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February 28, 2006

Inquiries Act Applied To Hamill Inquiry

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 02/28/06 Controversial New Law Applied To Hamill Inquiry
DI 02/28/06 Hain Tells Finucanes Thatcher’s Reign Is Not My Fault
DI 02/28/06 MI5’s Interests Lay In Sustaining Conflict
SF 02/28/06 North Antrim Council Declares Its Support For Irish Unity
SF 02/28/06 Anger At PSNI Harassment Of Ogra Shinn Féin Member
BT 02/28/06 Victims Group 'Will Never Cross The Border Again'
DI 02/28/06 Lawyer: Only 110 Loyalists Showed Up
RT 02/28/06 Gardaí Did Not Expect Riots, Cabinet Told
BN 02/28/06 DUP Tables House Of Commons Motion On Dublin Riots
IN 02/28/06 Riots Dry Run For Queen’s Visit: RSF
IN 02/28/06 Orangeman’s Position ‘Untenable’
BN 02/28/06 SDLP Slams Neighbourhood Justice Funding Plans
BN 02/28/06 Bush To Make Brief Stopover At Shannon Tomorrow Morning
BT 02/28/06 Mass Murderer Knight 'Was Not A Police Agent'
DI 02/28/06 Further Blow Hits IMC
DI 02/28/06 Sinn Féin Gives Example In Leadership
IN 02/28/06 Opin: Loyalist Threat More Sinister
DI 02/28/06 Opin: Little Foresight In Planning For Demonstration
DI 02/28/06 Opin: Legitimate Protest Must Not Be Stifled
BT 02/28/06 Opin: The Dublin Legacy
IN 02/28/06 Opin: Sectarianism And Hatred Only Winners In City Riot
BT 02/28/06 Opin: All Elements Must Learn From Dublin
IN 02/28/06 Opin: Dublin Riot Is Salutary Lesson To Southerners
DI 02/28/06 Bobby Sands: Becoming Politically Radical In Long Kesh
RT 02/28/06 House Prices For First-Time Buyers Pass €250k
UU 02/28/06 Sen John Kerry To Deliver Lecture At University Of Ulster
WP 02/28/06 Bk Rev: Nothing But An Unfinished Song
BN 02/28/06 Beckett Centenary Plans To Be Unveiled
PD 02/28/06 Dance: Mask Reveals Tale In Mix Of Dance & Language


Controversial New Law Applied To Hamill Inquiry

By Chris Thornton
28 February 2006

The inquiry into the murder of Portadown man Robert Hamill
is about to become the second collusion case switched over
to controversial new legislation.

The chairman of the inquiry, which is examining police
handling of Mr Hamill's death at the hands of a loyalist
mob, recently asked Secretary of State Peter Hain to
convert the case to the Inquiries Act.

Former High Court Justice Edwin Jowitt has asked for the
switch because "important witnesses are unwilling to give
evidence" and the new law will allow him to force them to

But the Act has also attracted criticism because it gives
Ministers unprecedented powers to keep information secret.

David Wright, the father of murdered LVF leader Billy
Wright, is currently mounting a High Court challenge
against the use of the law in the inquiry into his son's
prison murder.

The Wright case was originally set up under the Prisons Act
but was converted to the Inquiries Act last year.

And the family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have
strenuously opposed Government plans to hold the inquiry
into his murder under the Act.

The family have said they will refuse to cooperate with the
proposed inquiry, arguing that the law takes away the
inquiry's independence.

The Finucanes have led an international campaign to
convince judges not to take the case under those terms.

Mr Hain wrote to Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine last week to
defend the Act and tell her that it would not be used to
cover up information. He said the "volume of sensitive
evidence is far too great" in the Finucane case to use the
old system.

Last week retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter
Cory, who recommended the Hamill, Wright and Finucane
inquiries alongside two other cases, cast doubt over the
Government's claims that serious national security issues
could be compromised by the Finucane case.


Hain: Don’t blame me

Direct Ruler Tells Finucanes He Is Not Responsible For What
Happened During Thatcher’s Reign

By Jarlath Kearney

- Relatives of murdered solicitor learn that intelligence
and secret service members involved are still serving as
Crown employees -

Direct-rule Northern secretary Peter Hain has allegedly
told Pat Finucane’s family not to blame him “for what
happened under Maggie Thatcher”.

It has also been learned that members of Britain’s
intelligence and security services who were involved in the
circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s 1989 murder are
continuing to serve as Crown employees.

An informed source last night confirmed that British
officials made the admission during a meeting between
members of Mr Finucane’s family and secretary of state
Peter Hain in Belfast three weeks ago.

It has been alleged that during the meeting on February 7,
Mr Hain told the Finucane family: “Don’t blame me for what
happened under Maggie Thatcher”.

Last night the NIO told Daily Ireland that they would not
comment on what may or may not have been said at the

The NIO also confirmed that a private, personal letter sent
by Mr Hain to Geraldine Finucane last week was divulged by
the British government to the media in recent days.

“We gave it (to the press), we didn’t leak it,” an NIO
spokesman said.

Mr Finucane – a prominent defence solicitor – was murdered
in front of his family at their north Belfast home in 1989.
Although the UDA was responsible for the killing, at least
five loyalists implicated in the affair were British
government agents.

Following the 2001 Weston Park multi-party negotiations,
Canadian judge Peter Cory was appointed to review the
circumstances surrounding Mr Finucane’s murder.

Judge Cory’s report was published in edited form by the
British government in 2004.

Judge Cory recommended a public, independent inquiry into
the murder to investigate prima facie evidence of

However, the British government has since introduced the
controversial new Inquiries Act.

This legislation vests a government minister – rather than
an independent tribunal – with control over any inquiry.

The Finucane family has rejected the Inquiries Act.

After his family’s meeting with Mr Hain on February 7, Pat
Finucane’s son Michael told Daily Ireland that the British
government was not implementing Judge Cory’s
recommendation: “What is now being proposed is an
intelligence services’ inquiry, in which it is entirely
possible the only people who will see all of the relevant
material are the intelligence services who created it in
the first instance.

“You really come away from such a meeting with the burning
question: who the hell is running the country?” Mr Finucane

Last week, during a visit to Belfast, Judge Cory branded
the British government’s approach as “Alice in Wonderland”.

“My goodness, when you look at it, in the middle of
everything, you move the goal posts and you change the
rules of the game. I just don’t think it’s the way to run a
railroad, but I’m not running the railroad.

“If you told me at the beginning, ‘no matter what you do
we’re going to change the rules’, then any self-respecting
person would say, ‘thank you, no, I’d just as soon not,
this is Mickey Mouse – it’s Alice in Wonderland’. But you
don’t know that at the time,” Judge Cory said.

In a statement to Daily Ireland yesterday, Peter Hain
claimed that the Inquiries Act was the only vehicle for
progressing an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder.

“The inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane will hear
evidence that goes to the heart of national security in
Northern Ireland,” Mr Hain said.

“There will be evidence which cannot be made public because
it could cause real damage to national security or put
lives in danger.

“The inquiry report will be published and anything that is
held back – redacted –will be the bare minimum necessary to
protect national security and fulfil the government’s legal
obligations. This inquiry would have full co-operation from
government. The murder of Pat Finucane must be investigated
fully. To continue to argue about the process when this is
the only way it can be done simply adds to the sense of
frustration and serves no interest, least of all that of
establishing the truth,” Mr Hain said.


MI5’s Interests Lay In Sustaining Conflict

Evidence increases that ‘godfathers' of loyalism are
Special Branch and Military Intelligence

Mark Thompson

This past week has witnessed revelations relating to state
agents that in any other society would have surely toppled
police chiefs, ministers and possibly governments. It is
now without question that RUC/PSNI Special Branch was
running and continues to run agents such as Torrens Knight
and John White. And these are just the latest examples in a
string of public disclosures.

White and Knight were personally responsible for some of
the vilest and repugnant sectarian murders over three
decades of conflict. Fuelled solely by their sectarian
hatred of Catholics, nationalists and republicans, the
recruitment and operation of these people expose the
overall modes operandi of Special Branch and indeed the
personal motivations of their handlers. The fact that these
killers were paid huge sums of public money only adds to
the public concern, and especially so for the bereaved and

In relation to John White, questions are now also raised
about the fact that he was able to avail of public money
for the purchase of his property when he fled during the
loyalist feud.

The Special Branch priority above and beyond everything is
their dirty war, especially against republicans, political
and societal change, and the peace process. Special Branch
activities have deliberately gone unchecked for decades at
the cost of many lives of both Catholics and Protestants -
all expendable. This too included members of their own
forces. Indeed many people will justifiably ask how many
lives did Special Branch and their counterparts in Military
Intelligence casually extinguish in pursuit of their dirty
war. We have a right to know the full truth.

Evidence in numerous killings involving state agents proves
that Special Branch and Military Intelligence have acted as
judge, jury and executioner. They have been politically
facilitated at the highest levels of the state. Both
Special Branch and Military Intelligence wield control of
the prosecution service. The unaccountable nature of how
the Public Prosecution Service (formerly the DPP) operates
and is interfered with is equally key and is crucial to
enabling the dirty war, which reaches into the heart of the
British political and military establishment of MI5.

More information exposing that: MI5 had prior knowledge of
the Omagh bombing yet failed to act; that in the PSNI
killing of Neill McConville Special Branch wilfully
withheld information from the Ombudsman; that in the double
UVF murder of two Portadown teenagers senior PSNI
investigating officers are accused of perverting the course
of justice by concealing vital forensic evidence that
enabled one of the killers to walk free at the time; all
lend considerable weight to the call for an independent

The hundreds of families bereaved and injured due to the
activities of Special Branch and Military Intelligence
demand truth and accountability. This can only be achieved
by a thorough independent inquiry and we are calling for
this now. The evidence in recent times vindicates our
consistent analysis down the years that the activities of
Special Branch and Military Intelligence effectively
prolonged, sustained and fuelled the conflict. Some would
argue that they ran the war through their agents. The
evidence to date suggests that their interests lie solely
in sustaining conflict and control of loyalism. These are
all matters of huge public concern.

Far from protecting lives, which is the sworn duty of any
police service, it is now clear beyond any doubt that quite
the opposite was the case. It increasingly appears that the
‘godfathers' of loyalism are the Special Branch and
Military Intelligence.

