News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

December 06, 2005

MEPs Urged To Probe Collusion

To Index of Monthly Archives
To December 2005 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News about Ireland & the Irish

UT 12/06/05 MEPs Urged To Probe 'Collusion'
IT 12/07/05 Minister Accuses Connolly Of Role In 'IRA Plot'
IT 12/07/05 Connolly Rejects False Allegations On Colombia
IT 12/07/05 Bank Employee Release Refused
UT 12/06/05 Police Ombudsman 'Is Fair'
IO 12/06/05 Evacuation Carried Out At Sellafield
SW 12/06/05 Bloody Sunday
MO 12/06/05 The Freedom Of The City
IT 12/07/05 Early Irish Census Data Available On Internet


MEPs Urged To Probe 'Collusion'

MEPs were today urged to send a cross-party delegation to
Northern Ireland to look into collusion between members of
the security forces and loyalist paramilitary gangs.

By:Press Association

The proposal was being put to MEPs during a visit to
Brussels by a number of groups including Relatives for
Justice, the Campaign Against Plastic Bullets and An

The delegation has also arranged talks with a number of
Brussels-based human rights and social justice groups.

Robert McClenaghan, whose grandfather Philip Garry was
among 15 people killed in a loyalist bomb attack at
McGurk`s Bar in north Belfast in December 1971, said they
hoped to persuade various European Parliament groups to
send a delegation to Northern Ireland to study collusion.

"What we are trying to do during this visit is highlight
the need for an international fully independent judicial
inquiry into the policy of collusion and state killings,"
he said.

"Since the inception of the European Court, the British
Government had been found guilty of human rights violations
against its own citizens more times than any other member

"There has been up to now almost a brick wall in the
European Parliament when it comes to making the British
Government face up to its involvement in collusion. The
British Government has just stonewalled on the issue.

"We believe, now the British Government is the president of
the European Union, it is an apt time to examine its role
and we are looking to European Parliament Groups from the
Christian Democrats to the Social Democrats right through
to the Marxists to agree to a delegation of two MEPs from
each of their groups to visit Belfast and other places
affected by collusion."

The delegation said it would also raise concerns during its
visit about the theft of a sensitive document from
Castlereagh security complex containing the personal
details of over 100 republicans, including Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams.

They said the discovery of the document in the hands of
loyalists was proof that collusion continued.

Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald backed calls for a cross-
party delegation from the European Parliament to carry out
a fact-finding mission on British involvement in murder.

The Dublin MEP said: "For decades the British Government
have denied their role in the murder of Irish citizens.

"To this very day, attempts to cover up their involvement
in collusion continues. The families of those killed as a
result of state violence deserve the truth as to what
happened to their loved ones."


Minister Accuses Connolly Of Role In 'IRA Plot'

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has accused the
director of the Centre for Public Inquiry, journalist Frank
Connolly, of being connected to a plot by the IRA to
provide Farc guerrillas with information on the use of
explosives in return for cash, writes Liam Reid, Political

In a written Dáil reply last night, Mr McDowell claimed
that Mr Connolly travelled to the Farc-controlled region of
Colombia on a false passport in April 2001, along with his
brother, Niall, and a convicted IRA member, Pádraig Wilson.

However, last night Mr Connolly rejected the allegations
and accused the Minister of abusing his privilege and being
part of a "witch hunt" aimed at destroying the Centre for
Public Inquiry.

The centre, chaired by retired judge and tribunal chairman
Feargus Flood, was established with €4 million funding by
Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney to conduct
investigations into matters of public importance in Irish
political and corporate life.

In his reply to Finian McGrath TD, Mr McDowell said he had
been informed by gardaí that prior to the arrest of the so-
called Colombia Three in August 2001, authorities had
established that three Irish people also entered Farc-
controlled territory on false passports, and one of those
was Frank Connolly.

"On the basis of intelligence reports furnished to me, the
[ April and August] visits appear to have been connected
with an arrangement whereby the Provisional IRA furnished
knowhow in the use of explosives. The consideration
received by the Provisional IRA under the arrangement is
believed to be the payment of a large amount of money by
Farc which finances its activities by its control of the
cocaine trade in the area of Colombia which it controls."

