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January 28, 2006

Text of Mary McAleese 1916 Speech

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SO 01/28/06 Full Text Of Mary McAleese 1916 Speech
BT 01/28/06 Bailsmen Lose £9,000 Ea After Garland Leaves
BB 01/28/06 Reiss Due To Meet Victim's Family
II 01/28/06 Gardai Probe IRA Links To Man's Murder
EX 01/28/06 Human Rights Workers Gather For Féile Bride
BT 01/28/06 The Long Fight For Family Justice
IA 01/28/06 Opin: Send In The Clowns
IA 01/28/06 Opin: Kickstarting The Peace Process
BT 01/28/06 All Hands On Deck To Restore Nomadic
BT 01/28/06 Grafton St Gets New Special Status
TC 01/28/06 Pope Invited To Co Kerry
BT 01/28/06 Bk: Threatened Belfast Pub & 'New' Binchy?
WT 01/28/06 Meet Your Clan

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Full Text Of Mary McAleese 1916 Speech

1916: commemorations north and south

Mary McAleese has entered a robust defence of the
commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, though she notes
that with anniversary of the Somme having a 90th
anniversary there is “the potential to be a pivotal year
for peace and reconciliation, to be a time of shared pride
for the divided grandchildren of those who died, whether at
Messines or in Kilmainham”. Mark Brennock reports on the
main themes (
political-change-is-occurring.html). Speech below.

President Mary McAleese:

HOW GLAD I AM that I was not the mother of adult children
in January 1916. Would my 20-year-old son and his friends
be among the tens of thousands in British uniform heading
for the Somme, or would they be among the few, training in
secret with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or with the
Irish Volunteers?

Would I, like so many mothers, bury my son this fateful
year in some army’s uniform, in a formidably unequal
country where I have no vote or voice, where many young men
are destined to be cannon fodder, and women widows? How
many times did those men and women wonder what the world
would be like in the longer run as a result of the
outworking of the chaos around them, this context we
struggle to comprehend these years later?

I am grateful that I and my children live in the longer
run; for while we could speculate endlessly about what life
might be like if the Rising had not happened, or if the
Great War had not been fought, we who live in these times
know and inhabit the world that revealed itself because
they happened.

April 1916, and the world is as big a mess as it is
possible to imagine.

The ancient monarchies, Austria, Russia and Germany, which
plunged Europe into war, are on the brink of violent
destruction. China is slipping into civil war. On the
Western Front, Verdun is taking a dreadful toll and, in the
east, Britain is only weeks away from its worst defeat in
history. It’s a fighting world where war is glorified and
death in uniform seen as the ultimate act of nobility, at
least for one’s own side.

And on the 24th of April, 1916, it was Easter Monday in
Dublin, the second city of the extensive British empire
which long included among its captured dominions the four
provinces of Ireland. At four minutes past noon, from the
steps of Dublin’s General Post Office, the president of the
provisional government, Patrick Pearse, read the
Proclamation of Independence.

The bald facts are well known and reasonably non-
contentious. Their analysis and interpretation have been
both continuous and controversial ever since. Even after 90
years, a discussion such as we are embarked upon here is
likely to provoke someone. But in a free and peaceful
democracy, where complex things get figured out through
public debate, that is as it should be.

With each passing year, post-Rising Ireland reveals itself,
and we who are of this strong independent and high-
achieving Ireland would do well to ponder the extent to
which today’s freedoms, values, ambitions and success rest
on that perilous and militarily doomed undertaking of nine
decades ago, and on the words of that Proclamation.

Clearly its fundamental idea was freedom, or in the words
of the Proclamation, “the right of the Irish people to the
ownership of Ireland”. But it was also a very radical
assertion of the kind of republic a liberated Ireland
should become: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil
liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its
citizens and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness
and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts
cherishing all of the children of the nation equally. . .”

It spoke of a parliament “representative of the whole
people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her
men and women"- this at a time when Westminster was still
refusing to concede the vote to women on the basis that to
do so would be to give in to terrorism.

To our 21st-century ears these words seem a good fit for
our modern democracy. Yet 90 years ago, even 40 years ago,
they seemed hopelessly naive, and their long-term
intellectual power was destined to be overlooked, as
interest was focused on the emotionally charged political
power of the Rising and the renewed nationalist fervour it

In the longer term the apparent naivety of the words of the
Proclamation has filled out into a widely shared political
philosophy of equality and social inclusion in tune with
the contemporary spirit of democracy, human rights,
equality and anti-

confessionalism. Read now in the light of the liberation of
women, the development of social partnership, the focus on
rights and equality, the ending of the special position of
the Catholic Church, to mention but a few, we see a much
more coherent, and wider-reaching, intellectual event than
may have previously been noted.

The kind of Ireland the heroes of the Rising aspired to was
based on an inclusivity that, famously, would “cherish all
the children of the nation equally - oblivious of the
differences which have divided a minority from the majority
in the past”.

