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November 28, 2005

Hain: IMC Will Confirm IRA Ceasefire

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 11/28/05 IMC Will Confirm IRA Ceasefire, Hints Hain
IT 11/29/05 On-The-Runs Pardons Plan To Go Ahead
EX 11/28/05 President In Constitutional Crisis Over OTRs
IT 11/29/05 Hain Defends Deal On IRA Fugitives
IT 11/29/05 Ireland Bottom In Europe On Environment
BB 11/28/05 Omagh Families To Meet Tony Blair
IO 11/28/05 Party Chairman Resigns Over Gay Marriage Row
SF 11/28/05 Irish Sovereignty Is Still Issue - Ó Caoláin
DU 11/28/05 Donaldson - United Ireland Is A Fading Dream
IO 11/28/05 New Call For Scrapping Of Corrib Gas Project
IE 11/28/05 Opin: Cloud Over A Conference
OD 11/28/05 Opin: Sinn Féin's Hundredth Birthday
IT 11/29/05 500,000 Expected At Best Funeral In Belfast
TO 11/28/05 Can A Funeral Transcend Ulster's Divide?
IT 11/29/05 Irishmen Washout In Cleaning, Laundry & Cooking
IT 11/29/05 Limited Edition Euro Coins To Go On Sale
IT 11/29/05 Friel Play Scoops London Award


IMC Will Confirm IRA Ceasefire, Hints Hain

28/11/2005 - 19:01:43

Northern Secretary Peter Hain has hinted that the
Independent Monitoring Commission will confirm that all IRA
activity has effectively ceased.

The IMC will issue a report in January which will detail
the current level of paramilitary activity.

Mr Hain, who was speaking at the British Irish
Interparliamentary Body meeting in Edinburgh, said the
indications from the IRA are very positive.


On-The-Runs Pardons Plan To Go Ahead

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The Government is "satisfied" that its controversial plan
to grant presidential pardons to paramilitary fugitives
from justice will stand up to constitutional challenge.
Under the plan, an unknown number of on-the-runs (OTRs)
will be granted pardon by President Mary McAleese, but they
will not suffer any conviction and they will not be
released under licence.

Despite growing doubts about the constitutionality of the
plan, which is based on Article 13.6 of Bunreacht na
hÉireann, the Government insisted that it could not be
dealt with in any other way.

"We are satisfied that a pre-trial pardon can be granted in
such cases. In fact, there would be great difficulties
under our Constitution in adopting any other approach to
dealing with this issue," said a Government spokeswoman.

"The power of pardon cannot be delegated under the
Constitution - it is vested solely in the President to be
exercised on the advice of the Government."

The Government could not follow the British example and set
up an eligibility body that would record a conviction
against the OTRs before their immediate release.

"The provisions in the Constitution dealing with the trial
of offences would stand in the way of setting up the type
of tribunal the United Kingdom has opted for," she told The
Irish Times.

Following the Good Friday referendum, 45 Republican
prisoners were released under licence - which means that
they could be sent back to jail without a further trial if
they returned to paramilitary ways.

Defending the measure yesterday, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
said the decision to guarantee freedom for the OTRs was
taken during talks in Weston Park in 2001. "Tony Blair is
very determined to move ahead. This was an arrangement that
was made 4½ years ago exactly. It was very publicly
announced at that time. What was agreed at that time is now
going through the legislative process.

"He is going ahead with that. We will complete that," said
Mr Ahern, speaking in Barcelona. "We allowed out all of the
prisoners 7½ years ago, so we are now talking about a lot
of people who were never caught. Probably a lot of them
will never return home."

The issue has united Fine Gael and Labour in criticism,
following Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny's complaint that he
has yet to receive any detail about the plan three weeks
on. "I believe that the Government's chosen route is
inappropriate, constitutionally dubious and liable to cause
immense hurt to the victims of terrorism," he said.

Accepting the need for some method of dealing with OTRs, Mr
Kenny said paramilitary fugitives should "at a minimum" be
"required to admit their guilt before a court".

In addition, they should have a conviction recorded against
them and only be released under a licence that could be
quickly revoked if they breach its terms, he said.

"Such a mechanism could provide some acknowledgment and
comfort for victims and their families who would appear to
have no rights whatsoever under the Government's proposal,"
he went on.

© The Irish Times


President 'Dragged Into Constitutional Crisis' Over OTRs

By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese is being dragged into a
constitutional crisis over Government plans for her to
grant pardons to 'on-the-run' Republicans (OTRs), Fine Gael
warned last night.