© The Irish Times


Connolly Rejects 'False Allegations' On Colombia

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said last night
that the board of the Centre for Public Inquiry had not
addressed concerns about its executive director, Frank

Mr McDowell said in a Dáil written reply that Mr Connolly
had travelled to Colombia in April 2001 on a false
passport, along with his brother Niall Connolly, and
convicted IRA terrorist Pádraig Wilson. He said the visit
was linked to the August 2001 visit of the so-called
Colombia Three, who were arrested on suspicion of training
Farc guerillas.

In response last night, Frank Connolly said "false
allegations" had been made against him since 2002 in the
media, "chiefly those controlled by Independent News and
Media", and Mr McDowell had participated in those attacks.

"The Minister has purported to usurp the functions of the
Garda and the Director of Public Prosecutions and seeks to
destroy my reputation by publicly making charges of a
criminal nature against me, including under Dáil
privilege," he said.

"It is patent to me, however, that the real target of the
venom and mendacity which has been visited upon me is the
Centre for Public Inquiry. While it is difficult for me as
one citizen of a state to defend myself when my character
is attacked by a minister of Government and a powerful
newspaper group, I will always defend my integrity."

Mr Connolly also said a campaign of "vilification" had
intensified following his appointment as executive director
of the CPI.

Last night the chairman of the CPI, Feargus Flood, declined
to comment in detail on Mr McDowell's criticisms of the CPI
board, which includes Maynooth professor Enda McDonagh and
journalist Damien Kiberd.

He defended Mr Connolly. "Under the Irish Constitution a
man is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of his peers
in a court of law," he said.

Last night, Chuck Feeney's trust, Atlantic Philanthropies,
which funds the CPI, was not contactable. However, members
of the trust have held a number of meetings with Mr
McDowell and senior officials in the Department of Justice
and the Department of the Taoiseach, at which Mr Connolly's
position with the CPI was raised.

© The Irish Times


Bank Employee Release Refused

A man being questioned about the £26.5 million ( €39
million) Northern Bank robbery was still in police custody
last night after a judge rejected a bid to release him.

Chris Ward (24), Poleglass, west Belfast, an employee of
the bank who was held hostage by the robbery gang, today
makes legal history as the longest suspect kept in custody
in Northern Ireland without being charged.

At 10.14pm last night Mr Ward began his eighth day of
detention at Antrim custody suite where detectives have
been questioning him about the record-breaking robbery
nearly a year ago.

New powers under the Criminal Justice Act allow the PSNI to
hold suspects for up to 14 days but only after successive
48- hour extensions have been authorised by a judge.

The extension granted on Monday evening - when Mr Ward
appeared by video link - was followed by an emergency
sitting in the High Court at 1.15am yesterday when Mr
Justice Hart granted leave for a judicial review of the
circumstances in which Mr Ward was being held.

At the full hearing later yesterday, Frank O'Donoghue QC
argued that the extension was invalid because Judge Gibson
had failed to protect Mr Ward's rights when he excluded him
and his solicitor from the hearing while police were
putting sensitive information before the court.

"There is no basis on which he should be detained further,
and he should be released forthwith," said Mr O'Donoghue.

Mr Justice Hart said he was satisfied that Mr Ward's
lawyers had failed to establish the grounds on which the
application was brought and therefore it had to be

It had been argued that Judge Gibson should have explained
to Mr Ward and his solicitor the nature of the matter that
police did not wish them to hear.

"But to do so would undermine the whole basis of the
application," said Mr Justice Hart, who held that Judge
Gibson had a discretion in the matter and had exercised

The judge also lifted his ban on police continuing to
question Mr Ward which he had imposed while the judicial
review had still to be resolved.

Mr Ward's solicitor, Niall Murphy, noted that this was the
first time a citizen had been held for longer than seven
days in Northern Ireland. "Only 36 such applications have
been made in the UK, and I suspect none related to a crime
like a bank robbery. If there are any further police
applications for extensions we will strenuously oppose

The PSNI has arrested another man in connection with the
robbery. Police say the 35-year-old was arrested in Belfast
yesterday morning and is still assisting detectives in
their inquiries into the robbery.

© The Irish Times


Police Ombudsman 'Is Fair'

Police officers in Northern Ireland are increasingly
recognising that the Police Ombudsman who investigates
public complaints against them is fair and independent,
according to a report published today.

By:Press Association

But the report said Ombudsman Nuala O`Loan should do more
to win over detectives in the Police Service of Northern

Kit Chivers, chief inspector of criminal justice in the
province, said in his first inspection report on the
Ombudsman`s office that it was an efficient, effective and
tightly managed organisation.

