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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
December 27, 2005
Maskey Responding Well in Hospital
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News about Ireland & the Irish
BB 12/27/05 Heart Scare For Former Lord Mayor
IO 12/27/05 One Arrest After Arson Attacks In Co Down
IO 12/27/05 Ahern Accused Of Following Washington’s Orders
IT 12/27/05 Harney Warning On Political Instability
BT 12/27/05 SDLP Keeps Up Pressure Over Spying Ring Claims
BT 12/27/05 Opin: Spy's In Public Eye, But Still No Answers
TE 12/27/05 Cameron Refuses To Back Amnesty For Fugitives
BT 12/27/05 Opin: OTR Bill: Radical Changes Required
EX 12/27/05 Single Traveller Serves In Garda Siochána
NH 12/27/05 Bid To Clear Kelly Is Making Progress
DI 12/27/05 KKK Distances Themselves From Northern Racists
IO 12/27/05 Ireland Falling Short Of Kyoto Commitments
BT 12/27/05 Racing Fans Defy The Hoaxers
EX 12/27/05 Opin: Ahernia:Trains OnTime & ‘Feck’ Is Banned
IT 12/27/05 Wicklow Prepares To Celebrate 400 Years
IT 12/27/05 Old Wren Boy Tradition Endures
IO 12/27/05 Beckett Centenary Celebrations Planned
Heart Scare For Former Lord Mayor
Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Maskey is recovering after
suffering a minor heart attack.
Mr Maskey was brought to hospital after he fell ill on
The party said in a statement that the South Belfast MLA
remained in a stable condition and was now resting.
The 53-year-old, who became Sinn Fein's first lord mayor of
Belfast in June 2002, was said to be responding well to
treatment in hospital.
One Arrest After Arson Attacks In Co Down
27/12/2005 - 11:20:04
A man has been arrested in Co Down in connection with a
series of arson attacks that happened in Downpatrick in the
early hours of this morning.
Two cars were destroyed and two others damaged on St
Patrick's Avenue and Ardpatrick Avenue between midnight and
The PSNI have appealed for witnesses to the incidents to
Ahern Accused Of 'Following Orders From Washington'
27/12/2005 - 10:14:47
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is "shining the shoes" of US
president George Bush by allowing Shannon Airport to be
used by American war planes, it was claimed today.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Ireland next month,
controversial academic Noam Chomsky also accused the Irish
Government of being the US's obedient servant.
Speaking about the refuelling of US military aircraft at
Shannon, Dr Chomsky asked: "Is Mr Ahern following the will
of the Irish people or is he following orders from
"It can only be justified if the goal of the government is
to be the obedient servant of the global superpower.
"This tells you that western politicians despise democracy
and prefer to shine the shoes of the power."
A persistent critic of US foreign policy, Dr Chomsky is to
deliver the Amnesty International annual lecture at Trinity
College, Dublin, on January 18.
The Irish Human Rights Commission said last week that the
Government must inspect US planes landing at Shannon to
ensure terror suspects are not being transported to alleged
torture camps elsewhere.
The Government reiterated that it had no reason to question
repeated assurances given by US authorities that prisoners
are not being ferried through the airport.
It called for any credible evidence to the contrary to be
handed over to gardaí.
Dr Chomsky, who has a cult-like following among left-wing
activists and students, was dubbed "the Elvis of Academia"
by U2 singer Bono.
The professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology received an honorary fellowship from UCD's
Literary and Historical Society in 2002.
The 77-year-old also said that the US invasion of Iraq in
2003 without full UN support showed utter contempt for
"New Europe follows orders from Crawford, Texas," he said.
"I cannot think of any other example in recent history of
utter contempt for democracy expressed so clearly and
accepted by Western politicians.
"We had a public vilification of France because it didn't
shine George Bush's shoes. Therefore we had to have
'freedom fries' instead of French fries in the Senate lunch
A fearless critic of political injustice around the world,
Mr Chomsky also admitted to frequent threats on his life
for his outspoken views.
"I get regular death threats but I don't take them
seriously. The death threats and the need for police
protection comes from writings and talks on the Middle East
Dr Chomsky also claimed that US militarisation of space was
driving the world to disaster.
"Sooner or later there will be conflicts over this," he
"Russia has already said that if the US proceeds with its
plans for militarisation of space, then it will use force
to respond. And China has said the same thing. Russia has
enormously increased its offensive military capacity in
direct response to the huge Bush effort on this.
"These are ways of consciously driving the world to
The academic claimed the European Union was forcing free
market economics on member states.
"The debate is usually over whether the EU should adopt the
Anglo-American model of free market capitalism. That is
ludicrous. The UK and the US aren't free market societies.
"The business community in those countries wouldn't for a
moment allow free markets to operate internally.