That culture of inclusion is manifestly a strong
contemporary impulse working its way today through
relationships with the North, with unionists, with the
newcomers to our shores, with our marginalised, and with
our own increasing diversity.

For many years the social agenda of the Rising represented
an unrealisable aspiration, until now that is, when our
prosperity has created a real opportunity for ending
poverty and promoting true equality of opportunity for our
people and when those idealistic words have started to
become a lived reality and a determined ambition.

There is a tendency for powerful and pitiless elites to
dismiss with damning labels those who oppose them. That was
probably the source of the accusation that 1916 was an
exclusive and sectarian enterprise. It was never that,
though ironically it was an accurate description of what
the Rising opposed.

In 1916, Ireland was a small nation attempting to gain its
independence from one of Europe’s many powerful empires.

In the 19th century an English radical described the
occupation of India as a system of “outdoor relief” for the
younger sons of the upper classes. The administration of
Ireland was not very different, being carried on as a
process of continuous conversation around the fire in the
Kildare Street Club by past pupils of public schools. It
was no way to run a country, even without the glass ceiling
for Catholics.

Internationally, in 1916, Planet Earth was a world of
violent conflicts and armies. It was a world where
countries operated on the principle that the strong would
do what they wished and the weak would endure what they
must. There were few, if any, sophisticated mechanisms for
resolving territorial conflicts. Diplomacy existed to
regulate conflict, not to resolve it.

It was in that context that the leaders of the Rising saw
their investment in the assertion of Ireland’s nationhood.
They were not attempting to establish an isolated and
segregated territory of “ourselves alone”, as the phrase
“sinn féin” is so often mistranslated, but a free country
in which we ourselves could take responsibility for our own
destiny, a country that could stand up for itself, have its
own distinct perspective, pull itself up by its bootstraps,
and be counted with respect among the free nations of
Europe and the world.

A Google search for the phrase “narrow nationalism”
produces about 28,000 results. It is almost as though some
people cannot use the word “nationalism” without qualifying
it by the word “narrow”. But that does not make it correct.

I have a strong impression that to its enemies, both in
Ireland and abroad, Irish nationalism looked like a version
of the imperialism it opposed, a sort of “imperialism lite”
through which Ireland would attempt to be what the great
European powers were - the domination of one cultural and
ethnic tradition over others.It is easy to see how they
might have fallen into that mistaken view, but mistaken
they were.

Irish nationalism, from the start, was a multilateral
enterprise, attempting to escape the dominance of a single
class and, in our case a largely foreign class, into a
wider world.

Those who think of Irish nationalists as narrow miss, for
example, the membership many of them had of a universal
church which brought them into contact with a vastly wider
segment of the world than that open to even the most
travelled imperial English gentleman.

Many of the leaders had experience of the Americas, and in
particular of north America with its vibrant attachment to
liberty and democracy. Others of them were active
participants in the international working-class movements
of their day. Whatever you might think of those
involvements, they were universalist and global rather than
constricted and blinkered.

To the revolutionaries, the Rising looked as if it
represented a commitment to membership of the wider world.
For too long they had chafed at the narrow focus of a
unilateral empire which acted as it saw fit and resented
having to pay any attention to the needs of others.

In 1973 a free Irish Republic would show by joining the
European Union that membership of a union was never our
problem, but rather involuntary membership of a union in
which we had no say.

Those who are surprised by Ireland’s enthusiasm for the
European Union, and think of it as a repudiation of our
struggle for independence, fail to see Ireland’s historic
engagement with the European Continent and the Americas.

Arguably Ireland’s involvement in the British Commonwealth
up to the Dominion Conference of 1929 represents an attempt
to promote Ireland’s involvement with the wider world even
as it negotiated further independence from Britain.

Eamon de Valera’s support for the League of Nations, our
later commitment to the United Nations and our long pursuit
of membership of the Common Market are all of a piece with
our earlier engagements with Europe and the world which
were so often frustrated by our proximity to a strong
imperial power - a power which feared our autonomy, and
whose global imperialism ironically was experienced as
narrowing and restrictive to those who lived under it.

We now can see that promoting the European ideal dovetails
perfectly with the ideals of the men and women of 1916.

Paradoxically in the longer run, 1916 arguably set in
motion a calming of old conflicts with new concepts and
confidence which, as they mature and take shape, stand us
in good stead today.

Our relationship with Britain, despite the huge toll of the
Troubles, has changed utterly. In this, the year of the
90th anniversary of the Rising, the Irish and British
governments, co-equal sovereign colleagues in Europe, are
now working side by side as mutually respectful partners,
helping to develop a stable and peaceful future in Northern
Ireland based on the Good Friday agreement.

