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January 02, 2006

An End Of The Irish In America?

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IN 01/02/06 Could 2006 See An End To The Irish In America?
IT 01/03/06 SF Remains Focused - Morrison
II 01/02/06 IRA Pledges To Honour Maze Hunger Strike Men
DI 01/02/06 Hunger Striker Buried
II 01/02/06 Caolain Wasn't A Garda Spy, Insists Sinn Fein
DI 01/02/06 Two Sn Republicans Deny Brits Spy Allegations
IN 01/02/06 Rumours 'Inevitable' In Aftermath Of Stakeknife
IO 01/02/06 Govts Aim To Re-Establish No Assembly In 2006
IN 01/02/06 Feud Fears After Robb Murdered In Glasgow
NL 01/02/06 Council Seeks Advice On Irish Name Plates
IN 01/02/06 Winding Road Of The North's Future
II 01/02/06 1975: How Dublin Prep For Threat Of NI Doomsday
SL 01/01/06 1975: Kidnapping Intermediary's 'Freedom' Row
IN 12/30/05 Sr Unionists Anxious For Talks With Ntionalists
IT 01/03/06 Opin: US Finda Struggle Was Run By An Informer
DI 01/02/06 Joe Frazier Wishes Maskey Well
IT 01/03/06 Bertie's Pop Picks Ring In New Year & Campaign
IT 01/03/06 Cliffs Of Moher Buskers Face Court Action


Could 2006 See An End To The Irish In America?

Letter From America
By Ray O'Hanlon

2006 could go down in history as the year that took the
Irish out of Irish America.

It looks as if the early months of the year will be the
setting for what promises to be a stormy debate in
Washington on the future of US immigration law and policy.

One way or another, Ireland and the Irish will be affected.

The scene for a showdown was set a few days ago when the
House of Representatives passed a bill that has been
excoriated by many but praised by supporters as being the
best way to end the chaos at America's borders.

After a vigorous debate, a clear majority in the House
voted in favour of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and
Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.

The bill is the joint work of Republican congressmen James
Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York, the
chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, a
longtime co-chair of the congressional Ad Hoc Committee for
Irish Affairs and a familiar figure in Ireland.

The bill passed by 239-182 and will now be the primary
House input in the wider debate that will involve the
Senate and the White House.

One of the approved amendments to the bill was a proposal
to scrap the annual diversity visa lottery, which is
virtually the last remaining way – barring marriage to a US
citizen – by which Irish people, from north and south, can
hope to secure a legal path to living and working in the
US. Prior to the House vote, the Sensenbrenner/King bill
had been vehemently criticised by advocates for the
undocumented Irish, most especially at the inaugural
meeting in New York for a new pressure group, the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform.

It was again criticised after the vote by, among others,
Democratic representative Joe Crowley who, like King, is a
co-chair of the ad hoc committee, though on the Democratic

"This legislation, which professes to make Americans more
safe, is in reality an anti-immigrant border security bill
which fails to fix our broken immigration system,
eliminates the diversity visa program which brings 50,000
new immigrants to the US every year and does nothing to
bring the 10-12 million immigrants with undocumented status
out of the shadows and onto the path of citizenship," Mr
Crowley said in a statement.

"This bill targets immigrants who are currently living in
the United States in the shadows of being undocumented and
does nothing to encourage them to begin the citizenship
process," he added.

Crowley is a co-sponsor of the House version of the Secure
America and Orderly Immigration Act.

This bipartisan measure was first drawn up in the Senate by
Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain and has been lauded
by Irish immigrant advocates and the Irish government as
being the best way forward for both border control and
comprehensive immigration reform.

By contrast, the Sensenbrenner/King bill focuses almost
entirely on enforcement within the US and control of its

It proposes to remove the role of the courts from
immigration proceedings and makes it a felony offense to
enter the US illegally, or to overstay either a visa or the
time in the US permitted under the visa waiver programme.

The bill also significantly toughens sanctions against
employers who hire illegal or undocumented workers.

The part of the bill that makes it a felony to be
undocumented or illegal was, at one point, close to being
pulled from the text.

And the representative who proposed the amendment to pull
it was, ironically, the man who first wrote it into the
bill, Congressman Sensenbrenner.

Peter King was subsequently at pains to state that along
with a number of fellow Republican House members he had
persuaded Sensenbrenner to amend his own handiwork and keep
illegality at the level of a civil misdemeanor.

"We convinced him but 191 Democrats voted down his
amendment," Mr King said.

"They wanted to make the bill look as bad as possible. They
were playing politics with it," Mr King complained.

The House bill is not yet the law of the land. But elements
of it are certain to be included in whatever is agreed in
the broader debate involving the Senate and the Bush
administration, a debate that is expected to take full
flight in the spring with politicians who normally rub
shoulders on Irish issues very much in opposite corners. It
will be, to say the least, an interesting spectacle.


SF Remains Focused - Morrison

Sinn Féin's former director of communications has
asserted that, while the exposure of Denis Donaldson as a
British agent caused shock within republicanism, it would
not deflect the Sinn Féin leadership from the main peace
process agenda, writes Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Danny Morrison, now a writer and political commentator,
said despite continuing rumours that other senior
republicans were about to be "outed" as British agents, the
republican base was adopting a "stoical" attitude to the
whole spying affair.

In recent days a number of newspapers have mentioned senior
republican figures as being caught up in the speculation
about IRA informers. A number of Belfast republicans were
also warned by the PSNI over Christmas that the IRA
suspected they had operated as agents.

Mr Morrison said the current rumour mill smacked of British
intelligence "dirty tricks" and "trial by media".

He queried the grounds on which the PSNI contacted certain
republicans to say they were coming under IRA suspicion.
"If somebody with a squeaky voice rings up the PSNI and
says we think so-and-so is about to be 'outed' as an
informer, is that the reason the police call to that
person's home or is there some other reason?"

Mr Morrison said people were simply given a letter warning
them of the alleged danger and advising them to contact a
police sergeant. But when a person's solicitor did so, no
information was forthcoming to properly explain the basis
for the warning.

"Unless there are grounds for suspecting someone I will not
suspect anyone - even though I never had any grounds for
suspicion about Denis Donaldson," said Mr Morrison.

