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September 11, 2005

SF Fears It Will Be Undermined

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SB 09/11/05 SF Fears It Will Be Undermined
ST 09/11/05 Orde Rage At Orange 'Riot Plot'
NY 09/11/05 Riots Erupt As Protestant March Turns Violent
WP 09/11/05 Violence Flares After Police Reroute Parade
SB 09/11/05 UVF 'To Wind Up, But No Decommissioning'
SB 09/11/05 Rip-Off Backlash Hits FF Support
SB 09/11/05 Fine Gael Makes Inroads Into FF Support
SB 09/11/05 PDs Won't Rule Out FG/Labour Coalition
SB 09/11/05 Poll Puts FG/Lbr Coalition In A Strong Position
SB 09/11/05 IRA Has Started Its Destruction Of Arms
ST 09/11/05 Peace Needs Leadership
SB 09/11/05 Professional Ethos Permeates GAA Management
SB 09/11/05 GAA Puts Other Sports In The Shade
SB 09/11/05 And Now A Word From Our Sponsors
SB 09/11/05 Pioneering Irish Helped Build New Orleans
NY 09/11/05 The Lord Of The Dance, Born On The 4th Of July
SB 09/11/05 Waiting To Rebuild Their Lives


SF Fears It Will Be Undermined

11 September 2005 By Paul T Colgan

Senior officials in Sinn Féin say they are increasingly
concerned that the Irish and British governments will try
to undermine the party following the decommissioning of IRA

With a statement from General John De Chastelain about IRA
decommissioning expected at any time, the North is moving
into a potentially difficult period.

Against the backdrop of a loyalist campaign against
Catholics and internecine feuding between the Ulster
Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force
(LVF), republicans fear that any momentum generated by IRA
disarmament may be scuppered by events on the ground.

Sinn Féin has urged Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and foreign
affairs minister Dermot Ahern to take the British
government to task over the ongoing loyalist campaign of
violence and intimidation in north Antrim and parts of

Last Thursday, Ahern was inBelfast where he visited
interface areas and held talks with Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

Despite the contention by Sinn Féin spokesman Martin
McGuinness that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will
talk to republicans, Sinn Féin is privately pessimistic
about the possibility of unionists seeking serious
negotiations in the coming months.

The past month or so has seen a sustained campaign of
loyalist violence against Catholics in the North Antrim
constituency of DUP leader Ian Paisley.

One paint bomb thrown through a Catholic family's living
room window landed on an infant lying in its cot.

Petrol bombs have been hurled at nationalist homes, forcing
many in the town of Ahoghill to flee.

Two Catholic schools have been subjected to arson attacks
and anti-Catholic slogans have been daubed on churches.

Up to 50 Catholic properties in Ballymena, Ahoghill and
Portglenone are under round-the-clock protection by the
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The PSNI last
month issued fire blankets to many Catholics and advised
them to jump out of windows if their homes were petrol

Duncan Morrow, chief of the North's Community Relations
Council, last week compared the PSNI's 'Operation Striker'
to a Balkan-style UN peacekeeping strategy. "It certainly
can't go on forever, because people start to feel that they
can only live in the town with this protection," he said.

Paisley eventually condemned the violence, though he
included a caveat claiming that Sinn Féin had failed to
condemn attacks on property belonging to the Free
Presbyterian Church.

The DUP's focus has been more on the reappearance of the
Colombia Three in Ireland. Last week, DUP negotiator
Jeffrey Donaldson travelled to Colombia where he met vice
president Francisco Santos.

Republicans have said that, if the Irish government does
not agree to extradite the three men, the DUP will probably
use the case as a pretext for refusing to discuss the
restoration of power-sharing.

"It's clear now that the DUP is getting its excuses
together for not engaging after IRA decommissioning is
finished," said a senior Sinn Féin source.

"The DUP needs to show some real leadership now and help
bring about political stability, but all the indications do
not bode well.

"They're still shouting at Sinn Féin and making excuses for
what loyalist paramilitaries are doing on the ground."

But republicans say Sinn Féin is not prepared to "sit on
its hands'' if the DUP refuses to play ball. They say
British and Irish government commitments should be
implemented regardless of unionism. Demilitarisation,
justice and equality issues, and promises to draft
legislation governing the return of "on the runs'' to the
North top the republican wish list.

"But we could be shafted by people in the North and London
who have always had problems with the political process, or
people in Dublin who feel threatened by the electoral
growth of Sinn Féin," said the source.

"Demilitarisation could certainly be speeded up and the
PSNI's handling of recent loyalist violence has not been
helpful with regard to the issue of policing.

Only a few years ago, a thug threw a petrol bomb through
the window of a Catholic home in north Antrim and it killed
three children.

If that were to happen now, it would throw everything into
chaos, the senior Sinn Féin source said.

"The potential for such a thing is definitely there. It's
only through good fortune that it hasn't yet happened."


Orde Rage At Orange 'Riot Plot'

Liam Clarke and Jason Johnston

THE chief constable of the Police Service of Northern
Ireland has said he holds the Orange Order responsible for
yesterday's sustained rioting in Belfast, the worst in
Northern Ireland for several years.

At least six police officers have been hurt and two
civilians have been seriously injured by loyalists. One man
was shot in the chest and, local sources say, the bullet
exited through his neck leaving him close to death.

Hugh Orde said his officers had come under attack with
blast and petrol bombs, and had been shot at. He had seen
members of the Orange Order engaging with masked men to
attack members of the PSNI, he said.

"The Orange Order called people out onto the streets and I
hold them totally responsible," Orde said. "The army and
police have returned live fire."

The police used water cannon and fired impact rounds.

An Orange march had split into a number of routes in clear
breach of a ruling, and this was the responsibility of the
order, according to Orde. "It was not under the control of
anyone else," he said. "I haven't heard any politician
condemn it yet and I have been listening."

He said the trouble was organised and that petrol bombs and
blast bombs "don't appear by accident. I have miles of
video footage to support everything I have said. No police
service in the UK or Europe has to face this organised
disorder across such a wide area".

Soldiers and officers acted like heroes, he said. "They
have responded with minimal force. It is truly world-class

The PSNI would have been in serious trouble without army
back-up, Orde added. In some areas nationalists had come
out and thrown missiles but Orde said that there had been
no serious violence from that side.

