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December 04, 2005

Three Charges Over Parade Disorder

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 12/04/05 Three Charged Over Parade Disorder
IT 12/05/05 Architects Recommend Saving Of 16 Moore Street
IT 12/05/05 Gay Couples In First NI Civil Unions
IT 12/05/05 'Down Here You're A Second-Class Citizen'
IT 12/05/05 Bertie Sings Different Tune On Stately Homes
UT 12/05/05 Rugby Player Dies After Collapsing At Match


Three Charged Over Parade Disorder

04/12/2005 - 16:38:11

Three men have been charged over disorder that broke out at
a loyalist parade in the North, police said today.

They were arrested following disturbances at an Apprentice
Boys march in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Three police officers were hurt during the trouble,
although not seriously.

Apprentice Boys were returning from the main Lundy's Day
celebrations in Derry when violence flared.

Marchers reportedly tried to go through a nationalist part
of the town.

Sinn Féin West Tyrone Assembly member Barry McElduff
accused police of allowing Apprentice Boys to break Parades
Commission guidelines.

"The partial way in which they facilitated loyalist law-
breaking only underlines the reasons why many nationalists
and republicans have little or no confidence in this
force," he claimed.

The men arrested, aged 20, 28 and 33, have been charged
with disorderly behaviour and other offences. They will
appear at Strabane Magistrates Court on December 22.

Despite the disturbances, the main event in Londonderry,
which marked the 316th anniversary of the shutting of the
city's gates by 13 young apprentices against the forces of
Catholic King James II in 1688, passed off without major

Some youths attacked police with stones and bottles,
leading to five arrests. But police expressed general
satisfaction with the day.


Architects To Recommend Saving Of 16 Moore Street

Olivia Kelly

A report recommending the preservation of 16 Moore
Street, the last headquarters of the 1916 Rising leaders,
could severely restrict plans for the redevelopment of the
north inner city area.

The report by architects Shaffrey and Associates and urban
historian John Montague, commissioned by Dublin City
Council, recommends that the building be put on the Record
of Protected Structures, not only because of its connection
to the Easter Rising, but for its architectural merits.

The report is likely to be adopted at a tonight's council
meeting, as it vindicates the campaigns of a number of
councillors to save the building, which had fallen into

The report goes even further by recommending that the row
of houses of which No 16 is a part should be preserved, a
move which could have serious implications for the
regeneration plans for the area, which had earmarked the
site for large-scale retail development.

No 16 was built about 1763 as part of a terrace on the
eastern side of Moore Street from Nos 10 to 25.

Historical analysis found the rebel forces fled the GPO on
O'Connell Street for Moore Street on April 28th, 1916, and
spread themselves throughout the terrace.

The following day the leaders congregated in No 16, from
where Pádraig Pearse eventually approached British forces
to declare the surrender.

Some disparities between witness accounts and concerns that
the street had been renumbered in the 1930s, suggested that
No 16 may not have been the last headquarters.

However, Mr Montague states that the most reliable and
consistent accounts make it clear that events took place in
No 16.

The 18th-century houses were built from handmade yellow
brick which had begun to crumble and in the mid-19th
century the facades were replaced by machine-made red
brick. Nos 14-17 has survived intact.

The interior of No 16 is "largely complete" in its 18th-
century form and is a "good example of a modest mid-18th
century townhouse, a typology that once would have
dominated this area but has become increasingly rare", the
report states.

While No 16 meets the criteria to be listed as a protected
structure by itself, as part of the terrace from Nos 14-17
it forms a "distinctive streetscape" and "derives greater
significance in the context of this grouping of buildings
than it does if considered as an individual building".

In any redevelopment of the street, "the grouping Nos 14 to
17 should be retained and integrated", the report

The protection of the terrace is likely to cause
significant difficulties for the redevelopment of what was
known as the Carlton site stretching from O'Connell Street
to the Ilac shopping centre.

Most of the buildings in the area, including 16 Moore
Street, are the subject of a Dublin City Council compulsory
purchase order which has been appealed by one property
owner, Paul Clinton, and is waiting a Supreme Court

However, even if the compulsory purchase order is
successful, any future development could be severely
hampered by the protected structures order which would
prohibit demolition for large-scale retail development.

© The Irish Times


Gay Couples In First NI Civil Unions

Carl O'Brien, Social Affairs Correspondent

Gay couples in the North will be able to have their
relationships recognised in law for the first time from
today, which will give them rights almost identical to

Same-sex couples across Britain will be able to notify
registry offices of their intention to form a civil
partnership and ceremonies will begin 15 days later.
However, for legal reasons, the first ceremonies will be
held from today in the North.

