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January 07, 2006

Adams: Focus On Restoring Institutions

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SF 01/07/06 SF -Focus On Restoring Political Institutions
IN 01/06/06 No Move On Policing Until Justice Dept Set: SF
UT 01/07/06 Sinn Fein Executive Meets In Dublin
WI 01/07/06 Background: Denis Donaldson
BT 01/07/06 RTE Anger At Laird's 'IRA' Jibes
IT 01/07/06 Council Of Europe Questions US Use Of Shannon
BB 01/07/06 MLAs' Salaries 'Could Be Stopped'
BB 01/07/06 'Slopping Out' A Breach Of Rights
DJ 01/07/06 SDLP Hits Out At SF 'Super Council' Stance
IN 01/06/06 Catholics Hard Done By In Sports Developments
DJ 01/06/06 War Of Words Over Jobs 'Bias' Claims
NL 01/05/06 MLA Fears Rioting Could Erupt Again
IN 01/06/06 Bomb Attack 'May Have Been In Retaliation'
IN 01/06/06 Lords May Hear Northern Bank Case
IN 01/06/06 Upset After IRA Medal Worn By PSNI Recruit
IN 01/06/06 'PIRA Far Removed From Old IRA'
UT 01/07/06 Celtic Players Deny Sectarian Chants
IN 01/06/06 Ex-Soldier Jailed For Drugs Possession
NL 01/06/06 'Double Standards' Sink Nomadic Plan
IN 01/06/06 Unit To Check For Garda Mistakes
NL 01/06/06 'Republicans Want Us Out'
BB 01/06/06 Opin: An Alphabet Of Political Issues
IN 01/06/06 Opin: Making Predictions A Precarious Pastime
BT 01/06/06 Opin: Is Religion The Root Of All Evil?
IN 01/06/06 Falling Fireplace Kills Boy, Aged 3
IN 01/06/06 Roman Aspect For St Patrick's Parade
BB 01/07/06 Iron Age 'Bog Bodies' Unveiled
IT 01/07/06 Bog Finds - New View Of Iron Age Ancestors
IT 01/07/06 Opin: Bog Find: Face From The Past
IN 01/06/06 Fund To Find 'What's In A Name'


Adams - Focus Must Be On Speedy Restoration Of Political

Published: 7 January, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a meeting of
the party's Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) in Dublin
this morning said 'The focus of all of the parties and the
two governments must be on the speedy restoration of the
political institutions.'

Mr. Adams said:

"I believe that 2006 will be a vital year in the Peace
Process. The responsibilities of all of the political
parties and the two governments are clear. There needs to a
genuine effort to end the stalemate and to restore the
power sharing government and all-Ireland political
institutions voted for by the people of Ireland.

"The Irish and British governments have stated that it is
their intention to make a concerted effort to revive the
peace process, beginning in the coming weeks. Sinn Féin
welcomes any genuine attempt to do this and in our ongoing
contacts with the two governments we have made it clear
that we will play a positive role.

"Republicans have acted. Now the two governments need to
take action.

"The Good Friday Agreement cannot be kept in mothballs
indefinitely and we have told both governments that the
Assembly, in its current form, is not viable. The political
vacuum cannot continue.

"Following the IRA initiatives of last year there is
growing expectation among the public that the process will
move forward. There needs to be progress by the summer."


No Move On Policing Until Justice Department Set: SF

By William Graham Political Correspondent

Sinn Fein has said it will not be in a position to call a
special ard fheis on policing until after negotiations with
other parties on the shape of a future justice department
at Stormont.

A first step is to be taken by the British government next
month by preparing "enabling legislation" for the
devolution of policing and justice powers.

However, the real difficulty lies ahead in the parties
discussing and agreeing exact details and a timeframe and
whether a political environment can be created for such a
huge step forward.

The British, Irish and US governments have been pressuring
Sinn Fein to quickly sign up to policing but republicans
have so far resisted such a move.

Asked yesterday whether the prospect of enabling
legislation would allow Sinn Fein to call a special ard
fheis, a party spokesman said: "No. This [the enabling
legislation] is only one part of it.

"The other part of it is the unionist negotiation in and
around the departments and the mechanism.

"There is no point in having a legislative framework to
transfer power – you need to transfer it to something."

Later, in a statement, Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry
Kelly said: "The reports that an enabling bill for the
transfer of power on policing and justice is to be
introduced to Westminster is a welcome first step.

"Publicly and in meetings with the British government Sinn
Fein have been pushing strongly for the transfer of powers
on policing and justice away from London.

"In negotiations with Sinn Fein in December 2004 the
British government agreed to introduce this framework
legislation as a first step.

"However, the important detail of the powers to be
transferred, what the best departmental model is and the
timeframe involved are all issues which need to be worked
out as a matter of urgency.

"The DUP amongst others need to be ready to discuss the
detail on transfer as a core issue in setting up the
interdependent political institutions agreed under the Good
Friday agreement."

A Sinn Fein ard fheis is scheduled for next month but no
decision will be taken then on policing – although there
could be some debate around this topic.

The plan all along has been for the party to summon a
special ard fheis on policing sometime in the future, but
only when the leadership believes the time is right to take
a firm decision on this major issue.

Even if power-sharing devolved government was for example
to return to Stormont next year, the DUP may tactically be
unwilling to agree the immediate devolution of justice and
policing and instead prefer to wait for an extended period.

Government sources said yesterday that the enabling
legislation being prepared would give the power to the
secretary of state Peter Hain to create a justice

The legislation however will not go into the actual details
of such a department, its operation and practicalities.


Sinn Fein Executive Meets In Dublin

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and his national executive
will gather in Dublin today for the first time since one of
their colleagues was exposed as a British agent.

By:Press Association

Although their meeting is expected to focus on efforts to
revive devolution in Northern Ireland, the revelation three
weeks ago that Sinn Fein`s former head of administration
Denis Donaldson was a British spy will also figure.

Speculation has been mounting in Belfast in recent weeks
that other republicans may be exposed as spies.

However Sinn Fein sources have dismissed the claims.

"People were obviously disappointed and a little shocked to
learn Denis was a spy," a party source said.

"I don`t think republicans are that surprised that elements
are trying to further destabilise us on the back of Denis`s
confession with talk about other spies.

"There comes a point, however, with events like this where
you just get on with things.

"Our focus is on getting the political process moving again
but it will also require the British Government to face up
to those elements within their own security apparatus who
are prepared to do anything to destabilise the process."

Northern Ireland`s political institutions have been
suspended since October 2002 when allegations about a
republican spy ring at Stormont threatened to permanently
destroy them.

Denis Donaldson, his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney and civil
servant William Mackessy were arrested and accused of
operating the intelligence gathering operation.

However last month the case against the three men
dramatically collapsed in Belfast Crown Court when the
Public Prosecution Service said it was no longer in the
public interest to pursue it.

In a further dramatic twist, Sinn Fein expelled Denis
Donaldson one week later after he was warned by his
security force handlers that his cover was about to be

Mr Donaldson confessed his role to party officials and
later appeared on Irish television reading from a prepared
statement admitting he was a spy.

He has since gone into hiding.

The spying revelations emerged as the British and Irish
Governments waited for a report later this month from the
ceasefire watchdog, the Independent Monitoring Commission
on IRA and other paramilitary activity.

Following the Provisonals` declaration last July that it
had ended its armed campaign and the completion of its
disarmament programme, officials are hoping for a positive
IMC report confirming the Provisionals are remaining true
to their word.

They believe that could provide a springboard for talks
leading to the return of the Assembly.

However Northern Ireland`s largest party, the Democratic
Unionists have insisted they cannot contemplate reviving
power-sharing without progress on a list of confidence-
building measures for their community.

Sinn Fein`s Martin McGuinness today urged the DUP not to
squander recent IRA efforts to revive devolution.

The Mid Ulster MP said: "The IRA have dealt decisively with
any unionist concerns about their intentions.

"The issue of IRA arms has been resolved.

"What we now need to see is the two governments pushing the
process forward and the DUP accepting their political
responsibilities to deliver for the people who elect them."

Speculation has been mounting in recent days that British
Prime Minister Tony Blair may travel to Northern Ireland
along with Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on the back of the
IMC report in a bid to inject fresh momentum into the
political process.

British Government sources said the idea of a visit before
March has been considered but there were no definite plans.


Background: Denis Donaldson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article documents a current event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.

Denis Donaldson (born in 1950 in Belfast, Northern Ireland)
is a former member of Sinn Féin who was exposed in 2005 as
a spy in the employ of the British intelligence services
and the Special Branch of the Police Service of Northern

Donaldson has a long history of involvement in Irish
republicanism. According to his former friend, Jim Gibney
writing in the Irish News, he was a local hero in Short
Strand in 1970 because he took part in the IRA's defense of
St. Matthew's chapel agains loyalist attack.

He was a friend of Irish Republican Army hunger striker
Bobby Sands, the two men served time together for offenses
in the 1970s. In 1981 he was arrested by French authorities
at Orly airport along with fellow IRA volunteer, William
"Blue" Kelly. The duo were using false passports and
Donaldson said that they were returning from a training
camp in Lebanon.

In the late 1980s, he travelled to Lebanon and held talks
with Hezbollah and the Amal militia in an effort to secure
the freedom of the Northern Irish hostage Brian Keenan.

