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December 14, 2005

Year's Wait For Rosemary Nelson Hearings

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News about Ireland & the Irish

UT 12/14/05 Year's Wait For Nelson Hearings
IE 12/14/05 Schumer Calls For Spicer Probe
IE 12/14/05 Group To Galvanize Opinion For Undocumented
IV 12/14/05 Lobbying To Defeat HR 4437
IA 12/14/05 Huge Support Greets New Lobby Group
IA 12/14/05 'We Will Save Ourselves'
PO 12/14/05 Blair: No Deal Done On 'Spy-Ring' Case
DI 12/14/05 Soldier's Mother Slams Irish War Aid
IN 12/14/05 CBI Tackles Clarke Over US Extradition Abuse
GU 12/14/05 US Abusing Extradition Rules, Says CBI Chief
IE 12/14/05 U.S. Funds Pulled In Storm Over Mcdowell Leak
IT 12/15/05 Feeney Hired Investigator Inquire Into Connolly
EX 12/14/05 McDowell Is Undermining Our Democratic Rights
EX 12/14/05 Connolly 'Can Sue If He Feels Defamed'
UT 12/14/05 SDLP Accused Over CRJs
UT 12/14/05 Super-Councils Will Undermine Rural Communities
EX 12/14/05 Politicians & Events That Marked Our Year
FF 12/14/05 Opin:Echoes Of Haughey's GUBU In Mcdowell's IRL
BB 12/14/05 Dec 15,93: Anglo-Irish Pact Paves Way For Peace
EX 12/14/05 Ceann Comhairle Apologises Over Dáil Expletive
IT 12/15/05 Prices Higher In Dublin According To CSO Survey
IT 12/15/05 Knowledge Of 'Activities' In Colombia Queried
FO 12/14/05 Schmidt's Google Swells Dublin Ranks
FO 12/14/05 Google To Expand European Base In Ireland
FF 12/14/05 All The King's Men: Ireland That Made Haughey
FF 12/14/05 The Implosion Of An Irish American Demagogue
IA 12/14/05 Building Currachs In Katrina's Wake


Year's Wait For Nelson Hearings

It will be more than a year before an inquiry into the
murder of Northern Ireland solicitor Rosemary Nelson starts
full hearings, it was announced today.

By:Press Association

A target date of January 16 2007 has been set by the
tribunal for the beginning of the hearings because
statements will have to be taken from several hundred

Mrs Nelson, a solicitor who represented nationalist
residents in Portadown during the Drumcree marching
dispute, died when a bomb exploded under her car outside
her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh in March 1999.

The attack was claimed by loyalist paramilitaries but there
have been allegations that members of the Royal Ulster
Constabulary threatened the solicitor`s life in comments to
her clients.

The inquiry said today there had been a marked increase in
the number of material which needed to be accessed by its
team and also in the complexity of the issues which had to
be considered.

"It is clear to the inquiry that it will not be possible to
begin its full hearings in the spring of next year," the
tribunal said.

"On the assumption that the inquiry will continue to
receive from full participants, document providers,
witnesses and others the level of co-operation which has
been forthcoming to date, the inquiry`s best estimate is
that it will require a further year of hard work to prepare
properly for its full hearings.

"The inquiry believes that there is merit in fixing a date
for the start of the full hearings at this stage. This will
help to focus the efforts of all those who are involved in
or affected by the work of the inquiry.

"It will also assist them with their future planning and

"The inquiry intends to begin the full hearings on Tuesday,
January 16 2007 in Belfast."

The Government sanctioned the inquiry after it was
recommended by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory.

It will be headed by Sir Michael Moreland, a retired
English and Welsh High Court judge.

The other inquiry members are Dame Valerie Strachan, a
former chairperson of the Board of Customs and Excise, and
Sir Anthony Burden, a former Chief Constable of the South
Wales Police.

The Government has also approved inquiries into the murders
of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, Portadown Catholic
Robert Hamill and loyalist prisoner Billy Wright.

At a second preliminary hearing into the killing of Mr
Wright in the high security Maze Prison, it emerged that
the inquiry would not begin public sessions until September
of next year because of delays.

Billy Wright Inquiry chairman Lord Maclean, of the Court of
Sessions of Scotland, criticised Government departments for
their slow response to requests for documentary evidence.


Schumer Calls For Spicer Probe

By Ray O'Hanlon

Sen. Charles Schumer has called for a top-level
investigation of reports linking Aegis Defense Services,
the company headed by former British army officer Tim
Spicer, to the apparent shooting of civilians in Iraq.

Renewed controversy has swirled around the company's role
in Iraq after a video posted on a Web site put together by
former Aegis employees showed gunfire being directed at
Iraqi civilians driving on Baghdad area highways.

The Echo reported the existence of the video in its Nov. 30
edition. In a Dec. 9 front-page report, the Washington Post
claimed that the U.S. military was investigating the video.

Spicer is a controversial figure in Northern Ireland as a
result of his defending the actions of men under his
command who fatally shot Belfast teenager Peter McBride in

Aegis, a private security company, operates in Iraq under
contract to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The company is being funded to the tune of $293 million,
which was awarded by the Pentagon in May 2004.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Schumer
urged the Department of Defense to direct Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, "to conduct
a thorough investigation of these troubling new allegations
concerning Aegis."

Schumer wrote that while Aegis had initiated an internal
investigation this was "plainly insufficient."

It was self evident, he said, that a contractor with so
much to lose should not investigate itself.

The video shows four separate clips in which automatic fire
is directed from the rear of an SUV.

In one of the clips, a Mercedes car traveling behind the
SUV is hit and rams into another car stopped on the road.
People are seen running from the car that was struck by the
Mercedes - but nobody gets out of the Mercedes itself.

Another clip shows fire being directed, seemingly at
random, at the street surface and then directed at a car
again driving behind the SUV. The car pulls in to side of
the road and this time a man gets out.

Yet another clip clearly shows bullets striking the hood of
a car and the car lurching to halt. Nobody is seen getting

At one point a spent bullet round appears in the video
camera lens inside the SUV. Voices speaking English are
also heard inside the SUV.

The four clips are accompanied by a soundtrack of the Elvis
Presley song "Mystery Train."

Separate to the Schumer call for an investigation, the
Derry-based Pat Finucane Center has raised the allegations
surrounding the video clips with the U.S. Consul General in

In his letter, Schumer states that Aegis's conduct, both
before and after receiving its contract, has been

"As you know," the New York senior senator wrote Rumsfeld,
"I weighed in with four U.S. senators against awarding this
security contract to Aegis because I believe that the
firm's checkered history and the dubious human rights
position of its founder and chief executive, Tim Spicer,
make them unsuitable to receive massive sums from the
American taxpayers.

"The new allegations, along with already existing concerns
about the integrity of Aegis, make me once again question
whether the decision to award a multi-million dollar
contract to this firm was appropriate."

The four other senators referred to by Schumer are Hillary
Clinton, Edward Kennedy, Chris Dodd and John Kerry.

Schumer refers in the letter to the shooting of Peter
McBride and the fact that two members of the Scots Guards
regiment, commanded at the time by then Lt. Col. Spicer,
were subsequently convicted of murder.

"Yet Mr. Spicer has repeatedly defended the actions of the
two soldiers...and argued for their release (which later
occurred). Moreover, the Boston Globe reported that Mr.
Spicer was involved in illicit arms deal in Sierra Leone
after retiring from the British military," Schumer wrote.

"The combination of these activities leads me to conclude
that the government's awarding of a massive security
contract to an individual and a firm with a history of
supporting excessive force against civilians is extremely
troubling," he stated.

Schumer concluded by saying that he was looking forward to
the "commencement of the Special Inspector General's

Callout 1. "That is why I urge the Department of Defense
(DOD) to direct the Special Investigator General for Iraq
Reconstruction (SIGIR), Stuart Bowen, to conduct a thorough
investigation of these troubling new allegations concerning

Callout 2. "None of the drivers of these vehicles appear to
be given any warning or directive in this video prior to
the shooting and in no clip does the SUV stop to inspect a
vehicle or it passengers, or check if any passengers were
injured or killed as a result of the shooting."

Callout 3. "Aegis's conduct both before and after receiving
the contract for security in Iraq has been questionable."

Callout 4. "The two soldiers were convicted of murder. Yet
Mr. Spicer has repeatedly defended the actions of the two
soldiers, both in his autobiography and in a letter to the
Times of London, and argued for their release (which later


Lobby Group Aims To Galvanize Irish Opinion For Undocumented

By Ray O'Hanlon

Just in time for what is shaping up to be the most divisive
immigration reform fight in years, a new Irish lobby group
was kick-started at a meeting in New York last week.

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is presenting itself
as a rallying point for Irish-American organizations as the
argument on both sides of the immigration issue intensifies
in Washington.

That argument is set to take a big step forward this week
with a vote on one particularly contentious bill expected
in the House of Representatives Thursday.

The inaugural ILIR gathering, at the Affinia Hotel in
Midtown Manhattan, was addressed by a number of Irish
community leaders as well as former congressman Bruce
Morrison and Esther Olivarria, Sen. Edward Kennedy's
general counsel on immigration.

The message delivered to the standing room only crowd in
the hotel's Clinton Room was that the situation for the
undocumented Irish was dire, the news from Washington was
not especially encouraging, and that the Capitol Hill
battle for immigration reform looked like being over in a
matter of months - though it was now destined to take form
against the always unpredictable backdrop of a mid-term
congressional election year.

"It would be a shame to have a battle on immigration reform
and have the Irish missing from action," Morrison, whose
efforts in Congress 15 years ago resulted in the Morrison
Visa program, told the gathering.

The arrival on the scene of ILIR, the name of which carried
clear echoes of the Irish Immigration Reform Movement, is
intended to galvanize Irish American opinion behind the
bipartisan McCain/Kennedy immigration reform bill that is
now before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

That bill has already been endorsed by an all-party motion
in the Dáil and is generally viewed as being the nearest
thing on Capitol Hill right now to a comprehensive reform

By contrast, there were expressions of deep concern at the
meeting over a House bill due for a vote Thursday.

The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal
Immigration Control Act of 2005, or H.R. 4437, is jointly
authored by GOP Reps. James Sensenbrenner and Peter King.

Sensenbrenner is the named author of what is being dubbed
"Sensenbrenner/King" - this being an indication of the fact
that the measure includes in its entirety a separate King
proposal, the Border Security and Prevention of Terrorism
Act of 2005.

H.R. 4437 deals exclusively with border security and anti-
terrorism measures, but its potential effects are seen as
spreading far and wide into the undocumented population.

Attorney Eamonn Dornan, speaking from the floor during the
ILIR meeting, described the King/Sensenbrenner bill as
"absolutely despicable" and the most "oppressive" piece of
legislation he had ever seen.

Prior to the meeting, Dornan told the Echo that the scope
of the bill went "way beyond" any special powers ever
passed by the British in Northern Ireland and that its
effect would be to "criminalize" not just every
undocumented immigrant but could result in jail terms for
Americans who aided the undocumented.

Bruce Morrison warned that the bill would actually divert
resources from combating crime and terrorism.

Describing the bill as "insane," Morrison said that
berating Rep. King, who had been a friend of the Irish for
many years, would be the wrong thing to do.

Irish Americans, Morrison said, "should help [King]
differentiate between real security and phony security."

Helping members of Congress to do the same thing would
require considerable effort, the meeting was told.

Publisher Niall O'Dowd, who chaired the meeting, said that
it was time to rebuild the "political clout" that had been
so evident in the Irish American community during the IIRM

Esther Olivarria, who briefed the meeting in detail on
various bills being pondered on Capitol Hill, warned that
the Sensenbrenner/King proposal did indeed have within its
scope the potential to criminalize the undocumented.

She said that the bill had passed the House Judiciary
Committee on a party line vote. Rep. Sensenbrenner is
chairman of that committee.

Bruce Morrison said he was "sorry to be have to be here for
this battle."

Outlining the need for comprehensive immigration reform,
Morrison said that while "everything in the '90s was about
enforcement," during this period "the number of people out
of status had gone up faster than anytime in our history."

Morrison described the Sensennbrenner/King bill as "mean
spirited and anti- immigrant."

With the IIRM, he said, the Irish-American community had
spoken with one voice and this was now needed again.

"We need to be organized and a part of this political
fight," he said.

