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November 21, 2005

N Ireland Bill Will Suppress Truth

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News about Ireland and the Irish

UT 11/21/05 Northern Ireland Bill 'Will Suppress Truth'
DI 11/21/05 14 Warnings Of Loyalist Threats In Two Years
DI 11/21/05 US Conference United On Need For Executive
DI 11/21/05 Orde And SDLP Gang Up On Sinn Féin
BT 11/21/05 Traders On The Shankill Deny Banning PSNI
IO 11/21/05 DUP Seeking Talks With Loyalist Commission Head
BT 11/21/05 Colleagues Join Blockheads At Mo Memorial
IN 11/21/05 Ovation Was 'Start Of Mo's Problems'
BT 11/21/05 US Smear Claim By McCartney Sisters
IN 11/21/05 Conlon Murder Suspects Released
IN 11/21/05 SF: Irish Passport Office Soon
BT 11/21/05 Marine Food Chain Affected By Global Warming
BT 11/21/05 White House Used 'Gossip' To Build Case For War
ST 11/21/05 Flatley's Celtic Tiger Stuffed With Cheesiness


Northern Ireland Bill 'Will Suppress Truth'

A human rights organisation expressed grave concern today
about a Government Bill allowing people who committed
offences before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to avoid
serving a prison sentence.

By:Press Association

London-based British Irish Rights Watch has campaigned for
inquiries into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane and other victims of alleged security force
collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

It claimed the Northern Ireland Offences Bill, which
receives its second reading on Wednesday, would only
suppress the truth further.

In an appeal to MPs to vote against the Bill, the
organisation said: "This Bill, if enacted, will allow
anyone who committed a crime prior to April 10 1998 to
claim that his or her motive was terrorist to get out of
jail free.

"While in some cases it will be possible to prove beyond
reasonable doubt that a crime was not motivated by
terrorism, once a criminal claims to have been a member of
a proscribed organisation and, for example, to have killed
someone because she or he feared that the fact of his or
her membership of the organisation would be exposed, it
will be virtually impossible to disprove such assertions.

"Sir Hugh Orde, chief constable of the Police Service of
Northern Ireland, has recently established a Historic
Enquiries Team to re-examine every conflict-related
unsolved murder prior to April 10 1998.

"It will examine over 3,000 deaths and will cost £24.2
million over six years. On our reading of the Bill, every
single person charged by the Historic Enquiries Team will
never serve a day in jail.

"What concerns British Irish Rights Watch most is that
agents of the state who colluded with terrorists will not
be held to account because they will be able to claim that
any crimes they committed were carried out in the efforts
to combat terrorism."

Victims` organisations, the nationalist SDLP, the cross
community Alliance Party and unionist parties have been
highly critical of the Northern Ireland Offences Bill,
accusing the Government of handing out an amnesty to anyone
who committed an offence before the Good Friday Agreement.

Northern Ireland Office minister David Hanson has insisted
that the Bill will ensure that people who have carried out
offences have to answer for what they have done in a
special judicial process.

Under the Bill, people such as paramilitaries who went on
the run abroad during the Troubles to avoid arrest or
members of the security forces can avoid arrest and serving
a jail sentence in Northern Ireland by applying to a
certification commissioner who will examine if they are
wanted for crimes.

If they are, the commissioner will issue them with a
certificate keeping them out of jail but also initiating a
legal process which will see their offences examined by a
specially set-up tribunal with its own prosecutors and

On-the-run paramilitaries, rogue members of the police and
Army and civilians suspected of crimes before 1998 would
not have to attend the hearings.

If they are found guilty, they will be issued with a
licence similar to the one given to the republican and
loyalist prisoners freed early from jail under the Good
Friday Agreement.

If they offend again, their licences could be revoked and
they would be sent to prison.

Critics of the Bill have hit out at the Government`s
failure to compel those suspected of crimes to sit during
the proceedings of the special tribunal.

