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February 01, 2006

SF: IMC Report Dismissed

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 02/01/06 IMC Report Dismissed
SF 02/01/06 Arrogant Offensive IMC Remarks Challenged
SF 02/01/06 'Frankenstein' IMC Must Be Disbanded
BN 02/01/06 Blair Urges End Of Criminal Activity By IRA
RT 02/01/06 Paisley Calls For Re-Opening Of Issue
DI 02/01/06 DUP Rules Out Power Sharing
DI 02/01/06 ‘Former Colleagues Will Try To Kill Me’
BN 02/01/06 Hotel Linked To IRA Money Laundering
BB 02/01/06 Hain Under Fire Over Royal Salute
BN 02/01/06 Rossport 5 Cease Coop With Mediation Process
IM 02/01/06 Ó Seighin (Rossport 5) With Eamon Dunphy
TC 02/01/06 Priest Campaigns On Through Cancer
BB 02/01/06 Opin: IMC Fails To Accentuate The Positive
IE 02/01/06 Standing-Room Only Crowd Filled Dolan's Friday
IE 02/01/06 Rooney Dons NY Grand Marshal Sash


IMC Report Dismissed

Published: 1 February, 2006

Speaking at a press conference today in Belfast where he
was joined by party colleagues Cllr. Pearse Doherty,
Caitriona Ruane MLA and John O'Dowd MLA, Sinn Féin Chief
Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP dismissed the latest IMC
Report as "the work of an anti-republican body which is
little more than a proxy for securocrats and political

Mr McGuinness said:

"The IMC has no place in the political process. It is no
part of the Good Friday Agreement. It subverts the
democratic mandate of all of the political parties but is
specifically targeted at Sinn Féin. The individuals who
make up the IMC and the group collectively are hostile to
Irish Republicanism and are a proxy for political policing.

"Those who supply the information for the IMC reports
include DUP supporters in Special Branch and are the same
people who collapsed the political institutions and who ten
years ago were controlling and directing a murder campaign
against Sinn Féin members and the wider nationalist

"It is unacceptable that the entire political process is
being held to ransom by these people. Sinn Féin have
challenged the IMC and the two governments to produce
evidence to back up allegations contained in other IMC
reports. They have all failed to do so.

"Given the history of the IMC, its make-up and its overtly
political and anti-republican agenda people will be rightly
dismissive and sceptical of anything detailed in their
reports. This is the work of an anti-republican body which
is little more than a proxy for securocrats and political
detectives." ENDS


Arrogant Offensive IMC Remarks Challenged

Published: 1 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly group leader John O'Dowd said that many
people would be angered at the arrogant remark by the IMC
that within some communities "the culture of lawfulness is
not well embedded".

Mr O‚Dowd said:

"For years the British government has attempted to
criminalise republican communities. It is a throwback to
their arrogant colonial past. Allegations that republican
communities are havens of criminality are offensive,
inaccurate and politically biased. Given the presence of
arrogant failed politicians like Alderdice on the IMC it is
not surprising.

"Where there is evidence of crime then due process must
take its course. People must ask the question that if there
is evidence of criminality, and you have the combined
forces of the Guards, PSNI and British Intelligence working
on this then why have people not been brought before the
courts. That is the proper way to proceed.

"People have to decide if they want to live in a democratic
state where people are innocent until evidence is placed
before a court and they are found guilty." ENDS


'Frankenstein' IMC Must Be Disbanded

Published: 1 February, 2006

Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has
announced that Sinn Féin will publish a Bill tomorrow
calling for the Irish Government to end its political
backing and funding for the discredited International
Monitoring Commission and to have the legislation, which
brought it into being, repealed. Deputy Ó Caoláin described
the Commission as "a Frankenstein monster" created by the
two Governments to appease rejectionist unionists. The
Cavan/Monaghan TD made his comments as the IMC issued its
latest report today.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Once again the accusations made
against republicans by the collection of spooks and anti-
republican cranks that make up the International Monitoring
Commission are based on nothing more than unsubstantiated
allegations and innuendo from nameless securocrats within
the British establishment.

"The fact that the IMC claims that the IRA has held on to
weapons has been effectively dismissed by the body that was
actually and legitimately set up under the terms of the
Good Friday Agreement to deal with the issue, namely the
International Independent Commission for Decommissioning,
should sound the death knell for this discredited body.