"The entire US economy depends upon a dynamic state sector
which socialises cost and risk and later privatises
Harney Warning On Political Instability
Should a 2007 election result in compatible parties
failing to win a majority, Mary Harney tells Mark Brennock
Ireland could return to the instability of the early 1980s.
Ireland could return to the political instability of the
early 1980s characterised by frequent elections if a
compatible set of political parties does not win a majority
in 2007, according to the Tanaiste, Mary Harney.
She issued her warning in the context of discussing the
options that may face political parties after the next
general election. She repeated that she could see her party
in Government either with Fianna Fáil, or with Fine Gael
In an interview with The Irish Times, Ms Harney said she
would not consider coalescing with the Green Party and what
she calls their "daft" economic policies. Nor would she be
in Government with Sinn Féin. She would consider a minority
government supported by independents.
But none of these combinations might have the numbers to
form a stable coalition.
"There are a number of options after the next election. We
could be back to a situation where independents have the
balance of power, which was the 1997-2002 situation."
This alone could create instability. "It could well be that
if we don't have a combination of parties that have
compatible agendas we could be into multiple elections as
we had in the early 80s, which was a time of huge
instability and uncertainty.
"So I think above all else we need a stable government and
that will be one of the big issues for the electorate at
the next election."
Some of the rhetoric of Mary Harney and the PDs concerning
the prospect of Labour entering the next government
suggests this will be followed swiftly by tax increases and
a flight of capital from the State, followed by mass
unemployment and emigration. Yet it is clear that Ms Harney
sees coalition with Labour as possible.
If Fine Gael and Labour needed PD support to allow them
form a government "there would be major challenges for the
Progressive Democrats and Labour in having a compatible
Labour, like the PDs, have pledged not to increase income
tax or corporation tax, but Ms Harney says there are other
differences. "We wouldn't be prepared to compromise some of
our fundamental policy positions for the sake of being in
"Take the health area for example, the notion that you
couldn't purchase from private providers for public
patients [ as happens under the National Treatment Purchase
Fund] would be one issue. No way would we increase capital
gains tax, because we think it would have negative revenue
consequences for the Exchequer.
"We wouldn't contemplate a wealth tax for similar reasons,
because it would lead to a flight of capital outside the
"So I think some of those issues would be pretty
fundamental as far as the core of a programme for
government would be concerned."
Having listed her problems with Labour, she also indicates
they are not insurmountable. "Politics has changed here. If
you look at the extreme elements in the Dáil, it doesn't
come from the Labour Party, it comes from Joe Higgins, it
comes from some of the independents."
And whatever about Labour, she couldn't see her party in
government with the Greens. "No. They are even more
fundamental on the whole taxation system, and on industrial
policy I think there are major problems with the Greens.
I've a lot of respect for the Greens and there are a number
of policies I would be very positive about.
"But fundamentally around economic issues and their
attitude to industry and big business and how you raise
taxes and so on . . . some of their economic policies in my
view are just so crazy that I couldn't see any party that
supports the current broad consensus around lower taxes
being able to embrace the Green Party strategy."
The PDs most treasured influence in Government since 1997
has been on taxation policy and the economy, yet since last
year's Cabinet reshuffle they have been without an economic
ministry. Mary Harney moved from Enterprise and Employment
to Health, Michael McDowell remained in Justice. Charlie
McCreevy, the party's closest ally in Fianna Fáil for so
long, moved from Finance to become Ireland's European
Since then too, Fianna Fáil has been seeking to redefine
the Government's image. No longer do they wish it to be
dominated by the tax cutting pro-business element. Instead,
they have been emphasising social spending and showing
anxiety to address trade union concerns, whether over
Dublin airport or the Irish Ferries dispute.
But Ms Harney rejects the perception that the absence of a
PD economic Minister has allowed Fianna Fáil dictate the
policy agenda. "We were conscious of that [ possible
perception] when the reshuffle was taking place.
"But things operate very much party-to-party in a
coalition. So in areas where we wouldn't have a Minister
there is always consultation on the major issues. Clearly
we work around the programme for Government."
She raises the Budget measures designed to ensure the high
earners who use loopholes and shelters to pay little or no
tax. "If you take the concept of a minimum tax, the changes
that were brought in in the Budget this year, that's
something we had actually been looking for for quite a
while. Believe it or not, it was something I could never
convince Charlie McCreevy to do.
"I am very strongly in favour of low tax, but I abhor no
tax. It is grossly unfair that anybody would live in any
society and make no contribution. So some of those issues
may look as if they are changing the emphasis or the image
of Government, but they are as much driven by me as they
are by anybody else."