The nationalist SDLP and Sinn Fein, which supports the
legislation, have bitterly clashed over it.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has accused Sinn Fein of
negotiating legislation which allowed republicans and the
British state to suppress the truth about their involvement
in some of Northern Ireland`s most controversial murders.

The Foyle MP has also accused them of denying justice to
the victims of IRA and state violence.

Sinn Fein`s Alex Maskey and other members of the party have
accused the SDLP of using the victims of alleged collusion
cynically for political gain.


Fourteen Warnings Of Loyalist Threats In Two Years

Connla Young

A Belfast man has been warned 14 times in the past two
years by the PSNI that his life is under threat from

Seán Hayes, a former Sinn Féin councillor in Belfast, was
visited by the PSNI last week and advised to step up his
personal security after intelligence files went missing
from a PSNI station in east Belfast in July 2004.

Mr Hayes is among an estimated 400 people across the North
whose personal details were contained in files removed from
Castlereagh barracks last year.

After the incident, almost 30 members of the Royal Irish
Regiment were removed from the barracks to other locations.

Mr Hayes yesterday accused the British government of
deliberately withholding information about the Castlereagh

"They knew about this last year and yet they have said
nothing for over 16 months. That was a policy decision
taken 16 months ago," he said.

"The British government has lied about this. I have
received 14 visits from the PSNI in the past two years. If
we go further back, it's dozens. I've lost count.

"The two PSNI men who advised me to step up my security
laughed when I asked them where I would get such advice.
The British government have armed the people who have my
details and now they are giving them intelligence.

"The PSNI should just put my personal details on their
website or, if loyalists want them, they should call their
local station, where I'm sure they'd be happy to hand them

"By holding back this information, the British took a
decision to endanger up to 400 lives. I am a single parent
with responsibilities for children but there's no support
for me and others. Nobody is going to buy my house or give
me protection."

Pat Doherty, Sinn Féin's spokesman on collusion, yesterday
called on those contacted by the PSNI in recent days to get
in touch with his party.

"Sinn Féin is anxious to quantify exactly how many people
were told that their files are in the hands of unionist
death squads as result of the Castlereagh collusion
scandal," said Mr Doherty.

"No doubt it is in the hundreds but exactly how many is
unclear at present. I am therefore appealing to anyone who
has been visited by the PSNI in recent days to contact
their nearest Sinn Fein centre so that we can see the
extent and breadth of this latest collusion scandal.

"Some for of collective action may be necessary in the near
future to force the PSNI, British Army, the NIO and the
British government into revealing more details of what went
on ion Castlereagh in July 2004 and why it has taken so
long to inform nationalists and republicans that their
lives were in danger."


US Conference United On Need For Executive

Connla Young

Delegates attending a meeting of the Irish American Unity
Conference (IAUC) in the United States have joined forces
to call for the Stormont assembly to be re-established.

The cross-party calls came during a panel discussion
involving the IAUC in Washington DC on Saturday.

Anne Porter, Director of Ulster Unionist Party's North
American Bureau, spoke of the need for people to have
representation locally.

"The Assembly has been stopped for too long, when it was up
and running people liked being represented."

The unionist's views were echoed by Sinn Féin's Alex

"After the IRA statement on decommissioning, no one has an
excuse for not working together. Trust between people can
only be built when we are in government together."

Although general agreement was found on several questions,
key issues such as policing opened traditional differences.

During the debate, Dominic Martin, Press and Public Affairs
for the British Embassy, argued that the British government
had implemented "two thirds of the 105 Patten
recommendations on policing," while the SDLP's Deputy
Leader Alasdair McDonnell urged republicans to join the
Policing Board.

Robin Livingstone, Director and Editor with the
Andersonstown News Group, which publishes Daily Ireland,
said the PSNI were not yet acceptable to the majority of

"They are just not very good at their job and still carry
out political policing stunts – they can send ten Land
Rovers to arrest one republican with a disk at Stormont,
but they can't send one Land Rover to respond to a rape
down the street from the police station in west Belfast."

