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December 28, 2005

State Papers: Concern Over US Support For IRA

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News about Ireland & the Irish

FT 12/28/05 Officials Concerned Over Support In US For IRA
GU 12/28/05 Ceasefire Breakdown Seen As Opportunity
IT 12/29/05 British Tried To Distance Themselves
IT 12/29/05 IRA Aimed At Full Strength Assault On Loyalists
EX 12/28/05 Marking The Passing Of An Historic Figure
EX 12/28/05 1975: Year Of Crisis, Kidnapping And Chaos
IT 12/29/05 Intelligence Kept File On Conor Cruise O'Brien
IT 12/29/05 Military Kept Files On Many
IT 12/29/05 Earl Offered His Castle 4 Yrs Before Killing
GU 12/28/05 Bring Me Sunshine & Paramilitary Surrender
IT 12/29/05 Other Discoveries In Release Of State Papers
IT 12/29/05 A Summer Marked By Blood-Letting
MN 12/28/05 IRL Wants Illegals To Have McKennedy Amnesty
IT 12/29/05 Suspect Chemical In Kerry's Water Supply


Officials Concerned Over Support In US For IRA

By Jimmy Burns
Published: December 29 2005 02:00 Last updated: December
29 2005 02:00

Support for the IRA in the US was one of the prime concerns
of British officials charged with dealing with Northern
Ireland affairs in the mid-1970s.

In early 1975, British intelligence helped provide the US
Federal Bureau of Investigation with an updated blacklist
of suspected IRA members, whose US visa applications were
then turned down.

British officials also considered encouraging moderate
Irish Catholic politicians to raise funds in the US, as a
way of diverting funds away from Irish Republicanism. But
within Whitehall it was generally accepted such efforts had
limited impact on the steady support the IRA enjoyed among
some Irish-Americans, with UK officials estimating up to a
third of the organisation's income was being raised in the

A Northern Ireland Office official wrote in a memo to a
Foreign Office colleague on June 4 1975: "Many American
citizens, not particularly well informed (or indeed much
concerned) about Northern Ireland, would be similarly
bamboozled by the apparent unity of Irish organisations in
the US in subscribing to a policy of getting the British
out of Northern Ireland."

One of the main concerns of British officials was the
extent to which the Irish National Caucus - an informal
network of pro-Irish Republican Americans - might extend
its influence within the US Congress and the US media.

In Washington, British embassy officials warned that once
Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, had "gained
respectability or power" in the South [of Ireland], then
the Irish National Caucus "would become an organisation to
be taken seriously both on Capitol Hill and in the country
at large".

Meanwhile, Whitehall paranoia was stirred by the decision
of Pope Paul VI to make a saint of Oliver Plunkett, an
Irish Catholic archbishop executed in the 17th century for
alleged treason against the British state.

Kenneth Jones, an official with the Foreign Office's
western European department, warned in a memo dated April
23 1975 that the planned canonisation was politically a
"source of greater embarrassment" to the government than
had been the canonisation of 40 Catholic martyrs five years
earlier. As supporting evidence, he quoted an Irish
Catholic priest who had drawn an analogy between Bishop
Plunkett's persecution and the "squalor of British
internment procedures" involving IRA suspects.

Desmond Crawley, head of the British delegation to the
Vatican, advised that the government should keep a low
profile on the Plunkett affair. The canonisation went ahead
with the presence of the Pope, and senior Irish government
figures. The Vatican publicised the event as an example of
ecumenical reconciliation.


National archives

Ceasefire Breakdown Seen As Propaganda Opportunity

Owen Bowcott
Thursday December 29, 2005
The Guardian

The breakdown of the IRA's extended ceasefire in 1975 was
anticipated in Whitehall as an opportunity to launch "black
propaganda" attacks and blame republicans for the return to

A memorandum drafted by the Foreign Office also proposed
continuing clandestine contacts with the provisional
movement and loyalist paramilitaries, while only arresting
the leaders of hardline factions. The strategy reveals that
behind the scenes there was little confidence that the
IRA's suspension of hostilities would deliver a resolution
to the conflict.

Attempts to engage Harold Wilson in negotiations had begun
several years earlier. When opposition leader, he had met
IRA leaders in Dublin and Buckinghamshire during 1972 and
1973. John O'Connell, an Irish MP who acted as the go-
between, tried to arrange more contacts in early 1975. The
prime minister referred the new approach to the Northern
Ireland Office. "What he proposes is, in my view ...
unacceptable," Wilson noted.

The suggested conditions for a "permanent truce" were the
"appointment of a commission of three [to look at the
future of the province] ... steady release of detainees,
political amnesty when peace is permanent ... and the
sending of two people to talk to the IRA".

By late January, the NIO was more optimistic. "There was an
extremely strong desire for peace in both communities, as
evinced by the large numbers who were attending peace
rallies," an official noted.

On February 10, the IRA announced the suspension of
hostilities. But early hopes were soon disappointed. Arthur
Galsworthy, UK ambassador in Dublin, recorded that
"contacts with Provisional Sinn Féin had continued
spasmodically, but had revealed no sign of any desire on
their part to discuss 'macro-political' questions".

A report from army headquarters in Lisburn in July, marked
"secret", said: "We have seen many reports during the last
six months indicating that PIRA [Provisional IRA] have been
taking advantage of the ceasefire to carry out some degree
of restructuring."

In August, shortly before the ceasefire expired, the
Foreign Office drafted its strategy paper. Entitled The
ending of the ceasefire: HM government's aims and the means
to achieve them, the document noted its first duty was to
"minimise the danger to the civilian population and to the
security forces". The second was to "ensure that all the
blame for the breakdown and consequent events lies on the
PIRA in the eyes of the Catholic population, the Irish
people and government, the USA, the Vatican, international
public opinion generally and the British public".

Other aims were the "maintenance of contacts with
Provisional Sinn Féin" and "Protestant paramilitaries" as
well as the pursuit of "black propaganda designed to sow
suspicions between the PIRA [and other republican


British Tried To Distance Themselves

London overview: British policy on the North centred on
the desire not to be seen as an imperial power fighting a
national liberation movement, writes John Bew.

In 1975 British strategy towards Northern Ireland was
centred on a policy of a "distancing" of its influence in
the North, documents released at the National Archives in
London reveal.

Despite an uneasy "truce" between the British army and the
Provisional IRA, 1975 was one of the worst years of the
Troubles, with 247 violent deaths, many of them sectarian

Still overshadowed by the collapse of the power-sharing
institutions in May 1974, the key determinant of British
policy was the desire not to be seen as an imperial power
fighting a national liberation movement.