Acting on a ruling by the Parades Commission, police had
re-routed the Orange Order's Whiterock parade through
Mackies, a disused industrial complex away from the mainly
nationalist Springfield Road area.

The Orange march was barred from going through security
gates on the Springfield Road and redirected into the
former Mackie's factory site. Three security-force
helicopters and a spy plane monitored the march from the
air, while on the ground there was a huge deployment of
police and troops to quell unrest. Screens were erected in
front of houses.

At one point, loyalist protesters looked as if they would
burst open security gates on Workman Avenue. Elsewhere a
crowd of up to 100 people blocked off three lanes of
traffic behind Belfast City Hall.

Some of the protesters concealed their identity from
security force cameras by covering their faces with scarves
or hoods. The police closed the road before the crowd moved
to Shaftesbury Square.

On Isadore Avenue, which runs between Springfield Road and
the West Circular Road, two military Land Rovers and a
Saxon armoured personnel carrier were burnt out after
sustained rioting in which fusillades of plastic bullets
were fired at loyalist mobs armed with blast bombs.

An eyewitness said: "I heard three bursts of automatic
gunfire and saw the police and army scattering for cover.
The shots came from the loyalists in the Highfield estate
where the rioters were based."

Cars and a lemonade lorry were hijacked and burnt.

Earlier, a number of children were badly shocked after a
bus they were travelling in was hit with bottles and stones
during trouble in North Queen Street in the north of the
city. A window was smashed and children screamed in

In east Belfast another group of loyalist protesters came
under attack from nationalist residents of Short Strand
when they attempted to cut the area off by blocking the
nearby Albert Bridge.

Tension was high because, on Friday night, a 29-year-old
man from Short Strand was beaten and critically injured by
a gang of 11 men who ran off in the direction of the mainly
loyalist Ravenhill Road. The standoff around Short Strand
was defused when police in riot gear forced both sides

Further disorder flared across the city. Grosvenor Road was
blocked by a mob who threw stones at Catholic houses and
the Westlink urban motorway was also blocked for a time.

The trouble had been widely predicted. Ian Paisley, the DUP
leader, had predicted that stopping the Orange march could
be "the spark which kindles a fire there would be no
putting out".

He and Empey had made a last-bid attempt to have the
Parades Commission reverse its decision to reroute the

In a statement, the Belfast County Grand Orange Lodge said
that "in spite of all the risks taken", the Orangemen were
"faced with a further attempt to humiliate and suppress
their culture". It said nationalists "exercising a cultural
veto" through their "Parades Commission puppets" would not
continue "without consequences".

The Parades Commission had cited "a possible adverse effect
on community relations" if the march was allowed on the
order's preferred route.


September 11, 2005

Riots Erupt Across Belfast As Protestant March Turns
Violent; 6 Injured


BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Sept. 10 (Reuters) - Protestant
demonstrators clashed with the police here on Saturday,
hurling homemade bombs and bricks after a contentious
parade by Orangemen near a nationalist area of the city.

Heavily armed riot police officers fired rubber bullets and
water cannons on the angry crowd of around 500 on West
Belfast's Springfield Road, and officers also confronted
stone-throwing mobs in the north and east of the city.

"We are coming under sustained attack in West Belfast,
where there is a serious situation going on, and there are
sporadic outbreaks of stone throwing elsewhere in the
city," a police spokeswoman said.

She said four officers and two civilians had been injured,
one of the civilians by serious gunshot wounds. There were
also unconfirmed reports that two officers had been injured
by a homemade grenade.

She said what was believed to be machine-gun fire had been
heard on Springfield Road. A car had been hijacked and set
on fire in North Belfast and other vehicles, including a
bus, hijacked in the city center.

The Protestant Orangemen and their supporters had been
angered by a decision earlier this week by Northern
Ireland's independent Parades Commission to reroute their
planned march away from a nationalist enclave on
Springfield Road because of opposition from residents.

Trouble broke out as they approached the contested section
of the march, which had been postponed from earlier in the

Every summer thousands of Orangemen, wearing colorful
regalia and playing music, engage in "a marching season" to
celebrate the 17th century defeat in battle of England's
former king, James II, a Roman Catholic, by King William
III of Orange, a Protestant.

Most Catholics in the province regard the marches as an
offensive display of triumphalism.

Earlier this week the Orange Order said the decision to
reroute the march was the latest in a series of attempts to
"erode Protestant culture" and deny Orangemen their rights,
and called on followers to support the parade.

Tension has mounted recently in Protestant communities -
which support Northern Ireland's links with Britain -
because of the perception that the British government has
moved too fast to reduce its security presence in the
province without any concrete action by the Irish
Republican Army to disarm.

In July, the I.R.A. said it was ending its 30-year armed
campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland and
pledged to dump its weapons, but so far has not done so.


Violence Flares In Belfast After Police Reroute Protestant

By Shawn Pogatchnik

Associated Press

Sunday, September 11, 2005; Page A34

BELFAST, Sept. 10 -- Protestant extremists threw homemade
grenades, gasoline bombs and other makeshift weapons and at
least a dozen police officers and two civilians were
injured Saturday in the latest fury over a restricted
Belfast parade.

Protestants clashed with police, British troops and
Catholic crowds in several parts of Belfast after
authorities blocked the Orange Order -- Northern Ireland's
major Protestant brotherhood -- from parading past the
hard-line Catholic end of disputed Springfield Road.

Protestants set alight barricades in Belfast during clashes
that injured more than a dozen people. (By Peter Morrison -
- Associated Press)

At least six officers were injured by flames and shrapnel
from homemade grenades and gasoline-filled bottles on the
nearby North Circular Road.

Officers on North Circular Road took cover behind their
armored vehicles after hearing bursts of automatic gunfire,
although nobody was reported hit by bullets.

Later, riot police equipped with body armor, shields and
flame-retardant boiler suits repelled the attackers with
plastic bullets and mobile water cannons.

The rioting continued for several hours, spreading after
nightfall to Ballyclare and Newtownabbey, two predominantly
Protestant suburbs of Belfast. On Shankill Road, more than
1,000 people confronted police units, who responded with
water jets and volleys of plastic bullets.

