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January 22, 2006

Ahern & Blair Dublin Meeting On Peace Process

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 01/23/06
Dublin Meeting To Review Peace Process Hopes
IT 01/23/06 US Congress Group Takes Keen Interest In North
IT 01/23/06 McDowell Says Farc Was Set To Pay IRA €20-30m
IT 01/23/06 Family Of Murdered Man To Meet US Senators
SF 01/22/06 De Brún To Palestine As Int’l Election Observer
IT 01/23/06 Casey Says He Has No Problem Repeating Apology
IT 01/23/06 Casey May Be Given Church Duties
IT 01/23/06 Opin: Casey Is Returning To A Changed Ireland
IT 01/23/06 Opin: Exorcism Should Be Consigned To Dustbin
BL 01/22/06 Satire: IRA Announce Massive Redundancies
IT 01/23/06 Call To Review Teaching Of Irish
IT 01/23/06 Plan To Accredit Irish Language Translators
TO 01/22/06 RKelly's Grandpa Was Interned IRA Quartermaster


Dublin Meeting To Review Peace Process Hopes

Dan Keenan and Mark Brennock

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Dublin on Thursday as the two governments prepare to push for full restoration of the Stormont political institutions this year.

Their meeting will take place the day before the two governments expect to receive a crucial report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) on the level of paramilitary activity since IRA decommissioning last year.

Dublin and London hope to work towards major inter-party negotiations at a series of meetings, the first of which is hoped for on February 6th.

The two leaders will meet at Farmleigh House, the Government announced last night.

"They will review the current position in the peace process, and will focus on the remaining issues that need to be addressed to bring about the full restoration of the democratic institutions of the Good Friday agreement," said a statement.

"In that context, they are also expected to emphasise the need for all of the parties to engage intensively in the coming months, beginning with the talks scheduled by the two governments for early February."

Bertie Ahern will be accompanied by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice, while Northern Secretary Peter Hain will accompany Mr Blair.

The IMC report is likely to be discussed by Cabinet next week and published the following day. It is expected to say that the IRA has been very quiet since decommissioning.

However, it is not known if it will give the totally clean bill of health that the governments hope will precede the attempt to make political progress.

The Irish Government is expected to emphasise the positive aspects of the report and to dispute the significance of any evidence that there have been isolated breaches of the ceasefires.

However, should the report back the view expressed to the North's Policing Board last week by PSNI deputy chief constable Sam Kinkaid that no paramilitary organisation had totally ended involvement in organised crime, it will make it more difficult to persuade the DUP to engage in full talks towards the restoration of the institutions.

PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde has publicly backed Mr Kinkaid. Mr Ahern, however, has played down the significance of what Mr Kinkaid said.

Speaking in India last week, Mr Ahern said: "I have to say, up to the information that I had got, which was Christmas week from the most senior officer [Mr Orde], was the view that things were going well.

"That certainly is the information that I have received from security forces in the South, and it is also the intelligence that I am receiving from No 10 Downing Street."

He hoped some individual crimes would not be allowed to hold up political progress.

Political sources expect Mr Blair to deliver a significant speech during the course of his visit either in Dublin or in the North. If multi-party talks are called, discussions with the two governments are expected to dwell on the obstacles to the restoration of devolution.

However, some parties which envisage a limited restoration pending the full restoration of the Belfast Agreement institutions are formulating "plan B" options.

© The Irish Times


US Congress Group Takes A Keen Interest In North

The chairman of the Friends of Ireland group in the US talks to Deaglán de Bréadún

President Bush had "a real affinity" for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, according to a senior US politician.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Republican Congressman James Walsh of New York, who chairs the highly-influential Friends of Ireland Committee in Washington, also said the Northern Ireland peace process was "a real success for American foreign policy".

"This is something that people in American politics want to be involved with, because it's a success. There's a paradigm here that can be applied elsewhere, but it requires patience, persistence and non-partisanship," he said.

Former president Bill Clinton had been intimately involved in the Good Friday negotiations and afterwards. His successor was also keenly interested in contributing to the success of the process, Mr Walsh said. "President Bush has engaged from time to time at the highest levels."

He had met all the political leaders: "He has a real affinity, certainly, for the Taoiseach." Mr Walsh was leading a delegation to meet political leaders, north and south. He said the purpose of the visit was to help to create some momentum and play an unobtrusive but constructive role in advance of the next report from the Independent Monitoring Commission which is expected early next month.

"When American members of Congress come, it shows that the international community is watching, are interested and, quite frankly, we think this has been a real success for American foreign policy as well as in the UK and Ireland," he said.