Donaldson was recruited as a spy by British intelligence in
the 1980s. He was paid for his information. According to
the Irish Republican News e-mail bulletin he was an IRA
intelligence officer in the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s he
represented Sinn Fein in the US, isolating future hard-line
dissidents like New York attorney, Martin Galvin. Galvin
later claimed that he had warned the republican leadership
that he suspected Donaldson of being an agent (see [[1]]).

In the early 2000s, Donaldson was appointed Sinn Féin
Northern Ireland Assembly group administrator in Parliament
Buildings. In October 2002, he was arrested in a raid on
the Sinn Féin offices as part of a police investigation
into an alleged Irish republican spy-ring — the so-called
Stormontgate espionage affair.

In December 2005, the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution
Service dropped the spy-ring charges against Donaldson and
two other men on the grounds that it would not be in the
public interest to proceed with the case.

On December 16, 2005, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams
announced to a press conference in Dublin that Donaldson
had been a spy in the pay of British intelligence. This was
confirmed by Donaldson in a statement which he read out on
RTÉ, the Irish state broadcaster, shortly afterwards. He
stated that he was recruited after compromising himself
during a vulnerable time in his life (see [[2]]).

Donaldson is the latest in a string of agents found to be
in senior position in the IRA or Sinn Fein. Previous cases
of infiltration include Sean O'Callaghan, the head of the
IRA's Southern Command who worked for the Gardai, and
allegedly Stakeknife (Alfredo Scappaticci, a British
Military Intelligence agent), who was the second in command
of the IRA's Internal Security Unit, an elite group of IRA
Volunteers charged with interrogating and executing
suspected informers.


Profile, Irish Times, 17 December 2005 (subscription
[3], Sunday Times, 18 December 2005.
[4] Irish Republican News 20 December 2005. (subscription


RTE Anger At Laird's 'IRA' Jibes

Senior broadcasters are Provo moles: Ulster peer

By Ashleigh Wallace
07 January 2006

RTE last night hit back at claims by an Ulster politician
that the Republic's broadcaster was full of IRA

Lord Laird used parliamentary privilege in the House of
Lords to make the allegations that two senior officials at
the national broadcaster had what he described as "extreme
republican" backgrounds.

The UUP peer claimed that "very senior officials" in RTE
were IRA moles yet failed to make an official complaint
against the station despite his public allegations.

But RTE said last night: "We cannot think who he could be
referring to."

Alleging infiltration of the southern media by IRA and Sinn
Fein, Lord Laird singled out the station for criticism.

"That much of the media is now infiltrated and influenced
by Sinn Fein/IRA can be seen in the highly negative
reaction in sections of the southern media, in particular
the State broadcaster RTE, against the Minister for
Justice, Michael McDowell, when he outed and denounced
Frank Connolly...," Lord Laird said during a debate on the
new anti-terrorism law for Northern Ireland.

"It is not a coincidence that instead of being lauded for
his actions, the Minister for Justice of the Irish Republic
found himself the subject of a campaign of vilification in
the Irish media. The worst example of biased coverage has
been that of RTE.

"In view of the past two weeks, perhaps it is time that two
very senior RTE officials explained their extreme
republican backgrounds," he added.

Last night, the Ulster Unionist peer remained unrepentant
about the comments.

And he vowed to name the men "at the earliest opportunity."

He said: "Questions have to be asked about why RTE
consistently takes a Sinn Fein/IRA attitude in their views
and in particular about Michael McDowell.

"I've got to wait for an opportunity but I will name them
in the House of Lords and I will talk about their
backgrounds the first chance I get."

When asked about RTE's denials about the allegations, Lord
Laird replied: "Well they would say that, wouldn't they?"


Council Of Europe Questions US Use Of Shannon

The State must ensure that the United States is not
illegally transporting prisoners through Shannon airport,
the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights,
Alvaro Gil-Robles has declared, writes Mark Hennessy,
Political Correspondent.

The intervention has increased pressure on the Government
to inspect aircraft owned or chartered by the CIA landing
at Shannon.

Backing up the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC), Mr
Gil-Robles said he "very much welcomed" and supported its
calls for "greater transparency" in the US use of Shannon.

Last month the IHRC said the Government had "a positive
obligation" to ensure that prisoners were not being
illegally transported, or else face the risk of breaching
international human rights law.

The Council of Europe is currently investigating
allegations that prisoners were taken for torture elsewhere
through European airports, and that the CIA may have
operated illegal prisons in countries such as Poland.

In preliminary findings last night a Swiss senator, Dick
Marty, leading one of two Council of Europe investigations,
said that allegations of illegal US conduct were gaining

In a letter to the president of the IHRC, former senator
Maurice Manning, Mr Gil-Robles said he had "frequently
maintained that states have a responsibility to ensure that
their territory and facilities are not used for illicit
purposes, especially not human rights violations and, even
more particularly, for violations of Article 3 of the ECHR
(which covers torture).

"In so far as so-called extraordinary rendition flights are
concerned, states must be in a position, where there is
doubt, to establish who is on board planes transiting via
their airports, whether they are travelling freely or are
detained, and, if the latter, under whose authority they
are being transported and for what purpose."

Supporting the IHRC's call on the Government to seek the
agreement of the US authorities to Shannon inspections, the
commissioner said such investigations would certainly
facilitate Ireland honouring its international obligations.

"Given the widespread allegations of such transfers through
numerous Council of Europe countries, I very much welcome
the attention the Irish Human Rights Commission is paying
to this issue and support its calls for greater
transparency," he said.

Equally, he said, he welcomed the Government's stated
intention of co-operating fully with the inquiries of the
council's secretary general, Terry Davis, and the council's
parliamentary assembly led by Mr Marty.

"It is essential that the record be set straight and that,
where necessary, the appropriate lessons are learnt.
National human rights institutions have an important role
to play in this work," he declared.

Responding last night, the Department of Foreign Affairs
said the Government did not support torture, or the use of
so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights to move

"It remains the case that the United States authorities
have repeated clear and explicit assurances that no
prisoners have been transported through Ireland and it
remains the case that there is no evidence that any
prisoner has been transported through Ireland," said an

However, international human rights lobby groups have
tracked a half-dozen aircraft owned or chartered by the CIA
that have used Shannon up to 50 times over the last three

A number of the aircraft, including a Gulfstream jet that
has become known as the "Guantanamo Bay Express", have been
linked directly with carrying a number of known prisoners,
including a man kidnapped at Stockholm airport.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Ireland James Kenny is unlikely
to accept an invitation from the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs
Committee, chaired by Fianna Fáil TD Michael Woods, to
answer the allegations.

The invitation was issued early in December, but the US
State Department has been increasingly reluctant to allow
its ambassadors to appear before parliamentary committees

Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe - which is
completely separate from the EU - is Europe's oldest
political organisation and includes 46 countries, including
21 from central and eastern Europe.

Set up to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and
the rule of law, the council has recently acted as a human
rights watchdog over Europe's post-communist democracies.

© The Irish Times


MLAs' Salaries 'Could Be Stopped'

Salaries and allowances of MLAs may be stopped if no
progress is made towards restoring devolution by the
summer, NI Secretary Peter Hain has warned.

Last month, Mr Hain said real movement was needed "if
assembly elections due in 2007 are to have any meaning".

However, in an interview for BBC Radio Ulster's Inside
Politics programme, he said he may go even further.

He said MLAs were getting "£32,000 salaries... to do a job
which they won't take responsibility for doing".

"I'm not giving a particular month, but I am saying that if
we haven't seen progress by the summer, the first decision
I'm going to have to make is over continued payment of
salaries and also allowances," he said.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in
October 2002 following the arrests of three men over

In December 2003, the House of Lords agreed that Assembly
members would continue to receive a reduced salary of
£31,817 a year as they had "representative" duties and
constituency offices to run.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/07 09:23:49 GMT


'Slopping Out' A Breach Of Rights

A former inmate's claim that "slopping out" breached the
European Human Rights Convention has been upheld in the
High Court in Belfast.

Justin John Martin, 33, from east Belfast, won a
declaration that the Prison Service failed to adequately
respect his right to private life.

Mr Martin said the lack of in-cell facilities was

A claim for damages was dismissed, but the Service was
ordered to pay his costs, estimated at more than £100,000.

During last month's 10-day hearing Mr Justice Girvan heard
when prisoners at the County Londonderry jail were locked
in their cells at night they had to use a chamber pot and
"slop out" in the morning.

Mr Justice Girvan said he was satisfied the Prison Service
did not set out to "deliberately humiliate or demean"
prisoners and the failure of the system was a failure to
appreciate the obligation to carry out a focused enquiry in
regard to prisoners' human rights.

He said the effect of his judgement would be a review of
all aspects of the current arrangements.

'Parliament misled'

Dismissing the claim for damages, the judge said there was
no evidence Mr Martin had suffered from any ill-health as a
result of the lack of hygiene.

He said that he could not lose sight of the financial
consequences of even a modest award in view of the large
number of prisoners going through Magilligan.

"The court must strike a balance between the rights of the
individual and the public interest," he said.

"In the circumstances, the granting of declaratory relief
represents a just satisfaction and adequate remedy for the

In the course of his written judgement, Mr Justice Girvan
said Parliament had been misled when MPs were told that
"slopping out" was no longer required in prisons in
Northern Ireland and that chamberpots were used only for
emergencies at Magilligan.

He said it was regrettable that no senior officer within
the Prison Service was prepared to take responsibility for
providing this erroneous information.