He argued that in recent years, at least, Mr Donaldson -
who was Sinn Féin head of administration at Stormont -
would have been of little use to the British intelligence
system. "There is very little divergence between the
private and political positions of Sinn Féin. What
difference did it make if the British secretly got a Sinn
Féin policy paper from Donaldson one day and then got the
same paper officially from Sinn Féin the following day," he

"Don't get me wrong, people were shocked that someone of
the pedigree of Denis Donaldson was an informer. But at the
same time it doesn't change the main political agenda," he

The political focus remained on whether the DUP would share
power with Sinn Féin, on whether the policing issue could
be resolved, and on other issues such as the on-the-runs
legislation. The political leadership of Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness would not be deflected from that focus.

He was confident the spying allegations and the exposure of
Mr Donaldson as a spy would not politically damage the
Adams/McGuinness leadership. "It's like blaming a woman
because her husband is unfaithful. It's quite ridiculous."

Mr Morrison said he did not know whether the IRA had
operated a spy ring at Stormont. He insisted however the
argument that the Stormontgate raid and the consequent
October 2002 collapse of the Northern Executive and
Assembly, was part of a "securocrat" agenda carried great

PSNI sources have rejected this argument, saying that while
there may have been Special Branch-type elements in the
past, who worked to a destructive strategy, they had been
mostly weeded out of the force.

"But we are not talking about a homogenous group of people
here. There are still people of that ilk about," said Mr
Morrison. There were still powerful elements within the
police, MI5 and officialdom who wanted to say the IRA had
been defeated.

© The Irish Times


IRA Pledges To Honour Maze Hunger Strike Men

Senan Molony
Political Correspondent

SINN FEIN and Provisional IRA members are planning to
wrong-foot the Government's reclamation of the Easter
Rising by reviving the spectre of the hunger strike.

This year not only marks the 90th anniversary of the 1916
rebellion but also the 25th anniversary of the 1981 hunger
strikes at the Maze, which claimed 10 IRA and INLA lives.

While the Taoiseach has announced plans to "take back" the
commemoration of the 1916 rising with a major Easter parade
in O'Connell Street, the latest message from the IRA
pledges to match that move with its own revisting of the
era of the hunger strike - the most divisive period in
recent Irish political history.

A hunger strike march on the British embassy in 1981
resulted in the Ballsbridge riot in which scores of gardai
were injured, repeated baton charges were made and dozens
of cars and houses extensively damaged.

The IRA New Year statement, issued yesterday and signed P
O'Neill, declares: "We are mindful that 2006 marks the 25th
anniversary of the hunger strikes and 90th anniversary of
the Proclamation of the Republic in 1916. We look forward
to popular celebrations and commemorations of these

The Government events are scheduled for April, whereas the
Sinn Fein/Provo commemoration of the hunger strike seems
destined for May. Bobby Sands was the first hunger striker
to die, on May 5, 1981.


The IRA's New Year message makes no reference to the recent
"Stormontgate" developments and the unmasking of senior
Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson as a long-term British

In the first IRA message since the witnessed
decommissioning of the entire IRA arsenal in September, the
Provos "salute the discipline and commitment of IRA
volunteers". The message hails the decisions by the "Army
leadership" in 2005 as "momentous", adding that its
membership remains "wedded to our republican objectives".

Although not spelt out in the message, those objectives
will be pursued by peaceful means if they are to reflect
the groundbreaking announcement last July that the IRA
ordered an end to its armed campaign.

"We are confident that these objectives will be achieved,"
the IRA message adds, although its release is likely to
anger unionists, who are unhappy that the organisation
still hasn't "gone away".

The declaration commends the IRA's "comrades" in Sinn Fein,
adding: "We send greetings to the republican activist base
which has been so steadfast in the face of severe
provocations this last 12 months."

It appeals for continued unity and determination in the
year ahead.

"There is an onus on all political leaders to play their
part in achieving the essential political progress desired
by all the people of Ireland," the declaration says.

Released through the republican newspaper, An Phoblacht,
the IRA leadership also sends New Year greetings to friends
and supporters at home and abroad.


Hunger Striker Buried

Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness delivered the oration at the
funeral of former IRA hunger striker Matt Devlin in County
Tyrone on Saturday.

Speaking to a large crowd Mr McGuinness paid tribute to
Matt Devlin's commitment to the republican struggle.

Mr McGuinness said: " Matt Devlin was an inspirational

"He was a deeply committed and principled man who spent his
entire adult life immersed in the struggle against British
rule in Ireland.

"He was a former IRA Volunteer, a former Hunger Striker and
a political activist.

"He spent two long periods in prison, yet despite great
personal hardships, including ill heath, Matt Devlin never
gave up.

"He remained true to his republican ideals and beliefs.

"It was a testament to Matt's determination and courage
that even when seriously ill he still put himself forward
to stand for Sinn Féin in the last Southern elections.

"Matt continued to play a key role organising and building
the party in Westmeath right up until his untimely death a
few days ago.

"Matt's death is of course a massive loss to those
republicans whom he worked with for over three decades and
also a very personal loss for his close family."


Caolain Wasn't A Garda Spy, Insists Sinn Fein

Ben Quinn

SINN Fein reacted angrily yesterday to claims that TD
Caoimhghin O Caolain once served as a Garda informer.

The Cavan/Monaghan dail deputy became the subject of the
rumours in the wake of the unmasking of Sinn Fein official
Denis Donaldson as a British agent last month.

The party said yesterday that the matter was now in the
hands of solicitors after the TD reportedly denied at the
weekend that he has become the subject of suspicion among
republican colleagues.

"Deputy O Caolain and Sinn Fein take this attack on his
reputation very seriously and we have now placed the matter
in the hands of the party's solicitors," a party
spokesperson said in a statement.

The fallout from the Donaldson affair has included
speculation that other senior republicans are about to be
revealed as British spies.

Sinn Fein alleged yesterday that stories have been planted
in the media to distract attention from what republicans
claim was the involvement of elements from Britain's
intelligence agencies in collapsing the North's power-
sharing government.

It said the stories had named individuals "without even one
iota of evidence being produced and without any thought to
the impact on the individuals and their families or the
damage to their reputations".

A report yesterday in Ireland on Sunday quoted Mr O Caolain
describing rumours that he worked for the Gardai as
"absolute nonsense".

