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December 21, 2005

Adams Talks With Taoiseach & PM

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 12/21/05 Adams Talks With Taoiseach & PM
SF 12/21/05 Commit To Peace & Democracy - Adams MP
IT 12/22/05 Bush Envoy Criticises SF Stance On Policing
DI 12/21/05 Suspect Was Released 'To Keep PUP In Talks'
DI 12/21/05 Scrap On-The-Runs Bill – SF
IO 12/21/05 Rabbitte: SF OTR U-Turn Lets Govt Off Hook
IV 12/21/05 The Soldier, The Spy, The U.S. Connection
DI 12/21/05 Was O'Loan In Dark Over Spy?
DI 12/21/05 Opin: Hard To Grasp Enormity Of Events
DI 12/21/05 Opin: Half-Truths And Spin From Orde
DI 12/21/05 Castlereagh Chef Accuses PSNI Of Subterfuge
TE 12/21/05 Brosnan Invests In New Film On Dylan Thomas
GM 12/21/05 Immigrant Served With Honor During Civil War
IT 12/22/05 60 People A Day Exchanging Punts At Bank
IT 12/22/05 Watchers Fail To See The Light At Newgrange


Gerry Adams In Talks With Taoiseach And British Prime Minister

Published: 21 December, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today spoke by phone
separately to the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British
Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Sinn Féin President
concentrated his remarks on the recent revelation around
the role of British agencies in toppling the Good Friday
Agreement's political institutions and the expected efforts
by both governments in the New Year to rebuild the
political institutions and government.

Mr. Adams said:

"At the core of the current crisis is an element of the
British policing and intelligence system which vehemently
opposes the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
Their actions were responsible for the collapse of the
democratically elected government in October 2002.

"While I spoke at length on this issue with the Taoiseach
it is the British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair, who bears the
sole responsibility for tackling this problem. Ending
political policing and the negative activities of

British agencies is his responsibility.

"As we face into the New Year and another attempt to put
the political institutions together, these same forces will
be working to undo our collective efforts. In order to stop
them Mr. Blair must end political


The Sinn Féin leader also spoke to both leaders about
planned efforts beginning in January to restore the
political institutions. Mr. Adams also talked to Mr. Blair
and Mr. Ahern about the issue of OTRs, reminding them of
their commitments on this issue.

Mr. Adams also raised the issues of northern representation
with the Taoiseach who told him that he hoped to make
progress on this in January." ENDS


British Need To Commit To Peaceful And Democratic Activity - Gerry Adams MP

Published: 21 December, 2005

Over recent days the news has been dominated by the
revelation that Denis Donaldson was a British agent working
within Sinn Fein for as long as twenty years. When we stand
back from the sensationalism, there are profoundly
important issues to be addressed. And if we reduce all of
this to its core, the stark reality is that a small number
of faceless and unaccountable British securocrats have been
allowed to collapse the democratic institutions established
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and supported
by the people of Ireland in referendum.

This cabal of anti-Agreement forces have not only subverted
the democratic decision of the Irish people but they are
actively working against the policy of their own
government. This is the stark reality that Tony Blair must
deal with as we face into the New Year and a renewed
attempt to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented in

The fact is that there was no Sinn Féin spy ring at

The fact is that the documents allegedly stolen were found
in the home of the British agent.

The so-called Stormont-gate affair was a carefully
constructed lie created by the Special Branch in order to
cause maximum political damage to the Good Friday

The fact is that the collapse of the political
institutions, the Assembly, the Executive and the all-
Ireland ministerial council was caused by elements within
the British security system.

It is no surprise that the British intelligence services
are continuing to target Sinn Fein. Our political project
threatens the interests of those who wish to maintain the
status quo. These people are continuing to fight a war
against Irish republicans. They are obsessed with notions
of victory and defeat. They resent the fact that, despite
all of their unlimited resources and money they could not
defeat the IRA.

Ten, fifteen and twenty years ago these same people were
orchestrating a murder campaign against our party through
their control of the loyalist death squads. The British
state continues to deny and hide truth about their policy
of collusion. And by protecting those involved they have
allowed these people to continue their activities
unchecked. So at every point in the peace process where we
have seen progress or the potential for progress, we have
also seen the effects of the continuing activities of the

Raids that find nothing, but which are conducted in the
glare of media cameras, arrests which command newspaper
headlines and charges which are brought in a blaze of
publicity and then quietly dropped some time later.

What we are seeing now is a rearguard action by old-RUC
elements, trying to stop the tide of history. That is why
we are seeing examples of political policing more brazen
than ever before. Televised raids and arrests have
replaced the death squads, but the motivation remains the
same - to defend the British state in Ireland and to target
Sinn Féin because our peace project threatens their power
by delivering real and meaningful change.

We have been warning about the negative power of those in
the British system who are against the Good Friday
Agreement and against the new dispensation. It is those
people who have engineered the conditions whereby the
political institutions were suspended.

Here you have the stated policy of the Irish and British
governments being subverted by agencies of one of the
governments. Here you have agencies of the British
Government actively opposing British policy and subverting
an international agreement and treaty.

If Britain's war is over in this country, if British policy
in Ireland is to become totally peaceful, then the British
Prime Minister has to rein in the securocrats. The
activities of the British security agencies in Ireland must
be brought to an end. Political policing must be brought to
an end. Achieving this as part of our wider efforts to see
the Good Friday Agreement fully implemented remains the
focus for Sinn Fein as we face into the New


2005 will be recorded in the history books as one of those
pivotal points when profound developments changed the
future. The IRA announcement in July that it had formally
ended its armed campaign and it's decisive move in
September to deal with the issue of IRA arms were
initiatives of lasting significance. These developments
have opened up the possibility of real and significant
progress in early 2005.There will undoubtedly be more
challenges and difficulties in the period ahead. That is
the nature of peace making.

But these elements who oppose the peace process can only
slow down the process of change. They cannot stop it.
Ultimately their efforts will end in failure as the rest of
us move forward in building a new and better Ireland.


Bush Envoy Criticises SF Stance On Policing

Deaglán de Bréadún, in Belfast

Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party come in for
criticism in an end-of-year review of the peace process by
US special envoy for Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss.

"Sinn Féin is the only political party in Europe that does
not support policing," he writes in the weekly Irish Echo,
published in New York.