Being organized, said Niall O'Dowd, would necessitate the
involvement of different groups and organizations and the
meeting heard pledges of support from representatives of
several, including the GAA and the Ancient Order of

Michael Glass of the AOH told the gathering that the
Hibernians would be "pulling out all the stops" for
comprehensive reform while New York GAA president, Seamus
Dooley, indicated that his organization was also ready to

Getting the ILIR message out, the meeting was told, would
be aided by the setting up of a website,

In the aftermath of the meeting, and given the trenchant
criticism aimed in his direction, the Echo contacted Rep.
King and relayed the concerns expressed over his bill.

King said that his House Homeland Security Committee was
concerned with border security alone, while Rep.
Sensenbrenner's area of concern stretched into the interior
of the country because of his chairmanship of the Judiciary

With regard to H.R. 4377, King said that the decision was
made that there was "real concern" in the country that
control over the borders had been lost. This was
particularly the case with the Southern border with Mexico.

"This is not an anti-immigrant policy," King said of the

"The intention is to get a bill that shows we can get
control of the borders and then after two or three months
the Senate will add guest worker proposals," King said.

King stressed that he was not fundamentally opposed to
immigration, or the idea of "earned legalization" for
undocumented immigrants as contained in the McCain/Kennedy
Senate bill.

"But this is not the same as the 1980s. It has changed
since the IIRM days because of terrorism and the numbers of
illegals," he said.

"Let's get the law enforcement part debated first. There is
a crisis and there is concern over the borders. At the same
time I don't see any antagonism towards immigration," King

This story appeared in the issue of December 14 - 20, 2005


Lobbying To Defeat HR 4437

By Georgina Brennan

The new lobby group created by the Irish Voice, the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), is joining immigrant
advocacy groups throughout the country to work at defeating
HR 4437, the controversial border security and illegal
alien bill co-sponsored by Congressmen James Senesnbrenner
and Peter King that will reach the House floor for a vote
later this week.

"This is the kind of bill that brings out the worst in
Americans," said ILIR founder Niall O'Dowd. "It is vitally
important that all Irish Americans make their voices heard
on this nasty piece of legislation that is harmful in the

The ILIR link —
contains information on how people can contact
congressional representatives to voice opposition about the

"Time is of the essence," O'Dowd pointed out. "We need to
make our voices heard on this matter now. Next week will be
too late. It's important to send a message to the
extremists in this country that the views they represent
are wrong."

Meanwhile, the ILIR is looking for undocumented residents
to contribute to a blog, which "would put a human face on
what's going on in our country," O'Dowd said. Visit the
site for further information on how to get involved.


Huge Support Greets New Lobby Group

By Debbie McGoldrick

A pent-up demand for Irish American action on the critical
issue of immigration reform was unleashed last Friday night
at the inaugural meeting of the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform (ILIR), the new lobby group created by the Irish
Voice that will advocate on behalf of the estimated 20-
30,000 Irish undocumented in the U.S.

An overflow crowd of more than 100, including
representatives of the Irish government and many community
groups, filled a meeting room at the Affinia Hotel to chart
an immediate course of action in the weeks and months
ahead, as immigration legislation is poised take centre
stage in Congress.

The meeting was chaired by Irish Voice founding publisher
Niall O'Dowd and addressed by two influential members of
the pro-immigration lobby, former Congressman Bruce
Morrison, who created the visa program bearing his name
that granted 48,000 green cards to Irish citizens in the
early 1990s, and Esther Olavarria, general counsel to
Senator Edward Kennedy on immigration.

"The time has now come, unless we actually address this
issue full square, tonight and onwards, we're not going to
be included in the new legislation," O'Dowd told the

"Right across this country, we need to focus on the key
politicians so that we can be at the table when the
legislation comes down. This is something that we are going
to stick at right through. Politicians respond to
grassroots efforts. Our undocumented are under enormous
pressure now — they can't go home, and they feel trapped.
They need our help now."

Ciaran Staunton, one of the co-founders of the Irish
Immigration Reform Movement and an ILIR board member,
energized the audience with a strong call to action. "We
can do this!" he said to loud applause. "People have always
told us you can't do this, can't do that, or the other.
Bull! Get out there and do it!"

An old and trusted friend of the Irish community,
Congressman Peter King, came in for criticism over his
sponsorship of a bill that would criminalize undocumented
aliens, making them subject to jail sentences if detected.
(See Page 11 for more.)

Attorney Eamonn Dornan said he was shocked at the
"despicable" bill, and added that King hasn't been
listening to his Irish constituents. "We don't appear to be
his constituency anymore," Dornan added. "His bill cannot
go any further."

The question and answer session was an informative one for
the undocumented in the audience who were eager to hear
about what may become of their futures in the U.S.

"It's getting harder and harder," said one who stood up to
speak. "We can't get driver's licenses, we can't do
anything, and people are going home. Do I tell them to hang
on for a few months? They just can't take the pressure of
being here anymore."

Her words laid the harsh reality of life as an illegal on
the line for the audience. Olivarria and Morrison provided
an overview of what the undocumented can expect to happen
on Capitol Hill in the near future.

Olavarria discussed the bill Senator Kennedy and his
Republican colleague John McCain introduced in May of this
year. It is the legislation that is most favoured by
business groups throughout the U.S., as well as immigrant
advocacy groups and the Irish government.

The Kennedy/McCain bill "covers a number of different
issues, but the one that's becoming most contentious," said
Olavarria, "is that the bill provides legal status for
undocumented persons here in the U.S.

"Anyone who was in the country on the date of the bill's
introduction on May 12 of this year would be eligible to
come forward and register with the Department of Homeland
Security, pay a $1,000 fee, go through background checks.
Once that happens the person would be eligible for a work

"The person would have to commit to working for six years —
at the end of the six years they would have to show
evidence that they worked and paid their taxes, to be
eligible to apply for permanent residency."

Kennedy/McCain also provides for a temporary worker program
for new workers to legally come to the U.S., and it would
make major changes to the existing avenues of immigration —
specifically, the bill would add visas to eliminate the
enormous backlog of cases that are currently awaiting
action, many of which have been stagnant for years.

The bill also includes border security provisions and
employer sanction penalties for hiring illegal aliens, but
though it is backed by two prominent members of the Senate,
it has run into stiff opposition from hard right elements
that want to concentrate primarily on enforcement changes
to immigration law.

Olavarria also spoke about the Senate bill introduced by
Republican Senators John Cornyn and Jon Kyl that is "heavy
on enforcement, and really doesn't have any kind of program
for the undocumented here," she said. That bill requires
illegals to return to their native countries before
eligibility for a temporary worker program.

Olavarria described a further Senate bill authored by
Senator Chuck Hagel as "trying to split the baby," because
it provides a worker program for undocumented residents who
arrived in the U.S. prior to 2000, but requires those who
arrived after that time to leave the U.S. within five years
before they can return.

"All of these bills are under consideration in the Senate,"
Olavarria said, calling the latest Senate bill introduced
by Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the body's Judiciary
Committee, "the worst of the solutions for the

After the Senate finishes dealing with the Supreme Court
nomination of Judge Samuel Alito, the Judiciary Committee
will then debate the various immigration bills on the
table, Olavarria said. Once a bill emerges from Judiciary,
it will make its way to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Olavarria says that the timetable for action is late
February/early March. "A lot of things could intervene to
derail this plan," she said, "but that's the earliest
things could happen in the Senate."

In the House, Olavarria said, Congressmen Jim Kolbe, Jeff
Flake and Luis Gutierrez have introduced a companion bill
to Kennedy/McCain. But the House, Olavarria added, is far
more focused on enforcement-only bills.

Once the House and Senate passes bills, they will then be
meshed together in a final House/Senate conference to come
up with a final piece of legislation for President Bush to

"At this point it's hard to say where all this will end
up," Olavarria said. "Judging from past experiences it will
probably not be the Kennedy/McCain model, because
legislation is the game of compromise. In the end to get
something done, you have to compromise on something else."
As far as President Bush's stance on the issue of
immigration reform, Olavarria said that his proposals have
been vague at best.

"He doesn't say much more than there can't be an amnesty,"
she said. "He hasn't introduced a bill, and we don't know
how active he'll be in this debate. At this point it's not
looking good because it is such a contentious issue for the
Republican Party."

Former Congressman Morrison, a veteran immigration
campaigner during his tenure in Congress in the 1980s, said
the Irish can be a powerful political force when they

"I'm sorry I have to be here for another battle, but I'm
glad to be a part of it," Morrison said.

"This is a place where Irish people have been coming for
200 years, and which has provided to Irish people and to
America huge benefits. Those people that are the problem in
working on comprehensive immigration reform fundamentally
think that sometime immigration stopped being the lifeblood
of America. Whoever those people are they are wrong.

"Immigration is a critical part of who we are. I think
Irish people understand that as well as any in the world."

Morrison spoke of the 1990 Immigration Act of which created
the Morrison visa program and its 48,000 Irish green cards
as an example of Irish unity at its best.

"For once the Irish spoke with a united voice," he said.
"Groups that warred with each other on every other subject
decided to agree on this. We should have that again. That
bill reflected a level of belief in the power of
immigration, of opening the doors. I was proud of being a
part of the enactment."

Morrison recalled his House colleagues asking him about
"the Irish bill," in 1990, thanks to the lobbying efforts
of the grassroots Irish Immigration Reform Movement.

"The members weren't going to vote for an immigration bill,
but they heard about the Irish bill and they decided to
vote yes," Morrison said. "So we can make a difference.
Senator Kennedy and our colleagues need our help now. I
know you all can do it because I watched. I was lobbied,
and now I want to get on your side."

Joe Hackett, first secretary at the Irish Embassy in
Washington, D.C., addressed the audience to express the
support of the Irish government in the drive to secure
immigration reform.

"The next four or five months are going to be critical to
the future of the Irish undocumented," he said. "It's
crucial that we come together."

"Thankfully we have economic prosperity at home, but with
his comes new responsibility. One of the main
responsibilities of the Irish government is to our needy
abroad, particularly the Irish undocumented in this

"That is why we have lobbied intensively over the past year
for three main things — that the undocumented have the
right to travel home, that they can adjust their status
without having to leave the U.S. and that ultimately they
have a path to permanent residence. That is why the
government has supported the Kennedy/McCain bill," Hackett

What's next? The ILIR has established a website — — that will be updated on a daily
basis. Political meetings are being organized, and a game
plan is being developed.

But, Morrison and Olavarria stressed, the Irish community
needs to get going, immediately. "We need to be organized,
we need to be part of the political fight. There can never
be too much scrutiny of these bills," Morrison said. "The
political strength of the Irish American community is very

"I would encourage all of you to become part of the
significant coalition of support that is behind
Kennedy/McCain, including all of business, some of labour,
practically all of the religious organizations, and all of
the immigrant rights groups around the country," Olavarria

The undocumented came away from the meeting feeling better,
but caution still reigns.

"I want to go home, just for a short visit," said one. "I
haven't been back in four years. I'm working hard here,
bothering no one and trying to build a future.

"If I had a visa," he added, "it would be a great deal for
both me and America, a country that I've grown to love."


'We Will Save Ourselves'

By Debbie McGoldrick

"We don't want to be in the shadows," said Malcolm*, an
undocumented immigrant from Northern Ireland.

Malcolm, who has lived in the U.S. since 1999 and works as
a bricklayer in Manhattan, was speaking at the inaugural
meeting of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) at
Manhattan's Affinia Hotel last Friday night.

Like the many other undocumented Irish people who attended
the meeting, Malcolm said time was running out and the ILIR
came just in the nick of it.

"I was lucky I got a driver's license when I first came to
America. It was better than a green card because I could
get work. I was never going to get a green card, but I
could drive and that meant a better job for me," he said.

"But it is already up and I cannot renew it because I don't
have a Social Security number. I lost my job when I lost my
license and I have had to rely on other lads giving me word
of work and public transport to get where I need to go.
Life has changed for me, the freedom I had is gone and I
feel like I am in the shadows.

"I don't want to be there and I am hoping that joining this
lobby group will change things again," he added.

Hoping for change and making it happen are two different
things said another undocumented immigrant, Teresa*.

"A group of us had already joined together to try and make
a difference, but we felt we didn't have the big names to
help us. Now with ILIR we do and it is brilliant," she

For the many undocumented — and nobody can really ascertain
how many there are — time is really running out.

"On every street in the Irish neighbourhoods you hear
people saying they are leaving because it is getting too
unfriendly for us here. We are getting checked at airports
in the U.S., we are losing out licenses, our jobs, we are
here longer and the time has grown since we last saw our
families. People are really sad and people are really
afraid. They came here to stay and they want to stay, this
is the only chance we have now," said Lisa* another
immigrant who is out of status.

"I really feel a part of something," said another
undocumented man, Noel*. "I think there's a real fire in
the community for this. If we can all get together, we can
do it."

