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February 13, 2006

17 Yrs On Search Continues For Truth

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News About Ireland & The Irish

DI 02/13/06
17 Yrs On Family Continues Its Search For Truth
TO 02/13/06 Finucanes Meets Paisley To Plead For Inquiry
DI 02/13/06 Call For Collusion Summit
SF 02/13/06 Adams Launches Hunger Strike Comm Events
DI 02/13/06 British Torture Tactics Are Nothing New: Adams
EX 02/13/06 McCabe Widow And Sinn Féin Mayor Clash
IS 02/13/06 Northern Ireland Self-Rule Hopes In Disarray
DI 02/13/06 Opin: Gagging At Attack On Press Freedom
IT 02/14/06 Opin: Gains From North South Co-Operation
DI 02/13/06 Shoring Up Power By Creating Climate Of Fear
IT 02/14/06 Chinese Flavour To ‘PB Of The Western World'
IT 02/14/06 Original Words Of Natl Anthem May Fetch 1.2m
NB 02/13/06 2006 North Texas Irish Festival


17 Years On Family Continues Its Search For Truth

Cory probed the high-profile murder of Pat Finucane,
targeted simply because of his politics and clients, and
found sinister forces at the heart of the British system


Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of Pat Finucane’s
murder. Judge Peter Cory’s independent review of the murder
was published in April 2004. Based on his findings, Judge
Cory recommended a full public inquiry into the affair. The
British government promised to implement any
recommendations made by Judge Cory but has since reneged on
its commitment. It has claimed that a public inquiry cannot
be held for reasons of “national security”. Below we
publish verbatim edited extracts from Judge Cory’s 2004

The Murder
Events at Patrick Finucane’s home

1.15: On the evening of 12 February 1989, Patrick Finucane,
his wife Geraldine and their three children were having
dinner in the kitchen. Around 7.25pm Geraldine heard a
noise coming from the front door. Her husband jumped up
from the table and she jumped up behind him. He opened the
kitchen door and, as they both looked down the hall, she
saw one figure walking towards them. The intruder was
masked and she believed that he held a gun in his left
hand, although she was not sure about this. The man was
dressed in black and he seemed to be wearing black
gauntlets which covered his arms. He had a green combat
jacket which was tied at the waist. She didn’t see anyone

She moved behind her husband to hit the alarm button, which
was located behind the kitchen door. As she did that, she
could see her husband closing the kitchen door. Then the
shooting started and it was very fast at first.

She landed up against the dining-room door, her hands over
her head. She said there were more shots, very slow and

When the shots stopped, her husband was lying on the floor
on his back and the man had left. She went to the hall but
there was no one there. She had been shot in the ankle,
probably as a result of a ricocheting bullet. Despite her
wound and the trauma of this horrifying event, she had the
presence of mind to call for the police.

1.16: The autopsy report confirmed that Patrick Finucane
was a 39-year-old male. He had been shot six times in the
head, three times in the neck and three times in the torso.
Any of the wounds to the head, the neck, or the torso would
have been fatal.

The association of lawyers with their clients who were PIRA

1.256: Documents reveal the extent to which Special Branch
believed that solicitors representing members of PIRA were,
themselves, either members of the organisation or
“republican sympathisers”. […] It may be significant that
SB chose to maintain a personal file on Patrick Finucane,
who appears to have been a law-abiding citizen. The file
contained various documents, including source reports, news
clippings and correspondence.

What is most striking is that Patrick Finucane is
repeatedly identified as a “republican sympathiser”; “an
extreme republican sympathiser [who] represents PIRA
members who face terrorist charges”; and an individual who
“comes from a staunchly republican family”.

These descriptions permeate the file, and are seen on
documents dating back to 1979. The file records various
activities that were legitimately undertaken by Patrick
Finucane in his capacity as a citizen, a lawyer and a
supporter of human rights. He is implicitly criticised for
taking a “keen interest in the welfare of PIRA prisoners”
during the hunger strikes, and for being a member of
organisations such as the Northern Ireland Civil Rights

1.257: The attitude of Special Branch toward the work of
solicitors in general, and Patrick Finucane in particular,
is also evident in the briefing given to MP Douglas Hogg.
This led to his comments in the House of Commons on 17
January 1989. He then spoke opposing a proposed amendment
to a bill which would allow solicitors access to
information concerning terrorist investigations in certain
limited circumstances. During the debates, Mr Hogg, relying
upon the briefing he had received from SB, asserted: “I
have to state as a fact, but with great regret, that there
are in Northern Ireland a number of solicitors who are
unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA…”

1.258: In statements made some years later, Mr Hogg
indicated that his comments in the House had been based on
advice received from senior police officials, including a
briefing by the Special Branch in November 1988.

This briefing was attended by the chief constable and
deputy chief constable of the RUC, as well as other senior

According to Mr Hogg, the message conveyed was that there
were a half dozen or so solicitors who were “effectively in
the pockets of terrorists” and that such solicitors were
“defending the organisation rather than the individual”.

1.259: When Mr Hogg asked for a concrete example, Special
Branch sent him documents identifying Patrick Finucane. […]

Obstructions placed in the path of the Stevens inquiries:
Whether they reveal an attitude and course of conduct that
should be taken into account in determining whether they
were acts of collusions.

1.269: I have reviewed a document which would appear to
lend strong support to the allegation that RUC SB and FRU
[Force Research Unit] consciously set out to withhold
pertinent information from the Stevens inquiries. It sets
out the minutes of various meetings attended by senior
officials, including the former GOC NI (general officer
commanding, Northern Ireland). This document confirms that
the GOC NI had discussed the Stevens inquiry with the chief
constable of the RUC before the inquiry team even arrived
in the province. The document states that: “The CC [chief
constable] had decided that the Stevens inquiry would have
no access to intelligence documents or information, nor the
units supplying them” […]

1.270: The wilful concealment of pertinent evidence, and
the failure to co-operate with the Stevens inquiry, can be
seen as further evidence of the unfortunate attitude that
then persisted within RUC SB and FRU — namely, that they
were not bound by the law and were above and beyond its

These documents reveal that government agencies (the army
and RUC) were prepared to participate jointly in collusive
acts in order to protect their perceived interests.
Ultimately the relevance and significance of this matter
should be left for the consideration of those who may be
called upon to preside at a public inquiry.

Summary of collusive acts.

i. FRU

1.283: The following matters are relevant in considering
whether FRU engaged in collusive acts:

a. Did FRU have advance knowledge that Patrick Finucane was
being targeted by the UDA [Ulster Defence Association]?

1.284: The documents clearly raise questions as to whether
or not FRU knew, in advance, that the UDA was planning to
target and kill Patrick Finucane. There are conflicts in
the documentary evidence that can only be resolved at a
public hearing. […]

1.285: If [Brian] Nelson is correct in stating that he told
his handlers that Patrick Finucane was a target, and no
steps were taken by FRU to either warn Patrick Finucane or
otherwise intervene, then that would be capable of
constituting a collusive act. This follows, as it would
mean that FRU had turned a blind eye to the threat against
Patrick Finucane, notwithstanding that the information came
from someone that they considered to be an outstanding
agent. Only a public inquiry can determine whether this
occurred. The evidence I have seen warrants the holding of
a public inquiry on this issue.

b. Passing of information to Nelson by handlers

1.286: The CFs [contact forms] and TCFs [telephone contact
forms] – the records kept in the usual and ordinary course
of the business of FRU – leave little doubt that, on
occasion, handlers provided information to Nelson that
facilitated his targeting activities. While there is no
indication that handlers provided information that
specifically pertained to Patrick Finucane, this breach of
policy is significant, as it demonstrates a general pattern
of behaviour on the part of Nelson’s handlers that could be
considered collusive. They were aware that Nelson was a
central player within the UDA and that he had considerable
influence in directing targeting operations.

