News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

January 08, 2006

DUP Must Accept Responsibilities - SF

To Index of Monthly Archives
To January 2006 Index
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.

News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 01/08/06 DUP Must Accept Responsibilities – SF
DI 01/08/06 UDA Unit Stops Demanding Protection Money
SL 01/08/06 Loyalist Death-Threat Pusher Jailed
SL 01/08/06 Loyalist Loan Shark's Terror Convictions
SL 01/08/06 Loyalist Faces Laundering Rap
RT 01/08/06 Ahern Has Full Confidence In McDowell
II 01/08/06 Governments To Reveal Full List Of IRA Arms
SL 01/08/06 Plea To OJ Witness To Help Omagh Suspect
SL 01/08/06 Jailer Quits After 'Honeytrap' Probe
SL 01/08/06 Catholic Pupils Staying Put, Say Parents
SL 01/08/06 Dissidents Were Flasking For It!
SL 01/08/06 Football: Web Of Intrigue Over Video Release
IA 01/08/06 New Informer Claims Denied
SL 01/08/06 Cheryl McCullough: My Teen Michael Stone Crush
BT 01/08/06 No Room For Creative Ambiguity In Any New Deal
DI 01/08/06 Rees Was Most Dithering Direct Ruler
DI 01/08/06 Opin: Rees Characterised By Lack Of Resolve
II 01/08/06 Opin: Merlyn Rees: Caring Politician
DI 01/08/06 Opin: Merlyn’s Spell Made Democracy Disappear
SL 01/08/06 Opin: Racketeering Days Numbered
DI 01/08/06 Opin: Unionists Reprise Kneejerking Role
II 01/08/06 Opin: Adams, McGuinness 'Protected Informers'
II 01/08/06 Opin: Thin Pickings Continue For Daily Miracle
ST 01/08/06 Opin: Time Hikers Walked Talk Responsibly
KC 01/08/06 Tourism: Belfast Rising
IO 01/08/06 Video Games 'Help Overcome Driving Fears'
PO 01/08/06 Expert: Bog Bodies Buried At Boundaries
BV 01/08/06 'Book Of Daniel' Is Not About Religion


DUP Must Accept Responsibilities – SF

Sinn Féin's national executive will meet in Dublin today to
review the state of the North's peace process with the
party's chief negotiator warning that unionists must not
squander historic peace building moves by the IRA last

Martin McGuinness said unionists should help revive the
North's political institutions.

The Mid-Ulster MP said the public was fed up with
unaccountable Northern Ireland Office ministers taking key
decisions on health, education and taxation.

"The reality is that the British direct-rule ministers
could have been replaced by democratically elected
politicians long ago," Mr McGuinness said.

"They remain in position because the DUP still continue to
refuse to share power with the rest of us in the basis of
equality and respect.

"However, an opportunity to make rapid progress in the time
ahead now exists. The IRA have dealt decisively with any
unionist concerns about their intentions. The issue of IRA
arms has been resolved.

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

"The opportunities created by the IRA initiatives of last
year cannot be squandered. We must now all make a
collective effort in the coming weeks to see the political
institutions re-established and the other outstanding
matters resolved."

The North's political institutions have been suspended
since October 2002 when allegations about a republican spy-
ring at Stormont threatened to permanently destroy them.

Since then, the North has been administered by a team of
Northern Ireland Office ministers currently led by direct-
rule secretary of state Peter Hain.

Following the IRA's declaration last July that it had ended
its armed campaign and the completion of the organisation's
disarmament programme, the British and Irish governments
have been pinning their hopes for political progress on a
report later this month by the ceasefire watchdog, the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

Officials believe if the IMC confirms the IRA are remaining
true to their word that could provide a springboard for
talks leading to the return of the Assembly.

The North's largest party, Ian Paisley's DUP, has insisted
it cannot contemplate reviving power-sharing without
progress on a list of confidence-building measures for its
community, given to Downing Street last year.

The political climate has also been soured by criticism at
Westminster of the British government's Northern Ireland
Offences Bill from opposition parties, unionists and the
nationalist SDLP.

The bill would enable people who carried out murders before
April 1998 to avoid jail.

Sinn Féin also withdrew its support for the bill before
Christmas because of the inclusion of members of the
security forces alongside on-the-run republicans as people
who could qualify for the scheme.

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

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


UDA Unit Stops Demanding Protection Money

A decision by an Ulster Defence Association unit to stop
demanding protection money from building contractors has
led to renewed fears of a split within the organisation.

After meeting with local churchmen, UDA members in the
loyalist Tigers Bay area of north Belfast have agreed to
stop extorting money from construction firms.

The move came after builders refused to work in the
deprived area, which is in the midst of a housing crisis.

Although welcomed by locals, the decision has infuriated
the leadership of the north Belfast UDA, which is based in
the Westland and Ballysillan areas.

Units from these estates are refusing to sign up to the
non-extortion pact, prompting fears of a split with their
Tiger's Bay colleagues.

A senior loyalist source told Daily Ireland that the
Westland and Ballysillan UDA were angry at the actions of
the Tigers Bay unit.

The paramilitary said: "There is a lot of ill-feeling, the
UDA in Ballysillan and the Westland feels Tigers Bay has
gone out on a limb.

"But the Tigers Bay crowd has the support of the local
community and because of this they are being allowed to go
ahead, although the rivalry and anger remains."

A spokesman for the Loyalist Commission said the non-
extortion pact agreed by the Tigers Bay UDA was being
mirrored in other parts of Belfast.

"There are other loyalist estates around the city where
this is being copied," he said.

"The UDA realises extortion just isn't on any longer.
Hopefully this will lead to the regeneration of Tigers Bay,
one of the most socially and economically deprived areas in
Northern Ireland."

The UDA's current north Belfast boss, Andre Shoukri, and
his second-in-command, William John Boreland, are both
currently behind bars facing extortion charges. Shoukri,
from the Westland, and Boreland, who is from Ballysillan,
have previous convictions for extortion.


Loyalist Death-Threat Pusher Jailed

Exclusive by Ciaran McGuigan
08 January 2006

THIS is the pill-pushing cousin of LVF drugs kingpin
Laurence 'Duffer' Kincaid who was last week jailed for
flogging the loyalist terror gang's Ecstasy tablets.

Former squaddie David Michael Kincaid was wearing a bullet-
proof vest under his T-shirt as he arrived at Downpatrick
Crown Court, on Friday, to face charges of supplying
Ecstasy and cannabis and possessing a stun-gun.

He's on a UVF death list and is in constant fear of his
life, because of his association with Duffer and his drug-
dealing cronies.

Death threats from the UVF forced dad-of-two Kincaid (36)
to flee his north Belfast home in July 2004 and to move to
an address within an LVF enclave at Holywood, Co Down.

When cops raided the house in January, last year, they
recovered £1,000-worth of cannabis and more than 800
Ecstasy tablets.

They also found a stun-gun and a walkie-talkie.

During the raid, Kincaid led cops to the drugs - wrapped in
bags in his kitchen and ready for sale - and claimed that
the cannabis was for his personal use and that two men had
intimidated him into holding on to the Ecstasy tablets.

The court was told he also claimed the stun-gun had been
given to him by a "Mr Warnock" to repair, as it was broken.

At the time of the raid, Kincaid's cousin Duffer was on
remand at Maghaberry Prison, after cops unearthed a "drugs
distribution centre" in the Ballysillian area of north
Belfast - a rap that the previously convicted drug-dealer
eventually beat.

Despite being behind bars for a time, Duffer along with
close associates of murdered LVF commander Stephen Warnock,
were still running a major drug supply network in loyalist
areas of Belfast and north Down.

And they had set David Kincaid up as one of their dealers
in Holywood, inside his heavily fortified home.

He pleaded guilty to possessing the cannabis and Ecstasy
with intent to supply it to others and possessing the stun-
gun during a hearing, last year.

Judge Peter Gibson jailed Kincaid for two years and ordered
that he spend another two years on probation, which
included receiving any appropriate psychiatric treatment.


Suspected Loyalist Loan Shark's Terror Convictions

By Alan Murray
08 January 2006

A LOYALIST targeted by the Assets Recovery Agency has been
involved in terrorism since he was a teenager, and once
shot a UDR soldier during a robbery, Sunday Life can

Melville Matthews, a 47-year-old alleged loan shark and
racketeer from Kells, near Ballymena, is the latest
loyalist to be stung by Alan McQuillan's investigators.

Sources say he's a top UVF man in the area, but Sunday Life
can reveal he was previously involved with the rival UDA in
east Belfast.

Matthews had more than £400,000 in assets frozen by the
High Court just before Christmas, after it was alleged that
he was involved in paramilitary rackets.

The ARA claimed Matthews enjoyed an "extravagant lifestyle"
despite a modest, legitimate income. His frozen assets
include his home at Steeple Road, Kells; three plots of
land and another house in Co Antrim; a BMW 5 series car, a
Mitsubishi Shogun, an Audi A4, a Toyota Rav4 and a powerful
Honda motorbike.

Loyalist sources in the area say Matthews is the leading
figure in the Red Hand Commando/Ulster Volunteer Force
outfit in Kells.

They revealed that his house was guarded by teenage UVF
members during the recent feud with the LVF.

But, back in 1977, Matthews was described as being involved
in the UDA, when he appeared in court accused of attempting
to murder a UDR soldier at his home in east Belfast.

Matthews was also accused of attempting to steal the
soldier's legally-held shotgun.

The attempted murder charge was dropped, but Matthews was
jailed for 10 years for his role in the raid on the UDR
man's Ormond Gardens home.

The court was told that Matthews, then of Tarragon Park,
Antrim, had known the soldier since he was a child. He went
to his home with another man and demanded the shotgun.

Matthews put a Browning pistol to the man's head, there was
a struggle and the gun went off.

The Crown accepted that Matthews had fired the shot
accidentally, while his accomplice had fired other shots
during the raid, which wounded the soldier and his wife.

UVF sources say Matthews was one of the organisation's
money men and was protected during the recent LVF feud.

"Teenagers were sent to protect the house and make sure the
LVF didn't get near him, but he's a financial operator not
a military figure. The shot he fired in 1976 is probably
the only one he ever fired," said one source.


