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January 12, 2006

Belfast Man's Duel w/ US Authorities

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 01/12/06 Belfast Man's Duel With The US Authorities
IN 01/12/06 Republic Freezes Its OTR Proposals
IN 01/12/06 Bill ‘Killed’ But Issue Must Be Revisited
BT 01/12/06 Durkan Broadside At 'Dishonest' SF
BT 01/12/06 Talks With PM Forced Climbdown, Says Dad
IN 01/12/06 Kenny Urges Full Finucane Inquiry
IN 01/12/06 Ex-RUC Breaks Silence On Sectarianism
IN 01/12/06 UDA ‘May Oust’ Shoukri Over Lifestyle
IN 01/12/06 Fresh Initiative On Cards
SF 01/12/06 SF Will Pursue 2 Govts Need For Progress
IN 01/12/06 Viable Device In Stolen Car In Alert
IN 01/12/06 Compensation For SF Supporter
BB 01/12/06 Flats Searched Over Devlin Murder
IO 01/12/06 Three Times More Cocaine Use In Republic
DI 01/12/06 Opin: Mary O’Rourke, Tony Banks & Bertie
DI 01/12/06 Opin: Trainspotting Not Government Option
IN 01/12/06 Opin: Chill Factor Too High For Agreement
IN 01/12/06 Son Launches Yeats Display
PH 01/12/06 Bk Rev: Cozy Pub & Chapel On The River
BT 01/12/06 New Farming Methods Put Birds In Decline


Belfast Man's Cat-And-Mouse Duel With The US

By Linda McKee
12 January 2006

A Belfast man who worked undocumented in the US for
nine years has described the game of cat-and-mouse
that began after the September 11 attacks.

Irish immigrants were forced to steer clear of public
transport during busy periods for fear of being
rounded up by police searching for illegals, he said.

Under the Sensenbrenner Bill, recently approved by the
House of Representatives, hundreds of thousands of
Irish immigrants could find themselves squeezed even
further if rules criminalising anyone helping illegals
are introduced.

The Bill would require employers to verify the Social
Security numbers of their employees and impose heavy
fines on anyone who refuses to comply. The crackdown
would hit restaurants and construction companies
hiring Irish workers.

The passing of the Bill has prompted the launch of the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which has called
for legal status for more than 25,000 illegal Irish
immigrants living in the US.

One Belfast man who lived in the US for nine years
described how authorities tightened up on illegals
after 9/11.

"You had to be really careful then because the police
would board domestic trains travelling within the
country, searching for illegals.

"A group of Irish kids who had stayed beyond the three
months were found on a train. They were taken to jail
for a while before being deported. Basically, you just
had to be ultra careful when moving around and at busy
times avoid public transport as much as possible."

After 9/11, the man's passport was swiped as he
boarded an internal flight, so he knew he was now
registered on the system.

"I was in a kind of limbo as I knew it would be OK to
head home but they would see that I had stayed too
long and I would never be able to return," he said.

The man, now living in Northern Ireland, favours the
proposed McCain Kennedy immigration bill, which would
allow illegal immigrants eventually to become
citizens, applying for six-year work permits before
ultimately applying for permanent citizenship.

"I think it would be a good thing for both the
government and the people, as the government isn't
getting any tax from these illegals at the moment.
People who have been there over three years will be
allowed to stay and work even if they aren't offered


Republic Freezes Its OTR Proposals

By Staff Reporters

PROPOSALS pardoning ‘on the runs’ in the Republic have
been frozen, amid calls for the British government to
put victims first in any legislation on the
controversial issue.

Momentum was growing last night for a “truth recovery
pro- cess” to begin without delay after a day of drama
saw the British government scrap its OTR bill.

Political observers believe there is now no prospect
of the legislation – which would have allowed ‘on the
run’ (OTR) paramilitaries wanted for crimes committed
be- fore the 1998 Good Friday Agreement to return
without being jailed – being reintroduced, at least in
its present form.

Secretary of State Peter Hain’s announcement in the
Commons yesterday was claimed as a victory by the
bill’s many critics.

The only party to support the OTR bill had been Sinn

But it later withdrew support because it also covered
members of the security forces accused of involvement
in crime.

From the outset, the SDLP fiercely opposed the

Victims’ groups from across the sectarian divide last
night welcomed the development.

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said now was
the time to deal properly with the past.

“We would say now is the optimum moment for the
British government to engage in a genuine truth
recovery process which adheres to international
principles of truth recovery, ie that it is
independent, international and that it deals with a
collective past,” he said.

William Frazer, of Families Acting for Innocent
Relatives (Fair) said the law should not have been
proposed in the first place.

“The victims’ groups on both sides have been punching
above their weight. People are sick and tired of the
way they have been treated,” he said.

Raymond McCord, who claimed Special Branch officers
plotted with UVF men who killed his son Raymond jnr in
north Belfast in 1997, welcomed the development.

“If we live in a democracy and you commit murder you
should go to jail,” he said.

“But under this plan those involved in young Raymond’s
murder wouldn’t have served a day behind bars.”

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams claimed the British
government would have to come back with a new
blueprint his party could live with.

He said the scrapping of the bill was recognition that
it was “unacceptable” and responsibility to resolve
the OTR issue “rests with the British government”.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan welcomed the withdrawal of the
bill but warned against any move by the British
government to recycle it at a later stage.

“It is not an unqualified welcome because I am
concerned that the implication of some of the
secretary of state’s other remarks is that this may be
recycled in some other form in the future.”


