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January 15, 2006

Loyalist Shoot Bernadette McAliskey (01/16/81)

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 01/15/06 1981: Gunmen Shoot Civil Rights Campaigner
TE 01/15/06 Opin:Comprehensively Wrong
IT 01/15/06 All Smiles As Atlantic Rowers Return Home
IT 01/15/06 Suicide Rate In Clare Half That Of 2004


1981: Gunmen Shoot Civil Rights Campaigner

The Northern Ireland civil rights campaigner and
former Westminster MP, Bernadette McAliskey, has been
shot by gunmen who burst into her home at Coalisland
in County Tyrone.

The three men shot Mrs McAliskey, formerly known as
Bernadette Devlin, in the chest, arm and thigh as she
went to wake up one of her three children.

Her husband, Michael, was also shot twice at point
blank range.

Three men are now being questioned by police. They
were arrested by members of the Parachute Regiment,
who were on patrol nearby when they heard the shots.

The McAliskeys were flown by army helicopter to
hospital in Belfast, where their condition is said to
be serious, but not life-threatening.

Loyalists blamed

Police say it was a professional attack. The gunmen
cut the telephone wires to the house, before breaking
down the front door with a sledgehammer.

Loyalist paramilitaries are being blamed for the

Mrs McAliskey has played a leading role in the
campaign for Republican prisoners in the Maze, who are
demanding "prisoner of war" or political status. They
want to be held separately from loyalist supporters in
the Maze.

Four other members of the campaign for the H-block
inmates have been murdered.

Seven Maze prisoners went on hunger strike before
Christmas in support of their demands for political

The strike was called off on 12 December after Irish
Prime Minister Charles Haughey convinced the inmates
their families wanted them to start eating again.

In Context

Bernadette McAliskey was the youngest-ever woman MP
when she was elected at the age of 21 in 1969.

She served as the Independent Unity member for Mid
Ulster from 1969-73.

As an MP, she continued to champion the cause of
catholics in Northern Ireland. She was imprisoned for
her part in the sectarian riots in Londonderry in
August 1969, which led to the deaths of five people
and the deployment of troops in the province.

After her marriage in 1974 she faded from public view
until her involvement in the H-block campaign.

In October 1993, she gave evidence to a court in San
Francisco on behalf of James Smyth, who escaped from
the Maze in 1983. He was fighting the British
government's attempts to extradite him.

More recently, Mrs McAliskey fought the extradition of
her daughter, Roisin, to Germany, where she is wanted
for questioning about the IRA bombing of the Osnabruck
base in 1996.

Roisin's extradition to Germany was blocked in March
1998 by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on medical


Comprehensively Wrong

(Filed: 16/01/2006)

Martin McGuinness left the Christian Brothers'
Technical College in Londonderry at the age of 15 to
become a butcher's boy. Within seven years he was
commanding the Provisional IRA in that town. That is
one example of social mobility in Ulster.

Most people have different dreams for their sons and
daughters. They want them to stay on at school to do
A-level or Highers and then, perhaps, go to
university. And the evidence is unanswerable that the
best system for promoting this outcome is one where
academic selection at secondary-school level is
allowed and even encouraged.

In Northern Ireland, where such a system still exists,
75 per cent of 17-year-olds are still in full-time
education, compared with only 60 per cent on the
mainland. And what is more, a third more children from
working-class backgrounds in Ulster go on to
university than in England. Even those who "fail" at
11-plus tend to do better than those who, in areas
where grammars do not exist, go to comprehensive
schools. Social mobility - of the respectable sort -
is greater in this part of the United Kingdom than in
any other.

Mr McGuinness, however, who, until the suspension of
the Northern Ireland Assembly, was education minister
for the province, wishes to introduce one of the worst
aspects of British policy - comprehensive education -
into Ulster. And despite his suspension from office,
Mr McGuinness is, it seems, still in charge.

The New Labour Government, which has an ideological
complicity with Sinn Fein on social policy, has
decided to press on with the abolition of grammar
schools and impose comprehensives through direct rule.
This is despite the clear wish of Northern Ireland's
people for academic selection to continue.

We hear a lot of the betrayal of the loyal, law-
abiding majority of Ulster by Marxist republicans and
their philosophical confrères in the Labour Party. A
similar betrayal is in the offing for schoolchildren
there. Today's campaign launch by the teachers,
parents and alumni of Ulster's grammar schools
represents the last chance for a genuine, popular,
system of academic freedom in the United Kingdom.