Loyalist Faces Laundering Rap

By Ciaran McGuigan
08 January 2006

A LOYALIST godfather appeared in court yesterday accused of
laundering hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Police allege Laurence Peter Chris John Kincaid (33), of
Cogry Hill in Doagh, Co Antrim, laundered large sums of
dirty money by buying high-performance cars and motorbikes
under false names.

He is even alleged to have laundered £10,000 by supplying
bail for his half-brother 'Duffer' Kincaid when Duffer was
freed by the High Court last year when facing drugs

The Doagh man is also accused of laundering money by buying
property, laptop computers, an expensive diamond ring and
paying for a holiday in the sunshine paradise of the

At Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday, he denied a total
of 34 charges - 24 counts of entering into arrangements to
acquire criminal property, seven counts of obtaining
services by deception, one of obtaining money by deception
and two counts of attempting to pervert the course of

Among the services he is alleged to have obtained by
deception was a Liverpool Football Club credit card.

A detective constable from the PSNI crime operations
department told the court that the accused was believed to
be a senior member of a loyalist paramilitary organisation.

He added: "Police have information that other members of
his group may assist him to flee by providing financial

Under cross-examination from Kincaid's lawyer, the officer
confirmed that the accused had gone to police voluntarily
last week and had, in an affidavit, offered explanations
for the money and property in his possession.

The defence lawyer told the court that, in denying the
charges, her client had told cops: "If I had anything to
hide, I would be on a plane."

Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon agreed to release Kincaid on
his own bail of £5,000, with a £5,000 surety.

Throughout the hearing, Kincaid's father, also Laurence,
and half-brother Duffer watched from the public gallery.

The pair hid their faces from cameras as they left the
Laganside court complex.

The accused was briefly detained, while a surety was

It is understood that another six men have also been
charged in relation to the same police operation.

They are due to appear in court later this week.


Ahern Has Full Confidence In McDowell

08 January 2006 14:29

The Taoiseach has said the Minister for Justice continues
to have his full support regarding his actions taken in
publicly revealing details about allegations that Frank
Connolly travelled to Colombia on a false Irish passport.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's This Week, Bertie Ahern said he
does not believe the passports issue is linked to Mr
Connolly's independent investigative company, the Centre
for Public Inquiry.

Mr Ahern also said it is time to move on from the
Stormontgate spying scandal and to concentrate on
normalising society in Northern Ireland to secure a proper
policing structure.

(Hear full interview at:


Governments To Reveal Full List Of IRA Arms

Jim Cusack

THE Irish and British governments are expected to publish
an inventory of the weapons decommissioned by the IRA, to
encourage the DUP into talks with Sinn Fein.

It is understood that the publication will follow the
forthcoming report by the International Monitoring
Commission (IMC), due before the end of this month, which
is expected to report that the IRA has ceased all military
activities, and reduced its involvement in criminality.

The publication is understood to have been agreed with Sinn
Fein and, following a clean bill of health from the IMC,
both governments will try to urge the DUP into talks about
sharing power at Stormont with Sinn Fein.

However, sources within the DUP say there will be no talks
about going into government with Sinn Fein, at least in

Until now the IRA has expressly forbidden the publication
of an inventory of its decommissioned weapons.

Senior security sources say that a deal has been worked out
whereby the inventory will not include a breakdown of the
weapons in each of the four acts of decommissioning: in
October 2001, April 2002, October 2003 and last July.

The sources suspect that this is because the three acts of
decommissioning before last July involved "junk". No
details were ever published about what was decommissioned
on the first three occasions, though both governments
warmly welcomed the acts, and in 2001 used them to
encourage the Ulster Unionists back into powersharing with
Sinn Fein and the SDLP.

The inventory - to be published early this year - is
expected to show that, last July, the IRA got rid of the
bulk, if not all, of the military hardware shipped from
Libya in the 1980s. This included up to 1,000 AK47s, medium
and heavy machineguns, a large stock of "improvised" or
home-made weapons, tons of ammunition and an unknown
quantity of explosive.

Decommissioning was forced on the IRA in 2001, in the
aftermath of the arrest of three IRA men on their way home
from training FARC guerrillas in Colombia. Coming in the
aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States,
Sinn Fein came under tremendous political pressure here and
in the US.

The discovery that the IRA was still active and training
foreign terrorists caused unionists to walk out of the
Assembly, but after the October 2001 decommissioning "act"
they returned.

The Assembly eventually collapsed after the PSNI,
investigating IRA spy ring claims, raided Sinn Fein offices
at Stormont in October 2002. It has been in suspension

Like the first, symbolic, act of decommissioning, the final
and major act of decommissioning last July was also forced
on the IRA, after Sinn Fein came under tremendous pressure
following the murder of Robert McCartney and the IRA's
€37.8m robbery of the Northern Bank.


Plea To OJ Witness To Help Omagh Suspect

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
08 January 2006

A TOP American forensic expert - who gave evidence at the
murder trial of OJ Simpson - could be called as a defence
witness in the Omagh bomb case.

Sunday Life can reveal that legendary investigator Dr Henry
Lee has been approached by lawyers acting for Sean Hoey,
who is facing 61 charges over the worst single atrocity of
the Troubles.

A senior legal source told us Hoey's solicitors, Kevin
Winters & Co, wrote to the leading scientist last year
in a bid to highlight their client's case.

The firm hopes Dr Lee, who also reviewed the assassination
of US President John F Kennedy, can be persuaded to assist
their defence.

Dr Lee, who has been a forensic scientist for over 40
years, is now considering the request.

Although Dr Lee has prior engagements until June, Hoey's
lawyers hope he can come to Belfast after a trial date has
been set.

This latest development comes after the Omagh bomb
accused's mum, Rita Hoey, sent letters to human rights
groups around the world to voice, what she claims, are
serious "concerns" about the case.

Said the legal source: "Correspondence has been made with
Dr Lee's office by Hoey's solicitors but nothing has been
confirmed yet.

"He is obviously famous for the OJ Simpson trial, but he
has also been involved in countless other trials around the

"Hoey's team are pulling out all the stops in preparation
for their defence of what is sure to be the biggest trial
in Northern Ireland's legal history.

"It will be interesting to see if the doctor takes up the
offer because he is certainly no stranger to high-profile
murder cases."

We contacted Hoey's solicitor, but he refused to comment on
the development. We also attempted to contact Dr Lee, but
he was not available.

Dr Lee has helped investigate more than 6,000 cases,
including the suicide of President Bill Clinton's former
White House attorney, Vince Foster.

He is also the founder of the Forensic Science Programme at
the University of New Haven and the author of 30 books.

Hoey (35), an unemployed electrician from Molly Road,
Jonesborough, is charged with 29 counts of murder.

A date for his trial is expected to be announced early this


Jailer Quits After 'Honeytrap' Probe

By Alan Murray
08 January 2006

AN EXPERIENCED prison officer has quit scandal-dogged
Maghaberry Prison following a probe into a suspected
terrorist "honeytrap" operation.

The officer has resigned from the high-security jail
following an investigation into his alleged "inappropriate"
relationship with a woman related to a dissident republican

Prison chiefs launched the inquiry amid fears the officer
may have fallen for a "honeytrap".

Sunday Life can reveal the man was suspended following a
month long surveillance operation which is believed to have
involved the police.

Security sources say he resigned after detectives visited
the prison.

It's believed his liaison with a female relative of a
dissident republican sent alarm bells ringing within the
Prison Service, and a surveillance operation was mounted to
establish the extent of his relationship with the woman,
who lives in the Lisburn area.

The officer is the latest in a line at Maghaberry who have
been investigated over the last two years in a crackdown on
improper conduct.

At least two male officers have been sacked for conducting
sexual affairs with women prisoners serving life sentences.

One of the officers, a married man, was dismissed over his
fling with Julie McGinley, the 33-year-old blonde from
Fermanagh, who was caged for killing her husband.

Two women officers and another male officer have been
sacked for having associations outside the jail with people
believed or suspected to be linked to paramilitary figures.

The latest suspension is understood to have caused
particular concern to security staff at Maghaberry, because
of intelligence reports that dissident republicans are
planning to disrupt the prison.

Before Christmas, the area around the prison was gridlocked
just before the morning shift change, when a bomb warning
was telephoned to UTV.

The entire complex was paralysed by the hoax call, which
claimed a bomb had been hidden in a consignment of gritting
salt delivered to the prison.

Coffee jars have also been banned from the complex, because
of the dangers they could pose to prison officers if they
were smashed and used as a weapon.

But officers suspect that the ban was imposed because of
the real fear that dissident republicans are constructing
an explosive device, which could be turned into a 'coffee
jar bomb'.

Sources in the prison say the latest suspension prompted
further speculation about the intentions of dissident
republicans held within the jail.

The Prison Service is refusing to comment on the case,
except to confirm that an officer who was suspended has now
resigned from his post.


Catholic Pupils Staying Put, Say Parents

By Sinead McCavana
08 January 2006

CATHOLIC parents will remove their children from a thriving
integrated primary school if it is relocated to a mostly
Protestant village, it has been revealed.

The North Eastern Education and Library Board has proposed
that Carnlough Integrated Primary School move to a more
modern building in neighbouring Glenarm.

But according to school governor Rosemary Haveron, both
parents and teachers are "100pc opposed to the move".

"The school has been very successful over the past five
years - the integrated ethos has been grasped within the
village more than we could ever have anticipated," she

"We've had a 57pc growth within the school since it became
integrated and have hit all the targets set down to us.

"None of the parents wish to go to Glenarm: they believe
that integration will only really work in Carnlough.

"Catholic parents have said they will not send their
children to Glenarm when there is a perfectly good
maintained school in Carnlough.

"There's quite a number of Protestant parents who have
indicated their children will not go to Glenarm either. If
the board forces this move, it will ruin integration in the

NEELB member Joe Reid has spoken out against the proposal.

"I can see no good reason for moving the school from
Carnlough to Glenarm," said the former school principal.

"I feel it goes against the good community relations that
have been developed within Carnlough - it can only have a
negative effect."

