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December 14, 2005

British Army Joins PSNI In Patrols

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 12/14/05 British Army Join PSNI In Pre-Christmas Patrols
BT 12/14/05 Fall In Public Confidence In The PSNI- Survey
IO 12/14/05 Peace Prize Nominations Revealed
DI 12/14/05 DDP Keen To Keep A Lid On Raid Case – SF
DI 12/14/05 O'Dea Denies Neutrality Diminished
EX 12/14/05 Government Backed Bid To Get Connolly Sacked
NH 12/14/05 Pronunciation Row Over 'H' Blocks Debate
BB 12/14/05 Police Hunt Seven-Man Kidnap Gang
BT 12/14/05 Victims Supremo Silent Over Donaldson Links
BT 12/14/05 Jeffrey's Leap Of Faith To The DUP
UT 12/14/05 Arsonists Wreck Best's French 'Bolthole'
IO 12/14/05 Ireland Marks 50th Anniversary Of UN Membership
AP 12/14/05 Irish Group Is Dreaming Of A Green Christmas


British Army Join PSNI In Pre-Christmas Patrols

14/12/2005 - 12:08:52

British soldiers are to support increased police patrols
across the North in the lead up to Christmas, it was
revealed today.

Amid heightened threat of dissident republican terrorist
bomb attacks, the British army will be used to strengthen

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan said: "We have
already urged the public to be more vigilant.

"There is a minority in our society which does not want to
move on.

"All they can offer is destruction and devastation. We are
determined to do everything we can to thwart their

In previous years paramilitaries opposed to the peace
process have launched a series of attacks, such as
firebombing shops, during the holiday period.

And after the discovery of a number of real and hoax
devices, Mr Sheridan confirmed more police would be on the
streets between now and Christmas.

"Where appropriate we will be assisted by our military
colleagues," he added.

"The operation will involve vehicle checkpoints and
possibly searches of vehicles and people. We ask the public
to co-operate with us.

"The only people we want to disrupt are the criminals who
are determined to disrupt life for everyone else.

"We would remind business owners and managers of the
dangers of incendiary devices. Please be vigilant. Review
your security measures. Check your premises regularly."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to say when
soldiers were last deployed during a Christmas campaign.

A spokeswoman said: "We use the Army as and when

But Sinn Féin claimed the decision to bring in the military
would compound nationalist and republican alienation from
the police service.

Conor Murphy, the party's Newry and Armagh MP, said: "The
British Army have no role to play in the future of policing
in the six counties.

"No policing service accompanied by heavily armed British
soldiers will be acceptable to nationalist communities in
the north.

"Today's announcement by the PSNI that they intend to
patrol alongside the British army over the Christmas period
shows just how far the PSNI still have to travel before
reaching the threshold demanded by an acceptable and
accountable civic policing service.

"A civic policing service does not behave in this fashion."


Fall In Public Confidence In The PSNI, Says Survey

By Ashleigh Wallace
14 December 2005

Confidence in the PSNI's ability to deal with public order
offences has taken a nose-dive since the Whiterock Parade
and the riots which followed, it emerged today.

The Policing Board today published the results from the
September 2005 Omnibus Survey which questions members of
the public about, amongst other issues, on their
perceptions of the service delivered by the PSNI.

A total of 1,062 people across Ulster were surveyed at
random by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research
Agency. Respondents were asked about a range of issues,
including policing.

And when asked about how much confidence they had in the
PSNI's ability to deal with public order situations, 67%
said they had some, a lot or total confidence - which is
down from 79% compared to findings from the same survey
conducted in April.

In addition, 78% had some, a lot or total confidence in the
PSNI's ability to provide a day-to-day policing service for
everyone, which was down from 83% in April.

Acknowledging a fall in the public's confidence, Policing
Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea said: "For many reasons,
some of the results from this latest survey are not
particularly surprising given that the survey was scheduled
for September and was carried out within days of the
serious disturbances following the Whiterock parade.