This "hands-off" approach to the mechanics of local
politics was the necessary counter-balance to the "extreme
delicacy of hand" which the British were eager to maintain
in secret negotiations with the IRA.

"Distancing" emerged as a default policy in the absence of
any practical alternatives. Nevertheless, the vacuum caused
by the collapse of the Sunningdale agreement allowed the
cabinet committee on Northern Ireland to consider a number
of future policy options throughout 1975.

These ranged from British withdrawal to complete
integration with Westminster. British prime minister Harold
Wilson continued to be driven by concern about the cost of
Northern Ireland to the British exchequer. The only new
policy proposal to gain any momentum was the suggestion of
"dominion status" for Northern Ireland. Encouraged by a
growing anti-British separatism among loyalists, one
foreign and commonwealth office policy paper discussed the
option of an independent Northern Irish state, in control
of domestic legislation but still attached to the British

The effects of majority unionist rule were to be tempered
by British and Irish governmental guarantees to protect the
rights of Northern Irish Catholics.

However, two major obstacles to any radical new policy
initiative were identified. The first was familiar - how to
strike a deal which would be broadly acceptable to both
communities within Northern Ireland. The lessons of Ulster
Workers' Council (UWC) strike, according to a brief
prepared for the cabinet committee, "had surely shown that
the loyalists could never be brought to swallow . . .
'interference' from the South in underwriting a
settlement". But without the "Irish dimension", there was
no answer to what another official called "the $64,000
question" - how to protect the minority community.

Secondly, the significant input of the British embassy in
Dublin and the foreign and commonwealth office pointed to
problems specific to the political situation in the
Republic. While the Cosgrave government had shown "a
welcome realism about the fate of Northern Ireland", a
foreign and commonwealth office brief in November concluded
that it was "very doubtful" that they could endorse
dominion status "in the face of an emotionally aroused
public opinion".

In the immediate future, it was feared that the Irish
people "would dislike any solution which seemed to
perpetuate partition and to foreclose indefinitely any
possibility of the reunification of North and South".

In particular, any revision of the Irish Constitution of
1937 was deemed unworkable, "whatever the pious hopes in
this direction that may be voiced from time to time by more
enlightened Irish ministers such as Dr Conor Cruise

"Article 2", [ which made a territorial claim on the North]
reaffirmed one official at the Dublin embassy, "is an
article of faith for Fianna Fáil and, like the belief in
the Trinity, a mystery to be accepted, not explained".

Irish freedom of manoeuvre was further restricted by the
perceived fragility of the Irish State.

The Irish government "have enough internal problems on
their hands", notably "in attempting to deal with more
massive inflation and unemployment than we ourselves are
suffering", to be burdened with further concerns about the
security of the North.

There was also another problem. The Irish State could not
guarantee "effective protection for the Northern minority",
without substantial British assistance. But it was only in
a "Doomsday scenario" in the North that British officials
would seriously consider Irish suggestions about UN
peacekeeping troops. Such was the sense of instability that
the number two at the embassy in Dublin speculated that
anything more than a diplomatic "distancing" of British
influence in the North might bring about "more or less
permanent instability in the whole of Ireland".

In the worst case scenario, if Dublin was burdened with
increased responsibility for law and order in the North, it
might see a "collapse of its authority in the South,
leaving the field open to extremists, even to the extent of
some sort of extreme left wing take over". One official
talked about the danger of "a Portugal on our doorstep".

The effect of "overflow" violence from across the Border
was regarded as a serious possibility throughout 1975.
While the British cabinet committee was informed that the
prospect of another UWC strike was "improbable", they
nevertheless reported "a steady stream of enquiries and
admonitions" from the Irish government, who were concerned
that the British had no contingency plan for this event.
Irish foreign minister Dr Garrett FitzGerald is painted as
an increasingly frantic figure in these discussions, until
cut short by a "brusque reply" from Harold Wilson.

The greatest divergence between the Irish and British
government's position in 1975 was in their respective
attitudes to Sinn Féin. While the British might "sometimes
be tempted to regard extreme republicans in the North as
potential politicians struggling to change the nature of
terrorist organisations", acknowledged an embassy official,
"in the eyes of the Dublin government, the IRA are an armed
conspiracy bent on subverting the very fabric of the

Nevertheless, for the British, there was a fundamental
"contradiction" in the Irish position which they would
eventually have to face. According to a foreign and
commonwealth office memo, "if the extremists are to be
induced to give up their violent role", the corollary of
this was "that they must be allowed to seek a political one
to replace it".

The PIRA ceasefire had allowed the British government to
begin 1975 with some renewed optimism. At its height, this
had precipitated some inter-departmental speculation that
the PIRA might be induced to accept an independent Ulster
because, "in the tradition of Wolfe Tone, the republicans
have always been prepared to regard and accept the North as
in some sense different and separate but still no less

Ultimately, the realities of 1975 imposed a more sober
analysis. Discussions with Sinn Féin had no end in
themselves, the British felt, unless they provided "a
vehicle for those of republican sentiment to enter the
political process".

As early as April, some officials revealed to the cabinet
committee that their primary focus was "not so much on
attempting to shore up the ceasefire" as in winning the
blame game when it finally collapsed.

By October 1975, the British were gearing themselves up for
"a return to full-scale violence".

"The brutal fact", concluded the British embassy in Dublin,
was that militant republicanism "has to be opposed rather
than appeased".

There was "no basis for composing with the PIRA", concluded
a foreign and commonwealth brief, "except on a firm
undertaking [which, to be credible, would have to be
endorsed by parliament] to withdraw from Northern Ireland,
and that such an undertaking could not possibly be given".

© The Irish Times


IRA Aimed For 'Full Strength' Assault On Loyalists

Joe Humphreys

Security of the State: The IRA was re-arming for a "full
strength" assault on loyalists during the 1975 ceasefire,
according to Garda intelligence records. A secret Garda
report, written for the minister for justice, Patrick
Cooney, in June 1975, warned that the Provisional IRA had
acquired considerable financial resources which it planned
to use for the acquisition of arms.

The report estimated that the IRA had $50,000 available for
"sophisticated weapons and those of heavy calibre".

The Provisionals had already received "a consignment of
small arms" from abroad. "A supply of similar weapons,
emanating from Vietnam, is en route to Ireland," the Garda
report continued.

Such re-arming occurred at a time of increased attacks
against Catholics by loyalist paramilitaries, some of whom
were pushing for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence
(UDI) in the North.