In a statement the Prison Service said it was "giving
careful consideration" to the judgement.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/06 16:13:35 GMT


SDLP Hits Out At Sinn Fein 'Super Council' Stance

Friday 6th January 2006

A row has broken out between rival Derry nationalist
parties over the shake up of local government structures
with SDLP Councillor Helen Quigley criticising Sinn Fein
over its policy on 'super councils.'

In November last year the government announced a major
revamp of local structures, which includes slashing the
number of councils on the North from 26 to seven, a move
supported by Sinn Fein but bitterly opposed by the SDLP.

SDLP councillor Helen Quigley who has been vociferous in
criticism of the new set up, last night called on Sinn Fein
to review its position on the issue.

"Nationalists were stunned that Sinn Fein signed up to a
deal that would let state killers off the hook. They are
still puzzled that Sinn Fein is backing Peter Hain's plan
to repatriation the North with seven supercouncils," she

"Sinn Fein are not only isolated on backing the councils
plan, they are divided as well. Many of their own members
have no idea why they suddenly reversed their position and
supported giving extra powers to super-councils with
absolutely no guarantees that they won't turn into super-

However, Sinn Fein's Gerry MacLochlainn reiterated his
party's support for the seven council model arguing that
increased power will 'empower communities' particularly in
the North West, to drive forward economic development.

Speaking today Colr. MacLochlainn refuted claims that his
party was divided on the issue.

"Sinn Fein conducted extensive and lengthy consultation
throughout our membership and support base and with local
community and voluntary sector and business communities.
The overwhelming support for larger councils with real
power as opposed to local talking shops for powerless local
politicians was made clear to us from all sectors," he

"Sinn FÈin, with the support of other political parties in
Derry, recently argued for effective cross-border
cooperation and the development of all-Ireland approaches
to tackle the problems faced by cancer patients in the
North West and for an effective transport policy that would
protect and expand the rail service to Derry and beyond to
Donegal. The three proposed new councils that abut the
border will provide local government structure able to link
into the existing cross-border architecture to develop an
effective regional strategy. This is an opportunity we
should seize with enthusiasm."

Colr. MacLochlainn added that the SDLP suggestion that the
rejig amounts to a repatriation of the Six Counties was

"The Six Counties at the minute are divided into 26
councils and unless a party is seriously suggesting that
local government is abolished altogether then the Six
Counties will be divided into regional council areas," he

"The political geography and demographics won't change
whatever number of councils there are. Councils located
west of the Bann - however many - will continue to be
majority Nationalist as will those east of the Bann with
the exception of Belfast be Unionist dominated. This is
particularly true of the 15 council model.

"Coupled with the statutory equality and power-sharing
provisions which will be part and parcel of this reform,
the seven council model is the only one that ensures no
council area will contain a minority community of less than
25 per cent."

He went on to claim that any party rejecting the seven
council model was more concerned with protecting its local
power base than driving Derry forward.

"The SDLP needs to climb out of its defensive bunker and
join with those of us intent on seizing this chance for
Derry to take its rightful place as the regional hub of the
North West," he said.


Catholics Hard Done By In Sports Developments

North West News
By David Wilson

DERRY City Council has invested more money in sports
development in Protestant areas than in nationalist areas,
The Irish News has learned.

The news follows a claim by Democratic Unionist MP Gregory
Campbell that the council was guilty of sectarian bias by
giving land worth £250,000 free of charge to a GAA club in
the city.

The council's development committee has agreed to gift an
eight-acre site of wasteland in the Creggan estate, to Sean
Dolan's GAA club.

Initially the club was offered the land 10 years ago at a
cost of £10,000 but could not afford the development costs.

Now, with the club in a position to finance the land's
development, the council is to seek ministerial permission
to donate it.

The decision angered Mr Campbell who, claimed not all
sporting clubs were being treated on an even par.

"I proposed an amendment at council that would have seen
any decision deferred to April.

"This would have allowed similar decisions regarding sports
clubs based in the Waterside to have been addressed. The
same criteria must apply to all," he said.

"To the unionist community, this will be seen as a further
example of the council's sectarian bias.

"Seventeen years ago money was available to locate an all
weather astro-turf pitch in the city. Council ignored the
case for the Waterside community."

"Two years ago, with a surplus of cash coming from renting
the Guildhall to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, all money went
to nationalist groups on the west bank of the river. Again
we are seeing a similar trend."

Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein have defended the decision.

Sinn Fein's Kevin Campbell said it was wrong of Mr Campbell
to try and gain political points.

The SDLP's Thomas Conway said the gift of land was an
important move for the entire community.

"Here is a club which is going to provide a facility for
the young people of this city that we can't provide."

Figures released to The Irish News last night reveal that
from April 2002 to December last year the council invested
£372,367 of civic money in a wide range of sports.

Of this £126,274 was allocated to projects located on the
mainly Protestant east bank.

Projects in the predominantly Catholic west bank received
£92,558 with further £153,536 allocated to sports projects
encompassing the entire council area.


War Of Words Over Jobs 'Bias' Claims

Friday 6th January 2006

A war of words over claims of a 'bias' in the North's jobs
market has broken out between the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Gregory Campbell, of the DUP, says nationalists who insist
their community is discriminated against when it comes to
jobs must 'get real.'

However, Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney believes the DUP
MP's claims don't stand up to scrutiny.

Mr. Campbell says he has been amazed at recent SDLP calls
for the Prison Service to follow in the footsteps of the
PSNI and introduce 50/50 recruitment.

Calling for a complete overhaul of the North's jobs scene,
the DUP man highlighted what he called the current
disadvantage Protestants face in securing jobs in the
public sector.

He claims there are clear examples of Protestants facing
under-representation in the Housing Executive, Child
Support Agency, Royal Mail and the police.

He says: "The SDLP recently called for more discrimination
against the Protestant community when they met the head of
the Prison Service and issued a statement calling for the
introduction of 50/50 recruitment in that organisation.

"It is inconceivable that they were unaware of the
imbalance that currently exists across much of the public
sector; yet despite this they want more Protestant
disadvantage rather than less."

Mr. Campbell says nationalists are "still working on
cliches from the past" by continually talking about
striving for equality of opportunity.

He added: "The SDLP, Equality Commission and the NIO will
have to come to terms with what is required to ensure
better employment opportunities for all, the absolute basic
requirement for which is to move away from a formula that
has made the Protestant community second class citizens."

In response, Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney dismissed
Gregory Campbell's claims that a bias against unionism
exists in the employment market.

The Foyle MLA said: "Gregory Campbell, like many within the
DUP, is obsessed with the myth that there is a bias against
unionism. These claims do not stand up to scrutiny.

"Across every single indicator of poverty and deprivation,
the fact is that nationalists fair worse than unionists.

"Yes, there has been progress for nationalists and Sinn
Fein is committed to further advancing the equality agenda.
Yes, there are deprived unionist areas and Sinn Fein is
committed to combating that. But the fact remains that in
employment, housing, and ill health that the reality for
nationalists is worse. "Unionists have never acknowledged
the history of the state, their own responsibility for
creating the anti-Catholic bias in every aspect of life
here and for the conflict which resulted from this. The
Good Friday Agreement addresses equality, human rights and
policing agendas precisely because there has been
institutionalised discrimination, sectarian policing,
injustice and repression.

"Gregory Campbell would serve his community better if he
did more to protect and advance the equality agenda.
Equality threatens no-one."


MLA Fears Rioting Could Erupt Again

By Alistair Bushe
Thursday 5th January 2006

The riots in unionist working-class areas of Belfast last
summer are on course to happen again in 2006, it was
claimed last night.

DUP East Belfast MLA Robin Newton criticised the
Government's failure to publish an action plan aimed at
tackling deprivation in the city.

The re-routing of key Orange Order parades in Belfast last
summer was blamed for sparking sustained outbreaks of
violence in west and north Belfast.

But Mr Newton said that deep-rooted problems, like
continued concessions to republicans and failure to invest
in unionist areas, had led to deep disillusionment and

He said the situation would return to "boiling point"
unless the Government recognises and deals with the
problems experienced by the city's unionist population.

Mr Newton added that he was disturbed it was taking
ministers so long to publish its action plan.

"In many ways the Protestant population feel alienated from
the process of Government. Doors of opportunity that are
being thrown open to republicans are seemingly firmly
bolted shut against the unionist community," he said.

"Deep green political interference in democracy and law and
order can be clearly seen after the offensive arrest and
release of mass murderer Sean Kelly and the prospect of the
nefarious on-the-runs legislation.

"All of these are examples of politics defiling justice.
This political interference was evident in the Parades
Commission's shambolic decision on the Orange Order's
Whiterock Parade. This illadvised decision became the
catalyst that sparked intensive rioting within unionist

Despite the Government promising to address the "lack of
opportunity" in working class Protestant areas, Mr Newton
claimed there had been "little tangible progress".

"Consultation is necessary but the outcomes of that
consultation must be seen and seen quickly before another
daft decision from one Government quango or another again
fuels the acknowledged levels of frustration," he added.

"No responsible person wants to see a return to riots.
However, Government must soon announce their intentions to
address unionist concerns on deprivation, the poor health
and educational records and the lack of vocational


Petrol-Bomb Attack 'May Have Been In Retaliation'

North West News
By Seamus McKinney

A CATHOLIC woman whose home was targeted in a sectarian
petrol-bomb attack has said she may have been singled out
in revenge for an attack on a Protestant family earlier
this week.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she was
shocked by the petrol-bomb attack of her house shortly
before midnight on Thursday.