All Smiles As Atlantic Rowers Return Home

Liam Gorman

Almost a week to the hour after a freak wave wrecked
their rowing boat and threw them into the wild
Atlantic, Gearóid Towey and Ciarán Lewis faced a media
storm at Dublin airport yesterday - and again kept
their heads.

"This is my second frightening experience," quipped
Towey (28) as another media wave descended on them as
relatives and friends milled around the Great Southern

The tanker which rescued the men, the Hispania Spirit,
had docked in Cartagena, before a private plane
chartered by Denis O'Brien had flown Lewis, Towey and
some close family directly to Dublin. O'Brien's
company Digicel had been one of the main sponsors of
their participation in the Atlantic rowing race.

In Dublin there was a festive air . The levity of the
occasion was complete and the photographers sated when
the two men were handed pints of stout and happily
sank them. Lewis (34) had told Morning Ireland on
Monday that the one thing he looked forward to most
about returning to Ireland was "a pint".

"Is that Murphy's?" asked Gearóid's mother Carmel
Towey, to laughter from the large Cork contingent up
to welcome home the son of Kilworth near Fermoy. Ms
Towey had hugged her son for the first time since the
incident when she boarded the jet in Dublin.

"To see both of them safe and sound was terrific," she
said emotionally.

Amid the banter and back-slapping came the recounting
of the awful events which ended their participation in
the race. "We really didn't know whether we'd make it
home or not, so it's really good to be here," Towey

"For a few moments, when the boat capsized, it felt
like life or death, but then, as soon as we got
ourselves together, we realised we had to get our life
raft together and we just clicked into survival mode
and we just did what was necessary and it got us

The interest in the rescue at home was a surprise. "We
didn't really know this was the kind of response we'd
get when we got home. We're just quite amazed at the
moment that it's such a big thing."

Later, Towey added: "Seeing everybody here, you just
realise how close we were to something really bad
going on. We're just relieved to be here."

They were "really lucky" that the Hispania Spirit had
been taking a route it had not covered in three years.

"When we got capsized we realised we were in the
middle of nowhere."

Capt Roque Enunza "who basically saved our lives" had
been given the "small reward" of a painting of the two
oarsmen in action by a friend of the Towey family,
Ollie Stack, and some Irish whiskey.

Asked if he would take on the ocean again, Towey
paused briefly. "I won't rule it out. Getting across
the ocean was something we wanted to do and which we
haven't succeeded in doing. So I suppose it's
something that will always play on our minds. Give it
a bit of time. We'll do a bit of thinking and see
after that."

Lewis was slower to make any such commitment and broke
into a nervous guffaw when asked whether he would do
it again. He said he was not thinking of reprising the
effort "at the moment".

Three months ago, before he left Ireland, Lewis told
of how his mother, Belfast-born Maureen Lewis, had
responded when he told her he was taking on the
Atlantic in a rowing boat. "You're only middle-aged
once," she told him.

© The Irish Times


Suicide Rate In Clare Half That Of 2004

Gordon Deegan

The number of suspected suicides in Co Clare last
year was half the 2004 total. Provisional figures
jointly supplied by Clare gardaí and the Co Clare
coroner's office show that the number of suspected
suicides last year was 10 compared to 20 in 2004.

The number is the lowest in five years - in 2003 there
were 13 suicides, 12 in 2002 and 13 in 2001.

All the victims last year were male, and nine of the
10 were single. The tenth was married but separated.

The figures show that men under the age of 30 are most
at risk, with five such men taking their lives. The
next largest grouping is of those aged over 50, with
three ending their lives.

The suicide figures show there was one man under the
age of 20, one in his 30s and one in his 40s.

Six of the men hung themselves, two consumed weed
killer, one shot himself and one died from carbon-
monoxide poisoning.

The deaths of two people in the River Fergus last year
remain "unexplained" and cannot be categorised as

The figures also show that most suicides took place in
rural parts of west Clare.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Moosajee Bhamjee said
yesterday: "The drop in confirmed suicides is a good
sign, but we cannot be complacent and it is too early
to identify a trend.

"Suicides have traditionally been under-reported,
while I would be very concerned at the number of
single men under the age of 30 that have taken their
lives. Anyone that is feeling suicidal should contact
the Samaritans, who are available 24 hours a day."

He was not surprised that all the suspected suicides
last year were men. "The normal gender ratio is four-
to-one in favour of males."

© The Irish Times

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