The Garda report stated that, while British army numbers
had been cut by half since the ceasefire began, "it is the
PIRA's conviction that the Protestants will never agree to
a handover and that they will ultimately resort to force
and declare UDI.

"The Provisionals' reaction to this situation will take the
form of 'token resistance', giving the appearance of
weakness and irresolution but sufficient to provoke the
Protestants to over-reaction. The PIRA then plans to
'stage' Border incidents involving the Irish Army, part of
which has been carefully infiltrated by Provisionals to
this end.

"By implication, having once involved the Forces of the
Irish Republic, the Provisionals would then turn on the
Protestant paramilitary forces using their full strength
and every weapon available to them, hoping to gain Catholic
support throughout Ireland by so doing."

The confidential document, seen by Mr Cooney on June 20th,
also claimed: "Substantially increased payments are being
made to PIRA volunteers as a result of the general
improvement in the organisation's financial situation.

"Security measures within the Provisional organisation have
never been more strictly enforced. Dire consequences have
been promised any member whose actions might jeopardise the
overall plans."

The Garda said it was also informing the Defence Forces of
the situation, particularly the reported infiltration of
the Army by the IRA. The report was one of several
documents released by the Department of Justice relating to
IRA activities in 1975.

Other documents marked "secret" told of the Garda's
concerns about a major influx of refugees from Northern
Ireland as a result of a possible UDI.

In a letter seen by the minister on July 8th, and dated two
days previously, Asst Commissioner Edmund Garvey wrote:
"The role assigned, as a matter of top secrecy, to the
elements of the British army still remaining in Northern
Ireland, sheds a sombre light on the British estimate of
the immediate consequences of UDI. For the mission of the
British army would then be not the protection, on the
ground, of any section of the population, but the keeping
open of certain main arteries linking the rest of the
province with Belfast, in order to facilitate large-scale
movements of refugees - Protestants eastwards towards
Belfast, Catholics in the opposite direction."

A further report from the Garda Security Department, dated
August 1st, recommended a policy of "maximum dispersal" of
refugees from Northern Ireland to avoid enclaves of IRA
sympathisers emerging in the Republic.

Calling for "the minimum number of refugees" in Border
areas, the report stated: "Towns such as Dundalk, Monaghan,
Buncrana, etc could well become shades of the Bogside,
Ballymurphy or the Falls if there was no refugee dispersal

"Cross-Border activity in the wake of a mass exodus could
easily become two-way, with attacks by Northern Ireland
loyalist extremist elements on the security forces on the
southern side of the Border, not to mention the placing of
bombs in populated areas near the Border. This would pose a
very serious problem.

"Looking at the potential situation even in the most
optimistic light, a mass exodus following a doomsday
situation in Northern Ireland would tax the resources of
the security forces in the Republic to the limit."

© The Irish Times


National Archives - Marking The Passing Of An Historic

De Valera's funeral left one British diplomat under-
whelmed, writes Ryle Dwyer.

BRITISH diplomats could not refrain from gloating over the
absence of world leaders at the funeral of Eamon de Valera,
according to official papers made public yesterday.

Ireland's former Taoiseach and President, who had been
jailed after the 1916 Easter Rising, died in 1975 at the
age of 92.

In files released to the National Archives under the 30-
year rule, GW Harding, an official at the embassy in
Dublin, gleefully noted that, with the "conspicuous
exception" of Princess Grace of Monaco, the level of
foreign representation was "probably not as high as the
Irish people might have hoped".

"The newspapers' confident predictions of a gathering of
heads of state were not realised," he reported in his
dispatch to London.

Even the "anticipated crew of Irish-American vote-seeking
politicians" failed to put in an appearance, he said.

Harding also struck a decidedly condescending note in his
description of the actual funeral.

"The exclusive use of Latin and Irish at the requiem Mass
and burial service must surely have irritated not only some
of the visitors but also many Irishmen who cannot speak
their first 'official' language," he noted.

"The ceremonial was conducted with due decorum, at least as
far as the gates of Glasnevin Cemetery. There enthusiastic
but unofficial mourners pushed through police cordons and
elbowed visiting dignitaries from the graveside; it added
an Irish touch to the proceeding!"

ON the afternoon of Friday, August 22, 1975, the
Taoiseach's Department was informed that former President
Eamon De Valera was suffering from the after-effects of a
cold and his medical advisers held little hope of his

At 12.13 on Friday, August 29, his death was announced.

Immediately afterwards Vivion De Valera, the former
President's eldest son, telephoned the Taoiseach's office
with the news.

Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave issued a statement crediting De
Valera with having "displayed superb diplomacy" in keeping
the country out of World War Two.

"Throughout his long public career," he said, "Eamon De
Valera recognised and sought to uphold the principle of
parliamentary democracy in this country."

The government designated the day of the funeral as a day
of national mourning.

The former President lay in state from 8.30pm to 11pm on
the Saturday night of the removal, from 9am to 11pm on
Sunday, and from 9am to 5pm on Monday.

The lying-in-state ended short after 5pm on Monday, and the
family then paid their last respects.

When the main church door was opened at about 9am on
Tuesday, September 2, the gardaí had to be called upon to
block off the entrance so that only those identified by the
stewards were admitted.

Four of the De Valera grandchildren were assigned to
identify and lead members of the family and three long-
standing friends Seán Nunan, Tom Mullins and Maurice
Moynihan to benches reserved for the relatives. The family
decided that there would be no taking of a death mask or
graveside oration.

The State paid all the funeral expenses, which included
embalming and a special oak casket.

It included nine cars from the removal of the body from
Talbot Lodge to Dublin Castle, eight cars from Dublin
Castle to the Pro-Cathedral and 11 cars from there to
Glasnevin Cemetery. Furthermore, it included grave fees,
books of condolences and payment to the gravediggers and
drivers. The total cost came to £1,099.50.


National Archives - 1975: Year Of Crisis, Kidnapping And

By Caroline O'Doherty

ELABORATE secret plans were drawn up in 1975 to cater for
100,000 refugees that the Government feared would flee from
the North if the Troubles worsened.

Secret meetings were held with senior hospital and health
officials, gardaí and defence experts, and blueprints were
prepared on how such an influx would be accommodated,
provided with medical care, and policed.

A covert survey of private properties was carried out and
accommodation for 99,000 people identified, while the need
for basic supplies such as blankets and powdered soup mix
was quantified and priced.

