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December 29, 2005

Hain Clarify Nuclear Plans For North

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IT 12/30/05 Hain Clarify Nuclear Plans For North
FT 12/30/05 Time Presses Hain To Find Agreement
FT 12/30/05 Province Urged To Form Closer Links W/ Republic
DJ 12/29/05 Year For Big Decisions, Hard Choices
BB 12/29/05 'Rambo Soldier' Had Illegal Arms
IT 12/30/05 1975: Plans For North If British Pulled-Out
IT 12/30/05 1975: Fitt Feared Withdrawal, Jealousy Of Hume
IT 12/30/05 1975: Fitt Criticised RUC About Harassment
IT 12/30/05 1975: NIO Pressed Cosgrave To Arrest IRA Leadrs
IT 12/30/05 1974 Papers: Late Release
IT 12/30/05 1975: deValera Irrelevant To Contemporary Scene
IT 12/30/05 1975: FF Criticised For 'Invaded' Cemetery
IT 12/30/05 1975: Celebrations For O'Connell Kept Low Key
IT 12/30/05 1975: Hitler's Death:Hyde Expressed Condolences
EX 12/29/05 Opin: For The Record
EX 12/29/05 Plans For Permanent GAA Home In NY Delayed
IT 12/30/05 Urged End To Grant Aid Re: JeanieJohnston Debts
IT 12/30/05 Mystery Buyer Pays €250,000 For Former Poteen


Forum Presses Hain To Clarify Nuclear Plans For North

Elaine Keogh

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain has been asked to
clarify whether the North is being considered as a location
for the construction of nuclear power stations.

The call has come from the All-Ireland Nuclear Free Local
Authorities Forum, which includes local authorities from
both sides of the Border opposed to nuclear power.

The forum's move follows the energy review, initiated by
British prime minister Tony Blair.

In announcing the review it was stated: "The devolved
administrations and territorial departments are already
involved and will continue to be involved throughout the
course of the review."

The forum has written to Mr Hain asking him to give clear
confirmation that "on no account will he allow nuclear
power stations be built in Northern Ireland".

While Mr Hain is believed to be one of the British cabinet
members who oppose nuclear energy, the forum is concerned
that the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland,
Wales, and Scotland may be forced to build nuclear power
stations whether they want to or not.

The chairman of the forum, Michael O'Dowd (Louth County
Council), said: "Civil society must make its voice heard
now to oppose construction of a nuclear facility anywhere
on our island, and we will be calling on local councils in
all parts of Ireland to make their views known.

"Northern Ireland is well positioned to generate a large
proportion of its energy from renewable sources,
particularly wind power, and there is also scope for
energy-saving programmes to have a big impact. Mr Hain must
tell Tony Blair that there is no need or desire for any
nuclear power station to be built in Northern Ireland."

Down district councillor Margaret Ritchie said: "The
Strategic Energy Framework for Northern Ireland, which was
published in June 2004 following extensive consultation,
emphasises the role that renewable energy can play in
meeting Northern Ireland's energy needs.

"There is absolutely no good reason why this should change
just because Tony Blair has been seduced by the nuclear
lobby into calling yet another energy review."

© The Irish Times


Time Presses Hain To Find Agreement

By John Murray Brown
Published: December 30 2005 02:00 Last updated: December
30 2005 02:00

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, has challenged
unionist and republican politicians to reach an agreement
on reinstating the region's devolved assembly in the new
year, implying that if they failed the elections planned
for 2007 might have to be postponed.

In his end-of-year message, issued today, Mr Hain says: "It
is essential that there is real political movement in 2006
if the assembly elections due to be held in 2007 are to
have any meaning."

Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, made a similar plea
on BBC radio yesterday, hoping the devolved institutions
could be operating "some time during 2006, and the earlier
the better".

Earlier in the month, Mr Ahern said that next year would be
"the last chance" to restore regional government to
Northern Ireland.

The legislative assembly and executive, created by the 1998
Good Friday agreement, have been suspended since October
2002, when unionists threatened to pull out their ministers
after police launched an investigation into an alleged IRA
spy ring in the parliament building.

Neither British nor Irish government is ready to concede
defeat, although sceptics will recall the demise of the
Sunningdale executive of 1974, an earlier experiment in
power sharing, which was also indefinitely suspended.

Public support for the power-sharing experiment is waning.
The 108 assembly members continue to be paid, but at
reduced rates. Mr Hain says he will extend the life of the
cross-border bodies - the other strand of the 1998
agreement - for 12 months. Beyond that, the future of these
agencies, which deal with relatively uncontroversial areas
such as trade and inland waterways, is uncertain.

Mr Hain appears to be a man in a hurry and an early push
for a breakthrough in the new year seems likely. The
calendar all too soon reaches St Patrick's day (March 17),
which takes up a chunk of potential negotiating time.
Easter is especially important this year for Sinn Féin,
marking the 90th anniversary of the 1916 rising against
British rule.

Given such a narrow window of opportunity, some might have
thought it unwise for the minister to push ahead with
unpopular economic measures, such as rates rises and a
wholesale slimming down of local government. But Mr Hain's
message seems to be that, if the local politicians want to
do it differently, they have a ready-made opportunity by
reviving the assembly.

The minister says he is happy if local politicians are
attacking him over economic policy. That at least is
progress of sorts.

He is less comfortable with the almost universal
condemnation prompted by his controversial offer of a
partial amnesty for IRA fugitives. All parties, with the
exception of Sinn Féin, attacked the the publication of the
draft law which is making its way through Westminster.

Sinn Féin also switched, once it emerged that the
legislation also covered British security officials who
might have been involved in criminal activities in what the
legislation euphemistically calls the "affairs of Northern

The minister's plans to regularise the role of community-
run restorative justice schemes - again a request of Sinn
Féin - were hardly less controversial. Many of these
organisations are headed by former paramilitaries. The
policing board, with moderate politicians, both unionist
and nationalist, warn it could presage a two-tier criminal
justice system, with the IRA and loyalist thugs maintaining
control in their respective communities.

