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December 27, 2005

Maze Plan Stirs Anger

Maze Prison
Maze prison with its notorious H Blocks where prisoners such as Bobby Sands [inset] died on hunger strike

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News about Ireland & the Irish

TE 12/27/05 Stadium Plan For Maze Stirs Anger
EX 12/27/05 SF Still Has A Private Army, Says O'Donoghue
EX 12/27/05 Opin: Private Army Claim An Election Ploy
EX 12/27/05 Opin: SF Stretched Credulity Before Donaldson
IN 12/27/05 Poverty Meets Prosperity As IRL Rebrands Itself
IT 12/28/05 Cities Benefit Most From Rise In Tourism
WT 12/27/05 Aidan Quinn Ready For TV Role As A Pastor
IT 12/28/05 Sri Lankan Town Honours Saw Doctors
PW 12/28/05 The Dubliner: "Are Ye About?"
PW 12/28/05 The Dubliner: Twilight's Slow Burn
PW 12/28/05 The Dubliner: Defacing Castles
PW 12/28/05 The Dubliner: Time Waits For No Woman
DI 12/28/05 Opin: Good Riddance To 2005, A Real Stinker
DI 12/28/05 Review Of The Year: January To June


Stadium Plan For Maze Jail Stirs Anger It Is Aimed At

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 28/12/2005)

The Maze prison, which became infamous as the scene of the
deaths of 10 IRA hunger strikers, is at the centre of a
storm over Government plans to transform it into a £85
million sports stadium.

Maze prison with its notorious H Blocks where prisoners
such as Bobby Sands [inset] died on hunger strike

The jail that held Northern Ireland's most dangerous
paramilitaries closed more than four years ago and the plan
is to develop it into a national stadium with a capacity of
42,000 outside Belfast. The intention is to bridge the
religious divide and unite sporting traditions.

The plan would include an international centre for conflict
resolution in one of the H Blocks and the hospital wing
where republican prisoners, including Bobby Sands, starved
themselves to death in 1981.

That aspect has raised unionist fears that the development
could be hijacked by republicans who might turn the stadium
into an IRA shrine celebrating terrorism.

This year H Block Six was granted listed status because of
its association with the hunger strikes, the dirty protest,
the 1983 escape in which 38 prisoners broke out and the
assassination of the loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright by
the INLA.

The project has been nicknamed "Shinner Bowl" - an allusion
to Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA - by some
members of the Ulster rugby fraternity, who would share the
stadium with the Catholic Gaelic Athletic Association and
the mainly Protestant-supported Northern Ireland football

The way in which a monitoring group was set up to oversee
the project has angered the Ulster Unionist Party. Although
the group is chaired by the Democratic Unionist Party,
ministers awarded Sinn Fein the deputy chairmanship without
consulting the UUP.

Sir Reg Empey, the UUP leader, said yesterday: "This is not
the right time to put Sinn Fein into any position of power
as regards the Maze.

"There is this perception that it will turn it into a
shrine. We were assured at the start of the project that
all parties would have to be in agreement.

But Lord Rooker [the minister in overall charge] took that
decision without consultation with us. We want to ensure
that no such shrine is capable of being created."

Sinn Fein is the only party to have offered the project
unqualified backing. Some politicians in the DUP, UUP and
moderate nationalist SDLP support it in principle but a
number of prominent Belfast-based politicians across the
parties would like to see a new stadium in the city instead
of 15 miles away near Lisburn.

That view is shared by Belfast Chamber of Trade and
Commerce and supporters' clubs.

Some people fear that Northern Ireland, with a population
of 1.6 million, would struggle to fill such a large

Winston Rea, of the Shankill Northern Ireland supporters'
club, said: "If people looked at other countries where they
built stadiums outside the city they would see they turned
out to be white elephants."

Two alternative bids for a Belfast stadium have been put
forward by private investors but the Government appears to
be determined to press ahead with the Maze complex, which
would include a leisure village containing cafes, bars and


Sinn Fein Still Has A Private Army, Says O'Donoghue

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

A SENIOR Fianna Fáil minister has claimed that Ireland
would be a 'banana republic' if Sinn Féin was in Government
because it still retains a private army.

Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism John O'Donoghue is
the first Fianna Fáil member of Cabinet to state publicly
that the IRA still has the status of an army or military
force despite the very public standing down of its units
and the decommissioning of its entire arsenal.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr O'Donoghue
contends that Sinn Féin can never participate in Government
when there is a possibility of republican paramilitaries
robbing a bank again. He is also adamant that the IRA is
"still there".

The minister's criticisms are the hardest-hitting from a
Fianna Fáil Cabinet minister and seem to run counter to
comments by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern earlier this autumn. Mr
Ahern said the 'standing down' of IRA units and its
decommissioning of all weapons had given Sinn Féin the
status of a legitimate democratic and constitutional party.

But the Taoiseach firmly ruled out any electoral agreement
between his party and Sinn Féin on the grounds of
irreconcilable ideological positions on the economy and

Mr O'Donoghue, however, went further than any of his
Cabinet colleagues other than the Progressive Democrats. He
based his opposition to entering an agreement with Sinn
Féin on their alleged continuing paramilitary connections
rather than domestic political considerations.

"The truth is that Sinn Féin has a private army and there
can only be one army in the State under the Constitution.
You can't have two" he said.

"What kind of a scenario would you have if you were inside
in Government with Sinn Féin and all of a sudden the IRA
decided they'd rob the Northern Bank again? You would have
a banana republic. You could not have that."

When asked whether he believed the IRA had gone out of
existence, he said: "No, they are not, you see. They are

"The IRA has not been disbanded. It hasn't. As long as the
IRA is there (there will be no arrangement with FF)," he

Turning to the point that Northern unionist parties were
being asked to share Government with Sinn Féin, he argued
it was a vastly different situation and described the
Northern state as a "failed entity".

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris said yesterday that Mr
O'Donoghue's views were contrary to what the Taoiseach has

"The Taoiseach has said we were the same as any other
political party (after the July 28 statement and

"What he is saying is totally and absolutely false and he
knows it," he said.


Opin: O'Donoghue Interview - Private Army Claim An Election

With an authority worthy of the Progressive Democrats, if
not superior to it, Minister John O'Donoghue declares in an
interview with this newspaper today that Sinn Féin still
retains a private army.

His assertion is predicated on the fact that the IRA has
not gone away, and that Fianna Fáil would not be entering
any government arrangement, formal or informal, with the
other republican party.

It is an intriguing, and rather perplexing, proposition for
a number of reasons.

The minister, who is responsible for arts, sports and
tourism, has declared this country would take on the aspect
of a "banana republic" should Sinn Féin assume a
governmental role.

This, despite the fact that the imprimatur of legitimacy
has been conferred by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on Sinn Féin
in the aftermath of the IRA having decommissioned its

Mr Ahern said at the time that the "standing down" of IRA
units and its decommissioning of all weapons had given Sinn
Féin the status of a legitimate, democratic and
constitutional party.

The latter end of that description is an endorsement of the
standing of the party, which would not be considered out of
context in the curriculum vitae of Fianna Fáil itself.

Mr O'Donoghue's sentiments would appear to be at odds with
those of his leader, who would scarcely have ratified Sinn
Féin as a democratic and constitutional party if he also
believed they retained a private army.

Certainly, the Taoiseach had previously ruled out Fianna
Fáil entering a coalition with SF after the next election,
even if the IRA fulfilled its pledge to decommission, which
it has.

But his opposition to sharing power with them is on the
grounds of differences of policy. He has stated that Sinn
Féin had opposed the Government on major European issues,
including the Nice Treaty, but apart from Europe there is
also a different fiscal philosophy.

Although decommissioning by the IRA has occurred, it is
hardly a popular misconception that they have gone away.

They were never to disappear, but rather the organisation
was understood to transform itself into something
resembling a merely commemorative body.

What is needed now is that the Independent Monitoring
Commission write practically a clear bill of health for
them next month, and at the moment that looks likely. It
may very well take the view that more time is required
reach an assessment of the IRA's structure and intentions.

The Government will reach the end of its five-year term in
2007 if nothing happens in the interim to precipitate its

It will not escape a questioning electorate that Mr
O'Donoghue's opinion about Sinn Féin and private armies may
be related to that occasion, given the standing of that
party in the polls.

It should not and obviously does not escape his attention
that there is a restless electorate out there actively
pondering an alternative government.


Opin: SF Had Stretched Our Credulity Long Before The
Donaldson Spy Story

By Ronan Mullen

"A STRAIGHT arrow guy," is how one veteran US Sinn Féin
sympathiser, Maureen McCullogh, continues to describe Denis
Donaldson, the central figure in what must rank as
Ireland's most unusual spy story.

Ms McCullogh seems intent on perpetuating one of our most
beloved stereotypes that of the gullible Yank. Super spy or
double agent, Donaldson is hardly a straight arrow guy.

To discover that one of its most senior figures was in fact
an MI5 spy has to be a major shock for the Sinn Féin
leadership. Gerry Adams may deny that Donaldson was at
leadership level in his organisation, but Donaldson was
head of administration at Sinn Féin's Stormont offices and
one of the Republican movement's key "fixers" at
international level. He was a big fish.

But rather than acknowledge its humiliation, Sinn Féin is
milking this situation for all the political capital that
it's worth. According to Adams and McGuinness, this proves
that allegations of Sinn Féin spying were a lie all along.
Hasn't a former British agent just admitted as much?

Maybe. But let's examine what we know already. In March
2002, the Castlereagh headquarters of the Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) was raided by suspected members of
the IRA. The documents taken included the code names for
Special Branch officers and possible identities of IRA
informants. Sinn Féin vigorously denies that the IRA was

In October of the same year, PSNI officers, following on
from their enquiries into the raid on Castlereagh, raided
the Stormont offices of Sinn Féin, suspecting that there
was a spy ring within the party. Within days, the Stormont
government had collapsed, after Unionist parties pulled
out. Sinn Féin again denied the charges, alleging nefarious
behaviour by "securocrats" who wanted the peace process to
fail. But in 2004, Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan ruled that
the raid was not "politically motivated".

Four people, including Donaldson, were arrested on charges
of possessing documents likely to be of use to terrorists.

And then, just three weeks ago, the charges against
Donaldson and his co-defendants were dramatically dropped.
The Director of Public Prosecutions said that "it was no
longer in the public interest" to proceed with the case.
Outraged Unionist politicians demanded answers. The SDLP,
having met with British Attorney General Sir Peter
Goldsmith, emerged satisfied that the charges were not
dropped due to lack of evidence.

That was what we knew before Donaldson's dramatic
revelation. But where does his testimony leave us?

His short statement denying that there was ever a Sinn Féin
spying ring, alleging that it was all a Special Branch
scam, appears to vindicate the contention by Adams et al
that securocrats are targeting them in order to destroy the
peace process.

But this version of events poses some serious questions.
Why did Donaldson issue that curious statement two weeks
ago? As a British agent who had been rumbled, why did he
not simply disappear? Furthermore, it seems clear that
Donaldson was in possession of sensitive documents. Why
would MI5 or Special Branch give him such documents, when
they were in the business of getting information from him,
not giving it to him? The raid on Castlereagh, which seems
to have been forgotten about in the commotion about
"Stormontgate" was carried out by somebody. If it wasn't
the IRA, who was it? Who else would have use for such
sensitive and potentially dangerous information? And who
else had the means? Apparently, Sinn Féin now wants us to
believe that Donaldson concocted that operation also.

THE British government also has questions to answer. While
it is understandable that the British want to protect any
other agents they have in the field, there must be some
form of investigation. Confidence in the peace process
can't be restored without trust, and trust has been sorely
damaged by this episode.

To assume that this is all the latest example of British
dirty tricks is to ignore the extent to which Sinn Féin has
benefited from the situation.

Since the collapse of the institutions of the Good Friday
Agreement, Sinn Féin, far from suffering politically, has
been steadily gaining electoral strength, both North and
South. Their main Nationalist rivals in the North, the
SDLP, have suffered dwindling fortunes. Nor was this
success unforeseen. Political crisis seems to suit Sinn
Féin. However, they insist that they remain determined to
make the agreement work, and they continually stress their
commitment to the peace process.

Perhaps we should take them at their word. The fact
remains, however, that it took two major PR disasters the
murder of Robert McCartney and the Northern Bank Robbery to
secure the final acts of decommissioning and an
announcement that the IRA was standing down. Sinn Féin
denied IRA involvement in the McCartney and Northern Bank
affairs. Furthermore, they still refuse to engage with the
Policing Board, thereby undermining its effectiveness.

Not only has Sinn Féin denied impropriety in the North, it
consistently denies any skullduggery in this jurisdiction.
In 2002, Dublin Sinn Féin member Niall Binéad (aka Niall
Bennett) was found to be in possession of notes detailing
the names, addresses and movements of many politicians in
the Republic. He was later convicted of membership of an
illegal organisation, the IRA. Sinn Féin denied any

The Colombia Three; the Northern Bank robbery; allegations
of serious criminality, including smuggling the list goes
on, and Sinn Féin's response is always the same: We have no
case to answer.