The civil partnerships will grant next-of-kin rights to gay
people and allow them to benefit from a dead partner's
pension while remaining exempt from inheritance tax on
their partner's home. Partners will be able to dissolve the
agreement in a form of divorce.

Two men are due to take part in a ceremony in Derry this
morning, while Gráinne Close and Shannon Sickels are due to
become the first lesbian couple in the UK to be legally
recognised as civil partners at a ceremony in Belfast this

Gary McKeever, a volunteer co-ordinator for the Rainbow
Project in Belfast, said today would be a watershed day for
the gay community in the North.

"It's extremely significant," he said. "We've been lobbying
for this for a number of years. We'll really only see its
significance in the years to come when civil partnerships
become normalised. We're still a very homophobic society
and some borough councils have tried to obstruct civil

Every local authority will be required to provide a
facility for the registration of a civil partnership.
Lisburn City Council was forced to overturn a decision to
ban the use of its wedding room for same-sex civil
partnership registrations following a threat of legal
action. A motion proposing that same-sex civil partnership
registration should "be not afforded the same recognition"
as a civil marriage ceremony had been tabled by Alliance
councillor Séamus Close and passed in July by the city

A number of European countries now recognise either civil
unions or legal marriage for same-sex couples, including
Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Belgium.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has signalled that
the Government will introduce legislation next year which
would provide for civil partnerships.

A Civil Partnership Bill, which would extend State
recognition to same-sex couples and cohabiting couples, is
the most likely option.

This would provide for greater equality between married and
cohabiting couples in the areas of tax, inheritance and
social welfare.

A number of factors will inform new legislation, such as
legal action being taken against the State by a lesbian
couple who say they are being discriminated against and the
report of the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the

This committee is examining articles in the Constitution
relating to the family and the outcome of current
litigation regarding the recognition of a foreign same-sex

Drafts of the report, seen by The Irish Times, show it will
not recommend measures to broaden the definition of family,
on the pretext that this will lay the foundations for
opening up civil marriage to same-sex couples in Ireland.

The final report is due to be published next month,
according to committee sources.

© The Irish Times


'Down Here You're A Second-Class Citizen'

Rachel Armstrong lives 100 miles from Belfast, but it
sometimes feels a million miles away .

"Geographically we're very close, but there is a huge chasm
between us," says Dublin-based Armstrong (31), who has been
in a relationship with Michelle Farrell (32), from Co
Westmeath, for more than six years.

"What's happening in the North is really exciting, it's
such a momentous occasion. It's the biggest thing to happen
since homosexuality was decriminalised. But down here, if
you're a gay couple, you're treated as a second-class
citizen. You're discriminated against in all sorts of
ways," says Armstrong.

While gay couples can have their relationships recognised
in law in the North from today, it could take years before
a similar law is enacted in the Republic. Minister for
Justice Michael McDowell has said he is in favour of such
legislation, but has warned that such steps could be highly
complex due to our Constitution.

Discrimination in the eyes of the law is something which
rankles with Armstrong.

"Myself and Michelle are looking after her younger sister,
who's 16. She's on medication and I'm on medication. Under
the Drugs Payment Scheme, this monthly could be limited to
around €80, but because we're not recognised as a couple,
it's costing us €200 a month," she says. "Then, when you
apply for a medical card, they take into account your
partner's income, which puts you over the threshold."

Armstrong, an assistant editor at GCN magazine, and
Farrell, a web designer, say they would be first in the
queue if a civil partnership law was introduced here. "I
think it will happen in a few years," says Armstrong. "This
should be about society - it's about being treated as an
equal citizen."

Carl O'Brien


Bertie Sings Different Tune On Preservation Of Republic's Stately Homes

Taoiseach's espousal of the Big House is at odds with
Government's record of dismantling safeguards to protect
State's heritage, writes Frank McDonald.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern admitted two years ago that he has
taken "a fair bit of personal hit" over his championship of
Ireland's surviving great houses, and the plan to establish
a national trust to secure their future. But that hasn't
stopped him waxing almost lyrically about these impressive
relics of a bygone age.

For too long, many didn't see the Big House as "part of a
shared Irish heritage. Nor indeed was it viewed as a
heritage worth preserving. Fortunately, times and opinions
have changed radically since then. The Irish Big House is
increasingly valued today for its architectural
significance; for the wealth of design created for the most
part by Irish craftspeople; and for the valuable insight it
offers us into an era that has had such an influence on
shaping our history".

