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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
December 29, 2005
Ahern Hopes Devolution Back Soon
British gloated over poor showing at de Valera funeral
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News about Ireland & the Irish
BB 12/29/05 Ahern Hopes Devolution Back Soon
BT 12/29/05 Bureaucracy Is Strangling Health Service
BT 12/29/05 26 May Face Charges After Dunloy
DI 12/29/05 SF’s ‘Private Army'Comment Out of Step
DI 12/29/05 Dignam Killing Probe
BT 12/29/05 Pay-Offs Of £60,000 Demanded For Soldiers
NL 12/29/05 Opin; Reservists Must Not Be Cast Aside By Govt
BB 12/29/05 2005: The Year In Politics
IP 12/29/05 Who Said What And Why In 2005
BT 12/29/05 2005: Memories Are Made Of This
IO 12/29/05 1975: Govt Stockpiled Supplies For Refugees
II 12/29/05 1975: IRA 'Carefully Infiltrated Parts Of Army'
EX 12/29/05 1975: Clergy Fail To Bridge Gap For Ceasefire
II 12/29/05 1975: Dismay As Unionists Wrecked Bid For Deal
BB 12/29/05 1975: A Year Dominated By Ceasefire Worries
IO 12/29/05 1975: Brits Gloated Over De Valera Funeral
DI 12/29/05 Opin: Bigger Fish' Push Ireland Off Agenda
BT 12/29/05 Lights, Camera, Ulster Set For Film Boost
Ahern Hopes Devolution Back Soon
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said he wants to see
NI devolution restored as soon as possible.
Mr Ahern said an Independent Monitoring Commission report
on IRA activity at the end of January would be crucial.
If this verified the IRA had ended all activities and got
rid of all its weapons, he said he and Tony Blair would try
to start all-party talks.
"That will hopefully lead to the restoration of the
assembly and executive," Mr Ahern said.
He said the earlier this could happen "the better".
"The reality is we have moved Northern Ireland from a place
of daily killing. It is now a more stable place.
"That was done on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement...
parties sharing power together on a cross-community basis,
working to the agenda of the Good Friday Agreement for the
betterment of the people of Northern Ireland," the
The Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since
2002, and Mr Ahern said getting it and the other
institutions up and running again was more important to him
than a united Ireland.
"Of course I would like to see a united Ireland in my
lifetime. I don't know whether I will or not.
"But what is more important is that we see peace and
stability and people working together in Northern Ireland,"
Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Ahern was
asked how hopeful the two governments were of securing a
deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
"All we can do is use our powers of persuasion on the
strength of the case," he said.
The taoiseach also said he hoped the British parliament
would pass legislation on so-called on-the-runs.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/29 10:28:01 GMT
© BBC MMV
Bureaucracy Is Strangling Our Health Service: Coulter
By Ashleigh Wallace
29 December 2005
THE restoration of the Assembly at Stormont is the key to
sorting out Northern Ireland's problems within the health
That's the view of Rev Robert Coulter, the Ulster Unionist
Party's spokesman on health, who said he hoped 2006 would
bring progress on delivering a quality health service for
In his New Year message, Rev Coulter spoke of "some
tremendous steps" - such as free nursing care for the
elderly - which were made during the last legislative
period of the Assembly.
The north Antrim Assembly member said: "2006 must see a
determined onslaught to reduce and eventually eliminate the
vast jungle of bureaucracy which is steadily strangling our
"We must tackle 'head-on' the scrounge of a health system
which forces patients to endure the stress and tension of
waiting lists. Behind every waiting lies the now urgent
issue of transferring money within the system from
bureaucracy to front-line care.
"The so-called 'trolley waits', which have become a regular
feature of the new millennium health service, must be
eradicated once and for all."
26 May Face Charges After Dunloy
29 December 2005
TWENTY-SIX people face being reported to the Public
Prosecution Service with a view to potential charges being
brought in connection with a controversial stand-off in
Dunloy on July 12 this year.
Vehicles were used to block roads into the mainly
nationalist village and a number of people sat down on a
roadway to prevent Orangemen driving to a church service.
Riot police and water cannon were brought in, but after a
long stand-off and talks involving police and Sinn Fein MP
Martin McGuinness, protesters agreed to be physically
removed by police and the parade was completed without
The stand-off began when Orangemen, who have in recent
years been banned by the Parades Commission from marching
from Dunloy Orange Hall through the centre of the village
to Dunloy Presbyterian Church, decided to make the journey
by vehicle for a wreath laying ceremony but were prevented
from doing so.
After the road was cleared the Orangemen then drove in a
convoy to the church where, six hours behind schedule, they
laid a wreath and sang a hymn.
This July police said the sit-down was illegal and they
intended to investigate breaches of public order and road
Sinn Féin 'Still Has Private Army': Minister
Ferris says kerry TD out of step
Fianna Fáil Minister John O'Donoghue has sparked an end-
of-year war of words with Sinn Féin, and caused blushes for
the Taoiseach, over his claims that the IRA is "still
And the Kerry TD says he would oppose any moves to bring
Sinn Féin into government in case "the IRA decided they'd
rob the Northern Bank again". "You would have a banana
republic," he said. "You could not have that."
Asked whether he thought the IRA had gone out of existence,
Minister O'Donoghue said: "No, they are not, you see. They
are decommissioned. The IRA has not been disbanded. It
hasn't. As long as the IRA is there (there will be no
arrangement with FF)."
The comments of the Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister were
rubbished by fellow-Kerry TD Martin Ferris who points out
that the minister is at odds with the Taoiseach over Sinn
After the IRA decommissioned its weapons and stood down its
volunteers in September, the Taoiseach said Sinn Féin
should be treated the same as all other parties — before
ruling out any coalition with the party on the grounds of
"irreconcilable ideological positions".
Political observers say that in contradicting the Taoiseach
on the position of Sinn Féin, Minister O'Donoghue is
reflecting fears among Fianna Fáil grassroots of losing
seats to the smaller party in the next general election.
His comments came in an interview yesterday with the Irish
Dignam Killing Probe
Human rights group concerned security forces did nothing to
The PSNI's Historical Enquiry Team is to probe the killing
of a Special Branch and British military informer after
having files on his death sent to it by a respected human
British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) is concerned that the
security services may have had prior knowledge that the IRA
was planning to kill Johnny Dignam, but did nothing to
prevent his execution.
According to BIRW, this information would have been passed
to the British military by the alleged IRA double agent
Stakeknife, who is reported to have been a member of the
IRA's internal security unit, which was responsible for
The naked bodies of Mr Dignam and two friends, Gregory
Burns and Aidan Starrs, were found within a ten-mile radius
in south Armagh on July 1, 1992.