The Co Antrim school has formed an action committee which
will give a presentation to the Board at its next meeting
later this month.

Mrs Haveron, who has three children at the integrated
primary, says the school has been very positive for
community relations.

"I'm a Protestant parent on the board and we are very much
in a minority within the village, yet we function very well
within the school because politics are very much left at
the gate," she said.

"We have total respect for each others' beliefs."

A NEELB spokeswoman said: "The proposal will be considered
by the board at its meeting on January 31 and the way
forward will be taken from there."

Glenarm Primary School is due to close in August due to
dwindling numbers. The two schools have a combined roll of
around 60 pupils.


Dissidents Were Flasking For It!

Wound-up al-Qaida man bomb-hoaxes inmates

By Alan Murray
08 January 2006

A CONVICTED al-Qaida terrorist turned the tables on
republican wind-up merchants at Maghaberry Prison - by
terrifying them with a fake bomb!

Dissident republicans have blamed Algerian bomb maker
'Abbas Boutrab' for a major security alert at the jail last

They claim he handed one of them a vacuum flask and warned
it would explode if he took his hand off it.

The republicans raised the alarm, alleging Boutrab had
warned the flask contained a pressure switch that would
trigger an explosion if released.

Jail sources claim batteries were strapped around the
outside of the flask.

They revealed that Army bomb disposal experts called to the
scene initially taped the suspect device to the frightened
man's hand while they examined it.

The Algerian, who used the fake identity Abbas Boutrab to
enter the UK and settle in Newtownabbey, has a reputation
as a skilled bomb-maker.

A prison officer told Sunday Life: "They [the Army bomb
experts] weren't taking any chances because of what the FBI
said in court about Abbas's expertise to make bombs from
everyday ingredients.

"The republican was taped to the flask while the bomb
disposal team used their equipment to x-ray it before
declaring it safe."

The source added: "He [Boutrab] really took the hand out of
the republicans.

"They'd been winding him up for weeks and he was getting
his own back on them.

"There was no bomb and no pressure switch or plate, but
they fell for it and they're the laughing stock of the

The republicans claimed Boutrab had taken revenge following
an argument they had with him.

During his trial in Belfast, an FBI explosives expert told
how Boutrab made a detonator using a capacitor from a
disposable camera, tungsten wire and lead oxide.

He said that with potassium chlorate, sulphur and sugar, a
device could be made that would bring down an airliner.

It's understood that Boutrab bought three vacuum flasks
from the Maghaberry tuck shop and a search is being carried
out for the other two.

However, a senior prison service source added they had not
ruled out the possibility that republicans were behind the
hoax themselves.

"The story they're telling makes Boutrab out to be the
author of the hoax bomb, but we're not ruling out the
possibility that they concocted this whole incident and are
blaming the al-Qaida man".

• Police are continuing their investigations into last
Monday's incident at the jail.


Football: Web Of Intrigue Over Video Release

By Jim Gracey
08 January 2006

A concerted campaign by aggrieved Rangers fans forced the
controversial video nasty embroiling their Celtic rivals
this weekend into the public domain.

The issue was as much about highlighting perceived double
standards in the media as embarrassing their old

From the start of the week, newspapers and broadcasting
organisations in Scotland were bombarded with e-mails
containing mobile phone video footage of Celtic players
Stephen Pearson and John Hartson at a Donegal function
during which shouts of 'IRA' can be heard from people in

Scotland international Pearson and Wales striker Hartson
both strongly deny taking part in the chants.

The e-mail campaign by Rangers fans followed the widespread
release of the tape on the Internet where it provoked
furious debate on supporter websites.

With the clip came demands the media publicise the content
and identify the players present.

Comparisons were made with the media treatment of former
Rangers vice-chairman Donald Findlay who quit in 1999 after
he was filmed singing a loyalist song at a social club.

That incident was splashed across the front pages.

But when nothing of the Donegal episode had appeared by
midweek, the Ibrox fans turned their attention to
newspapers here, complaining of a 'cover-up' and 'double
standards' operating against them in the Scottish media.

In reality newspaper lawyers were carefully dissecting the
tape, deciding what could and could not legally be reported
from it in order to protect their papers from costly libel

Media law being a minefield where the burden of proof must
be conclusive - and failure to do so financially crippling
- nervous editors waited anxiously to see who would be
first to dip their toe in the water.

The ripple when it came, sprang from the unlikely source of
the provincial Aberdeen Press and Journal - a
straightforward reference to the tape's existence on the

And that was enough for the dam to burst.

Yet significantly in the media fenzy that followed
yesterday, the Celtic duo's denials of impropriety are

The desired effect of the tape's release has nevertheless
been achieved in the discomfort felt by those who wish it
had never surfaced.

The grainy footage shows the players on stage at an event
in Letterkenny with three fans during a boisterous

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

The song, a favourite of Celtic fans, is punctuated by
shouts of 'IRA' and 'Sinn Fein' on the video but both
players insist they did not join in any chants.

In a statement, a Celtic spokesman said: "We can't comment
specifically on this as the club and both players are
currently considering their legal options.

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

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

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

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

Willie McKay said: "Stephen's seen the video and he said he
sang Fields of Athenry, but he never shouted 'IRA'.

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

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

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

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

Manager Gordon Strachan was questioned about the newspaper
report at his weekly press conference on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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


New Informer Claims Denied

THE murky world of Northern Ireland politics just got
darker this past holiday season with a splurge of stories
about new informers in the higher echelons of Sinn Fein.

One newspaper, the Irish Sunday Times, even went so far as
to print two names of well known Sinn Fein activists,
though hardly leader potential, who the paper claimed had
been visited by the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) and told they were about to be outed.

The British-based Sunday Times has long been a conduit for
British security services to ply their trade, so it is
hardly surprising that it would be the first to publish

The Sinn Fein reaction was speedy, with stories about
lawsuits being filed against newspapers that named anyone
as being an informer.

The party recognizes clearly that the aim of all the
speculation is to destabilize Sinn Fein at a critical time,
just as the two governments are about to begin new talks
aimed at restoring the Assembly.

Why the British security services would be working so hard
to prevent that is a question only British Prime Minister
Tony Blair can answer. It seems more and more that the
securocrats are running the asylum, instead of being the

Where Is Donaldson?

THE whereabouts of Sinn Fein spy Denis Donaldson are still
a major mystery, with some reports that he is still in the
Irish Republic being debriefed by former colleagues in the
Republican movement.

What Donaldson's ultimate fate will be may never be known.
Having refused British protection he is dependent on the
Republican movement he betrayed to sort out his future —
hardly an enviable position.

There is little doubt, though, that Donaldson struck a deal
with Republicans before he came clean that he would not be
killed or injured in any way if he revealed all. The fact
that leading lawyer Peter Madden (former partner of the
late Pat Finucane) appeared with Donaldson at his press
conference in Dublin was surely a strong indication of

A life abroad, living anonymously, seems to be Donaldson's
best bet, though there is speculation that his wife and
family are seeking to stay in Belfast where they have their

However, one can only imagine what their lives will be like
given the hostility to Donaldson by many who believe that
his information may have led to the death of their loved

Why Inform?

WHAT makes someone like Donaldson betray everything he
knows and turn informer? It is a question that has long
baffled those who study the mind of such individuals.

Certainly, there is no doubt a financial incentive, but it
cannot be the only reason a person turns on his colleagues.
Donaldson claimed in his statement that he had been
compromised in some way in the 1980s, but there was no
further explanation.

He was known as a womanizer, but it hardly seems — even if
he were caught in some compromising position — that it
would be sufficient to make him turn on his colleagues.
Perhaps we will never know his true motivation.

Stakeknife Informer

UP until Donaldson the most famous double agent was Freddie
Scappaticci, a senior member of the IRA's internal security
staff, known as the Nutting Squad.

Scap's role was to essentially to force suspected informers
into confessing before he or someone else shot him. Scap
was widely known for his brutal methods in winning
confessions from suspected informers, some of whom in
retrospect were undoubtedly innocent.

The irony of a paid British agent murdering other paid
informers was not lost on many people. But what convinced
Scappaticci to turn in the first place?

Martin Ingram, a former member of the Force Research Unit,
the secret British army counter intelligence division who
knew Scappaticci, had a definite opinion on the matter.

Ingram (real name Jack Grantham) co-wrote a book in 2004
about British dirty tricks. He believes Scap was turned in
large part because of his irrational hatred of Martin
McGuinness, the Republican leader who is probably the most
admired man in the movement.

Scap even went so far on one occasion to grant an interview
anonymously, pointing the finger at McGuinness, so deep was
his hatred.

Of course Scappaticci, like Donaldson, tried at first to
brazen out the accusation that he was a secret agent for
the British, when he was revealed as the legendary
"Stakeknife," the long suspected senior spy at the top of
the Republican movement.

Eventually, however, the evidence was overwhelming.

Scap Vs. Donaldson

HOW big was Scappaticci in comparison to Donaldson? Very
big indeed.

As Ingram reported, Scap had an entire wing of the Force
Research Unit devoted to the monitoring of his activities
and the tip-offs he gave. Scap was the one who tipped of
the British in October 1987 to the huge arms shipment from
Libya bound for Irish shores.

His tip led to the dramatic arrest on the high seas of the
crew of the trawler Eksund, who were bringing the arms to

It is hard to imagine that Donaldson was anywhere near that
vital. He was an important operative, but he never really
penetrated the senior levels of the movement according to
reliable sources.

That seems about right. While the Donaldson outing was in
particularly dramatic circumstances, the Scappaticci one
was the more significant in the long run.

Another difference is Sinn Fein leaders such as McGuinness
and Gerry Adams were pictured with Donaldson just a week
before the outing, while Scappaticci had begun to be
suspected for some time before he was finally revealed.


Cheryl McCullough: My Teen Stone Crush

Wayne's wife admits teen fixation with killer ghoul

Exclusive by Stephen Breen
08 January 2006

THE wife of ex-World Boxing Champion Wayne McCullough last
night confessed to sending fan letters and a photo to
loyalist killer Michael Stone.

"Milltown was the best... you were great... I wish we had
more like you," the teenage Cheryl McCullough wrote to the
graveyard killer.

