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January 05, 2006

Fury @ PSNI Security Gaffe

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News about Ireland & the Irish

BT 01/05/06 Fury At PSNI Security Gaffe
DI 01/05/06 Myth Of Protestant Bias Rebuffed
DI 01/05/06 Nuclear Power Plant: Say It Ain't So
DI 01/05/06 Republican Rubbishes UDA Drug Tape Claims
DI 01/05/06 'There Is No Plan B' Says Ahern
BB 01/05/06 NI Figures Remember Merlyn-Rees
II 01/05/06 Nenagh Priest's Role In Peace Brokering
DU 01/05/06 Unionists Need No Lectures From Peter Hain
DI 01/05/06 Gong Show Seems To Confuse SDLP
IE 01/05/06 Echo Editorial: Irish America Will Be There
IO 01/05/06 Fire Drama To Go Ahead Despite Pleas


Fury At PSNI Security Gaffe

Safety review call after bank computer glitch

By Jonathan McCambridge
05 January 2006

The PSNI was today accused of a major breach of security
after it admitted a computer gaffe regarding personal
information about officers which is sent to banks.

A former chairman of the Police Federation has called for a
full review of the security of officers after they were
identified as police employees in the financial details
circulated to banks as part of PSNI pay slips.

The PSNI has already offered to review the safety of any
officer who feels his or her personal security may have
been compromised.

It is understood that Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton
has sent a memo to all officers and civilian employees.

The error occurred when police pay slip information was
being sent to banks last month.

The financial details are meant to be anonymous but it is
understood that the information sent to the banks
identified the individuals as police officers.

A PSNI spokesman said today: "Police are aware of a
computer error in the police pay slips which went to the
banks last month.

"If any officer feels that his or her personal security has
been compromised then we will review their situation."

Former Police Federation chairman and DUP chairman of
Castlereagh District Policing Partnership, Jimmy Spratt,
described it as a "serious breach" which he had never
encountered in 30 years with the RUC.

He said: "I understand the PSNI are using a new banking

"When the money is paid centrally it is identified as from
the PSNI but when it is sent out to all the banks it is
supposed to be anonymous.

"It seems that there has been some sort of computer error
and the information which was sent out to the banks had the
word 'police' on it.

"This is a serious and worrying security breach and it is
also a major gaffe for the PSNI.

"I want a full investigation to be carried out into how
this happened and how this information was fed into the
computer. Also there needs to be a full review of the
personal security of all officers.

"I am interested to know if this affects the thousands of
retired RUC officers who are receiving pensions."

DUP Policing Board member Sammy Wilson said: "This is not
the first breach regarding the personal details of PSNI
officers. In the past I have been told that the problems
had been dealt with and could not happen again and yet here
we are.

"In this time when there is still a live threat to police
officers it is unacceptable that this could have happened.
I will be laying down a question on this today with the
Policing Board."


'Myth' Of Protestant Bias Rebuffed

Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin has dismissed allegations that Protestants face
structural job discrimination in the North.

South Down assembly member Caitríona Ruane attacked claims
by the Democratic Unionist Party that Protestants were
victims of institutionalised discrimination.

Ms Ruane was responding to DUP East Derry MP Gregory
Campbell, who claimed in yesterday's Daily Ireland that the
Protestant community had been made "second-class citizens"
by equal opportunity reforms in the North.

"Gregory Campbell, like many within the DUP, is obsessed
with the myth that there is a bias against unionism," Ms
Ruane said.

"These claims do not stand up to scrutiny. Across every
single indicator of poverty and deprivation, the fact is
that nationalists fare worse than unionists. Yes, there has
been progress for nationalists, and Sinn Féin is committed
to further advancing the equality agenda.

"Yes, there are deprived unionist areas, and Sinn Féin is
committed to combating that."

However, Ms Ruane said the facts demonstrated that
nationalists remained worse off in terms of employment,
housing and ill health.

"Unionists have never acknowledged the history of the
state, their own responsibility for this and for the
conflict which resulted from this.

"The [Good Friday] Agreement addresses equality, human
rights and policing agendas precisely because there has
been institutionalised discrimination, sectarian policing,
injustice and repression," she said.

Ms Ruane called on Mr Campbell and his party to embrace the
equality agenda contained in the Agreement.

Despite Sinn Féin's comments, DUP assembly member Robin
Newton last night demanded that the British government
urgently "address unionists' concerns" about alleged

Referring to last summer's riots in loyalist disctricts of
Belfast, Mr Newton said these actions "were fuelled by
continual concessions to IRA/Sinn Féin and a failure on the
part of government to recognise and deal with problems
experienced by the city's unionist population".

"Doors of opportunity that are being thrown open to
republicans are seemingly firmly bolted shut against the
unionist community," the Belfast East assembly member said.

"Little tangible progress is evident following government
promises to address the lack of opportunity in working-
class unionist areas.

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

"No responsible person wants to see a return to riots.

"However, government must soon announce their intentions to
address unionist concerns on deprivation, the poor health
and educational records, and the lack of vocational


Say It Ain't So

Green campaigners write to Peter Hain for definitive answer
-British government still to confirm it has no plans to
build a nuclear power plant in the Border regions of Down
or Newry and Mourne district council areas

Ciarán Barnes

The British government has been asked to give a definitive
answer on whether it intends building a nuclear power plant
in the North.