In an initial statement, the IRA said the Portadown men
were killed because of their involvement in the murder of
Mr Burns' girlfriend, Margaret Perry, the previous year.
The statement said Ms Perry discovered Mr Burns was working
as an informant and that, because of this, he had her
killed by Mr Dignam and Mr Starrs.
In a second statement, the IRA said that after being
arrested by the RUC in connection with the murder, Dignam
and Starrs agreed to work for Special Branch.
The organisation also produced audio tapes of the men
confessing their roles as informers prior to being shot.
In its last monthly report, BIRW expresses concerns not
only about the murder of Dignam, but the deaths of Burns,
Starrs and Ms Perry.
It notes that the PSNI's Historic Enquiry Team is now
responsible for investigating killings connected to the
British military agent Stakeknife.
In light of this, BIRW director Jane Winter confirmed her
organisation has sent a file on John Dignam to detectives.
She said: "BIRW is concerned that no one has ever been
brought to book for any of these four murders, which may
have been preventable owing to the prior knowledge by both
army intelligence and Special Branch."
At the beginning of 2005, the parents of Johnny Dignam, Pat
and Irene Dignam, called for a public enquiry into claims
their son was sacrificed in order to protect a British army
Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, Irene Dignam said: "I need
to know if these allegations are true.
"If they are, then Johnny's death could and should have
"I want the truth. I want to know if the authorities
abandoned my son, and let him be killed, in order to
protect other individuals."
Pay-Offs Of £60,000 Demanded For Soldiers
By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
29 December 2005
ULSTER Unionists have demanded £60,000 pay-offs for Royal
Irish Regiment members - on top of the standard Army
redundancy terms, it has been confirmed.
And the party also wants £1,500 for each year served for
part-timers as well as a retraining package.
Party leader Sir Reg Empey said the package for the axed
Regiment's soldiers - expected to be announced early in the
New Year - would prove a key test for Secretary of State
But he warned that he feared the announcement could fall
"well short" of what he believed is required.
"The final shape of the redundancy package for members of
the Royal Irish Regiment's home service soldiers will be an
early test of Peter Hain's commitment to deliver confidence
building measures," he said.
"Any feedback we have been getting in recent weeks would
indicate a package well short of what is required to take
into account the unique situation that soldiers find
themselves in here."
His call came after Mr Hain revealed he has asked Cabinet
Ministers to be generous in relation to the Royal Irish
Sir Reg said he hoped Mr Hain convinces his colleagues in
Government that a meaningful deal is needed "especially
because of the appalling manner of the announcement of the
decision concerning the regiment and the need for soldiers
to retire with dignity and in good order".
"Given that Peter Hain and Defence Secretary John Reid both
say that the Royal Irish soldiers have in fact completed
their task, then let the Government put its money where its
"After all, nearly £200m has been made available for the
Saville Inquiry so I see no justification for a penny
pinching package for the Royal Irish."
The DUP, which has been involved in detailed negotiations
with Dr John Reid, the former Northern Ireland Secretary of
State, on the RIR package, has said the announcement will
help determine its approach to political negotiations.
Opin; Reservists Must Not Be Cast Aside By Government
Wednesday 28th December 2005
THROUGHOUT the Troubles of the past 35 years in Northern
Ireland, the police reserve units provided a very necessary
back-up in security and routine patrolling to the RUC,
PSNI, and the Army.
Regrettably, the Government has taken a decision to
effectively phase out the crucial role of PSNI reservists
by the middle of 2007 and an important ingredient of
policing in this Province will be lost.
The significant role of the police reservists, both full-
time and part-time, has never been fully recognised by
successive Conservative and Labour governments over the
span of the Troubles and the DUP is to be commended for
pressurising Prime Minister Tony Blair and PSNI Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde to fully acknowledge the
contribution made by these dedicated and gallant officers.
Police reservists suffered horribly at the hands of IRA
terrorists: indeed, one in six of the 303 RUC officers
murdered in the Troubles were from these units.
Many reservists did the same work as regular police
officers, but received less financial inducements and, on
retirement, they were not adequately compensated.
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey is spearheading a DUP
campaign to get a better deal for the reservists and he
hopes to enlist the wholehearted support of the Police
"Our campaign is all about ensuring that the Government
gives these men and women the due recognition that they
deserve," said Mr Storey.
Like the Home-based battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment,
which are due to be stood down in 18 months' time, the
police reserve should not be cast aside without a generous
and much-deserved financial package from Government.
AS another year draws to a close, the Northern Ireland
public can look back on 12 months of relative peace when
paramilitary activity was less pronounced than it had been
for the past 35 years.
Despite the marked reduction in violence, however,
political progress towards restoration of a devolved
administration at Stormont has been just as elusive and
this vista was not helped by the negative effects of an
unaccountable and undemocratic Direct Rule regime which bit
hard across the various spectrums of society during the
The very palpable absence of trust and confidence on the
political scene and in community circles, largely due to
the long and vicious IRA terror campaign and recent
unparliamentary and disruptive activity by republicans, has
created an impasse which may take years to unravel.
The Independent Monitoring Commission publishes its next
report early in the New Year and interest will focus on how
far the Provisional IRA has moved from its criminal and
Reports indicate that the IRA has not been as active, but
with the organisation still intact it would be foolish to
believe that all the weapons are out of circulation and
criminal racketeering at an end.
2005: The Year In Politics
By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor
2005 will go down as the year when the IRA finally disarmed
to the satisfaction of the Canadian General John de
Yet, despite this seismic move, the Stormont assembly
remained in mothballs as unionists took their time
assessing whether the IRA has really ended its armed
campaign and its involvement in criminal activity.
Indeed, the year ended with renewed controversy over
allegations of IRA spying and British dirty tricks.
The September breakthrough on disarmament came after a
period of concerted pressure on republicans during the
The breakdown of negotiations on restoring devolution in
December 2004 was soon overshadowed in the headlines by
allegations that the IRA was behind the £26.5m Northern
This was compounded by the campaign of the sisters of
Robert McCartney, who wanted any IRA members implicated in
the murder of their brother to be brought to justice.
The pressure reached its symbolic high point in Washington
when some of the most famous faces in US politics -
Senators Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and John McCain -
queued up to lend their support to the McCartney family's
The next month, at the start of a general election
campaign, Gerry Adams appealed to the IRA to turn away from
violence and embrace a political alternative.