That's fine, as far as it goes. One hardly expects them to
come out with their hands up, wearing sackcloth and ashes,
admitting guilt and begging forgiveness. It's not their
style. But at what point do we admit that there's no smoke
without fire? Credible and well-regarded people including
Nuala O'Loan, Bertie Ahern and Mark Durkan have alleged
that Sinn Féin are engaged in serious wrongdoing, whether
it be spying or criminality. At what point do we start
believing them and start doubting Sinn Féin's bona fides?
Of course, some of these figures have a vested interest in
undermining Sinn Féin politically. But Sinn Féin also
operates in the political world. At what point does its
credibility come into question because of its own vested

It is almost 10 years since the Good Friday Agreement
seemed to usher in a new dawn of peace in the North. Huge
majorities on both parts of the island voted for change and
an end to violence. Progress has been made. We no longer
wake up to the dread news of yet another police officer or
teenager being senselessly killed. Sinn Féin deserves some
credit for bringing us here. But it's time their leadership
took its share of the responsibility for taking the steps
necessary for bringing us the rest of the way. Signing up
for the Policing Board would be a start. Ending any
involvement in covert information-gathering would help too.

Maureen McCullogh, Donaldson's US friend says the full
story behind these bizarre events won't emerge "for another
50 years". No doubt Sinn Féin is entertaining the same


Poverty Meets Prosperity As Ireland Rebrands Itself

By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
Published: 28 December 2005

Modern Ireland has been rebranded with a striking icon that
sweeps away a sentimental past and replaces it with a dual
image combining modern prosperity with past poverty.

The new image, which has won a competition to find a
signature postcard for the Irish Republic, sets Dublin's
gleaming new financial hub alongside harrowing
representations of peasants starving during the Great
Famine of a century and a half ago.

The photograph shows the sprawling financial centre on the
far, north bank of Dublin's River Liffey while, in the
foreground on the near side of the river, are statues of
famine victims, evidently close to death, on their way to
emigrant ships.

Its title is "From famine ships to partnership". The
vividly arresting image is unlike most Irish postcards in
providing a warts-and-all picture of the country rather
than one aimed purely at attracting tourists.

Postcards have played an important part in depicting Irish
life. A noted 1960s series portrayed it as a land of
thatched cottages, donkeys hauling turf, smiling, red-
headed colleens and freckle-faced children.

Those were the work of John Hinde, a photographer and
businessman who single-handedly decided that Ireland should
be depicted as a sunny, unspoilt land of wonderful scenery
and happy folk.

Hinde, originally a circus manager who married a trapeze
artist, settled in Ireland and turned to photography after
his circus venture failed. He dispatched photographers out
into rural Ireland with instructions to return with quaint,
brightly coloured images.

Many of the scenes were elaborately staged, though they
were presented as naturalistic. While much of that was
artificial and indeed in many ways misleading, the
postcards sold in the hundreds of thousands.

Although many later came to deride Hinde's cards as
impossibly kitsch, one school of thought has come to regard
them as a minor art form from a significant figure in the
history of social photography.

Hinde said in an interview before his death in 1998: "I
photographed donkeys and cottages simply because you can't
imagine a Connemara bog without a donkey walking across it
with panniers filled with peat. It's part of the landscape,
the same way that the Irish cottage is like a living thing
which grew out of the ground."

The Hinde Group has become an international company.
According to Niall Howard, one of its executives: "The John
Hinde high-quality postcards depicted scenes that have
become etched on the memories of millions of visitors to
our shores as well as the Irish themselves, both at home
and abroad. I don't think that we will ever forget or lose
the appreciation of their impactful, resonating imagery and

The new image was chosen from among thousands submitted in
a countrywide competition whose judges included the Irish
tourism minister, John O'Donoghue.

Entrants were urged "to consider the spirit of John Hinde's
representation of Ireland in the 1960s when preparing their
submission". Nonetheless, the winning entry, by the
Dubliner John Kane, seems a world away from Hinde's vision,
presenting misery alongside prosperity and displacing his
romantic idealism in favour of unadorned realism.

Modern Ireland has been rebranded with a striking icon that
sweeps away a sentimental past and replaces it with a dual
image combining modern prosperity with past poverty.

The new image, which has won a competition to find a
signature postcard for the Irish Republic, sets Dublin's
gleaming new financial hub alongside harrowing
representations of peasants starving during the Great
Famine of a century and a half ago.

The photograph shows the sprawling financial centre on the
far, north bank of Dublin's River Liffey while, in the
foreground on the near side of the river, are statues of
famine victims, evidently close to death, on their way to
emigrant ships.

Its title is "From famine ships to partnership". The
vividly arresting image is unlike most Irish postcards in
providing a warts-and-all picture of the country rather
than one aimed purely at attracting tourists.

Postcards have played an important part in depicting Irish
life. A noted 1960s series portrayed it as a land of
thatched cottages, donkeys hauling turf, smiling, red-
headed colleens and freckle-faced children.

Those were the work of John Hinde, a photographer and
businessman who single-handedly decided that Ireland should
be depicted as a sunny, unspoilt land of wonderful scenery
and happy folk.

Hinde, originally a circus manager who married a trapeze
artist, settled in Ireland and turned to photography after
his circus venture failed. He dispatched photographers out
into rural Ireland with instructions to return with quaint,
brightly coloured images.

Many of the scenes were elaborately staged, though they
were presented as naturalistic. While much of that was
artificial and indeed in many ways misleading, the
postcards sold in the hundreds of thousands.

Although many later came to deride Hinde's cards as
impossibly kitsch, one school of thought has come to regard
them as a minor art form from a significant figure in the
history of social photography.

Hinde said in an interview before his death in 1998: "I
photographed donkeys and cottages simply because you can't
imagine a Connemara bog without a donkey walking across it
with panniers filled with peat. It's part of the landscape,
the same way that the Irish cottage is like a living thing
which grew out of the ground."

The Hinde Group has become an international company.
According to Niall Howard, one of its executives: "The John
Hinde high-quality postcards depicted scenes that have
become etched on the memories of millions of visitors to
our shores as well as the Irish themselves, both at home
and abroad. I don't think that we will ever forget or lose
the appreciation of their impactful, resonating imagery and

The new image was chosen from among thousands submitted in
a countrywide competition whose judges included the Irish
tourism minister, John O'Donoghue.

Entrants were urged "to consider the spirit of John Hinde's
representation of Ireland in the 1960s when preparing their
submission". Nonetheless, the winning entry, by the
Dubliner John Kane, seems a world away from Hinde's vision,
presenting misery alongside prosperity and displacing his
romantic idealism in favour of unadorned realism.


Cities Benefit Most From Rise In Tourism

Joe Humphreys

The Dublin tourism market continued to expand in 2005 but
growth in rural Ireland was "static", according to an end-
of-year review by industry representatives.

The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) said
international visitor numbers grew by an estimated 5 per
cent this year, to almost 6.7 million.

However, the capital benefited mostly from the rise due to
a shift in European visitor trends towards short-stay city-
breaks, and away from long-stay holidays.

Eamonn McKeon, chief executive of the confederation, said
he didn't believe Dublin had benefited at the cost of rural
areas. But it had outperformed the rest of the country.

In the west and south, however, urban areas - like Cork,
Limerick and Galway - had seen some growth, said Mr McKeon,
who cited the positive influence of new Ryanair routes to
Shannon and Aer Lingus services to Cork.

"The more direct air services into the regions the more
rapidly you are likely to turn it around," he said. "Rural
tourism is being powered at the moment by the domestic
market. In the west, 64 per cent of bed nights are
generated by domestic travellers."

This, he said, left rural Ireland vulnerable to a major
shock if there was a downturn in the economy. "You don't
want to be dependent for two-thirds of your business on any
one market."

In its 2005 report, the confederation estimated that
visitor traffic from Britain rose by 3 per cent on the
previous year, while the number of visitors from mainland
Europe rose by 16 per cent.

Visitor traffic from North America showed little change,
while other markets saw a 9 per cent drop, according to the
confederation's estimates, which were based on CSO figures
to the end of October combined with industry statistics.

Car rental firms reported growth of around 5 per cent, and
coach operators double this. In contrast, ferry operators
said they were continuing to lose market share to airlines,
with a further annual decline of 5-10 per cent in in-bound
tourists bringing their cars to Ireland.

Among the other trends identified this year were:

A fall-off in the number of visitors coming for activity

A shortening of the average length of stay in the country
by "time-poor" visitors;

Continued growth in direct bookings, particularly via the

Confederation chairwoman Catherine Reilly said the unequal
distribution of growth in the regions remained "an urgent
industry priority". Among other key objectives identified
for 2006 were the significant up-scaling of web-based
marketing; continued expansion of low fares air access; and
extending stays in rural areas.

The confederation predicted growth of 2.2 per cent in the
British market next year, 8 per cent in mainland Europe and
North America, and 7.9 per cent in all other areas,
bringing annual visitor numbers to seven million in 2006.

© The Irish Times


Aidan Quinn Ready For TV Role As A Pastor

Dec 27th - 7:20pm

Aidan Quinn has a thing for Jesus and vicodin.

In NBC's new midseason drama, "The Book of Daniel,''
Quinn's Rev. Daniel Webster pops painkillers like M&M's and
has heart-to-hearts with his celestial savior (played by
"Deadwood's'' Garret Dillahunt.)

"When I read the script, I just started pacing back and
forth, laughing," says Quinn. "I thought, `I could see
myself doing this.' And it's set in New York? That's it."

"Daniel'' launches Jan. 6. It's the first series for Quinn,
46, best known for his work in films ("Legends of the
Fall'') and TV movies ("An Early Frost.'')

It's not his first scripted experience with Jesus, however.

He was set to star in Martin Scorsese's "The Last
Temptation of Christ'' in the late `80s, but when the film
switched studios and was pushed back, Quinn wasn't
available. Willem Dafoe got the part.

In "Daniel,'' Susanna Thompson costars as Webster's
martini-loving wife. Their offspring are poster kids for
diversity: a gay son, an adopted Chinese son, and an angst-
ridden daughter. Ellen Burstyn plays the Rev's
unconventional bishop.

Quinn had no clue about the workload for a weekly hour-long
show, particularly when the star appears in virtually every

"It's insanity," he says with a chuckle. "I thought with a
big ensemble cast, it wouldn't be that hard. My hope is
that the wealth is shared more. ... They want me to work
more. I want to work less."

Not that Quinn's got a gripe.

"I'm used to 12-hour days from movies. I've worked
exclusively in independent films, so the pace is not that
different. I like working fast ... Jack (creator Jack
Kenny) assured me it will get better."

That future tense means "Daniel'' will return for a second
season if it does good box office during its eight-episode

"It's a good thing Daniel started off so neurotic," says
Quinn, the father of two girls. "He wants to be an evolved,
spiritual man who takes care of his family. He's got miles
to go before he sleeps."

Quinn, who calls himself a non-observant Irish Catholic,
went miles to understand his Episcopalian character.

After attending services in New York, New Jersey and
California, he came away impressed. (The pilot was shot in
L.A.; the series, in New York.)

"The ministers all had sermons that dealt with social
issues relevant to the local community, and they dealt with
them in a brave way, with a sense of humor."

Not so with the Roman Catholic church, according to Quinn.

"There are exceptions, but for the most part the sermons
are pretty dry and boring. Basically, they're more focused
on what you're doing wrong and what a sinner you are."

If "Daniel'' offends some Catholics, "I don't really care
that much," Quinn says. "That's certainly not the intent.
That's certainly not the truth. There are filters it goes
through, including Jack's and mine."

Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize at least two of Rev.
Webster's quirks from other series.

Firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) talks to Jesus
regularly on FX's "Rescue Me.'' Hugh Laurie plays a pill-
popping doctor on Fox's "House''.

When Quinn saw Leary chatting up Jesus on "Rescue Me,'' "I
said, `Oh, my God,' and went to Jack. He said we filmed our
pilot before they did theirs.

"I don't worry about anything I don't have control over. I
never have, I never will."

Quinn's next project: "32A,'' a "little film" written and
directed by his sister, Marian Quinn, about a group of
girls coming of age in Dublin.

The title refers to their bra size and to the route number
of the city bus they ride, he says. Production begins in

(c) 2005, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by Knight
Ridder/Tribune News Service.


Sri Lankan Town Honours Saw Doctors

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

A Sri Lankan community is to be renamed "Sham Town" and
one of its boats will be known as the "N17" to mark the
post-tsunami support given to the area by the Galway band
the Saw Doctors.

The band raised thousands of euro for the community in the
province of Galle after last year's tsunami disaster when
they issued a special limited edition of a live album. All
1,000 copies of the live recording of a New Year's Eve
concert sold out in a single day.