Green campaigners have written to secretary of state Peter
Hain demanding to know if any sites in the North are being
considered for new plants.

There are fears that the British government is looking at
developing a nuclear plant in either the Down or Newry and
Mourne district council areas.

Concern increased after British prime minister Tony Blair's
recent admission that a new energy review would "include
specifically the issue of whether to facilitate the
development of a new generation of nuclear power stations".

Down SDLP councillor Margaret Ritchie, who is a member of
the all-Ireland Nuclear-Free Local Authorities forum, said
renewable energy and not nuclear power could meet the
North's energy needs.

"There is absolutely no good reason why this should change
just because Tony Blair has been seduced by the nuclear
lobby into calling yet another energy review," she said.

Louth Fine Gael councillor Michael O'Dowd, the local
authorities forum chairman, urged others to oppose the
building of a nuclear power plant in Ireland.

"Civil society must make its voice heard now to oppose
construction of a nuclear facility anywhere on our island,
and we will be calling on local councils in all parts of
Ireland to make their views known.

"Northern Ireland is well positioned to generate a large
proportion of its energy from renewable sources,
particularly wind power, and there is also scope for
energy-saving programmes to have a big impact.

"Mr Hain must tell Tony Blair that there is no need or
desire for any nuclear power station to be built in
Northern Ireland," Mr O'Dowd said.

The ramifications of developing a nuclear site in the North
are huge.

Nuclear plants rely on the mining of uranium, a process
that is extremely damaging to health and the environment.
No safe solution exists for the disposal of waste, which
remains active for at least one million years.

Patricia McKenna, a former Green Party MEP for Dublin, said
nuclear power plants were really military projects.

She said the use of nuclear power had never been peaceful
and was clearly linked to nuclear arms.

"The generation of electricity in nuclear reactors produces
nuclear substances that can be used for making nuclear
weapons," she wrote in Tuesday's Daily Ireland.

"The dangers associated with the handling of weapons-usable
nuclear substances require a high level of security and
secrecy in even so-called democratic countries.

"Given Blair's concern about international terrorism, one
would expect him to take a precautionary approach to the
nuclear industry."

With England's main nuclear power plant at Sellafield less
than 100 miles (160 kilometres) away from Ireland's coast,
anti-nuclear campaigners are waiting with bated breath for
Mr Hain's response.

The nuclear-free forum expects to receive a reply from the
secretary of state within the next three weeks on whether
sites in the North are being considered for nuclear power

Fallout from the Chernobyl reactor disaster spread across
Europe, affecting millions.


Republican Rubbishes UDA Drug Tape Claims

Ciarán Barnes

A senior Belfast republican yesterday denied loyalist
claims that he was involved in drugs.

Paul Carson spoke out after the north Belfast Ulster
Defence Association claimed it had secret audio recordings
of him negotiating drug deals with Loyalist Volunteer Force

Mr Carson is a well-known member of the Irish Republican
Socialist Party, the political wing of the Irish National
Liberation Army.

In a statement to Daily Ireland, Mr Carson accused his
opponents of trying to demonise him.

He said: "I emphatically deny any allegations regarding any
involvement in drugs.

"I have been and continue to be a republican all my adult
life, and my republican credentials in the struggle are
there for all to see.

"I have not been involved in drugs. My record in my
community is clear.

"These allegations have been around for years and are an
attempt to demonise me.

"They emanate from British intelligence, PSNI Special
Branch and criminal and loyalist sources who are up to
their necks in drug dealing."

Mr Carson added: "These false allegations will not stop my
involvement in republican socialist politics. Those making
these allegations should put up or shut up."

IRSP spokesman Willie Gallagher also rubbished the

He condemned those who spread lies about genuine

North Belfast loyalist Sammy Duddy, a political spokesman
for the UDA, speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, claimed
that his organisation had audio tapes allegedly of Mr
Carson organising drug deals with an LVF boss from

Mr Duddy claimed the content of the alleged tapes prompted
the UDA to attack LVF homes in the Ballysillan area of
north Belfast on Monday evening, during which a shot was

He said: "That is why we had the incident in Ballysillan on
Monday evening.

"I know for a fact that the UDA is in possession of these

Daily Ireland understands the audio tapes were allegedly
made by a relative of an LVF drug dealer from north

It's claimed because he owns a legally-held weapon, he was
taken as backup to the drug meetings between his LVF
relative and the alleged drug dealer.

At the meetings, he would secretly record his LVF relative
negotiating the sale of ecstasy and cocaine.

The alleged tape recordings were then said to have been
given to a young LVF man from Ballysillan for safekeeping.

It's then claimed this man had a major fallout with the LVF
and he then gave the UDA the alleged tapes in return for
protection from that organisation.

After listening to the contents, the UDA claims it decided
to confront the LVF man.

A UDA gang went hunting him on Monday evening.

The gang members called to a house in Ballysillan but were
unable to find their target.

They then clashed with friends of the LVF man, one of whom
fired a shot in the air.

The PSNI has been investigating the incident.

The north Belfast UDA is now claiming it will make the
alleged tapes public.