They were also aware that Nelson often played a direct and
active role in reconnaissance missions. The provision of
information to Nelson in these circumstances may be seen as
evidence of collusive behaviour that had the potential to
facilitate the deadly operations planned by the UDA.

c. Failure to restrain Nelson’s criminal activities

1.287: There can be no doubt that Nelson, by his own
admission, committed criminal acts. He entered pleas of
guilty to 20 terrorist-related crimes, including five
separate instances of conspiracy to murder. Even more
importantly, the CFs and TCFs reveal that the army handlers
were aware, or at the very least, most certainly ought to
have been aware, of the criminal acts of Nelson. Little or
no effort was taken to prohibit or discourage Nelson from
committing criminal acts. It is apparent from some of the
CFs that the handlers were more concerned with Nelson’s
security, and avoiding police detection, than they were
with stopping his criminal activity. The documents I have
examined disclose that army handlers and their superiors
turned a blind eye to the criminal acts of Nelson. In doing
this, they established a pattern of behaviour that could be
characterised as collusive.

d. Evidence given at

Nelson’s trial

1.288: The evidence given by the CO [commanding officer]
FRU, (Soldier “J”) at Nelson’s trial could only be
described as misleading. The statement that Nelson’s
actions were responsible for saving close to 217 lives was
based on a highly dubious numerical analysis that cannot be
supported on any basis. The troubling evidence given at
Nelson’s trial, coupled with FRU’s knowledge of his
criminal activities, is part of the cumulative picture that
should be examined in determining whether FRU acted
collusively in the murder of Patrick Finucane.

e. FRU collusion

1.289: The documents either in themselves or taken
cumulatively can be taken to indicate that FRU committed
acts of collusion. Further, there is strong if, in some
instances, conflicting documentary evidence that FRU
committed collusive acts. Only a public inquiry can resolve
the conflict.

ii. The security service

1.290: Much of the work of the security service is not
relevant to my inquiry. However, the agent operations that
the security service ran in Northern Ireland did give rise
to conduct that appears to fall within the definition of

a. In 1981, the security service was aware that the UDA had
plans to kill Patrick Finucane and that the threat was both
very real and very imminent. After consultation with
security service officers from the Joint Security
Service/SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] section present,
RUC SB decided to take no steps to intervene or halt the

b. In 1985, the security service was aware that a leading
loyalist paramilitary considered Patrick Finucane to be a
priority target.

c. In December 1988, just seven weeks before the murder,
the security service received information from an agent
that there were plans afoot to kill various targets, and
that the UDA had singled out Patrick Finucane for special
attention. Once again, no action was taken to warn Patrick
Finucane or to intervene in any way.

1.291: The apparent failure of the security service to
suggest to RUC SB that action should be taken on these
threats might, itself, be capable of constituting collusive
action. At the very least, these matters add to the
cumulative pattern of conduct demonstrated by the relevant
government agencies and should be considered in the context
of a public inquiry.

iii. RUC Special Branch

1.292: In my view, the following conduct of the RUC SB is
directly relevant to the question of collusion:

a. Failure to act on known threats

In 1981, no action had been taken in connection with a
direct threat against Patrick Finucane. Rather, the
protection of agent security was seen as more important
than saving the life of a person who faced a serious and
imminent threat. Similarly through its agent William
Stobie, RUC SB was aware that, just five days before the
Finucane murder, a top UDA official had asked Stobie to
provide a nine-millimetre Browning pistol for a “hit on a
top PIRA man”. This information was not apparently pursued.

b. Failure to follow up on the Browning pistol

Just three days after the murder, Stobie reported that he
had been asked by the same UDA official to pick up and hide
a nine-millimetre Browning. No steps were taken to recover
or trace this weapon, although there was every reason to
believe that it was the firearm used to kill Patrick
Finucane. The failure to act on information received in
1989, both before and after the Finucane murder, is
indicative of collusion and should be the subject of
inquiry at a public hearing.

c. The intelligence and threats books

As a general rule, the intelligence and threats books
reveal that RUC SB failed to record or act upon
intelligence information coming from FRU. Similarly, they
indicate that SB rarely took any steps to document threats
or prevent attacks by the UDA, whereas proactive steps were
routinely taken in connection with PIRA and other
republican threats. The failure to issue warnings to
persons targeted by the UDA often led to tragic
consequences. This is indicative of attitudes within RUC
SB. It also constitutes a pattern of conduct that could be
equated with collusive behaviour.


Finucane Family Meets Paisley To Plead For Inquiry

By Times Online and PA News
Patrick Finucane

The family of the murdered Catholic solicitor Patrick
Finucane today held a first-ever meeting with the Rev Ian
Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

They hope to get his help in their campaign to force the
Government to drop plans to hold a public inquiry into Mr
Finucane’s murder under the controversial Inquiries Act
which was rushed through Parliament last year.

The Finucane family, and many human rights campaigners,
believe that the Act gives the Government powers to
withhold sensitive information and to censor a final
inquiry report before publication.

Mr Finucane’s widow, Geraldine, speaking after an hour-long
meeting at Stormont, said: "We had a very good meeting with
Dr Paisley. It was very open and he made it very clear that
he was there to hear what we had to say. Indeed we
discovered by the end of the meeting that we had a lot in

Mrs Finucane declined to say whether the DUP leader was
ready to back her against Government, and said he would be
making no comment himself at the moment.

However, Mrs Finucane, who has been meeting political and
Church leaders in Belfast, London and Dublin in recent
weeks, said: "I certainly would not be having a meeting
with anyone unless I thought they could help."

The meeting took place the day after the 17th anniversary
of the murder of Mr Finucane. A solicitor who defended
several high profile republicans, he was shot dead in front
of his family by loyalist gunmen at his north Belfast home.
Some element of collusion by the security forces in the
killing has long been suspected.

A public inquiry into the Finucane murder and several other
killings - those of Robert Hamill, from Portadown, Rosemary
Nelson, a solicitor from Co Armagh, and Billy Wright, the
LVF leader - was recommended in 2004 by Canadian judge
Peter Cory, after an inquiry into murders where there were
claims of collusion.

An interim police report by the former Scotland Yard
Commissioner Sir John Stevens found that the security
forces had colluded in Mr Finucane’s murder.

Mrs Finucane and her sons, Michael and John, have long
campaigned for a full public inquiry, but have told the
Government that they will not co-operate with the probe if
it is set up under the terms of the Inquiries Act.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, told them
recently that it was an inquiry under the Act or nothing.

Despite Mr Hain’s hard line, the family continues in its
campaign for an inquiry which they say would be more likely
to uncover the truth. Judge Cory, Lord Saville, who
conducted the Bloody Sunday inquiry, and Bertie Ahern, the
Irish Premier, both support their cause.

David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent of The Times, said
that the meeting was clearly a reflection of the fact that
the DUP was now the main unionist party. "If and when the
power-sharing executive is restored, the Rev Ian Paisley
would be First Minister, so from the Finucanes' point of
view, it's right that they would share with him their
concerns," Sharrock said.

He added: "The DUP have so far reserved their position on
this issue of the Inquiries Act - today was just a
listening exercise - but I don't think anyone would be
surprised if they ended up backing Peter Hain's position."


Call For Collusion Summit

By Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has accused the
Irish government of having “weakened its own authority” to
challenge the British government over alleged cases of

He demanded a special summit between the two governments to
address the issue of British state collusion.

Mr Ó Caoláin said Bertie Ahern’s administration had been
more concerned with bashing republicans for electoral
reasons rather than holding the British government to

The Cavan and Monaghan TD was addressing Sinn Féin’s Six-
County annual general meeting on Saturday. He said the
Irish government’s role in multiparty negotiations “has
fallen far short of what is required”.