Leader Enda Kenny fiercely attacked moves giving amnesties
to IRA suspects and escaped prisoners.

"It is inexplicable why the Taoiseach and the Government
are proceeding down a road that leads to a constitutional
minefield and will draw the President into a political row.

"A presidential pardon is irrevocable and has only been
used on three occasions in the history of the State," Mr
Kenny said.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern insisted the initiative had the full
backing of the

Attorney General and would apply to only a "handful" of

Speaking after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair at an EU-Mediterranean summit in Barcelona, Mr Ahern
made it clear he was determined to press ahead with the

"We allowed out all of the prisoners in 1998 so we're now
talking about people who were never caught and probably a
lot of them would never return home.

"This is an issue that has to be dealt with and completed.
This was an arrangement that was made four and a half years
ago," he said.

A Government spokeswoman said the move was not

"The intention here is to deal with the OTRs in question by
way of a pre-trial pardon, taking into account the fact
that, under Bunreacht na hÉireann, powers of pardon are
vested exclusively in the President, to be exercised on the
advice of the Government," she said.

Under the plans, an Eligibility Board will vet applications
before passing them onto the Justice Department for
consideration. The Cabinet will then study candidates
before finally referring them to Ms McAleese.

Mr Kenny described the proposed mechanism as inappropriate
and constitutionally doubtful.

Some legal experts have also raised questions about the
legitimacy of the procedures as the President has the power
to pardon people convicted of crimes, but most OTRs have
never been convicted.

The Government maintained that dealing with the situation
in other ways, such as adopting a UK-style tribunal system,
could throw up constitutional problems.

Under the deal, members of the UK security forces in the
North will also receive amnesties for any crimes they may
have committed in the past.

Mr Ahern added that he and Mr Blair used their Barcelona
meeting to "plot out" a timetable for next year aimed at
getting institutions in the North working again as soon as
possible, but Government sources made it clear that power
sharing was unlikely to be restored by next spring as
previously hoped.


Hain Defends Deal On IRA Fugitives

Renagh Holohan in Edinburgh

The British government wanted to get legislation covering
on-the-runs on to the statute books as agreed but it would
look sympathetically at any amendments tabled, Northern
Secretary Peter Hain said yesterday at the British-Irish
Inter-Parliamentary Body.

The agreement was made with the Irish Government, Mr Hain
said, and they would not renege on it.

"It was part of the building block to get the IRA to give
up armed struggle. I have inherited a past that included
that agreement. We are where we are.

"In my view the violence from the IRA is over, the
terrorism is over." Mr Hain added that "you don't just turn
your back on an agreement that was made 2½ year ago". Mr
Hain's remarks followed heated debate when members from the
British, Irish, Scottish and Welsh parliaments expressed
grave concerns about the on-the-runs legislation.

There was strong objection to the provision whereby those
who had perpetrated crimes would not have to appear before
a tribunal when their cases were being considered.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the victims were coming last
in the proposed process.

Mr Hain said intelligence reports indicated that promises
made by the IRA in July were being kept. This was also the
view of the Irish Government.

He wanted power-sharing government back in the North as
soon as possible.

Mr Durkan asked if the SDLP and the UUP could be excluded
from a new government if they were not prepared to vote the
DUP and Sinn Féin into the top jobs.

Mr Hain said no-one and no political party had a veto on
the political process. They should now get discussions
going without ruling anything in or ruling anything out and
make progress to find a way forward.

On a debate on the advantages of an all-island economy, Mr
Hain said he welcomed a positive argument about economic
policy as the advantages from North-South co-operation were

Top corporate executives in New York and Washington whom he
met recently saw the benefits.

That was the agenda, he said, practical common sense co-
operation and not some quasi-constitutional point.

The constitutional structure would remain for as long as
the people wanted.

© The Irish Times


Ireland Bottom In Europe On Environment

Jamie Smyth in Brussels

Ireland has been ranked bottom of a new European league
table on the environment after failing to meet key
international targets in four out of nine areas.

It is significantly overshooting EU targets for producing
greenhouse gases, acidifying substances, ozone and
municipal waste. Urban sprawl in the countryside is also
growing faster in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe,
according to a scorecard comparing 32 states in a new
report, The European Environment: State and Outlook 2005.

The wider report issues a stark warning about climate
change on Europe's environment and warns of huge costs if
greenhouse gas emissions are not cut further than the
recommended proposals in the Kyoto Protocol. It links
recent increases in the number of severe weather events,
such as floods and heatwaves, to climate change, and warns
that these phenomena could spark an abrupt and catastrophic
climatic event.

