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February 20, 2006

Row in NI Talks & Session Collapses

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 02/20/06 Row As NI Talks Session Collapses
BN 02/20/06 Ahern Blasts 'Immature' Attack On President
IT 02/21/06 Mayor Ferris Survives Vote Of No Confidence
IT 02/21/06 SF Call To Repeal Anti-IRA Act Is Opposed
BB 02/21/06 Bail Breach Sees Man Sent To Jail
FT 02/20/06 US/UK Lopsided Extradition
IT 02/20/06 Green Councillor's Home Attacked
IT 02/21/06 Opin: Leave Jerry McCabe In Peace
IT 02/21/06 Opin: Flogging A Dead Language
IN 02/21/06 Opin: Victims ‘Circus’ Is Counterproductive
IT 02/21/06 Online Library Service Launched
IT 02/21/06 Visitor Facilities At Dolmen Site To Be Reduced


Row As NI Talks Session Collapses

Plans for round-table talks by Northern Ireland political
parties at Stormont have collapsed amid acrimony.

The plan was to have the DUP, SDLP, UUP and Alliance at one
session of talks on Monday, without Sinn Fein.

This would have been followed by a second round in which
Sinn Fein replaced the DUP - who have refused to sit down
with the republican party.

However, Sinn Fein angily rejected the plan. SF leader
Gerry Adams accused the government of "pandering to the

At a news conference on Monday, he said the government was

Mr Adams said his party found the plan to have separate
meetings "totally unacceptable". It proved that Ian
Paisley, not the governments, was in charge of the talks he


The row followed a series of meetings between NI Secretary
Peter Hain, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and local
parties at Stormont.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Hain said people needed to realise
that both governments were "for real" in securing political

"We tried a particular formula and that didn't work," he

"Nobody would have been excluded, there were parallel
meetings consecutively on the same issues with all the

"We decided there was no point in proceeding since they
were not all-party discussions as we had intended."

The Ulster Unionist Party was also involved in a row with
the government when it insisted on sending only a notetaker
to the talks.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Hain set a deadline of 8 March for
the parties to agree amendments to new legislation on the
assembly and other issues.

He said he was aiming for progress in the spring to see the
assembly reopen.

It means that the parties have less than a month to agree
changes to new legislation on the assembly and other

The British and Irish governments are stepping up pressure
on the parties to compromise and restore the assembly,
which was suspended in October 2003 following allegations
of a republican spy ring at the Northern Ireland Office.

Speaking after his p47arty's meeting with Mr Hain, DUP
leader Ian Paisley said they had raised a number of issues,
primarily compensation for Royal Irish Regiment members
facing disbandment.

He said that if there was going to be devolution, IRA
criminality had to end, irrespective of any time limit the
government set.

The DUP chose not to meet the Irish foreign minister. Mr
Ahern said the decision was disappointing, but ministers
would persevere.


As he arrived for talks, SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the
only baseline for progress was the Good Friday Agreement.

He accused Sinn Fein of agreeing to a shadow assembly in
the comprehensive agreement which it almost struck with the
DUP in December 2004.

It is the second time this month that the two ministers
have brought the parties together.

North-south relations form part of the discussions.

Last week, the government unveiled legislation aimed at
lending momentum to the political process.

A bill introduced by Mr Hain would enable him to transfer
policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland

He would also be given the power to call a snap assembly

At present, this is fixed for the spring of 2007, but an
early poll could be used to endorse a new deal.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/20 18:17:25 GMT


Ahern Blasts 'Immature' Attack On President

20/02/2006 - 19:05:33

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern tonight described a scathing attack
on President Mary McAleese by Democratic Unionist leader
Rev Ian Paisley as immature.

In a second blistering criticism of the President in less
than a month, Mr Paisley accused her of having a deep
hatred of the North.

And he went on to say Mrs McAleese refused to enter police
stations in the North despite accepting protection from
PSNI officers.

But Mr Ahern suggested the DUP leader may have been
attempting to divert attention away from other things.

“I think again its deeply regretted that the remarks were
made. As I have said previously the President has done more
than anyone to reach out courageously and imaginatively to
all communities in Northern Ireland,” Mr Ahern said.

“I don’t really know why they [criticisms] are made. Quite
frankly they are unwarranted, they are not very helpful,
and it looks as if for some reason it’s to divert attention
from some other things.

