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November 27, 2005

Decommissioning An Opportunity For Progress

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 11/27/05 SF: Decommissioning An Opportunity For Progress
IT 11/28/05 Ahern Calls On SF To Join Policing Board
IO 11/27/05 SDLP Member Condemns Bomb Hoaxers
IT 11/28/05 Kenny Criticises Taoiseach's 'Secret Deals'
IT 11/28/05 Republicanism More Popular Since 1920
IT 11/28/05 FG Commemorates Griffith's Founding Of SF
RF 11/27/05 Allegations Of N Korean Counterfeiting Emerge
IT 11/28/05 Ahern Makes Light Of Harney Comment
IT 11/28/05 Dáil Standoff Intensifies After Rabbitte Threat
IE 11/28/05 The Ceann Comhairle (background for Dail rpt)
BB 11/27/05
Lough Invasion Being Investigated
IT 11/28/05 Ahern Says Travellers Deserve Friendship
IT 11/28/05 American Discontent Over Irish Tax Benefits
IT 11/28/05 Man Dies In Fall From Cliff Donegal Beauty Spot
PL 11/27/05 Obit: James F. Currie Sr.
BB 11/27/05 Date Set For George Best Funeral
IT 11/27/05 Tributes To Humble & Caring Frmr Galway Bishop


SF: 'IRA Decommissioning Presents Opportunity For Progress'

27/11/2005 - 16:42:26

The Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said that the end of
the IRA's campaign opens up significant opportunities for
progress, which the party must grasp.

Speaking in Monaghan, Mr Adams said the decision to
decommission was a vote of confidence in Sinn Féin by the

He said the onus is now on the party to bed down the peace
process and ensure that both governments implement the Good
Friday Agreement.

Mr Adams also says Republicans need to forge a new
relationship with Unionists and ending the scourge of


Ahern Calls On SF To Join Policing Board

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said that there was now "no
credible excuse" for Sinn Féin to refuse to join the
policing board in Northern Ireland.

In a speech in north Cork yesterday Mr Ahern urged the
party to "step forward and bring closure to the policing

He said the Northern Ireland police oversight commissioner
reported "positively on the pace of policing reforms in
Northern Ireland" and that the the Patten Commission
recommendations were "steadily taking full effect".

The British government had also promised legislation on the
devolution of policing and justice in Northern Ireland, he

"This and the enormous progress already made on policing
will, I hope, provide a context in which Sinn Féin commit
to policing," he said.

"The logic of the process points unambiguously in this
direction. It is not unreasonable to ask them to put
themselves clearly on the side of support for law and order
like any other party.

"At this stage in the process an early signal of positive
intentions on policing is important and would make a

He also reassured unionist politicians about the
Government's intentions regarding Northern Ireland. "No one
on this island is threatened or needs to feel under
threat," he said.

"I made that very clear in my recent visit to Belfast. I
said that the constitutional question had been settled in
the Good Friday agreement. There are fair and reasonable
arrangements through the agreement to accommodate
everybody's sensitivities and concerns. I welcomed the
opportunity last week to reiterate this when I met with Dr
Paisley and his DUP colleagues."

Mr Ahern made his comments at a ceremony in Kiskeam, Co
Cork, to commemorate one of the founders of Fianna Fáil,
Seán Moylan, who fought in the War of Independence and the
Civil War and died in the late 1950s.

He believed it was essential that we keep alive the memory
of pivotal moments in our country's past. He said the
return of the official 1916 Easter commemorations next year
was part of this.

"My Government want next Easter to be an expression of our
pride as a nation in all those who took part in Easter Week
and the subsequent War of Independence. We will commemorate
inclusively the greatest generation we have ever produced."

© The Irish Times


SDLP Member Condemns Bomb Hoaxers

27/11/2005 - 14:54:26

A SDLP Assembly member hit out today at those responsible
for the latest security alert at his Derry home.

British army bomb disposal experts were called to examine a
suspect bomb outside the home of Pat Ramsey in the Bogside
area of the city at around midnight.

About an hour later they declared the device a hoax, said
the Police Service.

Mr Ramsey has been the target of an lengthy and ongoing
campaign of attacks both real and hoax on his home in
Meenan Drive and office by dissident republicans.

The Foyle MLA said it was clear the people responsible for
the latest act of intimidation were the same "faceless
thugs" who had attacked his home on countless occasions
over recent years.

"While the level of disruption last night was kept to a
minimum, once again they have caused disruption to the
local community and much anxiety, concern and distress for
my family and friends," said Mr Ramsey.

The politician said those responsible should know by now
that they would not deter him from his political beliefs or
pursuing them democratically for the benefit of the people
of Derry.

"They should realise that they are not just targeting me
but the entire community and their actions have no support.

"They simply highlight these stupid people for the cowards
they are," he added.

SDLP leader and Foyle MP, Mark Durkan, his voice to the
condemnation of those behind the alert at Mr Ramsey's home.

He said it was not just an attack on an individual
politician and his family but on the Bogside community who
had consistently elected him and rejected his attackers.

"It was another attack on people's right to freedom of
expression and to live in peace," said Mr Durkan.

He added: "Pat Ramsey and his family do not just deserve
great credit for the courage and determination they
continue to show in the face of these attacks by so called

"They deserve unequivocal support from all democrats in
Derry and beyond as well."


Kenny Criticises Taoiseach's 'Secret Deals'

Marie O'Halloran

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has accused Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern of abusing his party's support and goodwill for the
Government's approach on Northern Ireland, through secret
deals with the Provisional movement.

In a sharply worded attack, he claimed three of those "side
deals" had so far been revealed and they "clearly go far
beyond the terms of the Good Friday agreement".

Mr Kenny was speaking at a special commemoration to pay
tribute to Arthur Griffith, who founded Sinn Féin 100 years
ago today. In an unusually critical stance on the
Taoiseach's approach to the North, the Fine Gael leader
said Mr Ahern had done side deals on the release of the
killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe, on "on-the-run"
paramilitaries and on speaking rights for Sinn Féin MPs in
the Oireachtas.