Such appeals are not usually made without the Sinn Fein
president having a good idea what kind of a reply he will
In July, the IRA released a limited edition DVD of former
prisoner Seanna Walsh ordering all IRA members to dump
The DUP took nine constituencies, including the scalp of
the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who stood down to
be replaced by Sir Reg Empey
Then in September, two clerical witnesses, the Reverend
Harold Good and Father Alec Reid, witnessed the destruction
of what General de Chastelain reckoned was the IRA's
However, the DUP felt under no pressure to respond in the
The party emerged as the big winners of the May general
They took nine constituencies, including the scalp of the
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who stood down to be
replaced by Sir Reg Empey.
The DUP initially criticised the IRA's disarmament because
of the lack of photographic evidence.
Then they switched tack to demanding a series of
"confidence building measures" - set out in a 64-page
document presented to Downing Street.
If you want a deal, was their message, you must pay a
The DUP did get some joy, such as the appointment of an RUC
widow as Victims' Commissioner.
But they also had to put up with some bitter medicine, most
significantly the disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment's
After the election, Paul Murphy was replaced by a new
secretary of state, Peter Hain, who combined the job with
his other duties as Welsh secretary.
Unionists did not create too much of a fuss, despite
coverage of Mr Hain's past support for British withdrawal
from Northern Ireland.
They applauded his decision to send Shankill bomber Sean
Kelly back to jail, then denounced Mr Hain for ordering
Kelly's swift release as a quid pro quo for the IRA going
into its new mode.
The collapse of the co-called "Stormontgate" case - which
led to the fall of the power-sharing government back in
2002 - prompted similar protests from unionists in
The murky affair grew ever more complex when one of the men
originally accused of involvement in an IRA spy ring - the
Sinn Fein veteran Denis Donaldson - admitted that he had
been a British agent for two decades.
'Alliance of sleaze'
During the autumn, the controversial Northern Ireland
Offences Bill began a rocky passage through Parliament.
The debates in the Commons were hot and heavy, but it is in
the Lords that the Bill will run into the most trouble.
The SDLP mounted an effective attack on Sinn Fein over the
inclusion of security force members charged with collusion
in the proposed near-amnesty.
Sinn Fein denied they had engaged in an "alliance of
sleaze", but in a dramatic about turn in December they
called for the bill to be withdrawn. That left ministers
scratching their heads about what to do.
Buoyed by the media pressure on the IRA in the spring, the
SDLP fought a better election campaign than many had
Its leader, Mark Durkan, held on to Foyle and its deputy
leader, Alasdair McDonnell, benefited from a split unionist
vote to take South Belfast.
However, as expected, Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy took Newry
and Armagh and the Sinn Fein vote held up better than some
of their critics had predicted.
By the end of the year, Peter Hain's patience with local
politicians seemed to be wearing thin as he talked about
the pointlessness of holding another election to a still
In November, Mr Hain opted for the replacement of the 26
existing local councils with just seven super councils.
That flew in the face of opposition from four of the five
Mr Hain argued that it made economic and administrative
But many remained suspicious that ministers were intent on
making direct rule uncomfortable as another incentive for
the parties to broker the deal to restore devolution, which
has so far eluded them.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/29 10:17:11 GMT
© BBC MMV
Who Said What And Why In 2005
THE IRISH POST looks back on who said what in 2005.
"I told her she didn't need to run up to hit the ball."
Former world champion Ken Doherty who was instructing
Olympic winner Kelly Holmes in the art of snooker.
"I think it is fair to say that there is a very deep sense
of crisis in the peace process at this time. It predates
the Northern Bank robbery and the and the accusations that
have flowed from that."
Gerry Adams speaking in February.
"I was treated like a creature that should have died before
Noah's Ark. But things have never been better for this
The Rev Ian Paisley, speaking about the DUP's dominant role
in the peace process after leading his party to huge
success in the general election.
"I expect to increase my majority."
Beleaguered UUP leader David Trimble speaking before the
May general election. He lost his seat and job as party
"The peace process is a full time job."
Archbishop Robin Eames, referring to the appointment of
Peter Hain as joint Welsh and Northern secretary.
"I will pray for the people of Ireland and I hope they will
pray for me."
Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to President Mary McAleese.
"Both my parents were born and raised in Ireland. I had the
classic plastic Paddy up bringing — back to Wexford every
summer for six weeks. Catholicism was part and parcel of
Dermot O'Leary, TV presenter, speaking about the importance
of the Catholic Church in his life.
"Just because you go to a disco or a rave doesn't mean you
can't write poetry."
Seamus Heaney with a message for the young people of
"I'm just so lucky my neck wasn't broken."
Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll, whose dislocated shoulder
meant he played no further part in the tour.
"All the songs the Orangemen played were gospel tunes —
Republicans had better learn them if they want to get to
Ballymena DUP councillor Roy Gillespie, speaking about a
controversial Orange Order march in the town.
"It doesn't sound very rock and roll."
Hugh Hartnett, defence barrister for Lola Cashman, the
stylist accused in the Dublin Circuit Civil Court of taking
a pair of Bono's trousers and a Stetson hat.
"Even in the west of Ireland, a huge wave of holiday home
building is beginning to scar the countryside."
The new Footprint Guide Book to Ireland
"Some of the women build around the official jersey in a
most imaginative and, may I say, attractive way. Others
design their own concoctions. Wonderful sights for sore
GAA president Sean Kelly praising female GAA fans in
September. His remarks were later labelled sexist.
"I will do what is right for British Airways. Just because
I did something which was right at Aer Lingus people should
not automatically assume I will do the same at British
Willie Walsh, new Chief Executive at British Airways.
"A lot of shite."
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary on claims of a rip-off culture
"What my family have endured should never be allowed to
happen to anyone again."
Frank McBrearty Jnr, the Donegal publican framed by the
gardaí for the murder of Richie Barron and who was
exonerated by the Morris Tribunal.
"I get called an idiot and a gobshite at work. When I go
home my wife calls me an idiot and a gobshite. And I'm sure
that when our recently born child is old enough he'll call
me the same thing."
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary
"I felt a disgrace and a shame that this should happen to
Ex Minister Jim McDaid TD, after being banned for two years
for drink driving and dangerous driving.
"They were treated almost like animals by the unionist
community. They were not treated as human beings . . . .
they were treated like the Nazis treated the Jews."
Father Alec Reid, in a speech at Fitzroy Presbyterian
Church, where he said that there would have been no IRA but
for the way unionists treated nationalists. His speech,
needless to say, caused a vitriolic storm.
"I look back on and think we haven't had a break over the
last few months at all. You need a bit of luck and we
didn't get it.
"Overall I think my record is quite good."