Speaking after the conference, Bob Linnon, President of
IAUC, said he has high hopes for the future.

"In my many years of working in Irish affairs, this is the
first time I have experienced a meeting of Irish political
parties and government officials where people with both
common and many opposing opinions could discuss in a
constructive manner methods of resolving these problems.

"It gives our organization great optimism that with
continued hard work these parties can be part of a
government that benefits all the people of Ireland."

The conference was chaired by former US Congressman and
Presidential Advisor on the Irish peace process under the
Clinton administration Bruce Morrison and Edmund E Lynch,
attorney and President of the Lawyers Alliance for Justice
in Ireland.


Orde And SDLP Gang Up On Sinn Féin

Two parties in war of words after PSNI chief constable Hugh
Orde says republicans should join Policing Board

Connla Young

The SDLP and Sinn Féin were last night locked in a new war
of words over policing in the North.

The dispute was sparked yesterday after the SDLP justice
spokesman Alban Maginness branded Sinn Féin's approach to
policing as "self-defeating".

Sinn Féin West Tyrone assembly member Barry McElduff hit
back, accusing the SDLP of attempting to justify its
"failed" position on policing.

The north Belfast SDLP man's remarks came on the same day
that PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde urged Sinn Féin to join
the Policing Board.

Hugh Orde told RTÉ yesterday that republicans should sign
up to policing structures.

"I cannot see any reason why they should not engage in
policing and come onto the Policing Board," he said.

The policing row between the SDLP and Sinn Féin broke out
less than a week after up to 400 people across the North
were told their personal details were in the hands of
loyalists. Members of the Royal Irish Regiment took PSNI
files from Castlereagh police barracks in east Belfast last

Despite the serious security breach, Mr Maginness said Sinn
Féin should do more to encourage a debate on the devolution
of justice matters.

"The longer Sinn Féin delays on policing, the harder it is
going to be to get the devolution of justice," he said.

"They need to realise that their stance of staying off the
board is not only anti-Patten, as Patten himself has
confirmed — it is also anti-devolution of justice.

"It makes getting the confidence for everybody to sign up
to the devolution of justice even more difficult to
achieve. The truth is that Sinn Féin's stance on policing
is self-defeating. They need to rethink it urgently."

Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff last night said his party was
engaging in the wider policing debate.

"The SDLP have lost the nationalist plebiscite on policing
in terms of recent elections.

"Sinn Féin accurately reflects the mood and demands of
nationalist people for proper policing. I find that the
SDLP are constantly involved in rants of self-justification
and are very defensive when this issue is raised," he said.

"Within the nationalist family, Sinn Féin has won the
debate in terms of their approach to policing and the
political process.

"Sinn Féin is involved in attempting to secure acceptable
policing arrangements that includes high-level political
talks involving Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams."

The British government is involved in drawing up
legislation dealing with the devolution of justice matters.

Mr Maginness said no attempt should be made to water down
current policing arrangements in the North. He called for
the retention of the 50-50 quota rule, despite calls by
Policing Board vice-chairman Denis Bradley at the SDLP's
recent annual conference for the quota to be scrapped.

The SDLP man said: "We are warning them that this
legislation must be honest and must be Patten-compliant. We
are also warning Sinn Féin that their refusal to join the
policing institutions has delayed and may continue to delay
devolution of powers.

"There must be no attempt by the British to get at the
powers of the Policing Board or the Police Ombudsman,
either by the front door or the back door.

"The legislation must also protect the 50-50 quota and the
Parades Commission from being dismantled."


Traders On The Shankill Deny Banning PSNI Officers

Rumours of Whiterock rift are scotched

By Linda McKee
21 November 2005

A Shankill Road business leader has urged police officers
to use local shops despite rumours that some store owners
had barred them in the wake of tensions from the Whiterock

Jean Morrison, chairman of the Greater Shankill Business
Forum, met with the PSNI after the rumours surfaced earlier
last week.