Both initiatives raise the broader question of why the
minister continues to woo Sinn Féin and the IRA with
concessions when it is the Democratic Unionists and the
unionist community as a whole who have to be convinced to
restart power sharing. Sinn Féin has always been ready to
go back into government.

Suspicious unionists not unreasonably assume it implies
there may be less to the IRA's pledge that it has renounced
violence than the public was led to believe.

Those looking for evidence of conspiracy, meanwhile, have
been presented with the dramatic claim that one of three
IRA suspects charged with gathering intelligence at
Stormont in 2002 was working for the British.

Amid a welter suspicion and recrimination, it is not
difficult to paint a fairly pessimistic picture of Northern
Ireland's prospects for 2006.


Province Urged To Form Closer Trade Links With Republic

By John Murray Brown
Published: December 30 2005 02:00 Last updated: December
30 2005 02:00

Peter Hain has rejected calls for special tax breaks for
the region's businesses and instead argues companies should
look to deepen their links with the successful economy of
the Irish Republic, writes John Murray Brown.

The Northern Ireland secretary said in an interview with
the Financial Times that "tax is not part of the agenda,
not where we need to focus".

He added: "What we need to do is rapidly increase the
private sector and I think that can best be done by
marketing Northern Ireland within an all island of Ireland

He insisted that his vision of closer co-operation with the
republic was not driven by any secret political agenda.
"This is not some back door route to a united Ireland.
That's old politics, and old thinking. This is practical
business and economic common sense. Ian Paisley has as much
interest in this as Gerry Adams," he said in a reference to
the rival leaders of the Democratic Unionists and Sinn
Féin, the IRA's political wing.

There are growing calls from businesses and economists for
Northern Ireland to adopt the same 12.5 per cent corporate
tax rate as the republic instead of the UK's 30 per cent.

John King, former chairman of Warner Chilcott, a Northern
Ireland drugs company sold to a US consortium in a £1.6bn
deal last year, said: "There seems to be a groundswell to
try and get some tax parity with other jurisdictions to
enhance the province's competitiveness in the attraction of
new inward investment. I lend my support to these efforts

Mr King is a member of a ginger group set up this month by
Sir George Quigley, a former chairman of Ulster Bank, to
urge the government to allow the region to set its own
corporate tax rates.

The group comprises the region's leading industrialists
including the heads of Bombardier Shorts, the aerospace
company, and FG Wilson, the local subsidiary of the US
Caterpillar company.

Sir George said: "There are examples worldwide of economies
which have demonstrated the part a low corporate tax rate
can play in enabling them to tap into global investment
flows. The Republic of Ireland is such an economy. Its
spectacular economic performance has owed much to its
ability to attract large-scale, high value-added activity
by major global players."

A report in June by Goodbody, a Dublin stockbroker,
suggested that if rates were harmonised across the island,
Northern Ireland would receive 20 times more foreign
investment than it currently attracts. "While the North has
similar characteristics, we think the incentive of a
significantly lower profit tax would accelerate the
attraction of targeted foreign direct investment markedly."

However, John Bradley, economist with the Economic and
Social Research Institute, an independent think-tank in
Dublin, believes a similar tax rate is not the answer. He
agrees with Mr Hain in arguing that after 30 years of
political instability the two economies need to develop
greater co-operation. Mr Bradley points out that the cross-
border trade is made up largely of consumer goods such as
food and clothing, rather than the intermediate industrial
goods one would expect between two regions where there are
more supply chain links.


Year For Big Decisions, Hard Choices

By Sean Mclaughlin
Thursday 29th December 2005

2006 WILL be a year for big decisions and hard choices in
Irish politics.

This is the view of three of the North's key political
leaders --the SDLP's Mark Durkan, Sinn Fein's Mitchel
McLaughlin and Gregory Campbell, of the DUP --who believe
the next 12 months will throw up many challenges for the
stymied political process.

Speaking to the 'Journal' last night, the three politicians
were in agreement that many opportunities were missed in

However, when asked to reveal how existing difficulties and
obstacles can be overcome, their opinions tend to differ --
and dramatically.

Derry MP Mark Durkan says the new year must be marked by
"solid progress and real advance".

"We have to move beyond the posture politics and blame
games which have undermined the delivery of the Agreement
over the past number of years," he said.

"We need all parties to get real about their own
responsibilities and the opportunities that exist for all
of us if we go forward democratically together.

"I am not naive about the problems created by the positions
of other parties or the performance of government. But none
of these problems are reasons for staying in stalemate."

Mr. Durkan says the British and Irish governments should
begin 2006 by making it "clear and credible" that "we are
in a countdown to the restoration of the [Good Friday]
Agree-ment's institutions." "Parties need to move beyond
spin, excuse and pose and show each other and the public
what they are really up for in terms of democratic sharing
in the North, North-South co-operation, policing, equality
and human rights."

Foyle Assemblyman Mitchel McLaughlin is convinced that 2006
must herald the end of direct rule in the North.

He says the "problems and missed opportunities" of 2005
must be exchanged for "progress and stability" during 2006.

"Sinn Fein is determined to maintain the pressure where it
is required - and that is on the two governments," he said.

"We will not be snared into petty party political
mudslinging that only deflects from the serious business of
holding the two governments to account.

"It is the governments, in the absence of devolved
institutions, that have the power to deliver on the spirit
of the Agreement."

'Correct bad decisions'

Mr. McLaughlin, Sinn Fein's general secretary, says his
party remains determined to end British direct rule and to
"correct the bad decisions imposed by un-accountable

He also urged the DUP to share power with republicans.

