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February 25, 2006

Adams' US Fundraising Visa Denied

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 02/25/06 Adams' Fundraising Visa Denied Again By US Administration
BN 02/25/06 PSNI Seize Loyalist Weapons Cache
FA 02/25/06 O'Donnell Tells UN That Nelson Enquiry Must Be Independent
BN 02/25/06 Solicitors' Body 'Bewildred Over IRA Link Claim'
IE 02/25/06 Jurnlst Claims Gardaí May Have Protected Ludlow's Killers
DI 02/25/06 ‘Disgusting’ Loyalist Attack
DI 02/25/06 Inmate Is Moved After Row
EM 02/25/06 Irish Residents Keep Shell Oil At Bay
LD 02/25/06 US-UK Extradition Treaty Must Be Changed - Clegg
RT 02/25/06 Taoiseach Responds To McDowell Comments
DI 02/25/06 ‘Time To Listen To Omagh Relatives’
IT 02/25/06 Sacked Dunnes Union Activist Reinstated
BT 02/25/06 Dalai Lama Visit Furore Lingers On
BB 02/25/06 Police Charges Considered For NI
BT 02/25/06 Toireasa Ferris: Arms? What About The Legs
DI 02/25/06 Jobs News Welcomed
BT 02/25/06 Opin: So Who Turned The Lights Out, Sir Reg?
DI 02/25/06 Opin: Money, Money, Money Uncovered By Tribunal
DI 02/25/06 Opin: Bomb Revelations Are Not Surprising
VO 02/25/06 Opin: Oh Ireland, "Division Is Inevitable"
BT 02/25/06 Man Crushed In Beer Keg 'Party Trick'
DN 02/25/06 Curling In Texas Is A Stone's Throw Away
BT 02/25/06 Ulster Call To Join The Metric Set
IT 02/25/06 A Royal Che, Or More Of A Mandela?
EE 02/25/06 North: John Kerry To Give Lecture
DI 02/25/06 James Connolly Role Up For Debate

(Poster’s Note: To see some pics from today’s Dublin violence go to:

On the other hand, for a humorous look at the north, view this:
Try not to spend too much time watching the girls in
bikinis videos (after watching the N Ireland one) Jay)


Gerry Adams' Fundraising Visa Denied Again By Us Administration

The US Special Envoy, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, has barred Gerry
Adams once again from attending a fundraising event unless the party
endorses the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland]. This time it
is a Friends of Sinn Féin breakfast at the Hilton Hotel in Washington,
D.C. on the morning of March 16th.

The move by the US Administration is all the more galling and
mystifying at this time as policing reform remains the subject of
delicate negotiations with the British government, expected to
introduce legislation devolving policing and justice to elected
officials in the north of Ireland. Something Sinn Fein has been
lobbying for.

The IRA moves over the past months in standing down as a military
force and totally decommissioning its arms seems to have stimulated
the US Administration to punish Sinn Fein.

The IMC [Independent Monitoring Commission], which is neither
independent nor monitors anything - it is told what to report by the
PSNI , just happens to be visiting the U.S.

Meanwhile, the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] is opening a US office.
There are no plans to ban Ian Paisley from fundraising. The DUP will
be rewarded for its tireless efforts to wreck the GFA [Good Friday
Agreement] and return to the unacceptable, bloody past.

We must send a powerful message to Ambassador Reiss, the National
Security Council, and whoever else is responsible in the U.S.
Administration by telling the Bush Administration know we will not
tolerate this discriminatory treatment of Irish officials.

Send your message today to President Bush and Condoleezza Rice today
by clicking here:


PSNI Seize Loyalist Weapons Cache

25/02/2006 - 16:02:41

Police have seized a loyalist paramilitary weapons cache in Belfast,
it emerged today.

Three men and a woman were taken for questioning after officers raided
a location in the south of the city.

Assorted guns, ammunition and a quantity of explosives was also
discovered during searches at Burmah Street, off the Ormeau Road, last

Residents were evacuated from their homes overnight after military
experts were called in to examine the scene.

Four arrests were made during the operation.

Homeowners were only allowed to return today once Army checks were

Police have confirmed paramilitary involvement in the weapons was a
line of inquiry, with loyalist terrorists the main suspects.

South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey expressed concern over the
guns purpose.

He said: “People in this area are worried about what these weapons
were going to be used for.

“Previous arms finds in this area have been attributed to unionist
death squads and more often than not these weapons have been used
against nationalists.

“I believe that the discovery of these weapons serves to highlight the
urgency which must be placed upon getting the political institutions
back up and running.”

He added: “I would urge loyalists to follow the example set by the IRA
last year in laying down their arms.”


O'Donnell Tells UN Commission That Enquiry Into Death Of
Rosemary Nelson Must Be Fully Independent

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs with special
responsibility for Human Rights, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, has
told the United Nations Commission for Human Rights it is
absolutely essential that the enquiry announced by the
British Government into Rosemary Nelson's murder be fully

Addressing the UN Commission in Geneva this morning, the
Minister welcomed the assurances on this matter which had
been sought and given at a meeting last night between the
Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and British Prime Minister, Tony

"Rosemary Nelson was no stranger to the mechanisms of the
UN Commission on Human Rights. She believed in them deeply
and sought to use them to alleviate injustice against those
she represented. Unfortunately, she paid the ultimate price
for her advocacy".

The Minister commended the work of the Special Rapporteur
on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Param
Cumaraswamy. "In his report before this session he has
again drawn attention to the question of the intimidation
and harassment of defence lawyers in Northern Ireland. The
murder of Rosemary Nelson testifies in a graphic way to the
immediate relevance of Mr. Cumaraswamy's mandate".

The Minister said that the Rapporteur had also dealt
comprehensively with the murder ten years ago of human
rights lawyer, Pat Finucane. "I met with his family in
Dublin on the tenth anniversary of his murder last month. I
also received and have read the British Irish Rights Watch
report which contains fresh evidence and allegations of
collusion by the security forces in his murder. This report
raises issues of the most fundamental concern to this
Commission and to all who uphold human rights and the rule
of law. The Irish Government will be urging the relevant
authorities to respond fully to the report in the context
of the now widespread calls for an independent inquiry into
Mr. Finucane's murder".

Minister O'Donnell said that the new agreed Northern
Ireland emerging from thirty years of communal conflict
will be complemented and underpinned by the systematic
protection of civil and political rights. The Minister
outlined the new landscape being established under the Good
Friday Agreement and said that "a new human rights culture
embodying the spirit of the Agreement, with its credo of
fairness and inclusivity, will permeate the new

Minister O'Donnell also addressed the global issues of
racism and childrens' rights. She said that the Irish
experience of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
has been positive and added that the "Bill of Rights" has
provided coherent standards and principles to inform child-
care policy.

Dublin 2 Tel: + 353 1 4780822


Solicitors' Body 'Bewildred Over IRA Link Claim'

25/01/2006 - 18:18:20

A body representing solicitors in the North was tonight
bewildered by claims from Ian Paisley that many lawyers in
the North are involved in money laundering for the IRA.

Law Society president Rory McShane said he would be seeking
meetings with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and
Assets Recovery Agency after the Democratic Unionist leader
made the allegation following a meeting with British prime
minister Tony Blair.

Mr Paisley said after meeting Mr Blair last night he had
seen a secret security briefing document which detailed the
extent of IRA criminality.

The North Antrim MP alleged: “The list measures up the
thoughts of the police and all the other branches gathering
intelligence in Northern Ireland, that number one, there’s
many lawyers engaged in money laundering which is a scary

“Then there is the fact that they feel that the monies that
are being made through smuggling, especially of cigarettes,
is another challenge to the whole economy.

“They also say there’s a lot of truth as far as oil and
that is concerned as well.

“They also point out that we would need also to be
concerned about what happened in the bank robbery and that
they are convinced that three of the highest officers of
the IRA were involved in that. They go on and on.”

Mr McShane said the Law Society was surprised to hear the
claim given the relationship they had with the head of the
Assets Recovery Agency and the PSNI.

The Law Society president told the Press Association: “We
have no evidence of what he is saying.

“People are really conscious that the bottom line is if
solicitors are involved in money laundering, they will not
only go to jail but they will also lose their certificate
to practice.

“We will have dialogue with the PSNI and ARA on this to
satisfy ourselves that there is nothing of substance in
what he is saying.

“I suspect something has gone askew between the briefing
that was given and how that was relayed to Mr Paisley.

“If there were serious substance to this we would
definitely have heard from the ARA and the PSNI, given the
relationships we have.”

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said Mr Paisley‘s
claims were reminiscent of comments made in the House of
Commons in 1989 by Douglas Hogg when he was a junior Home
Office minister shortly before the murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane.