CIÉ was consulted and a plan to cancel commuter services
and redeploy rolling stock made, so all the refugees could
be brought out of the North within four days of a crisis

In 1975, Northern Ireland was still in a state of chaos,
with a shaky IRA ceasefire and frequent attacks on
Catholics by loyalists. The IRA was also infiltrating its
"Balcombe Street Gang" into Britain for a bombing campaign
that would lead to more than 100 incidents before the end
of the year.

A garda assessment of the security implications of the
crisis was also sought and the commissioner at the time
returned a grim prediction.

"Even in the most optimistic light, a mass exodus ...would
tax the resources of the security forces in the Republic to
the limit. Looking at the situation less optimisticallysome
areas could become virtually uncontrollable and the
involvement of the Garda Siochána in security matters would
be such that normal policing of the country would be
practically non-existent," he warned.

The Cosgrave-led Fine Gael-Labour coalition of the time had
the previous year considered, in general terms, the
possibility of a massive refugee influx in a "doomsday"
scenario where the British made a sudden and complete
withdrawal from Northern Ireland.

The Government's top-secret contingency plans were based on
the assumption that 1,000 people would require treatment
for serious injuries, and that they could be treated in
Border area hospitals and in Dublin.

State papers, released by the National Archives today, show
that while that threat had subsided by 1975, the Government
believed that another upheaval could spark a mass flight
from the North and that detailed plans had to be formulated
in response.

Officials were asked to examine refugee situations in
Pakistan, Palestine and Cyprus to see if any tips could be
gleaned for dealing with a similar situation in the
Republic. Secrecy was stressed at all times during the
discussions for fear of adding to the political
difficulties in the North if the Government's preparations
became public.

But the Cabinet also faced the dilemma that if they did not
acquire properties and buy supplies in advance, they would
be hopelessly ill-equipped if the disaster struck.

One official said purchasing should begin immediately and
that it would be possible, if the public got wind of what
was happening, to claim they were for the Department of
Defence's everyday needs.

The papers are among tens of thousands of previously
undisclosed memos, briefing documents, letters, notes and
Cabinet minutes from key Government departments, released
today under the 30-year disclosure rule. Traditionally
released on January 1, the date has been brought forward to
coincide with the early release of papers from Britain and
Northern Ireland. British papers, meanwhile, also published
today, show the actual and potential influence the Vatican
exercised on politics in Northern Ireland.

British diplomats were particularly concerned about
criticism of Britain's role in the North, and pointed the
finger of suspicion at the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland,
Gaetano Alibrani, who was seen as the prime source of such


Military Intelligence Kept File On Conor Cruise O'Brien

Information on current, previous and future cabinet
ministers was kept in files by Military Intelligence in
1975, State Papers made public today reveal, writes Deaglán
de Bréadún.

The documents, released under the 30-year rule, also show
that files were kept on political parties, unions, women's
organisations and journalists.

Despite the fact that he was minister for posts and
telegraphs at the time and by far the most trenchant critic
of the Provisional IRA and the security threat it posed, a
file was kept on Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien.

A file was also kept on former health minister Dr Noel
Browne, including a report that he had been offered a
position as "chief of psychiatric medicine" by the Gadafy
regime in Libya. Dr Browne, who died in 1997, was then an
independent member of Seanad Éireann for TCD.

Future Supreme Court judge and president of the Law
Commission Catherine McGuinness features in a file on her
husband, journalist and broadcaster Proinsias Mac Aonghusa,
who died in September 2003.

There is also a file entitled "Women's Liberation Movement"
which features a letter to The Irish Times from future
education minister Gemma Hussey and future junior minister
for Women's Affairs Nuala Fennell, with their names

Indeed, writing to this newspaper on a mildly-controversial
subject was almost a guarantee of getting into a file. Even
a group of eight pupils in the fifth year Spanish class at
Mount St Joseph College, Roscrea, caught the attention of
Military Intelligence when they wrote to protest over five
executions carried out in the last days of the Franco

Meanwhile, a declassified file from the department of the
taoiseach reveals that former trade unionist Phil Flynn was
kept under surveillance by gardaí during the IRA kidnapping
of Dutch industrialist Tiede Herrema in 1975, even though
he had been asked to mediate in the affair.

Another file from the department of the taoiseach shows
that Earl Mountbatten offered his Irish residence,
Classiebawn Castle in Co Sligo, to the nation four years
before he was killed by a Provisional IRA bomb.

Cabinet Papers are traditionally released 30 years after
the events they describe on the first day of the new year.
This year because of the impact of Freedom of Information
legislation in the UK, and as New Year's Day falls on
Sunday, the London and Belfast archives brought forward the
release date to today, and Dublin followed suit.

© The Irish Times


Military Kept Files On Many

Intelligence and who the State were watching: Military
intelligence kept files on a wide array of individuals and
organisations in Irish society in 1975, writes Deaglán de

State Papers released under the 30-year rule show that
military intelligence kept files in 1975 on a wide array of
individuals and organisations in Irish society, including
at least one member of the Cabinet as well as a former
minister, along with political parties, trade unions,
campaigning organisations, student groups, women's rights
activists and journalists.

Even though he was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs at the
time and issued regular pronouncements on the security
threat posed by the IRA, a file was being kept on Conor
Cruise-O'Brien. Another file was maintained on former
health minister Noel Browne, who was then an independent
member of Seanad Éireann for Trinity College Dublin. Future
Supreme Court judge and president of the Law Commission,
Catherine McGuinness, appears in a file that was being kept
on her husband, journalist and broadcaster Proinsias
MacAonghusa, who died in September 2003. Her relationship
with Mr MacAonghusa is underlined with a pen in a press
cutting on Mrs McGuinness's nomination as the Church of
Ireland lay representative to a meeting of the World
Council of Churches in Nairobi.

There were files on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions,
Workers' Union of Ireland, Marine Port and General Workers'
Union, National Union of Journalists, Union of Students in
Ireland, Small Farmers' Defence Association and the
Association of Combined Residents' Associations.

Eight pupils in the fifth-year Spanish class at Mount St
Joseph College, Roscrea, Co Tipperary ended up in a
military intelligence file when they wrote a letter to The
Irish Times, published on October 3rd, 1975, protesting
against the "horrible executions" carried out by the
"embarrassing" Franco regime the previous weekend. Five men
in their 20s, leftists and Basque nationalists, had been
shot by firing-squad after a military tribunal convicted
them of the murder of three policemen and a Civil Guard.
The letter is pasted into a file entitled "Student
Organisations: General" and, as usual, each name is
underlined and ticked-off, as though being checked against
another, parallel list.