That agreement asserts equal rights and equal opportunities
for all Northern Ireland’s citizens. It ends for ever one
of the Rising’s most difficult legacies, the question of
how the people of this island look at partition.

The constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the
United Kingdom is accepted overwhelmingly by the electorate
North and South. That position can only be changed by the
electorate of Northern Ireland expressing its view
exclusively through the ballot-box.

The future could not be clearer. Both unionists and
nationalists have everything to gain from treating each
other with exemplary courtesy and generosity, for each has
a vision for the future to sell, and a coming generation,
more educated than any before, freer from conflict than any
before, more democratised and globalised than any before,
will have choices to make, and those choices will be

This year, the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, and of
the Somme, has the potential to be a pivotal year for peace
and reconciliation, to be a time of shared pride for the
divided grandchildren of those who died, whether at
Messines or in Kilmainham.

The climate has changed dramatically since last September’s
historic announcement of IRA decommissioning. As that new
reality sinks in, the people of Northern Ireland will see
the massive potential for their future, and that of their
children, that is theirs for the taking.

Casting my mind forward to 90 years from now, I have no way
of knowing what the longer term may hold, but I do know the
past we are determined to escape from and I know the
ambitions we have for that longer term.

To paraphrase the Proclamation, we are resolved to “pursue
the happiness and prosperity of the whole island”. We want
to consign inequality and poverty to history. We want to
live in peace. We want to be comfortable with, and
accommodating of, diversity. We want to become the best
friends, neighbours and partners we can be to the citizens
of Northern Ireland.

In the hearts of those who took part in the Rising, in what
was then an undivided Ireland, was an unshakeable belief
that, whatever our personal political or religious
perspectives, there was huge potential for an Ireland in
which loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist,
Catholic, Protestant, atheist, agnostic pulled together to
build a shared future, owned by one and all.

That’s a longer term to conjure with but, for now,
reflecting back on the sacrifices of the heroes of 1916 and
the gallingly unjust world that was their context, I look
at my own context and its threads of connection to theirs.

I am humbled, excited and grateful to live in one of the
world’s most respected, admired and successful democracies,
a country with an identifiably distinctive voice in Europe
and in the world, an Irish republic, a sovereign
independent state, to use the words of the Proclamation. We
are where freedom has brought us.

A tough journey but more than vindicated by our
contemporary context. Like every nation that had to wrench
its freedom from the reluctant grip of empire, we have our
idealistic and heroic founding fathers and mothers, our
Davids to their Goliaths.

That small band who proclaimed the Rising inhabited a sea
of death, an unspeakable time of the most profligate
worldwide waste of human life. Yet their deaths rise far
above the clamour - their voices insistent still.

Enjoy the conference and the rows it will surely rise.


Bailsmen Lose £9,000 Each After Garland Leaves Country

28 January 2006

A JUDGE has ruled that three bailsmen who secured the
release of fugitive Workers Party leader Sean Garland by
lodging £30,000 in court will have to pay up.

Mr Garland, the 71-year-old former Official IRA chief,
absconded after being freed on bail pending the US
government's move to have him extradited.

The bailsmen were ordered to forfeit £9,000 each by the
Recorder of Belfast, Judge Tom Burgess.

They are Dessie O'Hagan, a retired education officer for
the Workers Party, living in Downpatrick, John Lowry, the
WP secretary, and Roderick Hassan, a businessmen, both from

Mr Garland, who hails from Navan, Co Meath, was arrested in
Belfast last October on the eve of his party's annual
conference. He appeared the next day at Belfast Recorder's
Court and the US authorities applied for his extradition on
multi-million dollar counterfeiting charges.

The court was told that a US Grand Jury indictment handed
down last May alleged that Garland had engaged with others
since the early 1990s in buying, transporting and either
passing as genuine or re-selling large quantities of high
quality counterfeit $100 notes.

The Crown opposed Garland's release on bail claiming there
was a substantial risk that he would not come back to face
the extradition application.

But he was freed after providing an address in Co Down and
the three cash sureties.

The residence restriction was later lifted to allow him to
return to the Republic to receive medical treatment but
when his case came back to court in December he did not

A warrant has been issued for Garland's arrest. In the
meantime, the move to extradite him has been adjourned


Reiss Due To Meet Victim's Family

US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss is due
to meet the family of a Dublin man who was murdered in
April last year.

Joseph Rafferty's family blamed the killing on republicans
and claimed that Sinn Fein representatives in Dublin did
not do enough to prevent the murder.

Members of the Rafferty family are due to travel to the
United States next weekend to meet senior US politicians.

Mr Reiss said the case raised "a number of serious

"I think it raises all the issues that are of broader
concern to the community across Ireland, which has to do
with criminality and paramilitary violence on both sides of
the sectarian divide," Mr Reiss told BBC Radio Ulster.

"This terrible tragedy afflicted the Rafferty family and I
am interested in meeting with them when I am in Dublin."