Brian Kerr, who was eventually relieved of his duties as
manager of the Ireland soccer team.
"I love the Muslims. They've really taken the heat off us.
"We're not terrorists anymore. We're the Riverdance
Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell.
"Denying them the benefits of a mother and a father in a
committed marriage will cause great harm to a weak and
vulnerable minority we should strive to protect."
Antrim-born Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of
Edinburgh, criticising the Scottish Executive's proposals
to allow homosexual couples to adopt children.
"A stable and democratic Iraq … can only be constructed on
respect for the human rights of all citizens."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor warning of the 'devastating
consequences' if Iraq is allowed to become an Islamic state
"I am saying to everyone, when you go to a farmers market
and you see Molly Molloy from bloody West Kerry, and she
has a whole thing of chickens there, buy one.
"Bring it home and God-damn taste the difference."
London-based chef Richard Corrigan, criticising the taste
of most Irish chicken, which he described as 'muck' and
"The plant is taking over the whole community."
Mayo County Councillor McNamara, a native of Achill, on the
spread of wild rhubarb on the island.
"I was delighted with a bargain bag that I got for €25."
Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara on her shopping trip
"Cock and bull."
Justice Minister Michael McDowell describing the majority
of stories told by asylum seekers when they arrive in
"An Daingean means something.
"Dingle doesn't mean anything."
Minister Éamon Ó Cuiv explaining his move to have the name
'Dingle' expunged from the map in favour of the original
name which means 'the fort'.
"The punters have no f***ing taste."
Pop guru Louis Walsh on RTÉ's You're A Star Celebrity
Special after the favourite Alan Shortt was voted off by
"I think they thought I was there to do the carpentry."
Bono, recalling that White House staff weren't quite sure
who he was when he turned up for a meeting with Bill
"The Taoiseach may have kept his own face out of the
feeding frenzy at the speculator's trough, but he knew it
was there, he knew who was bucketing the swill into it and
he knew the biggest snouts who were slurping from it; but,
unlike when I was a young fellow on a farm in Kerry when we
had to take a stick to the greediest pigs, he simply left
them at it."
Socialist TD Joe Higgins, speaking in the Dáil about Bertie
Ahern's claims that he didn't know what disgraced (and
jailed) Ray Burke was up to.
"I just felt very embarrassed and said to my wife 'Darling,
you go first', and went out and swept the yard."
Despite playing sex expert Alfred Kinsey in a Hollywood
movie, actor Liam Neeson found it difficult to tell his
children the facts of life.
"Sinn Fein and the IRA are two sides of one coin... They
have hijacked history. They have put a gun to the head of
The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.
"The IRA has been accused of involvement in the recent
Northern Bank robbery. We were not involved — P O'Neill."
A statement from the IRA.
"I'm not worried. I've got a lot of crucifixes in the
Father Anthony Rohan of the Holy Family Church in
Birmingham after stories emerged of a vampire attacking
locals in January.
"Basra, Belfast, Baghdad & Bogside. British troops not
Graffiti from a north Belfast wall.
"My head is on a shelf with Kevin Keegan's and William
Hague's. And they melted my body down to make Ant and Dec."
Terry Wogan laments his demise as a wax figure at Madame
"I will be sad to say goodbye to the great friends I have
made, but I'm very excited about the future."
Keith Duffy, announcing he is to leave Coronation Street.
"They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated."
Tony Blair, apologising to the Guildford and the Maguire
Seven for being wrongly imprisoned.
"Why anyone would to go out there and be in the presence of
George Bush defeats me anyway."
Former Sinn Féin publicist, now author, Danny Morrision,
speaking about the suspension of this year's White House St
Patrick's Day party.
"I fear that ordinary decent Catholic people in the North
will see Cork open its doors for this tribe of bigots."
Rev David Armstrong after the Orange Order was invited to
Cork's St Patrick's Day parade.
"The best front man the Catholic Church ever had."
Bono, speaking about Pope John Paul II.
"The Holy Father was a priest to the last."
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of
Cardinals, delivers a homily at the funeral of Pope John
"Would you ever f*** off."
The alleged words of Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan to
Former Meath football captain, Michael Dunican, who is an
ex-chairman of both Meath Macra na Feirme and the county's
ploughing association. The incident is alleged to have
happened during canvassing at the Meath by election.
"The trouble is, if I'm not on television, what do I do?
What job do I go back to? Even if I wasn't famous I
wouldn't want to go back to waiting tables."
"The wall of silence created by both Sinn Fein and the IRA
is as strong today as it was on the first day."
Catherine McCartney, sister of Robert McCartney, murdered
outside a Belfast bar.
"The IRA moved quickly to deal with those involved. We have
tried to assist in whatever way we can. Unfortunately, it
would appear that no matter what we do, it will never be
enough for some."
The Provisional IRA claims, in an Easter message, that it
had done everything it could to bring the killers of Mr
McCartney to justice.
"Vote Labour. If you don't and the Tories get in, Phil
Collins is threatening to come back from Switzerland and
live there — and none of us wants that."
Noel Gallagher speaking before the British general election
"I certainly will shake his hand — whenever we have a deal.
I'll give him a grip he's never felt in his life before!
That's why I'm keeping my hand in good order — to make an
Rev Ian Paisley, on being asked if he would shake hands
with the Taoiseach.
"Watch more football and eat more pies."
Belfast-born outgoing Labour MP Tony Banks, explaining how
he intended spending his retirement.
"You don't move to Ireland for the climate."
Marianne Faithfull, a long time resident of Ireland.
"Much as I would like to continue playing for my country, I
feel the time has come when I should retire from
international football and concentrate on domestic football
for the rest of my career."
"Go. Get busy living, or get busy dying."
Pierce Brosnan, issuing advice to his troubled adopted son,
Christopher, 32, who refused to kick his drug habit.
"He was one of the wryest, driest, wittiest persons I have
Director Peter Hall speaking about Samuel Beckett.
"Roy Keane? Not at all. Not in a million years … I'd give
it to Bobby Robson."
Jack Charlton giving his opinion on The Late Late Show on
the vacant Irish managerial position.
"I met him. I didn't understand one word of what he said,
but after it had been translated, I found that he was very
German MEP Bernard Schultz, who admitted that he could not
get to grips with the Kildare accent of Ireland's EU
Commissioner Charlie McCreevy.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's verdict on Irish Ferries
management's plans to replace Irish staff with lower paid
"Nobody said a word. There was just silence. I'll never
forget the silence."
