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January 04, 2006

Adams - Effort Needed To Make Progress

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 01/03/06 Adams - Effort Needed To Make Speedy Progress
DJ 01/03/06 Govts Must Grasp The Momentum - Says McGuinness
BB 01/04/06 Taoiseach In NI Political Talks
DJ 01/03/06 Sinn Fein Reject DUP Stormontgate Proposal
IT 01/04/06 Kelly Rejects SF Criticism Of His OBE
BB 01/03/06 Petrol Bombs Thrown During Alert
NL 01/03/06 The Prospects For A 2006 Deal
IE 01/03/06 A Look Back...The Year In Headlines
DI 01/03/06 Groups Across Island To Receive €1.1m Funding
IT 01/04/06 Senior BBC Manager To Head RTÉ Radio 1
BB 01/04/06 Graveyard Yields Secrets Of Ancient World


Gerry Adams - Genuine Effort Needed To Make Speedy Progress

Published: 3 January, 2006

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams today said "Now is the time
for all those who are genuinely interested in seeing the
power sharing government in the north restored and the
peace process advanced to show leadership and make a real
and genuine effort to end the political vacuum."

Mr Adams said:

"Now is the time for all those who are genuinely interested
in seeing the power sharing government in the north
restored and the peace process advanced to show leadership
and make a real and genuine effort to end the political

"Last year despite all of the short term difficulties and
obstacles placed in the way of progress the IRA looked to
the future and took the decision to formally end its armed
campaign. They set out their intent to further their
objectives by peaceful and democratic means and in so doing
addressed the concerns that unionist leaders had been

"As the months have passed it is easy to lose sight of the
enormity of what took place and the opportunity that it has
opened up. But I would ask people to look to 2006 with hope
and confidence that progress can be made.

"Now is the time for those in political leadership to do
our job. We are elected by the people in the expectation
that we will work on their behalf, not to be members of a
political institution that hasn't functioned in over three
years. And the ordinary people of Ireland are paying a high
price for this failure.

"The time for excuses is over.

"There needs to be a collective effort made to see the
political institutions up and running and the other
outstanding aspects of the Agreement implemented. And as
part of this we need to see an immediate end to the
activities of those elements in Britain's Intelligence
Agencies who are working day and night to prevent progress.

"Republicans have set out our intentions. We have shown our
commitment to the peace process by our words and actions.
Others need to do the same.

"Sinn Féin is determined that the opportunities presented
by the IRA initiative are not squandered. There still are
major challenges ahead particularly for both the British
government and the unionist parties. The process has been
allowed to stalled for too long and the time for movement
has now come." ENDS


Governments Must Grasp The Momentum - Says McGuinness

Tuesday 3rd January 2006

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness says the onus
is on London and Dublin to produce a blueprint for a
political settlement in the North.

The Mid Ulster MP told the 'Journal': "It is time for both
the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister to grasp the
momentum created by the IRA ending its armed campaign and
decommissioning its weapons.

"They need to bring forward a plan in early 2006 to see the
restoration of the power sharing institutions in the

Three years on from the collapse of the North's
powersharing administration over allegations of IRA
espionage, British government ministers continue to run the
various departments.

But a new report by ceasefire watchdogs on the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC), due out this month, will be
critical to hopes of delivering a breakthrough in the peace

Following the IRA's pledge to end all violence and the
decommissioning of its arsenal, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are waiting for a clean
bill of health in the next dossier before making a big push
to restore devolution.

Indeed, Mr. Ahern has made clear that, if the IMC backs up
the Provisionals claim, he will push for a swift return to

Mr. McGuinness is in no doubt that "big decisions" lie

He said: "Given the enormous events of this year with the
IRA's decision to formally end its armed campaign, there is
an expectation among the people of Ireland that the Irish
and British Governments will bring forward a plan in early
2006 to see the restoration of powersharing institutions in
the North. "Sinn FÈin wants to see the political
institutions restored. We want to be there with the other
parties working in the interests of the people and being
accountable and answerable to the electorate.

"There are huge problems to be dealt with across the
economy and in the delivery of public services and it is
time that the era of day release Direct Rule Ministers is
brought to an end.

"It is time for both the Taoiseach and the British Prime
Minister to grasp the momentum created by the IRA ending
its armed campaign and decommissioning its weapons during

"It's time to lift the suspension and bring back the
political institutions," he concluded.


Taoiseach In NI Political Talks

Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern is to hold talks with the
country's foreign minister on the NI political process.

Dermot Ahern said there would be "a lot of activity" in
relation to the political process in the near future.

"We have to prepare the ground. We are up for this and we
just hope the political parties in the north are up for it
as well," he said.

The impending IMC report on paramilitary activity due later
this month would be critical, he added.

This was in terms of "proving beyond all doubt that the IRA
have gone", said the minister.

Mr Ahern said he understood that Secretary of State Peter
Hain would also be meeting UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
this week.

Dermot Ahern said they would be working to make progress by
the end of the year.

He said he would be speaking with the Irish premier
following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said
politicians must make a genuine effort to restore the
Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Sinn Fein president said there were major challenges
ahead - particularly for the government and unionists.

In a statement, the DUP MP Iris Robinson said there would
be no return to the failed structures of the past.