The North Belfast MLA said: “Ian Paisley should immediately
withdraw his remarks and seek to minimise the undoubted
damage and offence which he has already caused.”

Mr Kelly‘s Assembly colleague, Raymond McCartney also
called on Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain to state
if he had any knowledge of the confidential document Mr
Paisley had had given to him and to probe the source of
such claims.

“This is just the latest incident when DUP spokespersons
have claimed to be in possession of or to have had sight of
British security services‘ documents,” the Foyle MLA said.

“It is obvious that securocrats within the PSNI and other
British agencies determined to thwart the peace process,
have been supplying so-called secret documents to the DUP
over the years.

“Their purpose is to enable the DUP to continue with the
stance of not engaging with Sinn Fein.

“I am calling on Peter Hain to take action to ensure that
this malevolent interference in the political process by
faceless securocrats and political police sources in an
attempt to prevent necessary change is halted.

“The DUP cannot be allowed to use allegations and
manufactured security assessments as an excuse to frustrate
the political process.”


Journalist Claims Gardaí May Have Protected Ludlow's

Gardaí may have covered-up the murder of a Dundalk forestry
worker 30 years ago because of his killers’ links with
British military intelligence, an Oireachtas committee
heard today.

Seamus Ludlow, 47, was shot dead by gunmen while returning
home from a pub in Dundalk on May 2 1976.

The former Sunday Tribune journalist Ed Moloney said
questions had to be asked about why gardaí wrongly told the
Ludlow family that he had been shot by the IRA for being an

He said it had been obvious from the start that Ludlow, an
innocent man, bore none of the hallmarks of someone who was
killed for being an informer.

His body was not bound and gagged, he had not been
interrogated for days beforehand and the IRA did not
publicly name him as an informer, as was its general
practice at the time.

“Gardaí smeared the Ludlow family in a shameful and
disgustingly callous fashion,” said Mr Moloney.

Mr Moloney said there might have been collusion between the
Gardaí and British military intelligence to cover up the
murder but said only a public inquiry could establish the

But he said the Garda allegation that Mr Ludlow was an IRA
informer had caused divisions in the Ludlow family which
lasted for two decades, as they rowed over the cause of his
death, and prevented them from mounting a cohesive campaign
for the truth.

Mr Moloney, who covered the North for the Sunday Tribune
from 1978 until 2002, flew from his home in New York to
appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice.

He raised a series of questions about links between the
Gardaí and British military intelligence at the time of Mr
Ludlow’s death.

“There is no doubt the British have over the years
attempted to place agents in the Gardaí,” he said.

“There’s a lot of smoke and I don’t know whether there’s a
fire, but there’s certainly smoke.”

In a wide-ranging presentation, he was warned several times
by the committee chairman Fianna Fáil TD Sean Ardagh not to
use the names of people implicated in murders and spying.

Mr Moloney said one of the four loyalists implicated in the
killing of Seamus Ludlow, who he referred as number three,
was a member of the Red Hand Commando and had been
described as a psychopath with a fearsome and bloody

“Number three is living in England since the 1980s. I was
told by UVF sources that he had departed under a cloud and
when I asked if he was an informer, I was told it was
reasonable to assume that he was.”

Mr Moloney said there were other cases where British
intelligence had allowed an innocent person to be killed
despite being warned by their informers. He referred to the
killing of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 and the
shooting of Francisco Notarantonio in 1987.

He described how a member of the Ludlow family living in
South Armagh had been arrested in the wake of the murder
and questioned about the progress of the Garda

“Why were the British army so interested in the Ludlow
family case that they dispatched soldiers and helicopters?
My allegation is that the British army wanted to know if
one of their agents was in trouble.”

He said that a full public inquiry into the murder of
Seamus Ludlow would deal with the great unanswered
question: was one of the killers a British informer and
what did the gardaí and the State know about it?

“There is an elephant in the room and everyone is
pretending it is not there.”


‘Disgusting’ Loyalist Attack

By Connla Young

A female prison officer is recovering this morning after a
loyalist prisoner poured a basketful of human excrement and
urine over her head.

The disgusting attack took place in a cell at Bush House, a
segregated wing at Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim, which
houses only loyalist prisoners. The female prison official
was with a male colleague when a remand prisoner lunged at
her with a waste paper basket full of human waste. The
attacker has strong connections to the Ulster Defence

Both prison officers later received medical treatment.

The inmate responsible for the alleged attack was
immediately brought to the prison’s punishment block and
placed “on the boards”.

It is understood bad blood existed between the prisoner and
the prison official prior to the attack.

Maghaberry governor, Alan Longwell, said: “This was a
disgusting and degrading attack on a dedicated female
officer who was admirably carrying out her duties as a
public servant. The method of attack was highly vindictive
and particularly revolting in its nature. It was calculated
to cause maximum distress. The prisoner has been
transferred to the Special Supervision Unit and has been
placed on Rule 32, restricting freedom of association. The
matter has been referred to the PSNI.”


Inmate Is Moved After Row

By Ciarán Barnes

A criminal who assaulted former Real IRA leader, Liam
Campbell, in Portlaoise Prison on Tuesday has been removed
from a republican landing for his own safety.

The Limerick man is serving three years for possession of a
firearm. He was being held last night in the jail basement
alongside members of the gang involved in the murder of the
journalist Veronica Guerin.

Mr Campbell, who is being sued by the relatives of those
killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing, spent two nights in
hospital following the assault.

On Wednesday, his attacker was thrown off the E2 republican
landing, which is controlled by Real IRA leader Mickey

A prison source said the inmate had been removed for his
own safety because tension was high. A Real IRA source
said: “The man is now in what prisoners call the Portlaoise
bunker. The man who assaulted Campbell has had a death
threat issued against him. He is also being targeted by a
friend of Campbell’s from Dublin who is serving a life
sentence for murder. Campbell and the Dublin man are close
friends. He [Campbell] even let him use a republican
visiting box before Christmas. This annoyed Real IRA
prisoners in the jail, who have fallen out with Campbell.”

Last month, the attacker was subjected to prison
disciplinary procedures after being caught with 200 ecstasy
tablets and steroids.


Irish Residents Keep Shell Oil At Bay

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) February 24, 2006 -- Five
residents of County Mayo, Ireland, were jailed for blocking
Shell Oil Company and their Irish Government partner’s
plans to pipe raw gas through their communities and close
to their family homes.

Shell Oil plans to build a giant processing plant on one of
the county’s most spectacular and pristine stretches of

The jailings set off a storm of protest throughout Ireland
with widespread international support, including protests,
marches, petitions, fundraisers, blockades and pickets
aimed at blocking the billion-dollar gas project.

“We have refused access because of the certainty that if
this pipeline as currently proposed ruptures we, our
families and neighbors, will die,” said Vincent McGrath, a
retired teacher who was jailed with four others for 94 days
last year for obstructing work on the pipeline.

“What would you do if a court ordered you to accept
installation of a potentially lethal pipeline which no
state agency has or will take responsibility for?” McGrath

McGrath and the four other prisoners have come to be known
across Ireland as the “Rossport 5.”

The Rossport 5 gained international attention when they
were imprisoned for what the Irish Judge, Finngean deemed
to be contempt of a court order taken out by Shell.

This shot taken by Shell Oil was an apparent attempt to
quickly silence a community’s efforts to ensure that the
health and safety of their families, and the environment,
would be protected.

Additionally, there is concern that relatively no local
jobs would be created, and there would be no return to
Irish owners of the resource. Shell would sell the oil back
to Ireland, with no contribution to Ireland and the

As Shell Oil threatens to put the Rossport 5 back into
prison, Irish political leaders in the U.S. are urging U.
S. citizens to support the Rossport 5 and their community.

“The Rossport 5 are to be commended for protecting their
families and community,” commented Séamus Collins,
Chairperson of Irish Northern Aid, San Francisco.

“It doesn’t make sense for the Irish government to put the
interests of a big oil company before safety of its own
citizens,” Collins said.

Irish Northern Aid is asking supporters in the U.S. to take
action. To voice an opinion to Shell Oil and the Irish
government, visit:

Click on: for news and events.


US-UK Extradition Treaty Must Be Changed - Clegg

22 February 2006

Nick Clegg MP, Liberal Foreign Affairs spokesman, today
called on the British government to restore reciprocity to
the US-UK extradition treaty after 3 former NatWest
employees lost their High Court appeal against their
extradition to the United States to face charges in
connection with the collapse of Enron.

He said:

"The UK-US extradition treaty is inherently unbalanced, and
to add insult to injury, although the treaty's provisions
apply in UK courts, it has not even been ratified by the
United States.