Methodist minister Harold Good describing the IRA
decommissioning process, during which he was an official
2005: Memories Are Made Of This
By Eamonn McCann
29 December 2005
FACES darkened in January at news from South Africa Mark
Thatcher wasn't to be jailed. Many had envisioned him doing
ten years in a cell with a couple of huge township sweats
imprisoned for offences arising from uncontrollable anger
against indolent white parasites with luxury lifestyles
based on the poverty of blacks. His mum is not the hard-
hearted harridan of cynical caricature. The woman that
reared that would drown nothing.
In February, the search for Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction was called off, even as one survey suggested
100,000 civilians had died from the invasion; other
estimates reckoned the toll at 30,000.
In March it was reported that Irish party leaders were
waiting anxiously to discover whether, following the
cowards' killing of Robert McCartney, there'd be a paddy-
wack wing-ding in the White House this year. No word of
White House worrying who'd abase themselves by partying
with the killers of 30,000-100,000 innocents.
Paul Wolfowitz marked Paddy's Day with a phone chat with
Bono. The new president of the World Bank had been a key
architect of the Iraq war and the "reconstruction" strategy
of giving country to Haliburton.
CNN reported: "Bono thought it was important that he put
forward the issues that are critical to the World Bank,
like debt cancellation, aid effectiveness and a real focus
on poverty reduction." Thus was sealed an alliance between
an Irish-led pop-music establishment and global capitalism
to ensure that anger at mass poverty didn't threaten the
News from Pyongyang in April of mobs rampaging through the
streets, forcing police to flee for safety following the
red-carding of North Korean defender Nam Song-chol for
giving Syrian referee Muhammad Kousa a dunt during a World
Cup qualifier against Iran. Freedom lives! How long before
fat controller Kim Jong-il has to flee?
A much-loved tradition revived in May when Welsh Assembly
member Peter Law, de-selected by New Labour for believing
in the NHS and not lying, stood for Westminster.
Peter Hain urged support for identikit London Blairite
Maggie Jones: "Blaenau Gwent deserves a full-time MP, not a
Hain then agreed to stay on as Welsh Secretary and to take
the Stormont job, too.
The announcement of Law's triumph was drowned out by much-
loved traditional singing of, "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out,
San Franciscan Danny Cassidy clinched his theory that jazz
comes from Donegal, deriving from "teas" - soft fricative
t, "cheas" - meaning heat, excitement, vigour.
"Jazz" had been imported by Irish sports journalist "Scoop"
Gleeson, and transmigrated into music to refer to rowdy new
In June, Cassidy located a 1913 piece, "In Praise of 'Jazz'
- A Futurist Word Which Has Just Joined the Language," by
an Ernest Hopkins, and landed a book contract. Expect "The
Pizzazz of Jazz" before '06 is out.
"We've fallen at the feet of things that we can't escape..
We were motionless until our silence made us restless...
Your reassurance doesn't reassure me anymore… Some things
we're better off not knowing like/When we're almost but not
quite there," Civilian sang at a hot Verbal Arts Centre one
night in July.
Simultaneously in Edinburgh, Annie Lennox was squandering
25 years' cred. That was Live8. This was 19 to the dozen.
Civilian are an omen.
In August an Arizona court gave 70-acre Camp Thunderbird to
Salvadoreans, Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles and Fátima del
Socorro Leiva Medina. They'd been tortured in 2003 by
militia group the Arizona Guard (AG), after crossing into
The Southern Poverty Law Centre sued on their behalf and
won 850,000 dollars, which the AG couldn't pay. So, the
court sequestered the AG's HQ. Alfredo and Fatima now have
a right to bring in relatives. Big families, hopefully.
George Bush didn't say in September that anybody who
criticised his handling of the New Orleans disaster was
only helping the hurricanes. What Chuch D. said was:
"Racism in the new/Still one-sided views/Saying whites find
food/Preys for the national guard ready to shoot/Cause them
blacks loot/New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and
night/Hell No We Ain't Alright." Public Enemy. Number One.
Fr Alec Reid suggested in October that the blame for
discrimination against Catholics lay not with sectarian
unionist bosses, much less successive British Governments,
but with Protestants.
Nationalist commentators rushed to Reid's defence, having
whooped it up for England the previous month in hopes
they'd hammer the Wee North. Hail the spirit of the Belfast
Katrina finally arrived when Ballymena councillor Maurice
Mills-of-God explained in November that New Orleans had
asked for it by hosting a gay festival. "The hurricane and
earthquake/Relentless burning sun/The floodings and the
famines/He caused them, every one." So to contribute to
disaster relief is to go against God.
A thousand December TV compilations told that "Do They Know
It's Christmas Time?" was the only double Christmas Number
One - in '84 and '04. In fact, it was triple Christmas
Number One. The '89 version was easily the best.
Here's the legendary never-to-be-remembered line-up, in no
particular order: Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis,
D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie,
The Pasadena, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Sommerville,
Sonia, Lisa Stansfield and Technotro. Glen Goldsmith… Big
Will we ever see their like again?
1975: Govt Stockpiled Supplies For Troubles Refugees
29/12/2005 - 07:23:24
The Irish Government began stockpiling food, blankets and
hospital supplies 30 years ago to deal with a potential
influx of up to 50,000 refugees from the North.
The continuing violence, which had already caused the
deaths of 1,000 people, meant that the Government feared in
1975 that there might be a further worsening of the
Its top-secret contingency plans were grounded on the
assumption that 1,000 people would require treatment for
serious injuries and that they could be treated in
hospitals in the border areas and in Dublin.
The Department of Health was preparing to establish an
emergency headquarters at the Customs House in Dublin and
properties had been identified across the country which
were capable of holding up to 100,000 people.
This included the Mosney holiday centre in County Meath,
which had a capacity for 6,000 people and is now used as a
The newly-released material from the National Archives
shows that the Government believed that 100,000 refugees
could be evacuated from Belfast by train in four days, if
the rail network was operational.
Although the Department of Defence thought provision should
be made for 100,000 refugees, Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave was
conscious of a warning from his civil servants that large
purchases might expose the plans.
"It was considered that the placing of orders on that scale
would not lead to any significant degree of speculation
about the purpose of the orders and would avoid the
possible adverse consequences," said a confidential memo to
He decided that provision should be made for 50,000
refugees at a cost of 800,000 pounds (€1m).
Only two health board chief executives were informed of the
plan due to the overwhelming need for secrecy.
The Government feared its contingency plans might be
misconstrued in the North and would result in serious
consequences "on the political plane and in violence". In
1975, the North was still in a state of chaos, with a shaky
IRA ceasefire and frequent attacks on Catholics by
The IRA was also infiltrating its "Balcombe Street Gang"
into Britain for a bombing campaign, which would lead to
more than 100 incidents before the end of the year.