Protestant mobs also blocked several key roads to protest
the authorities' decision to bar Orangemen from marching on
most of Springfield Road, a predominantly Catholic area
with one isolated Protestant section. Police forced the
Orangemen to march instead through a derelict industrial
site to their lodge, which overlooks the road.

British army engineers erected truck-mounted canvas screens
in hopes of blocking Catholics' view of the parade. But
several hundred Catholics gathered on the road, and some
stood on their rooftops to observe the drum-thumping
procession. Both sides shouted vulgar abuse.

At several points, police and politicians reported that
Catholic mobs had joined the maelstrom, with police facing
attack from two directions.

Each summer, Northern Ireland endures inflamed communal
tensions because of annual mass demonstrations by the
Orange Order, a legal organization that was instrumental in
founding Northern Ireland as a mainly Protestant state 85
years ago.

Over the past decade, Catholic hard-liners led by Sinn
Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political wing, have
violently opposed Orange parades that traditionally passed
near or through Catholic areas.


UVF 'To Wind Up, But No Decommissioning'

11 September 2005 By Colm Heatley

As loyalist districts of Belfast cleaned up after another
week of rioting, and masked Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
gunmen brandished weapons on the Shankill Road, a senior
member of the UVF has claimed the group will wind up its
activities within a year.

The claims were dismissed by nationalists as a stunt to
detract attention from UVF involvement in murders, riots
and criminality in the North.

However the UVF source, who sits on the internal body which
holds discussions on the group's future, insisted the claim
was genuine.

He said that most of the UVF leadership now accepted that
the organisation's future would be "limited'' in the event
of total IRA decommissioning, but he ruled out any UVF

The UVF claim comes as the Independent Monitoring
Commission handed its report on recent UVF activities to
the British government last week.

The report will increase pressure on the Northern secretary
Peter Hain to declare the UVF ceasefire void.

"We are aware that things can't go on as they are without a
serious fallout for the UVF," said the member. "We are
looking to get into a situation where - sooner, rather than
later - the UVF will be left with a 'Praetorian Guard' to
deal with any potential threat from dissident republicans.

"Al l our members have been consulted and the leadership is
now drawing up a considered response that will go back to
UVF activists for approval. If it gets approval, the UVF
will move into a different mode in the coming months.

"But the UVF is not as unified as the IRA. For a start, we
have the Red Hand Commando which shares weapons with us but
has its own separate structures. They have to agree as
well," he said.

If the UVF ceased to exist, it would increase pressure on
the Ulster Defence Association to follow suit. However
claims of a new, peaceful future for the UVF lack
credibility, especially given recent events in Belfast.

At best, the group is sending mixed signals to its
supporters and critics. Last week, the loyalist Woodvale
area of north Belfast was the scene of three days of UVF-
orchestrated rioting against police. The violence began
after the PSNI raided houses in the area.

The raids followed a UVF show of strength on the nearby
Shankill Road last weekend, when masked men fired a volley
of shots into the air in front of a cheering crowd.

The UVF also remains involved in a drugs feud with the
Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The conflict has claimed four lives in Belfast since July.

All the murders were carried out by the UVF, which makes
huge profits from the drugs trade.

"We want to end all of our activities, but we aren't
concerned what the political leaders or the government say
about us," the UVF member said.

The UDA, the largest loyalist paramilitary group, also says
it is in the middle of a "consultation process'' with its
members. However the UDA is a notoriously unstable group
with no unified leadership and a history of bloody internal
feuds, which has left the group with no public credibility.

Despite general scepticism at the UVF's claim to be winding
up, loyalist community leaders have asked for the group to
be given space to "work out its difficulties''.

"The IRA were taken seriously when they said made their
July statement, despite the Northern Bank raid, so the UVF
should be accorded the same respect," said Reverend Mervyn
Gibson, chairman of the Loyalist Commission, an umbrella
discussion group for loyalist paramilitaries.

"There is a serious level of discussion within the UVF and
UDA over their futures.

"But the circumstances have to be right to get to the stage
where they effectively no longer exist.

"If they feel there is no longer the need for a military
defence of their communities and if the feud ends, then I
think that stage will be reached."

In 1994, the UVF and UDA announced ceasefires, with the
caveat that loyalist violence would only stop as long as
the union with Britain remained safe. But any future peace
pledge would have to mean a commitment to non-violence, no
matter what the status of the North.

Central to the future of loyalist paramilitaries is their
relationship with the North's security apparatus.
Nationalists have long accused the North's Special Branch
and British military intelligence of colluding with
loyalists in sectarian murders of Catholics.

Based on the confessions of loyalist agents and former
British intelligence operatives, nationalists claim that
loyalists were used as an auxiliary force by the British
military, and that their continued existence is, in part, a
result of that secretive relationship.


Rip-Off Backlash Hits FF Support

11 September 2005 By Pat Leahy

Support for Fianna Fáil has declined dramatically, as
voters blame the government for higher prices, according to
the latest Sunday Business Post/Red C opinion poll.

Just 32 per cent of voters surveyed said they would vote
for Fianna Fáil if there was a general election tomorrow -
a ten-point drop from the last general election. That would
cost Fianna Fáil up to 20 seats and leave the party in

Support for Bertie Ahern's party has dropped by five
percentage points since the last such poll in March.

Fine Gael will draw considerable encouragement from the
poll's findings. Support has increased for the party - at
25 per cent - and for party leader Enda Kenny. A Fine Gael-
Labour coalition is now the clear preference of voters.

Almost nine voters in ten (89 per cent) believe that "rip-
off Ireland'' is a reality on a daily basis, and three out
of four voters - without prompting - blame the government.

More than 1,000 voters were surveyed countrywide early last

The survey comes in the wake of the popular RTE television
series, Rip Off Republic, presented by Eddie Hobbs.

The poll was taken while members of the Fianna Fáil
parliamentary party were gathering in Cavan to start the
new political term.

Support for other parties is largely unchanged since the
March poll. Labour remains at 13 per cent, Sinn Féin is at
10 per cent (up 1), the Green Party at 6 per cent (down 1)
and the Progressive Democrats at 4 per cent (up 1).