"Tomorrow Sinn Féin will publish a Bill in the Dáil calling
on the Irish Government to repeal the legislation which
brought the IMC in to being. It has been clear, and not
only to Republicans and Nationalists, that since its
inception the IMC was nothing more than a body to provide
rejectionist unionists with an excuse not to engage in the
peace process. We will argue that the two Governments,
instead of facing down the rejectionists and demanding that
they engage in the process with Sinn Féin and the other
parties, have created a Frankenstein monster which is now
firmly under the control of the political police who have
sought to frustrate this process at every step of the way.

"It is time to end this dangerous farce and disband the IMC
and get on with the job of delivering a real and
sustainable peace process, which includes the re-
establishment of the political institutions as a matter of
urgency." ENDS


Blair Urges End Of Criminal Activity By IRA

01/02/2006 - 15:01:19

Significant process has been made in the North's peace
process, British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted today.

However, he emphasised that it was crucial that all
criminal activity on the part of the IRA ceased.

Tony Blair was speaking after publication of a report by
the Independent Monitoring Commission.

It alleged that some republicans were still involved in
criminality and assaults, as well as political

At Commons question time, Democratic Unionist leader the
Rev Ian Paisley asked whether Mr Blair was “alarmed” at the
IMC’s admission that it was perhaps “misinformed” in
claiming last September that all IRA arms had been

Mr Blair said the IMC had drawn attention to its belief
that there had been “a strategic decision” by the IRA
leadership to abandon the armed struggle.

“What they have also said, however, is that they are
concerned about violence and criminality,” he added.

“Let me make it clear once again: all criminal activity has
to cease. That is absolutely crucial. But I think it would
be quite wrong if you were suggesting that there hadn’t
been very significant process or that the statement that
the IRA gave last July was not highly significant.”


Paisley Calls For Re-Opening Of Issue

01 February 2006 22:03

The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, told RTÉ News that he wants
General De Chastelain to reopen the issue of
decommissioning following today's reports by the
Independent Monitoring Commission and the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning.

Ian Paisley said that originally his party had been told
all IRA guns had been decommissioned but that he had
recently received a letter from the General saying that his
commission 'may have been misinformed'.

The DUP leader said that having seen the IMC report he did
not think that republican paramilitaries had made any

Meanwhile, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has called for
the resumption of powersharing in Northern Ireland. Dermot
Ahern was speaking in London following the publication of
the reports.

Mr Ahern said the IRA had made significant progress in
switching off its paramilitary machine. He said the IMC
report contained enough to re-start talks on the resumption
of powersharing.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told MPs earlier
that, while it was crucial that all criminal activity must
cease, there had been considerable progress and that the
IRA's decommissioning statement last July remained

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
today said it had investigated media reports and
suggestions by security sources in Northern Ireland that
individuals and groups in the IRA had retained a range of
arms. (Poster’s Note: See the IICD January 19, 2006 report
on this at: )

However, the head of the IICD, General John de Chastelain,
and his colleagues have concluded that, in the absence of
evidence to the contrary, the assessment they made about
IRA weapons decommissioning in September remains correct.


DUP Rules Out Power Sharing

By Jarlath Kearney

The Democratic Unionist Party has ruled out any power-
sharing government with Sinn Féin before May 2007.

Ian Paisley’s party made the announcement the day before
today’s publication of the latest Independent Monitoring
Commission report.

The party yesterday published the content of an “options”
paper given to the British government earlier this month.
The paper — entitled Facing Reality — contains a range of
suggestions to replace the inclusive power-sharing
executive at the heart of the Northern assembly.

Sinn Féin MP Pat Doherty said unionists must not be allowed
a “veto” over political progress. (See full text of DUP
“Facing Reality”

The DUP’s starting point is that a power-sharing executive
is not “a prospect for the foreseeable future”.

“It is sufficient, at this stage, to say: waiting for the
conditions required for executive devolution to arrive is
likely to cause the opportunity for any form of devolution
to pass, given the need to have the assembly operating
before May 2007,” the DUP document said.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said: “The very idea of a power-
sharing executive with Sinn Féin is just not tenable.

“Unlike the previous situation when the UUP led for
unionism, the government will find that we will not be
budging on our assessment of the situation.