Since the 1990's there has been no immigration reform lobby
group representing Irish people. With the formation of
ILIR, the Irish community is confident that though the
battle is uphill, they will fight hard.

The only thing they say is against them is time. Experts
say the first three months of 2006 are crucial to the
immigration debate. But there is no telling how soon change
could come and if it will be in favour of the undocumented
or against them.

"If we could have a time on when we could do it, it would
help, everyone is leaving between this Christmas and next
Christmas," said Sharon* who was planning on leaving her
nanny job to go back to Ireland next autumn. She has been
in the United States since 2003.

"This lobby group is really giving me hope, especially
because so many came out for it. I thought it was a trick
that I would be picked up by the immigration officers but
when I saw the Irish Voice and Bruce Morrison here, I knew
real work was being done.

"But we don't really know what to do, where to begin. I
hope they can tell me what I have to do so I can have a
work permit next year, because then I'll stay."

Sharon said things are getting difficult for her, and she
has had to change nanny jobs three times. "People are
really getting scared of hiring illegals now. It's so much
easier for lads I think, they can pick up work easy enough,
but it has been hard for me. I end up making less money
each time I move, everyone wants legal nannies now because
America is really looking at us all now."

Larry* came to New York in 2000. After a failed
relationship in Ireland, he came to find a new life in
America. Until September 11, he felt he made the right

"I used to go home and see the mother twice a year. But
that stopped that first Christmas after September 11. I
haven't been home since. I have never even seen the Euro!"
he told the Irish Voice.

"People say to me all the time, why don't you just come
home, Ireland is doing so well. For the same reasons that
not everybody comes to New York, not everybody wants to
live in Ireland. What people in Ireland forget is that
because they live in Ireland they think its great but it's
really not. It's high stress, high maintenance, a bit like
a nightmare girlfriend.

"I am not running from anything in Ireland, and I don't
want to be running away from here. I want to stay and I am
going to work to stay. That is why I came here tonight. We
will save ourselves."

*Names have been changed.


Blair: No Deal Done On 'Spy-Ring' Case

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2005 16:36 Tony Blair says no political
interference in case against alleged Stormont spy ringSend
Us FeedbackEmail this to a friendPrinter friendly
versionOpinion Formers' ViewsOrdnance Survey of Northern

Tony Blair has insisted no agreement was made with the IRA
over the collapse of the Stormont 'spy-ring' case.

Three men accused of spying on ministers at the Northern
Ireland assembly were acquitted last week after the
director of public prosecutions (DPP) decided it was "no
longer in the public interest" to proceed.

Democratic Unionist party (DUP) deputy leader Peter
Robinson today challenged Mr Blair about the collapse of
the case at prime minister's questions in the House of

The MP for East Belfast insisted there could only have been
three possible reasons for the acquittal: there had been
insufficient evidence to secure prosecution; a deal had
been done with the IRA; or the government had sought to
protect embarrassing evidence.

"Tell us which it was," he declared.

But responding, Mr Blair made clear that there had been no
political interference in the case, insisting: "No
government minister had anything whatsoever to do with this
decision being taken."

He added that the decision to proceed or not had been made
independently by the DPP and as such there was no point in
engaging "in conspiracy theories that owe very little to
the facts".

However, Mr Blair was also challenged by the SDLP South
Belfast MP, Alasdair McDonnell, who demanded to know why
prosecutors decided that it was not "in the public
interest" to go ahead with the case.

Mr Blair refused to be drawn on the issue, only saying he
could "entirely understand the concern he raises" and
reiterating the decision had not been taken by ministers.

The three men at the centre of the 'spy-ring' allegations
were arrested in October 2002 following a police raid of
Sinn Fein's parliamentary offices at Stormont, where
thousands of documents and computer files were seized.

After the collapse of the case, a spokesman for the
Northern Ireland office last week said it "noted" the
decision, but also added: "Let us be mindful of the fact
that the police operation mounted in response led to the
recovery of thousands of sensitive documents that had been
removed from government offices.

"It is also a matter of record that it was the actions of
paramilitaries in gathering and removing these documents
and the damage that was done to political confidences as a
result that led to the suspension of the Northern Ireland

Unionists walked out of the power-sharing executive after
the spying evidence surfaced and three years on, devolved
government for Northern Ireland has yet to be restored.


Soldier's Mother Slams Irish War Aid

"I am here to rally the people of Ireland to resist their
government in anyway they can from being complicit in this
and being accomplices in the crimes my government is
committing in Iraq

A leading member of the American Anti-war movement and a
mother of a US trooper killed in Iraq has called on the
Irish government to stop being "complicit in war crimes."

Ms Cindy Sheehan speaking in Dublin yesterday before a
meeting with Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern called on the
Irish government to stop allowing US military planes using
Shannon Airport.

"I am here to rally the people of Ireland to resist their
government in anyway they can from being complicit in this
and being accomplices in the crimes my government is
committing in Iraq.

"Not only as people from Ireland but as human beings. What
we are allowing our countries to do is wrong.

"I am here to join with the Irish peace movement to call a
halt to what is going on (at Shannon)."

Sheehan is the mother of the late U.S. Army Specialist
Casey Sheehan. Casey was killed in action on April 4, 2004,
just five days after his arrival in Sadr City, Iraq, during
the Iraq occupation.

Sheehan lead the protests against the war at Preisdent
George Bush's ranch in Texas during the summer.

"My son was one of the 240,000 troops that went through
Shannon. The last letter we got from him he talked about
stopping in Shannon, he talked about buying a soda and the
amount of euros it cost and how many euros he got back from
the soda machine.

"He talked about meeting a woman who spotted his name
Sheehan who saw it on his uniform. And she talked to him
about his Irish name and Ireland and the family history."

Cindy Sheehan's husband's family is of Irish descent from

"That meeting in Shannon was very important to him, it was
so important that he put it in his journal and he put it in
the last letter he wrote us.

"But he never posted it, because it came with his things
when he came back. Because he was in Iraq only five days
before he was killed."

"This is Casey here on the badge that I am wearing. This is
the face of somebody who came through your country. The
people who work in Shannon I wonder if they think, 'I
wonder if this soldier will come back through?'

"Or will this young person go back home in a box? Or will
this young person walk of a plane and then come home in a
wheel chair?

"Do they think of the innocent Iraqi's who are being killed
who my government are committing crimes against. The
innocent Iraqi's who have no intention of harming the
people of America."

Ms Sheehan at an emotional address to a press conference
attended by Daily Ireland in Dublin yesterday said that
Minister Dermot Ahern should not accept the word of the US
adminstration that CIA flights are not bringing torture
victims through Shannon.

"You do not believe what my government says, my government
has been proved as being liars. For the Irish government
not to inspect the torture planes that come through here
because Condoleezza Rice says not to, that is not only
letting humanity down it is letting your country down.

"Ireland has every right to inspect those planes they are
landing on Irish soil. Ireland has been a great friend to
the United States for many years but Ireland is not a
satellite of America you are an independent state and you
have to act independently.

"I think President Regan said 'Trust but verify' and that
is what you have to do you have to verify. And if there is
nothing to hide then our government should not want to hide

"But our government are known liars and our administration.

"I also want him (Minister Dermot Ahern) to see this
picture of Casey. I want him to see the face of a mother
and it is not about right and left it is not about
politics, it is about flesh and blood.

"The people of Ireland need to stand up and say we do not
support war crimes."

Cindy Sheehan who was in Ireland as a guest of the Irish
Anti War Movement (IAWM) called on Irish people to support
the movement in Ireland.

"The more people join together the more relevant we become
we are all in this together, we might be from different
countries, but we are united by our humanity.

"What is happening in Iraq is crimes against humanity and
we people if we allow it to continue we are complicit in
this crime. And we all have to join up together."


CBI Chief To Tackle Clarke Over US Extradition 'Abuse'

By Philip Thornton in Hong Kong and Julia Kollewe
Published: 15 December 2005

The leader of Britain's largest employers' federation will
meet Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, today to lodge his
protest at the way the US government is "abusing" an
extradition treaty between the two countries.

Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, is
concerned that the treaty, which was signed in March 2003
in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, was
being used to target alleged white-collar criminals.

He said about 170 out of 200 cases were business people.
Speaking on the fringes of the World Trade Organisation
summit in Hong Kong, he said his members were growing
increasingly angry at the misuse of the scheme by an
"ignorant bully".

"It might be acceptable [to use it] for the bloke who wants
to wrap Semtex around his body but is not acceptable for a
62-year-old chief executive with prostate cancer," Sir
Digby said, referring to Ian Norris, the former chief
executive of Morgan Crucible. "The process of justice is
being abused."

Sir Digby said it was unacceptable that people charged with
white-collar crimes could be extradited without a full
court hearing and end up in remand in a US jail. Under the
extradition laws, US authorities are not required to
present a prima facie case, meaning that it takes very
little for them to make an extradition request, while UK
authorities must do so when seeking extraditions from the
US, because the US never ratified the extradition treaty.

Sir Digby said he would meet the US ambassador next week.

He cited three cases he said were among the worst examples.
Nigel Potter, 59, the chief executive of the gaming company
Wembley, went to the US voluntarily and was sentenced to
three years in a US prison but has lodged an appeal. He was
in solitary confinement for 10 days and his wife will not
be able to visit him until January.

Secondly, Mr Norris, who is fighting Mr Clarke's decision
to extradite him on price-fixing charges after a landmark
ruling at Bow Street magistrates court in June that the US
could use the fast-track procedure for non-terrorists. He
would be the first Briton be to extradited to face criminal
anti-trust charges.

Thirdly, David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew,
three former NatWest bankers, are fighting extradition to
the US over Enron-related fraud charges. A High Court
ruling is expected by 21 December.

The Government is due to answer written questions today
from Mr Potter's local Conservative MP, Adam Afriyie, who
asked about his case, and why the UK-US extradition
arrangements are not reciprocal.


US Abusing Extradition Rules, Says CBI Chief

Larry Elliott
Thursday December 15, 2005
The Guardian

The CBI is holding talks today with the home secretary,
Charles Clarke, to press the government to stop the United
States using an anti-terrorism treaty to extradite British
executives for trial in America.

Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the employers'
organisation, flew home from the WTO negotiations in Hong
Kong last night to demand action over what the CBI
considers abuse of a deal between Tony Blair and George
Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Under the March 2003 agreement, there is no need for the US
to put a prima facie case before a judge in a British
court, and instead is able to extradite suspects to America
and keep them on remand while marshalling a case.

Sir Digby said America's failure to ratify the deal meant
that it was one sided and that far from targeting
terrorists, 170 of the people extradited to the US had been
accused of "white-collar" crime in America's crackdown on
corporate wrongdoing that followed the Enron scandal.

The CBI has compiled a dossier of abuses of the agreement,
including the case of Ian Norris, the 62-year-old former
chief executive of manufacturing firm Morgan Crucible. Mr
Clarke agreed in September that Mr Norris, who is suffering
from prostate cancer, should be extradited to the United
States on seven counts of conspiracy to defraud and two
counts of perverting the course of justice.

In a landmark decision, Mr Norris would be the first Briton
to be extradited to the US to face criminal anti-trust
charges if he fails to have the decision overturned by
judicial review.

"This is totally unacceptable," Sir Digby said. "It might
be acceptable for the bloke who wraps semtex around his
body but not for a 62-year-old executive with prostate
cancer. The process of justice is being abused. America is
being an ignorant bully. This is just wrong".

Sir Digby will be holding talks next week with Robert
Tuttle, the US ambassador to Britain, to press for changes
to the agreement. America's decision not to make the
agreement reciprocal followed pressure from the powerful
Irish-American lobby, which feared that Britain might try
to extradite republican sympathisers.

Speaking in Hong Kong, where he was part of the UK
delegation, Sir Digby said he had been coming under
pressure from CBI members for action. "Some are asking why
they should have anything to do with the US," he said.
"They are saying, 'Why should I trade with America or
invest in America if I might find myself banged up on
remand with a bunch of rapists?'"

Sir Digby is also raising two other cases with Mr Clarke:
the so-called NatWest Three, who are fighting extradition
on charges of lending money to Enron, and Nigel Potter, the
former chief executive of gambling firm Wembley, who is
serving three years for corruption in a high-security
Pennsylvania jail.

Mr Potter entered the US voluntarily, before the
Extradition Act came into force, in the hope that he could
clear his name, but was jailed on November 25.


Minister under fire

U.S. Funds Pulled In Storm Over Mcdowell Leak

By Paul Colgan

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has prompted a
storm of controversy after admitting that he personally
leaked Garda documents about former journalist Frank
Connolly to the Independent newspaper group.