He also reportedly denied he is the subject of an internal
republican probe into how an informer passed information to
the security forces in Monaghan.

Meanwhile, a separate report yesterday stated that police
in Northern Ireland visited the homes of a number of
Belfast republicans to warn them that they are suspected by
other activists of being informers.

Shockwaves went through republican circles last month when
Sinn Fein's Assembly Group administrator at Stormont, Denis
Donaldson, admitted that he had worked for British
Intelligence for up to 20 years.


Two Senior Republicans Deny Papers' British Spy Allegations

Two senior republicans who have been named in Sunday
newspapers as British spies have rubbished the allegations.

The pair have both been going about their business as
normal since being visited by the PSNI before Christmas.
They say they have no intention of "dignifying the claims
with a response". One said: "It's crap."

In the run-up to Christmas, the homes of at least three
republicans were visited by PSNI officers, who left
messages advising the republicans that they were about to
named as informers by their colleagues.

Coming in the wake of the controversy surrounding British
agent Denis Donaldson, the visits created unease among the
republican grass roots. The names of two of those visited
were in the public domain but media outlets refrained from
publishing them until yesterday, when they appeared in The
Sunday Times.

Ireland on Sunday also named another high-ranking Sinn Féin
member as "a spy".

However, the paper offered no evidence to back up its

A republican source described the Ireland on Sunday
allegations as "complete nonsense".


Rumours 'Inevitable' In Aftermath Of Stakeknife

By Staff Reporter

A former IRA prisoner says it is inevitable that
speculation will suggest a range of Sinn Fein members are
informers, due to the party's response to the Stakeknife

Anthony McIntyre said it was hard to distinguish between
truth and fiction because Sinn Fein had "clouded the water"
by denying Freddie 'Stakeknife' Scappaticci was a British

He was speaking as Sinn Fein last night warned that legal
action would be issued against those who alleged that two
Belfast republicans were informers.

The warning came after the Sunday Times claimed at least
four Belfast republicans were visited by police and warned
that the IRA suspected them to be informers.

The paper named Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley and former
IRA prisoner Dickie Glenholmes as being linked to
speculation on informers.

Mr Hartley, who has been a Belfast councillor since 1993,
has no criminal convictions while Mr Glenholmes served 10
years in jail in England during the 1980s for an attempt to
break IRA leader Brian Keenan out of Brixton prison.

The pair could not be contacted last night but a Sinn Fein
spokesman said both men had instructed their solicitors to
take legal action against any media outlet that named them
as suspected informers.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein Monaghan TD Caoimhghin O Caolain said
a newspaper report that he was rumoured to have been a
Garda informer during the 1980s was "absolute nonsense".

"Over the last number of weeks we have seen repeated
attempts to distract attention away from the fact that
elements within Britain's intelligence agencies were
responsible for collapsing the power-sharing government in
the north," a Sinn Fein spokesman added.


Govts Aim To Re-Establish Northern Assembly In 2006

02/01/2006 - 18:03:15

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has said that
the Irish and British governments are embarking on a
concerted effort to end direct rule and re-establish the
Northern Ireland Assembly this year.

In a statement this evening on the North, Minister Ahern
said that he will be stepping up contacts with all parties
in the coming weeks.

He has called on all sides to move to build trust, and for
community leaders to stand up against sectarian attacks.


Feud Fears After Robb Murdered In Glasgow

By Barry McCaffrey

Fears were raised of a fresh UVF/LVF feud last night as
police sought a motive for the murder of a prominent
loyalist in Scotland.

Former PUP negotiator and LVF prisoner Lindsay Robb (38)
was killed after what was described as a "frenzied attack"
outside a shop in the east end of Glasgow on Saturday

While police have yet to establish a motive, Pastor Kenny
McClinton, a friend of the dead man, said there were
concerns that the murder might be linked to the UVF.

"We don't yet know if this was just a random attack or if
it was another purge by the UVF," Mr McClinton, a former
go-between for the LVF with the decommissioning commission,

"Lindsay was the man who went into the political talks in
1995 and told the government that the mid-Ulster UVF
retained the right to defend itself against republicans.

"That made him enemies within the PUP/UVF and we do not yet
know if this another UVF murder."

In July 1995, Robb was sentenced to 10 years in prison
after plotting to smuggle guns from Scotland to Northern
Ireland on behalf of the UVF.

It later emerged that just weeks before his arrest, Robb
had been the key witness in the trial of Lurgan republican
Colin Duffy, who was sentenced to life for the murder of
UDR man John Lyness in 1993.

After giving his evidence, Robb was taken into an RUC
witness protection scheme, had security inc- reased around
his Lurgan home and was allowed to carry a gun.

He would later claim that he had been coerced by the RUC to
give evidence against Duffy, who was freed on appeal.

It also emerged that Robb had been among a group of senior
loyalists who held three secret meetings with then
political development minister Michael Ancram at Stormont
and in London in early 1995.

However, following his jailing in 1995, Robb chose to side
with Billy Wright when he was expelled from the UVF and
established the LVF a year later.

In April 1997 Robb was transferred from prison in Scotland
to the Maze and became the first LVF prisoner released
under the Good Friday Agreement.

Loyalist sources last night said he had returned to live in
Lurgan last year after being in Scotland for a number of

It is understood the former soldier was questioned by
police after the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson in
March 1999 and also after the murder of journalist Martin
O'Hagan in September 2001.


Council Seeks Advice On Irish Name Plates

By Elinor Glynn
Monday 2nd January 2006

A proposal by Ballymoney Council to seek legal advice on
the erection of Irish name plates in a borough village is
to be challenged by Sinn Fein.

The move follows an appeal by a sole resident of the
predominantly Roman Catholic village of Rasharkin for a
bilingual street sign in Carnfinton Park.

Ballymoney DUP councillor and North Antrim Assemblyman
Mervyn Storey said he was opposed to the request on the
grounds that it could set a costly precedent.

With an increasing number of people in the borough coming
from various ethnic groups, he believes the erection of a
nameplate in anything under the statutory requirement of
English could generate multiple applications, leaving the
ratepayer to ultimately pick up the tab.

"Before Ballymoney Council takes any decision on the use of
bilingual signs, whether it be for Irish or Ulster-Scots,
it will ensure that it has a legal opinion that will be
used as a guide in that process," he said.