She said: "The structures of the Belfast Agreement did not
provide good government for the people of Northern

The SDLP's Sean Farren said the British and Irish
governments must restore the institutions of the Good
Friday Agreement.

"We need to get ourselves on a countdown for restoration,"
he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/04 06:53:02 GMT


Sinn Fein Reject Dup Stormontgate Proposal

Tuesday 3rd January 2006

After the call for a public inquiry into the Stormontgate
affair by DUP Councillor Edwin Stevenson at a recent
meeting of Limavady Borough Council, Sinn Fein's Cathal "
hOisÌn said that Councillor Stevenson should be 'careful
with what he wishes for in case his wish comes true'.

Responding to the proposal that the Chief Executive of
Limavady Borough Council write to British Secretary of
State Peter Hain requesting a public inquiry into the
affair, Councillor O hOisin said: "This was an
opportunistic proposal which in our considered opinion, did
not follow proper procedures under Standing Orders.
Furthermore, it failed to address the alleged role of MI5
and Special Branch in bringing down the Assembly therein
denying the people of the Six Counties the basic human
right of democratic representation.."

Cllr O hOisin reiterated his party's disappointment that
after just six months of the new council term, the SDLP
has, yet again fallen in line with the Unionist grouping
like 'nodding donkeys as they have done for the last thirty
years in this borough.'

He continued: "The SDLP vote with Unionists on virtually
every issue of late. Last Wednesday they were all at sea as
to whether to vote or not and failed to demonstrate any
evidence of a cohesive strategy, let alone logic. They did
not have the courage to ask for inquiries into previous
abuses in this country over the years.

"I reject outright Cllr Stevenson's statement that "There
is a perception that the 'tail is starting to wag the dog',
in terms of the IRA's growing grip on Sinn Fein policy.In
my reading of the SDLP's relationship with the DUP, the dog
is starting to wag the tail," said Cllr O hOisin.

He continued: "Sinn Fein have no problem in calling for a
full inquiry into these events. However the partial inquiry
suggested by Cllr Stevenson is not acceptable to the
nationalist and republican community. We demand full
disclosure on the subversive activities of the British
securocrats not a whitewash. The SDLP have a moral duty to
pursue this objective on behalf of the people who elected

His Sinn Fein colleague Cllr Paddy Butcher reiterated the
party's position on the socalled Stormontgate Spy-Ring

Colr Butcher said: "The one undeniable fact to come out of
these events is that there was a spying operation at the
heart of government - but it was not a Sinn FÈin spy-ring
as the PSNI Special Branch attempted to portray but a
British Intelligence operation. "The political opponents of
Sinn Fein of course instead of looking at the facts that
are available to all of us are more interested in trying to
use the fact that the British Agent at the centre of the
controversy, Denis Donaldson, was also Sinn Fein Head of
Administration at Stormont to score political points."


Kelly Rejects SF Criticism Of His OBE

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Policing Board member and former SDLP deputy chairman Tom
Kelly has dismissed Sinn Féin criticism of his decision to
accept an award in the British new year honours list.

Mr Kelly, awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for
public rather than political service, said yesterday he
would go to Buckingham Palace to receive the honour from
Queen Elizabeth and that it did not in any way dilute his

However, Sinn Féin Assembly member John O'Dowd said the
SDLP must now "come clean" on its attitude to such awards.
"British colonialism has brought nothing but pain and
misery to the Irish people. It is inconceivable how any
Irish person who would describe themselves as nationalist
or republican would allow themselves to become embroiled in
the British honours system," he said.

"I would challenge the SDLP to come clean about its
position on the British honours system because it looks
very much as if this decision is a U-turn on party policy
and a serious insult to the millions of Irish people and
others around the world who have suffered at the hands of
British imperialism," added Mr O'Dowd.

The SDLP in the past has criticised members who accepted
such honours. In particular, the former leader, the late
Lord (Gerry) Fitt came in for disparaging comment when he
accepted a peerage in 1983.

Mr Kelly, who has been previously mentioned as a possible
SDLP Westminster candidate in South Down when Eddie McGrady
stands down from his seat, said he resigned as an SDLP
member shortly before he took up his position as an
independent member of the Policing Board in 2001, although
he remained an SDLP supporter and voter.

Referring to the exposure of former senior Sinn Féin figure
Denis Donaldson as a British agent, and speculation about
other republicans acting as informers, he said Sinn Féin
was in no position to criticise his "personal decision"
when "it had members in the paid employ of the British
government for 20 years".

Mr Kelly, chief executive of Stakeholder Communications,
said he would have refused the OBE 15 or 20 years ago,
because he believed the British government then was
dishonestly trying to "suck nationalists into the British
system". He now believed the time was right to make "the
kind of gesture to show that we can actually value shared
traditions in Northern Ireland".

An SDLP spokeswoman said yesterday that Mr Kelly accepted
the award in a personal capacity.

SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell said he agreed
with party policy but added: "If Tom Kelly is comfortable
receiving the honour then I am comfortable with it, and I
wish him well."

© The Irish Times


Petrol Bombs Thrown During Alert

Petrol bombs and stones have been thrown at police officers
and soldiers during a security alert in Belfast.

Army technical officers were called to examine a suspicious
object on the Falls Road in west Belfast at about 1830 GMT
on Tuesday.

A police spokeswoman said a crowd gathered and petrol bombs
and bottles were thrown. No-one was injured.