McDowell has defended his decision to leak a forged
passport application form allegedly used by Connolly,
executive director with the U.S.-funded Center for Public

The minister's admission followed his claim last week that
Connolly traveled to Colombia on a false passport with a
senior member of the IRA in 2001.

U.S. billionaire and philanthropist Chuck Feeney withdrew
up to €4 million of his money from the CPI following
McDowell's comments.

Connolly vigorously denies the allegations and claims that
McDowell had usurped the function of the Garda and the DPP.

Speaking on RTE Radio Monday, Minister McDowell said: "It
is not a concern of mine that that matter appeared in the
Irish Independent because I supplied it to the Irish
Independent. I provided that document to the Independent."

Fine Gael justice spokesman, Jim O'Keefe, said he had
"grave concerns" about the minister's tactics and said
McDowell seemed to regard Garda files as part of his
"political armory."

Labor justice spokesman Joe Costello said the minister had
set an "extremely dangerous precedent."

Feargus Flood, the former judge who chaired the government-
appointed tribunal into political corruption that bore his
name, waded into the argument Tuesday in support of

Flood, chair of the CPI, said Connolly should be entitled
to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise in a
court of law.

"The citizens of this country are innocent until they are
proven guilty, in accordance with the rules of law," said
Flood. "The minister cannot override the constitution under
any circumstances. The constitution provides that justice
shall be administered in public in court."

McDowell had claimed that Connolly accompanied convicted
IRA man Padraig Wilson to the South American country ahead
of the so-called Colombia Three, the three Irishmen accused
of assisting the Marxist revolutionary grouping, FARC.
Connolly is a brother of Niall Connolly, one of the three

Connolly denies ever having been to Colombia or of using a
false passport.

The justice minister had been responding to a question from
independent TD Finian McGrath and made his comments under
parliamentary privilege.

Feeney's organization Atlantic Philanthropies pulled its
€800,000-a-year funding of the CPI within hours of
McDowell's comments. Feeney pumps tens of millions of
dollars into Ireland in order to assist with cross-
community and cross-border schemes.

In a brief press statement last Wednesday, Atlantic said it
was withdrawing its monies. Neither Feeney nor any other
senior members of Atlantic have chosen to comment further.

Feeney's decision followed meetings with Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and McDowell at which existing allegations against
Connolly are understood to have been discussed.

Connolly, a former senior journalist with the Sunday
Business Post and Ireland on Sunday newspapers, established
the CPI in February to probe matters of public concern.

It has published two reports to date, one on the
controversial Corrib gas pipeline project in County Mayo,
and another on planning matters in County Meath.

Connolly has accused McDowell of engaging in a "veritable

Initial U.S. reaction was also strongly critical of the
minister. The Rev. Sean McManus of the Washington, D.C.-
based Irish National Caucus described McDowell as a
"national disgrace."

Said McDowell: "I have received many calls from concerned
Irish Americans about McDowell's assumption that he can
abuse his ministerial position to declare anybody guilty,
to indict newspapers even before they come into existence,
and to leak police documents to the media and all in the
name of national security. McDowell himself appears to be
the only threat to the Republic," McManus said in a

"McDowell is a threat to justice and democracy in the
South, and a menace to the peace process in the North,"
McManus added.

This story appeared in the issue of December 14 - 20, 2005


Feeney Hired Investigator To Inquire Into Connolly

Mark Hennessy and Liam Reid

Billionaire Chuck Feeney hired a private investigator
last July to inquire into allegations that Frank Connolly
had travelled to Colombia in 2001 on a false passport.

The investigator, Dermot Benn of Risk Management
International, which is based in Dublin, initially gave a
qualified bill of health to Mr Connolly when he reported
back to Mr Feeney's New York-based charitable foundation,
Atlantic Philanthropies.

Mr Benn, a former Army intelligence officer, told Atlantic
Philanthropies that gardaí were "not currently concerned"
with Mr Connolly.

Mr Benn met John R. Healy, chief executive officer and
director of Atlantic Philanthropies, on July 27th, and
reported a day later by telephone.

He said that he had been informed by security contacts that
the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI), which had its funding
withdrawn last week by Atlantic Philanthropies, was "an
august body". He also said gardaí had informed him they had
"no concerns on the people" involved in the CPI and there
was "nothing on passports".

He is believed to have made a second report to Atlantic
Philanthropies some time later, the contents of which could
not be confirmed by The Irish Times at the time of writing
last night.

Mr Benn is the managing director of RMI Security, while the
company's chief executive officer, Cathal O'Neill, is
another ex-member of the Defence Forces.

All attempts to contact Mr Benn at his office in Citywest
and at his home were unsuccessful yesterday. Mr O'Neill
could not be contacted either. The official Irish spokesman
for Atlantic Philanthropies, James Morrissey, refused to
answer a number of detailed questions, arising from
documentation seen by The Irish Times.

It has been confirmed that senior figures in Atlantic
Philanthropies met in Dublin in early September for talks
on the difficulties caused for the foundation by its
association with Mr Connolly, the CPI's executive director.
There was concern that the controversy was undermining the
reputation of Mr Feeney and the foundation. The meeting
outlined a number of options, including asking both Mr
Connolly and retired High Court judge Feargus Flood to step
down as executive director and chairman, respectively.

Members of Atlantic Philanthropies spoke to Mr Connolly on
October 6th and asked him to consider his position "for the
well-being" of the CPI.

The executive director of Atlantic Philanthropies, Colin
McCrea, could not be contacted last night.

The CPI is to issue a public statement about the Connolly
affair in the next couple of days.

© The Irish Times


McDowell Is Undermining Our Democratic Rights

I LEAVE to others the argument over the propriety and
constitutionality of Mr McDowell's action in handing part
of a confidential garda file to his drinking buddy Sam
Smyth and in making allegations against Mr Connolly behind
the shield of Dáil privilege.

To my mind, there is no argument: Mr McDowell has confirmed
the impression he created since he first took office of a
man whose appetites are undemocratic, authoritarian and
contemptuous of the notion of civil or legal rights by
overturning the constitutional divide between the executive
and judicial functions of the State for political reasons.
As such, he is an extremely dangerous person to have in
Government, and particularly in charge of the Department of
Justice and the gardaí.

He should go forthwith, and if he does not, the voters
should ensure his non-return at the next opportunity.

What I find chilling is the reported reluctance of many
journalists to say anything in public which might be seen
as criticism of McDowell or the Government, and the muted
reaction of most of the media.

In news coverage, only the Irish Examiner has taken up the
issue with any vigour.

If McDowell's actions, and his dogged refusal to see any
harm in them, have produced this reaction, then he has
succeeded in destroying far more than the Centre for Public
Inquiry (CPI), and has placed a dead hand on the ability of
journalists to investigate and thus counter wrongdoing by
State bodies or corporate entities, or to respond to
oppressive behaviour by the State.

As editor of a resource website in the mental health area,
advocacy of particular positions and the possibility of
investigating and detailing wrongdoing or failures on the
part of public or private entities are part of my remit.

From what McDowell has said and done, it now appears that I
may be open to investigation should the Government or
minister of the day not like what I publish, followed by
allegations in the Oireachtas against which I cannot defend
myself, or to pressure being put on donors or sponsors to
withdraw their funding.

I am very concerned by such a prospect. So should every

The closest parallel I can think of is Putin's Russia,
where a range of dubious 'legal' measures and blatant abuse
of power have reduced the space for independent journalism
and citizen advocacy almost to zero. This began with one
apparently small step. I am struck, too, by the fact that
public discussion so far has not covered the possible
motives for McDowell's actions and the support he has
received from both Mary Harney and Bertie Ahern.

Frank Connolly's investigative journalism was responsible
for the establishment of at least two tribunals of inquiry,
one into police corruption and malfeasance in the McBrearty

The Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI), has published two
reports, one on the dubious construction of a hotel next to
Trim Castle, the second relating to the recent damning
report on the Corrib gas pipeline.

Now we learn that the CPI's latest project is an
investigation into the €30million purchase, under
McDowell's auspices, of the Thornton Hall site in north
Dublin for a new prison. As the lawyers would say, a
reasonable inference may be drawn.

And a question: is there a benefactor out there who will
thwart McDowell's undermining of the CPI and democracy by
stepping forward with funding to replace that destroyed by
the minister's actions?

Basil Miller
2 Eden Park
Dun Laoghaire
Co Dublin


Connolly 'Can Sue If He Feels Defamed'

By Paul O'Brien, Political Reporter

FRANK CONNOLLY should sue if he feels he was defamed by the
Government, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern suggested yesterday.

His comments came amid unconfirmed reports last night that
billionaire Chuck Feeney had hired private investigators to
look into the allegations against Mr Connolly.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell has admitted trying to
have Mr Connolly sacked as executive director of the Centre
for Public Inquiry (CPI), an independent group established
to investigate political and business corruption.

Mr McDowell had full Cabinet support when he met with Chuck
Feeney - the billionaire businessman whose charitable
organisation was funding the CPI - in September and briefed
him on the allegations about Mr Connolly.

The former journalist is alleged to have travelled to
Colombia on a false passport in April 2001 together with
his brother Niall - later arrested as one of the Colombia
Three - and IRA member Pádraig Wilson as part of an IRA
scheme to provide rebels with explosives training.

Mr McDowell gave Mr Feeney and an Irish Independent
journalist copies of the bogus application allegedly used
by Mr Connolly to obtain a passport.

Mr Feeney's organisation subsequently cut its funding to
the CPI. Mr McDowell, meanwhile, also informed the Dáil of
the allegations against Mr Connolly, who has repeatedly
denied them.

Yesterday, Mr Ahern reiterated his support for Mr
McDowell's actions and told the Dáil: "If somebody feels
aggrieved at, and maligned by, anything said inside or
outside the House, there is a way to vindicate himself or
herself through the courts."

He was responding to Sinn Féin criticism of the manner in
which Mr McDowell had acted.

He again stressed there was no Government campaign against
the CPI.

But there was a campaign against Mr Connolly, Mr McDowell
telling the Dáil on Tuesday: "I discussed the matter with
my colleagues in Government and undertook to raise the
matter with Mr Feeney with a view to persuading him to
discontinue his support for Mr Connolly in his role as
chief executive of the CPI."

Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday in the Star newspaper
that Mr Connolly had a criminal conviction for riotous
behaviour dating from 1982.

Mr Connolly could not be reached for comment last night.


SDLP Accused Over CRJs

The SDLP was accused today of demonstrating little feel for
nationalist and republican working class communities by its
opposition to neighbourhood justice schemes.

By:Press Association

Sinn Fein Assembly member Alex Maskey went on the offensive
against the rival party after its policing spokesperson
Alex Attwood denounced Government proposals for community
restorative justice schemes which bring the perpetrators of
low level crimes face to face with their victims to agree a

Mr Maskey observed: "In recent weeks the SDLP have been on
an offensive to try and scupper the work being carried out
by community restorative justice schemes.

"This despite the fact that these schemes have been
operating successfully for over five years in many areas
without so much as a critical word from the SDLP.

"Yesterday Alex Attwood met with the Criminal Justice
Inspector, someone envisaged as playing a role in
overseeing the schemes in the future. His sole intention
was to try and get the Inspector to oppose carrying out
this function.

"The SDLP opposition to CRJ has nothing whatsoever to do
with these schemes. If it was then surely the SDLP would
have been opposing them before now.

"Their opposition is based solely on a need to prevent
further policing change in order to justify their decision
to jump too soon on policing."

Supporters of the schemes say they could provide a viable
alternative to paramilitary punishment attacks.

Critics fear republicans would like restorative justice
programmes in their communities to serve as an alternative
to the Police Service of Northern Ireland which Sinn Fein
has refused to endorse.

Unionists and the SDLP have claimed under Northern Ireland
Office minister David Hanson`s proposals, the PSNI would be
given an arms length role in community restorative justice.

The protocols state the police must be informed if a
community restorative justice group wants to handle a
specific case.

Justice schemes are urged to refer a case they think they
should handle to an advisory panel featuring the PSNI and
representatives of the scheme, Probation Board or Youth
Justice Agency.

In republican areas, there would be no obligation on those
running schemes to deal directly with the police.

Instead they can alert the PSNI that they would like to
handle a case by contacting the Probation Board or Youth
Justice Agency who will pass the proposal on to the police.

The PSNI will then consider if there needs to be any action
- such as fingerprinting - before referring the case to the
Public Prosecution Service, which will ultimately decide if
it should be dealt with by a community restorative justice

At a meeting with the Criminal Justice Inspector Kit
Chivers yesterday, SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood
urged him to resist the Government`s plans.