The "grave budgetary situation" at the time meant that the
Government was not able to afford to buy provisions for
more than 50,000 refugees. It considered looking for
assistance from the International Committee of the Red
Cross, which had helped provide blankets, beds and tents to
refugees in Cyprus the previous year.
But it was felt that this might be politically unwise
because it might affect Ireland's international standing
and also imply that the country was in a state of war.
The need for urgency was stressed in a report to the
Taoiseach in April 1975, because there were only enough
blankets for 500 refugees and it would take up to six
months to stockpile an adequate number for 50,000 refugees.
It also warned of the consequences if the Government was
found to be unprepared for the situation.
"The Government would be subjected to considerable
criticism, at a time when maintenance of its authority and
of support for its policies was of the highest importance,
while the refugees could suffer great hardship."
On the positive side, the memo pointed out that the stocks
of blankets purchased would not be wasted if an influx of
refugees did not occur because they could be used by the
army and the local authorities instead.
It added: "Orders for the quantity of the blankets involved
would represent a significant amount of business for the
woollen mills which would help to mitigate current
The report noted that the Diocese of Down and Connor was
the only one to have begun stockpiling supplies in the
event of a breakdown in the situation. The Northern Ireland
Department of Health had secretly provided some of them
without encountering any opposition from the IRA.
The report did not recommend sending any supplies over the
border because it was virtually certain these would come
under the control of the IRA or loyalist paramilitaries.
The only way to prevent this would be to use the Irish
"The implications of trying to provide this type of
protection inside Northern Ireland would be extremely
In the end, the feared influx of refugees did not occur and
the plans were left to gather dust on the shelves.
1975: IRA 'Carefully Infiltrated Parts Of Army'
DOCUMENTS released under the 30-year rule claim the
Provisional IRA had carefully infiltrated parts of the
Irish Army and planned to involve it to "stage" incidents
along the Border.
This was the Provos' plan, if Northern Protestants decided
to make a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) upon
Britain withdrawing and the result of the Northern Ireland
Convention was "favourable to a united Ireland".
In a report marked "secret" and sent to the secretary of
the Department of Justice in June 1975, a garda chief
superintendent said he had been directed by the Garda
Commissioner to forward an analysis of Provisional IRA
activity which had come to hand from a "confidential and
usually reliable source".
It revealed the Provos had a plentiful supply of ammunition
and had $50,000 to buy sophisticated weapons.
The document also claims the PIRA was assured of the total
withdrawal of all British forces from the North and in
return undertook to await the result of the Convention
which was to have been favourable to them.
However, the Provos were convinced the Protestants would
never agree to a handover and would ultimately resort to
"The Provisionals' reaction to this situation will take the
form of 'token resistance', giving the appearance of
weakness and irresolution but sufficient to provoke the
Protestants to over-reaction. The PIRA then plans to
'stage' border incidents involving the Irish army, part of
which has been carefully infiltrated by the Provisionals to
"By implication, having once involved the forces of the
Irish Republic , the Provisionals would then turn on the
Protestant paramilitary forces using their full strength
and every weapon available to them, hoping to gain Catholic
support throughout Ireland."
Another "secret" memo, from then Assistant Garda
Commissioner Ned Garvey, said it appeared that the
ceasefire in place at the time rested securely enough on
some kind of undertaking by the British Government that
their troops would be withdrawn from the North.
Such a withdrawal would be phased and there was some
evidence that it had already begun, he said.
But he warned that should the Northern Ireland Convention
prove a failure there was a very real likelihood of UDI.
Mr Garvey suggested that the first concern of the
authorities here must be the security of the organs and
processes of government in our own State.
The maintenance of the authority of the government here
must constitute the surest deterrent against PIRA designs,
1975: National Archives - Clergy Talks Fail To Bridge
Political Gap For Ceasefire
Efforts to secure an end to the IRA's campaign ultimately
proved fruitless, writes Ryle Dwyer.
Jack Weir, Clerk of the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church, informed Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave on
December 8, 1974 that leaders of the four largest churches
planned to launch a peace campaign.
Two days later Rev Weir and four other Protestant clergymen
met representatives of the Provisional IRA in Feakle, Co
The clergymen urged the IRA to consider a permanent
ceasefire if the British Government declared that it had no
political or territorial interest in Ireland and would
guarantee all people full participation in the life of the
The clergymen based their discussion on five points drafted
informally on the back of a menu by Frank Cooper, Secretary
of the Northern Ireland Office.
The republicans responded to the Feakle initiative by
announcing a Christmas ceasefire, suspending operation from
December 22, 1974, to January 2, 1975. On the day the
ceasefire was to expire, the IRA extended it for a further
two weeks to give the British a chance to respond.
The British insisted there would be no negotiations with
the IRA, but added a that continued cessation of violence
would be met with a positive response.
A whole series of meetings followed.
John Bourn, security liaison officer in the Northern
Ireland Office, privately assured Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave
and Foreign Affairs Minister Garret FitzGerald that the
British believed the Provisionals had agreed to the
ceasefire as a result of a combination of factors.
The security forces had been making life difficult for
subversives, and the
Ulster Workers' Council strike showed that the Provos had
no hope of attaining their aims by their existing methods,
especially as the Birmingham pub bombings had provoked
widespread public revulsion.
Bourn was hopeful about the ceasefire. He saw Ian Paisley
as a man of diminishing support.
The British had already announced plans for the election of
a convention to try to resolve the Northern question. This
would be the seventh election in two years.
SDLP leaders, who had talks with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste
Brendan Corish on January 13, were anxious to postpone the
The Government's main fears, on the other hand, were that
the British would undermine the SDLP by negotiating
directly with the Provisionals, or that they would abandon
the idea of power-sharing.
Garret FitzGerald urged the Taoiseach to impress on Prime
Minister Harold Wilson that there should be no backing away
from the power-sharing in a white paper due to be published
Cosgrave wrote to Wilson on January 8, 1975: "I should be
grateful to have your personal assurance that no form of
administration for Northern Ireland that does not include
power-sharing in government will be acceptable to your
Wilson replied on January 19: "There is no change in our
policy that any proposals from the convention to be
acceptable must include some form of power-sharing in
"As I have said before, what we will accept from the
convention is a solution which is agreed and not simply
determined by a majority decision."
The IRA ceasefire, which terminated on January 17, was
followed by bombing outrages in London and Manchester. But
the IRA announced an indefinite ceasefire three weeks
After visiting the North in the second week of April 1975,
John Donlon of the Department of
Foreign Affairs reported a dramatic increase in "petty
crime and general lawlessness" since the ceasefire. There
had also been a distinct rise in sectarian violence.