Two potential disaster scenarios mentioned in the report
are the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice-cap and
the collapse of warm ocean currents - such as the North
Atlantic Drift - which keeps waters around Ireland warm.

The Irish scorecard in the report shows greenhouse gas
emissions in the Republic increased by 25 per cent from
1990 to 2003, significantly beyond its Kyoto target of
limiting emissions to 13 per cent above the 1990 level.
Ireland produces more greenhouse gas emissions for each
person than every state except Luxembourg, which topped the
polluter's list by producing 24 tonnes of carbon dioxide
per capita during 2002.

The report warns that Ireland faces a major challenge to
meet its final Kyoto target set for the period 2008-2012,
which is designed to slow global warming. It is the worst-
performing EU state for emissions of acidifying substances,
such as sulphur dioxide and ammonia, the principal causes
of acid rain.

The Republic is also the worst performer for municipal
waste generation, producing 735kg of waste for each person
every year. This compares with just 230kg of waste produced
by people in Poland.

Ireland is also singled out for experiencing the most
intense urban sprawl and associated development over the
past 15 years. If the current rate of urban development of
more than 3 per cent growth a year continues, the amount of
urbanised land is predicted to double in just 20 years.

The scorecard shows Ireland met its EU targets in four
sectors: renewable energy, energy consumption, freight
transport demand and organic farming.

© The Irish Times


Omagh Families To Meet Tony Blair

Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims are due to meet Prime
Minister Tony Blair in London.

The relatives are to ask Mr Blair for a cross-border
judicial inquiry into the bombing which cost 29 lives in
August 1998.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the explosion,
said they had been seeking a meeting for seven years.

Mr Gallagher is also to raise the issue of new legislation
which will allow the return home of "on-the-run"


He added that although a number of inquiries have already
been held, relatives are "none the wiser".

One man has been charged with murdering the 29 people and a
second man was arrested last week.

The victims' relatives will also have a meeting with the
Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, who is
investigating certain aspects of the police inquiry into
the bombing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/11/29 02:22:58 GMT


North: Party Chairman Resigns Over Gay Marriage Row

28/11/2005 - 15:40:39

The chairman of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party has
resigned following a row over so-called gay marriages, it
emerged today.

Trevor Lunn stood down after opposing the use of Lisburn
City Council's wedding suite for civil partnership

He said: "This has made it difficult for me to chair an
organisation that's been highly critical of me. I thought
the Alliance Party was a broader church than that."

Mr Lunn, who sits on Lisburn Council, and his two party
colleagues on the authority, Seamus Close and Betty
Campbell, went against Alliance policy on the issue.

Their bid to stop the wedding room being used was thwarted
when the council overturned its policy after consulting

The Civil Partnership Act will allow same-sex couples to
sign documents providing them with many of the same rights
as men and women who marry.

Even though he stressed his support for gay partnerships,
Mr Lunn insisted the difference of opinion was too
significant for him to continue as chairman.

But along with Ms Campbell, who has quit the party
executive, he will remain an Alliance member.

The 59-year-old insurance broker, who has been a member of
the cross-community party for 12 years, told leader David
Ford of his decision in a letter.

His resignation comes just months before he was due to
complete his two-year tenure as chairman.

"The party has managed to make a major issue out of
something trivial," he said.

"We have a wedding suite and as a council we decided to
keep that room for weddings and not allow civil partnership
registrations there.

"But things have moved on, and the council have now decided
it cannot sustain that position on legal advice.

"Since June the party has been highly critical of Lisburn
Council. Two weeks ago I decided enough was enough.

"How can I chair an organisation hinting at disciplinary
action against me?"

An Alliance Party spokesman refused to comment, saying: "We
are dealing with this matter internally."


Irish Sovereignty Is Still The Issue - Ó Caoláin

Published: 28 November, 2005

In a statement marking the 100th anniversary of the day on
which Sinn Féin was founded in Dublin on 28 November 1905,
Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that
Irish sovereignty and independence is still the core issue
in Irish politics. He said:

"One hundred years ago the founders of Sinn Féin began an
epic journey towards Irish independence and the sovereignty
of the Irish people. Many sacrificed their lives, their
liberty and their livelihoods to achieve Irish freedom. We
continue to be inspired by their example of selflessness.

"Sovereignty and independence are still core issues in
Irish politics today. The continuation of Partition denies
Irish independence. It thwarts the potential for political,
social and economic progress on this island. The Good
Friday Agreement is a compromise which caused great
difficulty for Irish republicans but which we see as the
way forward and which has the endorsement of the Irish
people. Yet the Agreement remains unimplemented. The Irish
Government has a key responsibility to ensure the
implementation of the Agreement and the Sinn Féin TDs will
continue to hold the Government fully to account in
Leinster House and in the constituencies on this matter.