Ballymoney Sinn Fein councillor Daithi McKay, however, said
a proposal from the DUP that councillors should be involved
in the selection process of the council's legal advisors in
the matter would be opposed.

"This seems to be an effort by the DUP to use their
majority on council to handpick their own legal team," he

"I have written to the chief executive to insist that this
is made transparent, and if the DUP does try to go down
this route we will be proposing that an Equality Impact
Assessment is carried out on this process."

Mr Storey said his Sinn Fein counterparts simply had
difficulty understanding democracy.

"One could see how such a misguided assumption is made," he

"Sinn Fein seem to think that other parties employ the same
methods in the political process as they do.

"I would remind Cllr McKay that the decision-making process
rests with the council elected by the people and not at the
whim of any individual - although it is not the first time
Sinn Fein have had difficulty understanding democracy."


Winding Road Of The North's Future

By William Graham Political Correspondent

In October General John de Chastelain and his
Decommissioning commission colleagues said they had
observed and verified events to put beyond use very large
quantities of arms which the IRA had "informed us includes
all the arms in the IRA's possession".

The commission said it had made an inventory of the
material and the decommissioning event.

A Protestant and Catholic clergyman also witnessed the
decommissioning – Rev Harold Good, former President of the
Methodist Church and Fr Alex Reid, a Redemptorist priest.

But the move did not immediately enable the political
institutions to be restored, as unionists said they wanted
to test the IRA's words and actions before making up their

The political spotlight has now to a large extent turned on
what the Democratic Unionist Party led by Ian Paisley will
do in reaction to IRA decommissioning and an end to all
criminal activity.

The next report from the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC) which monitors paramilitary act-ivity, is due in

It will be awaited with great interest to see if this shows
that the IRA has in fact withdrawn from all activity.

It is expected however that the DUP will bide its time and
await further IMC reports during the course of 2006 before
deciding on whether to share power with Sinn Fein.

The likely scenario is that if a political deal is to be
done it will not be completed before spring 2007, and then
the DUP will want to put it before voters in an assembly
election to re-fresh its mandate and also attempt to
further weaken the Ulster Unionist Party.

No-one knows for sure whether DUP leader Ian Paisley is
willing to head up a future executive as First Minister and
share the office with a Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister,
probably the party's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.

There are suggestions that the DUP is anxious to have a
return to devolution, but not at any price, and some within
the party balk at the prospect of sharing power with

Yet the reality is if the DUP is to get its hands on the
levers of power at Stormont, it will have to share the
administration with the second largest party in the north,
which is Sinn Fein.

The devolution of policing and justice is another major
issue which will have to be addressed in the time ahead.

In the course of the past year there have been several
other events which have had a marked impact on the
political process and frozen all attempts so far to get the
assembly and executive at Stormont back up and operating.

2005 opened with serious political fall-out from the
Northern Bank robbery, which was blamed on the IRA, and the
murder of east Belfast man Robert McCartney.

The year also ended with a bizarre turn of events including
the dropping of charges relating to the so-called
Stormontgate affair, and then the unmasking of Denis
Donaldson as a British spy.

Mr Donaldson was Sinn Fein's former head of administration
at Parliament Buildings.

The 2002 raid on his Stormont office by the PSNI
investigating an alleged republican spy ring was partially
responsible for the collapse of the power-sharing

It has now transpired that Mr Donaldson was a paid informer
for the British security services and some political
parties have called for an inquiry to uncover the full
facts behind Stormontgate but this has been ruled out by
British Prime Minister Blair.

Another political twist came just before Christmas when the
Northern Ireland [Offences] Bill relating to 'on the runs'
looked unworkable after all parties including Sinn Fein
said the legislation should be scrapped.

What the new year will bring on the political front, no-one
can be quite sure, given so many unpredictable events over
the past 12 months.

However, it is safe to speculate that while low level
devolution talks may start between the British and Irish
governments and the political parties in February, it may
be the following year – 2007 – before unionists really make
up their minds whether to re-enter power-sharing government
with republicans.


1975: How Dublin Prepared For The Threat Of NI Doomsday

IT IS rare for documents due for release when they become
30 years old under the National Archives Act of 1986 to be
withheld and, when it does happen, it is most frequently
because the document in question contains information
embarrassing to individuals. In many years of research into
the annual releases I can recall no case when a memorandum
circulated to government has been so withheld. Yet this has
now been the fate of a Department of Foreign Affairs
memorandum on the Northern Ireland situation circulated to
his Cabinet colleagues by Garret FitzGerald on June 11,

This memorandum has been adjudged so sensitive that even
now, 30 years later, the Taoiseach's Department has
abstracted it from the main Northern Ireland file rather
than release it; a memorandum circulated by the Taoiseach
next day has likewise been withheld.

That the Foreign Affairs memorandum was never in fact
discussed by the Government further testifies to its
extreme sensitivity. The item did not first appear on the
Cabinet agenda until July 1 (possibly because the far-flung
responsibilities of the Minister for Foreign Affairs meant
that FitzGerald was absent for government meetings on June
11 and June 24) when it was postponed - this may also
explain why, after a necessarily cursory analysis, it is
difficult to gauge the extent of ministerial, as opposed to
departmental, input into the memorandum in question. Its
discussion was again postponed no less than seven times in
three weeks - an extraordinary frequency of government
meetings indicative of crisis - until, finally, on July 24,
it was withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda.

How can we discover the contents of this mysterious
memorandum? The first clue was a critical comment it
provoked from Conor Cruise O'Brien on June 17 that includes
a series of quotations from the missing memorandum.
Memoranda circulated to government are frequently appended
not just to the main file but also to other files so the
next task was to hunt through as many related files as
possible in the hope that it might turn up elsewhere.

And so it did: deep in the depths of another file
(2005/151/703), I found an eight-page Foreign Affairs
memorandum for government without covering documentation
but dated 'June 1975' and marked 'secret'. Textual
comparison with the quotations from the Cruise O'Brien
document proved that this was indeed the missing

So why all the sensitivity? The guts of the memorandum were
the Doomsday preparations necessary in the event of a
British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. It included a
review of how the Irish government might respond in the
event of the three worst-case scenarios after a withdrawal:
an independent Northern Ireland; Northern Ireland being
placed under United Nations trusteeship; a re-partitioned
Northern Ireland.

