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February 13, 2006

Finucanes & Paisley: A Listening Exercise?

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 02/13/06 Finucanes & Paisley: Just A Listening Exercise?
BT 02/13/06 Bill Lays Ground For Handover Of Power
IN 02/13/06 SDLP Proposes All-Ireland Plan
BB 02/13/06 Call For All-Ireland Police Body
BN 02/13/06 Britain Publish Plans For Dev Of Policing
BT 02/13/06 SDLP Slams Ulster Spy Role For MI5
SF 02/13/06 Govts Must Deliver On All-Ireland Consensus
BB 02/13/06 PSNI Host Human Rights & Hate Crime Conference
NH 02/13/06 AOH In Belfast And Derry Visit
IN 02/13/06 30th Ann Of Death Of Hunger Striker Frank Stagg
IR 02/13/06 N Ireland-Hunger Strikers
BB 02/13/06 Funeral Held For Stabbing Victim
DU 02/13/06 Crime & Paramilitarism Tolerated By Government
BT 02/13/06 Opin: McAleese Under Fire Over Rising Speech
IN 02/13/06 Opin: Ireland Has Few Links With Turbulent Past
IN 02/13/06 Opin: Many Unionists Want To Do Business
BT 02/13/06 Opin: Lessons To Be Learned From Celtic Tiger
II 02/13/06 Opin: Lot Done & About Time -Bertie Tidies Up
RT 02/13/06 Man Said Arrested Over Video Of Alleged Abuse
IN 02/13/06 Sale Flags Up Irish Role In American Civil War
IN 02/13/06 Celtic Women To Play At Home
WN 02/13/06 WP St. Patrick's Parade Selects Grand Marshal
BN 02/13/06 Curragh To Get New Grandstand In €100m Makeover
ET 02/04/06 McDonagh Eyeing Oscar Success For Short Film
NW 02/04/06 Children's Fund Promotes Tolerance 1 At A Time


Finucanes Meet Paisley: Just A Listening Exercise?

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane will meet
with the DUP next week, but what to do they hope to

by Brian Rowan
11 February 2006

For the Finucane family this is not about ticking a box or
going through the motions.

It is not just one more meeting with one more political

On Monday, the family of the murdered Belfast solicitor Pat
Finucane will meet Ian Paisley to ask for his support for
their demand for a public inquiry into the 1989 killing.

The family recognises the potential significance of this
meeting, but at the same time, they accept that they could
get nothing out of it.

What they have is an opportunity to put their case directly
to the man who is now the principal leader of political
unionism, and, for the Finucanes, that in itself is

"We're going to seek the support of the DUP leader just as
we have sought the support of every other leader of every
other political party, regardless of political persuasion,"
Michael Finucane said last night.

Michael, and other members of the Finucane family, will be
accompanied by Jane Winter, of British Irish Rights Watch,
and the solicitor, Peter Madden.

The two Paisleys will be there - Ian senior and Ian junior
- and the MLA Arlene Foster, a solicitor who speaks for the
party on victims' issues.

"We think the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat
Finucane require a proper public inquiry," Michael Finucane
told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Proper", as far as the family is concerned, means not the
type of restricted inquiry that is currently on offer, but
something much more open and something that has the tools
to get at the truth.

Seventeen years on from the Finucane murder, that truth has
not yet been found and there are still many unanswered

The Shankill loyalist Ken Barrett was jailed for the
murder, but he was not the gunman. At one time, he worked
for the Special Branch.

Another loyalist, William Stobie, murdered by the UDA in
December 2001 soon after he had been cleared of charges
linked to the Finucane murder, was also a Special Branch

He was the "quartermaster" - the man who supplied the guns
to the loyalists who carried out the 1989 shooting.

And there were other informers - Tommy Lyttle, who was the
UDA leader on the Shankill Road at the time, as well as
another significant loyalist figure who has been linked to
the murder.

There were so many agents, so many who knew - and know -
this murder in its finest detail, yet the gunmen in this
case have not been brought before the courts.

Those gunmen, as far as many are concerned, were puppets on
a string, and there is a widely held belief that if you can
get to the truth of the Finucane killing, then that will
lead to some of the darkest secrets of a dirty war.

The truth is what the Finucane family is pursuing, but the
inquiry they want is not on offer, and, so far, the British
Government has resisted all pressure to put this case under
the most public of all spotlights.

The family made no progress in their recent meeting with
the Secretary of State Peter Hain, and the Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern is not confident that he can move the British
Government to give the Finucanes what they want.

In those circumstances, it is difficult to see what a
meeting with Ian Paisley can achieve. It will certainly not
open the door to the inquiry that has been demanded, but
there is the political significance of a first-ever meeting
between the DUP leader and the family.

For Ian Paisley and his party colleagues, Monday's meeting
may be a listening exercise, but for the Finucane family
even that will be progress.

There have been some recent, quiet, suggestions that the
Government might try to deal with this case - or get rid of
it - through some public apology to the family.

That is not what the family wants, and, 17 years on from
the murder in 1989, there is nothing to suggest that they
will go away quietly.

There is unfinished business. It is not about who shot Pat
Finucane. It is about why he was shot and who ordered it.

Not giving the Finucane family what it wants suggests there
is something, and someone, to hide. But what is that
something and who is that someone?

The story of the dirty war is emerging, albeit slowly.

We see some of it in the revelations about "Stakeknife" and
"Stormontgate" and Denis Donaldson, and we will see and
hear more in the not too distant future about UVF informers
and their involvement in murder.

The Finucane family has waited this long to get at the
truth of what happened back in February 1989, and their
demand for an open inquiry will not go away.


After years of campaigning for an inquiry by the family,
the Government agreed when reports by a judge and Britain's
most senior policeman said members of the security forces
had colluded with Mr Finucane's UDA killers.

But new legislation, known as the Inquiries Act, was passed
in order to hold the Finucane inquiry under different
conditions where ministers could order that some material
remain secret.

Mr Finucane's family objected to those terms and are now
attempting to highlight that they still want an inquiry
into the murder - only without the Government's secrecy

The family have run a worldwide campaign - so far
successful - to get judges to refuse to run the inquiry
under those terms.

Retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory, who
investigated the case and recommended the inquiry, said he
could not see "any self-respecting Canadian judge" agreeing
to take on the case under the Inquiries Act.

Last week Mrs Finucane met Secretary of State Peter Hain
about the case and accused him of pandering to security

The family's campaign has also included talks with the
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, while Mrs Finucane
last week addressed the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on
Human Rights in the Dail.

Nearly £9m has been spent on the latest police inquiry into
Mr Finucane's murder, it emerged last week.

But the cost of Lord Stevens' third probe into the
assassination was branded a waste of money by the lawyer's

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde also confirmed it was
being scaled back and taken over by a new unit given a £30m
budget to examine more than 3,000 unsolved killings during
three decades of violence.