Ollie Jennings, Saw Doctors manager, said another 1,000
albums were then signed by the band and sold for €15 each.
In total, more than €30,000 was given to help rebuild
communities in Galle.

"The response was overwhelming a year ago and we were only
too glad to help out," Mr Jennings said. However, the band
didn't seek any publicity on the back of the effort, and
were pleasantly surprised to learn of the renaming tribute.
Sham Town is the band's record label and the N17 is the
name of one of their best-known songs - as in the Galway-
Tuam "highway".

The band hope to visit Sri Lanka during their 2006 tour.
They are about to embark on a 12-concert tour of North
America, and plan to return to Australia.

"We would like to visit Sham Town and see the N17 boat and
hopefully help out a bit more when we are in Sri Lanka," Mr
Jennings said.

© The Irish Times


The Dubliner: "Are Ye About?"

First in a series of dispatches from a Philadelphia writer
living in Ireland.

by Katie Haegele

My landlord just turned on some music in his studio-a
violin concerto or some ridiculous thing-and now the entire
cottage is shuddering.

Guinness built these one-story houses in the 1800s for its
employees and their families, but it's impossible to
imagine six or 10 or 14 people, which you know it was in
some cases, crammed in here. I can walk from the front door
to the back of the kitchen, the length of the house, in
five big strides. Right this minute I'm trying to get
through some tedious literary theory for a class, but it's
hard when Simon's class-conscious music is invading what
little space I have.

I put the book down, pad through the kitchen and down the
three stairs to his studio, and stand in the doorway. A
photo of a blond woman with her boobs encased in a low-cut
red top is pinned to the wall. In fact there are three
different incarnations: a photo, a photo with a grid of
squares over her face and a sketch. I step inside the room,
and there she is again, on a canvas Simon is poking at with
a pointy little brush.

Simon is from Liverpool. He's 45 but dates girls in their
20s, and when he talks to his mother he holds the phone a
few inches away from his ear and makes the boring-talky-
talky hand gesture.

I stare at him till he turns to look at me.

"Are you gonna bring Clare back here tonight and have sex
with her right in my face?" I shout.

This hasn't happened yet, and it won't be pleasant for me
when it does. I sleep in a lofted bed just underneath his,
so close to the ceiling that I can't sit up without
knocking my head. I just have to lie there like I'm in a
sarcophagus. At night, when Simon and I are tucked into our
respective warrens, I can hear him clearing his throat as
plain as if his bed were in my inner ear.

He lowers the sound on the stereo with a little remote, a
bit primly, and his cheeks get red above his dark stubble.

"We're just going round to the pub, I've told you. It's not
as though we have sex every time we meet. We're not ...

Excuse me? More and more African people have been
immigrating to Dublin in recent years-especially to this
neighborhood, which is kind of tough. Like, you have to
walk on the far side of the government building-"mansions"
is their misleading name for it-or the older, angrier kids
will fling flattened tin cans at you.

Anyway, there's an African family living in one of the
cottages behind us. The other day as I was pinning clothes
to the line out back I saw them sitting down to a cozy
meal, the mom in her bright clothes reaching across a
toddler with a big, cheery-looking bowl. Remembering this
scene, I get a twinge in my solar plexus, which means I'm
about to get sad, which means it's time for a drink.

So I wrap up in the insufficient jacket I brought from home
and head to the train into town. A few kids from the
mansions are running around in front of our row of
cottages, and I wave to Shane, this boy with a long, solemn
face that absolutely kills me. He came knocking on our door
one day to ask if the cat could come out to play.

"It's a lovely little cat you have," he said passionately,
crushing her to his chest.

By the time I reach the platform I'm wet. Earlier it had
almost been a proper autumn day-warm in the sun and as
close as it gets to crisp in Dublin-but now it's gray and
drizzling. Not even drizzling, really, but misting, which
is this strange thing it does where you can't sense any
downward motion of the rain, and it just seems to blossom
out of the air around you. Most people don't even bother
with umbrellas. It's like they're secreting rain from their
skin as they walk around the streets, wet from the inside

Also, there's a very distinct smell in this city. I don't
know why. It's not the same as in Philly, where every block
there's some new funk to contend with-sweet dumpster rot,
the steamy open kitchen of a noodle house. The smell here
is more visceral, humanlike. But in the part of town close
to where I live the slightly sour unmistakable scent of
hops from the Guinness Storehouse pulls you along like a
sexy cartoon lady's perfume trail, and at night you can
smell peat fires. It's an ancient smell, throatier than a
wood fire and almost sweet. So that's pretty nice.

I get on the bullet-shaped train and pick a spot with my
back to the wall. I root around for my iPod-no way I'm
getting any more reading done today-when my mobile phone
gives a little buzz inside my handbag.

Text from Paul, this boy from class with a singsongy Cork

"Are ye about?"

I interpret the plural ye to mean me and Emily, since all
the Irish students in my program have lumped us two
Americans into one loud, perpetually hungry creature. A
hydra that quotes Napoleon Dynamite.

But I'm not with Emily right now, and somehow I don't feel
like inviting her along. I could use a little intrigue, a
little something of my own to counterbalance Clare and the
tarty-looking blond.

I return his text. Yeah, I'm about.

Katie Haegele ( is studying
modern English lit at University College Dublin.


The Dubliner: Twilight's Slow Burn

The second in a series of dispatches from a Philadelphia
writer living in Ireland.

by Katie Haegele

I'm on the tram heading into town, leaning against what I
hope is the door that won't open next, on my way to see
Paul from school. He told me to meet him at a bar called
Rì-Rá, which means chaos in Irish, which suits my mood

I just needed to get out of that house, that's all. I'm
living in digs, which means I rent a bedroom in Simon's
cottage but am allowed to use the stuff in the rest of the
house. And I keep breaking things.

"I must be the worst lodger you've ever had," I moaned, an
apology for the mug I'd just dropped with a subtextual
reference to the time I set off the burglar alarm and it
went on for so long that the people next door came out,
babies on their hips, asking if the robbers got much.

"No," Simon said thoughtfully. "There was the Korean girl
who offered me 5,000 pounds to marry her. You're not as bad
as her."

The tram rattles past rows of white cottages with bright
painted doors, past a neighborhood called Dolphin's Barn, a
name that conjured the strangest images for me until
someone told me it came from a man named Dolphin who let
the Catholics have Mass in his barn back in the day. Three
girls in maroon school uniforms are pretending to smack
each other and shrieking.

At Abbey Street I get off the tram and start toward the
river. It was raining half an hour ago, but the sun has
come out just in time for it to go down. The sky is all
oranges, the clouds low and streaky-the Celtic twilight is
beginning its shifting, glowing slow burn. I've never seen
anything like it. It must be a reward for Dublin's all-day

As I push through the slow-moving crowds on the bridge, I
can hear a street musician playing pipes, which I guess is
just tourist stuff but sounds bright and lively to my ears.

Rì-Rá turns out to be lively too, but not bright. Dim. That
suits my mood too. Paul's already at the bar, elbows
propped. I regard him in the minute before he notices me.
He has a tender, unexposed look, with pink skin and blue
eyes and strawberry blond hair-a more feminine description
than I mean it to be, but that's what he looks like. He
made me a card for Thanksgiving that said, "Happy Birthday,
America!", and he calls me his cousin from across the

"Hey cuz," I say, positioning myself on the stool next to
him. And then it's slàinte, cheers, and I swallow from the
pint of cider he ordered me despite the fact that he makes
fun of me for always drinking the chemical-flavored stuff
at the bar on campus. I'm not sure why Paul invited me out
tonight-we've never hung out just the two of us before-but
it doesn't seem to matter. We drink in cozy silence for a

"So, Katie. Are you gonna be clever, or will you be bold?"
he asks in his crazy Cork accent, all ups and downs. He has
to explain: Will you drink just enough, or more than that?
I shrug, as if to say, "You can't plan these things," even
though he and I both know you can.

And then suddenly, surprisingly, like the blood that wells
up in that pain-free first moment after you cut yourself
shaving, my eyes fill with tears. It's hard when every
single thing people say is different, when trousers means
pants and pants means underwear and you announce to a room
full of people that your pants are dripping wet.

I bat back the tears until I remember that I'm in Ireland,
and it's fine if I cry in public. So I do. This culture has
its share of rules, but pretending to be happy when you're
not ain't one of them. And that suits me more than

Paul looks up at me with slightly raised eyebrows, nothing
more, and apparently makes some kind of silent exchange
with the bartender because a moment later a round of shots
is plunked down in front of us. Slàinte.

And before I know it he's pulling me off my stool and we're
moving through a dance floor packed with people making
harmless rì-rá-singing and kissing and thinking about whom
they want to take home with them. And now we're pushing our
way outside, past the smokers trapping a cumulus under the
awning, running halfway down the street on glistening

And now Paul is hugging me to himself, lifting my feet off
the ground and spinning me around. And I don't know if it's
the drink or the tears being out of me or the fact that
someone here cares enough to lift me up, but when he
finally sets me back down, I'm still sort of spinning, but
I also feel surprisingly sure-footed, like I could stand
here forever.


The Dubliner: Defacing Castles

The third in a series of dispatches from a Philadelphia
writer living in Ireland.

by Katie Haegele

We're on the bus getting trundled bumpily through the Irish
countryside, where it's green and there are fields and cows
and a great many sheep. The sheep all have curlicues of
paint on their butts so everyone knows who owns them, which
I admit I hadn't anticipated, but otherwise this is exactly
what I had in mind when I decided to get the hell out of
the city.

Lil Red is my ginger-haired friend who's here visiting from
Philly. First she spent a week in London, shopping at the
street markets and shooting graffiti with her old-school
manual camera, which she rigs up with electrical tape
because she's clever like that.

When she got to town I fed her Guinness and took her on the
tour of the spookily historic and excellently dank
Kilmainham Jail. But what really excited her were the
serendipitous sightings I hadn't noticed before-the
colorful tags and Che Guevara stencils on walls and
postboxes that are all over what they rightly call this
dirty old town.

And that's the thing. I have one more weekend before I fly
back to Philly for Christmas, and as much as I'm looking
forward to a chef's salad at Campo's and hunting for new
old clothes at the big Salvy on Ridge Avenue, I need
another kind of change.

In coming to Dublin I traded one big city with puke on its
streets for another, and I can't forget what a cab driver
told me one night, in a tone just a shade away from
chastising: "Dublin isn't Ireland."

So I called up my friend R. and asked him where's quaint to
go. R. grew up in Dublin, and he said Kilkenny, named for
St. Canice, has a castle and some old churches and a round
tower where monks stashed their books and other valuable
stuff 1,000 years ago. Plus, the bus will take you there
for 10 quid roundtrip.


R. and I are the founding members of what I've deemed the
Board of Obvious Tourism. When I explained to him that
studying literature in Ireland just felt right to me, he
squinted and nodded slowly in this way he does, and went,
"Yeah. When I lived in France I worked at a vineyard. And
in Holland I picked flowers. It was feckin' hard work too.
All that bending down, like. And the one guy who ran the
place, I remember he used to smoke like a chimney, him and
his wife both, Jesus ... "

He went on like that for a while, but you get the idea.
Anyway, with his blessing Lil Red and I boarded a bus in
Dublin's belchy bus station this morning, dreaming of a
sweatery weekend filled with tea and brown bread and creamy

When we reach the village the busload of us pour out onto
the main street and start trickling down ancient little
alleyways with steps and turns and cubbyholes. Lil Red and
I have booked a room above a pub called Billy Byrne's on
John Street, which we should try to look for at some point,
but we're not in any rush.

Thanks to Red's project I'm noticing photogenic wall-words
too. I find a Guinness ad with the slogan in Irish and a
fantastic "FISH AND CHIPS" sign in '70s orange. There's
also a Toni & Guy, a Jaguar parked on a side street and
about 11 Internet cafes. But it's terrible to be a tourist
and want someone else's country to be in the dark ages for
amusement purposes.

Nonetheless, we came here for some castle. We take the road
that runs between the castle wall and a narrow, dreggy
river, walking in silence for a while. The only sound is a
man calling to his dog off in the distance.

I'm smoking and strolling and thinking, I realize, somewhat
dreamily about R. and his perpetually dirty dark hair, when
I turn to tell Lil Red that I like guys with dirty hair,
and find she's not beside me.

She's a few yards away, squatting and aiming her fiddly
camera at the wall. I go over to her so I can admire her
best find yet: "Fuck de corprid world." It's slammed right
on this medieval fortress that smells of moss and damp and
other ancient things, which is so wrong it's right.

I decide right then defacing castles is a calling something
like the monks in yon tower must've heard. I decide
deliberate misspellings make me happier than a lot of
things. I decide Red's not-so-obvious tourism can give you
an interesting perspective on the world. I light my 19th
cigarette, and Red wraps her wrappy sweater tighter, and we
start to wend our way back toward the village.

