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November 12, 2005

US Military Stop Shannon Stopover

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 11/12/05 US Military Use Of Shannon To Cease
BT 11/12/05 Anti-GAA Posters Erected In Village
UT 11/12/05 Bradley Addresses SDLP Conference
BT 11/12/05 Ford 'Collusion' Attack
BT 11/12/05 UDA Chief In Court
BT 11/12/05 Warning Over Cutting Councils
UT 11/12/05 Durkan Calls For Consensus
BT 11/12/05 Irish Unity Put Back For Years, SDLP Told
BT 11/12/05 Laird Slams No Uniform Decision 'Outrageous'
BT 11/12/05 Outrage Over Ban On Staff Wearing Poppies
BT 11/12/05 Priest Plea As Tragic Gun Victim Laid To Rest
BT 11/12/05 Opin: Lingering Troubles
BT 11/12/05 Opin: No Pain, No Gain Past Must Be Left Behind
BB 11/12/05 Fire Shuts Part Of Lansdowne Road
BT 11/12/05 Recipe For A Stress-Free St Pat's Day
BT 11/12/05 Ellis Island: Rebels Without A Cause
HC 11/12/05 W Ireland Great Spot For Bird-Watching


US Military Use Of Shannon To Cease

By Gary Fennelly
12 November 2005

THE use of Shannon Airport as a stopover for US military is
to be phased out by April 2008.

The Republic's Minister for Transport signed an agreement
yesterday with his US counterpart in New York.

Flights landing in Shannon will be reduced to one in four
by November next year. On Thursday Islamic fundamentalist
and lawyer Anjem Choudary caused outrage when he said the
Republic was a legitimate target for terrorism because the
Government allowed US troops to refuel at Shannon.

Speaking at Trinity College Choudary said: "If you allow
your country to be used to refuel a US plane going on a
bombing raid, what do you expect our reaction to be?

"A US pilot is no different from the Irish person who
allows the plane to land. They are collaborators."


Anti-GAA Posters Erected In Village

Move 'part of intimidation campaign'

12 November 2005

A FORMER All-Ireland camogie championship medal winner
intimidated out of her home after her grandson wore an
Antrim jersey last night condemned anti-GAA posters in a
mainly Protestant Co Antrim village.

Around 30 posters declaring "No fascist GAA jerseys in
Ahoghill" were erected overnight on bus shelters, road
signs and other public property.

Nationalists said it was the latest incident in a campaign
against Catholics in the village which saw several attacks
on homes this summer.

Kathleen McCaughey (51), who won an All-Ireland medal in
1979 told how the campaign against her started after her
11-year-old grandson Nathan was playing hurling in her
garden in the mainly Protestant Brookfield Gardens estate
and was wearing an Antrim GAA top.

Mrs McCaughey, who now lives in nearby Portglenone, said:
"The ball hit a car and we were told there would be none of
that type of game here. We were told to go out to Cloney
(nearby St Mary's GAA club) and play Gaelic if we wanted.

"My family had played hurley and camogie in the estate for
years and Protestants used to come out and play with us

"The erection of these latest signs is only to keep the
bother going in Ahoghill."

Sinn Fein Assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan
said he was "outraged and angry" after the posters

Mr McGuigan added: "I have been contacted by nationalist
residents in Ahoghill who have woken to find posters
erected warning people not to wear GAA jerseys in the town.

"It seems that this is the latest stage in the unionist
campaign to force all Catholics and nationalists from the
town. Over the summer this campaign used pipe bombs, paint
bombs and violence to force innocent people from their

"Ahoghill is home to a successful GAA club and this
campaign is clearly aimed at that club, its members and the
wider nationalist community in the area."

North Antrim DUP Assemblyman Mervyn Storey condemned the
erection of the posters.

He said: "Any attempt to intimidate any section of the
community isn't to be welcomed. Whilst I have reservations
about the ethos of the GAA, I would not advocate this type
of behaviour."


Bradley Addresses SDLP Conference

Republicans and loyalists will fail in any bid to control
policing in Northern Ireland in their local communities,
the vice chairman of the country's Policing Board claimed

Denis Bradley, who sustained a savage beating in a bar in
Derry in September, told the nationalist SDLP`s annual
conference in Belfast that the biggest challenge facing the
police was to get working-class officers to be able to
police their own neighbourhoods.

The former Catholic priest urged SDLP members not to get
too hot under the collar about community restorative
justice programmes, predicting they would only play a small
part in the criminal justice system.

And he also said in the long term 50-50 recruitment quotas
for Catholics and Protestants applying to the Police
Service of Northern Ireland would have to go if a proper
human rights culture was to take root in the country.

Mr Bradley told the conference: "I think the IRA have gone
away. I think in the next few years they will go away even

"And I think that you cannot hold an organisation in being
that has no purpose when you have moved on to different

"I would not be terribly fearful about that issue. I am not
terribly fearful that Sinn Fein or any other republican
organisation or loyalist group will try to control policing
within their own areas.