She defines carefully her support of Michael McDowell's
actions recently in denouncing Frank Connolly in the Dáil
as having travelled to Colombia as part of a plot to raise
tens of millions for the IRA. This action by the Minister
was fine "in these circumstances". She supported his giving
of information in the Dáil reply. "We are talking about
someone here who is the CEO of an organisation that was
going to carry out inquiries into matters of public
interest. I think that was right and reasonable in those
As for his giving of a copy of a false passport application
allegedly made by Mr Connolly to one reporter she said:
"Michael has his own style and the journalist asked the
question over a 10-day period and there's always issues
about that, whether there should have been a general
release, and maybe in the future you might do things by way
of a general release, but I hope there isn't a future [
such case]. I think it is exceptional."
Ministers have access to confidential information in their
day-to-day jobs and this would be made public "only in very
exceptional circumstances such as the ones I mentioned
where obviously a prosecution wasn't going to take place."
How long would she stay as party leader? "The Taoiseach
said he was going to retire at 60. I hope I'm going to
retire as leader of the party before I am 60." She is 52
now, she volunteers.
We had only just moved on from the Frank Connolly episode -
in relation to which the Minister's critics claimed he had
not acted with the required caution - when this interviewer
asked her what qualities she thought her successor should
"Obviously somebody that has the capacity to work hard, it
requires a lot of hard work. Somebody with vision and
somebody that can catch the public imagination."
What about caution? "Caution. (pause)" Judgment? "Judgment,
yes, is important." Judgment sometimes involves caution?
"I think sometimes we are too cautious. I think change is
important and reform and . . . somebody that sees the need
for things in Ireland to change. I think every time we
really embrace change and are ambitious we do well for the
country. But anyway you're not going to get me . . .
(laughs). I know what you're trying to get me to do.
(Laughs again) I am delighted I have so many possible
© The Irish Times
SDLP Keeps Up Pressure Over Spying Ring Claims
By Noel McAdam
27 December 2005
The SDLP today sought to maintain their focus on Sinn Fein
over the 'Stormontgate' spy ring allegations as questions
over the affair increased.
Deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell said Sinn Fein claims that
it had been "stitched up" when its Stormont head of
administration Denis Donaldson was exposed as a British spy
needed to be taken seriously.
"We are determined to get to the truth of what really
happened," he said.
"That is why we have been asking certain key questions of
Sinn Fein - and are looking for answers - so that we can
decide if these allegations have any credibility."
The South Belfast MP said it was agreed a rucksack with a
mound of documents was found in Mr Donaldson's house during
the police raids which included Stormont more than three
"If there never was an IRA spy ring why did Sinn Fein not
expel him immediately when these were found?
"Why did they wait three years before taking action?
"How can they expect us to believe they did not realise
that he was an informer despite a huge pile of British
documents being found in his house?" he asked.
"Or is the truth that there really was an IRA authorised
spy ring? Is the truth that the IRA expected British
documents to be in Denis Donaldson's house because he was
part of that IRA spy ring but, unbeknown to them, had been
working for the British?"
Secondly, Mr McDonnell went on, Sinn Fein activist Niall
Binead was convicted last year of IRA membership in the
Republic after being was found with personal details of
three Irish politicians.
"Can Sinn Fein explain why their activist was following
southern politicians? And given that the IRA was clearly
spying in the South, are we really to believe that they
would never do so in the North?"
His questions came as Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey
warned an "increasingly seedy and murky" atmosphere is
threatening any credibility the political process has left.
With both Stormontgate and the On the Runs controversy
running into the New Year, Sir Reg said the collective task
for politicians was to inject some integrity into political
And he warned against any attempt to "reheat" failed
political deals including the two governments' aborted
Comprehensive Package from a year ago.
At the end of the year in which Sir Reg took over the UU
reins from David Trimble, he said Secretary of State Peter
Hain had the "major responsibility" to restore a credibile
Opin: The Spy's In The Public Eye, But There's Still No Answers
27 December 2005
Questions arising from the disclosure of Sinn Fein Stormont
administrator Denis Donaldson as a British spy refuse to go
away. Political Correspondent Noel McAdam looks through a
British spy Denis Donaldson stood on the steps of Stormont,
smiling and nodding between Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness, and clutching a CD case.
"Wonder if those are the discs the cops took?" I said to
BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport. Quick
as a whip he asked the question. Yes, we were told, they
"And there's me thinking it was a wee CD Marty had burned
for you for Christmas," joked another Beeb man.
"Abba's greatest hits?" yet another hack quipped. "Seasonal
In fact, there have been few silent nights for Sinn Fein
since. Like Three Wise Men they had come to the scene of
the crime - but not all were faithful.
The computer discs which the PSNI returned to Stormont's
Sinn Fein offices two days after the October 4 raid in 2002
were back again. Where had they been in the interim?
A week on, after that photo call on the Stormont steps,
Donaldson was revealed as a spy for more than 20 years, and
Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde confirmed that the important
material had turned up in a house in west Belfast.
But not just any house. Donaldson's house.
Sinn Fein has insisted that the unmasked spy Donaldson is
under no threat from the republican movement.