He said the Ombudsman had worked hard to build confidence
among the public and the police.

He said: "There is an increasing recognition among the
police that the Office is fair and independent and does a
useful job by exonerating officers who have been unfairly
complained against as well as identifying those guilty of

But he urged the Ombudsman`s office to do more to "confirm
its reputation" with officers working in CID.

He recommended that the Ombudsman should aim to give more
presentations to CID officers, adding that senior PSNI
officers had a responsibility to encourage their officers
to attend.

Mr Chivers also said he had some concerns about relations
between the Ombudsman`s office and other relevant agencies
- but he recognised that all concerned shared
responsibility for improving matters.

He recommended the Police Ombudsman should "engage afresh
with all the interested parties" to establish a better
understanding about her role.

But he added: "All the bodies concerned have a duty to make
their best efforts to engage."

Summing up a report which he called "largely positive", Mr
Chivers said: "The work of the Police Ombudsman remains
immensely important.

"Its work is difficult and sensitive because of the subject
matter it deals with. The challenge now is to move beyond
the old arguments and to view the Office objectively as a
vital, impartial service to policing and to the community."

Looking at the value for money of the Ombudsman`s office,
he said the task of examining police complaints in Northern
Ireland was unique and comparisons with other police
complaints systems was likely to be misleading.

However, he did not accept the annual budget of around £8
million was excessively expensive.

"Devoting around 1% of the cost of policing to providing a
genuinely independent police complaints service cannot be
regarded as disproportionate," he concluded.

Welcoming the report, Mrs O`Loan said she was addressing
and would continue to address his recommendations for

She said: "I am pleased with the report`s findings, and in
particular that the Inspector found that the work we do
represents value for money."

Mrs O`Loan added: "He has made a series of recommendations,
some of which we have already begun work on. We will give
the other recommendations serious consideration."

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain welcomed the
report which, he said, recognised the "excellent progress"
made by the Ombudsman`s Office towards fulfilling its
important role.

Mr Hain said he regarded the positive report as further
evidence that the Ombudsman and her staff "continue to
provide an effective and independent police complaints
system in Northern Ireland".


Evacuation Carried Out At Sellafield

06/12/2005 - 18:19:47

The Government tonight expressed concern about the safety
of the Sellafield nuclear plant after a temporary
evacuation had to be carried out.

An inspection at a sampling location on one of the plant's
High Activity Storage Tanks (HAST) on Sunday uncovered very
high dose rates.

Environment Minister Dick Roche said he had been informed
by the British authorities of the test results today.

"This incident presents continuing evidence of a facility
where safety seems to be compromised and a plant which does
not match up to the safety assurances being made on its
behalf by the UK authorities," he said.

The high dose rate is believed to be have been caused by a
blockage in the pipe loop from which the samples were
taken. No radioactive material escaped from the tanks but
the area was temporarily evacuated as a precaution.

The Radiological Protection Institute (RPII) has also been
informed of the incident and has confirmed that the minor
incident has no adverse implications for Ireland.

The Government unsuccessfully took legal action against
Britain in 2001 to prevent the completion of a reprocessing
plant at the nuclear power station.

It is concerned at the environmental impact of the Cumbria
plant on the Irish Sea and continues to press for its


Bloody Sunday

Paratroops searching demonstrators after the massacre on
Bloody Sunday

In 1972 British troops killed 14 civil rights marchers in
Derry. In an exclusive extract from his new book, Eamonn
McCann tells the story of the 30 year campaign for justice
by the victims' families

The smoke hadn't cleared from the Bogside when Captain Mike
Jackson, second-in-command of the First Battalion of the
Parachute Regiment, standing in the lee of the Rossville
Street flats, began pondering the notes that the Bloody
Sunday families believe were to become the basis for a
cover-up of murder.

Huddled in the houses and flats into which they had fled,
looking fearfully out on the scene, neighbours of the dead
were already resolving that, however long it might take,
there'd be a reckoning.

In the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster more than 31
years later, in October 2003, General Sir Michael Jackson,
as he now was, Chief of the General Staff, Britain's number
one soldier, was explaining to Michael Mansfield, barrister
for the families of some of the victims, that he could
remember next to nothing about compiling the Bloody Sunday
"shot list" and could not explain why none of the shots
described in his list appeared to conform to any of the
shots actually fired.