However, minor damage was caused to a number of vehicles.
The suspicious object was later declared a hoax.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/03 20:44:21 GMT


The Prospects For A 2006 Deal

Stephen Dempster
Tuesday 3rd January 2006

Plans are afoot for fresh peace talks in the New Year, with
a view to restoring devolved government in late 2006 or
2007. Political Correspondent STEPHEN DEMPSTER talks to
politicians about what needs to change if a deal is to be
done 2006 is being billed as the year of the big push to
finally seal the peace.

The IRA has decommissioned. If Independent Monitoring
Commission reports on the IRA's efforts to end paramilitary
activity and criminality are positive, the British, Irish
and US governments will be of the view that the time to re-
build a Stormont administration has arrived - no more

But so many other issues remain unresolved.

For unionists the overall problem is one of confidence.

It is one thing for the IMC to say that republicans have
abandoned illicit activities.

It is another thing for unionists to believe it.

Muddying the waters further are outstanding problems: On-
the-Runs, the treatment of the Royal Irish Regiment,
Stormontgate, and loyalist alienation.

For republicans, policing and criminal justice remain
unresolved, as do UDA and UVF disbandment and

In this atmosphere, the chances of a devolved government
this year appear slight.

But what do the politicians think?

Jeffrey Donaldson DUP

"IT really is too early to say how much progress can be
made in 2006," said Jeffrey Donaldson.

"The political scene is now somewhat clouded by
Stormontgate and the fallout from that, and any more
developments surrounding it will continue to overshadow the
early part of the year." He continued: "There is also on-
going debate over the obnoxious OTRs bill, which also casts
a shadow over the prospects for progress in the shortterm."
Mr Donaldson called on the Government to scrap the Bill.

"It would create a much better atmosphere," he noted.

"If they did that, and treated the Royal Irish Regiment
home battalions in the manner they deserve, it would
improve things.

"A big part of creating an enabling environment for
progress is the necessity for the Government to address
unionist concerns and re-build confidence.

"Also, Sinn Fein and the IRA must prove beyond doubt that
they have ended their violence and criminality for good.

"Until we can believe that, there is no prospect for
devolved government." The DUP MP also warned that his party
"would be sticking to its bottom line" in terms of this
requirement and the need for republicans to demonstrate a
commitment to peace and democracy.

"Nothing else will suffice," he said.

David McNarry UUP

2006 will test unionism to the limit, as pressure mounts to
restore devolved government, David McNarry has said.

The UUP MLA believes that in the spring the focus will be
on the DUP, in particular. The two governments, Sinn Fein
and the SDLP will be wanting to re-establish a Stormont
Assembly and Executive.

Unionists, however, will be looking for confidencebuilding
measures, after what they view as years of IRA stalling and
continued criminality and concessions to republicans.

Mr McNarry said: "I think 2006 is going to be the biggest
test for the unionist leadership in the past decade, and
they cannot afford to get this one wrong." He also
questioned the chances of a peace deal, if the Prime
Minister is not engaged in the talks process.

"Tony Blair no longer has the European presidency hanging
round his neck," he said.

"But I would question just how much interest the Prime
Minister now has in this place.

"My feeling is that Tony Blair has switched off on Northern
Ireland now." As far as the path to a deal goes, he added:
"I do not believe we can go from where we are now straight
into an executive.

"A positive Independent Monitoring Commission report on the
IRA in April or May would be a more realistic launching pad
for talks, from the unionist perspective," Mr McNarry

"In the meantime, I think we will be dealing with the issue
of unionist confidence."

Alasdair McDonnell SDLP

ALL the parties need to be prepared to at least take "small
risks" for peace in 2006, Alasdair McDonnell said.

Too much concentration on side issues ("as important as
they may be") - OTRs, policing, Stormontgate, etc - is
clouding the bigger picture. "We need to restore devolved
government," said the SDLP deputy leader.

"That has to be the number one goal, and I think all the
parties are agreed on that. He continued: "We are steering
ourselves up too many side streets. All the while, Direct
Rule ministers are imposing decisions on us.

"I know it won't be easy. But I believe that if you trust
people and take a small risk to do so, generally you earn
and build on trust." Mr McDonnell said he understood that
it was not an easy ask, especially for victims, but he felt
"the continued stalling and failure to do a deal only adds
insult to their suffering".

The SDLP MP also warned that patience and goodwill outside
the Province has run out.

"The two governments are fed up with us," he noted.

"I do think Tony Blair has other priorities now. He is
preparing to stand down, and has already given extra time
to us.

"Bertie Ahern has a general election coming up in 2007 and
will inevitably be focusing on that.

Mr McDonnell concluded: "But we should not need them or a
George Mitchell or the US envoy to coax us to a deal. We
are big enough at this stage to do it ourselves, and I
appeal to colleagues in all parties to give that bit extra
in 2006 to make it happen."

David Ford Alliance

THE Government needs to be more honest in 2006 if it wants
to finally crack the peace process, David Ford has said.

For too long side deals, halftruths and blind eyes have
dogged the political landscape, the Alliance leader noted.

"If you look at recent IMC reports, for instance, they have
shown that headline violence has been virtually eradicated
by republicans but they have raised concerns about
background activities," he said.