'There Is No Plan B' Says Ahern

Jarlath Kearney

Irish foreign minister Dermot Ahern said yesterday that
agreement on restoring the North's political institutions
must be achieved in 2006.

Mr Ahern also reiterated his government's call for
increased North-South business co-operation and he
highlighted the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as the only
basis for making progress.

"There is no Plan B," Mr Ahern stated.

Warning about the impact of electoral battles expected in
Britain and Ireland no later than 2007, Mr Ahern described
this year as "the window of opportunity" for restoring

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP also made separate calls
yesterday for the restoration of the political institutions
in 2006.

"We see 2006 as the window of opportunity because of the
fact that once you turn into 2007 you will be in election
mode in the Republic in the first half of the year and also
the political instability in the UK," Mr Ahern told RTÉ

"Everyone would agree that 2007 may very well be a
difficult year in the UK.

"So both governments are absolutely adamant that 2006 is
the time when the politicians of Northern Ireland have to
decide for themselves whether they want to work in
partnership in a devolved government."

Insisting that "there is no Plan B", Mr Ahern called for
the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It makes no economic sense that a small island of five and
a half million people be treated as two separate entities
in a globalised economy, because competitiveness is the key

"Basically politicians have to work with the tools that are
available to them, and with the Good Friday Agreement the
people said that there should be direct rule in Northern
Ireland where the Northern Ireland politicians should be
the authors of their own destiny, not politicians coming
across for a couple of days from the UK.

"The Agreement sets the template for the future political
landscape in Northern Ireland.

"We can only proceed on that basis," Mr Ahern said.

Mr Ahern yesterday met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to
examine detailed plans for political progress.

Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Doherty called for unionists
to enter political partnership "with confidence" in 2006.

Mr Doherty also attacked the Democratic Unionist Party for
allowing direct rule to continue.

"Over the past number of years the DUP have repeatedly gone
to the people promising a new brand of confident unionism,"
the West Tyrone MP said.

"What we have got is a party comfortable sitting back and
allowing British direct-rule ministers taking bad decisions
on issues which should be under the control of locally-
accountable politicians.

"Republicans have done much heavy lifting over the past 12
months to see an opportunity created which will allow
significant progress to be made and the political
institutions put back in place.

"This opportunity cannot be wasted. The DUP must now do
their share of the heavy lifting and demonstrate that they
are willing and capable of sharing power on the basis of
equality and respect," Mr Doherty said.

While highlighting that the British and Irish governments
"have a major role play", Mr Doherty said that unionist
politicians had a responsibility to "start delivering for
the people who elect them".

SDLP policing spokesperson Alex Attwood expressed his
party's support for efforts to make political progress in

Mr Attwood said that both governments are working towards a
"political initiative to be launched within the next two

He listed a series of SDLP demands including the need for
"devolution of justice proposals which safeguard the new
policing arrangements and transfer powers to the fullest

"The two governments must move beyond warm words of
encouragement and on to tough messages," Mr Attwood said.


NI Figures Remember Merlyn-Rees

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Lord Merlyn-Rees has died
aged 85.

The labour peer held the post from 1974 until 1976 during
which he faced intensifying paramilitary violence and
fallout from the Ulster Workers Strike. Leading political
figures have been remembering Lord Merlyn-Rees.


Our thoughts are very much with his family circle at this

Even after Merlyn Rees left his post in Northern Ireland he
continued to keep an interest in the affairs of the
province and would frequently while in the Lords come to
the gallery to listen to Northern Ireland debates.


He will be remembered as the man who failed to act
decisively whenever the loyalist worker strike was starting
to tighten.

A nice man - an extremely nice man - but ineffective as
secretary of state.


Merlyn Rees was balanced, he saw the right on both sides of
the debate in Northern Ireland.

Above all he had a tremendous love for Northern Ireland
which he continued right through the years of his
retirement in the House of Lords.


He was a proud Welshman and a hugely respected
parliamentarian for over 40 years both in the House of
Commons and the Lords.

As secretary of state for Northern Ireland, he worked
tirelessly to try to take Northern Ireland forward at a
particularly difficult time in its history.


Merlyn Rees was the British secretary of state who removed
Special Category status and laid the foundation stones of
the British policy of trying to break the republican
struggle in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

The strategy ultimately failed but not before years of
prison resistance and protest culminating in the Hunger
Strike of 1981 when ten republican prisoners died.

Like so many other British secretaries of state Rees had
little understanding of the conflict or the negative
effects resulting from continued British interference in
Irish affairs.


While all who dealt with Merlyn Rees record him as being
genial and nice, he is not generally remembered as a strong
secretary of state.

His lack of purpose let the Sunningdale Agreement go. He
subsequently failed to assert the basic principles of
power-sharing and North-South co-operation. His decisions
in the security field sowed the seeds of later problems.

Neither was his record as home secretary a distinguished
one when it came to miscarriages of justice cases - such as
the Guildford Four, Guiseppe Conlon and the Birmingham Six
- and was even neglectful in political relations with the
Irish government.

I recognise that he was well regarded in the Labour Party
and British politics for his other political contributions
and his gracious manner.