Claiming the proposal to use presidential pardons for
former paramilitaries, or "on-the-runs", was "an abuse" of
that provision, Mr Kenny said the Government's chosen route
was "inappropriate, constitutionally dubious and liable to
cause immense hurt to the victims of terrorism".

Three weeks after the announcement of presidential pardons,
Fine Gael had not yet had any contact from the Government
about this.

Mr Kenny said presidential pardons had only been granted
three times in the republic's history for miscarriages of
justice. Each case related to an armed robbery where there
were unsound convictions.

"To extend it to terrorists in the way the Government
proposes would raise a whole series of constitutional

Mr Kenny suggested that a different way of dealing with
"on-the-runs" had to be found. "At a minimum, these persons
should be required to admit their guilt before a court,
have a conviction recorded and only be released under a
licence that could be quickly revoked if they breach its
terms. Such a mechanism could provide an acknowledgment and
some comfort for victims and their families who would
appear to have no rights whatsoever under the Government's

He also suggested that the Taoiseach could not be trusted
on his claims that he had no intention to go into
Government with Sinn Féin. "I would like to believe the
Taoiseach when he says that he will not bring Sinn Féin
into the Government of this State after the next general
election and that he would not be propped up in power by
that party. However, his track record of secret deals
suggest that he cannot be trusted on this issue."

Calling on the Taoiseach to formally withdraw his proposal
for Sinn Féin speaking rights "in the absence of all-party
support", he said it was an "undemocratic proposal, which
goes far beyond the Good Friday agreement and is an insult
to the Unionist population in Northern Ireland".

The Taoiseach had "secretly negotiated a number of private
side deals with the Provisional movement, deals which
clearly go far beyond the terms of the Good Friday

Earlier this year while the Government was officially
giving Sinn Féin the cold shoulder, the Taoiseach was
having secret meetings with Gerry Adams without officials
or Ministers present, Mr Kenny said.

© The Irish Times


Republicanism 'More Popular Than At Any Time Since 1920'

Olivia Kelleher

Republicanism is more popular now than at any period
since the time of Tom Barry and his famous flying columns,
Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald said yesterday during a
commemoration in west Cork of one of bloodiest battles of
the War of Independence.

Speaking on the 85th anniversary of the Kilmichael ambush,
during which three volunteers died and 17 Auxiliaries lost
their lives at the hands of Tom Barry's flying column, Ms
McDonald spoke of the need to "work together towards Irish
unity" before going on to praise the "courageous
initiatives" of the IRA in the past year.

"In July of this year the IRA, undefeated and confident in
the future, declared a formal end to the armed campaign.
They have now dealt decisively with the issue of arms.
There is space for everyone on the ground of Irish
republican politics and plenty more work to be done.

"Irish unity will come about much more speedily if we can
build a broad-based coalition to end partition. Such a
coalition needs to be built on the realisation that
partition has failed - and failed miserably."

Ms McDonald, who is also Sinn Féin national chairperson,
said Irish freedom and unity was "too big a job" to be
delivered and undertaken by one party.

More than 1,000 people gathered for the commemorations
which started with a Mass in Irish in Castletownkenna, near
Innishkeane, before an afternoon ceremony at the site in
Kilmichael where the struggle took place.

The ambush represented the first engagement between the IRA
and British Forces in Ireland.

Three volunteers, Michael McCarthy, Jim Sullivan and Pat
Deasy, were killed during the struggle.

Commander of the Flying Column Tom Barry's account of what
happened at Kilmichael is told in his 1949 book Guerrilla
Days in Ireland.

© The Irish Times


FG Commemorates Griffith's Founding Of SF

Marie O'Halloran

Fine Gael has "as much right as any other party and more
than most" to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of
Sinn Féin, according to party leader Enda Kenny.

He was speaking at a special commemoration in the Mansion
House in Dublin yesterday, to pay tribute to Arthur
Griffith, who founded Sinn Féin 100 years ago today.

Speaking before the special seminar, Mr Kenny denied that
Fine Gael was trying to "outdo" Fianna Fáil in "reclaiming
the republic" from Sinn Féin.

He was not concerned about that, and said that both Fianna
Fáil and Fine Gael were inheritors of the legacy of Arthur
Griffith, who also founded Cumann na nGaedheal.

The centenary seminar follows Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's
announcement last month that military parades would be
reinstated to mark the 1916 Easter Rising.

He told about 100 people at the seminar that it was a
"fiction too far" for Sinn Féin to claim a sole connection
or any connection "to the patriots who founded the party
100 years before. Compare the non-violent philosophy, the
probity, the sheer nobility of Sinn Féin leader Arthur
Griffith, with those present-day leaders who promoted, or
at least tolerated murder, punishment beatings,
racketeering, kidnapping, extortion and the biggest bank
raid in the British Isles as part of their peacetime

He said that "Arthur Griffith's Sinn Féin was committed to
a policy of non-violent action. Fine Gael is proud to bear
that legacy. And there have been times in Ireland's history
when we and Labour were the only major political parties
that did".

At the conference, Dr Michael Laffan, head of history and
archives at UCD said that most parties in the Republic
could claim descent or connection with Griffith's Sinn
Féin. He said that depending on one's viewpoint Sinn Féin
was like a cat on its fifth or sixth life, or a

Historian and Griffith biographer Brian Maye said that
while the name Sinn Féin was attributed to Mary Butler, who
was active in the Gaelic League, it had been around since
the 1880s. Arthur Griffith was attracted to it because "it
ideally captured the notion of self-reliance", that Ireland
"didn't need to depend on anyone else".

One member of the audience pointed out that the SDLP was
the only party that came from non-violent activity.


U.S. Allegations Of North Korean Counterfeiting Emerge

By Roman Kupchinsky
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il

As six-country talks on North Korea's highly controversial
nuclear program continue, it is perhaps understandable that
a contretemps between Washington and Pyongyang with
considerably lower stakes has grabbed few headlines. But
years of investigation recently resulted in a formal
accusation by the United States that the government of
North Korea counterfeits $100 bills, or "supernotes," as
they are sometimes known.