Bill ‘Killed’ But Issue Must Be Revisited

By William Graham Political Correspondent

Secretary of State Peter Hain may have ‘killed the
bill’ but the question of ‘on the runs’ is an issue
that will not go away.

Essentially this issue is in abey-ance or temporarily
set aside and will have to be revisited both in the
northern and southern jurisdictions. There is no
prospect of the bill being reintroduced at least in
its present form but clearly another way forward will
have to be found.

The withdrawal of the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill
at Westmin-ster also means that proposals in the
Republic for dealing with on-the- runs are frozen.

It will be recalled that in 2001 during the Weston
Park discussions the British and Irish governments
agreed that the issue would have to be addressed.

And in 2003, in the context of the Joint Declaration,
the two governments confirmed their intention to deal
with the issue, in the context of acts of completion.

At that time it was clearly understood that the two
governments would act in tandem on this issue – the
relevant schemes would come into operation in the two
jurisdictions at the same time.

Now it is back to the drawing board for the British
government and it will be interesting to see what
tactics Sinn Fein adopt in further discussions about
‘on the runs’.

Clearly there will be an attempt to separate
republican ‘on the runs’ from the question of dealing
with members of the security forces who have committed

A political term to watch out for in the future may be

The SDLP, which has all along strongly opposed the
bill, is concerned that there may be an attempt
sometime to recycle the legislation in another form.

There may have been many reasons for the withdrawal of
this bill.

In the House of Commons Ulster Unionist MP Lady Hermon
questioned whether it was true that some members of
the Northern Ireland judiciary were opposed to
operating the ‘on the run’ legislation. Mr Hain could
not comment on this matter.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein believes that the British
government has breached the agreement covering on-the-
runs and it needs to go back to that agreement and
make it work.

Yesterday a Sinn Fein source said the issue had still
to be dealt with and the party would discuss this with
the British government in due course but it had to be
rooted in the agreement made several years ago.

When asked if Sinn Fein would tactically try and go
for a decoupling of OTRs from the British Army and
police aspect of any legislation, the Sinn Fein source
replied: “As far as we are concerned the British Army,
the PSNI, RUC, MI5, FRU etc... there are a range of
organisations out there belonging to the British
state, which have been involved in actions, many of
them illegal, over a very long time.

“If the British can deal with that in whatever way
they choose to – clearly there is an issue of how one
deals with the past, the events of the past – and all
of this has to do with truth processes.

“We believe there needs to be truth processes.

“We are very open to discussing with the British and
with victims organisations and others how all of these
things may be tackled.”

But Sinn Fein maintains OTR was an issue that had been
negotiated with the British government several years
ago and it gave a commitment to deal with that issue,
which involves a small number of people and it still
has to resolve that.

As far as Sinn Fein is concerned the OTR issue is

If there are other issues to be dealt with such as
collusion, including British collusion with loyalist
paramilitaries, or issues around the Bloody Sunday
Tribunal, the Pat Finucane inquiry, the Rosemary
Nelson inquiry and others, then these are clearly on
the agenda.

Significantly, however, Sinn Fein believes the OTRs
and other such issues should not prove to be a
distraction from the big picture of focusing on trying
to restore the political institutions.


Durkan Broadside At 'Dishonest' SF

By Chris Thornton
12 January 2006

Sinn Fein only turned against the OTRs legislation
because the Government was about to force fugitives to
appear in court, SDLP leader Mark Durkan claimed

Mr Durkan continued his political onslaught against
Sinn Fein over the legislation after the Government
announced yesterday that it was being scrapped.

He accused Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams of being
"dishonest" about the reasons for reversing support of
the proposed scheme, which would have allowed Troubles
offenders to avoid jail.

Sinn Fein initially welcomed the Bill but changed
their position last month. Secretary of State Peter
Hain indicated yesterday that he was dropping the
legislation because Sinn Fein had told republicans not
to participate in the scheme.

At the same time, Mr Hain confirmed that the
Government had been preparing to amend the legislation
to overcome objections in the House of Commons. Those
amendments would have inserted a requirement for OTRs
- short for on-the-runs - to appear before a special
tribunal to get their pass out of jail.

Mr Adams said his party opposed the law because
members of security forces would qualify alongside IRA
members and could avoid jail for collusion offences.

The SDLP leader has repeatedly attacked Sinn Fein over
the OTRs deal, describing it as the "Hain-Adams" pact.


Talks With PM Forced Climbdown, Says Dad

By Jonathan McCambridge
12 January 2006

The father of an RUC constable murdered by the IRA
today told how his meeting with Prime Minister Tony
Blair helped scupper plans for controversial on-the-
run legislation.

Beattie Doak (67) said he was delighted that Peter
Hain had withdrawn the proposals on paramilitary
fugitives which would have seen those accused of
crimes before 1998 appear in front of a special
tribunal, only to be freed on licence.

Mr Doak, who is chairman of the RUC George Cross
Parents' Association, was part of a delegation of RUC
victims' families who travelled to Downing Street late
last year with the Police Federation.

He met Mr Blair and presented him with a photograph of
his daughter Tracey as a child and asked him: "How is
my daughter different from the policewoman who was
murdered in Bradford?"

RUC Constable Tracey Doak was just 21 years old when
the police car she was driving was destroyed by a
1,000lb IRA bomb near the Killeen/Newry border in May

Tracey, who was due to get married months later, and
three colleagues were killed instantly. No one has
ever been brought to justice for the murders.