Bill Lays Ground For Handover Of Power

Move hailed 'important first step'

By Brian Walker
13 February 2006

A milestone will be reached in the political process on
Thursday, when the Government publishes its long-awaited
Bill to hand over justice and policing powers to a
functioning Assembly.

The Bill also lays down new tougher rules for party
political funding, apparently designed to clip Sinn Fein's
wings, and proposes new regulations for the electricity
industry to damp down a future prices spiral.

Although vague before serious talking has started and
probably not even legally necessary, the Bill is regarded
as an essential political step in the talks process, and
picks up on a commitment made by the Governments in the
comprehensive agreement that collapsed in December 2004.

The Government is hoping that the Bill will provide a
framework for the talks as they develop. Any adjustments of
detail in the Belfast Agreement on the working of the
Assembly and the Executive or the North-South institutions
will be left out at this stage, pending agreement by the

These will be added in the form of amendments if the
parties meet the Governments' deadline for a deal by April.

While the Bill removes a legal obstacle to a political
agreement, its practical effect is likely to be slim.

Although hailed in advance by Sinn Fein Justice spokesman
Gerry Kelly as "an important first step", the two
Governments and the other parties are not expecting
publication to be followed by Sinn Fein joining the
Policing Board and supporting the PSNI soon.

Even if the comprehensive agreement had succeeded, it could
have taken up to two years for the justice and policing
powers actually to have been handed over. Few involved in
the talks believe the climate is easier today.

From speeches made by Gerry Adams and Mr Kelly since the
New Year, Sinn Fein will only move on supporting the PSNI
when the DUP have agreed to devolution and on "the
particular model in which justice and policing could be

Mr Kelly's ambition to "take powers out of the hands of the
securocrats" also looks problematical. While the Government
has yet to declare its hand, party speculation is that
powers over terrorism and national security will be
reserved to Westminster indefinitely.

This would mean that the Chief Constable would continue to
report to the Secretary of State rather than to a local
minister on such matters, including a continuing role for
MI5, however much of an anathema that may be to Sinn Fein
and opposed by the SDLP.


SDLP Proposes All-Ireland Plan

By Keith Bourke

THE SDLP will today launch a major north-south policy
document as Sinn Fein, and both British and Irish
governments push an all-Ireland agenda.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan and the party’s senior negotiator
Sean Farren will launch the proposals for enhanced north-
south cooperation at twin events on both sides of the
border in Belfast and Dublin.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the document entitled 100
Good North-South ideas, Mr Farren said the whole island is
in a process of transformation.

“We have all witnessed and wondered at the extraordinary
transformation of the Republic over the last 15 years,” he

“But the changes in the next 15 will be even greater, and
we in the north can share in that development.”

On Friday, the Republic’s minister for foreign affairs,
Dermot Ahern, announced that government departments must
include ideas on enhanced north-south cooperation in
proposals for the next National Development Plan. He told
the All-Ireland Infrastructure Confer-ence in Co Louth that
the all-island dimension would be a strategic theme of the
plan, due to run from 2007-13. He said the Irish government
was “very serious” about enhancing co-operation.

“This cooperation could take place on different levels
ranging from the sharing of information to joint
implementation of projects.”

NIO minister Lord Rooker told the same conference that
cross-border cooperation was essential to infrastructural
investment projects.

“e100 billion of investment is planned over the next 10
years in the island by both governments,” he said.

Lord Rooker’s comments reflect fresh enthusiasm for cross-
border development under northern secretary Peter Hain. In
a significant speech at Stormont last week, Mr Hain
announced both governments had ordered a “comprehensive
review” of opportunities for cooperation on an all-island

These announcements come after the beginning of talks to
restore devolution in Northern Ireland. Speaking in Dublin
on Saturday, Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin Mc-Guinness
said it was important that progress was made quickly and
that other parties must not be allowed to drag their heels.


Call For All-Ireland Police Body

An all-Ireland police intelligence agency would be the most
effective way to tackle criminals and paramilitaries, the
SDLP has said.

The party made the call in a 24-page document entitled
"North-South Makes Sense".

It also called for an all-Ireland criminal assets bureau
and sex offenders register.

The document proposes closer health, economic, farming,
education, housing, environment and transport links.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said unionists should not fear such
cross-border cooperation.

"People who are unionist, nationalist or neither should
have nothing to fear from dynamic north-south co-
operation," he said.

"We are all losers without it."

The party said criminals who exploit different
jurisdictions would be best targeted through all-Ireland

An all-Ireland intelligence agency would be staffed by
officers from the PSNI and Garda, the party said.


However, the DUP has published a document calling for
greater east-west cooperation between Northern Ireland and

The party's MEP, Jim Allister, said the two countries had
"well-documented and irrefutable historical links".

"The problems afflicting both countries are common, namely
poor transportation infrastructure, the decline of heavy
industry and textiles and an underdeveloped tourism
potential," Mr Allister said.

"Bearing this reality in mind, the most obvious and natural
area of cooperation is cooperation undertaken on an east-
west basis, rather than the unnatural and politically-
motivated north-southery."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/13 10:37:32 GMT


Britain To Publish Plans For Devolution Of Policing Powers

13/02/2006 - 08:08:11

The British government is expected to publish proposals
this week on the devolution of policing and justice powers
in the North.

The plans are being published at the insistence of Sinn
Féin, even though a return to power-sharing government in
the North seems a remote possibility.

The proposals are expected to include the establishment of
a joint ministry to oversee the police and courts service,
led by a unionist and nationalist politician.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have already expressed concern that
the British government may also transfer control of
intelligence from the police to the British spy agency MI5.


SDLP Slams Ulster Spy Role For MI5

By Chris Thornton
13 February 2006

The Government's steps to devolve justice powers to Belfast
this week will be rendered meaningless by MI5's enhanced
powers, the SDLP claimed today.

Assembly member Alban Maginness said the plans to take
responsibility for intelligence gathering from the PSNI and
hand it over to the Security Service next year will be "a
retrograde and damaging step".

On Thursday the Government will publish legislation giving
Secretary of State Peter Hain the power to sign away
justice powers to a devolved administration at Stormont - a
key Sinn Fein demand if the party is to support policing.

A discussion document will accompany the legislation, and
it is expected to underline that by the time justice powers
go from London to Belfast, primacy in intelligence
gathering will have gone the other way.

MI5 is due to take over lead responsibility for
intelligence gathering next year. Pilot work is already
under way.

Mr Maginness said the transfer will bypass the oversight
mechanisms put in place for the PSNI.

"Just when the PSNI arrangements for sharing intelligence
and handling informers were overhauled, the British
Government have decided to recreate the old problem by
giving intelligence gathering to MI5," he said.

