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February 24, 2006

SF: Ignore Provocative, Sectarian March

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 02/24/06 Crowe: Ignore Provocative& Sectarian March
DI 02/24/06 Anger At Plan For Presidential Visit
BN 02/24/06 McDowell: Junior Partner Will Define Next Govt
SF 02/24/06 Meddler McDowell Running Scared Of Sinn Féin - Ó Caoláin
BN 02/24/06 Opposition Describe McDowell Speech As 'Extraordinary'
DI 02/24/06 British Army Denies Surveillance
DJ 02/24/06 Paisley Is Still 'Bigoted, Sectarian
DI 02/24/06 1916 Parade Branded ‘Too Militaristic’
DI 02/24/06 Anger At IRA Parade Ruling
DI 02/24/06 Public Debate On Restorative Justice
IT 02/25/06 MI5 Withheld Intelligence From RUC
FT 02/24/06 Businessman Loses First Round In Extradition Plea
DI 02/24/06 Opin: Fr McManus- No more double standards, Mr Reiss
DI 02/24/06 British Spies Are Still On The Prowl
IT 02/25/06 Opin: Bitter Hatreds That Underpin Love Ulster Parade
IT 02/25/06 Opin: IRA Campaign Wrecked Prospect Of Irish Unity
DI 02/24/06 Opin: Not Just The Popular Ones
IT 02/25/06 Opin: The Genius Of Friel
NG 02/24/06 Opin: Whether We Like It Or Not We Live With It
IT 02/25/06 Burials At Hill Of Tara Charted
IN 02/24/06 New Face For Free Derry Wall
IN 02/24/06 First Purpose-Built School On Tory Island Since 1849 Opens
BN 02/24/06 Catholics Get A Break For St. Patrick's Day
WH 02/24/06 White House: Irish-American Heritage Month, 2006


Crowe calls on Dubliners to ignore provocative and
sectarian march

Published: 24 February, 2006

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has called on Dublin people to
ignore what will clearly be a provocative and sectarian
march on the streets of our capital City tomorrow. Deputy
Crowe was speaking today in relation to the controversial
‘LoveUlster Rally’, which takes place on the streets of
Dublin tomorrow afternoon.

He said, “I would urge all Dublin people to ignore what
will clearly be a provocative and sectarian march on the
streets of our capital tomorrow afternoon. This march has
nothing to do with supporting victims of the conflict and
everything to do with promoting sectarianism. Willie
Frazier is bringing his group here to stir up a negative
reaction and I would hope that the people of Dublin will
send him home disappointed.

“It is very disturbing that among the images which are due
to be on display tomorrow will be photographs remembering
those responsible for the biggest mass killing of civilians
on this island over the last 30 years – the Dublin and
Monaghan bombings. Something which will cause offence not
only to the families of those killed and injured but people
across this city.” ENDS


Anger At Plan For Presidential Visit

by Ciarán Barnes

A Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician yesterday
threatened to turn a Co Antrim council “upside down and
inside out” if President Mary McAleese is invited to the

At a meeting of Larne Borough Council earlier in the week,
Alliance party mayor, John Matthews, revealed council
chiefs have spoken to Oireachtas officials about Mary
McAleese coming to the staunchly unionist town.

The admission sparked a furious response from DUP
councillors, who warned there could be street protests if
the visit went ahead.

Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, former DUP mayor, Jack
McKee, said unionists had not forgiven Ms McAleese for
comments she made last year in which she compared the
treatment of Catholics by Protestants to how Nazis treated

Although the President apologised for her remarks, it cut
no ice with Mr McKee who has promised to turn the council
“upside down and inside out” if the mayor agrees to the

He said: “Ms McAleese may have apologised for saying what
she did, but she didn’t apologise for believing what she

“People will take to the streets if the mayor invites her
along. He’s entitled to invite who he wants, but it is
worth him bearing in mind how angered people were by what
Ms McAleese said.

“All parties are working well together on the council, it
would be a pity to see relations ruined,” added Mr McKee.

Larne Borough Council’s sole nationalist representative,
SDLP councillor, Danny O’Connor, criticised Mr McKee’s
opposition to the presidential visit. He said it was
hypocritical for the DUP to lecture others on insults and

“I’m not going to listen to lectures from the DUP on what
is offensive,” said Mr O’Connor.

“For years DUP leader Ian Paisley has insulted the Pope and
made outrageous comments about my Catholic beliefs.

“Who are they to get on the high horse and suddenly feel
offended by comments Mary McAleese made and then apologised

Mr O’Connor predicted the President would receive a “warm
welcome” from the people of Larne if she did come to the

Last September, Ms McAleese was forced to cancel a visit to
the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast amid security fears.

However, she did visit the loyalist Taughmonagh estate in
south Belfast were she met with local community leaders.


McDowell: Junior Partner Will Define Next Govt

24/02/2006 - 13:35:20

It doesn’t matter whether Bertie Ahern or Enda Kenny is the
next Taoiseach, Justice Minister Michael McDowell claimed

The Progressive Democrat party president said the junior
partner in a future coalition government would define its

Mr McDowell said voters in the next General Election, which
is expected to be called in 2007, should focus on which
party holds the balance of power.

“It won’t matter that much whether Bertie Ahern or Enda
Kenny leads the government after the next election. What
will matter is which party is the defining partner in that
government,” he said.

“The real choice which the Irish people must consider at
the next election is not the choice between Bertie and

“The real choice they must consider is between the
doctrinaire leftists of Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens on
the one hand and the economically liberal Progressive
Democrats on the other.”

Mr McDowell told a PD event in Waterford that the coalition
governments of the past 35 years had shown that the
defining partner, in terms of policy, is the junior

“It’s not the more bulky bread which gives a sandwich its
taste. Rather, it’s the meat which gives a sandwich its
flavour,” he said.

“Now that we are in the run-in to the next general
election, attention is being focussed on parties’ relative
standing in the opinion polls.

“People are wondering whether Bertie or Enda will be
Taoiseach in the next Dáil. The media is looking forward to
a neck and neck race between two competing government

“I have to say that I find the focus on who will be the
next Taoiseach to be significantly overblown.

“If the history of the last 35 years has taught us
anything, it is that the most important party in a
government is not the senior party but the junior party.
The larger party may provide the Taoiseach. But the junior
party provides the essential direction of the government.”

Mr McDowell claimed Labour, Sinn Féin and the Green Party
would all increase or introduce new taxes.

“The real choice at the next election is not between FF and
FG. The real choice at the next election concerns the
junior partner in the next government,” he said.

“The real choice is between the interventionist Leftists of
Labour, Sinn Féin, the Greens, Joe Higgins TD, Seamus Healy
TD and Uncle Tom Cobley TD on the one hand and the
economically liberal Progressive Democrats on the other.

“The real choice is between those who raise taxes and those
who lower them.

“The real choice is between a less productive economy and a
more productive economy.

“The real choice is between the heavy hand of instinctive
meddlers and the lighter hand of freedom,” he added.


Meddler McDowell Running Scared Of Sinn Féin - Ó Caoláin

Published: 24 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin welcomed
Minister McDowell's speech as an indication that “he is
running scared of the electoral challenge of Sinn Féin and
at our determination to see our policies implemented in
government”. Describing the Minister's speech as “a right-
wing rant”, Ó Caolain said it contained interesting lessons
for people on the left in Irish politics and for Fianna
Fáil members.