Mr Reiss is also due to meet with the SDLP later on

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/28 09:27:14 GMT


Gardai Probe IRA Links To Man's Murder

Tom Brady
Security Editor

GARDAI have almost completed their investigation into the
controversial murder of Dublin man Joseph Rafferty last

The main suspect has links with the Provisional IRA,
although Sinn Fein has mounted a vigorous campaign to
distance the party from him because of the potential
political fall-out in the capital.

Two convicted IRA members were taken out of Portlaoise jail
for questioning by detectives about the murder.

Senior garda officers are currently putting the final
touches to the investigation and expect to send a file to
the Director of Public Prosecutions next month.

The DPP will then determine if criminal charges should be
brought as a result of the investigation.

The prime suspect, who is from Dublin's north inner city,
and his girlfriend were among six people who were arrested
last May and held for questioning.

He was detained again by detectives under the Offences
Against the State Act at Lucan garda station before
Christmas and fresh evidence in the case was put to him.

The man was believed by gardai to have been directly
involved with the IRA in the past and to have been on the
periphery of the terrorist organisation more recently.

But since the Rafferty murder he has been shunned by other
Provisionals, and republican activists insist he is not a
member of their movement.


Gardai are satisfied that there was no paramilitary motive
for the vicious murder and that the shooting was the result
of an escalation of a row that erupted at a 21st birthday
party among people from the city centre.

In the Seanad last year Justice Minister Michael McDowell
said the authorities believed the murder stemmed from a row
between the Raffertys and another family who included Sinn
Fein activists.


28/01/2006 - 1:30:34 PM

Human Rights Workers Gather For Féile Bride Conference

Human Rights workers from Africa, Ireland and America are
in Kildare today for the annual Féile Bride conference.

The event invites those who strive to protect human rights
to speak about the dangers and problems they face pursuing
their work.

This year's speakers include an ex-US soldier who served in
Iraq, peace campaigner Ed Horgan and NGO workers from
Nigeria and Darfur.

Mary Lawlor, of human rights group Frontline, said that the
issue of Ireland's alleged involvement in "Extraordinary
Rendition Flights" will be a major issue at the conference.


The Long Fight For Family Justice

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the death of Short
Strand father of two Robert McCartney. Crime Correspondent
Jonathan McCambridge charts the McCartney family's year-
long battle for justice and hears that their struggle to
bring his IRA killers to court is far from over

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
28 January 2006

PAULA McCartney sits in the living room of the new home in
south Belfast where she has lived for less than three
months. She is adamant that she did not leave the Short
Strand area where she grew up because of intimidation but
rather because she could not bear to see the people who
murdered her brother walking the streets.

One year on and the McCartney family are, by their own
admission, hoping for a miracle every day. One man has been
charged with and denies the murder of Robert McCartney.
However, his campaigning sisters - Paula, Donna, Catherine,
Claire and Gemma - know the names of 15 men who they
believe were directly involved. Their struggle to ensure
justice for their brother has brought them from the Short
Strand to the White House, European Parliament and Downing

Next week the sisters will return to the bar outside which
Robert was stabbed and beaten to death. It will be a
painful experience for them, but one they are determined to
endure to help police launch a new appeal. Police now
believe that a large blue car revved its engine in the area
where Robert was being assaulted.

While the exact sequence of events which occurred late on
January 30, 2005 in Magennis's Bar in Belfast City Centre
may seem unclear, Paula McCartney is able to describe what
she is convinced happened in microscopic detail.

Thirty-three-year-old Robert was drinking in a bar with his
friend Brendan Devine and they were watching a football
match on TV. Paula says Brendan Devine made a gesture at
the screen. There were a group of women who thought the
gesture was aimed at them. A row started in the bar between
Devine and a number of known republicans. During the fight
Brendan Devine has his throat cut. Robert McCartney tries
to get him out of the bar to phone a taxi. They are
followed outside on to Cromac Street. Both Brendan Devine
and Robert McCartney are beaten. Robert is stabbed and
fatally injured.

Paula recalls: "It was late on Sunday night. I was getting
ready for bed, I was already in my pyjamas. My son had been
babysitting for Robert and he phoned me up.

"When we arrived at hospital Robert was in theatre so we
could not see him. Later the doctors told us that he would
not make it. They told me I could go in but I did not want
to see him like that. Robert was a decent and loyal man.
His loyalty cost him his life because he would not leave
his friend."

Within hours of Robert's death his family had been told the
full version of what happened and who was involved. The
following day police arrested six men, including a senior
republican. They were later released without charge.

Paula said: "When we were told about what happened to
Robert we did not think there would be any problem with the
police. There was no mystery, everyone knew the names so we
just waited for the police to charge them.

"Then the police told us that there had been a forensic
clean-up of the crime scene before they had arrived. This
set alarm bells ringing but we were still hopeful. Then we
were told that people in the bar on the night had been told
not to say anything because this was an IRA operation; that
was when we realised there was something more sinister
going on.

