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February 14, 2006

MI5 Set For Move To Holywood

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 02/14/06 MI5 Set For Move To New NI Base
SF 02/14/06 Kelly - MI5 Expanded Role Unacceptable
EP 02/14/06 PM Continues Devolution Talks
BN 02/14/06 Loyalist Murder Victim's Father To Meet Ahern
BN 02/14/06 DUP Attacks All-Ireland Police Agancy Proposal
BN 02/14/06 Cross-Border Scheme Helps Police
SF 02/14/06 Mayo County Council To Mark Hunger Strike
IT 02/15/06 Ahern To Raise Issue Of Illegals
SF 02/14/06 Has Taoiseach Caved In On British ID Cards?
BB 02/14/06 City Schools Face Closure Threat
BT 02/14/06 SF Discusses Future Of Catholic Schooling
SW 02/14/06 Post Workers Strike Unites Falls And Shankill
IT 02/14/06 Gallagher Replaces Callely & Haughey Overlooked
IT 02/15/06 Surprise Ministerial Promotion Upsets FF TDs
FB 02/14/06 Irish At Jameson Dublin Intn’l Film Festival
IT 02/15/06 Joycean Prof Jailed & Stripped In US Over Visa
IT 02/15/06 Pres McAleese Defends Visit To Saudi Arabia


MI5 Set For Move To New NI Base

The security service, MI5, is moving to a new base in
County Down, the BBC has learned.

The move to Palace Barracks, Holywood, is in preparation
for an expanded role in NI intelligence gathering.

MI5 is due to take over the lead role in intelligence
involving national security by the end of 2007.

Until now, the PSNI Special Branch has had overall
responsibility. Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde called the
plan "a healthy split".

In future, while police handlers will continue to work with
individual agents they will, in some cases, report back to

During the Troubles, MI5 officers were based at Stormont
Castle - their shift of premises coincides with a shift of

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport said: "From the end
of 2007, they will take the lead on intelligence involving
national security.

"That means MI5 will take a strategic role in countering
republicans thought to represent a threat to the state -
the police will continue to be in charge of agents within
loyalism and intelligence related to ordinary crime."

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said there would be no huge
influx of MI5 personnel as his officers would continue to
handle agents on the ground.

"National security responsibility in NI does need to
shift," he said.

"It allows me to get on with my part of the business,
working closely with, and not distant from MI5 who will
also be here."

The SDLP has raised concerns about the shift, arguing that
MI5 will not be accountable to the Policing Board or the
Police Ombudsman.

However, the DUP said the Ombudsman was negotiating
understandings with MI5 which would allow her to continue
to deal with any complaints.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, said that increasing MI5's role was

"The role of the securocrats within both the Special Branch
and MI5 needs to be reduced and ended, not supported and
expanded," he said.

Mr Kelly said his party had raised the matter with both
governments and would do so again.

Government sources said the change in responsibility was
"not negotiable".

MI5 works from its headquarters at Thames House in London.

Its current chief, Dame Eliza Manningham Buller, is a
former head of the service's Irish counter terrorism desk.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/14 19:51:16 GMT


Kelly - MI5 Expanded Role Unacceptable

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing issues Gerry Kelly said
that proposals to increase the role of MI5 in the six
counties was unacceptable.

Mr Kelly said:

"It is unacceptable that an organisation which has set
itself against policing and political change throughout the
course of this process should be given an expanded role.

"The role of the securocrats within both the Special Branch
and MI5 needs to be reduced and ended, not supported and

"Sinn Féin have raised this very serious matter with both
governments over recent months and we will do so again in
our discussions this week." ENDS


PM Continues Devolution Talks

Mark Durkan

The prime minister is today holding talks with SDLP leader
Mark Durkan.

The two men are expected to meet in the House of Commons
following the weekly clash of party leaders during prime
minister's questions.

Their discussions come as the British and Irish governments
continue to seek agreement on restoring devolution to

Ahead of the meeting, Durkan said: "We will be raising
concerns with the prime minister about the role of MI5.

"While the British government gives with one hand with
technical legislation facilitating the devolution of
justice and policing, it is taking away with the other by
removing intelligence gathering from the PSNI and giving it
to the faceless men of MI5.

"This weakens accountability, it is bad for policing and
bad for politics. It must be challenged."