"UK citizens should have no less protection against
extradition than citizens of America. The British
government must take steps to restore reciprocity to these


Taoiseach Responds To Mcdowell Comments

25 February 2006 12:21

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has responded to comments made
by the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, on the
formation of a Government after the next General Election.

Mr McDowell, who is President of the Progressive Democrats,
had said it would not matter whether Mr Ahern or the Fine
Gael leader, Enda Kenny, was the next Taoiseach.

He told a PD meeting in Waterford that it would be the
Junior Coalition party that defined the direction of the
next Government.

Speaking at a Fianna Fáil function in Athy in Co Kildare
last night, the Taoiseach recalled that, at the last
General Election, his party failed to win five seats by
just under 65 votes.

Mr Ahern remarked that if his party had won those seats,
small parties would not have had any role at all.


‘Time To Listen To Omagh Relatives’

Parties call for cross-border inquiry following MI5 blast


The two main opposition parties in the Republic last night
called for a cross-border inquiry into the Omagh bombing
following revelations that MI5 withheld vital counter-
terrorism intelligence.

The British domestic secret service agency received a tip-
off that dissident republicans were targeting Omagh or
Derry in a major attack.

The agency used the tip-off to help to thwart a bomb plot
at the time of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in
April 1998.

However, according to authoritative security sources, MI5
kept the RUC in the dark and failed to pass on the
information even after the Omagh bombing, which killed 29
people in August 1998.

The Labour Party and Fine Gael said it was time to listen
to the bombing victims’ relatives.

Labour justice spokesman, Joe Costello, said:

“Today’s revelations merely underline the legitimacy of
their calls for a full, independent cross-border inquiry.”

He said the way MI5 had handled the information suggested
that people could have little confidence in the agency’s
ability to prevent major atrocities.

“Of course, this does not shift the blame away from those
cowards who planted the bomb that caused the deaths of 29

“But it does ask questions about how intelligence was used
and whether or not many of those lives could have been
saved had information been shared, properly processed, and
the warning signals acted upon,” said Mr Costello.

MI5 received the tip-off from the FBI agent, David Rupert.

He had been working undercover in the ranks of the Real

He warned that Omagh or Derry – but most likely Omagh – was
to be hit by a dissident republican unit based in Fermanagh
and the Letterkenny area of neighbouring Co Donegal.

The RUC was aware at the time that a planned paramilitary
operation had been disrupted. However, according to
security sources yesterday, police found no trace on their
records of any MI5 intelligence that Omagh or Derry would
be a target.

Details emerged after inquiries in the United States, where
detectives investigating the Omagh bombing spoke with David
Rupert and examined email messages that the US agent had
once exchanged with his FBI and MI5 handlers.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O’Keefe said the failure by
MI5 to pass on the information reinforced the need for a
cross-border inquiry into the Omagh bombing.

“I’m very surprised and disappointed to learn the situation
could possibly have led to the prevention of this appalling
murder,” Mr O’Keefe said.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was a very disturbing
allegation that the British intelligence services had had
prior knowledge of the attack but failed to pass it on.


Sacked Dunnes Union Activist Reinstated

Last updated: 25-02-06, 10:27

A store worker sacked for wearing a union badge on her
uniform at the Dublin supermarket where she works was
reinstated last night.

Joanne Delaney received support from trade unions across
Europe after she was fired from her position in Dunnes
Stores in Crumlin for wearing the badge.

The case of Ms Delaney, a Mandate union shop steward, had
received worldwide attention since late last year with
protests outside stores in Ireland and in the UK.

Ms Delaney's position was also raised in the Dáil and by
British MPs in the House of Commons and the Scottish

Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Féin's TD for Dublin South Central,
said her reinstatement in her position was welcome but she
should never have lost her job in the first place.

"It is a tribute to Joanne and to all those who supported
her campaign that Dunnes Stores has backed down," the TD

Ms Delaney is understood to have received a letter by
courier offering her the opportunity to return to work next

"The management of Dunnes Stores clearly underestimated the
strength of public opinion on this issue.

"Public disquiet with the anti-union stance of Dunnes and
people's support for Joanne Delaney played a pivotal role
in bringing this dispute to a successful conclusion,"
Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

© 2006


Dalai Lama Visit Furore Lingers On

By Alf McCreary
25 February 2006

The row over the Dalai Lama's visit to St Anne's Cathedral
last year is continuing within the Church of Ireland, with
allegations that it was a "disgrace" and a call for the
Dean of Belfast Dr Houston McKelvey to publish the full
text of the Order of Service.

The Dalai Lama took part in an inter-faith event with
Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and members of
other faiths at the end of a three-day visit to Northern
Ireland in November.

In a letter published in the Church of Ireland Gazette,
Erroll McNally said that "to hold this prayer service with
people who do not acknowledge the Kingship and Lordship of
Jesus was at best a disgrace."

The Rev David Palmer in another letter stated that a better
use of the occasion "might have been to invite the Dalai
Lama to observe and experience vibrant Christian worship,
involving a full cross-section of our people."

However another contributor Alan Boyd said he believed that
the inter-faith event had been " courageous, meaningful,
uplifting, worshipful, gentle, emotional and timely."

The Rev Earl Story, the Director of the Church's Hard
Gospel Project, called on Dean McKelvey to publish the
Order of Service to help people become aware of whether "it
was an act of Christian worship or ... actually an
interfaith service."

Mr Storey also asked for episcopal guidance "as such
matters may arise in future."


Police Charges Considered For NI

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

The government is considering giving any future Northern
Ireland Assembly the power to raise a special police charge
in addition to the regional rate.

The charge, known as a "policing precept", is levied
throughout the rest of the UK as an element in council tax.

However, the chair of the Policing Board's finance
committee, DUP MP Sammy Wilson, is concerned that the
precept could be a "stealth tax" used to plug projected
deficits in the PSNI budget of anything between £50m and
£80m per year.

Currently, the annual PSNI budget is in the region of
£720m, but the Treasury is regularly asked to pay a top-up
within the financial year which can be between £30m and

Policing is an expensive and unpredictable business - the
cost of policing last September's loyalist disorder
associated with the Whiterock parade in west Belfast has
been estimated as £3m.

Recently, the government wrote to the Policing Board
warning members that in the medium term the purse strings
on the police would be tight.

As part of a comprehensive spending review of all areas of
government, two reviews are about to be launched which
could have an impact on policing.

One is described as a "value for money" review of police
and PSNI civilian staff numbers, another will deal with
community safety partnerships and district policing

The reviews are due to begin early next month and conclude
by June.

'Stay within budget'

One particularly expensive project is the new police
training college due to be built in Mid-Ulster.

Its capital cost is reckoned to be £130m. So far, the
government has secured up to £90m for the project.

In the longer term, the government is looking to follow the
example of police authorities elsewhere in the UK which are
estimated to raise around 16% to 18% of their costs

In Manchester, for example, people pay £110 per year
towards the police.

In Liverpool, the figure is £115 and in South Wales it has
just gone up to £126.

Manchester has just announced plans to axe 216 police
officer jobs to stay within its budget and its chief
constable has described his force's latest budget
settlement as deeply disappointing.

Government sources say a future NI assembly could use the
precept to enhance local policing, or could leave it at
zero if they don't want to raise the regional rate.

But Sammy Wilson is concerned that the new charge will be
used to meet basic policing costs.

He wonders whether the Treasury will remain ready to bail
the PSNI out after any future civil disorder, and he
questions whether central government will agree with local
politicians on the numbers of officers needed to police
Northern Ireland.

Water charges

Currently the PSNI has 7,500 officers. A reduction to 4,500
would bring it into line with the rest of the UK.

But Mr Wilson says such a move is "not logical, advisable
or desirable" given the unique security situation.

There are 820,000 ratepayers in Northern Ireland and the
average rates bill is £550.

So the kind of police top-up common in England, Scotland
and Wales would represent a significant increase in the
overall bill.

While water charges and increased rates are due to be
levied from April next year, it is not clear when, if ever,
the new "cop tax" might bite.

That is because it is being linked to the devolution of
policing and justice, which depends on agreement being
reached between unionists and nationalists.

Some ratepayers might think that is a good financial reason
for the politicians never to agree.

However, given the underlying economic realities if the
"precept" is not introduced, there is no guarantee that
direct rule ministers will not find some other way to make
people in Northern Ireland contribute more towards their
own policing.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/25 09:41:02 GMT


Arms? What About The Legs

Was it a case of accident or design when Sinn Fein
councillor Toireasa Ferris (pictured) was left exposed on
national television in the Republic? Ms Ferris, a graduate
of Queen's University, Belfast, tells Claire McNeilly how
she feels about being labelled the party's answer to Sharon

24 February 2006

No politician wants to be caught with their trousers down
... or their skirt up, especially on national television.
That's exactly what happened to pretty, blonde 25-year-old
Sinn Fein councillor Toireasa Ferris. She found herself
revealing much more than she intended during a live
interview on RTE flagship programme The Late Late Show. The
current mayor of Kerry, who lives in Ardfelt, had hoped a
spot on the show would make for good political PR.