"The level and intensity of the violence directed at the
police, the wanton damage caused to property and the
resulting disruption to the public's ability to go about
their normal everyday business has affected views on
policing and is likely to have had an impact on the

Other findings revealed that six out of ten people surveyed
thought the PSNI did a very/fairly good job across Northern
Ireland - a 3% decrease on April's survey - while 55%
thought the police did a very/fairly good job in their
area, marking a 2% decrease.

In addition, 71% of respondents thought the Policing Board
was working at adequately, while 70% thought the Board was
independent of the PSNI, which is a 4% increase from April.

Sir Desmond said: "In the months ahead, the Policing Board
will continue to oversee the work of the PSNI and identify
any areas which will assist in improving the perceptions
and views of the wider community on the work of the PSNI,
the Board and the District Policing Partnerships."


DDP Keen To Keep A Lid On Raid Case – SF

By Jarlath Kearney

A senior Sinn Féin member found not guilty of high-profile
charges has accused the prosecution of acting "in their own
self interest" by stopping the case.

Denis Donaldson was Sinn Féin's head of administration at
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, when the PSNI launched a
wave of arrests and raids on October 4, 2002. Along with
his co-accused, Ciarán Kearney and Billy Mackessy, Mr
Donaldson attended a high-profile Sinn Féin press
conference at Stormont yesterday morning. It was Mr
Donaldson's first attendance at Stormont since his arrest
more than three years ago.

During a controversial PSNI raid of Mr Donaldson's Sinn
Féín office in Parliament Buildings in 2002 the PSNI seized
just two computer disks, both of which were returned to
Sinn Féín within days.

On Thursday, the three innocent men were found not guilty
by direction of Justice Hart at Belfast Crown Court in
relation to allegations that they possessed information
useful to terrorists.

Flanked by Sinn Féin leaders Martin McGuinness and Gerry
Adams, alongside East Derry assembly member Francie Brolly,
the three men vigorously defended their innocence at

"I wasn't surprised, because we weren't guilty. There was
no spy-ring at Stormont. There never was," Mr Donaldson

"What it all added up to was politically-inspired charges
which should never have ben brought. The fact that the
media was here on the morning that our office was raided
testifies to that. It was part of the 'Save Dave' campaign
initially and it was also designed to bring down the
institutions – which it did."

Questioned by the media about the Crown's statement that
evidence should not be furnished against the three
defendants "in the public interest", Mr Donaldson accused
the prosecution of acting "in their own self-interest" by
stopping the case.

Referring to the Special Branch operation codenamed Torsion
which preceded the arrests in October 2002, Mr Donaldson
said that the prosecution was afraid of disclosing the full
background to the case. He also reminded the media that
Justice Hart found all three defendants "not guilty".

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams told the media that a
"definite and definitive pattern" of political policing was
now evident in the North.

"You will remember, because some of you were here at the
time and some of you were here by invitation, that the raid
on this building, the raid on the Sinn Féin offices, was
conducted in a glare of publicity," Mr Adams said.

"I think that has very clearly become a pattern – a pattern
of political policing.

"Our certain view, and we said this at the time, is that
there are elements within the Special Branch, within the
old RUC, some of whom are active today in the PSNI, who
continue to be at war with Irish republicans, and who are
opposed to the peace process.

Speaking after meeting British prime minister Tony Blair in
London, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he could not understand
the Crown's handling of the case.

"This brought down the institutions and created huge grief
for me and for the prime minister [Blair]," Mr Ahern said.

"We had hundreds of troops descending on the Stormont
building for what we were told at the time was irrefutable
evidence. It vanished yesterday with no prosecutions. It
was a lot of grief for no prosecutions. I think it is all
very interesting and I don't quite understand," Mr Blair

The North's public prosecution service (PPS) has faced
considerable pressure from the SDLP, Ulster Unionist Party
and Democratic Unionist Party to provide further
explanation about the background to the collapse of the

However, a PPS spokesperson said yesterday that no comment
would be made.


O'Dea Denies Neutrality Diminished

by David Lynch

The government has denied that Irish neutrality "is
diminished" by the fact that some military personnel from
states such as Israel and Russia and Nato countries receive
military training in Ireland.