She said she believed her home was targeted because she was
the only Catholic living in the Lapwing Way area of Derry's

It was the second time in four months that her home has
come under sectarian attack. In September a paint bomb was
thrown at the rear of the house.

The woman said she has lived in the property for 24 years,
moving in when the estate in Clooney was first built, and
praised the response by her neighbours to Thursday's

"I got up to put a few nuts into a bowl and I saw security
lights outside but I thought it was my daughter coming
home," she said.

"I automatically went to the front door and when I opened
it the flames came up. I slammed the door closed.

"I ran straight into the kitchen and got a basin of water
and came out and threw it over the flames because I could
see the flames going towards the car."

The woman described the attack as terrifying and said her
12-year-old son had been left a "nervous wreck".

She said police suggested to her on Thursday night that it
may have been in retaliation for an attack on a Protestant
family in Derry's Fountain area the previous night.

The family home of William Jackson was damaged when it was
struck by petrol bombs thrown from the mainly nationalist
Bishop Street area of Derry's west bank on Wednesday.

The victim of the latest attack said she had not been aware
of the Fountain incident until police who called at her
home told her about it.

She said that when her home was singled out for paint-bomb
attack in September it also followed attacks in the
Protestant Irish Street and Fountain area.

"Why can't the people who did this come in daylight and
tell me why they want me out or why they are doing it?" she

The attack has been condemned by both the DUP and Sinn Fein
in Derry.

A police spokesman urged anyone with information to contact
them at Waterside on 0845 600 8000 or use the Crimestoppers
number 0800 555 111.


Lords May Hear Northern Bank Case

By Staff Reporter

A legal dispute over the detention of Northern Bank robbery
suspect Christopher Ward before he was charged could end up
in Britain's highest court, the House of Lords.

Mr Justice Hart ruled in the High Court yesterday that a
decision to exclude Ward's lawyers from a court hearing to
extend his period of detention involved a point of law of
general public importance.

The judge refused to grant leave to appeal the decision to
the House of Lords, but Mr Ward's solicitor Paul Pierce
said afterwards that a petition would be lodged with the
Appeals Committee.

Mr Ward, a 24-year-old employee of the Northern Bank from
Colinmill in Poleglass, west Belfast, is accused of the
£26.5 million robbery in December 2004.

He has accused police of trying to frame him and last month
was released on bail.

Mr Ward was charged after being questioned under new
legislation allowing police to hold suspects for seven

Meanwhile, in another court Mr Ward's bail conditions were
varied to enable him to visit his solicitors, Kevin Winters
and Co in Castle Street in Belfast, and attend remand
hearings at the city's magistrates court in Oxford Street,
without being arrested.

The change was necessary because a condition of his bail
was that he must not go within a mile of Donegall Square
West, where the robbery took place.


Upset After IRA Medal Worn By PSNI Recruit

By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

THE wearing of a medal honouring the old IRA by a police
recruit during a graduation ceremony was "proper", the SDLP
insisted last night.

While nationalists backed the actions of the officer,
unionists were incensed, vowing to challenge the chief
constable on the issue at next month's Policing Board

A picture of the officer wearing the Black and Tan medal,
commemorating IRA members who fought the British during the
1917-21 campaign for Irish independence, was published in
last month's Police Gazette.

The graduate wore the medal on his chest during a passing
out ceremony at Garnerville Police College in east Belfast
last November.

An estimated 60,000 medals were issued by the Republic's
government in 1941 to honour those who fought in the War of

However, while police and the SDLP defended the officer's
donning of the medal, unionists branded it an insult to
police families who lost loved ones at the hands of the
Provisional IRA.

Tom Elliott, Ulster Unionist assembly member for Fermanagh
and South Tyrone, said: "It is frankly disgusting that a
new recruit has been allowed to wear an IRA medal at a
graduation ceremony for the PSNI.

"It is highly insensitive given the history of the police
and their respected role in holding the line against the
IRA over many years here. It is also grossly insulting to
the families of many policemen and women who were murdered
or maimed by the IRA.

"I am calling on the PSNI to ensure that this situation
never happens again. They must take action to ensure that
medals worn are appropriate, legitimate and obviously not
of a paramilitary or terrorist nature."

However, the PSNI said: "It is an accepted tradition for an
officer to wear medals that have been awarded by a state to
a close relative on their right chest during appropriate

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood said: "The wearing
of this medal was proper. Unionism has to come to accept
that there is a different history on this island from

"One expression of this history was the award of medals in
relation to the Irish War of Independence. The nationalist
community increasingly recognises and acknowledges the
other histories on this island, that of unionism and their

"That is the right thing to do. Unionism should adopt the
same standard when it comes to nationalism on this island.

"The Irish War of Independence was a very different matter
from the illegal, immoral and unjust use of violence by the
Provisional movement. Unionism should have the wisdom and
maturity to recognise this."

But DUP assembly member Arlene Foster said: "It is quite
simply offensive that a new police recruit should don a
medal honouring the very terrorists who have murdered so
many police officers through the years.

"I have made the appropriate officials aware of the
incident and I will be pursuing this matter through the
appropriate channels," she said.

"Those who authorised this recruit to wear this
paramilitary medal must be brought to account."

Last September the PSNI appointed former British army
chief-of-staff and ex-UDR soldier David Strudley as head of
police training.


'PIRA Far Removed From Old IRA'

By Suzanne McGonagle

DESPITE claims of a continuum, the IRA of the civil war
period is considered an entirely different organisation to
the Provisional IRA. Political historian Dr Eamon Phoenix
last night explained that since the early 1920s, the IRA
had split six times.

Mr Phoenix said that the various splits have meant that the
Provisional IRA is "far removed" from the IRA during the
War of Independence.

Unionists have criticised a police recruit who wore an old
IRA medal at a passing out parade.

The UUP and DUP expressed outrage that the Black and Tan
medal, commemorating IRA members who fought British
soldiers during the 1917-21 campaign for Irish
independence, was pinned to the chest of a graduate during
a ceremony.

Mr Phoenix last night said: "The phrase 'the old IRA' was
used in post-Independence Ireland to describe the Irish
volunteers or the IRA from 1913 to 1921.

"They were founded as the Irish volunteers in 1913 and took
part in the 1916 rising."

Mr Phoenix said that medals presented to IRA members in
recent years were very different to those given out in the

"I would assume that this recruit was wearing a medal
probably given to his grandfather during the War of
Independence," he said.

"If you went to a passing out parade of the gardai, you
would see the recruits bearing similar medals.

"The IRA has split six times since 1921 so the present IRA
is far removed from the IRA of the independence struggle.

"In the last two to three years, the IRA has introduced
Tir-Gradh medals for active service.

"When they made the medals in recent years, it was seen my
many as being a sign that the war was over," he said.


Celtic Players Deny Sectarian Chants

Two Celtic footballers today denied making sectarian chants
at a supporters' function.

Stephen Pearson and John Hartson appeared on an amateur
video on which shouts of "IRA" could be heard from people
in attendance.

Scottish international Pearson and Wales striker Hartson
both strongly denied taking part in the chants.

The grainy footage, which has been widely distributed on
the internet, shows the players on stage at an event in
Ireland with three fans during a boisterous singalong.

Both players join in with a rendition of the Irish folk
tune Fields of Athenry and are cheered on by figures in the

The song, which is a favourite of the Glasgow club`s fans,
is punctuated by shouts of "IRA" and "Sinn Fein" on the
video but both players insist they did not join in any

The video was reported by the Aberdeen-based Press and
Journal newspaper today.

In a statement, a Celtic spokesman said: "We can`t comment
specifically on this as the club and both players are
currently considering their legal options.

"However, anyone who knows Stephen and John will be clear
that suggestions of sectarian behaviour on their part are
utterly laughable and completely without foundation.

"Both players freely admit they they joined in the singing
of the Fields of Athenry, a well-known and popular Irish
folk song, at a supporters` event in Ireland but absolutely
did not join in any sectarian chanting.

"Indeed, both players utterly condemn sectarianism in any
form, a view shared and fully endorsed by the club as a

Pearson`s agent today confirmed the 23-year-old midfielder
featured on the clip but strongly denied that he had joined
in any sectarian shouts.

Willie McKay told the Scottish Press Association:

"Stephen`s seen the video and he said he sang Fields of
Athenry, but he never shouted `IRA`.

"This song is sung at Celtic games and at supporters`
nights every week, there`s nothing sectarian about the
Fields of Athenry.

"I can assure you that Stephen is not sectarian at all."

Hartson`s agent, Jonathan Barnett, dismissed the report in
the Press and Journal as "complete rubbish".

Celtic have won plaudits from Scotland`s First Minister
Jack McConnell for their campaign to stamp out bigotry.

Manager of the Glasgow club Gordon Strachan was questioned
about the newspaper report at his weekly press conference

He said: "I have not seen it. I have no comment to make."

Fields of Athenry - a ballad about the 1840s Irish famine,
rebellion and prison ships - has become an unofficial
anthem for the Parkhead faithful.

A spokesman for the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth
called on Celtic to investigate.

The spokesman said: "Nil By Mouth has written to Celtic
Football Club requesting that they investigate this matter,
making their findings and action taken clear.

"The video clip appears to display an event that has Celtic
players and supporters present while behaviour appearing to
support a paramilitary organisation, namely the IRA, is
being displayed by some of the people in attendance.