“We will not be browbeaten or forced into submission on
this point. We have outlined a realistic and viable process
that will allow for the democratic community in Ulster to
move forward with confidence.

“If it is devolution the parties want, it will be on this
basis or else no devolution will occur. The choice is there
and it is now over to others to make that choice, to face
up to reality and to grasp the opportunity before them.”

Pat Doherty said the British and Irish governments must now
“press ahead with the implementation of the Agreement, as
demanded by the overwhelming majority of Irish people.

“The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty
passed overwhelmingly by the Irish people in referendum.
The two governments have an obligation to press ahead with
its full implementation in the time ahead,” Mr Doherty

“The DUP cannot be allowed to veto this process.

“The IRA initiatives of last year provide an opportunity
for the two governments to speedily put together a process
which will deliver a restoration of the political
institutions. We have been pressing the governments to do
this in discussions over recent weeks and this has to be
the focus of the planned talks in early February.”

Mr Doherty described the DUP proposals as “an attempt to
subvert the political process and delay the process of

“The two governments have an obligation to stand by the
Agreement and its power-sharing core. This includes the
power-sharing executive. Sinn Féin will not countenance a
move away from the fundamental principles which underpin
the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the Democratic Unionists
needed to accept that they “have no right to write off the
Good Friday Agreement”.

Mr Durkan said his party “will never accept” the dilution
of “executive devolution”.

“Even if other parties are ambiguous, we are clear that
there is no acceptable level of direct rule. Finally, not
once in what the DUP has said today have they mentioned the
North-South agenda. Yet it too is a fundamental part of the
Agreement and an integral part of what the SDLP has always
stood for. DUP papers which do not address North-South
simply don’t address political reality,” he said.


‘Former Colleagues Will Try To Kill Me’

By Connla Young

A retired member of the RUC yesterday said he believes his
former colleagues will try to kill him.

Former RUC man Johnston “Jonty” Brown made the claim during
a BBC Radio 4 interview.

During the interview, it emerged that the former CID
detective sergeant had recently been warned that the Ulster
Volunteer Force in north Belfast had his home address and
vehicle details and was planning to attack him.

After confirming that he was in fear of his life, Mr Brown
told interviewer Fergal Keane that he believed some of his
former police colleagues would help try to kill him.

“I fear that the people that are nominated as those who are
coming after me have been sent in my direction by those
sinister elements to which I refer within the Special

Mr Keane then asked the former Special Branch man: “So you
believe your police colleagues in Special Branch are still
trying to kill you?” Mr Brown replied: “Yes, I do.”

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman’s office last night
said the team would examine Mr Brown’s remarks closely.

“We will get a tape of the programme and look at what Mr
Brown has said.

“We need to examine what Mr Brown has said and hear the
context in which he said it,” said the spokesperson.

Johnston Brown served in the RUC and PSNI for almost 30

He was responsible for helping to put former Ulster Defence
Association (UDA) boss Johnny Adair behind bars in 1995 on
charges of directing terrorism. Adair’s UDA C company
faction carried out a pipe-bomb attack on Mr Brown’s Co
Antrim home in October 2000.

The former RUC detective sergeant recruited one-time UDA
hitman Ken Barrett as an informer in 1991.

To date, Mr Barrett is the only person to have been
convicted in connection with the murder of the solicitor
Pat Finucane, who was gunned down in his north Belfast home
by the UDA in 1989.

It was Mr Brown who revealed that RUC Special Branch had
switched undercover recordings of Ken Barrett confessing
his part in the Finucane murder before the recordings were
handed over to officials from the Stevens inquiry.

Despite having a taped admission made to Mr Brown in 1991,
the RUC refused to prosecute Ken Barrett.

Instead, Special Branch recruited him as an informer.

Mr Brown recently described Ken Barrett as “the most
sinister man I ever met”.

The PSNI last night rejected Mr Brown’s remarks that his
life was under threat from former colleagues.

“We reject absolutely any allegation that a member of the
PSNI would seek to harm Mr Brown. Where we receive
information to suggest that someone’s personal security is
at risk, we take steps to inform that person.

