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January 09, 2006

SDLP Welcomes Irish Migrant Lobby

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News about Ireland & the Irish

SD 01/09/06 SDLP PJ Bradley Welcomes Irish Migrant Lobby
BT 01/09/06 List Of Weapons Is Nothing But Speculations:NIO
DU 01/09/06 Inventory Rumours ...Too Little Too Late
BB 01/09/06 Dublin May Seek Surrender Letter
IO 01/09/06 Man Shot Twice In Loyalist Area Of Belfast
BT 01/09/06 Did Rpblns Spy On Married Lives Of Pol Enemies?
IN 01/09/06 SF Denies Spying On Lives Of Unionist MLAs
IN 01/09/06 D Ireland Editor Embroiled In Informer Claims
IN 01/09/06 Loyalist On Money Laundering Charges
BB 01/09/06 Attack On Ex-Councillor's House
IE 01/09/06 McKeown: Christmas Arson Was 'Murder Attempts'
DU 01/09/06 Not Enough Help For Deprived Unionist Areas-DUP
BT 01/09/06 Relatives Of Victims Offended By Tricolours
IN 01/09/06 Demon Drink In Irish Politics
DI 01/09/06 Opin: Top Property Scam By Cops
DI 01/09/06 Opin: Good Work If You Can Get It!
BT 01/09/06 Opin: Why SDLP Should Go To House Of Lords
BT 01/09/06 Keano KO'd In Disastrous Debut
IN 01/09/06 'Video Game Therapy' A Success Says Doctor
IN 01/09/06 Unearthed Ltr Describes San Fran's Destruction
BM 01/09/06 Bk Rev: Nothing But An Unfinished Song


SDLP PJ Bradley Welcomes Irish Migrant Lobby

SDLP South Down Assembly Member P.J. Bradley has welcomed
the setting up of group in America to lobby on behalf of
Irish migrants.

Mr Bradley said, "I welcome the setting up in America of a
body to lobby on behalf of the undocumented Irish exiles
living and working in the United States. The undocumented
are threatened by Immigration legislation currently being
prepared on Capitol Hill.

"Many Irish exiles are currently living in fear and feel
threatened by the pending Immigration Laws. The Irish Lobby
for Immigration Reform will give some hope to those so
unsure of their working future in the USA.

"No doubt our exiles will be filled with a degree of hope
and take solace on learning that influential Irish
Americans of distinction are committed to lobbying on their

"It is very encouraging to read that former Congressman
Bruce Morrison is to the fore within the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform. Mr. Morrison's credentials are beyond
challenge thus giving confidence that his involvement with
the Lobby Group will prove to be a major plus factor in the
months ahead."


List Of Decommissioned Weapons Is Nothing But Speculation,
Says NIO

By Michael McHugh
09 January 2006

The Government has dismissed reports that it is to publish
an inventory of the IRA's decommissioned weapons later this
year as "speculation".

The development comes after claims in a Sunday paper which
said the step was imminent and could be linked to a clean
bill of health for the IRA's cessation of violence from the
Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) later this month.

The DUP has dubbed any move as "too little, too late" and
Sinn Fein says it has no knowledge of it.

The International Independent Commission for
Decommissioning (IICD) has already ruled out publication
until loyalist decommissioning is complete.

According to the Sunday Independent, the move has been
approved by Sinn Fein and is designed to help coax the DUP
to the talks table.

An NIO spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on speculation.
It is a matter for the International Independent Commission
for Decommissioning, which has made it clear that there
would not be publication of inventories until all arms have
been decommissioned."

Republicans have denied any knowledge of a deal, which they
say would be premature, and the DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr has
downplayed prospects of a breakthrough.

"The publication of an inventory that cannot be
independently verified by a witness whom we had chosen,
that is without photographic verification and comes after
the decommissioning body confirmed to us that the inventory
they had previously worked from, up until July 2005, had
been changed and revised downwards in terms of numbers of
weapons, will all be seen as significant credibility gaps,"
the North Antrim Assemblyman said.

"The Government knows that the DUP is genuine in its desire
to see progress but it must be on a firm foundation. This
latest suggestion appears more like the shifting sands of
uncertainty and expediency.

"Unionists deserve to have their confidence built, but that
will not be achieved by short-term measures that are all
about saving face rather than saving lives."

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

According to the Independent, the list is expected to show
that, last July, the IRA disposed of most, if not all, of
the arms shipped from Libya in the 1980s.

This included up to 1,000 AK47s, medium and heavy machine-
guns, a large stock of "improvised" or home-made weapons,
tons of ammunition, and explosives.

There have been four acts of decommissioning: in October
2001, April 2002, October 2003 and last July.

Decommissioning was branded a stunt by the DUP last summer
after its requests to nominate its own witness and see
visual proof were refused on the grounds that this would
humiliate the IRA.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "It is written in the
legislation (setting up the IIMC) that inventories will not
be published until all decommissioning is complete and that
includes the loyalists.

"I am not aware of any deal and I do not think this will
happen until we see loyalist decommissioning."


Inventory Rumours ...Too Little Too Late

Speaking today Ian Paisley Jnr said,

"The suggestion in the Independent newspaper that the
British and Dublin governments are considering the
publication of an inventory of IRA weapons supposedly
destroyed last year in order to assure unionists, will be
regarded by many as too little too late.