The West Belfast MLA highlighted a number of flaws in the

"There is still no independent complaints system," he

"The protocol does not cover what restorative justice
claims is 95% of their work - what they define as `non-
criminal` and `anti-social` work.

"Screening of volunteers, training and human rights
requirements are inadequate.

"The proposed relationship with the PSNI is arms-length,
ambiguous and evasive."

Mr Maskey accused the SDLP of hysteria.

The South Belfast MLA concluded: "What the hysterical
claims about community restorative justice made by the SDLP
over recent weeks does underline is how little
understanding the SDLP has of, or support in, working class
nationalist and republican areas, where these schemes
provide a valuable community service."


Super-Councils 'Will Undermine Rural Communities'

Government plans to create just seven super-councils in
Northern Ireland will undermine rural communities, it was
claimed today.

By:Press Association

Following proposals to slash the number of councils in the
province from 26 to just seven by 2009, nationalist SDLP
Assembly member PJ Bradley also accused Sinn Fein of
selling out farming communities by backing the concept of
seven super councils.

The South Down MLA insisted: "The SDLP shares the view that
26 councils are too many but to reduce these to less than
15 will not serve the best interests of rural communities.

"Until recently this was also the view of practically every
politician in the north, (of Ireland) but for self-centred
reasons some have come around to accepting the British

"The short-term benefits of seven impersonal councils, as
proposed by the British Government ministers, might be easy
to sell to an unsuspecting public but it is the long-term
implications that rural councillors and MLA`s must address.

"I am more than surprised at the willingness of a number of
Sinn Fein rural councillors to cave in to the dictates of
their leaders sitting in comfortable city centre offices.

"I accept not all of them do and I commend those that are
openly challenging their party`s ill-considered stance on
the issue.

"But what a price the others are willing to pay and, in
particular, those that changed their minds because they
were told to do so."

Last month Sinn Fein announced it was taking disciplinary
action against its Mid Ulster Assembly member Francie
Molloy after he criticised the plan for seven councils as a
member of the Northern Ireland Local Government

It is envisaged under the plan that Belfast will remain a
council in its own right.

However other councils will be amalgamated into six areas,
with 50 councillors each.

The move will mean the total number of councillors in
Northern Ireland will be reduced from 528 to 350.

In the north-west, Derry City Council will form a super
council with Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt.

In the south-west, the super council will comprise of
Cookstown, Omagh, Fermanagh and Dungannon.

Craigavon, Armagh, Newry and Mourne and Banbridge will
merge to form a council in the south east.

Down, Ards, Castlereagh and North Down will amalgamate to
form a Co Down council.

Lisburn, Antrim, Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus will come
together to form a croissant shaped council surrounding

Larne, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Moyle and Coleraine will
merge to form a council along the north coast.

Councillors who also stand down from local government at
the next election will also receive a severance package
under the proposals.

The Government has announced an end to the practice of
Assembly members also serving as councillors.

Mr Bradley warned the creation of a super council could
work against communities in south Armagh.

"When I visited a number of farming friends in the area
recently, they were amazed to learn that the seven-council
proposal would in fact tie south Armagh in with Craigavon,
Banbridge and Rathfriland," he said.

"Through time the South Armagh/Slieve Gullion area would
eventually be bypassed in favour of more favoured areas.

"Local representatives, because of their relatively low
numbers on the new 50-member council, would be helpless to
address the imbalance.

"Farmers and rural residents in the past have, often with
justification, found themselves somewhat removed from the
decision making bureaucrats, imagine what the situation
will be like if they are swallowed up completely as result
of the Northern Ireland Office`s attitude as reflected in
the proposals."

Mr Bradley and the SDLP were accused of being happy to
follow the unionist line on the shake up of local
government by Sinn Fein agriculture spokesperson, Michelle

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP countered that the
suggestion from other parties that there should be 15
councils instead of seven was self-serving.

"The truth is that the seven council model with the area
based committees proposed by Sinn Fein will connect rural
communities in a much stronger way to local government," Ms
Gildernew insisted.

"In particular bigger stronger councils with more direct
input into planning will have huge benefits for rural

"The choice is simple: is local government about self
serving politicians or is it about local communities?"

Ms Gildernew said the SDLP had appeared to have lost the
ability to make sound judgements whether it was on the
policing issue or local government.

"They called it wrong on policing and are now failing to do
anything about political policing despite the fact that
many within the SDLP in PJ Bradley`s South Down openly say
that no nationalist would be involved with the PSNI," she

"They have called it wrong on the seven council model and
appear happy to follow the unionist line.

"Unionists oppose seven because it gives stronger equality
protections, power sharing with a more equal share of power
for nationalists.

"The SDLP appear to want to sell out vulnerable nationalist
communities in favour of keeping their own councillors in a


Triumph And Tragedy: Politicians And Events That Marked Our Year

By Noel Whelan

THIS evening Dáil Eireann rises for the Christmas recess,
so it is time to announce the fourth annual Tallyman's
awards - my entirely subjective political prizes for '05.

Political Image of the Year

Among the international events which generated the most
striking images were the funeral of Pope John Paul II in
April and the election of his successor, Benedict XVI. The
images from the Live 8 concerts in July were also iconic.

In 2004, the most significant international images were
those from Iraq and Darfur. Sadly, the situation hasn't
improved much in either case in 2005.

Somewhat inevitably, images from another disaster region
win my award in this category in 2005. Although it occurred
on Stephen's Day last year, the most poignant pictures from
those country devastated by the tsunami didn't get onto our
screens until the first few days of this year.

In Ireland, a photograph of IRA decommissioning would have
won the prize if there had been one.

The video footage of a former prisoner reading out P
O'Neill's statement didn't do justice to the historic
significance of the occasion. As photographs go, the
picture of Willie O'Dea pointing a gun at a camera was the
most memorable, if only as a reminder to all politicians
never to allow themselves to get carried away, even for a
fleeting second, in the presence of cameras.

My award for this category in Ireland, however, goes for
the pictures of fatal crash scenes which have featured in
our newspapers this week and almost every week of '05. They
are so regular we have become immune to them, but they are
stark reminders that road safety is an issue crying out for
greater political effort.

Minister of the Year

As head of the Cabinet, the Taoiseach cannot actually
qualify for this award. In any case his year has been
mixed. Support for his Government has slipped slightly.
However, his repositioning of the Government a little left
of centre appears to be enduring. On the North's peace
process, he has had some considerable success. In 2006,
sustaining social partnership will be his biggest

My award for Minister of the Year 2005 goes to newcomer
Mary Hanafin, because of her style and teaching background,
she has managed to rebuild relationships with the unions in
the sector.

After the Meath bus crash tragedy, Ms Hanafin's response
was empathetic and appropriate - she avoided any kneejerk
reactions on policy, yet before the year was out she had
delivered solid improvements in school bus safety.

Last week her decision to go public to warn teachers that
those who abandoned classes to participate in ICTU's day of
protest would be docked their wages was tough and
appropriate. She also has struck the right balance on the
issue of league tables by opting instead for the
publication of inspectors' reports on schools.

Ms Hanafin was one of the ministers who benefited most from
the Budget with the announcement of an elaborate capital
programme for third-level colleges and greater funding for
fourth-level education and research initiatives. All round
she had impressive first year.

Opposition Frontbencher of the Year

Fine Gael's improving parliamentary performance in 2005 was
again due mainly to their leader, Enda Kenny, and their
deputy leader, Richard Bruton, who share this award.

Their effective opposition on the issues of nursing homes
and accountability for Government expenditure in particular
was impressive. From the FG runners-up Fergus O'Dowd has
impressed as much for his performance on issues outside his
environment brief as for those in his own area.

Labour's best all-rounder in 2005 was Eamon Gilmore who
manages to be relentless without being irritating - a skill
which some of his party colleagues could learn. Joan Burton
also deserves some credit for highlighting the issue of
high income earners paying no tax.

Of the others, Trevor Sargent deserves an honourable
mention for his speech on the Ferns Report in October and
his party's finance spokesperson, Dan Boyle, has also been
a solid performer.

Opposition Backbencher of the Year

Yet again this year nobody came close to Joe Higgins. No
more needs to be said.

Government Backbencher of Year

Some of those on my shortlist for this award must also be
on Bertie Ahern's list to fill the Ivor Callely vacancy as
minister of state. In fact, the mistake is that he hasn't
created more space to promote all of them. The obvious
contenders are Pat Carey, Jim Glennon, Sean Haughey and
Sean Ardagh.

ALSO worthy of promotion are Sean Fleming, Billy Kelleher
and Denis O'Donovan. However, I give the award in this
category to the Fianna Fáil Dun Laoghaire deputy Barry

Articulate and independent, he may not yet be in the
promotion stakes but he is making a considerable impression
even though this is only his first term in the House.

Good Law/Policy Decision of Year

The childcare initiatives announced in the Budget and
elaborated on in recent days is very good policy and will
have a significant long-term impact. Micheál Martin's
repeal of the Grocery Order is also a good law.

However, the most significant policy achievement this year
undoubtedly was IRA decommissioning in July. Sinn Féin's
leadership deserves credit for its role in this, as do the
Taoiseach and the Justice Minister who in a good cop/bad
cop routine in the difficult months after the Northern Bank
robbery and the McCartney murder kept the pressure on SF.

Bad Law/Policy Decision of the Year

The winner is the proposal announced last month to give a
pardon to so-called on-the-runs.

This is a bad, ill-considered initiative. It will be seen
by most of the electorate as unnecessary and as a
concession too far to Sinn Féin.

The use of the presidential pardon mechanism to achieve
this questionable objective is a constitutional contortion
designed to avoid legislative embarrassment or a court
challenge to what the Government knows is an unpalatable

The Fine Gael proposal for legislative change on what
homeowners could do to intruders (promised in the frenzy
that followed the sentencing of Mayo farmer Padraig Nally
for the manslaughter of a Traveller in November) would also
be bad law if it were to see the light of day.

Most Forgettable Event of the Year

In March there were two by-elections, one in Meath and the
other in North Kildare.

The fact that Fine Gael won one was a boost to them, and
that an Independent won the other was a setback to Fianna
Fáil. Overall, however, neither result had any long-term
impact on the Dáil arithmetic or on its deliberations.


Opin: Echoes Of Haughey's GUBU In Mcdowell's Ireland

By Michael Hennigan
Dec 14, 2005, 15:42

Michael McDowell

On February 9, 1950 in Wheeling, West Virginia, Irish-
American Senator Joseph McCarthy with his laundry list
thrust in the air, set off a four-year reign of terror by
claiming to have the names of 205 known communists who were
State Department employees.

On Tuesday in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Ciarán Cuffe said that
: the events of the past few days have a dangerous
similarity to Senator McCarthy's witch-hunts in the United
States in the 1950s. Demagoguery, arrogance and innuendo
were used then to destroy people's careers and they are
being used to the same ends by the Minister for Justice,
Equality and Law Reform today. There is a touch of Senator
McCarthy about the Minister, Deputy McDowell. The
Minister's actions and allegations have compromised the
separation of powers that has underpinned this State since
its foundation. He has undermined the Gardaí (police) and
the Director of Public Prosecutions and he has failed to
clarify today how the interests of the State were or are
threatened by an individual.

Cuffe said that it is worth remembering that McDowell, who
leaked material from a police file to a journalist friend,
had introduced amendments to the Garda Síochána Bill 2004
that would jail a garda (Irish police) for up to five years
if he or she had put information into the public domain;
yet the Minister, through his actions, has politicised the
judicial process and undermined democracy in this State.

Whatever the aptness of the similarities between McDowell
and McCarthy may be, the Kafkaesque circumstances of
McDowell's decision, with the support of Government
colleagues, to destroy journalist Frank Connolly and the
private watchdog, the Centre for Public Inquiry where he
works as Executive Director, has parallels with the GUBU
period in the 1980's when former Taoiseach (Prime Minister)
Charles Haughey dominated Irish political life.

Haughey had arranged to have his Minister for Justice place
wiretaps on the phones of political opponents and prominent
journalists in the guise of national security. It will have
surprised many Irish people that we still have the same
system where a partisan politician can have access to
police files on any citizen, without independent
safeguards, who can then use material as he chooses to make
devastating one-line charges, in the name of national

McDowell says that he relies on police information but we
must assume, he would have also relied on such information
from senior Gardaí from Donegal, before the serious
revelations at a public tribunal.

Just weeks ago, the Irish State had to apologise in the
courts to a member of a family that had been terrorised for
more than a decade in the northwest county of Donegal, by
renegade members of the Garda Síochána (Irish police).