Outlining the Bush administration's attitude to the party's
continued refusal to join the Policing Board, he writes:
"We think Sinn Féin has a responsibility to tell its
constituents they should co-operate with the police -
without fear of retribution - whenever dissidents, thugs
and degenerates terrorise their communities.

"Gerry Adams and other Sinn Féin leaders have met
repeatedly with Hugh Orde, the chief constable, and other
PSNI officials. If they can talk with the PSNI, why can't
ordinary republicans and nationalists? By denying
republicans and nationalists proper policing and justice,
Sinn Féin has condemned them to a ghettoised existence."

He continues: "Now we all recognise that policing is not
perfect in Northern Ireland. It isn't perfect in any city.
But the undisputed fact, acknowledged by even Sinn Féin, is
that there has been tremendous progress in recent years.
The PSNI is simply not the same as the old RUC."

On the position of unionists, he writes that, "Some DUP
politicians have claimed recently that it will be 10 years
before they join with Sinn Féin - clearly not a very
constructive approach."

He says the US, British and Irish governments "have spent
so much time and effort focusing on Sinn Féin and the IRA
that we haven't devoted as much attention to the DUP ...
That needs to change."

Meanwhile British government sources, speaking on condition
of anonymity, have disputed the claim by Minister for
Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern that Dublin was not informed
in advance about the inclusion of security force personnel
in legislation providing de facto amnesty for paramilitary
fugitives or on-the-runs.

Interviewed on RTÉ Radio's News at One yesterday, Mr Ahern
said: "We weren't informed about the inclusion of security
services in their legislation until the legislation came

Pressed on the issue, he added: "We hadn't been informed at
all in relation to their intention to include security

He confirmed that if the British legislation were now
withdrawn in the face of multiparty opposition, Dublin
would also drop its own proposals for pardons. "If British
legislation doesn't go ahead, the proposals that we were
enunciating wouldn't go ahead either," Mr Ahern said.

British government sources told The Irish Times last night:
"We did discuss the whole shape of the scheme with the
Irish Government but it's really a matter for them to
answer questions on what they knew and didn't know."

Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey has called on
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to urge his cabinet
colleagues to drop the fugitives Bill. "Last night Sinn
Féin indicated that they no longer supported the
legislation. This now leaves not one party in Northern
Ireland in favour of it, albeit for differing reasons," the
UUP leader said.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said yesterday in
Longford: "As far as I know, the principles of the
legislation that were put in place in the House of Commons
were agreed with the Sinn Féin leadership. And they are now
repudiating something in public which they agreed to in
private, because of political pressure."

This morning Sir Hugh Orde will discuss recent security
developments in a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as
well as the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice at
Government Buildings in Dublin.

© The Irish Times


Suspect Was Released 'To Keep PUP In Talks'

Victim's father accuses Mo Mowlam of 'political
interference' over death probe

Ciarán Barnes

A convicted loyalist killer questioned about the 1997
murder of a Belfast Protestant was released from custody on
the orders of former direct-rule secretary Mo Mowlam, the
victim's campaigning father has claimed.

Raymond McCord Sr made the claim after a meeting to discuss
state collusion with direct-rule minister Peter Hain at
Stormont yesterday.

Mr McCord's son was beaten to death in north Belfast in
1997 by an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang that included
two police informants.

He says Special Branch officers had prior knowledge he was
to be killed, but failed to act in order to protect the
identities of their informants.

In the weeks after the killing, senior north Belfast
loyalist Angus Knell was taken to Gough barracks for
questioning by murder squad detectives.

At the time Knell, who served a 15-year life sentence for
the 1976 UVF murder of Catholic barman Eugene McDonagh, was
a member of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party (PUP)
talks team.

The negotiations would eventually lead to the signing of
the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.

Mr McCord insists Mo Mowlam, who died earlier this year,
ordered the release of Knell from questioning in order to
prevent PUP members withdrawing from the talks.

After yesterday's meeting with Peter Hain, he accused the
direct-rule minister's predecessor of "politically
interfering" with the investigation into the murder of his

Mr McCord said: "Angus Knell was questioned about the
murder of my son, but released because Mo Mowlam's office
was afraid the PUP would walk out of the multi-party talks.

"I'm not saying he was involved in Raymond's death, but he
shouldn't have been released just to protect a political
party. Mo Mowlam's political interference hampered the
investigation into my son's murder."

Although contacted, no one from the Northern Ireland Office
was available to respond to the claims.

Mr McCord was one of four victims of paramilitary violence
to meet Mr Hain yesterday. They were accompanied by an SDLP
delegation led by party leader Mark Durkan.


Scrap On-The-Runs Bill – SF

Legislation – giving an amnesty to soldiers and police – is
far from what was agreed, says Doherty

Sinn Féin yesterday called on the British government to
withdraw the controversial Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill
which deals with the issue of on-the-run paramilitaries.

However, the SDLP claimed Sinn Féin's move amounted to a
humiliating climbdown by the party following its initially
positive response to the legislation.

As he led a delegation of victims' groups to meet Secretary
of State Peter Hain, Sinn Féin vice-president, Pat Doherty,
said the legislation was too far removed from an agreement
with the British government at Weston Park in 2001 which
would have enabled republicans who have been on the run
since the Troubles, to return home.

The West Tyrone MP said: "We are now calling for it to be
rejected and we are withdrawing from anything to do with

Mr Doherty also revealed they would be advising on-the-run
republicans not to seek registration under the legislation
should it go through.

Under the legislation, the British government envisaged
people who have been living abroad to avoid arrest, or
people suspected of murders before the Good Friday
Agreement, applying to a certification commissioner to
ensure they are not sent to prison if they set foot in the

The commissioner would then ask the police if the person
was suspected of crimes.

If an individual is, he or she would be issued with a
certificate guaranteeing they would not be arrested.

The certificate would also set in train a special tribunal,
with its own judge and prosecutors, who would examine the
offence the person is alleged to have committed.

If the person is found guilty, he or she will receive a
special licence similar to that given to paramilitary
prisoners released under the Good Friday Agreement
guaranteeing they will remain free unless they offend

Urging the British government to scrap the legislation and
stick to what was agreed, Mr Doherty said: "There are no
British ground forces on the run.