“We never ignore anything that would put someone’s life in
danger. Should anyone have a complaint, they should make
contact with the office of the Police Ombudsman,” said the


Hotel Linked To IRA Money Laundering

01/02/2006 - 17:59:11

A hotel yards from Government buildings was tonight at the
centre of a major Garda investigation into IRA money

The Earl of Kildare Hotel, which is less than 100 metres
from the Dáil, was searched by detectives from the Criminal
Assets Bureau (CAB) last week.

A senior Garda source confirmed that the hotel was part of
the CAB investigation into the IRA’s proceeds of crime.

He said that searches had also been carried out on a pub in
North Dublin and at least 10 solicitors’ and accountants’
offices in Meath, Louth, Dublin and Wicklow.

“We will be spending at least six months analysing what we
have seized, which is in excess of 150 boxes,” he said.

The Earl of Kildare is a four-storey Georgian building
situated on the corner of Kildare Street and Nassau Street
in Dublin’s city centre and is a popular location for
political press conferences and meetings.

The Irish and EU flags hang on flagpoles above its entrance
and a sign advertises for ‘Traditional Irish bar food’.

But the hotel bar inside was deserted this afternoon and
the receptionist said the manager was not available.

When asked about the Garda raid, she said: “We don’t know
anything about that.”

The Earl of Kildare Hotel was formerly known as Power’s
Hotel and changed ownership several times in the 1980s and

Last year, two catering firms working at the hotel were
shut down by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland for
breaching hygiene regulations.

The CAB investigation was set up following the cross-Border
police investigation of the €36m Northern Bank robbery in
Belfast in December 2004.

It led to a series of arrests in Cork and Dublin and the
recovery of cash worth €5m, which the Garda Commissioner
Noel Conroy said was linked to the Northern Bank Robbery.

Gardaí believe that the IRA may have earned cash through
the fraudulent operation of slot machines in London and
other major cities in schemes dating back over 15 years.

They are now trawling through thousands of documents to see
if they can show that this money was used to buy properties
and business.

“If we can show that the original premises was the proceeds
of crime, we may then be able to show that a huge amount of
other things are indirectly the proceeds of crime,” said
the senior garda source.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said that both CAB and
their counterparts in Northern Ireland, the Assets Recovery
Agency, regarded all proceeds of crime as their legitimate

“Of course I’m concerned and of course the Irish Government
and the British government are concerned about a very
substantial treasure chest or war chest of assets being in
the hands of what are illegal movements,” he said.

“The good news from today’s story is that the battle to get
those assets into safe hands and to deprive paramilitary
and subversive people of their use, for whatever purposes,
is ongoing and is succeeding.”

Fine Gael, the largest Irish opposition party, said the
raids raised even more questions about the leadership of
the Provisional IRA.

“It now is very clear that the IRA and Sinn Féin have been
engaged in criminality for many years. It’s also very clear
that that situation continues, and I think there’s a huge
onus on the Provisional leadership to openly and
transparently clear up all these issues and totally
disengage from criminality,” said justice spokesman Jim
O’Keefe TD.


Hain Under Fire Over Royal Salute

The Northern Ireland secretary has been criticised for
holding a 21-gun salute to the Queen in a disused car park.

The salute in the docks area next Monday marks the 54th
anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the venue was
both "degrading and downgrading" and urged Peter Hain to
find a more suitable location.

However, the NIO said the event had to be moved from
Hillsborough Castle as it was hosting political talks.

It said the castle could not house both the talks and a
civic reception accompanying the salute.

The salute will take place beside World War 1 light cruiser
HMS Caroline, which is now used for training purposes.

But Sir Reg said he had been touch with the secretary of
state's office asking for a "more fitting and appropriate
venue to be found for the salute in honour of our

Sir Reg said the Queen's accession would be marked with 21-
gun salutes throughout the UK.

"In London it will be in Hyde Park, in Edinburgh and
Cardiff at the cities' castles," he said.

"In the fourth capital, due to the political talks taking
place in Hillsborough Castle, the salute will take place in
a disused car park in the docks beside HMS Caroline."

Sir Reg said the salute used to take place on the lawns
outside Stormont Parliament Building but was moved to
Hillsborough in 1999 to avoid "offending" Sinn Fein.

"No doubt it has been moved again for the same reason," he

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was outraged at the

"This decision has been made to facilitate talks at
Hillsborough Castle and demonstrates a lack of respect for
those who hold Her Majesty in high regard," he said.