Gregory Campbell, meanwhile, is convinced that hard choices
will have to be faced by republicans in the year ahead.

The DUP MP told the 'Journal': "If the Provisional
republican movement thought last year was hard, then they
need to prepare themselves for the next 12 months as more
tough choices will have to be made.

"It's either bank robberies or Budget announcements - but
they cannot have both; it's either killing outside a
Belfast bar or creating a better economy - but not both,"
he said.


'Rambo Soldier' Had Illegal Arms

A soldier compared to the movie character "Rambo" was
caught with an arsenal of illegal weapons as he boarded a
ferry in Northern Ireland.

Private Garry McGeachie, 21, from Stranraer in Scotland
admitted the charges after he was stopped at Belfast docks.
He was fined £600.

The city's magistrates court heard he claimed the weapons
were toys.

"What we have here is some sort of Rambo-type person," said
magistrate Desmond Perry.

McGeachie pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a Walther
CP60 gas-operated pistol and two offensive weapons - an
extendable baton and a Kubaton with a concealed stiletto

The authorities were alerted when his baggage was going
through an x-ray machine.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court: "He was asked if he
was carrying any weapons and he said they were only a toy."

McGeachie told police he bought the weapons, along with a
CO2 gas cannister and handcuffs, in an army surplus store
for £120.

Senior officers

The defendant, of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, is
stationed at Lisanelly Barracks, Omagh, in County Tyrone.

Defence solicitor Paul Colhoun said: "He clearly enjoys
what he does for a profession and it is somewhat similar to
a surgeon carrying his operating knives.

"There is a long tradition of soldiers feeling they are not
effectively equipped by Her Majesty's government. Perhaps
he has taken it a bit further by acquiring some items which
are prohibited in Northern Ireland."

The magistrate was given references from senior officers.

Mr Perry told McGeachie: "You are a young man who is
clearly highly thought of in the Army.

"But you should have known that you cannot carry this type
of weaponry around with you and I am making a order for
their destruction."

He said a prison sentence might result in McGeachie being
dismissed from the Army and instead fined him.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/29 14:53:36 GMT


1975: Memo Shows State Plans For North In Event Of British

Dublin considered the outcomes of an independent North, a
North under UN trusteeship, and repartition of the island
of Ireland, writes Deaglán de Bréadún.

The government made contingency plans in 1975 for a
possible British withdrawal and the establishment of an
independent state in Northern Ireland, according to State
Papers released under the 30-year rule.

The possibilities in the event of a British military
withdrawal are listed in a memorandum to government marked
"Secret", from the office of minister for foreign affairs
Garret FitzGerald, dated June, 1975.

We now know that the withdrawal option was given serious
consideration at the time by Labour prime minister Harold

The 1975 memo holds out three possible scenarios in the
aftermath of a British pull-out: 1. an independent Northern
Ireland; 2. Northern Ireland being placed under United
Nations trusteeship; and 3. repartition of the island of

A lengthy discussion paper prepared by an interdepartmental
unit on Northern Ireland analyses the implications of
negotiated independence, "meaning the establishment of an
Independent State of Northern Ireland comprising the full
six-county area by agreement between the British Government
and representatives of Northern Ireland to whom sovereign
power could be transferred".

Two different ways in which independence might come about
are considered: 1. through "wholehearted" agreement between
the main Northern Ireland parties and the two governments
as well as "substantial" majorities in the Protestant and
Catholic communities; and 2. the British, having taken a
decision to withdraw, would transfer power to a Northern
Ireland government, regardless of the views of the
nationalist minority and/or Dublin.

"Either model could develop in positive or negative
directions," the discussion paper comments. But the idea
was gaining strength: "Every major loyalist politician has,
over the past year, indicated either in public or in
private that he would favour independence in certain

The more moderate loyalist politicians would prefer a
negotiated outcome, but "there are elements who would be
prepared to seize independence if necessary".

This would have the support of loyalist paramilitaries who
were brimming with self-confidence after the Ulster
Workers' Council strike which brought down the power-
sharing executive a year earlier.

But would the British withdraw?

"There already exists a vocal group of Labour MPs who argue
the case for British disengagement but their strength
appears to have remained fairly constant in the past few

Potential developments on the security front were more
worrying: "Increased Army casualties, an increasing
financial burden on an economically depressed Britain in
maintaining the status quo in Northern Ireland or a renewed
bombing campaign in British cities, or a combination of
such factors could lead to compelling pressures in Britain
for disengagement."

The British themselves had never rejected this option: "In
inter-Governmental discussions, it has never been
explicitly ruled out as have, for instance, integration and
majority rule within the United Kingdom."

In addition, the British were implicitly committed to
withdrawing, if that were the expressed wish of a majority
in Northern Ireland, which need not include any Catholics.

Any formal agreement between the two communities for an
independent Northern Ireland would be unlikely to last, due
to "an underlying suspicion on both sides which would place
the survival of the basic contract between the communities
in doubt".

The discussion paper does not use the much-criticised
phrase "ethnic cleansing" which would not become part of
public discourse until much later, when the Balkans
conflict erupted. But clearly this is what the authors have
in mind if a British withdrawal appeared imminent.

"Any intimation of British withdrawal particularly in the
absence of universal support for such a move within
Northern Ireland seems more likely to lead to an attempt on
the part of each community to consolidate territorial
control by local majorities probably leading to large-scale
intercommunal violence."

Essentially, this would amount to repartition, probably
leading to a surge in the strength of the IRA, "and the
loyalist government would take the place of the departed
British as a focus for military activity on an increased
scale probably with a wider degree of support within the
minority community". Such a State "could only hope to
survive by assuming a repressive character".

Teasing out the implications of independence, the paper
notes that, should a stand-alone Northern Ireland emerge
which was outside the United Kingdom, "It would then be
necessary for the Irish Government to adopt an attitude to
the new State."