"If they do try to control it, they will fail miserably. It
will not happen and if happens for a month or two or a
year, it won`t happen in the long term.

"That is not the kind of people that we are."

Mr Bradley said he was confident that society would shake
off any fear and tell those trying to take control of
policing to `stuff it`.

The Policing Board vice chairman said he detected a more
mature brand of politics which was more adversarial
developing in Northern Ireland.

However he insisted: "We must not lose the possibility of
having police officers live and police in their own
communities, especially working-class neighbourhoods.

"It is a job that is not going to be easy to achieve
because there will be a contradiction that we will give you
the money to move out (of working-class neighbourhoods) and
when we give you the money you will move out of necessity,"
he said.

Mr Bradley was concerned that in some areas in Northern
Ireland there were no police living there who policed

Amid SDLP concerns that republicans were trying to use
community restorative justice schemes as an alternative
police force, the Policing Board vice chairman insisted his
organisation should oversee the operation of the

He said: "I appeal to you not to get too hot under the

"This will sort itself. It may take a little bit of time
but don`t get too hot under the collar.

"Restorative justice is a long-standing idea that you
support, that you acknowledge you support.

"It came to almost being destroyed within the broad
nationalist community by an undue influence by Sinn Fein
and the IRA.

"They did damage within working-class communities for this
reason: that half of the working-class community says I
will go nowhere but to restorative justice and the other
half of the working-class community says I wouldn`t be seen
dead going to restorative justice because it is just the
Provos in disguise.

"That is how it is on the ground. That is the perception of
people within working-class communities.

"I think we will be able to walk out of that. Restorative
justice is always going to be a very, very, very small part
of the criminal justice system.

"It is incredibly complex to do it correctly and we are a
lazy people.

"I would keep it in perspective. It will be part of the new
criminal justice system and it should be part but it will
be a small part, it will be a helpful part if it is
properly controlled.

"That is the real change in dynamic on that. Who controls

"I think it has to be mainlined. My own preference would be
it should be controlled by the Policing Board."


Ford 'Collusion' Attack

By Brian Hutton
12 November 2005

THE SDLP came under fire from Alliance leader David Ford
last night for equating state collusion with terrorist

As the row between Sinn Fein and the SDLP over On-The-Runs
(OTRs) continued, Mr Ford also became embroiled in the row
between the nationalist parties over fugitives.

The South Antrim MLA said it was "absolutely outrageous"
that the SDLP were trying to make "political capital out of
such a sensitive issue".

"Clearly all those who committed criminal acts under the
law during the conflict must personally face justice," Mr
Ford said.

"However, it is an abnormality to suggest that state
collusion can be looked at in the same way as terrorist

"It is naked sectarianism to suggest that collusion is
solely a concern for nationalists - it is a concern for all

"This concern is quite distinct from dealing with those who
set out specifically to cause murder and mayhem to achieve
minority political objectives."

Mr Ford said that it was essential that OTRs were "dealt
with as a stand alone issue".

Mr Ford spoke out as SDLP Justice spokesman Alban Maginness
said more than 2,100 unsolved murders "could be buried" if
the deal goes through.

He accused Sinn Fein of "spinning like mad" to cover up
massive concessions it gave the Government on alleged cases
of state collusion.

"Sinn Fein is using inaccurate bluster about the detention
vote in parliament.

"This is to deflect attention from the massive concessions
it has made to Tony Blair in order to get its On-The-Runs
home," he said.

"The few dozen Provisional OTRs are only the tip of the
iceberg that Sinn Fein has agreed with the British

"Hundreds of them involve killings by state forces or
collusion killings by loyalists acting under security force
cover, and they could all get off the hook thanks to this

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said the SDLP were engaged in a
"cynical attempt" to make political gain out of the OTR

He accused the party of ignoring a number of high profile
cases of alleged state collusion during the past.


UDA Chief In Court

Shoukri charged with blackmail

By Claire Regan
12 November 2005

NORTH Belfast UDA leader Andre Shoukri appeared in court
today charged with blackmail, intimidation and money
laundering amid a large security operation.

Around a dozen loyalist supporters, including the accused's
brother Ihab, applauded in the public gallery after the 28-
year-old defendant appeared in the dock at Laganside
Magistrates' Court in Belfast alongside another man.

The accused, from Clare Heights in Belfast, and John
Boreland (36), from Sunningdale Gardens in Belfast, were
both charged with blackmail some time between December 2004
and September 2005, intimidation and money laundering.

Boreland was further charged with demanding keys, books and
chequebooks from Bonaparte's Bar in north Belfast. He was
also charged with possession of a firearm and possession of
a firearm with intent.

A detective told the court he believed he could connect
both the accused to their charges. He said Shoukri replied
"not guilty" to each charge and Boreland made no reply.

Defence solicitor Philip Magee asked the media to respect
the principle of justice and urged the PSNI to "stop a
leakage of information".

Both were remanded in custody to reappear by videolink on
December 9.