Instead, she found herself savaged in the tabloid Press for
being "tarted up like a slapper in an outfit borrowed from
Peter Stringfellow".

Which seems a bit harsh given what really happened ...
after the Queen's University, Belfast, law graduate sat
down in a seat opposite chat show host Pat Kenny, her knee-
length skirt rose up to her nether regions. When she
crossed her legs in front of the cameras, there was little
left to the imagination.

No one on the set pointed out the problem to their
oblivious guest, who was left exposing a substantial amount
of flesh.

The 15-minute slot, which went out live in front of a 200-
strong studio audience and beamed into thousands of homes
across the country, has provoked much controversy.

In media circles down south, for instance, the images are
being compared to the infamous Sharon Stone police
interview in the risqué film Basic Instinct. (Mind you,
there's no suggestion that Toireasa wasn't wearing
underwear ... )

And, of course, there were the inevitable jibes. As one
Northern wag put it, the IRA might have given up their arms
but it's good to see they've still got their legs ...

Obviously, the young councillor, who has three brothers and
two sisters - Eamonn (32), Oonagh (26), Deidre (24), Cainan
(22) and Mairtin (20) - is bewildered, hurt and angry about
the attention to her appearance.

"My family and my long-term boyfriend, Patrick (Kelly) -
who is a Sinn Fein party activist - were livid when they
saw the programme," she says.

"But it's very difficult for any young woman to have her
personal appearance scrutinised.

"I have issues about my figure, anyhow, as I was 14 and a
half stone until recently and it was horrible to listen to
media wisecracks about cellulite etc."

But, surely, the furore over the incident begs another
question entirely? Namely, can a good-looking and
intelligent young woman ever be taken seriously in the ugly
world of male-dominated politics?

"I think they were trying to portray me as a bimbo," she
says, when pressed on the issue. "I have been involved in
politics full-time since 2003, but perhaps Pat Kenny
thought to himself: 'she's a pretty 25-year-old woman, this
should be easy'.

"It was my first live interview on a television chat show
and I was incredibly nervous - both backstage and on the

"Whatever way I sat down I must have caught the skirt up
when I crossed one leg over the other to stop them shaking
... I didn't have a clue my skirt had ridden up."

What, perhaps, is more incredible is that no one on the set
felt able to discreetly point out what had happened. One
wonders if, in the same scenario, a man's fly had been
undone would the cameras have continued to home in on it?

Toireasa says: "I just can't believe that Pat Kenny, the
cameramen and the people in the control room let me sit
like that for the entire interview. Why would they do
something like that?

"I'd like to give the producers the benefit of the doubt
... maybe they didn't want to put me off by interrupting
the interview?

"But I am angry that they kept showing the same shot over
and over again. The camera could easily have focused on a
different angle."

Ironically, in the immediate aftermath of the interview,
Toireasa, who is the daughter of Kerry TD and former
gunrunner Martin Ferris, reveals she felt pleased with her
performance on air.

However, she admits she was later confused when she
received a couple of text messages from friends saying
'nice legs'.

"I didn't know what had happened until I got back home at
4.30am and watched a video my parents had recorded. I burst
into tears. Obviously, the programme-makers had no respect
for me."

For many viewers, how she looked during the show was, of
course, a lot less important than what she said. Or didn't
say, as it transpired.

Despite repeated prompting from host Pat Kenny, her refusal
to condemn the killing of Det Garda Jerry McCabe unleashed
a backlash of criticism which culminated in a recent bid to
have her stripped of the Kerry mayorship.

Mr McCabe, who was born in Co Kerry, was shot dead by an
IRA gang during a botched post office robbery in Adare in

However, on Monday, the Fine Gael no confidence motion was
defeated in the Kerry chambers by 12 votes to eight, with
five abstentions.

That means she will remain head of council until her tenure
is over in five months' time.

But, as her dad is, after all, a convicted IRA terrorist,
perhaps it was naive of her not to have expected to have
been thrust into the line of fire by Kenny, whose job it is
to provide good TV?

"When I agreed to go onto the show I was told I would be
asked what it was like having a political prisoner as a
father and given the opportunity to talk about the book I
hope to write about my grandmother," she counters.

"But the whole interview seemed to centre on my father. In
fact, Pat Kenny never referred to me once as a person,
until the end, when he briefly touched on my childhood.

"I think he really wanted to interview my father but
thought I would be an easier target."

But although her 'over-exposure' on national television may
have embarrassed her, Toireasa's ambitions remain undented.

After all, this is the girl who, aged six, sent family
friend Gerry Adams a letter advising him how he could solve
Ireland's problems.

She quips: "He even wrote back and for a while there I
thought I was responsible for the peace process!"

So, does she foresee herself as a political figurehead of
the future, perhaps even in Belfast?

"Politically the burning issues are the same on both sides
of the border," she says. "But when I studied at Queen's, I
didn't actually live in Belfast. I picked my subjects so
they fell on the same day and I drove up and down over the
course of two years.

"I do, however, remember thinking there was a great buzz
about the place when I came up for graduation."

While there are those who will never believe women can
really cut it in politics, the Sinn Fein councillor remains
totally confident that they can.

She adds: "I work very hard and am successful at what I do.
I wouldn't categorise myself as a career politician, but I
will continue to serve my constituents for as long as they
want me."

÷RTE and the The Late, Late Show have been asked for a
statement but have so far failed to comment.


Jobs News Welcomed

By Ciarán O’Neill

Thousands of privatised jobs in the North could soon return
to the public sector, it was predicted yesterday.

The relevant jobs were privatised in the 1980s as part of
the then Conservative British government’s compulsory
competitive tendering scheme.

Trade union officials yesterday said many of these jobs
could soon return to the public sector. The prediction
followed confirmation from a Derry-based health trust that
300 catering and cleaning jobs privatised in 1989 are to be
returned to the trust’s control.

The health service union Unison welcomed the decision by
Foyle Health and Social Services Trust.

It is understood that several other health trusts in the
North are considering proposals to return many privatised
jobs to their control.

Unison regional officer David Murray said the privatisation
of the jobs had led to staff being paid less and working
under less favourable terms and conditions than staff
working in the National Health Service.

“I am absolutely overjoyed that these workers will be
coming back to NHS employment in November,” he said.

“The compulsory competitive tendering regime was unfair and
led to people being employed on a very poor rate of pay and
conditions of service. This return will give the workforce
the full NHS terms and conditions as well as access to the
NHS pensions scheme.

“I believe that it will also significantly improve the
quality of the service that is offered to the patients of
the trust,” said Mr Murray.

The Unison official said he was hopeful that many more
public-sector bodies would look again at the issue of
privatised jobs.

“We believe that the services by the public sector are at
their best when controlled by public bodies,” he said.

“We are hopeful that other bodies will follow the example
of the Foyle health trust and ensure that their staff have
better rights and working conditions.”

The decision by the Foyle health trust to return the jobs
to the public sector was made possible by a circular issued
four years ago by the Northern Ireland assembly.


Opin: So Who Turned The Lights Out, Sir Reg?

Lindy McDowell
25 February 2006

How many Ulster Unionists does it take to change a light
bulb? Who's to say? But it seems there are any amount of
them out there these days, with plenty of time on their
hands should their services in household maintenance be

Recently UUP MLA Samuel Gardiner hit the headlines with a
call that traditional lightbulbs should be banned in favour
of the energy-saving, eco-friendly alternatives.

When I say he hit the headlines I am not talking front page
exclusive. But he did get a fair amount of coverage. And
that in itself, really, is the most newsy bit.

Never mind lightbulbs. How long is it since you heard
ANYTHING illuminating from the UUP?

Anything about their party policies? Their party strategy?

What has happened to the Unionist Party?

A couple of months ago I asked this same question, although
I conceded at the time that maybe, in the aftermath of
their election mangling by the DUP, they were regrouping
and taking time for the new leadership team under the
management of Sir Reg Empey to bed down.

Well, there's bedding down and then there's going
underground entirely ....

The UUP, once the main voice of unionism in Northern
Ireland, has vanished from the radar almost without trace.

When were you last struck by a robust campaign or even
comment from the UUP leadership?

Who can even name the UUP "front row" any more?

Nope, me neither.

It's not just Sir Reg himself who has seemingly retreated
into the shadows. Alan McFarland the candidate who ran him
a close second for leadership is rarely heard from either.