Others are at 10 per cent (up 1).

The results of today's poll will deeply worry Fianna Fáil.

With a general election at most 20 months away, fewer than
half of voters say that they would find another Fianna
Fáil-Progressive Democrats coalition acceptable.

By contrast, 62 per cent would accept a Fine Gael-Labour
coalition. This suggests that Kenny and Labour leader Pat
Rabbitte are having some success in establishing themselves
as an alternative government.

Although Ahern is still the most trusted choice as
Taoiseach, Kenny has made significant gains - 31 per cent
of voters would now trust him to be taoiseach, an
improvement of 12 percentage points since March 2004, when
the question was last asked.


Fine Gael Makes Inroads Into FF Support

11 September 2005 By Richard Colwell

Maybe it's not "too early to start an election campaign",
as Tánaiste Mary Harney suggested last week.

Fine Gael will certainly feel vindicated in its recent
campaigns with the results from the latest Sunday Business
Post/Red C opinion poll. The poll, taken last week, shows
Fine Gael gaining a further 3 per cent share of the vote,
to take its projected general election support among those
likely to vote to 25 per cent.

Fianna Fáil has fallen back significantly, with a 5 per
cent fall in support since February to just 32 per cent.
That is Fianna Fáil's lowest share of the vote since the
2004 local elections.

The results are particularly bad for Fianna Fáil bearing in
mind that the poll was conducted during the week of its
autumn get-together. That event might normally have been
expected to boost the party's support among the general

The other parties to gain from declining Fianna Fáil
support appear to be Sinn Féin - up 1 per cent to 10 per
cent, its highest level of potential support recorded for a
general election - and the Progressive Democrats (PDs) and
independents, both of whose support is also up by 1 per

On the other hand, Labour will be somewhat disappointed not
to have made any gains in light of the problems that Fianna
Fáil is experiencing. The poll shows Labour support
sticking at 13 per cent.

The shift away from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael and others is
further emphasised by voter reactions to potential
coalitions at the next election.

When asked in the poll, 62 per cent of the electorate found
the possibility of a Fine Gael/Labour coalition acceptable,
up 7 per cent since March.

Just 46 per cent of those polled found the possibility of a
Fianna Fáil/PD coalition acceptable, down 5 per cent since
March. General acceptance of a coalition gives us some
indication of possible gains from second preference votes.

This suggests that the Fine Gael/Labour campaign has a good
platform to continue to convert people over the next 18

At the same time, Fianna Fáil strategists will no doubt be
keen to identify where exactly their support is giving way.

The poll indicates that the biggest declines are seen among
core 25to 50-year-old voters, and those who come from more
downmarket social groups. These are the same key
demographic groups in which Fine Gael is making gains.

This means the Fine Gael potential voter profile appears to
be changing and is now more evenly distributed among all
social groups. This is in contrast to the historical
perception of Fine Gael appealing more to those from more
upmarket social backgrounds.

The details of the poll also indicate that the biggest
shift in voting behaviour is centred in Connacht/Ulster
and, to a lesser extent, in Dublin.

In the Connacht/Ulster region, Fine Gael support is now
almost twice as high as that for Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael support is weakest in Dublin and the rest of
Leinster, but this is also where Labour support is
strongest, and why the proposed coalition receives such
positive overall acceptance.

The one positive for Fianna Fáil is that - despite a
concerted campaign to discredit the government - Bertie
Ahern tops the poll as being most trusted to lead Ireland
as taoiseach for the next five years. He scored 37 per cent
among those polled.

At the same time, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will be
pleased with the gains he has made since the local

The poll shows that 31 per cent now trust him to run the
country, as opposed to just 19 per cent in March 2004.

This puts the leaders much closer in terms of trust than
previously, and suggests that even the strength of the
party leader may not be the secret weapon it once was for
Fianna Fáil.

One possible explanation for the shift in party support is
growing anger among the electorate about high costs.

It is no surprise to see from this Sunday Business Post/Red
C poll that a large proportion of the electorate believe
that people in Ireland are being ripped off on a daily
basis - 89 per cent agree that this is the case, while just
7 per cent disagree.

It will be a major concern to the government that, when
those who feel they are being ripped off were asked who was
to blame, most (76 per cent) blamed the government.

Those saying they intend to vote Fine Gael are most likely
to blame the government (82 per cent).

But even among those who still say they will vote Fianna
Fáil, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) also blame the
government. A further 6 per cent blame Bertie Ahern

Others blamed by those polled included consumers themselves
(20 per cent), big business (19 per cent) and retailers (6
per cent).

The question for Fine Gael and Labour is whether they can
keep the support they appear to have attracted and continue
to build on this until the next general election. Or was
Harney right? Have they peaked too soon?

Richard Colwell is managing director of market research
company Red C.


PDs Won't Rule Out FG/Labour Coalition

11 September 2005 By Niamh Connolly

The Progressive Democrats would consider forming a
government with Fine Gael and Labour if the numbers stacked
up after the next general election, according to Dun
Laoghaire TD Fiona O'Malley.

O'Malley said that all the major political parties were
operating at the centre of the political spectrum, and the
PDs could do business with Labour.

"If Fine Gael and Labour are shy of the numbers,
undoubtedly they'll talk to us," she said.

"Politics is not a debating society, of course you want to
be in power."

The PDs will meet on Tuesday at Dublin's Merrion Hotel for
an annual parliamentary party meeting.

Amid rising energy costs, the party will call for a radical
extension in tax breaks for industries that produce fuel
from rape seed oils or animal fats.

CIE last week announced it was examining a switch to
biofuels as a cheaper option to petrol.

O'Malley said the cap of 10,000 litres on biofuels
qualifying for excise relief must be removed to incentivise
the industry.

The government's excise relief currently applies to just
eight projects over the next two years.

"People on the forecourts need to be able to make the
decision about choosing biodiesel and the way to do this is
to remove the cap on excise duty," O'Malley said. "Biofuel
companies could double their operations if they didn't have
a cap."

The agenda for Tuesday's parliamentary party agenda
includes childcare, the controversial Groceries Order,
healthcare provision and energy costs.