There was a round of applause from the loyalist supporters
and shouts of "keep your chin up" as the men were led from
the dock.

A crowd of around 100 had gathered outside the gates of the
courthouse, watched by dozens of police officers dressed in
riot gear. There was also a large number of police officers
in the courtroom.


Warning Over Cutting Councils

12 November 2005

REDUCTION of the present 26 councils to just seven could
cause the "sectarian Balkanisation" of Northern Ireland,
the SDLP warned last night.

Just over a week ahead of the expected Government decisions
on the review of public administration, the party's annual
conference also rejected any proposals to give added powers
to local councils under Direct Rule.

Party chairperson Patricia Lewsley warned that the priority
must be the return of devolution with direct rule Ministers
intent on imposing huge rates increases and water charges.

Today a key motion warns continuing intransigence by the
DUP and Sinn Féin is preventing elected representatives
from fulfilling their responsibility to improve the
provision of Health and Personal Social Services.

Health spokesperson Carmel Hanna will warn against the
persistence of waiting lists forcing people to opt to go
privately and jeopardising the public service ethos of the

The South Belfast MLA will hit out at continuing
instability and lack of leadership which, the motion says,
"has created an unstable environment where it takes too
long for decisions to be made and encourages a culture of
lack of responsibility-taking".


Durkan Calls For Consensus

The British and Irish governments were today urged to
abandon their "concession of the weak" approach to the
democratic Unionists or Sinn Fein in the Northern Ireland
peace process.

By:Press Association

In a hard hitting attack on both parties, nationalist SDLP
leader, Mark Durkan, told his party`s annual conference in
Belfast that the DUP and Sinn Fein could potentially form a
voluntary coalition devolved government at Stormont under
terms agreed last December in negotiations with the two

And he said he would tell the governments in London and
Dublin they needed to get back to the consensus building
approach among all parties in Northern Ireland which helped
forge the Good Friday agreement in 1998.

"When we meet the two governments later this month, our
message will be clear: get on with the agreement," the
Foyle MP said.

"Drop the concession of the weak approach that has
undermined confidence so badly.

"Get back to the consensus building approach.

"That gave us the agreement in the first place and offers
the only credible basis for taking it forward now. Now is
the time to start the count down to restoration (of

Mr Durkan said if anyone was in doubt that the suspension
of the Northern Ireland Assembly and power sharing
executive and the reimposition of Direct Rule from
Westminster hurts, they were under no illusions now.

With water charges on the horizon, education cuts biting,
funding for business start-ups dropped and a massive rates
rise planned for next year, he insisted there needed to be
a swift resumption of devolution.

"We have never pretended that devolution is a theme park
for soft options," the SDLP leader said.

"But we absolutely believe - whatever the limits, whatever
the pressures - that our own power sharing administration
would produce better choices for better reasons."

With the SDLP holding onto the same number of MPs it had
before the General Election, Mr Durkan said voters had
rejected the prospect of two-party politics in Northern
Ireland dominated by the Reverend Ian Paisley`s DUP and
Gerry Adam`s Sinn Fein.

"They know that those two parties will never give this
society the reconciliation we need, the stability we want
or the prosperity we deserve," the SDLP leader said.

"They want a stronger SDLP because they have seen that when
the SDLP was weakened, politics went nowhere.

"And while Sinn Fein and the DUP have been counting their
votes, the only thing the people have been counting is the
cost of lost opportunities and wasted years.

"A resurgent SDLP isn`t just the surest anecdote to the
directionless drift that has become the benchmark of our
political process, it is also the strongest answer to the
sectarianism, deprivation and under-investment that has
tragically become the hallmark of our society in the North
(of Ireland)."

Mr Durkan said despite claims that IRA weapons
decommissioning would never happen and should never happen,
it had taken place.

However, it was completed nearly three years after the
suspension of devolution, with the DUP in the ascendant in

The Foyle MP said the SDLP stood firm on its commitment to
the Good Friday Agreement and he ridiculed DUP criticism of
him for defending the 1998 accord.

"I am told by some of his DUP colleagues that Peter
Robinson is fed up listening to me defending the
Agreement," the SDLP leader said.

"Peter has been touting voluntary coalition. He knows and
you know why the SDLP has rejected such jumped up

"But it should be recognised that Peter did win the
argument for a form of voluntary coalition - not with the
SDLP but with Sinn Fein.

"That is what the comprehensive agreement in December last
year actually provides for.

"A new law would automatically exclude the SDLP and the
Ulster Unionists Party from office in spite of our mandates
if we did not bow the knee by voting for the DUP and Sinn
Fein for First Deputy Minister.

"We would be excluded for no wrong, only for exercising a
democratic right.

"The justification given for this is that people shouldn`t
be ministered unless they and their party`s vote for the
head of the administration and the DUP and Sinn Fein have
the numbers between them to control the Assembly.

"You don`t have to be a political scientist to know that is
the essence of voluntary coalition.