The nationalist leader said he would also be raising the
issue of the murder of Pat Finucane, calling for the
killing to be dealt with "openly and honestly".

"We will also be urging the prime minister to set a date
for restoration of the institutions, to call time on the
charades and games played by political parties," he added.

"We want the prime minister to stand firm for the Good
Friday agreement, and not for the failed DUP/Sinn Fein
comprehensive agreement."


Loyalist Murder Victim's Father To Meet Ahern

14/02/2006 - 18:28:00

The father of a loyalist murder victim is to hold talks
with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, he said tonight.

Raymond McCord revealed a meeting has been set up as part
of a widening campaign for justice over the Ulster
Volunteer Force killing of his son, Raymond Jr.

He will travel to Dublin on Friday to finalise arrangements
with Irish officials.

Mr McCord, who has been fiercely critical of the support
offered from nearly all political parties in Northern, was
angered at having to cross the border.

He said: “I’m a Protestant from a unionist community, yet
I’m having to go to Dublin, to a foreign country, to get
justice for young Raymond.

“I want Mr Ahern to help me, because I’m not getting any
help up here.”

Mr McCord claims a UVF man involved in the murder has been
protected because he is a police special branch agent.

His son, a 22-year-old former RAF operator, was beaten to
death and dumped in a north Belfast quarry in 1997.

Nuala O’Loan, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, is due
to report on her investigation into the allegations later
this year.

Mr McCord claimed he turned to politicians in the Republic,
including Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte, after
being let down by his own representatives.

Only Mark Durkan of the SDLP has provided real support by
taking him to meet Secretary of State Peter Hain, he said.

Most of his scorn was directed at the Democratic Unionists,
whose leader Ian Paisley met with the family of murdered
solicitor Pat Finucane in Belfast on Monday.

“There’s double standards here,” Mr McCord said.

“The DUP use the excuse that they are waiting for Mrs
O’Loan’s report before doing more on my case.

“But this is a party that has done nothing but criticise
Mrs O’Loan.”

A DUP spokesman tonight declined to comment on Mr McCord’s


DUP Attacks All-Ireland Police Intelligence Agancy Proposal

14/02/2006 - 15:44:17

The SDLP’s call for an all-Ireland police intelligence
agency was described today as the most blatant attempt to
politicise policing.

Democratic Unionist Assembly member Stephen Moutray
launched a hard-hitting critique of the proposal and a new
SDLP document calling for closer cross-border links across
a range of policy areas.

“This is one of the more blatant attempts to politicise
policing in recent years,” the Upper Bann MLA said.

“The SDLP have had a long standing opportunity to take
action itself as a way to counteract paramilitarism and

“The DUP has put onto the table an invitation for the SDLP
to send out a clear and unambiguous message that those who
are not committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic
means must face necessary ensuing consequences.

“The SDLP could have taken sides with other democratic
parties and entered into a voluntary coalition in Northern
Ireland which would have stood together in stating that
there can be no place in the heart of any democratic
government or executive for those who are engaged in

“Instead of doing so the SDLP chose to place the whole of
Northern Ireland on hold – with all of the attendant
difficulties for our economy for our infrastructure and for
our population – and forced everyone to wait for some day
in the never never when Sinn Féin/IRA might decide to
become proper democrats.”

In its 24-page document entitled North-South Makes Sense,
the SDLP claimed the all-Ireland intelligence agency,
involving Police Service of Northern Ireland and Garda
Siochana personnel, would be an effective tool to take on
criminals and terrorists north and south of the border.

The paper also called for:

:: An all-Ireland Criminal Assets Bureau to target
criminals and paramilitaries who have been profiting from
cross-border crime.

:: An all-island sex offenders’ register to prevent
criminals from exploiting different jurisdictions.

:: An all-Ireland Law Commission to study and promote the
harmonisation of laws on both sides of the border;

:: Joint co-operation between the Human Rights Commissions
in the North and the Irish Republic, completing work on an
all-Ireland rights charter as envisaged by the Good Friday

:: Full implementation of the North-South Criminal Justice
Treaty and more exchanges of personnel in the policing and
criminal justice sides, including prison officers, court
clerks and even members of the judiciary.