Has the UUP taken a communal oath of silence?

And no, this is not about being snide or taking a cheap pop
for the sake of it. I'm genuinely baffled.

True, the party had its wings badly clipped in that
meltdown election. But it's had plenty of time since then
to stage a comeback.

Take the SDLP, whose political obituary was also being
written in the post-election period. The SDLP led by Mark
Durkan who was hardly seen (back then) as one of our
political giants.

In the period since, the SDLP under Durkan has got its act
together in impressive style. Like the UUP it had suffered
not just from the loss of the confidence of its traditional
voters but from the retirement of party big hitters - in
the SDLP case the likes of John Hume, Seamus Mallon, Brid

Durkan, however, has come out fighting with an impressive
team around him, and just as important, a clear, defined
policy on the big issues of concern to the party's
constituency. There's at least a hint of fire there.

The UUP on the other hand flickers like a light bulb in an
empty warehouse.

The decline of the Unionist Party may not strike some as a
major cause for concern. But even non-unionist observers
would concede that one (particularly strident) voice
representing an entire side of the community is not
especially constructive in a political process where, we're
constantly told, it's felt important that all shades of
opinion should be reflected.

The UUP, as I said before, may well be working away
furiously even as we speak, at a new battle strategy.

But there's little evidence of it in the public arena.

The odd statement here, the odd headline captured there.

Your party's worrying about changing lightbulbs, Sir Reg.

To some of us, it looks like your power supply has already
been disconnected.

The Terrible Secret

Women. They say they can't keep a secret. Well they can. In
Northern Ireland, anyway.

The family and friends of Lisa Dorrian, who disappeared a
year ago, firmly believe that someone is helping keep
secret how this young woman died. And who killed her. And
the likelihood is that among those who keep that terrible,
dirty secret will be a woman.

How does she do it?

It wouldn't take much to make that call - the one which
could give Lisa's suffering family some small sense of

Until those who know what happened that night come forward,
the killers will be shielded.

How can those who keep that secret live with it?

And how can they live with themselves?


Willie Would Turn In Grave

Reports reveal that the UVF is planning to cynically "stand
down" its terrorist army at this year's 90th anniversary
ceremony at Somme. Presumably this is a desperate and
deluded attempt to convey the impression that there is some
sort of connection between those who bravely when over the
top in the First World War. And a pack of cowardly
sectarian killers.

Time perhaps, for a new chorus of an old classic...?

Now how are you doing, young Willie McBride? Do you see
what's assembled around your graveside?

They're here to parade in the warm, summer sun.

To try to suggest that you're somehow as one.

But these thugs by your gravestone, don't deserve to be

With the honourable Fallen of 1916.

For young Willie McBride, you fought well and fought clean.

But this other lot here, they're just low and obscene.

Did they face their foe squarely? Did they target them
fairly? Did they give them a chance as they spray gunned
them down? Does this band full of drug dealing hallions,
think we see them as regular battalions?

Now, young Willie McBride I assume you're surprised.

By this terrorist gang on PR exercise.

Did they really believe when you answered the call?

That you'd anything remotely in common at all?

For the hurt they inflicted, the suffering, the pain,

The killing and maiming it was all a stain.

On the memory of heroes whom nobody sane.

Would besmirch with this link to a terrorist chain.

St Pat's Day: Mega Bucks Again?

Gerry Adams may get invited to the White House on St
Patrick's Day after all this year.

Apparently, so the thinking goes, the Bush administration
would find it difficult not to ask him, given the IRA's
much trumpeted act of decommissioning.

Maybe while he's there, he could talk Dick Cheney into

Anyway, after the traditional White House lunch of shamrock
and blarney, he'll be hoping to head off later that evening
for a spot of traditional Sinn Fein fundraising.

Will Gerry get a visa to enable him to take part in the
bucket rattling? That's still in doubt.

What's not in doubt is that St Patrick's Day is Christmas
for Sinn Fein in fundraising terms. It's mega bucks.

On top of the mega bucks already gushing into the
republican movement's coffers from its other many and
varied business, terrorist and criminal interests.

All that and there's even a lucrative sideline for the boys
- spying for MI5.

In fact, republicans currently makes a fortune on
everything from dodgy diesel to bank robbery. (P O'Neill.
Has anyone checked out if he's got an alibi for that Kent
bank raid that's a re-run of the Northern Bank raid?)

I've asked this before. I ask it again.

What IS the republican movement doing with all the vast,
unimaginable wealth it has been accumulating?

Just who precisely is cashing in?


Opin: Money, Money, Money Uncovered By Tribunal


For a brief, heart-stopping moment in a debate on the Mahon
tribunal and corrupt payments to politicians, Bertie Ahern
was heard to say: “I never condemn wrongdoing in any area.”

Oops! A not-so-quiet stage whisper from the Tánaiste had
him quickly explain that he really meant “condone”: “I
never condone wrongdoing.”

However, the same day, the Fianna Fáilers refused to hold
an investigation into the failure of two senior FFers to
tell the whole truth to a Fianna Fáil inquiry into corrupt

The Mahon tribunal is enjoying a new lease of life as it
investigates allegations by the lobbyist Frank Dunlop that
he bribed nine councillors over efforts to have land
rezoned at Ballycullen. Political donations to 20
politicians by the landowner Christopher Jones are also
being examined. It all makes for interesting reading and is
a hot subject of gossip in the corridors of power.

The fact is that it is hard to keep up with the changes
that some witnesses are bringing to their account of
events. The lapses of memory are unforgettable. Fianna Fáil
senator Don Lydon admitted forgetting to tell the Fianna
Fáil inquiry about IR£7,000 he received from Jones. He
denied a claim by Dunlop that he had been paid IR£2,000 to
support the Ballycullen rezoning.

In October 1992, Lydon had seconded the motion to Dublin
County Council on the rezoning. When it was pointed out to
him that IR£1,900 had been paid into his bank account six
days after Dunlop allegedly gave him the money, Lydon said
this was his own money, which he kept because his wife
liked antiques. For his part, the Fianna Fáil deputy GV
Wright admitted not telling the inquiry he had received

This is not the first time both men have failed to provide
the tribunal with information on donations.

Other parties have also found their behaviour criticised in
recent days at the tribunal.

As readers will recall, Comrade Pat Rabbitte is to give
evidence to the tribunal over claims by Dunlop that he gave
IR£3,000 to the Labour leader.

The revelations around donations received by Lydon and
Wright have exposed as woefully inadequate the internal
party inquiries held after the initial allegations into
planning corruption five years ago.

Fine Gael councillor Michael Joe Cosgrave did not tell his
party inquiry about a donation of IR£1,000 while former TD
Liam Cosgrave told the party inquiry that he had received
only IR£3,500 when in fact it was almost double that. As
the Mahon tribunal continues with its work, further lapses
of memory and donations to political figures are likely to

Up Dev?

The political fallout from Bertie’s minor reshuffle of a
junior ministerial post continues to reverberate. The
Taoiseach is often described by friend and foe alike as
“cunning”, “a shrewd operator”, “wily” and much more. But
his handling of the Ivor Callely affair and resignation,
and the inept playing out of the events around the filling
of that post have generated a nervousness within the Fianna
Fáil rank and file.

Bertie’s comments on Clare Radio the Friday before last —
in which he spoke of a “tradition over a long number of
years” that, if somebody is not running in the next
election, they “bow out and give somebody else a chance” —
could hardly have been taken as anything other than a
criticism of Síle de Valera.

And yet, according to Síle de Valera, the two had agreed a
deal last November that would see her hold onto her job
until this December. Why did Bertie allow days of hurtful
media speculation about his relationship with Dev’s
granddaughter to continue when a simple statement
explaining this would have defused the controversy?

Why did he allow acres of newsprint to be published
suggesting a dispute between the two? And what must Seán
Haughey make of all of this?

It is said there comes a time in the life of a long-running
government when it becomes tired, loses focus and
confidence, and becomes susceptible to mistakes, even over
minor issues. Is Bertie at that point?

Bird Flu Preparations

This week saw the inaugural meeting of the expert group
established by the government to advise on controls
necessary to prevent the spread of avian flu. A useful,
worthwhile initiative but why has it taken so long?

The threat posed by avian flu has been the topic of
international conversation and fear for well over a year.

Dr Darina O’Flanagan, director of the Health Protection
Surveillance Centre, gave a stark assessment of the human
consequences of a flu pandemic when she addressed the
Oireachtas committee on health and children last week. Up
to 5,000 dead and at least 14,000 in hospital — “but it
could be worse”, she said.

How will the already stressed health service, with hundreds
on trolleys in corridors, cope with all of this? One member
of the Health Service Executive said most people would be
treated in their homes and would be told to go to their GP
and not A&E. Not a stand likely to engender confidence in
the state’s preparedness.