"Worse, because crime and paramilitarism go hand in hand,
MI5 will gradually look to expand its role into serious
crime too. And devolution of justice will be meaningless.
The goal of nationalists and unionists underwriting each
other's security will be lost."

He said giving intelligence responsibility to "the faceless
men of MI5" is "unacceptable".

"It is bad for politics, bad for policing and bad for the
peace process," he said.

Mr Maginness also attacked Sinn Fein over the issue, saying
they "have had their eye off the ball".

"Repeatedly we have warned Sinn Fein that their demands for
disbandment of Special Branch would only lead to MI5
getting primacy," he said. "For their own reasons Sinn Fein
have preferred to deny the extent of change in the PSNI.
Meanwhile, they have been as good as silent about MI5.

"Real accountability is diminished if primacy goes to MI5."


Governments Must Deliver On Growing All-Ireland Consensus

Published: 13 February, 2006

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin has said
that the Irish and British governments must deliver on the
growing consensus on the development and expansion of the
all Ireland agenda.

Welcoming the publication of an SDLP paper on enhanced
north-south co-operation Mr McLaughlin said:

"Two years ago Sinn Féin published its paper on the
'Expansion of All Ireland Institutions and Areas of Work'
as part of the Review process. On many of the issues we
addressed, there is a clear consensus between the SDLP and
ourselves. This is very important. It means that together
and with the two governments we can work to achieve

"Peter Hain recognises the need to move ahead on the all
Ireland Agenda, Dermot Ahern has called for the development
of infrastructural, economic, energy, educational and
social structures on an all-Ireland basis.

"Sinn Féin has long called for this approach by both
governments. We've had enough rhetoric and promises; it's
now time for action. I look forward to working with the two
governments, the SDLP and others in delivering on this
agenda." ENDS


PSNI Host Human Rights & Hate Crime Conference

A major conference on human rights and hate crime is being
staged in Belfast by the Police Service of Northern

More than 200 delegates are expected to attend the Real
People, Real Crime conference, which is being held at the
Ramada Hotel on Monday.

The event will coincide with the start of a police poster
campaign focussing on hate crime.

Police said the campaign is designed to raise community
awareness of the issue.

The conference will be opened by Chief Constable Sir Hugh

Sir Hugh is expected to tell delegates that the issue of
hate crime is a growing problem in Northern Ireland.

"The biggest challenge facing the police service is
increasing the number of persons detected and prosecuted
for hate crimes," he said.

"I recently approved, along with my senior command, the
implementation of a new hate incident policy which I
believe will deliver a more consistent and effective police
response to hate incidents.

"The hate crime legislation recently introduced to Northern
Ireland, I believe, creates an opportunity for the courts
to send out a very clear message that hate related crimes
will not be tolerated."

Other speakers at the conference include Professor Geoffrey
Beattie, of the University of Manchester, Dr Duncan Morrow,
of the Community Relations Council, and Ms Jane Gordon,
human rights adviser to the Northern Ireland Policing

Police figures show there were 697 racial incidents between
April to December 2005, compared with 624 incidents in the
same period the previous year.

The number of homophobic incidents between April to
December was 167, compared with 139 the previous year.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/13 07:20:01 GMT


Ancient Order Of Hibernians In Belfast And Derry Visit

(Seán P Feeney, )

Representatives of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the
United States visited Belfast and Derry at the weekend to
present donations to numerous charitable organisations and
also to attend the Bloody Sunday commemorations, writes
Seán P Feeney.

Dave Burke, National Director of the AOH, past National AOH
President George Clough Jr, and Bob Collins of the National
AOH Board attended various meetings, including an annual
function at the Felons Club on Friday.

"For those of us on the National Board, like George, Bob
and myself, it's really not a socialising trip. Because of
the positions we hold and the offices we hold we have a
great degree of responsibility. We are here to get the
latest information and attend important meetings," said
Dave Burke.

"It was because of George Clough that we started this and
we give money to about six or seven organisations, such as
the Green Cross and the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry."

The AOH has been giving money to help the dependants of
prisoners since 1972.

"In 1990 George and I owned gift shops and used to come
over to the trade show at the RDS in Dublin. So we said why
don't we hand-carry the cheques over. A few years later we
thought, why don't we go to Belfast as well?

"So for the last 14 years we've been coming to Belfast and
we go to a function at the Felons Club and we've been very
privileged to give a little talk on the campaign for human
rights. We usually get anywhere from 100 to 200 people, and
a senior official of Sinn Féin usually holds an educational

George Clough said that the campaign has expanded now that
most republican prisoners have been released.

"Initially, for the first ten years it was to help the
dependants of the people in Long Kesh. The money is
substantial. We have raised well over a quarter of a
million dollars in the past 15 years, maybe more."

Bob Collins said that this money comes from various
projects that the AOH runs throughout the year in the

"Dave has started a 'Ten Club', where every member gives
ten dollars apiece throughout the country. We've raised
quite a bit of money that way and every year during the
month of December our National Chairman, Brendan Moore,
does the AOH Christmas Appeal for political prisoners. We
ask people to give a voluntary donation and whatever we
raise we then disperse to the coordinating bodies over

The American representatives of the AOH met with the
members of the AOH in Derry on Saturday. Their National
Chaplain, Father Patrick Sullivan, held a Mass at the AOH
Club in Derry on Saturday.

AOH members from the States also flew over to march in the
Bloody Sunday commemoration.

"We try and use it as an educational campaign and bring our
members over here and have a few lectures and go to the
Bloody Sunday march."

Dave said there is one main project that the AOH is working
on for the next ten years.

"I introduced a resolution at a convention last year to
have advance planning for the hundredth anniversary of the
1916 Easter Rising. We don't want the thing to be hijacked,
we want it to be educational and of substance. We are
hoping to have negotiations with the Irish government so
that a full course is introduced on 1916 in all the

Past projects to which the AOH have made large donations
include the 1798 Wolfe Tone Memorial in Kildare and the St
Brigid's Shrine in Dundalk.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, formed in New York in
1836, is the oldest Catholic lay organisation in the United

Today they are the largest Irish ethnic society in the
world with Divisions across the United States, and close
ties with the AOH in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

Annual dances, concerts and parades sponsored at all levels
of the Order raise millions for charity while providing a
showcase for the positive contributions the Irish have made
in every walk of American life.

February 13, 2006

This article appeared first on the web
site on DATE, 2006


Anniversary: 30th Anniversary Of Death Of Hunger Striker
Frank Stagg

By Staff Reporter

A mural marking the 30th anniversary of hunger striker
Frank Stagg’s death was unveiled in west Belfast yesterday.

The mural on Dunville Street which also commemorates the
25th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike was unveiled by
Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler.

“Frank Stagg and the hunger strikers of 1981 marked a
turning point in republican politics,” Mr Butler said.