For the bereaved and injured victims of state agents such
as White and Knight it is equally important that the
faceless people who run these agents are held accountable
and not protected by legislation such as the Inquiries Act.
The British government must act in accordance with
international legal and human rights obligations and
facilitate a transparent independent inquiry.

The majority of those affected are Irish citizens, and many
of those within the unionist community affected by this
policy have been virtually ignored by their own
representatives. They too seek the Irish government to
speak out on their behalf. We collectively call on the
Irish government to defend our human rights with integrity
and put this issue at the heart of negotiations. This call
is also based on the obligation and responsibilityof
governments to tackle human rights abuses.

Special Branch remains at the heart of policing and
continues its activities and the Policing Board is both
incapable of and unwilling to deal with these issues in the
manner required. Until these matters are addressed there
cannot be any confidence in current policing structures.

We pose the question – just how many lives have been
sacrificed by the British state in the pursuit of running
their dirty war via their agents?

Mark Thompson is a human rights campaigner and a member of
Relatives for Justice, a group representing relatives of
victims murdered by British state forces.


North Antrim Council Declares Its Support For Irish Unity

Published: 28 February, 2006

Last night North Antrim's Moyle Council joined with Omagh
and Strabane District Councils in declaring its support for
Irish unity and agreed to send a letter to An Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern TD, asking him to be more proactive in
pursuing All-Ireland agenda policies.

The motion was passed at last night‚s monthly Council
meeting. The motion had the support of Sinn Féin and 2 SDLP
Councillors. One SDLP Councillor, Catherine McCambridge,
broke ranks with her party and abstained. Speaking after
the meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor, Cara McShane, said she
welcomed the decision to send a letter to Bertie Ahern.

Cllr McShane said:

"Irish Unity is the stated objective of all nationalist and
republican parties on the island of Ireland including the
present Irish government administration. This proposal is
challenging Bertie Ahern to put his money where his mouth
is. It is a challenge to An Taoiseach to be more pro-active
in pursuing the All-Ireland agenda policies and to move on
from the long and drawn-out rhetorical stage. The passing
of this motion clearly sends out a signal to An Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern that he must start acting on the
democratically expressed wishes of its Irish citizens in
this part of the 32 Counties.

"While I am not shocked that Unionist representatives were
vocal in their opposition to the motion, as they often are
with any policy which promotes All-Ireland Co-operation, I
trust that they accept that it is a legitimate right to
pursue the objective of Irish Unity through political and
democratic means. This motion is a legitimate mechanism
through which to achieve this objective. Moyle Council is
far from being a Œcold house for unionists‚ as was
suggested at last night‚s meeting. In-fact Moyle has an
excellent track record of good relations within the Council
and All-Ireland co-operation.

„This motion is clearly challenging Bertie Ahern to spell
out what pro-active strategy his government is going to
undertake in pursuance of the stated objective of a United
Ireland. The support of Moyle Council in North Antrim to
take An Taoiseach to task over the stated objective, quite
blatantly shows the present Irish government administration
that Ireland does not stop at the border.‰ ENDS

Note to Editor

The motion proposed was:

This Council welcomes the fact that Irish Unity is now the
stated objective of all nationalist parties on the island
of Ireland including the present Irish government

This Council therefore believes that An Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern TD has a unique responsibility in giving practical
expression to his administration‚s and nationalist
Ireland‚s stated objective on the issue by immediately
commissioning a green paper on Irish unity.

This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD
to initiate a holistic consultation process amongst all
sectors of society north and south to assist in the
formulation of a green paper.

This Council further calls on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD
to give immediate effect to the constitution‚s recognition
of the entitlement of every person born on the island of
Ireland to be part of the Irish nation by legislating for:
Six County representation in Dáil Éireann, the right of
people in the Six Counties to vote in national referenda on
articles of the constitution and the right to vote in
presidential elections.

This Council communicates the above requests in writing to
An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD.


Anger At PSNI Harassment Of Ogra Shinn Féin Member

Published: 28 February, 2006

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty has said that the
harassment and intimidation of an Ogra Shinn Féin member as
he travelled from Omagh to Belfast is totally unacceptable
and evidence of the routine and targeted nature of
political policing.

Mr Doherty said:

"The intention of the PSNI involved in this incident was to
try and intimidate a young member of Sinn Féin. This is
political policing at its‚ most basic and corrupt level.
The attempt to harass and intimidate a political activist
is totally unacceptable."

Describing the incident Ogra Shinn Féin member Barra Mac an
fhaili said:

"I was on my way to Belfast on Friday, 24th February, on
the 5.30 pm bus to Belfast from the Omagh Translink Bus
Depot. I was on the bus about 10 minutes, on the Dublin
Road, Omagh when the bus was stopped by two PSNI cars. They
had their sirens on and their lights were flashing.

"A PSNI member boarded the bus and after a short time
approached me and asked me to leave the bus with my bags.
When searching the contents of my bag a number of items,
including election literature, were thrown onto the
roadside. Despite not asking for my details at least one of
the PSNI officers knew my name.

"This was clearly a deliberate attempt to try and frighten
me. I was held for 15 minutes and questioned me on my
movements on that day, why and how long I was going to
Belfast for and who I was meeting up with in Belfast."ENDS


Victims Group 'Will Never Cross The Border Again'

By Michael McHugh
28 February 2006

Members of a Protestant victims' group whose parade was
called off in Dublin last weekend will never stray into the
Republic again, a spokesman for the group claimed today.

South Armagh Protestants' representative Willie Frazer
warned that many participants in last Saturday's aborted
Love Ulster parade were so appalled by the violent scenes
that they will never venture across the border again.

Dublin was rocked by the worst violence since the H-block
riots in 1981 as scores of gardai were injured and pitched
battles fought across the city between dissident
republicans and police.

Mr Fraser said last weekend's events had done little to
convince members of his group of the tolerance of people in
the south.

"There are quite a few people in Dublin on Saturday who
will never go over the border again.

"It has done nothing to reassure them, in fact they are
more convinced than ever that nothing has changed in the
Republic," he said.

"We believe it is because we were victims of republican
terrorism and that is what their problem was.

"We stand for what the republicans have inflicted for the
last 35 years. This was a case of highlighting the victims'
issue and saying that this is our culture."

Political leaders north and south of the border, from
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
and Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey have condemned the

Gardai are drawing up a report on the matter, to be
submitted to Justice Minister Michael McDowell and there
have even been calls for a public inquiry into the matter.

Love Ulster protestors, who numbered up to 700 and included
bandsmen, were hemmed into a corner of Parnell Square and
not permitted to march up O'Connell Street to the Irish

A later attempt by loyalists to demonstrate nearby also saw
further disturbances in Nassau Street and there was also
rioting in the Jervis Shopping Centre close to O'Connell

The trouble broke out after Republican Sinn Fein, which
supports dissident republicans, held a counter-
demonstration in O'Connell Street.

Mr Frazer, who heads the Families Acting for Innocent
Relatives (FAIR) group based in Co Armagh, said no decision
had been taken on whether to reschedule the march.


Lawyer: Only 110 Loyalists Showed Up

by Mick Hall

Only 110 loyalists showed up in Dublin on Saturday for the
cancelled Love Ulster rally and they had “no intention” of
marching, a human-rights lawyer claimed last night.

The plan had been for the march to go past Dublin’s General
Post Office to Leinster House, where a political rally was
to be addressed by Families Acting for Innocent Relatives
director Willie Frazer and Democratic Unionist Party Lagan
Valley MP Jeffery Donaldson.

Belfast solicitor Pádraigín Drinan was accompanying an
official observer from Washington DC when riots broke out.
Protesters erected barricades along O’Connell Street and
attacked gardaí. Several cars were set alight and
surrounding buildings in the area were damaged.

Ms Drinan said much of the violence could have been avoided
if gardaí had made sure the small parade began on time.

“I counted 110 people congregated at Parnell Square. They
were beating Lambeg drums and marching on the spot. It was
clear they had no intention of parading down O’Connell
Street. With such a small number, they would have looked

“The march was supposed to leave at 12.30pm and, at that
time, the roads were clear. At 12.45pm, I asked a Garda
officer why it hadn’t and received no reply. At around the
same time, the first signs of trouble were occurring. If
the parade left at 12.30pm, the trouble may not have been
as bad,” she said.

A Garda spokesperson told Daily Ireland that the march
could not have started at 12.30pm because protesters had
been blocking the road and that marchers had been late
getting into Dublin.

Ms Drinan said that, contrary to many media reports, much
of the fighting had erupted after local Dubliners were
forced off O’Connell Street and down adjoining side streets
by gardaí.

“I saw hundreds of middle-aged local people jostle
aggressively with Garda officers after being forced down
side streets. They weren’t the type you would associate
with a riot,” she said.

The lawyer was also critical of what she called Sinn Féin’s
“blanket denunciations” of the violence.

“To call the actions of protesters ‘disgraceful’ is off the
mark. Sinn Féin can’t go around condemning ordinary people
in Dublin for their response to an extremely provocative
march and a mishandled Garda response to it,” she said.

Around 40 people were arrested and six gardaí injured after
nearly 1,000 protesters attacked police lines on Saturday.


Gardaí Did Not Expect Riots, Cabinet Told

28 February 2006 13:00

The Cabinet has heard that gardaí had no reason to expect
the violence that erupted in protest at Saturday's Love
Ulster march in Dublin.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, who briefed
ministers on a Garda report into the disturbances, will
open a special two-and-a-half hour Dáil debate on the riots
this afternoon.

The preliminary Garda report deals with preparations for
the march and maintains that officers had no intelligence
that suggested that large-scale disturbances were likely.

It points to the involvement of large numbers of rioters
wearing Celtic tops who had been drinking in nearby pubs
who dramatically swelled the ranks of the initial

Gardaí are not yet in a position to say who was responsible
for instigating the violence but it is likely that Mr
McDowell will suggest that Republican elements have to
shoulder the blame.

Opposition criticism will focus on the Garda preparations
for the march, why building works on O'Connell Street which
provided much of the ammunition for rioters there were not
secured in advance and what implications the disturbances
have for future demonstrations in the capital's main

Speaking last night, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said he
believed the rioting was organised by a small group of

The Garda Representative Association yesterday called for
an independent investigation into the contingency plans
that were put in place for the loyalist march.

42 people were arrested on Saturday in connection with the
violence and further arrests are expected.


DUP Tables House Of Commons Motion On Dublin Riots

28/02/2006 - 08:08:24

The Democratic Unionist Party has table a motion in the
British parliament condemning Saturday's rioting in Dublin.