“I don’t really know why, it’s not a very mature way of

The Taoiseach insisted President McAleese always followed
protocols when travelling north and had done so this time.

The controversial criticisms came as President McAleese
visited a cross community project in the troubled Duncairn
Gardens area of north Belfast.

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP for the area, accused the President of
making scurrilous remarks about Unionists when she compared
attitudes of some northern Protestants to Nazis on the
anniversary of the Holocaust last year.

“The protocols of course are out the window when it comes
to visits by the Irish President,” Mr Dodds said.

“Every other foreign head of state goes through the proper
protocols, but as far as Mary McAleese is concerned all of
that is cast to one side. I think that is reprehensible and
I think she should be subject to the same protocols as any
other head of state.

He asked: “Why should she get any privileged position just
because she is from the Dublin capital?”

And the north Belfast MP added: “Mary McAleese has a
problem to overcome because of her attitude to Unionists
and what she has said about Unionists and likening them to

The comments came after a DUP team met for talks with
Northern Secretary Peter Hain. Rev Paisley added: “The fact
that she takes protection from the police of Northern
Ireland but refuses to go into a police station when they
are changing, the fact she does that shows how the deep her
hatred is of Northern Ireland.”

A spokeswoman for the President declined to comment on the

On her arrival at Belfast Airport, President McAleese was
met by Lady Carswell, the Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, and
the official representative of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

Later, President McAleese helped launch a new programme for
the 174 Trust, a cross community project in north Belfast.

It was the second attack on the President by Rev Paisley in
less than one month.

Addressing the DUP party conference on February 4, Mr
Paisley said he did not like the President and called on
her to show respect for the Police Service of Northern

In unscripted comments which were greeted by laughs from
his party faithful, Mr Paisley said: “Now I do not like the
President of the Republic of Ireland. I don’t like her
because she is dishonest.

“She pretends to love this province and she hates it.”

And the DUP leader also said: “The President of the Irish
Republic who refuses to enter a police station in Northern
Ireland should respect the police of Northern Ireland.

“She should only enter Northern Ireland under the same
terms as every other visiting head of state and she should
cease attacking Northern Ireland.”


Mayor Ferris Survives Vote Of No Confidence

Anne Lucey

A Fine Gael motion of no confidence in the Sinn Féin
Mayor of Kerry, Toiréasa Ferris, over her failure to
condemn the Det Garda Jerry McCabe shooting failed in Kerry
County Council yesterday.

While a clear majority of members on Kerry County Council
yesterday condemned the shooting of Det Garda McCabe in
Adare in 1996, the Fine Gael motion of no confidence in the
mayor failed to gain support from any other party or
independent members on the council.

Four separate emergency motions arising out of Ms Ferris's
recent refusal to condemn the death of Det Garda McCabe in
Adare were put before the council at its monthly meeting.

Fine Gael council leader Bobby O'Connell put forward a
motion that Kerry County Council condemn the "brutal
murder" with an addendum by Cllr Michael Gleeson of the
South Kerry Independent Alliance that bank robberies as
political fund-raising also be condemned.

The motion was seconded by Fine Gael Cllr Liam Purtill.

The motion was passed by a majority of 23 of the 25
councillors at the meeting yesterday, with Sinn Féin's two
councillors, Ms Ferris and Cllr Robert Beasley, voting

A second motion by Fianna Fáil condemning "the savage and
brutal killing" and censuring the position of Sinn Féin and
Cllr Ferris because of their refusal to condemn the
killing, was also passed by the same majority of 23 to two.

The Fianna Fáil motion also included support for the gardaí
and a vote of sympathy for the McCabe family.

Cllr Ned O'Sullivan (FF) told Ms Ferris she was a young
politician with a great future, but the McCabe family and
their relatives in north Kerry were "deeply wounded by what
you did and did not say."

A motion by Sinn Féin, proposed by Cllr Beasley and
seconded by the mayor, proposing a vote of sympathy for all
those killed in the Troubles, received unanimous support.

The fourth motion of the meeting, the Fine Gael motion on a
vote of no confidence in the mayor, was described as
"bizarre" and "shambolic" by Fianna Fáil Cllr Paul

Ms Ferris said the Fine Gael motion "effectively achieves

Ms Ferris said: "I believe the killing was wrong, as were
other killings over 30 years of the conflict. My position
isn't much different to the rest of you.