"It was sleight of hand and inexcusable to bring that
aspect into the legislation. It was not agreed at Weston
Park, and it is not acceptable and needs to be rejected."

Mr Doherty said Sinn Féin had been in contact with many of
those on the run before making the decision to reject the

There was a cool response from the Northern Ireland Office.

A spokesman said: "There is no other vehicle for dealing
with the on-the-runs and Sinn Féin are deluding themselves
if they think there is."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan called on the British government to
withdraw the Bill.

He also accused Sinn Féin of selling out the victims of
collusion in negotiations on the legislation.

"The deal by Sinn Féin and the British government at
Hillsborough in 2003 covered 'all scheduled offences'. This
includes state murders," said the Foyle MP.

"It is there in a public document for all to see. That is
what Sinn Féin signed up to. The question is, why has it
taken Sinn Féin a month-and-a-half to come out against this

"Why did Conor Murphy fly over to Westminster to welcome it
– the day after Peter Hain made clear that it applied to
state killers?

"Why did Martin McGuinness accuse the SDLP of being 'naïve'
in saying that state killers should not be covered?

"Who is naive now Martin?"

His call was echoed by Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey who
warned the British government it must not enter in to any
future negotiation with republicans to produce even worse

"This distasteful side-deal, which should never have seen
the light of day in the first place, must now be consigned
to the dustbin where it belongs, never to be resurrected,"
he said.


Rabbitte: Sinn Féin OTR U-Turn Lets Govt Off Hook

21/12/2005 - 18:12:05

Sinn Féin's U-turn on the proposed British amnesty for
paramilitary fugitives has let the Government off the hook,
it was claimed today.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern planned to set up an Eligibility
Body to decide whether to grant presidential pardons to on-
the-runs (OTRs) wanted by gardaí for alleged offences in
the Republic.

But Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said yesterday's
decision by Sinn Féin to suddenly oppose the Northern
Ireland (Offences) Bill has conveniently allowed the
Government to drop its proposals for the constitutional

"The volte face conducted by Sinn Féin yesterday in
deciding to oppose, having hitherto supported, the British
legislation has conveniently allowed the Government to
announce it is dropping its plan to grant presidential
pardons to on-the-runs in this jurisdiction," he said.

"This decision has conveniently allowed the Government to
abandon its own ad-hoc proposals to grant presidential
pardons to on -the-runs that was met with strong opposition
when initially announced."

Mr Rabbitte claimed that Sinn Féin had struck a deal with
British prime minister Tony Blair to grant an amnesty for
the estimated 1,800 unsolved murders of the Troubles for
both paramilitaries and members of the security forces.

"Sinn Féin has now baulked at the Bill in the face of
opposition from victims groups and political parties North
and South and in Britain," he added.

"They found themselves exposed, supported only by the
British authorities with whom they had struck this dirty

The Labour leader reiterated his call on Mr Ahern to
persuade Mr Blair to scrap the Northern Ireland (Offences)
Bill, and insist that any alternative must be acceptable to
the North's political parties as well as victims.

"The Labour Party has always recognised that at some stage
a line does have to be drawn under the brutality of the
past. But it should not come at the expense of victims," he

Sinn Féin vice president Pat Doherty yesterday told
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain that the British
legislation was too far removed from an agreement with the
Government at Weston Park in 2001 which would have enabled
republicans who have been on-the-run since the Troubles, to
return home.

The West Tyrone MP said: "We are now calling for it to be
rejected and we are withdrawing from anything to do with

Mr Doherty also revealed that Sinn Féin would be advising
on-the-run republicans not to seek registration under the
legislation should it go through.

Under the legislation, the Government envisaged people who
have been living abroad to avoid arrest, or people
suspected of murders before the Good Friday Agreement,
applying to a certification commissioner to ensure they are
not sent to prison if they set foot in the North.

Mr Rabbitte called on all political parties in the Republic
to support a motion tabled by the Labour Party and Fine
Gael earlier this month that opposed the Government's
proposals on the British legislation.

The motion also called for truth and justice to be returned
to the entire process.


The Soldier, The Spy, The U.S. Connection

By Niall O' Dowd

"My name is Denis Donaldson. Since the 1980s . . . I have
worked for British intelligence."

With those words last Friday, the latest Irish Republican
unveiled as an informer dropped the equivalent of a dirty
bomb among Irish Americans who had come to know him as a
key Sinn Fein representative in the U.S.

"I had to sit down when I heard it," said one leading
Republican, who like most interviewed insisted on
anonymity. " I was gobsmacked."

Another stated that he felt like he was "hit on the head
with a plank," while another leading figure was
"flabbergasted" by the news and found it so incredible that
he seriously doubted the veracity of the report at first.

It was true, however, and the grainy image of Donaldson
sitting in a Dublin hotel confessing that he was a paid
informer was soon flashing around the Internet, as well as
becoming the hot topic of discussion wherever activist
Irish Americans were gathered.

Some claimed to have suspected something all along.
Speaking on Radio Free Eireann, a local New York dissident
Republican radio show, Martin Galvin, former head of Irish
Northern Aid, who broke with Sinn Fein over the peace
process, said he and other leading Republicans always
suspected that Donaldson had a "secret agenda" and that
Donaldson had undermined many Republicans such as himself
during his time in America.

Galvin stated that Donaldson had told Irish American
activists that "I (Galvin) had to be got rid of," and that
he had tried to compromise other "strong minded

But Galvin himself had a checkered past with Donaldson,
relying on him for support during a critical period in the
late 1980s when his own position in Irish Northern Aid was
under threat from more extreme elements.

Another man with grave suspicions about Donaldson was
Republican veteran Gabe Megahey, who had been arrested and
jailed in America for IRA activities. Donaldson and he
would often disagree and Megahey also claimed Donaldson had
a hidden agenda.

Galvin and Megahey were the exceptions however. Most, even
those who have broken with Sinn Fein over the peace process
and the unarmed strategy, stated that they were totally
unaware of Donaldson's duplicity.

Radio Free Eireann host John McDonagh told his listeners on
Saturday that he had "worked very tightly " with Donaldson,
went "drinking with him," stayed in his house in Belfast
and never suspected a thing.