Poll Puts Fine Gael/Labour Coalition In A Strong Position

11 September 2005 By Richard Colwell

In The Sunday Business Post/Red C polls, party support is
based on those who say they are likely to vote. Those who
say they are unlikely to vote are excluded.

This approach has been developed by Red C to provide a more
accurate read of what will actually happen at the polling
booth. Turnout for elections is never 100 per cent, and
this method allows us to try to reach a closer sample to
those who will actually vote.

We use a 10-point scale where 1 equals certain not to vote
and 10 equals certain to vote.

We exclude those who give a score of 1 to 3 on this scale.

This is equivalent to about 80 per cent turnout, which is
probably still higher than actual turnout, but evidence
also suggests that polls tend to interview slightly more
voters than exist in the whole population.

Some pollsters in the US and Britain are even stricter than
this, and exclude more people on the basis that turnout is
usually lower. They only let those very likely or certain
to vote through, or alternatively weight results by
likelihood to vote, to give those most likely to vote more
weight in their calculations.

In our surveys, this can be achieved only by looking at
those who give a score of 7 to 10 on our 10-point
likelihood-to-vote scale. This effectively strips out the
"somewhat apathetic'' voters who perhaps can't be relied on
to vote.

When we do this to our poll data, we end up with the
equivalent of around 60 per cent turnout, which is much
closer to the reality of the last general election.

Voting intention results for this most recent Sunday
Business Post poll, excluding these apathetic voters, make
very interesting reading for the main parties.

Stripping out "somewhat apathetic'' voters makes the race
much closer, with Fianna Fáil obtaining the same level of
support at 32 per cent. Fine Gael has increased its share
of the vote to 28 per cent, just 4 per cent behind.

Labour also holds on to the same share at 13 per cent, and
this would put the Fine Gael/Labour coalition in a very
strong position. Fine Gael appears to gain ahead of
somewhat more apathetic Sinn Féin and Green voters.

Also significant is the fact that those intending to vote
Fine Gael are all "very likely or certain'' to vote,
whereas around 1 in 10 of the Fianna Fáil supporters fall
into the more apathetic voter category, and therefore may
not vote.

The indication for Fianna Fáil is that, between now and the
next election, the party needs to persuade its supporters
of the absolute necessity for them to make the effort to
turn out on the day.

Red C interviewed a random sample of 1,008 adults aged 18+
by telephone between September 5 and 7.

Interviews were conducted across the country and the
results weighted to the profile of all adults.

The accuracy level is estimated to be about plus or minus 3
per cent.

In all respects the survey is conducted within the
guidelines for political and opinion polling laid down by
Esomar (European Society for Opinion and Marketing

Extracts from the report may be quoted or published on
condition that acknowledgement is given to The Sunday
Business Post and Red C.


IRA Has Started Its Destruction Of Arms

11 September 2005 By Paul T Colgan

The IRA is engaged in putting its weapons beyond use this
weekend, at the start of a week of significant movement in
the peace process.

A series of meetings is planned in the coming days
involving Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British prime minister
Tony Blair and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams - all of
whom are travelling to the United States.

Ahern and Blair are attending the United Nations summit,
while Adams will also be in New York to meet prominent

Adams' visit is seen as a crucial part of the choreography,
ahead of a statement from the international decommissioning
body that IRA disarmament has been completed.

The three members of the Independent International
Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) have not been
contactable for a number of days.

According to an IICD spokesman, they will not be available
for comment in the foreseeable future.

It had been expected that IICD chief General John de
Chastelain would signal the beginning of the
decommissioning process with a statement, but sources said
the IICD's work could not be publicised for security

De Chastelain is overseeing decommissioning with Andrew
Sens and Finnish brigadier Tauno Nieminen. The IICD
representatives are joined by two clergymen, one Catholic
and one Protestant.

The process is expected to take some time, as the weapons
are stored in a number of arms dumps around the country.
Political momentum has also been building on other fronts.
The meeting between President Mary McAleese and PSNI chief
constable Hugh Orde last week was seen as a strong
endorsement of policing reform in the North.

It is thought that the meeting will help the republican
movement sell a policing deal to its members. Sinn Féin
still opposes republican membership of the PSNI and the
policing bodies.


The Sunday Times - Ireland
September 11, 2005

Peace Needs Leadership

Atrocious anti-Catholic violence inflicted by working-class
loyalists shows that all is not well with the peace
process. Old wounds are not healing despite progress
elsewhere. The IRA campaign, which was launched to end
partition, has ended with the border still intact. For the
first time in its history, the democratic right of Northern
Ireland to exist is accepted by all shades of nationalism,
including Sinn Fein. That should look like victory for
unionism, but instead we find a culture of victimhood in
loyalist heartlands — disaffected Protestants feel that
they are the new downtrodden Catholics.

Nationalist areas such as the Falls, bywords for
deprivation and alienation in the 1970s and early 1980s,
are now buzzing with confidence. Across the peace line, in
the loyalist Shankill Road, once one of the city's main
shopping areas, the predominant feeling is one of
depression and discontent. Old manufacturing industries
that sustained a strong work ethic in the past have gone.
Instead, paramilitary gangs carve out fiefdoms to exploit
drug-dealing and protection rackets, while young people
look up to these criminals as role models.

Baroness May Blood, a former community worker on the
Shankill, spoke last week of the disdain for education
among young people. Civil servants attempting to pump money
into such areas often find their efforts stymied by a lack
of civic leadership and strategy. By contrast, nationalists
can put forward well-thought-out plans for projects that
qualify for grant aid and then use the money to maximum

The loyalist response is often to complain that
nationalists get everything and that the IRA is being
bought off. This feeling translates easily into sectarian
animosity. To make peace stick, government must help to
raise morale in these areas. It needs to groom potential
leaders, interested in more than enriching themselves at
the expense of their community. That will mean focusing on
the problems that Blood describes, and not only on the
price that Sinn Fein demands for IRA disarmament.


Professional Ethos Permeates Modern GAA Management

11 September 2005 By Ian Kehoe

With the possible exceptions of the Catholic Church and
Fianna Fáil, no organisation has had such an effect on the
development of Irish society over the past century as the
Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Its network covers every parish and village on the island.
It has more than 2,000 affiliated clubs and 900,000 members
- almost one in every five people in the 32 counties. More
people attend GAA games in Ireland each year than attend
football and rugby matches combined.