Sectarian murders up to April 18 were 216 Catholics, 119
Protestant and four others killed, but there had been only
12 convictions in 339 cases.
IRA leaders Ruairí O Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill had
recently toured the North and found little interest in
going political. Activists in places like Belfast, South
Armagh and Tyrone wanted a immediate resumption of
hostilities. The IRA gradually returned to violence in
Mr Donlon thought it most unlikely that anything useful
would come of the convention, because the unionists and
SDLP had irreconcilable positions. The unionists were
insisting on no power-sharing, while the SDLP demanded
there could be no cooperation without power-sharing.
Northern Secretary Merlyn Rees said his biggest fear was of
the reaction that the failure of the convention could
provoke in Britain. Although what he called "the pull-out
syndrome" was dormant at the time, he told Mr Donlon that
it could become a serious factor following another
After visiting the North again in mid-August Mr Donlon
reported the situation was "as bad as anything I have seen
there since 1972".
The Provisional IRA was gaining popularity.
The SDLP was losing ground over involvement with the
Mr Donlon noted the mood among unionists had, if anything,
Hopes that Ian Paisley might compromise were dashed.
"Mr Paisley was not following any definite policy except
the politics of obstruction," Mr Donlon explained. "His
actions had come as a complete surprise to the SDLP, who
had regarded him as being reasonably well disposed." The
convention was a shambles.
1975: Dismay As Unionists Wrecked Bid For Power Share Deal
THE Department of Foreign Affairs watched with dismay as
unionist intransigence scuppered the Northern Ireland
Constitutional Convention, set up by British Secretary of
State Merlyn Rees in 1975.
State papers show that they took a special interest in the
role of William Craig, then leader of the Vanguard Unionist
Party and formerly Home Affairs Minister in unionist
governments at Stormont.
Rees held elections for the convention one year after the
collapse of the power-sharing executive headed by Brian
The Irish Government under Liam Cosgrave saw the move as a
substitute for policy rather than as a serious initiative
and thought it unlikely that it could meet the criteria
outlined for it.
These were that it must include some form of power-sharing,
be acceptable to the British parliament and people, and
include the special relationship with the Republic, the
Nobody could have entertained much hope of achieving these
ends after a look at the election results.
Before voters went to the polls, several newspapers
published mildly optimistic forecasts, but they amounted to
little more than wishful thinking.
In the event, the SDLP did poorly, Alliance worse, Brian
Faulkner's Unionist Party of Northern Ireland was wiped
out, and the intransigent United Ulster Unionist Council
(UUUC) totally dominated the convention. Sinn Fein
boycotted the election.
The UUUC consisted of three groups: Vanguard, the Rev Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, and the Official
Unionists led by Harry West.
The members were not noted for moderation or open minds,
and they showed their contempt for the British criteria by
drawing up a report on the proceedings before any had been
They wanted a return to "majority rule", meaning unionist
domination, plus control of the security forces, including
the British army.
Officials of the Irish and British governments - and of the
former Northern executive - set out to see what they could
make of this unpromising scene. Within the convention,
there arose an intriguing possibility of a breakthrough.
It came from Craig, previously regarded as an extreme
unionist hard-liner but also known as a social animal fond
of drink and conversation.
Within the UUUC, he and his party rejected power-sharing on
the previous (and later revived) model but proposed that
they should enter into a "voluntary coalition", justified
by the existence of a crisis, with the SDLP.
The proposal was discussed with the SDLP, who, perhaps
remarkably, found it attractive.
They would have found it difficult not to insist on
institutionalised power-sharing, but the voluntary
coalition idea had the advantage that it would last,
according to two different plans on the table, for 10 or 12
Moderates on both sides considered that a timescale in
which normal political conditions could be created.
Craig held a number of meetings with an Irish diplomat in
London, one of which are described in detail in the file.
Craig lamented that the fact of the meetings could not be
made public and said he hoped a time would soon come when
they could be openly discussed.
He praised the willingness of the SDLP to explore the
possibility of voluntary coalition, which he called an act
He said publicly that it would be madness to spurn such an
The Belfast Telegraph commented that "it is that madness
which seems to have gripped most of the UUUC convention
Far from giving Craig's proposal a fair hearing, they
proceeded with a "final" report which the British
government was certain to reject and made threatening
noises about "unilateral action".
Privately they discussed plans for a "shadow
Four Vanguard members, including Craig and David Trimble,
were expelled from the party.
1975: A Year Dominated By Ceasefire Worries
By Gareth Gordon
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent
It was a year dominated by worries over ceasefires and
attempts to form power-sharing governments. No, not 2005...
Secret Cabinet papers from that year - as well as some held
over from 1974 - have just been released and they show that
in the game of peace-making, not much ever changes.
Although violence was still the norm - 247 died during the
year - there were echoes then of what would follow: an IRA
ceasefire, a failed attempt at power-sharing and even
efforts to cheer people up with big-name concerts at
The on-off ceasefire grew out of talks between the IRA and
Protestant churchmen in the village of Feakle, County
There were secret talks, but a memo from the permanent
under secretary at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), Frank
Cooper, betrayed the government's true intentions.
"Our aim is to string the IRA along to the point where
their military capacity goes soggy and where Catholic
community support disappears," he wrote.
Attempts at re-establishing power-sharing were no more
In May, elections were held to a Constitutional Convention.
And although the IRA ceasefire broke down in the summer
with the murder of four soldiers in south Armagh, inter-
party talks began at Stormont under the chairmanship of the
Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lowry.
The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, wanted the former Stormont MP
and leading barrister Desmond Boal for the job, saying
there should be no question of an Englishman being
The hardline Vanguard leader, Bill Craig, proposed a
voluntary coalition with the SDLP.
It is an idea recently floated by the DUP in an attempt to
exclude Sinn Fein from a power-sharing executive. But back
then, he was not so keen.
Craig was roundly defeated at a meeting of the United
Ulster Unionist Coalition and expelled.
Papers from the time say officials blamed Mr Paisley,
claiming he was worried about splits in the Free
Enoch Powell also got some of the blame.
Mr Paisley, however, told the NIO he would make
"substantial concessions - very large concessions" if the
SDLP was willing to abandon power-sharing and the "Irish
The then SDLP leader, Gerry Fitt, had earlier in the year
pressed the government to release paramilitary prisoners
following the IRA ceasefire.
Secretary of State Merlyn Rees raised the possibility of an
arms amnesty with an SDLP delegation, but they told him
Protestants would never hand in their weapons and said it
was not the right time.