When the news first broke that Sinn Fein were going to
expel Donaldson, McDonagh stated that he thought it was
because he had broken with the leadership over the peace
process and joined the dissidents.

On the same Radio Free Eireann show Brian Mor O'Boyle,
another dissident, stated that he was "as shocked as ever I
was" by the Donaldson confession.

It was a common refrain. "Denis could be sent anywhere, he
was a diplomat, a smiler, anxious to engage everyone," said
one Republican. "He was the last person you would have

DENIS Donaldson first came to America in 1988 at a time
when the Republican movement was undergoing severe strains
in the U.S.

In 1986 in Ireland, Republican Sinn Fein had broken off
from the Provisionals over the issue of taking seats in the
Irish Dail (Parliament). As always, the dispute was
mirrored in Irish America, and a Republican Sinn Fein
support group, Friends of Irish Freedom, had been set up
with the specific task of bringing Irish America over to
their point of view.

It was a dangerous time for Provisional Sinn Fein, as the
loyalty of Irish America was clearly up for grabs. Back
home, there were stories about threats on the life of Gerry
Adams from former disgruntled comrades. Feelings everywhere
were running high.

In previous splits in the Republican movement, dating back
to the foundation of Sinn Fein, the hardliners had usually
won out. Sinn Fein first sent to the U.S. party official
Brian MacDonald, who based himself in the Irish Northern
Aid office in upper Manhattan to try and prevent any split.

Soon MacDonald found himself embroiled in personal
disagreements, making little headway. He returned home.

Donaldson was then the man charged with ensuring that the
Provisional Sinn Fein grip on American support was
maintained. He arrived from Belfast with impeccable

The diminutive, heavy smoking Donaldson also had a quick
wit and a disarming manner, which ensured that tensions
rarely boiled over.

He was a Short Strand Belfast native, a Republican who had
served five years in prison, and was a personal friend of
Republican icon Bobby Sands. After his release from prison,
Donaldson was a man who had quickly become an important
player in Sinn Fein politics.

At the time Martin Galvin was sticking with the
Provisionals but "badly needed street cred," in the words
of one activist, to hold his position. Donaldson provided

Donaldson lived in the Bronx on Bainbridge Avenue and soon
became noted for his love of the nightlife as well as the
ladies. Though married, it rarely seemed to bother him.

Often times business was done in bar settings, the affable
Donaldson winning someone over to his situation over a pint
or two, though no one ever remembers him being drunk.

He travelled extensively throughout the U.S. holding
meetings in key cities. His message was the same everywhere
he went. Irish Northern Aid was the only organization
endorsed by Sinn Fein and the IRA in Ireland.

It was a time when Friends of Irish Freedom had attempted
to develop fundraising on behalf of IRA prisoners and to
proclaim that they were the true inheritors of the
Republican standard.

By the time he returned to Belfast, Donaldson has smoothed
out the personal rivalries, made clear Irish Northern Aid
were the chosen group, and helped dispatch the Friends of
Irish Freedom to history's dustbin. It was a job well done.

BY 1995 Irish America had need of Donaldson's services
again. The 1994 IRA ceasefire had transformed the political
landscape here, but also created an entirely new group of
dissidents, this time led by Martin Galvin, who had severe
doubts about the new path to politics.

In the run up to the ceasefire Gerard McGuigan, a Belfast
native and elected councillor, had played the major role in
preparing the way in the U.S. first for the Adams visa and
then for the IRA ceasefire.

When the latter happened, the IRA's most famous ex-soldier,
veteran Republican Joe Cahill, had come here to convince
the faithful that the dream of Irish unity would never die,
despite the new tack. It was a message Gerry Adams himself
strongly repeated on several visits.

Still, there was major dissension. Donaldson addressed the
internal dissentions, making clear that he spoke for Sinn
Fein and that he had the full power of the organization
behind him.

At a time when hotter heads were calling for widespread
expulsions, Donaldson held his cool and slowly waited out
the dissidents.

Chief among them was Galvin who, in addition to his
distress over the slew towards politics, was also upset
that he was being upstaged by newer faces in the movement
and was not getting the access to Adams, especially when it
came to introducing him at events.

Donaldson and Sinn Fein leaders made it clear that Sinn
Fein would not make Galvin a martyr and expel him, and that
Galvin could make up his own mind.

The former Irish Northern Aid chief eventually did,
quitting Irish Northern Aid but failing to ignite a major
opposition group. Lacking a major figure to coalesce
around, the Real IRA movement soon sputtered.

One by one Donaldson dealt with the dissidents across the
country, getting many to stay onside and leaving others
with little choice but to step aside.

In 1996 Bernadette Sands, sister of Bobby and wife of Real
IRA commander Michael McKevitt, who had led a split from
the Provisionals, made a visit to the U.S. and tried to
gather significant support for her position that the IRA
ceasefire had betrayed Irish Republicanism.

Her pleas fell on mostly deaf ears. Sinn Fein and Donaldson
had done their job well.

"There were known agent provocateurs in the ranks of Irish
Northern Aid at the time and we figured we knew who they
were," says one senior Republican source, "but the notion
that Donaldson was one never crossed our mind."

Indeed Donaldson, by everyone's account, did a good job of
steadying the Sinn Fein ship in America and smoothing the
path to the formation of the new organization, Friends of
Sinn Fein, which now raises up to $1 million a year for the
political party and has far greater membership than the old
Irish Northern Aid ever had.

That remains the essential dilemma. For an admitted British
agent, Donaldson actually dampened down dissension in
America rather than causing it to flare up, as the British
surely wanted.

"No Sinn Fein representative would have done anything
different than Donaldson did," said a Sinn Fein source in

Like everything else about this puzzling affair, the real
motives of Denis Donaldson may forever remain a secret. The
little man with the big smile and smooth talk has turned
the Republican movement upside down, and no one in Irish
America knows quite what to make of it. Any further
developments will be anxiously awaited.


Was O'Loan In Dark Over Spy?

Denis Donaldson's role as a Sinn Féin spy may have been
hidden from the Police Ombudsman during her investigation
into the collapse of the Assembly, Daily Ireland can

Nuala O'Loan's office has refused to comment on whether her
investigators were told of the senior Sinn Féin official's
life as a Special Branch agent.