"I work closely with the gardaí and they will testify to
that. I feel sorry for the McCabe family, but I also feel
sorry for and want to express my sympathy to the 3,500

Ms Ferris said she was not speaking as mayor or as part of
the county council on The Late Late Show but as "Toiréasa
Ní Fhearaoísa, Martin Ferris's daughter. I wasn't even
wearing my chain of office."

She said she would have to vote against the motions
condemning the shooting and particularly against the
addendum condemning bank robberies as political party
fundraising, "because it implies that representatives of
certain parties have been involved in robberies", when it
was the IRA who had carried out the operation.

The motion failed eight to 12, with five abstentions.

© The Irish Times


SF Call To Repeal Anti-IRA Act Is Opposed

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Sinn Fein's demand that the Offences against the State
Act must be repealed before it will enter a coalition
government has been roundly condemned by Fine Gael and the
Progressive Democrats.

A party serious about tackling dissident republican or
organised crime could not abolish the 1939 legislation,
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell said,

On Sunday, Sinn Féin Ardfheis delegates insisted the
legislation had to be scrapped before the party will enter
a coalition government, despite the strong wishes of the
party's leadership.

The Act has been the State's main legal weapon in its fight
against the IRA, including powers to set up the non-jury
Special Criminal Court and jail people for five years on
the word of a Garda superintendent.

Responding last night, Mr McDowell said: "It says a lot
about a party that the only condition they put on going
into government is to repeal the piece of legislation that
has been vital in preventing them overthrowing the State.

"If the IRA wants to be a legal organisation they should
amend their constitution - not ask Sinn Féin to abolish the
legislation which outlaws them," he told The Irish Times.

SF delegates backed the call for the repeal of the Offences
against the State Act just moments after they had accepted,
reluctantly in many cases, the leadership's call not to
block off post-election coalition options.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O'Keeffe said his party
would reject any attempt by any party to drop the Act: "We
will keep it in operation for as long as it is necessary.
We will not be dictated to by Sinn Féin who have no
credibility on this issue.

"There is a continuing necessity to retain it in the light
of the continuing threat from dissident republicans," he

"Furthermore, it is necessary because of the ongoing
criminality of the IRA.

"There is no evidence that criminality has ceased. There is
also the even more disturbing fact that apparent alliances
now exist between dissident republicans and criminal gangs
in Dublin, as evidenced by the recent pipe bomb attacks,"
said the Cork South West TD.

"The party that for 30 years supported the bomb and the
bullet in Northern Ireland on the basis that they were
authorised to do that, the party that denies the legitimacy
of the State, is the kind of party that is living in Alice-

"I am not surprised," he continued.

© The Irish Times


Bail Breach Sees Man Sent To Jail

A man accused of being involved in an attack on a friend of
murder victim Robert McCartney has been returned to prison
for breaking his bail terms.

Samuel Caskey, 43, formerly of Seaforde Court, allegedly
intimidated Sinead Commander while in the Short Strand
area, which he is barred from entering.

Mr Caskey - who denies assaulting her husband Jeff
Commander - told the High Court he did not intimidate her.

However, Lord Justice Shiel said he accepted Mrs
Commander's evidence.

The accused was granted bail in November last year but
ordered not go into the Short Strand area, where the
Commander family live.

Mr Commander, who was a friend of 33-year-old murder victim
Robert McCartney, was attacked on 12 September last year by
seven men using sewer rods and iron bars.

A Crown lawyer said the accused had broken his bail
conditions after admitting going to his flat in the Short
Strand to collect mail and while there intimidated Mr
Commander's wife.

Mrs Commander told the court that Mr Caskey spotted her car
sitting at a junction and swung his car into the road
before laughing at her.

She said she drove to her mother's house a short distance
away but, while en route, the defendant sped out of a
roadway, straight at her car, before stopping and laughing
out of his window at her again.

A defence solicitor put it to Mrs Commander that she
"hated" Mr Caskey and was "telling the court lies".

He told the court Mr Caskey had "taken the chance" to
collect his mail and that the encounter between the two had
been "chance and not premeditated".