Last year we argued for decommissioning and a verification
process what would build the confidence of unionists
regarding the sincerity and certainty of the destruction of
IRA arms, the dismantling of the terror organisation and
end of the IRA. Our process included our own witness,
independent photographic evidence of the process and
certainty about the IRA inventory. This was dismissed as an
attempt to humiliate the IRA.

Now that the government is considering doing part of what
they once said was impossible many will see for themselves
the folly of all those who participated in a
decommissioning process that failed to build the confidence
of unionists but just blurred the waters further. If it is
now suddenly possible to do what was claimed to be
impossible why was it not achieved at the time?

The publication of an inventory that cannot be
independently verified by a witness whom we had chosen,
that is without photographic verification and comes after
the decommissioning body confirmed to us that the inventory
they had previously worked from, up until July 2005, had
been changed and revised downwards in terms of numbers of
weapons, will all be seen as significant credibility gaps.

The government knows that the DUP is genuine in its desire
to see progress but it must be on a firm foundation. This
latest suggestion appears more like the shifting sands of
uncertainty and expediency.

Unionists deserve to have their confidence built but that
will not be achieved by short term measures that are all
about saving face rather than saving lives."


Dublin May Seek Surrender Letter

Dublin City Council is to debate a motion asking the
British government to return a surrender letter signed by
Irish rebel Padraig Pearse.

The letter, signed at the end of the 1916 Easter Rising,
was handed to an English general.

Councillor Christy Burke, Sinn Fein, wants a council
delegation to go to the UK National Archives and check for
more artefacts relating to the rising.

Mr Burke said the letter should be placed in an Easter
Rising Museum.

This would be established at No. 16 Moore Street, Dublin,
where Pearse and his fellow volunteers finally surrendered.

The letter was given to General WHM Lowe after Pearse
agreed to an unconditional surrender on 29 April, 1916.

It states: "In order to prevent the further slaughter of
Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our
followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the
members of the Provisional Government present at
headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and
the commandants of the various districts in the City and
County will order their commands to lay down arms."

Pearse was later executed with 14 other rebels captured in
the battle to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

Mr Burke said he had asked Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn
Fein leader Gerry Adams to raise the issue with Prime
Minister Tony Blair.

The Sinn Fein motion to request the return of the letter is
expected to be raised at a Dublin City Council meeting on

It states: "This Council calls on the Irish Government and
the Minister for Defence to request from the British
Government and the British Ministry of Defence, the hand-
written letter by Padraig Pearse, Commander in Chief of the
Irish Volunteers in Moore Street at Easter 1916.

"This letter should be preserved when returned, and placed
in archives or a museum as part of the collection of
historic 1916 artefacts."

Another surrender note written by Pearse from his Arbour
Hill cell fetched 700,000 euro (£483,000) at an auction in
Dublin last May. It was sold to an anonymous overseas

At that time, the National Heritage Council criticised the
Irish government for not trying to secure the document.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/09 10:58:40 GMT


Man Shot Twice In Leg In Loyalist Area Of Belfast

09/01/2006 - 07:42:32

A 20-year-old man is recovering this morning following a
paramilitary-style punishment shooting in south Belfast

The victim was shot twice in the leg shortly after 6pm.

The attack happened in the mainly loyalist Roden St area.


Did Republicans Spy On The Married Lives Of Political Enemies?

By Michael McHugh
09 January 2006

The SDLP last night launched a bitter attack on Sinn Fein
following reports that republicans may have been spying on
the state of their opponents' marriages.

SDLP deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell accused Sinn Fein of
sinking to the "lowest tactics" in gathering information
about people's marriages and private lives.

The broadside follows reports in a Sunday newspaper that
Sinn Fein politicians and employees sought details on
unionists during a year-long operation at Stormont.

Dr McDonnell said it was time for Sinn Fein to come clean
on who oversaw the secret probe.

"Spying and lying are profoundly damaging to the peace
process. They undermine trust," he said.

"You cannot run a successful partnership administration if
you are spying on your partners and lying about it to this

"It is time that Sinn Fein did the decent thing and told
the truth for a change - and admitted who the MLA was who
oversaw this spying."

Sources quoted in a Sunday newspaper yesterday suggested
that senior Sinn Fein members were aware of the spy ring
and were asked to gather intelligence on political

South Belfast MP Dr McDonnell added: "Sinn Fein told
nationalists that they did not do the Northern Bank. They

"They told nationalists that they were co-operating in the
investigation of the murder of Robert McCartney. They have

The row over Sinn Fein covert activity has been fuelled by
the decision to drop charges against the former head of
their Stormont administration, Denis Donaldson, and his
subsequent admission that he was working as a British
intelligence agent.

There have been widespread reports that a second Sinn Fein
mole with a higher public profile than Donaldson may soon
be unmasked.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "The allegations are based on
the same British anti-peace process sources.

"The evidence is that there was a spy ring being operated
by the British to bring down the political institutions."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last night urged the
political parties to move on from the Stormont spying
controversy to focus on restoring devolved government to
Northern Ireland.