Party spokesman Gregory Campbell said the move would give
British MPs the opportunity to express disgust at the
treatment afforded to a peaceful loyalist parade and rally.

The riots broke out when a group of protestors tried to
prevent the Love Ulster march from taking place on
O'Connell Street.

Mr Campbell's motion calls on London to make
representations to the Irish Government to ensure those
responsible for such "fascist behaviour" are brought to


Riots Dry Run For Queen’s Visit: RSF

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) has said it sees the protest
against Saturday’s Love Ulster parade as a “dry run” for a
visit to Dublin by Queen Elizabeth.

The dissident republican party – considered the political
wing of the Continuity IRA – is being blamed for organising
the demonstration which led to intense violence in the city

Secretary of State Peter Hain has said he believes the
rioting was a one-off event rather than some pattern for
the future.

However, RSF vice-president Des Dalton warned that any
visit by the British monarch to the Republic would be met
with even larger demonstrations.

“We see Saturday’s [Love Ulster] march as a dry run for
[the queen’s] visit,” Mr Dalton said.

“The abnormal political situation continues in the minds of
a lot of Irish people. Bertie Ahern talks about the
national question being resolved but it has not been

“The queen and what she represents is not welcome. We will
continue to protest against such a visit.”

A spokeswoman for the British embassy said the British and
Irish governments had agreed that a visit by the queen
should take place but a date has yet to be set. The last
visit by a British monarch was in 1911 when King George V
went to Dublin.


Orangeman’s Position ‘Untenable’

By Staff Reporter

An Orangeman on the Parades Commission has been urged to
resign after fresh questions were raised about his

SDLP assembly member Dolores Kelly called on Don MacKay to
quit after it emerged she was cited as a referee on his
application form without ever being approached.

Ms Kelly also expressed amazement that no-one involved in
the appointment questioned that an Upper Bann nationalist
would act as a referee for a Portadown Orangeman.

“I’m amazed no-one in the Northern Ireland Office contacted
me before he was appointed to such a high-profile
commission,” she said.

“It doesn’t make sense that a nationalist representative
for Portadown, of all places, would nominate a member of
the Orange Order to the Parades Commission when our
positions on parades, sectarianism and the Drumcree march
have been so far apart.

“Don Mackay’s position on the commission is untenable and
he should resign.”

There was controversy when Mr MacKay, a former UUP
councillor who has since defected to the DUP, and former
Portadown Orange Order district grand master David Burrows
were appointed last November.

The nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition is
currently mounting a High Court challenge to the
commission’s make-up, and claimed last night its approach
had been vindicated.

“We look forward to the NIO’s complete mishandling of this
entire debacle being exposed in open court,” spokesman Joe
Duffy said .

The commission is chaired by former trade union negotiator
Roger Poole of Unison, with other members including former
SDLP West Belfast MP Dr Joe Hendron and Women’s Coalition
member Anne Monaghan.

The NIO said: “References were not sought for any

“The appointments process was regulated by the Office of
the Commissioner for Public Appointments and an OCPA
representative was involved in every stage.”


SDLP Slams Neighbourhood Justice Funding Plans

28/02/2006 - 10:07:20

The nationalist SDLP will today launch a hard-hitting
critique of British government plans to fund neighbourhood
justice schemes in the North.

The party will launch its document on community restorative
justice in Belfast as Northern Ireland Office Minister
David Hanson’s consultation on the proposals continued.

The party is expected to be highly critical of the British
government’s proposal that in republican areas that do not
recognise police reforms, community restorative justice
groups could apply to handle certain cases without directly
consulting the police.

An SDLP source compared the proposal to “Chinese whispers”,
and claimed that it was not conducive to the prosecution of

“The same system of third-party communication with the
police was put in place to assist the investigation into
the murder of (Belfast father-of-two) Robert McCartney,”
the source said.

“Because of Sinn Féin’s refusal to deal with the police, it
was agreed that the office of the Police Ombudsman could be
used as an intermediary.

“Police had to send questions in writing to the Ombudsman,
who forwarded them to those in the bar where Robert
McCartney was attacked, they in turn sent written
statements back, but it has failed to bring about any

“Now David Hanson expects us to believe that a similar
system of communication will protect human rights.”

Unionists, nationalists and former Irish Prime Minister
Garret Fitzgerald have been critical of the British
government’s plans, claiming they could hand control of law
and order in loyalist and republican areas to vigilante

Community restorative justice groups bring the victims of
low-level crime face-to-face with the alleged perpetrators
to resolve their differences and find a way of compensating
the victim.

The schemes have been operating in loyalist and republican
neighbourhoods and have been funded privately.

But with the money due to run out in April 2006, Sinn Féin
and supporters of community restorative justice have been
pressing the British government to give state funding to
the programs.

Critics have warned that the schemes may be used by
republicans to exert greater paramilitary control – a fear
also voiced by the North’s ceasefire watchdog, the
Independent Monitoring Commission.

Supporters, however, insist that the schemes have provided
a viable alternative to the rough justice meted out by
paramilitary groups, such as beatings, so-called punishment
shootings or expulsions.

As well as having concerns that restorative justice groups
will be allowed under the British government’s scheme to
avoid direct communication with the police and instead
contact the Probation Board and Youth Justice Agency as
intermediaries, the SDLP is also expected to press for more
adequate inspection of the schemes, better training and an
independent statutory complaint system.

It is also anticipated that the party will stress that it
believes restorative justice is a good idea where groups
cooperate directly with the police and show they accept the
rule of law.


Bush To Make Brief Stopover At Shannon Tomorrow Morning

28/02/2006 - 10:59:45

US President George W Bush is expected to make a brief
stopover at Shannon Airport in the early hours of tomorrow

Mr Bush's official aircraft, Air Force One, is expected to
make a refuelling stop at the Co Clare facility while
carrying the US President to India for an official visit.

A major garda security operation is to expected to get
underway this afternoon ahead of the stopover.


Mass Murderer Knight 'Was Not A Police Agent'

As senior security sources reject claims that Greysteel
killer Torrens Knight was an informer, security expert
Brian Rowan analyses the role played by agents in Ulster

28 February 2006

The Greysteel killer Torrens Knight was not a police agent,
the Belfast Telegraph has been told.

A senior security source told this newpaper last week that
he would be "astounded" if the Special Branch had recruited

Now it has emerged that the police have moved in recent
days to give private assurances to a senior member of the
Policing Board and nationalist politicians.

The official police position is not to comment on news
reports relating to informers, but in the past week steps
have been taken to address the claims that Knight was
working for the Special Branch.

"People with knowledge have gone to particular lengths to
deny the Knight allegation," the SDLP's Alex Attwood said.

"At a time when intelligence sources are providing
confirmation about what MI5 knew about Omagh, the
determination to deny Knight may have greater credibility."

That denial is understood to have been communicated to the
vice-chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley.

Suspicions that Knight was a Special Branch informer are
linked to unconfirmed reports that the loyalist killer was
drawing large amounts of money from a bank account into
which £50,000 a year was being paid.

"There's no way any of our sources were paid £1,000 a
week," a senior intelligence source told the Belfast

"We had upper limits - nowhere near £50,000 a year."

This source has detailed knowledge of the Special Branch,
its agents and their payments.

"Our top source in Belfast was getting good money, (but)
not £50,000 a year."

That "top source" is said to be a republican, still
"unexposed", according to the senior intelligence figure
who spoke to the Belfast Telegraph over the weekend.

He also said the revelations about the loyalist John White
published in this newspaper last week are "as safe as
houses" - meaning they are true.

The Belfast Telegraph disclosed that White, a convicted
killer and close associate of the Shankill loyalist Johnny
Adair, was a Special Branch informer.

In the Torrens Knight case, the question that will now be
asked is whether he was working for any of the other
intelligence agencies - those with the ability to pay
£50,000 and more a year.

The loyalist was a member of a UDA gang jailed for the 1993
gun attacks in Castlerock and Greysteel in which 12 people
were murdered.


Further Blow Hits IMC

By Jarlath Kearney

Former Alliance Party leader John Alderdice yesterday
defended his decision to resign from the party, two years
after his appointment to the Independent Monitoring

Sinn Féin said his resignation was a further blow to the
commission, which the party said should be scrapped.

Daily Ireland yesterday revealed that Lord Alderdice had
resigned his formal membership of the Alliance Party.

His resignation came after he disclosed under direct
questioning by Daily Ireland (February 17) that he remained
an Alliance Party member.

When asked whether his Alliance Party membership
constituted a perceived conflict of interest with his
commissioner status, Lord Alderdice discounted such a

Sinn Féin’s legal representatives — who are pursuing a
judicial review in London against the commission’s
legitimacy — subsequently wrote to the commission.

After Sinn Féin questioned Lord Alderdice’s continued
Alliance Party membership, lawyers for the commission
disclosed last Friday that he had resigned from the party.

Speaking yesterday morning from New York, Lord Alderdice
said there was now a “pretty serious drive to get the
assembly up and running again”.

“As you know, I’ve been, in the last few years, a member of
the Independent Monitoring Commission and we’ve produced a
number of reports.

“We have another one coming up quite soon and there’s now a
pretty serious drive to get the assembly up and running

“If that happens, and of course we hope it does, then the
monitoring commission will have a new role, which will be
that, if there are complaints by a party in the assembly
against another party or against a minister or complaints
about a party, then the monitoring commission can be asked
to come in and give a view in regard to that.

“And of course, it’s possible in those circumstances that
there might be a complaint either by the Alliance Party or
perhaps even against the Alliance Party and it seemed to me
that, in the circumstances where such a thing might arise,
it might be better for me to give up albeit an entirely
inactive membership.

“I thought it would be better to put that issue to bed
before something would arise,” Lord Alderdice told the BBC.

However, in the context of Daily Ireland’s revelations,
Sinn Féin has repeated its demand for the commission to be

Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said yesterday: “The IMC
was established outside and in breach of the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement.

“It is a tool for the securocrats and the opponents of
change. It is not and never has been independent. It is
politically biased, has a clear anti-Sinn Féin agenda, and
its procedures are flawed.

“Sinn Féin has met with the IMC on a number of occasions
and challenged each of the members of the commission on
their political bias, their lack of independence and their
failure to employ any of the normal standards of proof
required of other tribunals or similar bodies.”