This is the Bloody Sunday families' account of how they
succeeded in forcing Jackson and his soldiers and superiors
to explain, if they could, in public and under oath, how
and why they had killed or wounded 28 unarmed civil rights
marchers in Derry on 30 January 1972.

The campaign which emerged in the early 1990s and which was
to lead to the establishment of the Saville inquiry
intrigued some and angered others. Why Bloody Sunday? There
have been bigger death tolls in single incidents in the
Troubles. Fifteen Catholics died in the Loyalist bombing of
McGurk's Bar in the New Lodge area of Belfast in the month
before Bloody Sunday.

Eighteen paras died in an IRA ambush at Warrenpoint, County
Down, in 1979. And, numbers apart, was not the IRA killing
of 11 Protestants as they stood in reverent silence around
the Enniskillen war memorial on Remembrance Sunday in
November 1989, for example, as wicked and cruel as the
Bogside massacre?

A number of things made Derry different. Part of the
motivation for the massacre may have been to shore up
Unionist rule. Northern Ireland prime minister Brian
Faulkner was under mounting pressure from supporters of Dr
Ian Paisley and from within his own Ulster Unionist Party
to secure a much tougher law and order strategy from the
British, swiftly to put an end to illegal marches against
internment and to smash the Bogside ­no go area, from which
state forces had been excluded since the internment raids
of the previous August.

But all key decisions relating to Bloody Sunday were taken
by British political and military chiefs.

Unionist input was minimal. Blame for the Bloody Sunday
killings could not be ascribed to the communal hostilities
of Northern Ireland. This was a very British atrocity, and
the biggest single killing by state forces in the course of
the Troubles. The resultant affront was compounded by the
fact that the British state at the highest level, in the
person of the lord chief justice, Lord Widgery, had then
proclaimed that the killings were neither wrong nor

In every other atrocity with which Bloody Sunday has
regularly been compared or likened, the victims are
acknowledged, more or less universally, as having been
wrongly done to death and the perpetrators damned as

But the Bloody Sunday families were told, in effect, that
while they might personally, reasonably, lament the loss of
a loved one, they had no wider ground for grievance or
legitimate expectation of the killers being punished.

The state stood by its own. All the dead were thus
diminished. Liam Wray, brother of Jim, 22, shot in the back
at point blank range as he lay wounded in Glenfada Park,
commented, "It said that my brother was less than fully


The fact that this second injustice had been inflicted by
the official custodian of constitutional truth drove the
insult deep. Bloody Sunday, moreover, to an extent that
isn't true of any other atrocity, proved a pivotal
plotpoint in the ­narrative of the North's Troubles.
Generally, ­communal heartache in the wake of mass killings
has tended to ­dissipate over time, the lives of
individuals left behind likely shattered forever, but
public life not discernibly changed.

In contrast, a consensus among commentators and historians
holds not only that the paras' action in Derry had an
immediate political motivation—to shore up the Faulkner
government by reasserting the rule of British law—but also
that the plan spectacularly backfired. Far from bringing
the Bogside back within the Queen's Writ, the killings
catapulted the area, and other Catholic-Nationalist
districts across the North, outside all notions of

The Northern parliament, which had operated at Stormont
since partition in 1921, was abolished by order of the
Westminster government eight weeks after Bloody Sunday,
three weeks before publication of Widgery's report.

No other major change in the last 35 years can be seen as
having stemmed so directly from a single incident. This
fact, that Bloody Sunday had a clear and lasting political
significance to match its magnitude as a human event,
helped give the families' campaign for the truth an added
capacity many years later to reverberate in the wider
political world.

Bloody Sunday differed from other atrocities, too, in that
it was perpetrated in full public view. Most killings in
the North, as always in conflicts of the kind, happen with
thunderclap suddenness, on lonely roads or in the dead of
night, typically by stealthy ambush or furtive bomb.

Bloody Sunday unfolded over a period of perhaps ten minutes
in a built-up area in broad daylight and in circumstances
in which thousands of the victims' friends and neighbours
were crowded into the immediate vicinity. Every killing and
wounding was witnessed, some at very close quarters.

Within hours, even as Jackson was transmitting his
fraudulent account to Whitehall, which was to be
disseminated by British Information Services (BIS) to
deceive the world, people in Derry were piecing their
memories of the day together and assembling their
unshakable truth.

