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October 11, 2005

Ballymena Catholic School Bomb Scare

Catholic school in Ballymena evacuated amid bomb alert.

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News about Ireland & the Irish

UN 10/11/05 Catholic School Evacuated Amid Bomb Alert
BB 10/11/05 Head 'Furious' Over School Bomb
BB 10/11/05 Funeral Is Held For Loyalist Gray
NH 10/11/05 Wright's Father To Meet British Government
UT 10/11/05 IRA Plans To Top Blair-Ahern Talks Agenda
EX 10/11/05 McDowell Denies 'Nod And Wink' Deal With IRA
NL 10/11/05 PSNI Warned Against IRA Recruitment
NH 10/11/05 Provos Threaten West Belfast Family
WT 10/11/05 Irish Workers Party Leader Faces US Charges
NH 10/11/05 Wales Game Blighted By Sectarian Abuse
BT 10/11/05 Troubles, Hurricanes, Just Have To Laugh
BT 10/11/05 Mummers The Word As Culture Centre Is Born
BT 10/11/05 Fury Over Sex Shop Opening
BT 10/11/05 Is Bushmills Inn Ireland's Most Romantic Hotel?


Catholic School In Ballymena Evacuated Amid Bomb Alert

10:56 Tuesday October 11th 2005

A Catholic school in Co Antrim has been evacuated following
the discovery of a suspicious device at the building this

A number of houses close to the primary school in the
Harryville area of Ballymena have also been evacuated while
bomb disposal experts examine the suspect package.

Last month, three viable pipe bombs were planted at the
same school as part of a campaign of sectarian attacks on
Catholic properties in north Antrim over the past few

The UDA has been accused of orchestrating the attacks on
Catholic schools, businesses and houses.


Head 'Furious' Over School Bomb

A workman cutting a hedge at a County Antrim school escaped
injury when a bomb fell at his feet, the principal has

Lesley Meikle said she did not believe Harryville Primary
School in Ballymena was the intended target but is furious
lives were put at risk.

The school's 142 pupils were moved out while the device was

It is not being linked to the recent discovery of pipe bomb
parts. Further suspect devices have also been found.

Mrs Meikle said maintenance men from the local education
board were at the school, in the Casement Place area, when
the incident happened at 0900 BST on Tuesday.

"They were cutting the hedges for me and it fell out on one
of the men that were cutting. Thankfully it didn't go off.
That was a blessing.

"We were taking children on the way to swimming when the
workmen came down and told us to stop as they thought they
had another suspicious device."

'Deeply irresponsible'

She hit out at those who left the device in the area,
saying: "How dare they endanger children's lives?

"This is the second time. It is absolutely disgusting,
despicable. Who do they think they are?"

The police said they did not think the school was the
target and condemned those who left the bomb parts.

A PSNI spokesman said: "It was reckless in the extreme to
abandon items of this nature close to a school, where they
might have been found and handled by children."

Ulster Unionist Assembly member the Reverend Robert Coulter
said it was a miracle the device did not explode.

"Attacking innocent children is the lowest of the low and
the full force of the law must be brought to bear on those
responsible," he said.

DUP assembly member Ian Paisley Junior, who visited the
scene, expressed his horror at the incident.

He said: "This school experienced this before last month
when three pipe bomb devices were dumped nearby.

"It would be horrendous and deeply irresponsible should
this have happened again. Those responsible clearly do not
care for the well-being of children."

On 12 September, three viable pipe bombs were found in the
Harryville area.

A follow-up search of the area is now under way, and the
school has been closed for the rest of the day.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/11 12:14:08 GMT


Funeral Is Held For Loyalist Gray

The funeral of former loyalist leader Jim Gray has taken
place in Belfast.

Gray, the former leader of the Ulster Defence Association
in east Belfast, was shot outside his father's home in the
east of the city last Tuesday.

Members of the UDA were told not to attend the service,
which was held at the same house on the Clarawood estate.

Few mourners attended the funeral, with just 14 men
following the cortege which drove to Roselawn Cemetery
where the 47-year-old has been buried.

The funeral procession from the house was led by his
father, Jim Senior, who walked behind the hearse.

Seven police Land Rovers also followed the cortege.

Gray was buried in the same plot as his 19-year-old son,
Jonathan, who died while on holiday in Thailand.

A group of men, who did not attend the service, turned up
at the graveside.

On Saturday, four men questioned about the murder were
released without charge.