Lord Merlyn-Rees played a key role as Northern Ireland
Secretary in trying to persuade the unionist parties to
accept the power-sharing arrangements set out in the
Sunningdale Agreement.

While these efforts did not bear fruit at the time, many of
the principles of the Sunningdale model were subsequently
replicated in the Good Friday Agreement.


Merlyn came to Northern Ireland as secretary of state at a
time of crisis.

While one may be critical of the new Labour government for
not moving quickly enough in 1974 to make radical changes
to the Sunningdale Agreement that was rejected by the
electorate, one has to say after the collapse of
Sunningdale Merlyn showed a willingness to explore other
ways forward and he recognised the opportunities that arose
from the Constitutional Convention in 1975."


The mid-70s were among the bleakest times in our history,
so Merlyn Rees had a very difficult job at a very difficult

History will be the judge of the man. Clearly large
sections of that history are only being revealed now, and
will continue to be.

The Alliance Party passes its condolences to his family

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/05 17:00:16 GMT


Nenagh Priest's Significant Role In Peace Brokering


Nenagh priest's significant role in peace brokering

In 1949 he was a member of the leaving Certificate class at
Nenagh CBS along with Pat Treacy (solr.), Joe Keane,
Carney, the late John Moloney and others, this week the
name of Fr Alex Reid is up in lights, as the Catholic
priest who not only was chosen to oversee the decommising
of all IRA arm, but whose influence in bringing about peace
will probably be never fully realised or appreciated.

This Nenagh (Summerhill man) who returned to his native
town to join with classmates in celebrating the Golden
Jubilee of the 1949 Leaving Cert class six years ago, is a
Redemptorist priest, based in West Belfast since the
1960's. His behind-the-scenes role in peace brokering is
legendry, going back as far as the early 1970's when
helping to broker a ceasefire between the Provisional and
Officials wings of the IRA. He it was who arranged the talk
between John Hume and Gerry Adams which led to the 1993
Downing Street Declaration, which in turn led to the Good
Friday agreement. Earlier he had been involved in attempts
to end the Maze prison hunger strike. In 1988 Fr Reid's
photographic image went all over the world, following the
shooting of two British soldiers outside Milltown cemetery
in Belfast. When the funeral of three republicans shot in
Gibraltar was taking place, Michael Stone a loyalist shot
and killed three more people attending the funeral.
Subsequently to those killings, while the funeral of one of
the victim was taking place the soldiers drove unwittingly
into the cortege. They were attacked, stripped and shot and
Fr Reid was photographed kneeling over the bodies
administering the Last Rites.

He is a man who is implicitly trusted and his peace
brokering efforts have, obviously, not gone un-noticed in
other lands as evidenced in he fact that in more recent
years he has been central to peace negotiations in the
Basque region of Spain involving the separatist group ETA.
Fr Reid has many friends in and around Nenagh. In his youth
he hurled on the local minor team.

Fears for the future of Nenagh recycling facility

Fears was raised this week that North Tipperary Co
Council's recycling facility in Nenagh will undergo a
downsizing of its operations and may even close altogether
in the not too distant future.

Brining the matter to the fore was Nenagh Town Councillor
and member of the local chamber of commerce Joe O'Connor
who expressed concern for the future of the Limerick Road
facility that the chamber has invested heavily in.

"It has come to the attention of the chamber that North
Tipperary Co Council intends to change the format of the
recycling facility at the Limerick road, Nenagh in the New
Year and redeploy all staff," said Cllr O'Connor in a
statement. "Nenagh Chamber of Commerce is totally opposed
to any changes in the present structure unless the co
council intends to invest in and enhance the facility as it

"Nenagh Chamber of Commerce was a stakeholder in this
project from its outset as a voluntary body that
subsequently became supported by FÁS. The chamber was
included in all aspects of the formation and inception of
this project in its early years.

"This project has broad community support and was styled as
a best practice mode of cross community co-operation in

This project is used by all sectors and age groups and it
should be retained under the operation of the co council."

Babs at hurling helm again

The announcement that Michael 'Babs' Keating is to take up
the management of the Tipperary senior hurling team came
with no surprise in October. The 61 year old will have
fellow selectors, John Leahy, Mullinahone and Tom Barry,
Thurles, both former inter-county players and all three
were ratified and confirmed by the County Board following a
recommendation from a eight man sub-committee which
appointed to seek a successor to he Lorrha man, whose
continuance in the position did not want back. It is no
secret either that the sub-committee's initial choice was
Nicky English but he was not available, nor apparently is
he in a position to come on board with the new manager in
an advisory capacity. Among others mentioned throughout the
inte-regnum period were Michael Cleary. Declan Ryan and
John Leahy. However the die is now cast and the Board had
decided to hopefully, seek to reprise the achievements of a
great era in Tipperary hurling, one that during abs
stewardship yield two All Ireland titles (1989 and '91) and
five provincial titles.

Now retired from his position, as an employee of Esso, Babs
who resided in Castleknock, Co Dublin, has been one of the
most charismatic figures in the GAA for several years.
Himself a triple All Ireland winner with Tipp as a player,
his emergence on the Tipp managerial scene in August 1986 -
he had previously guided Galway to an All-Ireland final in
79 — saw the veil of doom and gloom that had firmly settled
on Tipperary hurling since 1971, lifted.