He said, “Minister McDowell vents his spleen not only at
Sinn Féin but at the Labour Party, the Green Party, the
Irish Congress of Trade Unions and others on the left. He
links these parties together in terms of left-wing

“Fianna Fáil members will also be interested in his claim
that the PDs have been the defining partners in every
government in which they have participated. If so then this
Government has been defined by a Minister who welcomes
inequality as good for society and whose attacks on Sinn
Féin have been manna from heaven to Ian Paisley and the
DUP, thus seriously affecting the peace process.

“Many will find highly amusing the Minister's reference to
'the heavy hand of instinctive meddlers'. This Minister is
the biggest meddler ever to occupy ministerial office,
abusing his position to boost his PR image and to suit his
reactionary agenda, as seen most recently with his witch-
hunt against the Centre for Public Inquiry.” ENDS


Opposition Describe McDowell Speech As 'Extraordinary'

24/02/2006 - 16:53:02

Fine Gael and Labour said this afternoon that a speech made
by Justice Minister Michael McDowell in Waterford today
showed the two parties in government knew the current
coalition could not be returned to power.

Minister McDowell said it didn't matter whether Bertie
Ahern or Enda Kenny was the next Taoiseach, and that it
would be the smaller party in government that would
determine its direction.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said it was an extraordinary

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it showed support was
growing for the alternative government.

“If the PDs decide that they want to do business with
somebody else other than Fianna Fáil then they should test
themselves, walk away from government and change the
political landscape, about which we could then talk,” said
the opposition leader.


British Army Denies Surveillance

By Jarlath Kearney

Sinn Féin yesterday disclosed details of a major British
army surveillance operation in Co Armagh.

During a press conference in Belfast, Newry and Armagh MP
Conor Murphy revealed a British army document which
appeared to show that a dozen cameras are trained on
Dromintee GAA club from Faughil mountain in the Dromintee
area of south Armagh, as well as local homes.

All the homes belong to people who are members of Dromintee
GAA club.

Mr Murphy said the one-page document had been discovered by
a local farmer on land near the Faughil mountain British
army spy installation last week.

“There are at least 30, possibly over 30, fixed spy cameras
located on the top of Faughil mountain. This reference
document shows you the location of 12 of those only and we
can only speculate as to where the other 20-plus cameras
are fixed on,” Mr Murphy said.

“Some of them are not in use, according to the British
government’s own document here, but most of them are spying
on individuals in their homes.

“Equally worrying is that one of the cameras was fixed on
the GAA club in Dromintee which services all of the
community in that area and has a substantial membership in
the community.

“It begs the question as to what the nature of this spying
activity was for. I think this points to what has been a
very intrusive British army spying operation for many

“This points up very clearly, that the focus of that spying
was not on what British army people would allege were IRA
activities, but on the entire community and south Armagh
area,” Mr Murphy said.

Mr Murphy said that his party will be raising the ongoing
spying activities with British prime minister Tony Blair
during a meeting next week.

Mr Murphy’s party colleague, councillor Patrick McDonald,
was the only Sinn Féin member targeted in the surveillance
operation. The Sinn Féin press conference was also attended
by Dromintee GAA club spokesperson Declan Fearon and Sinn
Féin assembly member Davy Hyland.

Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, a British army
spokesperson refused to comment on the document.

“We do not comment on alleged operational activity,” the
spokesperson said.

The grid-type document released by Sinn Féin was headed
R21M Pathfinder Camera Reference Guide. A British army
insignia of a sphinx over the title ‘EGYPT’ was visible in
the top-left hand corner of the original document.

A total of 12 cameras were detailed on the document by
reference to the domestic or social locations associated
with surveillance targets. Each location was cross-
referenced with a numbered camera, believed to be mounted
on the Faughil Mountain spy installation. Four of the
cameras were marked ‘not in use’.

The Pathfinder camera system is an ‘intelligent’ video
motion sensor system which reacts only to the movement of
people or vehicles, but is not affected by environmental
movement from foliage or climate changes. Pathfinder can
loop a large number of cameras onto a single monitoring

When a Pathfinder camera detects movement within its field
of vision, it can automatically display images of the scene
which has been activitated onto a monitor.

However, Pathfinder is also the name of a special forces
unit within the Parachute Regiment which has close links
with the SAS.

The Para’s Pathfinder Platoon is a key surveillance and
covert reconnaissance unit which specialises in the
“location and marking of drop zones, tactical landing zones
and helicopter landing sites”.

Despite the prevalence of helicopter activity in south
Armagh, a British government source yesterday adamantly
denied that the Pathfinder Platoon has ever been deployed
in Ireland.

While the insignia of a sphinx is used prominently by the
Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light
Infantry, it also features as an integral part of the
badges and colours of some other units of the British army.

Both the Parachute Regiment and the Blackwatch – which is
currently stationed in South Armagh – have ‘Sphinx’
batteries attached to them. The Royal Artillery’s 4/73
(Sphinx) Special Observation Post Battery is also known to
have been involved in staffing spy posts across the North.


Paisley Is Still 'Bigoted, Sectarian

Friday 24th February 2006

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness told the 'Journal' yesterday
that SDLP leader, Mark Durkan is "no John Hume'.

And the Mid Ulster M.P. hadn't too many kind words either
for DUP leader, Ian Paisley, claiming that the long serving
unionist leader was "still just as bigoted, sectarian and
opposed to peace as he had always been through his long and
negative political career."

The rising temperature of the political debate was only too
apparent as Mr. McGuinness claimed that Mr. Durkan had
colluded with both the British government and the DUP to
exclude his party from talks.

"Given the fact that Mark Durkan has whinged about the need
for an inclusive process I was very disappointed that he
was prepared to collude with the British and the DUP to
exclude Sinn Fein. One thing is very clear -he's no John

The veteran republican was adamant that the process was now
at a crucial stage and either there was a return to a
devolved Assembly and Executive or the whole thing was shut
down and the two governments began a "joint process" to
replace it.

Stating that he and Gerry Adams would be meeting the
Taoiseach on Wednesday and British Prime Minister, Tony
Blair on Thursday, Mr. McGuinness said he anticipated very
frank discussions.

"We are seeking real answers as to where the governments
are taking this process. Now is the time for the British to
put it up to the DUP. Either they are prepared to do
business or they are not. If Paisley is not willing to work
with the rest of us then not only should the salaries stop,
the Assembly should be abolished and the governments begin
a joint process to govern the North."

Mr. McGuinness said it was "make your mind up" time for Mr.

"This week we saw another example of Paisley putting it up
to everyone, including Mr. Blair. The whole focus by
Paisley and other members of the DUP on long silent IRA
guns while they remain silent on murder and violence
amongst loyalists is self evidently ridiculous.

"The big challenge to Mr. Blair and the rest who say they
want to restore the institutions is that Sinn Fein needs to
be part of that process and it should be made clear that
the only people preventing progress are the DUP badly led
by Mr. Paisley."

Describing some of the DUP leader's recent utterances as
"downright despicable," the Derry man said he regarded his
recent comments about Irish president, Mary McAleese, as
beyond the pale.

"The reason I find it despicable is I think I have a more
accurate assessment of what he is really about here: he's
worried about the ongoing excellent work President McAleese
and her husband Martin are doing in building bridges with
loyalism. I think Paisley is attempting to scare off those
loyalists who want cordial relationships with the rest of

Mr. McGuinness said he put Dr. Paisley's interventions this
week on a par with his "sackcloth and ashes" speech in late
Autumn last year which scuttled any chance of an agreement
between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the possibility of going
into government.