There is also a file entitled "Women's Liberation Movement"
which features another letter to The Irish Times from
future education minister Gemma Hussey and future junior
minister for women's affairs Nuala Fennell about the
continuing failure of the Dáil to enact legislation for
women's rights including equal pay.

In the file on Dr O'Brien, a single-page document has been
removed under the terms of the National Archives Act 1986
on the basis that it could "cause distress or danger . . .
or be likely to lead to an action for damages for
defamation". A statement to this effect is inserted, on a
standard form signed by a colonel in the Defence Forces.
The remainder of the file consists of press cuttings,
including a letter on Northern Ireland from Dr O'Brien,
signed in his capacity as minister for posts and

His former Labour Party colleague, Dr Browne, minister for
health 1948-51, is also the subject of a file, which
includes a newspaper report that he had been offered a post
as "chief of psychiatric medicine" by the Col Gadafy regime
in Libya. A file headed, "Labour Party, Communist
infiltration" chronicles the activities of the "Liaison
Committee of the Labour Left" which subsequently split away
to found the short-lived Socialist Labour Party, led by Dr
Browne and trade unionist Matt Merrigan, both of them now

A file on the Militant Tendency states that it is the
public face of the Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL),
counterpart of the British-based organisation of that name.
An anonymous handwritten note in the file states: "The RSL
is an organisation which believes that the Trotskyist
revolution can be brought about through the Labour Party
and it practises Entryism - working under cover in an
organisation so as to influence and ultimately control the
policies of that organisation. "The RSL has never sought a
public existence. Its membership is kept secret." The
Dublin headquarters address was in Crumlin: "This is a
private residence and militants of varying degrees have
resided in a flat there over the past five or six years."
(The Militant Tendency was expelled from the Labour Party
in 1989.)

Files were kept on a wide range of political parties and
organisations, including the Labour Party, SDLP, Christian
Democrat Party, Socialist Party of Ireland, New Ulster
Movement, Alliance, Communist Party of Ireland, People's
Democracy and both wings of Sinn Féin.

Prominent and not-so-prominent personalities in Irish life
were also being monitored and there are individual files on
journalists Gery Lawless of the Sunday World, Seán Cronin
of The Irish Times, Deasún Breathnach of the Irish
Independent and Éamonn McCann from Derry. Republicans and
socialists were also an object of attention and there are
files on Seán MacStiofáin, Seán Garland, historian and
political activist Rayner Lysaght, former Westminster MP
(1969-74) Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin) as well as the
late Capt James Kelly, a central figure in the 1970 Arms

© The Irish Times


Earl Offered State Use Of His Castle Four Years Before

Deaglán de Bréadún

Mountbatten's residence: The late Earl Mountbatten
offered his Irish residence, Classiebawn Castle in Co
Sligo, to the Irish nation four years before he was killed
by a Provisional IRA bomb. State Papers just released show
that the offer was turned down at a Cabinet meeting in
April 1975.

An uncle of Britain's Prince Philip and great-grandson of
Queen Victoria, Mountbatten wrote to then-taoiseach Liam
Cosgrave on St Patrick's Day, 1975. Addressing him as "Dear
Prime Minister", the earl recalled meeting Mr Cosgrave at
lunch after the funeral of president Erskine Childers the
previous November.

"I was very touched with your remarks on how much you
valued my family connection with Ireland through
Classiebawn Castle," he wrote. "I mentioned this to my
family and in discussion we unanimously came to the
conclusion that we would like to show our appreciation of
our mutual feelings of friendship.

"We would like to make a gesture to cement the close
connection the family has with Ireland, and I am therefore
writing to offer the use of Classiebawn Castle to the
nation. My suggestion would be that it should be available
for the president, you, your ministers or official visitors
to Ireland, for a period to be mutually agreed.

"This offer would mean that you would have the use of the
castle, rent-free except for the normal upkeep, such as
rates, maintenance, etc.," Mountbatten wrote. "The only
request I would make is that you would allow my family and
me to use the castle during the month of August, as we have
done almost every year since the war."

Mountbatten enclosed a guide-book to the castle, including
a floor-plan as well as information about the Shadow V -
the 28-foot fishing-boat on which he met his death when a
50-lb bomb exploded, shortly before noon on August 27th,
1979. Three other people died as a result of the blast: the
Dowager Lady Brabourne (82) and two teenage boys, Nicholas
Knatchbull (14) grandson of the earl, and Paul Maxwell (15)
from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

In a memorandum for the Government, the Taoiseach's office
noted that the earl had inherited the 19th-century castle
from his wife, Lady Edwina, who died in 1960. "It is said
by the Office of Public Works not to have any particular
architectural interest," the memo continued. "The estate
comprises some 700 acres but no mention is made of the
lands in the earl's letter to the taoiseach."

Mr Cosgrave advised against accepting the offer, "having
regard to the limited use that the State would be likely to
make of the castle and the relatively heavy expenditure
that would be involved" maintaining it.

He said nothing about any potential political embarrassment
arising from the use of property belonging to a member of
the British royal family.

The Cabinet meeting on April 4th, 1975, accepted the
recommendation of the taoiseach and, in a courteously-
worded letter to Mountbatten, Mr Cosgrave wrote: "We have
given the matter the most careful consideration but have
come to the conclusion, with reluctance, that the limited
use the State would be able to make of the castle would not
justify our acceptance of your kind offer."

Earl Mountbatten of Burma had written to the taoiseach on
October 5th, 1973, seeking his help over a delay in
securing approval from the Land Commission for the purchase
of another property, Aasleagh Lodge, Westport, Co Mayo, by
his son-in-law, Lord Brabourne.

Mr Cosgrave made representations to minister for lands Tom
Fitzpatrick who, in turn, asked the Land Commission to give
it "top priority". Within weeks the transaction was
approved, subject to continuing public access to fishing on
the River Erriff and Tawnyard Lake which formed part of the

A year after the Government declined the offer of
Classiebawn Castle, the Sligo property was leased to Clones
meat millionaire Hugh Tunney, with the proviso that the
earl could have it for holiday use every August. It was
during one of those holidays, in 1979, that he met his

Later that year, Thomas McMahon, Carrickmacross, Co
Monaghan, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was
released in 1998 under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

© The Irish Times


National archives: Bring Me Sunshine, Bring Me Paramilitary

Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Thursday December 29, 2005
The Guardian

Having tried internment, military might, power sharing and
even secret talks with the IRA, the government considered
one last desperate measure to dig themselves out of the
escalating war in Northern Ireland - Morecambe and Wise.