“Their actions reached a wider audience in a way that the
IRA could not.”

Frank Stagg was from Hollymount, Co Mayo but emigrated to
London in the 1970s where he became a member of Sinn Fein
and the IRA.

In 1973 he was given a six- year sentence for conspiracy to
commit arson.

He and fellow Mayo man Michael Gaughan joined a hunger
strike in March 1974 started by Marion and Dolours Price,
Hugh Feeney and Gerry Kelly, which demanded repatriation to

The others were repatriated to Northern Ireland but Stagg
and Gaughan were refused.

Following Michael Gaughan’s death, negotiations began and
the hunger strike was called off.

But the talks were deemed a ruse by Stagg and he called for
its supporters to halt the strike and prevent another
further highly publicised death.

In Wakefield Prison in 1975 Frank Stagg began his fourth
and final hunger strike.

He held out for starvation for 62 days before he died on
February 12 1976.

Frank Stagg’s brother, Emmett, is Labour TD for Kildare


N Ireland-Hunger Strikers

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams Monday launched a program
of events in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the
1981 hunger strike.

Adams was joined by other Sinn Fein leaders along with
former hunger strikers from British jails to commemorate
the campaign for political rights in which 10 republican
prisoners lost their lives, including most notably Bobby

Events include the opening of an exhibition, with a mural
also commemorating the 30th anniversary of hunger striker
Frank Stagg's death.

The National Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee (NHSCC)
said it had chosen February 13 as the date for the official
launch of this year's events because it wanted it to
coincide with the Stagg commemoration.

In an interview with Republican News, NHSCC's Brendan
McFarlane said that activists throughout the country should
see the hunger strike anniversary as an opportunity to
promote republicanism and to educate people, particularly
young people, about the strikers themselves and the cause
for which they died.

In 1981, Irish republican prisoners undertook a fast to the
death to regain their status as political prisoners
campaigning against British rule in Northern Ireland.

The campaign started in 1976 after the British government
decided arbitrarily to end what was known as their `Special
Category Status'.

But it led to 10 prisoners dying in one of the most
turbulent periods in the tragic history of Anglo-Irish

Before his death, Sands became an MP by winning a by-
election victory from his prison cell during his 65-day
hunger strike.


Funeral Held For Stabbing Victim

The funeral of father-of-six Gerard Devlin has taken place
at Corpus Christi Church in west Belfast. The 39-year-old
was stabbed to death during a fight as he called to collect
his children from Whitecliff Parade in the Ballymurphy area
10 days ago.

Tensions have been high since the incident and police are
investigating a link between several petrol bombings in the
area and the death of Mr Devlin.

Four men appeared in court last week charged with his

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/13 11:17:17 GMT


Acceptable Level Of Crime And Paramilitarism Being
Tolerated By Government

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds has accused the government
of being complicit in tolerating an acceptable level of
criminality and paramilitarism. And he said the deliberate
refusal of Peter Hain and Tony Blair to face up to the
reality of the republican movement’s involvement in crime
would set back prospects of political progress. He said:

“Before the IMC report, enormous efforts were made to spin
the reports. These propaganda efforts have continued even
after the report was published. This extremely damaging and
negative reaction to the reality of what everyone in
Northern Ireland knows is deeply counter-productive. Whilst
concentrated efforts should be made on dealing with this
reality and moving forward we have the political ostriches
in the NIO, No 10 and other parties still burying their
heads in the sand. The facile attempts to gloss over the
full extent of republican culpability will not succeed.
There is no acceptable level of criminality or
paramilitaries as far as we are concerned. And the
attitude of the Dublin government is particularly
offensive. Preaching one set of values to its own
electorate, it adopts a completely contrary position here.
On the one hand it says it will not accept Sinn Fein in
government in the south, yet it demands progress towards
Sinn Fein in government in Ulster. This is utter hypocrisy
is breathtaking in its sheer brazenness.

Unionists in Northern Ireland are in favour of partnership
with nationalists but not with those who are part and
parcel of a criminal, paramilitary organisation. Unionists
in Northern Ireland are in favour of equality for
nationalists, but no civilised democrat would suggest for
one minute that that should mean inserting criminal and
terrorist elements at the heart of government or policing


Opin: McAleese Under Fire On Two Fronts Over Rising Speech

Pól Ó Muirí
13 February 2006

The most interesting thing about the Rev. Ian Paisley's
ill-mannered remarks about President Mary McAleese was how
little outrage they provoked among the Republic's

Had Bertie Ahern suggested that the Queen was "dishonest"
and "hated the Republic" there would have been a firestorm
in southern newspapers about his comments and no end of
criticism of such anti-British sentiment.

McAleese merits no such protection from Irish journalists.
In fact, the commentariat was too busy attacking her over
her recent speech on the Easter Rising to be bothered with
Mr Paisley's boorish asides.

There are two issues here: the first is what she said and
the second is who said it. The contents of the speech have
been widely commentated upon. Suffice to say that
McAleese's attempt - with the full support and knowledge of
the Republic's Government - to reclaim 1916 from the Provos
has brought her no end of criticism from the Republic's
bull elephants of revisionism.

They don't like to have their version of history
challenged. (She is not overly popular among left-wing
feminists either; mainly because she is still the good
convent girl they never were.)

Leaving aside the merits or demerits of the speech, there
is also the fact of who was speaking - not simply the
President of the Republic but a northern, nationalist
President of the Republic.

And if there is one thing that the Republic's partitionist
patriots hate more than a northern nationalist, it is an
educated, intelligent and outspoken northern nationalist.

The very fact that McAleese is in Áras an Uachtaráin galls
the partitionist patriot. That the voters elected her for
her first term infuriates them; that she proved so popular
that the opposition did not even bother opposing her for a
second time enrages them.

Ireland, in the partitionist mind, stops at Dundalk and
Donegal is an off-shore island. The Ireland that McAleese
comes from is beyond the Pale for the wee 26-county flag-
wavers. They have more regard for Poles than the people of

It has always been so - since the days of Wee Joe Devlin up
to and including, for long enough, the career of John Hume.
Northern nationalists must be neither be seen nor heard.

McAleese may well be President but to, many smug southerner
commentators, she is not Irish at all. Hence, the ferocious
attacks over a speech and the silence over slurs.

My goodness but Belfast grows ever more gentrified.

I had a bite to eat in Café Paul Rankin in the city centre
The other day and ordered the Café Paul Rankin Breakfast,
consisting of a herbed tomato, sausage, bacon, potato
bread, soda bread and egg.

That's a fry, says you. I agree but it is not called a fry
- perhaps because no self-respecting fry would have a
herbed tomato near it.

If it were Café Pól, I'd just call it a fry - and replace
the herbed tomato with a nice piece of black pudding. Now
that's a breakfast.