Speculation has continued, however, that republicans will
want to further 'de-brief'' their former Stormont head of
administration about the two decades he spent as a double
Policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said the activities of Mr
Donaldson had caused enormous shock, which is probably
still being absorbed, but the IRA's July statement ending
its activities meant he was in no danger from the
Donaldson has been missing from his home at Aitnamona
Crescent, where the police raid which brought the Assembly
and Executive crashing down, began.
It was there police found a rucksack containing 1,218
documents which, it was later revealed, included details
about the Army GOC in Northern Ireland, Lieutenant General
Alistair Irwin, a plan of Castle Buildings within the
Stormont grounds, as well as details about known loyalist
figures and a serving police officer.
But in early court bail application hearings Donaldson's
legal representative, Seamus Treacy QC, said Donaldson's
fingerprints had not been found on a single document and
there was no DNA evidence to connect him with them.
Reference was also made to the fact that Donaldson was the
first senior republican to be granted a firearms
certificate - which would have had to be vetted by police.
And among references handed in on behalf of Donaldson was
one from former Middle East hostage Brian Keenan, who
praised Donaldson for going to Beirut to try to secure his
release. Mr Keenan wrote: "Only two human beings put their
lives at risk on my behalf. One was Terry Waite and the
other was Denis Donaldson."
At the hearings Mr Treacy also argued that when Donaldson
told police he accepted responsibility for everything in
his home, he did so to ensure that no other member of his
household would be arrested.
But he said Donaldson did not know the rucksack containing
the bag of documents was in his home, which was interpreted
as suggesting it was planted.
Months before the case was dropped - not, it would appear,
because of lack of evidence but "in the public interest,"
Mr Treacy said: "It is highly unlikely that the Crown will
be able to bring a successful prosecution based on the
evidence currently available."
Detective Superintendent Roy Suitters told one of the court
hearings it was believed Donaldson was an active member of
the Headquarters Intelligence Unit of the Provisional IRA
and involved in collating military intelligence.
Mr Treacy argued: "The police only issue such a certificate
(a firearms certificate) after thorough checks, including
Special Branch, and to give a certificate to someone they
believe is in the IRA is nothing short of ridiculous."
Counsel for Donaldson asked to see the document which
Detective Superintendent Suitters cited but were denied
access as he claimed privilege from disclosure. The court
decided, however, failure to disclose was "incompatible"
with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Diminutive Donaldson had been a regular feature around the
corridors of power-sharing at Stormont, a quiet, friendly
man who seemed well-liked in his party and beloved in his
"He wouldn't have been involved in taking the big
decisions," another Stormont staffer said, "but he would
have known what they were - and been involved in their
While not particularly close to Adams, Donaldson was a
tried and trusted republican, steeped in the experiences
which led to the Provos' creation.
Given the shadowy world of spying, we may never know
whether he was - to use Sir Hugh's word - an 'informant'
passing back information to the police and British
intelligence or, as Sinn Fein have claimed an agent
provocateur running the "sham" IRA spy ring for PSNI to
Again in court, the prosecution referred to Donaldson's
connections with Larry Zaitschek, the American whose
extradition has been sought in relation to the raid on
Castlereagh police station in March 2002. Had Donaldson any
advance knowledge, and did he tell his handlers?
Also, if 'Stormontgate' was a put-up job, was the threat
which led to hundreds of security force personnel and
prison officers being re-housed - at a public purse cost of
more than £30m - a real threat?
And how does the discovery of documents in a self-confessed
British agent's home, including transcripts of
conversations between Tony Blair with George Bush and
Bertie Ahern, prove the existence of a republican spy ring?
Would these questions, and the many other permutations, be
answered by a public inquiry? Would police handlers or MI5
officials giving evidence tell the truth? Would anyone
believe them, even if they did?
Cameron Refuses To Back Amnesty For Irish Terror Fugitives
By George Jones, Political Editor
The Tories yesterday rejected an appeal to David Cameron to
restore co-operation with the Government over controversial
plans for an amnesty for Irish terrorist fugitives.
David Lidington, the Conservative Northern Ireland
spokesman, accused Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland
Secretary, of attempting to "pick a major fight and point
the finger" at the Tories.
Mr Hain says the Government is entitled to the Tories'
Mr Hain claimed it was "a great shame" the Conservatives
were failing to support the Government as it attempted to
restore devolution to Northern Ireland.
Interviewed on the website ePolitix.com, Mr Hain voiced his
anger over Tory attempts to block the Northern Ireland
Offences Bill, which includes measures to allow "on the
run" terror suspects to escape jail if they return.
It would provide an amnesty for terrorists who committed
offences before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in
The fugitives living abroad, who either escaped from jail
or were never brought to justice, have not been able to
return to Northern Ireland for fear of prosecution - even
though those who were serving prison sentences have been
freed as part of the peace process.
Earlier this month, on his first visit to Northern Ireland
since becoming Tory leader, Mr Cameron said he was
maintaining his party's opposition to the legislation.