The famine ended in Killarney in 1987 and an All Ireland
title followed in 1989 and another in '91, and then in '94
Baba stepped down following a surprise defeat by Clare.
Since departing the Tipp scene Babs has managed both Laois
and Offaly.

Halloween bonfire warning

Nenagh once again braced itself for another night of
traditional festivities that several local public
representatives believe have gotten out of hand, leading to
safety warnings and calls for the elimination of bonfires
in this town altogether. A hot topic for discussion during
the October meeting of Nenagh Town Council, bonfire and
fireworks parties carried out without proper supervision in
this town were cited as dangerous, illegal and seriously
detrimental to our local environment. As a member of the
local Fire Brigade Call Tommy Morgan told the meeting of
the horrific injuries suffered by young people at bonfire
parties, to say nothing of the damage bonfires cause to
fields and nearby houses and the enormous cost involved in
cleaning up the mess left behind after these parties. Cllr
Morgan appealed to young people to be more careful this
Halloween, claiming that in the past he has seen Halloween
revellers mad enough to throw gas canisters into bonfires.
The bonfire party is also putting property at risk, the
councillor said, with nearly 500 tyres stolen recently from
one premises alone. "And what sort of impact do you think
the burning of several thousand tires around Nenagh at the
same time is going to have?" he asked.


Criticism of hospital's hygiene

General cleanliness at Nenagh General Hospital was rated as
"poor" in the first ever National Hygiene Audit of Acute
Hospitals, the damning results of which were published in
early November.

Conducting their examinations at random and unannounced
between the months July and August last the auditors found
90% of the 54 hospitals they visited around the country
falling "below acceptable hygiene standards",
substantiating the commonly held notion that Irish
hospitals are unclean.

Hospitals were given overall percentage scores, a mark of
85% or more indicating a 'good' hygiene standard, 76-84%
'fair' and 75% or below 'poor'. Only 9% of the 54 hospitals
audited won a 'good' rating, with 43% and 48% of hospitals
condemned to 'fair' and 'poor' labelling respectively.

With a 71% score Nenagh General Hospital fared poorly in
the audit, as did its Midwest regional neighbours the
Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick (73%), Ennis
General Hospital (68%) and the Mid West Regional Hospital,
Dooradoyle (65%). Only St John's Hospital, Limerick and the
Regional Orthopaedic Hospital in Croom won a 'fair' hygiene
rating in the Mid West, scoring 81% and 80% respectively.
Commenting on these close figures Acute Hospitals Network
Manager for the Mid West John O'Brien admitted that
hospitals in this region are falling down in cleanliness
standards and said there is much room for improvement in
this area. "We have to put our hands up and say that the
results are disappointing, and clearly we are going to have
to do better in future," he stated. "On the positive side
Croom and St John's received a 'fair' rating and Ennis,
Nenagh and the Regional Maternity, while being classed as
'poor', were close to achieving 'fair' ratings. Our
objective now is to ensure that all our acute hospitals are
categorised as 'good' next time out." We have to
acknowledge, however," he continued, "that the performance
of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, was
particularly disappointing and that action must be taken to
remedy the deficiencies identified by the auditors in
particular in surgical, medical and ICU. I will be taking
immediate steps to prepare an action plan to address the
findings of the national audit."

The HSE (Mid West Region) welcomed the publication of
Ireland's first nationwide audit of its hospitals, the
findings of which it has fully accepted and described as "a
wakeup call for everybody working in the hospital service."
The HSE intends to "immediately intensify efforts to make
hospital staff of all grades more hygiene conscious", as
two further national audits are planned for 2006.

Nenagh Courthouse nearing completion

Eighteen months in the making, work on the modernisation of
Nenagh's Courthouse is proceeding on schedule, and last
week one of the town's most significant historical
structures was crowned with its own proud statue of Lady

The slightly larger than life-size (exact specifications
unavailable at time of press) statue now stands defiantly
atop the Courthouse's main apex, gazing down Kickham St
with sword and scales raised side-by-side. A throwback to
ancient Greek goddesses, Lady Justice has undergone several
different representations down through the centuries but is
essentially meant to symbolise the fair and equal
administration of law without corruption, avarice,
prejudice or favour.

Her weighing scales is intended to signify the balance and
impartiality of justice served, while the sword she wields
represents the power of the decision makers in court. In
the sixteenth century statues of Lady Justice were
blindfolded as a means of underlining the conviction that
Justice is not subject to influence and sees no difference
between the parties brought before it. Most statues of the
mature though by no means old Lady are heavily robed; the
one in Nenagh however appears slightly scant in attire as
she presides over the town's centre of legal judgement.

The permanent installation of Lady Justice atop Nenagh
Courthouse symbolises also the nearing of the reopening of
the mid-nineteenth century building. Work on its
restoration began in summer '04 and is on schedule to be
more/less complete by the end of this year, with full court
services due to resume by Easter 2006 at the very latest.
The idea behind the restoration project is to bring Nenagh
Courthouse up to the same state-of-the-art standard as
other Irish courts. While the historical architectural
appearance of the building will remain largely intact, save
for the odd bit of rejuvenation where necessary, internally
the Courthouse is undergoing dramatic change.