Mr Walsh has strong family connections with Killala, Co Mayo and Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Highlighting the wide area of agreement between political parties and institutions in the US on Ireland, he said: "There is an American position. It's not partisan. It's not executive versus legislative, it's truly bipartisan and bicameral."

On the policing issue, he said: "We all agree that Sinn Féin needs to join the Policing Board."

He acknowledged there had been difficulties over policing in the past, including a tremendous amount of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

But he had confidence in Chief Constable Hugh Orde whom he described as a true professional and Policing Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan was an honest broker.

He believed Sinn Féin would eventually join the board. "Adams and McGuinness have a sense of what they can do and when they can do it." Although he had not known Denis Donaldson, the former Sinn Féin representative in the US who was exposed as a British agent, he remarked: "It is astounding to me that the Stormont government was brought down ostensibly over a Sinn Féin spy-ring when, in fact, the spy was a British spy."

Mr Walsh urged the Democratic Unionist Party to "show some leadership and meet with all the political parties, including Sinn Féin, which they have not done, and argue and debate and begin the process of forming a government by putting their ideas forward".

Noting the DUP demand for devolution, he pointed out that the only way to achieve this was through the Belfast Agreement. "That's the only way they can get it."

Mr Walsh was accompanied by two other Congressmen, Republican James Murphy of Pennsylvania and Democrat Brian Higgins of Buffalo, New York.

The group last week met Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and party leaders in Northern Ireland.

© The Irish Times


McDowell Says Farc Was Set To Pay IRA €20-30m

Conor Lally

The IRA was to be paid between €20 million and €30 million to train Colombian Farc guerrillas in how to use explosives, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has said.

Intelligence in his possession indicated that had the training gone ahead as planned and the "Colombia Three" not been detected by the authorities in Colombia, the IRA was to be paid "between €20 million and €30 million" by Farc guerrillas.

He did not disclose the source of the intelligence on which he was basing his comments.

Mr McDowell has previously stated that the "Colombia Three" - Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan - had travelled to Colombia in August 2001 to train Farc rebels in exchange for a large sum of money for the IRA.

However, the estimated value of the arrangement has never been disclosed before now.

Mr McDowell has also said the monies that were to be paid by Farc had been raised by the group's involvement in the global cocaine trade.

The "Colombia Three" were convicted in Colombia of entering the country on false passports in 2001.

An acquittal on the more serious charge of training Farc guerrillas was later overturned by an appeal court, and a 17-year sentence imposed. The men jumped bail and reappeared in Ireland last August.

Last December Mr McDowell linked three other men to the plot, including former journalist Frank Connolly, a brother of Niall Connolly and director of the Centre for Public Inquiry (CPI). When the controversy broke the billionaire Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney withdrew his financial backing from the CPI.

In a reply to a parliamentary question at the time, Mr McDowell said that "prior to the arrest of the so-called Colombia Three in August 2001, authorities had established that three Irish people also entered Farc-controlled territory on false passports, and one of those was Frank Connolly". The other two men, he said, were Niall Connolly and convicted IRA member Pádraig Wilson.

When asked during an interview on Newstalk 106 yesterday if he was confident that prosecutions would follow arising from Mr Connolly's alleged use of a false passport in Colombia, Mr McDowell said: "It's not an offence under Irish law to have possession of a false passport in Colombia. It [travelling on a false passport] could be an offence if the evidence was available to the Director of Public Prosecutions provable beyond all reasonable doubt that he had such a passport."

He denied that the account he had given about Mr Connolly's alleged movements in Colombia and the IRA plans to train Farc guerrillas lacked credibility.

He said it was not possible to think of "an explanation which is more credible" than the "intelligence-based explanation" he had given.

© The Irish Times


Family Of Murdered Dublin Man To Meet Senators In US

Conor Lally

The family of Joseph Rafferty, who was murdered in Dublin last April, is to travel to the US next month to meet a number of senators including Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

The family believe there was IRA involvement in his killing.

The dead man's family will spend five days in New York and Washington. As well as meeting the three senators, they have also arranged talks with the US special envoy for Northern Ireland, Mitchell Reiss.

Mr Rafferty's family has made a request to meet President Bush but has not yet received a response from the White House. They are due to travel on February 4th.

Mr Rafferty's sister, Esther Uzell, said she was hopeful the visit would result in pressure in the US on Sinn Féin, who she believes can greatly assist gardaí in their investigation into her brother's murder.

"We're hoping it will pressurise them into handing up the murderer. The McCartney sisters managed to get a lot of publicity from their trip to the US.

"Up to that point, Sinn Féin had a policy of denying any responsibility by the republican movement in the murder of Robert McCartney, but that changed after the US visit."