The document, which was welcomed by the Republic’s Foreign
Minister Dermot Ahern and Sinn Féin general secretary
Mitchel McLaughlin, also called for closer cross-border co-
operations across the economy, health, education, farming
and fisheries.

Mr Moutray said today the SDLP’s document was little more
than a feeble effort to out-green Sinn Fein.

He continued “(SDLP leader) Mark Durkan uses the
combination of folly and bumptiousness to tell us all that
unless we adopt this document ‘we are all losers,’ when the
real truth of the matter is that the very production of
this paper is just an indication that the SDLP have lost
out to Sinn Féin/IRA and are frantically trying to claw
their way back, no matter the cost.”


Cross-Border Scheme To Help Police Handle Minority

14/02/2006 - 13:52:58

Up to 1,200 police officers from both sides of the border
are joining forces in a course aimed at helping them
address the needs of minority communities.

The cross-border training programme, believed to be the
first of its kind in Europe, will involve officers from the
Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Siochana.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Garda Commissioner Noel
Conroy said at today’s launch of the scheme in Armagh the
course would challenge officers’ perception of diversity.

Orde said: “We have to be able to understand the needs of
different people that make up our communities.

“This will help officers give a more effective service to
communities living in Ireland in 2006, bringing two police
forces even closer.

“I know this training will make us all better at what we
are here to do, which is to protect the people on the
island of Ireland.”

During 55 one-day training sessions, which will be held
north and south of the border, police will learn how to
recognise the needs of a range of cultures.

Religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background,
physical or mental abilities and age will be among the
subjects covered in the Diversity Works project.

The programme follows a successful four-day pilot scheme in
October. The first groups of officers began training today
after the launch.

Commissioner Conroy said his force was already working
towards building strong links within the community by
recruiting a number of non-nationals.

In the force’s last recruitment campaign 8% of all
applicants were from ethnic minorities with 193
successfully making it through to the interview stage.

He added: “It is very important to reach a multi-cultural

“We have always had diversity in Ireland. However in recent
years it has become more varied and complex.

“Experience has shown that accommodation diversity requires
careful planning and ongoing commitment from all concerned.
This commitment is required not only at an organisational
level but also at a personal level.”


Mayo County Council To Mark 1981 H-Block Hunger Strike

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Fein County Councillor Gerry Murray has welcomed the
decision by Mayo County Council to commemorate the 25th
Anniversary of the 1981 H-Block hunger strike. Councillor
Murray’s motion calling on the Council to commemorate the
Hunger strike was supported by all Political Parties on the

In a statement Cllr Murray said. “I wish to thank all my
colleagues on Mayo County Council for supporting my motion
to commemorate the 1981 Hunger Strike. It is entirely
appropriate that Mayo County Council should be the first
local authority in Ireland to formally decide to mark this
defining moment in Irish History. Mayo is the home of Jack
McNeeila, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg all of whom died
on hunger strike. I sincerely hope that other County
Councils through out the Country will follow our lead and
honour Bobby Sands and his nine comrades by remembering
their sacrifice.”ENDS


Ahern To Raise Issue Of Illegals

Marie O'Halloran

Concerns about Irish immigrants living illegally in the
US will be among the issues raised by Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern when he meets President Bush at the White House on St
Patrick's Day.

Mr Ahern also told the Dáil that Attorney General Rory
Brady, who is in the US this week, would raise the issue
"to make our position clear and to try to help the plight
of Irish immigrants".

The Taoiseach said he had taken a very keen interest in the
Kennedy legislation and had been supportive of it, adding:
"There are a number of proposals on the matter, but we will
raise it again this year and have done so through our
ambassador and more recently through the Minister for
Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Brennan."

He was responding to Socialist TD Joe Higgins (Dublin
West), who had asked if the Taoiseach would have any new
proposals to put forward at his meeting with President Bush
about the "tens of thousands of Irish citizens living
clandestinely in the US".

Mr Higgins also asked if the Taoiseach would be wearing a
bullet-proof vest at the White House. "Not content with
slaughtering innocent Iraqis, Vice-President Cheney has
turned his gun on a close friend whom he mistook for a
duck. The Taoiseach should be careful over there," the
Dublin West TD added.