Three related and lengthy discussion papers from the
Interdepartmental Unit on Northern Ireland (IDU) - on the
implications of negotiated independence, on the
implications of negotiated repartition, and on the
possibilities of the Irish government providing military
and other assistance to the Northern Ireland minority -
were circulated to government with the memorandum.

These submissions had been prepared against the backdrop of
continuing deadlock in Northern Ireland. The failure of
Harold Wilson's Labour government to take effective action
against the Ulster Workers' Council strike and the collapse
of the power-sharing executive in May 1974 had created an
enduring distrust in Irish government circles and among
Northern nationalists of Wilson and of Merlyn Rees, the
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

That distrust had been compounded by rumours - which last
year's release of the 1974 papers showed to have substance
- that Wilson's government was seriously exploring the
prospect of withdrawing from Northern Ireland. Fears that
the Wilson government was seeking a negotiated withdrawal
were exacerbated by the negotiations between British
officials and Provisional Sinn Fein that led to the IRA's
ceasefire in February-March 1975. The elections in May 1975
to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, which
the British hoped might produce compromise, instead
tightened the political deadlock when the Unionist
coalition opposed to power-sharing won an overall majority.

The Foreign Affairs memorandum anticipated that the
convention would report before the end of the year and, in
the likely event of that report proving unacceptable, the
British might take apocalyptic decisions within months.

Such apprehensions were reflected in an alarmist story by
Conor O'Clery - who had excellent sources in Iveagh House -
in the Irish Times on June 4. Under the headline
'Withdrawal Gains in British Plans', it stated that: "a
complete withdrawal from Northern Ireland, or an extension
of direct rule for a limited period ' From our

point of view, Protestant rule, in view of the security
methods which it would be likely to employ, is far worse
than British rule'

are now believed to be the only alternatives the British
Government will consider in the event of the Northern
Convention failing to produce a solution acceptable to both

It was this kind of alarmism that prompted Conor Cruise
O'Brien's vigorous repudiation of the Foreign Affairs
memorandum. He particularly objected to the "preparations
for a 'fallout' position in the event of British
withdrawal" and to the assumption that the "least
undesirable" development in such an event would be
"negotiated independence with maximum guarantees, including
a possible United Nations presence in Northern Ireland".

Cruise O'Brien argued that even the exploration of
negotiated independence as a fall-back position "would
diminish the prospects of continued direct rule and would
tend in effect to let the British 'off the hook' by
enabling them to withdraw in a favourable international
climate". He also argued that the loyalists would
inevitably be the dominant force in an independent Northern
Ireland, that the response of loyalist security forces to
any continuation of the IRA campaign would "bear very hard
indeed on the minority population", and that calls for
armed intervention by the Irish government could do little
to protect the minority. An ineffective armed intervention
"would precipitate even greater disasters" - even,
possibly, "a full scale massacre of Catholics" - and the
Irish government "would carry inescapably the
responsibility for the sequence of events". The "harsh
reality", concluded Cruise O'Brien, was that:

"The choice lies between British rule and Protestant rule.
Protestant rule is what would follow British withdrawal.
From our point of view, Protestant rule - in view of the
security methods which it would be likely to employ - is
far worse than British rule. In these circumstances it is
quite clearly in our interest to do everything possible -
which may not be very much - to try to ensure that the
British stay, and it is certainly not in our interest to
take steps which would make it easier for them to go."

Cruise O'Brien likewise rejected the SDLP's suggestion of
discussions with the Irish government with a view to an
exploratory initiative on the preferred fall-back position
with the British government.

Dermot Nally, then an assistant secretary in the
Taoiseach's Department and the key figure there in shaping
Northern Ireland policy since January 1973, was even more
dismissive of the SDLP's being accorded undue influence
over government policy in a memorandum for the Taoiseach on
the same day. He also argued that, in the event of the
convention coming to nothing, the best prospect was "that
the British will continue in Northern Ireland in the hope
that a solution may be found in time", though he, too, was
pessimistic about their continuing "direct rule as it is at
present - involving London ministers and extreme remoteness
of control and administration".

If the British did pull out, he thought the likeliest
outcome not unification but an independent Northern Ireland
comprising either the six counties or, more probably, the
area east of the Bann. His key sentence was underlined for

"The likely prelude to the establishment of a state
comprising either the entire six counties or the part of it
east of the Bann is so horrific for the entire island that
I think we should, on no account, give any support or
engage in any open analysis or discussion on the subject."

This especially included "any analysis or discussion, which
have even the semblance of official backing, with the
SDLP". Nally argued that the interests of the Irish State,
even, perhaps, of the entire island, "diverge markedly from
the interests and policies of the SDLP and a reasonable
degree of progress for the three million people living here
is more important, no matter what Northern interests think,
than power sharing, if the choice comes to that". Nally
accordingly recommended to the Taoiseach "that no option
other than options involving the continuance of a British
presence in Northern Ireland, with direct rule in some form
or other, should be discussed or acknowledged in
conversations with the SDLP or others".

He likewise regarded the likelihood of UN intervention in
the event of violence as "extremely remote" and advised
that if Foreign Affairs wished to explore the possibility
they should do so only"in a very discreet way, involving no
disclosure of what they are about".

Dermot Nally reinforced these arguments in another
memorandum to the Taoiseach on July 7 after a discussion
with him that morning of three possibilities - a
continuation of the British presence, an independent
Northern Ireland or a British withdrawal. That Nally here
took an even stronger line - arguing that the "advantages"
of a continued British presence were "so great, that we
should do everything possible to ensure it comes about" -
suggests that his earlier pleas had not fallen on deaf

He also thought "it would be well to disillusion the SDLP
of any ideas they may have that this country, or any other
external force, could or would provide worthwhile
guarantees of civil rights etc in an independent Northern
Ireland" and, "discreetly, to dispel SDLP illusions as to
the capabilities of the Irish Army in any situation of
confrontation in Northern Ireland".

Dispelling SDLP illusions, discreetly or otherwise, was a
matter of great delicacy for a coalition government which
numbered Conor Cruise O'Brien in its ranks and which was
fully aware of the SDLP's preference for Fianna Fail
governments. No such exercise seems to have been attempted
in a meeting between ministers (the Tanaiste, Brendan
Corish, and Garret FitzGerald) and the SDLP (John Hume and
Austin Currie) on August 14, although Garret FitzGerald
cannot have been reassured by John Hume's response to his
asking about a fall-back strategy if the unionist coalition
rejected power-sharing: "the SDLP had as yet no fixed
position on this matter".