Ms Uzell will be accompanied by her sister, Sandra, and her brother-in-law, Bart Little. Cllr Gary Keegan (FF), who has helped the family with its Justice for Joe campaign, will also travel.

The trip was first mooted last November when Ms Uzell met in Dublin with US ambassador James C Kenny. However, plans to travel that month were put on hold to allow time to organise meetings.

Mr Rafferty, a 29-year-old father of one, was shot dead last April in the Ongar housing estate in west Dublin where he lived. He was originally from the south inner city. In the months leading to his murder he had become embroiled in a dispute with a family from that area.

Mr Rafferty was told a number of times by members of the family he had clashed with that he would be "got" by the IRA. The woman whose sons he had become embroiled with is in a relationship with a former member of the IRA. The man has also worked on Sinn Féin election campaigns. He is the only suspect in the murder.

Ms Uzell believes that because of the suspect's association with Sinn Féin/IRA, the republican movement has a responsibility to help bring him to justice.

© The Irish Times


Bairbre De Brún To Travel To Palestine As International Election Observer

Published: 22 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will tomorrow (Monday 23rd January)embark on a week long visit to Palestine.

Ms de Brún is travelling as part of a delegation from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament to observe the legislative elections in the country on Wednesday 25th January.

Speaking before the visit Ms de Brún said:

"My visit to Palestine comes at a time of instability and uncertainty in the Middle East. Part of my responsibility will be to observe the electoral process and to ascertain whether or not the election has been held in a free and fair manner, free from intimidation.

"It is crucial that the Palestinian people are given the opportunity to participate in the democratic electoral process. It is also essential that candidates and their election workers are not hindered in any way.

"I look forward to my forthcoming visit and being able to engage with the Palestinian people, and to find out at first hand the prospects for peace in Palestine and the region as a whole." ENDS


Opin: Let’s take the ‘but’ out of politics on both sides of the Border

“A PLAGUE on both your houses.” So said Shakespeare’s Romeo of the Montagues and Capulets before he expired.

Sometimes I think he’s really been listening to the Northern Ireland news - albeit from the vantage point of 17th century Verona. And pretty sickening news it very often is.

I refer this time to a bunch of fascist thugs, who call themselves loyalists, barging their way into a college in east Belfast and threatening students to leave the area.

In my line of work I’m in the odd position of living in a loyalist area of north Belfast, working in a mixed area of south Belfast and spending a lot of time in both the Irish Republic and mainland Britain.

It makes for an interesting perspective.

One thing that really gets my goat, when I’m south of the Border, is what I call “the Fenian ‘but’”. This is a process of denial whereby many people in the Republic who don’t condone IRA terrorism or thuggery like nonetheless to transfer blame to unionism or the Brits.

It usually goes along the lines of “yes, that was terrible, but...”

The ‘but’ being usually that it’s all really Britain’s fault.

The Fenian ‘but’ makes me sick. It makes me wholly unsympathetic towards any nationalist or republican perspective on Irish history or politics. These days, whenever I hear the slightest criticism from anybody south of the Border aimed against Britain, I switch off.

The fact remains that the IRA alone are responsible for the nine out of every 10 people killed during the Troubles and that no blame whatsoever for IRA crimes can be laid at Britain’s or unionism’s door.

End of story. Don’t care about the Famine, etc.

However, this cuts both ways as there is also, it seems, a loyalist ‘but’. A lot of people will say loyalist paramilitary thuggery is wrong and then qualify it with a ‘but’. This is a bit like saying “I’m not a racist, but you have to admit.....” Something else you hear far too much of in Ireland, both sides of the Border.

However much the British and Irish governments have appeased IRA terrorism under the Good Friday Agreement, and however sickening this is, nothing justifies sectarian thuggery.

At bottom line, the Fenian ‘buts’ are IRA apologists, the loyalist ‘buts’ are apologists for sectarian thuggery on their own side and anyone who says “I’m not a racist but” is a racist.

Of course, there shouldn’t be segregated schools and colleges in Northern Ireland. All should be secular, integrated, and religion should banned from them.

Not that the loyalist thugs who attacked a school recently would agree with that. They want segregation. This is why Blair’s ideas about freedom of choice in education, which are unacceptable anywhere in Britain, have particular repercussions in the North that should be knocked on the head.

This is why Tory leader David Cameron’s idea that schools should be allowed to select their own pupils is even worse... with the same rules applying.

And as ever with any form of progressive legislation in Northern Ireland, this has to backed up by a big stick - in this case, the tearing up of the Good Friday Agreement and dragooning all this sectarian rabble back into prison.

On the devolved parliament, stuff your Sinn Féin-DUP coalition. Keep direct rule from Westminster until there’s a Labour party in Northern Ireland and the electorate are mature enough to vote for it.