Secretary of State Peter Hain referred to the meeting
with the families when he was making his statement in
the House of Commons yesterday withdrawing the bill.

Mr Doak told the Belfast Telegraph: "This Bill should
never have been considered because in a democratic
society we are all entitled to justice.

"When I heard on the news that the Government were
scrapping the plans I was very excited. It has made my
New Year. It is a very good day for the families of

"Realistically I think Sinn Fein withdrawing support
was the final straw for the Government but there is no
doubt our meeting also had an impact because the Prime
Minister was left very shaken by what we said.

"This is an issue which is very close to my family's
heart and this has made the trip to Downing Street

"It was all about keeping the pressure on the
Government so they knew how the majority of people in
Northern Ireland felt.

"I read the Belfast Telegraph yesterday and it was
clear that people did not want this Bill."

The Police Federation, which represents 9,000 rank and
file officers in Northern Ireland, also welcomed the
climbdown over on-the-runs by the Government.

Secretary Terry Spence said it was a victory for
common sense and decency and said he had noted the
public acknowledgement by the Secretary of State that
the visit to Downing Street before Christmas by the
RUC George Cross widows and parents had been strongly
instrumental in persuading the Government that the
legislation was morally offensive.

He added: "I suspect also that the Government was
wrong-footed by our clear stance that including the
police and military personnel within the scope of the
legislation was an unworthy trade-off and an insult to
the police and military services."


Kenny Urges Full Finucane Inquiry

By Staff Reporter

Irish Opposition leader Enda Kenny last night led
calls for a full public inquiry into the 1989 murder
of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine and family members met
with political parties in Dublin yesterday in their
long-running campaign to get answers from the British
government on the brutal crime.

Family members, including Mr Finucane’s son Michael
and brother Martin, met Mr Kenny, Tanaiste and
Progressive Democrats leader Mary Harney and Green
Party leader Trevor Sargent.

Mr Kenny said afterwards: “It is fundamental that the
facts and circumstances surrounding this case are put
before the public.

“That is why I am calling for a full public inquiry in
line with the recommendations made by Judge Peter
Cory, supporting the campaign by the family on the
murder of Pat Finucane.”

Mrs Finucane said she hoped the party leaders could
lobby Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to put pressure on the
British government to reveal full details her late
husband’s murder.


Ex-Police Officer Breaks Silence On Sectarianism


By Sharon O'Neill Chief Reporter

A FORMER Catholic police officer has broken his
silence on the sectarianism within the force in south
Armagh at the height of the Troubles.

The man, who does not want to be identified, said he
felt compelled to come forward after The Irish News
highlighted a murderous 24-hour period three decades

The ex-constable was also based in Co Down in the
early seventies – and was one of the few Catholics in
the predominantly Protestant RUC.

“The first thing I saw when I got to south Armagh were
all the young constables, only 19, 21, 22, 23, with no
experience of policing.

“There were no ‘seasoned’ police officers, ” he said.

“I often look back, thinking of the hundreds killed in
the explosions and shootings, we were used as cannon

With police under scrutiny over ever-emerging
allegations of security force collusion with
paramilaries – more recently a number of UVF killings
– the former officer gives a unique insight into his
time within the force.

While stationed in south Armagh the ex-constable, now
in his fifties, went out on night operations with who
he called the ‘mystery man’, as he was never told who
he was.

“I am convinced he was not military but an MI5 agent.
He had a plummy English accent.

“I realised they were trying to gather information on
people,” he said.

“The houses he went to, they were all homes of
Protestants. I noticed pictures, platoons of [the
disbanded] B Specials.”

On January 6 1976, the UVF murdered two brothers and
fatally wounded another at their south Armagh home.

Ten minutes later another Catholic home near Gilford
was targeted, killing three.

Allegations of collusion in both cases are to be

Although these murders – the IRA retaliating just
hours later killing 10 Protestants at Kingsmill –
occurred just as the constable had tendered his
resignation, he had already been highly suspicious of
the actions of some of his colleagues years earlier.

“I don’t think there was any investigation [into these
murders],” he said.

“Something very, very sinister was taking place
because information was being leak-ed... to
organisations like the UDA or UVF.

“We have not even scratched the surface of what was
going on. It was so deep and widespread.

“There were a few military regiments present at that
time, the Royal Marine Com-mando and the notorious
Parachute Regiment.

“They were very agressive to say the least.

“I used to meet a lot of serving UDR soldiers... many
were deeply bigoted. Even police constables would make
comments. I remember a police woman saying to me ‘this
is a Protestant country’.

“When I finished training we were presented with

As I was the only Catholic, I was given a red bible.
Several remarked ‘I never knew you were a Catholic’.
It was if I had two heads.”


UDA ‘May Oust’ Shoukri Over Lifestyle

By Staff Reporter

Pressure last night mounted on the UDA’s ruling ‘inner
council’ to oust its north Belfast ‘brig-adier’ Andre
Shoukri after revelations that he spent £800,000 in a
two-year period, despite having no visible income.

Senior loyalist sources say they expect that the inner
council to meet within days to discuss the revelation
that a police investigation into Shoukri has uncovered
evidence that the 28-year-old gambled away hundreds of
thousands of pounds at four bookmakers in north

The police investigation is also understood to have
evidence that Shoukri, pictured, falsely obtained a
£120,000 mortgage for a house in the Ballysillan area
of north Belfast and spent tens of thousands of pounds
on high performance sports cars and numerous foreign
holidays between 2003 and 2005.