The accusation was included in an indictment against the
leader of a breakaway faction of the Irish Republican Army
known as the "Official IRA," 71-year-old Sean Garland, and
six co-conspirators. That document was posted on the U.S.
Department of Justice website ( in
October. Garland and six others were arrested in Belfast
prior to the indictment's release, and he was freed on bail
soon afterward. He has denied the charges.

"Quantities of the supernote were manufactured in, and
under auspices of the government of, the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)," the indictment
reads. "Individuals, including North Korean nationals
acting as ostensible government officials, engaged in the
worldwide transportation, delivery, and sale of quantities
of supernotes."

U.S. authorities allege that North Korea is flooding the
market with supernotes for two primary reasons: 1) to earn
hard currency in order to continue its nuclear program; and
2) to destabilize the U.S. currency.

In July 2002, three men, including a former KGB agent from
Armenia, were convicted by a British court on charges of
conspiring to import and distribute counterfeit $100 bills.

During the trial, the three were linked to Garland and a
worldwide network with contacts in the Czech Republic,
Germany, Poland, and Belarus. In Moscow, the group is
believed to have used contacts to organized crime gangs
established earlier by David Levin, a 36-year-old Armenian
former KGB officer who was arrested sentenced to nine years
in prison.

According to Judge John Cavell, the three were engaged in
sophisticated "international crime" involving millions of
counterfeit dollars circulating in many countries. "The
counterfeits themselves were of such exceptional quality
that even banks were regularly deceived by them," Cavell
told the BBC on 26 July.

An unconfirmed account how the so-called Official IRA
became involved with North Korean counterfeit bills was
published by the "Daily Ireland." That account claims that
the Official IRA collected its first $1 million in fake
bills in 1989. Those bills first arrived at the Korean
Embassy in Moscow, according to that account, and were then
transferred to a "popular holiday destination in Eastern
Europe" where they were picked up by "mostly married
couples and pensioners" so as to avoid suspicion. They were
then taken to Ireland.

The "Daily Ireland" went on to assert: "Just before the
group returned, an Official IRA representative in Moscow
was involved in a shoot-out with the Russian mafia. This
led to the Official IRA losing $100,000 in fake notes that
were also bound for Ireland."

Persistent Reports

Suspicions that North Korea was counterfeiting $100 bills
have been circulating in the media for years.

One of the most detailed accounts to date appeared in "The
Wall Street Journal" on 9 September.

"Criminal syndicates working with the government of North
Korea are flooding the U.S., Japan and other countries with
counterfeit currency, fake cigarettes and methamphetamines,
according to law-enforcement officials in several countries
and North Korean defectors," "The Wall Street Journal"
reported. "The ventures produce the hard currency North
Korea's cash-strapped regime needs to procure weapons
technology abroad. The North Korean currency, the won, is
virtually worthless outside North Korea."

The indictment in the Garland case asserts that North
Korean counterfeits began appearing in Ireland in the early
1990s. After the United States redesigned its $100 bills to
enhance security features, "supernotes" reportedly began

"Pyongyang has found numerous ways to distribute its
counterfeit money" the UPI reported on 7 November. "Kim
Jong-il's regime also distributes millions of supernotes
via Asian criminal organizations. In early August, two FBI
operations -- called Smoking Dragon and Royal Charm --
uncovered a Chinese-organized crime network and confiscated
$4.5 million in supernotes"

In June 2004, the BBC program "Panorama" broadcast a
special program called "The Super Dollar" that dealt with
North Korean activities.

According to"Panorama," "in the late 1980s, U.S.
intelligence discovered that the North Korean government
had acquired a highly sophisticated printing press known as
the Intaglio."

The BBC reported: "The police investigation is producing a
detailed picture of an international counterfeiting cartel.
The surveillance shows that it's all run by a tightly knit
group of criminals. They're getting their hands on the
superdollars in Moscow. The counterfeit cash is then
smuggled to Dublin, from Ireland it's taken to Birmingham
and distributed in the criminal underworld. Much of it is
then bought in bulk by one man."

Extensive Reach

"Panorama" interviewed the Russian Interior Ministry
General Vladimir Uskov, whose men reportedly followed Sean
Garland as he visited the North Korean Embassy in Moscow.

"We registered his contacts with the North Korean Embassy,"
Uskov said. "He visited the embassy several times. The fact
[that] he went to the North Korean Embassy, our information
was that people working there might have been involved in
the transportation of counterfeit dollars."

North Korea is not the only country to have been accused by
the United States of counterfeiting $100 bills on a grand
scale. The U.S. Public Broadcasting System (PBS) program
"Nova" on 22 October 1996 reported that the governments of
Iran and Syria had been accused by U.S. Congressional
investigators of involvement in the production and
distribution of high-quality dollar bills. The Iranian
government dismissed the charges, and no indictments were
ever filed.


Ahern Makes Light Of Harney Comment

Barry Roche and Marie O'Halloran

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday made light of comments
by Tánaiste Mary Harney that she would welcome a coalition
deal with Fine Gael and that many PD supporters would
favour such a deal rather than going back into government
with Fianna Fáil.

In an interview with the Sunday Tribune, Ms Harney said she
did not have a preference regarding a potential coalition
with Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. She said she had no
preference either in relation to working with Mr Ahern or
Mr Kenny as taoiseach.

However, Mr Ahern appeared to give little credence to the
comments when questioned by journalists in Cork yesterday

"I think at the end of the election, the people are going
to have to decide. I think everyone is going into
government with everyone - it looks like we're going to end
up with a national government, the way were are going," he

Meanwhile, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny dismissed the
comments as pointless, unless the Progressive Democrats
decided to leave Government.

He said the PDs "need to make up their minds. They are part
of Government and, as far as Fine Gael is concerned, we
want to 'knock them out'."

A spokesman for the Tánaiste said her comments were no
different from those she made earlier this month.