She said she had spoken to no-one who had admitted refusing
to serve police officers.

"Nobody can speak for 100% of the traders. But I and my
colleague Tom Bruce took the time knocking on doors and
saying - is there a problem? They all said no," she said.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the people on the Shankill Road
are decent law-abiding people who want what everybody else
wants - housing, jobs, health and education.

"No-one I've spoken to has come under pressure from any
organisation not to serve the PSNI. We, as the business
forum, would welcome all customers on the Shankill Road -
we don't care about colour or creed. We want it back to
being the lively community that it used to be."

Ms Morrison said she thought the rumours had started as a
result of deteriorating relationships between community
groups and the PSNI following the Whiterock Parade.

"There was a lot of bad feeling over what had happened in
the Whiterock Parade. The graffiti on the walls will tell
you that," she said.

This ill-feeling was heightened when people who had become
used to parking on the urban clearway at busy times were
prosecuted for traffic violations, she said. However, the
PSNI has responded favourably to the forum's suggestion
that warnings should be issued first, she added.

"The police are back on the streets, they are on their
bikes and we are all delighted to see them. There is nobody
hurling abuse at them," Ms Morrison said. "No trader is
turning away a PSNI officer who is going to come and put
money in their till."

She said the forum wanted to encourage people to come and
shop on the Shankill once again.

"You come up at 5 o'clock and it's like Beirut in a black-
out. None of us can afford to turn away trade."


DUP Seeking Talks With Loyalist Commission Head

21/11/2005 - 14:50:27

Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party is seeking talks
with the head of an organisation which has loyalist
paramilitaries among its members, it emerged today.

Contact has been made with the Rev Mervyn Gibson, chairman
of the Loyalist Commission, about a meeting before

MPs Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds have been suggested as
possible representatives in an initiative to help steer the
paramilitaries away from crime.

Loyalist sources who believe it is the first part of a plan
to open up direct dialogue with the paramilitaries claimed
it marked a huge shift in DUP thinking.

But the party insisted any discussions would be on an
individual basis.

A DUP spokesman said: "The party would have, and will have,
no difficulty sitting down to a meeting with the Rev Mervyn
Gibson to discuss a wide range of issues."

So far the DUP has refused to become involved with the
Commission because it includes Ulster Defence Association
and Ulster Volunteer Force representatives.

Clergymen and political representatives also sit on the
umbrella organisation set up to stop feuds between rival
loyalist terror groups and aid working class Protestant

The Rev Gibson has gained the respect of mainstream
unionist politicians for his influential peace work with
the paramilitaries.

He helped broker a truce in the UVF's bloody dispute with
the splinter Loyalist Volunteer Force which claimed four
lives this summer. The LVF went on to claim it had stood
down its men.

With his standing enhanced, it is understood the DUP has
identified him as someone they can trust.

The party is believed to feel it has a duty, as the
dominant force in unionism, to help build community
infrastructures in deprived areas.

That view has led to the Rev Gibson being sounded out about
a possible meeting.

"The DUP realise they can't just sit back and say loyalism
needs to do this and that," a loyalist source said.

"There's a recognition that they need to see what they can
do to support it.

"Some think this is about telling loyalists face to face
what to do, but others believe its more progressive and
about giving some help.

"Either way, it's a major change in attitude."

The Rev Gibson refused to comment on any meeting.

He said: "The Commission is always open to engage with


Cabinet Colleagues Join Blockheads At Mowlam Memorial

By Andy McSmith
21 November 2005

The worlds of politics and entertainment came together last
night for an evening of music, comedy, poetry and speeches
in memory of Mo Mowlam, the former Northern Ireland
secretary of state who died in August from a brain tumour.