“All this must change. The Irish government must face up to
its responsibility. It is not good enough, for example, for
Bertie Ahern simply to state, as he did during the week,
that he does not expect that the British government will
change its mind on the Pat Finucane inquiry.

“The Taoiseach should be going to Downing Street
specifically to demand an end to the securocrat veto on the
truth about collusion. He should demand a special summit
with Tony Blair devoted exclusively to this subject. It is
not just another item on the agenda,” he said.

“These are the same securocrats who have thwarted efforts
to find the truth about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of
1974 which claimed 33 lives or any of the instances of
collusion or direct British attacks in the 26 Counties
which claimed 47 lives in all.

“If the securocrats are not faced down on collusion, how
can they be faced down over their obstruction of the peace
process in general?

“The Dáil has actually voted in support of a full inquiry
into the Pat Finucane murder, yet the British government,
at the behest of military and intelligence forces, is still
stonewalling on the issue.”

Mr Ó Caoláin said justice minister Michael McDowell was
using “21st-century McCarthyism” during recent attacks on
republicans. The Sinn Féin TD said his party was the “only
real alternative” to the Fianna Fáil and Progressive
Democrat coalition.

“The pressure of public opinion must be brought to bear on
the Irish government, especially from within the 26
Counties. This is why it is vital that the political
strength of Sinn Féin is increased on a national basis,” he

“This is a government which has been in office during the
most prosperous period economically in the history of the
26-County state but which presides over one of the most
unequal societies in Europe.

“A report issued this week confirms that the top 20 per
cent of wage earners in the 26 Counties earn 12 times more
than the lowest 20 per cent. One in seven children live in
poverty. Our two-tier public-private health service is
grossly inequitable and limps from crisis to crisis. On
this small island, lavish wealth lives side by side with
avoidable poverty.”

The TD said Sinn Féin would consider entering a coalition
government after the next election only “if we believe that
such an arrangement would advance our agenda, including
Irish reunification and our social and economic policy

“It will be decided by the party membership at a special
Ard-Fheis, if and when the need arises. But we will have no
options to consider if we do not first of all increase our
political strength and that means at least doubling the
number of Sinn Féin TDs in Leinster House in the general
election, which could come at any time in the next 17
months,” he said.


Gerry Adams Launches Hunger Strike Commemoration Events

Published: 13 February, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP was today joined by
families of the 1981 Hunger Strikers and former political
prisoners at the launch of a year long series of events to
mark the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger Strike.

The event in the Europa Hotel in Belfast was also addressed
by Oliver Hughes (The Brother of IRA Hunger Striker Francis
Hughes) and former prisoners Martina Anderson and Seando

In the course of his address Mr Adams said:

"The prison protests of the late 1970s and early 1980s and
in particular the Hunger Strike of 1981 were watershed
moments in Irish history. It does not seem like 25 years
ago when 10 republican prisoners lost their lives when
faced with an intransigent British government in London and
an Irish government in Dublin more interested in self
interest than seeking a resolution to the situation in the
H-Blocks and Armagh prison.

"The forthcoming year will provide an opportunity to
reflect upon the ten men who died, the contribution they
made and the sacrifices made by their families during the
summer of 1981. These events must also be about more than
looking back. They must also be about looking to the
future, exploring how best we move our struggle forward in
the coming years and how best we complete the job of
delivering Irish unity and independence.

"The commemorative calendar will also allow a new
generation of Irish people who weren't even born in 1981 to
learn about the time and participate in mapping out the
future. My generation of Irish republicans will never
forget those terrible months from March to October when ten
men died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and over 50 others
died on our streets, but in marking the 25th Anniversary of
the Hunger Strike we have an opportunity to celebrate their
lives, remember their sacrifice and rededicate ourselves to
advancing the struggle in the time." ENDS


British Army Torture Tactics Are Nothing New, Says Adams

Sinn Fe?in leader Gerry Adams was not surprised by reports
of abuse in occupied Iraq. Here he tells the story of his
own suffering at the hands of the British army.

NEWS OF the illtreatment of prisoners in Iraq created no
great surprise in republican Ireland. We have seen and
heard it all before. Some of us have even survived that
type of treatment. Suggestions that the brutality in Iraq
was meted out by a few miscreants aren’t even seriously
entertained here. We have seenand heard all that before as
well. But our experience is that, while individuals may
bring a particular impact to their work, they do so within
interrogative practices authorised by their superiors.

For example, the interrogation techniques which were used
following the internment swoops in the north of Ireland in
1971 were taught to the RUC by British military officers.
Someone authorised this.

The first internment swoops, 'Operation Demetrius', saw
hundreds of people systematically beaten andforced to run
the gauntlet of war dogs, batons and boots. Some were
stripped naked and had black hessian bags placed over their
heads. These bags kept out all light and extended down over
the head to the shoulders.

As the men stood spread–eagled against the wall, their legs
were kicked out from under them. They werebeaten with
batons and fists on the testicles and kidneys and kicked
between the legs. Radiators and electric fires were placed
under them as they were stretched over benches. Arms were
twisted, fingers were twisted, ribs were pummelled, objects
wereshoved up the anus, they were burned with matches and
treated togames of Russian roulette. Some of them were
taken up inhelicopters and flung out, thinking that they
were high in the sky when they were only five or six feet
off the ground. All the time they were hooded, handcuffed
and subjected to a high–pitched unrelenting noise. This was
later described as extra–sensory deprivation. It went onfor

During this process some of them were photographed in the
nude. And although these cases ended up in Europe, and the
British government paid thousands in compensation, it
didn’t stop the torture and ill–treatment of detainees. It
just made the British government and its military and
intelligence agencies more careful about how they carried
it out and ensured that they changed the laws to protect
the torturers and make it verydifficult to expose the

I have been arrested a few times and interrogated on each
occasion by a mixture of RUC or British army personnel. The
first time was in Palace Barracks in 1972. I was placed in
a cubicle ina barracks–style wooden hut and made to face a
wall of boards with holes in it, which had the effect of
inducing images, shapes and shadows. There were other
detainees in the rest of the cubicles. Though I didn’t see
them I could hear the screaming and shouting. I presumed
they got the same treatment as me, punches to the back of
the head, ears, small of the back, between the legs. From
this room, over a period of days, I was taken back and
forth to interrogation rooms.

On these journeys my captors went to very elaborate lengths
to make sure that I saw nobody and that no one saw me. I
was literally bounced off walls and into doorways. Once I
was told I had to be fingerprinted, and when my hands were
forcibly outstretched over a table, a screaming, shouting
and apparently deranged man in a blood–stained apron came
at me armed with a hatchet.

Another time my captors tried to administer what they
called a truth drug. Once a berserk man came into the room
yelling and shouting. He pulled a gun and made as if he was
trying to shoot at me while others restrained him. In
between these episodes I was put up against a wall, spread–
eagled and beaten soundly around the kidneys and up between
the legs, on my back and on the backs of my legs. The
beating was systematic and quite clinical. There was no
anger in it.

During my days in Palace Barracks I tried to make a formal
complaint about my ill–treatment. My interrogators ignored
this and the uniformed RUC officers also ignored my demand
when I was handed over to them. Eventually, however, I was
permitted to make a formal complaint before leaving. But
when I was taken to fill out a form I was confronted by a
number of large baton–wielding redcaps who sought to
dissuade me from complaining.

I knew I was leaving so I ignored them and filled in the
form. Some years later I was arrested again, this time with
some friends. We were taken to a local RUC barracks on the
Springfield Road. There I was taken into a cell and beaten
for what seemed to be an endless time. All the people who
beat me were in plain clothes. They had English accents.