Three separate courtrooms — for District, Circuit and
Family Law Courts — will occupy the centre of a building
that has also had new court offices added along with
modernised public waiting areas, galleries, holding rooms
and even consultation rooms, where people involved in
sensitive cases such as family situations can have their
own privacy.

Environmental disaster looms at Rathcabbin

Controversial waste disposal company Shannon
Vermicomposting Ltd is contending legal proceedings taken
against it by North Tipperary Co Council in the Supreme
Court while local councillors warn that the natural
environment of Rathcabbin is under serious threat from the
site formerly occupied by the company. Raising the subject
during a November meeting of North Tipperary Co Council
Cllr Michael O'Meara told the assembly that the Shannon
Vermicomposting saga at Coolross, Rathcabbin was "the most
contentious issue facing this council." He strongly
appreciated the amount of work the local authority's legal
team has done in taking action against the controversial
company, which is now defunct in Rathcabbin, but warned
that unless swift and decisive action is taken the council
could be left facing "an environmental disaster" in North
Tipperary. Cllr O'Meara drew attention to the fact that the
plastic sheets covering waste heaps at the former Shannon
Vermicomposting site have become dislodged in recent
months, posing a serious "leechate" threat to the
environment. He feared that the coming winter rains might
wash this waste into the Shannon Callows and Brosna River
at Rathcabbin, adversely affecting the fish, flora and
fauna famed in this particular part of North Tipperary, and
possibly entering the region's water supply too.

Outrage over recycling facility decision

It will be a sad day for Nenagh if the town council's
Limerick Road recycling facility has to close as part of
North Tipperary Co Council's plans to restructure its waste
management services countrywide.

At a recent local authority meeting, Cllr Joe O'Connor was
especially outraged about the situation, and said that it
is the responsibility of the Thurles and Templemore town
councillors to secure recycling facilities in their towns.
"Nenagh should not have to suffer because there are no
recycling facilities in Thurles and Templemore," he
remonstrated. "We have a duty to protect our recycling
facility in Nenagh, and we're going to fight for it."

He asked the town council executive to make provisions in
its 2006 budget for a takeover of the Nenagh facility, so
that it could be fully funded and controlled by Nenagh Town
Council and safeguarded from falling into private control
in the future, in which case charges may be introduced.

However Town Manager Paddy Heffernan said it would be
unlikely for such a situation to arise as the provision of
public recycling facilities is a county, not town, council
function. He explained that under the Waste Management Act
of 1996 North Tipperary Co Council assumes direction of
waste recycling operations, superseding the urban councils
of Nenagh, Thurles and Templemore, the latter two having no
recycling facilities.

Nenagh's new town centre takes shape

Nenagh's town centre is undergoing dramatic change at the
moment and the most talked about development, the multi-
million euro project Quentin's Way, now stands ready to
assume 'jewel in the crown' status for the new Nenagh.

Four fine establishments have already opened for business
along the lavish new town centre thoroughfare that used to
be the forlorn shell of O'Meara's Hotel, demolished in
2003. Stylish boutique Aneva, jewellery gift store Breo,
and the welcoming and wonderfully spacious Pantry
café/restaurant (relocated from Friar St) have now been
joined on Quentin's Way by the flagship of the development,
the two-story Facts & Fables book and stationery store
looking out onto Pearse St.

Further big name tenants are due to move into Quentin's Way
over the coming weeks. Foremost among these is
international opticians giant Specsavers, which has
confirmed that it intends to open for business in the New
Year. Two more fashion shops, one for women and one for
children, a new shoe shop and a gents' store are also lined
up to enter Quentin's Way in the not too distant future.

The €11 million structure is named after Englishman Quentin
Dick, who first opened a hotel on the O'Meara's site in

Housing boom to continue in Nenagh

Nenagh's property sector continues to show rigorous growth,
with plans in the pipeline to build a further 1,500 houses
in the town.

Figures provided by the Town Mayor and local auctioneer,
Tony Sheary, indicate that Nenagh is expanding out into the
countryside from all sides and commercial property
development is at record levels.

"There is huge confidence in the market in Nenagh. I get
numerous calls from people looking for sites on which
planning permission has already been granted," said Mayor

Further shops/offices are also planned for the Kenyon
Street car park and plans are also expected to be unveiled
to develop the Castle Brand Factory at Tyone into a new
commercial venture.

"It's no longer just about building houses. Now the council
want developers to provide the funds for community
facilities to go with the houses," concluded Mayor Sheary.

Hospital action group appeals for public funds

The Nenagh Hospital Action Group has commissioned an
independent project on proposals for the future of the
threatened hospital and is appealing to the public to
support this venture.

Last September the action group met and agreed to
commission Dublin-based communications industry consultant
Lorna Carney to prepare a report on proposals for the
future direction of Nenagh General Hospital, which the
group maintains is under threat from a Government health
policy geared towards downsizing acute hospitals.

With 12 years of experience working on policy strategies
for the likes of O2, Bank of Ireland and various Government
departments, Ms Carney has identified Nenagh Hospital as a
service institution that "meets the needs of the people of
North Tipperary, despite all the difficulties in the health
service at the moment. Its future needs to be protected and

Work on her proposals for the future of Nenagh General
Hospital began last October and is expected to be complete
around the end of January 2006. With an estimated cost in
the region of €40,000 this report won't be coming cheap but
the people of North Tipperary have once again rallied to
their hospital's cause, raising so far roughly half of the
cost through fundraising events.