Roger Cottrell
Queens University


Bishop Casey Says He Has No Problem Repeating Apology

Former bishop of Galway Dr Eamonn Casey has said he has no problem with apologising for the past, write Patsy McGarry and Lorna Siggins in Beagh, Co Galway

Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday about the announcement of his return to Ireland, he said he had done so before but would do so again. "I clearly did apologise, and will again. I have no problem with it. It is not an issue," he said.

Yesterday Bishop of Galway Dr Martin Drennan said of Bishop Casey: "I think in some way he has let the church down and that requires some admission of guilt. Yes, I think a public apology would be very welcome in that sense."

While Dr Casey will not have a pastoral role, the parish priest in the Co Galway village where he will live said Dr Casey's involvement in the parish would be welcome.

Dr Casey told The Irish Times on Saturday that he has not been contacted by gardaí or police in Britain, or by health authorities in either jurisdiction, in connection with child sex abuse allegations made against him by a middle-aged woman last November.

She claimed the abuse took place over three decades ago in Ireland and has made similar unproven allegations against others in the past.

Dr Casey, who has vigorously denied the allegations and is said to be profoundly distressed by them, has indicated he will not be returning to Ireland until formally notified by civil and church authorities that the investigation has been completed and he has been cleared.

Regarding an apology he recalled a statement he issued days after he resigned in May 1992 when he said: "I have confessed my sins to God and I have asked His forgiveness, as I ask yours."

In November 1993, during a Sunday Tribune interview with the late Veronica Guerin, he repeated the apology and said he regretted "deeply the hurt I have caused to so many people, especially Annie [Murphy] and Peter [his son]."

It is understood Dr Casey and his son Peter (31) are long since reconciled and have developed a close relationship.

They meet regularly. Contact between Dr Casey and Annie Murphy is minimal but without animosity on either side.

Fr Patrick Callanan, parish priest in Beagh in Co Galway where Dr Casey will live, said at Mass yesterday that he would be "delighted to let him get involved in the parish", when he has been cleared of the allegations. "I will also be able to avail of his advice when the occasion demands."

Parishioners confirmed that they had been consulted beforehand by Fr Callanan about Dr Casey's move there. They welcomed it and hoped he would take up pastoral duties."He will be very welcome, and it is just a pity he didn't come straight here after all that happened 14 years ago," said Gerry Murray.

© The Irish Times


Casey May Be Given Church Duties

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Former bishop of Galway Dr Eamonn Casey may be asked to perform church duties in south Galway if he is cleared of recent abuse allegations.

Dr Casey would not be involved in any pastoral activities for "the foreseeable future", Fr Patrick Callanan, parish priest of Kilbeacanty and Beagh, said at Mass in Shangaglish church, Beagh, Co Galway yesterday, where Dr Casey is due to live.

"But when he is allowed, and if he so wishes, I will be delighted to let him get involved in the parish," Fr Callanan said.

The parish of Beagh is about three miles south of Gort.

Speaking after Mass yesterday, parishioners confirmed that they had been consulted beforehand by Fr Callanan about Dr Casey's possible move there. They welcomed it and hoped he would take up pastoral duties.

Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary led welcomes by church figures and politicians:

"I have no doubt that the people of the west of Ireland will warmly welcome Bishop Éamonn back amongst us. It is my hope that he will be afforded a peaceful and private retirement in Galway."

Bishop of Galway Dr Martin Drennan said yesterday that a public apology from Dr Casey "would be very welcome". It would be "part of the healing process", he said on RTÉ Radio 1's News at One.

"There was immense hurt and pain the time he left Ireland," Dr Drennan told journalists in Clarenbridge, Co Galway on Saturday night. "What I have been impressed by is the quality of forgiveness I have heard around Galway from people and priests . . . that says not only can he come back, but that he'll be welcome back. That's a huge tribute to Irish people."

Dr Drennan said that a Garda investigation into abuse allegations made against Dr Casey late last year was continuing.

Guidelines would be applied here as they had in England, meaning Dr Casey would not be allowed unsupervised access to children, his activities would be monitored and the police would be made aware of his movements, he said.

"What happened in the past has shocked people and we expect him now to live as any priest would live, to live in celibacy and to live with the standards that any priest would expect to live in his own life," Dr Drennan said.

Mayor of Galway Cllr Brian Walsh (FG) also welcomed news of Dr Casey's return. A former mayor and Labour Party president Michael D Higgins said there was "not a jot of good in imposing a punishment of exile on him".

Mr Higgins praised Dr Casey's "courageous" stance 25 years ago when he helped to persuade US bishops to oppose giving arms to El Salvador.