Even political careers are built on the back of the
association. Former taoiseach Jack Lynch developed his
profile and his popularity through his Cork GAA exploits
before moving into politics. A host of TDs and ministers
played inter-county Gaelic games before entering the Dáil.

Yet the GAA is also an enormously powerful financial body.
It has land and infrastructure in every corner of the
country and has sponsorship deals with an array of blue-
chip companies.

The holding company for Croke Park is one of the ten
largest private companies in the state. The stadium
generates more cash from conferences, concerts and
hospitality than it does from GAA matches.

The GAA has also begun to recognise its own commercial
value. Whereas television contracts were once agreed by a
gentleman's handshake, the association has begun to
maximise all revenue streams.

Everything the GAA does, from annual dinners to providing
coaching in schools, seems to have a corporate sponsor -
there is even a range of official GAA bedspreads and duvets
available in shops.

The GAA has also made moves to get its commercial house in
order. It has taken a series of High Court actions against
individuals who have used GAA images without permission,
and started to take a more hardline approach in sponsorship

Last year, the association had a stand-off with national
photographers over copyright of all pictures taken in Croke
Park. The matter was eventually settled, but it showed how
serious the association has become about getting value for
its product.


GAA Puts Other Sports In The Shade

11 September 2005 By Ian Kehoe

For all their international allure and professional
pedigree, Irish football and rugby face a constant struggle
to break even financially.

The IRFU, rugby's governing body, made a loss of €3.4
million last season and is predicting similar deficits for
the next three years. The FAI managed to make a modest
profit last year, but the association lacks a stadium,
while many of its top clubs are experiencing major
financial problems.

One of the country's most celebrated football clubs,
Shamrock Rovers, went into examinership earlier this year.

By contrast, the GAA is asset-strong and cash-rich. The
association had more than €20 million in the bank at the
end of last year, and shareholders' funds worth €6.4
million. Its main facility, Croke Park, is one of the
finest stadiums in the world.

While the professional sports have struggled to generate
cash, the amateur-only GAA has seen its annual income more
than treble in a decade - from just under €10 million in
1995 to almost €34 million last year - according to the
annual report of the GAA's Central Council.

In addition, the GAA controls a national network of
property and facilities. In 1984, to mark the centenary of
the association, the GAA introduced a policy of assisting
clubs and county boards in buying pitches and building new

The result is that the GAA has prime land in virtually
every parish in Ireland. There are almost 2,000 GAA clubs,
and more than 90 per cent of them own the deeds to their
land. There has been no comprehensive audit of all the
GAA's assets, so it is virtually impossible to place a
value on the entire property portfolio.

"We are in a strong position because of years and years of
hard work and effort," said Simon Moroney, secretary of the
GAA's Munster Council.

"This position has not been accrued overnight. A lot of
work has been done by a lot of people on a voluntary

Although the GAA generates considerable revenue through
television and sponsorship deals, most of its money comes
from ticket sales for All-Ireland championship matches. The
championship's fixture list runs from the start of May to
the end of September.

Last year, more than 1.9million people filed through the
turnstiles at GAA grounds countrywide for championship
matches, netting the association more than €24 million in

By contrast, the IRFU and the FAI suffer from a dearth of
major matches to generate income. Between them, they barely
have a dozen sellout fixtures a year. They also have to pay
their players, unlike the GAA.

"We have a strong championship and that funds the GAA in
Munster," said Moroney. "Last year, we allocated €1.6
million in development grants to clubs in Munster, and that
money was raised through our ticket revenue."

The popularity of the national games ensures that the GAA
is also in a strong position when negotiating with sponsors
and television partners. RTE recently retained the
exclusive rights to broadcast GAA games, although rivals
Setanta and TG4 did secure the rights to show repeats of
championship games and to screen a midweek highlights

According to its annual report, the GAA collected
commercial revenue of €7.7million last year, of which €5.3
million came from media contracts.

Sponsorship deals were worth a further €1.9 million, while
€300,000 was raised through franchising.

Croke Park produces its own accounts, and functions as a
separate company. The GAA rents out the ground for matches,
with Croke Park getting a portion of the gate.

So where does the income go? Last year, €6.2 million was
spent on match expenses, while a further €4.6 million was
spent on games development.

Administration and general expenses came to €3.5 million,
while €1.7millionwas spent on county team expenses.

"We are not hoarding the money," said John Prenty,
provincial secretary for Connacht. "Connacht had a small
surplus last year and we will break even again this year.

"All our money is accounted for. We invest heavily in games
development and grants for grounds. There is no great
mystery to our finances - we raise money through our games
and we spend it on our games."

Last year, the GAA's Central Council spent €3 million on
"strategic developments'', while more than €2 million was
spent upgrading county grounds and training grounds.

The GAA also loaned €3 million to Croke Park to fund the
stadium redevelopment - bringing the total loan to €43
million. A further €2.7 million went to counties which had
competed in the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Despite the heavy outlay, the GAA still managed to record
an operating surplus of €788,000 last year, up from
€142,000 the year before. The organisation closed the year
with a retained surplus of €2.06 million, according to its

The GAA operates through a complex network of county,
provincial and central committees. Clubs report directly to
county boards, which in turn report to their respective
provincial councils - the four Irish provinces and Britain.

Finally, the provincial councils report to Central Council.

This controls the All-Ireland series matches and the
overall sponsorship arrangements. It also provides
significant grants for games development and promotional

Provincial councils have a great deal of autonomy, and are
primarily financed by the gate receipts from their
respective provincial championships.

The Munster hurling championship, for example, generates
substantial revenue for the Munster council, while the
Leinster football championship is a cash cow for its
Leinster counterpart.

Michael Delaney, secretary of the Leinster Council, said
that the province had an income last year of €5.9 million,
of which €4.7 million was spent on games development.

"We also gave additional grants for county grounds, so we
would have recorded a slight loss for last year. But we
have it under control," he said.

"We are solid financially. We cut our coat according to our
cloth. We simply will not spend what we do not have. We
always put a little bit aside, but we never hoard it. It is
important to put the money back into games."

While overall revenues have increased dramatically, the
costs of running county teams have also spiralled.