Sinn Féin Gives Example In Leadership

In a bid to move the peace process forward Martin
McGuinness is scheduled to meet Ahern and Blair – he will
tell them that British rule is as much a failure as
Paisley’s political antics

Eamonn Houston

When Martin McGuinness spoke, whether in earnest to
political foes or informally with friends, the corridors of
British power in Whitehall listened.

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator began garnering respect,
unintentionally, as a teenager. At the age of 17, he was
negotiating with the British government.

Now a man who has gained political maturity, he enters a
stage this week that is his “do or die” scenario.

Martin McGuinness has a gift, that sure gift of a winning
poker player. Few people who have sat around the table with
the former minister for education would disagree.

His unwavering commitment to the republican movement and
his stoic adherence to all he learned in what he terms the
“University of the Bogside” are what inform his personal

His sense of family and the simple things in life are not
sidelines to his political life. McGuinness has never been
about ambition.

His proudest moment came when he took office as the North’s
minister for education. With a head office in Bangor in Co
Down, McGuinness showed a stadium of unionist detractors
that there was more to this man than met the eye.

His main mantra, as a politician groomed by inequality in
his home town of Derry, was: “The greatest injustice ever
inflicted on the beleaguered nationalist community was to
be trapped in a gerrymandered, undemocratic, sectarian

In the next few days, McGuinness will forcefully make his
case and that of his people before British prime minister,
Tony Blair, and Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

The simple argument that McGuinness will present is that
direct rule by the British government in the North is
folly, that Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley is
an abject failure in leadership and that there can be no
dilution of the Good Friday Agreement.

McGuinness will pull no punches. He openly challenges Ian
Paisley to make efforts towards confidence- building among
the nationalist population on a par with steps that
republicans have taken. The Irish Republican Army, in
McGuinness’ view, took a huge step towards that in an
unprecedented act of decommissioning of its weaponry last

It is now up to the DUP to deliver a similar measure.

“They are going to have to convince us – that is, both
governments, especially the British government, Blair and
Hain need to lay down the law. If not, they need to deal
with the appalling scandal that is the Northern Ireland
Assembly. MLAs should not be paid for doing nothing. It
[the assembly] should be abolished.

“The two governments should press ahead with an all-Ireland
agenda, as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement,” he

When the republican movement underwent its biggest debate –
the debate that led to last September’s decommissioning –
McGuinness went to the relatives of dead IRA volunteers to
convince the movement of the peaceful political path.

McGuinness was the only person who could pull that off. He
freely admitted before the Bloody Sunday inquiry that he
was the IRA’s second in command on January 30, 1972.

However, the political landscape has changed – except, that
is, for the DUP.

“My clear view is that people within the DUP are shaping up
for a leadership contest. They are dominated by the
succession stakes.

“Many within the DUP will accept the way forward. Those are
the people who need to do the business. Ian Paisley is not
willing to do the business,” he said.

McGuinness accused British secretary of state Peter Hain,
the Taoiseach and the SDLP of colluding to bring about a
stall in the peace process.

“That will be viewed with dismay by many people. What turns
everything on its head is that the UUP are more willing
than the SDLP,” McGuinness said.

McGuinness views the leadership of Mark Durkan as a break
from a wider pan-nationalist and unspoken agreement that
existed under John Hume’s tenure of the SDLP.

As far as McGuinness is concerned, the republican movement
made a selfless and “mighty” contribution when the IRA
debated Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’ call for a laying
down of arms last April.

“They considered that appeal. They saw that it was time to
end the armed campaign. Republicans delivered that and that
is an example of leadership,” said McGuinness.

“This was an extremely difficult issue for republicans and
they showed themselves willing to create a new situation.
It would be good to see others reciprocate in dealing with
political difficulties.

“Gerry Adams’ leadership of Sinn Féin has shown tremendous
courage and leadership. There is an often asked question:
Is the war over? The answer is yes, the war is over. The
war is over. Certain elements wish to drag the IRA onto a
stage that they have already left.”

McGuinness said both governments should take the initiative
in the absence of a deal with the DUP.

“Ian Paisley has failed. It is time to deliver, for Tony
Blair to deliver and the Taoiseach to deliver all of the
other elements of the Good Friday Agreement – that is, the
all-Ireland agenda.”

McGuinness also vehemently denied that Sinn Féin had struck
a deal with the British government over on-the-run

“That was a lesson well learned. In negotiations, the
British are perfidious Albion. It stood us in good stead.
We won’t come by that experience again,” he said.

McGuinness views as a welcome development the Irish
government’s plans to officially commemorate the 1916
Easter Rising.

“The state had abandoned 1916 for many decades. I believe
that it is important that it is celebrated individually and
on an all-party community basis. It should be as inclusive
as possible.

“I’ll leave it to the judgment of the people as to why
attention is finally being paid to 1916. I am glad that the
SDLP is involved too. For years, they abandoned that
approach and it has only been in the course of recent times
that they have been proactive. I rejoice about that. Where
we have led, others are now following,” he said.

This year is an important year for republicans for another
reason. It is also the 25th anniversary of the 1981 hunger
strike, which witnessed the deaths of ten prisoners in Long

The event has been described as a major turning point and
an historical event that informed much of the political
developments in the intervening period.

“That was a very important time in our history,” McGuinness

“We have an opportunity to honour those who struggled for
justice. It is an important year for the families and the
communities in which the hunger strikers lived.

“The landscape was changed forever by the hunger strikers.
The election of Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty, I think,
were an important element in changing that landscape. That
was the root of everything.

“I often explain to people that, 30 years ago, the people
of Derry were downtrodden, second-class citizens. That was
the mentality because the people were told that. Unionists
were confident in this.

“Now the tables are reversed. I don’t gloat about that.
Unionism is in a dilemma that requires decisive leadership
and based on a strategy of doing the deal. These are
important times for unionism and for change in the future,”
he said.

McGuinness is confident but not complacent about Sinn
Féin’s political prospects in the South.

“Our task has to be increasing our representation. I think
that we will be there and involved in the decision-making
process,” he said.

A recent trip to strife-torn Sri Lanka saw McGuinness
realise the success of the Irish peace process.

“Sometimes there is a distorted view of the Irish peace
process but, in other countries, including Sri Lanka, it is
held up as an example. There are countries interested in
learning from our experiences,” he said.

As Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams face meetings with the
British and Irish governments in the next few days, the
Sinn Féin chief negotiator has one message for them: “It’s
make-your-mind-up time.”

“The British government has never been behind the door
about getting tough with Sinn Féin. It is time for them to
get tough with Paisley. They publicly have to do that.

“If he is prepared to neutralise power-sharing, then the
governments should forge ahead with the all-Ireland
elements of the Good Friday Agreement,” said McGuinness.


Opin: Loyalist Threat More Sinister


An intense spotlight has rightly been placed on the
activities of republican extremists after the disgraceful
events in Dublin over the weekend.

However, it remains essential that close attention is also
paid to loyalist paramilitary groups.

While the Dublin rioters inflicted enormous damage using
bottles, bricks and petrol bombs, loyalists are still in
possession of even more sinister materials.

The discovery of a significant arsenal of loyalist weaponry
in south Belfast on Friday was largely overshadowed by the
O’Connell Street disturbances the following day.

When a man and woman appeared in a Belfast court yesterday,
it was confirmed that the seizure included eight handguns,
a semi-automatic rifle and 18 kilos of commercial

It was striking that the find was not made in the heart of
a solidly loyalist area but in a mixed street within sight
of the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau Road.

There have been regular reports that the two main loyalist
paramilitary organisations, the UDA and the UVF, are at an
advanced stage on the road towards decommissioning and
effective disbandment.

It is disturbing that one or the other should still feel
the need to maintain a large stockpile of weapons in a
built-up neighbourhood where tensions frequently run high
in the summer months.

While loyalists have been much more likely to turn their
guns on each other than on nationalists over recent years,
fears of a sudden outbreak of sectarian attacks are never
far from the surface.

Loyalist leaders have been in regular contact with
influential figures in different sectors, and are said to
have indicated a commitment to abandoning violence.

It is high time that they moved from words to deeds, and
engaged decisively with General John de Chastelain’s
decommissioning body.


Opin: Little Foresight In Planning For Demonstration

Patricia McKenna

Before the unionist politicians, Orangemen, loyalist bands
and victims of IRA violence marched through Dublin city
centre last Saturday in the Love Ulster parade, Bertie
Ahern said he hoped that the parade in would pass off
peacefully. Dermot Ahern, the minister for foreign affairs,
said the government didn’t have a particular attitude
towards the parade. “It’s a free country. We hope it passes
off peacefully like many of the parades in Northern Ireland
and doesn’t lead to difficulties for the public.” The
minister said: “Contentious parades can have a very
damaging effect on tourism, the economy and people’s lives
in general. It is important that everybody, including
political leaders, act responsibly and makes every effort
to reduce tensions.”

It seems no effort was made to reduce tensions prior to
Saturday’s marches. In strong contrast to previous marches
and demonstrations through the streets of Dublin, the
government made no effort to avoid what actually happened.
On previous occasions Bertie Ahern and members of
government warned people to stay away from planned events,
such as the May Day protest and anti-war demonstrations,
warning of trouble and mayhem. Indeed, to intimidate
potential participants even further they had made it clear
that an extremely heavy Garda presence with water cannon,
riot gear and little tolerance for leftie peaceniks would
be waiting for them. The May Day protesters were not even
allowed to demonstrate on their own streets but were
instead penned off in a remote section of the Phoenix Park
where none of the important foreign dignitaries would see
them. All this ‘in your face’ security, not to mention the
massive media hype about impending violence and civil
disorder, for non-violent anti-war and peace supporters.
Unfortunately, the false predictions orchestrated by the
establishment, together with the massive security
arrangements at huge cost to the taxpayer did frighten many
supporters into staying away.

On this occasion, despite clear evidence that republicans
had been planning for weeks to stop the loyalist parade
down O’Connell Street, gardaí were not prepared for the
onslaught. Websites had even advertised impending trouble
over a week before, but the government choose on this
occasion to ignore the risks.

It was arranged that supporters of the counter parade would
gather at the top of O’Connell Street next to the Parnell
monument as loyalists marched past. This meant that both
groups would be within yards of each other. Now anyone with
even half a brain would realise that this was a recipe for
trouble and that clashes would be inevitable. While most
people would agree that loyalists should be allowed to
protest in Dublin even if unsure of their motives. Although
some people felt that the loyalist’s main objective was to
provoke violence and anger so giving them another reason to
complain about the attitude of the Republic and the
futility of the peace process, they still believed they
should be allowed march. It may have seemed provocative,
but in a true democracy everyone should be allowed to make
their point and to protest peacefully.