"I think it would be helpful if we continue to try to
normalise society in the North where nobody is watching
anybody, where we have proper political parties, proper
policing procedures and that we all move on in that kind of
a vein," he said.

"To start checking who was spying on who, or if two spies
were spying on each other, or maybe three spies were spying
on each other, I'm afraid I would need to live to a very
old age to ever resolve the Northern Ireland peace


SF Denies Spying Into Private Lives Of Unionist MLAs

By Margaret Canning

SINN Fein has denied allegations that some of its members
spied into the private lives of unionists as part of a
campaign at Stormont.

Reports in a Dublin Sunday newspaper claimed that Sinn Fein
members were told to obtain information about extra-marital
affairs and other issues among unionist assembly members.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "It will come as no surprise to
people to see this story. It's coming from the usual
British sources and it's part of their fight-back after the
exposure of their role in bringing down the institutions
[of the Good Friday Agreement].

"There was no Sinn Fein spy-ring in Stormont.

"The only spy-ring was a British one, operated by [outed
agent] Denis Donald-son," he added.

According to reports in a Sunday newspaper, a Sinn Fein
member – and not Denis Donaldson as claimed in widespread
reports – ran a Sinn Fein spying campaign in Stormont
between 2001 and 2002.

As part of the campaign, other Sinn Fein members were
instructed to scrutinise members of the Ulster Union-ist
Party in Stormont for evidence of foibles from gambling to
extra-marital affairs.

According to the Sunday Tribune any information gleaned was
relayed to the assembly member in charge who liaised with
another Sinn Fein staff member.

The staff member then gave the details to the director of
intelligence at the party's general headquarters.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Tom Elliott said the
description of the work of the alleged spy-ring was
"typical Sinn Fein behaviour".

"The type of intelligence they were gathering was probably
much broader and on a much more detailed security level,"
he said.

SDLP deputy leader Alas-dair McDonnell MP accused Sinn Fein
of lying about the spy-ring saga.

"Spying and lying are profoundly damaging to the peace
process. They undermine trust," he said.

"Sinn Fein told nationalists that they did not do the
Northern Bank. They did.

"They told nationalists that they were cooperating in the
investigation of the murder

of Robert McCartney. They have not. Now their denials of
the Stormont spy-ring seem to be lies too."


Editor Embroiled In Informer Claims Again

By Maeve Connolly

SINN Fein has refused to comment on claims that a former
republican prisoner and managing editor of a daily
newspaper was a paid informer.

Sean Maguire, managing editor of Daily Ireland, was named
in a Sunday newspaper as one of four republicans visited by
police on Christmas Eve and day to warn them they were
about to be exposed as informers.

Last night Mr Maguire was said to be on holiday and
unavailable for comment while Mairtin O Muilleoir, managing
director of the Andersonstown News Group to which Daily
Ireland belongs, was also on holiday in the south of

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party did not wish to
comment on what he described as "tabloid newspaper

In 2003 the British army agent known as Kevin Fulton named
Mr Maguire as a paid informer.

Then editor of the North Belfast News, Mr Maguire described
the allegations as "complete rubbish" and "scurrilous" and
said they had put his family at risk.

"I'm a high-profile, soft target and because I have a
conviction perhaps these people feel safe doing this," he

He served eight years in prison for firearms offences in
the 1970s.


Loyalist On Money Laundering Charges

By Chrissie Russell

An alleged loyalist paramilitary appeared in court at the
weekend charged with laundering vast sums of money to buy
luxury items.

Lawrence Peter Chris John Kincaid of Cogry Hill in Doagh,
Co Antrim, appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court on
Saturday charged with 34 offences committed over the course
of two years.

The 33-year-old stands accused of laundering hundreds of
thousands of pounds from August 2003 to August 2005.

It was alleged Mr Kincaid used the proceeds to buy
property, a holiday in the Maldives, high-performance cars
and motorbikes and a diamond ring.

Mr Kincaid denied 24 charges of entering into an
arrangement to aquire criminal property and seven counts of
obtaining services by deception.

He faced two counts of perverting the course of justice and
one of obtaining money by deception.

A detective told the court he believed he could connect Mr
Kincaid to the charges and opposed bail on the grounds that
he believed the defendant was a member of a loyalist
paramilitary organisation.

"Police have information that other members of this group
may assist him to flee by providing financial assistance,"
the officer said.

However, under cross examination from a defence solictor,
the detective conceded that Mr Kincaid had "given
explanations" for having the money and the transactions and
had given an affidavit regarding the items seized.

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

Magistrate Ken Nixon released Mr Kincaid on his own bail of
£5,000 with a surety of £5,000 and ordered he surrender his

Mr Kincaid was ordered to sign at Ballyclare police station
three times a week and is due back in court on February 3.

The charges follow a probe by the PSNI's financial
investigation unit.

Six men are due in court tomorrow on charges of money
laundering and false accounting.


Attack On Ex-Councillor's House

Substantial damage has been caused to an ex-SDLP
councillor's home in a paint attack at Strabane in County

Three containers of paint were thrown at Anne Bell's house
in Knockavoe Crescent on the Ballycolman Estate.

Ms Bell is also a former member of Strabane District
Policing Partnership. Police made an appeal for

A neighbouring house was also damaged and a rear windscreen
was smashed in a car parked outside. The attack took place
at about 2000 GMT on Sunday.