Estimates of the numbers on the Bloody Sunday march varied
wildly at the time, from the BIS's 3,000 to Northern
Ireland Civil Rights Association's 25,000. Perhaps 12–
15,000 would be near enough. Of these, four fifths, at a
minimum, will have been from Derry. A sizeable percentage
of the town's population, then, including a high proportion
of the 30,000 residents of the immediate Bogside-
Brandywell-Creggan area, had been involved personally in
the event which was to climax in the killings.

There were few local people who didn't know some member of
the families of the dead. Bloody Sunday had the character
not merely of a politically inspired state atrocity but of
one that inflicted shared, communal injury and a mass sense
of bereavement.

The community thus marked could not consign the experience
unassuaged to the past. This aspect of Bloody Sunday was
crucial in ensuring that Saville would have to hear
hundreds rather than scores of Derry witnesses, and
therefore a commensurate muster from the military,
extending the length of the inquiry and setting the taxi
meters of the legal teams a whirring for years. It was the
brazenness of the atrocity, more than any other single
factor, which dictated the cost of the inquiry.

'Our Sharpeville'

The communal aspect of the injury didn't prompt the Bogside
to turn its face entirely away from the world and nurse its
grievance to itself.

Minutes after the shooting, Bernadette McAliskey (then
Devlin) declared, "This is our Sharpeville." The
identification with the South African township where 69
demonstrators had been gunned down by police in 1960 was
more than a facile flourish.

In a speech a few months earlier in Derry, she had made
lengthy comparison between Long Kesh in Antrim — which held
the internees whose release was to be the sole demand of
the 30 January march — and Hola Camp in Kenya, where
thousands of Kikuyu had been brutalised during the 1952-60

Oppression in Northern Ireland was of an altogether lower
order of intensity than in colonial Kenya or apartheid
South Africa. But in the terror and rage of Rossville
Street on the day, the ­parallels were pertinent.

The tendency of those who came through Bloody Sunday to see
the experience reflected in conflicts elsewhere, past and
present, was to be a continuing feature of remembrance of
the massacre in years ahead.

Conservative voices in Britain and Ireland regularly argued
during the course of Saville's inquiry that the elaborate
enterprise was likely to prove futile because "people have
already made their minds up". They had a point, although
not the point they thought they had.

Campaigners in Derry hadn't demanded a new inquiry because
they wanted to be told the truth, but because they wanted
the truth to be told. They didn't need a report from Lord
Saville to find out what happened, but to find out whether
the state would acknowledge what happened.

The fact that lies have been substituted for a known truth
doesn't make the search for acknowledgement of this truth
futile, but on the contrary lends it an insistent urgency.

'The soldier who shot me hadn't the guts to look at me'


"When the inquiry was announced, a lot of us had great hope
that through the passage of time these men would all be
family men and have grandchildren and that remorse would
have dug into a few of them.

"But it wasn't to be. Some of them wore their paratrooper
ties or had their emblems on. One of them, who was a
shooter and an animal, wore a white T-shirt so we could see
his paratrooper tattoos around his arms— "brotherhood" and
all written all over them. He blatantly was showing these,
boasting if you like.

"That came out very strong to me from the soldiers. The man
that shot Johnnie was brave enough to shoot a 59 year old,
and his mate shot a 15 year old, but he wasn't brave enough
to sit in the security of the Methodist Hall in sight and
of me and the rest of the families."


"It's about achieving what we set out to achieve and we are
not there yet. If we do walk away with satisfaction, I will
throw the words back on Sergeant O's face and say, 'It was
a job well done.' I remember that expression when he was
asked about the killings on television. He said it was a
job well done."


"To say that the soldiers were lying is a statement of
fact. In the flats car park where I was shot, we are
dealing with an open space and a distance of a maximum of
20 yards in broad daylight.

"They didn't see a man lying on the ground, or a group of
people gathered around him, nor two men running out. And
they all swore they didn't see me. I must have been totally
invisible or they must have been totally blind. Christopher
Clarke summed it up well.

"If none of the soldiers giving evidence shot us, some
other soldier must have, because there is no doubt we were
shot by soldiers. But not only did none of them admit to
shooting us, none of them bore witness against any of the


"The soldier who shot me hadn't even the guts to turn
around and look at me. At lunchtime, he had to walk past
us. He couldn't even look at me. Some of the soldiers'
statements were unbelievable. One soldier said he wouldn't
drive the car Gerald Donaghey was in because he seen nail
bombs but the boy that did drive the car said he saw no
nail bombs.