"We are concerned at what this clip appears to imply, that
is the promotion of a paramilitary organisation, although
we do note that the footage is far from clear.

"However we expect Celtic, with its stated anti-sectarian
stance and its stated opposition to the promotion of
paramilitary organisations, that this is a matter that they
would wish to fully investigate and act accordingly based
on their findings and to publicise the outcome."

The vice-chairman of Celtic`s Old Firm rivals Rangers,
Donald Findlay, quit in 1999 after he was filmed singing a
sectarian song at a social club.


Ex-Soldier Jailed For Drugs Possession

By Staff Reporter

A former soldier who was caught hiding 800 ecstasy tablets
has been jailed for two years after agreeing to spend a
further two years on probation.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard that when drugs squad
officers searched the then Holywood home of David Michael
Kincaid (36) on January 21 last year, he helped them
uncover nine bags filled with the pills which were hidden
inside a Tesco bag.

Prosecuting lawyer David Russell said the officers also
found almost 200 grammes of cannabis resin and a broken
stun gun.

He told the court that, both at the scene and during police
questioning, Kincaid claimed the cannabis was for his own
personal use and that he was "under pressure" to hide the
class A drugs, which he claimed had been left at his home
by two men the previous night.

Mr Russell said police estimated the total street value of
the drugs to be in the region of £1,000.

Kincaid, originally from north Belfast but living at Herron
Drive in Newtown-ards, Co Down, later pleaded guilty to
possessing the cannabis and ecstasy with intent to supply
and to possessing a prohibited weapon.

Eugene Grant QC for KIncaid, said his client had been
forced to leave the Ballysillan area due to "tensions"
between other members of his family and the UVF.

He also said that during 2004 police had advised Kincaid to
leave north Belfast and that "he was under death threat
from the UVF".

The lawyer said Kincaid, who has a history of mental health
problems, had ins-tructed him that a "Mr Warnock" had left
the broken stun gun with him to see if he could fix it,
possibly because of his army background.

Handing down the jail and probation term, Judge Peter
Gibson QC said it was clear that Kincaid had received
"significant and serious threats" and had been living in
"what's little more than a fortified home".

However, he added the dangers of ecstasy were "well
documented" and that anyone caught with such a large amount
will face a "custodial sentence and one of some


'Double Standards' Sink Nomadic Plan

Joanne Lowry
Friday 6th January 2006

A government department has been accused of double
standards after it emerged it had bought a boat for an
Irish language group yet won't provide the cash to bring
the SS Nomadic to Belfast.

Some members of Belfast City Council are in favour of
spending more than £200,000 to bring the last White Star
liner, the passenger tender for Titanic, to the city's new
Titanic Quarter.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) was
approached by the council to provide funding but, according
to DUP councillor Nelson McCausland, "DCAL washed its hands
of it".

Mr McCausland was angry to discover last month, however,
that the department had given cash to An Gaelaras, an Irish
language and cultural organisation in Londonderry, to buy a
Galway hooker.

An Lady Mor was built in 1872 in Connemara and will be used
for a cross-community project called Youth Afloat.

Speaking at this week's meeting of Belfast City Council, Mr
McCausland said: "It appears when it's Londonderry DCAL
pays but if it's in Belfast it has no money."

Describing DCAL as "inconsistent", the DUP councillor
added: "DCAL needs to be kept on the hook and it's a hook
of their own making."

A DCAL spokeswoman said the two projects weren't comparable
as the Galway hooker had been bought with funding under
Peace II.

She added: "Angela Smith met a cross-party delegation from
Belfast City Council late last year to discuss their plans
to purchase the vessel and return it to Belfast.

"She explained that, in the absence of any detailed plans
for funding beyond the procurement phase, and in the
current financial climate, the Department would not be able
to assist through direct funding for the purchase of the

"A number of other options for levering resources were
discussed, which the council will need to investigate

A meeting is to be held at City Hall later this month to
discuss the feasibility of the council putting up the cash
to ship the SS Nomadic to these shores.


Unit To Check For Garda Mistakes

Southern News
By Staff Reporter

Garda investigations in all divisions will be checked for
errors by a new internal unit.

The Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU) is being
established in response to the reports of the Morris
tribunal, which exposed how gardai in the isolated Donegal
Division had framed two innocent men for murder, planted
false explosives and lied about their activities.

Justice minister Michael McDowell said the unit was a key
part of reform under the 2005 Garda Act.

"The GPSU will enable An Garda Siochana to ensure that
organisational efforts and initiatives are driven
strategically and that value for money and international
best practice in professional, ethical and human rights
standards are maintained," he said.

It is understood that one of the unit's key roles will be
to examine the investigation files in all Garda divisions
and highlight any problems or lines of investigation that
are being overlooked.

It will then make firm and appropriate recommendations for
improvement where necessary. The unit is not expected to
encounter any resistance from the main Garda associations.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said it
would discuss the issue at its national executive next
week. The GPSU will be headed by a chief Superintendent and
will have nearly 30 staff.

Although Garda headquarters had intended to grant more
autonomy to divisions under its Strategic Management
Initiative, the plan had to be reassessed in the light of
the damning Morris report.

"The situation through 1996 to 1998 shows appalling
management coupled with the manipulation of facts and
circumstances in order to present to Garda headquarters,
and to the world at large, an untruthful appearance of
honesty and integrity in the Donegal Garda Division," it

The GPSU's regular examination of investigation files is
intended to prevent such a scenario reoccurring.

Mr McDowell is also setting up a three-person Ombudsman
Commission to deal with complaints against gardai and a
Garda Inspectorate, which will operate independently.

The Morris tribunal found that there were very poor
communications between the Department of Justice and Garda
headquarters during the Donegal scandal.

The Garda Inspectorate will report directly to the minister
for justice on operational policies and strategies.


'Republicans Want Us Out'

By Ian Starrett
Friday 6th January 2006

Republicans won't be happy until the last Protestant has
left the west bank of the River Foyle, a prominent loyalist
in the city said yesterday.

William Jackson was speaking after the latest in a series
of post-Christmas attacks on his home just inside the
Fountain estate.

He claimed that they were being attacked because they are
Protestants living on the west bank. "That's all it boils
down to," he said. "We are getting it every night here and
there is only so much that the Protestant people can take."
"Until such times as there are no Protestants left in this
estate here at all then we will never get peace," he said.

In the latest attack, late on Wednesday night, a petrol
bomb scorched the newly-decorated porch of Mr Jackson's
house, after bouncing off a perspex-screened window. He,
his wife and three children were at home but they escaped

But he has no doubt that the republican gangs will return,
as they have shouted threats of 'Jacksons, we are going to
burn you out' while regularly bombarding with petrol bombs,
stones and bottles their home, which is situated just
inside a 'peace fence' off Bishop Street.

Mr Jackson said: "As long as they are only talking it, and
not trying it. "But this is them saying they are going to
do it sooner or later. Until then, I am prepared to stick
my ground."

He said that the Community Restorative Justice group had
tried to disperse the mobs that came from the Bogside-
Bishop Street-Brandywell area, but that the young people
weren't listening to them.

He said that the almost-nightly attacks had been carried
out by about half a dozen youths at first, but now a mob of
around 50 was laying siege to their house during the hours
of darkness.

Mr Jackson said that they had asked the Housing Executive
to give them fire extinguishers.

"They have declined and said that we would need to be
trained in them and all the rest of it. But it's not their
lives that are it risk, it is ours."

The DUP, who have condemned the harassment of the Jacksons,
have called for improved CCTV in the Fountain.


Opin: An Alphabet Of Political Issues

What does 2006 hold for the Northern Ireland political
process? BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent
Gareth Gordon looks back as well as forward to explore an
alphabet of issues.

A is for Ahern: The Irish prime minister believed Sinn Fein
leaders had prior knowledge about the Northern Bank
robbery, even as they negotiated a deal to restore

Bertie Ahern shook his head like an exasperated parent and
said he didn't fully understand why the Stormontgate case
had collapsed, but that it was "interesting!"

Yet he stands on the launchpad for yet another big push.
But the really big fight he faces is the 2007 Dail

The question is in a tight finish, will he need Sinn Fein
votes to help him?

B is for Berry: From gospel singing blue-eyed boy to DUP
outcast via a Sunday newspaper story concerning a "male
masseur" (which he denies), no political fall was quite as
spectacular - or bizarre - in 2005.

The year 2006 will see the drama move to the High Court
where space on the public and press benches should be at a

And it's not the only place internal DUP business may be
aired in public. (See R for Rhonda).

C is for Cameron: At last a Conservative leader who may
just give Labour something more to think about than the
neighbourly dispute between numbers 10 and 11 Downing

He even made Northern Ireland one of his first ports of
call after his election proving beyond doubt that, even up
close, he has at least as much charisma as a certain Mr B -
and a better haircut!

If we wait long enough we may even find some substance.

And while the prospect of a Tory government will please
unionists, they may be spooked by all this talk of a
liberal agenda.

D is for Durkan: It could have been foiled of Foyle.

But since landing a knockout blow on Mitchel McLaughlin in
the General Election, the SDLP leader is now a bona-fide
big beast in his own right, continuing to savage the
Shinners over on-the-runs (OTRs) right up to Christmas and

But the hard work is only beginning.

E is for Empey: His party may have moved from the Big House
to a bungalow but at least he's got the biggest room - for

Looking over one shoulder at Lady Sylvia and the other at
David Burnside, Sir Reg Empey still looks to have the most
difficult balancing act in politics.