"But Government is so concerned to play up the good news
that they have not been honest about the underlying
problems that remain." Mr Ford suggested this was only
storing up problems for the future.

He continued: "My other big concern is that since the
Assembly election in November 2003, the governments have
failed to engage with all the parties.

"Until they stop their succession of side deals - big ones
with Sinn Fein and smaller ones with the DUP - then we
won't have an inclusive process." On the matter of Tony
Blair's possible diminishing interest, the Alliance leader
said: "The great strength of the process, up to the Good
Friday Agreement, was the personal commitment of Tony
Blair." When the Prime Minister steps back a bit and the
Secretary of State is unsure whether or not to grasp the
situation, problems arise, Mr Ford suggested.

In 2006, the Alliance leader said unionists needed to offer
proof that they are truly up for power-sharing.

He noted that in many council chambers across the Province,
there was little evidence that they were.

Republicans, he added, need to "convince everybody else
that they have the same understanding of democracy as we

David Lidington Shadow NI Secretary

THE IMC reports in 2006 will become increasingly important
to the peace process if they provide increasing evidence
that the IRA has gone away, the Tories have said.

Conservative shadow Northern Ireland spokesman David
Lidington said: "I think the IMC reports are of great
significance, and they will be of greater significance if
they start to show a genuine change in the behaviour of the
IRA over time.

"I do not know what will be in January's report but the
hints I am picking up are that it will be change in the
right direction, but not a snowywhite record." He
continued: "If we get to the spring and then the autumn and
the IMC reports show greater and greater improvement, then
we may be in a position whereby we can start to have more
confidence that this move by the IRA and republicans, away
from violence, really is permanent."

Mr Lidington noted that republican history has been
peppered by lulls in violent activities.

"We need more time to know this is for real and for good,"
he noted.

Meanwhile, on the issue of restoring government, he added:
"I increasingly have the impression that no one expects the
devolved institutions to be up and running until 2007.

"And I don't think it is just a coincidence that so much is
already planned for that year. "The OTRs scheme is
scheduled to come on stream then, the RIR disbandment is in
August 2007, the emergency terror legislation in Northern
Ireland is due to lapse in 2007, and it will be 10 years at
Number 10 for Tony Blair.

"I see the planning all focused on 2007, and some of it is
in terms of Tony Blair's 10-year legacy planning."


A Look Back...The Year In Headlines

By Ray O'Hanlon


As the new year opened, the Northern Ireland peace
process was in trouble again as fingers were pointed at the
IRA in connection with the murder of Belfast man Robert
McCartney and the record-smashing Northern Bank robbery in

Despite the uproar, the U.S. State Department was keeping
the bigger picture in its sights, saying that its main
concern was with the overall quest for a lasting peace.

Unlike the island, there was no dividing line in Irish
rugby as all four Irish provincial rugby teams started the
new year with wins in European competition.

As the month progressed, there were hints that the Bush
administration was considering a tougher line on Sinn Féin
in the aftermath of the bank robbery. There were reports
that Washington would place a curb on the party's
fundraising in the U.S.

Irish immigrant advocates were looking to Republican
Senator John McCain in the hopes that he would step forward
as a leading advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

Former Irish government minister, Ray Burke, was sentenced
to six months for tax evasion. U2 were on the up again with
plans announced for the band's Vertigo Tour.

The plan for a Gaelic Games stadium at Randall's Island in
New York was given the go-ahead by the city.

Three New York City firefighters lost their lives in two
separate fires. One of the three, John Bellew of Pearl
River in Rockland County, was a father of four young


Irish president Mary McAleese got into a spot of bother
when she compared her former Unionist neighbors in Belfast
to Nazis. She later apologized.

Wall Street executive Denis Kelleher donned the grand
marshal's sash at an official ceremony and readied himself
to lead the 2005 St. Patrick's Day parade up Fifth Avenue.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly visited Washington and came away
assured that his party's ability to fundraise on American
soil would not be terminated.

Citing protocol, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, James Kenny,
declined to appear before a public session of the all-party
Party Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. The
committee wanted to hear his views on the plight of
undocumented Irish immigrants in the U.S. President Bush,
meanwhile, said there would be no amnesty for the

The town of Fairfield, Connecticut, was in mourning after
the murder of popular business couple Tim and Kim Donnelly,
gunned down in their jewelry store. Police later made

With the Northern Bank heist still hanging overhead like a
storm cloud, Sinn Féin found itself out in the political
cold as the IRA said it was taking its proposals for
disarming off the table. Party leader Gerry Adams decried
as "rubbish" a report by the Independent Monitoring
Commission blaming the IRA for the robbery.

An ad hoc group of Irish American leaders complained in a
letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern that the robbery investigation was being
manipulated for political ends.

Before the month was out, however, the Gardai carried out a
series of raids in Cork netting millions in cash.
Allegations surfaced of a link between the IRA and a
Bulgarian money laundering operation.

The Irish rugby team got off to a good start in the annual
Six Nations championship with wins over Italy and Scotland.
U2 won three Grammy Awards for "How to Dismantle an Atomic
Bomb" and Irish film director Terry George scored three
Oscar nominations for "Hotel Rwanda."


Ireland defeated old enemy England in rugby by 19-13. The
Irish team now had both the triple crown and championship
grand slam in its crosshairs.