Minister for State Tom Kitt told the Dáil yesterday that
the countries involved have diplomatic relationships with
the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Féin deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that he agreed that
the majority of training of foreign military personnel in
Ireland was done under the auspices of the UN and served a
positive purpose.

However, he worried that personnel from Nato countries and
states such as Israel and Russia were involved.

"When you look at the human rights violations that Russia
has been involved in in Chechnya, and the continued
occupation and attacks on the human rights of the
Palestinians by Israel, does the minister not worry that
such training could compromise our neutrality?" asked
Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh asked the minister were there any
"safeguards" to prevent personnel from countries who have a
record of "human rights abuses" from training in Ireland.

The minister for state, who was standing in for the
minister for defence, Willie O'Dea, argued that all the
countries involved had diplomatic relations with Ireland.

He said the majority of training involved was technical,
diplomatic and were all part "of normal procedures".

Mr O'Dea said that the training of foreign personnel in
Ireland helped build relationship and "interoperality"
between countries.

"Most of the time this training is laudable and to be
welcomed," replied Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

"But we should be given a guarantee that any country
involved in breaking international law, or involved in Nato
will not be receiving training in the Curragh.

"I do not think that Irish military is going to be involved
with a peacekeeping mission with Israel in the near future,
as long as it continues its attack on Palestinian rights."

The minister replied that Ireland supported international
human rights and said that he would raise the issue with
the minister for defence.


Government Backed Bid To Get Connolly Sacked

By Paul O'Brien, Political Reporter

JUSTICE Minister Michael McDowell got Government backing
for a campaign to have Frank Connolly sacked as executive
director of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI).

The Green Party and Sinn Féin called on Mr McDowell to
resign, saying he had "recklessly abused power". Fine Gael
and Labour were also fiercely critical. But Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern and Tánaiste Mary Harney fully supported Mr

Vigorously defending his actions in the affair, Mr McDowell
told the Dáil yesterday the CPI, an independent group
established in February to investigate political and
business issues, was a body "which, in subversive hands,
has the capacity to gravely undermine the authority of the

Mr Connolly is alleged to have travelled to Colombia on a
false passport in April 2001 together with his brother
Niall - arrested later that year as one of the Colombia
Three - and a senior IRA member, Padraig Wilson. Gardaí
were fully satisfied that Mr Connolly had participated "in
an important way" in an IRA plot to provide explosives
training to Colombian rebels, Mr McDowell said.

The minister had already admitted leaking to the Irish
Independent a copy of the bogus application allegedly used
by Mr Connolly to obtain the passport. He had also admitted
to briefing Chuck Feeney, the Irish- American billionaire
whose philanthropic organisation was funding the CPI, about
the allegations against Mr Connolly in September. Mr
Feeney's organisation subsequently cut off its funding.

Earlier yesterday, the Taoiseach denied there had been a
campaign against the CPI itself. But Mr McDowell made clear
the Government was agreed on targeting Mr Connolly.

"I discussed the matter with my colleagues in Government
and undertook to raise the matter with Mr Feeney with a
view to persuading him to discontinue his support for Mr
Connolly in his role as chief executive of the CPI," he
said. "I was hopeful ... that the CPI would replace Mr

The Green Party's Ciaran Cuffe said Mr McDowell's actions
had "a dangerous similarity to Senator McCarthy's witch-
hunts in the United States in the 1950s".

But Mr McDowell said the opposition had "a blind spot" if
they could not see the threat to the State. The IRA plot in
Colombia, he said, was "designed to net the provisional
movement tens of millions of euro to assist in [its] bid
for political power in Ireland, north and south".

"If it was not being used for military purposes, I must
come to the conclusion that it was being used for the
purpose of fighting elections."

Mr Connolly has denied the allegations against him, saying
he has never been to Colombia. However, he has not made
clear where he was in April 2001.


Pronunciation Row Over 'H' Blocks Debate

(Irish News)

A row has erupted between the DUP and Sinn Féin in Co
Antrim over the pronunciation of the letter H.