Local GP Dr Rosin Costelloe has lent her support to the
project. "75% of the cases that come into Nenagh Hospital
can be dealt with at Nenagh — there should not be any need
to send them on to Limerick. If we can deal with more cases
in Nenagh then we are taking pressure off Limerick and that
makes more sense for us, the staff, and the people we care
for at the hospital," she points out.


1916 Hero Inspires Debating Society

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

The life and writings of the Easter Rising hero James
Connolly have inspired a group of political activists from
Belfast to form a debating society in his honour.

The Cumann Díospóireachta Séamas Uí Chonghaile (James
Connolly Debating Society) was established in Belfast at
the end of last year. It attracted a large crowd to its
first meeting in early December.

One of the society's organisers, Ciarán Ó Brolchain, said
the idea behind the initiative was to provide republicans
and socialists with a forum to discuss issues important to
them as well as to study the writings of some of Ireland's
greatest revolutionaries.

"With the increasing popularity of republicanism on the
island, it's important that we give time to debate aspects
of our ideology," he said.

"People like Liam Mellows, Pádraig Pearse and James
Connolly have contributed a wealth of writing to
republicanism. We should study them and use them to advance
our struggle.

"Essentially, the Connolly Debating Society is about
exploring what it means to be an Irish republican and what
it means to be a socialist in that context," he said.

Mr Ó Brolchain said the society was just one of a number of
initiatives that republicans were running around the
country in order to increase debate.

"It's in the nature of republicanism that people are always
active at one thing or another and that's what makes it so
relevant to a lot of people and communities. But we also
have to give activists the space to think about and discuss
the type of Ireland that they want to help build and live

"We want to create a debating society that acts as a
complement to the mass of work that is already being done
by republicans throughout Belfast and the whole country to
advance the cause of Irish unity and social justice."

The society's next meeting is in the Felons Club, 537 Falls
Road, west Belfast on Thursday, January 19, at 7.30pm.


Unionists Need No Lectures From Peter Hain

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said unionists needed no
lectures from the Secretary of State about the need for
political progress. Mr Dodds accused the government of
being prepared to wait forever on Sinn Fein no matter what
they or the IRA did.

"Peter Hain has allowed Sinn Fein a veto over political
developents styming any form of decolution or political
movement which does not involve an Executive with Sinn
Fein. After the Northern bank robbery and other evidence
that the republicans simply can't be trusted, the
government and others refused to accept any proposal for
local democracy or accountability because they wanted to
wait on Sinn Fein. Its time Peter Hain woke up and smelt
the coffee.

Yes - we do want devolution and local decision making by
local assembly members. But the old style executive
devolution with Sinn Fein in cabinet positions is not on
the horizon. The reason for that is clear. Amongst the many
reasons for distrust are::

The refusal of Sinn Fein to support the police,

The refusal of Sinn Fein to demand the disbandment and
dismantling of the IRA,

The refusal by Sinn Fein to acknowledge the role of the IRA
in numerous incidents such as the northern bank robbery,
Castlereagh, or the spy ring organised at the heart of

The refusal by the republican movement to give up
criminality by for instance, returning the proceeds of
bank robberies or seeing that justice is done in the case
of the Columbia Three. And the continuing pandering to
Sinn Fein by Peter Hain.

The Dublin government has rightly ruled out any role in the
cabinet for Sinn Fein. Northern Ireland subjects are just
as entitled to having stable and credible government
untainted by criminality or gangsterism. But this does not
mean devolution cannot happen. Why should we all be forced
by Peter Hain and others to hang around waiting to see if
the republicans ever do win over the confidence of the
people we represent. Certainly their botched minimalist
approach to decommussioning back fired and did not help
instil confidence in the unionist community - quite the

Our message to Peter Hain and everyone else is absolutely
clear - we offer devolution tomorrow with democrats. We are
ready to move forward tomorrow on the basis of local
democracy and accountability. Local politics cann be
allowed to stagnate whilst we all wait on the provos. Or we
can move ahead in the meantime. Those who have lied and
deceived still have to get their act together and realise
people are never going to take them on trust again.

Let's see if Peter Hain and others are up to the


Gong Show Seems To Confuse SDLP

Editor: Colin O'Carroll

The controversy that erupted this week over the decision of
former SDLP spin doctor Tom Kelly to accept an OBE would by
now have been just another quirky seasonal awards story
that newspapers are grateful for in the New Year doldrums
save for one thing. That one thing has been the absolute
refusal of the SDLP to come clean on whether there has been
a seachange in that party's position on the acceptance of
gongs from Buckingham Palace.

It's not that long ago since those members of the SDLP who
said yes to the Queen of England – and there were a few –
were ushered out the back door quicker than you could make
a loyal toast. The SDLP will argue that no-one was asked or
ordered to leave, but people in the North know enough about
cold houses by now to appreciate the fatally chilling
effect of stern disapproval.