Eventually we find the street where our pub is and head
over the footbridge, being careful to hop away from fast
drivers where the sidewalk narrows into nothing. And then,
on second glance, the name of the street takes on a meaning
I can't believe I missed at first.

"Nicky!" I yell, because that's actually her name. "Look!
We're on John Street!"

We both look and laugh and take it in for a second. This
moment is ironic and surprising in a way that doesn't make
me feel happy or sad, particularly. But as my friend from
home lines up a picture I can't help but think of our
graffitied, castleless city waiting for us.

And rather than overthink what it means to come from
somewhere, and how where you come from helps make you who
you are, I suggest we go into Billy Byrne's and have a


The Dubliner: Time Waits For No Woman

Fourth in a series of dispatches from a Philadelphia writer
living in Dublin.

by Katie Haegele

I haven't ridden the handlebars in years, but I remembered
just how to hoist myself up there backward and sling my
butt down behind them like a laundry bag. Butt's a little
bigger than the last time I did this, though.

R. merges with traffic, confident as could be. He's a
seasoned city cyclist, he's strong, and I trust him, but
now we're approaching an intersection and I can't help
myself. I let out a little shriek. R. swerves, and a guy in
a teensy car honks his horn, making me scream again.

"Don't move your bum around so much!" he yells, but I can
feel him laughing behind me.

I should be exhausted, but I'm flying, gliding through
downtown Dublin at night, past clumps of people at the
crosswalks weighed down by shopping bags, past Grafton
Street lit up like a Christmas tree-Mr. Dickens, meet Mr.
Edison. The intriguingly small present from R. is stuffed
deep in my sweatshirt pocket, his breath is on my cheek,
and the city is a beautiful blur. I don't even care what I
look like.

18:50: It's dark when I get into the center of town. I've
got only 10 minutes to shop-and that's if this is the late-
shopping day. Please, please, please let Wednesday be the
late-shopping day.

I try the door at Carrolls, otherwise known as the
leprechaun store, and it gives. Yes.

What a ridiculous place this is. Everything is emerald
green, kelly green, field green. Diddle-ee-dee music
blares, and they're selling leprechaun costumes for dogs.

"T'anks very much," says the beleaguered but civil woman at
the register as she wraps my Guinness bottle opener and "An
Irish Blessing" sign. How can real Irish people stand to
work here? This leprechaun shit is like blackface. I thank
her, hoping my embarrassing presents will fit in my already
massively overstuffed suitcase.

18:30: "Shane, aren't your parents gonna miss you at some

18:22: "Dear Dr. Donnelly, Attached please find my essay on
the theories of modernism. I know you wanted us to drop
them off in the postgraduate office, but I'm afraid I won't
have time to get to campus before I fly home to America
tomorrow morning. Also, I should have asked you this
earlier, but I felt the MLA guidelines for citing
electronic resources were unclear about the distinction
between informational websites and books published online.
If you disagree with my classification of the article 'The
Tarnished Halo of Modernism,' then the citation on the 18th
line on Page 4 should be underlined, not italicized.

"Happy Christmas!"

17:45: I'm trying to put the finishing touches on this
terrible paper, but all I can hear is Shane, stomping and
growling in the living room like Max from Where the Wild
Things Are.

I emerge from my bedroom, looking wild myself. No time for
a shower today. The poor cat is cowering under a chair, and
the kid is on his knees, yelling at her through a little
battery-powered megaphone. "Stop in the name of the law! In
the name of God, come out from under the chair!"

He's only about 8, but he's making me laugh and then
smiling at me in the same way a certain kind of guy does
when he discovers he can get me to laugh. He's gonna be
trouble someday.

The cat goes tearing into the kitchen, a streak of furry
black irritation.

"Hey Shane, do you think you could sit on a suitcase for

16:30: "As Lukács reminds us in The Meaning of Contemporary
Realism, 'Abstract potentiality belongs wholly to the realm
of subjectivity; whereas concrete potentiality is concerned
with the dialectic between the individual's subjectivity
and objective reality.'"

I hate theory.

15:00: I open the door and let in a blast of cold, damp
air. It's just Shane, this little boy from the housing
projects down the road who lives to pester my landlord's
cat. He's been known to overstay his welcome, but I get a
kick out of him. I let him in and go back to my room.
Computer or suitcase? Which is less hateful? My little
mobile phone saves me by buzzing and bouncing across my
desk. It's R.

"Hey, where are you?" It's weird but I'm almost looking
forward to missing him. Once I'm at home I can sit around
and knit things and wonder what he's up to, and be all
daydreamy about our time together and pretend I looked
perfect every time he saw me. Missing can be more romantic
than being with.

"I'm at work. Have you finished your paper?"

"I don't wanna talk about it."

"Okay, well, finish it. I want to see you tonight. I can
pick you up at the leprechaun store, if you promise to
>stop calling it that."

"Hey, it's your own people who are selling you out. I'm
just identifying the problem."

"If that's what Americans want to buy when they come to
Ireland, that's fine."

"It's not Americans. It's all tourists. Anyway, how are you
going to pick me up? You don't even know how to drive."

"I have my bike."

14:30: I glance at the clock and do the translation: 2:30.
Won't miss using math to tell time for the next couple of
weeks, anyway. The last day before Christmas break is half
over, and I still have to get out and buy some Irishy
presents to bring home for my family. I've reserved the
evening for R. I really hope he didn't get me a present,
because I didn't get him anything.

I slide cross-legged onto my bedroom floor and consider the
mess of clothes, papers, books, magazines, bobby pins and
shoes around me. When did I buy all these shoes? Maybe I
could ship them. No, too late for that. And I can't pack
the books yet-still have to bluff my way through my "What
is modernism" essay. What is it, indeed.

I start stuffing clothes, smelly and fresh alike, into my
red wheely suitcase before I remember they take up less
space if you roll them.

Jaysus. Why do I always leave everything to the last


Opin: Good Riddance To 2005, It Was A Real Stinker

BY Anne Cadwallader

The big day is over. The head is throbbing. The kids are
bored. Their presents are either already broken or run out
of battery-power. Thoughts are inexorably turning to the
year we are about to leave behind and the one yet to come.

What a year it was. The highs seemed, to me, not to be
terribly high and the lows, depressingly, far more frequent
and profound. Or am I just getting to be a grumpy old
woman? Don't answer that.

This time last year, we didn't know what we were in for. I
spent last Christmas morning trudging through the snow to
interview a neighbour, who happens to be a Sinn Féin
councilor about police raids on republican families after
the Northern Bank robbery.

Once the festive break was over in January 2005, the
unionist floodgates opened and torrents of fury threatened
to drown all hopes of reviving devolution. As the year went
on, that threat became a reality.

Just weeks previous to the raid, it had seemed a deal
between the DUP and Sinn Fein was tantalisingly close.
Those hopes melted quicker than the snow of Christmas 2004.

February and March 2005 were almost totally absorbed in
wave after wave of unremitting publicity over the Robert
McCartney murder.

The SDLP made political hay while the sun shined, believing
they had at last found an issue with which to thrash Sinn
Féin. Or is that unkind?

The IRA's "PO'Neill" committed an unusual, for him, faux
pas in offering to murder those who had murdered Robert
McCartney. Talk about foot in mouth.

In February, Sir John Grieve, former supremo of Scotland
Yard's anti-terrorism squad (and one of the indubitably
independent adjudicators who sit on the splendidly-named
"Independent Monitoring Commission" - I do hope they had a
very merry Christmas) told us that Sinn Féin had "a brass
neck" to expect anyone to believe the IRA wasn't involved
in the Northern Bank raid.

March was the month George Bush attempted, and partially
succeeded, in ritually humiliating Sinn Féin by snubbing
the party over the annual St Patrick's Day bash in the
White House.

Having attending more than one of those buttock-clenchingly
embarrassing events, I would have got down on my knees and
given thanks - but the single-minded apparatchiks who lead
that party regard it as a "networking" opportunity, God
help them.

April saw Ian Paisley showing uncharacteristic moderation
in his response to the death of Pope John Paul II. Rather
than join the gloating neanderthal loyalist graffiti-
artists, he actually sympathised with Catholics on the loss
of their shepherd.

Speculation began to grow about a May election.

The outgoing SDLP MP for Newry Armagh, Seamus Mallon,
warned that if the DUP and Sinn Féin emerged as the two
largest parties, the ensuing political stagnation would be
indefinite. So far, so bad, Seamus.

Then Gerry Adams took everyone by surprise by making an
appeal to the IRA to take itself out of the equation,
permanently. There were immediate, and perhaps
understandable, claims he had timed his appeal to gain

The SDLP breathed again after it kept its seats in Derry
and South Down, winning one in South Belfast but losing
Newry Armagh.

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, resigned on May
9, blaming republicans for his downfall. Plus ca change.

July was dominated by the loyalist feud, increasing
intimidation of Catholics in villages like Ahoghill, Co.
Antrim and the violence in Ardoyne on the 12th.

With hindsight, Sinn Féin never stood a chance of
controlling nationalist fury in north Belfast. Within two
minutes of a couple of missiles being thrown from Ardoyne,
the PSNI opened up with water cannon.

The ensuing riot, however, lasted less than two hours.
September's rioting by Orangemen and loyalists lasted over
a week and closed much of Belfast down after dark.

Later in the summer, police offered Catholics in Ahoghill
fire alarms and blankets to defend themselves against
attack. They did so without any trace of irony.

Then, on July 28th, came the long-awaited IRA statement,
read by Seanna Walsh, a republican who had spent over 20
years in jail. Rapid movement on decommissioning would take
place, he said.

Two politicians who had significantly influenced the North
died in August. Gerry Fitt and Mo Mowlam were much lamented
by those with whom they had agreed.

In September, demilitarisation in Belfast, Derry and south
Armagh troubled the DUP. As did news that the home
battalions of the RIR were to be disbanded in two years.

It did not improve the atmosphere for the rescheduled
Whiterock Orange parade on the tenth. Ian Paisley made what
sounded to some suspiciously like a threat. It could "light
a spark", he said, that would be difficult to put out. The
commission ruling stood, however, and it was up to the
police to hold the line.

Loyalists fired lived rounds and blast bombs at the police.
Hundreds were injured. The chief constable, Hugh Orde, said
the Orange Order must be held partly responsible.

Afterwards, when the Order finally gave a press conference,
dozens of foreign journalists visibly gasped as leading
members, such as its master in Belfast, Dawson Bailie,
denied culpability.

On September 26th, the news came that the IRA had completed
decommissioning in the presence of two clergymen, one
Protestant, one Catholic. The DUP was not impressed. Yawn.

In October, the British published their proposals to allow
paramilitary fugitives to return home to the North without
fear of imprisonment.

When it contained an unexpected clause, to extend the
proposals to police officers and British soldiers who had
broken the law, Sinn Féin was furious. Unionists were up in
arms and the SDLP said: "Told you so".

The British government also unveiled its long-awaited
proposals on local government which proposed slashing their
number from 26 to seven. Only Sinn Féin liked it.

The PSNI began warning dozens of republicans that their
details were in the hands of loyalist paramilitaries. It's
believed this dates back to the 2003 theft of a dossier
from Castlereagh.

No republicans were offered special protective measures at
their homes. None, so far as I know, were offered new
homes. Instead, Martin McGuinness and others accused the
police of keeping the 400 people affected in the dark for
16 months.

At the end of November, a Belfast legend, George Best,
breathed his last. Loyalist flags were removed along the
funeral route from his home to Stormont where people began
queuing before dawn.

Then it was back to business with a massive row over the
dropping of charges against the so-called Stormontgate
three. Closely followed by revelations that one of the
three, Denis Donaldson, had been a British agent for 20

No explanation was given, other than a vague reference to
"the public interest" for the dropping of charges. Every
political party in the North disagreed, insisting it was
most definitely in the public interest that more be

The Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, said Stormontgate had
amounted to a coup d'etat.

In another small sign that Belfast is joining the rest of
the human race, it became the first city in Britain or
Ireland to permit same sex civil partnership registrations
or "gay marriages".

Just before Christmas, Sinn Féin dropped its support for
the 'on the runs' bill with the SDLP claiming a moral
victory, but in truth, 2005 was not a year for victories,
for any political party, any government, or indeed the
peace process.

We face into 2006 with both governments hoping to revive
devolution but with many ordinary people wondering what the
heck the future holds. 2005 is over. Let it go. Good
riddance. It was a stinker.


Review Of The Year: January To June

BY Mick Hall

January 1

Irish President Mary McAleese questions how information
which could have saved lives was not available to those in
the disaster zone of the St Stephen's Day tsunami in south
east Asia.

Speaking after the World Day of Peace Mass in Dublin on New
Year's Day she said there were Irish people whose hearts
were broken because they have not heard from their family
members caught up in the tsunami.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says the international community
must reaffirm itself to the ideals of the United Nations to
counter the threats and challenges of the new century.