Inspector Graham Dodds of Strabane PSNI condemned the

"Those responsible for this attack have nothing to offer
the community in Strabane," he said.

"This incident has caused great distress to the householder
and her family."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/09 10:10:21 GMT


McKeown: Christmas Arson Was 'Mass Murder Attempts'

By Anne Cadwallader

Portadown Sinn Féin councilor, Brian McKeown, said
Christmas morning arson attacks on several homes in the
town were "mass murder attempts." A number of Catholic
homes in were badly damaged.

The area where the fires occurred is next to an interface
with loyalist districts and yards away from where local
Catholic man, Francis Brown, was murdered several years ago
by a loyalist bomb.

"There is clearly no other way to describe the actions of
those responsible for putting flammable substances through
the letterboxes of homes in the early hours of Christmas
morning," said McKeown.

"People living in these homes had gone to bed on Christmas
Eve with the expectation of waking up to family and
religious celebrations on Christmas Day," he said.

"Instead they were cruelly awakened from their sleep in the
early hours of this morning to find their homes ablaze.
This entire community is in shock after these arson
attacks. It is extremely fortunate that no one was injured
or, worse still, murdered."

The Orange Order in Portadown had applied to the Parades
Commission for an Orange march along the nearby Garvaghy
Road at lunchtime on Christmas Day but were denied
permission to do so.

Meanwhile, the SDLP assembly member for Lagan Valley,
Patricia Lewsley, has condemned a hoax security alert,
which led to the abandonment of racing at Down Royal on
December 26.

"The people who phoned in this hoax have absolutely nothing
to offer anyone in Ireland. They have no political support
and no political program worthy of the name. Dissident
republicans can only make pathetic attempts to drag us back

"They have the potential to damage our tourism and take
jobs away from the people of the north, but that is all
they have. The decent people who want a decent future want
these people to leave them alone."

Meanwhile, the Sinn Féin MP for Mid Ulster, Martin
McGuinness, delivered the oration at the funeral of former
1981 IRA hunger striker, Matt Devlin, in Co. Tyrone.

"Matt Devlin was an inspirational figure," said McGuinness,
and a former IRA volunteer. "He spent two long periods in
prison, yet despite great personal hardships, including ill
heath, never gave up."

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


"Not Enough Being Done To Help Deprived Unionist Areas"

DUP Member of the European Parliament, Jim Allister QC has
claimed that not enough has been done to ensure that
working-class Unionist parts of Northern Ireland received
the maximum possible benefit from the European Peace
Programme. The DUP MEP was speaking on Monday morning (9
January) as he attended an event at the Scribbles Day
Nursery in Taughmonagh, South Belfast, which provides day
care for 39 children and has received financial support
under the auspices of the programme. Jim Allister said,

"I am delighted to be here today to acknowledge the great
work undertaken by all of the staff at the Scribbles Day
Nursery which is enabling many people who otherwise would
not be able to do so, to return to the employment market
and advance their career prospects. They are a true success
story from the Peace Programme. This has been money well
spent, because it gives a lasting economic benefit. Too
often money is wasted on transient froth and poured into
groups which have done little to deserve it, like ex-
prisoners or Irish language groups. But, here, a whole
community is being assisted in a worthwhile manner. I
trust that the future economic aspects of this programme in
Taughmonagh, for which funding has been sought, will be
made possible by the granting of that funding.

Regrettably positive stories like this are all too
infrequent when it comes to deprived Unionist parts of
Northern Ireland. The simple truth is that Unionist
communities such as Sandy Row in another part of South
Belfast, Kilcooley in Bangor and Langley Road in
Ballynahinch have been left behind by the Peace Programme.

I have stated many times that the success of this Peace II
Extension period of the programme will be judged by whether
or not the long-standing anti-Unionist imbalance in
distribution, which has existed up till now, is reversed.
I will continue to watch very closely all of the funding
announcements that will be made in the days ahead to see if
the Unionist community is getting a fair deal. I must say
from the limited number of funding announcements already
made under the Extension, I am not as encouraged as I hoped
I might have been that real change is underway.

It is clear there has been a huge upswing in the number of
applications from the Unionist community, but the test now
for the funding bodies is whether they can break the habits
of the past and reverse the hitherto under-funding of the
majority community."

In a significant move, the DUP MEP suggested that his
support for a further stage of the Peace Programme could
not be taken for granted.

"As I've made clear to SEUPB and others, my attitude to and
support for a PEACE III programme will be shaped by whether
balanced distribution is obtained under the current
Extension. I have no interest in perpetuating
discrimination against the unionist community."


Relatives Of Kingsmills Victims Offended By Tricolours

By Michael McHugh
09 January 2006

Republicans who erected Tricolours on land vacated by the
Army in south Armagh have been dubbed "ghoulish" by
victims' representatives commemorating the 30th anniversary
of the Kingsmills massacre.

UUP Armagh Assemblyman Danny Kennedy voiced his criticism
after republicans gathered on Saturday at a series of
former watchtower and Army installation points in the
border region to erect flags.