Mr Hain said the legislation was "an essential building
block to getting peace" and the Government was entitled to
the Tories' support. He said that Labour, when in
opposition, had backed the previous Conservative government
on similar measures.
He acknowledged that the question of whether former
terrorists should appear in court was an issue of "real
contention", and said a consensus would be needed.
Appealing for Mr Cameron's support, he argued that the Bill
was an "indispensible" part of the process that led to the
IRA ending its armed campaign.
Mr Lidington, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme,
said: "On this Bill we are looking at something that would
allow people who have committed barbaric murders, things
like the Enniskillen Poppy Day massacre, to go free without
serving one day in prison, or even appearing themselves in
Opin: Viewpoint: OTR Bill: Radical Changes Required
27 December 2005
There was not much Christmas spirit, or sense, in Peter
Hain's attack on the Conservative party for refusing to
support the on-the-run legislation in Parliament. He is
quoted as saying it was a "great shame" that the Opposition
had broken the bi-partisan policy on the peace process.
If he was listening to the reaction of local opinion to the
Offences Bill - regarded by many as plain offensive - he
would realise that it has been rejected not only by the
Conservatives, but also by unionists, nationalists and
republicans. For different reasons, admittedly, but they
are all just as adamant that the bill must be defeated, or
at least radically changed.
The Secretary of State has called for "more inclusivity" in
the Commons, arguing that the Government is entitled to the
same support that Labour gave John Major when he started
talking to the IRA. He resents the fact that the Tories,
under their new leader, David Cameron, are opposed to a
virtual amnesty for suspected terrorist murderers.
In an attempt to avoid being accused of stifling
opposition, Mr Hain has admitted that there could be an
argument over detail. But he regards the legislation as "an
essential building block", entitled to the support which
Labour in the past had given to even more controversial,
It seems that he wants a bill which has no support from
Northern Ireland parties and is resented by many Labour
backbenchers to be passed with the help of the Conservative
opposition, despite their reservations. In other words, it
should be railroaded through Parliament, regardless of what
the people most affected think of it.
Here, there is genuine concern that people wanted for
serious terrorist offences could be allowed to return home,
on licence, without having to appear in court. The
government has indicated it is prepared to amend the bill,
but Mr Hain's remarks suggest that its principles will be
As far back as 2001, the government agreed to deal with the
anomaly of on-the-runs in return for ending the IRA's war
and decommissioning weapons. The Offences Bill is its
response, four years on, but by including the security
forces in the amnesty, it has offended both nationalist
parties, while failing to appease unionists.
The Conservatives will hardly yield to Mr Hain's weak case
for bi-partisanship on such a controversial bill and
neither will the Northern Ireland parties. Either he should
make radical changes to the legislation or leave matters as
Single Traveller Member Serves In Garda Siochána
By Michael Brennan
THERE is currently just one Traveller serving in the entire
garda force, it emerged yesterday.
The member, who is in his early 30s, joined the gardaí six
years ago and works in a rural garda division.
Superintendent John Grogan of Garda Human Resources said
the man was doing well in his job but did not want to be
"He's very integrated, he's very happy," he said.
There was previously a female Traveller in the force but
she left after becoming pregnant to spend more time with
Gardaí are hoping their new multi-cultural recruitment
campaign will attract interest from the 30,000-strong
Travelling community but there are obstacles to overcome.
Few Travellers have the level of educational qualifications
needed to pass the garda aptitude tests.
But a much bigger problem is the hostile attitude of many
Travellers towards An Garda Siochána, particularly for its
role in evicting them from illegal halting sites.
The Travellers' group Pavee Point said the attitude was
similar to that held by nationalists in Northern Ireland,
who had refused to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
because they had no allegiance to it.
"I don't think it's much different down here in terms of
Travellers' relationship with the guards. Generally
speaking, they see An Garda Siochána almost exclusively as
representing settled society and they see it as a
repressive arm of the state," said Pavee Point assistant
director Martin Collins.
But he said since the start of the recruitment campaign,
seven Travellers had applied to join the force.
Bid To Clear Kelly Is Making Progress
(Seamus McKinney, Irish News)
A Derry-based campaign to clear the name of an Irish army
captain involved a high-profile 1970s arms trial appears to
be making progress.
Captain Jim Kelly, now deceased, was charged along with
former taoiseach Charles Haughey, former minister Neil T
Blaney, former Sinn Féin assembly member John Kelly and
businessman Albert Luxx with illegally importing arms into
Ireland in 1970.
Four of the five men went forward for trial after it was
claimed they were importing arms for transfer to Northern
Ireland. All four were acquitted but the crisis rocked the
Irish state to its foundations.