He may have to wait for a DUP own goal - but they don't
score many.

F is for Ford: Took a lead in the fight against OTRs but
watched helplessly as the SDLP took most of the credit.

This is probably Alliance's lot - until it gets more votes.

At least David Ford got more media coverage last year -
even if it was for the insubordination of Seamus Close over
same sex civil partnerships, a row which also lead to the
resignation of the party chairman.

G is for Gerry: Apart from the Robert McCartney murder; the
fall out from the Northern Bank robbery; the Foyle election
result, Denis Donaldson and the OTR debacle, it was not a
bad year to be Sinn Fein president.

After all, there were the party's centenary celebrations to
act as a distraction (or was it the other way around?) and
at least Gerry Adams succeeded in persuading the IRA to
leave the stage.

Expect a slightly easier 2006, although there's still
policing, the OTRs and the issue of those pesky spies to be
dealt with.

H is for Hain: We huffed when we were told we'd have to
share him with the Welsh but the publicity-loving secretary
of state and his up-and-at-em team of ministers are just
about as visible as many of us can take!

Peter Hain annoyed the unionists over Sean Kelly and the
demise of the Royal Irish Regiment.

He annoyed everybody over OTRs, even if he did get a
kicking in the House of Commons for his bother.

But like a rubber ball, he just comes bouncing back for

His resilience in the face of pressure sometimes seems more
impressive than his grasp of detail and we hacks love his
(very occasional) tendency to drop the ball.

I is for IMC and IRA: Somehow we can't think of one without
the other.

The security minister may have jumped the gun (pardon the
pun) in December, claiming the next IMC report would show
the IRA was true to its word in ending criminality.

Lord Alderdice and friends will give their version in
February and the early word is that they may not entirely

J is for Justice: But as ever, no-one can agree on exactly
what it is.

K is for Kennedy: Will Senator Ted meet Gerry Adams in
Washington this St Patrick's Day?

L is for London: That's where lots of the action is likely
to take place, at least initially, as the government and
the parties begin again the painful process of (possibily)
restoring devolution (see T for Talks).

M is for Maze: The government hopes the site of "Europe's
most notorious prison" may yet house an £85m stadium but
only if the Irish Football Association says "yes."

A decision is expected by the end of the month. It's "50-
50" say informed sources.

O is for On-the-Runs: The much-unloved Northern Ireland
Offences Bill was already struggling under the weight of
opposition from the unionists, SDLP, Alliance, the Tories,
the Liberal Democrats and even some Labour MPs, but Sinn
Fein's rejection was the real hammer blow.

Back to the drawing board... or the bin... or they could
keep going. A mess...

O is also for the Orange Order: Talks said to be continuing
between the Order and the other Loyal Orders, who according
to some sources want "to get the Orange off the hook".

The government knows that unless this problem is sorted, it
has the capacity to de-rail "big picture" politics. Which
brings us to...

P is for Parades Commission: It seems like a long way off
but, yes, Ardoyne and Whiterock will come around again.

The make-up of the shiny new commission is at least brave,
but the presence of two Portadown Orangemen may only give
fresh impetus to an issue most of us though was dead -

Q is for Queen: After three meetings with President
McAleese - the latest in Hillsborough - 2006 could finally
be the year when she makes her "historic" visit to Dublin.

They're said to be waiting for a positive development in
the political process. Why?

R is for RIR: The DUP has staked a lot on getting decent
severance payments for the 3,000 solders affected by the
decision to disband the Home Service Battalions of the
Royal Irish Regiment in August 2007.

The secretary of state is thought to be sympathetic but the
Treasury, who must pay, is less so.

A decision is expected early February.

R is also for Rhonda Paisley: She's set to take her
father's party to Industrial Tribunal for alleged sexual
discrimination after she failed to get a job as a policy

"Paisley versus Paisley" made a neat headline but many
suspect its actually "Old DUP versus New DUP".

S is for Spy: Stakeknife, Denis Donaldson; Who's next? A
plot by the Brits to destabilise us say republicans. On the
other hand...

T is for Talks: Yes they're coming, though not until
February at least when the IMC report is out of the way.

Expect a visit from Tony Blair and probably Bertie Ahern as
well and then the pressure will well and truly be on with
the DUP feeling the heat most.

U is for the UVF and UDA: Now that the IRA has made its
seismic shift, will the loyalists follow suit?

V is for Victims: The government appointed an interim
Victims Commissioner, Bertha McDougall, but the OTR bill
will have undone much of the goodwill.

W is for Water Charges: They won't be here until 2007.
Unless, that is, the Assembly returns before then.

If it does, will our politicians put their money where
their mouths are? Either way, the government wins.

X is for Elections: None scheduled for this year, and at
least for the Ulster Unionists, and to a lesser extent the
SDLP that's probably a relief as they seek to come up with
strategies to stop the Sinn Fein and DUP juggernauts.

Y is for Yawn: Which we'll all have to stifle during the
aforementioned talks.

Z is for Zzzzzzzz...

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/06 17:22:30 GMT


Opin: Making Predictions Is A Precarious Pastime

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

The onset of a new year can do funny things to people's
minds leading them to make wild predictions about new year

Rarely do they hold to their resolutions and their life
trundles along unchanged.

If making predictions about one's life is a precarious
pastime then making predictions about future political
developments in the north is an even more risky business.

Award-winning journalist, Brian 'Barney' Rowan, the former
BBC security correspondent in Northern Ireland who has just
recently retired, has done precisely that in his new book,
Paisley and the Provos, The Bugs, The Bank Job, The Broken
Deal (Brehon Press, Belfast).

The book was written in a hurry, between the IRA's July 28
announcement of an end to its armed campaign and the book's
launch in early December. It is racy in style and content
and one of its strengths is its brevity. Another is the
short period the author selects to examine – what he
describes as "the most important phase of this peace
process", including the historic actions of the IRA in
September in putting all its weapons beyond use.

The book tells two overlapping stories – the efforts of
Gerry Adams and the leadership of the IRA to break new
ground in the search for a durable peace and the new
reality slowly dawning on the DUP that a deal with Sinn
Fein is unavoidable.

Rowan traces in considerable detail the internal republican
developments which led to this historic breakthrough.

He is on familiar terrain having written extensively on
this subject in his two previous books.

He also examines the impact of the Northern Bank robbery
and the killing of Robert McCartney on the peace process.

While it is undoubtedly valid for any analyst or
commentator to examine the political repercussions from the
Northern Bank robbery, republicans will be angry that Rowan
attributes responsibility for the raid to the IRA without
any evidence, relying once again on tainted 'security

However, what is new and very interesting is the insight he
provides into the thinking of senior members of the DUP and
their attitude to doing a deal with Sinn Fein.

A deal, which would see the DUP, hold the post of first
minister and Sinn Fein the post of deputy first minister.

Rowan has written an optimistic book. It opens with a quote
from Ian Paisley Snr saying in October past about a deal
with Sinn Fein that a politician like him "...must be
satisfied in his own mind; and if I was satisfied in my own
mind about things, I would have the courage to do it."

Peter Robinson, while accusing republicans of running away
from the negotiations in 2004, said in October 2005 that
Paisley was "...up for it.." a deal.

And Paisley Jnr in a similar vein told Rowan that
republicans needed to understand that Paisley senior was
the "....only person that they can ultimately do a deal
with that will actually stick with unionism and will
actually deliver unionism. And the sooner republicans,
democratic republicans, do that deal the better."

The counter balance to such words is reflected in the DUP's
demand for photographic evidence of the IRA's arms moves.
The DUP's insistence on photographs led to the collapse of
the 2004 negotiations.

It is clear from the photograph saga that the two
governments deliberately misled the DUP and encouraged them
to believe, in the face of stated opposition from Martin
McGuinness, that republicans would yield and allow

New to negotiations of this type there is a lesson there
for the DUP.

Republicans will find the book emotional. It reminds us of
the huge moves the IRA made last year.

Almost at the end of the book, page 186, a sad moment of
huge historical significance is captured as Harold Good
describes the, "last day and the last item" of IRA weaponry
put beyond use.

The book captures many significant moments from 2005, none
more so than the IRA decisions which have created an
entirely new context for talks, especially for the DUP.

The question is will the DUP act on their words in this
valuable book and do the 'deal of all deals' as the author
describes it?


Opin: Is Religion The Root Of All Evil?

Professor Richard Dawkins
06 January 2006

Known as ' Darwin's Rottweiler', Professor Richard Dawkins
relishes controversy. In his new TV series he explains how
religion is a form of abuse – and why God is man's most
destructive invention ++ Why do you believe in your God?
Because he talks to you inside your head? The Yorkshire
Ripper claimed his murders were ordered by Jesus

Imagine, sang John Lennon, a world with no religion.
Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades,
no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Kashmir dispute, no
Indian partition, no Israel/Palestine war, no
Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no Northern Ireland
"troubles". Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues,
no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female
skin for the crime of showing an inch of it. Imagine no
persecutions of the Jews – no Jews to persecute indeed,
for, without religious taboos against marrying out, the
Diaspora would long ago have merged into Europe.

Hitler invoked "My feelings as a Christian" to justify his
anti-Semitism, and he wrote in Mein Kampf: "I believe that
I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty
Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting
for the work of the Lord." Nevertheless, most such
atrocities are not directly motivated by religion. IRA
gunmen didn't kill Protestants (or vice versa) over
disagreements about transubstantiation or such theological
niceties. The motive was more likely to be tribal
vengeance. One of "them" killed one of "us". "They" drove
"our" great-grandfathers out of ancestral lands. Grievances
are economic and political, not religious; and vendettas
stretch "unto the third and fourth generation of them that
hate me". Quoting Exodus reminds me, incidentally, that
humanists prefer Gandhi's version: "An eye for an eye make
the whole world blind."