After the first initial flurry, which I resisted briefly,
the beating became a dogged punching and kicking match with
me as the punch bag. I was forced into the search position,
palms against the walls, body at an acute angle, legs well
spread. They beat me systematically. I fell to the ground.
Buckets of water were flung over me. I was stripped naked.
Once I was aroused from unconsciousness by a British army
doctor. He seemed concerned about damage to my kidneys.
After he examined me he left and the beatings began again.

At one point a plastic bucket was placed over my head. I
was left in the company of two uniformed British soldiers.
I could see their camouflage trousers and heavy boots from
beneath the rim of the bucket. One of them stubbed his
cigarette out on my wrist. His mate rebuked him.

When the interrogators returned they were in a totally
different mood and very friendly. I was given my clothes
back, parts of them still damp. One of them even combed my
hair. I could barely walk upright and I was very badly

In the barrack yard I was reunited with my friends and
photographs were taken of us with our arresting party. For
a short time other British soldiers, individually and in
groups, posed beside us. Someone even videoed the
proceedings. We were to learn from all the banter that
there was a bounty for the soldiers who captured us.
According to them we were on an ‘A’list, that is to be shot
on sight.

The various regiments kept abook which had accumulated
considerable booty for whoever succeeded in apprehending
us, dead or alive. From the craic in the barracks yard it
was obvious that the lucky ones had won a considerable

So for some time we were photographed in the company of
young, noisy, exuberant squaddies. I’m sure we were not a
pretty sight. I’m also sure that they were grinning as much
as the soldiers in the photographs we have all seen
recently. Our photos were never published, but somewhere,
in some regimental museum or in the top of somebody’s
wardrobe or in the bottom of a drawer, there are
photographs of me and my friends and our captors. To the
victor, the spoils. Comments made by former UUPMP, Jeffrey
Donaldson have fuelled speculation that the DUPis confident
of taking the Upper Bann seat of Ulster Unionist leader
David Trimble. Speaking on July 1, Mr Donaldson claimed
that the embattled UUP chief’s seat was vulnerable to a
high–profile DUP campaign. Mr Trimble holds the seat with a
majority of just over 2,000 votes. However, the DUP polled
12,400 votes in November 2003 Assembly elections — just 386
votes behind Mr Trimble. With a general election though to
be likely within the next 18 months, the DUPis thought to
be fielding their previous Upper Bann candidate, David
Simpson. The loss of the seat to the DUPwould spell the end
of David Trimble’s political career. The anti–Agreement
party is also aiming to secure the marginal Fermanagh/South
Tyrone seat, currently held by Sinn Fe?in MP, Michelle
Gildernew. Donaldson sets eyes on Trimble’s seat Democratic
Unionist MEPJim Allister is being tipped to join the
Eurosceptic Independence and Democracy bloc in the European
Parliament. Mr Allister, who topped the poll in the Six
Counties on June 10, will be keeping company with a range
of Rightwing anti-Europeans including controversial
TVpersonality, Robert Kilroy-Silk of the UK Independence
Party. Mr Kilroy-Silk was sacked by the BBC for accusing
Arabs of being suicide bombers, "women repressors and limb
amputators." The move represents a shift in policy for the
traditionally Eurosceptic DUP, whose previous MEP, Ian
Paisley, was a non-aligned member of the European
Parliament. Mr Allister has courted controversy previously
in dealings with other EU parliamentarians. In March this
year he accused the progressive European United Left/Green
Nordic Left bloc of having "Trotskyite" tendencies.
Condemning a visit by an EUL/GNL delegation to Belfast at
the request of Sinn Fe?in candidate Bairbre de Brun, Mr
Allister remarked: "This group consists of communists and
extreme socialists and it is an interesting insight into
Sinn Fe?in intentions which demonstrates the Trotskyite
tendency of Sinn Fe?in." Sinn Fe?in has yet to announce which
grouping they will join but it is expected the party will
align itself to the EUL/GNL grouping or the Green/European
Free Alliance which counts the Scottish National Party,
Plaid Cymru and Basque parties among its members. Allister
joins Kilroy in EU parliament bloc Orde believes IRA’s war
is over The head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI), Hugh Orde, has said he believes that the IRAwill
not return to armed combat. Speaking on the eve of the
annual Drumcree march, Orde commented: “I am absolutely
sure in my mind that they have no intent to go back to the
‘armed struggle’. There is no intent at all.” Orde also
called for a ‘lawyer–free’ Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, saying that the North has a ‘selective inquiry
culture’. “The hierarchy of death won’t work,” he said.
“Nor do I think that we can just pick something off the
shelf like in South Africa, Chile, Peru or Guatemala or
whatever. I don’t think we can ask the secretary of state
can do it single-handedly. What’s needed is an
international commission to start the process of organising
a truth commission.” Orde also believes that Sinn Fe?in is
coming close to enetering the Policing Commission, thanks
to the persuasion of US politicians; “We have sold a
positive story there which has got key players in the
States urging Sinn Fein to join the Policing Board.”


McCabe Widow And Sinn Féin Mayor Clash

By Donal Hickey, Kerry

THE widow of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe yesterday refused
an offer of "immense sympathy" from Kerry's Sinn Féin mayor
Toiréasa Ferris.

On the Late Late Show last Friday night, Ms Ferris refused
to condemn the shooting dead of Det Garda McCabe in Adare,
Co Limerick, a decade ago.

Yesterday, she again turned down a call from Anne McCabe to
condemn her husband's killing when the women clashed on a
Radio Kerry programme.

Ms Ferris, 25, a daughter of Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris,
said she was a very young teenager when Jerry McCabe died.

"It wouldn't be fair to condemn one individual action when
over 3,000 were killed. I don't feel I have the right, or
that it would be fair to condemn one individual act," she
told presenter John Greene.

"I have immense sympathy for the McCabe family, but I am
very fortunate. I can't empathise with her. I visited my
father in jail for 10 years. I could have been visiting a
grave and I wasn't, and I feel very fortunate for that.

"I am very genuine when I say I have immense sympathy for
her and all the other families who lost people throughout
the struggle ... I genuinely believe there was no intention
to kill Jerry McCabe."

Martin Ferris served a 10-year sentence after being caught
gunrunning in 1984, and she compared his actions to the
attempted gunrunning off the Kerry coast by Roger Casement,
in 1916. Ms Ferris said she did not agree with a lot of
things that happened during the Troubles.

"But I'm not going to say I condemn everything that
happened because I can, as an Irish republican, understand
why people felt compelled to take up arms in defence of
their people."

Ms McCabe said a condemnation would not bring her husband
back "but at least they (Sinn Féin) should have the decency
to speak up and speak the truth, but then again you don't
get the truth from them."

She said she did not think it would ever happen. "I don't
think it is in their vocabulary. They have never condemned

Ms McCabe also said she and her family had received
repeated assurances her husband's killers would not be
released early.

"I'm absolutely convinced they will not be released under
any agreement. We have confirmation from the last and the
current minister for justice and from the Taoiseach," she

Fine Gael, meanwhile, is to consider tabling a no
confidence motion on Ms Ferris at next Monday's meeting of
Kerry County Council. Independent councillor Brendan Cronin
yesterday said he would support such a motion, saying he
was appalled at her refusal to condemn the McCabe killing.

However, Sinn Féin has the support of Fianna Fáil in the
council and a no confidence motion would almost certainly
be defeated.

Ms Ferris also claimed yesterday she had been misled into
agreeing to the Late Late interview. She said she
understood she was being invited onto the show to talk
about her childhood and her grandmother.

She was also "gutted and embarrassed" at media coverage of
her outfit while appearing on the show. "I was wearing a
knee-length skirt, but when I sat down some of it caught
under me and I also crossed my legs because I was nervous."