Six people had been questioned by police about Tuesday's
shooting, but all have now been released.

Police have said UDA involvement is a major line of
inquiry. Gray was expelled from the UDA last March.

Awaiting trial

Gray was recently released on bail on charges of money
laundering, and was living at his father's home in
Knockwood Park while awaiting his court appearance.

The police said Gray had been warned that he was under
threat since his release on bail.

In April, just over a week after being expelled from the
UDA leadership, Gray was stopped by police near Banbridge,
County Down.

He was travelling in a car towards the Irish border, and
police suspected he was trying to leave the country.

The police found a bank draft for 10,000 euro and nearly
£3,000 in cash in his car.

Gray claimed the money had come from the sale of two pubs
in east Belfast.

However, police believed it was obtained through crime
including extortion and drug dealing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/10/11 11:43:46 GMT


Wright's Father To Meet British Government

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

The father of murdered Loyalist Volunteer Force leader,
Billy Wright, will meet the British government this week to
demand that the public inquiry into his son's death is not

David Wright believes holding the inquiry under the 2005
Inquiries Act will render it powerless and allow the
suppression of any embarrassing evidence about official
collusion in his son's murder.

Billy Wright was shot dead in the Maze prison in 1997 by
the INLA but his family allege state collusion. Two years
ago, retired Canadian judge, Peter Cory, recommended an
inquiry into the case.

It was set up under the 1953 Prisons Act and opened in June
under the chairmanship of retired Scottish judge, Lord
Ranald McLean. However, he has applied for it to be now
held under the controversial new legislation.

Opponents of the new law claim it gives the British
government greater opportunities to use the argument of
national security to mount cover-ups. The Wrights will
raise their objections with Peter Hain at Stormont on

They will be accompanied by human rights' groups, British-
Irish Watch and the Committee on the Administration of
Justice, and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

October 11, 2005


IRA Plans To Top Blair-Ahern Talks Agenda

The IRA's future plans will dominate discussions when Tony
Blair meets his Irish counterpart today.

By:Press Association

The British Prime Minister and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are
having their first meeting in Downing Street since it was
announced the IRA had finally decommissioned its arsenal of
weapons last month.

The two premiers are looking at ways of putting fresh
momentum into the drive to get Northern Ireland back on the
path to the restoration of devolution as soon as possible.

But until unionists can be convinced the IRA is no longer
involved in terrorist or criminal activities they can
expect little advance.

Also on the Blair-Ahern agenda is the investigation by the
Assets Recovery Agency into 250 properties in Manchester.

The operation, which involved raids and document seizures
last week, is focused on a reputed £30 million IRA property

It has allegedly been built up by reputed IRA chief-of-
Staff, Thomas "Slab" Murphy, whose farm home straddles the
Irish border between Co Armagh and Co Louth.

A businessman whose home and office were raided by police
involved in the investigation yesterday admitted business
links to the family of the alleged IRA godfather.

Dermot Craven told a Manchester news conference that his
company managed properties for Murphy`s brother Frank.

But he insisted neither he, nor his business partner, had
any connections with the alleged IRA chief.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern will also look forward to the
impending report by the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC) on IRA activity, the first since the terrorist group
announced it had stopped all actions.

There has been growing speculation that the IMC will report
to the governments within days that the IRA has remained
inactive since it announced the end to its armed struggle
on July 28.

But unionists will need a lot more convincing and look
toward another report due in January as a guide to the
IRA`s bone fides.

Even then the Reverend Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist
Party will be unlikely to want to go anywhere near a power-
sharing administration involving Sinn Fein.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern will today try to map out a means of
getting unionists on board come the New Year.

An Irish government spokesman said they would be discussing
"issues of current concern".

Last week Mr Blair met Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, Mr
Paisley and Ulster Unionists while Mr Ahern had talks with
the SDLP.

When the leaders meet: "There will be a particular focus on
how renewed momentum can be given to the process in the
months ahead," said the spokesman.

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said
republicans and nationalists wanted to hear from the two
governments that "they are going to inject momentum into
the political process".

He said it was his belief that any genuine concerns held by
unionists had been conclusively addressed by the recent
historic IRA actions.


McDowell Denies 'Nod And Wink' Deal With IRA

By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent

JUSTICE Minister Michael McDowell yesterday strongly denied
the Government had done a secret deal with the IRA allowing
it to hold back some of its weapons arsenal from

He made it clear there was no "nod and wink" trade-off with
republicans so they could "protect" nationalist areas in
the North from any upsurge in loyalist violence.