The ombudsman's investigation found no evidence to suggest
Special Branch raids on Sinn Féin offices at Stormont and
the homes of republicans in October 2002 were politically-

The raids led to the collapse of the powersharing
government. However, the ombudsman's silence on whether her
investigators knew of Donaldson's role as a informant has
raised questions about the credibility of the

The Northern Ireland Policing Board last night also said it
was satisfied that the Stormont raids were not politically-
motivated, but revealed its evidence for this relied solely
on the ombudsman's report, where she refused to confirm or
deny whether her investigators were aware of the existence
of a British agent in a top position within the Sinn Féin

The board's reliance on what could now be seen as a
questionable report also places another question mark over
the validity of its own conclusions, possibly made without
a vital piece of evidence to complete the picture of what
was actually going on at Stormont.

Republicans are now asking was Nuala O'Loan kept
deliberately in the dark about Donaldson in order for her
office to justify the Stormont raids.

Sinn Féin Assemblyman Gerry Kelly believes Donaldson was
working to an agenda set by his Special Branch paymasters.
He said: "It is clear that the British State agencies who
mounted this entire operation knew that there was no value
other than political theatre to raid the Sinn Féin offices
in Stormont.

"No documents or evidence were recovered in that raid. The
two (computer) disks taken at random and removed were
returned to the party within days.

"Hugh Orde is unable to justify the raid on Stormont
because it was unjustifiable. It was politically motivated
and intended to cause maximum political damage, a result
which was achieved."

Defending the raids yesterday, Chief Constable Hugh Orde
said that "documents" were recovered during searches of
republicans' homes.

What he failed to mention was that the documents were found
at the home of Special Branch agent Denis Donaldson.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman refused to comment on
whether investigators were made aware of Donaldson's role
during its Stormont raid investigation.

He said: "The Police Ombudsman is making no comment on spy-
rings at Stormont and no comment on political involvement
in what happened.

"It is simply saying that on the day the raids were
justified in policing terms, no more and no less."

Meanwhile, recent reports that "several" republicans had
been visited by the PSNI and warned that they were about to
be "outed" as British agents in the press appeared to be
without foundation.

Daily Ireland enquiries indicate that no such visits had
taken place since Denis Donaldson came forward with his
explosive revelations.


Hard To Grasp Enormity Of Events

Bairbre de Brún

I attended Monday's urgent meeting with British Secretary
of State, Peter Hain, as Sinn Féin made clear his
responsibility and that of Tony Blair to end the kind of
political policing that was brought to light once again in
the last week.

Travelling to Stormont for the Peter Hain meeting brought
back memories of the highly-orchestrated scenes I witnessed
there in October 2002 as elements within the British
security apparatus moved to bring down the Executive and
the institutions. It is hard for most people even yet to
grasp the enormity of what was done then and its
implications for peace in Ireland.

If we are to move forward by peaceful and democratic means
and if we are to see a renewed push for political progress
in the New Year, then the British government have to curb
the actions of those unaccountable elements within their
forces who are opposed to the peace process and to our role
within it.

This week's European news was dominated by bartering over
the EU Budget and its impact on the World Trade (WTO) talks
in Hong Kong.

After a day and night of final negotiations, agreement was
reached on a budget for the period 2007 – 2013. As part of
the deal the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be
reviewed in 2008/2009 with export subsidies to end by 2013.
We need to plan now to ensure that farm families have a
future after that period.

Cuts had also looked likely in the structural funds budget
for 2007-2013 for the newest member states but agreement
was reached which should allow them to upgrade their
infrastructure in a way that Ireland has done and is doing.

Last week's European Parliament session in Strasbourg was
dominated not only by the budget but also by allegations
that the CIA had used EU member states to detain and
transport prisoners illegally.

In light of this, the European Parliament looks set to
investigate the allegations of detention centres operating
illegally in Europe.

These very serious allegations must be investigated

Irish citizens are only too aware of the concerns about the
use of Shannon Airport as a refuelling depot for US planes
on their way to and from Iraq. Now there are also concerns
that some of the planes identified by Amnesty International
and others in connection with the CIA prisoner allegations
may have landed at Shannon.

And finally, agreement was reached between the unions and
management at Irish Ferries last week.

However, the Irish Ferries decision to re-flag its ships in
countries where standards of pay and working conditions are
lower will lead to a 'race to the bottom' approach to
workers' rights. At a meeting with EU Commissioner for
Transport, Jacques Barrot in Strasbourg, both I and Mary
Lou McDonald stressed the need for the European Commission
to re-table the EU Ferries Directive, which would lead to a
degree of protection for workers. The Taoiseach, Bertie
Ahern needs to raise this at the highest levels in Europe.


Opin: Half-Truths And Spin From Orde

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde was gilding the lily
yesterday with his "finger in the wound" claims over
Stormontgate. He had seen documents, he told the press,
recovered in west Belfast which included information useful
in targeting individuals and private correspondence from
government offices.

Of course, the documents he spoke of were recovered from
the home of Denis Donaldson, British super-spy. The
inference from Hugh Orde's statement was that he was also
referring to the list of prison officers apparently
recovered on a computer disk in West Belfast at the time of
the Stormont raids,

In fact he made no specific reference to that list of 1400
prison officers because there is zero evidence to link it
to any type of spyring at Stormont.

In fact, early in the Stormontgate fiasco, charges relating
to the possession of that list were withdrawn. None of the
three accused in the case when it was collapsed were
charged with the possession of information which "could be
of use to terrorists".

It's known that Hugh Orde was unaware of the raid on Denis
Donaldson's office in Stormont before it took place. Yet
that raid-by-camera, carried out by what the Taoiseach
calls "stormtroopers", is the strongest proof that the
entire operation was wholly politically motivated.

Hugh Orde is also on the record as stating that certain
officers within his own ranks are bitterly opposed to
changes in his force — and, one assumes, to political
changes in wider society.