Captain Kelly worked as an intelligence officer for the
Irish army and in the late 1960s was a key conduit between
the Irish government and the northern nationalist
Despite his acquittal, Captain Kelly's family claim his
reputation never recovered and that he was shunned by the
Along with Derry civil rights veteran Fionnbarra O
Dochartaigh, Captain Kelly's widow Sile Kelly has been
campaigning for a government statement on her husband's
They also want a plaque dedicated to his memory erected at
the Irish army's Dublin headquarters.
On Friday Mrs Kelly and two of her daughters met senior
officials from the taoiseach's department for the first
According to Mr O Dochartaigh, the meeting was a productive
one and the officials agreed to meet Mrs Kelly again.
At the next meeting a file detailing all the evidence of
her husband's innocence and his subsequent treatment by the
state will be handed over by Mrs Kelly.
December 27, 2005
US White Supremacists Distance Themselves From Northern Racists
by Ciarán Barnes
The Ku Klux Klan yesterday distanced itself from a group
of right-wing fanatics who have been holding white
supremacist meetings in Co Antrim.
In a statement released to Daily Ireland, the United
States-based Klan claimed it had nothing to do with the
group that has been holding regular get-togethers in
Ballyclare, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine.
A Klan spokesman said: "We have members in foreign
countries but we do not attempt to organise in foreign
lands because we are not familiar with the laws and issues
which other countries may have."
In a direct reference to the north Antrim gang, he added:
"This office knows nothing about them."
The Co Antrim group of fanatics is believed to include a
number of loyalist paramilitaries.
It has masqueraded under a series of different names such
as the White Nationalist Party, the Third Way, and Aryan
Members have carried out leaflet drops and placed posters
on street corners advocating policies such as racial
segregation, the criminalisation of homosexual acts, and
fighting those regarded as "commies".
Those in the gang even dressed up as Klansmen in white
robes with pointed masks and burned a cross on Ballymena's
North Antrim Sinn Féin assembly member Philip McGuigan
said: "The activities of this far-right group in the north
Antrim area are well documented.
"The gang is made up of loyalists who have held meetings
and who have put racist posters and flyers around towns.
"It just goes to show how thuggish they are when a racist
organisation like the Ku Klux Klan distances itself from
"The public has no appetite for these people and they would
do everyone a service if they disappear and take their
hate-filled messages with them."
PSNI records from April 2004 to April 2005 show that 83
racial incidents occurred in the north Antrim area.
This figure accounts for more than ten per cent of all
racist crime in the North during that period.
In total, 813 racial incidents occurred in the North during
the 2004-05 financial year. In the 2002-03 financial year,
226 racist crimes were recorded.
Ireland Falling Short Of Kyoto Commitments, Research Warns
27/12/2005 - 09:39:13
A study carried out by a British think-tank has said that
Britain and Sweden are the only t wo European countries on
course to honour commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has warned that
Ireland, Italy and Spain will fail their target to cut
greenhouse gases unless urgent action is taken.
The group said two thirds of nations aren't doing enough to
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
A spokesman said the study showed countries are "reaching
the point of no return on climate change".
Racing Fans Defy The Hoaxers
By Ashleigh Wallace
27 December 2005
Racegoers were returning to Down Royal today to defy the
bomb hoaxers who ruined the Boxing Day special.
Around 15,000 people were set to make the journey to the
course at Hillsborough, where yesterday's race card was
Organisers were hoping there would be no repeat of the bomb
hoax that led to thousands of people being evacuated from
the course after the first race.
That was the second time in two months that a big race day
at the course was ruined.
Despite a detailed search by the PSNI, nothing was found.
But the scare was enough to cause lengthy disruption
Down Royal's manager Mike Todd said he was "bewildered" by
yesterday's security alert.
He said: "We had the site fully searched before yesterday's
event and we had additional security staff on.
"When the alert came in we searched the two areas for the
alleged devices but we found nothing. The PSNI, who told us
to evacuate, also carried out a search and found nothing.
"If someone is committed to disrupting an event, then there
is very little we can do about it."
The annual race - one of the biggest events in the Northern
Ireland sporting calendar - was due to go ahead at 1pm
today with free admission for all. The remainder of the
card races two to seven were due to be run.
Those who attended yesterday's aborted event were each
given a voucher for a £5 bet. The last incident was blamed
on dissident republicans.
Regarding yesterday's evacuation, a PSNI spokeswoman said:
"It is too early to say who caused the alert."
Opin: Ahernia — Where The Trains Run On Time And Father Ted
By Fergus Finlay
HERE'S a little taste of things to come in 2006. Don't let
it spoil your holidays — it might never happen!
The Minister for Justice announces that, in pursuit of the
mission given to him by Article 40 of the Constitution to
"ensure that organs of public opinion, such as the radio,
the press, the cinema shall not be used to undermine public
order or morality or the authority of the State," he will
be keeping a careful eye on things from now on. As an
earnest of his intentions, he decides that Network 2 is to
be refused permission to show repeats of Father Ted because
it undermines public morality, especially Father Jack's use
of the word 'feck'.