"2005 can be the year in which the UN enhances its central
role as a credible source of effective action and
collective security," he says.

January 4

The first Irish fatality in the south-east Asia tsunami is

Eilís Finnegan (27), from Ballyfermot in Dublin, was
holidaying on the Thai island of Phi Phi with her
boyfriend, Mr Barry Murphy. They were eating breakfast when
the tsunami struck and had only just arrived in the

Ms Finnegan's family say they plan to get her body home to
Dublin as soon as possible for burial.

January 7

The IRA must make "demonstrable commitments" to end all
"criminal activities" after the accusations that the
organisation was responsible for the £26.5 million Northern
Bank raid in December, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces.

Mr Ahern says efforts to restore the Northern power-sharing
executive had suffered a serious setback because of the

He makes his comments after PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh
Orde, says he believes the IRA was behind the raid.

January 11

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald and the leader of the
Greens in the European Parliament, Mr Daniel Cohn-Bendit,
clash over the forthcoming Irish referendum on the EU

After a meeting of the EU Parliament Mr Cohn-Bendit accuses
Sinn Féin of attacking the constitution on grounds that he
claims have nothing to do with the constitution.

"They don't say the truth," says the Green MEP at a news
conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "Sinn
Féin is arguing on the constitution on arguments that have
nothing to do with the constitution."

Ms McDonald defended her party's position, saying: "We have
already expressed serious concerns with the content of the
proposed EU Constitution. Issues of democratic
accountability, national sovereignty, neutrality and
militarisation, the centralisation of powers within the EU
and the neo-liberal agenda are all key areas of concern."

January 16

Gardaí prepare to arrest and question Wayne O'Donoghue in
relation to the killing of Midleton schoolboy, Robert

Gardaí speak for several hours to the 21-year-old
engineering student in the company of his parents about
Robert's disappearance and death before obtaining a number
of warrants to search premises in the Midleton area as part
of their preparation of a case against the Mr O'Donoghue.

January 23

Ukraine's pro-Western Victor Yushchenko is installed as
president, ending two months of political turmoil.

He is inaugurated in the Kiev parliament after winning an
election re-run following huge protests that became known
as the 'Orange Revolution'.

January 26

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern launches a fierce attack Sinn Féin
in the Dáil directly linking the party's five TDs to
politically-motivated violence.

He says he finds it "offensive" that punishment attacks in
the North stopped before Christmas during the political
talks and then resumed after talks had failed.

He says: "I will give Sinn Féin full marks for discipline,
but not for anything else."

Sinn Féin TD Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin responds by blaming
the Taoiseach's "continual outbursts and allegations" on
the party's perceived electoral threat to Fianna Fáil.

January 30

Democratic elections are held in Iraq. The day is marked
with a series of mortar explosions as well as rumours that
the city's water system had been poisoned.

The Shia population is expected to assert its numerical
superiority after decades of being marginalised and
politically dominated by the minority Sunni Arabs.

January 31

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy
travel to London for an unprecedented security summit with
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and PSNI Chief Constable
Hugh Orde in Downing Street.

A senior Downing Street source confirms that the meeting
will focus not only on the Northern Bank robbery but also
on the wider security situation in the North.

The presence of the Garda commissioner at Downing Street
for the first time heightens fears within the nationalist
community that both governments are preparing for a twin-
track approach of hardline policing alongside slow-pedal

The intergovernmental meeting dovetails with an imminent
report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, which
blames the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery. It also comes
after extensive briefings by sources from both governments
in the weekend media claiming the IRA is under pressure to
restart its campaign.

February 2

The IRA pulls its offer to decommision its weapons off the
table and launches an angry broadside against the Irish

In a dramatic statement, signed by P O'Neill, the IRA
accused the British and Irish governments of squandering
its offer to effectively bring its campaign to an end as
part of the pre-Christmas moves to forge a deal between
Sinn Féin and the DUP. The organisation accused both
governments of "changing the basis of the peace process"
just hours after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern told the Dáil the
peace process was "not going anywhere" until the IRA ceased
its activities.

February 3

The IRA accuses the two governments of making a mess of the
peace process, advising they must "not underestimate the
seriousness of the situation".

The statement came after Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams
delivers his bleakest assessment to date of the Northern
political scene.

Speaking at Stormont, he said he had told both governments
that confrontation was not the way forward, "otherwise, the
peace process could be as transient as his [Mr Blair's]
time in Downing Street."

Mr Adams' words are seen as an indication that republicans
will not be pushed around while the British government
decide on whether or not to impose sanctions in the wake of
the latest Independent Monitoring Commission report which
blames the IRA for the Northern Bank robbery.

February 6

Sinn Féin's leadership prepares to initiate a policy of
'democratic resistance' ahead of an anticipated policing
and political onslaught against republicans.

Senior negotiator and North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly
announces the proposed new strategy at his party's six-
county weekend AGM in Gulladuff, Co Derry.

Mr Kelly tells the meeting that the current crisis in the
peace process had been engineered by Sinn Féin's opponents
"because they are afraid of our growing electoral

"Republicans need to respond by complete commitment to a
policy of democratic resistance that is being prepared for
the time ahead," he said.

Feruary 7

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern calls for no sanctions to be used
against the Sinn Féin.

Mr Ahern's apparent change of temper comes despite vigorous
assertions that the IRA was behind the £26.5 million bank
raid in Belfast and that Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams
and chief negotiator Martin McGuinness knew about the plan
in advance.

The Irish government said it would urge the United States
not to exclude Sinn Féin from the St Patrick's Day
festivities in Washington.

The Taoiseach says his government will not be backing a
Fine Gael motion attacking the republican movement in the
Dáil later in the week.

His comments were slammed by Sinn Féin Newry Armagh MLA
Conor Murphy, who said: "It is not good enough for the
Irish government to say it opposes sanctions.

"The Irish government created the IMC along with the
British government as a vehicle to sanction and exclude
Sinn Féin from the political process.

"If the Irish government are serious let them challenge the
British government as co-equal partners in the process.

"The fact remains that the IMC has already imposed
sanctions aimed at Sinn Féin and the people who mandate

February 10

A massive joint PSNI-British army raid in west Tyrone in
connection with the Northern Bank robbery follows similar
raids in Belfast.

Nobody is arrested during a ten-hour raid on two houses and
a business outside Beragh, belonging to brothers Liam and
Michael Donnelly.

The raid involves up to 50 vehicles, as well as back-up
helicopters, digging equipment, specialised divers, and
sophisticated sensor equipment.

Ground is excavated and divers search nearby duck ponds.

The raid coincides with the Independent Monitoring
Commission report on the Northern Bank robbery.

Local Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff says: "This is plainly a
political charade against a well-known Tyrone family – not
known for any particular political allegiance – and the
timing of it, in conjunction with the delivery of the IMC
report, speaks volumes.

"Unfortunately with these kind of political games, it is
ordinary decent families who are suffering but there is
nothing new in that."

Sinn Féin faces an avalanche of condemnation from political
opponents after the Independent Monitoring Commission
report on the Northern Bank robbery.

In response, hundreds of protesting republicans bring rush-
hour traffic across the North to a standstill.

The IMC blames unnamed senior members of Sinn Féin's
leadership for being "involved in sanctioning" the Northern
Bank heist and other recent robberies.

The IMC also recommends that Sinn Féin should be punished
for the alleged actions of the IRA and states that the
party "must bear its share of responsibility for all the

February 12

On the 16th anniversary of the murder of Pat Finucane, the
Belfast human rights laywer, his family, associates and
human rights bodies call for a full, independent inquiry.

They also call for the government's Inquiries Act, designed
to restrict the public nature of the inquiry, not to be
applied to the case.

Mr Finucane's former law firm partner Peter Madden, writes
in Daily Ireland: "The Finucane family cannot take part in
an inquiry controlled by the British government because it
was directly involved in Pat's murder

"In his summary report, Judge Cory said that papers
relating to Pat Finucane were examined by the British

"As we told Tony Blair at a recent meeting with him, the
inquiry panel, in order to be truly independent, has to be
composed of reputable international legal figures of the
same standing as Judge Cory himself.

"We have to be satisfied that they will have the power to
control the proceedings and not the British government. We
will have no chance of getting near the truth until these
requirements are satisfied."

February 16

The IRA at last urges the public to help the family of
Robert McCartney bring his killers to justice.

It comes as the PSNI arrest a man in connection with the

The IRA statement effectively removes any barrier to
republicans co-operating with the PSNI investigation into
the murder at Magennis' Bar on 30 January.

"The IRA was not involved in the brutal murder of Robert
McCartney," the statement says. "Those who were involved
must take responsibility for their own actions which run
contrary to republican ideals.

"It has been reported that people are being intimidated or
prevented from assisting the McCartney family in their
search for truth and justice.

"We wish to make it absolutely clear that no one should
hinder or impede the McCartney family in their search for
truth and justice.

"Anyone who can help the family in this should do so."

The IRA doesn't admit that those involved in the pub brawl
are its members. However, it's now widely believed that
republicans were involved and that this statement means the
organisation is washing its hands of them.

February 18

Bank Notes linked to the Northern Bank robbery turn up at a
'country club' in Belfast which has been used by PSNI Chief
Constable Hugh Orde. The discovery of the notes at the
Newforge Country Club which is home to the PSNI RUC
Athletic Club is dismissed by the PSNI as a 'sting' by the
group behind the robbery. PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde
and other senior officers regularly use restaurant
facilities at the club to brief journalists. Businessman
and political adviser Phil Flynn resigns from several
private and public postings after being caught up in the
money-laundering investigation by Gardaí.

The former government-appointed troubleshooter, said he had
stepped down as chairman of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland)
and resigned his position as the chair of the Irish
government committee overseeing the decentralisation of
civil service departments.

Mr Flynn confirms that he recently travelled to Bulgaria on
a business trip with an alleged dissident republican
arrested by gardaí in Farran, Co Cork. Over £2.4 million
(€3.5 million) was recovered by gardaí during a related

February 23

The North's most senior task force on public health met
just three times since November 2002, Daily Ireland

In addition, since 2002, the Ministerial Group on Public
Health – whose remit includes tackling the issue of suicide
– has never held a round-table discussion involving all the
relevant ministers from the North's various government

Figures compiled by the General Register Office of the
North's Statistics and Research Agency showed 133 people
took their own lives in the North in 2003. Figures from the
Central Statistics Office in Cork indicate that 444 people
died from suicide throughout the South during the same

However, unlike the National Suicide Strategy in the South,
neither the health minister nor the ministerial group in
the North had acceded to demands for a regional suicide-
prevention strategy. The demand was personally raised by
west Belfast MP Gerry Adams during a private meeting with
health minister Angela Smith last October, following a
tragic spate of suicides among young men in the north
Belfast district of Ardoyne.

February 25

The findings of a major IRA investigation into the murder
of Robert McCartney on January 30 confirms that while the
IRA as an organisation was not involved, several of its
members were. As a consequence of that investigation, three
IRA members are court martialled and expelled from the

In its statement, the IRA confirms that republicans were
involved in a brawl inside Magennis's Bar with Brendan
Devine, a friend of Robert McCartney. One senior republican
and Brendan Devine were stabbed in the bar.

The statement, signed by P O'Neill, says the men "were
advised in the strongest terms possible to come forward and
take responsibility for their actions as the McCartney
family have asked".

The statement also warns that any intimidation or threats
"in the name of the IRA or otherwise" would not be

February 26

Sinn Féin launches its most significant national discussion
document since Towards a Lasting Peace was released 13
years before.

Just a week after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern snubbed Northern
political representation in the Dáil, the initiative is
seen as an integral element of the party's "practical
planning for Irish unity".

Party President Gerry Adams tells an audience in the Dublin
Writers Museum that the document provides a "compelling
argument" for the Irish government to introduce a green
paper on Irish unity within the next year.

"In 1992, Sinn Féin published a document, Towards a Lasting
Peace in Ireland, which set out our party's peace strategy
and which signposted the development and evolution of the
peace process," Mr Adams says.

"Now, in 2005, we are setting out our road map for Irish
unity and launching a campaign to urge the Irish government
to bring forward a green paper and to begin the practical
planning for Irish unity now."

March 2

Sinn Féin President Gerry issues a warning to Robert
McCartney's murderers that "self-preservation and
selfishness will not prevail".

"I am not letting this go until those who have sullied the
republican cause are made to account for their action," he

He also accuses those involved of lacking couage and urged
them to come forward.

"Although many people have come forward, others have not -
particularly some who may have been directly involved in
Robert's murder.

"In my view, these people must give a full account through
whatever conduit they choose.

"I want also to restate with absolute clarity that whoever
killed Robert McCartney should come forward and take
responsibility for this," he says.