An embarrassed Cheryl - now manager of the 'Pocket Rocket'
- last night said she had been "naive" when she befriended
Stone during his time in the Maze Prison, in 1990.

Speaking from her home in Las Vegas, she said she regretted
sending him messages of support and wished "she could turn
the clock back".

Cheryl, now 32, spoke out after we confronted her about two
adoring letters she wrote to Stone as a 17-year-old,
praising him for the 1988 Milltown cemetery massacre.

Sunday Life obtained the letters and a photo of teenage
Cheryl posing in front of a mural dedicated to the loyalist

In one of the letters - dated October 25, 1990 - she hails
Stone's actions at Milltown, in which three people were
murdered, as "tremendous".

"I admire you. I wish we had more people like you. What you
did was tremendous and I thought you were great. Through
everything, Milltown was the best.

"I'd love you to keep writing to me so please keep in touch
and write back soon."

In another letter, dated December 19, 1990, she tells Stone
about her engagement to her "famous" boyfriend.

She wrote: "Just a note to say thanks for the Christmas
card. It was lovely. By the way I got engaged three weeks
ago to my famous boyfriend.

"Keep smiling. Have a good Christmas and please write back

Last night, Cheryl said her views had "completely changed".

She told Sunday Life: "I wish I could turn back the clock.
My views since then have completely changed and I am now
more interested in world politics than the petty politics
of Northern Ireland.

"I can quite categorically state that I have no interest in
supporting terrorism.

"I have a vague recollection of writing to Michael Stone
and of meeting him on one occasion.

"We all do things as teenagers, that we regret later on. I
remember feelings were running high at the time.

"But, at the time, I did feel Michael Stone's actions spoke
louder than the politicians and I did sympathise with what
he did.

"However, I was naive from a political point of view in
that I was an east Belfast Protestant who thought I was
doing the right thing. Had I been living in west Belfast,
my persuasions would have been different.

"I obviously remember growing up in Northern Ireland and I
do remember a number of atrocities and of feeling quite
strong about some of the things that happened in the
country. But my affiliations are now with the United States
and I have lived here since I was 19.

"I was brought up in east Belfast and I could see no
further than that until I met Wayne. I am now involved in
cross-community work and charity work."

She added: "People from different backgrounds have also
visited my home and I wish there was complete peace in
Northern Ireland."

Last night, Michael Stone confirmed that he had met the
former World Boxing Champion's wife.

He said: "I did correspond with her, but that's as far as
it went.

"We only had a brief friendship and I remember her being
very confident and being a lovely young woman. She was from
east Belfast and so was I, so that's why I believe she
wrote to me.


There's No Room For Creative Ambiguity In Any New Deal

By Barry White
07 January 2006

IT'S prediction time, as we head into another New Year, the
37th since Northern Ireland began to fall apart - should we
date it from the first civil rights march in August, 1968,
or when Gerry Fitt got hit by a baton and the RUC ignored
an RTE cameraman?

It's been a long time, more than enough for those who have
watched ten or more houses of cards topple and fall. Yet
here we go again, Government Ministers and fixers from
everywhere, pretending that there is a formula which allows
politicians who are not even on speaking terms to share in
an executive destined for the toughest of decisions.

The Monitoring Commission will signal the start of another
round of will-they-or-won't-they negotiations when it tells
the world that although the IRA is still extant, it has
become merely another support group for Sinn Fein. On
criminality, the IMC would be wise to be cautious, since no
one believes that the rackets that sustained the IRA have
been dropped, just distanced.

After that, the negotiators will get to work, insisting
that it's now or never time for agreement, when all the
deadlines are infinitely extendable. We've been told that
unless there is a deal for a return of the Assembly, there
will be no election in May, 2007, but it's more complicated
than that.

There is virtually no chance of a return to Stormont, with
unionists and republicans sharing power, without another
election. Politicians would be mad to risk another
breakdown before the vote due in May, 2007. So we're aiming
for a restoration in 17 months' time, at the earliest.

The longer we have to wait, the better. In reality, we're
looking to the next generation of politicians to emerge,
post-Paisley and post-Adams/McGuinness, to realise that the
deals done in council chambers around the country could, in
theory, be replicated in a Stormont executive.

The present leaderships have done their bit for their
parties, if not for Northern Ireland, and they've got safe
Westminster seats.

They're not hungry enough for power to risk it all, but
their minions might be, after the two Governments have
moved Northern Ireland irreversibly into a dual-
nationality, best-of-both-worlds state, recognisably
different from the rest of the UK.

(There will be bonuses, for participation in such a strange
political experiment. Premier Gordon Brown will forget his
refusal to reduce our 30% corporation tax to the Republic's
12.5% and we'll benefit from 5% growth, compared to the
UK's 1.7%. Start hoarding your plastic bags; you have to
pay for them in the Republic, as we in the UK should.)

But back to the 2006-7 negotiations, which will be even
tougher than those leading up to the Belfast Agreement,
because we know what goes wrong with "creative ambiguity".
Everything must be written in stone, maybe with an oath
committing everyone to supporting the police and "working
together for the common good."

(The near-agreement of December, 2004, insisted on all the
executive parties voting for the First and Deputy First
Ministers, to avoid future boycotts. Mark Durkan's SDLP
objects to endorsing Sinn Fein, so that's problem No. 1.)

The retirement, not disbandment, of the IRA, hasn't
impressed unionists, any more than some members of the
Dublin Government. They only have to think of Gerry Kelly,
ex-IRA, getting his hands on policing to drive them from
the bargaining table. Frustration with the NIO Ministers
may drive them back again, but that will take a year or


Former Secretary Of State Rees Was Most Dithering Direct

Labour man frittered away significant opportunity provided
by IRA ceasefire

Tommy McKearney

There was always something about Merlyn Rees that reminded
one of the little lad who would wet his trousers when sent
to play with the bigger boys. The difference, of course, is
that while it's right to pity the small, nervous mite
trembling in the playground, no similar latitude can be
extended to the ineptitudes of a man who accepted the power
and responsibility that goes with high office.

Rees was appointed secretary of state for Northern Ireland
on March 5, 1974 after having acted as Labour's shadow
spokesman with the same brief. Although it may be argued
that his time in that office was one of the more difficult
periods faced by any direct ruler, the reality is that his
dithering incompetence ensured that not only was unionist
dominance and intransigence reinforced by his capitulation
to the Ulster Workers Council (UWC) strike but he frittered
away a significant opportunity for progress provided by the
IRA ceasefire of 1975.

Born in south Wales but educated at Harrow Weald Grammar
School, Middlesex before graduating from the London School
of Economics, Merlyn Rees was by any standard an educated
man. He had the ability and background to 'read himself'
quickly into the realities of northern Irish political
life, yet nothing he did throughout his time here indicated
any understanding of what was required.

Having ruled with absolute power for 50 years, it was
always inevitable that after Stormont's proroguing,
unionism would make a bid to have the ancien régime
restored. Discard the view that the UWC strike was caused
by a proposed Council of Ireland or the SDLP's alleged
desire for a united Ireland. A majority within unionism was
bluntly demanding a return to the days of a Protestant
parliament for a Protestant people.

Any concession to this demand rendered normal democratic
parliamentary politics in the six counties pointless and
irrelevant. What option other than insurrection lay open to
the excluded non-unionist population? Merlyn Rees, LSE
graduate and experienced parliamentarian, must have known
this when he weakly allowed the UWC dictate terms to him
and his army in May 1974. Worse perhaps, by not acting
decisively against the perpetrators of the Dublin/Monaghan
bombings carried out in support of the putsch, he
encouraged the practitioners of counter-revolutionary
terror for years to come.

Amazingly, he was given another opportunity to do some good
in Ireland when the IRA declared a ceasefire in January
1975. Instead of grabbing this chance and laying down the
groundwork for a permanent settlement, Merlyn Rees listened
to his hawkish advisers and sought to defeat the IRA.
Rather than negotiating honestly, Rees permitted his civil
servants to dissemble and prevaricate while all the time
developing their Ulsterisation/Normalisation stratagem.
This was the era when the misguided plan to criminalise
Irish republicanism was hatched.

We now know that this mistaken tactic led directly to the
brutal H-Block protest and the subsequent death on hunger
strike of ten republicans. It is also possible to say that
decisions taken then have contributed to the problems of
the past three decades and indeed to the ongoing problems
thrown up by the shortsighted unionist intransigence of the
present day.

If Rees failed to do any significant good while in charge
of the NIO, he was just as inept when installed as home
secretary on his departure from Ireland. His time at the
Home Office, if remembered at all, is recalled for his
presiding over the attempted prosecution of investigative
journalists by British Intelligence.

Merlyn Rees remained an MP until retiring from the Commons
in 1992 and was shortly afterwards created a life peer, an
honour that many believe came 30 years too late. In his
defence though, it should be said that his incompetence
probably suited the interests of the altogether tougher
British ruling elite. He died yesterday, January 5, 2006.
He was 85 years old.


Opin: Rees Characterised By Lack Of Resolve

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

Ironically, Merlyn Rees's death in a London hospital at the
age of 85 came hard on the heels of the release of
government papers last week under the 30-year rule which
suggest that he was far from the avuncular figure that his
bookish appearance and diffident demeanour suggested.

In fact, Mr Rees was an enthusiastic proponent of a London
policy which was characterised by double-cross and deceit
and he was at the helm during a period when some historic
opportunities for an honourable peace were squandered by
British duplicity – notably the power-sharing Executive and
the Feakle talks.

It was his failure to react decisively to the UWC strike of
May 1974 which led to the collapse of the Executive and a
dark and lengthy period of direct rule during which murder
and mayhem filled the vacuum created by Rees's refusal to
face down the loyalist hard men.

It has been pointed out that he was the man who brought
internment to an end towards the end of 1975. In fact, it
had long been acknowledged by the British that internment
had been a practical and political disaster and the only
thing holding up the closure of the concentration camps was
yet more British cynicism. On his arrival he was faced with
an electorally emboldened unionist coalition in the shape
of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) and any human
concerns he may have had about the plight of the internees
was superceded by a desire not to upset the unionists. Now,
where have we heard that before?