Under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution, which still
contained the controversial "claim to the North", the
Government could not recognise an independent Northern
Ireland without a referendum to change Bunreacht na

If that state were built upon mutual consensus between the
two communities, then steps could be taken to hold such a
referendum. If a state were established without the consent
of nationalists, then a wait-and-see attitude would have to
be adopted, possibly leading to de facto recognition if
convincing guarantees were given to the minority

Such guarantees might include a "blocking mechanism" copied
from another divided society, namely Belgium, allowing a
significant group from either community to obstruct
legislation which was considered objectionable.

But the paper warns that "such safeguards can never be
adequate to provide that genuine sense of participation by
both communities which is needed in Northern Ireland".

Instead, in comments echoing the failed Sunningdale
experiment and the future Belfast Agreement of 1998, the
document suggests that both the Government and the Northern
nationalists "would presumably seek entrenched power-
sharing in government".

The paper notes that some loyalist leaders had spoken of
the need for "guarantees for the majority community against
invasion or armed attack from the Republic". But this would
depend very much on guarantees of safety for the Northern

Additional external guarantees were also needed, for
example from Britain, possibly acting in concert with the
Republic. "There may be a role for the United Nations as an
impartial guarantor."

As for military intervention by UN peacekeepers, this would
almost certainly have to arise out of a joint request by
the British and Irish governments.

Ideally such a "garrison" would operate in a situation
where Northern Ireland was placed under UN trusteeship,
whereby the world body would administer the territory on an
interim basis, pending a final settlement.

© The Irish Times


1975: Fitt Feared Withdrawal, Consumed By Jealousy Of Hume

Tensions within the SDLP: Eamon Phoenix, in Belfast,
reports on a memo of a private meeting between the late
Gerry Fitt and the NI Lord Chief Justice in 1975.

The pessimism of then SDLP leader Gerry Fitt at the
likelihood of agreement emerging in the Northern Ireland
Convention in 1975, his fears of a bloody British
withdrawal and hostility towards his deputy John Hume, are
recorded in an extraordinary memo released yesterday in
Belfast by the Public Record Office.

The memo records a private meeting between Fitt and the
convention chairman, Sir Robert Lowry (the North's Lord
Chief Justice), on August 25th, 1975, as talks between the
SDLP and the loyalist coalition reached crisis point. Such
was the perceived sensitivity of Fitt's comments that a
note on the file in Sir Robert's hand reads: "Not for file
until conclusion of convention - this policy agreed by

At the meeting Fitt expressed gloom at the prospects of the
convention. He considered that most of the British Labour
Party and many Conservatives were keen to disengage from
Northern Ireland, once the convention had failed to provide
a solution and a further period of direct rule had elapsed.

He thought prime minister Harold Wilson would be one of the
main advocates of this method of "solving the Irish

Fitt took the view that recent attacks on the secretary of
state by the UUUC indicated a wish by the latter for
independence. He foresaw that such a step would be
economically disastrous and would result in the slaughter
of many Catholics. At one time his friends in England would
have tried to avoid such a severance, if only because of
the fear that violence would spread to Britain; they did
not now fear this and believed that the new anti-terrorist
laws were a protection.

The Irish government, on the other hand, "dreaded the
effect of mass deportations of 'undesirables' from England
to the South".

Turning to the convention, Fitt said Belfast lawyer and
former DUP chairman Desmond Boal was "a sinister influence,
who held court at home and entertained Paisley, Devlin and
others. Boal favoured some kind of independence and was
consumed by hatred of all things England."

Fitt's SDLP colleague, Paddy Devlin, was "a good man but
susceptible to flattery". However, he depicted John Hume as
"an inflexible fanatic, who saw everything in terms of
Derry and could not take a wider view". Austin Currie, on
the other hand, was "very intelligent, able and sincere".

According to the minutes, Fitt complained at the NIO
attitude to the IRA and recent evasions concerning the
possible arrest of the IRA leader, Séamus Twomey.
"According to sources, Twomey had been spotted in Belfast
but the authorities had failed to arrest him owing to the
IRA ceasefire." Fitt continued: "Dublin were disgusted,
considering that for years the British government had been
regarding Twomey as one of the most wanted men." Fitt
claimed Dáithí O'Connell, the leading IRA figure, had got
himself arrested in order to be out of the way during the
forthcoming violence.

The SDLP leader stressed his party considered full power-
sharing essential and their contribution to a compromise
would be to support the institutions of the state. (Lowry
noted: "This was exactly Hume's line when I saw the SDLP

Responding to Fitt, Lowry observed that both the SDLP and
UUUC considered agreement to be vital, but each considered
that the other party was bound to "see sense and abandon
its position". Lowry expressed the view that he "did not
think it likely that power-sharing would be imposed or, if
imposed, that it would bring a peaceful solution". Sir
Robert concluded his memo: "We agreed that it was most
important that the parties (at Stormont) should keep
talking in case something could be found on which they
agreed, and also because it would look absurd to admit
failure after the comparatively short discussions already
held." In a hint of the discussions on an emergency
"voluntary coalition, which were about to take place
between Vanguard leader William Craig and the SDLP, Sir
Robert noted: "A temporary (ie, four, five or 10 years')
solution would be of great benefit if nothing better could
be obtained."

According to the memo, the meeting was most friendly but,
in convention terms, little was achieved. Fitt's immediate
hope, Sir Robert noted, was "that I could make UUUC change
their policy towards power-sharing".

© The Irish Times


1975: Fitt Criticised RUC For Not Halting Harassment

The SDLP leader and deputy chief executive in the power-
sharing executive, Gerry Fitt (later Lord Fitt), was deeply
concerned at the ineffectiveness of the RUC in quelling
anti-Catholic intimidation in the Rathcoole estate in north
Belfast, and alleged that the local police station
contained a number of "UDA sympathisers".