Ms Ferris said she was disappointed that a floor manager,
or somebody, hadn't pointed out to her during the show that
her skirt was caught.

Meanwhile, Kerry Today producer Treasa Murphy said they
received around 150 calls and text messages during the
programme and reaction to Ms Ferris's refusal to condemn
the killing was "very mixed".


‘Give us justice’

Finucanes and relatives of the Stardust victims denied
closure as questions remain unanswered


There can be few more haunting examples of contemporary
moral bankruptcy than any government’s decision to wilfully
dismiss the heartfelt demands for justice ringing down
through the pages of time in today’s Daily Ireland.

In the North, the British government resolutely defends the
appalling position that the exposure of truth about Pat
Finucane’s 1989 murder in a public inquiry would actually
be worse than the continuation of a 17-year long cover-up.

In the South, the Irish government resolutely defends its
outright rejection of a demand by grieving relatives
affected by the 1981 Stardust tragedy that a public inquiry
should begin into why 48 lives were lost.

While the two episodes are unrelated, they share
similarities. Those bereaved through the actions of others
have mounted legitimate calls for public representatives to
instigate public inquiries into the unnecessary and
avoidable deaths of citizens.

For any public representative to passively dismiss such
demands without complete consideration of all the facts is
deeply disturbing.

For any public representative to actively defend such a
passive dismissal, without a shred of embarrassment, is
utterly unacceptable. The measure of any independent public
inquiry should always be its capacity to comprehensively
and objectively deliver the truth to wider society about
any given incident.

The arbitrary denial of that option by a government to
grieving relatives is a harrowing reflection of what passes
for modern government in these “civilised” islands.

Finucane and Stardust are, without doubt, two terrifying
tragedies joined by an unresolved demand for truth.


Northern Ireland Self-Rule Hopes In Disarray

Bakir Rahmanovic

ISN By Hannah Strange for ISN Security Watch (13/02/06)

As 2006 dawned, Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain described it as a “make or break year” for attempts to
restore self-rule to the long-conflicted region. The year
2005 had seen two historic moments for the political
process: in July the Irish Republican Army had declared an
end to its armed campaign, and in September had conducted
its “final act” of weapons decommissioning, watched by
independent observers.

Now, however, two crucial reports on the activities of
Northern Ireland’s paramilitaries have thrown prospects for
political progress into disarray. Subject to wildly
different interpretations by the various parties, while the
reports were hailed by the British and Irish governments as
affirmation that the IRA had finally laid down its guns, to
unionists they proved just the opposite.

The reports, published on 1 February, cited intelligence
suggesting that the IRA had held on to some of its weapons,
possibly for personal or area protection, after publicly
declaring in September it had fully decommissioned its

The organization was still gathering intelligence, said a
report by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC). It
also claimed that some IRA members remained involved in
organized crime.

The IRA denied the accusations, saying it had fully honored
its pledge last year to end its armed struggle. “Any
allegations to the contrary are politically motivated,” it
said in a statement.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
(IICD) - the body responsible for overseeing paramilitary
decommissioning - reported that security sources in
Northern Ireland had received intelligence suggesting that
“some individuals and groups within the IRA have retained a
variety of arms including handguns”.

However, there was no indication that the quantities of
arms involved were substantial, the organization reported,
or that they were retained for anything other than personal
or area protection. Neither was there any suggestion that
the IRA leadership had sanctioned the retention, it said.

The report concluded that the paramilitary group had
decommissioned all arms under its control in accordance
with its commitment to end its “armed struggle”.

But while IICD chief General John de Chastelain said the
IRA generally seemed to be “moving in the right direction”,
IMC commissioners took the unusual step of speaking out
against this assessment.

Lord Alderdice said there were “credible reports” which
meant that “the level of confidence which he’s expressed
[…] is not a level of confidence about full decommissioning
that we are in a position to share”.

Referring to IRA intelligence gathering, the IMC said:
“This is an activity which we believe is authorized by the
leadership and which involves some very senior members.”

The report continued: “It involves among other things the
continuation of efforts to penetrate public and other
institutions with the intention of illegally obtaining or
handling sensitive information.”

“This raises the question of whether the commitment to
exclusively democratic means is full and thorough going, or
whether there remain elements of a continuing subversive
intent going beyond the boundaries of democratic politics,”
the report said.

But the British and Irish governments hailed the reports as

“There have been no murders, no recruitments, and no bank
robberies. Compared to where we were ten years ago, there
has been a sea change,” Hain told reporters in London.

He acknowledged that the reports did not “paint a picture
of perfection” and stressed that all criminality must come
to an end, including the ongoing paramilitary activity of
unionist groups.

But, Hain said, there was “enough evidence of progress to
make the process of political talks meaningful”.

“This does not mean an executive up and running tomorrow
but the beginning of a process of genuine and purposeful

A devolved executive and assembly ruling from Belfast had
been created under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement,
which brought to an end three decades of war in Northern
Ireland. The agreement sought a compromise between the
republicans who wanted the north to be reunited with the
Republic of Ireland, and unionists who wanted to remain
part of the UK.

Unionists and republicans sat together at the assembly in
Stormont until allegations of IRA intelligence gathering
led to the collapse of the institutions in October 2002 and
the resumption of direct rule from London. Violence
continues sporadically, and efforts to restore devolution
have so far been fruitless.

The IRA’s agreement to disarm was thought to have brought
fresh impetus to the process; however despite optimism in
London and Dublin, resistance by leading unionists looks
set to thwart any progress.

Reverend Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist
Party (DUP) - Northern Ireland’s largest political party -
said the reports proved there could be no power-sharing
executive that involved Sinn Fein, the political party
linked to the IRA.

“In terms of rioting, intelligence gathering, assaults,
exiling, and large scale crime, Sinn Fein/IRA has not
turned its back on violence and criminality but is instead
as involved in illegality as it has ever been,” he told
press in Belfast.

Addressing the party’s annual conference on 4 February,
Paisley went further, pronouncing the Good Friday Agreement
dead and branding IRA disarmament “a blatant lie”.

Pledging to “surrender never to the IRA/Sinn Fein
murderers,” he called for the IRA to disband, saying there
would be no inclusive executive with Sinn Fein as long as
the group was in business.

Given such sclerotic resistance to a power-sharing
agreement, the multi-party talks tabled for 6 February were
never going to be easy.

Yet speaking after the discussions at Hillsborough Castle,
Hain insisted there was a “real possibility” that the
institutions could be restored in the near future.

“I’m confident that as a result of the discussions and
negotiations we’ve had today that is in prospect,” he said.

The deadline was approaching for the various parties to
reach an accommodation leading to devolution, he said.

A letter signed by Hain and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot
Ahern urged the parties - who did not meet during the talks
but attended separate meetings - to agree a clear sense of
direction by April so the British and Irish governments
could take “the necessary steps”.

But the DUP made clear its position had not changed.

Speaking to ISN Security Watch on 8 February, Ian Paisley
Jr, the DUP’s assembly member for Antrim North, said he did
not understand why Hain was so optimistic.

The IMC report had made clear “beyond a shadow of a doubt”
that IRA criminality was undiminished and that they had not
given up all their weapons, he said.

Disbandment was “the bottom line”, he said, adding: “We
cannot have this mafia in government.”

Paisley Jr rejected claims that the DUP was using the
reports as an excuse to avoid power-sharing. His party was
simply ensuring that when a deal was reached it was “a deal
worth having”, he told ISN Security Watch.

“Sinn Fein are the people holding everyone to ransom […]
The pressure is on them, not us,” he said.

But Alasdair McDonnell, member of parliament for the
republican Social Democratic and Labor Party, said there
was “nothing surprising” about the DUP’s position.