A cack-handed and ultimately ill-fated attempt to launch a
new political initiative in July, the Constitutional
Convention, was to plunge the North deeper into the pit of
despair, and after just seven months in office, SDLP deputy
leader John Hume declared that Rees had "lost all
credibility". Perhaps his greatest failure, though, was in
not grasping the opportunity presented by the February 1975
IRA ceasefire that emerged from the Co Clare talks. Brought
about by intensive negotiations between churchmen and the
IRA, the 1975 truce had the potential to defuse a conflict
that was spiralling out of control. But carefully
constructed agreements were undermined by British bad faith
and in a matter of months the violence had returned.

In 1987, Rees told the House of Commons that he was
"extremely worried" about reports that he had received
about the extent and intent of British army undercover
activity in the North during his term in office. It would
have been nice if he'd shown a bit more interest 12 years

De mortuis nil nisi bonum – of the dead speak only good.
Nationalists and republicans inevitably struggle to reflect
warmly on the secretaries of state with which we have been
saddled over the years. On a personal level, of course, we
extend our condolences to his family, but on a political
level, and in the light of what came immediately after him,
perhaps the kindest thing to say about Merlyn Rees is that
he was not Roy Mason.


Opin: Merlyn Rees: Caring Politician

Merlyn Rees, who died on Thursday aged 85, will go into the
history books as the first Labour Secretary of State for
Northern Ireland, for the years 1974-76.

Many ministers display little interest in their portfolio
after they have left the office over which they preside and
with which they have been temporarily identified. Rees was
to remain intensely and passionately involved in the
problems of the North and the island of Ireland for the
rest of his life.

He would visit three or four times a year every year; and
his book, Northern Ireland: A Personal Perspective (1985),
is required reading for any serious historian of the
province in the latter part of the 20th century. His father
was a founder member of the Labour Party; and, like his
father and grandfather, a coalminer. He was born in the
Welsh pit village of Cilfynydd, but when he was only six
his dad walked to London after the General Strike, got a
job and brought his family to the capital.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the RAF
and applied himself to such effect that he ended up as a
squadron leader and was offered a permanent commission -
which he declined in favour of going to the London School
of Economics to read economics and history.

After gaining a good degree, he stayed on to do research,
took a master's degree and was invited back to his old
school of Harrow Weald to run the Sixth Form. He married a
girl who had left the school three years previously,
Colleen Cleveley, who was to remain his marvellously
supportive wife for more than half a century. He became an
MP in 1963 and as soon as he got into the House of Commons
was chosen as Parliamentary Private Secretary to James
Callaghan - then the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. On
the election of the Labour government in October 1964, Rees
went to the Treasury as Callaghan's PPS and learnt his way
around the very centre of Whitehall.

Rees had always had a particular interest in Ireland -
sparked by his father, who had been stationed there during
the First World War. In 1974, with the unexpected return of
the Labour government, Rees went to Northern Ireland.

His first parliamentary obligation was the dismal statement
about the deaths of two soldiers of the 14th/20th King's
Hussars on March 21, 1974. Rees was genuinely pained
because he was not only a minister but a sensitive, caring
human being.

The object of his being in Ireland was to end internment
and in that object he succeeded. But he came to believe and
believed until his dying day that London and Dublin were
never going to solve anything and that the eventual
solution could only be found in the North. He believed that
the changed nature of the violence which had started with
Bloody Sunday meant that terrorism was institutionalised.

When Labour was defeated in 1979, within days Rees had gone
to the Cabinet Office and the Northern Ireland Office to
look at his papers and go through his diaries for the
purpose of writing his book.

In 1976, when James Callaghan became Prime Minister, Rees
was given the job of Home Secretary, the bed of nails which
probably more than any other ministry determines the
reputation of the government.

In great old age, and in unselfpitying infirmity, flanked
by Colleen, Merlyn Rees attended the House of Lords on a
regular basis (he was ennobled in 1992 as Lord Merlyn

Rees's personal behaviour and thoughtfulness for others,
even at periods of intensive disagreement with people like
me on Ireland, was exemplary.

- Tam Dalyell


Opin: Merlyn Cast A Spell... And Made Democracy Disappear

BY Robin Livingstone

The death of former Secretary of State Merlyn Rees this
week brought back vivid memories for me of the Ulster
Workers Council strike of 1974 when a plucky little band of
Ulstermen brought London to its knees.

And the amazing thing was that they were armed with nothing
more than a half-dozen power stations, the British army,
the RUC, the BBC, eight reservoirs, an airport, a ferry
terminal and four-fifths of the civil service (the other
fifth was off sick). Personally, I thought it was all great
fun at the time.

But at that age I also thought coming down the Hannahstown
Hill on a bike at 40mph with my hands in the air was great
fun and my favourite food was butter and sugar sandwiches.

I suppose you could say that schoolboys tend to have a
different handle on things. After the power went, my mother
set up a primitive barbecue-type contraption in the back
garden consisting of 12 bricks and the grill from the
cooker on which she made toast and heated tins of beans and

On warm May evenings we'd sit around on chairs taken from
the kitchen and eat while the sun set over the Black
Mountain. All that was missing was somebody with a mouth
organ. Out the back of our house was the Half-Moon Lake,
which was... well, a lake shaped like a half-moon set in
ten acres of forest and grassland.

We used to build rafts and sail there, while British
soldiers drank beer under cover of the trees. One night a
patrol passed by the back of our house while we were having
our vittles and they stopped to look.

There they stood, eight of them, with rifles in the crook
of their arms and the black padded gloves that they always
wore, even in the summer; and there we sat, our mouths full
of beans, a battery-powered radio tuned into BBC Radio
Ulster for regular strike updates.

One of my bigger brothers stood up and invited them to
retire to their base, then posed a pertinent poser about
whether their presence might not be more urgently required
in more easterly parts of the city.

I can't remember his exact words, but the word 'Brit' was
featured prominently, as were the words 'Dunkirk',
'Singapore' and, curiously, 'thicko, cowardly, corner-boy

Of course, Merlyn could have got the power back on in the
blink of an eye had he been so inclined, but he wasn't so
inclined and it came to pass that a bunch of blokes with
literacy issues, bad haircuts and pickaxe handles took
charge of this here pravince while Merlyn sat in his oak-
panelled office at Stormont and pondered his future.

It was at that low point that he decided that never again
would he be humiliated, and thus was forged the steely
determination that was to see internment continue and an
IRA ceasefire undermined.

A lot of people still haven't forgiven the BBC for having,
in their eyes, strengthened the UWC's hand by broadcasting
information supplied by the loyalist/anarchist strikers –
traffic updates, petrol stations with petrol, RVH major
surgery cancellations, that sort of thing.

That criticism is undeserved, of course, and just to prove
that the corporation maintained its independence throughout
the difficult days of the strike, I'm pleased to reproduce
here the Radio Ulster programme schedule for Sunday, May
19, 1974, the same day that Merlyn Rees declared a state of
emergency and flew to Chequers for urgent talks with the
prime minister and a non-tinned dinner.

7am: Good Morning Ulster. Up-to-the-minute news with our
temporary anchors Andy Tyrie and Tommy Lyttle. Regular
traffic updates from Mervyn 'Black & Decker' McClurg in our
met office in the lounge bar of the Machete and Meathook on
the Albertbridge Road.

This morning, a yet-to-be-named UDA brigadier will present
'What the Papers Would Say if There Were Any'.

9am: The Lenny Murphy Show. Music and chat with the
charismatic loyalist leader.

This morning Lenny recalls some hilarious evenings in the
back rooms of loyalist bars on the Shankill Road.

12noon: News, drug traffic and weather.

12.10pm: Talkback. Your chance to have your say on the hot
issues of the day. You're on air as soon as you tell us
what school you went to.

1.30pm: Easy Does It: Middle-of-the-road and easy listening
tracks to brighten your day.

Take off your forage cap, kick off your platforms, put down
that iron bar and relax. Whether you're listening at a
barricade, in a shebeen, a drug den or a knocking shop,
there's something here for everyone. Nearly.

5pm: Good Evening Ulster: All the latest developments
brought to you as and when they happen from our team of
crack masked reporters across the city.

In sport: Catholics in local soccer, the growing menace.

In business: We ask: Have you paid up yet?

7pm: Country Cousins: The best in C&W brought to you by
Simpson 'the Sheriff' Gibson.

Tracks to look out for include 'Romper Room Blues', 'My
Love for You is Higher Than My Heels' and 'A Warm Girl in
My Arms and a Cold Taig in My Boot'.

10pm: Reflections: Wind down with Pastor Ivan 'Stewarty'
Stewart of the First Portadown Revival Tabernacle.

Tonight Pastor Stewarty considers Leviticus, Chapter 3,
Verse 11:

"Smite ye mightily the poofters and the fenians. For a man
that lieth down with a man displeaseath the Lord. But a man
that worketh not and yet hath 15 unwashed children is an
abomination in the eyes of the Maker."

Midnight: Close down. And that's an order.


Opin: Racketeering Days Numbered

08 January 2006

NATURE, the saying goes, abhors a vacuum.

So while Peter Hain persists in threatening to starve
Ulster's MLAs back into government, it's refreshing to see
how many other aspects of life are being returned to

Principal among these is the admirable urgency with which
the police and Assets Recovery Agency are rolling up the

These often one-man crimewaves moved with breathtaking
speed to fill the vacuum caused by the IRA and loyalist

The so-called 'ceasefire soldiers' switched as deftly to
extorting for personal as they had for political gain.

But thanks to Chief Constable Hugh Orde and the ARA's Alan
McQuillan, their days - and vast fortunes - are numbered.

Of course, the sole redeeming feature of 'Bling Brigadiers'
like the late Jim Gray was that they were so transparent.

But now it seems that rarely a day passes without another
alleged racketeer being hauled through the courts and asked
to account for his unimaginable wealth.

Hain's imperious style may not be to everyone's taste.

Few, though, would envy him the task of squaring a circle
that has confounded all previous attempts.

But, while he wields the threat of direct rule like a
claymore, we can at least take comfort in the knowledge
that, behind the scenes, work continues apace to sweep up
the seamier side of our society.