Revoking bail, judge Lord Justice Shiel, said: "In
preferring her evidence to his, I accept hers in its
entirety... and entirely reject his evidence."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/20 14:12:23 GMT


Lopsided Extradition

Published: February 21 2006 02:00 Last updated: February
21 2006 02:00

High Court judges in London are due to rule today on
whether the US authorities should be allowed to extradite
three former NatWest investment bankers to face Enron-
related fraud charges. Charles Clarke, home secretary, and
a magistrates court have already agreed to their
extradition under the 2003 US/UK treaty which has yet to be
ratified by Washington. This aspect alone has made the
treaty controversial - as has its increasing use to target
alleged white-collar crime.

The treaty has raised legal concerns because it removes the
need for the US to establish a prima facie case to secure
extradition. British requests to the US, by contrast, must
still show "probable cause". Yet although the UK has signed
the new treaty, ratification has been delayed in the US
over fears that even this tougher hurdle would deny
Americans due process.

Concern over the treaty has deepened with its
disproportionate use in cases of alleged white-collar crime
- 24 of the 45 US requests under the new treaty have been
for financial offences. In some cases, most of the alleged
offence has been committed in Britain, even though it is a
basic principle of international law that crimes should be
prosecuted in the countries where they were committed. The
use of the new extradition treaty appears to be extending
the already long arm of the US law to business executives
in Britain.

Two steps are needed to reassure British businesses. The
first is that the new treaty should be suspended until it
is ratified by the US. The second is that extradition from
the UK should offer the individuals concerned no less
protection than those facing a similar threat in the
opposite direction. Justice demands no less.


Green Councillor's Home Attacked

Mark Hennessy

Extra Garda patrols have been organised around the home
of Green Party deputy leader Cllr Mary White following a
number of attacks.

A gas cylinder thrown on to a bonfire of tyres exploded at
the gate to her Kiledmond, Borris, Co Carlow home early on
Saturday morning.

The attack, the second in a fortnight at the councillor's
home, was described as "a further calculated attempt at
intimidation" of Cllr White.

The Carlow county councillor has complained frequently over
the last two years about illegal dumping, reckless driving
and the destruction caused by quad bikes on Mount Leinster.

"This very serious attack at my home and indeed a reckless
act of criminal proportions could have had very serious
consequences for both my family's safety and that of
passing motorists," she said last night.

The pile of tyres at the gate some 50 yards from her home
was spotted by an alert neighbour, who raised the alarm and
called the gardaí, who subsequently called the fire brigade
when they discovered the gas cylinder.

Last night, the gardaí said they had an open mind about the
identity of the perpetrators, but they had increased the
number of patrols in the area.

The Kiledmond area, Cllr White told The Irish Times, has
been plagued by "little boy racers" who are driving at
speed on back country roads" before burning abandoned
vehicles in the Nine Stones area, "one of the most
beautiful areas in Ireland".

In addition, there have been a number of illegal dumps
found on and around Mount Leinster.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Leave Jerry McCabe In Peace

By Fintan O'Toole

On June 10th, 1996, just after an IRA gang killed Garda
Jerry McCabe and tried to kill his colleague Ben
O'Sullivan, the Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Doherty
appeared on RTÉ's Questions and Answers, writes Fintan

He refused to condemn the attack. Speaking to journalists
during a visit to Brussels the next day, the then taoiseach
John Bruton said he had been "deeply disturbed" by Pat
Doherty's failure to condemn the IRA's actions. A fortnight
later, John Bruton was himself criticised for attacking
Doherty's silence.

A mealy-mouthed politician implied that Bruton's demand for
condemnation was putting the peace process at risk: "In
demanding that Sinn Féin condemns the recent actions of the
IRA, is the Government effectively creating a split in the
republican movement? Does the Taoiseach consider this is
helpful to peace?

"Is the Taoiseach happy that the Government could be -
perhaps we all are - in serious danger of losing any
influence it might have with the republican movement by
trying to force Mr Adams in particular into condemnation of
those he is trying to convince to move forward?"