Tony Blair, who was criticised in the summer for missing
the funeral of another popular cabinet minister, Robin
Cook, contributed his own tribute by video rather than in

This allowed the comedy quartet Four Puffs and a Piano to
introduce him with a mischievous rendering of "It's My
Party and I'll Cry If I Want To". But the audience at the
Drury Lane Theatre in London gaveMr Blairwarm applause for
his brief monologue in which he spoke of his regard for Ms
Mowlam being "not just real affection and admiration but

He said that she was the first woman he ever met who drank
pints, and early in their political careers they were close
colleagues, with similar views about the future direction
of the party.

He was less open about their later disagreements, when
Unionists complained to him that she was too close to the
Republicans, but he praised her role overall in the peace
process. His wife, Cherie Blair, on the same video,
describes her as "genuinely feisty and not afraid to say
what she thought".

There was an even louder round of applause for Ms Mowlam's
former cabinet colleague Chris Smith, the first politician
to make an appearance on stage.

He said: "There are some who would try to write Mo's
contribution out of the script of the Northern Ireland
peace process. No one should ever dare do that."

The speeches were interspersed with some fine stage acts,
including a song from three members of the Blockheads, the
late Ian Dury's group, with the words altered to introduce
unflattering references to cabinet ministers who clashed
with Ms Mowlam when she was alive, such as her successor in
Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson.

Earlier Ms Mowlam's husband said that her political
downfall began on the day when she received an unscheduled
standing ovation during a Labour Party conference.

"It was certainly the beginning of adverse stories in the
papers after that," Jon Norton told BBC1's Sunday AM
programme. "Who precisely was briefing I don't know, but I
remember we had [the US Secretary of State] Madeleine
Albright visit us just after that and she was warning Mo
that that was probably the most dangerous thing that had
ever happened in her political career."

The spontaneous applause burst out when Mr Blair mentioned
his Northern Ireland Secretary during the leader's speech
to the 1998 autumn conference, describing her as "our one
and only Mo". He made a joke about the audience's reaction
at the time, but afterwards Ms Mowlam was warned privately
by several people that being more popular than the Prime
Minister put her at risk.

Her position in Northern Ireland became untenable because
Ulster Unionists considered her too sympathetic to the
republicans and routinely went behind her back to the Prime
Minister, through his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell.

It was made worse by press stories suggesting that, because
of the brain tumour for which she had an operation in 1997,
she was not able to fulfil the job properly. An added
problem was that Peter Mandelson was allegedly manoeuvring
to succeed her, after he had been forced to resign from the
Cabinet in December 1998. He took over from her in 1999.
She remained in the Cabinet, as head of the Cabinet Office,
until she quit the Commons at the 2001 general election.

Profits from last night's event will go to MoMo, a
Mansfield-based charity that Ms Mowlam helped to set up,
which assists families or carers of disabled children or
adults, and the Pilgrims Hospices, which are devoted to
caring for people in east Kent suffering from progressive
or incurable illness.


Ovation Was 'Start Of Mo's Problems'

By Staff Reporter

Mo Mowlam's standing ovation during a key Labour Party
conference speech by Prime Minister Tony Blair triggered a
campaign against her, the late secretary of state's husband
has said.

Speaking ahead of a memorial service for his late wife in
London last night, Jon Norton said the problems started
after she received the ovation during the prime minister's
speech at Labour's 1998 party conference.

"It was certainly the beginning of adverse stories in the
paper after that," he told BBC1's Sunday AM programme

"Who precisely was briefing [journalists] I don't know. But
I remember we had [US Secretary of State] Madeline Albright
visit us just after that and she was warning Mo that that
was probably the most dangerous thing that had ever
happened in her political career."

Dr Mowlam, who died in August, complained in her
autobiography of being "knifed in the back" because of her


US Smear Claim By McCartney Sisters

By Sean O'Driscoll
21 November 2005

Repulicans are using a "smear campaign" to distort the
McCartney sisters' message to Irish Americans, one of the
sisters has said at the end of a week-long visit to

Catherine McCartney, who travelled with her sisters last
week to meet with US politicians, including senators
Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy, said that many Irish
Americans were living in the past and looked at the IRA too

She said that there was a "whispering campaign" against the
sisters in the United States that was trying to link their
campaign on behalf of their brother to pro-British
political causes.