A senior UDA source said that the inner council had
not yet met to discuss Shoukri’s activities but
claimed it was “highly likely” that the organisation’s
leadership would be asked to investigate his expensive

“A lot of people are asking how he was allowed to get
away with this and what the UDA are going to do about
it,” the source said.

“No complaint has been made to the inner council but I
would be astonished if it is not asked to launch some
kind of investigation.

“The UDA said it would never allow another Jim Gray
and if the case is proved against Shoukri the
organisation will be forced to move against him.”

Meanwhile, the UDA was last night blamed for a bomb
alert at a north Belfast bar at the centre of
extortion charges against Shoukri and senior loyalist
William ‘Bonzer’ Borland.

The alert was raised at the Old Strathmore Inn,
formerly Bonaparte’s Bar, on the upper Cavehill Road
in north Belfast shortly after 9am yesterday.

British army bomb disposal experts were called in to
deal with a pipe bomb, which had been left in an entry
at the side of the bar.

In November Shoukri and Borland were charged with
blackmail, money laundering and attempting to extort
money from a former Bonaparte’s employee.

Borland is separately charged with intimidating the
employee’s partner and demanding that he hand over the
keys, books and chequebooks to the bar and possession
of a firearm, or imitation firearm, with intent.


Fresh Initiative On Cards

By Staff Reporter

BRITISH prime minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern are to become closely involved in a fresh
initiative to restore devolution in Northern Ireland.

The British government is already planning talks in
Northern Ireland in early February.

Secretary of State Peter Hain made clear yesterday
that 2006 was a make or break year for the north’s

“If people are serious about seeing a shared future
based on fairness and equality, they must persuade
each other of that,” he told the House of Commons.

“I am therefore asking each of the political parties
to agree dates for substantial discussions in early
February with the British and Irish governments to
give their views on the way forward to restore the
political institutions.

“The prime minister, together with the taoiseach, will
be closely involved with developments during the

With the Independent Monitor-ing Commission (IMC) due
to report at the end of this month, officials in
London and Dublin are hoping that will provide a
springboard for talks.

Both governments will be looking to the IMC to verify
that the IRA has fully disarmed following its July
statement declaring an end to its armed campaign. Ian
Paisley‘s Democratic Unionists have been cautious and
are likely to demand further proof that the
republicans’ pledges are for real.

Mr Hain said: “My predecessors have all referred to
critical times for Northern Ireland. And there have
been many.

“But this year is indeed a critical one and especially
for the Northern Ireland’s political parties, and
specifically assembly members. 2006 is a make or break
year for them.”

Mr Hain warned if the assembly was not restored,
public resentment in Northern Ireland would grow at
the continued payment of assembly members of salaries
and allowances of on average £85,000 per member while
Stor-mont stands idle.

He also said that for planned elections May 2007 to be
meaningful, an assembly must be exercising its full


Sinn Féin Will Pursue With Two Governments Need For

Published: 12 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP today said
today that his party would be pursuing with the two
governments in the coming weeks the need for progress
to be made in restoring the political institutions.

Mr Doherty said:

“ In recent weeks both governments have indicated a
willingness to see urgent progress made in restoring
the political institutions. Yesterday the British
Secretary of State Peter Hain said that he wished to
see dialogue been early next month.

“ Sinn Fein has been pressing for early progress to be
made since the historic IRA initiative of last July.
We are keen to see the process advanced and believe
that the potential to see such progress does exist and
we will be pursuing this with the two governments over
coming weeks.

“ But the DUP need to begin to play their part in all
of this. They need to finally show real political
leadership. They need to begin to demonstrate an
ability to share power with nationalists and
republicans on the basis of equality and respect.”


‘Viable’ Device In Stolen Car At Centre Of Alert

By Suzanne McGonagle

POLICE said a “viable” device contained in a stolen
car was at the centre of a security alert at a busy
Armagh hotel which brought the city to a virtual

Customers and staff at the Armagh City Hotel were
forced to evacuate as army bomb disposal experts moved
in to examine a suspect car abandoned close to the

The vehicle was left near the city’s police station on
the Friary Road at around 10.20am forcing the
evacuation and closure of houses and businesses in the

The security alert saw traffic in the city grind to a
halt, with many of the main routes into and out of the
area at a standstill as the army carried out a
controlled explosion on the vehicle.

The road where the car was abandoned is the main route
from Monaghan, Keady and Newtownhamilton and also
links to Belfast and Newry.

Controlled explosions were carried out on the Vauxhall
Vectra and a viable device consisting of gas cylinders
was found in the back of the car.

Police believe the same car had been stolen on Tuesday
night along with another car and a shotgun from a
house in the Ballyrath Road area of Armagh sometime
before 11pm.

An elderly woman was in the house at the time and was
left shocked after men identifying themselves as
“republicans” burst into the house.

A silver Peugeot 406 stolen from the house was later
found on fire.

Concern was raised last night about the detrimental
effect the alert would have on the city, especially on
trade and tourism.

Although it was unclear if a major conference was to
be held at the Armagh City Hotel yesterday, it is
understood that the hotel was busy with customers.

The hotel is regarded as one of the largest conference
facilities in Northern Ireland and is capable of
holding around 1,200 delegates.

The facility is also a popular destination for
tourists as well as a meeting place for local people.

SDLP assembly member Dominic Bradley last night said
that the bomb alert had caused “complete havoc” to
Armagh city centre.