During the visit of US president Ronald Reagan to Galway, Dr Casey had declined a request from gardaí to remove protesters, including Mr Higgins, from the Galway cathedral grounds, Mr Higgins added.

© The Irish Times

Opin: Casey Is Returning To A Changed Ireland

Conor Brady recalls the momentous events that ensued after he was contacted by Annie Murphy

For many Irish people under the age of 30, the significance accorded to the Bishop Casey saga in the early 1990s is baffling. Roman Catholic priests - even bishops - who experience various difficulties with celibacy now turn up regularly in the news. Some of my adult childrens' friends shake their heads in wry amusement when people of my generation try to explain the significance of what happened in 1992 when the Eamonn Casey story broke.

In January 1992, an American woman, Annie Murphy, and her partner, Arthur Pennell, contacted The Irish Times with information that Ms Murphy had had a lengthy relationship with the bishop of Galway, Eamonn Casey. They claimed that Casey was the father of Annie's son, Peter, then aged 17.

The implications of such a report - if it were to be true - would have been shocking in Ireland of 1992. The Roman Catholic hierarchy was a powerful, phalanx-like institution. It the early 1990s it was drawn up in full battle-order against the rising influence of secularism in Ireland. Backed by a charismatic pope in Rome, it was determined that the traditional influence and prerogatives of the church in Ireland would not be dissipated.

Bishop Casey was one of its strong men. He was not perhaps regarded as one of its main intellectual pillars. But his forceful personality, his natural flair for publicity, and his ease with the media, all combined to give him what was arguably the highest profile in the hierarchy. He had been master-of-ceremonies when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979. He was a frequent guest on TV and radio shows. He was popular, well-known and highly-regarded among a Catholic faithful, many of whom were growing doubtful about aspects of their church but who desperately wanted to see their loyalty and their faith vindicated.

By the 1990s, that loyalty and faith had begun to teeter, to slip, as the secularist agenda gradually gained ground. A privileged position, a set of values and a power-structure that had prevailed in Ireland since the Famine were beginning to weaken. The church was under pressure to yield ground. A scandal of these proportions, involving a senior member of the hierarchy, would probably tip the balance conclusively in the struggle. And arguably it did.

Yet Bishop Casey's involvement with Annie Murphy was consensual and, it appears to have been, for a time at least, a loving relationship. Put the church's rules aside - and what could be more natural? Today, the younger generation asks: what was all the fuss about? Did we believe that all the bishops and priests were plaster saints?

Faced with the task of investigating the story, The Irish Times had little to go on for some time beyond Annie Murphy's own word.

Some senior journalists were uncomfortable with being asked to work on the inquiries and requested reassignment. People who might corroborate Annie's claims refused to go on the record and even to confirm important details off the record. It would have been utterly unjust to publish such an allegation against Bishop Casey without solid, supporting evidence. And if we were being sold a pup or if we were unable to prove what we published, the consequences for the newspaper's reputation and credibility would be catastrophic.

After three weeks, the newspaper was able to establish that diocesan funds had been diverted by the bishop for Annie and Peter's maintenance. Armed with this information, we requested an interview with him. He agreed to meet two journalists at a Dublin hotel but instead he flew to New York. The next morning we published the details of the missing money. And within days, the full story had come out, although I often wonder what processes of validation were applied in certain other news media in preparing their reports.

Oddly, there was little disbelief in the public reaction. But there was widespread shock and a sense of betrayal among the faithful. The church preached sexual continence outside of marriage; it refused the sacraments to people who used artificial contraception; it railed against divorce, homosexuality and abortion. Yet here was the bishop of Galway, breaking his own rules, drawing money from church funds to pay for his sins and then running away instead of facing the music.

Over the years, countless Catholics have acknowledged that it was the moment of truth for them. It was the point at which they decided that their church had lost credibility and forfeited the right to demand their obedience.

And there was anger - although it is fair to say that it soon gave way to a more general sense of forgiveness. In truth, the laity proved themselves a great deal more forgiving of their pastors' sins at this time than some of the pastors had been towards the laity down the decades. In time, these came to be seen as relatively innocent days and Bishop Casey's offences came to be regarded as relatively venial compared to the horrors of clerical sex abuse that unfolded as the decade went by.

Today, the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is striving to create itself anew. Participation in services and attendance at the sacraments have fallen away. There is a healthy scepticism towards the hierarchy's pronouncements. Among many former Catholics, there is a positive antipathy towards their church, its clergy and its hierarchy. A once-mighty fortress of orthodoxy and conformity is in ruins. And there can be little doubt that the first major breaching of its walls occurred in 1992 with the flight of Bishop Casey.

