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January 23, 2006

People Entitled To Full GFA Institutions

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 01/23/06
People Entitled To Full GFA Institutions
SF 01/23/06 Sinn Féin Call For Calm After Sectarian Attack
ZW 01/23/06 Black Watch To Be Met By Picketers
UT 01/23/06 Hain Urged To Intervene In Stadium Row
BB 01/23/06 John Kerry To Deliver NI Lecture
BB 01/23/06 Report Critical Over Jail Deaths
IT 01/24/06 Irish Towns Get Short Shrift In Guidebook


People Entitled To Full GFA Institutions

Published: 23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking today in advance of Ian Paisley's meeting with Tony Blair and the meeting of the two government's later in the week said that "people were entitled to an Assembly with full powers along with a functioning power sharing executive".

Mr McGuinness said:

"Over the weekend Sinn Féin set out very clearly the responsibility which the two governments have to see the political institutions re-established in the time ahead. I also set out a number of action points which need to be implemented if this is to happen.

"The current stalemate cannot be allowed to continue.

"People have a right to the institutions which they voted for. People have a right to proper political representation from the politicians they voted for. The nonsense of a suspended assembly is not sustainable. Anything short of fully functioning institutions is unacceptable to Sinn Féin." ENDS


Sinn Féin Call For Calm After Sectarian Attack

Published: 23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin North Belfast Margaret McClenaghan has appealed for calm after four teenaged girls were attacked by a sectarian mob on their way to school in the Ballysillan area this morning. The four girls were attacked whilst making their way from their homes in Ligoniel to Our Lady of Mercy Girls Secondary School on Bilston Road.

The girls were spat on, had objects thrown at them and were subsequently chased back into the Ligoniel area - in the opposite direction from which their school journey should have taken them. They were also verbally attacked by an adult passer-by whilst running from the mob.

Councillor McClenaghan said:

"I would appeal for calm in the community at this point in time. School children should be allowed to go to and from their school in a safe environment regardless of the uniform they are wearing, the area the school is situated, or the area they may have to go through in order to get to school.

"The young girls caught up in the attack this morning are understandably very shaken at what has happened and I am calling on people with influence in the Upper Crumlin Road area to work to ensure that this type of incident doesn't happen again.

"North Belfast has a number of Interface workers at present tasked with dealing with this type of situation and I would call on them all to work together constructively to ensure the safety of all school children in the area." ENDS


Black Watch To Be Met By Picketers


TRENTON--Spectators attending tonight’s performance of Black Watch, the British army pipes and drums band, at Sovereign Bank Arena will be met on their way inside by a picket line of protesters.

Local Irish organizations are up in arms because of the terror and brutal treatment the British troops have been responsible for in their occupation of independent countries around the world, including Ireland, said Jim MacFarland, a past member of the Ancient Order of Hiberians.

The protest will begin about an hour before the 8 p.m. concert.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, who is an Irish-American, said he understands the strong feelings because of the long history with this particular group in Ireland.

He said the company Global Spectrum runs the Sovereign Bank Arena, and it chooses who appears and then books the events.

"I wasn’t involved in the early stages of booking or contracting the band," Hughes said, "but now they have a contract and sold tickets. Canceling the event now would open the county to legal liabilities."

Hughes said he is going to allow the people to protest Black Watch, but they are preparing ahead of time by putting on extra security.

"We’re trying hard to make sure everyone’s rights are protected," he said.

Hughes added that he has told Global Spectrum he personally wants to be involved in the decision whether or not to bring the band back next year

"I’m going to take a hard look to consider if it is best for the band to come back," he said.

"This group has not had a good history in Ireland," Hughes said. "It’s not necessarily a reason to celebrate."

The event presents an extra concern because of the added security, and the fact ticket sales have not been good, said Hughes.

"There’s also the community component," he said. "We have an active and large Irish community here, and we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable."

Hughes said he is considering participating in the protest against Black Watch.

"They have a history of strong and vicious tactics of oppression," he said, "and this isn’t in the middle ages.This is going back to our lifetime and generation."

Vince McKelvy, president of the Hamilton division of the Ancient Order of Hiberians, said the group did not organize the protest, but is helping to support it financially.

They are giving money to the group of protesters for signs, food, and other necessities.

"Jim MacFarland came and wanted to form a committee," he said, "and there are Hiberian members, but there are also going to be a lot of participants that aren’t members."

"They [the Black Watch] are an honorable military unit in Britain," McKelvy said, "but I don’t like having them here.I’m not enamored by their presence."

McKelvy said he will not be attending the protest because of other business obligations.

"I won’t buy a ticket," he said. "That’s my protest.

McKelvy said he knew of other people who had tickets but were not going to the event.

"They don’t want to cross the picket line out of courtesy and respect," he said.