"Even now the police have been told very little. They have
159 statements but most of them are very weak. There are 15
people who were directly involved in Robert's death. We
maintain that a senior IRA man gave the order that Robert
should be stabbed.

"His killing was not sanctioned by the IRA but it was one
of their men who gave the order and they closed ranks
around him. He used and abused his position."

Frustrated by the early lack of progress in the police
investigation, the McCartney sisters and Bridgeen Hagans,
the mother of Robert's two sons Conlaed and Brandon,
decided that they would go public as they battled for
justice. It was a decision which was to open them up to
global attention but also expose them to a sustained period
of intimidation.

Paula said: "At this point the family felt that something
just had to be done, we did not think about the
consequences or about what might happen to us. We had all
this information, what were we supposed to do - say

The McCartney family quickly found themselves the centre of
media attention, in demand for interviews across the world.
Their campaign for justice seriously embarrassed and
undermined the republican movement. Sinn Fein, which
suspended a number of party members who were in Magennis's
bar, was caught in the position of demanding that members
disclose what they knew but refusing to support the PSNI
investigation. As the McCartney campaign grew, an
embarrassed provisional movement offered to shoot the men
who had killed Robert, a gesture which was met with
ridicule. The ultimate blow for republicans occurred on St
Patrick's Day when the McCartney sisters met George Bush in
the White House but the Sinn Fein leadership was snubbed by
the US administration. The McCartneys also began raising
money for a possible civil court action.

Paula said: "It is all a bit of a blur now. We made contact
with the American Consulate and it was suggested we should
go to the White House.

"We were just trying to get justice for Robert but it was
like everyone else went mad and started shooting off in
different directions."

The cost of the high profile obtained by the sisters and
Bridgeen was a series of threats and attacks. Bridgeen had
the house where she lived with Robert's two sons pelted
with missiles. Paula was sent threatening letters and
newspaper clippings about Robert smeared with excrement.
Police told her of three separate death threats. Eventually
the whole family decided to leave the Short Strand area.
Paula was the last McCartney to leave, moving to a new home
in south Belfast in October.

She said: "We were too angry to be afraid. They had already
done the worst thing possible by taking Robert away from
us. I just kept thinking what is wrong with these people?

"I had already decided to leave the Short Strand. It was
not because of intimidation because I would not be
intimidated. It was because I saw these people on a daily
basis, they were people you had known all your life.
Leaving was not as hard as I thought because I was already
beyond disgust at the betrayal."

The first anniversary of Robert's death brings back painful
memories for the McCartneys, particularly Bridgeen and her
sons Conlaed and Brandon.

Paula said: "Christmas was horrific for Conlaed and
Brandon. Bridgeen was also very down and just could not
pick herself up. We all just wanted to get it over with.
But we have to look forward now, we are sitting every day
waiting for a miracle. We have to keep hoping and stay
positive that the breakthrough will come. We have gone too
far down this road to turn back now. The people who did
this to Robert are still walking the streets bragging about

"As well as the new police appeal on Tuesday we will be
going back to Robert and Bridgeen's home in the Short
Strand. We want to make it a day for them and will be
inviting all the people who knew him to call round.

"We will also be launching a new website in the next few
weeks so people can pass on information.

"There is also the civil action to consider, the planning
goes on for that. It would be nice to think we would not
need to go down that road but I think inevitably we will."

The impact of the McCartney's public campaign has been felt
by victims from both sides of the community in Northern
Ireland. It has encouraged other grieving families of
paramilitary murders, like Lisa Dorrian and Craig
McCausland, to refuse to be silent victims. The fear and
deference towards paramilitary control has been challenged
and diminished.

Paula said: "That is something which has surprised me. A
lot of people have come forward and told us that what we
did inspired them to speak up. I am glad that if we never
achieved anything else then at least we have given some
people the strength to demand justice for their loved ones.

"The police have done all they can. They gathered the
evidence that was available to them but people will not
come forward. I think the police are just as frustrated as
we are. I am just hoping that someone who has not slept for
a year because of what they know will decide to speak up.

"I don't believe people are as afraid today as they were a
year ago. I do not understand their fear anyway because the
information can be passed on anonymously. I do not believe
it is all about fear, I believe it is about loyalty too.

"After all this time and all we have done, I still can't
believe or accept Robert is dead.

"I do not know what it will take to make it register with


Opin: Send In The Clowns

By Niall O’Dowd

SEEMS that Radio Free Eireann, the dissident IRA radio
program in New York, had harsh words about this newspaper
and this columnist last Saturday. What a surprise!

For those of you who don’t know, Radio Free Eireann is run
by a couple of “Sunshine Soldiers,” John McDonagh and Sandy
Boyer, perfectly willing to be warriors in the war for a
united Ireland as long as they can do it from 3,000 miles
away and behind a microphone as against behind the wire.