Agriculture minister Mary Coughlan seems to be placing a
lot of her hopes in Ireland escaping bird flu because of
bird migratory patterns. However, the Belfast
environmentalist Aidan Crean warned that birds returning to
Ireland in the late summer and autumn from their Arctic
breeding grounds could pose a real danger.

An important and necessary step that should be taken now is
to ensure that any response to bird flu is co-ordinated on
an all-Ireland basis. Pandemics are no respecters of

Love, Love, Love

The citizens of Dublin have seen many unusual sights over
the years. Today’s Love Ulster parade will surely rank as
one of the more unusual. When the campaign was launched
last year, this column read the special edition newspaper
that accompanied it.

I found little in it to persuade me to “love” the “Ulster”
promoted by the march organisers. It was an entirely
negative, anti-republican hate sheet.

But whatever about all of that, I am sure the good citizens
of Dublin will give the march the reception it deserves.

That is, it should be accorded exactly the same attention
as any other fringe event. Any other response could play
into the hands of the organisers. They intend to be
provocative. Don’t be provoked.


Opin: Bomb Revelations Are Not Surprising


The revelation that the British security service, MI5,
withheld crucial intelligence information in the lead-up to
the Omagh bomb in 1998 will come as no surprise to those
familiar with the machinations of such shady organisations.
The fact emerged during an investigation into an FBI agent
who was working as a double agent inside the Real IRA at
the time of the attack.

To MI5 and the other agencies of British intelligence, the
lives of ordinary people are of little concern in their
efforts to achieve their broader goals – in this case the
undermining of republicans and the destruction of
republicanism as a political force. The nameless, faceless
individuals who pull the strings behind the scenes care no
more about the death of 29 innocent people than did the
people who planted the bomb.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan tied the news in with the recent
decision to expand MI5 operations in the North. “Allowing
MI5 to have a lead role in intelligence in Northern Ireland
would be like appointing Herod as children’s commissioner.”
He’s right, of course, but it is also true to say that none
of the various intelligence arms of the British state is
any less cynical and callous. Spies and spooks lie and hide
and cover up – it’s what they do. And it has been an
unwritten rule that no matter what they do, no matter what
outrage they commit in the ‘defence of the realm’, they
will not be brought to book, unless, of course, they blow
the whistle, at which point they will very speedily feel a
hand on their collar.

The families of the victims say the failure to come forward
with vital information that may have stopped the bombers in
their tracks is criminal negligence. Clearly, it is just
that. But the prospect of anyone from MI5 ending up in the
dock for their role in the Omagh carnage is slim to non-
existent. It would be nice to think that those who kept
this information to themselves with such devastating
results will some day be made accountable for their
actions, but that won’t happen. It would be nice to think
that the British will stop lecturing the rest of us on
morality, but that won’t happen either. This is the same
British government, remember, which continues to stick two
fingers up to the Irish people and to the basic concepts of
justice and fair play by refusing to co-operate with the
Oireachtas inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombs. The
Irish government says Sinn Féin still has a number of hoops
to jump through before it can be considered a coalition
partner, the issue of ‘criminality’ in particular.

Would that it would be as forthright in telling the British
that the dirty war needs to stop and that the spooks and
spies need to be sent home, not increased in number.

The Irish government is the only one of the players in this
drama with any power to do anything about all this. The
longer the Irish government continues to turn a blind eye
and treat such behaviour as acceptable, the more the
British government will feel free to indulge in it.


Opin: Oh Ireland, "Division Is Inevitable"

By Alan McCann
Exclusive to VirtueOnline

The Church of Ireland prides itself on being an 'all
Ireland' body which in its naiveté it believes also spans
the divide politically between the predominantly Unionist
North and Nationalist South. Within the Church of Ireland
it is safe to say that the further North you travel the
more conservative, low church and evangelical the
grassroots, and to a large extent clergy, you will

Nothing shows this divide as clearly as the issue of human

Down and Dromore, Cloougher, and Kilmore, Ardagh and Elphin
dioceses all passed resolutions supporting Lambeth 1.10,
Added to this the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt. Rev. Ken
Good (who was not at Lambeth 1998) stated that he would
have voted in support of Lambeth 1.10. Connor Diocese had a
hung vote on the issue in June 2004, the vote being lost
because many evangelicals left early whilst the liberals
stayed to vote on the issue.

However, it was interesting that the liberal revisionists
were concerned enough about the vote that they attempted to
stop the motion being debated on procedural grounds on
three occasions during the synod. So it is apparent that
there are clear lines of division within the Church of
Ireland on the issue of human sexuality. In September 2003
the house of Bishops issued a Pastoral Letter on Human
Sexuality. The letter outlined four viewpoints held within
the House of Bishops. Each viewpoint was said to be
consonant with scripture, whereas the truth is only
viewpoint 1 was in fact faithful to the biblical teaching.

The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy
( ) described the letter as 'Smoke and
Mirrors.' Some senior evangelical clergy had a series of
meetings with some of the Bishops to discuss the letter and
to air their opposition to the other 3 viewpoints. It is
fair to say that nothing of any consequence emerged from
the meeting and that frustration has grown at the lack of
clear biblical leadership by the evangelical bishops on
this issue. Towards the end of 2005 there appeared a series
of articles in both the church press and the secular media
from leading liberal establishment figures in the south of
Ireland advocating an acceptance of same-sex relationships.
This coincided with the advent of the 'civil-partnership'
law in the UK, which came into force in the North of
Ireland in December 2005.

This was further supported by a series of sermons by
leading liberal revisionist advocates supporting the
acceptance of same-sex relationships. Dean Michael Burrows
(Cork), Dean Robert MacCarthy (St Patrick's Cathedral,
Dublin) and Dean White all advocated the acceptance of
same-sex relationships. This concerted, and to many, a co-
coordinated assault on biblical teaching went unanswered by
the House of Bishops. It was enough to prompt Reform
Ireland ( ) to issue a public call for
biblical leadership from within the Church of Ireland and
the House of Bishops in particular. To date no bishop has
spoken out to challenge such viewpoints or to reprimand
those who advocate such change. 2006 looks like it could be
a year of turmoil for the Church of Ireland. Towards the
end of 2005 Dean Houston McKelvey (St Anne's, Belfast)
invited the Dalai Lama to address a multi-faith service
within Belfast Cathedral. This led some prominent members
of the chapter to publicly distance themselves and to
rebuke the dean for his actions. This is not the first time
that Dean McKelvey has courted controversy. When the
primates of the Anglican Communion came to Dromantine he
invited Bishop Frank Griswold(Primate of ECUSA) to preach
at the morning Holy Communion, again leading to a furor at
his actions.

Then Bishop Peter Barret (Cashel and Ossory) resigned on
the 25th January 2006. Only later did it transpire that the
reason for his resignation was, according to the secular
press, that he had begun a relationship with a married
Roman Catholic woman whom he had known for many years. He
left his wife, of 25 years, and three children and also
apparently left Ireland for England. The lack of
information concerning the reasons for his resignation led
Noel Coghlan, a prominent layman in the southern part of
the church, to accuse the hierarchy of an 'information
clampdown' and of 'hounding Bishop Barrett out of the

To date such claims are unsubstantiated and no comment has
come from Archbishop John Neill (Dublin), who accepted
Bishop Barrett's resignation. The electoral college for the
appointment of the new bishop of Cashel and Ossory is set
for March 31st. The person appointed, and there has been
media speculation that it could be a women, will no doubt
come from the ranks of the liberal establishment. Leading
liberals such as Dean Michael Burrows are being suggested.
Such an appointment, or someone of similar liberal
revisionist views, would only reinforce the impression that
there is such an agenda being actively pushed in the Church
of Ireland. Then just when it appeared that things were
settling down to their usual sleepy ways in the Church of
Ireland, Limerick Diocese (Bishop Michael Mayes) announced
that it was renewing its link with the Diocese of New
Hampshire. Ironically as the Limerick Diocesan Magazine was
announcing this renewal Bishop Gene Robinson (New
Hampshire) was booking himself into a rehabilitation clinic
for alcohol related problems. Rev Bob Hanna, the author of
the piece announcing the renewed link, praised Bishop Gene
as "a wonderfully Charismatic leader, a renowned pastor of
clergy and people and a truly evangelical High churchman,
who represents the very best of our great Anglican
tradition. With his courage, pragmatism, courtesy and zeal
for the Church's health in modern times we have much to
learn from his example."

