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December 20, 2005

Loyalist Drive Playwright From Home

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News about Ireland & the Irish

GU 12/20/05 Loyalists Drive Playwright From His Home
DI 12/20/05 New Allegations On Castlereagh Chef
SF 12/20/05 SF Call On Brits To Withdraw OTR Bill
IT 12/21/05 Dublin Will Withdraw OTR Pardons If UK Falls
DI 12/20/05 How Donaldson Conned Republicans
IT 12/21/05 Orde To Brief Ahern On Stormontgate
SM 12/20/05 Police Reject Spy Claims
BB 12/20/05 IRA 'Sleepers In Top Positions'
GU 12/20/05 Opin: Strange Collusion Between No 10 & SF
IT 12/21/05 Tribute Paid To Una O'Higgins O'Malley
BB 12/20/05 McCartney Family In Blair Meeting
WP 12/20/05 Ring Raises Plight Of Undoc Irish In America
HV 12/20/05 HSO Presents "An Irish New Year's Eve"


Loyalist Paramilitaries Drive Playwright From His Home

· Death threats and attacks force family to quit estate
· BBC film and international awards provoke thugs

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Wednesday December 21, 2005
The Guardian

One of the most talked about voices in European theatre is
in hiding - and his extended family have been forced to
flee their homes - after a campaign of death threats and
bomb attacks by loyalist paramilitaries.

Gary Mitchell, whose political thrillers have arguably made
him Northern Ireland's greatest playwright, was told that
every "Mitchell had to get out or be killed in four hours".
His home was attacked by men with baseball bats and petrol

Brought up on the sprawling Rathcoole estate in north
Belfast which is dominated by the UDA, Mitchell is the
authentic voice of working class loyalism, whose plays,
including As the Beast Sleeps and the Force of Change, have
shocked audiences in London and New York with the ugly
truth about how paramilitary thugs still control their
communities long after "peace".

Remarkably, while critics raved at the way he dramatised
feuds and power-struggles within loyalists gangs, and the
collusion between gunmen and the police, he managed to
continue living on the same streets where they held sway.

Despite police warnings that he was on the top of a death
list - and should not drink in local pubs - Mitchell
insisted on staying put, saying he needed to be close to
the people he was writing about.

To begin with, the paramilitaries' prejudice that culture
was something only for "taigs and faggots" protected him.
But after his acclaimed As The Beast Sleeps was filmed by
the BBC, and he began to win international prizes, it began
to get serious. One UDA leader told the makers they could
only film on the estate if they didn't use cameras.

Last month, Mitchell's home was attacked by paramilitaries
carrying baseball bats, their faces hidden by football
scarves. His car was petrol bombed and exploded in his
driveway. His wife, Alison, grabbed their seven-year-old
son from his bed, ran outside with him, put him over a wall
and threw herself on top of him to protect him. She said:
"I heard an explosion and I thought they've killed Gary."

There was a simultaneous attack on his uncle's home. By
then his uncle was the only family member left in
Rathcoole. From a secret location, Mitchell told the
Guardian: "We are in hiding now. I feel a mix of confusion,
anger, frustration and despair. There is a feeling that
certain people are jealous and feel that I am depicting
them in a bad way. They have decided that they will do this
no matter what anybody says ... I haven't done anything
other than write.

"Some say the way to deal with this is to sit down with
paramilitaries and ask them why they are doing this. I have
no interest in doing that because I don't want to give
people authority over my writing. If I negotiated with
them, I would be recognising their authority, which I

Mitchell's pensioner parents were the first to feel the
intimidation when they were told: "All the Mitchells have
four hours to leave Rathcoole or they will be killed."
Sandra and Chuck Mitchell had lived in their home for 50
years, but had to leave. His father is now in hospital.

Mitchell's grandmother, Sadie, was allowed to stay alone in
a small flat. She died five months later.

The Mitchells were told they could not return to Rathcoole
for the funeral. "We had to have a police escort. My granny
always wanted to be buried from her house. That had to be
changed because police said it wasn't safe. When they were
taking the coffin out, a man shouted: 'One Mitchell dead!'
These are the sorts of things you don't forget."

Tommy Kirkham of the Ulster Political Research Group, which
advises the UDA, said he had been assured the UDA was not
behind the attacks. Mitchell has been told rogue elements
may have targeted him.

The Belfast novelist Glenn Patterson has organised an open
letter in support of Mitchell with 30 other writers.


New Allegations On Castlereagh Chef

Ciarán Barnes

The chef at the centre of the Castlereagh break-in
investigation was given a job in the canteen at the
security complex despite the Special Branch knowing he was
a republican.

When hundreds of files on police informants were stolen
during the 2002 St Patrick's Day burglary, Larry Zaitschek,
who was on first-name terms with many Special Branch
detectives, fled to his native New York. He has so far
refused to return.

It is understood the Special Branch was alerted to
Zaitschek's background by British spy Denis Donaldson, who
on Friday admitted to being a British agent for 20 years.