Borrowing from Elizabeth Bowen, he went on: "To me the
description of the Big House as an island - in essence, a
world of its own - captures the enduring fascination of
these properties. For the Big House was indeed a self-
contained world, a centre that performed a variety of
functions. From family home to fine art repository and
social gathering space to employment hub, each Big House
represented a microcosm of the life of the landed class
during their heyday."

That's what the Taoiseach told the third annual Historic
Houses of Ireland conference in NUI Maynooth on September
9th - his office had specifically requested an invitation
for Mr Ahern to speak so he could use the event to make an
"important announcement" on a matter dear to the hearts of

The announcement concerned the Government's decision to
establish an independent Irish Heritage Trust, which would
be able to acquire important heritage buildings at
"imminent risk", with the aid of endowment funds - partly
subscribed by the State - to cover their conservation,
maintenance and presentation in perpetuity.

It is intended that the trust would raise a large part of
these endowment funds through private and corporate
donations, which would be eligible for tax relief, as would
donations of heritage properties to be cared for by the new
body. This is in line with the recommendations of a report
by Indecon economic consultants.

But the driving force behind the proposal is David Davies,
a banker and former fundraiser for the Tory party in
Britain, who bought Abbeyleix House, in Co Laois - one-time
seat of the Viscounts de Vesci - less than 10 years ago and
regularly opens it to the public. He is also a leading
member of the Irish Georgian Society.

Last month, Sir David was appointed chairman of a steering
group to set up the Irish Heritage Trust. Other members
include Irish Georgian Society chairman Desmond FitzGerald,
Knight of Glin; Samantha Leslie, of Castle Leslie, Co
Monaghan, and Carmel Naughton, former chairwoman of the
National Gallery, who lives in Stackallen House, Co Meath.

Sir David was instrumental in commissioning a major report
on the future of Ireland's historic houses by Terence
Dooley of NUI Maynooth. Jointly funded by the Irish
Georgian Society and Department of the Environment, it was
launched in September 2003 by Bertie Ahern at a function in
20 Lower Dominick Street, one of Dublin's finest Georgian

Before this event, at which the Taoiseach first announced
that a "national trust" would be established, his office
inquired if there were armchairs in the house for a private
meeting with Sir David. There weren't, so a leading member
of the Irish Georgian Society volunteered to transport a
pair of comfortable chairs from her home in Cabinteely.

After his 20-minute meeting with Sir David, in a room with
a lately restored rococo ceiling, Mr Ahern said: "We had
something like 800 great houses in Ireland at one stage,
and now it's down to about 70 or 72." Unless steps were
taken to protect the remainder, "we'd be down to 15 houses
within 20 to 25 years", he warned.

"I really believe that would be a terrible loss to the
country in the long term," he told The Irish Times.

Referring to a Cabinet meeting the previous week at Emo
Court, Co Laois, he spoke of "the huge number of passionate
people involved in the walks, the gardens, bird-watchers
and everything else, not just the owner of the house".

Could this be the same Bertie Ahern who was the prime mover
in dismantling Dúchas, the Heritage Service, because it was
seen to be getting in the way of "progress", and who has
made ill-informed comments about how major road projects
have been held up "because of swans, snails and the
occasional person hanging out of a tree"?

His view that the Kildare bypass was delayed for years by a
snail - Vertigo angustior - is simplistic. The real reason
was that the decision to run a 3km stretch of it through a
deep cutting ignored official advice that this could drain
the Curragh aquifer, dry out the Japanese Gardens and
damage Pollardstown Fen, a habitat of international

The Taoiseach has also described archaeologists as "the
fastest growing profession in the country", costing the
State €100 million a year. In the Dáil in November 2004, he
said they had grown from a "handful" to a "posse", and he
didn't believe things had changed so radically to "justify
this level of demand".

Last January he dismissed the controversy over the M3 and
Tara as "a row about who was there 5,000 years ago". Though
he didn't know who inhabited Tara, he was sure they were
"very significant people", but there had to be some
finality about what must be done "if we want to be
progressive, if we want to be modern".

Perhaps he regards the four-storey hotel rising up just 17
metres (55 feet) from the ramparts of Trim Castle as
"progressive" and "modern". Certainly, Martin Cullen had no
compunction in vetoing an appeal to An Bord Pleanála by
heritage officials against what they saw as its "adverse
and unacceptable" impact on the castle's setting.

The Trim saga was well documented in a recent report by the
Centre for Public Inquiry. Referring to Mr Cullen's
decision not to permit the appeal to proceed, which
ultimately cleared the way for this appalling development,
the report quoted a spokesman as saying: "The Minister was
responsible. The buck stops with the elected person."