"Irish sovereignty must also mean the sovereignty of the
people. Such sovereignty does not exist where multinational
corporations like Shell have been given control of our
natural resources and can ride roughshod over local
communities. Equality does not exist where we have a two-
tier health system where wealth buys the best care in the
private system while our public health service struggles
from crisis to crisis. And there is no real independence
where an Irish government has subordinated foreign policy
to the needs of NATO and an increasingly militarised EU.

"Sinn Féin's Dáil team will continue to highlight these
realities and to present our radical and relevant
alternatives. In the months and years ahead we are
determined to build and develop our party as a campaigning
organisation in every city, town and townland throughout
the 32 Counties. On this the 100th anniversary of Sinn Féin
we re-commit ourselves to building a United Ireland of


Donaldson - United Ireland Is A Fading Dream

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has reiterated his
opposition to the idea that Northern Ireland's interests
would be better served in a United Ireland. Mr Donaldson
was speaking at Cambridge Union where the motion that "this
house believes the ultimate outcome for Northern Ireland is
a United Ireland" was being debated. The debate was
chaired by the Union President and former Methodist College
pupil Jennifer Scott. Speaking in opposition to the motion
Mr Donaldson said,

"I am not a believer in this idea that a United Ireland is
inevitable. I have many good reasons to substantiate this
belief, non greater than the economic implications of a
United Ireland.

One of the greatest advantages of Northern Ireland being
part of the United Kingdom is the fact that it is wedded
into the fifth largest economy in the world. This has
endless advantages for Northern Ireland business. When one
considers that London alone is a greater market than the
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland put together, it
quite obvious why Northern Ireland businessmen are in
favour of remaining part of the United Kingdom. There are
very few United Irish men using economic arguments to
persuade anyone that we would be better off in a United

Indeed it is just not businessmen who are in favour of
Northern Ireland remaining British, all recent polls and
voting trends point in the direction that there is a stable
majority who are very happy to remain part of the United
Kingdom. One recent poll revealed that 25% of Roman
Catholics within Northern Ireland are not in favour of a
United Ireland.

It is time that Republicans faced up to the reality and
accepted that their wishful thinking of unification of
Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland is nothing
short of a fading dream. People in Northern Ireland are
proud of their Britishness, view it as part of their
birthright and time after time have sent a clear message
that they will not be putting it up for sale."


New Call For Scrapping Of Corrib Gas Project

28/11/2005 - 12:24:35

The Shell to Sea group campaigning against the
controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo has reiterated
its call for the project to be abandoned.

The move follows a critical report from the Centre for
Public Inquiry last week.

The report said the proposed Corrib pipeline could pose an
unacceptable risk to local residents if it exploded while
operating at extremely high pressures.

Shell to Sea wants gas from the Corrib field to be pumped
to an offshore terminal rather than directly onshore.

In a statement today, it accused Shell and the Government
of gambling with people's lives.


Opin: Cloud Over A Conference

The child-like outbursts of some Irish unionists in
response to this newspaper's interview with Peter Hain,
Britain's Secretary of State for the Northern Ireland, have
astonished many Irish-Americans.

Hain announced a major international conference designed to
encourage U.S. companies to take a fresh look at investing
in the North. He pointed out that the North, which receives
massive subsidies from Britain, was not economically
sustainable. He said its future lay in an all-Ireland

Instead of being regarded as having merely stated the
facts, Hain was immediately accused of betraying Northern
Ireland. The Ulster Unionists said his comments represented
a "stab in the back."

The Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the North's largest party,
the DUP, called on Hain to resign. Arlene Foster, one of
the party's most prominent politicians, said: "Peter Hain's
comments to the Irish Echo are an unacceptable slur."

Unionist leaders have written to British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, quoting this newspaper and expressing outrage.

And now, a cloud of doubt hangs over the participation of
unionists in the investment conference.

In this week's edition of the Irish Echo, the DUP's
economic spokesman has warned that if the conference is
framed in the all-Ireland context outlined by Hain last
week, his party may decide not to attend.

This is the last thing the North's economy needs right now.
By any objective analysis, the situation is already dire;
the public expenditure represents around 70 per cent of
GDP, and the tiny private sector is dominated by British
government contract work.

The thing that it needs most is what just might emerge from
the conference - real jobs in real industry.

Irish unionists should realize fast that sharing resources
and infrastructure with the rest of the country need not
erode their identity.