"Irish Americans are getting the belief that we're not just
looking for justice, that we are looking for something more
than that. That's why we're going to have to do more to
educate people in the US," she said.

She added that she had used her own credit card to pay for
her and her sisters to travel to the US and that they would
have to chip in to pay the bill.

"We need to get it through to people that the IRA of the
1980s and the early 1990s no longer exists and that Ireland
has changed very much," she said.

She said that she has the strong feeling that pro-IRA
republicans were doing their best to discredit her family's

"We see a smear campaign on the Internet and trying to say
that we are putting Robert's murder in a much wider
political context, which we're not. This is about the abuse
of power by IRA members, it's not about the freedom of
Ireland," she said.

Senator Clinton has called on those with information on
Robert's killing to come forward to the police.

"Robert's killers must be brought to justice and I urge
everyone to co-operate with the authorities to find those
responsible," she said.


Conlon Murder Suspects Released

By Staff Reporter

Police have released all five people held in connection
with the murder of Co Armagh man Martin Conlon.

Two men had been arrested in the Armagh area and a third in
Dungannon on Thursday.

A woman and a teenage boy were arrested on Wednesday.

All were released with no charges in relation to the

Mr Conlon, pictured, who lived in Railway Street, was found
close to the village of Keady with gunshot wounds to his
head on November 7.

The 35-year-old had been abducted from a house on the
outskirts of Armagh and driven away in his own car.

There has been speculation that dissident republicans, with
whom he had links, may have been responsible for the

Mr Conlon had served time in jail in the Republic and was
released last year.

However, police say they have been examining several
different motives, including the possibility that Mr Conlon
was attacked because he was gay.


SF: Irish Passport Office Soon

By Staff Reporter

Sinn Fein has claimed that its bid to get an Irish passport
office in the north will prove successful in the "very near
future" – with Derry being the most likely location.

Last night Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness said the party
had called for the facility after the introduction of a
scheme last year which allows applications for Irish
passports to made through post offices in the north.

He said there had been a "phenomenal" response to the
scheme, with a number of unionists availing of it.

"I believe that the Irish government now fully accepts the
logic of our proposal and that we will shortly see the
announcement of an Irish passport office, probably in
Derry, employing a considerable number of people," he said.


Marine Food Chain Link Being Affected By Global Warming

By Michael Drake
21 November 2005

Irish Sea plankton, a major link in the marine food chain,
is being affected by global warming, according to a new WWF

It is also claimed certain fish, including John Dorys,
usually found in waters off the south west coast of the UK,
are now being caught in Northern Irish waters.

Fish are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate
change as temperatures rise in rivers, lakes and oceans,
the report adds.

It says hotter water means less food, less offspring and
even less oxygen for marine and freshwater fish

"As climate change increases the pressure on fish
populations, already strained to the limit by overfishing,
pollution and habitat loss, the outlook is pretty grim for
our fish species," said Malachy Campbell, Policy Officer,
WWF Northern Ireland.

"We must act urgently on both climate emissions and fishing
to protect fish populations as they are one of the world's
most valuable biological, nutritional and economic assets."

Ten days ahead of a key meeting of the parties to the Kyoto
Protocol in Montreal, the global conservation
organisation's report 'Are we putting

our fish in hot water?' claims global warming is causing
the world's waters to warm while rainfall patterns,
currents and sea levels are changing.

The report also claims that hotter temperatures are
expected to stunt the growth of some fish, resulting in
fewer offspring.


White House Used 'Gossip' To Build Case For War

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
21 November 2005

The controversy in America over pre-war intelligence has
intensified, with revelations that the Bush administration
exaggerated the claims of a key source on Iraq's alleged
weapons of mass destruction, despite repeated warnings
before the invasion that his information was at best
dubious, if not downright wrong.