Nieman Marcus, long famed as the world's most expensive
shop, announces that it is to open in Henry Street in
Dublin. "We heard that these SSIAs were going to start
maturing this year," said a spokesperson, "and we decided
we had to have a bit of that action." When he was asked why
Nieman Marcus was locating in Henry Street, rather than the
more traditional luxury shopping area of Grafton Street,
the spokesman said: "You've got to be kidding. Who could
afford the rents in Grafton Street?"
When the Finance Bill is published, there is considerable
surprise at some of its provisions. There is to be a new
grandchild allowance of 100 per month per grandchild,
payable to each grandparent. Although it is to come into
effect on the first Tuesday of June, the minister for
finance denies that this is an attempt to court the elderly
vote, or that a general election is imminent. A lobby group
named Great-Grandparents for Justice, of whom the youngest
member is 83, is immediately launched.
The Minister for Justice bans the RTÉ programme Oireachtas
Report in pursuit of his Article 40 campaign to preserve
democracy and the authority of the State. An official
statement says the frequent TV shots of Enda Kenny and Pat
Rabbitte shouting at the Taoiseach were more than just bad
manners, they were undermining the best government that
Ireland had ever seen, and were therefore an affront to
It is announced that the Government's major transport
initiative of 2005, Transport 21, is to be renamed
Transport 22, as most of the projects will take longer than
estimated. The Minister for Transport promises that none of
the major rail initiatives planned will take longer than 40
years to complete.
There is consternation when it is revealed that four Sinn
Féin TDs are British spies, and have all been trained at a
secret safe house in Cheltenham. Martin Ferris holds a
tearful press conference at which he denounces Great
Britain for "manipulating and perverting" many of the fine
young minds of the republican movement. Meanwhile, an
inquiry begins into what is termed a "colossal waste of
money" by British intelligence. "Training spies is one
thing," said a Tory spokesperson, "but what in the name of
God could you spy on in Dáil Éireann?"
With rumours that the Minister for Justice is keeping a
watching brief, RTÉ introduces its new summer series,
You're a Star, Minister. Each week presenter Eddie Hobbs
outlines the incredible talents and outstanding
achievements of members of the Cabinet. In the first
episode Environment Minister Dick Roche talks about himself
and tries some ballroom dancing on a section of the M50
that has been closed for the occasion, while thousands of
motorists can be seen shouting approval in the distance.
There is, apparently, no risk that the rest of the series
will be banned.
With the Government's popularity in serious decline,
rumours abound of a 'heave' within Fianna Fáil. This is
immediately denied, and as a consequence editorials appear
in all the major newspapers demanding government stability
in the national interest. The nation relaxes when it is
discovered that the palace coup is being led by former
junior minister Ivor Callely.
Callely give a radio interview in which he announces that
he stands for the new, young, thrusting Fianna Fáil, and
that he will not be intimidated into silence. He is never
heard of again.
Europe holds on to the Ryder Cup amid scenes of
extraordinary jubilation at the K Club. Padraig Harrington
is the star of the show, and clinches the cup with an eagle
putt on the last hole. A spokesperson for the Taoiseach
lets it be known that Bertie has always been a secret
golfer, taught by his father in the grounds of Clonliffe
College. Abbotstown is turned into a golf academy for young
people from Drumcondra and other marginal (sorry,
As the money from the SSIA accounts begins to pile up in
the economy, the Government announces that there is to be
an additional incentive for people who invest their returns
wisely. In future, everyone who invests their SSIAs in
approved Government bonds is to be given a three-series BMW
in time for Christmas. The Minister for Finance denies
again that a general election is imminent. Meanwhile, after
several episodes of The Premiership on Network 2, the
Minister for Justice announces that under Article 40,
Eamonn Dunphy is to be banned from appearing on the
programme. Asked if Mr Dunphy had offended against either
public order or public morality, the minister replied,
"Neither. He's just offensive generally."
The Minister for Finance announces that in an effort to
ensure the December budget won't be seen as a spending
spree, he is announcing a series of major spending
decisions in November. Garages are to be built in every
house and a new city, which will be named after the
country's greatest living Taoiseach from Dublin's north
inner city, is to be built where the Phoenix Park used to
be. "We no longer tolerate all these sensitivities about
trees and reindeer and such," the minister for finance
states. "People need houses, and Ahernia will be the
solution." The minister for transport announces a major new
scheme, known as Transport 23, to link Ahernia to the rest
of Dublin by 2088 through a tunnel.
In a shock announcement, the Minister for Justice says he
is banning Christmas.
"All these office parties, where people are getting drunk
and telling their bosses what they think of them are an
offence against public order and morality," the minister
tells a selected audience of religious leaders. Later in
the month, in a final dramatic twist, he announces there is
one more thing that must be banned if the authority of the
State is not to be turned into a laughing stock. In pursuit
of his duty under Article 40, he bans himself.