Last year, Cork spent €1 million funding its county hurling
and football teams - more than any other county, and more
than double the national average of €473,000. Monaghan,
with a bill of €190,000, was the lowest spender.

Yet the GAA can afford such extravagance. It has more
members, more property and more money than its main
sporting rivals. The combination of amateur status and
professional revenue has put the GAA in a financial league
of its own.


And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

11 September 2005 By Ian Kehoe

It may ostensibly be an amateur organisation, but the GAA
has multi-million-euro sponsorship deals with a host of
blue-chip companies and multinational corporations.

From Coca-Cola to McDonald's, the GAA has tie-in deals
covering everything from title sponsorship for its main
competitions down to an official car supplier. The most
commercially attractive event, the All-Ireland football
championship, has been sponsored by Bank of Ireland since
the GAA first sanctioned such deals 12 years ago.

Last year, the GAA announced an extension of the contract
for a further four years. It is estimated that the deal is
worth up to €2 million to the GAA each year. The All-
Ireland hurling championship has also been sponsored by
Guinness since the GAA's sponsorship rules were changed.
The present deal expires next year, although the GAA has
committed to phase out alcohol sponsorship in the short

It is understood that mobile phone operator Vodafone is
keen to capture this contract.

Vodafone already sponsors the GAA All Stars and the GAA
Player of the Month awards.

Insurance company Allianz sponsors the National League,
while AIB is the title sponsor for the All Ireland Club
Championship and the Club of the Year awards. Coca-Cola
sponsors the International Rules series with Australia, and
also a number of underage competitions.

McDonald's sponsors a youth initiative called Catch and
Kick, while Toyota is the official car supplier to the GAA.
In March, the GAA announced that Cadbury would sponsor the
Under-21 hurling and football championships until 2008 in a
deal worth €1.5 million.


Pioneering Irish Helped Build New Orleans

11 September 2005 By Barry O'Kelly

The Irish community in New Orleans can trace its origins
back to the building of the city's flood levees 274 years

Today, the Irish are a low-profile ethnic grouping, noted
primarily for a parade on St Patrick's Day, two dance
schools, seven pubs and a band called Celtic Gumbo.

But they still account for one of the largest groups, after
African Americans and Italians.

One of the earliest settlers was a man called Charles
McCarthy who arrived in 1731 with a group of French
engineers and set about building banks to control the
floods. The city was 17 years old at the time, with barely
1,000 citizens.

In return for leading the earliest engineering project,
building levees and forts in a swamp where the base rock is
70 feet below the surface, McCarthy received large tracts
of land around New Orleans, which remained in family hands
for generations.

Many of his compatriots were not so fortunate.

The Irish would pay a high price in building future levee
and canal schemes after the first significant wave of
immigrants arrived in the 1830s.

According to the writer Harry Dunleavy, the Irish built the
city's main artery, the new basin canal – a grim task
involving digging through alligator and snake-infested

"In that same year, 1832, a cholera epidemic hit the city
and 6,000 people died in 20 days, many of whom were Irish,"
said Dunleavy, author of The Irish in New Orleans. "When
the canal opened for traffic in 1838, there were 8,000
Irish labourers who would never see their homes again,
having succumbed to cholera and yellow fever.

"Irish emigrants accounted for one in three people arriving
in the city in the first half of the century. By 1860,
Irish-born people represented 15 per cent of the
population, the largest ethnic group in New Orleans. There
would be five Irish mayors of New Orleans before the turn
of the century.

"Sadly, the Irish presence in New Orleans today seems to be
relegated to the once-a-year St Patrick's Day celebration
of green beer and leprechauns. Their triumphant history is
visible only in graveyards," Dunleavy said.


September 11, 2005

The Lord Of The Dance, Born On The 4th Of July


HE'S baaaaack. Michael Flatley, the prancing king of Irish
dance, the man who has been viewed as both a blessing and a
curse to the once-obscure art form, is returning with
"Celtic Tiger," a Dublin-inflected Vegas review that will
undoubtedly draw sniffs from the critics and raves from
fans. The title of the show, which carries a lilt of
Siegfried and Roy, will likely go over the top and stay
there, but that has never been a problem for Mr. Flatley.

"Celtic Tiger," starring Mr. Flatley, will have its
American debut, after European performances, at Madison
Square Garden on Sept. 27 and proceed on a 34-city North
American tour of one-night engagements. It is a descendant
of his other productions - "Lord of the Dance" and "Feet of
Flames" - immense undertakings that created a huge racket
when they hit the stage. It will be a big production,
costing an estimated $18 million, with a multitiered stage
and rock-star lighting focusing on dozens of dancers with
percussive legs, a staple of Irish dance, and flailing arms
- a frowned-upon alteration of the tradition - that
generates a kind of shameless but irresistible enthusiasm.
Working in a dance style that was developed by Roman
Catholics to allow children to dance without fear of moral
trespass, Mr. Flatley has imbued a repressed art form with
full-on sexuality.

Irony, a pillar of Irish literature and culture, has found
a willful and wildly popular opponent in Mr. Flatley. "It's
really a celebration of Ireland and her heroes," he said of
his new show while munching on a B.L.T. at Union Square
Cafe in Manhattan last month. "It's also a celebration of
Irish America and the 54 million people that tap every day.
The show ends with 'Yankee Doodle Dandy,' which has always
been my dream to perform."

He said this with a straight face, not as a matter of
salesmanship, because his success has allowed him to create
and believe his own hype. Mr. Flatley, the son of a Chicago
construction contractor, discovered Irish dancing deep in
his adolescence and soon took over the world with it; at
17, he became the first American World Irish Dance
Champion. He has managed to enter the Guinness Book of
World records for both tapping 35 beats a second and making
$1.6 million a week as a dancer. His press kit says as
much, and much, much more. It is a litany of numbers,
records and never-before-seen feats. His legs, it is
pointed out, are insured for $40 million.

Not only did Mr. Flatley, who got his big break dancing
with the Chieftains, help transform Riverdance, the
original Irish-dance pageant, into a phenomenon, he
promptly went on to form his own troupes. His primary
achievement is that of an entrepreneur, but along the way
he won a Golden Gloves title as a teenager and garnered
first place in the All Ireland Flute Championship in 1975.