© The Irish Times


Dáil Standoff Intensifies After Rabbitte Threat

Relations in the Dáil between the Ceann Comhairle (see
article on Ceann Comhairle below for an explanation of his
role) and the Labour leader have reached an unprecedented
low, writes Michael O'Regan, Parliamentary Reporter

The threat by Labour leader Pat Rabbitte to table a motion
of no confidence in Ceann Comhairle Dr Rory O'Hanlon is the
first to be made in some time by a senior politician
against the holder of the prestigious office.

It came last week, following several heated rows between
the two men in the lifetime of the current Dáil. Leinster
House observers cannot recall such a sustained level of
animosity between the Ceann Comhairle of the day and a
party leader.

Mr Rabbitte, a skilled parliamentarian, is the leader of
the second-largest Opposition party and was tánaiste in the
putative Rainbow government. Dr O'Hanlon, Fianna Fáil TD
for Cavan-Monaghan, is a former minister and a highly-
regarded and experienced politician.

The two have clashed repeatedly on what can and cannot be
allowed during the Dáil's Order of Business.

On Tuesday and Wednesdays, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern takes
Opposition leaders' questions when he can be asked about
pretty well any issue. However, he is not in the Dáil on
Thursdays, because of a deal between Labour and the
Government which allowed him to be free of the House in
return for restoring Labour's precedence over the technical
group, which is made up of the Green Party, Sinn Féin and a
number of Independents. The deal was done before Mr
Rabbitte took over the Labour leadership.

In Mr Ahern's absence on Thursdays, the Order of Business,
setting out the day's parliamentary work, is usually taken
by Tánaiste Mary Harney or Minister for Finance Brian

Last week's heated exchanges, leading to the threat of a no
confidence motion, arose when Mr Rabbitte attempted to
question Ms Harney on the fuel allowance paid to the

Dr O'Hanlon insisted that the question could not be asked
under the standing orders applying to the Order of
Business. Mr Rabbitte bristled and threatened a motion of
no confidence, while other Opposition TDs accused Dr
O'Hanlon of failing to allow a level of flexibility applied
in the past.

An analysis of the standing order, invoked by Dr O'Hanlon,
would appear to justify his position if strictly

Apart from a provision allowing for a deputy to seek an
emergency debate on a matter of "topical public
importance", questions must relate to "legislation promised
either within or outside the Dáil; about the making of
secondary legislation; about the arrangements for sittings;
and as to when Bills or other documents on the order paper
needed in the House will be circulated".

This would appear to rule out a question on the fuel
allowance for the elderly, irrespective of its importance
to a significant and frequently vulnerable section of
society. Mr Rabbitte had the option of tabling a question
to Minister for Social and Family Affairs Séamus Brennan,
for reply when he next takes Question Time.

Oppositions of the day, of all political colour, argue that
this kind of response shows inflexibility, and they demand
a change in standing orders.

Governments of the day tend to forget what they said in
opposition and insist that rules are rules. And unless it
is a minority government, the government of the day always
gives the coveted post of Ceann Comhairle, the occupant of
which is automatically returned at the next election, to
one of its own.

There was little by way of a political honeymoon with Dr
O'Hanlon when Mr Rabbitte took over the Labour leadership.
In December 2002, Mr Rabbitte accused Dr O'Hanlon of being
"completely unreasonable" when he told the Labour leader
that, under standing orders, he could only speak once
against the Order of Business. Eventually, Mr Rabbitte
withdrew the remark, but was warned by Dr O'Hanlon that he
was "sailing very close to the wind" in making remarks
about the Chair.

In October 2003, Mr Rabbitte claimed he had never been
harassed by any of the Ceann Comhairle's predecessors in a
similar fashion. Dr O'Hanlon denied he was being harassed,
adding that the Labour leader had been shown leniency.

In June of last year, Mr Rabbitte refused to withdraw a
claim that Dr O'Hanlon was "congenitally incapable of

The stand-off continued for a day, but Dr O'Hanlon did not
pursue the matter, saying that while he was concerned about
the remark, he accepted that, from time to time, in the
heat of the moment, robust remarks would be made. But he
said he was giving "fair warning" that any repeat of that
kind of attack would not be tolerated.

© The Irish Times

The Ceann Comhairle


The first thing that a new Dáil does after a general
election is to elect a Ceann Comhairle from the members of
the Dáil. The Ceann Comhairle has the unique role of being
the chairperson of the Dáil. Even though he or she is a
member of a political party, he or she must act impartially
and must try to ensure that all parties and independent
members are treated fairly. The current Ceann Comhairle is
Dr. Rory O'Hanlon, T.D.

Because the Ceann Comhairle cannot actively engage in
politics once he or she is appointed, the Constitution
states that he or she will be automatically re-elected in a
general election.

The Ceann Comhairle chairs the proceedings in the house. He
or she has a number of important functions;

Calling on members to speak. All speeches in the Dáil must
be directed to the Ceann Comhairle. The Ceann Comhairle can
put forward a motion for the closure of a debate when he or
she considers that the issue has been adequately discussed.

Putting questions to the Dáil for voting, supervising the
voting and declaring the results.

Keeping proceedings under control and maintaining order in
the Dáil. The Ceann Comhairle can order members to leave
the Dáil and can recommend that certain members be
disciplined by the Dáil. If there is great disorder, the
Ceann Comhairle can suspend or adjourn the Dáil.

Supervising procedure in the Dáil - making sure that
motions, amendments, Parliamentary Questions, etc., all
conform to the rules relating to procedure in the Dáil. The
Ceann Comhairle is the Chairperson of the Committee of
Procedure and Privileges, which considers amendment or
additions to the "Standing Orders". The Standing Orders is
a list of rules of procedure that are applied by the Ceann

The Ceann Comhairle has the casting vote in any case where
there is a tie or equality of votes in the Dáil.


Lough Invasion Being Investigated

The authorities are scouring Lough Neagh to see if the UK's
largest freshwater lake has been colonised by an invasive
alien species.

Five zebra mussels have been found on the hull of a boat in
Kinnego Marina.