"Well done, Peter. You couldn`t get voluntary coalition
with the SDLP but you`re getting it with Sinn Fein.

"Are you sure that`s what you want? Are you sure that`s
what your party wants? Do they know that`s what you
negotiated? Has anyone told the Paisleys?"

Mr Durkan said he found it surreal to be lectured by the
DUP on the need to be less intransigent and more

"It was like getting a lecture on modesty from Jose
Mourinho," he quipped.

"I have to say, I didn`t know what was coming next. I was
waiting for Ian Paisley Junior to start lecturing us about
the need for power sharing in local councils.

"Gregory (Campbell) to launch into one on the value of
North, South co-operation or Nigel (Dodds) to advise me to
smile now and again.

"At one stage, I even thought Jeffrey (Donaldson) was going
to chip in with a few words on the importance of being
loyal to the party."

Mr Durkan also attacked Sinn Fein, claiming they had denied
the victims of violence during the Troubles justice and
truth by securing legislation which would mean anyone
accused of offences before 1998 would not have to face a
prison sentence or even appear at a special tribunal
examining what happened.

He said members of the British Army`s Force Research Unit
involved in collusion with loyalists paramilitaries had
Gerry Adams to thank for legislation which would ensure
that they would not have to face a trial in court over
their involvement in attacks.

Mr Durkan also criticised Sinn Fein`s attitude towards
policing and justice.

The SDLP leader said his party had also been vindicated on
its stance on loyalism following recent violence over the
summer in Belfast and elsewhere.

With the Ulster Volunteer Force engaged in a killing spree
and sectarian attacks also taking place, the MP said the
government`s failure to act had sent out a wrong signal and
had then been forced to acknowledge its mistake.

He also told party members that in the run-up to the next
Assembly Elections, he wanted to be one of the older
candidates on the SDLP`s ticket, bringing more women and
young people into the battle for winnable seats.

Having lost its European Parliament seat in 2004, Mr Durkan
said the SDLP wants to reclaim that back.

"I want our next candidate for Europe selected as early as
possible," he said.

"This will require a change in our constitution and that
must be on the to-do list for the new executive we will
elect this weekend."


Irish Unity Put Back For Years, SDLP Told

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
12 November 2005

A UNITED Ireland has been put back for years, the deputy
leader of the SDLP said last night.

South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell told his party's annual
conference that as a result of brutality and murder,
unionists see "nothing of value" in Irish unity.

In his first conference speech since dramatically winning
the south Belfast seat from Ulster Unionist veteran Michael
McGimpsey, Mr McDonnell also made a scathing attack on Sinn

"There is little doubt that the provisional movement is
itself indeed very prosperous but that is where its
interest in creating prosperity ends."

In terms of the 'Respect' agenda, including respect for
diversity, it only extends for some as far as how it
benefits them personally.

Mr McDonnell said his own constituency had borne witness to
disgusting examples of what happens given a total lack of
respect for diversity, including young Filipino nurses and
Chinese families burned out of their homes, nationalist
residents terrorised for daring to buy a home in the
'wrong' area and young gay men stopped and assaulted on the

"And the McCartney family feeling the chill wind of
Provisional intimidation for questioning Provo community
control and then being forced from the area where they were
born and raised," he said.

Mr McDonnell said the united Ireland agenda was the most
malign and most sinned against of all, but his party and
others were determined to reclaim it.

"Used for so long as a crude battering ram and a sectarian
battle cry by those whose every action made it less and
less achieveable, it has been scarred into the memory and
psyche of a generation of our unionist neighbours as
something negative," he said.

"It is something the unionist community fought against and
in many cases died to stop. As a result of the brutality
and the murder the unionists see nothing of value in it. I
believe that as a result of the Provo campaign a united
Ireland has been put back for years."

As the three-day conference got under way last night, party
chair Patricia Lewsley said it had been argued for years
there was no republican reason for the IRA.

"We warned that it was playing into the hands of the anti-
Agreement unionists. Gerry Adams told us this was nonsense
but now accepts it as common sense and now the IRA promises
to end this activity.

"There is nothing wrong with the Good Friday Agreement. All
that is wrong is that parties, not least the DUP, have
still not lived up to it and if they think they can force
us into changes or face us down they are mistaken."

Deputy mayor of Belfast Pat Convery it was essential the
SDLP developed more links across various communities and
was aware of depravation, criminality and cultural

"We must engage more in dialogue. We have to work with
communities, not on communities," he told delegates.


Lord Laird Slams No Uniform Decision 'Outrageous'

By Marie Foy
12 November 2005

A DECISION by the Ministry of Defence to forbid Royal Irish
Regiment members from wearing their uniforms at some
Remembrance ceremonies has been branded "outrageous" by a
unionist peer.

Lord Laird has been in contact with the Ministry in a bid
to reverse the ruling.

"This is trying to take away people's basic rights," the
Ulster Unionist politician insisted.

"For 30 years locally recruited soldiers have been able to
pay tribute to their fallen comrades and friends, some of
them fathers, uncles or grandfathers or men who have died
alongside them.