Relatives of the 10 men shot dead on their way home from
work gathered at Bessbrook, where nine of the deceased
lived, for an emotional service yesterday, hours after
republicans held their own ceremony.

Although organisers have denied any connection to
Kingsmills, Mr Kennedy said it would be seen as offensive
by those who had suffered.

"It is ghoulish timing and it is an indication that there
are those in society who are devoid of compassion for the
relatives of those who died at Kingsmills," he said.

"For an event like this to take place on the same weekend
that relatives are marking the 30th anniversary of their
loss is a disgrace."

The events held across south Armagh were organised by the
South Armagh Demilitarisation Committee and follows moves
by the Army to reduce its presence in the border area.

Sources associated with the committee said the criticism
was petty and insisted they did intend to offend victims.


Demon Drink In Irish Politics

By Maeve Connolly

NORTHERN Irish politicians can be sub divided in many ways
– along party lines, gender, age and even their attitudes
to alcohol.

In light of the resignation of Charles Kennedy as leader of
the Liberal Democrats after admitting he had a problem with
alcohol in the past, it's interesting to consider the
impact of the demon drink on Irish politics.

Irish political imbibers are plenty but so too are those
who are mindful of DUP leader Ian Paisley's warning that to
drink alcohol is to "sup the devil's buttermilk".

Ireland's unquenchable taste for alcohol is marvelled at
around the world yet on the island itself there is another
movement whose members abhor the abuse of alcohol and are
drawn from different branches of Christianity.

The Pioneer Society is strong among Catholics while the
Temperance Movement had support from Protestants.

Irish News columnist James Kelly has covered political
events in Ireland for 76 years. He said there had never
been an expose similar to that of Mr Kennedy who last week
acknowledged an alcohol problem.

The Presbyterian Temperance Movement, headed by the famous
Reverend TM Johnston in the 1930s, had "kept unionist
politicians – including well-known but secret drinkers –
ultra careful when on show", according to Mr Kelly.

"The bar at Stormont did moderately well, being open to
party members and the press but managed to keep out of the
news and away from the hawk eye of Johnston who once went
over the top about secret Sunday drinking, condemning the
hitherto peaceful town of Antrim as the 'Sodom and Gomorrah
of Ulster'," he said.

It might be 70 years since Rev Johnston made his
pronouncement but for some of the north's politicians his
words still ring true while others might raise a glass to
his memory.


Opin: Top Property Scam By Cops

Concubhar Ó Liathain

Be warned. Another great northern robbery is in the works,
I can exclusively reveal. You may have noticed reports in
this paper and in other media over the past few days about
a 'security slip-up' which meant that serving members of
the police were 'horrified' to discover that the source of
their monthly salary was named in their bank statement as
the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Never mind what it says about these public servants
attitude to their paymasters, ultimately, whether we like
it or not, us. The point is that this is the first salvo in
a new campaign to allow police officers take another step
up the property ladder.

Why? It's simple. Once the 'security threat' is aired in
public, the next step is obvious: these police officers
need to be relocated in homes of equivalent value and
prestige to their current abodes, now compromised by the
fact that their bank managers now know they work for the
police, not some shadowy civil service agency as presumed

This is notwithstanding that the IRA has decommissioned its
weapons and, more importantly, declared its future
activities will be entirely peaceful and consistent with
democratic society.

It also contains a fairly barbed insult to bank workers who
are as likely to give out your personal details to a
paramilitary organisation as your average DUP man is to don
a shamrock and join in the St Patrick's Day festivities
next March 17.

This is a modus operandi which has worked before, more than
once. It's amazingly successful at lightening the public

Following the Stormontgate raid by the PSNI which collapsed
the previous powersharing administration, it was claimed
that the personal details of hundreds if not thousands of
police and prison officers were found in the hands of a
republican – later revealed to be a British spy. On the
foot of those claims anything up to £100 million (€145
million) was spent on relocating these people.

At the same time, there's no record of any police or prison
officer being attacked as a result of this information
finding its way into the 'wrong hands'. But better be safe
than sorry I suppose, especially when someone else, ie you
and me, is paying.

The only time that any serious attacks were made on the
police in the past few years that I can recall involved the
attacks by Orangemen on the serried ranks of police
officers clad in riot uniforms. During the Whiterock riots,
live rounds were fired at the police and they were also
targeted by pipe bombers and sword-wielding Orangemen.
Given that the PSNI contains more Orangemen than, say,
grandsons of former IRA men who took part in the War of
Independence, it's fair to say that the only way these
officers can be truly safe is to leave the force entirely
and take up honest employment in the private sector or with
another less contentious arm of government.

There's no way that tax-payers should be expected to foot
the bill for scare stories such as those being retold with
relish by unionist politicians and police representatives.


Opin: Good Work If You Can Get It!

Nelson's Pillar

The fifth pay rise in six months! Not a bad position to be
in. This column knows better than most the long hours our
Taoiseach and his ministers put in to run this State.

It's not easy but they do it. And for his efforts the
Taoiseach has seen his salary increase by nearly €25,000 in
less than 12 months. That is more than many citizens earn
in a whole year! Bertie now earns a quarter of a million
euros a year. Mary Harney runs him a close second.