March 3

Sinn Fein announces that seven members of its party have
been suspended over allegations of involvement in the
incident that led to the murder of Robert McCartney.

Party President Gerry Adams instructs his solicitor to pass
on the seven names to the Police Ombudsman. The suspensions
follow an internal Sinn Féin investigation.

"As party president, I immediately instructed the
leadership of Sinn Féin in Belfast to establish if any of
those named by the family were members of Sinn Féin.

"I was informed that seven of those named are members of
Sinn Féin.

"All were immediately suspended from the party. This is on
a without-prejudice basis. If any of these seven are found
to have been involved in the events surrounding the death
of Robert McCartney or if they do not provide truthful
accounts at this time as the McCartney family have
requested, Sinn Féin will take further internal
disciplinary action to expel these individuals," he says.

The Department of the Environment decides to award listed-
building status to a number of structures at the old Long
Kesh prison site in Co Down, it is revealed.

In a letter to Lisburn City Council heritage chiefs said
they "accept" proposals for statutory protection of parts
of the site.

The Long Kesh buildings that will benefit from listed
status include block H6, the hospital, the administration
building, watchtowers, the chapel and some fencing and
boundary walls. A protected relocated compound will also be
set up, comprising the best surviving components from the
various prison huts.

March 8

The family of Robert McCartney rejected the IRA's offer to
shoot the men responsible for his murder because that would
have been "revenge rather than justice".

Robert McCartney's cousin Gerard Quinn says the only
solution for the family was to see the killers in court.

Sinn Féin Justice spokesman Gerry Kelly welcomes the IRA
statement as an effort to help the family but said it would
be "unacceptable" for any punishment shooting to have been
carried out.

March 10

Former leading CID detective in the RUC Johnson Brown,
confirms that two UVF men had been working as Special
Branch agents at the time of their involvement in several
murders in Belfast during the 1990s.

The revelation provoked a furious reaction from the
families of two of the killers' victims. Mr Brown confirms
the two men had both been Special Branch agents at the time
of the murder of 27-year-old Sharon McKenna, who was shot
dead at the home of a pensioner on north Belfast's Shore
Road in January 1993.

Paul McKenna, a brother of the dead woman, says he now
wants the Police Ombudsman to investigate his sister's

"The fact that my sister was murdered by Special Branch
agents is not in doubt, and the ombudsman should
investigate on that basis," said Mr McKenna.

Mr Brown fell foul of Special Branch in the 1990s when he
revealed that Ken Barrett, a convicted loyalist murderer,
had confessed to killing the Belfast solicitor Pat

He told Special Branch, which took no action against Mr
Barrett and later claimed to have lost the tape recording
of the loyalist's confession.

The same two loyalists are also alleged to have murdered
Raymond McCord, a 22-year-old Protestant man who was beaten
to death in Belfast in 1997.

March 11

Politicians react angrily to confirmation that the Northern
Ireland Office is considering the application of
controversial new banning laws against Irish citizens in
the North of Ireland.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy refused to rule out using
the draconian measures which are being enacted under the
Prevention of Terrorism Bill.

The new legislation permitting unprecedented interference
with the human rights of citizens targeted by British
intelligence and Special Branch as subversive suspects were
effectively borrowed from the South African apartheid-era
banning laws.

Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, North Belfast MLA
Gerry Kelly, said: "If Paul Murphy thinks he can return to
the agenda of repression, he's got another thing coming.

"Republicans will not be cowered by emergency powers, with
a return to internment without trial and other draconian

The new measures were to be introduced to the North just a
fortnight after Mr Murphy announced that MI5 was assuming
overall control of British intelligence gathering in
Ireland, including overseeing the work of PSNI Special

March 14

The PSNI remains silent on claims that two key witnesses to
the events leading up to the murder of east Belfast man
Robert McCartney had been blocked from making statements.

Both men were in Magennis's Bar on the night that Mr
McCartney was stabbed to death.

It is understood that the PSNI has taken detailed
statements from three men who had been in the bar on that

One of the statements was recorded. It identifies by name
some of the individuals allegedly involved in the events
leading up to Mr McCartney's death.

At least one other written statement names individuals
alleged to be involved in a physical confrontation in the

In the six weeks since Mr McCartney was killed, not one of
the individuals named in the statements has been charged in
connection with his murder.

One of the men who has already given a detailed statement
to the PSNI approaches police again in a bid to make a
signed eyewitness statement.

The man is told that the senior detective in charge of the
murder investigation is not available and the man is sent

The trial of five peace activists charged with damaging a
United States warplane at Shannon airport collapses at
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court following legal argument in
the absence of the jury.

The deportation 35 Nigerians sparks outrage throughout
Ireland. The asylum seekers from the west African country
are arrested and flown from Dublin to Lagos on a chartered
flight following the rejection of their applications for
refugee status.

March 17

Senior officials in the Irish and US governments plan to
"strategise" opposition to the British government's refusal
to establish an independent public judicial inquiry into
the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

An informed source says that the US administration had
indicated it will be supporting the Irish government's
calls for an independent inquiry to be held.

The news emerges after Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tells United
States President George Bush of his concerns about the
controversial new Inquiries Bill during a meeting in

March 20

The SDLP announces a party policy document on Irish unity.

The Stormont assembly and executive will be at the centre
of regional government in the North in a united Ireland,
according to the paper. A United Ireland and the Agreement
is launched by leader Mark Durkan in a three-stage event in
Belfast, Dublin and Newry.

Former Taoiseach Albert says the time is now right for the
Irish government to publish a green paper on Irish unity.

March 21

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell faces legal action
after refusing to withdraw defamatory remarks made about
Daily Ireland in media recent interviews.

Managing Director of the Andersonstown News Group, Maírtín
Ó Muilleoir along with company director Robin Livingstone
and investor Peter Quinn, instruct their legal team to
launch libel proceedings against the government minister.

The development comes after Mr McDowell's claims of
"fascism and illegality" against the new all-Ireland daily
paper. Mr Ó Muilleoir brands the claims "rubbish,
defamatory and dangerous".

"Minister McDowell is unwilling to tolerate a newspaper
which has a different take on the peace process. In no
other European country would this assault on freedom of the
press by a justice minister be tolerated," he said.

Seamus Dooley from the National Union of Journalists voices
concerns for the welfare of Daily Ireland staff in the wake
of the minister's comments.

"We believe that by linking the newspaper and terrorism he
is in danger of putting the lives of working journalists in
danger," he says.

MARch 24

Ireland's legendary fiddle player, Sean Maguire, dies at
his home aged 77.

Friend and musician Joe Burke describes his death as "a
massive loss to Irish traditional music". The Belfast-born
musican was accomplished at playing the piano, guitar,
concert flute, whistle and uillean pipes.

Devastated friends and colleagues of Marilou Pardilla, a
Filipina nurse who committed suicide at her Co Antrim home
speak out on victimisation and intimidation she experienced
at the private nursing home where she worked.

Health workers' union Unison says Marilou's death had
exposed the "strong element" of racism experienced by
Filipino employees of private nursing homes in the North of
Ireland and demands the implementation of strict new
measures to regulate the private healthcare sector.

March 26

Six African children remain in hiding in the South of
Ireland to avoid deportation to Nigeria.

The children fled after officers from the Garda National
Immigration Bureau raided dozens of homes across the state
in a bid to capture 35 Nigerian nationals selected for
deportation on March 14.

It emerges that immigration officials also raided Our
Lady's Bower Secondary School in Athlone, Co Westmeath, as
part of their operation.

Several of the children, aged between eight and 18, belong
to two families caught up in the swoop. Two terrified
mothers – Elizabeth Odumsi and Iyabo Nwanze who were both
deported the previous week, each took one of their children
with them to Nigeria.

However, between them, the two women left four children
behind in Athlone.

A further two Nigerian-born children are also currently
hiding out in Ireland with their mother.

March 28

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accuses the Irish government
of "partitionism, self-interest and incompetence" in its
approach to the peace process, while speaking at an Easter
Commeration in Derry.

He tells the gathering: "The process is in serious
difficulty. Much of this is being driven by an Irish
government fearful of the growth of Sinn Féin and our
determination to challenge the mess the establishment
parties in Dublin are making of the economy, of health, of
education and of the peace process.

29 March

Daily Ireland reveals that almost €1.4 million was spent by
the Irish government on chartered flights to deport
refugees in the last two years.

Labour party spokesman Joe Costello brands the bill "a
scandal" and says it underlines the need for a "proper
immigration policy".

12 charter flights took 341 people out of the Republic
between January 2002 and the end of December last year at a
cost of €1,363,201 (£939,301) to the Irish taxpayer. This
figure includes a cost of €50,200 (£34,580) for one flight
to deport a minor to Gambia in February last year.

March 30

The UDA stands down its east Belfast leader, Jim Gray.

The decision is met with widespread calls for the UDA to

In a statement the UDA says six others associated with Gray
have been kicked out of the organisation. A source within
the Loyalist Commission agrees that UDA drug dealing will
still continue.

"This is a first step but a small step," he addes.

The judge who convicted the Colombia Three admits much of
the evidence brought before the court was "questionable".

Lawyers for James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin
McCauley now hope that the verdict will be overturned on

Judge Jorge Enrique Torres was one the three-judge panel
that convicted the trio in December and sentenced them to
17 years in a Colombian prison, overturned an earlier

His signed dissenting opinion shows he differed sharply
with the other two judges on the panel who voted to convict
the trio.

The defence lawyers present Torres' statement at a press
conference in Bogota after it is released by the court,
saying they would use it to reinforce their appeal made in
February to Colombia's Supreme Court.

March 31

Fears grow for the welfare of a family two weeks after
being deported to Nigeria as the campaign to bring them
back to Ireland steps up a gear.

Nkechie Okolie and her three children from Castleblayney
were among 35 Nigerian nationals rounded up and transported
to the west African country from Ireland on March 15.

The battle to bring the family back to Ireland took on
fresh urgency after it emerged that they have had several
bags of luggage stolen and have been in hiding at a
compound outside the Nigerian city of Lagos.

According to campaigners, a six-year-old neighbour of the
family was brutally raped by an intruder this week and is
being cared for in a Nigerian hospital.

The family's youngest son Chukka, aged seven, is reported
to have had several asthma attacks with the family not
being able to pay for medical treatment.

A petition from 4,000 Castleblayney residents was sent to
justice minister Michael McDowell, the man who ordered the
mass deportations.

The petition demanded the family's return.

April 2

Pope John Paul II dies in his private apartment, aged 84,
after 26 years as pontiff.

Archbishop Stanislow Dziwisz presides over a mass for the
pontiff in his final hours.

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri asks for a few moments of
silence as he announces the death to the thousands of
faithful who congregate in Rome's St Peter's Square.

"Let perpetual light shine on him, and let him repose in
peace," Sandri says.

April 3

Sinn Féin Party candidate Gráinne Mhic Géidigh takes a seat
in the Údarás na Gaeltachta poll for the Donegal area.

Mitchel McLaughlin, Sinn Féin general secretary, describes
the victory as a historic breakthrough for the party. "Sinn
Fein stood in this election on our agenda for change in
relation to the role of Údarás na Gaeltachta, re-building
the peace process and campaigning for Irish re-
unification," he said.

Sinn Fein, he says, aims to make the authority more
"relevant, accountable and democratic".

April 4

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland faces calls to expel one
of its most high-profile ministers after he admits doing
impressions of the Pope while the ailing pontiff was
critically ill.

The Co Antrim-based Rev Stephen Dickinson, who serves as
the Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, also told anti-
Catholic jokes at the gospel rally in Drumbo Presbyterian
Church Hall near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

The event was attended by several senior DUP figures,
including Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson. According to
witnesses the minister launched into an impression of the
Pope suffering from Parkinson's disease towards the end of

Rev Dickinson tells Daily Ireland he had "taken the mickey"
out of the Pope and the Catholic faith but did not intend
to cause any offence. Sinn Féin and the SDLP call on him to

April 5

British Prime Minister Tony Blair calls a general election
on May 5.

Mr Blair's announcement means the North's electorate will
cast their votes for local council elections on the same

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams calls on
republicans to "take risks" and embark on a political
offensive to move the peace process forward.

He tells republicans: "You cannot prevail if you stay on
the defensive…

"It is my view that there will be an effort made to put the
process back together again and Sinn Féin intend to be the
catalyst for that."

The next day he initiates the start of a unilateral
initiative by the republican leadership to steer the IRA
towards purely political activity. At the People's Theatre
in Conway Mill the Sinn Féin President calls on the IRA to
commit itself to "purely political and democratic
activity". Mr Adams says a political alternative now exists
to "armed struggle".

April 7

Political and religious leaders from around the globe
gather at St Peter's Basilica to pay their last respects to
the Pope.