The SDLP is now demanding the British government reveals
how known republican Zaitschek passed stringent security
checks to get a job at Castlereagh.

A popular belief among republicans is that Donaldson and
the Special Branch insisted on Zaitschek getting the job in
order to pin any blame for a 'burglary' on the IRA.
Zaitschek denies any involvement in the break-in.

Calling on the British government to come clean, SDLP
assemblyman Alban Maginness said: "How could he [Zaitschek]
have cleared those checks with his links to Sinn Féin? I
find it baffling that he got a job there.

"Recent disclosures about Denis Donaldson re-open the
entire Castlereagh issue.

"What we need now from both the British government and the
Provos are definitive statements on Castlereagh and the
Stormont spyring."

While running Sinn Féin's New York office in the mid-1990s,
Donaldson met Zaitschek and encouraged him to join Friends
of Sinn Féin. The pair renewed their acquaintance in 1998
when Zaitschek relocated to the North with his now
estranged Belfast-born wife. In 1999, the chef got a job at
the Castlereagh security complex – the nerve centre for
Special Branch intelligence-gathering operations.

He fled the North three years later just days after the
Castlereagh burglary in which hundreds of files on Special
Branch informants were stolen. The incident led to more
than 100 members of the PSNI moving home at a cost of
millions to the taxpayer.

Sinn Féin believes the break-in was planned by rogue agents
determined to collapse the Assembly and end the party's
role in government.

The PSNI rejects this claim, insisting the break-in was the
work of the IRA.

No-one has been charged in connection with the Castlereagh

The PSNI has said it will arrest Zaitschek if he returns to
the North, yet it has not issued a warrant for his
extradition from the United States. In October 2002, seven
months after the Castlereagh break-in, the Assembly was
suspended following raids on Sinn Féin offices at Stormont.

Denis Donaldson, the party's head of civil administration,
Ciarán Kearney and Billy Mackessy were arrested and charged
with spying. It was alleged the IRA had in place a
sophisticated spyring, a claim rejected by republicans.

The case against the men collapsed two weeks ago when the
charges were withdrawn amid claims from the Public
Prosecution Service that they were not in the "public

A week later Donaldson admitted to being a long-term
Special Branch and British military spy.

After confirming his role as a paid agent, Donaldson said
there was never an IRA Stormont spyring. He said it had
been invented by the Special Branch to collapse the power-
sharing Assembly.


Sinn Féin Call On British To Withdraw OTR Bill In Absence
Of Amendments

Published: 20 December, 2005

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP and the party
spokesperson on victims issues Philip McGuigan MLA today
accompanied a group of relatives of those killed through
State Violence for discussions with Peter Hain at
Hillsborough. The delegation discussed the proposal from
the British government to include State Forces in the
current legislation which is supposed to deal with OTRs.

Mr Doherty said:

"In the course of recent weeks Sinn Féin have in
discussions with the British government sought to bring the
proposals on OTRs back to what was agreed at Weston Park.
The legislation is a major breach of that Agreement and an
act of bad faith on behalf of the British government.

"Sinn Féin are absolutely opposed to the inclusion of the
British Crown Forces in this legislation. There are no
British OTRs. Their inclusion is an attempt to misuse the
OTR issue in a further attempt to hide the truth about
British state violence and collusion . This is totally
unacceptable to Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Fein, our party activists, families and friends were
a primary target for British controlled loyalist death
squads. Sinn Fein stands full square behind the families in
their campaign for justice and the truth.

"Gerry Adams told Peter Hain when they met a week ago that
if the British government are not prepared to change the
legislation to remove this inclusion of British state
forces then the legislation should be withdrawn.

"Today's meeting provided some of the victims of state
violence with an opportunity to explain to Peter Hain
directly the hurt which has been caused by his proposal to
include British state forces in the legislation.

"Sinn Féin took the opportunity today to emphasise again
our view that, since the British government is not prepared
to make the required amendments, Sinn Fein totally reject
the legislation as unacceptable and we asked that it be
withdrawn in its entirety. Sinn Fein will certainly not
participate in any mechanisms established as a result of
this flawed approach.." ENDS


Dublin Will Withdraw OTR Pardons If UK Measure Falls

Dan Keenan and Mark Brennock

The Government will withdraw its plans to grant pardons
to paramilitary fugitives - so-called on-the-runs - if
British legislation on the same issue is not enacted.

This was confirmed last night after Sinn Féin announced the
withdrawal of its support for a bill currently before the
House of Commons, which would allow paramilitaries and
others suspected of terrorist offences to return to
Northern Ireland without facing court proceedings.

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said the Sinn Féin change
of position would not mean the bill would be withdrawn.

An NIO spokesman said: "There is no other vehicle for
dealing with OTRs, and Sinn Féin is deluding itself if it
thinks there is."