This is revealed in confidential cabinet files released
today in Belfast under the 30 years rule.

A report records a visit by Fitt (who died in August) to
the permanent under-secretary at the Northern Ireland
Office, Sir Frank Cooper, at Stormont Castle on February
21st, 1974. The SDLP leader said he had come to talk about
intimidation over a long period in the Rathcoole area and
made the following points:

(1) There had been intimidation of Catholics over a period
of two or three years. One particular problem of which he
had first-hand knowledge was that of the Catholics living
in Rathcoole who had found it extremely difficult to obtain
certificates from the local Newtownabbey RUC station to
enable them to be placed on the emergency housing list. He
had himself tried to persuade Insp Jardine to be more co-
operative, but little had been done to improve matters. In
the end, he claimed that the Housing Executive had had to
step in to ensure that people who needed certificates were
able to secure them.

(2) An interim report by the Community Relations Commission
said it had been in touch with the army, which had
indicated there was a political decision not to stop
intimidation because of the risk of antagonising the
majority in Rathcoole (a loyalist estate), and also that
the Newtownabbey police station included a number of UDA
sympathisers. He now understood that the published report
of the CRC would not include these two paragraphs about the
army and police.

(3) Mr Fitt told Sir Frank that a local resident had phoned
Newtownabbey police station about 10 days earlier at 7.30am
to warn them of a suspicious car at a local factory. A
short time later, two Catholics were murdered there. Mr
Fitt said the killing had taken place at 8.10am and the
police had only arrived five minutes later. This
information had been provided by the informant to a local
Protestant minister.

The SDLP leader also referred to the case of a local
Catholic woman whose house had been attacked by the UDA on
three occasions. "She had had no sympathy or anything else
from Newtownabbey police station."

In his "note for the record", Sir Frank stated: "In short,
what Mr Fitt was saying was that over a period of time
there had consistently been intimidation of Catholics in
the Rathcoole area and that Newtownabbey police station was
ineffective in dealing with it and, indeed, by implication
- if not more - doing nothing to help those who were being

"It was put to Mr Fitt that for him to make a detailed
public statement on these lines would be the reverse of
helpful to an investigation which the chief constable (Sir
Jamie Flanigan) undertook to set in hand." It was agreed
that the chief constable should have the complaints

© The Irish Times


1975: NI Office Pressed Cosgrave To Order Arrest Of IRA

Northern pressure on Dublin for the arrest of IRA leaders
such as Martin McGuinness is disclosed in minutes of the
1974 power-sharing executive, released this week by the
Public Record Office in Belfast.

At a meeting of the executive at Stormont Castle on January
17th, 1974, the chief minister, Brian Faulkner, reported on
his recent visit to the then taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, at

He was satisfied that there was no going back on the
Sunningdale declaration on the status of Northern Ireland.

Mr Faulkner made it clear to the taoiseach that the formal
stage of Sunningdale could not take place until the
Republic made clear that the status of Northern Ireland
could not be changed without majority consent in the North.

The chief minister told Mr Cosgrave that he envisaged an
early meeting of ministers to discuss the Council of

The meeting also included a lengthy exchange of views on
security matters and action to be taken in the Republic.
According to the minutes, "the chief minister had made it
clear to Mr Cosgrave that the apprehension of prominent IRA
men like Martin McGuinness would do more to satisfy the
Northern Ireland people than anything else".

© The Irish Times


1974 Papers: Late Release

We get an insight into the workings of the ill-fated
power-sharing Northern Ireland executive from cabinet
papers just released. They were not released last year as
some were being used for the Saville inquiry into Bloody
Sunday in Derry.

At the preliminary meeting of the Northern Ireland power-
sharing executive on December 31st, 1973, the incoming
chief executive, Brian Faulkner, reminded his colleagues of
the friendship and respect which had been established
between them, not least during the Sunningdale talks, and
hoped that this spirit would typify the whole range of the
Executive's business.

The SDLP leader and deputy chief minister, Gerry Fitt,
endorsed and supported his remarks.

Ministers agreed on confidentiality and decided that the
executive would proceed on the principle of collective
responsibility. Concern was raised about ministers'

It was agreed that the secretary of state (Merlyn Rees)
should speak to the chief constable of the RUC and request
a report on the security position of each minister.

The wording of a vote of confidence in the assembly was
agreed, welcoming the return of "substantial devolved
powers to an administration answerable to itself", and
looking to the executive to pursue policies that would
promote the peace, stability and progress of the whole
community. Ministers called on all sections to pursue
"peaceful, democratic and constitutional means alone".

"Let 1974 be the Day of Reconciliation," concluded the
first statement of the power-sharing executive.

© The Irish Times


1975: De Valera 'Irrelevant To Contemporary Scene'

John Bew

British perspective: A letter from a senior official at
the British embassy in Dublin reveals a very British
perspective on the funeral of de Valera in September 1975.
"Irish memories are long," wrote John Hickman to the
Republic of Ireland department of the foreign and
commonwealth in London, "but even they must now begin to
put Eamon de Valera aside as a political mentor for the
1970s and consign him to the pantheon of Founding Fathers."

At the event, the level of foreign representation "was
probably not as high as the Irish people might have hoped".
Confident predictions of a gathering of heads of state were
"not realised". Even the "anticipated crew of Irish
American vote-seeking politicians did not materialise",
which was "probably as much a relief to the Irish
government" as it was to the British representatives.

The funeral proceedings left Hickman similarly unimpressed.
"The exclusive use of Latin and Irish at the requiem Mass
and burial service," he complained, "must surely have
irritated not only some of the visitors but also many
Irishmen who cannot speak their first 'official' language."
While the ceremony was "conducted with due decorum", this
only lasted so far as the gates of Glasnevin Cemetery.