During 2003 recommendations from heritage officials to make
appeals to An Bord Pleanála against local authority
planning decisions were rejected by Mr Cullen as often as
they were accepted; his justification for this hands-on
approach was that appeals were being made in his name and
it would be "totally remiss" of him not to get involved.

One well-placed source in the Department of the Environment
said that during Mr Cullen's period in charge, "there was
no point in recommending appeals in certain instances
because they would never have got beyond the Minister's
office". Archaeologists and other professionals on the
staff have felt "marginalised" ever since.

Last year new legislation amending the 1930 National
Monuments Act gave the Minister for the Environment sole
and unlimited discretion over any national monument by
empowering him to give directions "covering such matters as
the preservation, restoration, excavation, recording or
demolition" of such a monument.

In doing so, he can consider any factors "to the extent
that they appear to the Minister to be relevant in
exercising discretion" about whether to "demolish or remove
wholly or in part or to disfigure, deface, alter, or in any
manner injure or interfere with" a national monument -
without even having to inform the Oireachtas.

Minister for the Environment in Northern Ireland Jeff
Rooker told a recent conference in Belfast that agencies
involved in protecting heritage and the environment should
operate at arm's length from government. What he had heard
of the situation in the Republic was "appalling", he said,
adding: "Ministers shouldn't have those powers."

Every day on his way to work the Taoiseach passes by the
former St George's Church on Hardwicke Place, one of
Dublin's most important neoclassical buildings. For the
past 15 years or more, its decaying triple-tiered steeple
has been festooned with scaffolding; indeed, the
scaffolding had to be replaced this year because it, too,
was in decay.

Not a cent in State funding has been provided for the
restoration of the steeple, even though it is one of the
major landmarks in his constituency.

The total allocation this year for grant schemes and other
State supports to protect historic buildings was only €10.6
million - less than a fifth of Deloitte and Touche's
consultancy fees.

Mr Ahern has pledged an initial Exchequer allocation of
€5.5 million for the Irish Heritage Trust, although this
level of grant aid would barely reroof a couple of the
houses he wants to save. That's not far below the 2005
allocation of €6.85 million for a grant scheme to assist
owners of protected structures, which is also a drop in the

There are thousands of protected structures throughout the
State, some of them in desperate need of repair or
restoration. A national architectural inventory is being
compiled on a county-by-county basis, with some 10,000
historic buildings recommended for protection. But no
records are kept on whether these are adopted locally.

The statutory Heritage Council administers its own grants
scheme, disbursing some €1.2 million a year. In individual
cases, from houses to architectural follies, even small
sums can bridge the gap between saving a building and
allowing it to decay. But the council itself would concede
that it is quite unable to match the scale of need.

Ian McQuiston, chairman of the Historic Buildings Council
in Northern Ireland, is as perplexed as anyone about Bertie
Ahern's obsession with stately homes. "If I was him, I
wouldn't start with them," he said.

"You have to look at heritage protection in a much more
rounded way, because vernacular buildings are just as

He was among the large attendance at the North's
Environment and Heritage Service recent "vision conference"
in Belfast. What was remarkable about it was the positive
attitude towards heritage and environmental protection. As
its director Richard Rogers said: "The environment is not
an obstacle to progress, but the whole basis of it."

In the Republic, it is viewed rather differently, which is
one of the main reasons why it was ranked last week at the
bottom of a league table for environmental protection by
the European Environment Agency. Saving a few stately homes
while allowing "progress" to let rip all around them will
do nothing to change the agency's grim verdict.

© The Irish Times


Rugby Player Dies After Collapsing At Match

A rugby player who collapsed and died during a junior
league match in Co Down had been a last-minute replacement,
friends said tonight.

Father-of-four Davy Rainey, 49, suffered a suspected heart
attack during the second half of Ards 3rds home game
against a Cooke XV on Saturday.

A doctor who rushed onto the pitch at Hamilton Park was
unable to revive the veteran flanker.

Ards spokesman Neil Workman said: "We`re just devastated.
Davy was a real character, the life and soul of the club,
and everybody`s numb."

Mr Rainey, a television repair engineer from Comber, Co
Down, normally carried out coaching duties at the club he
joined as a teenager.

But he agreed to turn out in order to make up the numbers.

"The 3rds were a few boys short, and Davy being the club
man he was said `No problem, I`ll step in`," Mr Workman

"That`s the shock for his poor wife Pat. She didn`t know he
would be playing rugby, he was just down to watch.

"A doctor was in attendance within a couple of minutes and
did all he could.

"Our thoughts are with the whole family. I`ve had so many
calls from people who just can`t believe this.

"Davy was a gentleman and had a real lust for life."

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