But if tribal wars are not about religion, the fact that
there are separate tribes at all frequently is. Some tribes
may divide along racial or linguistic lines, but in
Northern Ireland what else is there but religion? The same
applies to Indo-Pakistan, Serbo-Croatia, and various
regions of Indonesia and Africa. Religion is today's most
divisive label of group identity and hostility. If a social
engineer set out to devise a system for perpetuating our
most vicious enmities, he could find no better formula than
sectarian education. The main point of faith schools is
that the children of "our" tribe must be taught "their own"
religion. Since the children of the other tribe are
simultaneously being taught the rival religion with, of
course, the rival version of the vendetta-riven history,
the prognosis is all too predictable.

But what can it mean to speak of a child's "own" religion?
Imagine a world in which it was normal to speak of a
Keynesian child, a Hayekian child, or a Marxist child. Or
imagine a proposal to pour government money into separate
primary schools for Labour children, Tory children and Lib
Dem children. Everyone agrees that small children are too
young to know whether they are Keynesian or Monetarist,
Labour or Tory: too young to bear the burden of heavy
parental labels. Why, then, is almost our entire society
happy to privilege religion, and slap a lab like Catholic
or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, on a tiny child? Isn't that a
form of mental child abuse?a I once made that poiint in a
broadcast debate with a Roman Catholic spokeswoman. I've
forgotten her name but I she was some kind of agony aunt,
and a stalwart of the Today programme's "Thought f the
Day". When I said that a primary school child was too young
to know whether it was a CCatholic child, she bristled:
"Just come and talk to some of the children in our local
Catholic school! I can assure you they know very well that
they are Catholic children." I believe it. The Jesuit boast
– "Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll
give you the man"– is no less sinister for being familiar
to the point of cliché.

But what if religion is true? Surely sectarian
indoctrination wouldn't be child abuse if it saved the
child's immortal soul? Despite the smug presumptuousness of
that, I can almost sympathise, if you sincerely believe
your religion is the absolute truth. Let me, then, be
ambitious if not presumptuous, and try to shake your

Why do you believe in your God? Because he talks to you
inside your head? Alas, the Yorkshire Ripper's murders were
ordered by the perceived voice of Jesus inside his head.
The human brain is a consummate hallucinator, and
hallucinations are a poor basis for real world beliefs. Or
perhaps you believe in God because life would be
intolerable without him. That's an even weaker argument.
Lots of things are intolerable and it doesn't make them
untrue. It may be intolerable that you are starving, but
you can't eat a stone by believing – no matter how
passionately and sincerely – that it is made of cheese.

By far the favourite reason for believing in God is the
argument from improbability. Eyes and skeletons, hearts and
nerve cells are too improbable to have come about by
chance. Man-made machines are improbable too, and designed
by engineers for a purpose. Surely any fool can see that
eyes and kidneys, wings and blood corpuscles must also be
designed for a purpose, by a master Engineer? Well, maybe
any fool can see it, but let's stop playing the fool and
grow up. It is 146 years since Charles Darwin gave us what
is arguably the cleverest idea ever to occur to a human
mind. He demonstrated a beautiful, working process whereby
natural forces, by gradual degrees and with no deliberate
purpose, forge an elegant illusion of design, to almost
limitless levels of complexity.

I have written books on the subject and obviously can't
repeat the whole argument in a short article. Let me give
just two guidelines to understanding. First, the commonest
fallacy about natural selection is that it is a theory of
chance. If it were, it is entirely obvious that it couldn't
explain the illusion of design. But natural selection,
properly understood, is the antithesis of chance. Second,
it is often said that natural selection makes God
unnecessary, but leaves his existence an open plausibility.
I think we can do better than that. When you think it
through, the argument from improbability, which
traditionally is deployed in God's favour, turns out to be
the strongest argument against him.

The beauty of Darwinian evolution is that it explains the
very improbable, by gradual degrees. It starts from
primeval simplicity (relatively easy to understand) and
works up, by plausibly small steps, to complex entities
whose genesis, by any non-gradual process, would be too
improbable for serious contemplation. Design is a real
alternative, but only if the designer is himself the
product of an escalatory process such as evolution by
natural selection, either on this planet or elsewhere.
There may be alien life forms so advanced that we would
worship them as gods. But they too must ultimately be
explained by gradual escalation. Gods that exist ab initio
are ruled out by the argument from improbability, even more
surely than are spontaneously erupting eyes or elbow

Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it is a
serious contender. Even so it could be justified, if only
its claims were true. But they are undermined by science
and reason. Imagine a world where nobody is intimidated
against following reason, wherever it leads. "You may say
I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one."

Professor Richard Dawkins is the Chair of the Public
Understanding of Science at Oxford University. The Root of
All Evil?, Professor Dawkins' series looking at religion,
is on 9 and 16 January at 8pm on Channel 4


Falling Fireplace Kills Boy, Aged 3

By Staff reporters

A three-year-old boy has died following a freak accident at
his family home in west Belfast when a fireplace fell on

Ryan Mooney died in the accident in the Dermott Hill area
of the city on Thursday.

The toddler was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital for
treatment but did not survive.

Maire Cush, Sinn Fein councillor for the area, last night
offered her sympathies to the child's family.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this
terrible time and anything we can do to support the family
we will," Ms Cush said.

A police spokesman confirmed that officers had been called
to the scene but were not treating the death as suspicious.

A spokesman said: "Police are investigating the death of a
male infant, aged three, in the Grosvenor Road area of
Belfast on Thursday January 5. A crime is not suspected."

The creche where Ryan attended, Newhill Creche and Play-
ground, yesterday also offered its deepest sympathies to
the family.

In the family notices section of the Irish News the creche
said: "He will be deeply missed by his little friends and
the staff of Newhill Creche and Playgroup who have had the
privilege and pleasure of knowing him."

Ryan's funeral will leave from the family home at Dermott
Hill Gardens on Tuesday for Requiem Mass at Holy Trinity at
12pm with burial afterwards at Milltown Cemetery.

He is survived by his parents Michael and Alison.

The Mooney family have been touched by tragedy in the past.

In April 1995 Ryan's grandfather, Mickey Mooney, was shot
dead by the IRA as he sat in a bar in Anne Street, Belfast.

Two unmasked gunmen walked into the first-floor lounge and
shot him a number of times before escaping on foot.

He died at the scene.

Mickey Mooney, whose nickname was Moneybags, was said to
have been targeted because of his alleged involvement in
drug dealing.

He was 34 years old at the time.

Police had warned the victim about his personal safety a
few weeks before his death.

In an apparent attempt to distance the IRA from the
killing, the murder was claimed by the Direct Action
Against Drugs (DAAD) and 13 deaths have since been
attributed to the group.

DAAD was widely regarded as a cover name for the IRA.

The shooting was the second in a series of killings by the
IRA of people reportedly involved in the drugs trade.

The first was Francis Rice (23) in 1994.

Mr Rice was found dead at Half Moon Lake in Lenadoon.

He had been shot five times in the head.


Roman Aspect For St Patrick's Parade

By Margaret Canning

JACUZZIS and bathroom luxuries of Roman origin will feature
in this year's St Patrick's day parade in Armagh city in a
bid to broaden its appeal to the Protestant community, it
has emerged.

The Roman civilisation is famed for its advances in indoor
plumbing and bathing and it is believed Ireland's patron
saint was born in a small Welsh village during Roman

But at the age of 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland
as a slave to a Druidic chieftain.

He escaped from slavery to a monastery in Auxerre in France
where, legend has it, he heard voices calling him back to

A spokesman for Armagh City and District Council said the
Roman dimension was a creative way to broadening the
parade's appeal.

"We think it is a creative way of doing things. It's very,
very hard to be original and get something a bit different
for an event like St Patrick's day, which you do year on
year," he said.

There were concerns from members of the nationalist
community that nationalist emblems – from the shamrock to
the harp to any representation of St Patrick as a religious
figure – were to be outlawed from the parade.

There were also fears that Armagh GAA jerseys would be
expressly forbidden.

But Aubrey McClintock, a community regeneration officer
with the council, said: "The only stipulation is that
people do not carry or wear flags, symbols, banners or play
music that would be offensive to the other community. I
think that is perfectly reasonable, to be honest with you."

He said the theme of the parade was the seven episodes in
St Patrick's life. Participants and spectators alike should
ask themselves whether a symbol or emblem was offensive, he

As for the shamrock: "If anyone is offended by the
shamrock, then frankly they deserve to be. There's nothing
wrong with it, as far as I can see.

"Protestants have for years been excluded from St Patrick's
day and maybe they've excluded themselves to an extent. Any
Protestants who do come are taking a big step and I would
just ask the Catholic community to be sensitive before they
put anything on that could be offensive.

"St Patrick is a saint for all Ireland, after all."


Iron Age 'Bog Bodies' Unveiled

Archaeologists have unveiled two Iron Age "bog bodies"
which were found in the Republic of Ireland.

The bodies, which are both male and have been dated to more
than 2,000 years ago, probably belong to the victims of a
ritual sacrifice.

In common with other bog bodies, they show signs of having
been tortured before their deaths.

