£55 million).

Streisand, a prominent Hollywood liberal, was thrilled.
"This is such a great idea," she said. "I think Bill's
great and he's doing such an important thing here." Mr
Clinton has taken post-presidential activism to new levels.
In addition to the Global Initiative, he has raised money
for the victims of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina
and overseen other aid projects funded by his foundation.
So impressed was Streisand that she suggested America
change the Constitution to allow him to run again for the
White House.

Mr Clinton returned the compliment later, at a reception in
the Nobu restaurant. "Barbara is a great woman and good
friend," he said. "She was also fantastic to my mother. She
met her at my inauguration in 1993 and when she heard she
was ill, she called her and invited her to her show in Las

Former Clinton cabinet ministers and staffers rubbed
shoulders with 40 heads of government, several prominent
Republicans and the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, who sang
the former president's praises as he discussed the role of
religion in conflicts.

But the greatest beneficiary of the praise and of the high
profile for the Clinton brand may prove to be his wife, who
as the junior senator for New York state joined a
discussion of climate change.

If Streisand's dream of a Clinton return to the White House
comes true, it will be Hillary who leads the way - with her
husband as the first First Gentleman.


Cash Windfall For Irish Americans

By Conor McMorrow

Irish people living in the US came in for a windfall
yesterday after the Irish government pledged €750,000
(£507,968) in grant aid to Irish emigrant services in the

The money will be distributed to 13 organisations which
provide support and advice to Irish people living in
America over the next 12 months.

Foreign minister Dermot Ahern made the announcement during
meetings with community leaders in New York. Mr Ahern
accompanied the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on his trip to the
US for the UN summit.

Yesterday's funding announcement represents a 40 per cent
increase on the amount granted to Irish immigration groups
last year.

Dermot Ahern said: "I know that the helping hand that they
extend to those in need makes a very significant difference
to many Irish people. I want to thank the committed and
hard-working teams in the immigration centres for their
dedication to the more vulnerable members of our

As he announced the grants in New York, he said the Irish
government greatly appreciates the support and advice
offered by the Irish immigration centres in the US.

Since 1990 the Irish government has allocated over €4.58
million (£3.1 million) in grants to Irish immigration
centres in the US.

Mr Ahern added: "Funding for groups in the US has never
been higher. Today's announcement represents an increase of
40 per cent on last year and is more than double the amount
that was available to the centres in 2003."

The funding supports the delivery of advice and information
to Irish people in the US and priority is attached to
supporting the work of front line community organisations
helping vulnerable Irish citizens.

Some of the organisations set to benefit from the grants
include the Aisling Irish Centre, Emerald Isle Immigration
Centre and Project Irish Outreach which are all located in
New York. Philadelphia's Irish Immigration and Pastoral
Centre, Boston's Irish Pastoral Centre, Chicago Irish
Immigration Support and the Seattle Irish Immigration
Support are also set to benefit.

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