A conversation on August 23 between Garret FitzGerald and
James Callaghan, the British Foreign Secretary, after
dinner in west Cork where they were both on holiday - that
Jack Lynch, then leader of the opposition, was also present
testified to the importance attached to preserving a
bipartisan Northern policy - seems to have gone some way
towards soothing nerves in Dublin; in particular,
Callaghan's assurance that the British government "would
not abdicate its responsibilities" but would "take the
necessary action to deal with a doomsday situation".

And Callaghan made further soothing noises at a lunch in
Garret FitzGerald's holiday home in Schull on August 26.
Regular telephonic communication between Dermot Nally and
Maurice Hayes of the convention secretariat also helped to
lower the temperature with the consequence that the last
months of 1975 saw little of the freneticism that had
characterised the June-July crisis.

Firm conclusions about that crisis on the basis of a few
days' preliminary research in the National Archives and
without the time to discuss these documents with any of the
surviving participants would be premature. Dermot Nally's
memoranda nevertheless bear the hallmarks of a line drawn
firmly in the sand against any further erosion by the SDLP
of the Irish State's vital interests in the shaping of
Northern policy.

Although there are no indications of how Liam Cosgrave
reacted to the memorandum beyond his initialling it without
comment next day, the fact that formal discussion of the
Foreign Affairs memorandum was again and again postponed
and ultimately withdrawn from the Cabinet agenda, suggests
that the arguments advanced by Conor Cruise O'Brien and by
Dermot Nally prevailed.

Ronan Fanning is Professor of Modern History at University
College Dublin

Ronan Fanning


1975: Kidnapping Intermediary's 'Freedom' Row

By Sunday Life reporter
01 January 2006

THE Dutch government urged former Sinn Fein vice-president
Phil Flynn to be given freedom of movement to act as an
intermediary in the 1975 kidnapping of industrial Tiede

Previously secret documents show that Dublin Foreign
Affairs minister Garrett FitzGerald was confused by a
message about Flynn's difficulties from his Dutch
counterpart, Max Van der Stoel.

Der Stoel questioned whether Flynn - then assistant
secretary of the Local Government and Public Services Union
- "might not be in the best position to act successfully as

In a message conveyed to FitzGerald by Ambassador van
Raalte, the Dutch government said it had learnt that Flynn
"seriously considers withdrawing in that capacity as he is
left with insufficient freedom which is required for that

IRA members Eddie Gallagher and Marion Coyle had seized Dr
Herrema outside his Limerick home three weeks earlier, and
were demanding the release of three republican prisoners.

He spent 36 days in captivity, and was only freed after a
lengthy siege at a house in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.


Senior Unionists 'Anxious' For Broker To Talk To

By Eamon Phoenix

THE role of former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble in
efforts to reach a political agreement in 1975 are
highlighted in this year's Stormont releases.

In a memo prepared for the use of Northern Ireland
Convention officials on September 30 1975, Professor
Bernard Crick, the eminent political scientist, explained
that he had been approached over the summer by the UUUC
Convention party to advise on committee systems.

"At first I took no notice... since the invitation was
vague and eccentric. But at the beginning of September
David Trimble wrote me sensibly and at some length and
William Craig phoned me and explained the situation. I
agreed to go out to discuss with them a document on
minority participation.

He stated that he reserved his right to talk to people he
knew in the SDLP.

"Far from this being an obstacle", Prof Crick continued,
"when I first met Craig and his colleagues in the week of
the September 8 it became clear that Craig was anxious that
I should talk to SDLP leaders and others.

"And I returned for the week of Monday September 22 and
again had long talks with Craig, Trimble, Fitt, Hume,
Devlin and others."

He also spoke to the convention chairman Sir Robert Lowry
and his advisers.

Prof Crick stated that he had talked to West and Paisley
during the week before Craig's voluntary coalition motion
was voted down by the 'Unionist coalition'.

He added: "Subsequently I have stayed in touch with Craig –
being convinced of his sincerity – and seen more of the
SDLP and have been... welcomed by them precisely because I
have been talking to Craig."

He was convinced that the convention was "worthwhile" and
that even now an agreement might emerge, given the right
tactics. However, "rumours or fears of British withdrawal"
were working against an agreed settlement.

He had formed the impression that the SDLP leaders were
able to trust Craig and would accept his "emergency
coalition formula".

They had also gone "very far in allaying old Unionist
fearsabout Irish unity and Craig appreciated this".

He concluded: "Power-sharing does stick in the Unionist
gullet, coalition not. The SDLP are getting wise to this –
Devlin and Fitt certainly – but Hume is still a bit
mystical about power-sharing."

The SDLP's major difficulty was in "carrying home to their
people a prize big enough to cut away tolerance of the

Fears of British pull-out domin-ated the unionist mind,
according to Prof Crick.

"Everywhere I was asked, 'does the British government
intend to pull out?' I replied that I thought most people
in Britain wished the whole of Ireland would sink under the
waves but that a pull-out before an acceptable government
had been created was inconceivable.

"I saw no positive evidence of any strong public opinion
for withdrawal, even after Birmingham," Prof Crick

n Dr Eamon Phoenix is principal lecturer in history at
Stranmillis University College, Belfast and author of
Northern Nationalism: Nationalist Politics, Partition and
the Catholic Minority in Northern Ireland.


Opin: US Republicans Find Their Struggle Was Run By An

Irish republican activists in the US are still coming to
terms with the outing of Denis Donaldson, although some
note that their suspicions were justified, writes Seán
O'Driscoll in New York

Patricia Megahey was driving to the Archway pub in the
Bronx with her husband, Gabriel, in the passenger seat and
Denis Donaldson in the back. As happened so often in 1989,
Gabriel Megahey, the US commander of the IRA in the 1980s,
was locked in furious argument with Donaldson, who had been
sent from Belfast to restructure the US IRA and the
republican fundraising group, Noraid.

Donaldson had clear instructions from Belfast to depose
Noraid's leader, Martin Galvin, who was considered out of
step with Sinn Féin's growing political aspirations.