All the other ministers are on just less than €200,000.
Good work if you can get it. These pay rises are very
defensible. 'They are set by an independent body blah
blah'. 'Senior ministers have to be able to earn as much as
they would if they were in the private sector and so on and
so forth'. 'It's the senior civil service rate etc etc,'
Will Seán or Sinéad Citizen heed any of this. Not of this
column's random poll is accurate. The majority just thought
it was the politicians rewarding themselves yet again.

No good News for Mary

While her pay rise will no doubt have cheered the Tánaiste
up the rest of the holiday news was not good for Mary. The
Mater hospital project – the biggest and most expensive of
its kind ever undertaken by the state has suffered another
set back.

By now they should have been within weeks of cutting the
first sod, instead the €500 million hospital is back on the
long finger while it awaits another review – this time of
specialist pediatric services.

Five years ago the government gave approval for the Mater
project to go ahead. Now it has been hit by a further
delay. But then the cynics might argue that these delays
will allow the existing plans, to provide a new accident
and emergency department and outpatient unit at the Mater,
to find their way into the next election manifesto.

However before then Mary will have to sort out the hospital
consultants who have threatened to walk away from
negotiations scheduled for the end of January if the
Minister attempts to force them to accept a 'take-it-or-
leave-it' new contract.

And then there were the cancelled hospital operations – a
minimum of 20,000 by 30 hospitals last year. The reasons
for the cancellations were many and varied. It is a mixture
of a shortage of beds, staff, overbooking of hospital
theatres, poor organisation and in some instances patients
not turning up for operations. The consequences for
families who wait for months, sometimes years on operations
only to have them cancelled and rescheduled is depressing.

Much worse are those instances when the lack of resources,
proper procedures or incompetence have led to the death of
a patient.

Despite promises of significantly more money being thrown
at the health service in the last budget, money alone will
not solve this problem. That will require a holistic,
patient centred approach which removes inequality from
within the health system.

An approach Mary is unlikely to follow. Her focus is on
privatization. There is no good time to be sick. But 2006
will be a particularly bad year to be dependent on Mary's
health services. Unless of course your pay packet can match
that of a government minister.

Peace Camp anniversary

If you are in the vicinity why not join the vigil at 4pm
this evening at Shannon airport to mark the third year of
the peace camp established by anti-Iraq war activists.

Part of the event will include the showing of the
Margaretta D'Arcy film Big Plane Small Axe which records
the actions of Mary Kelly who 'disarmed' a US war plane at
Shannon in February three years ago.

Shannon has been in the news more recently because the
controversy over allegations that the US is using the
airport for part of its 'extraordinary rendition' programme
in which it moves prisoners to other countries where
interrogation tactics are less open to scrutiny.

Next step – Passport office in north?

One interesting statistic to emerge this week is the
considerable increase this year in the number of people in
the north receiving Irish passports - 36,000 people.

The Department of Foreign Affairs believes that there are
now over 200,000 people with Irish passports resident in
the north.

A remarkable achievement given the difficulty and expense
which is associated with applying from the six counties for
a passport. The steady and significant growth in passport
holders in the north is in no small measure down to the
availability of passport applications through some main
post offices there.

Originally some five post offices were being used. Now over
40 are availing of the Passport Express Service. The
Shinners in particular have been vocal in their demand for
greater ease of availability and service. With several
thousand additional new applications each year, word around
the corridors here is that there is now a growing demand
for the opening of a passport office in the north to
service this growing demand.

Labour The Sinn Féin Party?

There were a few wry smiles around these parts this week
when Comrade Pat used an interview in the Irish Times to
spell out an approach to taxing the 'high rollers'. His
script appears to be drawn almost word from word from the
Shinners current economic policy position.

There is something wrong he said "when the average
industrial wage was liable to tax at the top rate of 42 per
cent while some very rich people paid nothing". Of course
Comrade Pat was sticking to his stand on 12.5 per cent
corporation tax – a position he conceded to be 'unpopular
with our own constituency.'

The Shinners argue for an increase up to 17 per cent,
believing that the economy can handle it while drawing in
additional revenue for health, education and social

As Comrade Pat gets to the point where he has to spell out
his position on these matters this column cannot help but
wonder how he will get Enda and the FGers on board.


Opin: Why The SDLP Should Go To The House Of Lords

By Jim Dougal
09 January 2006

The New Year brought with it a shocking revelation. Hold
the front page, boys and girls. Tom Kelly, a former member
and continuing supporter of the SDLP, and presently a
member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board has joined
the Order of the British Empire. What an affront to
Republicanism and nationalism!

Sinn Fein thought it a disgrace. Now this is the party
which wants to restore a British power-sharing Assembly at
Stormont, albeit with some Irish connection, and whose
members have offices in the Westminster Houses of
Parliament and actually take British salaries.

The SDLP was a bit discommoded - some not sure what to say
- but their deputy leader, Dr Alasdair McDonnell had the
good sense and grace to congratulate Tom Kelly.

This was the right reaction. Tom Kelly made the right
decision. He says it was a personal one. Congratulations
and good luck to him.

Tom Kelly, OBE, worked closely in the past with two senior
members of the SDLP and former members of the House of
Commons. One - once the deputy leader of the party - is
Seamus Mallon, the other is Dr Joe Hendron.