The IRA expelled three members over the McCartney murder as
the sisters of the murdered man met in Dublin with Irish
foreign minister Dermot Ahern and announced plans for a St.
Patrick's Day visit to Washington.

With the situation facing the party more serious by the
day, it was announced that Sinn Féin chief negotiator
Martin McGuinness would not be traveling to the U.S. for
the March 17 celebrations.

A man already serving time in a New York prison was
indicted for the 2002 murder in Queens of Monaghan native
Eugene McMahon.

There were reports that senators Edward Kennedy and John
McCain were jointly drawing up an immigration reform bill.

On the outs with Aer Lingus, the airline's former head
Willie Walsh landed the top job at British Airways.

Irish athletes Alistair Cragg and David Gillick struck gold
at the European Indoor Championships in Madrid. By
contrast, Irish Olympic show jumping gold medallist Cian
O'Connor was stripped of his prize amid a continuing furor
over his horse testing positive for a banned substance.

Gerry Adams was in the U.S. for St. Patrick's Day but there
were cold shoulders from the White House and Senator Edward

The 244th New York St. Patrick's Day Parade marched into
history, minus most of the Fighting 69th regiment, which
was serving in Iraq.

In a bumper month for Irish golf, Padraig Harrington won on
a PGA tour while Des Smyth came out tops in a Champions
Tour event. Oops, the high-flying Irish rugby team fell to
the French at Lansdowne Road and would later go down to
Wales in Cardiff.

A Limerick woman, Kelly Cregan, tragically died undergoing
plastic surgery in New York, and a seven-year-old Cork boy,
Oscar Murphy, required daily blood transfusions while in
the city for cancer treatment.

Parishioners at famine-era St. Brigid's Church in Manhattan
started a campaign to save their church after the
archdiocese moved to close it down.

Ireland's World Cup aspirations took a sharp knock when the
Republic could only draw 1-1 with Israel.


The world mourned the death of Pope John Paul. Ireland
remembered the pontiff's historic visit in 1979, but there
was controversy, as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern decided to
forego a formal national day of mourning.

The political parties in the North geared up for the
British general elections by trading their usual barbs.

Spring weather brought out the tulips and also the
contending teams in the GAA's National Football League.
Holders Kerry were defeated by Tyrone under a sunny
Killarney sky but were later stunned by less-fancied
Wexford in the semi-final.

At a press conference in Belfast, Gerry Adams urged the IRA
to embrace politics while Martin McGuinness embarked on a
visit to Washington to meet with U.S. special envoy to the
peace process, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss.

Irish Catholics around the world set eyes on a new head of
their church when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected and
chose the name Pope Benedict XV1. Former Boston mayor Ray
Flynn witnessed the new pope's emergence with his own eyes
in St. Peter's Square and described the moment in detail to
the Echo.

In a groundbreaking move, the GAA voted to open Croke Park
in Dublin to soccer and rugby.

After more than 14 years at the helm, the Echo's editor-in-
chief Tom Connelly moved on to pastures new in the sports
department of the New York Times.

Boxer Kevin McBride was also facing something new, though
in a ring not a pasture. He landed a June fight with Mike


Kilkenny, not for the first time, of course, captured a
National Hurling League crown by defeating Clare.

U.S. troops arrested four people in connection with the
murder in Iraq the previous November of Irish-born aid
worker Margaret Hassan.

Former Irish government minister Jim McDaid was nabbed for
driving drunk on a highway outside Dublin.

A top U.S. government agency issued a report critical of
the way that Aegis Defense Services was running its
operation in Iraq. The company, which had secured a $293
million contract from the Pentagon in 2004, is headed by
Tim Spicer, a former British army officer who defended the
actions of soldiers under his command in the aftermath of
the shooting dead of unarmed Belfast teenager, Peter
McBride, in 1992.

Both Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party performed
strongly in the Northern Ireland portion of the British
general election. The outcome resulted in the resignation
of Ulster Unionist Party leader and Nobel laureate David
Trimble. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill
renaming a Queens street in honor of Irish community
activist Frank Carvill, killed in action with the New
Jersey National Guard in Iraq.

Ted Kennedy and John McCain unveiled their bipartisan
immigration reform bill. The measure won immediate praise
from advocates for the undocumented Irish.

Two Golden Eagles nested and produced an egg in Glenveagh
National Park in Donegal. The event was a milestone in an
ongoing effort to reintroduce the majestic birds to the
Irish skies after an absence of almost one hundred years.

Galway's Gaelic footballers came to the Big Apple and gave
their New York counterparts a 3-14 to 0-6 thrashing. A week
later, the Gotham hurlers very nearly turned the tables on
an Irish visiting team when they were just edged out by

Tragedy struck in County Meath when five girls died in a
School bus crash. Former British army officer Tim Spicer
threatened to sue the Echo in a British court over an
aspect of the paper's coverage of his controversial past.

Sinn Féin's Rita O'Hare was denied a visa to visit the U.S.
Martin McGuinness, by contrast, was allowed visit.

Irish American playwright John Patrick Shanley landed eight
Tony Award nominations for "Doubt."


Irish politicians began to weigh in on the plight of the
undocumented Irish with the visit to the U.S. of an all-
party Dáil delegation.

The Republic's soccer team stumbled badly at home when
Israel forced a 2-2 draw in a World Cup qualifying game at
Lansdowne Road.