"This has been taken away by the MOD and they are saying
they will discipline anyone who transgresses. It is a step
too far.

"Those soldiers died mainly in the line of duty in their
uniforms. Why can't their comrades honour them in theirs.

"This is putting salt in the wound, particularly as it
comes in the week when the On The Run legislation is being
allowed to come back in.

"This is another obscenity towards the unionist people of
Northern Ireland and we are not putting up with it."

An Army spokesman confirmed that only those attending
events in an official capacity would be allowed to wear

The spokesman said that the regiment had reduced in size
over the years and there was no longer enough manpower to
officially attend every Remembrance ceremony and service in
the province.

For example, the 3rd Royal Battalion, based at Drumadd
Barracks in Co Armagh, would have official representation
at around 40 memorial events on Remembrance Sunday.

He said that members of the regiment were still permitted
to attend the other events, just not in uniform.

The spokesman added that they had been in contact with the
UDR Association, the Royal British Legion and other groups
to ask them to play a greater part in the organisation of


Outrage Over Ban On Staff Wearing Poppies

By Ashleigh Wallace
12 November 2005

RETAIL company TK Maxx has been accused of treating the
people of Northern Ireland with "utter contempt" after it
emerged that it has banned its Ulster workforce from
wearing poppies.

Lagan Valley Assembly member Edwin Poots said the company's
policy of banning poppies has "perpetuated the divisions in
Northern Ireland," prompting him to call for a change in

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed staff in Northern
Ireland were banned from wearing poppies to work, adding
that the ban did not extent to employees in stores in
England, Scotland and Wales.

Branding the policy as "outrageous" Mr Poots said he had
been contacted by several members of staff employed in the
Lisburn branch who have been left upset by the ban.

Despite the ban, several employees chose to ignore it and
wore their poppies to work earlier yesterday.

All TK Maxx stores in Northern Ireland were due to observe
a two minute's silence - in memory of those who lost their
lives in the wars - both yesterday and tomorrow.

Mr Poots said: "The poppy is representative of the entire
community but TK Maxx has turned it into a sectarian issue,
which is to their shame.

"The people of Lisburn and Northern Ireland paid a heavy
price during the two World Wars and also during the 30
years of terrorism here from 1969.

"The policy of TK Maxx is an attack on the men and women
who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

"2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of World War
Two and is the last major chance to thank all those
ordinary men and women who went on to do extraordinary
things 60 years ago.

"TK Maxx has treated the people of Northern Ireland with
utter contempt by its refusal to allow their members of
staff to wear the poppy."

A spokeswoman for TK Maxx said: "Given the conditions in
Northern Ireland we, along with other retailers, ask our
employees not to wear any emblems, except those of our
nominated charities."


Priest Plea As Tragic Gun Victim Laid To Rest

By Michael McHugh
12 November 2005

THE family of a republican murder victim should be allowed
to grieve in peace, their priest said ahead of today's
funeral Mass.

Fr Aidan Murphy said the murder of Martin Conlon (35), from
Armagh city, was wrong by anybody's standards and appealed
for an end to speculation surrounding his death.

Police have refused to comment on reports that Mr Conlon, a
former Real IRA prisoner found shot dead on the Fornaloy
Road near Armagh on Monday evening, may have been killed by

Fr Murphy, who is to conduct Requiem Mass at St Patrick's
Cathedral in Armagh today at 11.30am, said the dead man's
family were struggling to cope with their loss.

"The family are certain that they want to be left alone to
grieve at Martin's death, the death of a son and brother,"
he said.

"This is a man who was brutally murdered but there is an
ongoing police investigation which we hope will be

"Murder is always difficult because when you lose someone
in this way it is brutal, and any family would be totally

Two masked gunmen entered the house of a friend at Green
Park Crest in Armagh where Mr Conlon was visiting a friend
and shot him, allegedly with a stun gun, in front of three
young children.

He was found later with shots to the head after he had been
bundled into his car and driven away.

Fr Murphy said today's Mass would be focused on religion
and added that people across the province had been stunned
by Mr Conlon's death.

"We know that the nature of his death has shocked more than
just the people of Armagh but the investigation is ongoing
and as for those who have committed this brutal act,
society has the right to demand justice," he said.

Police have appealed for public help from anybody who may
have seen Mr Conlon's Volkswagen Passat in the area where
he was found fatally injured, close to the Monaghan Road,
at about 6.50pm on Monday.

They have described the murder as "callous and ruthless"
but saythey are keeping an open mind about who was

Mr Conlon, who was imprisoned in the Republic in 2001 for
his part in a RIRA training camp discovered in Co Meath,
had reportedly cut his ties with the organisation after his
release from detention.


Opin: Lingering Troubles

By Janet Devlin
12 November 2005

TO Serve and Protect, Chris Moore's report for Insight
(BBC1/Mon), highlighted the current Class Action by 5,000
police officers seeking £100m compensation for Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The officers say that their employers, the RUC, then the
PSNI, failed to take proper care of staff suffering from
the effects of working and living with extreme violence.