© The Irish Times


Has Taoiseach Caved In On British ID Cards? - Ó Caoláin

Published: 14 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has expressed
“very serious concern” at the Taoiseach’s response to his
question in the Dáil on whether he will oppose the
imposition of compulsory British state identity cards for
all persons resident in the Six Counties. Ó Caoláin said he
was also concerned that the Taoiseach did not rule out the
imposition of similar cards in the 26 Counties on the back
of the British measure.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “I put it to the Taoiseach that the
British Parliament has taken a further step towards
imposing compulsory ID cards on everyone within its
jurisdiction, including the Six Counties. The British Home
Secretary Charles Clarke made clear that compulsory ID
cards for all is their intention.

“The Taoiseach should oppose the imposition of these cards
on people anywhere in Ireland. He should make clear that
such a police state scheme would be a nightmare in the
North where information from British state sources is
regularly passed on to loyalist paramilitaries.

“I am seriously concerned that the Taoiseach failed to
clarify his position on these cards. He did not deny that
it was his government’s intention to introduce such a
scheme when the British bring it in, and to impose
compulsory ID cards on people in the 26 Counties. Sinn Féin
will strongly oppose any such measure, North and South.”


City Schools Face Closure Threat

A number of schools across Belfast are expected to close
because pupil numbers are at an all-time low.

The principal of one school involved has said that he
cannot continue to fight against falling numbers and a
shrinking budget.

John Crossan of Mount Gilbert Community College, Shankill
Road, said he was admitting defeat in the numbers game.

Mount Gilbert has 120 pupils. It can take in 140 new pupils
annually, but only had 12 new pupils this year.

The school is run by the Belfast Education and Library
Board and members have recommended its closure.

Mr Crossan has fought to reduce his £200,000 deficit. Some
staff have left the school and he now teaches classes in
order to save money.

"The demographic trends are downward, unfortunately,
throughout the city and the province," he said.

"At the moment, we seem to have reached a stage where we
have had to go to the education and library board and
explain that numbers are declining."

Other schools are also vulnerable.

The newly-built Balmoral High could take 100 pupils, but
only got 24 this year.

Castle High in north Belfast is allowed an intake of 110,
but only attracted 22 first year pupils.

In west Belfast, Christian Brothers' School could have
taken 150 pupils, but ended up with less than half that

St Gabriel's School in north Belfast is allowed a maximum
of 84 pupils, but only got a quarter of that number.

Orangefield High in the east of the city was allowed 145
pupils, but only managed to recruit 25 pupils this year.

By April, the Belfast board will announce how it is to deal
with surplus places.

Meanwhile, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools
(CCMS) is also looking at new ideas for dealing with ever
decreasing numbers.

Jim Clarke, CCMS, said: "In Belfast alone, the 11 to 17 age
group is going to drop by 35% between 2002 and 2015.

"It is inevitable that there will be some form of
reorganisation and rationalisation," he said.

"I would hope that would be accompanied by a significant
new-build programme in post-primary education."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/14 19:18:39 GMT


SF Discusses Future Of Catholic Schooling

By Kathryn Torney
14 February 2006

Sinn Fein was today due to discuss a range of education
issues with the head of the Council for Catholic Maintained

The party's education spokesman Michael Ferguson planned to
discuss the impact of the new single Education Authority on
the education system during his meeting with CCMS chief
executive Donal Flanagan.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Ferguson said: "It is
important that we discuss with all educational stakeholders
their views on changes to public administration.

"There are many proposals that will affect education, not
least concerns of CCMS on the Catholic ethos of educational
provision that many parents want protected.

"We respect parental choice in this matter and will not
allow the British Government to undermine this entitlement
as they are currently undermining educational provision
with cuts to spending.

"We will also be discussing the adverse impact of
government spending plans on schools and the best way to
defend the educational entitlement of our children and
young people in the face of government intent on
redirecting investment into the education system in England
and Wales."


Socialist Worker 1988, 18 February 2006

Post Workers Strike Unites The Falls And Shankill

Postal workers across Northern Ireland have given a
marvellous glimpse of how to stand up to the bosses and
defeat bigotry. Protestants and Catholics have struck
together, marched together and stood united against
attempts to divide them along religious lines.

On Tuesday of last week, over 500 post workers marched from
the Protestant Shankill Road to the Catholic Falls Road –
roads that symbolise the sectarian division of Belfast –
into the city centre. They marched through a gate at Lanark
Way, passing through the “peace line” – the segregation
between working class Protestant and Catholic estates.