Details of the finds are outlined in a BBC Timewatch
documentary to be screened on 20 January.

My belief is that these burials are offerings to the gods
of fertility by kings to ensure a successful reign

Ned Kelly, National Museum of Ireland

The first body dropped off a peat cutting machine in
February 2003 in Clonycavan, near Dublin. The forearms,
hands and lower abdomen are missing, believed to have been
hacked off by the machine.

The second was found in May the same year in Croghan, just
25 miles (40km) from Clonycavan.

Old Croghan Man, as it has become known, was missing a head
and lower limbs. It was discovered by workmen clearing a
drainage ditch through a peat bog.

Tanned skin

Although the police were initially called in, an inspection
by the state pathologist confirmed that this was an
archaeological case.

Both bodies were subsequently taken to the National Museum
of Ireland in Dublin.

A team of experts from the UK and Ireland have been
examining the bodies to learn how they lived and died.

Radiocarbon dating, for example, would show that both had
dies at similar times - around 2,300 years ago.

One of these experts is Don Brothwell, the York University
archaeologist who led the scientific investigation of
Lindow Man, the bog body found in Cheshire in 1984.

Hundreds of bodies have been recovered from peat wetlands
across Northern Europe. The earliest accounts date back to
the 18th Century. The unique chemistry of peat bogs
essentially mummifies bodies.

Summer death

The peat-building Sphagnum moss embeds remains in cold,
acid and oxygen-free conditions that immobilise bacteria.

"The way peat wetlands preserve bodies has been described
as a process of 'slow-cooking' which tans them dark brown,"
Timewatch producer John Hayes-Fisher told the BBC News

Clonycavan man was a young male no more than 5ft 2in tall.
Beneath his hair, which retains its unusual "raised" style,
was a massive wound caused by heavy cutting object that
smashed open his skull.

Chemical analysis of the hair showed that Clonycavan man's
diet was rich in vegetables in the months leading up to his
death, suggesting he died in summer.

It also revealed that he had been using a type of Iron Age
hair gel; a vegetable plant oil mixed with a resin that had
probably come from south-western France or Spain.

Dismembered body

Old Croghan man was also young - probably in his early to
mid 20s - but much taller than his counterpart from 25
miles away. Scientists worked out from the length of his
arms that he would have stood around 6ft 6in tall.

He had been horrifically tortured before death. His nipples
had been cut and he had been stabbed in the ribs. A cut on
his arm suggested he had tried to defend himself during the
attack that ended his life.

The young man was later beheaded and dismembered. Hazel
ropes were passed through his arms before he was buried in
the bog.

Food remains in his stomach show that Old Croghan man had
eaten milk and cereals before he died. But chemical
analysis of his nails showed that he had more meat in his
diet than Clonycavan man.

This suggests that he died in a colder season than
Clonycavan man, when vegetables were more scarce. It may
also explain why his remains are better preserved.

Hopeful offering

The researchers used digital technology to reconstruct the
distorted face of Clonycavan man.

From his studies on these bog bodies and others, Ned Kelly,
keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum of
Ireland, has developed a new theory which explains why so
many remains are buried on important political or royal

"My belief is that these burials are offerings to the gods
of fertility by kings to ensure a successful reign," Mr
Kelly told the BBC's Timewatch programme.

"Bodies are placed in the borders immediately surrounding
royal land or on tribal boundaries to ensure a good yield
of corn and milk throughout the reign of the king."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/07 06:42:11 GMT


Bog Finds Call For New View Of Our Iron Age Ancestors

Early Irish history is being rewritten following the
discovery of two 2,300-year-old bodies in Irish bogs. An
intensive 18-month investigation since their recovery has
revealed important new findings and has forced a revision
of our understanding of Irish Iron Age society, writes Dick
Ahlstrom, Science Editor.

The National Museum of Ireland co-ordinated an
international effort to study the two bog bodies since 2003
when they were unearthed in counties Meath and Offaly. The
highly detailed forensic analysis was done by the State
Pathologist, the Garda Technical Bureau, experts from the
museum and up to 30 scientists from six countries.

The Irish Times publishes details of the research effort
this morning in co-operation with the BBC's Timewatch
programme, which filmed the work. The study showed the two
bodies, Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man, were both
murdered, victims of separate ritualistic killings before
the disposal of their bodies in bogs.

The intensive analysis also provided remarkable insights
into ancient society in Ireland. Clonycavan Man, for
example, used an expensive "Iron Age hair gel" made from
pine resin and imported from the Continent. Old Croghan Man
was something of a giant, standing an estimated 198cm (6ft
6 in), but electron microscope examination of his finger
nails showed he did no physical labour whatsoever.

Neither body was complete, but their exceptional state of
preservation meant that a great deal could be learned from
them, said the National Museum's assistant keeper of Irish
antiquities, Isabella Mulhall, who co-ordinated the

Perhaps most importantly, an expert at the museum has
developed a compelling new theory on late Bronze and early
Iron Age Irish society that should also help point the way
to new archaeological discoveries. The museum's keeper of
Irish antiquities, Ned Kelly, noted that both bog bodies
were discovered along ancient tribal boundaries. Looking
back he found that 40 body discoveries in Irish bogland
were made along boundaries.

He extended his search to include other late Bronze and
early Iron Age material and horse bits turned up along with
wooden yokes, weapons, cauldrons, personal ornaments,
crowns and gold collars on tribal borders. "These, I
believe, are items associated with kingship," said Mr

© The Irish Times


Opin: Bog Find: Face From The Past

A startling face stares from the front page of this
newspaper today, one with a dramatic tale to tell. Although
dead for 2,300 years the visage of this man speaks to us of
Iron Age Ireland and has much to say about life in times
long past. It tells a story of life and culture, but also
of murder most foul, of a ritual killing that snuffed out
the life of the person whom we now see as an archaeological

The face and torso belong to a man known only as Clonycavan
Man. He was recovered as a bog body found in waste peat in
Co Meath, an inauspicious return to a very changed Irish
social milieu compared to the one that would have been
familiar to him.

Bog bodies are rare and remarkable discoveries, but
Clonycavan Man, found in February 2003, was a sensation for
staff at the National Museum of Ireland, given his
exceptional state of preservation. The museum's
conservators were delighted with the internationally
important find but were stunned when a second, even better
preserved bog body was taken from the peat a few months
later, this time in Co Offaly.

Old Croghan Man was scooped up by a digger and emerged as a
torso and two fully intact arms and hands, but in such a
state of preservation that gardaí were immediately called
and a crime scene established. With two so important finds
at one time, the museum wisely decided to set up an
international team to study the bog bodies. Up to 30
experts from six countries were involved including museum
staff and specialists from the Republic and Northern

The results of their analysis and scientific findings are
revealed today by this newspaper, in co-operation with the
BBC's Timewatch programme. Timewatch followed the
scientists and museum staff as they slowly pieced together
the final hours of Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man. What
the experts revealed was a chilling tale of torture and
ritual death. Both men died violently, and the forensic
analysis tells us exactly how. Yet so well preserved were
the bodies that we have also learned new things about how
they lived. Clonycavan Man used expensive, imported Iron
Age "hair gel" and Old Croghan Man had a last meal of grain
and buttermilk.

More importantly, their discovery has pointed museum staff
towards a wholly new theory about the structure of Irish
Iron Age society. These findings will inform future
research and will help identify places where more bog
bodies and artefacts might be found. It says much about the
remarkable skills of those involved in the project that
Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man have communicated across
the centuries.

© The Irish Times


Fund To Find 'What's In A Name'

Southern News
By Staff Reporter

A new fund is to be set up to research the origins of old
Irish placenames, it emerged yesterday.

There are more than 60,000 townland names in Ireland, with
thousands more local names, but their meanings have often
been lost over time.

Community, rural and gaeltacht affairs minister Eamon O
Cuiv said he was setting up a e300,000 fund for students to
research the placenames.

"There is a particular richness in the placenames of this
country, particularly the Irish language placenames.

"They have come down to us from our ancestors and form an
important part of our culture and our heritage. They tell
us a lot about the origins of our home towns and about our
local history," he said.

Few people now know that Tallaght in Dublin took its name
from the Irish word 'tamlacht', a plague burial ground, or
that Ballyvourney in west Cork comes from 'Baile Boirne',
the homestead of the rocky place.

The funding will be made available through Ciste na Gaeilge
(The Irish Language Fund). Mr O Cuiv said he hoped it would
increase the level of research into placenames and the
level of interest in the subject among the public.

He has been embroiled in controversy over the renaming of
Dingle to An Daingean in Kerry, with some residents pushing
for a referendum on the issue.

The last major publication on Irish placenames was written
by elderly Irish Jesuit priest Fr Edmund Hogan in 1910.

At University College Cork, a team of researchers has been
working to replace the work with a new historical
dictionary of placenames.

"A lot of the work would be published but a lot of the work
would only be in manuscript form so we have to go down and
excerpt that," lecturer Dr Kevin Murray said.

The painstaking work on the Locus Project has seen two
books on placenames from A to B published so far, with with
another due on 'C' soon.

"It's slow work but the Irish language is skewed towards
'C'. When C is finished, half of the whole work will be
done," Dr Murray, who works in the Department of Early and
Medieval Irish Studies said.

The Placenames of Northern Ireland project, based in
Queen's University Belfast, has published eight volumes,
while research is also being carried out on Gaelic
placenames in Scotland and the Isle of Man.

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