Frank Shortt, a businessman, who was a chartered
accountant, was imprisoned for three-and-a-half years, as a
result of false claims made by the police in Donegal.

McDowell as Judge and Prosecutor

McDowell has charged that Connolly has been involved in a
massive conspiracy to subvert the security of the State
through raising millions of euros from cocaine trafficking
in Colombia for the terrorist group, the Provisional Irish
Republican Army, to use for political purposes in the
Republic of Ireland. He says that Frank Connolly had
entered the Farc terrorist-controlled region of Colombia in
April 2001, along with his brother, Niall, and a convicted
IRA member, Pádraig Wilson. Niall Connolly and two other
Irishmen were detained in August 2001 at Bogota's
international airport after arriving from a demilitarised
zone then controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or FARC.

Frank Connolly has denied that he has ever been in
Colombia, or travelled there on a false passport.

McDowell makes the devastating charge against Connolly even
though the independent Director of Public Prosecutions
apparently has decided that there is not sufficient
evidence to charge Connolly.

Charles Haughey (1925- ), was leader of the principal Irish
political party Fianna Fáil from 1979-1992 and was
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on three occasions during this

In the Dáil Tuesday, McDowell was pressed by several
Opposition members for more detail than the one-line charge
that makes him resemble a prosecutor in a dictatorship's
show trial. McDowell did not provide any more information
than the general charge.

Judge Feargus Flood yesterday described the allegations
made by McDowell against Frank Connolly as "a drumhead
court-martial". Flood is a retired member of Ireland's High
Court and is Chairman of the Centre for Public Inquiry

Judge Flood said that "the minister cannot override the
Constitution under any circumstances. The Constitution
provides that justice shall be administered in public in

McDowell has himself as a client.

He told the Dáil that the Constitution provides in Article
40.6.1 that: "The education of public opinion being,
however, a matter of such grave import to the common good,
the State shall endeavour to ensure that organs of public
opinion, such as the radio, the press, the cinema, while
preserving their rightful liberty of expression, including
criticism of Government policy, shall not be used to
undermine public order or morality or the authority of the
State". Undoubtedly, the Centre for Public Inquiry, as a
body which sought and obtained multi-million euro
charitable funds given with the best of motives to be
expended for the public good, aspires to be an organ of
public opinion, but equally it is one which, in subversive
hands, has the capacity to gravely undermine the authority
of the State.

Subversion of Democracy and the Centre of Public Inquiry

The Centre of Public Inquiry (CPI) think-thank, was
established last February and it has the purpose of
reporting on issues of public policy and ethics in public
and corporate life. Irish-American billionaire
philanthropist Charles (Chuck) Feeney's Atlantic
Philanthropies had agreed to provide funding of €4 million
over five years.

The issue of McDowell's charge of subversion against its
Executive Director, is not the whole story.

Politicians like McDowell disparagingly queried the right
of a "self-appointed" body with foreign funding, to inquire
into areas of public policy.

The CPI had begun probing the €30 million purchase by
McDowell's Department of Justice of a site in North
Dublin, for a new prison complex.

In the mid 1990's, Connolly had broken several stories on
public corruption and a tribunal was told that the current
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, had referred to
Connolly as a "dangerous bastard" in 1997, when Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern was planning to appoint one of their corrupt
colleagues, Ray Burke, as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Connolly had also reported an allegation about Bertie
Ahern, which turned out to be false.

Bertie Ahern gave McDowell the green light to destroy the
CPI. Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Mary Harney, leader
of McDowell's party, the Progressive Democrats, also
supported the campaign. She called the CPI "sinister" and
raised the issue of "foreign funding." This charge was
bizarre as Chuck Feeney has contributed hundreds of
millions of dollars for projects in both parts of Ireland.

The chairman of the CPI, Judge Flood, had been appointed in
1997, as sole member of a tribunal to investigate planning

McDowell produced documents from a police file on Connolly
at a meeting with Feeney.

Last week, Atlantic Philanthropies withdrew funding from
the CPI.

As already noted, Frank Connolly has denied that he has
ever been in Colombia. However, given that McDowell has
chosen the role of judge, Connolly should be more
forthcoming on the claims that have been made.

However, Michael McDowell's shabby behaviour cannot be


GUBU is an acronym standing for grotesque, unbelievable,
bizarre and unprecedented. It was coined by historian and
former politician Conor Cruise O'Brien. Charles Haughey had
used the words to describe the circumstances of the
discovery of a double-murderer in the home of the Irish
Attorney General, in 1982.

GUBU became a term for the Haughey years of political
turmoil when there was widespread concern about the
adherence to the rule of law.

In 2004, Michael McDowell said: I believe that there is an
alternative vision for Ireland. I think that it is a vision
that builds on political and economic liberalism. I think
that its values can be based on principles of civil

That entails a recognition that society is in tension
between the social and the individual - between autonomy
and solidarity. It entails a recognition that the state
serves everyone and that the rule of law is the true

Michael McDowell chose the role of master and that puts him
much closer to Charles Haughey's Ireland, than the vision
he espoused.


On Dec 15, 1993: Anglo-Irish Pact Paves Way For Peace

The British and Irish prime ministers have signed The Joint
Declaration of Peace which they hope will end 25 years of
bombing and murder in Northern Ireland.

After nearly two years' negotiation the two leaders, John
Major and Albert Reynolds, today stood united on the steps
of 10 Downing Street.

The nine-point document gives the IRA and Loyalist
paramilitaries the opportunity to take part in negotiations
for peace if they first agree to observe a three-month

Reaction has been mixed even though this is the furthest
the British Government has ever moved towards the
possibility of a united Ireland.


The declaration states that Britain would not prevent
Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and joining the
Irish Republic, but that the ultimate decision would lie
with the people of Northern Ireland.

John Major gave reassurances in the declaration that
Britain had "no selfish, strategic or economic interest in
Northern Ireland".

But he warned the terrorists that if they lost this
opportunity, it might never come their way again.

The two premiers made it clear that if the declaration was
not successful in bringing peace to the province the two
governments would work together to combat terrorism in
whatever ways were necessary.

Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, said its initial
response was one of "disappointment". The party's Northern
Ireland chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the declaration
did not go far enough in meeting the aspirations of the

And James Molyneaux, leader of the official Ulster
Unionists, spoke of "deep unease" among his Loyalist

The Democratic Unionist leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, called
it "a dark hour of treachery".

Later, in a rare prime-time television broadcast the Prime
Minister, Mr Major, called on Ulster "to put the poison of
history behind us.

"We cannot go on spilling blood in the name of the past. We
must all have the courage to look to the future.

"The time to choose peace is long overdue. But only the men
of violence can decide whether they will talk instead of
bomb, discuss instead of murder."

The leader of the Labour Party, John Smith, welcomed the
declaration saying it was "an important first step towards
a new political settlement".

The declaration also won the full backing of US President
Bill Clinton. He said: "No side which claims a legitimate
stake in the future of Northern Ireland can justify
continued violence on any grounds."

In Context

The IRA declared a ceasefire at the end of August 1994 and
the Loyalists announced a ceasefire on 13 October that

On 9 December British officials met Sinn Fein
representatives for their first formal talks in 22 years.

But the peace initiative did not last. The IRA ceasefire
ended on 9 February 1996 when a huge bomb was planted in
London's Docklands.

A new ceasefire was announced in July 1997 and the Good
Friday Agreement was signed in April 1998. It included
plans for a new Northern Ireland assembly with some
devolved powers from London.

But the Assembly has been suspended several times, the last
in October 2002 after allegations that the IRA had been
spying within the Northern Ireland Office.

In December 2004 an agreement to restore devolution broke
down over the Democratic Unionists' insistence that the IRA
had to provide photographic proof they had put their
weapons beyond use.


Ceann Comhairle Apologises Over Dáil Expletive

The Ceann Comhairle today apologised for saying "For frig's
sake" during Dáil exchanges even though the words have
disappeared from the parliament's official record.

Dr Rory O'Hanlon uttered the words to Fine Gael leader Enda
Kenny last Thursday as he tried to keep order after Ivor
Callely resigned as junior minister.

The exchanges including "For frig's sake" were later
broadcast on RTE Radio.

But Mr Kenny told the Dáil today that the words had been
wiped from official Dáil transcripts.

Mr Kenny reminded Dr O'Hanlon that he had once advised him
as a young TD that everything he said in the Dáil chamber
was recorded for posterity.

"I'm not sure whether we should have an investigation into
this or not but your own words approaching a mild expletive
last week appear to have disappeared from the official
record," Mr Kenny said.

"The tape broadcast to the nation in clear Cavan/Monaghan
terms recalls what you said but somebody somewhere in the
depths of the building [took it out]."

Dr O'Hanlon today told the House that he regretted the

"It was indiscreet to say Enda rather than Deputy Kenny,"
he said.

"But I checked the term in the Oxford Dictionary, under the
Ulster dialect, and I discovered that it means a working
community in Donegal. I'm not sure if it applies to Mayo."

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte also said he had raised the
issue of the Dáil record before, and added that it wasn't
an exact verbatim record.

"From the point of view of archivists and historians,
that's a great pity because sometimes there is a form of
linguistics carried out in this House that the mother of
all parliaments [House of Commons] has never experienced,"
he said.

Speaking in his last day in the Dáil in 2005, Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern said he hoped it would be a peaceful and
restful Christmas break for everybody.

He joined Opposition party leaders and the Ceann Comhairle
in extending Christmas wishes to TDs and senators and all
staff in Leinster House

Sinn Féin's Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said that
people who lose loved ones on the country's roads should be

"It's hardly imaginable the great weight and great burden
so many will bear over the Christmas period," he said.

The Ceann Comhairle said it had been a very busy year with
over 525 committee meetings held and a record 43,000 Dáil
questions processed.

The Dáil and Seanad breaks for Christmas on Friday and
resumes on January 25.

However Dr O'Hanlon pointed out that TDs and senators will
be back in early January to sit on committees.


Prices Higher In Dublin For Most Things, According To CSO Survey

Claire Shoesmith

If you want to go out for a beer or a glass of wine, then
you're better off doing it outside of Dublin, according to
new figures released by the Central Statistics Office

However, before you head out of the city, you'd be wise to
fill your car with fuel because that will cost you more
outside the capital.

According to the CSO's half- yearly price comparison survey
released yesterday, prices are on average 3.1 per cent
higher in Dublin than elsewhere in the Republic. This
compares with Dublin prices being 3.6 per cent ahead of the
rest of the country this time last year and 3.2 per cent
ahead in May of this year.

The survey compares the price of 73 items, ranging from
carrots and pork sausages through to a trip to the cinema
in Dublin with the rest of the country.

Yesterday's results show that 40 of the items were more
expensive in Dublin, while 33 were cheaper, backing up the
general consensus that it's more expensive to live in the
city than the country.

However, food prices generally are set to fall after the
Government earlier this month started proceedings to
abolish the ban on below-cost selling.

Goodbody analyst Liam Igoe said last month that he expected
prices to fall by 3 to 4 per cent.

The CSO's survey showed that while prices for take-home
drink differ only marginally whether they are bought in
Dublin or outside the city, the market opened up
considerably when buying alcoholic drinks in licensed

Average prices for drinking out were considerably higher in
Dublin than outside of the city, with all but two drinks
costing more than 5 per cent more in Dublin. The one to
avoid when you're in Dublin and save for the country is a
half-pint of lager, which costs 12.3 per cent more in the

When buying alcohol in Dublin to drink at home, the one to
go for is cider, which is 5.3 per cent cheaper in Dublin
than elsewhere.

However, a six-pack of stout to drink at home will set you
back an extra 3.4 per cent in Dublin than in the country.

The survey showed that the price of fish, fruit and
vegetables were generally higher in Dublin, while meat
prices were lower for more than half of the 18 meat
variations covered.

According to the CSO, the price of meat in Dublin is
falling, with only four of the 18 items costing less in the
city in May, compared with 10 now. Bananas and a 10kg bag
of potatoes were cheaper in Dublin, while all other fruit
and vegetables were more expensive, according to the

Standard eggs are 8.8 per cent more expensive in the city.
However average unleaded petrol prices were 1.6 per cent
lower in Dublin than the rest of the country, while average
diesel prices were 1.1 per cent lower.

© The Irish Times


Knowledge Of 'Activities' In Colombia Queried

Jimmy Walsh

Seanad Report: Brendan Ryan (Lab) asked if the Government
had known of the "appalling nefarious activities" the
Colombia Three were said to have been involved in, at the
time when the Department of Foreign Affairs was providing
them with a level of service well above that normally
provided for Irish citizens in trouble abroad.