The disclosure, in The Los Angeles Times, came after a week
of vitriolic debate on Iraq, amid growing demands for a
speedy withdrawal of US troops and tirades from Bush
spokesmen who all but branded as a traitor anyone who
suggested that intelligence was deliberately skewed to make
the case for war.

Yesterday Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, joined
the fray, saying that talk of manipulation of intelligence
"does great disservice to the country".

In Beijing, President George Bush said that a speedy
pullout was "a recipe for disaster" - but the proportion of
Americans wanting precisely that (52 per cent according to
a new poll) is now higher than wanted similar action in
1970, at the height of the Vietnam war.

In an extraordinary detailed account, the Times charted the
history of the source, codenamed Curveball, an Iraqi
chemical engineer who arrived in Germany in 1999 seeking
political asylum, and told the German intelligence service,
the BND, how Saddam Hussein had developed mobile
laboratories to produce biological weapons.

But by summer 2002, his claims had been thrown into grave
doubt. Five senior BND officials told the newspaper they
warned the CIA that Curveball never claimed to have been
involved in germ weapons production, and never saw anyone
else do so. His information was mostly vague, secondhand
and impossible to confirm, they told the Americans -
"watercooler gossip" according to one source.

Nonetheless the CIA would hear none of the doubts.
President Bush referred to Curveball's tale in his January
2003 State of the Union address, and the alleged mobile
labs were a central claim in the now notorious presentation
to the United Nations by Colin Powell, then Secretary of
State, in February 2003, making the case for war.

The senior BND officer who supervised Curveball's case said
he was aghast when he watched Mr Powell overstate
Curveball's case. "We were shocked," he said. "We had
always told them it was not proven ... It was not hard

The Iraqi, it now is clear, told his story to bolster his
quest for a German residence visa. According to BND
officials, he was psychologically unstable.

The debacle became complete when American investigators,
sent after the invasion to find evidence of the WMDs,
instead discovered Curveball's personnel file in Baghdad.
It showed he had been a low-level trainee engineer, not a
project chief or site manager, as the CIA had insisted.
Moreover he had been dismissed in 1995 - just when he
claimed to have begun work on bio-warfare trucks.

Curveball was also apparently jailed for a sex crime and
then drove a Baghdad taxi.

The latest disclosures come at an especially delicate
moment, as the Senate Intelligence Committee is about to
resume a long-stalled inquiry into the administration's use
of pre-war intelligence. Committee members said last week
that the Curveball case would be a key part of their
review. House Democrats are calling for a similar inquiry.

Washington is also still reverberating from the outburst of
John Murtha, the veteran Democratic Congressman and defence
hawk with close ties to the Pentagon, who last week urged
an immediate "redeployment" of the 160,000 US troops in
Iraq. Administration attempts to label him a defeatist have
abjectly backfired. "I've never seen such an outpouring" of
support, the decorated Marine Corps veteran, now 73,
declared on NBC's Meet the Press programme yesterday. "It's
not me, it's the public that's thirsting for answers."

No longer could President Bush "hide behind empty
rhetoric". Mr Murtha said that his vote for war in October
2002 "was obviously a mistake. We were misled, they
exaggerated the intelligence". He forecast that whatever
the Bush administration said, "We'll be out of there by
election day 2006" - a reference to next November's mid-
term elections, when many Republicans fear that the Iraq
debacle could drag the party down to defeat.

Intelligence red herrings

* Curveball: The Iraqi chemical engineer in his late
twenties who defected to Germany in 1995, with tales of
mobile germ weapons laboratories that were dubious before
the invasion, and later shown to be false. The CIA brushed
aside all doubts.

* Ahmed Chalabi: The exiled Iraqi leader won his way into
the favour of the Pentagon. Defectors he brought to US
attention proved to be false, as was his claim that US
invaders would be met with bouquets.

* Iraq's quest to buy uranium from Niger: This claim was
based on forged documents originating in Italy, but
President Bush repeated it in his 2003 State of the Union

* The aluminium tubes affair: Saddam was said to be seeking
parts for a centrifuge for use in making a nuclear weapon.
Analysts' doubts were disregarded.