There is seemingly no end to this banty rooster of a guy.
He looks Irish enough to fit in at any pub in Dublin and
has an Irish accent that comes and goes as the moment
requires. He is as much a dancer, if not as much an artist,
as Savion Glover.

At 47, Mr. Flatley, who lives in a castle near Fermoy, in
County Cork, Ireland, seems in finest fettle, doing his
best to imitate a humble artist who got lucky with a
particularly idiosyncratic form of international stardom.
Still, his shoes, ruby-red slippers really, suggest that
the man who inhabits them has both a bit of magic and a
measure of blarney.

Irish dancing is about impact. Nuance and subtlety take a
back seat to the sound of hard shoes hitting the floor.
From the beginning, Mr. Flatley has understood that
perfectly. He exploded onto the stage in 1995 as the star
of Riverdance and after 13 weeks in the starring role, left
amid lawsuits and bad feelings to develop "Lord of the
Dance" and has been bringing a popularized - some
traditionalists would say bastardized - version of the
Irish dance to throngs ever since. A troupe of "Lord of the
Dance" had a five-year run in Las Vegas, where some two
million people saw the show. He followed in 1998 with "Feet
of Flames," another production that evoked Bob Fosse and
St. Patrick in equal measure.

Mr. Flatley takes his Irish roots seriously and has managed
to market the romance anew with "Celtic Tiger," which
features 60 dancers and musicians. The Irish flight from
famine is a motif of the current show.

"They came over on ships that were called coffin ships
because so many people actually died on the way," he said.
"And when they got here they had a very hard time in the
beginning. And they worked as slave labor. But they rose up
to become the John F. Kennedys of this country. And to me,
that encompasses the Irish spirit and the 'Celtic Tiger.' "

Mr. Flatley has worked on the planning and casting of the
current production since 2000. He looks for kindred spirits
when it comes to populating the stage with thundering

"I search more for their attitude and their energy," he
said of his criteria for dancers. "Do they really want to
be onstage? You don't have to tell them when to smile, it
just happens."

"Fifteen years ago, guys who did Irish dance would be
wearing kilts and everyone would be teasing them," he
continued. "Now the guys on stage wear leather pants. And
the girls are whistling at them and throwing up their
little things onstage at them."

The Irish, with a history of romantically ruing their
dispossession at the hands of others, have found a minor
hero in Mr. Flatley. If "Saturday Night Fever" is ever
remade to the tune of a tin whistle, there is very little
doubt who will play the lead.


Waiting To Rebuild Their Lives

11 September 2005 By Barry O'Kelly

Safe and relatively secure, middle-income earners in storm-
battered Louisiana have their properties, many of them
second homes, reduced to ruins and their jobs threatened.

The expatriate Irish, with their penchant for property,
inevitably feature among the victims of the ultimate
property crash caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Noel Reid, who moved from Athlone, invested in the local
property market at the worst possible time.

"I just bought a house in New Orleans, which I expect is
now under water," Reid told The Sunday Business Post.

His primary home is at Slidell on Lake Pontchartrain, which
was in the eye of the storm. This property was badly
damaged when a tree crashed through the centre of the

"My house in Slidell is dry, but a tree has fallen on it.
Half of Slidell was under water and there were trees down
everywhere," he said.

"There's no power, phones, including mobiles, no fridge
food storage, there's very low water pressure and no air
conditioning, which is essential with temperatures in the
mid-90s and the same level of humidity."

The Irish community is centred on two Irish dancing schools
and a Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann branch in New Orleans.
Reid, who is chairman of the New Basin Canal branch of
Comhaltas, said: "All our Comhaltas members got out and are
scattered about the country."

Another Comhaltas member, Scot McDavitt, who has worked in
Dublin and is from a second-generation Sligo family,
commented: "I made a trip to the Mississippi coast where I
owned a home. Key word is owned. All I found was rubble."

McDavitt was relieved that he still had his primary

"We made out better than most," he said.

"We have another home in Baton Rouge that we live in. The
second home was to be my retirement home. Yes, it was
insured, but it may take months to settle with the
insurance company and money is not the loss.

"The loss is the personal and family items that were in the
house, that no amount of money can replace.

"As for other stories, our friend Danny O'Flaherty, who is
from the Galway area and owns a pub in New Orleans, we
believe he lost his home. "But he and his family are all
safe. We all will rebuild our lives from what we have left.
We are much more fortunate than a lot of the people of
Louisiana and Mississippi who have lost everything except
the clothes on their backs."

According to a newsgroup message posted by a relative of
O'Flaherty, the expatriate publican is "sure that his house
is gone'', based on the path the hurricane took.

But he doesn't know how extensively O'Flaherty's pub has
been damaged. "As you can imagine, he's devastated, as are
so many other people that are in the areas hit by the
hurricane," wrote Laura and Dave O'Flaherty-Tours.

"To add to the uncertainty and frustration is the
realisation that he can't do anything yet . . . he can't
move ahead until he can get back into New Orleans to assess
the damage and what it will mean for him and for his

"As for New Orleans, it will be a long time before the city
is cleaned up and any type of normal life can resume.

"The latest estimate is 30 to 60 days to pump the water out
of the city. "Once that is done, then the work to restore
power, telephone, gas, water and sewerage can begin."

The historic French Quarter and Irish Channel areas of New
Orleans have a significant Irish business presence, mainly
restaurants and bars.

The owner of Molly's at the Market, Jim Monaghan from
Sligo, described how his family took refuge in a second-
floor office as flood levels rose.

"There is just stunned silence on the streets and the only
word that really describes it is devastation," said

"There's some flooding here, but not like in other areas of
the city.

"However, the district is located on higher ground than the
rest of the city and there was little permanent damage
caused to the ornate 19th-century buildings.

"The French Quarter is the main tourist draw and they've
put in the best pump system to keep it going and that's why
our 200-year-old building is here.

"We've made it through after being in the centre of a
hurricane, so now it's time to take care of our neighbours.

"So far, a lot of our food in the freezer is still frozen,
but as it thaws, we'll cook it in the upstairs kitchen and
then we'll give it away," Monaghan said.

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