One worker described the scene: “Families came out of their
houses in support and local workers stopped work to see the
march. People in cars beeped their horns in support.

“Chants and whistles rang out along the route. Hundreds of
post workers blew whistles and chanted ‘we’re blowing the
whistle on Royal Mail bullying’,” he said.

The mood throughout was one of good humoured defiance.
According to one of the workers, Sean, “The march was a
huge moral boost. It was historic. I’ve never even been up
the Shankill before. It’s over 70 years since workers have
marched united on both roads. It shows the depth of feeling
about the dispute.”

The strike began two weeks ago Tuesday when managers told a
worker in the BT13 office that covers the Shankill area,
that he had been found guilty of harassment.

Gary, the worker concerned, told Socialist Worker, “In the
office there is constant harassment over doing overtime and
the like. It got so bad that I started taking notes in a

“Management stole my diary. When I complained they put me
on a harassment charge and I was given a letter of

“We want to work. I’ve got kids at school. I wouldn’t send
them to school knowing they were going to be bullied. Yet
every day people go to work in the post and have to put up
with bullying.

“We’re sick and tired of being pushed around. The
intimidation in this dispute is coming from Royal Mail.
Royal Mail is a cesspit – and it isn’t because of the

Another Shankill worker, Tony, said, “I even had a manger
following me when I picked up my kids from school. Managers
tell lies all the time about staff. It is no surprise they
are lying to the media about workers to try to divide us.”

Mark, a union rep in the office, said, “I have 24 years in
the post. When you get letters threatening dismissal, it is
time to take action. I was accused of being slow and
showing a lack of diligent work, which is a charge that
doesn’t even exist.

In response to all this the workers walked out.

According to a Communications Workers’ Union (CWU)
spokesperson, “When people from the Falls heard that the
Shankill office was out, they came out in support and then
the rest followed. Management then unveiled a package of
nasty demands before we would be allowed to return to work.

“That has just strengthened everyone’s resolve. They are
staying out until the Royal Mail concedes to what is a
reasonable request for an independent employee and
industrial relations review,” he said.

Management responded by delivering letters late at night to
four CWU unions reps.

One of them, Frank, said, “Late at night Royal Mail called
to the house and delivered a letter saying I am liable
financially for the strike. I could lose my job and my
house for doing nothing wrong. If that’s not bullying, what

“Together we have nothing to be afraid of. Management want
us to be afraid – that is what every bully does.”

At the Mallusk mail centre workers blocked the road into
the centre to stop imported scabs working, despite
intimidation from management and the police.

Unity across the sectarian divide has been central to the
dispute. The day after the march, post workers stood in
lines in the middle of every major road into Belfast city

Royal Mail management has responded with a vicious and
dangerous attempt to stir up sectarian division. On Monday
of last week, they started briefing the press that the
dispute was about the union covering up sectarian


The following day reports in the media claimed that the
diary management had stolen contained the car number plates
of managers.

They suggested that the book was being used to target
people for sectarian attacks. Using the word “sinister”, a
coded reference to the troubles, management implied that
those at the heart of the dispute were paramilitaries.

A Royal Mail spokesperson even claimed to the press that a
non-striker in Belfast had received a threatening phone
call at home. Yet no investigation has been launched by the

It is all lies. Management is playing a dangerous game.

In 2002 a Loyalist death squad gunned post worker Danny
McColgan down as he arrived for work at his delivery office
in north Belfast.

Loyalist paramilitaries then issued death threats against
all Catholic postal workers.

They withdrew the threat after a week of united strike
action by post workers and a 20,000-strong rally in the
city centre.

According to one worker, “Managers were trying to demonise
the postal workers in a bid to turn public opinion against
them. The media have been involved in a scurrilous attack
of the sort that put people’s lives at risk.”

One worker told Socialist Worker, “Royal Mail has been
spreading allegations about us, but we are united on this.
There were allegations of death threats, but I’m telling
you that is rubbish.

“The ordinary workers have had enough. In 20 years at Royal
Mail I have never seen things this bad from the bosses. But
I have never seen people so united in doing something about
it.” he said.