In Dublin, a spokeswoman for the Government said Irish
measures to deal with OTRs would not proceed if British
legislation was withdrawn.

"This was an initiative that was always going to be done in
parallel with the British government," she told The Irish
Times. "If the British government does not proceed, then
neither will the Government."

Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Doherty claimed the current
British proposals, which cover British soldiers and police
officers as well as paramilitaries, were "far removed" from
what was agreed with the British government in talks at
Weston Park in 2001.

The West Tyrone MP accused London of "sleight of hand" over
the Bill's inclusion of crown forces suspected of crimes
connected with the Troubles before 1998.

Sinn Féin welcomed the British initiative when the Bill was
published early last month. However, Mr Doherty said
yesterday the party's current position followed
consultation with those on the run who cannot return for
fear of arrest.

The SDLP insisted its opposition to the OTRs legislation
and relentless campaigning had forced Sinn Féin's hand. The
party called for the Bill to be dropped.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said Sinn Féin should have known
since 2003 that the British would include all suspected of
terrorist crimes, quoting details of a paper published at
the time to support his claims.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has repeatedly claimed that
republicans and the British government have been colluding,
with each helping the other to "cover up their dirty

Unionists also called for the abandonment of the Bill.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said: "There is now no
excuse to pursue a Bill that is utterly unacceptable to all
right-thinking people. Representatives from Northern
Ireland who sat on the committee scrutinising the Bill have
been united in their opposition to this judicial farce."

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey concurred: "[ This legislation]
should be scrapped, and the government should not attempt
to renegotiate with Sinn Féin another even worse piece of

Prime minister Tony Blair and Northern Secretary Peter Hain
have maintained it was inconceivable that paramilitary
fugitives would be given what amounted to an amnesty, while
crown forces members were forced to undergo due process.

© The Irish Times


The Great Deception

How Denis Donaldson Conned A Generation Of Republicans

Daily Ireland reporters

"If you gave me one thousand names of republicans and
asked me to pick out those most likely to be informers, I
would go through 999 before choosing Denis Donaldson," said
one republican last night as he assessed the fallout from
the Stormontgate scandal.

Amid all the speculation and spin, one thing is clear:
Denis Donaldson was beyond suspicion. Just once, perhaps,
did the guard fall.

In an interview on a west Belfast community radio show two
years ago, he was asked to sum what it meant to be a
lifelong republican. "Being a republican meant I got to
travel the world and meet interesting and influential
people," he said.

It was an unusual reply, all the more so since a colleague
interviewed with him answered the same question by
referring, as expected, to the great friendships forged
through struggle as a republican activist.

"I remember hearing that interview and just saying:
'What?'" one Belfast republican told Daily Ireland.

"This wasn't the Denis Donaldson I knew: the intellectual,
highly-motivated comrade with impeccable republican
credentials forged in the prisons and on the streets of
Short Strand."

But the mindboggling breadth of the betrayal has left many
of his former comrades still stunned.

"He wasn't a £5-tout," said one republican. "He knew
exactly what he was doing. He was the guy who told us in
jail the greatest deterrent to volunteers breaking under
interrogation was in making them more political, making
them understand why they were republicans. So this was a
very deliberate treachery by a man who knew exactly what he
was doing."

Former Sinn Féin councillor Seán McKnight, who worked with
Denis closely when they both served Sinn Féin's six-county
executive, said he had known Donaldson for 36 years.

"He was a hard worker, an intellectual, someone who was
well-read and understood the politics. So his betrayal was
very calculated. He was one of the first people to advocate
the electoral path and, in fact, he came to the Markets'
Social Club in the early eighties and convinced me to leave
my job there to stand for Belfast City Council. He
understood the electoral strategy and where we were going
and yet just a few years later he began working for our

The McKnight and Donaldson families grew up together, adds
Seán McKnight.

"Our kids looked up to him and regarded him as a cool dude,
someone who was able to handle any situation. It's strange
now looking back but often after a day's work he would have
dropped me off home and then headed off God know's where
meeting with Special Branch. He lived three lives, that of
a British agent, that of a Sinn Féin activist and then his
family life. He carried the coffins of IRA volunteers. How
did he do that?"

Muralist and veteran republican Danny Devenny, who worked
with Denis Donaldson when they were both based at Conway
Mill, and lived close to his home in the Short Strand, said
republicans would come through the latest crisis.

"Denis Donaldson was a Judas," he said. "He betrayed the
people of our community. He betrayed his comrades and he
betrayed the republican ideal. On top of all that, he
dragged down the iconic image of Bobby Sands by being
pictured beside him."

Another Short Strand republican said residents of the East
Belfast area were "in shock".

"The Donaldsons were of fine republican stock going right
back to the Fenian times," he said.