At that point, enthusiastic but unofficial mourners pushed
through police cordons and elbowed visiting dignitaries
from the graveside, adding "an Irish touch to the

As to what effects the passing of de Valera might have on
the Irish political scene and Anglo-Irish relations, the
official believed that the answer was "very few". Although
he was "revered as a national monument", the former
president was deemed "irrelevant to the contemporary
scene". "While no one denied his personal courage and
integrity, many commented on the narrow, Celtic limits" of
his vision.

For one thing, the Irish language was "still a plant which
requires considerable nurturing by the government". For
another, even the ideal of a united Ireland was "admitted
by the present government of being incapable of achievement
in the foremost future (and many would now question its
desirability)". Even the policy of neutrality, "which de
Valera so obstinately established", was coming under
question since joining the EEC.

Most significantly, therefore, even de Valera's most
notable achievement, the 1937 Constitution, was "coming
increasingly under attack because it reflects so obviously
the authoritarian Catholic and nationalist atmosphere of
the Thirties and is no longer fitted to the needs of the
modern state". In particular, the resentment that Articles
2 and 3 caused among the majority in Northern Ireland was
"matched only by the obduracy" with which Fianna Fáil
politicians still held on to them.

While the leader of the coalition government, Liam
Cosgrave, had come under attack for his ungracious response
to de Valera's death, Hickman concluded that it was
"equally speedily defended on the grounds that if you
cannot praise it is better in such circumstances to say

© The Irish Times


1975: Papers Criticise FF Deputies For 'Invading' Cemetery

Joe Humphreys

De Valera's funeral / Dublin view: Chaotic scenes at the
burial of Eamon de Valera were caused by a group of Fianna
Fáil politicians who "broke ranks" in the funeral cortege,
according to official documents.

Internal reports in the Department of the Taoiseach
criticised Fianna Fáil TDs for engaging in a number of
unauthorised actions on the days surrounding the State

These reached a climax when the graveside area in Glasnevin
Cemetery was "invaded" by Fianna Fáil deputies, closely
followed by party supporters and members of the public,
thus leaving little space for the then taoiseach Liam
Cosgrave and other state dignitaries.

A report in the department dated September 5th, 1975, three
days after the funeral, described the scene thus: "Having
broken ranks at the gate of the cemetery, the leading group
of the opposition made their way to the rear of the
graveside area. The barrier was moved alongside by the
gardaí and a large group... proceeded to take up positions
at the area reserved for council of state, diplomatic corps
and members of the government."

A further departmental report stated that a "large group of
members of the opposition" entered the reserved spaces in
the graveyard. "As a result, only the relatives, president,
taoiseach and (some) members of the council of state could
be accommodated at, or near, these spaces that had been
earmarked for them. Other members of the government,
visiting dignitaries and others took up whatever space was
available when they reached the graveside area."

A newspaper report in the files told of chaotic scenes at
the graveside, noting Princess Grace of Monaco "looked
anxious at one stage" as she was jostled by the crowd.

The departmental reports said Fianna Fáil members were also
responsible for organising an unauthorised guard of honour
at the entrance to the convalescent home in which de Valera
had been staying.

"It was not certain until the gun carriage actually passed
by, that the presence of these people would not impede the
gun carriage," it was noted.

A further guard of honour was formed by "members of the
Fianna Fáil Party (including a number of former ministers
and other front bench members) and Dublin city
councillors)" inside the door of the State apartments.

"While this had not been agreed in advance, some gesture of
this nature was anticipated and no effort was made to
prevent it," one report to the taoiseach read.

The files also showed a huge number of world leaders
sending messages of condolence to the taoiseach over the
death of Mr de Valera.

The then president of Uganda Idi Amin sent a telegram from
Kampala describing the former taoiseach as "a great son and
a statesman who had worked untiringly for the progress of
his country. We pray to the almighty god to rest his soul
in peace".

Ferdinand Marcos, president of the Philippines, wrote of de
Valera: "He was a great man and will always be remembered
for his unflinching devotion to the cause of freedom and
for his far-seeing statesmanship and dynamic leadership."

Among the others who sent personal messages of condolence
were Pope Paul VI; the Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi;
the French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing; Queen
Elizabeth and the British prime minister Harold Wilson;
Spanish head of state Gen Francisco Franco; US president
Gerald Ford; the Dalai Lama; and Yitzhak Rabin, prime
minister of Israel.

A large number of messages came from the leaders of
developing countries or former colonies, including Brig
Murtala Mohammed, head of the Nigerian military government,
who described de Valera as "in every respect, a great man".

Gen Mohamed Naguib, former president of Egypt, described
the former taoiseach as "one of the greatest men of the
present century", while Indira Gandhi wrote: "During our
own freedom struggle, we drew inspiration from de Valera.
My father regarded him as a friend and it was a privilege
to receive him in India."

© The Irish Times


1975: Celebrations For O'Connell Kept Low Key

The government was reluctant to participate in
bicentenary events for fear of offending the Protestant
community, writes Joe Humphreys.

Daniel O'Connell commemorations

Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave was advised by his officials to
play a "low-key" role in bicentennial commemorations of
Daniel O'Connell's birth in order to avoid offending
Protestants, files from his department show.

A briefing paper from senior department officials in
February 1975 expressed "reservations" about the State's
participation in commemorative events scheduled for later
that year.

"For the average Protestant in this island - and that means
for one million out of the four - Daniel O'Connell is
something of a bogeyman and that is putting it mildly," the
document read.

"In the average Orangeman, the mention of O'Connell arouses
feelings of strong hostility. Indeed, the unveiling of the
O'Connell monument in the last century gave rise, when the
visiting Belfast contingent returned home, to extensive
sectarian rioting and death.