"Marking the Queens 80th birthday in a car park adjacent to
HMS Caroline is completely inappropriate.

"The DUP will be lodging a formal protest with the
secretary of state about this matter and he would be well
advised to stop tampering around with a tribute to Her
Majesty The Queen for the sake of a few political

The Northern Ireland Office insisted the event had not been
moved away from Hillsborough for Sinn Fein's benefit.

Mr Hain said the siting of the salute beside the World War
1 ship was a "fitting and proper way to mark the occasion".

HMS Caroline would also provide an "excellent venue" for
the civic reception - this year being held for the Fire
Service, he added.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/01 22:25:18 GMT


Rossport Five Cease Cooperation With Mediation Process

01/02/2006 - 13:54:43

The so-called Rossport Five have decided to cease their
cooperation with the man appointed to mediate in their
dispute with the global oil firm Shell.

The five Co Mayo men spent more than 90 days in prison last
year for refusing to obey a court ruling ordering them not
to obstruct work on the Corrib gas pipeline.

Former trade union official Peter Cassells was subsequently
appointed by the Government as a mediator to oversee talks
aimed at resolving the dispute.

However, the five men have now announced that they will no
longer be meeting Mr Cassells in protest at alleged
interference in the mediation process by Natural Resources
Minister Noel Dempsey.

A spokesperson said the men were angry at this interference
as they were led to believe that the mediation process
would only involve Shell and the local community.


Micheál Ó Seighin Of The Rossport 5 In Conversation With
Eamon Dunphy

Trinity College, Dublin.
Wednesday February 01, 2006 21:48
by Tadhg –
Dublin Shell to Sea

Thursday February 9th, Micheál Ó Seighin in conversation
with writer and broadcaster Eamon Dunphy, Maxwell Lecture
Theatre in Hamilton building, Science Block, Trinity
College. 6.30PM start.

On Thursday February 9th, Micheál Ó Seighin will be in
conversation with writer and broadcaster Eamon Dunphy, on
the controversy surrounding the scheme to install a
dangerous experimental gas pipeline in the north Mayo

Micheál will talk about the Corrib Scheme, his own
imprisonment in high security conditions for three months
last year, and the continuing controversy surrounding the
government's handling of the crisis.

The talk will take place in the Maxwell Lecture Theatre in
Hamilton building, Science Block, Trinity College, Dublin.

6.30PM start


Priest Campaigns On Through Cancer

Posted on February 02, 2006

Prominent Northern Ireland priest Mgr Denis Faul, who this
week disclosed that he is fighting cancer, has vowed that
his illness will nor prevent him stepping up his campaign
on two issues he considers vital. Mgr Faul, who is 73 and
parish priest of Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, said he had been
diagnosed last October when a burst appendix was discovered
to have been caused by a tumour. Since then he has lost 16
kilos in weight and is being treated in the Bon Secours
private hospital in Dublin. But he said he hopes to make a
full recovery and intends to continue campaigning for the
safe return of those ‘exiled’ from Northern Ireland by
paramilitary threats, and also to battle against the
corruption of society by the paramilitaries. Mgr Faul
marched with the Civil Rights movement in 1968 and
criticised the army and RUC in the 1970s for excessive
force. He also railed against republican and loyalist
violence and paramilitary intimidation, but said what now
concerned him was what he saw as a “law of omerta”
concerning people told to leave Northern Ireland by the
IRA. "You can't speak, you can't go to the police, you
can't go to the courts, you can't go to the press. It's
barbarous,” he said. “There is a law, but it's the law of
force. There is an order, but it's the order of fear." He
said 5,000 people in all were banished from Northern
Ireland by republican and loyalist paramilitaries. And
while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said recently that
the IRA was no threat to anyone, including those expelled
from the North but their acceptance back depended on their
own communities, Mgr Faul said this was “not good enough.”
“These people were forced out by the 'controlocrat'
criminals of the IRA, UDA and UVF and must be allowed
return home,” he said. “The community has no right to
interfere. Either there is law or no law. That is the basis
of a civilised society."


Opin: IMC Report Fails To Accentuate The Positive

Analysis by Kevin Connolly
BBC Ireland correspondent

The British and Irish governments may one day come to
regret the moment of inspiration in which they created the
Independent Monitoring Commission to monitor levels of
paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

You can certainly see the seductive logic of the idea.