Having allowed the march to go ahead the priority for the
government should have been to ensure it went off
peacefully. A peaceful or non-event – where they came made
their protest and went home without huge attention – could
have been of benefit to the peace process and the beginning
of a new stage of tolerance, but as it stands now the
loyalists’ abiding impression of Dublin is going to be one
of being penned into Parnell Square by violent republicans
with petrol bombs and of having their right to get their
point across stifled. Northern unionist will look at
Saturday’s events and think this is the reception that
awaits us in a united Ireland; this is the reality of what
happens when victims of IRA violence try to raise their
voice south of the border.

While those involved in the counter demonstration had the
right, however misguided, to protest against the parade,
the counter-demonstrations should have been better
organised and all efforts made to avoid conflict or
violence. This was not done. It seems that those who
organised the counter event did not even consider that
disillusioned and rougue elements would exploit the

While many must share responsibility for Saturday’s
disgraceful events the buck stops at the door of the
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell. Mr McDowell is not a
stupid man he must have known what would happen, so why did
he not take measures to ensure that the day went off
peacefully. Who benefits from this whole fiasco? Certainly
not the taxpayer who will have to foot the bill, estimated
to be in the region of €10 million (£6.9 million), or the
people whose cars, bicycles and motorbikes were burnt, or
the business people in the city center who had to close
down for the day or indeed Ireland’s image as tourists
watched in amazement as events unfolded.

With two opposing parades steeped in sectarianism taking
place side by side something like this was bound to happen
and surely if he was doing his job properly Mr McDowell
would have known this.

Although it may seem far-fetched, is it possible that Mr
McDowell’s anti-republican agenda is so important to him
that he would deliberately allow something like this to
happen so as to discredit all republicans in one fell

Certainly Saturday’s events will have done long-term damage
to the image of republicanism even though troublemakers
with no interest in anything political caused most of it.

Mr McDowell, who usually has a talent for inside
information, on who carried out bank robberies etc., seems
to have conveniently lost his touch this time.

Clearly, unlike on previous occasions when it was
unnecessary, the gardai were not prepared for what was
obviously a risk of civil disorder. Apart from the
political tensions there was also a ready stock of missiles
supplied for the protesters. Loads of kerbstones, pipes,
bricks and debris from the O’Connell Street construction
works were just sitting there for rioters and any other
young thug with time on their hands to use against gardai
or the opposing parade. It beggars belief that nobody
anticipated the danger.

I was in the city myself at the time with my nine-year-old
son and we witnessed some of the events including young
boys collecting up bits of paving stones to use as missiles
and other youths discussing where the best action was to be
had. I got the impression that many were motivated not by
politics but by pure vandalism and the heavy male presence
was clearly visible. However, I was only on the fringe and
would not have got an overall picture.

Mr McDowell in his condemnation of events talks about “an
organised mob who came with the intention of creating
mayhem in a peaceful city” giving the impression that the
violence came from outside but looking at the figures so
far it seems that most of those arrested on the day were
from Dublin.

On Saturday night, 13 people had appeared before Bridewell
Court in connection with rioting, of whom ten had Dublin
addresses. Three were non-nationals. Two were released on
bail and eight were sent to Cloverhill Prison. Many
arrested were juveniles who were obviously from Dublin and
were released into the custody of their parents.

Was it just complacency and poor planning that lay at the
heart of the riots or was there more to it?


Opin: Legitimate Protest Must Not Be Stifled

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

As the fallout from Saturday’s trouble in Dublin continues,
it’s becoming increasingly clear that those opposed to the
peace process and political progress, on both sides of the
divide, have been the only people served by the unjustified
violence in the nation’s capital.

While they may be politically diametrically opposed, both
the people behind the Love Ulster campaign and those
dissident republicans who organised the counter
demonstration that quickly descended into a riot joined by
opportunistic thugs, troublemakers and lowlifes, will be
quietly pleased with the results of the their provocation
and subsequent reaction.

The Love Ulster loyalists have been steadily crowing since
Saturday’s events that they have proved they and their
views and therefore those of other unionists are not
welcome in the Republic.

The dissident republicans on the other hand would assert
that they have stopped an overtly sectarian parade taking
place in the capital past the birthplace of modern

To some extent both are right.

The majority of the people of the Irish republic do not
want to see provocative marches like that organised by the
Love Ulster campaign through their city, but they also do
not want them halted by violence.

Most citizens find parades of this type deeply offensive,
particularly after learning that images of people suspected
of involvement in the mass murder of innocent Irish
citizens in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are routinely
carried by Love Ulster affiliated group, Families Acting
for Innocent Relatives.

FAIR is of course headed by Saturday’s march organiser
Willie Frazer, and these types of placards may well have
been carried in Saturday’s parade if it had gone ahead, as
Mr Frazer refused to say they would not and in fact
publicly praised the man at the centre of the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings allegations.

The politically short-sighted dissident republicans who
started the fighting on Saturday would claim a victory as
they stopped this offensive march through violence a
disorder, despite it being pyrrhic, as they handed the
enemies of progress and equality a potent weapon with which
to attack the peace process, by portraying nationalists as
intolerant of different views.

While most people in the South don’t want to see sectarian
and provocative parades by people who simply want to stir
up trouble for their own ends, most also understand that
the price of democracy and equality is sometimes having to
put up with the words and action of those whom you disagree

Certainly if Love Ulster return to the streets of the
capital, it would be unfortunate if as a result of Saturday
scenes, ordinary nationalists, appalled at Love Ulster’s
association with loyalist paramilitarism, were unable to
mount a peaceful but forceful counter demonstration.


Opin: The Dublin Legacy

Ahern's hate mob headache

By Gail Walker

28 February 2006

Even after 40 years we can still be taken by surprise. No
one anticipated the scenes in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
Even the Gardai, who turned up with riot shields, were
wrong-footed by the ferocity and scale of the disturbances.

Most of us expected a lacklustre imitation of an Orange
parade trundling its way along O'Connell Street, followed
by loyal sons piling onto buses to make their way home.

No fuss. No impact. No point.

Instead it turned out to be one of the defining moments of
the Republic's democracy.

The scenes of rioting, burning cars, bloodied Gardai,
fleeing shoppers, torn up paving stones, were all the more
shocking because of the location.

It was odd enough seeing French cities aflame last summer.
But Dublin? A modern European capital and seat of

It's a long time since O'Connell Street saw such a complete
breakdown of public order.

The 'Love Ulster' campaign is a strange creature. But its
demonstration was legal. For all the irony of Protestant
bands blattering their Lambegs in the heart of the Irish
capital, the real point for the Irish state was about
making sure the marchers were able to proceed safely.

That didn't happen.

What did happen was that a mob was allowed to dictate who
shall and shall not have free speech in Ireland. All the
rhetoric spouted from nationalist politicians about
inclusiveness, understanding other traditions, extending
the hand of friendship was exposed on Saturday as window-

Once it's tested, it falls apart.

The biggest threat to the bullies in Irish politics is that
"the plain people of Ireland" get to see the very thing the
bullies have demonised.

It simply wouldn't do to allow a loyalist parade, of all
things, to take place inoffensively and quietly among the
Saturday afternoon shoppers in Dublin.

For the republican bullies Orange parades must mean
violence and intimidation. If violence and intimidation is
absent, the bullies will supply it themselves.

What enraged the mob was the simple fact there is a thing
called loyalism and unionism.

They might just extend the hand of friendship to
"Protestants" - maybe someone like Parnell beneath whose
monument they burnt cars.

But those Protestants must only behave in ways the bullies
permit. They must only think in ways that rioters and
rampagers think is appropriate. Protestants must not be
unionists. They must not be Orangemen or women. They must
not be in Dublin.

These are the sad implications of what happened on
Saturday. This doesn't mean that the citizens terrorised on
their own streets by those same bullies are as intolerant
as the people hurling bricks their way.

But the challenge for the Irish state is to show that
bigotry will not run their country.

For decades Ulster Protestants have harboured a belief that
the 'Free State' had hounded fellow Protestants out of its

Now, is the time for the Irish people to prove that they
welcome Protestants and want to live among them.

For Bertie Ahern, with the 1916 90th anniversary
commemoration pending, the challenge is very immediate

He's got to answer several questions. What is
republicanism? Whose values represent the values of the
Irish nation? Is Ireland to be defined by the nationalist
extremes? Is the IRA and its discontents always to be the
final judge of what's permissible on the island. north and

In the meantime, there will be no similar gesture from
Ulster Protestantism towards the Republic. They weren't
allowed to walk a few hundred yards in commemoration of
those murdered by republicans.

But this time, it was the president's highway, not the


Opin: Sectarianism And Hatred Only Winners In City Riot

By Susan McKay

Remember Kingsmills! Remember Bloody Sunday!

The banners of the unionists and the banners of the
republicans faced each other across thin lines of worried-
looking gardai.

The dead were paraded to justify the bitterness of the
living. Innocent people who died in a sordid war were used
to fan up further hatred among those who can’t accept that
the war is over. No-one was honoured in Dublin on Saturday.

The instigators of the violent attack on the ‘Love Ulster’
parade were, it seems, ceasefire soldiers from the rejected
wings of the republican movement.

Those left behind by the peace process.

Their political analysis of the situation, as shouted at
gardai: “You f***ing Brit-loving bastards – protecting
f***ing Protestants. You should be ashamed to be Irish.”
And: “Bang, bang, Jerry McCabe.”

Their view of pluralism: “If they like England so much,
then tell them to go back.”

The Irish Republican Socialist Party and Republican Sinn
Fein had called for the ‘protest’, and defended their
actions, while denying all responsibility for the
outrageous violence which followed.

The political establishment had underestimated the depth of
feeling among the Irish people against the Love Ulster
parade, they piously claimed.

It was the same as the burning of the British embassy in
Dublin after Bloody Sunday in 1972, they said.

“We won!” roared the morons with the bricks as the buses
took the unionists back to the north.

Pathetic, disgraceful, rubbish.

The Irish people in Dublin city centre on Saturday wanted
to shop. They included large numbers of northerners armed
with sterling.