"There is no reason to believe the IRA is cheating on its

"It should be understood, there is no secret understanding,
side deal or 'nod and a wink' situation where the IRA can
keep a level of weaponry.

"If they are cheating Irish people North or South there
will be serious consequences.

"There is only one game in town and that is total
disarmament," he said.

Mr McDowell added the reports he was referring to were
press reports and not intelligence briefings.

The Justice Minister insisted he had faith in the findings
of the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning (IICD).

"The IICD reported that the IRA told them they had given up
all their weapons. That was set out in the report," he

It has been claimed in recent weeks that IRA units on the
ground had held onto "light arms" such as pistols, in areas
like Belfast.

Mr McDowell has long been a hate figure for republicans due
to his fierce criticism of their involvement in
criminality, particularly of last December's Northern Bank
raid which is believed to have netted some €39 million.

The hardline leadership of the Democratic Unionist Party
continues to refuse to accept IRA decommissioning as
complete due to lack of verifiable evidence.

DUP leader Ian Paisley dismissed the statements of the two
clergymen who acted as independent witnesses to the IRA
arsenal being put beyond use, branding them republican


PSNI Warned Against IRA Recruitment

Tuesday 11th October 2005

The Government and PSNI are "out of their minds" if they
think that police reforms which could allow IRA volunteers
into the force will benefit the Province, the DUP has said.

Castlereagh DUP Councillor Jimmy Spratt - former Police
Federation chairman - last night told the Newtownards
branch that "the Government is obsessed with getting Sinn
Fein/IRA involved in policing in the Province".

"They have bent on basically every demand made by
republicans, including the destruction of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary, yet republicans refuse to have anything to do
with the police to the extent that they will not encourage
their supporters to give evidence against murderers and
rapists," he noted. "In spite of Sinn Fein/IRA's
recalcitrance on this issue, the Government plans yet more
concessions to satisfy their insatiable appetites.

"Proposals for community support officers present an
opportunity for paramilitaries to infiltrate formal law and
order enforcement.

"It is no good for the Government to say that anyone with a
criminal record will not be able to become a community
support officer.

"What about the dozens of terrorists who were never caught
or charged with any crime? Will they be banned from
becoming community support officers?"

Mr Sprat said Northern Ireland had suffered enough from
having paramilitaries dispense their own unique form of
street justice.

"The Government and the Chief Constable are out of their
minds if they think that putting paramilitaries into the
positions of policemen will be a good thing," he said.
"Police support officers who are IRA volunteers coupled
with Sinn Fein/IRA controlled Community Restorative Justice
programmes equates to the Government presenting Sinn
Fein/IRA the authority to have full control of their own


Provos Threaten West Belfast Family

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

A well known West Belfast family have claimed the
Provisional IRA has ordered two of their members to leave
the area or else face "blood on the streets".

The Notarantonios, from Ballymurphy, said two senior
members of the IRA's Belfast Brigade had delivered the
threat against Francisco Notarantonio jnr (18) and his
cousin Billy (21).

The alleged threats follow a long-running dispute between
the Notarantonios and a west Belfast drug-dealer. The
family are appealing to the Government for help. The
threatened men's grandfather, Francisco Notarantonio snr,
was shot dead by loyalists in 1987.

The intended target was originally Freddie Scappaticci,
whom it later emerged was the senior Provisional IRA
informer, Stakeknife. British intelligence fed the UDA
misinformation to target Notarantonia snr (66), a retired
taxi driver who had been in the IRA in the 1940s, and so
save the life of Scappaticci, a valuable agent.

Francisco Notarantonio snr's widow, Edith (76) told the
Sunday Tribune: "After what our family has been through, I
didn't think anything else bad would happen to us. Nobody
has the right to put out my grandsons."

Edith Notarantonio said she had asked Sinn Féin three times
for a meeting with Gerry Adams: "I even went down to Sinn
Féin offices in Sevastopol Street the other day to see if I
could talk to him because he was a friend of my husband's.
I want all this trouble to stop."

The family has a long history of involvement with various
wings of the IRA. Some members have been imprisoned for the
Provisionals. However one nephew, Joe O'Connor, the Real
IRA's West Belfast commander, was shot dead by the
Provisionals five years ago.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: "It's well known there is a
dispute going on between a number of families in
Ballymurphy. Several people have been assaulted and
properties and cars damaged. There is no suggestion
republicans are in anyway involved in this. Sinn Féin wants
to see the situation resolved."