Thousands of people in Ireland attended special services
organised to coincide with the funeral. The Pontiff's
simple wooden coffin, adorned with a cross and the letter
'M' for Mary, is buried in a crypt at the back of the

His grave is marked by a slab inscribed with his name in
Latin - Joannes Paulus II, and the years of his life, 1920-

The three-hour funeral service is conducted by future pope,
Germany's Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. There is great emotion
throughout the funeral mass as thousands of pilgrims pray
and openly weep as they remember the legacy he leaves to
millions across the planet.

April 11

The SDLP faces a major crisis in West Tyrone as hospital
campaigners, angry at the party's decision to contest the
Westminster poll, threaten to stand their own candidates
for the council elections.

Omagh-based hospital activists insist that the SDLP is
going back on a 'gentleman's agreement' by failing to give
local MLA Dr Kieran Deeny a free run in the Westminster
poll. The SDLP deny any such deal existed.

Local SDLP activists are furious the SDLP hierarchy has
overruled a decision taken by its West Tyrone constituency
association that the party should stand aside in favour of
the independent hospital candidate. However, party chiefs
are adamant that every Westminster seat must be contested.

April 14

Ireland could remain under threat from Sellafield nuclear
power plant for up to 150 years after it ceases to operate,
radiation experts warn.

Campaigners in Ireland blame the controversial plant in
Cumbria, northwest England, which is just 100 miles from
the Irish coast, for causing cancer and dozens of abnormal
births. A report issued by the Radiological Protection
Institute of Ireland (RPII) claims the Sellafield site may
need significant investment for up to 150 years before it
is finally cleared of contamination.

The report is produced after Irish experts visited the
nuclear plant in September 2004.

April 15

Serious concerns are expressed about the British
government's inquiry into the murder of Co Armagh solicitor
Rosemary Nelson.

Belfast solicitor Pádraigín Drinan, one of Mrs Nelson's
closest professional colleagues, claims that the British
government's decision to establish an inquiry under the
terms of the Police Act 1998 could present major obstacles
to the search for truth.

Section 44 of the Police Act vests the secretary of state
with power to restrict the public nature of the inquiry –
and its outcome – "so far as appears to him consistent with
the public interest".

April 17

Delegates to the GAA annual congress authorise the
organisation's Central Council to decide on whether Croke
Park should be opened temporarily to soccer and rugby.

In total 325 votes are cast with one spoiled, with the
valid vote totals 324. Of that number, 227 vote in favour
of allowing the GAA's powerful Central Council to make a
decision on whether headquarters should be made available
on a temporary basis while Landsdowne Road is redeveloped.
Altogether 97 delegates voted against.

The Ulster Unionist Party are forced to delay their
election manifesto launch after a police raid on the home
of UUP MLA Michael Copeland.

The east Belfast assembly member's house and offices were
searched the previous week by detectives involved in a
major inquiry. The probe has led to charges against a top
estate agent and deposed loyalist paramilitary boss Jim

Mr Copeland, who also sits on Castlereagh Borough Council,
confirmed that officers acted after serious allegations had
been made against him over the sale of land.

April 18

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell receives a frosty
reception during his visit to Belfast where he met with
SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell.

Moments before his private meeting with the SDLP, members
of the Anti-Racist Network stage a protest against Mr
McDowell's recent deportation of immigrants. Anti-racism
protesters attempt to shout down the PD minister during the
course of his media briefing at the Wellington Park Hotel.

During the heated verbal protest one member of the Anti-
Racism Network was restrained as he shouted: "Shame on you,
Mr McDowell."

The incensed protester added: "It's a disgrace that
Alasdair McDonnell has asked this man to South Belfast as
it is the most concentrated place for racist attacks."

He is also confronted by Frank McBrearty Jr about his
handling of the Morris Tribunal and during a short briefing
to the media.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds participates in the launch
of a conference on state violence by the campaign group
Relatives for Justice.

Mr Reynolds stands alongside victims and families affected
by state violence in Belfast's Europa Hotel to highlight
the event.

Declaring that issues relating to state violence "have to
be dealt with", Mr Reynolds says: "While there has been
movement after a long number of years, I hope the two
governments make progress because otherwise, in my view,
you won't have a fully acceptable settlement of all the
issues dealing with those matters that have caused so much
pain and anxiety to families concerned. Leaving those
matters undealt with for a long period does not assist
either community in bringing closure to the various items
that are outstanding," Mr Reynolds told Daily Ireland.

April 19

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected the new pontiff in
Rome after a Vatican conclave.

The 78-year-old is the oldest pope to be voted in this
century. Taking the title of Pope Benedict XVI, he is
expected to take a traditionally conservative and corporate
friendly line as holy see.

April 21

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claims that justice minister Michael
McDowell has received reports of ongoing IRA recruitment
and training.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Ahern discloses the contents of
secret Irish government intelligence reports. "As of today
or as of last weekend, there still is training, there still
is recruiting and, more worryingly, it may not be directly
related, but there still is the crossover into criminal
activity," he says.

April 22

Prominent south Belfast Sinn Féin member Sean Hayes who is
suspended as part of the party's investigation into the
murder of Robert McCartney hits out at the decision.

It's believed that up to seven members of Sinn Féin in the
south of the city have resigned in protest at the

"We are really annoyed," he says. "What the party have done
here is wrong. We have now been removed from the scene of
these elections and it is this community which will
suffer." Mr Hayes says that while he was in Magennis's Bar
on the night of Robert McCartney's murder, he didn't
witness the original bar brawl. "We have to stop punishing
people for something they didn't do," he says.

April 23

Fianna Fáil will supplant the SDLP as the voice of moderate
nationalism in the North if Mark Durkan's party experiences
meltdown at next week's Westminster election, according to
an insider with the Dublin-based party.

The insider claims the party is already preparing to pick
up the baton to be handed on by the SDLP.

April 26

The family of murdered Catholic man, Patsy Kelly, say they
believe the police investigation into his 1974 shooting
will be closed again without anyone being charged.

Daily Ireland reveals that the independent police officer,
seconded from the West Midlands force to conduct the latest
investigation, has returned to England.

The development causes the Kelly family to conclude the
PSNI are preparing to close the case with or without
positive arrests.

The PSNI confirms Detective Superintendent Andrew Hunter
has been released from his post as investigating officer to
return to work in the West Midlands but they insist they
will keep the case open.

Previous investigations into the murder of Patsy Kelly were
hampered by missing evidence, lost police files and
accusations of UDR collusion and RUC cover-ups.

Earlier, four men were arrested in connection with Mr
Kelly's murder but were released without charge.

April 29

The former head of the RUC's Special Branch Bill Lowry
tells Daily Ireland that a united Ireland is "inevitable".

In an exclusive interview, Bill Lowry says that "when we
come to a united Ireland there will have to be a new flag
and a new anthem, which I believe is inevitable".

Addressing that same meeting, the man who once spearheaded
the Special Branch campaign against the IRA, describes Sinn
Féin as "evil incarnate".

He warned unionists that if they "lie down with Sinn Féin
dogs they will get up with fleas". Mr Paisley took the
stand after Bill Lowry and delivered the speech which
effectively scuppered any chance of the formation of a new
executive between his party and Sinn Féin.

May 1

THE North's chief electoral officer Denis Stanley faces
calls to resign after a report about the voter registration
uncovers discrimination.

Sinn Féin says the report highlights concerns about how the
voter register is compiled.

Party president Gerry Adams says an equality impact
assessment for the Electoral Office on its annual
registration process had uncovered possible religious and
political discrimination among some canvassers.

"The chief electoral officer should resign and allow a new
chief executive to get to grips with the serious problems
which exist within that organisation," he says.

The need for voters to register each year was introduced by
the Electoral Fraud Act 2002 and since then Sinn Féin had
repeatedly expressed concern that the process had confused
and disenfranchised thousands of people.

May 4

The solicitor acting for Omagh bomb accused, Sean Hoey,
says he is "profoundly disturbed" at allegations that his
client will be charged with murder in relation to the 1998
Omagh bombing.

Peter Corrigan, of Kevin Winters and Co Solicitors, speaks
to Daily Ireland after reports alleging the North's DPP and
the PSNI will soon serve murder charges on Mr Hoey.

May 5

Voters across the North cast their votes in the
Westminister election. There is a high turn-out.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern gives an indication that he is
prepared to push the peace process forward after the
results of the Westminster elections are known.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Ahern says his government stood
ready to "get on with business" regardless of who is
elected. He says: "Whatever happens today and tomorrow, the
Irish government is ready to take things on.

"I will hope to have an early date for talks with whatever
prime minister is elected tonight and get on with the

May 6

As election results come in it becomes clear the UUP has
been virtually obliterated from the electoral landscape,
left with just one seat in North Down.

With resounding victories in Lagan Valley, East Antrim,
South Antrim and in David Trimble's once safe seat of Upper
Bann, the DUP becomes unionism's definitive voice.

In the nationalist heartlands, Sinn Féin's campaign to
completely eclipse the SDLP is very much a work in progress
with Conor Murphy celebrating the capture of the seat once
held by SDLP stalwart Séamus Mallon. In South Belfast up to
1,000 Sinn Féin voters switched from Alex Maskey to
Alasdair McDonnell who came home with just that majority.

UUP leader David Trimble loses his Upper Bann seat to the
DUP's Peter Simpson by 5000 votes.

May 7

David Trimble resigns as leader of the Ulster Unionist

Former UUP man Jeffrey Donaldson later claims Mr Trimble's
resignation marked the beginning of the end for the party.

"His position had become untenable following the UUP's
electoral demise," said Mr Donaldson, who left the UUP last
year to join the DUP and who retained his Lagan Valley seat
in Thursday's election.

"David Trimble's resignation is long overdue.

" His failure to stand down following disastrous election
results in 2001 and 2003 has ultimately led to the demise
of his party," Mr Donaldson said.

May 8

Hopes are high that the appointment of Peter Hain as the
new British secretary of state for the North will put fresh
impetus into the peace process.

Hain arrives in Belfast after spending much of the weekend
in telephone contact with the North's political party

The fact that he will also continue to work in his role as
Welsh secretary of state is seen as an encouraging sign
that the British government is keen on achieving the
restoration of devolved government as soon as possible.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds describes Mr Hain's dual portfolio as
the "downgrading" of the Secretary of State's role in the
peace process.

May 9

Sinn Féin and the DUP further tighten their grip on
Northern politics after both parties secured significant
gains in the first day of counting in the local government

The council results replicate the performance of the four
main parties in the Westminster count. Sinn Féin admits
that their performance in the polls had been adversely
affected by the criticism of the party in recent months
over the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Robert
McCartney. Deborah Devenny losses out on the seat
previously held by Joe O'Donnell in the Pottinger ward
which covers the Short Strand area of East Belfast.

Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast Alex Maskey concedes the
media "onslaught" against his party may have cost them

May 10

SDLP leader Mark Durkan dismisses talk of a possible merger
between his party and Fianna Fáil.

May 13

A rifle used in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) murder of
two young brothers in Co Armagh 12 years ago was used in at
least two other killings, Daily Ireland reveals.

Rory and Gerard Cairns were shot dead at their home in
Bleary in 1993.

The AK-47 assault rifle used in the shootings was one of
hundreds shipped into the North from South Africa by
British army double agent Brian Nelson. The same weapon was
also used to kill Lurgan republican Sam Marshall in 1990
and Catholic factory worker Gervais Lynch the following

For 15 years the security services had failed to make
public the ballistics of the AK-47 or reveal to the Cairns,
Marshall or Lynch families the history of the weapon.

Relatives of the dead men are convinced this is because it
would have proved their loved ones' murders were a result
of loyalist/security agency collusion.

Johnny Marshall, the brother of Sam Marshall, says: "This
begs the question why did the RUC not provide us with this
information a decade ago? Why has it taken 12 years for
these ballistics reports to come to light?

"It is clear to me that the RUC have been trying to hide
something here.

"Detectives knew that a rifle imported by a double agent
was being used to kill people throughout Armagh by another
double agent, Robin Jackson, yet they chose to keep this

School staff across the North walk out on a one-day strike
in protest at proposed education cuts of up to £60 million
(€88 million) over the next two years.

Striking staff from the five education boards hold
lunchtime rallies in key towns, where more than 6,000 staff
from all sectors in education converge to show their
opposition to the cutbacks.

The action is organised by the public service trade union,

May 14

Secretary of state Peter Hain is challenged to prevent job
losses at Daily Ireland.

Daily Ireland publisher Máirtín Ó Muilleoir makes the
appeal in a letter to Mr Hain following the revelation that
new jobs at Shorts Bombardier were costing £100,000
(€140,000) each to create.

Up to 30 employees at Daily Ireland could lose their jobs
if a British government ban on advertisements is not
reversed. "I wish Shorts well and they are totally entitled
to their support," Mr Ó Muilleoir said.

"But it's worth noting that not only was Daily Ireland, in
the heart of west Belfast, denied government aid by Invest
NI, we are now the only daily newspaper in which the
government refuses to advertise."