Rasharkin Sinn Féin man Daithi McKay accused DUP councillor
Mervyn Storey of attacking him and his council colleagues
in Ballymoney over the way they said the letter. But
Councillor Storey hit back saying he was only being
"facetious" during a debate and that Sinn Féin were "sad"
for trying to turn it into a serious political point.

Traditionally nationalists pronounce the letter differently
from unionists in Northern Ireland.

During a discussion at Ballymoney council the letter H came
up for discussion during a debate about spelling on a road

Councillor McKay claimed: "Mervyn Storey told us we were
not even pronouncing the letter H right. Such a primitively
sectarian act speaks volumes about the people who engage in

"When unionist leaders are interested in the way Catholics
say their alphabet it should give not only nationalists,
but moderate unionists, cause for concern."

Mr Storey admitted making a remark about the letter during
a council debate but said he was only being "facetious, as
I often am, rather than making a political point".

December 14, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 5, 2005 edition
of the Irish News.


Police Hunt Seven-Man Kidnap Gang

The hunt is under way for a gang of seven men who kidnapped
a County Down grandmother as part of a robbery plot.

Anne Curry, 58, was bound and gagged and taken from her
Dromore home on Monday night. She was discovered in a
laneway by police 24 hours later.

Police said an organised crime gang was behind the
kidnapping in a bid to get money from her husband's

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the abduction ordeal
had instilled fear into the local community.

"What a dreadful ordeal this must have been for Mrs Curry.
It really must have been horrendous," he said.

"We can only begin to guess at the mental and physical pain
she must have suffered over the last 24 hours while she was

Mr Donaldson said if paramilitaries were not behind the
kidnapping it meant criminal gangs were "getting very bold"
in their operations.

"If it is the case that we have a gang roaming Northern
Ireland, seven masked and armed men and they are not
paramilitaries, then this raises a big issue here for us,"
said the DUP MP.

"It seems that we are moving into an era where the mafia
are taking over.

"If a gang of this nature can drive freely along along the
roads of Northern Ireland, can enter the home of a family,
abduct an individual, drive them unimpeded to an unknown
location, hold them for 24 hours, it really begs the
question, is this getting out of control?"

Details of Mrs Curry's ordeal emerged as detectives were
about to issue an appeal for information on her

She was found safe and well near Drumbo a few miles from
her home.

Detective Superintendent Derek Williamson said there had
been concern about Mrs Curry's health, as she was being
given medical treatment.

No ransom

"Obviously this has been a very horrendous experience for
her and her family. We believe an organised crime gang was
responsible," he said.

He said he believed the motive for the kidnap was an
attempt to get money from a large business to which Mrs
Curry's husband was connected.

He was also bound and gagged at their home.

Those believed to have been behind the kidnapping had made
contact a number of times, said the detective, and had made
demands for money. However, Mr Williamson said it was not a

Mrs Curry was driven from her home in her own silver Suzuki
Vitara, registration PKZ 1432, which was found burned out
on Tuesday morning on the Back Road at Drumbo.

Mr Williamson appealed for help from the public in tracking
the kidnappers.

"It is vital we get the information," he said.

He is keen to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious
in the Dromore or Drumbo areas , or anyone who had seen Mrs
Curry's car.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/14 09:19:00 GMT


Victims Supremo Silent Over Donaldson Links

By Noel McAdam
14 December 2005

The new Victims Commissioner has refused to comment on her
personal connection with the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson after
the Lagan Valley MP confirmed he has personally known
Bertha McDougall for some time.

But he refused to confirm or deny he went to her home to
persuade her to take the interim position.

"I have known Bertha for a long time. That is all I am
prepared to say," he said.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance have all charged the
Government with attempting to appease the DUP, which has
admitted it "supported" Mrs McDougall - whose police
reservist husband, Lindsay, was shot and fatally wounded by
the INLA as he checked a car in Great Victoria Street in
Belfast in 1981 - for the role.

She was instrumental in setting up the Forgotten Families
group and worked with the RUC George Cross fund and has
been given a year to prepare a report on victims' needs.