Former Irish justice minister Sean Doherty, a controversial
and colorful political figure, died aged 60 from a brain

Move over Iron Mike! Monaghan-born boxer Kevin McBride,
dubbed the "Clones Colossus" defeated former world
heavyweight champion Mike Tyson with a sixth-round TKO in
Washington, D.C.

Tensions boiled over in the Ardyone area of north Belfast
during Orange Order parades that went close to Catholic

After a disappointing failure to make the cut at the U.S.
Open in Pinehurst, Padraig Harrington rallied to win the
Barclay's Classic at Westchester Country club in New York.

The touring Lions rugby team was trounced by New Zealand in
their opening test match. Ireland and Lions captain Brian
O'Driscoll was so badly injured that he had to quit the

An Aer Lingus jet came within seconds of a runway collision
with a U.S. Airways plane at Boston's Logan Airport.

The man who made Guinness nearly as American as apple pie,
Connie Doolan, announced his retirement as the public face
of the Guinness company in North America.

Dance star Michael Flatley was tapping his way back to the
big stage with a new show, "The Celtic Tiger."


Five Mayo landowners who would become known as the
"Rossport Five" were jailed for their opposition to a
planned Shell oil company gas pipeline.

A Long Island community was devastated when 7-year-old Kate
Flynn was killed when the limo carrying her and her family
home from a wedding was struck by a drunk driver's truck.

Uproar continued over Ireland's National Aquatic Center, a
leaking tub that reports suggested could take €20 million
to repair.

Britain's new Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain,
visited the U.S. to meet political leaders and introduce
himself to Irish America.

More violence flared in Belfast during the July 12 marches.
The Underground terrorist bombs in London struck people of
many nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, the Irish

Shrewsbury Road in Dublin is one of the Irish capital's
most exclusive residential streets but even seasoned real
estate watchers were stunned by the $70 million paid for a
house there. "Walford House" was even a bit of a fixer-

Waterford Teenager Tara Whelan was killed in a bus bomb
attack in Turkey. Her parents said they forgave the

Dubliner Seán Mac Carthaigh was named managing editor of
the Irish Echo.

Boxer Wayne McCullough was stopped for the first time in
his career in a bout in Las Vegas. By contrast, fast-
improving middleweight John Duddy scored a win in his fight
just outside Chicago.

With some members of Congress wanting to end the Schumer
diversity visa lottery, Sen. Edward Kennedy pledged to
defend what has been a last lifeline for Irish immigrant

The month ended on a high note when the IRA formally
announced an end to its decades-long armed campaign. Martin
McGuinness visited the U.S. to brief politicians and
community leaders. The IRA move was welcomed around the


August means big games at Croke Park and there would be few
bigger than the football quarter-final clash between Dublin
and Tyrone that ended in a 1-14 draw. Tyrone later won the

The space shuttle Discovery took America back into space
with Commander Eileen Collins at the helm.

The Colombia 3 came out of hiding, resurfaced in Ireland
and immediately spurred a major controversy.

Irish American anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan earned
national attention, praise and criticism, with her peace
camp outside President Bush's Texas ranch.

Big changes in the way that the Irish tourism industry is
run were announced in an effort to reverse a decline in
visits to rural parts of the island.

A little noticed clause in the USA Patriot Act, up for
renewal by Congress, was singled out by critics because it
could put an end to the time-honored practice of so-called
"bar banking" by undocumented immigrants.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam died aged 55
after a long battle against cancer. She was widely praised
for her novel and no-nonsense approach to dealing with the
North's politicians and issues.

The former leader of the SDLP in Northern Ireland, Gerry
Fitt, died at age 79.

August departed with a heavy blow. Hurricane Katrina
devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.


In response to Katrina, the Irish government pledged money
and practical assistance. Irish American organizations, led
by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, also rallied to aid
communities stricken by a natural disaster the scale of
which only became fully apparent after several days.

Cork were triumphant in the All Ireland hurling final at
Croke Park. It was the thirtieth time that Cork hoisted the
Liam McCarthy Cup and they did so by beating Galway by 1-21
to 1-16.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and foreign minister Dermot Ahern
made simultaneous visits to the U.S.

Irish immigrant advocates gathered to meet with Dermot
Ahern to discuss strategy and to raise the plight of the
long-term undocumented Irish -- the so-called "lost

Loyalists rioted in Belfast for five days after an Orange
Order parade was rerouted to avoid a nationalist area.

Ireland went down to France in a World Cup qualifier at
Lansdowne Road. Irish hopes for a berth in the finals in
Germany were all but dashed as a result of the defeat.

Speaking at the United Nations, Bertie Ahern pledged that
Ireland would move towards donating 0.7 percent of its
Gross Domestic Product to overseas aid by 2012.

It was north over south in the All Ireland football final
when Tyrone defeated Kerry by 1-16 to 2-10.

At month's end, the political landscape on the island of
Ireland went through a momentous transformation with the
announcement from the IRA that it had put its weapons
beyond use. The move was hailed on both sides of the
Atlantic but many unionists, led by Ian Paisley's
Democratic Unionist Party, poured scorn on the move.


The Irish property boom knows no bounds. Hungry Irish
investors were becoming noticeable even in the high-powered
world of New York City condo buying.