The mussels affect lake ecology and the Department of the
Environment wants to see if the lake has been colonised.

Bob Davison of the Environment and Heritage Service said
the boat had not been in any other lake such as Lough Erne
where the mussel is established.

"No other zebra mussels have yet been seen in the lake," he

"We have started an investigation into how widely they have
colonised the lake. We do not know if the mussels are
confined to Kinnego Bay or if they are already present
throughout the lough.

"We are very concerned that zebra mussels may be
established in Lough Neagh.

"Invasions of alien species are the biggest threat to
native biodiversity after habitat destruction and the zebra
mussel is ranked among the world's 100 worst invasive

Zebra mussels first invaded Ireland in 1994 and have spread
rapidly throughout the Shannon-Erne waterway and connected
navigable waterbodies.

In July, the DoE expressed major concern that zebra mussel
sightings have been confirmed in Carran Lough,
Derrygonnelly, which is not connected to the navigable
Shannon/Erne system.

This was the first confirmed sighting of zebra mussels
outside the Erne Navigation in Northern Ireland since they
were discovered in Lough Erne in 1997.

Should a zebra mussel population become established in
Lough Neagh there will be unpredictable implications for
fish, birds, water abstraction, navigation, sand dredging
and other interests, the DoE said.

The zebra mussel is a stripy, freshwater mussel native to
the Caspian sea area of eastern Europe.

They form large colonies that attach to almost any hard
surface and have already affected private and public water
abstraction stations on Lough Erne, resulting in
modifications at the Killyhevlin Water Treatment Plant
costing over £100,000.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/26 09:41:09 GMT


Ahern Says Travellers Deserve Hand Of Friendship

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent, in Cork

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has urged the settled community to
"extend the hand of friendship" to Travellers to try to
overcome the divisions and tensions that have emerged in
the past few weeks over the Pádraig Nally case in Co Mayo.

Nally, a Mayo farmer, was sentenced earlier this month to
six years for the manslaughter in October 2004 of Traveller
father of 11, John Ward.

Mr Ahern said yesterday he did not wish to comment on the
events of recent weeks, but he believed the only way to try
to help members of the Travelling community overcome
disadvantage was by adopting a humane approach of

"People are entitled to their views on crime-related
activities, but that should not take away from the focus to
help members of the Travelling community, assist them,
integrate them where possible and that can only be done by
holding out the hands of friendship."

Mr Ahern was speaking in Cork where he congratulated the
Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) on its work as he opened a
€1.5 million centre for the organisation on Lower John

He said the centre would provide 20 much-needed childcare
spaces for children whose parents were in employment,
education or training. He welcomed the role of
representative groups such as the TVG in delivering
services to Travellers.

"At a time of unprecedented economic success, Travellers
should be able to share in the benefits of our increased
wealth. Unemployment levels amongst Travellers are at an
unacceptable level," said Mr Ahern, announcing an extra
Government grant of €143,000 for the centre.

"I believe State agencies can play a more pro-active role
in supporting Travellers to develop skills and access
employment in the public and private sectors."

TVG project co-ordinator Chrissie O'Sullivan said there had
been much negative publicity about Travellers recently but
the opening of the centre provided an opportunity to
highlight the positive relationships between Travellers and
the settled community.

Ms O'Sullivan said the centre provided a tremendous
facility but she urged State agencies to come together to
provide a youth worker for young Travellers in the city, as
there is currently no such service.

TVG chairwoman Noreen O'Brien said the centre would make a
huge difference to the lives of Travellers in Cork as it
was the only such resource in the area and would prove
particularly useful in terms of education and health.

TVG secretary Brian Ó Gallachóir said it was a historic day
for the group but challenges remained in the areas of
health, education, accommodation and discrimination against
Travellers. "We have seen a very successful move from a
charity-based model of working for Travellers to a
community development approach of working together with

© The Irish Times


American Rumblings Of Discontent Over Irish Tax Benefits Cause Concern

US companies are using Ireland's low-tax regime to save
millions in ways that are beginning to annoy their own
revenue authorities. Senior Business Correspondent Arthur
Beesley explains how they are doing it . . . and how the
Government is helping them

Lewis Greenwald is big fan of Ireland. A prominent tax
lawyer in Boston, Greenwald is a go-to man for big American
companies that want to do business here. Thanks to our low-
tax regime, his practice is busy.

"Ireland is very, very business friendly. All my clients
have something going in Ireland. I encourage them," says
Greenwald, who is a partner in a high-end firm called
Sullivan & Worcester. "It seems to us in the US, that
Ireland continues to try and better itself to make itself
more and more attractive."

Nice words from a man in a better position than most to
judge Ireland's place in the global business scene. As
Greenwald and most others in big business see it, the
shining star in the Irish mix is the 12.5 per cent tax on
profits. "All my companies are in Ireland because of the
low tax rate," he says.

Cherished by the global and Irish companies that use it to
minimise their tax burden, the regime is the dominant
factor in Ireland's rise to the fore of the ever-
competitive race for international investment. Within the
gleaming office blocks and swish factories of boom-time
Ireland, foreign direct investment was worth €172 billion
at the start of this year. More than 1,000 multinationals
have operations here, 480 of them from the US.

With 128,900 people directly employed by these companies
and maybe as many again working for support firms, it is a
sector that the Government has gone out of its way to
protect. Crucial is the tax treatment of business profits,
a factor that can have big bearing on a company's
investment decisions.

In the face of persistent sniping from France and Germany,
it is not for nothing that Bertie Ahern and his Ministers
resist persistent manoeuvres in the European Union to
harmonise corporate tax rates. What is more, the Government
has changed the law in successive Finance Acts to make it
easier for international companies to save tax by migrating
more of their business here.

The strategy that has proved highly successful:

Ireland's corporate tax take has risen to some €5.5 billion
this year from €2 billion in 1997. It has also delivered
massive spin-off benefits for the accounting, audit and
legal professions, not to mention a multitude of other
businesses that provide services for the sector.