Note to BBC-NI's current affairs division - the key to
current affairs is to ensure, well, em, that they are

Having sat up late to watch Spotlight and its take on the
Denis Donaldson, superspy, I was sorry to have bothered.

There was nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing revealing
and, worse, it wasn't current.

Had they broadcast the programme within days of Donaldson's
dramatic outing, it might have given us something to talk
about but by the time it went out the media - and the old-
fashioned print media in particular - had told us all we
needed to know and more.

The BBC locally has some very talented people but
Spotlight, Hearts and Minds and Let's Talk are very

Yes, current affairs are not always sexy but sticking to
the same worn formula week after week on Hearts and Minds
and Let's Talk in particular does nothing to entice viewers
– and even hardcore, news junkies find it all too

The news that the Government is to cut the danger money
that was paid to troops stationed in Northern Ireland
throughout the Troubles is another one of these wee moments
of curious re-adjustment; the bean-counters say we are now
at peace even though we were never at war.


Opin: Modern Ireland Has Few Links With Turbulent Past

By Tom Kelly

So there is to be a military two-step outside the GPO to
commemorate the Easter Rising but to what end?

The Irish government of both Fianna Fail and the
Progressive Democrats seem to believe that an official
marking of the Easter Rising will reclaim the true ‘spirit’
of republicanism for ‘official’ Ireland. If only it was
that easy!

The Irish state is a legal entity and since December 6 1921
its position was sealed with the signing of the treaty.

Of course, there were those who failed to accept that fact
and subsequently waged an unnecessary civil war on their
erstwhile colleagues. The politics of official Ireland have
been hamstrung by that split ever since and the claim to be
the true inheritors of the Republic has run through the
arteries of each of the main parties in the Republic.

There may be some merit in official Ireland reclaiming the
spirit of the Easter Rising but it is difficult to separate
the matter from the myth when one tries to find it.

What is it we are actually reclaiming? Patrick Pearse is a
romantic figure in Irish history but it is doubtful if
Gerry Adams or Bertie Ahern started spouting out references
to ‘purification’ and ‘blood sacrifices’ that many young
people would be prepared to listen. Not that most young
Irish people paid any attention to Pearse at the start of
the 20th century. The Easter Rising did not have popular
support but as usual the brutal British reaction to the
insurrectionists caused much more impact on the Irish
psyche than the event.

The loose aspirations aired in the Proclamation would prove
too elusive for many of the men and women who led Ireland
from 1921. They were not conditioned to “cherish all the
children of the nation equally” nor were they prepared to
be “oblivious to the differences fostered” by their own
state – let alone an ‘alien’ one.

In 1916 the world only knew one way to change things and to
that end the rising does have a legitimacy but Ireland as a
new and small nation soon turned its back on all forms of
aggression and pursued a peaceful and pacifist future among
the countries of the world.

Militarism or for that matter paramilitarism is not an all-
pervading culture within Ireland and it’s not surprising.
Why would a people subjugated by military oppression want
to replicate a misguided policy which says that ‘might is

Getting a starting point for the Irish to be at one is
always going to be difficult. However, I thought we had it
covered with St Patrick’s Day.

For how better can we “cherish all the children of the
nation equally” than by adopting a son from another country
and making him one of our own?

Surely that is what Ireland was then and perhaps more
poignantly, is what modern Ireland is or should be about.

When Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster, invited
‘Strongbow’ to Ireland, he invited in a presence that was
not going to go away easily.

When our friend in Rome titled Henry II of England ‘Feudal
Lord of Ireland’ he gave his blessing to a spiritual as
well as temporal over-lording.

Ever since then we have been giving or withholding
allegiance as it suits us. Sometimes, like Shane O’Neill we
give it, only to take it back again. We have a plethora of
Irish leaders to call our own – depending on the starting
point. O’Connell, the Liberator, hardly gets a mention
these days and what of Grattan or Parnell? We all know of
Wolfe Tone, Lord Fitzgerald and Sir Roger Casement but who
really owns them or can lay claim to their political

The idea of elevating a single event from Irish history
such as the Easter Rising into something it is not is
fraught with danger. Few of the values of 90 years ago are
the values of today. Within a mere six years from the
rising Irish men were killing Irish men. The rising and its
aftermath was an emotive issue for many of those who had to
deal with its fallout and who had to rise to the challenge
of leading an impoverished and partitioned nation into the
20th century. Today, our new-found Irish confidence does
not need to fight on the narrow ground of the patriot’s
game, but to paraphrase Pearse: The fools, the fools, an
Ireland at peace is free.


Opin: Many Unionists Want To Do Business

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

A UNIONIST friend tells me that his business colleagues are
absolutely frustrated with the long wait for peace and
stability. Their anger is directed at those who seemed to
be fiddling around and baulking at the verge of the 21st

Far from resisting cross border bodies, they – and they are
mainly unionist – want better relationships right across
Ireland and throughout these islands and beyond.

They see great value in cooperation and can see nothing of
significance to fear in closer ties.

Some have business interests in many parts of the island as
well as in the rest of the UK and abroad.

They can see that we have returned to the same port we
departed from quite recently but have been close to even
decades ago.

We face another chance to resolve differences but most
people seem resigned to another failure that could prove
more painful.

We know that some of the very same politicians who have
held up peace for decades are placing spokes in wheels and
damaging our hopes again. Many seem to lack any vision to
inspire the community and so increasing numbers of people
are resigned to waiting till the cows come home.

Those politicians who have ranted and raved about ‘sell
outs’ and ‘conspiracies’ for nearly half a century have
promoted pessimism and dismay not only among business
people but also throughout the whole population. Northern
Ireland has missed out in terms of goodwill and greater
potential progress. We remain caught up in the same old
squabbles and people are now asking if we will ever wise up
and smell the coffee. Such politicians are not worthy of
the name.

They refuse to talk with opponents and yet expect us to
believe that they are serious about peace.

But peace cannot be achieved by behaving like quarrelling
children who refuse to speak with each other. Nor can peace
be achieved without risk.

Many in working-class and middle- class areas have stopped
taking any part in politics. This may not be unusual in
modern society but we don’t live in modern society.

We live in a tribal society and it is from tribalism that
we must break free. Some politicians have lost whatever
vision they had and can see no way forward. They seem blind
or stubbornly resistant to any workable solution. All
remaining roads seem to lead nowhere or are gridlocked by
the sectarian impasse. Other people are short sighted,
convinced that things will continue as before and live in a
fool’s paradise. Republicans have been slow to end the
nightmare but this cannot justify the donkey-like
stubbornness and antics displayed by intransigent people
and politicians. Sinn Fein refuses to endorse the police
while the DUP are congenitally risk-averse.

Other parties paddle their own canoes and few can be seen
working together to shape a new future. Is it too late to
begin pulling together to implement a way forward that is
win-win for everyone? Decades of work, effort and risk-
taking are being jeopardised and many seem resigned to
another defeat at the dreary steeples.