“The City Hotel was forced to close and lost important
lunchtime business, while traffic was at a
standstill,” Mr Bradley said.

“Those responsible for this alert are no friend of
Armagh, its people or its businesses.

“Those responsible have a lot to answer for. They
represent the days of the past and must stop all such

Democratic Unionist councillor Freda Donnelly said:
“This is terrible for the city, especially as it is on
the up.

“This is not the message we want to be sending out,
the area is thriving and doing well and we want to
keep it going that way.”


Compensation For SF Supporter

By Catherine Morrison

A SINN Fein supporter who was stopped by police
outside an election count in Co Down has received
compensation from the PSNI.

Stephen Magennis took the police to court after he
claimed he was falsely accused of driving a stolen car
and detained for half an hour outside Dromore Leisure
Centre during the 2003 assembly elections.

At Banbridge Magistrates Court on Monday, the PSNI
agreed to settle the case and paid Mr Magennis
compensation of £200.

A police spokesman refused to comment on the case.

“They [the police] stopped me but wouldn’t tell me why
until the television cameras were there to record it,”
Mr Magennis said.

“I wanted to know where they got that information and
they couldn’t answer that.”

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler called on the Police
Ombudsman to investigate the incident.

He said Dromore Leisure Centre should not be used as a
count centre in any future election.

“Throughout the case the PSNI never once produced any
documentation or evidence to back up their claims as
to why they said the car in question was stolen,
despite being asked by the man’s solicitor repeatedly
for reasons as to why his client was detained,” Mr
Butler said.


Flats Searched Over Devlin Murder

Police investigating the murder of a schoolboy in
north Belfast last year are carrying out searches in
the area for the second time this week.

Thomas Devlin, 15, died after being stabbed five times
as he and two friends walked along Somerton Road on 10

The searches are taking place at empty flats in the
Mount Vernon district.

On Tuesday, police searched the same area and took
away several items for scientific examination.

In September, the PSNI confirmed the prime suspects in
the inquiry were two young men with a black and white


Thomas, a student at Belfast Royal Academy, was a
talented musician who played the horn at school.

He had just bought sweets from a nearby shop and was
on his way home when he was stabbed.

His 18-year-old friend was injured in the attack, but
not seriously. A 16-year-old boy managed to escape.

A number of people detained for questioning about the
murder were subsequently released without charge.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/12 11:16:12 GMT


Three Times More Cocaine Use In Republic

12/01/2006 - 13:08:04

There are almost three times more regular cocaine
users in the Republic than in the North, a survey said

An all-island poll found that nearly one in five
people south of the border used the drug regularly,
compared with only 7% in the North.

Of those surveyed in the Republic, 3% admitted to
trying cocaine at least once in their lifetimes,
almost double the 1.6% proportion in the North.

Two thirds of people in Ireland who described
themselves as recent users said it was fairly easy or
very easy to obtain the drug within a 24-hour period,
compared to only 43% in the North.

The survey was published jointly today by the National
Advisory Committee on Drugs in Dublin and the
Department of Health, Social Services and Public
Safety in Belfast.

It was carried out among 15-to-64-year-olds between
October 2002 and April 2003. Another, more
sophisticated poll is planned for later this year.

NACD chairman Dr Des Corrigan said in Dublin at the
survey’s launch that cocaine’s image as a clean, pure
drug was a dangerous myth.

“This image is a nonsense. We know from our colleagues
in the forensic science laboratory that the cocaine on
the streets in Dublin is only about one-third pure and
can be mixed with any one of a range of harmful

“It is anything but a pure, clean drug.”

Junior Government Minister Noel Ahern accepted that
the data from the survey is already out of date as
cocaine use has increased since 2002/2003.

“Given current Garda statistics and the number of drug
seizures, I would accept this,” he said.

The minister said the survey proved that cocaine was
becoming the drug of choice for many young people.

He said a multi-media cocaine awareness campaign,
managed by the Health Promotion Unit, was targeting

“Furthermore, substance misuse prevention programmes
are now on all school curricula throughout the
country,” he added.


Opin: Mary O’Rourke Puts Her Foot In It, While Bertie
Draws A Line Under All This Democracy Slobber

Jude Collins

Did you hear the one about the Irish woman, the
English man and the Taoiseach?

The Irish woman

Mary O’Rourke, the former Fianna Fáil cabinet
minister, sister of the late Brian Lenihan and auntie
to the brothers Brian and Conor Lenihan, has delivered
a metaphorical knee to the groin of up-and-coming
hopeful Kevin “Boxer” Moran, who figured he was in
line to take the Fianna Fáil nomination for the last
seat in their constituency.

Alas, poor Boxer. Face shining like the sun, Mary
emerged from the party vote-counting with a majority
of nine while Boxer slunk away, looking hurt.

But ever an impetuous woman, Mary couldn’t resist the
opportunity to do a bit of grandstanding so, in her
acceptance, she took a final kick at the helpless
Boxer by referring to how harmonious the contest had
been but in such a way it was clear she really meant
Boxer’s lot were a dirty shower. But nobody minded
that, apart maybe from Boxer and all his supporters.
What drew attention and outrage was when Mary
complimented her workers for helping her on her last
or maybe second or third-last hurrah, by saying they
had worked “like blacks”.