Mrs McDougall said: "Yes, I have worked with Jeffrey
Donaldson in the past but I am not making comments on
personal issues.

"My focus is on engaging with victims, survivors and their
representative organisations, explaining my remit and
taking the opportunity to hear about the issues affecting
victims and survivors."

Mr Donaldson said he had championed the appointment of a
Victims Commissioner as part of a raft of confidence-
building measures.

Mr Donaldson also said he suggested the name of former
Presbyterian Moderator the Rev David McCaughey as an
independent witness for the recent IRA decommissioning

In an interview marking two years since his defection to
the DUP, Mr Donaldson also said he spoke regularly to
former Ulster Unionist colleagues.

"There are still some very good people in the party and
some of them remain friends," he said.


Jeffrey's Leap Of Faith To The DUP

On the second anniversary of his defection, Jeffrey
Donaldson tells Political Correspondent Noel McAdam the
first approach came from the DUP - and his switch was

14 December 2005

Two years ago this week Jeffrey Donaldson took the phone
call that altered his life, rattled the political process
and kneejerked a realignment of unionism that is probably

At the other end of the line was Peter Robinson - with an
offer Donaldson felt he could finally accept.

Paraphrasing, the deputy leader of the DUP told him: "Your
party's over" and "Now is the time for all good men to come
to the aid of THE party".

Yet only a few weeks earlier the formal invitation to join
the DUP would have been spurned, the Lagan Valley MP

Despite a whole summer of skirmishing with David Trimble -
which saw Donaldson and then fellow MPs David Burnside and
Rev Martin Smyth resigning the Westminster whip and taking
the party leadership to the High Court - Donaldson is
adamant there was no simultaneous flirtation with the rival

"Categorically no. Of course I would see people in the DUP
and they would banter 'when are you coming over to us?' but
there was nothing going on in any official way."

A few days after the Robinson phone-call, however, he went
to Ian Paisley's home where the deal which would see
Jeffrey jump ship was largely hammered out.

It was a considerable coup for the DUP - one it was
prepared to pay for. The party told Donaldson he would be
installed at the same level he had been at in the UUP.

And so after 25 years membership of the UUP, the long-
serving party officer was co-opted on to the DUP officer
team - with a position specially created for him. No one
else was displaced.

He almost immediately took up a front row position in a
party keen to put its high-profile new acquisition in the
shop window.

But did Donaldson have doubts? "You're never quite sure
when it's matters (involving) such a momentous decision,
how things are going to work out. Inevitably, there's a
degree of uncertainty."

He admits he took something of a leap of faith. "I didn't
bang the table and say I want this and this. The DUP was
generous and I was treated with respect."

Yet surely a few DUP feathers were ruffled by this suddenly
imposed import? "No. I got nothing only a warm embrace from
the DUP. There wasn't a single person who made any negative
noise to myself."

Announcing he was defecting to the DUP just after the
Christmas and New Year break - taking senior UU figures
Arlene Foster and Norah Beare with him - Donaldson came
under severe criticism for failing to stand for a by-
election. But he believes he was vindicated by the General
Election verdict in which his vote only fell slightly.

"The election in May really confirmed that I had done the
right thing. I suppose my main concern was, will people
follow me? I believe I have a good enough relationship with
people to have a fair idea how they are thinking, but there
is always that doubt in the back of your mind," he added.

Donaldson admits he had considered resigning after a crunch
meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council a few months earlier
in June 2003 over the British and Irish Governments' Joint
Declaration when he again lost a key vote to Mr Trimble.

But Trimble's predecessor, Lord Molyneaux, and the Rev
Martin Smyth persuaded him to stay. "They thought there was
still a chance to turn the party around."

Then relationships plummeted with the UUP leadership. The
Lagan Valley association was a sorely divided camp.
Donaldson repeatedly called for his leader to stand aside.
"The party was becoming a very cold house for me."

The final straw came at a UUP executive meeting in mid-
December when dozens of letters strongly critical of
Donaldson were read out.