There is little interest in northern politics in the
Republic nowadays. Wasn’t the Good Friday Agreement meant
to have sorted all that out?

Those who bother to think about these things seemed to have
concluded that the best thing was to ignore the Love Ulster

As for the rioters, the hard core of sectarian bigots who
started the trouble seem to have been joined by an
opportunistic element which included some who just had
anger to burn and some who just wanted new Converse
trainers and didn’t want to pay for them.

It is certainly hard to imagine how the handful of eastern
Europeans who joined in the melee had developed a depth of
political feeling against unionists in the short time
they’ve lived here.

Some of the self-styled republicans ripping up the
cobblestones around the statue of Parnell covered their
faces with the tricolour. Didn’t they notice the orange

One young woman stood in the smoking rubble holding a
tricolour aloft and waving it proudly. The image will no
doubt feature in some warped account of the day in a hate-
filled paper.

The march should have been allowed to proceed and the
speakers should have been heard. There should have been a
debate about what they represented and what they want.

The rioters and their ‘leaders’ have deprived us of that.
They’ve let Love Ulster head home satisfied that the
Republic is a cold and inhospitable house for Protestants.
They’ve played into Paisley’s hands. Unionists crave
victimhood and on Saturday they were handed it.

They were on their best behaviour – luckily for the ill-
prepared gardai.

What would have happened if the mob that was let loose on
the Whiterock last summer, or at Drumcree in previous
years, had come to Dublin? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

These people have a lot in common. Remember the Orangemen
roaring at the PSNI: “Are youse fenians in disguise?”

There are still plenty of addled northern Protestants who
demand to know why, if Catholics like the south so much,
they don’t just move there.

Paisley has for decades made his dire predictions about
violence, stood back while the flames rose, and then denied
all responsibility.

There was an opportunity on Saturday to listen to the real
grief and anger of Protestants bereaved by IRA atrocities.

There was also an opportunity to scrutinise Love Ulster,
Fair, the DUP and anti-agreement unionism.

The Republic’s minister for justice should, when he met the
organisers, have been asking Jeffrey Donaldson why the DUP
won’t deal with loyalist violence.

He should have been asking Willie Frazer how Fair can
justify the manifest unfairness and hatefulness of using
its website to blame an innocent Catholic man for the
slaughter of 10 of his Protestant neighbours at Kingsmills.
Eugene Reavey is himself a victim – three of his brothers
were murdered by loyalists the night before the IRA

That didn’t happen. Sectarianism and hatred won on


Opin: All Elements Must Learn From Dublin

28 February 2006

In years gone by, it was various Cabinets at Stormont that
used to sit down to review events following weekend riots.
But today it is the turn of Ministers in Dublin to
deliberate on the violent scenes which erupted on their
streets on Saturday.

First and foremost, the Irish Cabinet must denounce without
equivocation those who attacked Garda officers, terrorised
innocent bystanders wrecked commercial premises and looted
shops. There was no excuse for such lawless behaviour, and
the courts must ensure that the culprits receive
punishments which will act as a deterrent.

While Justice Minister Michael McDowell is wise to resist
calls for a public inquiry - which would be a waste of
taxpayers' money - a thorough probe must be conducted to
find out who orchestrated the violence. The use of petrol
bombs suggests that these disturbances were far from

Among the questions which have been raised is whether the
Love Ulster parade should in the first place have been
permitted. Certainly, the granting of consent for the
parade reflected a commendable determination on the part of
the authorities to protect the principle of freedom of

As has happened so often in Northern Ireland, a balance had
to be struck between the right to march and the right to
protest. When the easiest option would have been to cancel
the entire parade once the trouble erupted, officers on the
ground took a courageous decision by facilitating a brief
parade at Leinster House.

Another question for the Irish Cabinet is whether gardai
were caught on the hop. The combination of a republican
protest and a loyalist parade, including flute bands and
Union Jacks, was always going to be combustible. More
provision should have been made for the possibility of
serious trouble.

The bigger picture, however, is that the tolerant and
welcoming image of Dublin and of the Republic took a knock
on Saturday. Despite all the progress made by the peace
process, there are clearly still elements in southern
society that cannot countenance a peaceful parade by

That said, it is important to appreciate that the hoodlums
who wreaked such havoc in Dublin do not represent wider
society in the Republic any more than those who resorted to
terrorism in Northern Ireland - both loyalist and
republican - were acting on behalf of the law-abiding
majority in their own sections of the community.

The men of violence can never be allowed to win, and in
this regard, Willie Frazer has every right to submit an
application for another march. He will get his message
across better, though, if next time round he focuses more
on the victims of violence - the original motivation for
the parade - and less on bands, flags and other
triumphalist trappings.


Opin: Dublin Riot Is Salutary Lesson To Southerners

The Tuesday Column
By Briedge Gadd

Ireland certainly had its complex contradictions on show
last weekend.

On Saturday I suspect urbane, modern, secular 21st century
Ireland looked in shock and horror as the youth of Dublin
came out to riot and hurl abuse, stones and petrol bombs at
their own gardai in a (successful) attempt to stop a Love
Ulster march aimed at raising the understanding of the
suffering of (some) victims north of

the border.

On the other hand, on Sunday, thousands of
unionists/Protestants from the north flocked to Dublin and
stood in respectful silence as the Irish national anthem
was played, then shouted themselves hoarse, and finally
went home happy people that their team, Ireland, had beaten
the Welsh.

Nationality and the emotions it evokes sometimes defy
understanding and explanation.

There will be many people in the south who will be
chastened by the weekend rioting. If they had given much
thought at all to street rioting, it would probably have
been a weary understanding that those mad people in the
north liked to riot, with or without just cause, but you
wouldn’t catch that sort of wild undisciplined behaviour in
the sleek, multi-racial, sophisticated society of
cosmopolitan Dublin.

I may be wrong but some of that attitude may have been
prevalent in those charged with maintaining public order on
the day, in that certainly from a distance they seemed ill-
prepared for the street violence that so quickly developed.

Was there a popular view that the south was mature enough
to let the Love Ulster march go by unattacked but also
largely unnoticed?

Perhaps then one good result of the outburst of violence in
Dublin on Saturday was to illustrate how quickly and easily
a nasty riot can blow up and that the uncivilised
northerners are not the only Irish who will fight at the
drop of a hat.

Give young people, with little money and even less
prospects of earning some, and pretty much nothing to lose,
an excuse (not a cause – nothing will convince me that the
bulk of the rioters give a toss about Irish unification or
north/south’s tortured history) and rioting on a Saturday
afternoon can provide dangerous, exciting fun.

There is something else that experienced riot management
graduates from the north can tell less seasoned colleagues
in Dublin.

This sort of behaviour can quickly become addictive and
other behaviour such as undue police violence in response
can give reason for a repeat performance.

Even in a country increasingly at ease with its identity,
and an identity which takes little account of the north at
all, people will

take sides.

Some will blame the Love Ulster organisers for planning a
march designed to elicit strong feelings and reactions.
Others will blame the organisers of the riots for their
shameless manipulation of young people to support their

redundant cause.

It will be interesting to see whether in the follow-up
debates and discussions there is greater understanding of
how easily civil unrest can develop and indeed how easy it
is for a population to turn against its own police service.

Perhaps Saturday’s experiences will bring a new sympathy
for northerners and their inability to quickly put a stop
to counterproductive and costly street riots.

Saturday’s events may have been a salutary lesson to
southerners about every country’s capacity for loutish
behaviour but it is difficult to see how the event will
further the cause of Love Ulster, who planned their march
and protest with the stated aim of achieving greater
understanding of the damage the IRA had done to their
people here.

Love Ulster’s trip to Dublin may have awakened the south to
their ability to copy their northern neighbour’s capacity
for riot. Some supporters may have gained a smug
satisfaction that Saturday’s events revealed that the
Celtic Tiger’s veneer of success masked an underlying
sectarianism that they always knew was there.

However, it clearly has failed in generating understanding
for its main aims.

Few southerners will condone the gratuitous violence of
their own citizens. The vast majority will now be even more
bewildered as to why any group wishes to march in an area
where they are unwelcome with the express purpose of
seeking greater understanding of their cause.


Bobby Sands: Becoming Politically Radical In Cages Of Long Kesh

In the second excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography
Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, we discover
how Sands was politicised during his first period in


Gerry Adams’ and Brendan Hughes’ arrival in Cage 11
started a pot boiling that had been simmering for some
time. The latent dispute between younger volunteers and the
more conservative and Catholic veterans coincided with a
parallel dispute within the IRA about Britain’s intentions
in Ireland…

The IRA leadership insisted that the British were beginning
to withdraw from Ireland.

This assertion was nothing new. The IRA leadership had been
claiming that victory was “imminent” since late 1973, when
Republican News ran an article entitled “British Army
Starts Withdrawal”.

In May 1974, the paper ran a front-page story claiming that
the British minister of defence Roy Mason had admitted that
his troops had “lost the war”, and cited the last day of
1974 as the planned “English withdrawal date”. Now, the IRA
leadership claimed that British withdrawal was an integral
part of the truce process.

Many younger prisoners believed them. They had been in jail
for years and were now being told by their leaders that
they would soon be released because the British were

“We wanted to see this in terms of a British withdrawal, so
we did,” admits Séanna Walsh.

Bobby’s continuing belief in the leadership is displayed in
a scribble that he wrote on the inside cover of an Irish
book that he was reading: “Roibeard Ó Seachnasaigh, Cas 11,
Ceis Fada, Blian 75, Blian Saoirse” (Bobby Sands, Cage 11,
Long Kesh, 1975, Year of Freedom).

Adams and Hughes argued the opposite: The British were not
withdrawing, the war was not yet over, and the struggle had
to be rebuilt with politically educated rank-and-file
volunteers. They spoke of a “long war”, with implications
for all aspects of the struggle. Most importantly, the
struggle had to become more politicised; it had to offer
something to the communities at its centre if they were to
support it over the long haul.

They opposed the IRA’s strategy outside of jail. They
viewed the struggle as an anti-colonial war of liberation
and saw the IRA’s retaliatory campaign against Protestants
as a diversion that played straight into the hands of the
British state. Inside prison, they opposed the
undemocratic, authoritarian, non-transparent, overly
militaristic, and anti-Marxist leadership of Davey Morley
and his camp staff…

Adams was cautious. He constantly beat into the others,
including Hughes, to stay within the movement’s lines
because he knew that Cage 11 was barely tolerated by the
camp staff. Hughes, on the other hand, could not contain
his open disdain for Morley and once told him straight to
his face that he could build a far better group of
volunteers with self-discipline and comradeship than
Morley’s brand of enforced discipline.