How brave these characters might be under actual war
conditions would be a fascinating proposition. A few years
back I sat opposite Sandy on a Long Island Railroad train
and said hello to him. He bolted from the carriage like a
scared rabbit.

The week before last they had as a guest a former British
spy who claimed that Martin McGuinness was an informer. The
show usually operates at that level.

It is one of the ironies of the peace process that shows
such as theirs have currency with those securocrats and
others who seek to bring down the peace process in the

The good news is that the main criticism on last Saturday’s
show was coming from former Noraid honcho Martin Galvin,
who has dropped the phony Belfast accent he used to speak
in, reverting back to good old Bronx English.

In the old days Martin could rival Gerry Adams with his
“ayes” and his “whataboutyou” greetings. Why, he sounded
just like one of the lads from the Falls Road.

Seems like Galvin took great issue with our report on
Noraid in a recent issue, when we noted that the annual
Noraid dinner was not being held this year and that the
organization was restructuring to reflect the new political

Galvin saw this as a clear sign that this newspaper was
spreading misinformation and doing Sinn Fein’s bidding. But
Martin should really know better as he himself was the
original source of the story after first revealing all on
Radio Free Eireann.

Martin claimed on the show that he had knowledge of a
letter from “Ireland” stating that Sinn Fein was no longer
having anything to do with Noraid, and that money raised
here by the group was no longer to be sent to Ireland.

When questioned, however, by our reporter Sean O’Driscoll,
Martin could produce no such letter. The reason, of course,
was that it didn’t exist. In fact he even told O’Driscoll
who his source was, but that particular person specifically
did not back up his allegations.

So Martin can hardly blame us then for following up on the
story that he himself created, which makes it rich indeed
that we were supposedly the ones who set out to cause
humiliation for Noraid.

Along the way we mentioned that Galvin himself had been
forced into political oblivion because he tried to create a
split in Noraid and bring the organization along with the
dissident IRA — an effort that failed miserably.

Since then Martin might as well be living at the North Pole
for the amount of influence or impact he has. Obviously for
a man who worshipped self-promotion and publicity this is a
sad turn of events. Perhaps he is now seeking to make a
belated comeback as a third stringer on Radio Free Eireann.

He will have to get in line among the failed Greek chorus
of embittered former Sinn Fein supporters in America and
Ireland who turned against them because of the peace

Strange, isn’t it, that such people would prefer to
continue to see blood spilt than peace talks take place? It
is the kind of logic that is only explained by the fact
that it is most certainly not their blood or their
relatives who might be killed.

Radio Free Eireann has done its best to foment dissension
among Irish Americans about the peace process. The fact
that they have failed so utterly to do so must be a source
of great angst to them.

Maybe that is why they are now turning to some of the
fading lights such as Galvin to try and light the fire
again. Like everything else they do, however, this too is
doomed to failure.

Irish Americans have long moved beyond the era of clowns,
catchcalls and endless self-promotion. We should all be
glad of that.


Opin: Kickstarting The Peace Process

THE British and Irish governments have met this week to try
and kickstart the peace process negotiations again in an
effort to get the institutions back up and running.

It is an unenviable task that they face. After the IRA
decommissioned last year there was a brief surge of hope
that the negotiations could start up again with a specified

After all, the IRA had met the criteria established by the
decommissioning commission, and the Democratic Unionist
Party (DUP) had essentially agreed that if that was done
negotiations could recommence.

It was not to be of course, and since then we have had
several rounds of tiresome twaddle from the DUP as to why
they will not agree to negotiations with Sinn Fein. Far
from kicking into high gear the process seems stuck in
neutral, endlessly idling as time passes on.

The DUP may well be playing a long game, knowing that
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, very much the architect
from the British side of the peace process, will likely
leave power sometime in mid-2007 as he has promised.

The DUP have probably figured that his likely replacement,
Gordon Brown, will not be as energized or involved in the
process as Blair was. That seems a reasonable assumption,
especially as Brown has given very little indication of any
real interest in the North.

The DUP will also be awaiting the report of the
International Monitoring Commission on paramilitary
activity which is expected imminently. They would like
nothing more to point at even a scintilla of evidence that
the IRA is somehow involved in malfeasance.

Despite the fact that the IRA have decommissioned and that
paramilitary violence is at an historically low ebb, the
DUP and many peace process critics are hanging on for dear
life to any sign, no matter how small, that some activity
might still be occurring. It is a vain hope, but
nonetheless allows them to continue to vacillate.

It is also a sad reflection on Unionist political thinking
that the only policy appears to be a variation on the
“Paisley says no” mantra which has dominated their thinking
since the outset of the Troubles.

It appears there may be some members of Ian Paisley’s own
party who might be prepared to be flexible on issues
relating to negotiations, but they are unable to move as
long as the old bigot is still in place.