Flatley's 'Celtic Tiger' Stuffed With Cheesiness

November 20, 2005

By the time the 20-minute intermission rolled around during
Michael Flatley's "Celtic Tiger" Friday night at the
Allstate Arena, I got the creepy feeling that the cheesiest
moments in the 90-minute, can't-make-up-its-mind-what-it-
wants-to-be spectacle were still to come. And I love Las
Vegas, the land that for decades raised cheese to an art

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say, the
greatest Irish step dancer in the world is back after a
nearly five-year, self-imposed "retirement." That Flatley,
even at 47, is a phenomenon is an understatement. Indeed,
the best moments in Friday night's show were those in which
Flatley danced solo, sans music accompaniment, his famous
silver-heeled dance shoes sparkling in the spotlight as he
fired off one astonishing dance sequence after another.

It's $20 to find out what's what

But those moments were precious few. Surrounding them was
the rest of the show, divided into two acts, each with its
own, uhm, unique flair, and a hugely talented cast of 60-
some dancers. The first act, which opens with a very
impressive full-cast dance number led by Flatley (and
without musical accompaniment), deals with the history of
Ireland, or so the program says.

Please -- and I have never shilled for any show's
paraphernalia in my life -- purchase the overpriced $20
show program if you want even an inkling of what you're
watching. For example, somewhere between the history of the
Irish kings and the 1916 uprising, we are transported to a
Garden of Eden-like forest, and I still don't know why. The
mishmash of dance, theatrics, pyrotechnics and unimpressive
video just ambled on from there. Let's put it another way:
During the second act's video montage of famous moments in
Irish history and famous Irish folk, the image of a pint of
Guinness got the loudest applause.

There's supposed to be a story line in this production, a
very poignant and powerful story line, but for the life of
me, I can't figure out what an Aer Lingus stewardess in
high heels who strips down to an American flag-patterned
bikini has to do with the history of the Irish people
(that's just one of the show's flashy production numbers).

Perhaps I'm wrong, but my study of the great wave of
European migration to this country has always included
tired, hungry and poor masses arriving in New York via
boats, not 747s. Did I mention the gaggle of airline pilots
complete with snappy blue uniforms and aviator glasses --
led by Flatley -- who ogle and wolf-whistle at the
stewardess as her clothes come off? What chapter of Irish
history exactly does that represent?

There are production numbers built around some very
critical and hugely emotional moments in Irish history: the
first British "redcoats" invasion, the great famine, the
1916 uprising, the horrible "Bloody Sunday" massacre. This
is the stuff of immeasurable story line possibilities. But
even these historical events didn't translate well via the
production numbers built around them. Perhaps some form of
narrative should have been displayed on the show's
Jumbotron to explain what the staging beneath it did not.

Applause not so deafening

The second half is part variety show, part Las Vegas revue,
part George M. Cohan. Yes, he was an Irishman, but
honestly, by the time the show segues to Flatley dancing in
a full 1920s gangster costume complete with tommy gun and,
ultimately, a full-out Uncle Sam costume (thankfully
without the gray beard), I think even Cohan would have been

Flatley accomplished incredible things with "Lord of the
Dance" and "Feet of Flames." Those shows were exactly what
the audience paid to see -- two hours of solid, pound your
heart out, rock the arena to the rafters Irish dancing and
music. The applause Friday night was nowhere near the
deafening levels experienced at either "Lord" or "Flames."
That's something that even Flatley couldn't fathom,
especially from his hometown crowd, as he stood prompting
the audience to get on its feet and applaud louder.

I've seen "Riverdance" (the show that gave Flatley his
start on the road to megastardom), "Lord of the Dance" and
"Feet of Flames." Those shows were about dance, about a
people, about a proud heritage, and getting an audience,
Irish or not, up on its feet in delight and awe. "Celtic
Tiger" should have delivered that and so much more.

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