In a study last year, the influential American journal Tax
Notes used official figures from the US Department of
Justice to suggest that Ireland was the most profitable
foreign location for US groups.

"Subsidiaries of US corporations now generate profits
mainly in tax havens rather than in the locations in which
they conduct most of their business," it said. "In low-tax
Ireland, for instance, profits of subsidiaries of US
multinationals have doubled in four years, from $13.4
billion to $26.6 billion."

This rise in pretax profits in the period 1999 to 2002 was
recorded before the Irish corporate tax rate, which has
being notched downward since 1997, finally dropped to 12.5
per cent in 2003. It is fair, therefore, to assume
profitability has increased since then.

If harnessing the tax regime to encourage big companies
here is a textbook case of pro-business thinking at the
core of economic policy, multinationals are known to play
the system to cut hundreds of millions from their tax
bills. "It's not an affinity to Ireland, it's an affinity
to profit," says one Irish figure who is familiar with the
operations of many multinationals.

At issue in recent scrutiny of US business in Ireland is a
very well-informed Wall Street Journal report this month of
Microsoft's placing of intellectual property assets with
its Irish unit to shave $500 million from its annual tax
bill. This prompted a New York Times editorial that
condemned the seepage of US jobs and investments into "tax
havens" such as Ireland and Singapore.

But the "haven" tag, with all its connotations of shady
dealings and covert transactions, troubles people in
Dublin's investment world. Businessman Eoin O'Driscoll - a
leading adviser to the Government on enterprise, and
president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland -
said last week that the description was a misrepresentation
and was potentially damaging to Ireland's reputation as a
preferred location for investment.

The Government sees no issue with the way the tax rules are
organised. "Fundamentally, Ireland is bound by the same
rules on state-aid as every other EU state. This is all
done in the open. This is all done above board," said a

But if the system itself is managed in a transparent way,
the Irish performance of multinationals here is notoriously
difficult to track from their public filings.

Such groups only rarely file a single consolidated set of
accounts in Ireland, and they sometimes shield their
operations from public glare by registering their
operations under titles that bear little resemblance to
their brands or trading names. For example, one of
Microsoft's core units here is called "Round Island One".

According to IDA Ireland spokesman Enda Connolly tax havens
are characterised by zero or low tax, a lack of
transparency and the absence of any requirement to carry
out real business in a jurisdiction. "In any technical
fashion, you cannot describe Ireland as a tax haven.
There's genuine substance there," says Connolly.

"Over-aggressive use of Ireland's tax benefits in an
international context by companies where there's little
substance or value-add activity taking place in Ireland,
and, as a result, marginal benefit to Ireland, is not
something the IDA advocates. We would never promote that to
our clients. It's not something we would."

Greenwald, who advises many US groups in their dealings
with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), says he has never
seen resistance from the US tax authorities to such groups
doing business in Ireland. "There was never any mention in
the discussions with me that they don't like Ireland. I
don't think that the US looks at Ireland and sees the
Bahamas or the Caymans or the British Virgin Islands at

David Rosenbloom, director of the international tax
programme at New York University, makes a similar point.
"The name of the game is to keep as much money as possible
in a low-tax jurisdiction such as Ireland," he says.

"Ireland is attractive for a variety of reasons: EU
membership, an educated workforce, acceptable
infrastructure, and certainly less of a taint than some
jurisdictions, which are more openly tax havens, let's say
Cayman Islands. The evasion community doesn't like 12.5 per

Still, news last week that the IRS is seeking almost half a
billion dollars in back tax from software group Synopsys
over its Irish subsidiary's transactions implies a level of
concern about the activities here of some companies.

At issue was the price at which US technology was
transferred to the Irish unit. However, the IRS won't talk
publicly about the tax strategies employed in Ireland by

For all that, the debate about the flow of business and
money away from the US is an emotive one there, where the
Democratic candidate, John Kerry, attacked the outsourcing
of industrial jobs to foreign factories relentlessly in his
unsuccessful campaign for the White House last year. The
introduction by President Bush of special incentives for
companies to repatriate their foreign profits suggests that
Kerry's argument struck a chord.

The Bush scheme, which gave groups a once-off chance to
return money to their home units at hugely reduced tax
rates, has been used by US groups here such as Forest
Laboratories and Dell. Irish banks are cashing in on the
initiative, with AIB advertising in recent weeks that it
had extended a $60 million loanto US group Stiefel to help
it avail of the scheme.

Dan McLaughlin, chief economist at Bank of Ireland, said
that such repatriations "may well be a feature" in what was
a negative inflow of foreign investment late last year.
It's big money, too.

"In the fourth quarter of last year, the foreign direct
investment inflows were negative. Foreign firms disinvested
in the fourth quarter of the year by just over €3 billion,"
he says.

As the Irish Ferries dispute worsens, the outsourcing
debate is not without resonance at home. But it ties in
also with IDA Ireland's dogged insistence that the pursuit
of future economic success lies in creating higher quality
jobs, moving skills "up the value chain".

In a globalised economy in which big companies can with
ease move low-skill jobs to low-wage economies, high-cost
Ireland will not appeal to basic manufacturers or the
purveyors of call centre services. The slashing of
corporate tax rates to below 20 per cent by new EU members
such as Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Poland helps to
explain the non-stop drive to drum up international

In this context the Government has proved remarkably adept
at tapping into the thinking of multinational managers as
they survey the world in search of business opportunities.

So how does this happen?

First, the Government has the benefit of contacts with
client companies of IDA Ireland and potential clients.

Information also comes in via the offices and
representatives of Irish legal firms in foreign markets.
The big four accounting groups - PricewaterhouseCoopers
(PwC), KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte - filter
information gleaned abroad into their Dublin offices. In
addition, senior business people indicate that Minister for
Finance Brian Cowen, who has ultimate authority in any tax
debate, is receptive to informal approaches from the
corporate world.