The place of religion, and in particular the role of the Roman Catholic church in public life has been redefined. It is difficult for younger people to appreciate the power it once wielded or the extent to which politicians, officials, business, the professional classes and others vied in order to make manifest their conformity and obedience.

I believe that the Casey affair had at least one immediately positive consequence. I feel sure it enabled some of those who had suffered abuse at the hands of churchmen to speak out in the years that followed. It gave them courage. Heretofore no allegation or accusation against a churchman stood much of a chance of being believed in Ireland. When it became clear that a bishop could live a lie, divert diocesan funds and flee the consequences of his actions, that changed.

Eamonn Casey's planned return, in the evening of his life, is a good metaphor for the changes that have taken place. A more confident, more mature Ireland will treat him kindly, and relate to him as the human being that he is rather than the powerful authority he once represented. May he have many peaceful years among the people of Galway.

Conor Brady was editor of The Irish Times from 1986 to 2003

© The Irish Times


Opin: Exorcism Should Be Consigned To The Dustbin Of History

Rite and Reason: Exorcism, like limbo, should be consigned forever to the dustbin of history, writes Fr James Good

Up to quite recently most people would have acclaimed Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code as one of the great hoaxes of our time. Now it seems that we have a revival of a rival: exorcism.

We all remember the 70s film The Exorcist and now, apparently, we have a repeat of sorts in a more recent film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It is the story of a German girl who, supposed to be possessed, was exorcised by two priests. After her death the two exorcists and her parents were convicted in connection with her death. Quite rightly, I believe.

And here in Ireland, over recent months, we have had high-profile exorcists making the news in the media.

Over 30 years ago, on November 15th, 1974, I wrote an article in The Irish Times on exorcism, pointing out that the Catholic Church seemed at long last to be bringing a little common sense to the area.

The church abolished the Order of Exorcist in 1972. (I wonder did that undo my ordination as an exorcist in 1946?) Around the same time it cancelled the dreadful exorcism which formed part of the rite of baptism. Imagine parents of today hearing (no longer in Latin) the form of exorcism used on their new-born baby:

"I exorcise you, unclean spirit...Come forth, depart from this servant of God...accursed Devil, acknowledge your condemnation...You, O Devil, depart: for the judgment of God has come..."

We can thank God that our generation has seen the last of that barbaric rite, along with the equally barbaric ritual of "churching" a woman after the birth of a baby - the theory being that she had to be "purified" after the event.

The card authorising a mother to be churched contained only one Latin word - purificetur - "let her be purified. Churching, like limbo, is gone forever to the dustbin of history.

I wish we could say the same for exorcism. We believe today that human personality is incommunicable - that it cannot be shared or "possessed" by any other being, whether human, demonic, or even by God himself. Psychiatry has made, and continues to make, great strides in identifying many forms of mental illness which in former times would have been labelled demonic possession.

My own 24 years in Africa may be of interest here. I can claim to have been in some of the most remote parts of so-called "darkest Africa" - possibly the first priest to have visited them - and I never met anything to suggest demonic possession.

In fact in 57 years of priesthood, my only brushes with the supposed "preternatural" occurred at midnight in the Lough church in Cork. In the first case I walked across the sanctuary in the dark and literally fell over a coffin. (I fled).

On the other and similar occasion, I heard ghostly footsteps approaching up the centre of the church. After an initial temptation to run, I confronted the "footsteps" and found that they belonged to an over-pious individual who had locked himself into a confessional in the hope of collecting some old prayer books at his leisure.

One of my prized possessions is a Roman Ritual, printed in 1938, which gives instructions for exorcists and long lists of psalms and prayers to be recited by them. It is difficult to believe that medieval fantasies about demons could have survived for so long into the modern era.

The 21 instructions are childish in their credulity. Among the signs of demonic possession given are the following: the demon may be expected to speak many words in an unknown language, or to understand someone speaking this; to reveal faraway or hidden things; to show strength above the level of his age or condition; other things of this type, when very many occur together, are stronger indications of possession.

Incidentally, the "possessed" person is to be "tied up" (ligatum) if there is danger involved.

The exorcist is then warned of many tricks that the demon may play: he may give false answers to questions asked; he may prove difficult in the hope of tiring the exorcist and thus persuade him to give up; the demon might even take a break and allow the subject to receive Holy Communion to deceive the exorcist into believing the demon had gone.

Rule 19 gives special directions in the case of exorcism of a female, the purpose here being to preserve modesty and avoid giving bad habits to the exorcist or to others who may be present. There is much else along these lines.

May I at this stage say to would-be exorcists out there: "Stop, in God's name. Call in a psychiatrist."