A former top UDA leader, Jim Gray, was gunned down in his
Belfast home.

Getting a leg-up on Congress, the Dáil voted unanimously in
favor of an all-party motion supporting the McCain/Kennedy
immigration reform bill on Capitol Hill.

Ireland drew with Switzerland in a World Cup qualifier.
Thus ended the Republic's dream of a slot in Germany 2006.

It emerged that a Mayo-born priest, Father Michael Tracey,
was in the front line of the devastated Gulf Coast region.
His parish, Our Lady of the Gulf, was right in the path of
Hurricane Katrina's eye.

The Independent Monitoring Commission reported that the IRA
had ceased recruitment and training operations.

The investigation into the leaking of a CIA agent's name
was being led by special federal prosecutor Patrick
Fitzgerald. The New Yorker's parents were both immigrants
from Co. Clare.

Controversial former Fianna Fáil TD Liam Lawlor was killed
in a car crash in Moscow.

Irish journalist Rory Carroll was kidnapped in Iraq but
freed after 36 hours. Members of Congress urged the lifting
of a State Department fundraising ban on Gerry Adams who
was due to visit the U.S. for two engagements.

In response to claims, the Irish government said it had no
knowledge of prisoners being transported through Shannon
airport on U.S. military planes.


Gerry Adams opted out of a fundraising trip to the U.S.
Sinn Féin and the U.S. State continued their standoff over
the party's refusal to deliver a positive statement on
policing in Northern Ireland. A fundraising dinner marking
the 100th anniversary of the party went ahead in New York
anyway with Adams delivering his speech via satellite.

A street in Woodside, Queens, was renamed in honor of
fallen hero Frank Carvill and a new street signed was
unveiled in a solemn ceremony.

Boxer John Duddy, "The Derry Destroyer," added another
notch to his belt with a fourth round TKO decision over
Canadian Bryon Mackie.

Ireland took on the New Zealand All Blacks at Lansdowne
Road and were blacked out by 45 points to 7.

The Echo reported Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain's
view that the island of Ireland would soon come to be
regarded as a single economy. The report caused uproar
among unionists.

More transatlantic flights to Dublin, fewer to Shannon and
three new U.S. destinations for Aer Lingus came into view
following a landmark aviation deal struck between Dublin
and Washington.

Against a backdrop of mounting criticism from Irish
Americans, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee long-
fingered its consideration of a controversial revised
extradition treaty between the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Roy Keane and Manchester United departed company setting a
seal on the Corkman's remarkable career with the famous
soccer club. Keane's departure was quickly followed by the
death of George Best. The Belfast-born soccer legend spent
his most fruitful years at the same Manchester club.

As in recent years, east coast U.S. airports began to fill
with the chatter of Irish shoppers eager for bargains to
take back home for Christmas.

Controversy swirled around a video out of Iraq apparently
showing employees of the Tim Spicer-run company, Aegis
Defense Services, firing on civilian vehicles.

Irish actor Gabriel Byrne returned to Broadway and some
great reviews for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Touch of a


The U.S. ambassador to Ireland, James Kenny, was invited to
speak with members of the Dáil after a controversy erupted
over allegations that the CIA was flying prisoners through
Shannon in so-called "rendition" flights.

The grand marshal for the 2006 New York St. Patrick's Day
Parade was announced. Timothy Rooney, president of Yonkers
Raceway, was chosen to lead the parade up Fifth Avenue on
March 17.

A new lobby group, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform,
was established to secure relief for the undocumented in
the upcoming immigration debate in Washington.

Drogheda United beat more fancied Cork City in the FAI Cup

As U.S.-based billionaire Chuck Feeney pulled his funding
from the Center for Public Inquiry in Ireland -- in a storm
over the activities of one of its leading officials --
there were indications that other Irish American business
figures might step in to keep the Irish watchdog group

Senator Charles Schumer called for an investigation into
the Iraq shooting videos and, in a letter to Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, urged reconsideration of the
contract awarded Aegis Defense Services.

The highly controversial "Stormontgate" charges were
dropped and within days it emerged that a top Sinn Féin
member involved in the saga, Denis Donaldson, had been
spying for the British for 20 years.

Roy Keane's career did not go south; rather it went north,
when he signed for Glasgow Celtic.

The first gay couple to get hitched in a civil partnership
in either Ireland or Britain did so in Belfast.

The House of Representatives passed a contentious
immigration bill that focused almost entirely on border
control and enforcement. Both houses of Congress passed a
resolution honoring Commodore John Barry as the first flag
officer of the United States Navy. It was signed into law
by President Bush two days before Christmas.

Boxer John Duddy won yet again, this time in a bout in
South Florida.

U.S. envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process Mitchell
Reiss, in an op-ed in the Echo, said that the process had
still some way to go and required the participation of Sinn
Féin in policing.

Thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants hunkered down
for another Christmas in the shadows even as 2006 loomed as
the year that might deliver some relief with an expected
full blown debate over immigration reform in Congress.

This story appeared in the issue of December 28 - January
3, 2005


Groups Across Island To Receive €1.1m Funding

Jarlath Kearney

All-Ireland development and cross-community regeneration in
the North were boosted yesterday by grant funding totalling
€1.1 million (£750,000) from the Republic's Department of
Foreign Affairs.