Sharp intakes of breath. Next day, radio stations all
over Ireland, from Matt Cooper on Today FM to Mark
Carruthers on Radio Ulster, were ringing up to know
when Mary was going to apologise. Never, Mary told
them. Sure, wasn’t it a compliment and hadn’t she a
first-class track record for championing the case of
immigrants, particularly those from Nigeria?

Which she has. So can you be a champion of black
people and a racist at the same time? No, indeed. But
you can be a good person and still chew with your
mouth open. The chewing doesn’t stop you being a good
person but it’s a seriously unattractive habit. So too
with Mary and her “blacks” chat. Except she has
refused to retract on the grounds that all publicity
is good publicity. She should say “sorry” and close
her gob. That said, she still came across as a human
being in the whole affair, compared with the tight-
bummed tone of her interrogators.

The English man

Tony Banks died earlier in the week. Like our own
beloved chief constable, Tony was a chirpy chappy —
loved soccer, combed his hair like an ageing teddy
boy, said William Hague looked like a fetus.

And when the opportunity came to ascend to a peerage
and leave the House of Commons and his left-wing past
behind, he leaped at it — pausing only to tell the
people who had elected him that listening to their
concerns over the years had been mind-numbingly boring
and he was glad and relieved it would now stop.

You have to admire that kind of chutzpah. Of course,
it’s a bit of a tradition among some Labour left-
wingers. Champions of the working class, loud in their
commitment to comradely solidarity, they round off
their careers by climbing onto the dozy benches of the
British upper house and declaring themselves “lord”.
But Tony went one better with his judgment on what a
boring, whining shower his constituents were. They’ll
be lining the streets to check out his coffin, I

The Taoiseach

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern did a long interview on RTÉ
with Gerard Barry on Saturday, explaining what a nice
guy he (Bertie) is, why the people of the 26 Counties
are lucky to have his government leading them and why
“Maggie” McDowell was right to say all those things he
did about Frank Connolly. The usual sort of
understated self-congratulation that Bertie does so

Then Barry asked Bertie about Stormontgate and the
Denis Donaldson affair and all the brown smelly stuff
that is swirling around that whole area, and the clear
indications that, keen to protect unionism, the
British government, MI5, Special Branch and the PSNI
were up to their shapely thighs in classic filthy

(One of these days, a radio or TV presenter will ask
Bertie or Tony or Peter how a non-existent republican
spy ring at Stormont is heinous and government-
toppling, while an actual British spy at Stormont is
everyday stuff and no cause for concern, and I’m going
to fall down in a deep swoon and not recover.)

Anyway, Bertie liked that one about what he might know
about filthy British tricks. Och sure, there are all
sorts of things going on, except with him being
Taoiseach and one thing and another, he couldn’t
possibly start telling half the things he knows. Maybe
some day when he’s retired he’ll tell a thing or two
but not now. Oh God, no. Chuckle, chuckle.

Some old charmer that Bertie, eh? On the national
airwaves in a high-profile interview, he tells the
public in so many words that he has a low opinion of
their maturity, that he knows things but he won’t tell
them what because they wouldn’t be fit to cope with
it. He’ll wait until he retires and then he’ll tell
them, when they’ll maybe be a bit more mature or at
least they won’t be in a position to give him the
political kicking of his life for allowing what
happened to happen.

Some people would call that charm, and some would call
it political tact, and some would call it bloody
cheek, and you can stick me in the last category and
throw away the key. The Irish people vote for Bertie.
They pay him something over €200,000 (£137,000) a
year, including a €25,000 (£17,000) raise in the last
12 months. But even though he owes his election and
his income to the people, Bertie doesn’t feel the need
to tell the people the truth about what’s going on in
their country. Yerra, sure why would he? The people of
the South don’t give a damn about the North and, even
if they did, a fella has to draw the line to this
democracy slobber somewhere, doesn’t he?

If words are weapons, politicians should make sure
their mouths are pointing the right way.

Jude Collins is an academic, writer and broadcaster.
His latest novel is Leave of Absence (TownHouse,
£6.99; €9.99)


Opin: Trainspotting Not Government Option

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The announcement yesterday by the British government
that it was to drop its controversial ‘on the runs’
legislation was as welcome as it was inevitable.

What finally sank the bill was not that it represented
an outrageous slap in the face for IRA victims, as
unionists claimed; or even that it flew in the face of
the most basic concepts of natural justice, as others

All this and more was said when it was announced that
prisoners would be released under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement. No, what ensured the bill’s
swift and embarrassing demise was British hubris, pure
and simple.

The agreement hammered out at Weston Park between Sinn
Féin and London was an agreement on the fate of on the
runs, most if not all of them republican.

But when the British Secretary of State announced the
planned legislation last year, it quickly became clear
that there was to be an effective amnesty for anyone
who had ever committed crimes while in the uniform or
pay of the British state.

Two things are important here. Firstly, when the deal
was being brokered, Sinn Féin knew all too well that
at all costs the British would act to protect their
own. And it wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to
work out that an excellent way for the British to do
this would be to piggy-back on the Weston Park deal.
That no assurance was asked or given on this point was
an oversight or omission that has come back to bite
all concerned.

Secondly, it’s abundantly clear that British
negotiators are displaying as much – if not more – bad
faith and cynicism in negotiations than they ever did
through the long and inglorious litany of peace
initiatives since the early ‘70s and since. If this is
to continue, the outcome is almost too grave to

What is needed is for the Irish government to step up
to the plate, but whether it will or not is seriously
open to doubt given its recent performance. In
response to recent evidence that the power-sharing
Executive was brought down and the will of the people
of this island overturned not as a result of
republican deviousness, but as a result of a high-
level conspiracy by PSNI Special Branch, the Taoiseach
reacted not with passionate outrage, but like a
trainspotter who’s just been told that somebody’s
nicked his flask. Similarly, when the British tried a
bit of monkey business with the on the runs
legislation, the Irish government failed to summon up
the gumption to tell them they were out of order.