In an effort to keep itself informed about the priorities
of Irish Financial Services Centre companies, the
Government set up the Clearing House Group years ago to
keep up with the sectors. The recent membership of this
elite body has included business figures such a Michael
Ryan of US finance house Merrill Lynch, Pat Wall of PwC,
John Larkin of William Fry solicitors, Walter Brazil of AIB
Capital Markets, and Bank of Ireland chief executive Brian

A subcommittee of this group forms the International
Finance Services Tax Group, which acts as a forum for
industry proposals on taxation in the run-up to the Finance
Act each year. The subcommittee does not meet often - it
has met only twice this year, apparently - but it has

According to informed sources, this group was instrumental
in the introduction in the Finance Act 2004 of a tax credit
for incremental expenditure on research and development. In
the same package, the Government exempted transfers of
intellectual property from stamp duty.

Crucial here was the absence of Irish legislation on the
price that companies must pay to transfer technology or
intellectual capital from a unit in another country into
Ireland. This makes it easier to execute such a transfer
and, coupled with the stamp duty exemption, it also
provides an incentive to do so.

By carrying on additional research and development work
here on the US intellectual property, Irish-based units can
reduce the transfer price they must pay for the property.
Among the first to take advantage of these rules was

Another was Google, whose Irish unit spent $120.5 million
research and development in its first full year of
operation. Thanks to its Irish operation, the group
"significantly lowered" its tax bill for the first three
quarters of 2005.

In a separate provision in the Finance Act of 2003, the
Government put rules in place that significantly reduced
the tax on the profit an Irish-based holding company would
gain on the sale of a subsidiary. This development was well
received by the market. Kellogg, the world's dominant
cereal market, soon established a new European headquarters
in Dublin.

In style, at least, the newer incentives are nothing new to
Ireland. As far back as 1956, the Government of the day
introduced a tax-free scheme on the export of products
manufactured in Ireland. That was followed in 1987 with the
introduction by Charlie Haughey of the IFSC regime in
Dublin's docklands. In 1997 the Rainbow coalition took the
decision to gradually decrease corporate tax from 36 per
cent to 12.5 per cent by 2003.

Thus Ireland has been in the tax incentive game for close
on 50 years. If the Celtic Tiger was built on the back of
significant multinational investment in the domestic
economy, no one here will let go of that any time soon.

Over a turkey lunch last Thursday with Silver Ridge
Chardonnay and French Tom red, US-Irish business people
celebrating Thanksgiving Day heard Brian Cowen pledge yet
again to maintain the rate at 12.5 per cent.

As the boom times continue, they have much to give thanks

© The Irish Times


Man (21) Dies In Fall From Cliff In Donegal Beauty Spot

Paddy Clancy

A man died after falling from a cliff at a well-known Co
Donegal beauty spot early yesterday. A friend who was with
him also fell and was seriously injured. The alert was
raised by mobile phone shortly after 7am by a third person
with them.

Gardaí were last night still trying to establish precise
details of the accident. No vehicle was involved.

The dead man has been named as Niall Anderson (21), a
painter, from the Cavangarden area of Ballyshannon, Co
Donegal. The injured man is Alan Gallagher (19), from
Clyhore, Ballyshannon.

The men are thought to have encroached on a dangerous
section of cliff-top near the Smugglers Creek Inn at
Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.

It is also close to the back entrance of another landmark,
the Franciscan Friary, and overlooks a third well-known
premises, the Sand House Hotel.

There is a sign at the spot warning the public not to go
close to the cliff edge. It was roped off yesterday by
Garda tape as officers took measurements.

The young men are thought to have slipped on the grass and
slid down a steep slope for about 13 metres before falling
another 13 metres on to the beach below.

The area is a popular holiday spot, mainly with visitors
from Northern Ireland.

A priest was called to the scene. Mr Gallagher was removed
by ambulance to Sligo General Hospital and Mr Anderson's
body was removed two hours after the accident.

A postmortem was due to be held later.

Mr Gallagher, a student at Maynooth who was home for the
weekend, was on a life-support machine last night in
hospital. A hospital spokesperson described his condition
as "critically ill".

Relatives said the young men had enjoyed a night out with
other friends in Bundoran. Three men and four girls moved
on in the early hours to the home of one of the group for a
party at Rossnowlagh, nine miles from Bundoran. The girls
later went home by taxi.

Mr Anderson and Mr Gallagher were waiting for it to return
when the accident happened. There were reports locally that
when one man slipped on the cliff edge, the other tried to
grab him and then also slipped and toppled over.

Ballyshannon parish priest Fr Cathal Ó Fearraí, who
administered the Last Rites, said: "It's a terrible
tragedy. I know the family well. They are lovely, hard-
working people. The whole community is shocked."

Prayers for Mr Anderson were said at Masses in the area. He
was a popular local sportsman, playing Gaelic football with
Aodh Rua and soccer with Erne Wanderers in Ballyshannon.

© The Irish Times


Altruism marked man's community spirit

Obit: James F. Currie Sr.

By Jerry Vondas
Sunday, November 27, 2005

In the Turtle Creek Valley, the name Jimmy Currie was
synonymous with altruism. He had an unselfish regard for
the welfare of others.

Mr. Currie's resume read like a who's who in public service
-- borough council president, former secretary of the
Athletic Association, member of Turtle Creek Volunteer Fire
Department and Rescue Squad, and usher and former parish
council member at St. Colman Church.

James F. Currie Sr., of Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek's 1987
Citizen of the Year, died of congestive heart failure on
Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 2005, at his home. He was 73.

James Currie Jr. recalled what it was like growing up with
a father whose name was a household word in the Turtle
Creek Valley.

"When my sisters and I were growing up, we really had to
watch our behavior when we were out of the house," said
Currie. "Everybody in Turtle Creek knew who the Currie kids

"Dad never beat us when we did something wrong, but he gave
us such a talking that you often wished that he'd beat you
and get it over with rather than to have to listen to his

Born and raised in Rankin, James Currie Sr. was an only
child in the family of steelworker John and Ella
Schweinberg Currie.

In 1950, following graduation from St. Thomas High School
in Braddock, where he played the drums as part of a group
known as 4 Steps, Mr. Currie began his 35-year career with
U.S. Steel Corp. while attending evening classes at
Duquesne University.