And it would surely improve their economic lot.

This story appeared in the issue of November 23 - 29, 2005


Opin: Sinn Féin's Hundredth Birthday

Richard English
28 - 11 - 2005

The Irish republican party Sinn Féin is celebrating its
centenary by claiming a lineage from the nationalist
movement founded by Arthur Griffith on 28 November 1905.
Modern politics corrupting real history? No, far more
interesting, says Richard English.

The founder of the Irish nationalist political movement
Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith (1871-1922), might seem an
unlikely figure for Gerry Adams's modern-day party of the
same name to celebrate. The Dublin typesetter and
journalist Griffith – who publicly set out the Sinn Féin
policy in 1905, when Ireland as a whole was ruled directly
from London in accordance with the Act of Union of 1801 –
was not himself a republican. Indeed, he drew on Austro-
Hungarian experience to advocate a constitutional model
based on the idea of "dual monarchy", and his preferred
version of Irish nationalism did not involve the espousal
of revolutionary violence.

By contrast, Adams's own "Provisional" movement – formed in
January 1970 in a breakaway from the existing (or
"Official") Sinn Féin under pressure of spreading violence
in Northern Ireland – has been explicitly and committedly
republican and has (under the banner of its Irish
Republican Army partner) engaged in a bloody war lasting
almost three decades from the early 1970s. Griffith
famously opposed socialism, and he was markedly anti-
Jewish; Adams' Sinn Féin has long proclaimed itself a
socialist party, and has sought to style itself as
progressive on issues of ethnic tolerance and diversity.

Yet here, at the hundredth anniversary of Griffith's
initial exposition of Sinn Féinism, are the 21st-century
Sinn Féiners engaging in protracted centenary celebrations.

Of course, when Adams speaks of his "party's celebration of
its hundredth anniversary", he is not quite telling it
straight. There is no direct organisational lineage
providing continuity between Sinn Féins old and new. It's
been a stop-start century, as far as Sinn Féin has been
concerned, with Adams' Provisional version merely one of a
series of new starts which have deployed the old name.

From violence to politics

Nearer to the mark is the modern party's enthusiasm for
what it calls "a century of struggle for Irish freedom".
For in terms of goals and attitudes, there are obvious
reasons for the Sinn Féin name to be lastingly relevant to
those like Adams and his comrades, and for the modern party
now to hold a big centenary birthday party. What Arthur
Griffith set out in Dublin on 28 November 1905 was an
impressively powerful nationalist philosophy of self-
reliance. Sinn Féin – in English, "Ourselves" – involved
not only an emphasis on Irish distinctiveness, but also a
crucial stress on the nation's own capacity and strength.

It wasn't just that Ireland was culturally different from
England, so the argument ran, and that it therefore
deserved political independence. The point was also that
Ireland would only remain under English domination as long
as the Irish allowed this to be the case. Irish
nationalists had the resources with which to free
themselves, and they could be free if they trusted to their
own ways and their own strength. As Sinn Féiners,
therefore, you not only defined yourselves as different
from your national enemy, you engaged in a struggle marked
by self-reliant confidence.

This involved culture (with a stress on Gaelic language and
sports, for example) and economics (in the form of
protectionist policies); and it ultimately involved a
withdrawal of elected Irish representatives from the London
parliament which claimed to rule Ireland. Irish culture,
economy and politics were different from England's, and
Irish nationalists could themselves simply create their own
alternative world, as a way of achieving freedom. Sinn Féin
was a politics of attitude. We'll do it Ourselves.

This is the key to understanding why Adams and Co. are now
keen to claim the Sinn Féin inheritance. For what Griffith
set out was a philosophy which encapsulated the very
essence of nationalism – a politics of proudly self-
defining community, confident both in its own
distinctiveness and in a struggle which would achieve power
in its own way. For early-20th-century Sinn Féiners, as for
the 19th-century Fenians before them and the Provisional
IRA much later on, defiance was to replace deference in the
politics of nationalist pride and resistance.

And this, in its cultural and political form, is now more
relevant than ever to modern Sinn Féin. For decades, its
republican politics were very much a subservient feature of
the IRA's armed struggle: violence would achieve freedom,
and the party was merely facilitating this process. But the
IRA's campaign did not, in fact, bring victory, but rather
a bloody stalemate. And in order to move their struggle
forward, Irish republicans opted for an aggressively-tinged
politics rather than a politically-motivated violence. In
short, they opted for a peace process.