It used to be said that people here would vote for a donkey
if it was draped in an orange or green sash. My dad voted
for people who didn’t wave flags but if recent elections
are anything to go by, most of us have learned nothing. We
vote for the same old reactionary politicians and have only
ourselves to blame. Too many of us sit in the bunkers only
glimpsing the angry eyes of enemies as they seem to attack.
Many are frightened to get out of their bunkers to speak
with opponents fearing they might discover that we are very
much alike and that the things we accuse them of, we are
guilty of ourselves. The Anglo-Irish Agreement Mark II
seems to be in the offing. This means the two governments
accepting their joint responsibility to govern in a
balanced way between our warring tribes.

It may be, as one friend suggests, that representative
people could be appointed to govern and given real power.

But that would pose other problems. What is clear is that
the governments cannot continue pussyfooting around


Opin: There Are Lessons To Be Learned From The Celtic Tiger

Barry White
11 February 2006

Here's a new word for you: intergovernmentalism. In fact,
it's so new my computer's spellchecker keeps telling me I
mean intergovernmental and cancelling out the "ism".

I wondered if I'd heard it properly, but that's what Dermot
Ahern, such a likeable Irish Foreign Minister, has hinted
is the future for Northern Ireland, if we fail to get our
devolution act together.

If the political talks, scheduled for "three or four dates
over the next while", are unproductive, then Direct rule
will continue and the British and Irish governments have
agreed to "more and intensive intergovernmentalism".

Although that sounded like a warning, when I heard him
speak at a lunch in Dublin, I'm sure he didn't intend it
that way. He's far too nice for that, and there was more
than a hint of carrot, as well as stick.

The Irish Government, relying on continuing growth and a
very gradual tapering off of money from Europe, intends to
spend no less than 100bn euro on infrastructure over the
next 10 years. Much of it will have an impact on Northern
Ireland, naturally, and the planners have been asked to
make a comprehensive study of suitable areas for north-
south co-operation.

We could always say no, of course, but there's not much
possibility of that, whether we're devolved or not. Who
doesn't think it would be a good idea if there was a
joined-up strategy for new roads?

The Minister, who represents Louth and is proud never to
have spent a night in Dublin, knows all about the menace of
"roaming" charges on mobile phones. Twenty-five miles into
his own constituency he gets messages welcoming him to the
United Kingdom, just as some northerners can switch to a
southern network by moving from one room to another.

He has promised to solve the problem, along with his NIO
counterpart, and will be taking a look at an all-Ireland
energy policy, too. Representatives of the northern energy
business have made a case for a second electricity inter-
connector and he agrees that it made no sense to have two
systems on one small island.

Inward investment is another area for closer co-operation,
and the follow-up to a north-south tour of India, led by
the Taoiseach, will be a similar one, led by Peter Hain. If
enough Indians ask about the difference in corporation tax
- 30% here, compared to 12.5% in the Republic - maybe
Gordon Brown will be shamed into doing something about it.
(Like us, the devolved Basque administration wanted to fix
a lower rate than the Spanish one, but Brussels turned them
down. Some new European countries have no tax on company

Maybe we could learn something from the Celtic Tiger
experience. They've attracted 100,000 jobs - 40,000 of them
from outside Ireland - and one of the key selling points
has been the stability and acceptability of the government.
Assembly members, take note.

The British-Irish approach has no limits. Just by the way,
Dermot Ahern mentioned that he and Michael McDowell had
been speaking to Peter Hain about troop levels. They'd
found they were "pushing at an open door" and that by
August, 2007, numbers would be down to "normal". Thinks:
can we ask where their soldiers are?

It was all presented in a sensitive, low-key manner, but
the message is clear. Although the Belfast Agreement has
been declared dead, by its DUP opponents, it is very much
alive. The Irish even claim they got Tony Blair to go
against his policy of keeping the EU budget down, over
Peace 3 money.

We can complain all we like, but unelected politicians who
have never lived here, with only vague ideas about us, are
deciding our future. (The Minister thought Martin
McGuinness was a good Education Minister, until I told him
many thought differently.)

We're so divided and subsidised, that may be our lot. But
it means we'll slip further behind.


Opin: A Lot Done (And About Time) As Bertie And Ministers
Tidy Up

Monday Morning
Richard Curran

THERE is a sense around Government at the moment that
Ministers want to clear their desks of a lot of stuff that
has been hanging around for a long time. Sources close to
Government have suggested that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is in
a mood to get several things dealt with and out of the way
before the next General Election.

This is a change of tack from the Taoiseach who has, in
martial arts terms, become a fifth dan black belt in the
application of the deadly weapon of 'the long finger'.

Governments should push through many decisions if they are
functioning properly, but I'm talking about certain types
of issues here. The kinds of issues that Bertie
instinctively wanted to leave gathering dust for as long as

These are controversial issues that don't have an easy
solution. Very often, there is an obvious logical right
thing to do, but each one of them brings its own baggage.
The baggage varies from upsetting the unions to upsetting
the builders or other vested interests. The last few months
has seen some government decisions on a number of these
items. Because in many cases they have been ignored for too
long, the fact that the Government is doing something about
them now leads to a degree of cynicism and a sense that
mistakes have already been made. Nevertheless, it is still
probably better than ignoring them for even longer.

The first example is the abolition of certain tax reliefs
which enabled the wealthy to reduce their tax bill by
investing in various projects, from urban renewal schemes
to building hotels and car parks. Last week saw the
publication of reviews into these schemes which highlighted
the urgent need to abolish them.

Brian Cowen was on radio saying he is the minister who has
acted on this issue by phasing them out. The truth is that
it has been obvious to everyone that they have not been
required for at least five years now and their continuation
up to now has been an appalling example of the Government's
neglect on this issue.

Another was the cap placed on how much money can be placed
into a personal pension plan while still retaining full tax
relief. Once again, Brian Cowen is rightly claiming credit
for doing something about it - but only after the
scandalous situation where, at its worst, two people got
tax relief on personal pension funds with €100m in them.

Another is the decision to buy out National Toll Roads from
the West-Link bridge. Again, a controversial decision, but
in this case the catalyst seems to be pending traffic chaos
on the M50. Just as work is about to begin on expanding the
M50, the Government can at least tell motorists it is
spending the money to take down the toll barriers on the

Another is the likelihood of a deal being done to do away
with drift net salmon fishing. Something that was killing
the salmon industry and depriving the tourism sector of a
potential millions of euro, finally looks set to be axed.
It will cost millions to buy out the fishermen, but it
should have been done years ago. In this instance, the
catalyst for finally doing something about it is the
ridiculously depleted wild salmon stocks.