Who was this apologist for Sinn Féin's refusal to say that
riddling gardaí with bullets is wrong? Was it Pat Doherty
or Mitchel McLaughlin or Martin McGuinness? No, it was the
present Taoiseach and then leader of the opposition, Bertie
Ahern. He accused John Bruton of stirring up tensions
within the so-called republican movement by demanding that
Sinn Féin condemn the attack on Jerry McCabe and Ben
O'Sullivan. "It is the easiest thing on earth," he warned,
"to get up here and to lecture and speak against the
republican movement. It is not easy for its members. They
are risking their lives. I ask the Taoiseach to continue to
try to assist them." If poor Toiréasa Ferris, the Sinn Féin
mayor of Kerry, is feeling rather confused at the moment,
it is hard to blame her.

In her now infamous Late Late Show appearance, she was
asked to condemn the killing of Jerry McCabe and took, in
essence, the Bertie Ahern line from June 1996: that people
should not be asked to condemn gruesome acts of violence
when it is politically inconvenient for them to do so. For
this she faced yesterday a motion from Bertie Ahern's own
party calling on Kerry County Council to condemn in the
strongest possible terms the savage and brutal killing of
Jerry McCabe and the injury inflicted on Ben O'Sullivan,
and to condemn Sinn Féin's failure to denounce the crime.

The real issue in all of this is that for almost a decade
now the killing of Jerry McCabe has been a political
weapon, deployed with occasional sincerity, but with
increasing degrees of cynicism and opportunism.

Sinn Féin's stance on the issue has been governed by
expediency. First, Gerry Adams condemned the killing -
"Crimes like this can play no part in the republican
struggle and those who are seeking to blame Sinn Féin know
this." Then, when it became clear that demanding the
release of the killers was a useful way of nodding and
winking at the IRA's rank-and-file, the line shifted and
condemning the killing became a no-no. (It is telling that
Toiréasa Ferris's explanation for her refusal to condemn
the killing on the Late Late is that she didn't "have the
authority to do that".

But the Government's stance has been no less opportunistic.
In December 1999, Ann McCabe got a written assurance from
then minister for justice John O'Donoghue that the killers
would serve their full sentences. During the 2002 general
election, Mary Harney swore that the Progressive Democrats
would not be part of any government that released the men.

This line held until May 2004, with Willie O'Dea, for
example, writing in the Sunday Independent that the very
notion of releasing the killers as part of a deal on
getting devolved government back in place in Northern
Ireland was "stomach-churning". At the same time, however,
the Government was agreeing in those talks that, as Bertie
Ahern put it, "we were prepared, if we achieved the
totality of what we were trying to negotiate, to examine
and approve a situation where we would release the
prisoners". What really is, to use Willie O'Dea's phrase,
"stomach-churning", is that the brutal killing of a man who
was doing his duty on behalf of the Irish public remains,
even now, an opportunity for political advantage.

Fine Gael can't stand the notion of a Shinner who won't
condemn the killing of Jerry McCabe holding office on Kerry
County Council. Its last leader Michael Noonan was on
record as stating that Sinn Féin couldn't be in government
in the Republic "while they are ambivalent about
decommissioning", implying that they could be acceptable in
a coalition after decommissioning had taken place, whatever
they had to say about Jerry McCabe. Fianna Fáil supported
Sinn Féin's refusal to condemn the killing in 1996 and now
pretends to be deeply offended by it.

The whole thing has become such a disgusting sham that it
has to be taken off the political agenda. Let the killers
rot in jail. Let the media stop using the issue to generate
mock outrage. Let Jerry McCabe rest in peace.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Flogging A Dead Language

By Naomi Elster

Teen Times/Naomi Elster: Another day, another 40 minutes
of Irish. Another 40 minutes spent wondering who exactly
the Government and the EU are trying to kid.

Ireland is not bilingual, and if it ever will be, the
second language will be Chinese or Polish, not Gaeilge.
Those who say that Irish is a part of our culture may have
a valid point; but the IRA was a part of our culture for a
long time and I don't hear anyone shouting about the need
to keep the organisation alive.

In fact, I don't think that Irish is alive any more. If you
saw a corpse, dead for more than 100 years, on the
roadside, would you immediately commence mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation or would you bid farewell and bury it?
Nothing irritates me more than all of these great
Government initiatives to keep Irish alive.

We're not fooled.

Hector can hang where he likes and spend a small fortune on
sunglasses, and the Seoige sisters can show as much leg as
they wish, but nothing makes an modh coinníollach sexy.