"When his grandmother was caught in the Anderson's Bar
bombing in the seventies, she refused to allow the Brits to
pull her from the rubble: that's how deep their
republicanism ran. It's incredible that he has betrayed his
own family. In the Short Strand, we had a sense of pride in
Denis. He was a local boy up there with the leadership.
That's why we had him back at every commemoration but the
thought of him now delivering eulogies to fallen volunteers
at those commemorations is stomach-turning. Why did he do
it? It can't have been for money because he never had any
money or was too smart to let on he had. I can only think
that he got caught up in the whole James Bond role and
thought this made him superior to the rest of us."

A former Short Strand prisoner said republicans looked up
to Denis Donaldson. "He was no longer active in the area by
the mid-eighties but people looked up to him as,
effectively, the first IRA man in the area after 1969," he

"People revered him for having come out of Long Kesh at the
same time as Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands with exciting
plans to build up community councils and develop a
political front to complement the armed struggle.

"You can imagine then that those who were in the cages of
Long Kesh with him are those who are most shattered by news
of his betrayal."


Orde To Brief Ahern On Stormontgate

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The PSNI Chief Constable will give as much information as
possible about the Stormontgate affair to the Taoiseach
when they meet tomorrow.

Sir Hugh Orde will confirm that records of conversations Mr
Ahern had with prime minister Tony Blair were among
documents recovered by detectives investigating an alleged
spying operation at Stormont.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Sir Hugh said the hundreds of
pages of documents included what the PSNI calls targeting

"This covers details of police officers and prison
officers. Also there were notes of conversations between
Britain and the United States, notes on actual
conversations - the actual official record of those
conversations between the president [ of the US] and the
prime minister and the Taoiseach and the prime minister."
He said the documents included notes on "other political
parties", though not on Sinn Féin.

Denying republican allegations that the Stormont raids were
part of a wider political conspiracy designed to bring down
a legitimate government, Sir Hugh added: "We would have
been a lot more sophisticated than that. We wouldn't have
left [ the documents] under someone's bed. We would have
put them somewhere far more damaging."

He said the authorities would not have gone through the
charade of warning hundreds of people and spending £35
million rehousing them.

"We would have been a lot cleverer around all this. The
notion that this is some sort of conspiracy, well, it's a
pretty poor conspiracy in that no one was convicted. The
fact that we have complied utterly with the rule of law is
the reason that we have not got prosecutions."

Agreeing with the dropping of charges against Denis
Donaldson, Ciarán Kearney and William Mackessy, Sir Hugh
said the Director of the Public Prosecutions Service had no
option other than to retract the case against the three men
originally charged in connection with the alleged Stormont
spying affair.

"There comes a point when the public interest in law must
succeed over a desire to prosecute an individual," he said.

Unionists remained unhappy last night following Sir Hugh's
remarks. Sir Reg Empey, the UUP leader, and DUP MP Nigel
Dodds are still critical of the handling of the affair. Sir
Reg said he was no nearer to getting the answers he wanted
after meeting Northern Secretary Peter Hain yesterday.

Mr Dodds welcomed Sir Hugh's "strong confirmation of IRA-
Sinn Féin involvement in a spy ring at the heart of
government". But he added: "Sir Hugh Orde has not explained
why, given the clear evidence of criminal activity, no one
is to be prosecuted for any offence whatsoever."

Sinn Féin said Denis Donaldson, unmasked last week as a
spy, was an agent of the British state, not of republicans.

"He was not acting on behalf of republicans or our peace
process agenda," said North Belfast Assembly member Gerry

Sir Hugh said he could not comment on who was and who was
not a covert human intelligence source". He also rejected
Sinn Féin charges that the PSNI was involved in political
policing, claiming: "We would not have caught our own

Policing Board chairman Sir Desmond Rea said last night he
was satisfied there was no political policing in relation
to the Stormont affair.

He said: "Back in 2002 the board held the Chief Constable
to account over the Stormont searches . . . In respect of
recent events, the revelations of the last week and the
claims of Sinn Féin do not square up."

© The Irish Times


Police Reject Spy Claims

Northern Ireland's Policing Board has rejected Sinn Fein
claims that the IRA spy scandal at Stormont was a
politically-fuelled con.

After republicans hit out at Sir Hugh Orde's reassertion
that hundreds of documents were stolen during an
intelligence-gathering operation that brought down the
power-sharing executive and has now led to the unmasking of
a Sinn Fein aide as a mole, the watchdog insisted the Chief
Constable's actions were justified.

Sir Desmond Rea, chairman of the board which holds police
to account, also declared: "The revelations of the last
week and the claims of Sinn Fein do not square up."

He urged the Chief Constable to go even further in
disclosing details of the searches and material seized by
his officers during the investigation in October 2002 into
a republican intelligence-gathering operation.

With the furore over the affair showing no sign of
relenting, Sir Hugh today insisted bundles of papers
including details on politicians, civil servants and police
and prison officers were recovered during searches in West

"These documents exist. They are real," he stressed.

"There is also a large number of documents relating, for
example, to discussions between the Prime Minister and the
President of the United States, discussions between
Government and the Northern Ireland political parties, with
the exception of Sinn Fein - we have not recovered anything
in relation to that party."