"I think it will become clear very shortly whether Paisley
will do business. The wider unionist community knows a deal
needs to be done. I think there is a growing recognition
amongst unionists that they are going backwards under the
leadership of Dr. No."


1916 Parade Branded ‘Too Militaristic’

by David Lynch

The official commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the
Easter Rising were criticised as “overly militaristic” in
the Dáil yesterday.

Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea outlined preparations for
the commemoration on Easter Sunday, April 16. These will
include a military parade by 2,500 members of the Irish
Defence Forces as well as a possible fly-over by the Air

However, opposition party spokespersons attacked the
government for the focus on militaristic pageantry.

“I welcome that part of the parade that will involve a
reading of the 1916 Proclamation.

“However, does the minister believe we should use that
document as a yardstick for how far we have progressed?”
asked Green party TD John Gormley.

“Does he believe that this government delivers equal rights
and equal opportunities to all or does it cherish all of
the children of the nation equally?

“And what does he think the men and women of 1916 would
make of a Taoiseach who spends more than €550 [£374] a week
on make-up?”

Independent TD Finian McGrath said that in the tradition of
James Connolly the government should invest in projects
helping people living in disadvantaged areas. “Does the
minister not also agree that over the past 30 years,
successive governments have turned their backs on 1916?” he

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said her grandparents had
served in the General Post Office (GPO) during Easter week,
and she called on the government to invest in a proper
record of all those who had fought in the rising.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh also welcomed plans to
celebrate the rising but he too had worries about the
military parade.

“It is a pity that civic society is not being involved in a
major way in this, like it is during the St Patrick’s day
festival. It would have been a great opportunity to involve
all strands of civic society.”

Minister O’Dea said he understood people’s concerns but
said the government was only organising a one-day event.


Anger At IRA Parade Ruling

Commission puts restriction on republican march

By Eamonn Houston

A ruling by the North’s Parades Commission placing
restrictions on a republican parade through a nationalist
Tyrone town was met with anger yesterday.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP in Strabane said last night
that the annual commemorative event to honour three IRA men
who died when they were ambused by a British SAS unit in
1985 had always passed off peacefully.

Unionists criticised the 20th anniversary parade in honour
of Charles Breslin, Michael and David Devine because of the
appearance of uniformed colour parties at the event last

In its determination, the Parades Commission placed a
number of restrictions on the parade, organised by the
Strabane Memorial Flute Band.

“In particular, the commission reiterates to the organiser
that, behaviour must be respectful; there must be no
singing, chanting, or excessively loud drumming;
participants must refrain from conduct which could
reasonably be perceived as intentionally sectarian,
provocative, threatening, abusive, insulting or lewd; and
marching must be dignified.

“More generally, paramilitary-style clothing must not be
worn at any time during the parade; flags, bannerettes and
symbols relating to a proscribed organisation must in no
circumstances be displayed; and musical instruments must
not bear any inscription or mark of a proscribed
organisation,” the determination read.

Sinn Féin Strabane town councillor, Jarlath McNulty, said
that the move by the Parades Commission did not bode well
for nationalists during the 2006 marching season.

He said that there had never been local objections to the
parade: “In all the years that this parade has been going
on there has never been any local objections and the fact
that thousands of locals turned out to support last year’s
parade shows the massive sense of hurt that still exists
within this community about the terrible events of February
23, 1985.

“Local people believe that it is no small coincidence that
the decision to focus in on this commemoration for the
first time coincides with the appointment of two Orange
Order members [one of them a DUP member] and an SDLP member
to the Parades Commission.

“Nationalists now view the Parades Commission as being
about as independent as the so-called Independent
Monitoring Commission is,” Councillor McNulty said.

“The determination in regards to Sunday’s parade in
Strabane does not bode well for nationalist during the
loyalist marching season.”

SDLP MLA Eugene McMenamin said that he was hopeful that
this year’s parade would pass off peacefully as it has done
in the past. But he said he saw no reason for paramilitary
regalia to be worn by some bands and marchers.

“I don’t think there will be any problems, but given all of
the developments of the past year I can’t see any reason
for paramilitary displays. This is about three young
Strabane men who died in violent circumstances,” Mr
McMenamin said.

DUP man Nigel Dodds raised the presence of uniformed
marchers at last year’s parade in the British House of
Commons and accused Sinn Féin representatives who attended
as “unfit for office”.


Public Debate On Restorative Justice


A public debate on community restorative justice took place
in Co Down last night.

The event at the Canal Court Hotel in Newry, which was
organised by the SDLP, included contributions from
representatives of Community Restorative Justice (CRJ)
Ireland, Northern Ireland Alternatives and the Youth
Justice Agency.

The panel faced questions from a number of SDLP members and
the North’s former chief probation officer Briege Gadd.

Event organiser Peter McEvoy said it was the second time
such a debate had been organised in the area.

“In 2004 we discussed restorative justice on the theme of
Crime and Punishment; Restoring the Balance. That time, we
had speakers from the PSNI, the Probation Service and the

He said: “The reaction we got after that event was that
there was something in restorative justice which the court
system was lacking. I am now glad to see that the Court
Service, at least the Youth Court, has introduced a model
of restorative justice via the youth conferencing scheme.

“This debate will concentrate on the models proposed by
Community Restorative Justice (Ireland) which operates
mainly in nationalist and republican areas, and NI
Alternatives which is concentrated in loyalist areas.

“The purpose of the debate is to compare the levels of
service, training and general modus operandi of these
schemes,” said Mr McEvoy.

“There is a big issue looming over this debate: people in
our communities don’t want one-time paramilitary bosses
knocking on their doors summoning them or their children to
any sort of court or hearing. They will be looking for
assurances, and indeed guarantees, from proponents of these
schemes that this will not and cannot be the case,” he


MI5 Withheld Intelligence From RUC

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

MI5 withheld important intelligence information from the
RUC's Special Branch four months before the Real IRA Omagh
bombing of August 1998, it has emerged.

Senior PSNI officers met the Omagh families on Wednesday
and disclosed that information understood to have been
provided to MI5 by FBI agent David Rupert, about an earlier
planned attack on Omagh or Derry, was not handed on to the
RUC, Omagh families' representative Michael Gallagher said

Mr Gallagher said the families were told by the officers
that in April 1998, MI5 learned from the FBI of a planned
dissident republican bomb attack on either Omagh or Derry,
with Omagh the most likely target. He understood the attack
was to take place on April 9th, Holy Thursday 1998, the day
before the signing of the Belfast Agreement.

This intelligence was passed to the Garda, which was able
to arrest three of the suspected bomb team and disrupt the
attack. Mr Gallagher said the families were told this on
Wednesday by PSNI assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid,
who is about to retire, and Det Chief Supt Norman Baxter,
who is in charge of the Omagh investigation.

Mr Gallagher said the families were told that the RUC
Special Branch was not informed of the disrupted bomb
attack on either Omagh or Derry in April 1998, nor was it
informed in August that year directly after the Omagh
bombing, which claimed the lives of 29 people, including a
woman heavily pregnant with twin girls.

"I am not saying this information would have prevented the
bombing but it could have done," said Mr Gallagher, whose
son Aidan (21) was killed. "If MI5 had contacted the police
in April 1998 at least they would have been on a state of
alert for Omagh being targeted again.