Eric Cuthbertson, general manager of the Sovereign Bank Arena, said they are expecting around 2,000 seats to be filled in the 7,600 seat arena.

He said these numbers are consistent with the show elsewhere, and are not significantly lower.

Cuthbertson said he is not worried about the protesters.

"It’s a public facility," he said. "It’s open for anyone to use."

When asked how he felt about the situation, Cuthbertson said that he doesn’t have a position, because he "must remain neutral."

©The Trentonian 2006


Hain Urged To Intervene In Stadium Row

Peter Hain has been urged to intervene in a developing row over appointments to the Maze Stadium implementation panel, it emerged tonight.

By:Press Association

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has written to the Secretary of State expressing opposition to Sinn Fein vice-chairing the body overseeing the £85 million project.

Sir Reg, who is refusing to nominate a representative to the group, claimed no political party should have a greater influence on the strategy to build a 42,000-seat arena, as well as conflict transformation, equestrian and arts centres on the former prison site near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

He said: "We weren`t consulted about this.

"The deal was that everybody had an equal say and every party had a veto, otherwise we couldn`t have got where we have."

The Maze Implementation Panel was set up after backing was received for cross-party proposals to redevelop the site.

Based on their electoral strength, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein both have two representatives, while the UUP and SDLP were each entitled to one.

Lord Rooker, the Stormont Minister with responsibility for the overall Maze project, has always favoured the political parties leading the initiative, sources said.

But the current set-up, with the DUP`s Edwin Poots chairing and Sinn Fein`s Paul Butler appointed vice-chair, has angered Sir Reg.

The UUP chief insisted his dispute with Lord Rooker has not prevented him from being kept fully briefed on the project.

He also stressed it was not linked to any continued lobby for the new stadium to be built in Belfast - conceding that there appeared to be no realistic alternative site in the city.

But with the conflict transformation centre in mind, Sir Reg said: "One of the reasons we are concerned about Sinn Fein holding office in it is that`s the most neuralgic aspect of it.

"Putting them into that position could have negative effects."

He added: "There`s also a significant degree of hypocrisy, Edwin Poots and Sinn Fein sitting as chair and vice-chair of that body then saying they are not working together."

Mr Butler hit back, however, saying the dispute was down to the battle for unionist supremacy between the UUP and DUP.

"It goes back to party politics and the UUP no longer being top dogs," he said.

"There`s also the issue of Reg Empey being Belfast-based yet the stadium is to be sited at Long Kesh."


US Senator To Deliver NI Lecture

Former presidential candidate John Kerry is to become the latest senior US politician to deliver a lecture at one of Northern Ireland's universities.

The Democrat senator for Massachusetts will deliver the Tip O'Neill lecture at the University of Ulster's Magee campus in Londonderry on Sunday.

Invited by former SDLP leader John Hume he will address the issue of Security in the 21st Century.

Previous speakers include former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

During the election campaign Senator Kerry accused the Bush administration of pushing the Northern Ireland peace process down the foreign policy agenda.

His February 2004 statement called on the IRA and loyalists to disarm.

However, he also angered Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party by insisting they "should not be allowed to disenfranchise half the population of Northern Ireland by refusing to form a government with Sinn Fein".

The Tip O'Neill Chair, financed by the Ireland Funds, commemorates the former speaker of the US House of Representatives, who was well known for his support of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Among others to have delivered lectures in the series are former US President Bill Clinton, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, President of the European Commission Romano Prodi and former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/23 16:19:33 GMT

During the election campaign Senator Kerry accused the Bush administration of pushing the Northern Ireland peace process down the foreign policy agenda.

His February 2004 statement called on the IRA and loyalists to disarm but he also angered the Rev Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists by insisting they should not be allowed to disenfranchise half the population of the North by refusing to form a government with Sinn Féin.

He was also a signatory to a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair from a number of leading US senators, including fellow Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who expressed concern at the British Government’s handling of demands for a public inquiry into alleged security force collusion with loyalists in the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.


Report Critical Over Jail Deaths

A report into the suicides of six prisoners has criticised the standard of mental health care in Northern Ireland jails.

Queen's University Professor Roy McClelland's report looks at the deaths of four men and two women since 2002.

It said the prisoners were determined to take their own lives and were always ultimately likely to be successful.

However, it said more could be done to help prisoners with mental health problems.

Professor McClelland also said he was concerned that previous recommendations about the Prison Service have not been implemented.

He said the emphasis should be on "much better connectivity between the health service and prison service".

"Particularly as prisoners are often among the most vulnerable in our society and their mental health needs tend to be greater that the wider community.

"That is not probably well recognised in the community at large."