His assertion brought a furious reaction from senior Sinn
Fein representative Gerry Kelly, who claimed the documents
were found at the home of Denis Donaldson, the party
official revealed on Friday to be a British agent.

Mr Donaldson, 55, the republican party's head of
administration at Stormont, was arrested during the
original police operation and accused along with two other
men of involvement in the espionage plot.

But the case against all three was dropped 12 days ago by
the Public Prosecution Service because it was no longer in
the public interest.

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2005, All Rights


IRA 'Sleepers In Top Positions'

IRA "sleepers" have influence in high places in Northern
Ireland and the Irish Republic, Ulster Unionist peer Lord
Laird has claimed.

He was speaking during a Lords debate on extending powers
such as non-jury Diplock trials until 31 July 2007.

Lord Laird said the Terrorism (Northern Ireland) Bill
should have included measures to confront "the new threat
of white collar terrorism".

He said the IRA and Sinn Fein had been infiltrating the
media for decades.

"This can be seen in the highly negative reaction in
sections of the southern media against the Minister for
Justice, Michael McDowell, when he outed and denounced
Frank Connolly, one of the Republic's most prominent
journalists, as an IRA fellow traveller.


"Gerry Adams said recently that all British and Irish
government spies in the IRA/Sinn Fein must be removed. I
say to him, 'What about the IRA/Sinn Fein spies in the

He was speaking during the second reading of the Terrorism
(Northern Ireland) Bill which extends to 31 July 2007, part
seven of the Terrorism Act 2000, with an option to extend
the provisions for only a year after that.

Northern Ireland Minister Lord Rooker said the Bill
repealed some of the measures no longer required in
Northern Ireland.

He said the security situation had "improved significantly"
since 28 July, when the IRA ordered an end to its armed
campaign in order to pursue exclusively peaceful means.

"If the security situation does not support it,
normalisation and the repeal of part seven provisions will
not go ahead," he added.

The Bill was given an unopposed second reading.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/12/20 16:53:17 GMT


Opin: The Strange Collusion Between Downing Street And Sinn Féin

The multi-layered truth behind the exposure of a British
agent in the Irish republican leadership must be uncovered

Jonathan Freedland
Wednesday December 21, 2005
The Guardian

The loudest noise in these islands should be the sound of
Irish republicans chanting I told you so. For years, Sinn
Féin leaders have banged on about the "securocrats" who
pull the secret strings of Northern Ireland. These men,
skulking in corners of the army, MI5, Special Branch and
the Northern Ireland Office, form, say republicans, a
"shadow government", bent on forcing its own, reactionary
agenda on the province. In this view, their driving purpose
is the defeat, discrediting and humiliation of Sinn Féin
and the IRA - regardless of the policy pursued by Tony
Blair and his "official" government in Downing Street.

Yeah, yeah, whatever, journalists in London would say,
stifling a yawn. Not only was the "securocrat" speech a
broken record, it also sounded vaguely unhinged: a
conspiracy theory that belonged in an airport thriller
rather than the real world.

Yet last Friday brought news that showed republicans' worst
nightmares were no fantasy. Denis Donaldson, the party's
chief administrator at Stormont, outed himself as a spy:
for 20 years, he revealed, his real masters were not his
Sinn Féin colleagues, but the despised "securocrats" of the
British state. Donaldson had sat in inner circle meetings
with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness since the mid-80s,
but all that time he had taken his orders from unnamed,
unknown "elements" within the British security

That was dramatic enough, but Donaldson is especially
significant. For he was one of three officials charged with
spying on other political parties at Stormont: an alleged
plot whose discovery in October 2002 so offended unionists
and others that Northern Ireland's brief experiment in
self-rule was shut down. The democratically elected
Stormont assembly was suspended, frozen in a limbo that
endures to this day: day-to-day power reverted back to
London, as if the Good Friday agreement had never happened.

That connection made Donaldson's confession explosive. For
if he was a servant of the British state, the charge that
Sinn Féin was spying on political rivals was, in all
likelihood, bogus. It could well have been Donaldson's
British handlers who were behind the Stormont plot, in a
bid to discredit the republican cause. On this logic,
unionists in their outrage in 2002, and London in its
acquiescence to that fury, were merely following a script
laid out by a few spooks in the Belfast dark. Everything
Sinn Féin had said about the securocrats was true: they had
indeed plotted to bring down a democratic body - simply to
keep republicans away from power.

All of which makes a kind of sense. Some republicans have
long suspected that, while hardline Brits can just about
stomach Sinn Féin and the IRA taking part in the peace
process - grateful for the end to violence that entails -
they balk at the thought of them in government. What
Donaldson called the "fiction" of Stormontgate ensured they
got their way. Others say that even the outing of Donaldson
was probably engineered with the same aim: to keep
republicans out of power. What the men in the shadows
imagined was that once Donaldson's cover was blown, he
would flee for his life - fearing the wrath of IRA
punishment. His panicked flight would itself prove that the
Provos still represented an armed threat - thereby obliging
the international monitor on decommissioning to deliver a
negative verdict on the IRA, so keeping republicans away
from power a bit longer.