In 1955, he married Pauline Ross, a resident of Turtle
Creek. "My mother, who died in 2001, was the glue that held
this family together," the younger Currie said.

"As a computer analyst for U.S. Steel, Dad traveled
extensively. He'd set up computer systems in plants in
Indiana, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Alabama.

"Dad would leave Monday and wouldn't be back until Friday.
It never bothered my mother, she was always on top of what
it took to raise her family."

In the years after his retirement at age 54, following the
closing of the steel mills, Mr. Currie expanded his
numerous community and philanthropic activities.

"Dad became very much involved with the LGAR (Ladies of the
Grand Army of the Republic) Nursing Center in Turtle
Creek," his son said.

Among his numerous part-time jobs, his favorite was being
associated with the Lanigan Funeral Home. "Jim was so well
known that he was a great help to the families that had to
be there, because he gave them a hometown presence,"
funeral director Patrick Lanigan said.

As a member of Division 17 of the Ancient Order of
Hibernians in Monroeville, Mr. Currie would dress as an elf
and march in the St. Patrick's Day parades.

"Dad also had a great sense of humor," the younger Currie
said. "The Hibernians were great Notre Dame fans. One
afternoon when they lost to Penn State, Dad played the Penn
State fight song at the bar."

Mr. Currie is survived by his children, Janet Currie, James
F. Jr., Pauline Schoffstall and Charlene DeNillo, all of
Turtle Creek, and grandchildren, Stephanie and Jimmy
DeNillo, and Julie and Jeffrey Schoffstall.

Friends welcome from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today at the
Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, Turtle Creek/Monroeville
Chapel, 1111 Monroeville Ave., Turtle Creek.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m.
Monday in St. Colman Church, Turtle Creek. Burial is to
follow in Braddock Catholic Cemetery, Braddock Hills.

Jerry Vondas can be reached at or (412)


Date Set For George Best Funeral

Footballer George Best is to be buried in Belfast on
Saturday, his agent said.

Phil Hughes said he would fly to the city with the former
Northern Ireland international's body on Wednesday.

Prayers were also said on Sunday in churches across
Northern Ireland, after Best, who had been ill with flu-
like symptoms since October, died on Friday.

Manchester United players and fans were among those paying
tribute to the footballer ahead of their first match since
his death.

Supporters' tributes

There was a minute of applause before their game against
West Ham. His former United team-mate Sir Bobby Charlton
thanked them for showing respect.

Chants for the former United star rang out from all areas
of the stadium at Upton Park.

Many of the visiting supporters had already paid their own
tributes in the shape of the flowers, cards, scarves and
shirts which have been left at Old Trafford since Best's
death was announced.

On Saturday, a minute's silence was held at Irish League
matches in honour of the east Belfast man.

The Irish rugby team wore black armbands for their match
against Romania in Dublin as a mark of respect.

Hundreds of people also queued to sign a Book of Condolence
for the ex-Manchester United and Northern Ireland star at
Belfast City Hall.

Floral tributes have also been left at the Best family home
on the Cregagh estate in the east of the city and flags are
flying at half-mast in the borough of Castlereagh.

Best was made a freeman of the borough in 2002.

On Friday, it was announced that the football star would be
buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Belfast beside his mother

Mr Hughes said he was still fine-tuning Best's funeral

Many sporting stars, including team mates from Manchester
United's European Cup winning side of 1968 together with
current representatives of the club, are expected to

Best had been in hospital since entering with flu-like
symptoms on 1 October, later suffering a kidney infection.

His condition deteriorated sharply last Friday with the
development of a lung infection that led to internal

Best, a recovering alcoholic, was particularly susceptible
to infection because of medicines he needed after his liver

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/11/27 19:42:57 GMT



Tributes Paid To 'Humble And Caring' Former Bishop Of Galway

Lorna Siggins

Tributes have been paid to the former bishop of Galway,
Dr James McLoughlin (76), who died on Friday night at the
Galway Clinic in Galway city. Dr McLoughlin retired earlier
this year, having served as bishop of Galway since the
resignation of Dr Eamon Casey.

He was born in April 1929 on Cross Street, Galway, where
his parents ran a small wholesale grocery business. He was
educated at the Patrician Brothers in the city and at St
Mary's College. He was ordained a priest at St Patrick's
College, Maynooth, in 1954.

Dr McLoughlin taught at St Mary's for a number of years,
where he developed a keen interest in basketball and
amateur dramatics, before being appointed diocesan
secretary in September 1965.

He served in this position with former bishops Dr Michael
Browne and Dr Eamonn Casey, and was appointed parish priest
of the Galway cathedral parish in 1983. He assumed
responsibility for the diocese on Bishop Casey's sudden
resignation in 1992, and was appointed bishop by Pope John
Paul in 1993. He had been in ill health since his
retirement last July.

Dr McLoughlin's successor, Bishop Martin Drennan, spoke at
the weekend of his contribution to the church and the
diocese, and of his humanity.

"He had a great knowledge of the diocese, of the city and
of the people," Dr Drennan said, and he had found him to be
an invaluable support.

"He was a very gentle adviser, never interfering, giving
solid, sound wisdom on all occasions. I appreciated it
hugely, coming in as a stranger," Dr Drennan added. He
described his predecessor as a very humble and caring man,
very involved in dramatic activities during his time at St
Mary's College and very kind to the sick. "He will be very
badly missed," he said.

Rev Patrick Towers, rector of Galway and the provost of
Tuam, said Dr McLoughlin had reached out the hand of
friendship to him on his arrival in the city. "His
toleration for my own eccentricities was superb," he said,
and he had always shown great friendship and hospitality.

Dr McLoughlin's body will be brought to Galway Cathedral at
7pm this evening.

Funeral mass will be at 1pm on Wednesday and he will be
laid to rest afterwards in the cathedral crypt.

Bishop McLoughlin is survived by his two brothers, Fr Aidan
and Dermot, by his sister-in-law, Joan, nieces and a

© The Irish Times

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