"On a more moderate level, there is a fairly widely held
view of Irish history which would credit O'Connell as the
spear-head in the attempt to create a Catholic Irish state
in an unfortunately exclusive sense. That view is held, for
instance, as has been. . . expounded by the Minister for
Posts and Telegraphs. . .

"There are good reasons why, in the present climate in
Ireland, we should play down the commemoration of our
patriot and historic dead, especially if they do not
exemplify the multi-strand aspect of our nation."

The briefing paper went on to suggest that the bicentenary
should be marked by "at most" the issue of a commemorative
stamp and "some local function at Derrynane with low-key
participation by the State".

Files on the bicentenary also show that the government only
began planning for the event after Mr Cosgrave received a
letter on the matter from historian Robin Dudley Edwards.

A professor at the UCD archives department, he inquired on
November 12th, 1974, about the likelihood of a public

The initial advice in the department was to "proceed with
caution". A memo dated December 6th, 1974, questioned
"whether the present is an appropriate time for us to
parade our nationalism".

Initial suggestions included "an essay competition for
school children", and a special radio or television

It was subsequently decided that all government departments
would be counselled for their views on the matter, and
various suggestions were made, ranging from the issuing of
a commemorative medal to "the setting up of a scholarship
to be competed for annually by poor law students".

The government's sensitivity over the matter was
illustrated by the retention of a letter addressed to The
Irish Times in March 1975 from a woman who accused Mr
Cosgrave of ignoring the bicentenary.

The taoiseach had drafted a reply to the letter directly to
the woman in question, stating that the government would
make an announcement shortly on a commemoration. However, a
handwritten note accompanying the reply indicated Mr
Cosgrave had ultimately opted against sending it.

The government eventually decided to mark the occasion by
creating Derrynane National Park on the grounds of an
existing public park and the neighbouring Dunraven Estate
in Co Kerry. A memo in May 1975 stressed that the Office of
Public Works would need "early instructions" about the
decision "in order to get it off the ground" by August 6th,
the bicentenary date.

The works were completed in time and President Cearbhall Ó
Dálaigh opened the park on that date. A week later, Mr
Cosgrave visited the site and gave a special address in
praise of "the Liberator".

© The Irish Times


1975: Hitler's Death: Hyde Also Expressed Condolences

President Douglas Hyde joined taoiseach Eamon de Valera
in expressing official condolences to Nazi Germany on the
death of Adolf Hitler, newly released State papers reveal.

A book recording messages of sympathy sent by the Office of
the President between 1938 and 1957 showed an entry for
Hitler's death on May 1st, 1945, according to a
presidential protocol record released with the 1975 papers.

It said no message of condolence was telegrammed to the
relevant country, as was the norm in such cases, "as the
capital of Germany, Berlin, was under siege and no
successor had been appointed".

However, the secretary to the president was said to have
called on "His Excellency, the German minister, Dr Hempel"
on May 3rd, 1945.

On the previous day, the then taoiseach Eamon de Valera and
external affairs minister Joe Walshe had visited the Dún
Laoghaire home of Dr Edouard Hempel, minister at the German
legation in Dublin between 1937 and 1945, to express their
condolences on behalf of the State.

Commentators have since criticised de Valera's actions, and
some have suggested the former taoiseach may have been
sympathetic to Nazi Germany.

But the discovery, in this year's State papers, that the
president offered his condolences over the death of Hitler
suggests both men may merely have been following protocol
under the circumstances.

The book detailing the intervention of president Hyde was
contained in a batch of documents released by the office to
the secretary to the president.

It noted the president had received no direct notification
of Hitler's death but had learned of the event from a press
report on May 2nd, 1945.

As for the outcome of the secretary's visit to Dr Hempel,
the document recorded that the German minister called on
the secretary to the president - also on May 3rd.

It further noted that flags remained at full mast over Áras
an Uachtaráin on the occasion of Hitler's death - in
contrast to the death of US president Franklin D Roosevelt
in April 1945, when flags were lowered for four days.

Among the 11 other public figures listed in the book were
Pope Pius XI, whose death in February 1939 was marked by
messages of sympathy both to Rome and the Apostolic Nuncio
in Dublin, as well as half-masting of flags for five days;
and Eva Peron, whose death in July 1952 received a more
modest reaction.

A telegram was sent to the Argentine president Juan Domingo
Peron but flags remained at full mast. "Deceased was only
wife of head of state," a note explained.

Joe Humphreys

© The Irish Times


Opin: For The Record

THE Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, continues to refuse
access to Garda files to the families of the victims of the
Dublin/Monaghan bombings and of Seamus Ludlow, who was
murdered by loyalists with British forces connections.

They are denied access on the basis that they are

Yet 'confidential' Garda files can be quoted by the same
minister using Dáil privilege and on the front page of a

It seems that smearing the Centre for Public Inquiry, which
was trying to find the truth behind Government scandals,
such as the Mayo gas giveaway, was more important to the
Fianna Fáil /Progressive Democrats coalition than finding
the truth behind the worst massacre in the history of the
State and similar sinister killings.

Dessie Ellis


Plans For Permanent GAA Home In New York Delayed

By Simon Lewis, New York

NEW YORK'S Irish community will have to wait until the new
year before discovering whether their hopes for a GAA home
in the heart of the city are to be realised.

GAA president Sean Kelly, past president Peter Quinn,
president-elect Nicky Brennan and former Dublin footballer
Tony Hanahoe flew into the Big Apple for four days last
week to try and find a way to finally turn the long-held
dream of a permanent, wholly-owned home for Gaelic Games in
the city into a reality.

The plans for a Gaelic games complex on land at Randall's
Island donated by the city of New York call for a 10,000-
seater stadium, playing fields, an Irish-American cultural
centre and banqueting facilities. Those close to the
situation say there are many issues preventing the project
on 25 acres of land beneath the Triborough Bridge linking
Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens from moving off the drawing
board and into reality.