Unfortunately not a lot has been heard from Mr Mallon since
he retired from Westminster, although Dr Hendron is now a
member of the newly-formed Northern Ireland Parades
Commission. Indeed we do not often hear from the former
party leader John Hume without whose work, it can be
argued, the peace process might not have survived.

Now, I am not a great supporter of the upper chamber in the
Westminster Houses of Parliament because it is not elected
but I have met and worked with some fine people who sat
there and worked in their archaic ermine robes.

The Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to shake up the Lords.
He wants some members to be elected and some to be

Whatever eventually happens, some members will always be
appointed. No Prime Minister will give up his right of
patronage. Friends, allies and benefactors can always be
accommodated. The problem with reform of the Lords is that
there is no consensus on the way ahead and it will be some
time before that point is reached, although Blair has
already managed to push out some of the hereditary peers.

I have no doubt that a nod in the right direction could see
Mr Hume, Mr Mallon or Dr Hendron being offered the ermine;
if not all three, then at least two.

The SDLP, whose reputation has been enhanced in the Commons
with leader Mark Durkan's handling of the so-called "on the
runs" legislation, could nearly double its representation
in the Houses of Parliament and with it, further experience
and certainly accomplished parliamentary operators.

The Government has been looking for someone with a
nationalist outlook to replace the late Lord Gerry Fitt.
For years he made good use of the voice his seat gave him.

The former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and some
members of Ian Paisley's DUP are expected to be elevated
soon. So why not the SDLP?

Following the Belfast Good Friday Agreement of 1998, I'm
not sure the old arguments against participation hold
water, even if they ever did. It's unelected, of course,
it's a British body, and the SDLP are nationalist and their
eventual aim is a united Ireland. But it seems to me that
the united Ireland bit will be a long time in coming and
the little matter of settling Northern Ireland has to be
sorted out.

There are, much at the SDLP's urging, new relationships
being established in these islands and the House of Lords
provides an opportunity, a platform and a sphere of
influence, which the party is unwise to ignore.

And after all, members of the SDLP have in the past
accepted appointment to the Irish Senate. Both Brid Rogers
and Seamus Mallon were appointees. They were not elected
but they contributed to the debates.

So, if we are in a new situation in these islands, where
the respect for difference and the traditions of others is
paramount, why leave out the House of Lords?

The SDLP sit in the House of Commons, and have sat in the
European Parliament, the Stormont Assembly, the British
Irish Parliamentary body and other inter-Parliamentary
institutions. They have worked with members of the Lords
who have been sent to Stormont as direct rule Ministers,
including currently Lord Rooker.

One senior member of the SDLP once said to me that it was a
pity they didn't call the Lords "Senators." So what's in a
name or a title? Well, in this case, just hundreds of years
of history and tradition.

In my opinion it is illogical that the Lords is taboo for
the SDLP. Recently the House of Lords has made life
difficult for the Government on a number of issues and can
still force a re-think in legislation. The "on the run"
legislation, for example, will be debated there as well.

It has always seemed to me that if Sinn Fein can sit in an
office in Westminster and use the facilities it is not a
very long step to find a leather bench in the Chamber.

For the SDLP, the step from the Commons to the Lords should
be a short and completely justifiable one.


Keano KO'd In Disastrous Debut

Celtic new boy finds there's nothing bonny about Clyde

By Ashleigh Wallace
09 January 2006

Roy Keane's much anticipated debut for Celtic Football Club
ended in disaster for the Glasgow team after they
spectacularly crashed out of the Tennents Scottish Cup.

The former Manchester United captain quit the Premiership
team in the middle of November and was snapped up by Celtic
one month later.

The Cork man strode onto the pitch at Broadwood wearing his
green jersey for the first time yesterday to rapturous
applause from the Hoops fans - but he failed to impress on
the pitch and had to endure a humiliating 2-1 loss at the
hands of First Division side Clyde.

Keano's best moment in the game came around 60 minutes into
the match when his probing diagonal ball found Aiden
McGeady who fluffed the shot.

Speaking after the unexpected win over the Scottish Premier
league leaders, Clyde manager Graham Roberts said: "We
absolutely annihilated them."

And asked on Sky Sports whether he thought his club's
victory had overshadowed Keane's debut, the Clyde boss
added: "I think we stole his thunder."

While the celebrations continued into the night for Clyde,
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan admitted his team's shock
defeat eclipsed Keane's eagerly awaited debut.

Defending Keane's lacklustre performance, the Celtic boss
said: "Roy did fine, but it is very hard to talk about Roy
and I think Roy would be as upset with me talking about him
as well, because we have a bigger picture than that."

Keane sensationally quit Premiership giants Manchester
United last November. He instantly became the most sought
after player in Europe but just one month after walking
away from Man Utd, Keane fulfilled a childhood dream of
playing for the Hoops by signing a deal with Celtic.


'Video Game Therapy' A Success Says Doctor

By Staff Reporter

Doctors at a Cork hospital are using video games to help
road accident victims overcome their driving fears.