Fr James Good is a retired missionary priest and emeritus professor of theology and lecturer in medical ethics at UCC

© The Irish Times


January 22, 2006

Satire: IRA Announce Massive Redundancies

Posted by damien

Outsourcing, globalisation and increased cost of knee-capping blamed by regional IRA commanders. 'A disaster for the community' says murky, balaclava-wearing figure.

(BELFAST) The IRA today announced several hundred lay-offs, effective from tomorrow morning 9 a.m. The shocking move comes at the end of a period of intense market speculation: speculation which has focused on the organisations' ability to compete in the new ‘Global terrorism market’.

The economy of the European Union has been in a period of transition: with the inclusion of the ten new member states, the axis of power has shifted. The associated economic impact has been felt globally and, at a local level, made it increasingly more and more difficult for the Army to makes ends meet.

'We simply can't compete' said an IRA spokesman, yesterday. 'The cost of doing business (pushes glasses up nose) is becoming prohibitive in Ireland now. The market has been flooded by cheap Eastern-European labour. These guys will do four times the work at one quarter of the going market rate'.

Knee-cappings, racketeering, maiming, intimidation and battering drug-dealers senseless have always been the portfolio of a home-grown workforce, but now former Eastern-block countries are offering an abundance of experienced, talented terrorists who will do the same job, for a fraction of the price.

"Add to this, the salient (and all too-often overlooked) fact that there are a small army of scum-bags south of the border willing to off your mother for the price of a Ryanair flight to Alicante, and you can begin to appreciate the situation. Market erosion had been a steady and ever-present factor on the business landscape since the mid 1980’s, but now we find ourselves under siege" said a large, tattooed man that we met in a Belfast car-park.

And it's not just the Republicans who have had to make cuts. High-labour costs and strictly enforced union rules have meant that the UDA have been forced to make radical changes to their employment structures. 'Basically, these Polack lads will come in, hack an arm off, kick a head in, shit on you and throw you in a bog for roughly one third of the cost that one of our lads will do it for. We can't compete against that. We just can’t,’ said another random man.

‘Throw in the fact that they have some serious muscle behind them and well, I dunno; let's just say that things don't look good for us right now…' he informed us with leaden solemnity.

Looking forward, it's hard to see how paramilitary organisations will cope. In the wake of this news, it has been suggested by several prominent economic observers and cross-border Government shit-tanks, that the only solution may be a drastic one: make all staff immediately redundant and re-register the organisations in an entirely different country, where management can take advantage of a more favourable tax regime and the cheaper cost of labour. Like Colombia.

Posted by damien at January 22, 2006 04:27 PM


Call To Review Teaching Of Irish

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has acknowledged that a radical review of Irish language teaching in schools is necessary.

However, in a debate with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny in Galway at the weekend, Mr Ó Cuív said there would be no change in Government policy in relation to Irish on the Leaving Certificate curriculum.

Mr Kenny has suggested the subject should be optional after the Junior Certificate. Significantly, Mr Ó Cuív said it was "farcical" that English and maths could be dropped after Junior Certificate, while Irish could not.

"Most parents ensure that their children don't drop English and maths, which is why we don't have a debate about it," Mr Ó Cuív said, during the debate hosted by the university's Cumann Eigse agus Seanchais and Conradh na Gaeilge on the Irish language budget.

There was an urgent need to undertake a radical review of Irish language teaching, he said.

"Irish reflects a unique heritage, and a world heritage which we hold in trust," he said. "It is only right that every child being educated in Ireland should have the right to be taught both languages in the first and second level systems."

There had been monumental mistakes in relation to Irish tuition, but it was not the abysmal failure that had been portrayed.

Some one million people said they knew Irish, and 100,000 said they spoke it daily, according to Census figures, and the growth in Gaelscoileanna showed that there was a continued demand for language tuition.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said his proposal on optional Irish for the Leaving Certificate was only one part of a wider plan by his party to review the teaching of Irish. The Irish Language Commissioner had referred to a cost of €500 million for teaching Irish, but a significant number of students had no command of the language.

"I genuinely believe that we have to have a national audit of the language, encompassing value for money, and we need to set realistic proposals for its future." Yet there was much "hypocrisy", with only two Irish language inspectors in the State to cover 700 secondary schools, 100 Irish-speaking children in Connemara who had no access to speech therapy in their mother tongue, and no one in the Dáil secretariat capable of answering a letter in Irish.

If fundamentals at primary level focused on oral, rather than written, Irish and if there was a radical review, children might want to continue the subject after Junior Certificate, he said.