“It was clear where I stood, quite clear where I stood,”
Hughes recalls. “Gerry was shrewder in his opposition… Me
being who I was, I was more verbally antagonistic toward
them all.”

While the men in Cage 11 immediately accepted Adams as
their OC, they were far from unified about the need for
change either in the prison leadership or in the overall
leadership and strategy of the IRA. For Bobby, continued
support for Davey Morley was a matter of army discipline.
He was an IRA volunteer who had been trained to follow
orders without question. Hughes’ open defiance of the
leadership led to his first direct encounter with Bobby
Sands. Hughes had been criticising the IRA leadership in
front of other prisoners for their sectarian bombing
campaign against Protestants, which he said played into the
hands of the British government’s campaign to portray the
Irish struggle as tribal warfare between two equally
repugnant groups of natives.

One day, Gerard Rooney brought Bobby and another prisoner
into the Dark’s [Hughes’] hut to arrest him. They escorted
Hughes to the study hut, where Roon accused him of
dissenting against the authority of the IRA leadership and
gave him a severe reprimand. Rooney ordered Hughes to stop
his opposition to the leadership or he would be court-

Hughes went back to his hut, seething with anger. He packed
up his gear and prepared to leave Cage 11 to join the Irish
National Liberation Army prisoners in another cage. Adams
persuaded him to stay.

In hindsight, Hughes admits that the position of the
arresting party that detained him was not as clear-cut as
he thought at the time. Once he got to know Bobby and began
talking to him, he realised he and Rooney were already
coming round to his way of thinking. But they were
disciplined IRA volunteers. Bobby’s heart was not in the
arrest, yet he did it as a matter of IRA discipline.

Over the next six to nine months, Bobby’s resistance to
change broke down. He began to question the movement’s
strategies, both inside and outside of jail, as he raised
his political consciousness to a higher level.

Gerry Adams encouraged all of the young prisoners to
participate in an intensified programme of political
education that promoted debate and political self-

He gave them new confidence to develop their radical
political ideology and protected them from the camp
officers as they did so. Adams and Hughes also won their
loyalty by demonstrating solidarity with them rather than
demanding obedience.

Personality conflicts dissolved. Soon, Cage 11 had a more
collective leadership and collective responsibility. In
their military parades, everybody fell in together and
ordinary volunteers got to dismiss the parade. Cage staff
did menial tasks alongside ordinary volunteers. Even the
distinction between cleared and uncleared prisoners was
largely ignored.

Cage 11 became the centre of challenge to the established
leadership as Adams built “a number of enterprises” to
raise the prisoners’ political awareness.

He introduced new classes that critically deconstructed
republican ideology and policy. He resourced them by
starting a book club that provided the necessary materials
for self-education. Adams used his contacts to supply the
book club and to build up a cage library. Prisoners gave up
their food parcels to get books, instead. Bobby Sands, says
Adams, had “a more than normal interest” in these

Adams developed this new awareness by encouraging the young
radicals to continue reading global revolutionaries but
also to synthesise them with Irish socialists like James
Connolly and Liam Mellows.

“It’s all well and good talking about Che Guevara or Hô Chi
Minh… now let’s get back to what we’re doing,” he would
challenge them.

He strongly believed that “you ground your politics in the
indigenous… it’s much easier to argue the validity of a
position from the perspective of a James Connolly or a
Fintan Lalor or a William Thompson or a Liam Mellows or a

Bobby threw himself into the new education regime. When he
was not in classes or debating in the yard, Tomboy Loudon
often found him lying on the bed in the cubicle they now
shared in the Gaeltacht hut, holding a book by Che Guevara
in his right hand and writing notes on the partition wall
with the pen he held in his left. He began to organise
notebooks on “guerrilla struggle” and “the Cuban

Bobby and the others developed from a near childish
understanding of politics to a relatively mature political
analysis. They were under the guidance of the new
leadership but they achieved the transition by learning
from each other. Learning came through participation and
debate and not through lecturing and the handing down of
“truth” by a “teacher” of superior intellect.

The debate that had the strongest effect on Bobby Sands
began when Gerry Adams organised a series of critical
discussions of Sinn Féin’s central policy document called
Éire Nua. What began with a critical analysis of existing
policy ended as a full-blown radical alternative that Adams
called “active abstentionism” — that is, abstention from
the existing structures of mainstream politics while
actively creating an alternative that combined grass-roots
democracy with military resistance to British rule.

Adams encouraged wide-ranging discussions of people’s
councils and grass-roots politics, always with an eye
toward how a more democratic and participatory grass-roots
strategy could be incorporated into the republican campaign
outside of prison. The prisoners discussed how military
struggle alone was an inadequate basis for bringing about
progressive social change; it had also to be political
struggle, a struggle to create something and not just a
fight against the Brits. But how could you do this and
still adhere to one of the movement’s sacred cows: the
policy of abstaining from elections?

Just because the movement did not participate in elections,
they decided, did not mean it must avoid politics. Rather,
it had to build an alternative administration, particularly
in “war zones” where the IRA enjoyed widespread grass-roots
support and where the state failed to provide adequate

Adams incorporated the main points of these discussions in
a series of articles under the pseudonym “Brownie” in
Republican News. In time, this would be his most lasting
influence on Bobby Sands, not just in terms of what he
wrote but also by demonstrating that the written word could
be an effective tool of struggle. If, in time, Bobby Sands
became the leading republican propagandist through his own
writings — prose, essays, songs, and poetry — he was
following the example of Adams. In Adams, Sands found a
role model to help him complete his personal journey toward
becoming a politicised militant.

Mellows was the Irish revolutionary that Bobby came to
admire most. He was one of four republican leaders who the
Southern Irish government executed in December 1922, in
reprisal for an IRA shooting of a member of the Dublin
parliament. The four were executed without trial, by
cabinet decision, even though they were all in jail when
the politician was shot. Mellows, just 27 years old, was
the most radical republican of his time.

Mellows’ writings contained thoughts about building
alternative republican structures as a challenge to the
existing government of his day.

“Where is the government of the republic?” he wrote. “It
must be found… It is, and must always be, a reality.”

By this, Mellows meant that alternative structures of
government had to be built, including courts, land
settlements, decrees, etc. Now, the prisoners in Cage 11
explored whether a similar opportunity to “find” the
republic existed in the North of Ireland. People in the
nationalist communities had “opted out” of the British
system, providing a real opportunity to build alternative
structures of local governance. As Adams summarised their
discussions, “… the building of alternatives cannot wait
until ‘after the war’. It must start now.”

And this was not just a military war; it was also necessary
to fight the British on economic, political, and cultural
fronts. Now was the time to build “people’s organisations”
because they could harness the energy that “only a people
at war possess”.

Volunteers like Bobby could build the alternative. In every
neighbourhood, they could work with people to govern
themselves. They might even organise parallel community
councils in the three or four big nationalist areas in
Belfast, complete with departments to provide services. Far
from being an alternative to armed struggle, such a
programme of community action would strengthen the IRA’s
war effort.

Again, as Adams wrote: “If we have only a local unit in an
area, the Brit wins by isolating or removing that unit from
the people. If the unit is part of an aggressive republican
or people’s resistance structure (local people’s councils),
the Brit must remove everyone connected, from
schoolchildren to customers in the co-ops, from paper
sellers to street committees, before he can defeat us.
Immersed in the structure, as part of the alternative,
republicanism can’t be isolated and will never be

Bobby Sands was excited by this kind of talk. Here was the
kind of project that he could work with, a revolutionary
project that was Irish in character and origins, yet
reflected the kind of militant politics that he had been
reading about in the books by Latin American

In Mellows, he found an Irish revolutionary spirit that he
had earlier located in men and women from other countries.
In Gerry Adams, he found a mentor who had practical
suggestions about a way forward. Here was something that he
could take from Long Kesh and put into practice back in

Tomorrow’s excerpt describes the end of the first hunger
strike in 1980.

Bobby Sands book launches:

Belfast: Thursday, March 9 at 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls
Dublin: Friday, March 10 at 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre,
Pearse Street.
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13. Details to be
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm, Mid-Ulster
Republican Centre, Gulladuff.


House Prices For First-Time Buyers Pass €250k

28 February 2006 12:11

New figures have revealed that the average price of a house
for the first-time buyer has passed the quarter of a
million euro mark.

According to the Permanent TSB/ESRI house price index, the
price of houses for first-time buyers peaked in January of
this year, with the average amount paid for a house at
€251,281. This represented a 0.7% increase.

House prices overall rose by 1.2% in January, similar to
the increases recorded in the final three months of 2005.
The annual rate of growth in January picked up to 10.2%
from 9.3% in December.

Separate figures from the Central Bank show that there was
a strong start to mortgage lending in 2006, with the annual
rate of growth climbing to a new record of 28.8% in

The volume of new mortgage lending is usually lower in
January than in other months, but the €1.5 billion monthly
increase was the strongest to be recorded in any January.


Senator John Kerry To Deliver Lecture At University Of

28 February 2006

US Senator John Kerry, a senior member of the United States
Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the 2004 Democratic
Party presidential nominee in the most recent U.S.
elections, is to visit Northern Ireland on 5 March to
deliver a keynote lecture at the University of Ulster's
Magee campus.

The invitation-only event, which forms part of the Tip
O'Neill series of peace lectures, will address the topic of
"Security in the 21st Century", and will take place on
Sunday 5 March at 7.30pm.

Senator Kerry visits at the invitation of Professor John
Hume, holder of the Tip O'Neill Chair in Peace Studies at
the University.

The Tip O' Neill Chair, funded by the Ireland Funds,
commemorates the former Speaker of the US House of
Representatives, who was well known for his support of the
peace process in Northern Ireland.

Among others to have delivered lectures in the series are
former US President Bill Clinton, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern,
President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and former Taoiseach Garret

This event had been scheduled for earlier this year, but
had to be postponed due to pressing Senate business for
Senator Kerry.

Further information and biographical information on Senator
Kerry can be found at:

Media representatives are invited to attend.