“The DUP are going to interpret them [the reports]
negatively,” he told ISN Security Watch. “They were opposed
to the peace process, they were opposed to the political
process and they were opposed to the Good Friday Agreement
[…] It’s consistent with what they’ve always done.”

They were attempting to hold a veto over the political
process, he said. “All of this is contriving to set a stage
for confrontation. They’re manipulating themselves into a
position to justify obstruction.”

McDonnell welcomed the reports as positive, saying they
confirmed the gun had been taken out of Irish politics.
There were still concerns about republican criminality, he
acknowledged, and over loyalist paramilitary activity which
was now “the main threat to peace and stability”.

He reiterated republican calls for the British and Irish
governments to set a date for the restoration of the
assembly, saying the politicians would then fall into line.

Meanwhile, the Irish government denied that the IICD and
IMC reports had left the political process in disarray.

The reports were never going to be completely positive, a
spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs told ISN
Security Watch. The two governments were going to have to
work very hard at the talks but were committed to restoring
the region’s political institutions as soon as possible, he

He acknowledged that Paisley’s comments had got the
negotiations off to “a bad start”, but said the necessary
elements to begin discussions were there.

There had been no expectation of a “dramatic breakthrough”
at this stage, he told ISN Security Watch.

“This is the first phase,” he continued. “Nobody thought it
was going to be easy.”

But Richard Wilford, professor of politics at Queen’s
University Belfast, said there was little hope of an
agreement this year.

“I don’t think anyone here is holding their breath that we
will get devolution any time soon,” he told ISN Security

Both Sinn Fein and the DUP were wracked with internal
tensions over the best way forward, he said. The DUP had
“cranked up” its demands and was unlikely to retreat from
that position, he continued. Meanwhile, IRA disbandment was
unlikely as some parts of the organization still took “a
dim view” of decommissioning, making it all the more
difficult for Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams to bring people
along with him.

The DUP’s criticism of the reports could be seen as
“another alibi for not having to make a decision in the
shorter term”, Wilford said. “If they hold to that
position, the onus is again on the republicans.”

“What all that means is it is going to take a lot longer
that London and Dublin would wish.”

With such deeply polarized and entrenched positions, a
power-sharing agreement indeed seems a distant prospect.
What is in no doubt, however, is that the discussions over
the coming months will be prove critical to the future
shape of Northern Ireland’s political landscape.

Hannah Strange is a senior ISN Security Watch correspondent
based in London.


Opin: Gagging At Attack On Press Freedom

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

Democrats who shudder at the very thought of Progressive
Democrat maharishi Michael McDowell being at the helm at
the Department of Justice should be thankful for small
mercies: he’s not responsible for broadcasting policy.

Since the removal of Section 31 in the days running up to
the IRA ceasefire of August 1994, a number of right-wing
politicians in Ireland have been chafing at the willingness
of RTÉ to cast off the blinkers of censorship and report
the whole story.

That ultra-conservative coterie has hankered after the
halcyon days when not only was Sinn Féin banned from the
airwaves but any person even faintly sympathetic to the
cause of a united Ireland was persona non grata on RTÉ. As
the culture of censorship gives way to more enlightened
times, it’s to be expected that those who have made
McCarthyism their stock-in-trade should fire a shot over
the bows of the state broadcaster’s bravest journalists.

Addressing a University College Dublin audience last week,
Minister McDowell launched an attack on press freedom in a
speech which would have raised howls of outrage if it had
have been delivered in the US, where the concept of a free
press, free from the bullying of government, is a bedrock
of democracy. Here, however, the consequence (certainly
intended) of Mr McDowell’s tirade will be for editors and
producers at RTÉ to pause before inviting a critic of the
government onto the airways. For journalists within RTÉ,
TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta, the effect will be even more
chilling. In the minister’s sights are some of the most
accomplished and professional journalists working in
Ireland at present. Their offence, however, is to find
themselves part, in the minister’s words, “of a minority of
journalists and programme makers (who) have decided they
want to be political players”.

The minister goes on: “There are signs that some of them
want to be agenda setters. There are signs that some feel
that they are better at choosing the battlefields for
elected politicians than are those politicians themselves.”
Public service broadcasting, according to the minister, “is
in danger of losing its way”.

One presumes Eddie Hobbs is in the minister’s black book
as, undoubtedly, is Vincent Browne.

The minister seems blissfully unaware that the contract
between the broadcaster and the public is to tell the truth
and serve the public weal by exposing abuses of power — not
to mollycoddle the government of the day. The minister says
he is “concerned about current trends” in RTÉ. If the
minister is seeking a country where ministers of state
aren’t “concerned” about freedom of the press, Daily
Ireland suggests he moves to Saudi Arabia.

Otherwise, he should know that while it’s the job of the
PDs to “comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted”,
journalists will stick to their role of “comforting the
afflicted and afflicting the comfortable”.


Gains From North South Co-Operation

North-South co-operation in Ireland made good progress
when the power sharing executive was in office following
the Belfast Agreement. But it has been relatively stagnant
since the agreement was suspended - aside from the six
stand alone institutions set up in certain sectors.

The economic, administrative and cultural benefits of such
co-operation have been overshadowed and obscured by the ebb
and flow of news about political developments. Such an
oversight contradicts the official rhetoric about national
unification subscribed to by all political parties in this
State and both republican and nationalist parties in the

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) has now
filled the gap with a useful and welcome policy document
spelling out detailed proposals to enhance North-South co-
operation in a number of diferent areas. Economic issues
take centre stage, especially the proposal to harmonise
corporation tax rates throughout the island at 12.5 per
cent. This would be a radical step, helping to attract more
investment on an all-Ireland basis. It would be difficult
indeed to deliver upon - and perhaps the opportunity to do
so was lost when the Belfast Agreement was negotiated.

Such a policy would set precedents for fiscal autonomy
within the United Kingdom. This could be a risky venture
for Northern Ireland leaders at a time when comparative
statistics reveal it to be the most heavily subsidised and
least taxed area of the UK and the region with a local
economy most dependent on the State. This could suggest the
idea of a trade-off between greater fiscal autonomy and a
negotiated reduction of the transfers from London. There
have been some hints by British ministers that this could
be an attractive option if it forced the North's political
leaders to face up to difficult choices.

There is much good sense in the wide-ranging proposals made
by the SDLP for a more coherent link-up between the
Republic's economic prosperity and the North's development
efforts. The objective has the support of both governments
and many business leaders, as is shown in recent co-
operative ventures. It has reached only a fraction of its
potential and could be extended well beyond the economic
and related areas. Proposals included in this package
include a new transport and infrastructure body, closer co-
operation on research and development, culture, sport and
tourism, the environment and energy sectors. Regional
policy and agriculture have also more scope for common

These benefits are difficult to envisage without progress
being made towards restoring devolved government in
Northern Ireland. And the SDLP's proposals will be regarded
as several steps too far by many unionists. But the
proposals do have the great merit of concentrating
attention on the real business of government.

© The Irish Times


Shoring Up Power By Creating Climate Of Fear

Damien Kiberd

In his biography of the late Joe Cahill, the writer Brendan
Anderson describes a near schism that engulfed Sinn Féin in
the early 1990s.

Senior party members were constantly being summoned to
party offices at Parnell Square in Dublin for meetings to
discuss the peace process. As can happen with political
organisations, these meetings tended to drag on for hours.

The problem? Well, the problem was that, as controller of
the purse strings of the organisation, the late Mr Cahill
saw fit to provide nothing more substantial than tea and
egg sandwiches for those in attendance. Eventually this
provoked a near revolt and the “veteran republican” was
forced to introduce slices of pizza to the staple diet of
prominent republicans. By the standards of the time, it was
a significant breakthrough.