© The Irish Times


Plan To Accredit Irish Language Translators

Chris Dooley

An official accreditation system is to be established for the first time for Irish language translators.

Examinations are to be held next month and at regular intervals subsequently with a view to establishing a panel of recognised translators by May, Foras na Gaeilge has announced.

Demand for the services of Irish language translators has increased as a result of the Official Languages Act, which requires public bodies to provide a minimum level of Irish services to the public, including the publication of major reports in Irish.

The Act also obliges bodies to correspond in Irish when requested.

Further translator posts will be created next year when Irish becomes the 21st official and working language of the EU.

Announcing the establishment of an accreditation system, Foras na Gaeilge said the increasing popularity of Irish had created a need for more translators. It said the system was being set up at the request of Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív.

"This innovative accreditation system will ensure high standards in the translation industry while safeguarding the reputation of competent translators.

"The system is primarily for the benefit of individual translators and aims to make a panel of accredited translators available to the public and private sectors."

Mr Ó Cuív has indicated in the past that the Official Languages Act could provide jobs for up to 2,000 people with competence in Irish. Separately, it has been predicted that the decision to make Irish a working language of the EU will create between 20 and 30 jobs for Irish translators and interpreters in the European institutions.

From next January all primary legislation approved by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament will be translated into Irish.

Foras na Gaeilge chief executive Seosamh MacDonncha said the organisation was delighted to be involved in a "pioneering" accreditation system for the Irish-English translators.

The standard of translation was already high in Ireland, he said, with the majority of translators being very dedicated to the language.

However, an accreditation system would help ensure standards were maintained.

Foras na Gaeilge is a North-South implementation body founded as a result of the Belfast Agreement. It is responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout the 32 counties.

© The Irish Times


Ruth Kelly's Grandfather Was Interned IRA Quartermaster

By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent

THE grandfather of Ruth Kelly, the embattled Education Secretary, was an IRA officer who was interned by the Northern Ireland Government 80 years ago on a notorious prison ship during a terror campaign in the fledgeling state.

Philip Murphy is described as quartermaster of the West Fermanagh IRA Battalion in a handwritten note in his file held by the Northern Ireland Public Records Office. He went on hunger strike to protest at his detention.

Ms Kelly’s spokesperson yesterday confirmed that Mr Murphy was the Education Secretary’s grandfather, but declined to comment on private family matters. However, she would be interested to see the documents, which are new to her, the spokesperson said. If Ms Kelly survives her current travails over sex offenders in teaching posts and is one day rewarded with a promotion to Home Secretary, she will doubtless find the story of her grandfather illuminating in relation to the War on Terror. Critics of British support for the US policy of interning terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay will find fascinating comparisons.

Mr Murphy, a railway porter, was one of 700 suspects arrested in May 1922 during an IRA bombing and shooting campaign orchestrated by Michael Collins along the newly defined border separating Northern Ireland from the Irish Free State.

An Internment Order signed by Richard Dawson Bates, the hardline Northern Ireland Home Affairs Minister, states that Mr Murphy was arrested “on the recommendation of the Inspector-General RUC.”

The document continues: “It is expedient that Phil (sic) Murphy of Castlecoole, Enniskillen, in the County Fermanagh, who is suspected of being about to act in a manner prejudicial to the preservation of the peace and the maintenance of order in Northern Ireland, should be interned.”

In his role as quartermaster, Mr Murphy would have been responsible for the distribution and safe-keeping of all IRA weapons in his brigade area.

He was taken to Londonderry and from there to the workhouse in Larne, Co Antrim, before being transferred to the notorious prison ship SS Argenta, a leaky barge moored at the mouth of Belfast Lough where untried prisoners were kept in horrendous conditions below decks in cages.

He was released unconditionally in June 1924 after a fellow prisoner, Cahir Healy, was elected to the House of Commons as MP for Fermanagh and Tyrone. His election was such an embarrassment to Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister, that pressure was brought to bear on the Stormont Government to end internment.

Mr Murphy’s request to attend his father’s funeral a few months before his release was turned down. In a letter held in his file and written to a friend called “Micheal”, Mr Murphy expressed his grief over his father’s death.

Giving his address on board SS Argenta simply as “The Deep”, he also described how other internees were prepared to do “the most degrading deals” with the prison authorities in return for their release.

Nor did he make any secret of his contempt for the newly founded Northern Ireland state in his letter.

Mr Murphy brooded upon his chances of release, asked for writing paper, envelopes and stamps and added: “I am scrawling this note in bed with very bad light so you’ll overlook bad writing, mistakes etc.”

Mr Murphy married after his release, fathering a son and two daughters, who all became school teachers. One of them, Gertrude, is Ms Kelly’s mother.

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