Papers from 1975, released today, reveal proposals for a
"Brighten up Ulster" campaign designed to put a smile back
on people's faces in the wake of a disastrous 1974, during
which the devolved government collapsed after a general
strike organised by loyalists, the IRA bombed Birmingham
pubs, and more than 300 people were killed in Northern

One suggestion for raising spirits made by the chairman of
the government's Information Policy Coordinating Committee
was to see Britain's favourite comedy double act perform
their trademark Bring Me Sunshine dance routine on the
lawns of Stormont.

In a letter to committee members on March 18 1975, just
over a month after the IRA declared an indefinite
ceasefire, Michael Cudlipp stressed the need to "think
really big" in organising a campaign of "morale-boosting"
events. "Why not have big variety stars?" he asked,
suggesting Morecambe and Wise, who were then at the peak of
their careers, and who he hoped could be persuaded to "give
their services for more or less free as part of an attempt
to boost Ulster".

He envisaged hosting a big Morecambe and Wise performance
at Stormont "subject to all obvious difficulties" and
security considerations.

His ambitions did not stop in Britain: he also suggested
recruiting Frank Sinatra to sing for free as a good deed
for Northern Ireland. Other "cultural personalities" such
as the Welsh baritone Geraint Evans were proposed.

In a series of memos over the months following the IRA
truce, committee members said the "Brightening Up Ulster"
campaign should highlight the "sunny side of life" in
Northern Ireland, bring back mass entertainment and create
a "postwar atmosphere and spirit".

One committee member, Jimmy Hamilton, recommended an
"inter-town It's a Knockout competition" hosted by the
rugby commentator Eddie Waring. He perhaps hoped that the
addition of giant foam costumes and buckets of gunge would
cancel out the murderous violence on Northern Ireland's
streets. He suggested, as a sign of goodwill for the
"morale-boosting" events, that "where possible, even it is
only a token gesture, [we] remove the security barriers in

Other ideas for themed events included a "Miss Good Cheer"
beauty pageant, a special "Sociable Week" with the message
"Don't Let's Be Downhearted" in which Rotary Clubs and the
Women's Institute could run "Good Cheer conferences". One
committee member wrote: "The theme tune of the effort could
be based on the song 'Pick Yourself up, Dust yourself down,
start all over again.'"

It was suggested that newspapers, at that point full of the
horror stories of the Troubles, could run special "Good
Cheer" supplements with "positive news" stories lined up
for TV and radio.

One memo cautioned that government assistance in these
feel-good events should be "discreet". The "Brightening Up
Ulster" campaign was a "normality drive" aimed at bringing
back the sporting, cultural and entertainment events that
had stayed away in the early 1970s, and creating an
atmosphere in which "normality activities" flourished.

Between December 1974 and spring 1975, the same government
committee was also developing its strategy in the
propaganda war against the IRA. One memo on a paper called
"Undermining the IRA" stated: "The IRA's will to fight can
best be undermined by a concerted PR/information campaign
aimed at isolating the Provisional leadership and movement
from the remainder of the Catholic community."

Mr Cudlipp wrote that the Northern Ireland secretary,
Merlyn Rees "emphasises that there must be no attempts at
'black propaganda' without ministerial authority. He is
extremely concerned at the 'blowback' effect of such
methods. He emphasised however that this did not mean he
was not greatly in favour of a vigorous and attacking
information policy and indeed he is anxious that we should
be far more on the attack than on the defence."

Morecambe and Wise did not perform at Stormont and, by the
end of 1975, it was clear that the IRA ceasefire had not
led to a decrease in violence. The truce was called off in
1976. By the end of 1975, 206 people had died in Northern
Ireland, 174 of them civilians. The majority were killed by
loyalist and republican paramilitaries.


In short

A Round-Up Of Some Of The Other Discoveries In This
Year's Release Of State Papers.

Meath priests supported man convicted of IRA membership

A group of priests in Co Meath petitioned the government in
October 1975 for the release of a local parishioner who was
convicted for membership of the IRA.

The Kells parish priest, Rev James Holloway, and three
other priests in the diocese wrote to the minister for
local government, James Tully, saying they knew the man in
question to be "an honest, just and charitable" person
whose wife and children "miss him very much".

"Whatever about his political activities," they wrote, "it
would be a great charity to restore this father to his
family and we think his release would be something for
which the people of Meath . . . would be very grateful."

Mr Tully replied that the government had intended to
release a number of general prisoners in line with a plea
from the Irish bishops to show "clemency" for the 1975 holy
year. However, the minister said it would be wrong to
release the man in question, or other IRA prisoners, "when
matters are so serious in the country".

Mr Tully pointed out the man "need not have been convicted
if he had, in fact, been prepared to make, in the court,
even an unsworn statement to the effect that he wasn't a
member of the IRA."

Suspended sentences 'menace the country' - Legion of Mary

The founder of the Legion of Mary Frank Duff wrote to the
Department of Justice 40 years ago complaining about
"leniency" in the sentencing of offenders by the courts.

In a letter dated March 28th, 1965, Mr Duff said a tendency
among the judiciary to give suspended sentences for cases
of assault was a "grave position" that "menaces the

He was appealing to the department to review the cases of a
woman who received such a sentence after being convicted of
breaking the arm of a 72-year-old resident in his Regina
Coeli hostel in Dublin. The woman, who was also a resident
of the hostel, was "marching around", advertising "her
triumph over the law-courts."

Mr Duff stressed he was not chiefly concerned with her case
but "what is happening as a routine in the courts".

"I would very much fear that the stage has been reached
when the administration of the law lacks moral authority...
The phrase on everybody's lips is that there is no longer
any law."

Lobbying finally paid off as Garda got funding for UK motor

The Garda spent 10 years lobbying the minister for justice
for funding to send an officer to a UK motor show before
finally having the money granted in 1968.

In a series of letters illustrating not only the financial
constraints of the day, but the subservient role that the
Garda Commissioner once had to play in relation to the
department, various requests for the relatively minor
expense of sending a garda to London Motor Show were turned

In October 1965, the commissioner wrote that attendance at
the show was "essential" for providing the force with up-
to-date information on the servicing and repair of its
cars. A handwritten note on departmental paper said: "This
is the first application we got since 1958 when a similar
application was turned down."

The 1965 application was turned down, as was a similar
application the following year. In 1968, the commissioner
was finally granted funding for two gardaí to attend the
show at a cost of £68 but only after promising not to make
the application for funding an annual one.