But for Megahey, something clearly didn't fit with
Donaldson. He had seen him buying a round of drinks for FBI
men in the Phoenix bar in the Bronx. "That was an eye-
popper," he says. "I just had a feeling from that moment
that something wasn't right."

Megahey's suspicions that Donaldson might be an informer
grew when he saw him socialising with an Irish-American
couple who suddenly joined Noraid and disappeared as
quickly as they came.

"At that time it was mostly Irish-born people that you
wanted because you knew where they were coming from, but
there were a few people knocking around at Donaldson's time
that we had doubts about. People just thought I was a
hothead and I was venting my anger," Megahey said.

As Patricia parked the car outside the Archway, Gabriel
Megahey suddenly turned back to Donaldson. "You're here
with some secret mandate," he said. "I don't know what it
is!" Last week Donaldson's secret mandate exploded on to
the world's media when he admitted that he had been a paid
British spy for 20 years.

News that Donaldson was an informant has stunned New York
republicans, who had seen him almost single-handedly
restructure the US movement in the late 1980s and early
1990s at the request of Gerry Adams and the Sinn Féin

"I'm too devastated to talk. I'm numb. I just cannot
believe it," said Michael Shanley, Donaldson's closest
friend from his New York days.

Maureen McCullough, a Noraid supporter in charge of
distributing the republican newspaper An Phoblacht, was
equally shocked. She remembers the excitement of such a
prominent republican arriving in New York in 1988.

"There had been a bad split in Noraid at the time, and he
was here to sort it all out," she recalls. "We begged,
borrowed and loaned furniture for the family. I remember
the first night he arrived, I bought chicken and steak for
the family."

It is not lost on his political enemies, however, that
Donaldson, a known IRA member, never faced deportation
charges when so many other Irish republicans were being
arrested in New York at that time.

"When you look at all the other former prisoners who faced
deportation orders in the US at that time and yet Donaldson
was never touched. He came and went whenever he wanted and
he was never stopped," says former Noraid leader Martin
Galvin, a fierce opponent of Donaldson who later sided with
dissident republicans.

According to Galvin, Donaldson's initial arrival in New
York was a big deal for Noraid, who paid for his apartment
in Bainbridge in the Bronx and a stipend for his work at
the borough's Noraid office.

Donaldson's apartment on Decatur Avenue was just a block
from the main commercial strip on Bainbridge Avenue, which
was then one of the most populated Irish neighbourhoods in
New York.

"He loved the Irish neighbourhoods but also the diversity
of New York," said one of his closest friends. "I remember
taking him down to jazz clubs in Greenwich Village. He
revelled in it, and he loved the Italian neighbourhoods and
all the types of food from all the different ethnic

He recalled that Donaldson would walk for an hour from the
Bronx to Noraid's Manhattan office and walk back in the
evening just to take in the sights of New York.

Gabriel Megahey had strong republican credentials when he
first met Donaldson. As the US commander of the IRA, he had
been caught in an FBI sting operation while trying to buy
surface-to-air missiles in Florida.

He and Donaldson met for the first time at a function in an
American Legion Hall in the Bronx, organised by the Noraid
newspaper, the Irish People. At the outset, "I had no
problem with him at all," recalls Megahey.

"He was smiling away, very easy to talk [ to]. I thought he
was all right."

However, Donaldson soon tried to plant division in Noraid,
he said. "He was always saying things like: "Oh, Ireland
doesn't like this person, Ireland doesn't like that person.
These were very hard-working people in Noraid being
sidelined. Everyone was saying that he had directions from
Ireland. But I was from Belfast myself; I wasn't going to
let him push me around".

The worst dispute between the two erupted after Donaldson
told Megahey that the Belfast leadership gave him
permission to work "on the side" with two republicans who
were considered to be untouchable because of their
reputation for starting bar fights in Belfast.

As soon as Megahey began working with the pair, Donaldson
told the IRA army council that Megahey was working with
undesirables, putting Megahey's life at risk, according to
a source.

Megahey confirms that he had to talk over issues with "the
army", meaning the IRA. Afterwards, he confronted Donaldson
at the Noraid office.

"I shouted and screamed. I never insulted any man like I
insulted him that day," recalls Megahey. "What struck me
was his stillness. I was hoping he would raise his head and
say something but he didn't. He just remained motionless.
No reaction. I thought that was strange."

Patricia Megahey recalls that Donaldson had an Irish
newspaper clipping about his arrest on subversive charges
proudly hanging on the wall at the Noraid office.

"He had this thing up there like he was some kind of hero,
after all that everyone else had been through. I used to
say: 'So, Denis. Is that your resumé?' I didn't like him
and he didn't like me," she says.

While some of Donaldson's directions were clearly coming
from the Sinn Féin leadership, other decisions seemed to
baffle New York republicans, such as his decision to
withdraw support for a film project with Mickey Rourke, who
was then a major movie star and a very strong Noraid

Elizabeth O'Hara, whose brother Patsy had died on the 1981
hunger strikes, had agreed to allow Rourke to tell her
brother's story in what Noraid hoped would be a major
propaganda coup for Irish republicanism.

"The idea was that some of the money would go towards
republican prisoners, and Elizabeth would approve the
script, but Donaldson did everything to disrupt it,"
recalls Galvin.

"It dragged on, and the film people got impatient. Then he
insisted on bringing another family out to inspect it and
eventually the film people just walked away."

Gabriel Megahey recalls that Noraid organised a big night
for Rourke on a cruise ship called the World Yacht.
"Donaldson was dead against it," he said. "Just totally
against it. He put everything in the way. I think we have a
better idea now why that happened."

Denis Donaldson came back to Ireland after more than a year
but returned frequently to New York to steer the US
organisation as the peace process developed, despite his
IRA membership and criminal convictions.

For the Megaheys, Donaldson's increasing insistence on
discipline to Belfast was stirring more resentment.

"There was resentment there because everyone was coming to
the same conclusion that we had to move more into
politics," says Patricia Megahey. "We had been politically
active for a long time, and it was moving more that way
with campaigns and protests and letters and phone calls to
the White House.

We knew that republicans couldn't go on killing and hurting
people, couldn't keep going to prison. It had to end at the
negotiation table."