"But neither was the information passed on after the
bombing at a time when such vital intelligence could have
been used to possibly arrest those responsible for the

Mr Gallagher said the disclosure also raised questions for
the Garda. "The primary obligation for passing on the
information to the RUC lay with MI5, but the fact that
there was no system of liaison to pass this information
from the guards to the RUC, doesn't say much for the so-
called excellent co-operation between the two forces," he

Well-placed sources said that FBI agent David Rupert, who
had infiltrated the Real IRA and who had also worked for
MI5 and the Garda Special Branch, was the source of the
information about the dissident attack planned for Omagh or
Derry in April 1998. Mr Rupert's evidence at the Special
Criminal Court in Dublin in 2003 helped to jail Real IRA
leader Michael McKevitt for 20 years.

Mr Gallagher called for a special cross-Border
investigation to try to finally establish how and why "the
Omagh bombing, before and after it happened, was so badly
investigated". Labour TD Joe Costello supported this call.

These disclosures have emerged amid controversy over the
planned handing over of strategic intelligence
responsibility for British national security to MI5 from
the PSNI.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: "This latest revelation
underscores the case that MI5 cannot be trusted to work in
the true public interest or relied upon to co-operate
properly with other authorities."

He added: "Allowing MI5 to have a lead role in intelligence
in Northern Ireland would be like appointing Herod as
children's commissioner."

A PSNI spokeswoman said the transfer of national security
intelligence responsibility to MI5 by the end of 2007 would
be properly and carefully managed.

© The Irish Times


Businessman Loses First Round In Extradition Plea

By Nikki Tait, Law Courts Correspondent

Published: February 25 2006 02:00 Last updated: February
25 2006 02:00

Ian Norris, the former chief executive of Morgan Crucible,
the engineering group, has lost the first round in his
battle to avoid extradition to the US, where he faces
charges of price-fixing.

Two High Court judges ruled yesterday that Charles Clarke,
the home secretary, had acted lawfully in permitting the
use of fast-track extradition procedures with the US, even
though the arrange-ments were not reciprocal.

Mr Norris's lawyers had challenged the legitimacy of the
UK's continued adherence to the 2003 UK-US extradition
treaty, given the US Senate's failure to ratify the US side
of the arrangements, as part of his appeal.

Alistair Graham, Mr Norris's solicitor, said: "The
government has spent two years telling business leaders
that their fears about the new extradition arrangements are
unfounded; that there is no imbalance in our extradi-tion
arrangements with the US, and that this is all a matter for
the court. This judgment demonstrates the fallacy of those
arguments, and that what both we, and business, have been
saying is true: namely, that it is not a level playing
field and that US citizens enjoy a considerable advantage
over their UK counterparts in this vital area."

Sir Digby Jones, director- general of the CBI employers'
group, said: "Parliament believed this legislation was
targeted at terrorists and drug dealers, and that it would
be reciprocal. The courts are merely seeking to interpret a
law that is manifestly unbalanced and excessive. The
government needs to put rights its error and restore
natural justice."

The 2003 treaty arrange-ments do away with the need for US
authorities to present a prima facie case when seeking
extradition from the UK. Critics say they fail to provide
insufficient alternative safeguards.

Lawyers for Mr Norris had sought to argue that, since the
US had yet to ratify its side of this agreement, the home
secretary's designation of the US as a country to which the
fast-track procedures should apply was "inconsistent with
the obligations of the UK" under the former 1972 UK-US

In short, they contended, the home secretary was acting
illegally and irrationally in trading away "treaty rights".

But yesterday, Lord Justice Judge said that they had been
unable to show any previous authority that suggested that
the 1972 treaty created personal rights enforceable byits
individual citizens. Moreover, he said, "the extradition
process created by parliament for UK citizens does not
require reciprocity of mutuality".

He added: "If, as I believe, the designation order [vis a
vis the US] was lawfully made by the secretary of state
following the affirmative resolutions of both houses of
parliament . . . I can see no basis for concluding that its
continuation in force represents the exercise of a legally
flawed or irrational decision."

A separate appeal by Mr Norris against extradition, partly
on human rights grounds, has been stayed while overlapping
issues are resolved in another "white collar" US
extradition case: that of the three former NatWest bankers
who US authorities wish to try on Enron- related fraud


Opin: Fr McManus- No more double standards, Mr Reiss


An Open Letter to US
special envoy to Ireland, Mitchell Reiss.

As you know, I have many times privately and publicly
expressed my appreciation for your good work on the Irish
peace process.

But you also know I have constantly tried to explain that
the one thing Catholics in Northern Ireland cannot stand –
about the way officialdom treats them – is “the double
standard” (real or perceived); and the spectre of that
double standard also inflames Irish Americans.

Now, however, I am forced to accept that my humble efforts
have singularly failed, as the Bush administration
increasingly appears tone deaf on this matter.

President Bush embraces (no visa restrictions) Ian Paisley,
who has spent 60 years of his 80-year life trying to keep
Catholics at the back of the bus, and the last ten years
trying to wreck the Irish peace process and the Good Friday
Agreement. Yet President Bush refuses to embrace (visa
restrictions) Gerry Adams, who, more than any other person,
has made the Irish peace process and the Good Friday
Agreement possible.

Surely you can see what’s wrong with that picture? Surely
political correctness alone (whether one agrees or
disagrees with that current coin of the realm) should have
dictated caution?

Therefore the question ineluctably arises: why is President
Bush so desensitised on the Irish Catholic issue?

Didn’t his famous visit to the Bob Jones University – Mr
Paisley’s main American sponsor – teach him anything? Or
has the extreme fundamentalist wing of the US Republican
party so captured the President’s ear that he actually
wants to be seen as endorsing Paisley’s anti-Catholicism?
This, of course, would not have become an issue if the
President were seen to be even-handed, embracing equally
all the political parties in Northern Ireland. It has been
forced upon us as an issue by the President’s perceived
double standard and apparent overt bias.

I enclose yet another article by Brian Feeney (‘SF won’t
make the same mistake twice’) regarding the ongoing
concerns about the PSNI.

As you well know, Mr Feeney is a former SDLP elected
official, not a member of the IRA or even a member of Sinn
Féin. I feel I have to emphasise this, because sometimes it
appears to me that the Bush administration and your good
selves, seem to act as if you thought only Irish
republicans have problems with the PSNI).

Mr Feeney states, among other things: “Those same transient
British politicians have not picked up the growing anger
and frustration among nationalists at the refusal of the
PSNI or anyone else in authority to deal with loyalist
terrorism and the evidence of continuing collusion between
the police and loyalists who have murdered both Catholics
and Protestants since the Good Friday Agreement.”

You have put restrictions on Mr Adams’ visa because you are
trying to force Sinn Féin into endorsing the PSNI. Such
tactics seem to trivialise the whole vitally important
issue of creating an acceptable police for Northern Ireland
– a police service that is “fair and impartial, free from
partisan political control; accountable, both under the law
for its actions and to the community it serves...” as the
Good Friday Agreement envisioned.

Mr Feeney’s article helps to explain Sinn Féin’s well-known
difficulties with the PSNI and elaborates on their
conditions for endorsing the police.