So, in the post-armed-struggle Ireland of 2005, Arthur
Griffith (himself a man who shifted from secret-society
membership to more cultural and formal politics) might be
judged of greater importance and resonance. If modern-day
republicans are no longer directing their energies so
forcibly towards military struggle, then there is a need
for other forms of campaign. Hence, in part, the long shelf
of books by former IRA men and women – whether memoir,
prison journal, academic study, political argument, or

And hence, perhaps, a certain measure of hope. For the
Provisionals' reinvention of themselves – as peacemakers
rather than bombers, writers rather than prisoners,
pragmatic politicians rather than millenarian
revolutionaries – does contain lessons of relevance
elsewhere too. It's not that Irish republicanism has
entirely eschewed violence and intimidation (the grisly
Belfast killing of Robert McCartney in January 2005
hideously reminds us of what some of the comrades are still
capable of doing). But it is true that IRA violence has
mostly stopped; that it has stopped because even this most
durable of terrorist organisations came to recognise the
futility of its violence; and that killers have seen ways
of establishing political momentum in a post-violent form
of political struggle.

The virtue of self-reliance

In this sense – in a world in which many young people, from
Yorkshire to Iraq to Palestine, are now being radicalised
into the role of bomber – there are surely some lessons for
all to learn from Ireland. If even Gerry Adams is prepared
to star at a birthday party for an irenic cultural
nationalist form of politics, then there is surely some
sign that even the most bloody of zealot-movements can find
more peaceful politics to be a more successful way of doing

The picture is not, of course, an entirely pretty one.
Northern Ireland is still in an utterly sectarian and
divided state, and Sinn Féin's cultural nationalism has no
serious chance of bridging the divide between Catholic and
Protestant there. Research shows that even the Democratic
Unionist Party – the party of Protestant preacher Ian
Paisley – has more Catholic support than Sinn Féin has
Protestant: the figures are 1% and 0% respectively.

So what we're facing is a culture war and a political
struggle between two antagonistic communities, rather than
any harmony between them. In terms of cultural output
itself, there's also a long way still to travel. Republican
authors have yet to produce anything which can match the
kind of post-revolutionary intellectual reflection offered
by figures such as Sean O'Faolain, Liam O'Flaherty or Ernie
O'Malley, a literature born of disenchantment with the new
Ireland created in the 1920s.

But the politics of confident self-reliance have been the
basis on which Irish republicans have shifted so powerfully
from bombs to more conventional politics. The attitude
contained in Arthur Griffith's marvellous brand name of
1905 has helped to ease the path from violence to something
more constructive. To this extent, and for all the
historical amnesia which it has involved, we should all
perhaps be glad that Sinn Féin have bothered to hold this
year-long party in their own honour.

Richard English is professor of politics at Queen's
University, Belfast. He is the author of Ernie O'Malley:
IRA intellectual (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Armed
Struggle: The History of the IRA (Pan, 2003)


500,000 Mourners Expected At Best Funeral In Belfast

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

George Best's funeral on Saturday is expected to be the
biggest seen in Northern Ireland. It is expected that
500,000 people will either attend the service at Stormont
estate or line the proposed route the cortege will take.
Television broadcasts will relay the proceedings to
millions more.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain, a senior Irish Government
figure, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Best's
international colleagues Gerry Armstrong, Martin O'Neill
and Pat Jennings will also attend. A host of names from
Manchester United's European Cup-winning side of 1968 are
also expected.

Rumours flooded Belfast yesterday that Pele or Diego
Maradona could also appear.

A ceremony, part of which will be private, will be held in
Stormont's marbled Great Hall with 300 invited mourners,
and relayed on giant screens to tens of thousands expected

In accordance with his wishes, Best will be buried
alongside his mother, Annie, at Roselawn Cemetery in the
Castlereagh Hills overlooking the city.

The interment will be private.

Newspaper campaigns have reflected the public clamour to
have a permanent memorial to the former international star.

Sports minister David Hanson conceded yesterday the British
government would consider incorporating a Best memorial
into the plans for a £55 million multisports stadium
expected to be built on the site of the former Maze prison.

Calls to radio phone-in shows and a newspaper campaign
endorsed such a move and promoted other ideas. There was
one suggestion that the Northern Ireland Number 7 and
Number 11 shirts, in which Best played, never be filled

Other members of the public acted in advance of their
public representatives and filed into Belfast City Hall and
the headquarters of Castlereagh Borough in east Belfast to
sign one of numerous books of condolence.

Fans have set up shrines at the Best family home in the
Cregagh area and outside Windsor Park in south Belfast,
where Best played as a Northern Ireland international.