Happy New Year!
Wicklow Prepares To Celebrate 400 Years
Major celebrations are planned next year for the 400th
birthday of Ireland's youngest county, Wicklow. A hotbed of
Irish rebellion against English rule, the "garden of
Ireland" formed part of Co Dublin until 1606.
Wicklow Tourism has organised several special events to
mark the occasion after a three-month consultation period
with the public.
The Government is also considering holding a Cabinet
meeting in the county during 2006 to mark the anniversary.
Local Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins said: "It took the English
four centuries to bring the territory of the O'Toole's and
O'Byrne's under their administrative control."
Events planned include a launch of the 400 celebrations in
Wicklow's historic jail in February, the Great Sugar Loaf
Run, which dates back to 1870, will be recreated to raise
funds for charity and a banquet will be held in Avondale
House, once home to Charles Stewart Parnell.
Wicklow comes from the Viking word Vikinglow, meaning
"meadow of the vikings".
© The Irish Times
Old Wren Boy Tradition Endures
Ruadhán Mac Cormaic
Under leaden skies and the threat of a thorough soaking,
they came to Sandymount Green in their hundreds yesterday
to play out one of the oldest of the capital's rekindled
The 21st modern celebration of the Wren Boys in Dublin
brought singers, dancers, mummers and stragglers on to the
streets after midday for the annual charitable cacophony of
Men, women and shoulder-hoisted toddlers from around the
world joined the locals to sip mulled wine and Guinness,
feast on paella and dance to mandola strings taut in the
The dress code was militantly casual, with white cloths
adorned with Sellotaped leaves a popular choice.
Two Zimbabweans had come for the first time. Goretti and
Prince were here on the recommendation of a friend, they
said, and danced their way through some Dublin ballads,
cappuccinos in hand.
"I like it," said Goretti, who has lived in the city for
three years. "I'll come again next year. It's rare to see
something so distinctly Irish. Usually it's all foreign."
Paddy and Nuala Buckley were there for the second year. "To
be honest," said Paddy, "I don't think people in Dublin
would know much about this; it's mainly a rural thing. But
there's only rubbish on the telly."
There are two legends behind the celebration of the wren,
with the bird not faring too well in either.
The most popular has the wren getting caught in a holly
bush behind which St Stephen was hiding. The bird sang out
in pain, thus betraying the saint's whereabouts to Roman
centurions, who captured him. As a result, the wren had to
be hunted, killed and buried at the end of the festivities
on Stephen's Day.
That ritual has been forsaken, but yesterday the birds,
wishing not to be seen to be provocative, kept away from
With no wren to bury, this year's funds will be passed on
to the Order of Malta's maternity hospital in Bethlehem.
Last year, €3,500 was raised.
As the event wound down, Johnny Moynihan, formerly of De
Dannan, followed with a Joe Dolan number about sun-
scorched seas and deserts and vultures, but in the biting
wind he lost his key and had to start again. No matter.
They sang, they danced, they drank - and the collection
boxes strained under the weight of giving hands.
© The Irish Times
Beckett Centenary Celebrations Planned
27/12/2005 - 10:14:07
Preparations are under way around the world to celebrate
Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett in 2006.
Dublin, London, Paris, New York and Tokyo will host events
to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Arts Minister John O'Donoghue has allocated funding for
staging plays, exhibitions, readings and musical
A high-powered organising committee, chaired by Gate
Theatre director Michael Colgan, will meet next week to co-
ordinate events in Ireland.
Trinity College, where the writer studied and lectured,
will run a week-long series of events around his birthday
on April 13.
The Gate Theatre, which holds exclusive performance rights
for Beckett's work in Ireland and Britain, plans several
Beckett, who wrote most of his major work in French, was
born in Foxrock, Co Dublin, on April 13 1906.
He moved to Paris in the late 1930s where his most famous
work Waiting for Godot was first performed in January 1953.
He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
Previous commemorations of Beckett were held in Dublin in
1981 and 1986 for his 75th and 80th birthdays.
The Gate Theatre has previously staged all 19 of his plays
during two festivals in 1996 and 1999.
Gate director Mr Colgan said: "Beckett is an absolute giant
of literature and it will be a pleasure to celebrate him.
"I hope events being planned will endear him to a whole new
audience which will learn to appreciate the genius of his
In October the Gate ran a festival of playwright Harold
Pinter's work to mark hs 75th birthday and just days later
he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Gate will run its programme of Beckett events in
conjunction with the Barbican Theatre in London.
Other commemorations are planned in New York, Tokyo and
The Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris will host open-air
performances of his plays during the summer and a Franco-
Irish production in the autumn.
There will also be contemporary art and musical works
inspired by Beckett, and a series of academic lectures and
French fans of Beckett lay flowers at his grave in
Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, on his birthday every year.
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