Of course, Sinn Fein could put further pressure on them if
they agreed to recommend that Nationalists join the new
police force, the PSNI. A recent speech by senior Sinn Fein
figure Gerry Kelly made clear that that is a definite
possibility, but by the time it happens it may have been
devalued by the continued stalemate.

Which is where the governments come in. There is right now
no effective lever on the DUP to come to the negotiating
table. It is up to the governments to provide one.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain has already stated in couched
terms that the endless funding from the British exchequer
for Northern Ireland cannot continue indefinitely. So far,
however, that seems to have made little impact on the
Unionist community well used to partaking of British

There is really only one way that pressure can be brought
for negotiations. It can only be done by implementing those
sections of the Good Friday Agreement which make clear that
a far wider range of cross-border and joint authority type
institutions will be set up if there is a refusal to

The two governments have the power to do this under the
agreement. It is only if the Paisleys of the world see that
the process will move on with or without them, that they
will move. The time for such action has arrived.


All Hands On Deck To Restore Nomadic

By Linda McKee
28 January 2006

ELECTRICIANS, plumbers, carpenters and welders - your ship
needs you.

The team that has campaigned tirelessly to save the SS
Nomadic from the scrapyard and bring her home to Belfast is
now seeking volunteers to help with restoration.

They have already received offers from former Harland &
Wolff workers keen to help with the task of revamping the
almost 100-year-old vessel.

Now the team behind the website is
appealing for anyone with skills in electrical engineering,
plumbing, carpentry, welding and metal work assist.

Cleaning contractors, painters, decorators and experts in
historical restoration are also needed to restore the ship
that carried first-class passengers to Titanic to her
former glory. Belfast Industrial Heritage, which
spearheaded the campaign to bring Nomadic home, says that
it will be holding a series of meetings over the next few
days to establish priorities and decide how best to
transport her.

Chairman Alan Crowe said he would be looking at getting
Nomadic registered as a maritime heritage vessel.

"This will have a direct bearing on levels and sources of
funding," he said.

"Belfast Industrial Heritage expects to be the lead agency
in taking this project forward and looks towards the day
when Nomadic will be an iconic visitor attraction for the
whole range of interests from the casual tourist to the
enthusiastic maritime historian. I also see a corporate
hospitality role for the ship," he said.

John White, project manager with the Save Nomadic campaign,
says he expects the 220-foot vessel will have to be
piggybacked by barge from Le Havre in Normandy.

John, who runs the Titanic exhibition at the City Hall each
year, said the aim is to open Nomadic to the public within
a few weeks of her arrival at Belfast docks.

"Subject to approval, we intend a permanent exhibition on
board of the collection.

"We will also show panelling, china and silverware, but
it's a little bit away yet," he said.

Alliance councillor Tom Ekin said a co-ordinating group
needs to be set up to get Nomadic to Belfast safely, have
her berthed safely at minimum cost, survey her to decide
how to make her reasonably authentic and come up with ideas
for making her marketable.

The group will also have to devise a funding package,
seeking potential sources such as maritime heritage
agencies, Harland and Wolff owners Fred Olsen, elected
representatives, the Harbour Commissioners, the developers
of Titanic Quarter and other corporate bodies, he said.

"Work in kind could be supplied by ex Harland & Wolff
people - apprentices etc. It needs imagination not
stagnation," he added.


Grafton St Gets New Special Status

28 January 2006

DUBLIN'S top shopping street is being given special status
to protect its heritage.

Grafton Street and its 24 listed buildings is now
officially an Architectural Conservation Area.

The status allows Dublin City Council authority to exert
greater control in the management of future development.

It can also draw up policies to specifically deal with
issues which affect its character.

It also means that all works to the main facades of
buildings be made subject to planning permission.

The highest standards of contemporary design be applied in
relation to all infill development, including new
shopfronts and name signs.

Improvements in the quality of areas which affect the
public, including paving, lighting and other street
furniture are prioritised. It will take about five months
to come into operation.

Leader of the Fine Gael group on the city council, Gerry
Bree,n said Grafton Street "has a long and rich history as
a destination for shopping going back to the early 17th

"Despite its strong physical character and economic
performance, a number of recent trends is detracting from
its attractiveness and threatening the long-term viability
of the street," he said. "These trends relate largely to
the increasing imbalance in the mix of uses in the street,
the deteriorating quality in the design of shopfronts and
the public domain, including the condition of street paving
and street furniture."