Viewed like this, the implications are enormous - and not
just for Northern Ireland. For what this reveals is a rogue
element within the British state, a return to the late-
1980s Spycatcher allegation, when Peter Wright confirmed
that a cell of intelligence operatives had once operated as
a law unto themselves, "bugging and burgling" their way
across London. How would the prime minister explain that,
yet again, agents of the British state are out of control?

Well, so far he hasn't had to - because no one is really
asking the question. And that is the strangest aspect of
this strange saga. Sinn Féin, who should be climbing the
roof of Belfast's Waterfront Hall screaming their
vindication, are oddly muted. Alone among Northern
Ireland's parties, they are not calling for an inquiry into
the Donaldson affair. McGuinness has spoken of learning
lessons, rather than pointing a wild, admonishing finger at
London. The rhetorical dial has been set on cool.

Why might that be? A first explanation is embarrassment: it
is mighty awkward for the Sinn Féin leadership that a
traitor could have got so close for so long. It plays to
the most toxic of republican hardliners' accusations
against the Adams-McGuinness peace strategy - that it's all
a British plot to still the IRA's guns.

There are other reasons for republicans to be wary of
delving any deeper into this murk. I'm told that,
internally, Sinn Féin folk are asking the Donnie Brasco
question. In that Al Pacino movie, about an FBI infiltrator
in the mafia, the mole's sponsor is told: "You brought him
in here, you're responsible." Whoever initially brought
Donaldson into Sinn Féin will be feeling the heat. I also
understand that when Donaldson confessed - under an
interrogation led by his own son-in-law, Ciaran Kearney -
he named some other Sinn Féin names as fellow British
agents. Things could get very nasty.

Alternatively, it's possible that the Stormont spy ring was
not a fiction or even British-inspired, but a genuine IRA
scheme - as Northern Ireland's chief constable insisted
yesterday - and that Donaldson had to go along with it in
order to preserve his cover. Confirmation of that would
also be a disincentive for Sinn Féin to seek any further
inquiry, for it would vindicate their enemies.

Or, more complicatedly, it's conceivable that Donaldson was
a double agent - that he had "turned" back to Sinn Féin
after his initial betrayal. Standard IRA operating
procedure in the past was for an informer to receive a
bullet to the head on a lonely country road - and then for
an amnesty to be offered to any others. Message: come back
to us, or you'll get the same treatment. Donaldson may have
been one to take up the offer. If he was, that would
explain the tenor of his Friday statement, when he spoke in
the language of an avowed, ideological republican rather
than someone who had crossed sides.

No one, save a few key players, really knows what happened
(and most I spoke to do not include Blair as one of those
privy to the truth). But this episode does reveal three
things quite clearly. First, that for some people the war
in Northern Ireland has not ended. There are still more
British troops there than in Iraq; and there are still
"securocrats" consumed with fighting the IRA, even if that
organisation has officially stood down. Second, that though
peace has held, more or less, for seven years, self-
government for the province has been thwarted time after
time. And, lastly, that a strange kind of common interest,
if not collusion, has evolved between Downing Street and
Sinn Féin.

For a long while Northern Ireland's other parties, unionist
and nationalist, have resented the direct relationship
between Blair and Adams - as if the real negotiation comes
down to the two of them - and now, once again, they see the
interests of those two men converge. Both seem reluctant
for the truth to come out - but on this shared goal, if no
other, they should fail. Northern Ireland has lived in the
dark too long.


Tribute Paid To Una O'Higgins O'Malley

Patsy McGarry

Una O'Higgins O'Malley was "in many ways Ireland's queen
of peace in the 20th century," Father Enda McDonagh said
last night.

He was speaking at the removal of Mrs O'Higgins O'Malley to
the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Dublin. She died last
Sunday at her home in Dublin.

He recalled that her father, minister for justice Kevin
O'Higgins, was assassinated in 1928 when she was "only a
few weeks old" and said she had "spent much of her life in
the world of forgiveness", adding: "Her ambition was that
the Irish people could be a forgiving and a forgiven

She had become the "apostle of reconciliation" and could
lecture people on why the civil war had happened by
explaining why both sides felt "justified".

The chief mourners were her husband, Eoin, and their
children Kevin, Eoin, Arthur, Chris, Finbarr and Iseult,
their families and her sister, Maev (Sister Kevin).

A large attendance included many members of both the Labour
Party and the legal profession.

The leader of the Labour Party, Pat Rabbitte, and his
predecessors Ruairí Quinn and Dick Spring were present.