Kathleen Notarantonio, Francisco jnr's mother, said: "The
Provos ordered my son and my nephew out on 29th August. We
said they weren't going.

"We were then told our house would be picketed if they
didn't go. A few days later we were told our whole family
was barred from local pubs and clubs. We don't mind that
but we're worried about what they'll do to the boys."

Kerry Notarantonio, an aunt of one of the threatened men,
said: "Two senior Provos arrived at my door on Wednesday
night and said if Billy and Francisco didn't leave there
would be 'blood on these streets and some of it will be
from your family'.

"The IRA is meant to be on ceasefire. It still has an iron
grip on this community. It shouldn't be exiling anybody. We
want the Irish government to see if they can help."

The Notarantonios showed the Sunday Tribune a letter from
police stating police that an unnamed individual planned to
kill Billy Notarantonio in Belfast city centre nine days
ago. The family believe the attack would have been carried
out by an associate of the drug-dealer.

October 11, 2005


Irish Workers Party Leader Faces Charges In U.S.

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
October 11, 2005

The leader of the Marxist arm of the Official Irish
Republican Army has been arrested in Northern Ireland and
is being sought by U.S. authorities for his involvement in
a North Korean government program to make high-quality
counterfeit $100 bills known as "supernotes."

The U.S. government has 65 days to file a formal
extradition request for Sean Garland, leader of the
Marxist-Leninist Irish Workers Party, who was arrested in a
Belfast restaurant Friday.

The U.S. government accused Mr. Garland at his Saturday
bail hearing of arranging "with North Korean agencies for
the purchase of quantities of notes and enlisted other
people to disseminate" the counterfeit money since the
1990s, the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Irish Times

A Justice Department spokesman could not be reached for
comment yesterday regarding Mr. Garland, whose connection
to supernotes was first disclosed by The Washington Times
in 2001. Mr. Garland was released on bond Saturday over the
objections of a British government attorney who said Mr.
Garland posed a flight risk.

Mr. Garland's attorney denied the charges at the

A senior Bush administration official said Mr. Garland
is wanted as part of the U.S. investigation into
counterfeit supernotes uncovered during anti-crime
operations that led to the August arrests of 87 persons in
Los Angeles and Newark, N.J.

Operation Smoking Dragon, the Los Angeles part of the
operation, uncovered a Chinese organized-crime network that
dealt in counterfeit supernotes produced by the North
Korean government and shipped through China to the United

It was the largest international counterfeit ring
uncovered by the U.S. government, officials said at the

The senior official said Mr. Garland has been sought
since May on suspicion of being involved in the global
supernote network that involved operations in North Korea,
China and the United States.

The network was uncovered by an interagency group known
as the Illicit Activities Initiative, which is focused on
North Korean counterfeiting, drug trafficking and arms
proliferation. The unit is made up of officials from the
State Department, Justice Department, U.S. Secret Service
and CIA and was formed in part after a North Korean
diplomat threatened to export nuclear weapons during a
meeting of the six-party talks in April 2003.

The Irish Workers Party is the Marxist-Leninist arm of
what is known as the Official Irish Republican Army, which
in 1970 split into the Provisional Irish Republican Army
and Sinn Fein, which in 1982 became the Workers Party.


Wales Game Blighted By Sectarian Abuse

(Keith Bourke, Irish News)

Northern Ireland soccer's attempt to clean up its image
suffered a setback on Saturday when sectarian abuse was
directed at Wales and Celtic forward John Hartson.

Hartson was booed throughout the match for his Celtic links
and the Welsh national anthem was drowned out by some
Northern Ireland supporters.

The big striker compared the atmosphere at Windsor Park on
Saturday to "playing at Ibrox".

The IFA is trying hard to rid the game in Northern Ireland
of sectarianism, but the boo boys were out again on

In 2002 Glasgow Celtic midfielder Neil Lennon retired from
international football after receiving a death threat

SDLP assembly member for East Derry, John Dallat, said he
was not surprised at the abuse directed at Hartson.

"I'm disappointed but not surprised because there's still a
hardcore group of fans out there who still use football as
outlet for sectarianism," he said.

"A unique opportunity to welcome the people of Wales to
Northern Ireland was wasted. These people have done no
service to the reputation of Northern Ireland and Northern
Ireland football," he said.