Mr Kelly, who remains an important figure to the party
despite having stood down on his appointment to the
Policing Board, has seen his decision to travel to London
to accept his OBE meet with the warm approbation of the
party, particularly deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell, who
congratulated Mr Kelly on his honour.

There is an important point here, and it goes deeper than
the shallow and petulant response that some party members
have displayed in response to questions about party policy.
SDLP members are taking the line that they will not accept
lectures from a party – Sinn Féin – some of whose members
have been working as spies for the British establishment
for years.

That is a cheap shot, ignoring as it does the reality that
the real culprits in that murky episode are those who
placed the agents and those who did the spying – in this
case, aptly enough, the servants of Her Britannic Majesty.
It also fails to address the central issue: has the SDLP's
party line on the matter of accepting honours from
Buckingham Palace changed? To that we have yet to receive
an answer. The signs thus far, though, would appear to be
yes. Mr Kelly expanded this week on his reasons for
accepting the award, saying that he now believed that the
time was right to make "the kind of gesture to show that we
can actually value shared traditions in Northern Ireland."
That would be fine and dandy if the SDLP had even accepted
that it was time to value the "shared traditions" of
republicanism, a creed it now claims to espouse.

It's not that long since Patricia Lewsley, a prominent
member of the party in Belfast, hit out scathingly at a
newly-formed GAA club in the city which had the temerity to
choose a lark and an 'H' as the logo for its badge. It was
far from the only recent example of the SDLP rejecting
republican history and iconography.

The SDLP clearly has its own thoughts on the H-Block
struggle, just as republicans have their own thoughts on
the role of the British royal family in the history of this
country. Sinn Féin is crystal-clear on both, while the
SDLP, it would appear, can't make up its mind about either.


Echo Editorial: Irish America Will Be There

In today's edition of the Irish Echo, Sinn Féin's Gerry
Adams vigorously defends his party's position on policing
in the North, accusing President Bush's Special Envoy,
Mitchell Reiss, of being unhelpful and partisan.

That was to be expected. In last week's newspaper,
Ambassador Reiss filed the Bush Administration's "report
card" for 2005, ridiculing Sinn Féin and accusing its
leadership of hypocrisy.

Reiss argued that nationalist communities could descend
into lawlessness if the controversial Police Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) did not have the full and immediate
support of the largest nationalist party.

Today, Adams rejects this, pointing out that nationalist
areas of the North actually have very low rates of crime.
He argues that hard-line, unionist "Special Branch"
officers remain active within the PSNI and continue to
interfere in politics, as evidenced by their role in
collapsing the North's power-sharing government.

"Republicans and Nationalists, will not be badgered or
forced into accepting less than the new beginning to
policing promised in the Good Friday Agreement," he says.

Despite the fraught tone of this debate, Irish-Americans
will take heart from one aspect. Both men are genuinely
anxious to see a fair, non-political police force operating
in the North with the support of all.

Any disagreement, therefore, is merely over timing; when
the British actually devolve control of the force, and when
Sinn Féin joins the PSNI board.

It is difficult to believe that it is beyond the talents of
Ambassador Reiss and Gerry Adams, along with the British
and Irish governments, simply to speed up matters to the
point where the timing becomes a matter of hours or days,
not weeks or months.

If they strive for such a compromise, they can be sure of
the support of Irish America every step of the way.

This story appeared in the issue of January 4 - 10, 2006


Fire Drama To Go Ahead Despite Pleas

05/01/2006 - 19:07:14

RTÉ plans to go ahead with its controversial drama on the
1981 Stardust fire despite emotional pleas by victims'
families to have it scrapped, it emerged tonight.

Several relatives of the 48 young people who died at the
Valentine's Day disco on Dublin's northside claimed they
were never consulted by the national broadcaster about the

The two-part series is being screened on the 25th
anniversary next month.

But RTÉ insisted tonight that it understood the sensitivity
of the subject matter and reassured families that its drama
would be a fitting tribute to victims and survivors of the
Artane inferno.

"As the Public Service Broadcaster, RTÉ believes that this
is an important story to tell," a statement said tonight.

"RTÉ Television has decided to bring the story back into
focus for public representatives and the viewing public in
the lead up to the 25th anniversary, and thus add to the
extensive range of news and current affairs programmes
already broadcast by RTÉ over the past 20 years.

"RTÉ Television's intention is to produce a fitting tribute
to the lives lost, the sacrifices made, and the terrible
suffering endured as a result of that dreadful February
night in 1981."

A spokesperson said the series would follow the well-
established tradition of using drama to explore incidents
in recent social history like 'Omagh' on the 1998 Omagh
bombing and 'Holy Cross' on the sectarian stand-off at Holy
Cross School, Belfast.

"RTÉ Television understands that this subject matter is
hugely sensitive and made genuine efforts to make contact
with the families of victims of the Stardust tragedy," the
spokesperson added.

RTÉ said it held a meeting in September with the Stardust
Legal Challenge Committee, which represents the majority of
victims' families.

The station agreed to screen the drama series for victims'
families prior to broadcast and to take on board all
concerns of the families about technical details of the

Based on the 2001 book, 'They Never Came Home' by Tony
McCullagh and Neal Fetherstonhaugh, 'Stardust' is being
produced by Brackside/Merlin Films for RTÉ.

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