"It was clear from the repetitious material in the letters
that it was an organised thing. It was the worst meeting I
had ever attended, a vicious personal assault on myself,
saying I was to blame.

"I was given an ultimatum that I had to make a clear
statement saying I endorsed David Trimble's leadership, and
supported his policies and if I failed to do so the party
would expel me."

A few days later Donaldson announced his resignation and
then came the Robinson overture.

But if Donaldson has been the incessant tail wagging the
dog snapping at Trimble's heels - the 'one more heave'
anti-hero of countless Ulster Unionist Council showdowns -
how does he compare his influence now?

He cites two recent examples.

"I put forward the idea that priority should be given to
the appointment of a Victims' Commissioner as a confidence-
building measure. It was something I had been pushing for
years in the UUP and never got very far," he said.

It was also Donaldson who suggested the name of former
Presbyterian Moderator, the Rev David McCaughey, as an
independent witness for the recent IRA decommissioning

"I knew the Rev McCaughey. He was my minister at Newry and
Mourne Presbyterian. He married me."

He argues his adoptive party is not the monolith it is

Instead -"and I know Dr Paisley won't mind my saying this"
- free and open debate is encouraged and agreed decisions
arrived at.

He also contrasts the leadership styles of Mr Paisley and
his former nemesis. "I can never recall David Trimble
lifting the phone and saying 'well done', even after a
successful election result. But I have to say Dr Paisley
takes a very keen interest."

So no regrets?

"You don't walk out of any organisation you have been part
of for a quarter century and not feel a tinge of sadness.
But I put that behind me very quickly. No, I have no

And nothing he would do differently? Donaldson goes quiet
for at least 20 seconds.

"As a Presbyterian, I am a great believer in

"I really do think it was meant to be."


Arsonists Wreck Best's French 'Bolthole'

George Best's sister's French holiday home has been
destroyed in an arson attack, it was revealed today.

The £300,000 villa where the soccer legend used to stay was
gutted after some sort of devices exploded in two bedrooms.

Neighbours of Barbara McNarry and her husband Norman raised
the alarm, but the house was in flames within seconds.

Mr McNarry said: "Barbara is heartbroken. After what the
family has been through, we can`t believe this has
happened. Why? I just don`t know."

The house is in the village of Laroque des Alberes, 25km
from Perpignan in south west France.

French police are convinced the fire on Monday night was
started deliberately, according to Mr McNarry.

As he stood in a nearby friend`s home, just yards from the
ruins he said: "There were two explosions followed by an
intense burst of flames. The entire building was alight
within seconds. There was nothing anybody could do. The
police believe some sort of accelerant was used.

"I haven`t the faintest clue why this has happened. George
never made any secret of the fact that he used to stay
here. He loved the place, but I doubt very much if it had
anything to do with him. Its bizarre. We are at an utter
loss what to think.

"We`ve never been threatened, never."

Barbara McNarry was among close relatives and friends who
spoke at Best`s funeral at Parliament Buildings, Stormont,
in Belfast 12 days ago.

She and her husband bought the house two years ago and
George sometimes stayed.

Mr McNarry added: "That`s what makes this even more hard to
accept. George felt really at peace here. Its where he was
able to relax and chill out and get away from everybody,
particularly when he was going through difficult times."

The villa in private grounds has its own pool with the
closest neighbours just 30 yards away.

Mr McNarry said: "A couple were out collecting wood around
quarter past six on Monday night. It was dark and they
heard the explosions. There was nothing they could do and
they were on the telephone to me 15 minutes later telling
me: `Your place is on fire.`

"There has to be a motive. Was it this, was it that? We
just don`t know, but the police are reasonably satisfied it
was deliberate. We are completely flabbergasted and this on
top of everything else. Its devastating."

The McNarrys are due to fly to Johannesburg to begin a
holiday in South Africa next Tuesday. It had been planned
months ago, long before George became ill and had to be
admitted to hospital.

Mr McNarry who is due to return home to Belfast from France
tomorrow added: "The police and the insurance people have
had a close look at everything and who knows how long it
will be before everything is sorted out.