ENOCH Powell famously said that all political careers end
in failure.

Charles Kennedy certainly knows the truth of that this

The Liberal Democrat leader undoubtedly misled his
frontbench about his drink problem.

One nagging question remains, though: would the Press have
been as damning if Kennedy's illness - and that's what
alcoholism is - had been MS or Parkinson's disease?

Either way, Britain's electorate - jaded from years of
Blairite spin and Tory feebleness - are the poorer for his


Opin: Unionists Reprise Kneejerking Role

Unionists are spitting blood over the fact that a young
PSNI recruit wore a War of Independence medal presented by
the Irish government to a relative of his. The medal was
spotted by an eagle-eyed reader when pictures of the
ceremony were carried in last month's Police Gazette.

Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party is
particularly outraged. She says she is going to raise the
issue at the next meeting of the Policing Board. This is
despite the fact that the recruit was perfectly within his
rights. The rules say that recruits can wear medals
presented to relatives by the British government or any
other national government.

Quite what Arlene Foster thinks the Policing Board can do
about it is anybody's guess but tilting at windmills is
something at which unionists have become adept over the

Arlene, we've got news for you, so perhaps you'd care to
listen. The PSNI is no more representative of the
nationalist and republican community at present than is the
Royal Irish Regiment or the Ulster Scots Agency. But if
things progress as they should, then you are in for a
tremendous shock when young men and women from south Armagh
or west Belfast start passing out at these events in
numbers. If you think that the PSNI of the future can be an
institution that requires its members to leave their sense
of self at the door, then you are very badly mistaken. And
we might be more inclined to listen to you now if you had
expressed concern in the past when RUC stations were little
more than loyalist drinking clubs, both in ethos and in

We must confess that it is a little dispiriting that, at
the first tiny sign that the PSNI might be a broad enough
church to welcome recruits who are proud of their Irish
identity, unionism responds with the usual kneejerk
nonsense. One more thing, Arlene: Members of your party
have not only been present at ceremonies celebrating the
"old" Ulster Volunteer Force but have been at the top
table. So if you don't mind, we'll pass on the self-
righteous lecture, thank you very much.

What might be more important — and certainly much more
interesting — is the way in which the recruit in question
fits into the PSNI of 2006. Given that he has been
identified within the force by having his face plastered
all over its in-house magazine, he has acquired a high
profile even before going out on his first patrol.

It is clearly the case that there are still baleful and
sectarian forces in senior positions within the PSNI who
are working to a reactionary unionist agenda. It is hard to
imagine that their attitude to this incident will be any
more progressive than that of the main unionist parties.

It remains to be seen whether this recruit will be welcomed
into the PSNI family or whether the old bullet-in-the-
locker trick will bring his career to an end before it has
started. Certainly, it is a test that the PSNI cannot be
seen to fail.


Opin: Adams, McGuinness 'Protected Informers'

Jim Cusack

JUST before New Year, an article appeared on a website run
by disgruntled ex-spies written by a former British Army
intelligence officer who uses the cover-name, Martin
Ingrams. The article contained remarkable allegations about
the IRA leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Under normal circumstances, few would pay much attention to
the views of a man who spent much of his career recruiting
and handling informers. However, 'Ingrams' is the man who
named Freddy Scappaticci, former head of the IRA's internal
security section, as an informer. Scappaticci, who has
since moved to Italy, denied the allegations initially but
then left Belfast and made no effort to rebut Ingrams's

The naming of Scappaticci as the British Army's high-
ranking informer, code-named 'Stake Knife', sent shock
waves through the IRA.

The most recent revelation that Denis Donaldson was another
informer compounded the sense of shock within the
'Republican Movement' - as the IRA now terms itself.
Donaldson was in charge of the IRA and Sinn Fein's
'international affairs department'.

Gerry Adams sent him to New York to re-organise Sinn Fein's
fund-raising and PR operations there, sacking long-serving
supporters and putting in new people. The FBI, who were
handling Donaldson while he was on US soil, were
simultaneously being fed information about every person
coming into contact with Sinn Fein and the IRA in the US.
That information, inevitably, was being fed back to their
British intelligence counterparts.

Donaldson travelled extensively in the Seventies and
Eighties on behalf of the Republican Movement and was the
IRA and Sinn Fein's main contact with groups like Eta, the
PLO and Hezbollah.

In latter years he ran the Sinn Fein offices at Stormont
during the short-lived power-sharing Assembly. His
involvement in the IRA spy-ring at Stormont precipitated
the Assembly's collapse.

Two weeks after Donaldson was exposed, 'Martin Ingrams' - a
figure with a proven track record in these matters -
contributed an article to the on-line magazine, Cryptome,
which is run by disgruntled former intelligence officers in
the US and Europe.

Ingrams's latest allegation is that McGuinness and Adams
were either completely naive in relation to the British
Army and RUC's recruitment and use of informers at high-
level in the IRA or knew about it and let it happen.

The allegation by the former British intelligence officer
is not being dismissed by former senior IRA figures who now
believe there was a conspiracy to bring down the IRA from
within during the Eighties and into the Nineties. In some
formerly hard-line republican areas of the North, there is
now open criticism of - and hostility towards - Adams and

Among the areas where opinion is most bitter is in the
former territory of the East Tyrone and Fermanagh brigades
ranging from the Monaghan-Cavan Border area up to the
north-eastern shores of Lough Neagh and across into
Donegal. The East Tyrone IRA waged a near-genocidal
campaign against local Protestant farmers who joined the
part-time RUC and Ulster Defence Regiment. They carried out
the Ballygawley bomb attack on a bus which killed eight
soldiers and injured dozens of others in August 1988. The
East Tyrone and Fermanagh IRA were both involved in the
Enniskillen bombing on Remembrance Day 1987 when 12
civilians were killed.

It was well known that the East Tyrone IRA was opposed to
any deal short of a British declaration of intent to
withdraw from Northern Ireland. In the early Nineties, when
secret talks were taking place between the Adams/McGuin-
ness leadership and the British, the Tyrone IRA carried out
the bomb attack which killed eight Protestant workmen
leaving work on a building site at a local RUC station in
January 1992 at Teebane.

East Tyrone, however, was suffering heavy casualties, and
more than 20 were killed by the SAS or RUC in ambushes. In
1987 an entire unit of eight East Tyrone IRA bombers was
wiped out by the SAS in an ambush at Loughgall. The dead
included Jim Lynagh, the Co Monaghan IRA leader who was
known to be implacably opposed to Gerry Adams's proposals
to pursue an "unarmed strategy" to move the IRA away from
terrorism towards subversive politics.

It is now known that the information that led to the
infiltration and near annihilation of the East Tyrone
leadership came from at least one source who was very close
to the Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness leadership.

'Ingrams' now says that Adams and McGuinness, as effective
joint leaders of the IRA at this time, must have been aware
that the British and RUC intelligence services would be
targeting what he terms the "vulnerable points" of the IRA.
These, he says, were mainly IRA men who had already served
prison terms and were in fear of a return to prison for
long sentences. These were very easily recruited.

In order to counteract this, Ingrams says, the Adams and
McGuinness leadership would have known it was necessary to
have an effective internal security organisation that could
target and exterminate informants. He points out that to
avoid the danger of infiltration, it would have been
necessary to rotate internal security personnel. Yet, this
did not happen. Scappaticci and his boss, an ex-British
soldier who had joined the IRA and has since died, were in
charge of internal security for over 20 years, both passing
information to the British Army and RUC. Ingrams wrote:
"Now either Adams and McGuinness are the two unluckiest
people on this planet or it was no accident."

Ingrams also claims that an RUC case against Martin
McGuinness which could have led to his prosecution for
taking part in the abduction and murder of a highly placed
informer in the Derry IRA was dropped because, at the time,
McGuinness and Adams were moving towards their secret talks
with the British.

The case to which Ingrams refers is that of Frank Hegarty,
an IRA man turned informer who fled Derry after being
exposed. He returned, however, after his family was
persuaded by McGuinness that Hegarty would not be killed.
McGuinness met him at his family home and is believed to
have overseen his removal to Donegal where Hegarty was
later shot dead and dumped in a country lane.

McGuinness has publicly denied any involvement in the death
of Frank Hegarty but Ingrams says the RUC case against
McGuinness, which was dropped, contained statements by
three witnesses.

Ingrams's theory is that there was high-level collusion in
both the British security services and the IRA leadership
to ensure that Adams and McGuinness were protected and that
their opponents in the IRA were destroyed to ensure that
the IRA campaign was brought to an end.

This theory is now also believed by other former senior IRA
figures who have told the Sunday Independent they were not
surprised that Denis Donaldson was working as an agent and
that other senior figures close to Adams and McGuinness
were also long-serving agents. They are now waiting for
further revelations about moles who were working inside the
IRA and possibly protected from within the IRA leadership.


Opin: Thin Pickings Continue For The Daily Miracle

THE Sinn Fein-backed Daily Ireland is being dubbed the
"Daily Miracle" in Ireland's newspaper industry after
defying economic gravity and surviving for 10 months on a
very meagre advertising andsales income.

Unfortunately, it was a cold Christmas for the paper. None
of the big advertisers appear to want to touch the paper as
it peddles its predominantly Sinn Fein-orientated message.
Despite the apparent rejection by advertisers and poor
sales, it proudly trumpeted itself as a complete success in
its Christmas message to readers.

Whingeing editorials attacked the British Government for
refusing to run advertising in the paper, failing to
mention the fact that in the past few years the profitable
Andersonstown News group, which publishes Daily Ireland,
received around €800,000 (stg£551,600) in British
Government direct aid grants, or that no other English-
language newspaper North or South has ever received a penny
in Government aid. They even received €300,000 from the
Irish Government which apparently saw the grant as "helpful
to the peace process".

Despite claiming to be a "national" newspaper, there are
tell-tale signs that the paper's advertising interest is
confined almost exclusively to nationalist areas of the
North - particularly in west Belfast, where it is based.

Not even the free small ads appear to be generating any
interest. That is when they are in date. Hilariously, last
week the paper was still running an ad for two tickets to
the Coldplay concert at the Odyssey Centre in Belfast which
took place on December 21.