The biggest was at the foot of Belfast's main Christmas
tree in Donegall Square. Crowds assembled throughout the
day, with many laying flowers and football scarves.

Many recorded their personal sympathies on a large banner
bearing the star's name.

© The Irish Times


Can A Funeral For The Record Books Transcend Ulster's Divide?

By David Sharrock

So many people are expected at George Best's send-off that
it will be held at Stormont Castle

IT WILL be the largest funeral seen in Northern Ireland,
with up to one in three of the population possibly turning
out to pay final respects to their most famous son.

The scale of the occasion when George Best is buried in
Belfast on Saturday will be an event so grand that the
Stormont parliament building in East Belfast will be
pressed into service as the venue.

Not even Lord Carson (if reluctant) founder of Northern
Ireland, received such a send-off when he was given the
province's first — and, to date, last — state funeral in
1935 and was buried in St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.

It may tell us a few things about Ulstermen and women, the
first being that they prefer sportsmen to politicians. Joey
Dunlop, five times World Motorcyle Champion, attracted more
than 70,000 mourners to his funeral in 2000, roughly the
same number that turned out to mourn IRA hunger striker and
MP Bobby Sands in 1981.

But if half a million mourners turn out on Saturday
morning, as some were predicting yesterday, it will also be
a tribute to Best's particular brand of popularity, which
transcended Ulster's religious divide.

The working-class lad from staunchly Protestant East
Belfast will have many Catholics at his funeral this
weekend. Football being its own religion and a topic above
the tawdry world of politics, "Our Georgie" as he is known
to everybody in Northern Ireland, had long enjoyed the
distinction of being able to say the unsayable without
upsetting too many people.

His views on an all-Ireland national soccer team — which he
said he hoped to see before he died — pleased nationalists,
who in the tribal politics of Ulster are overwhelmingly
Catholics, but largely annoyed Protestant Unionists.

On this occasion, however, the unionists will happily bite
their tongues, gladdened to see the huge turnout for a man
they revered as someone who showed the world what the
province was capable of. In that sense, what will take
place on Saturday in East Belfast will be more than a
funeral. It will be a secularised version of sainthood
being publicly bestowed upon George Best.

One caller to a radio station yesterday grumbled that folk
in Northern Ireland remember their greats only when they
are dead and lamented the lack of any permanent monument to

That will presumably change soon. The Government, which is
meeting resistance to its plans to build a national stadium
on the site of the former Maze Prison outside Lisburn, Co
Antrim, said yesterday that it was possible the stadium
would be named after him.

Other ideas include renaming Belfast city airport George
Best airport, erecting a statue in the grounds of Belfast
City Hall, funding a hall of fame and awarding him a
posthumous knighthood.

The funeral cortège will leave the Best family home in the
Cregagh estate at 10am on Saturday, taking an hour to
travel the three miles through East Belfast to Stormont
along streets that, come rain or shine, will almost
certainly be lined with mourners.

Details of the funeral have not been finalised, but it is
thought that there will be a mixture of public and private
ceremonies, with the family at the funeral inside the
building's Great Hall and the service relayed to the tens
of thousands of well-wishers expected to gather in the
Stormont grounds. This will be a first for Stormont.

Eamonn Holmes, the television presenter, will act as master
of ceremonies as the funeral is relayed outside on giant

Inside, 300 guests invited by the Best family will include
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, before he
leaves to be at his team's fixture against Portsmouth.
Other leading soccer figures there will be Pat Jennings,
Martin O'Neill and Gerry Armstrong, Best's Northern Ireland
team mates. Music will be provided by Brian Kennedy, Peter
Corry and possibly the flautist James Galway.

The family has asked that the interment in Roselawn
Cemetery be respected as a private event. Roselawn is four
miles from Stormont amid hills that offer panoramic views
of Belfast. George Best will be buried in the family plot,
alongside his mother, Ann, whose own life was cut short by



More than a million people attended the funeral of Diana,
Princess of Wales in September 1997. Another 2.5 billion
watched it on television as her coffin was taken to
Westminster Abbey. She was 36


In April 2002, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was laid to
rest in Windsor alongside her husband, King George VI. The
Queen Mother's coffin was taken from Westminster Hall to
Westminster Abbey accompanied by pipers, and borne on the
same gun carriage used for George VI's funeral 50 years

More than a million people turned out to pay their respects
along the funeral route.Prince William, 19, and Prince
Harry, 17, were in the cortege.


Following a campaign by The Times, Dickens was buried at
Westminster Abbey in June 1870. While the funeral was
strictly private, the grave was left open for two days as
thousands of people came to pay their respects and leave


The 90-year-old former Prime Minister was buried in January
1965 in a full state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral.
Thousands of people paid their respects and the ceremony
was watched by millions more worldwide.