Once again controversy has been ignited by this
announcement. EFIC had in the past challenged Bishop Mayes
(Limerick) for his attendance (but non-participation) at
the consecration of Gene Robinson, and his diocesan council
to break the link with New Hampshire. EFIC had engaged in
debate in the Limerick Leader (the local press) on the link
and the issue of same-sex relationships. This tactic was
reveled the emergence of a much more confident and
politically savvy evangelical constituency within the
Church of Ireland. it was no coincidence that this approach
coincided with the election of a new committee (of younger
and older evangelicals) to oversee EFIC.

Upon the announcement that the link was to be renewed
Reform Ireland published a hard hitting critique on the
issue and spoke of division and broken fellowship being the
inevitable outcome. This is not the first time that Rev Bob
Hanna has courted controversy. He made national news
headlines by becoming engaged to a Presbyterian Minster
(female) only for it subsequently to emerge that she was
expecting his child. They later married, but not before the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland had removed her from her
charge. Ironically she was ordained later by the Church of
Ireland. leading many to ask where was 'church discipline?'
So what about Archbishop Eames in all of this. He is feted
within the Anglican Communion as the 'great fixer.' His
astute handling of issues such as women's ordination and
the Windsor Report has endeared him to many within the
wider Anglican family. Interestingly he was once described
as the 'divine optimist.' There is no doubt that he is a
very shrewd and wise political operator. His handling of
the peace process in Northern Ireland clearly reveals a
sharp mind, a political brain and an ability to handle the
media which many politicians covet. In a recent biography
Alf McCreery quotes several people who point out that he
says a lot to the media but upon examination you realize he
has in fact said very little.

He is the epitome of T S Elliot's 'straw men', all image
and no substance when dealing with the media. That is why
he invariably becomes the spokesman at meetings of the
Anglican primates. He bats easily and comfortably at the
media crease. No matter what they bowl at him he plays it
with a straight bat and no one can recall an occasion when
he has made a faux pas in front of the camera. But what
about within the Church of Ireland. It is generally rumored
that 2006 could see him announce his retirement.

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland is to be held in
Armagh this year and many see this as an opportunity to
announce his retirement. The more cynical believe he will
announce it before the synod so that it is not blighted by
the human sexuality issue. If he does announce his
retirement there is no doubt that the next Archbishop of
Armagh will not have the same standing as Lord Eames. It is
also generally accepted that it is Lord Eames who holds the
House of Bishops together and pushes the 'collegiality'
mentality that seems to dominate it at present. With his
departure many believe such 'collegiality' will fail and
the real divisions will appear, especially as it will be
one of the remaining house who will be elected to the See
of Armagh. The truth is that the Church of Ireland has a
veneer of unity but it is exactly that - a veneer. The
church is riven with division. There is an emerging
generation of evangelical clergy who are prepared to break
fellowship with their diocesan bishop over the issue of
human sexuality. Several have already written to their
Bishop, with the support of their Select Vestry, to express
just such sentiments. Many older evangelicals have come to
the conclusion that division is inevitable and when they
look at diocesan and central church structures they see
nothing which promotes the gospel but much which absorbs
resources and energy away from parishes and the real work
of the church.

These older evangelicals, whilst not always agreeing with
the more strident militancy of the younger generation, are
encouraging the younger men to stand firm and fight for the
heart of the church of Ireland to remain true to the
gospel. The younger generation are far more media savvy
than their elders and they are also far more politically
astute, being willing to take the imitative and are not
prepared to allow the liberals to set the agenda. In the
year ahead we will invariably see the battle lines being
drawn more clearly .

Lord Eames may well be relieved that he no longer has the
burden of 'uniting' a rapidly dividing Church. Ironically
he has launched a new project called 'The Hard Gospel'.
This imitative may well prove to be the catalyst for
revealing the deep divisions within the Church of Ireland,
North and South. Only the naive, or the blind, do not
believe that division is inevitable within the Church of
Ireland. There are several parishes, and clergy, who will
have no qualms in telling their bishop he is not welcome
and seeking alternative Episcopal oversight.

There are many who are quietly waiting to see if any of the
'evangelical bishops' will give a lead to the orthodox
within the Church of Ireland. Like all things in Ireland
what you see on the surface is never the reality. The
Church of Ireland appears united but the reality is that it
is divided and the cracks are beginning to appear. 2006
will see those cracks widen and some very important battles
for the gospel lie ahead. It is clear that EFIC and Reform
Ireland appear to be leading the evangelical constituency
on a biblical course which will lead to collision with many
diocesan bishops. All we can do is pray that they remain
faithful to the historic faith and the biblical teaching of
the Church of Ireland and that they have the courage to
engage in this battle in the year ahead.

For more on the issues on state of the Province of Ireland
go to where information on the issues
raised in this article can be found.

--The Rev. Alan McCann is Rector of Holy Trinity Woodburn,
Diocese of Connor. He is a founding member of Reform
Ireland. Holy Trinity is the youngest parish in the Church
of Ireland, being a church plant from St Nicholas'
Carrickfergus. Membership is now 300. McCann received his
B.A.(Hons) in Business Studies at the University Ulster,
Jordanstown, before doing his B.Th. at Trinity College
Dublin. He completed his M.Phil at The Queens University,
Belfast, and wrote his thesis on the 'The Charismatic
Movement in the Church of Ireland, a Historical and
Theological Introduction.'


Man Crushed In Beer Keg 'Party Trick'

'Act of bravado' ends in tragedy

By Clare Weir
25 February 2006

The death of a young man who died as he tried to lift a
beer keg over his head in an act of bravado has prompted an
Ulster coroner to warn bar owners of the dangers of such

An inquest in Omagh heard yesterday that Gerald Anthony
Gallen (20), of Millbank Court in the town was at Scholars
Bar, Castlederg, on May 17 2003 when the keg landed on his
head after he fell while lifting it.

Illinois-born Gallen, known to pals as "The Yank" died
later at Tyrone County Hospital. The coroner John Leckey
said he would be writing to Strabane District Council's
chief health and safety officer after hearing the incident
was considered a "party trick" at local bars.

He also expressed concern that the an off-duty barmaid
snatched keys to a locked room to get the keg. Reading from
the Post Mortem, Mr Lecky recorded that Mr Gallen, a
welder, died as a result of bruising and swelling to the

There was a severe fracture across the base of his skull
from one side to the other.

Mr Lecky said that Gallen had 270 milligrams of alcohol per
100ml of blood affecting his balance and his judgement.

Omagh Coroner's Court heard from Caroline Duggan (21), a
part-time barmaid, her sister Charlene (27), who was full
time but was off duty that night, and part-timer Christine
Rush (20) who said the deceased had been drinking vodka and
was "tipsy".

Caroline Duggan said one of Gerald's pals performed a trick
with a stool. Another, 'Junior' Kelly, said he could hold a
beer keg over his head. He asked for one but she refused,
saying someone might get hurt.

However she said her sister Charlene took the keys to a
store from her and got a full keg.

Giving evidence, a tearful Charlene Duggan said that after
Mr Kelly lifted the keg, Mr Gallen also tried. On his
second attempt she said his arms "seemed to buckle" and he
fell back head first followed by the keg. James Oliver
'Junior' Kelly said he lifted the keg off his friend's

Sergeant Keith Hicks called the accident "an act of
bravado". Outside court Hicks said: "We urge all bars not
to allow this."


Curling In Texas Is A Stone's Throw Away

10:04 PM CST on Friday, February 24, 2006

DUNCANVILLE, Texas – The sport of curling was invented
almost 500 years ago by Scottish farmers who were very,
very bored.

It’s much like the great American sport of shuffleboard but
requires even less athleticism.

The second-oldest curling club in Texas – the DFW Curling
Club – traces its roots all the way back to 2002.

Feeling the Olympic fervor following the Salt Lake City
Games, the Fort Worth-based club began by spending about
$20,000 on 64 granite stones (45 pounds apiece), which
sounds like a completely reasonable purchase.

DFW Curling Club

DFW Curling Club membership director Chuck McCue calls a
shot. He wears a kilt to honor his Scottish ancestry.

The club consists of 40 members, 32 of whom curl on a
regular basis and eight people who have entirely too much
time on their hands.

And now let’s get to the point of why someone would
actually write a column on curling. On Friday, our men’s
team won America’s first Olympic medal in curling, which
would even be more impressive if the sport didn’t take 50-
year breaks in competition. But since our Olympic bunch
hasn’t exactly dominated the Turin Games, we’ll take it.

For the handful of you who didn’t wake up at 6 a.m. to
watch MSNBC’s coverage of the bronze medal match, you
should be ashamed. The Americans overcame some “keen” ice
and overwhelmed the British team, 8-6, in front of what
appeared to be several fans in Pinerolo, Italy.