Another is the long-awaited decision to sell the Great
Southern Hotel chain. Years too late, the Government has
allowed losses of millions to of euro to be racked up at
the taxpayers' expense.

Last year, the hotels lost €6m and are on track to lose €8m
this year. There are nine hotels in the group and some are
doing better than others. But let's suppose that throughout
the year, they collectively achieved an average of 60
guests per night staying in each hotel.

That means that last year we, the taxpayers, stumped up €30
per night for each guest to stay at a Great Southern Hotel.
This is at a time when the country is awash with hotels.

It is even more ironic that when they are finally sold, the
hotels will most likely be bought by a property
developer/hotelier who has got rich on the back of tax
reliefs. The taxpayer loses on the double.

Nevertheless, the Government does seem to have finally
decided to green-light the sale. In this instance, the
catalyst may have been the refusal of the directors of the
hotel chain to sign off on the accounts because they were
in danger of being accused of reckless trading.

If there tricky decisions finally being taken, irrespective
of the catalysts in each case, what others are coming?

Here are some possibilities. The flotation of Aer Lingus is
one. Finally, after years of flaffing around and lost
opportunities, we are now about to see something happen.
And again, it will be after the optimum privatisation time
has passed, and it has lost its excellent previous chief
executive, Willie Walsh.

Secondly, benchmarking II. Watch out for more payola
without productivity gains.

Thirdly, a more effective policing system for exploitation
of workers. We will probably see some improvement made in
this area on foot of Pat Rabbitte highlighting it as an


Man Said Arrested Over Video Of Alleged Abuse

13 February 2006 12:41

Britain's Ministry of Defence has said that a man has been
arrested in connection with video footage of British troops
allegedly abusing Iraqi civilians.

The arrest was made last night by the Royal Military
Police, and follows investigations into what the MoD
described as extremely serious allegations.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had said yesterday
that a full investigation would be carried out into the

The video came to light in yesterday's News of the World,
which said the images came from a video recorded in
southern Iraq two years ago.

The video footage appears to show troops dragging four
young protesters off a street and into a compound where
they are punched, kicked and hit with batons.

An unidentified cameraman can be heard on the tape laughing
and urging his colleagues on.

The pictures are being shown hourly on Arabic television.


Sale Flags Up Irish Role In American Civil War

By Staff Reporter

A number of historical documents – including the marching
banner of the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War are
due to be auctioned next week.

Labelled “one of the most historic relics from the American
Civil War to appear in recent times” the banner dates back
to 1851 and is due to auctioned in Ludlow, Shropshire.

It was designated to the 69th New York Volunteer Infantry
Regiment, that originated from the Irish Volunteers.

The Irish Brigade was an infantry brigade that served on
the Union side in the American Civil War in the 1860s and
consisted predominantly of Irish immigrants.

The designation of the first regiment in the brigade, the
69th New York Infantry, or the ‘Fighting 69th’, continued
in later wars.

The formation of an Irish Brigade was authorised by the
United States secretary of war in September 1861 and the
creation of an ethnically based brigade served two Union

Firstly it warned Britain that there could be Union-
supported consequences if it sided with the Confederacy –
most of the brigade’s membership were known Irish

Secondly it intensified Irish support for the union as the
Irish were naturally predisposed to support the Confederacy
because they sympathised with the right of revolution.

Newry-born rebel John Mitchell lost two sons in the
Confederate struggle for ‘states rights’.

Among the battles to feature the Irish Brigade was the
Battle of Antietam when on September 17 1862, the
Confederate and Union armies met at Sharpsburg, Maryland.

During the conflict confusion caused the disjointed use of
the II Corps and rather than supporting renewed assaults on
the opposition, the Irish Brigade faced the centre of the
Confederate line, entrenched on sunken farm road.

Although unsuccessful, the brigade’s attack gave supporting
troops enough time to flank and break the Confederate
position, at the cost of 60 per cent casualties for the
Irish Brigade.

The brigade suffered severe casualties again in December at
the Battle of Fredericksburg, where it assaulted the sunken
road in front of Marye’s Heights.

One of the regiments manning the sunken road’s defences was
a predominantly Irish regiment under the command of General
Thomas Cobb.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, a document expert at Mullock
Madeley Auctioneers, said the banner was expected to sell
for between £30,000 and £50,000.

“The 69th was mainly Irish recruits, many of whom had only
recently arrived in America having left Ireland as a result
of the endemic potato famine,” he said.

“The history of the regiment is etched into the history of
both the United States and Ireland.

“This is one of the most historic relics from the American
Civil War to appear in recent times.”

Also going under the hammer at the sale at Ludlow
Racecourse on Wednesday is a letter by composer Sir Edward
Elgar which highlights his ambitions to write a popular
funeral march.

The letter, written to his publishers, Novellos, was
written in 1902 after he had been asked to write some
incidental music for a play by WB Yeats, called Grania and


Celtic women to play at home

By Staff Reporter

AN IRISH musical extra-vaganza which has spent over 45
weeks at the top of the World Music Album Charts is to
perform in Ireland for the first time.

Celtic Woman, including pantomime star Twink’s daughter
Chloe Agnew (16) and Lisa Kelly (28), shot to stardom in
the US after coming together for a special show broadcast
on television in March 2005.

“What I thought was going to be one night has maybe changed
into five years,” Lisa, from Dublin’s Knocklyon, said,
ahead of playing the city’s Point Theatre on this Saturday.

The Celtic Woman CD, which was composed by David Downes,
has been the No 1 World Music Album for 46 weeks while
tickets for their US tour have also been selling out.

Lisa, who performed as the lead singer with Riverdance –
the Show for five years, said the group had managed a
tremendous feat with the five Celtic Woman members also in
the Top World Albums Billboard.

Soprano Chloe has the strongest debut of the five group
members, entering at number four. The other members all
have albums featuring below number 15 in the World

Albums charts.

Fourth-year student Chloe, who works with a tutor for five
hours a day while on tour, said she could not believe how
successful her latest album was.

“I was absolutely shocked. I’m delighted with all the
success," she said.

“We are playing fantastic venues, places I had always heard
of but never thought I would get to see, never mind play

On their overnight success, Lisa said: “It took us by
surprise. We have been really, really lucky. We have been
an overnight success. We went over to promote it last March
and did the Today Show outside Rockefeller Centre,” she
said, adding that they had ended up touring the country.

Lisa said the group was nervous ahead of playing a concert
in Ireland for the first time.

“Playing to a home crowd is very different. It is very
nerve-wracking when you know the people you are playing
to,” she said.

“I don’t know, it is always harder to play at home. It is
an easier product to sell in the US as they are so into
Irish culture.”

“When you can bring a young child and grandparent to the
same show you’ve got a success on your hands,” she said.

Celtic Woman features a variety of songs including Enya’s
May It Be and traditional Irish songs.