If Mr Cahill is in heaven, he may have laid his hands on a
copy of last week’s Ireland on Sunday newspaper, Lord
Rothermere’s august organ. On page two of that newspaper,
he may have been baffled to read of the alleged Provo
bagman or mastermind — why are they all masterminds? — who
controls a burgeoning property empire stretching across
Europe, North America and the Far East and even onto the
southern reaches of Africa and which is estimated to
contain some €300 million (£205 million) belonging to the
republican movement.

The Ireland on Sunday estimate of the net assets under the
control of the bagman trumped other reports published in
the media empire controlled by Sir Anthony O’Reilly of
Independent News and Media. In a rather understated way,
these merely suggested that the amount under the control of
the bagman was just €100 million (£68 million).

The reports followed a series of raids conducted by members
of the Criminal Assets Bureau and other specialist units of
An Garda Síochána on various addresses in Dublin, Wicklow,
Louth and elsewhere. The raids purportedly involved more
than 100 officers of the force and coincided with the
publication of the latest report of the Independent
Monitoring Commission. Southern government sources, in
their off-the-record briefings to the media, stressed that
these raids were entirely coincidental and their timing was
the culmination of months of dogged Garda investigation.

The attention of Garda officers to detail is meticulous.
And this begs an obvious question. Why, when they were
leaking the stories of their forensic crackdown on the
“Provo bagman” and his associates to the media, did they
not provide more accurate detail of his alleged net worth?
Why, for example, was his “empire” not worth €93 million?
Or even €108 million, instead of simply €100 million? Is it
possible that the number provided to the media was simply
plucked from thin air? Could this expain why the Garda
source for the Ireland on Sunday story felt wholly
comfortable in grossing-up his estimate to €300 million —
another nice round number?

When I was a schoolboy, I recall being assured by a knowing
young fellow in my class that it was “perfectly okay” to
steal a bird’s egg from a nest if that nest contained three
or more unhatched eggs. This is because it was beyond the
cerebral capacity of one of our feathered friends — a bird
brain, so to speak — to count beyond two. I did not really
believe this at the time but I recalled the conversation
some weeks ago when the same journalists who now tell us
about the high-flying Provo bagmen were assuring us that
republicans had also purchased half of the available real
estate in the greater Manchester area.

A number of questions need to be asked about all of this.
Firstly, does anybody who is politically accountable have
any say in the leaking of these claims to the media? It
seems not, even if the leaking of such claims — spurious or
otherwise — could have the most serious political

Secondly, do the journalists who publish these stories ever
worry about the reasons why they are being used to put this
sort of story into the public domain?

Consider this — in the wake of the IRA decommissioning of
2005, a number of stories were published by journalists in
good faith, suggesting that the IRA had retained a number
of weapons (typically handguns and ammunition) for personal

Months later, the IMC report suggests that this is, broadly
speaking, true but declines to reveal that nature or the
identity of the source providing this information. When
pressed on this point, Lord Alderdice — a central figure in
the IMC — seemed to suggest that the information had come
from a combination of security sources and newspapers.

Now this raises an obvious series of questions. Could the
same security source who told journalists some months ago
that the IRA had retained some weapons be the same security
source that briefed the IMC? Are the claims of this source
accurate? Does the source have a vested interest in talking
up an ongoing threat posed by the IRA? Or is the source
simply motivated by concerns for public safety? Do
democratically elected governments have any means of
checking out these allegations — concerning property
empires or guns or whatever — to see if it is correct to
block political progress indefinitely on foot of them?

There is an obvious temptation for any political
establishment to seek to shore up its position by creating
a climate of fear. That is what George Bush was doing last
week when, quite bizarrely, he decided to reveal the
alleged detection of a plot to destroy the tallest building
in California. The plot is now almost five years old and
allegedly involves the use of a shoe bomb, manufactured by
al-Qaida, to blow the door off the cockpit of a US
passenger aircraft, which would then be flown into the
building, causing its destruction. The shoe bomb would
apparently be concealed in a sneaker or basketball shoe.

How would the bomber detonate the device? What would happen
if it opened the cockpit door but failed to immobilise or
kill the pilots? Why has the US administration decided to
reveal all of this after five years? Why was nobody charged
in connection with the plot? We may never know.

In Dublin last week, two small devices were used by
criminals to attack other people in the suburbs of
Kilbarrack and Coolock on successive nights. The devices
were of the type routinely described by the PSNI and gardaí
in recent years as “crude, improvised, home-made explosive
devices”. So crude in fact that they consist of a metal
tube crimped at both ends and encasing explosive material
taken from shotgun cartridges of the type used daily by
farmers, hunters and others. A cynic might suggest that a
relatively intelligent schoolboy with access to the
internet might make such a device in his garden shed.

Yet that did not prevent journalists and security experts
from breathlessly informing listeners to RTÉ last week that
the “sophisticated” devices constituted the gravest threat
to “the security of the state” for many years.

In whose interest is all of this fear being generated? Who

Damien Kiberd is a writer and broadcaster. A presenter for
NewsTalk 106 in Dublin, he was previously editor of The
Sunday Business Post.


China Gives Eastern Flavour To 'Playboy Of The Western

Clifford Coonan in Beijing

It may be 8,400km from Mayo to Beijing but one of
Ireland's most innovative theatre companies, Pan Pan
Theatre, reckons the universal themes of J.M. Synge's
Playboy of the Western World will also strike a chord in
the eastern world and began rehearsals for a Chinese
version yesterday.

The production will be performed in Mandarin Chinese with
an all-Chinese cast, lifting Christy Mahon and his beloved
Pegeen Mike out of their natural habitat in Co Mayo in the
early years of the last century and placing them in a
hairdresser's and foot massage salon in the rapidly
vanishing old areas of the outskirts of contemporary

"The normal business of hairdressing takes place out front
but there are other less mundane activities happening
elsewhere on the premises," promised director Gavin Quinn,
who said the first day's rehearsals went well.

True to the spirit of the play, the Chinese Playboy will
use plenty of contemporary Chinese idiom and slang,
although it remains to be seen if its opening in Beijing
will cause quite the same stir as it did at its debut in
Dublin nearly 100 years ago when it stoked the fires of
nationalism and pushed the bounds of decency.

"The actors thought it was very funny, which is great.
There is a certain strangeness for a Chinese cast working
with a foreign director, and I get the sense Chinese actors
are bit shyer than Irish actors. But overall the cast is
extremely conscientious, disciplined and hard-working. They
really want to make it work," said Quinn.

Synge's story of anti-hero Christy Mahon, who claims to
have killed his father, has parallels in both contemporary
Chinese literature and classical Chinese philosophy. The
great philosopher Confucius says there are five core
relationships that maintain social order, and one is that
between father and son.

"The story is good and it's carrying a lot on its back.
There is the contrast between urban and countryside, and
this clash of cultures gives the audience something to grab
on to," said Quinn.

It is the first major Irish theatre production in Beijing
since the Gate Theatre's production of Samuel Beckett's
Waiting for Godot during the China-Ireland Arts Festival in
2004, which was greeted warmly but with a certain amount of

Playboy will run in the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre,
which is affiliated to the Grand National Theatre Company
of China.

It opens on March 16th and runs until March 25th. It will
be jointly produced by Pan Pan, Beijing Oriental Pioneer
Theatre and independent theatre producers Vallejo Ganter
(ex-director of the Dublin Fringe Festival) and Zhaohui
Wang, an independent producer in Beijing.

© The Irish Times


Original Handwritten Words Of National Anthem May Fetch

Tim O'Brien

The original, handwritten words of the national anthem,
Amhrán na bhFiann, are set to mark a resurgence of interest
in independence-era memorabilia when they go to auction in
the 90th anniversary year of the Easter Rising.