Who in Cork would be interested in, or know what an advert
for an apartment "close to RVH" was about? (The 'RVH' is
the RoyalVictoria Hospital on the Falls Road).

Newspaper industry sources continue to be amazed that the
evidently loss-making paper appears every day, mostly to
lie unsold beside the Irish and Britishtitles. Its claim to
have a circulation of 10,000 nationally is regarded by
competitorsas unlikely. Most of the sales are in the Border
areas of the North.

Even in the heart of republican west Belfast, the British
red-top tabloids are massively outselling Daily Ireland.

All this will, no doubt, be of interest to the Daily
Ireland investors who were canvassed by Sinn Fein's
Caoimhghin O Caolain and promised aguaranteed return on
investments of over €10,000 over seven years - something
which no other newspaper and very few businesses have ever

Writing to business people in the Border area, Caoimhghin
invited those interested to a meeting with Daily Ireland
directors, who then included Phil Flynn - subsequently
questioned about his business relationship with one of the
peoplearrested over the laundering of money stolen from the
Northern Bank.

Jim Cusack


Opin: Liam Fay: It's Time Rookie Hikers Walked The Talk,

Walking, the experts tell us, increases the flow of oxygen
to the brain. Walking up hills, however, seems to have the
opposite effect. This is certainly the impression one gets
from the increasingly dimwitted behaviour of Ireland's
growing hill-walking community.

The new breed of reckless hill-walkers are a rural menace,
high plains drifters on a quest to find another elevated
vantage point from which they can overlook their

We were reminded of the carelessness of some ramblers last
week when Kerry Mountain Rescue (KMR) felt obliged to issue
some remarkably elementary advice: listen to the weather
forecast before setting out, and complete your trek before
darkness descends.

KMR released the statement following an incident in which a
father and four children under 10 years of age got lost for
five hours after an afternoon walk in the Caha mountains in
West Cork. "It got dark too early for them," a KMR
spokesperson drily observed. The post-Christmas season,
when the countryside becomes a winter wonderland, always
attracts hordes of walkers to rugged upland beauty spots.
But never has the rescue services' exasperation with the
folly of thoughtless hikers been more apparent.

For instance, rescuers report a sharp rise in the number of
hill-walkers who believe that a mobile phone is an adequate
substitution for skills such as map-reading, and equipment
such as good boots, warm and waterproof clothing and a
torch and whistle. This naive faith in the invincibility of
modern technology ignores the fact that mobile phone
coverage is often patchy in remote areas.

The carelessness of many hill-walkers is a symptom of the
popular belief that we all have a right to do anything we
please but no responsibility for the consequences. Why take
proper precautions when some poor saps are prepared to risk
their necks, at public expense, to save us if we go astray?
The poor saps, in this case, are the mountain rescue
services — a small, heroic, underfunded and overstretched
group of volunteers whose patience is wearing thin.

What goes up doesn't always come down. It's about time
hill-walkers showed some consideration and gratitude for
the people on whose safety net they so blithely rely. When
going to roam, do as experienced roamers do.

For a man accusing others of playing games, Brendan Howlin
is surrounded by riddles and conundrums. The Labour TD is
in high dudgeon over the fact that the Morris tribunal knew
the identity of the source who provided him with key
information while it pursued court action to force him to
name Martin Giblin SC as that source.

Giblin, who was representing the McBreartys, furnished the
information to Howlin in 2000. Howlin passed it on, in
confidence, to John O'Donoghue, then justice minister,
eventually prompting the tribunal's establishment. Morris
may be guilty of excessive legalism by insisting Howlin be
compelled to name Giblin. But the TD might also ask Giblin
why he didn't admit he had gone to the tribunal and
identified himself as the source two years ago. The lawyer
could have spared everyone involved considerable trouble if
he had freed Howlin from his confidentially obligation much
sooner. Could it be that Giblin wanted the best of both
worlds: public anonymity and private acknowledgement? But
if that's true, who leaked his name to the Irish
Independent last week?

The Donegal garda scandalabra was contorted enough without
this sideshow being tacked on.

Kelly's hurling bombshell

As if to confirm the prejudices of those who see hurling as
a cross between hockey and homicide, the GAA president Sean
Kelly has proposed that the association name an important
trophy in honour of Michael Collins, the godfather of
modern terrorism and a reputed hurling enthusiast. Just as
Collins did with real explosives, Kelly detonated the
bombshell without warning — demolishing his reputation as a
progressive leader determined to change the GAA' s image as
the sporting wing of armed republicanism.

Kelly is regularly touted as a Fine Gael candidate, but he
refuted suggestions that his call for Collins's GAA
canonisation has anything to do with politics. He then
contradicted himself with a sly dig at the Fianna Fail
founder, Eamon de Valera, over his supposed preference for
the oppressors' sport of rugby. In reality, it's way past
time that GAA culture was liberated from the shadow of the
gunmen. A modern sporting victor should be able to hold a
trophy aloft with pride, not like a grenade with the pin


Planning U-turn is a dumb response

Everyone knows that the Irish heritage-protection industry
is a lofty institution, but one question remains: does the
lift go all the way to the top floor? Doubts about the
sector's sense and judgment have resurfaced following An
Bord Pleanala's humiliating climb-down over Dermot
Desmond's dumb waiter.

In 2002, Dublin city council refused the tycoon permission
to install a dumb waiter and associated apparatus in 71
Merrion Square, a listed 1790s building. The decision was
endorsed by An Bord Pleanala. Desmond sought a judicial
review and a High Court judge ordered the planning
authority to reconsider.

Last week, following a lengthy inquiry, the board returned
with a new report that approved the renovations. The dumb
waiter, they now felt, constituted a reversible "expression
of individual aesthetic taste" in a "private dwelling".

It may take a while, but these guys don't miss a trick.

They call it the dog whistle. You work out what voters are
prejudiced about — immigrants, say — and then you subtly
indicate that you share their concerns. Nothing so ham-
fisted as playing the race card, mind. The signal is called
the dog whistle because it isn't just off the record, it's
off the scale. Labour's Michael D Higgins is wise to such
skulduggery. During the citizenship referendum, he accused
the justice minister Michael McDowell of speaking "out of
the side of (his) mouth" to racist voters, assuring them
he's "doing something about the other thing".

We await with interest Higgins's response to the
insinuations by the Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte, about the
threat to Irish jobs posed by "40m or so Poles". Toot-toot.


Tourism: Belfast Rising

Northern Ireland's capital welcomes tourists as it leaves
its Troubles behind

Travel Arts Syndicate
Belfast guide

Rosemary Connolly pointed out the city's new courthouse,
near St. George's Market. "This just shows you how things
have progressed in Belfast," she said with wry humor.
"We've got a brand new courthouse with a glass wall, and
it's still standing."

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Looking for a good time? Try

A few years ago that would have sounded like a bad joke.
Not anymore. After 30 years of guerrilla warfare between
Loyalist Protestants and Catholic Republicans over whether
Northern Ireland should remain part of Great Britain or
unite with the Republic of Ireland, most people have
decided that's enough. About 3,000 people in Northern
Ireland have died.

A gradual easing of hostilities began in 1994. Last July
the Irish Republican Army formally ordered an end to its
armed campaign.

"I believe it's over," said Michael Deane, one of Belfast's
top chefs with a string of awards after his name, including
a Michelin star. "Just because somebody doesn't agree with
someone about something doesn't make you have to fall out
all the time. I think the real people are moving Belfast
on. I really believe that."

Deane was standing in St. George's Market, where he had
come to do a cooking demonstration on how to use leftover
Christmas turkey. St. George's is a Victorian brick
building that was restored in 1999 by the Belfast City

The Friday market is large and utilitarian, with food
staples and household goods for sale. On Saturdays vendors
sell gourmet food — organic produce, cheeses, olives,
homemade soups, pastries, tea and more. People come with
their children and their dogs to sit at little tables in
the middle of the market, where they chat, listen to music
or maybe read the newspaper.

"The real people," Deane said, "are the people in places
like this, in the markets, the everyday businessmen. These
are the people who have been making Belfast work."

A woman came up to Deane holding a bag of sweets. "Here's
something for the wee boy," she said, indicating Deane's 6-
year-old son, Marco, who had come with him that day.

"We just can't live with each other," Deane said to me,
"but they are lovely people."

Yes, the people of Belfast are lovely — hospitable, funny
and unpretentious.

Belfast is a workingman's city that grew during the
Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th
centuries. When Ireland was partitioned in 1921, Belfast
became Northern Ireland's capital. Shipbuilding and linen
production were the major industries along with the
manufacture of heavy machinery, rope and whiskey.

Most of that is gone now. Although 1,742 ships were built
in Belfast — including the Titanic — the last ship was
launched two years ago. But the workers' housing remains —
street after street of small, attached houses called
"terraces." The older ones have two rooms on the ground
floor and two rooms above, with an attic.

You can go to museums and concerts in Belfast, but much of
the real culture is in the pubs and in casual
conversations, which are often laced with trenchant
observations, stories and sardonic wit.

The painted walls of Belfast are another example of the
city's populist culture. Found primarily in West Belfast
(and to a lesser extent in East Belfast) on the gabled ends
of housing terraces or on fences, they started almost 100
years ago as crudely painted political statements and as
territorial markers for the Loyalists and the Republicans.
Gradually, however, many of them achieved a compelling
level of artistry.

The paintings, which now number more than 600, have become
a major tourist attraction. Some are memorials to the dead,
some are cultural statements. Sightseeing buses
( and Black Taxi Tours in London-
style cabs take visitors to the Shankill and Falls roads in
West Belfast, where the violence was once so intense that a
"Peace Wall" of concrete, wire and corrugated tin had to be
built to separate the opposing communities. Former U.S.
President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama have signed the
wall, as have numerous other people.

Although sections of the wall remain, everywhere in Belfast
are signs that peace is taking hold. Belfast guide Rosemary
Connolly pointed out the city's new courthouse, near St.
George's Market. "This just shows you how things have
progressed in Belfast," she said with wry humor. "We've got
a brand new courthouse with a glass wall, and it's still

She also pointed out a passing police car — an armor-plated
Land Rover that she said is being phased out. "We used to
build police stations like fortresses. The police were
being attacked from both sides of the political divide in
certain areas. We opened two new police stations last year,
and you wouldn't know they were police stations at all. The
security is so low-key."