"Like the man says, you don't have to be a rocket scientist
to see the lies. Like the soldier who said he fired 23
shots, 19 at the one window, you could even see barristers
that represented other soldiers looking at him. But he has
kept up that story for the last 30 years.

"How did he fire 19 shots at a window and the window didn't
break? The soldier who shot me said he shot a bloke with
blonde hair, 5'6'', which couldn't be me. And then no one
admitted to firing at Johnny Johnston, but he was shot too.
No wonder they couldn't look at you, and us sitting there."


"One good thing was that it dragged in Edward Heath. That
was rubbing their nose in it. That was satisfying. I was
happy about that. And the higher echelons of the British
army having to sit and be cross examined, I enjoyed that

"It didn't matter what they said. It was the fact that they
were being put through the mill. That sort of thing had
been unheard of before, but here it was. I enjoyed sitting
and listening to our barristers giving them a grilling.
They were lying, but it didn't matter. They all lied. Heath
is just a liar, full stop.

"The fact that he had to lie shows that Bloody Sunday went
to the top. He knew it and the rest of them knew it and
they had to try to lie their way out of it. It was the
soldier done it on the street, but he was only the tool,
the man carrying out the order."


"Before the inquiry I might have accepted things I saw on
TV, but not now. When Bloody Sunday happened the British
were saying, 'They were terrorists, they were holding guns,
they fired first, we went in after them and took them out.'

"But that is not the way it was. There was a thing in Iraq
when the Americans went in and shot 13 people. They tried
to say they were gunmen. You can see the parallels.

"It will never go away. Sometimes sitting in the Guildhall,
the evidence was so strong and so sad and so cruel and so
damning that I couldn't go back for a couple of days.

"But there were families there that never left, morning,
noon and night. I couldn't do that. You couldn't even
though you wanted to.

"I'm glad I wasn't in London when the soldier admitted to
killing Barney McGuigan because Barney's body was thrown
into the ambulance on top of me. I don't know how I would
have handled that."


"I'm relieved that my mother and father didn't have to go
through it. If they had had to sit in the Guildhall, with
the photos coming up on the screen, and Hugh lying there,
they would have died anyway.

"When they put that photograph up on the screen the first
time, him covered in blood … I was looking down on him from
the flats when that happened.

"Hugh lying there dying and me standing there looking at
him. I think about it all the time. And then it changes the
way you think about other things.

"You would see them on the news, Iraq, Palestine,
Afghanistan, and you would think about them. And you'd say,
'That's what happened to us. There, look. That's exactly
what happened to us. It's happening to them people now'."


"The Brits shot innocent protestors in the street on a
peaceful march in India. Not one of the civilians was armed
when they marched up towards this army place.

"I forget the name of the army boy who was in charge at
that place. He lined his soldiers up and told them to open
fire. He killed over 400. It was the same policy in Iran,
where the Shah's army was being advised by Brits.

"When the protesters came down the street, they opened
fire, killing so many. But it blew up on them. If you go
back to the 17th century, workers in England were on strike
and marched into a town where the Brits were all around at
the windows waiting for them.

"They said that one person opened fire on them so the army
fired back, killing so many again. That's the way I look at
Bloody Sunday. This old story about the IRA is all rubbish.

"They saw the marches getting bigger so what they did was
try to scare them off the streets. They are the most
devious crowd in the world to work with when it comes to

"Bloody Sunday to me was not an attempt to bring out the
IRA, it was a policy to put people off the streets. But
people still came out. It was the same in India. The people
still marched. March on.

"You have to battle on to highlight throughout the world
that the Brits have lied again.

"We've been doing it for over 30 years, marching every
anniversary for the truth. We can keep on until the truth

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry, The Families Speak Out, edited
and introduced by Eamonn McCann is available from
Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Phone 020 7637 1848 or
go to


The Freedom Of The City

Finborough Theatre, London, 29 November - 23 December 2005

Cast List

Claire Cogan
Patrick Myles
Nick Lee
Matthew Parish
Richard Flood

Directed By Vicky Jones

Brian Friel's The Freedom of the City has not been
performed in London for more than 30 years and its current
revival at the Finborough Theatre has been timed to
coincide with the results of the Saville Enquiry into
Bloody Sunday due out in 2006.