Today's teenagers have enough to worry about - we do more
subjects in our final exams than most other countries in
Europe. So foisting the responsibility for upholding a
decayed language on us simply isn't fair.

What has the Irish language done for the Irish people since
we got our freedom, all those years ago? We owe the Celtic
Tiger to the English language.

The multinational businesses that brought wealth to our
formerly poor country came because they had a cheap (how
times change!), well-educated, and, above all else,
English-speaking workforce at their disposal. The recent
trade talks with India didn't take place as Gaeilge.

Within Europe and without, Ireland has become a major
player, and the fact that we can fluently speak English,
the third most common language in the world, is a major
advantage in the worlds of politics, sport, education, and
anything else you care to think of. If we spoke Irish, we
would still be on the periphery of civilisation, just seen
as a few tribes running around on a rock somewhere in the
middle of the Atlantic.

Instead, we are seen internationally as a dynamic,
sovereign state. The days of being an add-on to England are
over; we have our own identity now at long last.

Perhaps it's ironic that we owe our independence from
Britain to the language they forced upon us, but we do, and
the sooner we accept it, the better.

Irish is a beautiful language and always will be, but it's
difficult to feel proud of it when you have two poems and a
story that you can't understand, a translation you can't
do, and a mountain of utterly horrendous gramadach to do
for the morning.

I am not suggesting that we scrap Irish completely - just
that we stop pretending. As a language, it's dead. Let's
face up to the reality.

Lifting the burden of an extra exam subject from the
already over-stressed Leaving Cert students would not
deprive anyone of an identity. Citizenship and national
pride is about so much more than a dead language. It is
long past time we made the Irish an optional subject.

Naomi Elster (16) is a student at Brigidine Secondary
School, Mountrath, Co Laois

Submissions of 500-word articles are welcome from teenagers
to Please include a phone number

© The Irish Times


Opin: Victims ‘Circus’ Is Counterproductive

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

My gut reaction to the BBC’s latest supposedly ‘innovative
piece of current affairs television’ is one of revulsion.

The series presents encounters between perpetrators and
victims in the presence of South Africa’s Archbishop
Desmond Tutu.

The latter’s involvement, rather than alleviating concern,
intensifies my dismay at the prospect of these head-to-head

It is not the encounters themselves so much as the
televising of them that seems so degrading.

The tabloid press must have diminished our sense of common
decency when such a spectacle is hailed as some kind of
reconciliation platform despite the BBC’s admission that
this was not the objective. Dialogue is not the problem –
it is television cameras and people being presented in a
stereotypical format that is such an affront. As for new
‘truths’ being uncovered, I’ll eat my hat if this happens.
Many people from different sides of the conflict have
engaged with each other – in some cases for decades. Staged
public encounters are entirely different and are likely to
be counter-productive. Even Archbishop Tutu admits he is
unsure if the programme can do any good whatever – yet the
risks have been accepted. In contrast encounters that are
far removed from prying media eyes have the capacity to
humanise enemies and enable us, and them, to see former
paramilitaries and their victims as people – just like us.

But media circuses are unlikely to do anything useful
through sensational voyeuristic productions. Rather
perpetrators are likely to emerge as monsters or heroes
while hapless victims may become objects, not of
compassion, but of puerile fascination.

The media audience cannot participate and so victims may
feel bereft of human kindness despite the professional
counsellors on standby. According to reports one victim
remained in a state of angst throughout and yet Archbishop
Tutu apparently told her she was taking an important step

The media say the most difficult part was ‘persuading’
victims and perpetrators to take part. Persuasion,
according to some potential participants, was the wrong
word. They prefer the word ‘harassment’. How dare the BBC
seek to ‘persuade’ people to engage in such a spectacle?
Many wisely refused, which means that those who agreed are

In any case if presenters genuinely wish to help perhaps
they should start with the silent majority who remain
oblivious to, or have rationalised, their own deep wells of
sectarianism. It is often ordinary people, and their wily
politicians, who see themselves as neither victims nor
perpetrators but who are, perhaps wilfully, blind to the
sectarianism that masquerades as righteous indignation.

I am not opposed to people taking risks. If life is to move
on and changes take place, we must take risks. But it is
better if people choose freely, rather than be pushed into,
naive participation in such dangerous encounters.