Establishing an authoritative watchdog staffed by veterans
in government administration, policing and intelligence
work seemed like the ideal way to prevent Northern
Ireland's political parties from ceaseless squabbling over
which paramilitary group had carried out what robbery.

The strategic hope, of course, was that over time the
commission's reports would build into a picture of a new
Northern Ireland in which the balance of activity within
Irish republicanism would shift decisively from the
paramilitarism of the IRA to the political activism of Sinn

There is equal scrutiny, it should be said, of loyalist
paramilitary activity but most of the IMC's readers flick
through the pages dealing with the UDA and the UVF and home
in on the section dealing with the IRA.

That is not a case of media bias, incidentally, merely a
reflection of the fact that republicanism has a strong
political dimension - so strong that it has immediate and
legitimate aspirations to involvement in government, as
long as a large unionist party can be found that's prepared
to share power with it.

End of armed campaign

This latest report from the IMC - the eighth - was held to
be of particular importance because it was the first time
the panel had a chance to consider the conduct of the IRA
since that organisation's declaration last summer that it
was winding up its armed campaign and devoting itself to
exclusively political means.

The British and Irish government reaction was out in the
public domain before most of us had a chance to skim
through more than a few paragraphs of the report, and it
demonstrated the flair of the Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain for accentuating the positive.

While it didn't "paint a picture of perfection" he said, it
did show that the IRA was moving in the right direction.

In short it was a report that provided a credible basis for
next week's talks at which work will resume on the great
project of creating power-sharing institutions which
include both Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Turbulence ahead

And it's true of course, that there is much in the report
which supports that positive analysis - not least the
assertion of the commissioners that it remains the long-
term strategic objective of the republican leadership to
"eschew terrorism", as it rather quaintly phrases it.

The IMC reaches for a tired, but apt analogy to describe
the process of re-focusing the republican movement. It is,
say the commissioners, like turning an oil tanker - bound
to create turbulence in the wash.

To extend that analogy though, the political waters around
the IRA have clearly been rather more turbulent than the
government would have liked.

The report says IRA members are still involved in organised
crime like money laundering, and that the organisation
itself is still gathering intelligence - hardly the
activity of a conventional political party.

Arms claims

Most damagingly of all, the IMC says it's received reports
that not all IRA weapons were handed over in September when
the process of putting republican weapons beyond use was
meant to be completed.

The agency responsible for overseeing the decommissioning
process was quick to publish a brief report in which it
stood by the positive assessment it made last September,
and the IRA was quick to deny the suggestion too, but it's
a damaging assertion to put in the public domain however

The government had in mind a very specific role for this
IMC report - it was to create a positive mood in which all
party talks could begin next week, and in that it will have

Small steps

Many nationalists believe that Ian Paisley doesn't have the
slightest intention of sharing power with Sinn Fein and
would have been desperately combing this report for
anything that might justify procrastinating - as it is, he
doesn't have to look very hard for something to justify his

It's true that, in the longer term, this report will
probably be seen as marking another small step in the
evolution of republicanism towards a new identity as an
entirely political movement.

But it's always been clear that a complex and ambiguous
period would have to be lived through before that goal was
reached - it's just not clear how long that period might

In the meantime, journalists and politicians will continue
to seize on the immediate problems thrown up by the IMC,
rather than on the optimistic long-term landscape it
sketches out.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/01 18:54:57 GMT


The Standing-Room Only Crowd Filled Rory Dolan's Last
Friday Night.

To the rafters
By Ray O'Hanlon

There were two crowds in Rory Dolan's last Friday night.
The regulars. And those who want regular lives.

The popular McLean Avenue hostelry was the venue for the
first on-the-road meeting of the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform, a group that is campaigning in support
of the McCain/Kennedy immigration reform bill in Congress.

It was a case of squeeze in and stand what little ground
was to be had in the restaurant's Killeshandra Room as a
series of speakers outlined a plan of campaign that will
include a March 8 bus cavalcade to the nation's capital in
support of comprehensive reform.

More than a thousand people either attended the event or
stood in line outside the bar/restaurant where they were
asked to sign names and contact information.