Foreign minister Dermot Ahern announced that 42 different
organisations across the island would benefit from the
latest distribution of his department's Reconciliation

The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Co
Wicklow got €300,000 (£205,000) of the funding. This will
help the centre's ongoing political and educational

A wide array of other organisations, including the Derry-
based Pat Finucane Centre, and the Ballybeen Women's Centre
in east Belfast were awarded funding.

Féile an Phobail in west Belfast and the Apprentice Boys'
Maiden City Festival in Derry — both of which take place
each August — also received substantial grants.

Mr Ahern described the work of all the recipient
organisations as "vital".

He said they "give life to the values of partnership,
mutual respect and tolerance, espoused by the Good Friday

"Each of the projects receiving funding today is
contributing in a real and practical way to the promotion
of good relations and the development of a new era of peace
and partnership on this island and between Ireland and
Britain," Mr Ahern said.

"The work carried out by these organisations, often in the
most challenging of circumstances, has an impact beyond
that of their own communities and supports the wider
political efforts to achieve constructive engagement and

"In recognition of this work, I am pleased to be able to
announce today grant aid totalling €1,113,250 from my
department's Reconciliation Fund.

"I believe that this grant aid represents a further
expression of the government's commitment to the values of
partnership and reconciliation enshrined in the Good Friday
Agreement," he said.

The Reconciliation Fund was first established in 1982. The
Department of Foreign Affairs revealed that, since the 1998
Good Friday Agreement, a total of €17.5 million (£12
million) had been awarded to more than 500 different

Yesterday's grant announcement was the second phase of
funding from the Reconciliation Fund for 2005 — a total of
€2.6 million (£1.8 million).


Senior BBC Manager To Head RTÉ Radio 1

Emmet Oliver

RTÉ has appointed a senior BBC manager to succeed Eithne
Hand as the head of its flagship service Radio 1.

Ana Leddy is leaving her position as managing editor of BBC
Radio Foyle in Derry to take up the position. She will be
reporting to the head of radio at RTÉ Adrian Moynes.

Ms Leddy has 26 years experience in radio, with 18 years of
these spent in BBC regional and national services. She was
born and raised in Sheffield, England, in an Irish-speaking
family. She received her secondary-school education in St
Louis convent, Monaghan. Ms Leddy also has a degree in
Irish, English and history from Trinity College Dublin.

"Moving to RTÉ will be like a new lease of life for me.
I've known RTÉ Radio as a listener for many years and I'm
really looking forward to working with so many talented
people on such a precious channel," she said yesterday.

The main challenge for Ms Leddy will be the launch of
digital radio over the next year. Another major challenge
will be protecting the station's audience share which has
been under pressure over the last five years.

Apart from the flagship programme Morning Ireland, most of
the station's leading prime time programmes have been under
pressure over the last few years.

The main part of the morning schedule is built around
broadcaster Pat Kenny, who has also been losing audience.
However, he remains a key broadcaster for the station and
ratings at the Late, Late Show have been holding up.

© The Irish Times


Graveyard Yields Secrets Of Ancient World

By Shane Harrison

BBC NI Dublin Correspondent

Residents of the village of Nobber, north Meath, in the
Republic of Ireland, stumbled upon archaeological treasure
when they decided to clean up an old graveyard.

Now they are hoping that tombs in the shape of Celtic
crosses, dating back 1100 years, will put them on the map,
alongside such famous archeological sites as Newgrange.

Until recently, the graveyard in the village of Nobber,
about two hours' drive from Dublin, was overgrown with
weeds and briars.

It is surrounded by evergreen trees and bushes, a church
that has fallen into disrepair and the remains of a
medieval monastery.

It took 12 men nearly two years working at night and at
weekends, in all four seasons to clear up Mother Nature's
mess. She rewarded them in full.

Richard Clarke, a volunteer worker, said the graveyard was
very neglected.

"We started in, basically, with our hands and clippers and
spades and any little thing at all that would break down
some of the old vegetation that had overgrown the place,"
he said.

Celtic crosses

In the course of cleaning up the wind-swept cemetery, they
found small concrete tomb stones, like Celtic crosses, some
less than a foot high.

Graves, they now know, that date back to the 10th century.

Archaeologists, like Professor George Eogan, an expert on
Newgrange, are excited by the discovery.

He said it proves that this north Meath townland with its
own monastery, was significant in the relatively early
Christian times.

"It certainly, was an outstanding place around the 10th
century. It was one of the leading sites in Ireland at that
earlier period," Professor Eogan said.

But the small weather-beaten tombs, with their fading
etched marks were not all that was found in the clean-up.

Local people also discovered evidence of a church built in
the 12th century and medieval tomb stones lying flat on the
ground with elaborate designs and concrete carvings of
kneeling men.

Tony McEntee, who helped organise the tidy up, said Nobber
should be very proud of its voluntary workers.

"Were it not for all the work that these men put in, these
discoveries would never have been known," he said.

The one-street village of Nobber is a small, agricultural
community on the Navan to Kingscourt Road.

People, including the Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee, now hope
to capitalise on the discovery and make their village a
major tourist attraction.

"To get jobs into the area is an issue but the fact is that
you have something here, a home-grown industry that people
are very proud of - it would be great to put the whole
package together."

A simple tidy up has paid rich dividends.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/04 07:29:17 GMT

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