Thousands of people are injured on the roads each year and
up to 15 per cent can develop what is known as accident

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

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

The almost photo-realistic personal computer driving
simulations have helped accident victims who would
previously have been physically sick while driving or
pulled in every time cars appeared in their rear mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unearthed Letter Describes San Francisco's Destruction


By Margaret Canning in Ballinagh, Co Cavan

An Irish witness to the devastation of the San Francisco
earthquake in 1906 wrote home to tell his family about the
human cost. Margaret Canning reports on how his letter, has
resurfaced 100 years later

AN OLD letter belonging to a Co Derry family which
illuminates one of the worst natural disasters in US
history has come to the attention of historians.

Ballymaguigan man Henry Walls wrote the letter and sent it
home from San Francisco in 1906 after the earthquake and
fire which killed thousands.

Mr Walls could not have imagined that 100 years later the
details of his letter would still elicit horror – and
invite unsettling comparisons with suffering in New Orleans
following Hurricane Katrina last year.

Curator of the San Francisco Museum Gladys Hansen – who has
spent 40 years gathering earthquake stories – said: "We
appreciate any stories that are forwarded to us.

"We collect them and choose which stories we should put on
our website so that other people can read them."

After growing up in Colehill, Ballymaguigan, on the western
shore of Lough Neagh, Mr Walls qualified as an engineer and
went to America in his mid-twenties.

He got a job with the American-Hawaiian Steam Ship Company
and his ship was docked in San Francisco when the
earthquake struck at 5.12am on April 18 1906.

Mr Walls died in the early 1920s at the age of 68, shortly
after he retired but before he could carry out his plans to
come home to be with his elderly mother. Although he was
buried in America, he is remembered on the family's
headstone in Newbridge cemetery.

His niece Elizabeth Keenan said: "He was a great man. His
work was his life."

But back in 1906 he described for his "dear mother and bro"
a city where death and havoc reigned.

The quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and was felt
from Oregon to Los Angeles and inland as far as central

Those who were lucky enough to survive acted quickly. Rich
and poor alike crammed their belongings into trunks which
they secured with rope and dragged along the broken
streets. Henry's letter recounts how 'Magill' and his wife
packed their baby into a trunk before losing both trunk and
baby. Happily, both turned up the next day.

The earthquake was also the first natural disaster to be
photographed in all its orgy of destruction. The
photographs conveyed the magnitude of what happened, as
digital cameras and mobile phone photographs have done for
the St Stephen's Day tsunami of 2004 and the July 7 terror
attacks in London.

Between 3,000 and 6,000 people died, though an exact figure
is not known. But believing that the true death toll would
hinder recovery in the city, the authorities said there
were only 478 reported deaths.

Fires which raged through the city after natural gas mains
were broken wrought more terror. Anxious homeowners even
torched their own properties when they realised that
insurance policies would not cover them for earthquake
damage alone.

Federal troops and police officers were instructed to shoot
looters on sight and Henry records that people praised the
US army for their efforts.

Asked if there was an official cover-up over the number of
lives lost, Ms Hansen said it had been difficult to account
for all the dead, particularly those who were trapped
underneath buildings.

And can the authorities learn anything from the experiences
of San Francisco?

"We in San Francisco hope we don't face that again. But
it's always out there for us," she said.

"A lot of cities aren't prepared for disaster and we've
seen that in New Orleans. But here, everybody is well
warned. We know our emergency escape and to keep at least
three days' worth of food, and how to turn off the
gas...and not to expect everything from the authorities."

For this year's centenary of the disaster, a monument to
the dead will be erected in Cypress Lawn cemetery in the


Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: Nothing But An Unfinished Song By Denis

Jan 9, 2006, 12:33 GMT

A moment-by-moment chronicle of the Irish revolutionary`s
political education in Gulag Belfast.

While sympathetic to Sands (1954–81), O`Hearn is frank
about the controversial, often violent IRA actions in which
the man participated. The biography`s main aim, writes
O`Hearn (Sociology/Queen`s College, Belfast), is 'to tell
who Bobby Sands was and how he related to and was shaped by
his time and place.' A product of the tumultuous `60s in
Ireland, the boy experienced the worst of the British
colonial occupation. His family was driven from their home,
and Sands was beaten and stabbed by Loyalist gangs simply
for being a Catholic. He enlisted as an IRA volunteer,
carrying out robberies that he justified as fundraising

By the time Sands entered the Belfast prison system, he was
one of the 'political animals' at the most committed end of
the spectrum of IRA detainees. Yet his ideas were still
unformed, and jail became the place where he could think
and read—everything from poetry to black humor, Che Guevara
to Franz Fanon—as he sought for ways to encourage
grassroots democracy and resistance to British rule. Jail
also became a theater for symbolic expression: IRA members
considered themselves political prisoners and would not
accede to any procedure that labeled them criminals. They
refused to wear prison clothing and resisted restrictions
on their right to associate or to receive visits from
friends and family. If it would force the authorities to
recognize their political status, they were willing to die,
and they did: Sands and nine others perished during a
hunger strike in Belfast`s dreaded H-Block cells.

The first to die, he became an international symbol of
resistance yet remained a cipher. Who was he, and how had
he come to give his life for the cause? Few knew, because
Sands was incarcerated for most of that short life;
O`Hearn`s account fills in many gaps.

Balanced, but in the end, it`s impossible not to be moved
by the conviction of Sands and his comrades.

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