But setting aside, for the moment, the issue of Sinn Féin’s
position on the police, could it not be argued that Mr
Paisley is even more opposed to the PSNI than Sinn Fein?
After all, Dr Paisley totally opposed any change to the old
RUC, vigorously fought Patten, gleefully trounced David
Trimble for allegedly colluding in the demise of the RUC,
and still advocates, in effect, not an acceptable police
service but a Protestant militia, which would continue to
be the armed wing of unionism, keeping uppity Catholics in
their place.... And for this, the Bush administration
embraces him.

Now, Mitchell, needless to say, I am not advocating that Mr
Paisley be shunned (indeed I have ‘embraced’ him myself).

I am advocating that the Bush administration shuns the
double standard and returns to being an honest broker in
the Irish peace-process – being even-handed, not taking
sides or being seen as the recruiting sergeant for the

Is that too much for Irish Americans to expect as we
approach St Patrick’s day?

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC


British Spies Are Still On The Prowl

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

That the discovery of a document close to a British army
spy base in south Armagh containing details of spy cameras
and surveillance operations on groups, families and
politicians comes as no surprise this far into the peace
process indicates just how essential spooks and spying are
to the continued presence of the British in Ireland.
Indeed, London is even on course to shed the coyness that
it used to affect when talking about its security services
here – it virtually took out full-page ads in the papers
last week to announce that MI5 operations in the North are
to be beefed up considerably.

We’re told by the Irish government that alleged republican
spying operations are one of the reasons that they cannot
enter government in the Republic.

But we hear little of what Dublin thinks of the British
army spying on homes and GAA clubs more than ten years into
a ceasefire in the North.

The discredited Independent Monitoring Commission can only
mutter dark hints about what it believes republican spies
are getting up to. But when concrete evidence of British
bad faith is produced, there’s barely a whisper of protest,
as if the British are every bit as entitled to spy on
people as they are to levy taxes. There’s no government in
the world that isn’t involved, to a greater or larger
extent, in spying. But whereas your average European
government wants to know what its citizens are up to in
order to protect democracy from those who would undermine
it, history has taught us that the intelligence collected
by the British on nationalists and republicans is used to
set them up for murder. Given that we’re in the middle of a
peace process, some might argue that that’s a moot point
seeing as loyalists are not sledgehammering doors and
murdering Catholics in their beds any more. But that’s to
ignore the fact that many of the same people who are
conducting spying operations against republicans are
engaged in a concerted and determined campaign to collapse
the peace process and return us to conflict. At which point
up-to-date intelligence on republicans will come in very
handy for loyalist killer gangs and their British

Incredibly, in its announcement of the MI5 expansion last
week, the British were happy to announce that the extra
staff and resources would be directed against republicans
only, as loyalists are not deemed to be a threat to the
British state. Of course, we knew that already, but the
fact that the British government feels free to say so
openly is a sign that things have not advanced as far here
as many might have hoped.

For the people of south Armagh – and too many other places
– the peace dividend has been slow to arrive. They are
still being spied on, helicopters still drone over their
homes, British army foot patrols slink through their fields
and surveillance towers scar the landscape. Not only are
the British still active, but they are clearly gearing up
to do even more in the future.


Opin: Bitter Hatreds That Underpin Love Ulster Parade In

The organisers of today's event have every right to come to
Dublin to express their grief and anger at being bereaved
by the IRA. But they must face some unpalatable truths,
writes Susan McKay.

As soon as he heard that the Rev Ian Paisley had stood up
in the House of Commons and said Eugene Reavey was
responsible for the Kingsmills massacre, Alan Black went
straight to the Reaveys' house in Whitecross, south Armagh.
He told Reavey that he knew he was innocent.

This was in 1999. Black was the sole survivor of the
sectarian massacre, which saw up to a dozen IRA gunmen
ambush a bus carrying workmen home in January 1976. They
lined the men up and raked them with automatic gunfire. Ten
men died. Black was hit 18 times.

Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) is to hold a
rally in Dublin today to draw attention to the suffering of
the victims of terrorism. However, this is an organisation
which has effectively branded an innocent Catholic man the
mass murderer of his Protestant neighbours, causing him
intense anguish and, inevitably, putting his life at risk.

The PSNI has stated that it had no reason to suspect Reavey
of any crime, let alone of masterminding one of the worst
atrocities of the Troubles. But Fair defiantly continues to
carry the allegation through a link to Paisley's speech on
its website, despite repeated demands by the police for it
to be removed.

Reavey witnessed the immediate aftermath of the massacre,
which took place near his home. He was driving to Newry and
happened upon it. He and his family were on their way to
Daisy Hill hospital to collect the bodies of two of his
brothers, John (24) and Brian (22).

They had been shot dead the previous night when loyalist
gunmen burst into the family home. Three members of another
local Catholic family were also murdered that night.

Reavey was also going to visit his younger brother,
Anthony, who had been badly injured in the attack. The
bodies of the murdered workmen were being brought into the
mortuary when he arrived. He went into the room where the
shattered families were gathering, and wept with them. Alan
Black and Anthony Reavey shared a hospital room. Black
lived. Reavey died.

Black has said that earlier on the day they met their
deaths, the men on the bus had spoken with horror about the
murders of the young Reaveys. He has remained a close
friend of the Reavey family since the events of those
terrible days.

Paisley's Westminster claim, that Reavey was a "well-known
Republican" who had "set up" the massacre, was made under
parliamentary privilege.

He spoke of the "wild men" of the IRA who were free because
the British government had not been ruthless enough in
putting down terrorism. He said his information came from
police files.

The deputy first minister, the SDLP's Séamus Mallon,
expressed outrage. Reavey went to the chief constable of
the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan. Flanagan said he had "absolutely
no evidence whatsoever" to connect him with the massacre,
and that no police file contained any such allegation.

Paisley has not retracted it, and on the 30th anniversary
of the massacre this January, Willie Frazer, Fair's leading
spokesman, and DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson claimed once again
to know the perpetrators.

The Reavey murders were carried out by a gang which
included men who were dual members of the illegal UVF and
the British security forces. This gang was responsible for
multiple sectarian murders, including the 1974 Dublin and
Monaghan bombs, which killed 33 people.

Evidence including the testimony of a former member of the
gang suggests that Robert McConnell, a UDR soldier, was a
member. Before he died, Anthony Reavey described one of the
gunmen who shot him. It was an accurate description of

He was murdered by the IRA later in 1976. When Fair was set
up in 1998, to remember what "Irish republican death
squads" had done to south Armagh Protestants, "without
justification or reprisal", his nephew, Brian, became a
prominent member.

Willie Frazer is open about his belief that the loyalist
paramilitaries were a necessary part of the war against the
IRA. During a protest against the release of republican
prisoners as part of the Good Friday agreement, he was
asked about loyalist prisoners. "They should never have
been locked up in the first place," he replied.

He told me once that, while he didn't condone the murder of
"innocent Catholics", he had "a lot of time for Billy
Wright", who "called a spade a spade". The notorious
loyalist broke away from the UVF to form the Loyalist
Volunteer Force in 1996 to kill Catholics in support of the
Orange Order's right to march through the Catholic part of

Another Drumcree supporter said of Wright, "He may be a
psychopath, but he's our psychopath". Since 1996 at least
12 people, including three children, have been murdered in
parades-related violence.

Frazer, who is an Orangeman and an Apprentice Boy, said he
understood why soldiers and police passed information about
republicans to loyalists. He applied for a weapon for his
personal protection and was turned down in 2003 because,
according to police, of "reliable intelligence" that he
"associated with loyalist terrorist organisations". He
denied it and sought a judicial review - it was refused in

The Orange Order welcomed the UDA leader, Johnny "Mad Dog"
Adair to the Portadown protest in 2000.