Pope Invited To Co Kerry

Posted on January 28, 2006

POPE Benedict XVI has been personally invited to visit
Ireland's Co Kerry and assured of a hearty 'cead mile
failte' if he accepts. Paidi O'Shea, a former Kerry
footballer and director of the Irish tourism promotion
agency Failte Ireland, extended the invitation to the
Pontiff when he met him in Rome during a brief meeting
arranged by a close friend who works in the Vatican. The
friend arranged for him and his 16-year old daughter Siun
to enter the inner sanctum of St Peter‚s Basilica in Rome
where the Pope greeted them personally. He said Pope
Benedict promised to watch the next All-Ireland Gaelic
football final next September. “Meeting the Pope was one of
the greatest occasions in my life and one I will forever
remember,” added Mr O'Shea.


Books: A Threatened Belfast Pub ... And The 'New' Binchy?

THE TAVERN ON MAPLE STREET by Sharon Owens, Poolbeg £10.99

By Deborah Dundas
28 January 2006

IT'S not every day a book by a Northern Ireland writer hits
the New York Times bestseller list. But Omagh-born Sharon
Owens made it big with the first in her Belfast trilogy,
The Tea House on Mulberry Street. Alas, the series has now
finished with the publication of The Tavern on Maple

As in her previous two (Mulberry Street was followed by The
Ballroom on Magnolia Street), a local social landmark is
caressed by the winds of change. The characters must adapt,
and the story centres on how they go about it.

This time the stage is a Victorian pub, nestled on one of
the few cobblestone streets still in the heart of Belfast.
The street is under threat by the impending construction of
a big shopping centre. A Dublin developer wants the
properties surrounding the pub and has made an offer most
of the neighbouringshopkeepers aren't refusing.

But pub owners Lily and Jack don't want to leave. They're
young - late 30s/early 40s - and over the past 20 years
they've created a cloistered life for themselves.

The choice was deliberate: Jack was almost killed in a
bombing in Belfast in 1984.

After this, Lily didn't want to be apart from him for a
second, realising that time can be cut very short.

This change, then, is shaking them out of, not a sense of
lethargy, but a sense of inertia. Much like Belfast itself.

And that's one of the refreshing things about Owens' books
- she is attempting to put a new mythological spin on
Belfast. That 1984 bombing is, more or less, the only
reference to the Troubles in the book. She is using Lily
and Jack's experience as a metaphor to say, alright, you
may, Belfast, have tried to keep your head down and sail
through the last few decades, but things are fast changing
around you, and you've got to keep up with the times.

The danger with that, of course, is losing all sense of
history. That, in part, is what Lily and Jack fear - and
what drives them to try to save the pub. They hire a bevy
of waitresses and musicians, modernising the pub and
attracting new clientele.

The ensuing sub-plots keep the narrative fast-paced.

There are some lovely bits of writing - mostly Owens'
sensitive and artistic eye finding beauty in quite ordinary
things; a piece of willow twig sculpture, for example,
leaning against the bathroom window.

Having said that, there were a few leaps of faith and
implausible plot twists that readers really have to
overlook if they're to maintain belief in the story.

In the end, everyone embraces the changes thrust upon them
in the way that works best for them, with everybody living,
apparently, happily ever after.

If it all sounds a little Maeve Binchy-esque, well, it is.
Since the semi-retirement of the Dublin writer a few years
ago, the race has been on for someone to fill her uniquely
Irish brand of best-selling novels. Owens is one of a few
writers who has been touted as the 'next' Maeve Binchy.

And there could be a worse fate than Belfast, or Northern
Ireland, becoming the next setting for a string of
international best sellers.


Inside the Beltway
By John McCaslin
January 27, 2006

Meet Your Clan

An Irishman doesn't visit Capitol Hill and not recall
the deep Irish roots of the late Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.

Such was the enchanting dialogue Wednesday night as
Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, former leader of the
Social Democratic and Labor Party of Northern Ireland, Mr.
O'Neill's daughter Rosemary O'Neill and Frank Duggan of the
Irish American Republicans remembered a particular visit to
Ireland by Mr. O'Neill, a former House speaker, three
decades ago.

"He lit up when I asked him about when Tip went to
Derry, Hume's home in Northern Ireland," Mr. Duggan says of
the conversation with Mr. Hume.

As Mr. Duggan tells the story, before Mr. O'Neill's
arrival in Ireland, "Hume had asked the speaker for the
names of some of his relatives, and then did a lot of
[genealogical] investigating. One day, while in Ireland,
Hume arranged a surprise trip without telling Tip their
destination and drove across the border to the town of
Buncrana in Donegal.

"Hume drove up to a house and said, 'This is your
great-grandmother's house, and these people are your
cousins.' Hume had contacted one Jimmy Fullerton, who
brought along a bunch more Fullertons. Apparently, it was
very moving and Tip was overwhelmed.

"Tip's daughter Rosemary told me tonight that she has a
picture of all of them standing in front of the house. She
said, 'They all looked alike, just like my father.' "

It was in 1904 that Thomas O'Neill, the late speaker's
father, married Rose Tolan, a Massachusetts dressmaker
whose mother was Eunice Fullerton Tolan, born in County
Donegal, Ireland.

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