"It seems such a shame, and to be quiet honest after all
we`ve all been through lately, I don`t know how we`ll keep


Ireland Marks 50th Anniversary Of UN Membership

14/12/2005 - 09:39:27

The Government and the Defence Forces are today marking the
50th anniversary of Ireland's membership of the United

Irish soldiers have been involved in 58 UN peacekeeping
missions since the country joined the organisation in 1955.

Eighty-five troops have lost their lives during these
overseas missions.

The 50th anniversary is being marked by Defence Minister
Willie O'Dea and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces
at a special commemoration event in Dublin's McKee Barracks


Irish Group Is Dreaming Of A Green Christmas

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/14/05
By David McDonough

Cathie Ryan is going home.

The singer/songwriter may have been born in Detroit, but as
she prepares to move to County Louth on the east coast of
Ireland ("It's right on the sea; I can look at the
mountains of Mourne"), she knows she will feel at ease.

A child of Irish immigrants, she has — emotionally at least
— never been far from the shamrock shore.

"Ireland, to me, is a landscape that's full of mystery,"
she said, "and through its mythology, it has that bit of
magic, that supernatural quality."

Ryan, whose fourth solo CD, "The Farthest Wave," came out
earlier this year, is appearing today as a soloist with the
Irish instrumental group Te'ada at the Strand Theatre in
Lakewood. Ryan's sweet, full soprano is well-suited to
traditional music, but in recent years, she has become a
songwriter of note as well.

"The Farthest Wave" is a finely crafted, contemplative
work, full of deep emotion. It contains three songs co-
written by Ryan, who admits that it is her most personal
work to date and, she believes, her best.

"I was in a very difficult place when I made the record,"
she said. "A lot of the songs, and just the way I was
looking at the world at that time, all come from trying to
make the best of a difficult situation. So for me, the
songs are about reliance."

The title song, which she co-wrote with Scots singer Karine
Polwart, has a rueful, centuries-old feel. It is easy to
relate it back to the Celtic mythology, which exudes such a
powerful pull on Ryan's imagination.

"The underpinning of the record was the Irish myth of being
exiled out beyond the ninth wave; when someone would do
something against the tribe, they would be sent out in
their coracle (a small boat) with no oar, just a knife and
some water," she said. "I was in an unmoored, emotional
place, and I didn't know where I was going to land, what
shore I was going to end up on. This album is about
navigating as best you can, and letting go of control.
There is something incredibly peaceful about that."

Ryan has been singing most of her life. Her parents played
Irish music at home.

"My mother is still so Irish, fiercely so — she wears it
like a badge of honor," said Ryan.

Later, she was able to spend time with Joe Heaney, a
legendary master of a uniquely Irish form of unaccompanied
singing. Heaney encouraged her to find her voice and not be
bound by tradition.

She spent eight years as the lead singer with the all-
female Irish-American band Cherish the Ladies, bringing her
young son with her on the road. When he was 12, he had had
enough of the intensive road schedule Cherish followed, and
shortly after, Ryan embarked on the solo career that has
brought her international acclaim.

For this tour, it's back to ensemble work for Ryan, as she
embarks on a series of holiday concerts with Te'ada.

"I will probably end up doing all Christmas songs," she
said. "I do want to do "So Here's to You' because it's a
more accessible song than "Auld Lang Syne,' and it really
fits in with this time of year. And "It Came Upon a
Midnight Clear,' and I love singing "Silent Night' in
Irish. Grainne Hambly, a beautiful harpist, is on the tour,
and I'm dying to sing with her.

"I always have great laughs with Te'ada, and they are great
musicians, so I'm really looking forward to it."


Minor earthquake detected off Wicklow coast

14/12/2005 - 11:53:01

A minor earthquake measuring 2.6 on the Richter Scale has
been detected just off the east coast of Ireland.

The tremor was felt by householders from Arklow to Bray at
around 3.20am this morning.

It was centred around 30 miles from Bray Head and caused
some minor structural damage, but no injuries have been

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