The victory was slightly marred by a streaker, which is odd
since curling has yearned for more coverage. Friday’s
victory sent shockwaves across D-FW, which you may or may
not have felt.

The local curling club’s membership director, Chuck McCue,
who competes while wearing a Scottish kilt to honor his
ancestry, celebrated Friday’s astonishing victory by
changing his truck’s rear brake pads.

“This is huge,” said the 6-2, 300-pound former semi-pro
football player.

In case you didn’t know, this is the required size for
American men who wear Scottish kilts in public.

“Some guy working at Staples asked me if I’d lost a bet the
other day,” said McCue. “But most folks don’t mess with
me.” The DFW club will be hosting an open house at
Duncanville’s Dr Pepper StarCenter from 4-7 p.m. Saturday
and 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s easy to make fun of,” said McCue, “but once you
deliver a rock, you’ll be hooked forever.”

Think I’ll just take your word on that one, Chuck.



Ulster Call To Join The Metric Set

By Marie Foy
25 February 2006

Time has come for the metrication of speed limits and
distances on Northern Ireland roads, the Alliance Party's
youth wing said yesterday.

The group is backing the call for change before the London
Olympics in 2012.

The 30mph limit would become 50kph, 50mph would be 80kph
and 60mph would be 100kph under the proposals.

The recommendation came in a report produced by the UK
Metric Association, which says the conversion could be done
for £80m, though opponents claim it would cost 'billions'.

The AA warned of danger on the roads during the transition
period and said it would take far longer than five years.

But the Alliance body chairman, Ian James Parsley, said
last night: "I asked Roads Service for clarification on
this issue, and it has made it clear that the UK is obliged
under EU directives to change over from miles to
kilometres, just as has happened in the Irish Republic.

"I appreciate that in some ways the old units have great
appeal. There is a degree of sentiment and even nostalgic
pride in retaining the old measurement system on our roads,
which has served us perfectly well for centuries.

"In this context, there would be some merit in the argument
that the changeover is a waste of money were it not for the
fact that the UK is already obliged to do it. So why not
set the London Olympics as the deadline?"

He said that the UK in fact started the conversion to
metric before even entering the EEC in 1965, so it was
ludicrous that we were in a 'half-way house' while
countries like Canada, Australia, and the Irish Republic
have changed over.

"The UK's roads are in fact built to metric speed standards
- motorways, for example, are built for a 120kmh limit
rather than a 70mph one."

But a spokesman for the Transport Department said switching
road signs was not on their agenda at this stage.


A Royal Che, Or More Of A Mandela?

The revelation that Prince Charles sees himself as a
'dissident' may help his image, writes Róisín Ingle.

We may have thought he was just talking to plants and
railing against architectural eyesores all these years but
according to revelations in High Court in London this week,
Prince Charles had even bigger fish to fry. Giving evidence
for a newspaper the prince is suing over publication of his
private diaries, former aide Mark Bolland revealed that the
heir to the British throne sees himself as a "dissident"
firing off memos to government officials in a bid to
influence opinion. Bolland also claimed that the prince
boycotted a 1999 Chinese embassy banquet out of respect for
Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The protest-
loving Prince Charles has been unmasked.

Inevitably, speculation has followed as to the kind of
"dissident" Prince Charles might consider himself to be. Is
he a Che figure, or a bit of a Nelson Mandela? His missives
on everything from compo culture to the flaws of world
leaders were circulated to his staff as well as to

"I was always surprised that these letters were not treated
as more sensitive and, indeed, was always surprised that
they were written at all," said Bolland. He recalls seeing
files which "denounced the elected leaders of other
countries in extreme terms". One can't help wondering
whether at any stage he gave the Taoiseach a lash with his

The prince is suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing
extracts of his journal covering a trip to Asia for the
handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The journal
contains scathing criticism of the Chinese government and
shows that the prince has a sense of humour many might have
doubted existed. Lawyers for the prince argued that his
journals should remain private, but the newspaper claimed
that printing leaked documents is a "classic journalistic

However embarrassing the revelations might be for the
British government - constitutionally, the royals are
expected to steer clear of politics - the truth is that
this week's insights into the mind of the heir to the
British throne are likely to endear him to his subjects
more than anything since his marriage to Diana in 1981.
Because whatever the judge eventually decides, everyone
agrees that the secret diary of Prince Charles is
entertaining stuff.

It begins on board a Boeing 747 en route to Hong Kong,
where the prince is dismayed to discover that while he and
his staff are in club class, the likes of Paddy Ashdown,
Robin Cook and Douglas Hurd are ensconced in first class on
the deck below.

"It took me some time to realise this was not first class
(!) although it puzzled me as to why the seat seemed so
uncomfortable," he writes. "Such is the end of the Empire,
I sighed to myself . . ."

On arrival, he expresses sadness at the decommissioning of
Royal Yacht Britannia and recalls Madeleine Albright
"devouring" home-made Danish pastries on board. He also
records his concern about the fate of Hong Kong after
Britain's departure, his "sneaking worry about creeping
corruption and the gradual undermining of Hong Kong's
greatest strength - the rule of law."

Next he gives his opinion of Tony Blair, faintly praising
the British prime minister: "He is a most enjoyable person
- perhaps partly due to his being younger than me! He also
gives the impression of listening to what one says, which I
find astounding."

But the fact that Blair only spent a short time in Hong
Kong irritated the prince, as did his suspicion that the
prime minister would return home to "take decisions based
on marketing research or focus groups". This week, Blair
defended the prince's right to express his views. When
asked by reporters whether the royal had overstepped the
bounds of his position, he quipped: "I don't think I can
answer that question until I have had the focus group."

Back in Hong Kong, after being moved almost to tears by
hearing Elgar's Nimrod Variations played after governor
Chris Patten's speech, his account of giving his own speech
in the rain on a soggy red carpet, is quintessential Grumpy
Old Man: "I had a premonition that the heavens would open
in a serious fashion just as I got up to speak . . . the
rain came lashing down and I found myself standing at the
lectern trying to make sense of my speech which by now had
become a soggy mess of paper pulp and each page stuck
together. Never before had I been called to make a speech

In the journal the Chinese president's officials are
dismissed as "appalling old waxworks" and a ceremony where
Chinese soldiers goose-stepped on stage to haul down the
Union Jack is depicted as an "awful Soviet-style display".

There are other "travel journals" at issue, showing the
human face behind the stiff upper lip. Last year Prince
Charles told a US TV station that the British public would
only appreciate him after he was "dead and gone".

A few well-placed leaks of the other journals he has
written on his travels might see that public appreciation
come while he is still alive.

© The Irish Times


North: John Kerry To Give Lecture

23/01/2006 - 14:13:20

Former US Presidential candidate John Kerry is to become
the latest senior American politician to deliver at lecture
at one of the North’s universities.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who ran US President
George W Bush close in the 2004 election as the Democrats’
candidate, will deliver the Tip O’Neill lecture at the
University of Ulster’s Magee campus in Derry on Sunday.

He has been invited by former SDLP leader John Hume and
will address the issue of “Security in the 21st Century”.

Previous speakers have included former US President Bill
Clinton, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former European Commission
president Romano Prodi, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and
former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald.

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

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

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


Connolly Role Up For Debate

By David Lynch

The political role that the Easter Rising martyr, James
Connolly, played between 1914 and 1916 will be debated in
Dublin next week.

As discussions intensify in the run-up to the 90th
anniversary of the 1916 Rising, a series of lectures on the
period is planned for Dublin.

The James Connolly Education Trust is to organise a series
of meetings, with the first one taking place next week. The
speaker will be Manus O’Riordan, the head of research of
the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union.
He will address the topic of Connolly, the World War, and

Eugene McCartan, an organiser of the lecture series, said:
“The series will deal with the 1916 Rising. They will be of
interest and should provide a good antidote to the ongoing
attacks on the Rising in the national media.

“The first talk will deal with the attitude of James
Connolly to World War I and the reason why he felt the
Rising should take place.

“With talk radio and newspaper column inches raising
questions about the Rising, the reasons for it, questions
about poppies, [and claims] that it was a stab in the back
to the Irish fighting in Europe for the freedom of small
nations, the series will culminate with a weekend of events
on the 12 to 14 May in Liberty Hall, Ireland Institute and
Arbour Hill Cemetery.”

The role of James Connolly in the Rising is beginning to be
addressed in a number of forums this year. The Labour Party
is to hold a series of meetings under the banner of the
Liberty Project this year to discuss the role that the
labour movement played in the Rising.

Rascal Films is working on a film about the life and times
of the Edinburgh-born socialist republican.

• Manus O’Riordan’s lecture on Connolly, the World War, and
1916 will begin at 8pm on Tuesday at the Ireland Institute,
27 Pearse Street, Dublin.

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