According to papers held over from 1974, because they were
being used by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, Mr Fitt, in a
meeting with the NIO, raised the question of alleged anti-
Catholic bias in elements of the RUC.
In another idea ahead of its time, a Stormont official,
Michael Cudlipp, suggested a major campaign to "clean up
He referred to suggestions for morale-boosting events such
as an Ulster Festival.
He wrote: "For example, why not the big variety stars -
Morcambe and Wise? Frank Sinatra? And the equivalent in
"They could provide concerts and we would try to persuade
them to give their services free as part of an attempt to
He suggested these events might be hosted "on the lawns at
We may have to wait many more years to know whether Mo
Mowlam was aware of this failed idea before succeeding in
persuading the likes of Pavarotti and Rod Stewart to
perform the very same function.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/29 10:19:51 GMT
© BBC MMV
1975: British Gloated Over Poor Showing At De Valera
29/12/2005 - 11:11:28
Official papers released in the North today under the 30-
year disclosure rule show that British diplomats gloated
over the absence of world leaders at the funeral of Eamon
The former Irish president died in 1975 at the age of 92,
but predictions that many heads of state would attend the
funeral were never realised.
The papers made public today show that GW Harding, an
official at the British Embassy in Dublin, gleefully noted
at the time that the level of foreign representation was
not as high as expected.
He said even the "anticipated crew of Irish-American vote-
seeking politicians" had failed to put in an appearance.
Opin: Bigger Fish' Push Ireland Off Agenda
Editor: Colin O'Carroll
In the seminal study, "The Far Side of Revenge", journalist
Deaglán de Bréadún describes how at key moments the peace
process had been "Clinton-driven". When matters were
stalemated between the parties, the US President was
willing to make the personal calls which could make old
enemies give ground.
It was as if the highest office in the world was at the
disposal of the peace process players during the Clinton
Presidency. How times have changed. Under the Bush
Presidency, Ireland finds itself at the back of a very long
It's as if the days of Carter were upon us again. That do-
nothing approach is best summed up by the anecdote about an
Irish-American veteran and a White House official which is
recalled in de Bréadún's book. Asked by the Irish-American
activist when the Carter administration was going to take
an interest in Northern Ireland, the Carter official
replied that it did not involve any US security or economic
interests, only a few hundred people a year were being
killed and there were much bigger fish to fry.
If that summed up the attitude of the Bush administration
it would be unfortunate but hardly a cause for complaint
given the other urgent global issues which dominate the
However, it's a matter of much regret that rather than
remain agnostic on the North, the President's point-main
Mitchell Reiss continues to make unhelpful interventions.
His latest faux pas came with his silly decision to block
Gerry Adams from fundraising in the US last month. That
decision was a lifeline to the 'No Men' of unionism who
have wanted to put a stop to Gerry Adams' US canter for
some time but it was hardly a help to the ailing peace
Now Mr Reiss is at it again. This time he wants Sinn Féin
to be banished to the dog house until they sign up to
No matter that elements of the old Special Branch are alive
and kicking — and recruiting and spying — in the new PSNI.
No matter that the PSNI is totally beyond the control of
the Policing Board — as revealed by the fact that Board
Deputy Chair Denis Bradley hasn't a clue what Stormontgate
was about. No matter that justice and policing powers
remain firmly in Whitehall where the Northern Ireland
Office can collude with their pals to ensure that the
courts remain a republican-free zone (outside of the dock,
that is) and the Patten proposals a pipedream.
No matter that in the republican heartlands the PSNI, while
not enjoying the animosity reserved for the old RUC,
In Daily Ireland yesterday, nine of the most respected
opinion-makers in Irish-America lashed British Prime
Minister Tony Blair for his appalling behaviour over
Their outrage at Mr Blair's "betrayal" of the peace process
is in stark contrast to the silence of US envoy Reiss who
has been "mute with malice" on the entire fiasco.
Nationalist politicians should, and undoubtedly will, make
known their displeasure at Mr Reiss' pro-unionist bias but
ultimately it is Irish-America alone which can put manners
on the wayward envoy.
The celebrations surrounding St Patrick's Day 2006 — and
the accompanying political circus in the White House —
should give them plenty of opportunity to do so.
Lights, Camera, Action As Ulster Set For Film Boost
Big names heading to province to make movies
By Dan McGinn
29 December 2005
NORTHERN Ireland is set to become one of the busiest film-
making locations in Europe next year as some of the biggest
names in cinema head to the province to make movies.
Oscar-winning director Lord Attenborough, veteran Hollywood
star Donald Sutherland and acclaimed filmmaker Nic Roeg are
just some of the names heading to the province in the
coming months to make films.
In the past year, cameras have rolled on four feature
productions, including the Vinnie Jones thriller Johnny
Was, featuring Samantha Mumba and boxer Lennox Lewis, which
was shot on the streets of Belfast.
The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission's head
of production, Andrew Reid said: "Not only are Northern
Ireland crews exceptionally talented and hard-working but
they are friendly and enthusiastic on set and will go that
A cast has been assembled for the reunion of Nic Roeg and
Donald Sutherland in February when filming begins on
supernatural thriller Puffball - based on the Fay Weldon
novel of the same name.
With the shoot set to take place in February, the cast
includes actresses Samantha Morton, of Minority Report
fame, and The Crying Game's Miranda Richardson.
A month later, actor and director Lord Attenborough, whose
movies Ghandi, Cry Freedom and Shadowlands have been
showered with awards, will bring Closing The Ring to
Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine heads the cast in a
romantic tale set in the United States and Ireland.
Five other feature productions are also set to roll in the
Irish director Marian Comer, who made the IRA informer
drama, Boxed, will begin work on another drama about the
Principal photography has already started on Niall Heery's,
In Like Flynn, a tale of love, starring Steven Mackintosh
and Iain Glen.
Matthew MacFadyean, who played Mr Darcy in the recent movie
version of Pride and Prejudice, has joined up-and-coming
Irish actress Eva Birthistle and Gerard McSorley in
director Brian Kirk's Middletown - a drama by Armagh
playwright Daragh Carville about a priest locked in a
battle of wills with his over-zealous brother.
The same creative team will also team up for the first
project to benefit from the Northern Ireland Film and
Television Commission's low-budget features scheme, Sin
Spree - a dark rites of passage drama.
After scoring an Irish box office hit with their comedy Man
About Dog, west Belfast writer Pearse Elliott will work
again with Paddy Breathnach on the Blair Witch-style teen
horror movie, Shrooms.
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