After yesterday's briefing, it was still unclear whether he
knew Denis Donaldson was a British agent at the time of the
October 2002 operation which brought down the powersharing

Sadly, rather than voice any concerns about the outrageous
abuse of power in that raid on parliament buildings —
branded reminiscent of Zimbabwe by Fianna Fáil Senator
Martin Mansergh — Hugh Orde went in to bat for Special

No wonder nationalists have so little faith in the policing

That lack of confidence in the new policing dispensation is
likely to be exacerbated by yesterday's effective "no
comment" response of the Police Ombudsman's Office to the
Daily Ireland enquiry as to whether she knew Denis
Donaldson was a double agent at the time of her
investigation into the raids. It's one thing for Blair,
Hain and Orde to hide behind "national interest" or
"security interest" excuses in refusing to spell out the
sordid detail of the Stormontgate mess but when the
public's policing watchdog keeps mum, it's an indication
that things are worse than the most pessimistic nationalist

Accurate information is the best antidote to the rumour
mill and "dúirt bean liom gur dhúirt bean léi" speculation
which threatens to demoralise an already confused public.
It's to be hoped that Mr Orde might yet agree to speak
frankly about the Stormontgate affair rather than hide
behind half-truths and spin.



Former Chef At Castlereagh Base Accuses PSNI Special Branch Of 'Subterfuge And Chicanery'

Jim Dee

An American chef linked to an alleged break-in at the
PSNI's headquarters in Belfast said yesterday it was 'very
possible' he had been set up by British agent Denis
Donaldson and Special Branch detectives.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Ireland''s US
correspondent Jim Dee, Larry Zaitschek denies any
involvement in the 2002 incident at the Castlereagh police
complex and claims he has been made a scapegoat by the

'I last met Donaldson five years before the break-in'

The American chef who has been repeatedly cited in press
reports as having assisted in the 2002 Castlereagh break-in
yesterday vehemently denied having any role in the burglary
or any substantial association with British agent Denis

During a wide-ranging interview with Daily Ireland, Larry
Zaitschek said: "I have not spoken to Denis Donaldson in
many years – and even then I only knew him for a brief
period of time. Personally, I liked him very much, but
really have no feelings at this time about what has
happened to him recently. It's irrelevant to me."

Zaitschek, who has lived in New York since returning to the
US three days after the Castlereagh burglary, said that he
never understood why his casual acquaintance with Donaldson
was initially exposed in the media, "and I still don't
understand it today in 2005".

The former Castlereagh chef said that one unseen victim in
the whole break-in saga has been his seven-year-old son
Pearse, whom he hasn't seen since Zaitschek's estranged
wife entered a police witness protection programme in the
summer of 2002.

"He is being used as a political pawn by people whose
credibility is both none- existent and laughable," said

"I wonder why the life and development of my beautiful
young son, and the denial of his human right to family
life, is not a bigger consideration to the general media
than these bogus claims that have been made against me –
claims that four years on now remain totally

Zaitschek told Daily Ireland that he can't recall the exact
date on which he met Denis Donaldson, but that it was
sometime "in the early '90s" in New York city. He said he
likely met him at an Irish-related function, and that since
Donaldson's espousal of Irish republican views was his
legal and legitimate right, he just took Donaldson at face-
value – as a Sinn Féin representative in the US.

He said that, during the brief time that he knew Donaldson,
he never felt he was being manipulated.

"I am not malleable, the way people think I am malleable.
I'm a very strong-minded and well-read individual. I was
not a dupe," insisted Zaitschek.

Social meeting

After Zaitschek moved to Ireland in late 1995, he said he
did initially meet Denis Donaldson again socially on a few

"When I first got there, I had few friends. So it was
brief. I would have called Denis up for a drink, to say
'hello', I had met his wife, just to make friends.
Eventually I fell out of touch with him completely. That
was well before I started working at Castlereagh. I didn't
know a lot of people. I was just starting to meet people –
from all walks of life."

All contact ends

Zaitschek said that when he and the Irishwoman he was
seeing decided to get married, he sent Donaldson a wedding
invitation. Donaldson never replied.

"He didn't go to the wedding. He didn't even respond to the
invitation. That was the end of it," said Zaitschek

"The last I heard from Denis Donaldson was back in '97,
long before I started working in Castlereagh. And the next
time I heard about him was in October of 2002, when I heard
he was accused of Stormont."

Zaitschek insisted that all the stories that ran about him
immediately after the Castlereagh break-in were complete
fabrications. He said he only ended up at Castlereagh after
"an extremely innocuous series of events," and he'd never
been part of some ingenious scheme to infiltrate the
interrogation centre.

His journey to Castlereagh's kitchen began one night in
August 1998. He was driving towards his house on the Antrim
coast after leaving the Great Victoria Street restaurant
where he worked, when his car slammed into a boulder that
had fallen off a tractor. His car flipped several times and
he ended up with a broken back. He spent the next two weeks
in the hospital. As he was being discharged, he was told by
doctors not to return to work for at least three more
months. He spent the ensuing weeks trying to deaden the
constant pain with pain-killers, and climbing the walls
with boredom.

"I was going absolutely out of my mind. My mother-in-law
lived next door and she wouldn't leave me alone," he said

"So when I could finally walk again, I went down to the
training and employment agency in Larne and found job
listings for chefs. I filled out several applications and
handed them in to the centre's staff, and within a couple
of days, I got a call from the canteen manager at
Castlereagh," who asked him to come in for an interview. A
day after his interview, he was hired.

No real evidence

Zaitschek said at no point after he took the Castlereagh
job did he ever see or have contact with Denis Donaldson.

"Never once. None," he insisted.

He also said that press reports right after the break-in
that claimed that he'd called several top IRA members as he
drove to Dublin to fly home to the US were rubbish:
"There's not even an ounce of truth in any of that."

Zaitschek said that, contrary to press reports at the time,
he didn't flee the North in a panic, but had a pre-paid
airplane ticket. He said he'd informed his Castlereagh
employers a month beforehand that he was moving back to the
US, and that "there were even nights out drinking, everyone
saying goodbye to me. I was moving back to America. It's
not exactly something you do on a whim."

He said during the two days after the break-in, he was
interviewed twice by police in Belfast, "and with a
handshake and almost a hug, I was told: 'We're done with
you in our inquiries. Good luck in America. Thanks for all
your great food.' I left and came back to America. So
everyone knew I was leaving. They were done with me. I
left, and then this whole story was concocted."

Zaitschek insists that the reason the PSNI have yet to
officially ask US authorities to extradite him is that they
have no real evidence against him that would stand up in a
US court.