"Nobody explained anything to us. We were just told: this
is what's happening. It would have beenfar better to have a
discussion," says Gabriel Megahey.

"When I think about what we know about him, it's something
you look at in a very, very different light."

The Megaheys have moved away from militant republicanism to
suburban New York family life, with Ms Megahey now working
with autistic children.

As they spoke to The Irish Times this week, their answering
machine was full with messages from republican supporters
across the US who now concede that the Megaheys' suspicions
were correct.

"There's about a hundred messages on there from Florida,
Connecticut, Michigan, everywhere," says Gabriel Megahey.
"I'm getting people saying, 'Oh, you said it back then and
we didn't listen. All right, we get it now. Now we

Maureen McCullough, however, believes that Donaldson's full
story has yet to be told. "I knew him as a gentleman, a
straight-arrow kind of guy who wanted the best for
everyone. I don't know what happened. I just know that it's
going to take 50 years before this story is fully told."

© The Irish Times


Joe Frazier Wishes Maskey Well

By Connla Young

Boxing legend Smokin' Joe Frazier has contacted former
Belfast mayor Alex Maskey to wish him well as he recovers
from a heart attack.

The Belfast South Sinn Féin assembly member was rushed to
hospital on Christmas Day.

Now recovering at home, Mr Maskey was boosted by a call
last week from the former heavyweight boxing champion of
the world. The pair struck up a friendship when Mr Maskey,
as Belfast mayor, went on a ten-city United States tour in

Mr Maskey, a former boxer himself, told Daily Ireland
yesterday that he was pleased to hear from his old friend.
He added: "I am recovering well but I owe a big debt to the
ambulance crew and cardiac crew that treated me. It does
bring home the life-and-death importance of the work they
carry out."


Bertie's Pop Picks Ring In New Year And Election Campaign

He was raised on his mother's lap listening to How Much
is that Doggy in the Window?, did his Leaving Cert to the
strains of Sweet Caroline and never missed an edition of
Top of the Pops in the days when it was broadcast on
Thursdays, writes Paul Cullen

Welcome to the world of Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach and top pop

Fresh from his New Year's Eve review of the sporting year
on Setanta television, Bertie was on RTÉ's radio arts show
Rattlebag yesterday running through his favourite tunes.
Who says the election campaign hasn't started?

His first music choice was Procol Harem's Whiter Shade of
Pale, whose soaring organ intro prompted glowing but non-
specific memories of the "Summer of Love" in 1967 and
listening to Radio Luxembourg on "257" (it was actually 208

There was "a certain beat" about the 1960s, whose music has
retained its popularity with today's young people, he told
presenter Myles Dungan.

A bit like your own political career, you must hope, Dungan
didn't ask.

Compared to his choice in music Bertie's choice in books
seems nothing so eclectic. For his reads of the year he
nominated a three-volume history of Dublin GAA, a memoir by
"inspiring but controversial" Dublin footballer Dessie
Farrell, and an academic treatise on "the Lemass era".

Even today the Taoiseach reckons he is "fairly good" at
naming the 1960s tunes he hears on the car radio, though
for songs from this decade he admits "I wouldn't have an

The exception here is Westlife, in which Bertie admits to
having a "vested interest" through his daughter Georgina's
marriage to Nicky Byrne. Before selecting You Raise Me Up,
he admits to spending most of his Sundays talking about the
group's exploits.

Meanwhile, the previously mentioned doggy song, the first
he can remember, reminds him of being "plonked on my
mother's knee" as she tried to cajole the future Taoiseach
to eat.

Bertie rounded off his musical selection with a (by no
means extraordinary) rendition of Silent Night by Bing
Crosby and a confession that he hasn't missed any of Neil
Diamond's Irish concerts.

No wonder, too, when Sweet Caroline carries such a
politician-appropriate refrain as "hands, touching hands,
reaching out" and promises that "good times never seemed so

© The Irish Times


Cliffs Of Moher Buskers Face Court Action

By Gordon Deegan

Clare County Council is to seek a High Court injunction
against musicians operating at the Cliffs of Moher visitor
attraction in the spring, it has emerged.

The council claims the musicians are operating without
permission on council property and are therefore trading

The musicians argue they have been forced to trade on these
areas as the council has blocked a right of way to the
cliffs while construction on the €32.5 million visitor
centre continues.

The council's project leader for the Cliffs of Moher
centre, Ger Dollard, said: "We have engaged senior counsel
and are drafting the legal papers. It is not possible to
seek an injunction at this time of year as there is no
activity at the site, ie you can't look for an injunction
to prevent something that isn't currently happening."

He added: "We do intend proceeding in the spring and will
use the time available to prepare a very comprehensive and
detailed case."

Last October solicitors' letters were issued on behalf of
the council to musicians at the site, demanding they stop
busking at the visitor attraction.

The first phase of the visitor centre project is expected
to open in the spring. Much of the viewing area at the
cliffs has been closed to the public since construction
work began last April.

Mr Dollard has confirmed that new viewing areas and
pathways on the Hags Head side of the cliff walk will open
in the spring.

"This first phase will include the main viewing area which
will be spectacular and will bring into use part of the
cliff walk on which visitors had not been encouraged to
walk up to now. A further viewing platform is also included
at a mid-way point on this walk."

Mr Dollard said the council is hoping to have a major
sponsor in place for the opening of this section of the

However, funding problems for the project remain with the
council unable to date to bridge the €4.5 million shortfall
that has emerged in the scheme.

Mr Dollard admitted that nothing significant has
materialised yet in bridging the shortfall.

He said the council is still vigorously pursuing a number
of avenues to source funds.

At the time of the awarding of the contract, the project
was costed at €27 million and has now risen to €31.45
million - more than eight times the original estimate put
on the scheme in 1990 when plans were first mooted.

At the council's December meeting, councillors were told by
finance officer Niall Barrett that loan charges on the
visitor centre project will cost the council €400,000 in

The visitor centre involves building a two-storey centre
into the hill side behind the now demolished tea-rooms.

The development includes accommodation for the craft
workers at the cliffs which has contributed to the rise in
costs of the project. Receipts at the visitor facilities
increased by 10 per cent this past season as a result of an
expanded retail and catering space in the temporary
buildings provided.

The centre is due to open in the first quarter of 2007.

© The Irish Times

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