Several officers came forward to explain how the horrific
scenes they had witnessed on a daily basis, sometimes over
decades, had afflicted their lives in the long-term.

Even off-duty, they found no escape from the constant
threat to their lives - and the knock-on effect this had on
their partners and children.

One officer described his horror at being on morgue duty at
Forster Green Hospital in Belfast, where he had to sit
alone all night in a room containing, at various times, the
blasted remains of soldiers killed at Warrenpoint and the
emaciated, naked remains of the hunger strikers.

Until recent years, at least, it seemed the only antidote
suggested for the mental fallout of these experiences was a
stiff upper lip and a glass of whiskey.

Of course, police officers were not the only ones to suffer
huge mental stress during the course of the Troubles.

One only has to think of the fire brigade, ambulance
personnel, nurses and doctors - not to mention large chunks
of north Belfast - who must be living with mental health
problems to this day.

It will be interesting to see if the courts decide that,
given the medical knowledge and level of resources
available to the police force at the time, they did all
they could to help.

And whether, if serving and former officers suffering from
PTSD are now receiving adequate and suitable treatment.
Financial compensation is the issue. But that is a whole
other programme.


Opin: No Pain, No Gain ...The Past Must Be Left Behind

By Barry White
12 November 2005

MAYBE it's a sign of old age - or wisdom - but I refuse to
get angry about Tony Blair's latest wheeze for keeping the
peace process staggering on.

In fact I think it is just another unwelcome but inevitable
consequence of what started with the first ceasefires in
1994. You can't make peace, after 30 years of conflict,
without causing a lot of people a lot of pain.

The two sides - not forgetting the police and Army in their
intelligence role - have to back out of the Troubles
feeling that they weren't defeated. (They were, to a large
extent, but don't tell them.)

They have to be able to say, as they're laying down their
arms, that they got something out of the peace. For so many
Armalites or Kalashnikovs they got a kind of amnesty for
those who are on the wanted list.

So what, even if it hurts to know people are escaping
justice again. They weren't going to be put away 10, 20 or
30 years after their crimes, and after their politicians
were amassing huge votes, so a formula had to be found to
give them freedom from arrest. (Wasn't it clever to insist
on OTRs giving fingerprints and DNA?)

I know, there are hundreds of cases in the pipeline,
including Bloody Sunday, Stormont, Castlereagh, and the
Cory inquiries, but they've suddenly lost their
significance. If nobody is going to prison, they're show
trials, which may not provide truth or relief for victims.

The Government must hope that in time the demand for
justice will weaken. It won't, for some, but the majority
will eventually accept that, for Northern Ireland to
function in the modern world, with all its divisions, it
has to put its past behind it.

The alternative is all too clear, as anyone who has crossed
the border recently would know. The south is forging ahead
in every way, as we might have, and they don't want to know
about the north except at election times, when green flags
are waved and put away.

They have found their independence, and are second only to
Luxembourg in the European prosperity stakes. Why, they've
just grabbed the top job for a civil servant in Europe - an
Irish woman succeeding an Irish man. No country has even
held the job twice.

I'm just back from Dublin and the buzz is impossible to
miss. The northern boundary of the city is about to make a
giant leap, with massive housing development, and when you
get to Connolly Station it's like Germany, with shiny LUAS
trams gliding in and out.

Tourists are everywhere, and you soon see and hear how well
the 120,000 Poles who have arrived since last year are
faring. There's a shop in Talbot street that has dispensed
with English and has all the Polish papers on sale.
Presumably you can book there for the daily bus to Warsaw.

Peter Hain must have seen a little of the economic boom, as
he flies in and out of Dublin, or travels along its new
highways. He keeps emphasising, as the Irish do, the need
to compete with China and India, in education, research and
design, or see job opportunities disappear.

Next year, it is reckoned that the Republic will become a
net contributor to the European Union, which is about time,
many would say. Our handouts come from London but Brussels
has contributed a net 35bn euro to the Republic since 1973.
The Republic used to export 55% of its products, mostly low
priced, to Great Britain; today the figure is 18%.

So as many of us as can must try to look forward, not back,
and not expect to see absolute justice, in the wake of
civil conflict. It's not realistic, however desirable.
Also, be thankful for Direct Rule, creating a kind of
stability until the next generation of politicians comes

• PS. Bertie Ahern foiled journalists asking if he would
have supported Tony Blair's 90-day detention. "If he'd
asked my opinion I would have given him it. He didn't, so
I'm not telling you!"


Fire Shuts Part Of Lansdowne Road

Around 7,000 fans will be turned away from Saturday's
Ireland-New Zealand match after fire forced a temporary
closure of part of Lansdowne Road.

Although the blaze hit just a small area under the North
Terrace, the entire area will be closed for safety reasons
until after the game.

The IRFU has requested that holders of tickets for the
North Terrace do not turn up as they will not be admitted.