Enough is enough. If the British government won’t
honour agreements, the Irish government has to make
sure they do, or if they can’t do that, then shout
their displeasure from the rooftops.

In the meantime, the new legislation that needs now to
be drafted on the on the runs issue must be practical,
not hysterical; imaginative, not punitive.


Opin: Chill Factor Too High For Agreement

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

There’s a big push coming we’re told, not to give
birth, but to resurrect the institutions of the Good
Friday Agreement, in deep freeze now since October
2002. Officials have been meeting in Downing Street to
draw up an action plan. Bertie and Blair are going to
meet in February after the IMC report gives Sinn Fein
the OK. We’re even promised a special apparition by
preacher-man Blair himself in March.

Sound familiar?

What does it remind you of most? April 2003, October
2003 or December 2004?

Suffice to say all those previous ‘big pushes’ came to
nothing. So will this one. Let’s get two items clear.
First, the institutions of the GFA won't be
resurrected and secondly, whatever new arrangements
are agreed will have to be ratified by new elections.

Take the first point.

The format of the GFA institutions were arranged and
agreed to suit David Trimble's UUP and the SDLP of
Seamus Mallon, its main negotiator. SF arrived late at
the ball and the DUP took no part at all. Now SF and
the DUP are top dogs. There can be no cross-community
settlement without them. When it comes to a vote it
doesn't matter what the UUP and SDLP say: that's the
harsh reality of politics folks.

We know from the negotiations in November 2004, and
they were negotiations no matter what the DUP say,
that the procedures for electing first ministers and
deputy first ministers will be different. We also know
that there will be fewer ministers in total.

There are also likely to be new standards for
establishing cross-community support.

That’s for starters. We haven't even mentioned
policing and justice.

So any suggestion that you can just get the
institutions up and running next week is just tedious.

Secondly, any new arrangements will be put to the vote
because it suits both SF and the DUP for that to
happen. Here’s why. The frozen assembly represents a
snapshot of the political scene in November 2003.
True, the UUP and SDLP were eclipsed by their ethnic
rivals. However, since then, SF and the DUP have
increased their dominance in their respective
communities in European, Westminster and council
elections. Now, why should SF and the DUP give the
shattered UUP and the defeated SDLP a leg-up to where
they perched in November 2003? Why should the two
dominant parties make a gift of a couple of ministries
to their rivals when a new assembly election is likely
to complete the destruction of the UUP and halve the
SDLP's numbers at Stormont?

As it turns out, the hectoring by our proconsul in the
last couple of weeks coincides exactly with that
scenario. Suppose for example he decides, to the
universal applause of the public here, to dissolve the
assembly in the summer and send the whole greedy lot
of them and their parasitic family members packing
because they've made no progress? Then come the
autumn, a new round of real talks begins and new
arrangements which suit SF and the DUP are settled
just in time for scheduled assembly elections in May

Would suit SF to run for the Dail elections, which
look like June 2007, as ministers in a power-sharing
executive in the north.

Would suit Bertie too because he could claim credit
for it.

It would give time too for new legislation and
institutions of policing to be established here.

In fact when you think about it, that's pretty well
the timescale our proconsul has inadvertently

In effect he has presented May 2007 as the deadline
for new elections to a revamped Agreement's
institutions. Why should SF and the DUP agree to any
before that?

If there have to be elections anyway, not least for
the DUP to have their voters ratify what the DUP will
call a new agreement, then why not wait until they are

The biggest disaster of all, and one which neither SF
nor the DUP will contemplate, is cobbling something
together before this summer, before parades, before
policing reform is complete, before the DUP has
prepared its voters and the whole thing collapses in
the autumn.


Better write off the 2003 results and start with a
clean sheet in 2007.


Son Launches Yeats Display

By Staff Reporter

The public will gain an insight into the Nobel prize-
winning poet William Butler Yeats when his life is
celebrated in a landmark exhibition, his son said last

As the Yeats family’s hoard of priceless treasures
were handed over to the National Library of Ireland
for display, 84-year-old Michael Yeats said the
exhibition personalised the literary figure.

“He would be delighted to see this recognition, he was
always anxious that the public as a whole should
accept him and not just a few people who might be
interested in poetry. He would be delighted to see an
exhibition of this kind taking place, I don’t have any
doubt about that,” Mr Yeats, who bears a strong
resemblance to the renowned poet, said.

The materials handed over on temporary loan from the
family included a highly valued Japanese sword given
to the poet during a lecture tour in the United States
in 1920 which features in the poem Meditations in Time
of Civil War.

An illuminated copy of the Lake Isle of Innisfree,
printed by the poet’s sister Elizabeth and portraits
his wife, by Edmund Dulac and John Butler Yeats.

Mr Yeats said visitors to the exhibition would see a
variety of items including the famous Japanese sword,
manuscripts, school reports, family photographs and
paintings of the poet as a young man.

“I think after [all] he was born 140 years ago and to
many people he seems to be a rather remote historical
figure, I think as a result of this exhibition it will
personalise him, it will show he was also a human
person, quite different from the poet in an ivory
tower that people think of,” he said.