Dave, another post worker, asked, “Why are they so afraid
of us? I’m a Catholic from the Falls Road, but when we
marched down the Shankill, people cheered us – Catholics
and Protestants together.

“We’re at the end of our tether but this strike is uniting
people from across the divide. The march was an emotional
experience and the response from people has been

According to Paul from Mallusk, “Workers always take the
lead against bigotry, not the politicians. We’re on the
frontline of attacks and abuse, while the politicians can
hide away in their swish offices.

“This is working class people from all communities saying
we’ve had enough of intimidation at work, we’re not going
to take intimidation from the media.

“In reality sectarianism creates divisions among workers,
and those divisions give the bosses and the politicians a
free hand to push ahead with attacks on us.”

Another worker from the same office, said, “In our
communities, in our sectarian ghettos, we feel isolated and
powerless. But by taking action we are demonstrating
something different.

“We are showing our power as workers – Protestant workers
standing alongside Catholic workers, men alongside women.

“Now we face a fight because things don’t stay still. The
confidence and solidarity we achieved from the march will
spur us on to take action to defend our livelihoods.”


Gallagher Replaces Callely As Haughey Is Overlooked

By Piaras Murphy Last updated: 14-02-06, 18:13

Donegal TD Pat the Cope Gallagher has been appointed to
replace Dublin North Central TD Ivor Callely as Minister of
State at the Department of Transport.

Mr Callely was forced to step down in December after it
emerged one of the largest building firms in the State
arranged for the painting of his house in the early 1990s.

It had been widely expected that Sean Haughey - son of
former taoiseach Charles Haughey - and Jim Glennon would
received junior posts in a minor reshuffle announced by the
Taoiseach in the Dáil this afternoon.

Mr Ahern also promoted Meath TD Mary Wallace from the
backbenches to the position of Minister of State at the
Department of Agriculture. She has previously held a junior
ministry in the Department of Justice but was in charge
when the Government was forced to drop its Disability Bill
in 2002.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said Ms Wallace was
appointed for electoral reasons and the two- month delay in
making today's announcement reflects the Taoiseach's
inability to make a decision.

Ms Wallace is a former minister of state who will be Fianna
Fáil standard barer in the new Meath East constituency at
the next general election.

"I'm delighted. It's a very challenging time in the
agriculture and food area and I am looking forward to
working with senior minister Mary Coughlan and junior
minister Brendan Smith," Ms Wallace said.

Wexford TD John Browne becomes Minister of State at the
Department of the Communications, Marine & Natural
Resources. He will have responsibility for fisheries.

He had previously been a junior minister with the
Department of Agriculture and Food with special
responsibility for forestry.

He replaces Mr Gallagher, who was under electoral pressure
in Donegal because of the Government's determination to
impose criminal penalties on fishermen who break fishery

Fine Gael's marine spokesman John Perry was scornful about
the decision to move Mr Gallagher away from a policy area
where the Government's failure to implement EU directives
could lead to Ireland being fined millions of euros.

"Despite his insistence within Donegal that he would fight
hard for the fishing industry, [Mr Gallagher] has let down
fishermen from not only his own constituency, but fishermen
from throughout the country," Mr Perry said.

© 2006


Surprise Ministerial Promotion Upsets FF Tds

Fianna Fáil TDs were stunned and bewildered yesterday at
the decision of the Taoiseach to reinstate Meath TD Mary
Wallace as a Junior Minister, almost four years after he
dropped her. Stephen Collins and Mark Hennessy report.

There was also continuing dissent in the party ranks over
the Sea Fisheries Bill and Mr Ahern had to meet a number of
backbenchers to deal with their concerns.

Ms Wallace was dropped in 2002 after five years as a
minister with responsibility for disabilities.

Last night the Taoiseach defended his decision, with a
spokeswoman saying the appointment had been made because Mr
Ahern felt "she is very competent, she is very capable, she
is a very hard worker".

Northside Dublin TDs SeáHaughey and Jim Glennon were the
favourites to win promotion to the vacancy created by the
resignation of Ivor Callely in December.

Fianna Fáil TDs and Government advisers reacted with shock
when they heard of the Taoiseach's decision. Even some
Ministers are said to have been taken aback when Mr Ahern
formally sought their approval of the decision at
yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

So confident were some supporters of Mr Haughey that they
had planned a function to celebrate his promotion and were
even reported to have booked a venue.