Last summer, after the Parades Commission put restrictions
on the Order's Whiterock Road parade, Paisley declared:
"This could be the spark that kindles a fire there will be
no putting out." The UVF offered to force the march along
the order's preferred route (past Catholic homes).

The order called the people out to support it. Days and
nights of violence followed. Orangemen lunged with pikes
and ceremonial swords at policemen. There were shouts of:
"Are youse Fenians in disguise?"

Today's event is billed as a Love Ulster rally. This
campaign was launched last July with the symbolic landing
at Larne harbour of bales of newspapers, bearing the title
"Love Ulster". This recalled 1914 when the UVF ran guns to
Larne to arm unionists against Home Rule. At least one
loyalist paramilitary leader was among those unloading the
papers, smiling cheerfully for the invited cameras.

The July publication is full of harrowing accounts by
victims and survivors of IRA atrocities, including Bloody
Friday, La Mon, Kingsmills, Enniskillen and Shankill.

There are photographs of carnage. Alan McBride, whose wife
died in the Shankill bomb in 1993, said of the paper:
"Blood was pouring from it".

However, it saddened him that there was no acknowledgment
that the unionist community had "caused pain and grief as

Catholics feature in "Love Ulster" as IRA killers. Paisley
declared at an Independent Orange Order gathering in 1997
that "the entire pan-nationalist front is united behind the
beast of fascism, the IRA".

Love Ulster warns that Ulster is at "crisis point" and on
the verge of being "sold out" into a United Ireland. It
calls on Protestants to unite. This call for ethnic
solidarity and militancy is the core of DUP politics. It
was also a founding principle of the Orange Order.

Soon after its formation at the end of the 18th century, an
Armagh squire wrote of his reliance on the local "Bleary
Boys". These were "stout Protestants of a character
somewhat lawless", but loyal.

Fair and the DUP insist the war is not over and that the
enemy can still be defeated. A previous effort led by
Drumcree stalwarts to rally Protestants around a new Ulster
covenant was launched in Ballymena in 2001 with calls from
one speaker for "B52 bombers over Dublin".

Willie Frazer is a hurt man. The IRA murdered his father
and four of his relations. Michelle Williamson, whose
parents were killed in the Shankill bomb, expressed the
intensity of this pain when she said of the surviving
bomber, Seán Kelly: "You are like a disease in my bones,
and the only cure is justice. To say I hate you doesn't
begin to describe how I feel."

Robert McConnell may have murdered the Reaveys but to his
family he was the man who looked after his sick brother and
disabled sister.

The families bereaved by the IRA have every right to their
grief and their anger, and every right to come to Dublin to
express it. The news that the bands which will accompany
today's parade will not play as they pass the sites of the
Dublin bombs is welcome.

Fair, Frazer admitted to a House of Commons select
committee hearing last year, is controversial. "We are seen
as the bad boys within the victims sector," he said.

This is largely because of its aggressive insistence that
there are "innocent" and "genuine" and "real" victims, and
there are others who have no right to call themselves
victims at all.

According to Fair and the DUP, Eugene Reavey is in the
latter category. It is an appalling lie.

© The Irish Times


Opin: IRA Campaign Wrecked Prospect Of Irish Unity

I cannot help wondering what is likely to be history's
verdict on the events of the past 40 years in Northern
Ireland, and on the performance of the various actors in
those events, namely successive British and Irish
governments, and the political representatives of the two
parts of the community in Northern Ireland, writes Garret

So far as the first half-century of the existence of
Northern Ireland is concerned, I doubt if any of the
players will emerge unscathed. Unionist governments allowed
their fears of what was then a 35 per cent nationalist
minority, and of what they perceived as a hostile Irish
state to the south, to distort their domestic policymaking
in a way that decisively alienated that minority. And the
nationalists largely opted out of participation in the new

From the outset, successive sovereign British governments
abandoned their responsibilities, which eventually led to
an explosion of violence. Meanwhile, successive Irish
governments, especially from the late 1940s onwards, were
actually heightening tensions within the North, through
their provocative anti-partition propaganda.

When that explosion finally came, the Irish government was
totally unprepared, and deeply divided, but in the
difficult years from 1969 to 1973 the wise advice of Ken
Whitaker, then governor of the Central Bank, helped Jack
Lynch to steer a steady course through dangerous uncharted

We now know that, for its part, the British government of
the late 1960s was somewhat better prepared for the crisis.

But once the British army had been deployed to replace the
RUC in many areas, the priority that the British gave to
protecting army morale soon began to undermine any
constructive attempts to tackle the grievances of the
minority, and progressively boosted support for the IRA
within the nationalist community.

It took several decades of persistent Irish diplomacy to
overcome gradually the obstacle that an ill-judged and
incoherent British policy posed to the restoration of peace
in the North.

What of the IRA? Leaving aside entirely the issue of the
morality of its campaign of violence, and judging that
campaign solely in terms of its stated objective - namely
securing British withdrawal from Northern Ireland and
promoting Irish political unification - its campaign has to
be judged to have been a total failure.

Future historians will, I think, see their persistence for
several decades with this armed campaign as having had only
two important long-term consequences, neither of which can
give any satisfaction to either the IRA or Sinn Féin.

First of all, historians will, I believe, see the IRA
campaign as having had a profoundly negative impact upon
the economy of Northern Ireland, making any possibility of
Irish political unity much more remote.

It should be recalled that in the 1960s, before the
violence began, the economies of both parts of our island
were growing at about 4 per cent a year, in marked contrast
with the contemporary British growth rate of less than 2.5
per cent.

That situation led me to point out in my 1972 book, Towards
A New Ireland, that if such a ratio between Irish and
British growth rates were to continue, the economic gap
between both parts of Ireland and Britain would be bridged
within about a quarter of a century.

In fact the gap between the output level of our State and
that of Britain was virtually bridged over the following 30
years, but there has been very little narrowing of the
similar gap between Northern Ireland and Britain during
that period.

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that a major part
of the reason Northern Ireland's growth rate decelerated
from 1970 onwards - while ours eventually accelerated - was
that thereafter economic activity in Northern Ireland was
persistently held back by the IRA's campaign of violence,
which hugely discouraged investment in the area.

The consequent continuing massive dependence of Northern
Ireland on transfers from Britain poses a huge economic
obstacle to political reunification, even if the political
obstacles to such a development were, in time, to

For the people of Northern Ireland could simply not afford
to lose the transfers from Britain that enable them to
enjoy living standards more than one-quarter higher than
their own output justifies.

And the Irish State, with only one-fifteenth of Britain's
population and revenue, could not replace these transfers
without imposing upon its own people a level of taxation
that they would simply not be prepared to contemplate.

The IRA campaign thus pushed any possibility of Irish unity
into a more distant future.

The other long-term consequence of the IRA campaign which
Sinn Féin certainly did not foresee and can scarcely
welcome is the manner in which the joint interest of the
two governments, and of their peoples in tackling the IRA
threat, came eventually to transform radically what had
historically always been a difficult bilateral relationship
between Ireland and Britain.

How did this come about?