The items will be put on display for the ‘Yeats: the
Life and Works of William Butler Yeats’ exhibition in
late May.


Book Review Drawn In By A Cozy Irish American Pub
And Its Communitylittle Chapel On The River

A Pub, a Town, and the Search for What Matters

By Gwendolyn Bounds
Morrow. 304 pp. $23.95
Reviewed by
Patricia Boyle Haberstroh

Like all immigrants, the Irish carry their traditions
with them, and Irish pubs in America may be more
"Irish" than those in the old country. In the United
States, one can still find the traditional Irish pub,
the family-run watering hole, full of immigrants and

Gwendolyn Bounds' Little Chapel on the River recounts
her discovery of such a place: Guinan's in Garrison,
N.Y., a country store and makeshift pub (the beer
stored in an old soda cooler) at a train stop near the
Hudson across from West Point. This is a post-9/11
story, though focused not on the aftermath, but on a
voyage of discovery that leads to major changes in
Bounds' life.

A Wall Street Journal reporter, Bounds worked and
lived near the Twin Towers; she left New York City and
ended up in Garrison. The title is a bit misleading:
The "chapel" here is Guinan's, where locals drift in
for social and spiritual sustenance. The book tells
the stories of those people, especially the Guinans
themselves - Peg, Jim, their five children, and their
struggle to keep the store and pub going after Peg
dies and Jim is increasingly debilitated by diabetes.
But it also recounts the diversity among the locals:
Col. Tom Endres, a former cadet who works at West
Point; New York Gov. George Pataki, who lives nearby
and drops in on Thanksgiving; Dan Donnelly, a lawyer;
Fitz, a retired U.S. marshal; and Cliffy, who has
lived upstairs for years.

As she melds into the life of Garrison and Guinan's,
Bounds retells the stories: the history and legends of
both the place and the people who inhabit this world.

Overlaying this, however, is Bounds' own story. Raised
in a North Carolina town, she begins to recognize the
connections between that place and Garrison; the book
effectively juxtaposes stories from Guinan's with
Bounds' memories, as she sees in Jim an image of her
grandfather. At first a visitor to the pub, and then a
volunteer in the "human duct tape" that holds Guinan's
together, Bounds realizes her need to reconnect to
this life: "This decision was no longer just about
where to live, it was about how to live."

Eventually, she and her partner, Kathryn, buy a house
in Garrison and rent an apartment in New York, and
Bounds gets a new job at the Wall Street Journal,
covering small businesses like Guinan's.

This is an often lyrical memoir with an underlying
meditative tone, full of humorous details of small-
town life. Bounds' descriptions of pub characters read
like fiction: "If Fitz and Dan are on the acidic side,
able to suck oxygen from the room with a single, well-
timed barb, then to complete the metaphor, Old Mike is
the balancing alkaline force - the guy who makes you
breathe a little easier when he's around. He's the one
who's actually been around long enough to remember the
days when there were only five commuters on the peak-
hour train and the status symbol car at Guinan's was a
pickup truck whether you were a bank president or a
trash collector."

If there is a weakness here, it is Bounds' starry-eyed
reaction; this is paradise (or at least sacred, as the
title suggests). The attraction to what is sometimes
called "shamrock Irish" appears in her response to the
reverential singing of "Danny Boy": "As we listened
solemnly, his hymn floated from the bar to the river,
from the river to the sea, and then, I imagined, back
to the shores of Ireland." This sentiment might appeal
to some, but in a pub in Ireland today you'll likely
hear loud American country music or post-U2 rock-and-
roll. As for the spiritual, I recall an Easter Sunday
a few years ago, when a pub in Dublin was jammed with
revelers ignoring both the holy day and an IRA rally
around the corner.

Despite this, Little Chapel on the River is an
enjoyable book about how valuable place, home and
family are when your life has been so disrupted by the
difficulties of a modern world. Against the backdrop
of "the High Holy Day," St. Patrick's Day in the pub,
President Bush's declaration of war against Saddam
Hussein comes over the television, suggesting that
places like Guinan's are havens to offset the bad
news, and that this book is really about what the
subtitle calls "the Search for What Matters."


Patricia Boyle Haberstroh is a professor of English at
La Salle University. She has published two books on
Irish women writers and completed a third.


Ireland's Wildlife: New Farming Methods Put Birds In
Serious Decline

By David McKittrick
12 January 2006

The Republic of Ireland's Heritage Council has warned
that many of the country's birds are under threat
because of trends in agriculture. The corncrake,
lapwing, barn owl, cuckoo and chough are all on the
danger list, according to the official body that
monitors the health of Ireland's wildlife.

In all, 29 species of birds and 120 flowering plants
are in serious decline because of the introduction of
more intensive farming methods that damage their
habitat. Other wildlife, such as the marsh fritillary
butterfly, is also under threat.

Michael Starrett, the council's chief executive, said:
"Ireland lags far behind most European countries in
the approach it takes towards managing our countryside
and we will need to take serious steps to safeguard
and protect it. There is a new opportunity for farmers
and landowners to receive recognition for the role
they play in managing and protecting our heritage,
environment and landscape. They perform a public
service that benefits everyone in Ireland."

The council advocated payments to farmers who were
most sensitive to heritage management, saying that
should give additional financial incentives to others.
Over the past decade, agriculture and the
environmental lobby have found themselves at odds as
measures to protect wildlife have brought complaints
from farmers that their livelihood is affected.

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