Former lord mayor and UUP councillor for East Belfast Jim
Rodgers said it was a small minority who took part in the
booing and catcalls on Sunday.

"I was at the match myself and I was disappointed.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you should always
respect another country's anthem.

"But it was a small minority and most of the fans there
were annoyed with it. The atmosphere at Windsor Park has
changed a great deal over the last few years. I believe
most people, regardless of age, race or religion can feel
comfortable in Windsor Park now," Mr Rodgers said.

The Irish Football Association could not be contacted for
comment yesterday (Sunday).

October 11, 2005


The Troubles, The Hurricanes. . .Sure You Just Have To

Willie Dillon
11 October 2005

Amid the recent momentous developments in the Northern
Ireland, one small but important news item was largely

A few weeks before the IRA weapons announcement, The
Portadown News declared it too was withdrawing from the
fray. It was, in the words of its creator Newton Emerson,
being decommissioned.

With a name like that, there were no prizes for guessing
which Northern ethnic majority he belonged to. But his
fictional online newspaper was free of sectarian bias. It
savaged politicians and paramilitaries from both sides with
equal vigour.

During its four-and-a-half years, The Portadown News was a
shining beacon of Irish satire. It was up there with the
greats like Hall's Pictorial Weekly a nd Scrap Saturday.

Emerson - who is moving to a new job - got away with saying
all sorts of things that a real paper would never dare

He employed many colourful journalists, including
Republican Correspondent Anne Phoblacht and Loyalist
Correspondent Billy Shoots-patrick. It ran headlines like
'Catholic Couple Have Protestant Baby', the story of a mix-
up at a Belfast fertility clinic, and 'Queen Mother Dead -
54% of Northern Ireland Mourns'.

It attempted to explain the difference in Gerry Adams-speak
between a warning and a threat. After the Northern Bank
robbery, the paper ran a picture of a washing machine in an
advertisement for the Chucky ' R' Laundry.

Despite the demise of the PN, internet satire is stronger
than ever. In the US, the satirical flag is flown best by
The Onion, which targets everything from politicians to the
humdrum lives of ordinary Americans.

The latest edition reports on a novel plan to bring solace
to the citizens of New Orleans. "Citing the need for a
'nationwide outpouring of love', the American Adult
Entertainment Foundation announced Monday that it will
donate $100,000 worth of charity sex to the victims of
Hurricane Katrina."

Canadian site The Hammer reports that President Bush has
announced 'Operation Katrina Freedom'. Tens of thousands of
displaced hurricane victims are to be deployed to Iraq
where they will work to "secure and protect American
freedom from evil-doers."

Hurricanes also feature on where Governor Jeb
Bush thinks the recent catastrophic weather was probably
the fault of gays.

He admits being puzzled by the way God decided to punish
these evildoers. "It's a funny thing," he told a church
congregation. "You would hope the storms would hit the town
of Sodom, or San Francisco as it's now called.

"But the fact that God has chosen to wreak His havoc over
and over upon the towns of Florida, the wholesome state
which after all is responsible for the election of myself
and the president, and then the Gulf of Mexico, where most
of our oil refineries are, makes you wonder. He sure does
work in mysterious ways."

The site bbspotcom documents the grim future facing one man
evacuated from the path of the most recent storm. "After
enduring a 20-hour drive to Austin and three nights in a
cramped, makeshift shelter at a local high school, Robert
Castillo returned to his native Houston today expecting to
be overwhelmed by Hurricane Rita's devastation.

"What he saw instead was completely intact city
infrastructure, essentially no flooding and very little
wind damage.

"'My shitty house, shitty car and shitty job were all here
waiting for me,' he said. 'I was like, great, so much for a
fresh start.'"

Closer to home, Pure Derry sums up the latest political
impasse: "Unionist disappointment continues as IRA
ceasefire rages on."


Mummers The Word As Culture Centre Is Born

By Linda McKee
11 October 2005

An old schoolhouse in rural Fermanagh will become Ireland's
first mumming centre in a £250,000 metamorphosis.

The medieval combat drama will be brought to life in the
cultural activity centre at the former Aughakillymaude
National School, where hundreds of children will learn how
the straw-clad mummers bring mayhem to the countryside
every winter.

When the mummers make house visits to perform their rhyming
play, they are said to bring good fortune and the promise
of health, wealth and fertility.