On the Irish side the arms crisis of 1970, followed by the
riots that led to the burning of the British embassy in
1972, rapidly forced Irish politicians, as well as informed
Irish opinion, to abandon past counterproductive "gesture"
politics about partition, and instead to identify the
supreme interest of the Irish State as the restoration of
peace and stability in Northern Ireland, on the basis of
any future unification of the island being conditional on
the assent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Simultaneously, with the demise of the cold war having
finally eliminated any strategic British interest in
Northern Ireland, Britain's primary concern was now also
the restoration of peace and stability in the North.

During the 1980s, and even more so in the 1990s, this new
identity of interest of the two states in relation to
Northern Ireland came to transcend all other differences,
and has since led to the emergence of a closer relationship
between them than exists between neighbouring states
elsewhere in Europe - and this in turn has been
increasingly reflected at the popular level.

So, in addition to intensifying unionist political
opposition to Irish unity and preserving Northern Ireland's
heavy economic dependence on Britain, thus prejudicing the
possibility of eventual Irish political unity, the IRA
campaign eventually came to precipitate a positive
transformation of what had previously been a somewhat
tetchy Irish-British relationship.

Neither of these was what the IRA set out to achieve. Thus,
in its own terms the IRA was a total failure. That, I am
afraid, is likely to be the harsh verdict of history on the
futile violence of the Provisional IRA over a quarter of a

© The Irish Times


Not Just The Popular Ones

Laurence McKeown

By all accounts last week’s Sinn Fein Ard-Fheis was well
attended, lively and good humoured. There were no
surprises. There generally aren’t. The debate has already
taken place and people go along to vote, not to be
convinced by impassioned speeches. Contentious issues
regarding policing and coalition governments were carefully
managed – except for the motion rejecting participation in
the latter until the repeal of the Offences against the
State Act. Obviously someone had taken their eye off the
ball on that one.

The sentiments behind such a motion are understandable and
widely felt but we could all set preconditions on whatever
topic is dear to us. We could then feel very secure and
very self-righteous. The problem with that position of
course is that we are left sitting whilst the world around
us moves on. That was once the republican position
reflected most clearly in the policy of abstentionism – a
tactic adopted in a specific historical period that ended
up a principle. Gerry Kelly’s comment during the debate on
policing reflected the contrasting approach: “Key issues
such as policing and justice cannot be put on the shelf to
be dusted down when we achieve a united Ireland.”

The view once widely held in the Republican movement, and
summed up in the single transferable quote – “That’ll be
all sorted when we get a United Ireland – no longer holds
any validity. It was based on the premise that the Republic
would be achieved by force of arms and the newly installed
government would overnight introduce the new and banish the
old. No need to negotiate or make difficult decisions and
compromises. It never happened that way. In hindsight it
was never going to happen that way.

The Republic has to be struggled for; has to be presented
as a viable and appealing alternative to what currently
exists economically, politically, culturally, artistically,
socially. That means contentious issues cannot be put on
the shelf to be dusted down at some future date. It
requires working with people in the struggles they face
daily and not just the popular ones. Caoimhghón Ó Caoláin
outlined the role Sinn Féin played in support of the
Rossport 5 and that community’s attempts to determine its
own health, safety and future. Rightly so. But that poses
the question. What is the distinction between a rural
community and the right of women in general to decide
matters concerning their own health, safety and future?

Laurence McKeown was a republican prisoner for 16 years in
Long Kesh and spent 70 days on the 1981 hunger strike. He
is the author of a doctoral thesis, co-author of the
feature film H3 and plays The Laughter of Our Children and
A Cold House.


Opin: The Genius Of Friel

The honour bestowed on Brian Friel this week is due
recognition for a playwright who not only is the great
master of modern Irish drama but also the most popular and
widely loved. Few contemporary dramatists have enriched the
emotional and intellectual lives of audiences in the same
way as he has with his storytelling for the stage.

Anyone lucky enough to see the current production of his
play Faith Healer in Dublin's Gate Theatre will experience
what his fellow playwright Tom Kilroy has described as "one
of the great theatrical texts of our time in the English
language". They will also encounter the reasons why he is
our foremost dramatist: his outstanding powers as a
sculptor of sublime language and nuance.

Since his emergence in 1964 with that classic exploration
of a young man's need to escape from small-town Ireland,
Philadelphia, Here I Come, Friel has been a pivotal force
in the imaginative life of this country. Such has been the
quality of his work that every so often there has appeared
a new Friel masterpiece at which to marvel: Philadelphia,
Translations, Dancing at Lughnasa and Faith Healer all
stake a claim to greatness.

In her remarks at the ceremony marking Friel's election as
a Saoi of Aosdána (the affiliation of Irish writers and
artists), President McAleese got to the core of the
playwright's genius as an artist when she said he had
"fearlessly, but with pity, explored the chaotic maps by
which our paths have been, and are, charted".

History - recent and past - and the tricks of memory,
cultural flux and identity, as well as the social and
psychological wounds left in the wake of colonisation, have
been central preoccupations. In the creation of his mythic
Donegal locale, Ballybeg - the setting for his major dramas
- Friel has placed on the stage a microcosm of the larger
Ireland that has been the focus of what the President
referred to as his "scholarly forensic genius". Although he
has remained loyal to that fictional Donegal heartland, his
plays are a profound affirmation of the universality of
good theatre.

Much has been said and written about Friel's adherence to a
private and reticent persona, but what does that matter? He
has directed the expression of his thoughts and ideas - for
the most part - to the characters he has created for the

He once revealed that his plays grow out of a willingness
to "delve into a particular corner of yourself that's dark
and uneasy". We should be grateful for his restless
journeys into these spaces in his imagination - they have
given us many nights of theatrical enthralment.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Whether We Like It Or Not We Live With It

O’Donoghue’s View

Our good president, Mary McAleese, has being making a few
waves in recent times. And judging by the reaction of
various media commentators and letter writers, it would
seem that she has stirred up quite a few hornets’ nests.
But then, the same woman was never averse to expressing her
opinion when she felt it necessary, and like everyone else
with an opinion she won’t please all the people all the

I for one couldn’t agree with the views she expressed
recently in Saudi Arabia when she said that the Irish
people “abhorred” the publication of the Danish cartoons
lampooning the prophet Mohammed. She said this as if she
was speaking for us all, but I think she got it wrong -
totally. Very few Irish, with the exception of some native
Muslims, some politically correct types and the overly
sensitive, would have felt abhorrence at the cartoons. Most
of us have seen this kind of thing many times before, and
whether we like it or not we live with it and then it goes
away and is deservedly forgotten. Anyway, it is obvious she
tailored her speech to suit her audience and she wouldn’t
be the first to do that.

A few weeks before, towards the end of January, Mrs
McAleese made another speech which was much more relevant
to the people of Ireland and much more important in terms
of how we see ourselves as a nation and where we came from.
On this occasion she was in UCC addressing a conference
entitled The Long Revolution - the 1916 Rising in context.
Given that this year is the 90th anniversary of the Rising
and the fact that the Government are reinstating an Easter
parade in commemoration of the event, and the fact that the
historical conflict appears to be reaching its endgame, it
is entirely appropriate that our president should take up
the issue.

This speech has provoked quite a lot of reaction, which I
will come back to, but for its direct engagement with the
men and women involved and the ideals they aspired to, it
was an address of the highest significance for all living
on this island. I have read the text of the speech but for
those who haven’t I will quote a few excerpts.