Both perpetrator and victim become vulnerable when
presented as entertainment. A leading victims’ campaigner
confided that a certain organisation tried to pressurise
them into encounters with perpetrators. This man had
previously engaged with politicos associated with
paramilitaries but his reaction to this pressure was to
withdraw completely and engage in bellicose protests about
the injustices faced by security force victims.

We can respect victims and the humanity of former
perpetrators. Many of the latter worked to bring changes to
the unhappy circumstances that led to violence in the first
place. Some may have committed terrible crimes but their
humanity remains. They are aware of and often regret their
part in the conflict. Victims have also inspired us, not
only through their stoicism but also in that, despite their
suffering, many have refused to let the past destroy their
present even though the pain never leaves them. It is hard
when a perpetrator says killing was ‘justified’ if
‘regrettable’ and makes no apology. But does anyone really
expect people to get real in front of cameras? Near the end
of one encounter the victim – still sobbing – whispers,
“I’m lost”. Yet this is supposedly ‘as close to
reconciliation as we can hope for’ and, in the midst of the
encounter the archbishop pronounces, “It is God who is
present in this moment”. God help us.


Online Library Service Launched

Alison Healy

Library members will now have access to the online
catalogues of the State's 32 public libraries, with the
launch of a new book borrowing service.

The website brings together all the
online public library catalogues for the first time.

If a book is not available in a local library, its members
can search for it on the new website.

When they locate it, they can request its delivery to their
local library. The library will tell them when the book
arrives. A loan request between libraries will take about
two weeks and readers will be notified of any delays.

A wide range of other material can also be requested,
including videos, DVDs and CDs.

The new service, which is funded by the Department of the
Environment, was launched by its Minister, Dick Roche, at
the South Dublin County Library in Tallaght yesterday.

He said the initiative was proof that the public library
service was meeting the challenges of the information age.

"It has been the aim of my department to enable the
provision of access, through the public library service, to
the very comprehensive collections which the public
libraries hold and to ensure the provision of this access
on a national basis.

"For example, a user in Wexford can see perhaps an item on
local history in Donegal's collection and have it delivered
to their local library in Wexford.

"For the first time, we can truly say we have a national
public library service."Placing the request is free but
some libraries may charge a small administration fee.

© The Irish Times


Visitor Facilities At Dolmen Site To Be Reduced

Gordon Deegan

The capacity of visitor facilities proposed for the
5,000-year-old Poulnabrone tomb in the Burren has been
halved in order to preserve "the spiritual quality of the
landscape surrounding the tomb".

However, it emerged yesterday that Clare County Council has
agreed a deal in principle to purchase just over one acre
of land near Poulnabrone with local farmer Tommy Byrnes
that will allow the facilities to be in place for the
coming summer season.

Last year, Clare County Council lodged plans for visitor
facilities in aeffort to eliminate the traffic chaos that
occurs at the tourist attraction every summer.

Over 100,000 tourists visit the site each year and
currently, visitors seeking to access the dolmen have to
park their cars and buses on the narrow road adjacent to
the dolmen site.

Archaeologist Dr Ann Lynch, who led the excavation that
discovered the remains of 33 people, 17 adult and 16
children, buried at the site has described the current
situation as "highly dangerous", expressing surprise that
no one has been injured on the road.

The estimated cost of the visitor facilities will be
between €150,000 and €200,000 and the deal struck in
principle with Mr Byrnes is believed to value the land at
around €55,000.

Mr Byrnes formerly owned the land on which the Poulnabrone
dolmen is located. He sold 16 acres to the Government in
2001 for €380,000.

The deal struck with Mr Byrnes removes any doubt about the
viability of the project.

Last year, councillors were told by Cllr Richard Nagle (FF)
that the local authority may be forced to abandon its plan
if the cost of the project exceeded €200,000.

The plan lodged by the council last year proposed nine bus
parking spaces and 20 car-parking spaces.

However, in its submission on the proposal, the
Government's Heritage Service stated that there should not
be more than four spaces for coaches in order to "preserve
the visual setting and spiritual quality of the landscape
surrounding the tomb".

In a report, the council's heritage officer, Congella
McGuire, said that the proposal should prove an effective
and safe solution to the parking difficulties at

Currently, cattle paid for by the Government are grazing at
the site in order to improve its natural conservation.

© The Irish Times

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