Confirmation of attendance and interview requests to:

David Young,
Senior Press Officer,
University of Ulster
028 90 366178/07808 911 343

For further information, please contact:

Press Office, Department of Public Affairs
Tel: 028 9036 6178


The IRA's Empty Victory

By Ed Moloney,
the author of "A Secret History of the IRA"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006; Page C08

Bk Rev: Nothing But An Unfinished Song

Bobby Sands, the Irish Hunger Striker Who Ignited a
By Denis O'Hearn
Nation. 434 pp. $28

There is a great irony to the life and death of Irish
Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands; unfortunately,
Denis O'Hearn only lightly touches upon it in "Nothing but
an Unfinished Song." Sands died in a bid to validate the
IRA and its violence but in the long term, his death served
only to bring both to an end. He lived as an IRA bomber,
but he died as the unwitting architect of the Irish peace

To understand that irony, we need to turn back to 1981,
when Sands and nine other members of the IRA and the Irish
National Liberation Army were jailed near Belfast for
murders, shootings and bombings intended to end British
rule of Northern Ireland. The 10 deployed an old Irish
protest technique to put forward the claim that their
violence was motivated by the age-old cause of Irish
independence, not by criminality or personal gain. They
died in the process, some of them agonizingly.

The hunger strikers had demanded they be treated as
political prisoners and not felons -- principally by being
allowed to wear their own clothes and being exempt from
prison work. They saw themselves as soldiers in a war
against the British government, its troops and police, but
things were never that straightforward. The war in Northern
Ireland was a dirty one that all too often degenerated into
bloody and indiscriminate sectarian strife between the
loyalists, who supported continued British rule of Northern
Ireland and were mostly Protestant, and the mostly Catholic
nationalists, many of whom sought to unite with the Irish
republic to the south and regard the IRA as their
defenders. More often than not civilians, not soldiers,
were the victims, and political motives for the carnage
sometimes grew hard to discern.

Faced with the hunger strikers' demands, the British
government of Margaret Thatcher refused to budge. "Crime is
crime is crime; it is not political," the Iron Lady
declared. The prisoners, led by the 27-year-old Sands, dug
in their heels. The resulting deaths, including that of
Sands, and political traumas shook Ireland to its roots.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of those awful months.
Sands may have started his protest to vindicate republican
violence, but the hunger strike's paradoxical effect was to
bring the armed struggle to an end -- and, ultimately, to
persuade the IRA to accept the legitimacy of Northern
Ireland, the state that Sands and his dead comrades had
dedicated their lives to destroying.

Sands's protest enabled the IRA's leaders to fast-forward
plans to go political that they had nurtured for some time.
Not long after he began his hunger strike, Sands was put
forward as a candidate for a local seat in the British
Parliament that had become vacant. Against all
expectations, he won, and almost out of the blue, the IRA
leadership -- then as now dominated by Gerry Adams, the
leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing -- was
offered a political alternative to violence. After Sands
died, his "election agent" -- the local Sinn Fein leader
Owen Carron, a 26-year-old teacher who had served as
Sands's surrogate -- won the seat; that winter, with a live
and unimprisoned member of Parliament at his side, Adams
was able to persuade the IRA and Sinn Fein to embrace
electoral politics, alongside violence.

One can draw a straight line between the summer of 1981 and
the current Irish peace process. The IRA's new "ArmaLite
and ballot box" strategy, as it was called, was
superficially successful, but it suffered from an inherent
long-term contradiction. Seeking votes and planting car
bombs were deeply conflicting modes of behavior, and
eventually one would have to prevail. Thanks in no small
part to Adams's wily ways, politics and negotiations
ultimately won out.

The best part of O'Hearn's biography is his often moving
account of Sands's time in jail, his interactions with
fellow prisoners, the songs and poetry he wrote behind
bars, and finally the agonies of the hunger strike. But
this story has been told many times before, not least by
Sands's prison comrades. What is lacking here is the sort
of serious assessment of Sands's sacrifice that decades of
hindsight should bring.

Nor does O'Hearn acknowledge that the hunger strike is now
the subject of a furious historical revision. In his recent
book "Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-Block Hunger
Strike," Richard O'Rawe, the IRA prisoners' public
relations officer during the protest, claims that Sinn
Fein's leadership sabotaged a promising effort to resolve
the protest -- on secret terms offered by the British and
accepted by the prisoners -- because ending the fast before
Owen Carron's election would have threatened Adams's
political project. (O'Rawe cites the IRA leadership's
insistence that Adams be present in the jail with Sands to
endorse any deal -- something no British government could
accept, least of all one led by Thatcher, since it meant
negotiating with the IRA's best-known leader. This demand
ensured that the hunger strike could have only one end.)
Thus six of the 10 hunger strikers may have died
needlessly. If O'Rawe is right, one has to wonder: Was
Sands's death even more to further Adams's agenda? After
all, with his martyrdom, Ireland exploded in anger,
thousands were radicalized, and the stage was set for the
IRA's transition to politics. Had his life been saved by a
last-minute deal, none of this might have happened.

Today the hunger strike has become another battleground --
this time for ownership of Sands's political legacy. On one
side are the current Sinn Fein and IRA leadership and their
supporters, upon whom O'Hearn leans heavily for his
account. They will welcome his book, not least because it
does not challenge their claim that Sands, had he lived,
would have supported his mentor, Adams, as he discarded
armed struggle. Among those against them are Sands's
family, many of whom profoundly disagree with the Adams
strategy and broke with him years ago. They refused to
cooperate in the writing of this book, but O'Hearn neglects
to tell his readers this. Recently Sands's sister Marcella
rounded on O'Hearn, claiming that he had falsely implied
that her family had endorsed his book, which she said
contains "numerous factual inaccuracies." Bobby Sands's
song, like the fight for Irish independence, may well be
unfinished; the struggle for possession of his political
inheritance looks like it could be never-ending.


Beckett Centenary Plans To Be Unveiled

28/02/2006 - 10:21:50

Events to mark the forthcoming centenary of the birth of
Nobel-winning writer Samuel Beckett will be announced

The playwright, novelist and poet was born in Foxrock, Co
Dublin on April 13, 1906.

In the late 1930s he settled permanently in Paris where his
most famous work, Waiting for Godot was later performed in

Arts Minister John O’Donoghue will today officially launch
the programme for the Beckett Centenary Festival at the
Office of Public Works in Dublin.

Last month, the Department invited applications for state
funding from groups and individuals who plan to hold events
like plays, exhibitions, readings and musical performances.

Beckett, who wrote most of his major work in French,
received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.

The Gate Theatre, which holds exclusive performance rights
for the playwright’s work in Ireland and Britain, is
planning several productions in Ireland and abroad.


Dance: 'Mask' Reveals Bewitching Tale In Mix Of Dance And

Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Wilma Salisbury
Plain Dealer Dance Critic

In Irish mythology, the Red-Haired Girl from the Bog is a
sidhe (bewitching fairy) who shows up at a West Country
village each spring and seduces a young man. If he chooses
to travel with her to the magical island of Tir na n-og, he
remains young forever. If he tries to leave the fairy
paradise and go back home, he turns to dust the moment his
feet touch the ground in Ireland.

The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog is a leading character in
"The Mad Mask Maker of Maigh Eo," an original dance play
written by Christopher Johnston and choreographed by Sarah
Morrison. Inspired by William Butler Yeats' "Plays for
Dancers," the production premieres this week at Cleveland
Public Theatre as part of the DanceWorks series.

The cast features three Cleveland actors and four members
of MorrisonDance. Irish-born Derdriu Ring, a natural
redhead, takes the role of the bewitching fairy.

Andrew Narten plays the title character, a mask maker named
Brendan who goes mad and turns to evildoing after his
father and brothers are murdered by the British army. Meg
Chamberlain is Brendan's sister, Brigit, who represents the
mix of Christian and pagan influences in Irish culture.

Dancers Morrison, Heather Baur, Kalindi Stockton and Maree
ReMalia portray souls who are harvested by Brendan for the
making of masks. Artist Scott Radke created the theatrical
masks worn by the dancers.

The performance begins on a bare stage with dancing spirits
manipulating fabrics that represent night, a house and its
furnishings. Moving softly to the accompaniment of recorded
Celtic music, the spirits usher in the Red-Haired Girl, who
is cloaked in black and masked like a hag. Speaking in
verse, she sets the poetic tone of the play:

Johnston, who directs the play, wrote the opening lines at
Nighttown, the Irish pub in Cleveland Heights. An Irish-
American, he got his affinity for the Irish part of his
heritage from his grandmother, an immigrant who came to New
York from County Clare at age 18 and lived with the
Johnston family in her later years. Johnston deepened his
knowledge of Irish culture by reading Irish plays,
including many by Yeats, while earning a master's degree in
English at John Carroll University.

"This is my first Irish play," he said. "I've had it in my
head for six or seven years."

Morrison, artistic director of MorrisonDance, is not as
profoundly steeped in Irish culture. But she remembers
hearing her stepfather mention Irish legends in a mocking
way when she was growing up. Her interest in the dance play
stems from Yeats and his admiration for the early-modern
dance pioneers she regards as "the grandparents of my art

Paying tribute to Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan, Morrison
integrates flowing fabrics into her choreography and
costumes, which were designed by Paula Pedaci. Having used
Radke's masks previously in her choreography, Morrison has
learned that performers are freed from their egos when
their faces are covered. British dancer-choreographer
Ninette de Valois made the same discovery when she worked
with Yeats at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Aimed at the Irish-American community, the $15,000
production has received sponsorship from local Irish pubs,
Irish-American clubs, Irish radio shows and Irish-American
patrons. Because the script incorporates numerous Irish
references, some lines may be lost on audience members who
are not acquainted with Celtic culture.

The line "Go back to Achill and be glad you did," for
instance, is a colloquial expression that refers to a
deeply impoverished part of County Mayo. It means "Be
thankful for the little that you have."

Although Johnston makes most meanings clear within the
play's context, he plans to include a few explanations in
the program notes. The themes of death and revenge,
however, are timeless and universal.

Johnston, who has visited Palestinian refugee camps and met
people devastated by the death of family members, likens
the title character's motivations to the birth of modern
terrorism. Morrison, a young mother, reacts strongly to
depressing lines about the death of children.
Characterizing the work as "a dark play with so many
layers," she is awed by the beauty of Johnston's language.

"There are moments when you hear lines, and you get goose
bumps," she said. "The life's lesson it teaches is that
it's your choice to decide how you deal with your pain. I
connect to it on a personal level and a deep level. It
makes me think larger."

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