Along Belfast's River Lagan are more indications of peace
and prosperity. A few years ago a weir was built to keep
the water from receding completely at low tide, which
caused an unbearable stench. Now that the river smells
better and is less polluted, waterfront housing has become
desirable and increasingly expensive. Waterfront Hall, with
two auditoriums, an exhibition space and a restaurant,
opened in 1997 as part of a major Laganside redevelopment
program. It's used for big-name performers and classical
music as well as for conferences.

Near the hall is Thanksgiving Square Belfast, with a large
wire sculpture of a ponytailed woman standing on a sphere.
Her formal name is "The Angel of Thanksgiving and
Reconciliation," but Belfasters call her "the doll on the
ball." A sign at her feet says she represents "hope and
aspiration, peace and reconciliation."

During the years of the Troubles, the Europa Hotel on Great
Victoria Street was one of the few hotels in Belfast. It's
right next to the Grand Opera House, one of the city's
spectacular Victorian landmarks. The Europa was bombed 27
times, causing it to proclaim itself "the most bombed hotel
in Europe."

"At one time because of the bombs, the kitchens weren't in
operation," said Connolly, so they barbecued food for the
guests. "But they weren't up to four-star status, so one of
the jokes was, 'People said what kind of wine do you have?
And the answer was "red wine, white wine and pink wine." '

With few visitors, there wasn't much need for hotels, but
now, Connolly said, "we have all these new hotels! We have
visitors here!"

The newest Belfast hotel, scheduled to open in April,
promises to be one of its most luxurious. Called the
Merchant Hotel, it's in the former headquarters of the
Ulster Bank — a dazzling example of Victorian architecture
on a narrow, cobblestoned street in the city's Cathedral
Quarter. Nearby are old pubs and new restaurants and across
the street is a printmaking workshop and gallery housed in
a former cotton warehouse.

One of the city's newly minted festivals, the Cathedral
Quarter Arts Festival, is scheduled for April 27 to May 7,
with poetry readings, plays, folk music and exhibitions.

A more traditional form of entertainment takes place at the
Christmas season. Pantomimes, or "pantos," are mounted on
Belfast stages, with ribald, slapstick humor interspersed
into fairy tales such as "Jack and the Beanstalk" or
"Aladdin." A portly man dressed as a woman is a stock
character, playing the hero's mother, a nurse or cook. The
audience boos the villain, yells warnings to the hero and
talks back to the Panto Dame.

At "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the Christmas panto
at the Grand Opera House, May McFettridge, playing the
nurse, ended the performance by wishing the audience "a
happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year."

In Belfast, those were not empty words.


Video Games 'Help Overcome Driving Fears'

08/01/2006 - 11:44:23

Doctors at an Irish hospital are using video games to help
road accident victims overcome their driving fears, it
emerged today.

There are thousands of people injured on the roads each
year and up to 15% can develop what is known as 'accident

But now trauma psychiatrists at St Stephen's Hospital in
Cork are using popular video games such as London Racer and
Midtown Madness to help them get back behind the wheel

"It's a structured programme – patients don't just play
video games. It's cognitive behavioural therapy and it
involves gradually exposing people to different types of
frightening scenes, starting off in a very easy way and
working up gradually," said Dr David Walsh.

The almost photo-realistic personal computer (PC) driving
simulations have helped accident victims who would
previously have thrown up while driving or pulled in every
time cars appeared in their rear mirror.

"Patients with accident phobia can be a danger to
themselves or others, often by driving excessively slowly,
driving on the margins, over-reacting to any potential for
danger on the road or encroaching," said Dr Walsh.

Accident victims are seated behind a windscreen which looks
onto a five foot-wide projection screen and are given a
steering wheel and a gearstick to drive their virtual car.

The trauma psychiatrist is in constant contact with them
through their headphones and there is also vibrating
technology under their seats to make the experience more

"Initially the set up was more basic but we have developed
it over the past four years to achieve more realism and it
has been more effective in reducing anxiety in drivers or
passengers," said Dr Walsh.

He and his colleague, Dr Elizabeth Lewis, have used the
sessions of video games therapy to treat up to 100 public
and private patients over the last four years.

They published a study in the Journal of Cyber Psychology
and Behaviour last year which detailed the experiences of
seven patients.

"All seven people had a very marked success rate in terms
of driving fears and anxieties and depressions. They were
reduced by 50% or more on average," said Dr Walsh.

The therapy, which also involves breathing retraining,
anxiety management, and how to turn catastrophic thoughts
into more rational ones, has allowed around 80% of patients
to return to normal driving.

Dr Walsh said the method could be rolled out to other
hospitals across the country and added that different video
games could potentially be used to treat other phobias.

But he warned of the dangers if the video games were not
used properly.

"If you don't apply the therapy skilfully, you can do
patients more harm than good," he said.


Expert: Bog Bodies Buried At Boundaries

An Irish archaeologist believes two bodies found in peat
were buried 2,300 years ago at the boundaries of kingdoms
to ensure successful reigns.

Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man were discovered about 25
miles apart in 2003 in peat bogs not far from Dublin.
Hundreds of bodies preserved by peat have been found across
Northern Europe.

Ned Kelly, keeper of Irish antiquities for the National
Museum of Ireland, was interviewed for a BBC documentary to
be aired later this month.

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

Both Clonycavan Man and Old Croghan Man died violently and
had been tortured before death. Both bodies had interesting
features, including what appears to have been an early form
of hair gel used to keep Clonycavan's hair-do in place.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International


'Book Of Daniel' Is Not About Religion

Associated Press

NEW YORK - "I think it's a pretty down-the-middle,
wholesome show," says Aidan Quinn, referring to his new NBC
series, "Book of Daniel."

"I honestly don't think it's going to be nearly as
controversial as some people may now be afraid of," he
says. "It just has the courage to deal with some of the
real issues that go in on people's lives."

For instance?

"Well, I'm an Episcopalian priest who struggles with a
little self-medication problem, and I have a 23-year-old
son who's gay, and a 16-year-old daughter who's caught
dealing pot, and another son who's jumping on every high
school girl he sees, and a wife who's very loving but also
likes her martinis.

"I can't tell you how many people have said to me, 'Hey,
that sounds like my family."'

Don't forget the Rev. Daniel Webster's recent cruel loss of
another son to leukemia. Or the kookie extended family
that, among other things, is about to put Daniel's
priesthood (and parish) in jeopardy by forcing him into
business with the Mob.

Or the fact that he has regular visions of, and frequent
conversations with, a flesh-and-blood Jesus Christ.

Is this like your family? Viewers can soon find out. On
Tuesday, "Book of Daniel" premieres with back-to-back
airings of two episodes from 8 to 10 p.m., before claiming
its regular 9 p.m. slot the following week.

Between now and then, TV congregants can eagerly await --
or brace themselves for -- a comedic drama that might be
described as "7th Heaven" meets "Desperate Housewives." Its
initial eight-episode run throws a host of curves at the
Webster clan while Daniel munches Vicodin to ease his
pressures and doubts.

Does this demean a man of God?

Not a bit, says the 46-year-old Quinn, who, Chicago-born
and of Irish descent, has taken the vows for his first
series after a diverse career in made-for TV movies,
theater and feature films (including "Legends of the Fall"
and "Michael Collins"). Diverse? His credits include Paul
McCartney, Benedict Arnold and Robinson Crusoe.

Now Quinn plays a priest who must be taken on his own human
terms -- a good man who wants to do right by his family and
flock, keep up necessary appearances, and cleanse his soul.

"He is caught up in the modern malady of extreme busyness
and stress," Quinn says. "But he can have moments of great
lucidity and humor, and he cherishes his moments of quiet
in the church, and in prayer."

Communing with his inner self takes the form of those tete-
a-tetes with Jesus -- a loving, good-humored comrade whose
robes-and-beard style stands apart in the starchy, posh
suburb just outside New York City where "Book of Daniel" is

Jesus is demonstrably there for Daniel -- but delivers no
easy answers even when, in a frequent state of
befuddlement, he seeks them.

"You know it doesn't work that way," Jesus reminds him.

"Yeah," Daniel sighs. "I just don't know why."

A Savior-as-therapist, Jesus is played by Garret Dillahunt
("Deadwood"), while the series also stars Susanna Thompson
("Now and Again") as the reverend's wife, Judith, plus
Christian Campbell ("Trick"), Alison Pill ("Confessions of
a Teenage Drama Queen") and Ivan Shaw ("All My Children")
as the couple's children.

You might say "Book of Daniel" is the gospel according to
Jack Kenny, an unlikely auteur considering his resume:
executive producer of the sketch-comedy series "Wanda at
Large" and, before that, the creator of "Titus," producer
of "Caroline in the City," and a staff writer on "Dave's

But looking to move into one-hour drama, he wrote a pilot
script for "Book of Daniel" on spec as a writing sample,
"in hopes I could get in some doors. Then it took on a life
of its own."

A gay man raised in the Catholic Church, Kenny says he drew
on the Wasp-y, emotionally guarded family of his life

"Michael," he says of his mate with a dramatist's relish,
"came from a world that is all about what is NOT said --
the hidden meaning in the words and sentences."

Declaring he has never seen "7th Heaven" or "Joan of
Arcadia" (a drama that had God revealing himself to a high
school girl in a variety of human visions), Kenny insists
his show isn't about religion.

"This is about a family," he says between bites during a
hasty lunch break at the Queens studio where the series is
shot. "The fact that Daniel is a priest is secondary. The
church is the backdrop. This is no more about religion than
'Six Feet Under" was about mortuaries."

But pray tell, doesn't saddling a priest with all those
dicey tribulations (and a Vicodin habit) risk putting off
the audience in a way that a similarly plagued plumber or
stockbroker wouldn't?

"Daniel faces the same relatable problems that every father
has to deal with," says Kenny. "And if the problems seem
heightened because of what he does for a living, then that
just raises the stakes. And that makes better drama."

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To January 2006 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?