The group will return to the US after their Irish concert
to play a sell-out show in New York’s infamous Radio City
venue on St Patrick’s Day.


White Plains St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee Selects
Grand Marshal
Monday, 13 February 2006

White Plains, NY - Erin Go Bragh! The 9th Annual White
Plains St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee announced that it
has selected Michael Foley as this year's Grand Marshal.

Michael Foley, formerly President and CEO of Heineken USA,
was resonsible forthe 1994 relocation of the Heineken
Corporate Headquarters to White Plains.

Mr. Foley is a winner of many industry and community

- 1995, Industry Man of the Year Award, United Restaurant
and Liquor Dealers, Manhattan

- 2001, Irish Business Person of the Year, Irish Business
Org. of NY

- Top 100 Irish American Business People for six years in

A native of Wexford, Ireland and a graduate of the
University College, Dublin Mr. Foley is married and has
three children. He founded Solutions for Growth, Learning
and Development Business Consultancy in 2005.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee has also announced
that the aides selected this year are Sharon Andrew,
Geraldine Buckley, Bill Delanoy, Judy Donohue, Vincent
Finnegan, Debra Keating, Rory O'Brien, and Gregory Powell.

The installation ceremony will be held on Monday, February
13, 2006, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at Vintage Restaurant, 171 Main
Street in downtown White Plains.

The Sashes of Honor to lead the 9th Annual White Plains St.
Patrick's Day Parade will be distributed at that time.

For more information, call the St. Patrick's Parade
Committee Chairman John Martin at (914) 686-0239 or the
White Plains Downtown BID at (914) 328-5166.


Curragh To Get New Grandstand In €100m Makeover

13/02/2006 - 12:25:18

The Curragh is to get a new world-class grandstand as part
of a planned €100m makeover of the Co Kildare racecourse.

Work on the three-year project is due to get underway this
April, with Turf Club officials hoping the new stand will
be completed in time for the 2007 Irish Derby.

Spokesman Pierce Moloney said the structure would be built
on the existing road at the Curragh, opening up new space
alongside the track and allowing the racecourse to
accommodate up to 50,000 people.


McDonagh Eyeing Oscar Success For Short Film

Epoch Times Ireland Staff Feb 04, 2006

A scene from Martin McDonagh's L'Ouest Solitaire.
McDonagh's latest piece of work Six Shooter has been
nominated for an Oscar. (Patrick Valasseris/AFP)

High-res image (2048 x 1370 px, 72 dpi) Irish playwright
Martin McDonagh was nominated for an Oscar last Wednesday
in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

The comedy, "Six Shooter", is McDonagh's first excursion
into film, even though the playwright is widely recognised
worldwide. He had previously won two consecutive Olivier
Award's for Best New Play for his work 'The Pillow Man'
after first gaining recognition with the multi-award
winning 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane'.

His work has been sold to over forty countries and has been
translated into over twenty eight languages, being played
from Broadway to Sydney and the West End.

"Six Shooter" boosts an impressive list of Irish talent,
including Brendan Gleeson in the lead, Ruaidhri Conroy from
"Hart's War", David Wilmot from "Laws of Attraction" and
Aisling O'Sullivan in supporting roles. It follows Gleeson
as he makes a train journey home after his wife's death and
encounters a strange and possibly psychotic young man.

The short was shot on location in Wicklow, Waterford and

Other nominees in the Best Live Action Short Film category
include "Ausreisser" ("The Runaway"), "Cashback", "The Last
Farm" and "Our Time Is Up".

After the nominations were announced in California, Simon
Perry, CEO of Bord Scannán na hÉireann said: "This is
fantastic news and we congratulate all involved with this
hugely successful short film. The recognition of Irish
filmmakers at this level once again illustrates the high
standard of new film-making talent Ireland has to offer."

Other Irish hopefuls for an Oscar included Cillian Murphy
and Pierce Brosnan. Both failed to make the list.

The seventy eight Academy Awards ceremony will take place
in Los Angeles on March the 5th 2006.


Children's Fund Promotes Racial Tolerance One Child At A

Around the Region
Times Columnist

This story ran on on Monday, February 13,
2006 12:06 AM CST

As the world looks to encourage tolerance, understanding
and respect for religious, political and cultural
differences, sometimes it takes a child to lead the way.

This is truly happening, one youthful relationship at a
time, in strife-torn Northern Ireland, where violent
outbreaks are always primed and ready between supporters of
the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party and the mainly
Catholic Sinn Fein. At the heart of this progress lies the
Irish Children's Fund, a not-for-profit organization
celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in dedication to
building foundations for permanent peace in Northern
Ireland through its children.

And it's working, reports Danny Martin, who serves as
coordinator with his wife Theresa for the organization's
Northwest Indiana chapter. During their trips to Northern
Ireland, they've observed that "the tide is beginning to
turn in Belfast." Each summer host families in Northwest
Indiana and the Chicago area invite Belfast children,
equally divided between Protestant and Catholic, into their
homes for a five-week stay. For the children it is a time
free from the worries of pipe bomb blasts, punishment
beatings, haranguing taunts and terrorist threats.

As the children arrive here from Belfast, many for the
first time will experience contact with children of the
opposite religious background. They range in ages from 11
to 15 years and are selected with the help of their local
schools and teachers. Their families are interviewed and
their American hosts are approved by a licensed child
placement agency.

The children are purposely brought here during July, which
is at the height of the "marching season" in Belfast with
Protestant groups participating in traditional parades that
have routes through Catholic neighborhoods. Belfast
neighborhoods are separated according to religious
affiliation, right down to the color of the curbs: green
for Catholic, red for Protestants.

Attention here turns to group activities planned for the
children and their hosts. Outings in Northwest Indiana are
to water parks, bowling alleys, recreation fun centers,
Indiana Dunes State Park and Chicago Fire matches.

"At first," Theresa reports, "the children are very quiet
and shy and they don't mix too much. But, a week later and
by the time their stay in America comes to an end, the
children have forged friendships across religious lines and
are very comfortable in each other's company."

As each child returns to Belfast, the reconciliation
program continues there for three years. Children's fund
activities are planned to continue forging cross community
relationships. Weekly events are held at a community center
in a neutral Belfast neighborhood. Weekend trips and summer
camps take place at the seaside resort of Ballycastle in
Northern Ireland.

Having completed the followup program in Northern Ireland,
the children, who by this time are teens, are eligible for
a return visit to the United States.

While here they are required to participate in volunteer
work for a community service experience.

The Northwest Indiana Chapter of the Irish Children's Fund
will host a fund-raising St. Patrick's Day party March 17
at 6:00 p.m. at Operating Engineer Credit Union Local 150,
2193 W. 84th Place in Merrillville.

Families interested in promoting peace by hosting the
children of Northern Ireland can call (219) 916-2462 or
(630) 833-1910.

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