The ticket holders concerned will receive refunds from the

"We regret the closure, disappointment and inconvenience,"
said an IRFU statement.

The IRFU statement went on: "The decision to close the
North Terrace was taken in the interest of safety following
consultation between the IRFU, the Gardai and other
relevant authorities.

"North Terrace ticket holders are advised it will not be
possible to gain access to any other area of the stadium.

"In the interest of safety and crowd control, North Terrace
ticket holders are asked not to come to the vicinity of the

The closure does not affect the seats immediately behind
the goal-line.

The Irish Rugby Football Union did not say whether New
Zealand fans were affected by the closure.

The loss of seating has reduced Lansdowne's capacity to

The fire was started accidentally on Friday evening during
engineering repairs in the ground.

Damage is not serious and Lansdowne Road will be back to
full capacity for next Saturday's international against

Story from BBC SPORT:
Published: 2005/11/12 11:02:40 GMT


Recipe For A Stress-Free St Pat's Day

Use our model for peaceful event says Down councillor

By Michael McHugh
12 November 2005

ST PATRICK'S Day celebrations across Northern Ireland
should be based upon the cross-community event in
Downpatrick, local representatives said yesterday.

Down District councillor Dermot Curran has called for
Belfast to examine the Down model as discussions continue
about measures to make the festival acceptable to both

Use of a "neutral" flag featuring the cross of St Patrick
along with an emphasis on the Christian ethos of St
Patrick's mission has helped prevent community antagonism
which has bedevilled parades in Belfast and other parts of
the province.

Belfast City Council is set to approve a £110,000 budget
for a politically-correct St Patrick's Day event to be held
in Customs House Square on March 17 and Mr Curran said
Downpatrick provided a model for the city.

"We have a very big parade based upon the Christian theme
and this has been going on for a number of years now," he

"People of all class, colour and creed come to the parade,
I can't understand why Belfast can't have this.

"The flag of St Patrick is handed out by the council.
People come not to see the emblem of a country, they come
to honour St Patrick as a Christian as he came to convert
people to Christianity."

Mr Curran admitted that it was impossible to rule out
someone with a Celtic jersey attending the parade but added
that people who came were not there to look for symbols but
to enjoy the festivities. Up to now, Belfast's St Patrick's
Day celebrations were on a smaller scale in nationalist
west Belfast accompanied by a sea of tricolours and
republican songs.

This year the crowd will only be allowed to wave culturally
neutral rainbow-coloured shamrocks or a cross of St
Patrick, which is a white cross on a blue background.


Ellis Island: Still Fighting On... These Rebels Without A

Walter Ellis reports from New York

By Walter Ellis
12 November 2005

It was our Prod cousins among whom (George) Washington was
ready to take his last stand. It was men with their roots
in Bellaghy, Ballynahinch and Broughshane who sent the
British packing at the Battle of New Orleans

Born Fighting, James Webb's spirited account of the Scots-
Irish and their role in shaping America, is out again, this
time in paperback. In spite of the aura of cultural
groundbreaking that surrounded its publication first time
round, it rose largely without trace - rather like the
Scotch-Irish themselves.

The book's 369 pages are full of questionable assertion.
Webb - a highly decorated soldier and one-time Secretary of
the Navy under Ronald Reagan - casts around for something
that defines the people he is trying to describe and comes
up with nothing better than the fact that they are hard,
unyielding buggers who bend their knee to nobody except
their God.

They sound like the 36th Ulster Division - stout hearted,
unquestionably brave, but fighting for a cause given out to
them like a lottery ticket.

I have written several times about my view that Irish-
America is a cod. So much time has passed and so much
inter-marriage has taken place since the time of mass
Catholic immigration that all that's left of gaelic
identity is green beer and a shillelagh over the bar.

Most so-called Irish-Americans haven't a clue what they're
talking about. That's why Gerry Adams does so well here.
They spout the most fantastic nonsense about Ireland, North
and South, and, in spite of all evidence to the contrary,
cannot divorce themselves from the notion of the Oul' Sod
as dirt-poor and luckless, ridden roughshod over by the

I met a man the other night whose family came from
Limerick. He believes the Irish economic miracle is a sham
that will shortly collapse, and good riddance to it. It
doesn't fit the myth. He also believes that the French Navy
has only one ship.

But it is the new mythology of the Scotch-Irish that I wish
to … er, scotch today.

The magazine Publishers Weekly got it right, I think, in
assessing Webb's coonskin history.

"His analysis is, ironically for someone trying to crush
stereotypes, fixated on what he sees as a class conflict
between the Scots-Irish and America's 'paternalistic Ivy
League-centered, media-connected, politically correct power

"He even excuses resistance to the "Northern-dominated"
Civil Rights movement. Another glaring weakness is the
virtual absence of women from the sociological narrative.
Webb interweaves his own Scots-Irish family history
throughout the book with some success, but by and large his
writing and analysis are overwhelmed by romanticism."