He said that he believes that Special Branch officers were
behind several anonymous phone calls he received early-on
in the saga, during which he received death threats and
kidnapping threats. "Photos were also taken of me coming
out of the apartment building that I lived in at the time,"
he added.

Eventually, FBI agents, whom Zaitchek stresses were always
respectful, began conveying what amounted to bribe offers
from Special Branch. He said they included offers of
"contact with Pearse in exchange for information about

"Obviously, I couldn't tell them something I didn't know,"
said Zaitschek.

He told the FBI to make all future advances to his lawyer.
They made several more offers, all of which were rebuffed,
and eventually such advances stopped.

Such offers were especially heart-rending given that
Zaitschek has only had two or three brief phone calls from
Pearse since 2003, but nothing since.

Via his lawyers in Belfast he has secured the right to get
one picture yearly of Pearse so he can at least see what he
looks like.

As for the growing theory among Irish republicans that
Donaldson and Special Branch set him up as a fall-guy,
Zaitchek said: "Denis didn't know I was working in
(Castlereagh) unless Special Branch told him I was working
in there. "But I didn't do the break-in. So it's very
possible that members of the security services did it, and
then they did set me up. But I had nothing to do with it,
and I don't know who did. I only know that I've been framed
by it and my life has been turned upside down as a result
of it."

Zaitschek knows that there are many in Northern Ireland who
have already tried and convicted him in their own minds,
based on media reports regarding his involvement.

He again insisted that those reports are dead wrong, and
that it is subterfuge and chicanery by the PSNI Special
Branch that left him as a scapegoat.

"I have to say though, having been reading a lot recently
about what's going on, one couldn't help but think that the
entire law enforcement and security apparatus in Northern
Ireland is something of a circus act," said Zaitchek.


Brosnan Invests In New Film On Dylan Thomas

By Hugh Davies
(Filed: 22/12/2005)

The tempestuous life of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his
wife Caitlin is to be turned into a film, with the Welsh
actor Michael Sheen, 36, in the leading role.

Miranda Richardson, 47, is to play Caitlin, noted for
enthralling the poet with her "wild abandon". A new book
insists that at times she could drink her alcoholic husband
"under the table".

Pierce Brosnan, the former Bond star, who christened his
son Dylan Thomas, is teaming up with Merlin Films in Dublin
and Salem Films in Wales for the film, which will be called

Brosnan, who is investing in the movie through his
production company, Irish Dreamtime, is to play the poet's
New York agent, John Brennin.

The script by the Welsh writer Jeff Murphy opens with the
long-suffering Caitlin being "sectioned" and committed to a
mental institution.

The film will go back to her meeting with Thomas in The
Wheatsheaf in London in 1937, their relationship until his
death from drink in 1953 at the age of 39, and her life
until her death in 1994.

Dylan Thomas


Immigrant Served With Honor During Civil War

Thomas Fallon came to Freehold from home in Ireland

By Dick Metzgar
Staff Writer

Believe it or not, Freehold Borough was once the adopted
home of one of the most decorated war heroes in American
history, although most residents of the community may not
be aware of that fact.

Thomas Timothy Fallon, who was born in County Galway,
Ireland, on Aug. 12, 1837, compiled one of the most
brilliant records of the Civil War, according to a story
that appeared in the old Freehold Transcript. A piece of
that story was recently published in the 100 years ago
section of the Yesteryear column in the News Transcript.

Fallon, who died in Freehold on Aug. 29, 1916, is buried in
the St. Rose of Lima Cemetery just outside the borough on
Freehold-Englishtown Road in Freehold Township. Funeral
services for Fallon were held at St. Rose of Lima Church on
McLean Street in the borough.

Little was apparently written about Fallon's civilian life
in Freehold following the end of the Civil War in 1865
until his death. Research by Randall Gabrielan, director of
the Monmouth County Histor-ical Commission, showed that
Fallon owned property on Randolph Street in 1877, and at 5
Mechanic St. in 1888. Gabrielan's research also revealed
that Fallon became a tailor sometime after returning to
Freehold following his service with the Union Army in the
Civil War.

However, it not known how many local residents knew that
"Tom the Tailor" was one of the most distinguished American
war heroes ever.

Apparently, Alex Moreau, the founder and publisher of the
Freehold Transcript, knew the war hero well and documented
much of Fallon's Civil War record on the occasion of his
68th birthday in August 1905 (the source of the recent
Yesteryear material) and his obituary in August 1916.

According to the information in the Freehold Transcript,
Fallon was one of the first recipients of the Medal of
Honor, the highest honor bestowed to American war veterans,
which was created to honor special heroes of the Civil War.

Fallon was cited three times during the Battle of
Williamsburg, Va., (May 5, 1862) by order of Gen. Philip
Kearney, each of which would have qualified him for the
Medal of Honor, a rare distinction indeed.

The Civil War medals of honor were awarded in 1891 through
an act of Congress.

At the time he received his award, Fallon reportedly
commented to Moreau, "I donned the blues (Union uniform) in
'61, marched with the boys until '65, which was the
proudest act of my life."

According to the Freehold Transcript's account 100 years
ago, Fallon came to the United States in 1859, when he was
22, and moved to Freehold, where he was living in 1861 when
he enlisted in the volunteer service of the U.S. Army.
Although he was living in Freehold, Fallon joined a New
York outfit, Company K, N.Y. Volunteers, allegedly a group
consisting mostly of Irish immigrants.

The Freehold Transcript spoke in glowing terms of Pvt.
Fallon's military service with the Union army against the
Confederate States of America army in the South.

In all, Fallon took part in 21 Civil War battles. His Medal
of Honor heroics took place on May 5, 1862, May 30-31,
1862, and June 14-15, 1864.

Here is how the Freehold Transcript wrote of Fallon's war
record on his 68th birthday in 1905:

"Although the Medal of Honor records (of necessity) but one
act of bravery, he was recorded three times for acts of
bravery by Gen. Philip Kearney. He was one of 10 men who
composed a skirmish line at the Battle of Williamsburg on
May 5, 1862. Only four of the number came back alive. Gen.
Kearney, who was an eyewitness to their movements, ordered
that their names be recorded for their bravery."