Mr Glennon took the unusual step of issuing a statement
expressing his disappointment. "I had hoped that I would be
selected to serve in Government as this is the ambition of
most parliamentarians," he said, while wishing Ms Wallace
every success.

The Taoiseach let it be known last night that he felt Ms
Wallace had been "unfairly criticised" for her handling of
the Disability Bill, which had to be withdrawn when it was
greeted with a storm of criticism after she introduced it
in the Oireachtas in 2001.

The spokeswoman added that constituency considerations were
also involved in the decision. If Ms Wallace had been
appointed in 2002, the five-seat Meath constituency would
have had two Ministers, but now that it had been divided
into two three-seat constituencies there was a compelling
case for her promotion.

The issue of gender balance in the ministerial ranks was
also cited as a possible factor.

Many backbenchers, however, were not convinced by the
arguments. It was pointed out that the case for promotion
on the grounds of helping the party to win a seat in East
Meath could be made in almost any of the 43 constituencies.
There was widespread sympathy for Mr Haughey, in
particular, among TDs.

On the issue of the Sea Fisheries and Marine Jurisdiction
Bill, which is designed to end illegal fishing in Irish
waters, one Fianna Fáil backbencher, Denis O'Donovan,
yesterday expressed reservations about key provisions in
the Bill.

The Taoiseach later met Mr O'Donovan and a group of TDs
including Frank Fahey, Celia Keaveney and Michael Woods, as
well as Senator Brendan Kenneally, and appears to have
soothed their concerns about the legislation, which is
being piloted through the Dáil by the Minister for
Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey.

The junior minister for the Marine, Pat "the Cope"
Gallagher, who is believed to be unhappy about some aspects
of the Bill, was moved from the department yesterday as
part of a mini reshuffle of junior ministers. He took over
the post vacated by Ivor Callely as Minister of State for

John Browne, the Minister of State for Agriculture and
Food, took over Mr Gallagher's post at the Department of
the Marine.

© The Irish Times


Irish Cinema At The Jameson Dublin International Film


The 4th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival opens
this week running from February 17th - February 26th and
features an exciting slate of new Irish films including two
world premieres.

Paul Mercier’s debut feature film STUDS will receive its
world premiere as the opening film this Friday 17th
February and will be attended by cast members including
Brendan Gleeson and the film’s writer, director and

Another new Irish film, JOHNNY WAS, will receive its world
premiere as the Midweek Gala next Wednesday 22nd. Directed
by Mark Hammond, JOHNNY WAS is a slick IRA reform tale
starring Laurence Kinlan, Patrick Bergin and Vinnie Jones.

As well as the world premieres of STUDS and JOHNNY WAS,
festival goers will also get the opportunity to see Tommy
Collins' award winning film DEAD LONG ENOUGH and Anthony
Byrne’s modern musical SHORT ORDER.

There will be a special showcase of Irish shorts featuring
new Irish talent on Tuesday 21st February from the latest
Short Shorts, Short Cuts, Oscailt, Irish Flash and
Frameworks schemes commissioned by the Irish Film Board,
RTE, TG4 and the Arts Council. This provides an opportunity
for industry executives and the public to see a wide range
of award winning shorts and to check out the latest talent
he Irish industry has to offer.

Billy O’Brien unsettling tale ISOLATION, starring the 2006
Irish Shooting Star Ruth Negga and John Lynch will screen
on Friday 24th. ISOLATION has recently picked up two
prestigious awards at the Fantasy Film Festival in France.
Patrick Jolley’s experimental New York set drama, SUGAR,
which was selected at the Berlin Film Festival last year,
will also be screened at the Dublin film Festival on
Wednesday 22nd February.

All of the above films were financed with funding from the
Bord Scannan na hEireann/the Irish Film Board.


Joycean Professor Jailed And Strip-Searched In US Over Visa

A Dublin-born Joycean professor was handcuffed, strip-
searched and locked overnight in Montgomery County Prison,
Pennsylvania, after flying to the United States without
properly completed visa documents, writes Seán O'Driscoll
in New York

Prof John McCourt, a lecturer on Joyce at Trieste
University, Italy, and author of The Years of Bloom: James
Joyce in Trieste, had flown to the US from Italy to take up
a short-term teaching job in the University of Pennsylvania
on January 7th last.