"It appears the Government believes, and I have no reason
to doubt its view, that the Colombia Three were in Colombia
to raise what the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law
Reform described as tens of millions of dollars for
nefarious activities.

"I am a member of the joint Committee on Foreign Affairs,
and we were provided with a succession of confidential
briefings in private about the enormous amount of work the
Department of Foreign Affairs and its staff was putting in
on behalf of three people who, we are now told, were
involved in the most appalling nefarious activities."

Mr Ryan asked if the department officials who had spoken to
the committee had known they were dealing with people of
that ilk.

"We were presented with three innocent Irishmen stuck in a
bad place. If three drug dealers from this city ended up in
Colombia doing deals with Farc, would the Department of
Foreign Affairs have provided a level of service which it
told us at that committee was way above what it normally
provides for Irish citizens in trouble abroad?"

If the Government had known then what it was telling them
now it knew about the Colombia Three, why did it not tell
the committee?

"Why did the Government keep that secret and pretend this
was a situation where three Irish people were at risk?"

Leader of the House Mary O'Rourke said she believed the
Government did not have that knowledge at that time. The
Department of Foreign Affairs would always try to help
Irish people who were in difficulty abroad.

However, as there were some odd aspects to the matter, she
would make inquiries about it.

Calling for a review of the Official Languages Act, Joe
O'Toole (Ind) said the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission
had been "dumped" with a requirement under the legislation
to take on a huge additional burden of translation, for
which no money had been made available.

© The Irish Times


Schmidt's Google Swells Dublin Ranks

Chris Noon, 12.14.05, 8:31 AM ET

Eric E. Schmidt

Related Quotes
DELL 32.83 - 0.05
GOOG 418.96 + 1.47
INTC 26.63 - 0.09
PFE 22.85 + 0.54

LONDON - As well as a fondness for murky stout, Irishmen
are celebrated for the fancy-free application of
sobriquets, so here's a couple: The country's rock-bottom
corporate tax rate of 12.5% on trading profits has been a
major factor in the recent success of its economy, also
known as the Celtic Tiger. Add to this a tax exemption on
patent income, and it's small wonder chipmaker Intel,
computer maker Dell and top drugs firm Pfizer see the
Emerald Isle as a propitious outpost for business.

The favorable economic and fiscal environment has attracted
search engine behemoth Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news -
people), which announced Tuesday it would swell the rank
and file at its European headquarters by 600, or 75%, over
the next two to three years. The company's office, based in
the country's capital, Dublin, is the company's largest
garrison outside the U.S.

Eric Schmidt's Google, which according to The Associated
Press has reduced its tax rate from about 39% in 2004 to
31% through the first nine months of 2005--due to its
ability to credit profits to its new Irish operations--said
its decision was based on the high caliber of European
university graduates available as well as the country's
unusually low corporate tax rate.

"We have found that the quality of the Irish work force has
enabled us to improve our products and services in a way
that has proven to be highly beneficial for our customers,
both users and advertisers," Google's European director of
online sales and operation was quoted as saying by the AP.
The company has signed a lease to acquire another 9,300
square meters of office space beside its existing Dublin
building, the exec added.

"This decision yet again demonstrates that Ireland is by
far and away the primary location for the digital media
industry in Europe, and second only to Silicon Valley in
the U.S.," Ireland's minister for enterprise, trade and
employment, Micheal Martin, was quoted as saying in the
same media report.


Google To Expand European Base In Ireland

12.13.2005, 05:33 PM

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GOOG 418.96 + 1.47

Internet search provider Google Inc. announced Tuesday it
will expand the workforce at its European headquarters by
600, or 75 percent, over the next two to three years.

The company's Dublin office, established in 2003, supports
its European, Middle Eastern and African activities and is
Google's largest base outside the United States.

Google credited the high caliber of European university
graduates available - and Ireland's unusually low corporate
tax rate - with influencing its decision.

A recent Google filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission said the company had reduced its tax
rate from about 39 percent in 2004 to 31 percent through
the first nine months of 2005 thanks primarily to its
ability to credit profits to its new Irish operations.
Ireland's corporate tax rate is 12.5 percent, compared to
35 percent in the United States.

John Herlihy, Google's European director of online sales
and operation, said Google had signed a lease to acquire
another 100,000 square feet (9,300 square meters) of office
space beside its existing Dublin building.

"Basing our European operations here in Dublin has proven
to be a great decision," Herlihy said. "We have found that
the quality of the Irish work force has enabled us to
improve our products and services in a way that has proven
to be highly beneficial for our customers, both users and

Ireland's minister for enterprise, trade and employment,
Micheal Martin, declined to specify how much financial aid
was being provided by the Investment and Development
Agency, which is responsible for wooing multinational
companies to Ireland.

Hundreds of high-tech businesses from North America and
continental Europe have established operations in Ireland
over the past decade of the nation's Europe-leading
economic growth. Unemployment now stands at an EU-low 4.3
percent, and many of Google's workers are recruited from
other European countries.

"This decision yet again demonstrates that Ireland is by
far and away the primary location for the digital media
industry in Europe, and second only to Silicon Valley in
the U.S.," Martin said.

Google has been on a hiring tear as management continues to
build upon the success of its search engine, which has
helped establish one of the world's best-known brands.

The company has nearly doubled its work force in the past
year to about 5,000 employees. Google's profits are rising
even faster. Through the first nine months of this year,
Google earned $1.1 billion - more than fivefold improvement
from the same juncture last year.

Shares of Google rose $4.88 to close at $417.49 Tuesday on
the Nasdaq Stock Market. The company's stock has traded in
a range of $168.47 to $431.24 over the past 52 weeks.



All The King's Men: The Ireland That Made Charles Haughey

By Michael Hennigan
Jun 29, 2005, 21:32

The year 1975 was a good one for Charles Haughey. He was
restored to the Fianna Fáil Front Bench and was planning
the building of a summer home on his island of
Inichvicuale, off the coast of County Kerry, despite the
rise in his personal borrowings to £400,000 pounds, owed to
AIB Bank, according to the Moriarty Tribunal. However, for
both the rich and the rest of the population, the year was
pretty bleak.

1981, Charles J. Haughey addresses the assembled audience
at the opening of the de Valera Monument in Ennis, County
Clare (Photo

The quadrupling of oil prices in the aftermath of the 1973
Arab-Israeli war was having an impact as inflation jumped
to double-digit figures. In a society of rampant tax
fraud, the taxation of farm income had been introduced in
the previous year and following howls of protest by the
wealthy, capital gains, gift and wealth tax was due to take
effect. An individual could simply trouser any level of
money from the sale of a business and not be liable for a
penny in taxes.

The Fine Gael-Labour Government had proposed to introduce
tax on capital gains in 1974 and there had been a 12-month
opening for business to change hands before a tax of 26%
would apply on gains (income tax rates were then as high as
77%). One of the companies that took advantage of the zero
capital gains tax window was the company that owned The
Irish Times. By 1975, The Irish Times was struggling
financially as the impact of the economic recession had
been compounded by the funding from company resources of
the shareholders, who had cashed in their investments in
1974 and converted the operation into a trust.

Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) who immortalised the
politician Huey Long in his 1946 novel All the King's Men,
which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1947

It was a time when most self-employed were fiddling taxes
on a massive scale. Doctors, dentists, solicitors and so
on, were reporting income, which suggested that they were
living at subsistence level. The Revenue Commissioners
dispatched teams around the country to log business
establishments on a street-by-street basis. At a football
game in Croke Park between Dublin and Kerry, a Dublin
supporter held up a placard with the slogan- "Come on the
Taxpayers." In a 1979 Dáil reply to Labour T.D. Barry
Desmond, the Minister for Finance confirmed that in 1975,
there were 1,170 people in the country who made wealth tax
returns of up to £250,000; there were 257 persons who made
returns of up to £500,000 and 60 persons who made returns
of over £500,000. Desmond said that "it is no wonder they
screamed blue murder when they had to pay £1,000 out of
£500,000 in tax—a miserable £1,000 tax levy, which is
about, on average, all they had to hand over."

American actor Broderick Crawford headed the cast of an
Irish production of the play That Championship Season, in
1975. Crawford had won an Oscar as Best Actor for his
leading role in the 1949 film All the King's Men, which was
based on the acclaimed 1946 novel by Robert Penn Warren.
The story was inspired by the extraordinary rule and abuse
of power of Governor (1928-32) and US Senator (1932-35)
Huey Long, the self-styled Kingfish of Louisiana. In the
film, Crawford plays the main character Willie Stark, who
overcomes poverty and moved by widespread injustice and
corruption, campaigns to change the system but greed, lust
for power and ego turns him into the very thing that he
fought against. The other principal character is
newspaperman Jack Burden who supports the initially naïve
Stark in taking "the hick vote" away from the political
machine. Stark in office, builds roads, schools and
hospitals but turns the State government into a virtual
dictatorship. Burden tries to live a life avoiding all
moral issues and having got too close to Stark, it's too
late when he realises what a monster he has helped to

Broderick Crawford playing cards with future President
Ronald Reagan, in the 1940's

Whatever the parallels between Huey Long, Wille Stark and
the career of Charles Haughey, an individual politician
does not rise to power in a vacuum. In Irish society, where
there was not any significant ideological divide, Haughey
was able to present himself as the populist who represented
the interests of the people at the bottom of the economic
pyramid while at the same time, being the rich man's
friend. In an Ireland where the left was weak, he never had
to alienate his wealthy benefactors by peddling "squeeze
the rich" policies.

The 1949 Oscar for Best Film

When PAYE workers revolted in 1979 with an estimated
200,000 workers marching through Dublin city centre, it
didn't need political leadership. In 1978 PAYE had
accounted for 87% of all tax and in the 1979 Budget, the
Fianna Fáil Government introduced a 2% levy on the value of
farm produce. It was vigoursly resisted by the Irish
Farmers' Association and the Government caved in and
withdrew the measure. This is what set off the reaction.

Charles Haughey (1925- ), who came from a relatively poor
background in North Dublin, but became effectively a
prostitute of business interests who funded a lifestyle
similar to the English landed gentry whom he claimed to
despise. Haughey was leader of the principal Irish
political party Fianna Fáil from 1979-1992 and was
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on three occasions during this

Haughey was viewed as an effective politician and in a
society where tax fraud wasn't a big deal and planning
corruption was endemic, the reality that his lifestyle did
not match his income, was irrelevant to many people. It is
inconceivable for example, that a Haughey type politician
would have become Prime Minister of Sweden or that a
Swedish bank would have acted as AIB did in 1979 when it
agreed to write off £400,000 of Haughey's personal
borrowings, because it feared him. When Haughey opposed the
first divorce referendum in the 1980's because of the
damage divorce would do to the family, no mainstream media
outlet had the courage to expose the hypocrisy of his
position. Haughey at the time, had a widely known
relationship with newspaper columnist Terry Keane.

There were many fellow travellers on Haughey's coattails
and like the Jack Burden character, they saw no evil and
heard no evil. A politician like Haughey, can only survive
in a fragile democracy where respect for the rule of law is
qualified. How much has really changed in the intervening

Broderick Crawford (1911-1986), winner of the Oscar for
Best Actor for his stunning potrayal of the character
Willie Stark

Today, after years of public hearings on planning
corruption, the system for determining the price of
development land, remains unchanged. In 1973, a report by a
Government-appointed committee (the Kenny Report)
recommended that local authorities should be empowered to
acquire land for housing for which the owner would receive
its current (typically agricultural) use value plus a
maximum of 25 percent. Land rezoning is similar to the
illegal drug trade. Who should be surprised when corruption
is promoted where the value of land can change twenty-fold
through a political decision?

One other key area that hasn't changed from Haughey's
heyday is the culture of passing the buck. Be it the Gardaí
in Donegal, Office of Public Works property transactions;
the fiasco of the €62 million National Aquatic Centre where
even after it's revealed in an engineer's report that the
roof collapsed not due to wind primarily but because of
faulty design, a Government Minister still insisted that
the damage was solely caused by a "tornado"; negligence in
hospitals or a cracked pavement that goes unrepaired for
months or years and causes injury, where does the buck

Huey Long (1893-1935) Library of Congress photo. As
Governor, he sponsored many reforms that endeared him to
the rural poor. An ardent enemy of corporate interests, he
championed the "little man" against the rich and
privileged. A farm boy from the piney woods of North
Louisiana, he was colorful, charismatic, controversial, and
always just skating on the edge

Later this year, a remake of the film All the King's Men
will be released. Readers will be able to see for
themselves what can happen with a cocktail of populist
politics, a culture of buck passing, a tolerance of
corruption and a cowed media.