Mourners included former president Dr Patrick Hillery and
his wife, Maeve, and former TD Ruairí Brugha and his wife,

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman of the Supreme Court and Mr
Justice Paul Carney of the High Court were in attendance,
as also were former attorney general John Rogers; Labour
Party deputy leader Liz McManus; Labour front-benchers Joan
Burton, Eamonn Gilmore and Michael D. Higgins; former
minister for justice Nora Owen; the president of the Human
Rights Commission, Maurice Manning; the chairman of the Bar
Council, Hugh Mohan; and the broadcaster and historian John

© The Irish Times


McCartney Family In Blair Meeting

The family of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney have
met Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.

Two of his sisters were joined by Sinead Commander, whose
husband Jeff was allegedly attacked because of his
friendship with the McCartneys.

Mr McCartney, 33, was murdered in the street outside a bar
in Belfast city centre in January.

Catherine and Paula McCartney requested the meeting with
the prime minister as part of their campaign for justice.

Mr McCartney's family claim they have been intimidated by
the IRA.

There is a misconception among people in the British
government that the people involved in Robert's murder are
rogue elements in republicanism

Catherine McCartney

They and Mrs Commander met Mr Blair at 1700 GMT on Tuesday.

Catherine McCartney said they wanted to dispel a
"misconception" that those involved in Mr McCartney's
murder were "rogue elements" in republicanism.

She said it was the first time they had met Tony Blair on a
formal basis and they wanted to update him on the

She added that the family felt that Sinn Fein was not doing
all it could to help them.

In March, they had separate meetings with Senator Ted
Kennedy and President George Bush, both of whom refused to
meet Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the time.

Two people have been charged in relation with Mr
McCartney's murder and three people have been charged in
relation to the alleged attack on Mr Commander.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/12/20 18:31:15 GMT



Ring Again Raises Plight Of The Undocumented Irish In America

Mayo Deputy Michael Ring has again questioned the Minister
for Foreign Affairs in relation to the situation for the
thousands of undocumented Irish people living illegally in

Minister Ahern stated: "The legislative debate in
Washington D.C. has entered a critical phase. Various
proposals are under consideration at present, of which the
bills sponsored by Senators Kennedy and McCain and by
Senators Kyl and Cornyn remain the most comprehensive and
significant politically. The approach put forward by
Senators Kennedy and McCain is particularly attractive as
it would offer the undocumented a path to permanent

"As I outlined in the information note that I circulated to
Members of the House last month, the legislative situation
is fluid and members of Congress are slow to make
predictions. Despite significant developments, achieving
the necessary compromise on this issue remains a formidable
challenge. For example, in recent days the Judiciary
Committee of the House of Representatives passed a further
bill which will shortly be debated on the House floor,
perhaps as early as this week. This bill, which is one of
over 50 draft immigration bills currently before Congress,
focuses on measures to improve border security and enhance
enforcement. It does not provide for measures that would
allow the undocumented to regularise their status. I
welcome the engagement of President Bush in this issue and,
in particular, his strong assertion in recent comments in
Arizona that dealing with immigration must involve reform
as well as enforcement.

" I have visited the United States twice in recent weeks.
In all of my contacts in New York, Boston and Washington
D.C., including with Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice,
and former President Clinton, I have briefed my
interlocutors on the importance which the Government
attaches to addressing the situation in a positive and
sympathetic way. In particular, I have made known our
support, and the support of this House, for the approach
favoured by Senators Kennedy and McCain.

"When Senator Kennedy and I met recently in Washington D.C.
we reviewed the overall prospects for US legislative
reform. I was delighted to have the opportunity to express
to him our deep appreciation for his exceptional efforts on
this issue in Congress."

A significant development of note in recent weeks has been
the establishment of the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform. This grassroots mobilisation of the Irish American
community in support of the approach to immigration reform
favoured by Senators Kennedy and McCain had its inaugural
meeting on 9 December.

Deputy Ring stated that he will continue to pursue this
issue. "It is at this time of the year that many people
really would like to see their family members return home
but because of their undocumented status in the U.S., this
simply is not possible at this present time."


HSO Presents "An Irish New Year's Eve"

The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra presents its annual New
Year's Eve Concert on Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 7:30
p.m. in the VBC Concert Hall. This festive concert features
amazing Irish fiddler Eileen Ivers of Riverdance fame. She
will be joined by her eclectic band Immigrant Soul.
Together with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, led by
guest conductor Bill Grimes, Ms. Ivers will present a
sizzling fusion of Irish, Latin and American music,
creating the most unique New Year's Eve celebration in

The Washington Post says Eileen Ivers "suggests the future
of the Celtic Fiddle." The New York Times calls her "the
Jimi Hendrix of the violin." And Billboard Magazine calls
her "a sensation." With her star musical turn in
Riverdance, her thirty-plus medals in the All-Ireland
Championships and her collaborations with such diverse
artists and ensembles as Paula Cole, Nadja Salerno-
Sonnenberg, the Boston Pops Orchestra and Paddy Maloney,
Eileen Ivers has established herself as the pre-eminent
exponent of the Irish fiddle in the world today. Her band
Immigrant Soul blends Irish traditions with the rhythms of
African, Latin and American music. True to the soul of
Irish music, HSO's New Year's Eve celebration with Eileen
Ivers encompasses the rich multiculturalism of American