Prof McCourt said his problems began with a small mix-up in
his US visa application when he flew into Philadelphia. The
university said his visa documents had been sorted out,
when in fact the documents only said he was eligible for a

Prof McCourt said he was verbally abused by immigration
officials and told he would be flown back to Italy that
night. However, he claimed that after he contacted the
Irish consulate in New York and his sister in Boston, he
was handcuffed and put in a van with three officers and
driven to Montgomery County jail, where he was strip-
searched and kept overnight. He claimed yesterday he was
woken up by prison guards every hour and asked his name.

The University of Pennsylvania said yesterday it is to make
an official complaint to the Department of Homeland

Prof McCourt said he was taken back to the airport after
the overnight detention and placed in a holding cell before
being escorted on to a plane to Germany. "I was taken on to
the plane in handcuffs and I think the other passengers
were thinking, is this guy a terrorist?"

During the flight his alarm clock went off and the woman
next to him nearly jumped out the window. "It was horrible
to feel like a terrorist," he said. Prof McCourt has since
returned to lecture at Pennsylvania after properly
completing his visa application.

Austin Gormley, of the Irish consulate in New York, said
the consulate had provided assistance to Prof McCourt while
he was detained. It had not been asked to lodge a complaint
with US authorities.

JoAnn McCarthy, assistant vice-provost for international
affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, said the college
would be making an official complaint.

"Incidents like this are really having an impact on
academics, students and researchers coming into the US and
ultimately it affects the wellbeing of the American
public," she said.

Kelly Klundt of the Department of Homeland Security said if
Prof McCourt had been fined instead of jailed, he would not
have been allowed to re-enter the US.

© The Irish Times


President McAleese Defends Visit To Saudi Arabia

Kathy Sheridan, in Amman

On the first day of her state visit to Jordan yesterday,
President Mary McAleese vigorously defended her decision to
address an economic forum in Saudi Arabia, where women are
denied basic rights.

Speaking to Irish journalists, she referred to the "feisty,
determined" Saudi businesswomen who were "living in very
difficult circumstances for women but also were living
through changing circumstances for women", who "rose as
one" to give her a standing ovation after her speech.

"So many of them came up afterwards and said how important
it was to them that I was there, that Cherie Blair was
there, that other women from around the world were there -
because, as you know, there were quite a number of women
speakers at that forum, some of them very formidable
champions of women's rights - and how important it was for
[ Saudi women] at this time, when a chink of hope for women
is opening up."

These women were working on a document to set out all the
political, legal and social impediments they saw as
preventing the advancement of women, the President
continued, and they intended to present that to their
government soon. They had got good backing, they believed,
from the government in "bringing women into the public
service", and there was "a lot of opening up of
opportunities" for them.

"So here are women who are charting a course for a new
future, a really very extraordinary new future for the
country and their culture. Frankly, it was a privilege to
be in their company, it was a particular privilege to hear
from them how very important it was for them at this time
for us to be there to give them encouragement and support.
I never thought the day would come when I would sit down
with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and I would talk frankly
to him, as openly as I am doing to you, about the
advancement of women and how absolutely important it is for
the economic and cultural flowering of any country - and to
have him listen quietly and with great interest - it was
quite simply a privilege."

For yesterday's packed schedule, the President was
accompanied by her husband, Dr Martin McAleese; by the
Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell; the Minister of
State for Trade and Commerce, Michael Ahern; and the
Ambassador to Jordan, Richard O'Brien.

The day began with a colourful welcoming ceremony hosted by
the king and queen. President McAleese was then invited to
water the "Tree of Life" at the Martyrs' Monument. She had
lunch with the prime minister and visited the King Hussein
Cancer Centre. Later, she had an hour-long meeting with
religious leaders, including Sheikh Ahmed Hilayl, Jordan's
minister for Islamic affairs; Sheikh Hamdi Murad, a leading
Islamic scholar at the University of Jordan; Dr Joseph E.
Lumbard, an American Muslim and special adviser to King
Abdullah on inter-faith affairs; and the Roman Catholic
Bishop of Amman, Dr Salim Sayyeg.

© The Irish Times

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