In 1935, Huey Long had his book My First Days in the White
House, published and President Franklin Roosevelt termed
him "the most dangerous man in America." On September 8,
1935 Long was shot by an assassin in the State Capitol
Building in Baton Rouge, and died two days later. The
assassin Dr. Carl Weiss had been angered that Long had
spread a rumour that his wife's father was a black man.

The new All the King's Men is in post-production and stars
Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet.


Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy

The Implosion Of An Irish American Demagogue

June 2004: Fifty years ago, the early summer was a heady
time in Washington D.C. In the weeks following the historic
Supreme Court ruling against segregation in public schools,
the anti-communism crusade of Irish American Senator Joseph
Raymond McCarthy began to unravel. Ten days after the
dramatic humiliation of McCarthy on national television, a
United States Senator shot himself dead in his office in
the Senate Office Building-a victim of a related witch-hunt
to McCarthy's. Three days later on June 22, 1954 a CBS
newscaster, who had been branded a communist following
criticism of McCarthy on air, took his own life. There were
many other victims of what had become a national panic.

Until the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as President,
no other politician of Irish extraction had achieved a
national impact comparable with McCarthy's in twentieth
century America. McCarthy's grandfather Stephen had left
his native Tipperary after the Famine and eventually
settled in northeast Wisconsin where a small Irish farming
community evolved in a region that was popular with German
immigrants. Joseph McCarthy was one of nine children of a
devoutly Irish Catholic farm family. He had left school at
the age of 14 and had returned to education in his late
teens. Following wartime service in the Marine Corps,
McCarthy at the age of 38, was elected a United States
Senator in 1946 as a Republican because he had reckoned
that he had a better chance of winning, than as a Democrat.
The renowned American historian William Manchester who died
on June 1, 2004, has written that McCarthy was 'a prime
specimen of what has been called the Black Irish: the
thickset, bull-shouldered, beetle-browed type found on
Boston's Pier Eight and in the tenements of South Chicago.'
McCarthy's 'Irishness' and anticommunism had endeared him
to the Kennedy family. John Kennedy had called him 'a great
American patriot' and his brother Bobby had chosen him as
godfather for his first child and had worked as a counsel
on McCarthy's Congressional investigations' committee.

In his early years as a Senator, McCarthy had little
impact. He drank heavily, gambled and acted as a paid
lobbyist for a number of business corporations. Then as the
1952 election was drawing closer, he found a cause. The
panic about communist success in Eastern Europe, the fall
of Nationalist China and the Soviet atom bomb test
following betrayal of American nuclear secrets, had set off
a firestorm of national insecurity. Against that backdrop,
McCarthy had seen how Congressman Richard Nixon had gained
national prominence through the investigation of a charge
of espionage against a State Department employee and on
February 9, 1950 in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy
launched his crusade. Waving his laundry list, he claimed
to have the names of 205 known communists who were State
Department employees. In the succeeding days as he
continued a speaking tour, the number changed and as he was
challenged to produce credible evidence in the remaining
weeks of February, McCarthy could not name one current
suspect employee in the State Department. According to
William Manchester, McCarthy had phoned a Chicago Tribune
journalist prior to his Wheeling speech and had been told
of a 1946 letter from the Secretary of State in which he
had stated that an employee screening of individuals who
had been transferred from wartime agencies had recommended
against the permanent employment of 284 for various
reasons. Of these, 79 had been discharged. McCarthy
subtracted 79 from 284 and got his magical figure.

The bonfire that he'd lit, complete with lies,
exaggerations and Senate investigations of his wild charges
including one which dismissed them as a 'fraud' and a
'hoax,' should have undermined his credibility but he soon
became the most powerful American politician after the
President. He was sustained by support from powerful media
and wealthy pressure groups. Other politicians wilted in
the face of McCarthy's popularity and the Washington Post
was one of the few significant newspapers that challenged
him head on. It's cartoonist Herbert Block ('Herblock')
gave a name to the tactics used by the junior Senator from
Wisconsin. Block produced a cartoon with 'McCarthyism'
crudely lettered on a barrel of mud supported by ten mud-
bespattered buckets. While the Soviets had a longterm
programme of infiltration in the United States, tarring
anyone with being a sympathiser of what could be termed a
left wing cause was virtually a sentence of death. Loyalty
programmes and blacklists became important features of this
shameful period and hundreds of artists-writers and
entertainers-were a particular target. Labelled communist
sympathisers, passports were taken away and some were
jailed for refusing to give the names of alleged
communists. In these years of hysteria, communists were not
the only targets.

McCarthy had claimed that there were 'links between
homosexuality and communism' and this was one issue where
he had plenty competition from other legislators. A Senate
subcommittee launched an investigation after a Washington
D.C. vice squad officer told Senators that there were 5,000
'perverts' in Washington, 4,500 of them employed by
government agencies. It is ironic that apart from questions
about McCarthy's own sexuality, it was the favours that his
young chief counsel Roy Cohn had sought for a male friend
who had been drafted into the US Army that had set in train
McCarthy's ultimate political destruction.

The Army-McCarthy Hearings began in Washington D.C. in
April 1954 with gavel-to-gavel coverage on national
television. The purpose of the inquiry was to examine
charges made by both sides including McCarthy's claim that
a spy ring existed in the Army Signal Corps. McCarthy's
rude outbursts and his 'point of order' interjections,
which became a national catchphrase, exposed him as a fraud
and bully. On Wednesday, June 9, 1954, the hearings hit an
emotional climax when McCarthy who was riled by innuendo
about the nature of the relationship between Cohn and his
enlisted Army friend, claimed that a young lawyer in the
office of Army counsel Joseph Welch had been a member of an
organisation that was the legal bulwark of the Communist
Party. 'Until this moment, Senator, I think I never gauged
your cruelty or recklessness…Have you no sense of decency,
sir at long last? Have you no sense of decency?' Welch
asked and then cut off McCarthy as he tried to intervene.
Welch called for the next witness and the public gallery
burst into applause. The hearings were adjourned and as a
bewildered McCarthy sat alone at the coffin-shaped table in
the Senate Caucus Room, he held up his hands and asked,
'What happened?'

On June 8, 1954, the day before McCarthy's humiliation,
Senator Lester Hunt, a Democrat from Wyoming had announced
his decision not to seek re-election in the November
elections. Control of the Senate had been finely balanced
and Hunt had earlier resisted pressure to retire from
Republicans following the arrest of his son for
propositioning an undercover cop in Lafayette Park, near
the White House. Hunt was a foe of McCarthy and a Senator
friend of Roy Cohn offered to have the case dropped against
Hunt's son in return for retirement from the Senate. The
case went ahead and given the contemporary hysteria about
homosexuals, it had a serious impact on Senator Hunt's
health. On Saturday June 19, 1954 Senator Hunt brought his
hunting rifle to the US Capitol to take his own life.

On June 1, 1950 Republican Party Senator Margaret Chase
Smith of Maine, the only female member of the Senate, had
issued a 'Declaration of Conscience' asserting that because
of McCarthy's tactics, the Senate had been 'debased to the
level of a forum for hate and character assassination.'
More than four years later, emboldened by the public
reaction to McCarthy's exposure on national television,
other Senators found the backbone to challenge McCarthy and
on December 2, 1954 the Senate voted 65 to 22 to condemn
him for 'conduct that tends to bring the Senate into
dishonor and disrepute.' Senator John F. Kennedy was one of
only three Democrats who did not vote for the censure
motion. He was in hospital recuperating from back surgery
and was working on his book Profiles in Courage in which he
chose eight of his historical colleagues to profile for
their acts of astounding integrity in the face of
overwhelming opposition. Senator Kennedy did not take a
public position on the censure of McCarthy until 1956 when
he was eager to become the Democrats' Vice-Presidential

The Wisconsin Senator became increasingly dependent on
alcohol, in the aftermath of his censure, as his name
became a byword for demagogic slander. The American writer
Sam Tanenhaus has written that McCarthy was a confusing
self-contradictory figure who had no coherent vision or
programme. There was an element of the poor farm boy taking
on the privileged Eastern liberal establishment but he had
neither the talent nor interest in building a mass
movement. While being an affable individual in private, he
could not resist the lure of a headline at the expense of
publicly bullying witnesses and jettisoning due process.
Senator McCarthy died on May 2, 1957 of acute hepatitis at
the age of 49, a discredited politician and one of
America's most hated Senators.

McCarthy took a serious issue, undermined it through
reckless behaviour and destroyed the lives of many people
in the process. On March 9, 1954, the leading American
journalist of his day Edward R. Murrow in a closing
commentary on CBS' See it Now TV programme said: 'The line
between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one
and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it
repeatedly …This is no time for men who oppose Senator
McCarthy's methods to keep silent. We can deny our heritage
and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for
the result.' For saying at the end of the programme, 'I
want to associate myself with every word just spoken by Ed
Murrow,' Don Hollenbeck CBS' regular 11 p.m. newscaster
sparked off a smear campaign in particular by the Hearst
Press, that would end in his suicide. This was the climate
of terror that had been fanned by a onetime icon of Irish

-Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts


Building Currachs In Katrina's Wake

By Georgina Brennan

Hurricane Katrina may have stirred up an ancient Irish
tradition in her aftermath.

A group in New London, Connecticut called Celtic Cause is
organizing a building extravaganza of Ireland oldest boats
with the intention of racing them.

It's all because Hurricane Katrina made one currach owner
homeless. Celtic Cause decided to try and help their friend
Danny O'Flaherty, originally from Connemara and a keen
currach enthusiast, who has for the past 17 years run
O'Flaherty's Irish Channel in New Orleans, which was
displaced and bankrupted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"O'Flaherty's was more than a pub. There was a traditional
pub, with seisiuns and dancing, darts and Irish sports, and
a currach hanging over the bar," says Janet Buck from
Celtic Cause.

The other two founders of Celtic Cause are Diarmuid
Hanafin, from Dublin, who just opened Hanafin's Irish Pub
in New London, and Geoff Kaufman.

Luckily O'Flaherty's currach survived the devastating storm
that decimated the south and will soon hang in Hanafin's
bar, but in the meantime the homeless currach prompted an
idea to rejuvenate the currach tradition in America.

"We could not let Danny's work as musician, philanthropist
and cultural preservationist come to an end. We were able
to pull together a benefit concert with some of the leading
lights of Irish music in America and raised a substantial
contribution to the cause, but we wanted to do more, not
only for Danny's work but for our area as well, and thought
we could do both by building a partnership between his work
in the south and our program here," Buck said.

O'Flaherty grew up with the ancient Irish boats, called
currachs, off the Aran Islands, and was founder of the
Margaret Rowing Club in New Orleans.

In the 1980s there was a group called the Irish Currach
league who ran into controversy for having black rowers in
their boats when they went to race in Boston. Luckily
things have changed and Celtic Cause will be reforming the
league in a way and beginning a currach building program.

A currach is a lightweight boat that has been used in
Ireland for more than 6,000 years. Made up of a wooden
framework covered with hide or canvas, these boats can be
as large as 25 feet long and four feet wide, and are cheap,
easy to build, and very practical. They're also very light
and can be lifted up by three people and carried away.

One of the most famous currach builders is Monty O'Leary
who lives in Co. Kerry. When the Celtic Cause decided to
build some currachs to revive the tradition of racing them
in America, they called O'Leary.

"Monty is recognized by the Irish government as one of the
tradition-bearers, one of only a handful of remaining boat
smiths who still build currachs by the traditional means.
He will be staying in New London, building currachs for us
to begin a rowing team here with Lorcan Otway's help, and
possibly with help from Mystic Seaport small boats shipyard
staff," said Buck.

"The building will be taking place inside, in New London,
next to Hanafin's pub, where people will be welcome to come
observe the work, and we will be documenting the whole
process in photos and video, for local display and to add
to the traditional craft knowledge at Mystic Seaport."

Celtic Cause is working with Hanafin's to start up a rowing
club and to compete with the teams in Boston, Albany, New
York City and in Louisiana.

"Monty and I were both concerned that we may be the last
generation building them," said Otway, who will begin
building the boats in the New Year.

"This concern may be premature, as one of the places to
whom I am speaking about storing two boats for the New York
teams, asked me to teach boat building in exchange!"

Otway hopes to see currach building along the Hudson as a
result of this project. Already the group had secured a
night at the American Irish Historical Society to raise
funds for the project. Each boat cost $6,000 to build.

For more information on the program or to donate, contact

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