Inspired by the events that took place on that Sunday in
January 1972, it is not only a damning indictment of the
findings of the Widgery Enquiry - the first tribunal into
the massacre - but moves beyond The Troubles to explore the
polemic that terrorists are made and not born and how the
innocent and apolitical are inevitably culled in the
crossfire of competing ideologies.

Set in 1970s Derry, Ulster, The Freedom of the City focuses
on three civil rights protesters, Lily Doherty, Skinner and
Michael Hegarty, who after fleeing the tanks and tear gas
sent to disrupt their unofficial march from the Bogside
find themselves in the mayor's parlour in the Guildhall -
the symbolic heart of the protestant political

But when the police and army wade in and begin to
exaggerate the threat this unarmed rag bag of demonstrators
pose, all three end up paying with their lives for being in
the wrong place at the wrong time.

Featuring vignettes from a tribunal into the afternoon's
events interspersed with flashbacks to the mayor's parlour
and clips of news coverage from the funeral cortege, all
action is presided over by a judge, who remains on stage at
all times, and watches while the three are transformed into
heroes, martyrs, media statistics and clichéd fallen
soldiers by the various interested parties.

Claire Cogan is unsurpassable as Lily, a mother-of-eleven
living a life of self sacrifice whose reasons for marching
have more to do with excruciating poverty and seeking
redress for her disabled son, than religious equality. "I
don't care that much for speeches - I can't concentrate,"
she says of the Civil Rights demo she just attended.

Nick Lee, who plays Michael, is also excellent as the only
genuine activist, who believes resolutely in the means and
ends of peaceful protest and justice for all. But it is
Richard Flood, playing the wisecracking, hell-raising
Skinner, who owns the stage and gives a coruscating
performance in an excellent role that sees him play clown,
hoodlum and politically astute commentator, capable of
dumfounding the others with his compassion and insight.

Patrick Myles also excels himself as the hilarious TV news
anchor with his faux solemnity and outside broadcaster
inflections. Matthew Parish, who plays the balladeer, also
turns in a mesmerising performance.

Vicky Jones' direction of this timely production is superb
as is Tshari King's sound design that engulfs the
auditorium with gunfire and warmongering while Anna Jones'
set with its fine cigars, digestifs in the cocktail cabinet
and luxurious council robes clearly establishes the
dichotomy between the haves and have-nots: "This room is
bigger than my whole place," Lily says in awe as she
prattles about family and her "wee'uns."

Poignant and engrossing in its examination of grave, grave
injustices, The Freedom of the City remains as relevant to
today as it ever was and you leave with the haunting
realisation, that in light of the summer's terrorist
attacks and the shooting of the unarmed Jean Charles de
Menzes, that history more often than not repeats itself.

- Clair Whitefield


Early Irish Census Data Will Be Made Available On Internet

Fiona Gartland

Census information from the early 20th century will be
available on the internet from next year, following an
agreement between Canada and Ireland.

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue signed
an agreement between the National Archives of Ireland and
Library and Archives Canada, which will see the Irish
census records for 1901 and 1911 digitised and placed

Access will be free and interest is expected from many
Canadians, 13 per cent of whom claim Irish ancestry. Census
records are currently only available at the National
Archives in Dublin.

The three-year project will allow anyone to search for an
Irish ancestor quickly and easily. People will also be able
to access historical information and images. Information
will be available from December 2006.

The census records contain the name, sex, marital status,
occupation, and county and country of birth of everyone
listed in every dwelling in the country - including houses,
prisons, hospitals, military barracks and industrial
schools. They also include details on each person's
literacy level, ability to speak Irish, the number of years
women were married and the total number of children born.

The returns for each census give the number of windows and
the condition of each house, and the number of rooms
occupied by each family.

Though the first full government census was taken in 1821,
the 1901 census is the earliest one surviving for the 32
counties. Other censuses were destroyed, many in the fire
of 1922 at the Public Record Office.

The 1901 and 1911 censuses are the most frequently used
sources in the National Archives.

Library Archives Canada has already digitised Canadian
census records from the early 20th century and made them
available on an internet database. They will be offering
their experience to the project.

Mr O'Donoghue said the records hold precious insights into
Irish family history for millions at home and abroad.

"We hope this service in collaboration with our Canadian
partners will connect many people globally to their
cultural roots," he said.

Ian Wilson, head of Library and Archives Canada, said they
welcomed the opportunity to use their expertise in
connecting Canadians with their history.

© The Irish Times

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To December 2005 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?