Joseph McLellan of The Washington Postwrites, "...Ivers
plays two violins, a standard acoustic one and another that
is electrified. She may be the world's fastest fiddler, and
she used this skill effectively, but she also is a
versatile musician, at home in a variety of idioms and
alert to the links between the popular music of Ireland and
America. ...Still, Irish music is Ivers's specialty and she
performs it with panache, solo or in ensemble, in the
spotlight or in accompaniment."

Under the direction of Bill Grimes, the orchestra is
featured in the energetic John Williams filmscore music
from Far and Away, a film about Irish Immigrants, and other
traditional favorites from the British Isles. Tickets may
be purchased by phone at 539-4818, in person at the HSO
Offices and online at Tickets may also be
purchased the night of the concert at the Concert Hall
beginning at 6:15 p.m. Single ticket prices range from $27
to $58, with student and group rates available, and there
is a $5.00 student rush beginning at 7:20 p.m.

Symphony Pops packages are also available. The two-concert
package includes the New Year's Eve Concert and a Beatles'
Tribute with Classical Mystery Tour on Saturday, May 13,
2006. Package prices range start at $36 for the two-concert
package. Students are half-price.


Eileen Ivers, Irish Fiddler

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, Nine Time All-Ireland
Fiddle Champion, London Symphony Orchestra, National
Symphony at The Kennedy Center, Boston Pops, musical star
of Riverdance, The Chieftains, Hall and Oates, Afrocelts,
Patti Smith, Paula Cole, founding member of Cherish the
Ladies, performances for Presidents and Royalty worldwide …
this is a short list of accomplishments, headliners, tours
and affiliations.

Fiddler Eileen Ivers has established herself as the pre-
eminent exponent of the Irish fiddle in the world today. It
is a rare and select grade of spectacular artists whose
work is so boldly imaginative and clearly virtuosic that it
alters the medium. It has been said that the task of
respectfully exploring the traditions and progression of
the Celtic fiddle is quite literally on Eileen Ivers'
shoulders. The Washington Post states, "She suggests the
future of the Celtic fiddle."

The daughter of Irish immigrants, Eileen Ivers grew up in
the culturally diverse neighborhood of the Bronx, New York.
Rooted in Irish traditional music since the age of eight,
Eileen proceeded to win nine All-Ireland fiddle
championships, a tenth on tenor banjo and over 30
championship medals, making her one of the most awarded
persons ever to compete in these prestigious competitions.
The intrigue of learning more about the multicultural
sounds of her Irish-American childhood eventually took
hold. After graduating magna cum laude in mathematics from
Iona College and while continuing her postgraduate work,
Eileen fully immersed herself in the different genres of
music that she experienced growing up in New York.

In 1999 Eileen created a touring production to present this
music, which developed into Eileen Ivers and Immigrant
Soul. A mix of African and Latin percussion and bass, Irish
instrumentalists, and American soulful vocals, the group
headlines major performing arts centers, guest stars with
numerous symphonies, performs at major festivals worldwide
and has appeared on national and international television.
Eileen has also shared the stage with two of the world's
most celebrated violinists, classical virtuoso Nadja
Salerno-Sonnenberg and jazz great Regina Carter, in the
critically acclaimed "Fiddlers Three." This show continues
to fascinate symphony audiences throughout the U.S.

Ivers' recording credits include over 80 contemporary and
traditional albums and numerous movie scores. Her latest
CD, entitled Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, continues to
display why Ivers is hailed as one of the great innovators
and pioneers in the Celtic and World music genres.

ZETA Music, the world's leading electric stringed
instrument maker, has recently introduced the Eileen Ivers
Signature Series blue violin.

William Grimes, Guest Conductor

A familiar face to HSO Pops audiences, guest conductor
William Grimes is also a composer, arranger, jazz bassist,
and teacher. As a conductor of Pops Orchestras, he has
worked with such artists as Doc Severinson, Judy Collins,
Charlie Daniels, and Monica Mancini along with such
orchestras as the Tulsa Philharmonic, Louisiana
Philharmonic and the Minnesota Orchestra. His arrangements
and compositions have been performed in this country and in
Europe as well as featured on Evening at Pops. Grimes
recently completed a recording project in the Czeck
Republic with the Janacek Philharmonic featuring the music
of George Gershwin. His latest jazz recording is entitled
Standards, Volume 1, with the Grimes-Robinson quartet.
Currently, Grimes is Professor of Music at the School of
Music at LSU in Baton Rouge. Grimes holds the Bachelor of
Music degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of
Music and the Masters and Doctorate from the prestigious
Eastman School of Music.

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