Peadar Kearney wrote the words on two pieces of paper in
1907, and they were popularised by the 1916 insurgents,
before being chosen in 1926 as the national anthem.

The auction will also feature a number of handwritten
letters from the 1916 leaders before they faced execution,
as well as a Tricolour said to have flown over the GPO
during the Easter Rising, and the telegram from the British
government announcing the formation of the Irish Free

The auction - to be known as the "Independence Sale" will
be jointly hosted by James Adam and Sons and Mealy's
Auctioneers in the James Adam salesrooms in Dublin on March

A spokeswoman said that given their unique nature, it was
estimated the words of the national anthem would fetch
about €1.2 million. Last year an original copy of the 1916
Proclamation fetched over €300,000 at auction.

Lots at the auction include:

Seán McDermott's handwritten letter on the eve of his
execution addressed to John Daly, Fenian and Limerick

An archive of papers from 1880 to 1916 written by and
relating to Thomas Clarke, the first signatory to the

Young Irelander Thomas Francis Meagher's last letter
written before his transportation to Tasmania ;

Collections of Pádraic Pearse's letters and poetry;

Michael Collins's typewriter.

More than 400 lots are already catalogued in the sale but
the catalogue will not close until the end of this month, a
factor which may encourage even more artefacts to be
brought forward.

© The Irish Times


2006 North Texas Irish Festival

Celebrate with NBC 5 at the 24th Annual North Texas Irish
Festival (NTIF) March 3, 4 and 5 at Fair Park in Dallas.
The North Texas Irish Festival, one of the largest Celtic
cultural events in the nation, will salute its cultural
heritage with this year’s theme the "Heirs of Erin". Many
of the featured musicians and dancers are well-known second
and third generation Irish-Americans and a number of
cultural presentations will focus on the ways in which the
Irish integrated into American life. NTIF will open its
festival on Friday night, March 3, at 6 PM with full
festival activities, including performances by national and
regional Headliners.

The festivities will continue throughout the weekend,
including Saturday, March 4 through Sunday, March 5, and
feature some of the very finest in Irish and other Celtic
entertainment including world famous bands, award-winning
dancers, enchanting storytellers and educational workshops.
As in the past, the festival will also offer a variety of
delicious Irish and international food and drink, cultural
crafts, and ethnic vendors.

Hours, Admission and Location

Festival hours are Friday evening, March 3 from 6:00 p.m.
to 11:00 p.m., Saturday, March 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30
p.m. and Sunday, March 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Adult
ticket prices are $10 for Friday night, $15 for Saturday or
Sunday, or $30 for a 3-day weekend pass. Children 11 and
under are admitted free. Students (with ID) and Senior
Citizens receive a $2 discount. Discount tickets are
available at all Metroplex Tom Thumb stores. The event will
take place at Fair Park's Centennial and Automobile
Buildings as well as covered areas, between the Hall of
State and the park's main gate on Parry Avenue. Parking is
available in and around Fair Park and DART, the official
transportation provider of the NTIF, is available from many
locations throughout the Metroplex. The public can call
972-943-4624 or visit for more information or
to volunteer to work at the festival.


Internationally known as a showcase for the best in Celtic
entertainment, this year's festival will feature a rich
blend of traditional and modern Celtic bands as well as
solo artists from Europe, Canada and the US.

The NTIF will kickoff its Irish heritage celebration with
the best of Irish music from popular regional bands and
full festival activities. Friday night headliners will
include Beth Patterson and her band, Kalafka, and solo
artist, Jed Marum among others. Highlighting the weekend
are world-renowned Irish violinist, Eileen Ivers and
headliner band, The Makem Brothers, with their powerhouse
Irish vocal presentation.

Also headlining the weekend performances is Aoife Clancy,
formerly with "Cherish the Ladies" bringing her unique
traditional Irish songs and ballads to the NTIF. Robbie
O'Connell and his band will present their repertoire of
Irish hits. Also performing are celebrated concertina and
flute player John Willams and master guitarist Dean Magraw
in addition to the high-energy Australian band, Brother.

Regular NTIF top names like celebrated solo artist Ed
Miller and Brothers 3 will return for 2006. Several popular
local and regional entertainers including; BEHAN, Beyond
the Pale, Michael Harrison, Threadneedle Street, Jigsaw,
Irish Rogues and the Trinity River Whalers will also be
performing on the six stages throughout the weekend. New
performers this year include; Boru's Ghost, Roger Drawdy
and the Firestarters and Paisley Close. Performances by
area dance groups will include the well-known Emerald
School of Dance, the Shandon School of Irish Dance, The
Iverin School of Irish Dance, and McTeggart Irish Dancers,
and many more.


In addition to the musical and dance performances, the
festival brings a wide variety of exhibitors, workshops,
plays and demonstrations. The popular "Scottish Village"
will return again this year where local Scottish clans will
feature demonstrations and explanations as to the strong
connection between the Irish and Scots in their music,
ancestry and culture. The "Urchin Street Faire" will again
offer a special place where the younger Celts can find
entertainment, education, play and fun, including music,
dance, storytelling, theater, magic and mystery. Many
special activities and giveaways will be part of expanded
Urchin Street programs this year.

"Heirs of Erin" 2006 NTIF

The 2006 NTIF entertainment will bring a lineup that
reflects our theme of the "Heirs of Erin". Many of the
invited bands are made up of either recent immigrants or
second and third generation Irish-Americans who are
carrying on the traditions handed down to them by their
parents and grandparents. Several of the cultural
presentations will focus on the ways in which the Irish
integrated into American life yet continued to remember
their rich heritage and who have now established deep roots
in the United States. Each one of them carries on the
traditions of their heritage in their music, which in many
cases has been handed down through many generations.

Hours, Admission and Location

Festival hours are Friday evening, March 3 from 6 p.m. to
11 p.m., Saturday, March 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
and Sunday, March 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Adult
ticket prices are $10 for Friday night, $15 for Saturday or
Sunday, or $30 for a 3-day weekend pass. Children 11 and
under are admitted free. Students (with ID) and Senior
Citizens receive a $2 discount. Discount tickets will be
available beginning in February at all Metroplex Tom Thumb
stores. The event will take place at Fair Park's Centennial
and Automobile Buildings as well as covered areas, between
the Hall of State and the park's main gate on Parry Avenue.
Parking is available in and around Fair Park and DART, the
official transportation provider of the NTIF, is available
from many locations throughout the Metroplex. The public
can call 972-943-4624 or visit for more
information or to volunteer to work at the festival.

About the Southwest Celtic Music Association

The Southwest Celtic Music Association (SCMA) is the
producing organization for the North Texas Irish Festival
(NTIF). Over 600 volunteers will help in organization,
promotion and execution of this year's festival. The first
such festival was held on March 5, 1983 and was billed as
the First Texas Céili. This event was so popular that it
has continued every year since on the first weekend in
March as the North Texas Irish Festival. Shortly after the
first festival, the all-volunteer Southwest Celtic Music
Association was formed to promote the study, performance
and preservation of traditional Celtic music, dance and
culture. In 1984, the event was moved to Fair Park and its
name changed to the North Texas Irish Festival. The
Southwest Celtic Music Association is a 501(c) 3
corporation headquartered in Dallas, Texas and serves a
five-state regional area. The organization maintains a web
site at


The North Texas Irish Festival is produced and sponsored by
the Southwest Celtic Music Association. Generous additional
sponsorship is provided by Guinness, Budweiser, Coca Cola,
Tom Thumb, Medical City Heart, the Radisson Hotel @
Mockingbird Station, Sullivan-Perkins and DART, the
official transportation provider. Media support is provided
by NBC 5 Building A Better Texas.

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