“We who are of this strong, independent and high-achieving
Ireland would do well to ponder the extent to which today’s
freedoms, values, ambitions and success rest on that
perilous and militarily doomed undertaking of nine decades

President McAleese places particular emphasis on the
Proclamation and in particular the following section: “The
Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal
rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and
declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity
of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of
the children of the nation equally.....“. The rights of
women were enshrined in this document as being no different
to the rights of men. These included the right to vote at a
time when the British Government were battering the
suffragettes off the streets.

Near the end of her speech Mrs McAleese brought the
relevance of the Proclamation right up to the present day.
“In the hearts of those who took part in the Rising, in
what was then an undivided Ireland, was an unshakeable
belief that whatever our personal, political or religious
perspectives, there was huge potential for an Ireland in
which loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist,
Catholic, Protestant, atheist, agnostic, pulled together to
build a shared future , owned by one and all.“

Now it seems to me that the sentiments expressed here,
whether those from the Proclamation or from the president
herself, are entirely admirable and worth aspiring to.
Unfortunately not everyone agrees. Since the speech was
made, the opinion and letters pages of the newspapers have
been crammed with all sorts of views of the speech itself
and the events which it recalled. Many contributions have
been very supportive of Mrs McAleese but a significant
number have taken her to task.

She has been accused of glorifying violence, of being old
fashioned, of giving succour to the Provos, of being
immature. All of this, of course, is nonsense and it makes
me wonder about some of the people we have living on this
island. Why do some of us agonise over, and ultimately
disown, those men and women who sacrificed life and liberty
to give us what freedoms and nationhood we have today, at
least in the twenty six counties? Sometimes I think there
are some in this country who would prefer if the British
were still here lording it over us.

And what about the political parties? Fianna Fáil, having
abandoned our dead patriots back in the seventies are now
attempting to wrap the green flag around themselves again.
Fine Gael think they are the rightful heirs to the legacy
of the Rising, but were quite content to go along with the
others in discarding our acknowledgement of this strike for
freedom. And get this, Labour now want us to include the
British soldiers killed during the Rising in any
commemoration. Yeah, I’m sure the defenders of Stalingrad,
when remembering their heroic stand, will commemorate the
masses of German troops who slaughtered tens of thousands
of their fellow citizens.

As President McAleese said: “There is a tendency for
powerful and pitiless elites to dismiss with damning labels
those who oppose them.” This is as true now as it was in
1916. But while these elites and their lackeys in the media
rant and rave, a few more words from our president on the
brave souls of that Easter long ago: “Their deaths rise far
above the clamour - their voices insistent still.”

Tom O’Donoghue

‘It makes me wonder about some of the people we have living
on this island’


Burials At Hill Of Tara Charted

John Downes

A new book which details archaeological excavations carried
out 50 years ago at the Mound of the Hostages (Duma na
nGiall) on the Hill of Tara, Co Meath, describes a
significant level of burial activity at the site over a
period of almost 2,000 years.

According to the author of the report, Dr Muiris O'Sullivan
of the department of archaeology at UCD, the site was used
to bury at least 300 "high-class" individuals over a period
from 3400BC to 1600BC.

The site was first excavated in 1955, when it was overseen
by UCD professor of Celtic archaeology Sean O Riordain.

Following his death, his successor at UCD, Ruaidhri de
Valera, directed the final season of excavation at the
mound in 1959.

Among the features of a tomb surrounded by the mound are
examples of megalithic art and a collection of burnt and
unburnt human bone, representing hundreds of individuals.

These are accompanied by a "rich array" of artefacts, some
of which are decorated.

© The Irish Times


New Face For Free Derry Wall

By Seamus McKinney

ONE of Derry’s best-known landmarks will take on a whole
new appearance for five days next month.

From March 16-21, Free Derry Wall will be opened up for a
public art event.

Organisers said the wall – which draws tens of thousands of
tourists every year – will be made a “focal point for
everyone who wants to communicate new discussion, dialogue
or debate”.

People from minority ethnic and cultural backgrounds have
been invited to submit messages by text or email.

For information contact or
text 07999 778890.


First Purpose-Built School On Tory Island Since 1849 Opens

By Staff Reporter

THE first purpose-built school to open on Tory Island since
1849 came into full operation this week. Derry-born
principal Mary Clare McMahon, her six staff and 15 students
moved into Colaiste Phobal Cholmcille on Monday.

It is the first time that new education facilities have
been built on the island since Tory National School was
built just four years after the Great Famine.

Founded in 1999, Colaiste Phobal Cholmcille was housed in
Tory’s community hall. The new school houses a technology
suite, work room, staff room, principal’s office, staff
toilets, science laboratory and home economics laboratory.

With just 180 people living on Tory during the winter
months, secondary students had to spend the academic year
away from home on the mainland before 1999.

Since Colaiste Phobal Cholmcille opened, all second-level
students opt to continue their education on the island.
With each year at the school averaging four students, the
student/teacher ratio is very low.


Catholics Get A Break For St. Patrick's Day

By Jay Tokasz
News Staff Reporter


Danny Boy, please pass the cabbage. And don't forget the
corned beef.

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec said it is OK to indulge in the
traditional St. Patrick's Day meal - meat included - even
though this year the Irish holiday is on a Friday during

Kmiec, the Diocese of Buffalo's first Polish-American
bishop, granted a "general dispensation" to all Catholics
from the duty to abstain from meat on March 17, St.
Patrick's Day.

Normally, Catholics older than 14 are expected to avoid
eating meat on Fridays during Lent, the six-week Christian
season leading up to Easter.

Lent begins next Wednesday and runs through April 13, the
Thursday before Easter.

Buffalo's Catholic bishops historically have been of Irish
heritage and, in a nod to the sizable Irish-American
population here, usually relax the meat rule. Kmiec will
continue the custom at the request of several local Irish

Kmiec is scheduled to attend the St. Patrick's Day luncheon
at the Irish Center on Abbott Road in South Buffalo.
Buffalo bishops typically grant a specific dispensation
each year for the luncheon, held the Friday before St.
Patrick's Day.

The general dispensation allows Catholics in the diocese to
eat meat guilt-free that day. It's not limited to corned
beef, so chicken wings, Polish sausage and pepperoni pizza
are fair game, too.

This is the first year since 2000 that the day honoring the
patron saint of Ireland falls on a Lenten Friday.



Irish-American Heritage Month, 2006

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of

The histories of Ireland and the United States are deeply
intertwined. For generations, the sons and daughters of
Ireland have come to America with a spirit of determination
and optimism that has strengthened our Nation's character
and enriched our history. During Irish American Heritage
Month, we celebrate Irish Americans and the significant
contributions they have made to our Nation.

During the Great Potato Famine of the 19th century,
approximately 1 million Irish came to America. And over the
last 150 years, millions more have come from Ireland to the
United States. In this country, Irish American have ably
served in their communities, in the government, and in the
Armed Forces. They have achieved great success in all walks
of life. Actress Grace Kelly entertained us and influenced
our culture; industrialist Henry Ford transformed factory
production and transportation; and President Ronald Reagan
dedicated himself to the spread of peace, liberty, and
democracy, helping to change our country and the world.

This month, we recognize the proud history and many
accomplishments of Irish Americans. Our Nation is grateful
for the role they have played in defending and renewing the
ideals that we cherish. Their hard work, firm values, and
strong faith have made our Nation a better place.

NOW, THEREFORE I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United
States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me
by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do
hereby proclaim March 2006 as Irish American Heritage
Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by
celebrating the contributions of Irish Americans to our

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty
fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord two
thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

George W. Bush

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