In fact, the author admires the Ulster-Scots most of all
for the fact that they like fighting. Oh, he adverts to the
fact that they produced all sorts of other "folk" -
politicians, academics, industrialists - but it is their
determination to keep on firing their muskets when all
sensible men have fled that most excites his sense of
ethnic pride.

He may be right. Consider the example of Tennessee - the
Ulster-Scots heartland. In 1850, a survey revealed that
more than half of all the adult males, free and slave,
owned no land at all. In 1893, two thirds of the same
territory was held by a tiny band of patricians.

More than 100 years after their arrival, most of the
residents of Appalachia showed no interest in progress, or
even wordly goods.

Webb calls it their "tragic flaw." I call it stupidity.

The truth is (and I speak as one myself), the Scots-
Irish/Ulster-Scotch did little for America, beyond fighting
its wars, other than mire it in prejudice, xenophobia,
racism and myth. They killed the Indians, dislodged the
French and subdued the black man. Then they got drunk.

Hill-billy culture is Scotch-Irish culture, best summed up
as whiskey, banjos and bar-fights. If bravery under fire is
the most admirable trait you can think of, then they
certainly have that.

Webb likes to remind us that "his" people won more medals
in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam
wars and the first Gulf War than any other body of men.

No doubt they're still hard at it in Iraq, machine-gunning
and clubbing the opposition into submission and hauling
their prisoners off to jail for a spot of interrogation

But there is, as I may have observed before, a nice irony
here. The Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish (whatever the hell they
call themselves) fought with distinction against the
British in the War of Independence and the War of 1812-

It was our Prod cousins among whom Washington was ready to
take his last stand. It was men with their roots in
Bellaghy, Ballynahinch and Broughshane who sent the British
packing at the Battle of New Orleans.

So the truth of the matter is that our nearest and dearest
are by a long way the most anti-British of any ethnic group
in America.

And yet look at us today, back home. We couldn't be more
British if we tried - and we do try. The American branch of
the tribe must hold us in contempt - and if they don't,
it's because they don't know what they're talking about any
more than their "green" fellow countrymen.

As far as I'm concerned, we're all the same. Ethnicity
divorced from land and culture is posturing, nothing more.
The Scotch-Irish and I at least agree on that. But should
we be proud of our Ulster heritage in America? Should we
raise a glass to diehard Confederate loyalties and support
for segregation? I think not. The less said about it, the


Western Ireland Peninsula Great Spot For Bird-Watching

For the Chronicle

Songbirds like this pied wagtail are a good reason to visit
Loop Head in western Ireland.

COUNTY CLARE, IRELAND - Loop Head is a spectacular
peninsula in western Ireland, its rugged 600-foot cliffs
rising above the raging waves of the Atlantic Ocean and
providing a front-row seat for watching seabirds.

In autumn, scores of storm-petrels, skuas and shearwaters
migrate over the sea just beyond the cliffs.

In spring, flocks of kittiwakes and puffins arrive at the
cliffs to nest, and throughout the year, gannets,
razorbills and guillemots feed in the sea near the cliffs.

But the peninsula is also a sweeping landscape, insinuated
between the Shannon River and the sea. Songbirds like pied
wagtails and stonechats flush from the fields to perch on a
brush twig and brace themselves against the same strong
wind that blows over the wings of seabirds.

The name Loop Head is a corruption of the name Leap Head,
which harbors as many myths as it does birds. One has the
heroic Cuchulain leaping 52 feet from the peninsula across
to a crag to escape a witch named Mal, who incidentally
drowned in a nearby bay named Mal Bay.

Maybe the ghosts of Cuchulain and Mal are what make the
peninsula so peaceful, save for the sound of crashing waves
and the wondrous flight of birds over land and sea. Birds
like great black-backed gulls sail on a 5-foot wingspan
over a sea ever tossed by near gale-force winds.

Landing like ghosts in the peninsular fields are northern
lapwings, a handsome species of shorebird with an evident
wispy crest and iridescent greenish back. Flocks of these
birds seem to appear out of nowhere, uttering a wheezy
peewit call.

But no autumn bird-watcher worth the salt of Cuchulain
would be without a spotting scope while standing on a
cliff, leaning into the wind and scanning the sea for birds
like northern gannets and sooty shearwaters. Gannets fly
like rocket planes, shooting up into the sky, and diving
back down to plunge into the water for fish. Aerial rafts
of shearwaters sail stiff-winged like bomber planes
skimming the sea waves.

A whitewashed lighthouse dating from 1854 crowns Loop Head.
Circling the lighthouse are herring gulls, birds also found
in the United States. Among other gulls at the lighthouse
are common gulls that are the European counterpart of mew
gulls in western North America.

Occasionally, a common gull of Western Europe (and perhaps
Ireland) shows up on the east coast of the United States.
How it gets across the Atlantic is a question for mythic
figures like Cuchulain and Mal.

Naturalist Gary Clark and photographer Kathy Adams Clark
can be reached at wondersofnature.

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