May 17

British government plans to introduce identity cards
throughout Britain and the North receives a mixed response
from the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

Controversial proposals to legislate for the introduction
of ID cards are unveiled during the Queen's speech at

The multi-million pound card scheme would involve citizens
having personal and biometric data, such as fingerprints,
retained by the British government on a database.

Sinn Féin's human rights and equality spokesperson Catríona
Ruane criticises the development, saying that her party
would definitely oppose it.

"Sinn Féin are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of
any voluntary or compulsory British ID card," Ms Ruane

"Under the Good Friday Agreement people in the North have
the right to Irish or British identity (or both).

"Far from being an effective tool for anything, these cards
would undermine not just civil liberties, but also
fundamentally, the right of people living in the North of
Ireland to their Irish identity."

Negotiations aimed at rebuilding the peace process take
place in London.

In the first intensive talks since the general election,
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Democratic Unionist
Party leader Ian Paisley lead separate delegations for
meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and senior

After his meeting, DUP leader Ian Paisley declares the Good
Friday Agreement dead and calls for a "new beginning".

"That new beginning outlaws all who outlaw themselves by
clinging to violence," he tells reporters.

Mr Adams said the Agreement must be defended.

May 20

It is revealed the Loyalist Volunteer Force issue a
statement naming six people they believe are connected to
the murder of missing Bangor woman Lisa Dorrian.

The organisation sent the statement to Mervyn Gibson, a
spokesman for the Loyalist Commission, who said he has
passed on the information to the PSNI.

Lisa's mother, Pat Dorrian, said she could not believe an
LVF statement claiming that the organisation was not
involved in her murder.

Lisa (25) went missing after attending a party at a caravan
site in Ballyhalbert, Co Down, on February 28.

"I received the letter and passed it on to the PSNI in
connection with their investigation into the murder," says
Mr Gibson.

"I wouldn't want to get the family's hopes up with this.
Just because the people are named that doesn't mean

May 22

Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte meets with party
delegates to endorse his strategy of a pre-election pact
with Fine Gael.

Mr Rabbittee says the present government seems to be
paralysed when it comes to tackling childcare, the crisis
in accident and emergency wards, the drugs epidemic, and
anti-social behaviour and that any alternative to the
present government had to be prepared to tackle such

May 23

Five schoolgirls are killed in a fatal road collision in Co
Meath. The schoolgirls, from Loreto Convent School in
Navan, were killed when their afternoon school bus collided
with two cars in Kentstown near Navan.

The deceased girls are aged between 13 and 16 years old.
Six other students are left in a critical condition at Our
Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda as parents, teachers
and pupils of the school try to come to terms with the
tragic news.

The bus was also carrying pupils from The Mercy Convent,
Beaufort College and St Patrick's Classical School in

May 24

Former United States president Bill Clinton urges the
British and Irish governments and all parties to stick with
the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Clinton declares that is was no
alternative to the Agreement. "I don't see any alternative.
I would hope that it's still alive, it can be revived," Mr
Clinton said.

He also urges the IRA to take a major initiative for the
benefit of the peace process.

Reacting to the comments, Democratic Unionist Party leader
Ian Paisley accused Mr Clinton of being "a fellow traveller
with IRA/Sinn Féin".

May 25

The three chief suspects in the murder of Bangor woman Lisa
Dorrian are being protected from prosecution by the PSNI's
Special Branch, loyalist sources claim.

Detectives had so far arrested three people in connection
with the murder but released them all unconditionally.

The main suspects in the Dorrian disappearance are two
Loyalist Volunteer Force drug-dealing brothers from east
Belfast who are related to a murdered loyalist leader.

A cousin of the pair from north Down, who has LVF
connections and was close to Johnny Adair's old Ulster
Defence Association C Company, is another prime suspect.

Also in the frame is a young man from the Rathcoole estate
on the edge of north Belfast who is linked to the small Red
Hand Commando paramilitary group.

According to a number of loyalist sources, three of these
four suspects work for Special Branch. The sources insist
that these links are hampering the investigation into Ms
Dorrian's death.

Martin O'Neill says he is standing down as manager of
Celtic and urges successor Gordon Strachan to carry on his
legacy by bringing more trophies to the club.

The Irishman says he will be standing down as manager –
along with Steve Walford and John Robertson – to spend more
time with his ill wife Geraldine.

May 26

Calls are made for an independent Garda ombudsman to be
appointed in the Republic after two men are shot dead by
gardaí during an attempted post-office robbery in Co

Amnesty International, the human rights group, calls for an
independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the

Gardaí launch an internal investigation into the incident,
as is normal whenever shots are fired by members of the

However, Amnesty International says it needs to be
established that the Garda officers had done everything
possible to avoid shooting the men.

The organisation said the case also highlights the need for
an independent Garda ombudsman.

The shootings occur in the North Dublin village of Lusk
during an attempted robbery on the village post office.

The deceased men are named as Colm Griffin (33) from Canon
Lillis Avenue, Dublin 1 and Eric Hopkins (24) from Lower
Rutland Street, Dublin 1.

June 1

An angry Frank McBrearty Jnr says Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
should immediately sack the Minister for Justice Michael
McDowell and the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy.

He makes his comments after a judge confirms that he and
his cousin Mark McConnell were victims of a conspiracy to
frame them for the murder of Donegal cattle dealer Richie
Barron in 1996. Mr Barron died in a hit-and-run accident.

Judge Frederick Morris's inquiry into the death of Mr
Barron found the garda investigation to be "prejudiced,
tendentious and utterly negligent in the highest degree".

Mr McBrearty Junior said: "I am demanding that the
Taoiseach sacks the Minister for Justice and the Garda
Commissioner immediately for their part in this state

"They have collectively overseen this cover-up so I am
calling on the people of Ireland to stand up like they did
in 1916.

"I want people to email and post letters to the Taoiseach
demanding these sackings," said Mr McBrearty.

June 3

Darragh Somers, the five-year-old shot in the head as he
played in his school yard six weeks previously, is allowed
out of hospital for the first time.

Doctors say he has made a miraculous recovery from the
shooting, which almost cost him his life. He is allowed to
leave Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital in a wheelchair to
visit his primary one classmates at St Patrick's Primary
School in Mullanaskea, Co Fermanagh, after undergoing
intense physiotherapy.

The family believe the shooting was an accident. No one has
been charged in relation to the shooting.

June 6

Following a devastating report by the Morris Tribunal
outlining widespread corruption and negligence within the
Garda, the son of assasinated Donegal Councillor Eddie
Fullerton declares "the worst is yet to come".

Mr Fullerton was assassinated by a loyalist death squad
from the North on May 25, 1991 at his home in Buncrana.
Albert Fullerton says An Garda Síochána and the Department
of Justice could be rocked by further shocking revelations
if a full public inquiry into the 1991 murder of Buncrana
Councillor Eddie Fullerton can be established. Serious
questions continue to surround Mr Fullerton's murder,
including the ability of loyalists to gain detailed local
intelligence, as well as making safe passage to and from
their base in the North.

Mr Fullerton's family continue to highlight the nature of
the original Garda investigation and the Department of
Justice's ongoing conduct as causes of major concern.

As their campaign to expose "collusion and cover-up" in
relation to Mr Fullerton's murder gathers momentum, the
Buncrana man's family gains cross-party support in a bid to
hold a public inquiry.

June 8

Moves by the British government to give MI5 control of
national security intelligence-gathering in the North could
undermine the changes promoted by the Patten report, the
Police Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson cautions.

"What I'm fearful of here, simply because of the absence of
detail, is that you risk undermining the progress on the
Patten recommendations if the new security agency does not
have proper accountability, in that the police, or a
proportion of what used to be the police, are no longer
publicly accountable through the Ombudsman.

"Patten said that policing should be devolved except for
matters of national security. What I did want to do was
clearly flag that there's an early concern on my part –
that when government [produces] the details of this – that
they're very conscious of this imperative that's in Patten,
and I think it's an imperative in all modern democracies
now: that police and security agencies be accountable to
the public," Mr Hutchinson tells Daily Ireland.

The body of Real IRA member Gareth O'Connor is found in a
Volkswagen Golf recovered from Newry Canal. Mr O'Connor
(24) had disappeared in May 2003.

June 13

Demands are made for an Irish language act in the North
following a landmark decision to make Irish an official
working language of the European Union.

EU foreign ministers from the 25 member states agree to
include the Irish language in the official list of 21
working languages.

Speaking to Daily Ireland, Dominic Bradley, the SDLP
spokesman on the Irish language, calls for the new

"An Irish language act for the North of Ireland is the only
way that the rights of Irish speakers will be upheld and
receive proper services from all government departments and
agencies," he says.

"At the moment, we have the European Charter for Minority
Languages but the British government's implementation
leaves much to be desired."

June 16

Two prominent Belfast academics are appointed as new
members of the North's Human Rights Commission. Monica
McWilliams, a University of Ulster lecturer and a former
assembly member for the Women's Coalition, is appointed
chief commissioner. She takes over from Professor Brice
Dickson, who stepped down in February. Colin Harvey, a
professor of law at Queen's University in Belfast, is named
as a member of the commission. The commission, established
as a result of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, was
previously blighted by a series of controversies that
centred on strategic direction and organisational
independence. Key commission members resigned after
suffering serious financial and legislative restrictions
imposed by the British government, including human rights
lawyer Professor Christine Bell and former Irish Congress
of Trade Unions' president Inez McCormack.

June 17

Trouble erupts in north Belfast after the disputed return
leg of the Tour of the North parade passes up the Crumlin
Road through a flashpoint nationalist area at Ardoyne.
Nationalists accuse police and loyalists of systematically
attacking them.

June 18

Former Republican prisoner Sean Kelly is arrested and has
his early release licence revoked by the British secretary
of state, Peter Hain. He is taken to Maghaberry Prison.
Secretary of State, Peter Hain, and the Chief Constable of
the PSNI, Hugh Orde, say Mr Kelly was arrested because they
believed he had "returned to terrorism".

June 19

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair are urged to intervene in north Belfast's marching
crisis before lives are lost.

Pleading for both premiers to become personally involved,
Belfast priest Aidan Troy tells Daily Ireland that the
situation in his Ardoyne parish was now potentially

Fr Troy made his impassioned appeal to both governments
after witnessing Friday night's Orange Order march and the
nationalist residents' protest on the Crumlin Road at

"This has gone way beyond being pro-nationalist or pro-
loyalist. This is now a matter of being pro-life," Fr Troy

June 24

The Whiterock Orange parade along the Springfield Road is
called off and rescheduled for early September - further
heightening fears of a tension filled summer.

Parade spokesman and leading loyalist Tommy Cheevers says
the organisers had decided to call off the parade rather
than accept a rerouting away from Catholic homes on the
Springfield Road which had been demanded by the Parades

Mr Cheevers accuses nationalists of wanting to humiliate
unionists and reveals that all cross-community contacts
have been "suspended".

Representatives of loyalist paramilitary groups joined with
representatives of the Orange Order and unionist
politicians at a crunch meeting in unionist West Belfast to
discuss the response to the Parades Commission

June 26

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams calls for the Irish and
British governments to develop a suicide prevention
strategy to be rolled out across the country.

"There is a lot of anger within the community at the
failure of the health system to respond to this in a
coherent and holistic fashion."

The Sinn Féin leader declares it is time for health chiefs
in the North to deliver on their pledges.

June 27

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair reaffirm their commitment to the full implementation
of the Good Friday Agreement after a meeting of the
British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, attended by
Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern, Justice Minister Michael
McDowell and NIO Secretary of State Peter Hain.

In a joint communiqué, both governments say that in the
context of a definitive end to violent IRA activity
"verified by the IICD and IMC", all parties in the North
would be expected to "fully play their part in the
restoration of devolved and inclusive government... and in
the operation of all of the institutions of the Agreement".

Afterwards, Mr Ahern tells reporters: "We remain absolutely
rock solid in our determination to implement all aspects of
the Good Friday Agreement.

June 29

Five men are arrested and sent to prison because they
object to a potentially dangerous gas pipeline being laid
close to their homes. The men, all from Rossport in Co
Mayo, are incarcerated after being accused of breaching a
High Court injunction taken by the energy giant Shell.

The company sought the imprisonment of the men for
breaching a court injunction, stopping them from blocking
the construction of the gas pipeline on their land and
close to their homes.

Protesters assemble outside the court to vent their anger
at the decision.

Among those jailed is the noted Mayo historian and sean-nós
singer Micheál Ó Seighin. The 65-year-old underwent a
triple bypass operation in 2001.

Also jailed is Vincent McGrath, a retired school teacher
and traditional musician who lives just metres from the
proposed pipeline route.

Mr McGrath's brother Philip, a local landowner who refused
Shell permission to access his land, was also put in

Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin were the other two men

Mr Justice John McMenemin says the five men would not be
released until they accept the terms of the Shell
corporation's injunction..

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