Following meetings with board members of the Randall's
Island Gaelic Sports (RIGS) corporation as well as the New
York GAA board, the Croke Park chiefs returned home without
completing their mission. Fresh talks have been arranged
for the second week in January and the quartet from
headquarters will return to New York in February for
further meetings.

While the GAA in Dublin has pledged $2 million (€1.68m) and
RIGS board members are said to have access to funds in
excess of $3m (e2.5m) at their disposal, insiders say Irish
American investors have been deterred by Croke Park's
insistence that the venture remains a not-for-profit

Potential backers are happy to let the GAA control the
stadium and fields and other sporting amenities as not-for-
profit operations but would want bar and catering
concessions run for profit for the benefit of shareholders
in the RIGS corporation.

Locals perceive the GAA's stance as an indication that
having done all the preparatory work in drawing up the
plans and getting hold of the real estate, all the profits
from a Croke Park-run Randall's Island complex will head
straight back across the Atlantic to swell the GAA's

Yet former NY GAA board president Monty Moloney, who has
been the driving the force behind this project since its
inception and is chairman of RIGS, was cautiously

"We've had some success but not enough time in these
meetings for the people from Ireland to fully complete
their mission," Moloney said.

"They had to leave in midweek but we intend to get together
in the second week of January and they will probably be
coming back here in February."

Matters are further complicated, however, by in-fighting
among the local GAA community over whether New York needs
to move to a new site at all. Some would prefer to see the
city's 42 clubs continue to play their matches at Gaelic
Park in the Bronx, the NY GAA's home since the 1930s but
rented from Manhattan College and in bad need of

The divisions came to a head earlier this month when Seamus
Dooley was challenged for his position as NY GAA board
chairman by RIGS board member John Moore. The way forward
for the Randall's Island project was one of the key
dividing issues in a stormy campaign, despite both men
being RIGS board members - Dooley as the incumbent NY GAA

Moore accused his rival of resisting change yet the
aggressive nature of his campaign rhetoric is thought to
have turned off a number of clubs whose delegates re-
elected Dooley by a large majority, 55 votes to 27.

Yet Moloney encouraged headquarters to keep backing the

"Sean Kelly, Peter Quinn, Nicky Brennan and Tony Hanahoe
have all worked extremely hard to try and put this thing
together and it's really appreciated by me," he said.

"It's not easy travelling back and forth and squeezing in
meetings here and there while trying to also learn how this
whole process evolved over seven or eight years.

"This is the greatest thing to happen to us in New York and
people have stop with their private agendas. There's more
to it than the profits that come out of it, we have to be
respectful of where the land is and who is going to use it
most of all. That's what we've got to think about before we
make a decision."


Council Urges End To Grant Aid After Paying 'Jeanie
Johnston' Debts

Anne Lucey

Kerry County Council has called a halt to underwriting
grant-aid projects from Government departments to community
and other groups. The council was left with substantial
debts after guaranteeing loans to State agencies for the
Jeanie Johnston replica famine ship tourism project.

The council said it will no longer give guarantees to
Government departments or State agencies as this
represented an unfair burden on the council. It took the
decision after it was forced to underwrite a loan for a
community swimming pool recently in which it was not
directly involved.

The council is also considering involving other local
authorities in a campaign to express dissatisfaction with
the practice by departments such as Arts, Sport and

In October, councillors were told the promoters of the
Ballybunion swimming pool and leisure project would lose
€3.8 million in grant aid unless the council agreed to
repay the money or take control of the project.

Councillors voted to underwrite the project, but objected
strongly to the demand in the deed of covenant. The council
has no direct role in the project.

Similar demands have been placed on Killarney Town Council
by the department for that town's swimming pool project.

In a written report, Kerry County Council's finance
director, John O'Connor, said Government departments asking
for guarantees from other State bodies were acting against
best practice.

Explicit advice to local authorities from the Department of
Finance after the Jeanie Johnston project (where some €13
million of Government money had been spent) was to desist
from this kind of "duplication", as one State body
underwriting another did not protect the taxpayer.

Liability should stay with the grant provider, Mr O'Connor
said. He said he recommended that the council adopt an
established policy "to abstain from the granting of further

The council has adopted this despite strong warnings from
Cllr Paul O'Donoghue, brother of Minister for Arts, Sport
and Tourism John O'Donoghue, that the policy was

© The Irish Times


Mystery Buyer Pays €250,000 For Part Of Former Poteen

Tom Shiel in Castlebar

A mystery buyer has bought a large portion of a former
island for poteen makers in Lough Conn, Co Mayo.

The man, who wants to remain anonymous, paid about €250,000
for 35 acres of uninhabited Glass Island, which comprises
approximately 100 acres.

The outpost, which was abandoned by its last residents in
the 1950s, attracted significant national and international
interest when it was put on the market on behalf of the
former owner by Castlebar-based auctioneer Tomás Collins.

Mr Collins refused to divulge the name of the buyer when

"I am sworn to secrecy in the matter," he said.

It is understood the new owner is a local, originally from
the Knockmore/Pontoon region, who is working away from the

So established was the manufacture of poteen, or moonshine,
on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries that crocks or
bottles of the illicit spirit can, it is said, sometimes
still be unearthed there. "It is idyllic, probably one of
the most peaceful and beautiful spots on earth," Mr Collins

Glass Island, which was known as "Illaunaglashy" in ancient
times, was described in Samuel Lewis's A Topographical
Dictionary of Mayo in 1837 as comprising "good arable land
with a portion of rocky pasture".

Apart from a number of decaying houses, there are still the
remains of a church on the island and the burial place of
Bishop Balefadda, who took refuge there during a period of
religious persecution.

© The Irish Times

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