Mark Fulton, died 10 June 2002 at Mourne House, Maghaberry
Anne Kelly, died 7 September 2002 at Mourne House, Maghaberry
Eamon McKinney, died 5 April 2003 at Lagan House, Maghaberry
Patrick Mongan, died 19 October 2003 at Magilligan
Duncan Brown, died 12 November 2003 at the Special Supervision Unit, Maghaberry
Roseanne Irvine, died 3 March 2004 at Mourne House, Maghaberry

The independent review into the deaths was published along with the Prison Service's Action Plan.

Security Minister Shaun Woodward said suicide must be recognised as a major public health issue "which cannot be tackled by one agency alone".

"One of the key factors identified by McClelland and others has been a fundamental weakness in the deployment, management and support of staff delivering health services and a lack of central health co-ordination in terms of delivering a modern health service within NI prisons.

"For this reason, supported by the service's own Review of Health Care Services, I announced my approval in 2005 for the lead responsibility for prisoner healthcare to transfer from the Prison Service to the Health and Personal Social Services (HPSS).

"Arrangements are being made for this transfer to take place by 1 April 2007."

NI Prison Service director general Robin Masefield said he had been concerned at the apparent number of non natural deaths and if there were gaps in its healthcare services.

He added: "The report does highlight failures in our procedures and processes which we as a service are addressing.

"We have produced an action plan accepting the Review Team's 30 recommendations and setting out what we are going to do and when.

Chief Medical Officer Etta Campbell said the report would pave the way to significant improvements in the health care of prisoners.

"Suicide is an important issue which requires attention not only in our prisons but also in the wider community," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/23 17:05:03 GMT


Number Of Irish Towns Get Short Shrift In Guidebook

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Dundalk is "charmless", Bundoran is "one of Ireland's tackiest holiday resorts", while "you don't want to waste too much time in Navan", according to the latest edition of a best-selling international guidebook.

The seventh edition of Lonely Planet Ireland, to be published on Thursday, is sharply critical of a number of towns around the country.

Despite being "one of Europe's premier surfing spots", the guidebook's entry for Bundoran, Co Donegal, describes it as "one of Ireland's tackiest holiday resorts, a kitsch assortment of half-baked fairground rides, flashing arcades, fast-food diners and overpriced B&Bs".

Newcastle, Co Down, suffers from the same affliction, say the authors. On summer weekends, "it's a garish, traffic-choked strip of raucous amusement arcades and fast-food outlets".

Like "charmless" Dundalk, Larne, Co Antrim is "lacking in the charm department", while Clifden, Co Galway is deemed to have "a vaguely jaded feel to it".

There is better news for one of Ireland's most popular destinations. Killarney, Co Kerry, controversially disparaged as an overcrowded theme park in a previous guidebook, is now roundly praised, with its pubs, restaurants and proximity to magnificent scenery among "its greatest gifts".

The finest commendations are reserved for some of Ireland's largest cities. Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Galway and Limerick are all given lavish praise, typified by Cork's depiction as "cosmopolitan" and "upbeat".

The book's co-ordinating author, Fionn Davenport, who has contributed to three previous editions, said the criticism was not intended to offend.

"These criticisms are not criticisms of a town as a place to live or a place to be brought up in," he said. "They're criticisms of what a place has to offer visitors. We've said some controversial things, but I'm not saying Navan is such a kip that you should never go there. My obligation is to the reader. We have nothing against anybody. Our moniker is: tell it like it is.

"If you look at what we said about Bundoran, it has been true for 50 years. You'll find that no guidebook says it any other way. It's a fact. We're saying, if you're looking for that tranquil seaside experience, stay clear of Bundoran."

In general, he found the homogenisation of Ireland's towns to be one of the most striking changes in recent years. "I think there's a problem with the sameness of Irish towns; they're increasingly indistinguishable, both because of the Europeanisation of Ireland and the trend towards looking like a British high street." Mr Davenport added that Lonely Planet invites its readers to submit specific suggestions that might be incorporated in updated editions.

Politicians and tourism officials from several towns yesterday challenged the guidebook's judgments.

The chairman of Bundoran Town Council, Tiernan Brady, said: "It's frustrating when people are willing to put pen to paper on a cliche without actually visiting a place. You simply couldn't come up with this after spending a weekend in Bundoran. It just bears no resemblance to reality.

"The comment on food is incredible. We have fabulous restaurants, and the town is packed with repeat business. It's Dublin standards at Donegal prices."

The tourism officer for Co Meath, Michelle Whelan, questioned the authors' criteria in assessing Navan as it did. "I think it's very unfair. There's a lot happening in Navan. Every year we have French gardeners who come over from Limoges to advise on landscaping and flowers in the town, and the local council is very interested in the aesthetics of the town."

She added that Navan was an excellent base for trips to nearby Newgrange and the Hill of Tara.

© The Irish Times

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