© The Irish Times


A Summer Marked By Blood-Letting

Northern Ireland: 1975 saw the emergence of the deadly
INLA and Shankill Butchers and a marked rise in
paramilitary feuding, writes Jonathan Bardon.

At Stormont, the Information Policy Co-ordinating Committee
met on February 3rd, 1975, to consider "Propaganda
Overseas". A temporary IRA ceasefire over the festive
season had ended on January 16th.

"The chief problem lay in the United States where highly-
coloured IRA propaganda found a receptive market amongst
the ethnic Irish". Could some businessmen with Ulster
connections provide "a moderate presence on local radio
stations and TV"? There was a risk that they "might put
over a militant Protestant view".

Others "might well be considered stooges". Large
broadcasting networks there "have blatant IRA spokesmen or
apologists on making the most outlandish allegations . . .
that the great 'British Jackboot' is preventing the people
of Northern Ireland joining up with their neighbours in the

Nevertheless, encouraged by the release of 52 internees,
the IRA on February 9th announced an indefinite ceasefire.
Not enough men in the movement had faith in this cessation,
however, and the killing went on.

The INLA emerged as a small but deadly militant republican
group, while idle Provisionals became involved in a squalid
tit-for-tat sectarian murder campaign with the UVF and UDA.
Lennie Murphy led a squad of psychotic UVF killers, soon to
become known as the Shankill Butchers, to spread fear
throughout north and west Belfast every night.

Meanwhile, republican slaughtered republican and loyalist
murdered loyalist in a marked rise in paramilitary feuding.

Secretary of State Merlyn Rees had full bipartisan support
at Westminster for a constitutional convention "to consider
what provisions for the government of Northern Ireland
would be likely to command the most widespread acceptance
throughout the community there".

Having got approval for his plan in July 1974, Rees waited
10 months to call elections, probably to give Brian
Faulkner, leader of the power-sharing unionists, time to

On May 1st, 1975 voters went to the polls. Even as late as
this, the Labour government hoped that power-sharing and
the Irish dimension would not play a major part in the
election campaign. London was whistling in the wind.
Faulkner barely scraped home on the ninth count and his new
party won a miserable five seats. The SDLP was reduced by
two to 17 seats, while the UUUC won 47 out of a total of 78
seats - 58.4 per cent of voters had backed the intransigent

When the convention opened on May 8th, like his
predecessors and most of his successors, Rees was
confronted with the phenomenon of the double veto.
Collective nationalist action had pulled down the Stormont
regime; and now that pro-power-sharing unionism (reasonably
sturdy in 1973) had all but vanished, the loyalist phalanx
- still basking in its May 1974 victory in pulling down the
power-sharing Executive - had a solid mandate to oppose
partnership government.

The inventive secretary of state trotted out details of
constitutional arrangements in places ranging from
Newfoundland to Australia. The convention's chairman, Lord
Chief Justice Sir Robert Lowry, displayed tact and made no
attempt to propose, let alone impose, solutions. It was all
to no avail.

Blood-letting in the summer underscored the desperate need
for solutions. On July 17th, four soldiers were killed by a
Provisional bomb at Forkhill. Then on July 31st, UVF men
posing as a security patrol near Newry murdered three
members of the Miami showband from Dublin.

That the ceasefire was now a complete fiction was
demonstrated in Belfast on August 10th. At Dunville Park,
the Provisionals engaged in a gun battle with the British
army which resulted in the deaths of two children and the
wounding of eight other people.

On August 13th, the IRA attacked a bar in the Shankill,
killing five and wounding almost 40 others. On September
1st, four Protestants were shot down by Provisionals at an
Orange Hall in Newtownhamilton.

Meanwhile, negotiations during the convention's recess were
not getting far. The chairman reported: "It was clear to
him that there was no give with either UUUC or SDLP." The
situation was complicated by the liking some UUUC members
had for Northern Ireland independence.

In his meeting with Lowry on August 22nd, Bill Craig, the
Vanguard leader, "considered that there had been too much
talk by UUUC in the convention about independence. He
thought this was a last resort, but the Isle of Man could
be examined".

Four days later Gerry Fitt met Lowry and "expressed gloom
at the prospects of the convention". He considered that
"most of the Labour party and many Conservatives were keen
to disengage from Northern Ireland once the convention had
failed to provide a solution . . . He foresaw that such a
step would be economically disastrous and would result in
the slaughter of many Catholics".

A further meeting on August 27th convinced Lowry that
something must be done for the SDLP. John Hume and Paddy
Devlin "were both pessimistic and depressed by the failure
of the talks to make progress".

The following day the chairman met the civil servants and
the minutes record: "Agreed that SDLP were in low spirits
and needed to be built up - chairman to cheer them up . .

On August 29th, Lowry then met the UUUC negotiators: "Mr
Craig reported that the talks had reached an impasse . . .
They had considered how best to wind down the talks in a
seemly way. The SDLP had insisted on power-sharing in
government and had refused to talk about anything else. The
UUUC could not and would not concede".

Nevertheless, while the Vanguard leader said he was
"implacably opposed to forced coalition", he did concede
that "a voluntary coalition was a different thing".

Lowry saw Rees on August 29th. "While the chance of
agreement existed," the chairman wrote in his note for the
record, "I asked the secretary of state . . . to remove the
impression of despair". Craig indeed was bending somewhat
and suggested a temporary acceptance of power-sharing while
the security crisis persisted.

For his heresy, Craig was roundly castigated by his
colleagues. After sundering his own party, he was then
expelled from the UUUC and propelled rapidly into political
oblivion. This was an outward and visible sign of a bitter
leadership struggle that did much to fracture the loyalist
coalition, already divided by conflicting argument for
total integration with the United Kingdom and an
independent Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, on November 7th, the intransigents held
together sufficiently to endorse the convention report by
43 votes to 31. This recommended a return to majority rule,
the only variation from the former Stormont regime being
proposals to allow parliamentary committees to have
opposition - that is, Catholic - chairmen. Naturally, this
had no chance of being accepted by Westminster.

The detonation of bombs all over Northern Ireland on
September 22nd further exposed the hollowness of the
Provisionals' ceasefire. This prompted loyalist revenge
killings, 12 in one day on October 2nd. Between the end of
October and November 11th, 10 people were killed in the
feud between the Official IRA and the Provisionals.

The ceasefire had never applied to the British mainland.
The year witnessed a succession of bomb attacks and murders
in England. Among the dead was Ross McWhirter, co-editor of
the Guinness Book of Records.

A Daily Telegraph opinion poll in December showed that 64
per cent of people in Britain wanted troops withdrawn from
Northern Ireland, compared with 34 per cent in 1972.