Official Civil War records state that a few weeks later on
May 30-31 in action at Fair Oaks, Va., Fallon again
distinguished himself by voluntarily joining his unit in
the combat action of that period despite the fact that he
had been excused from duty because of disability. Eight
other men received medals of honor in the Battle of Fair

"Mr. Fallon was in 1864 given a furlough for 30 days for
meritorious service at the Battle of Big Shanty, which was
fought on June 14-15," the Freehold Transcript wrote 100
years ago. "He was ordered to lead the west wing of his
company in a charge upon the earthworks, and one officer
and 28 men were captured. He captured the officer by
striking him with his musket and carrying him over the

He was also mentioned for bravery in going out as a spy, a
very hazardous position, to watch the movement of the Rebel
artillery at the Charles City crossroads, before the
retreat from Richmond, the newspaper wrote.

The newspaper summed up Fallon's Civil War record: "Of all
those recorded for acts of bravery, Mr. Fallon stands high.
There were but 16 men mentioned twice and three times in
the entire Army and Navy. Two of the men who were recorded
three times for acts of bravery were recorded twice during
one day's battle, but each of Mr. Fallon's acts were
committed in battles of two days duration. He holds one of
the most brilliant records of any of the veterans of the
Civil War."

When Fallon died at the age of 79, his August 1916 obituary
in the Freehold Transcript recorded that his widow was the
former Mary Garrity of Freehold, his wife of more than 50
years. She was born in 1843 and died in 1922. He had a
daughter living in Jamesburg, and four grandchildren.
Fallon's wife is buried next to him in the St. Rose of Lima

Fallon is the only Medal of Honor recipient buried at the

According to all accounts, Freehold's "Tom the Tailor" was
one of the most decorated American soldiers of his era — or
any other era.


Up To 60 People A Day Still Exchanging Punts At Central Bank

Andrew Bushe

Almost four years after we swapped the punt for the euro
up to 60 people a day are still turning up at the Central
Bank to change old notes and coins.

"There are still a lot of people finding hoards of old
money, but the amounts are getting smaller," a spokeswoman
said. "The numbers turning up tend to peak at holiday time
or during big shopping periods like the sales or before

The bank's Dame Street headquarters in Dublin is the only
place in the country where people can still cash old
currency. There is 302 million punts worth outstanding -
about a third of it coinage.

"The number of people coming generally varies between 50
and 60 a day. It would average out at around 300 people a
week," the spokeswoman said. "In 2005 a lot of the coinage
being brought in has been found in outside sheds. Tins and
jars of money have been dug up by people gardening."

Old money has been turning up in some strange places. One
woman stripping the walls of her sitting room found an old
£50 note stuck behind the wallpaper.

Sorting bookshelves brought a windfall for another woman,
who found a £100 note that had been used as a bookmark.

When a bulb blew on a table lamp and the fixture came loose
as it was being replaced, a widow discovered a hoard of old
notes stuffed down the neck of the lamp.

The bank will accept old Irish notes and coins
indefinitely. They will immediately exchange up to £500
(€634.87). When the amount is greater than £500, the value
is forwarded by cheque.

Only in Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Austria and Belgium do
central banks promise an indefinite exchange of notes.
France, Greece, Finland and Italy will stop in 2012.
Portugal will stop in 2022, and the Netherlands will go on
until 2032.

© The Irish Times


Solstice Watchers Fail To See The Light At Newgrange

Eileen Battersby

They came from Australia and South Africa; from Yorkshire
and Cardiff; from parts of Dublin as well as from just down
the road.

An impressively good-natured group gathered in Newgrange,
Co Meath, yesterday morning to experience what has become
for some moderns, the devout and the curious, an annual
tradition - the winter sun entering the roof box at the
famous Neolithic monument to slowly, dramatically make its
way up the passage to fill the ancient chamber.

It does happen. Science and belief, the importance the
Stone Age farmers who built Newgrange placed on the value
of the sun's favour, and the sun itself all contribute to
the wonder that is the winter solstice. That said, no
amount of prayer or inspired engineering can make the sun
shine. And yesterday - it didn't.

Seasoned solstice watchers, professional archaeologists
among them, first-time visitors, many with information
sheets printed off the internet, all stood in the grey
early morning to take part in the vigil. While sunrise
within the chamber is reserved for invited VIPs and ticket-
holders, once they leave everyone present takes their turn
to enter the monument.

Shortly after 5am, rain fell in the Boyne Valley. The
sickly moon flickered in and out of the cloud cover, and
finally spluttered out. The morning sky was black, and the
air was merely damp, not cold. It was not promising. The
standing stones which appear to guard the monument became
more sharply defined with every passing minute. Everyone
had an opinion, and most agreed that a minor class of
miracle was needed to witness the central miracle.

The atmosphere remained jovial. After all, at least the
year's longest night was over. Cars lined both sides of the
lane. Three men walked as one, the tallest ashen-faced from
an office party. The number of babies in attendance was
noticeably higher than usual. One very short woman carrying
a large baby, began describing to the infant what would
happen - if the sun came out. The baby slept on. The woman
looked tired. "Was it better yesterday?" she asked.

Watches were checked. Eyes raked the sky. You could feel
the communal concentration. A television crew looked
sympathetically at its journalist.

"Mam, where is the sun?" demanded a teenage girl wearing
headgear approaching Arctic explorer quality teamed with a
tiny white top. The heavens remained resolutely grey.

The arrival of Minister for Justice Michael McDowell seemed
to settle the matter. "Look who it is," said a younger man
to his girlfriend who appeared to be freezing, "it's bound
to start raining." Not even the combined good will of the
onlookers and of the ancients themselves could persuade the
sun to brave the wrath of the Minister, who might just
decide on impulse to issue some kind of ban or writ.

"Blame him," hissed two girls. As Mr McDowell began his
journey up the passage, a voice broke the silence: "He'll
be lucky to get out alive. The spirits will get him. It
could be the first human sacrifice in 5,000 years."
Sufficient tittering greeted this to encourage the same
comedian to continue: "He's frightened the sun away." Even
without the spectacular natural drama, solstice morning at
Newgrange is symbolic.

"It didn't happen," said a girl. "Of course it did,"
countered her friend, "it just went on behind the clouds."
She was right. Winter has begun its slow leave-taking, the
light will return and the ritual of rebirth will follow.

© The Irish Times

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