Irishmen A Washout For Cleaning, Laundry And Cooking

Frank McNally

A large majority of Irishmen do almost no cleaning,
laundry, or cooking at home, a survey by the Economic and
Social Research Institute has found.

The study, the first of its kind in Ireland, suggests that
81 per cent of men do no cleaning work on weekdays, while
71 per cent avoid all cooking or food preparation.The
figures "change little at the weekends", the report adds.

By contrast, more than two thirds of all women say they
engage in all of these activities on a daily basis. On
average, women report spending five hours of each weekday
on caring or household work, compared with one hour 40
minutes for men.

But the figures also show that men spend an average of
seven hours daily at work or on work-related travel,
compared with just three hours 47 minutes for women.

The Irish National Time-Use Survey 2005 was based on a
study of 1,000 adults, who filled out diaries - one during
the week and one at the weekend - detailing their
activities over two 24-hour periods.

A separate survey, also commissioned by the Department of
Justice, Equality and Law Reform and compiled by the ESRI,
shows that male graduates working in the private sector
earn more within three years of graduation than female

But the advantage is offset by women's lower working hours
and their over-representation in the better-paid public
sector, so that overall hourly pay rates are roughly
similar for both genders.

The time-use study suggests that on weekdays, the
statistically composite Irish person spends an average of
just over eight hours sleeping; four hours in paid
employment; one hour 50 minutes on household work; one hour
30 on caring; and five hours on leisure, including a small
amount of voluntary or religious activity.

Leisure activity rises to seven hours per day on Saturday
and Sunday, but women have "significantly less leisure time
at weekends than men".

The survey piloted the use of "light" diary methodology, in
which respondents recorded their use of time under 26 pre-
defined categories, rather than the "heavy" diary, which
requires a continuous narrative of the respondent's day.

The ESRI said the results provided a "nationally
representative" study and filled an important gap in
comparative research.

© The Irish Times


Limited Edition Euro Coins To Go On Sale

Tim O'Brien

The first euro coins for 2006 were unveiled by the
Central Bank and the Wildlife Service, in Glenveagh
National Park, in Donegal, yesterday.

A limited edition of 40,000 sets which are packaged in
material commemorating Glenveagh National Park will be on
sale to the public from Wednesday next at a cost of €22

This is the fourth in a series of coin sets produced by the
Central Bank, which feature some of Ireland's national
monuments, parks, gardens and nature reserves.

Previous series have featured the Casino at Marino in
Dublin, Reginald's Tower in Waterford, and Heywood Gardens
in Co Laois.

Glenveagh National Park contains some 14,000 hectares of
mountain, raised bogland, lakes and woodlands and includes
the two highest mountains in Donegal, Errigal and Slieve

The 19th century Glenveagh Castle with its neo-Gothic
architecture is complete with ramparts, turrets and a round

Glenveagh Castle is also home to a number of Golden Eagles,
reintroduced to the area in 2001 after an absence of almost
100 years.

This year the Central Bank produced just over 300 million
coins for general use in Ireland.

The total number of euro coins issued by the Central Bank
to date is around 2.9 billion - one of the highest figures
per head in the euro area.

An order form for the 2006 coin set is available from the
Central Bank and can be obtained by phoning 1890- 307 607
or from the website,

© The Irish Times


Friel Play Scoops London Award

Brian Friel's The Home Place won Best Play in London's
Evening Standard Theatre Awards yesterday.

The play, directed by Adrian Noble, premiered at the Gate
Theatre in Dublin in February, and opened in the Comedy
Theatre in London's West End in May. The Home Place beat
off nominations for Mike Leigh's 2,000 Years, Richard
Norton-Taylor's Bloody Sunday and Richard Bean's Harvest.
Sinead Cusack presented the award.

This has been quite a year for Brian Friel in London, with
successful revivals of Translations and Aristocrats.
Speaking after the awards yesterday, Friel said: "I'm very
pleased and very thrilled. For myself of course. And for
the Gate.

"I'm pleased for Michael Colgan, who nursed the thing and
composed it very skilfully."

A "Big House" play set in 1878, The Home Place was Friel's
"most accomplished new play since Dancing At Lughnasa 15
years ago," wrote Fintan O'Toole in his review in The Irish
Times last February.

The cast starred British actor Tom Courtenay, star of The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Dr Zhivago and
Irish actors Hugh O'Conor and Derbhle Crotty.

© The Irish Times

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