© The Irish Times


Ireland Wants Their Illegal Aliens To Have The McKennedy

By Daneen G. Peterson, Ph.D.
December 28, 2005

So . . . you thought that the Mexican government was the
only one busy interfering in our legislative and
governmental affairs. If you did, think again! Were you
aware that 'meddling' by a foreign country in our 'internal
affairs' is an illegal act? It's just another one of our
laws that are never enforced, which is why Ireland feels
free to engage in similar tactics. It has been obvious for
a long time that Vicente Fox has regularly and rampantly
defied such laws and no one in our State Department ever
demurs. As such, it's simply another 'straw on the back'
of our impending anarchy.

The most recent meddler is "Ireland's government [who]
wants the United States to legalize Irish illegal aliens in
the United States, underscoring the intense interest
foreign governments are showing in the immigration debate
now playing out in Congress." After a meeting with Sen.
Kennedy, the Irish Foreign Minister, Demot Ahern told
reporters . . . "the Irish parliament has endorsed Mr.
Kennedy's bill to grant illegal aliens now here a multistep
path to citizenship."(41)

"Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is urging Irish politicians
[like Ted Kennedy and faux Irish, John Kerry and others]
and influential members of the Irish-American community to
back proposed new immigration laws in the United States.
The proposed [Guest Worker Amnesty] would regularize
[that's a 'code word' for our government's intention to
'give away the store' to foreign governments at the expense
of American citizens] the status of the estimated 50,000
illegal Irish immigrants in the United States and offer
them the prospect of a green card after six years."(42)

In pursuit of that cause, Dublin sent a 'news flash' to
Washington [DC] "to inform them that they [Ireland's
government] passed a resolution endorsing a congressional
immigration bill sponsored by . . . [McCain and Kennedy].
Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern referred to the illegal
aliens as 'undocumented Irish . . . (who) stay below the
radar, fearful of detection'." He went on to say: "For
the undocumented, the stress of separation, the strain and
anxiety of living in the shadows [who's he kidding] . . .
remains very traumatic . . . "(43)

Oh, don't you just love to hear those pathetic 'boo-hoo'
propaganda stories. Doesn't it just 'tug at your
heartstrings?' In addition, It appears that the foreign
minister was 'smartened-up' with information on how to be
'politically correct' and use 'undocumented' in place of
illegal aliens, and to apply the proper 'mantra' for them
by saying 'living in the shadows.'

It's all a joke folks . . . we are just the 'pawns' in this
massive international propaganda production being acted out
on the world stage called . . . America's illegal
immigration 'theatre of the macabre.'

"Ahern went on to explain that the reason the Irish
government must get behind American immigration reform is
because the lobbyists and the politicians all say without
any international pressure, the bills are in danger of not
getting passed ["We the People" hope and pray that is so] .
. . Ahern stressed it was important for all Irish people to
get behind the bills."(44)

So now it's 'international pressure' that's to move our
legislature to enact the laws of our country for the
benefit of their illegal alien countrymen. Have these
governments no shame? How dare they flaunt their demands
and consort with Senator Kennedy and others to influence
our laws and immigration policies. How dare they so
blatantly espouse help for their citizens who broke our
laws to enter our country, broke our laws to remain in our
country and broke our laws to work and probably illegally
drive in our country. And a warning for Kennedy . . . he
should take heed of Dwight D. Eisenhower's words: A people
who value privileges above its principles soon loose both!

The drive by the governments of foreign nations to peddle
their selfish interests here, at the expense of the
American people, is so reprehensible as to defy
description. It is unpardonable that there are many in our
legislature, particularly those in the Senate, who are
influenced by such blatant meddling by foreign powers.
Barbara Jordan 'nailed it' when she said: "Credibility in
immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those
who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out,
are kept out; and those who should not be here will be
required to leave." To that end "We the People" say . . .

An addendum to the Irish Story. After demonstrators in
Ireland gathered outside of the Dáil to protest against the
Government's immigration policy, which they claim is
unfair, one of the protesters, Ahmen Yissau stated: "There
is a study that says Ireland needs over the next ten years
50,000 migrants to keep up the pace of the economy." All
that can be said about that bit of news is . . . yoo-hoo,
Ireland . . . you can find that exact number here in
America, call them home!(45)


Suspect Chemical In Kerry's Water Supply

Anne Lucey

High levels of a chemical compound, a suspected
carcinogen associated with chlorine added to unfiltered
water, have been found in Kerry's main regional drinking
water supply in recent months.

Higher than acceptable levels of trihalomethanes (THMs)
were found in the main water source itself at Lough Guitane
near Killarney and other locations throughout the supply in
October. Results for November were also high, although
within current maximum legal limits.

THMs occur when chlorine, which is used to get rid of
harmful bacteria, is added to unfiltered water especially
from peaty soils.

Kerry County Council says it plans to introduce a €7
million filtration system at the plant which supplies half
the county's drinking water, serving more than 50,000
people. A spokesman stressed that risks to public health
were minimal and there was no cause for concern about the
recent test results.

At present Lough Guitane has no filtration system to remove
organic material prior to the injection of chlorine. Upper
limits of 150µg/l (micrograms per litre) are currently set,
but the EPA is asking local authorities to reduce this to
100µg/l by December 2008 in accordance with World Health
Organisation guidelines for THMs in drinking water.

Compliance for THMs was in need of improvement and more
stringent standards will apply in 2008 for trihalomethanes,
the EPA warned in its most recent report on water quality.

Water samples taken from the Lough Guitane treatment showed
contamination level of 178µg/l in October, the highest
among a number of locations sampled. This had reduced to
more than 103µg/l in November. High figures were also
recorded for Abbeydorney and Castleisland.

THMs in very high doses are associated with rare intestine
cancers, including kidney and bladder cancers in rats. They
have also been associated with lower baby weights. No
direct link with cancer in humans has been proved.

Ger MacNamara, senior executive in water services with the
council, said high levels appeared to coincide with heavy
rainfall and the tests would all have been taken on the
same day.

Some €6.7 million was to be invested in the upgrading of
the central regional water supply in 2007 which would
include a filtration system at the plant, he added. A
further €9.5 million is to be invested in the central water
supply reservoirs.

Where filtration systems had been introduced in Templenoe
and at Lauragh and water filtered before adding the
chlorine to disinfect the water, water quality had
dramatically improved and THMs had been reduced.

The council would like to see filtration in all of its
schemes, Mr MacNamara added, as this would make the
addition of chlorine easier.

© The Irish Times

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