Now children visiting the educational centre will be able
to dress up in the straw costumes, learn the traditional
rhymes and mimic characters such as Prince Patrick,
Beelzebub, the Turk and the Doctor who brings the fallen
hero back to life.

Aughakillymaude Community Centre is already teaching
children how to make mummers' hats in strawcraft workshops
and is setting up an exhibition explaining what mumming
means and where it comes from.

Pride of place will be taken by the 16 life-size models of
the key characters in the Irish and English plays.

Work has already started on the centre, near Derrylin in
west Fermanagh, and is due to finish next spring.

Funding of £150,000 has come from the Rural Development
Council, with £94,781 from the International Fund for
Ireland and £14,000 raised locally.


Fury Over Sex Shop Opening

Councillors vow to force closure of Omagh premises

By Brendan McDaid
11 October 2005

A new adult "sex shop" in Omagh was last night at the
centre of a furious row.

Named Bliss, the shop sells "adult play things" and three
days after opening at Old Market Place it is already
causing a storm.

The opening of the shop has been attacked by town
councillor Paddy McGowan.

He said the council took a decision six months ago that if
an application ever came before it regarding a sex shop in
Omagh, it would be totally rejected.

He said he believed that such a premises could not open
without a licence and he will be raising the "very worrying
matter" immediately.

The owner of the shop, however, Ian Brown, hit back that no
council had the right to decide what adults could or could
not purchase.

He also said the shop was orientated towards the novelty
hen and stage party industry and was similar in content to
an Ann Summers outlet.

Councillor McGowan replied: "I think it is morally wrong
and there is no need for it in any town, much less Omagh."

He also rejected any notion that he was being narrow-
minded. "I do not think it is me who has the problem," he

"The people with the problem are those who frequent shops
like that."

His angry sentiments were echoed by councillor and MLA Tom
Buchanan, who said he was horrified to learn that such a
shop would open its doors "in an area of town which is
frequented by children".

"I will not rest until it is closed. It is absolute filth
and there is no place for it in this town," he said.

Stating that he had been in contact with the council and
would now apply for a license, shop owner Mr Brown hit back
at the claims.

"This is 2005 and people are here to enjoy life and it is
time moralistic people took a back seat and let them," he

"The stock is some toys, hen and stag and novelty stuff,
blow up dolls, lingerie.

"There are some R18 rated magazines but it is a very soft

"People want it. It is okay for Ann Summers to come over
from England and set up in Belfast and Lisburn but when
local people try to do something there is hassle," he said.

"I wish these people would keep their moral decisions to

"Councils are democratically elected but they have no right
to make moral decisions for people who do not want them to.
People over 18 can make their own decisions."

One man who had purchased items from the shop, who did not
want to be named, said "We live in a modern world and
people want to make their own decisions about what they
will or will not do. By providing a sex shop in Omagh, it
is giving people options."


Is The Bushmills Inn Ireland's Most Romantic Hotel?

By Fiona McIlwaine Biggins
11 October 2005

Romance is clearly 'inn' the air at a renowned north Antrim
hotel - the only one in Ireland to be included in a special
guide to romantic breaks.

The exclusive Ultimate Guide to Romantic Breaks Away, in
the Daily Mail, selected just 20 hotels across Great
Britain and Ireland for its unique guide; following a
recent survey that said couples do not spend enough time
away together.

The Bushmills Inn (pictured left) was the only hotel in
Ireland to secure a place in the prestigious poll and this
cosy hideaway's roaring log fires and cottage-style
bedrooms were specifically highlighted.

Stella Minogue, Bushmills Inn manager, said: "It's not just
the unique atmosphere or the five-star service experienced
in our Mill House Superior rooms with champagne, fresh
flowers or even a four-poster bed, it's more because we
specialise in providing a very relaxing environment for our
preferred guests - couples or a small group of friends.

"We decline larger parties and weddings as they can take
over rather than absorb the inherently warm and welcoming
atmosphere of the hotel, and probably decline more business
than we actually take to ensure our guests leave wishing to
return soon."

The original survey found that the romantic weekend is
becoming a thing of the past as the pressures of modern
life take their toll; with nearly two-thirds of the 33
million Britons in relationships not having had a romantic
weekend away in the past year.

The research showed that despite 79% of couples believing
their relationship would benefit from a romantic break, 16%
have not had one for more than five years. Just over a
quarter said they had never had a romantic weekend away.

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