In this battle, the undocumented will themselves be the
lobbying foot soldiers.

The crowd in the Killeshandra Room needed little briefing
on the reality of being undocumented, the worries over
keeping a job, not being able to travel to Ireland for even
the most personal bereavements, or renewing a driving

Those worries are now being channeled into a lobbying
effort aimed at tri-state local, state and federal level
politicians, not least New York senators Hillary Rodham
Clinton and Chuck Schumer, whose diversity visa creation is
under threat from Congress members who want to seal the
nation's borders and evict an illegal and undocumented
population numbering roughly eleven million.

The number of undocumented Irish is but a tiny fraction of
this total, but it seemed at times that a significant
fraction of them were jammed into Rory Dolan's.

Those at the back of the room had to contend with the
joyous buzz of Friday night revelers whenever the
connecting doors to the main bar and restaurant area were

As such, it was sometimes hard to hear the podium speakers,
a situation tinged with irony given that ILIR has attended
to detail right down to the presence of a woman speaking in
sign language for the benefit of the truly hearing

ILIR is modeling itself in large part on the Irish
Immigration Reform Movement and there were a number of
references to the success of that lobby group in a meeting
that lasted the best part of two hours.

As with the IIRM, the ILIR gathering was replete with the
tools of gentle revolution -- ILIR t-shirts and pens that
were kept busy recording contact information.

But there was, additionally, a palpable air of anger and
frustration in the room, one that well exceeded similar
events in the late 1980s and early '90s.

One of the immigration bills in the congressional melting
pot, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal
Immigration Control Act of 2005, or H.R. 4437, is jointly
authored by GOP Reps. James Sensenbrenner and Peter King.

Critics have complained that the bill in its current state
makes criminals of the undocumented and even those who try
to help them. Under its provisions, being undocumented or
illegal is treated as being an aggravated felony as opposed
to a misdemeanor.

The complaint was echoed at the ILIR meeting where more
than one speaker protested that those Irish who simply
wanted to work hard and secure their American dreams were
being treated like terrorists and criminals.

The current reality of what is effectively a lockdown in
the undocumented Irish community was outlined clearly at
one point by Trish Grogan of the Aisling Irish Center who
told the crowd of a former undocumented immigrant who had
returned to Ireland.

As such, the individual was now barred from reentering the
United States. A direct effect of this was that he had not
been able to recently fly the Atlantic to bring home the
remains of his brother who had died in the U.S.

Stories such as this have been the spur for considerable
agitation back in Ireland itself where politicians have
been hearing accounts of similar situations from anxious
parents, many of whom have not seen their American-based
offspring in years.

Chicago rising

The stories that filled the room in Rory Dolan's were
themselves first cousins to others voiced in Chicago that
same night where a similar Irish immigrant lobby group,
Chicago Immigration Reform, was launched.

Estimates put the undocumented Irish population in Chicago
and the surrounding Midwest region at about 5,000.

The Friday night meeting took place at the Irish American
Heritage Center on the north side of the city. That meeting
followed an inaugural CIR rally the previous night at
Chicago Gaelic Park on the city's south side.

Breandán Magee of the Chicago Irish immigration Support
center said the meetings had been well attended and that a
twelve member CIR committee was being formed this week.

The center, said Magee, was precluded from direct
participation in the campaign but was not in the least bit
surprised at its emergence.

Concern in the Irish community was steadily growing, Magee
said, and as was the case in other states, it was becoming
increasingly difficult for the undocumented Irish to secure
or renew drivers' licenses.

"This problem is crippling businesses," Magee said.

East Coast tour

ILIR, meanwhile, is bringing its campaign to Philadelphia
this Friday evening, Feb. 3 with a meeting at the Hyatt
Regency Hotel on Columbus Boulevard at Penn's Landing. The
free and open meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

"It is of utmost importance to secure our borders but it is
equally important to enact legislation that offers a fair
immigration policy. Immigrants are part of the fabric of
our country and the Irish in particular have literally
helped to build this country, the roads, the bridges, the
railroads, and the historic churches," said Tom Conaghan of
Philadelphia's Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center.

Yet, our considerable contributions to America's growth are
being ignored and dismantled by the anti-immigrant monopoly
in Washington. As a result, Irish immigrants are being
driven out and Irish communities across the United Sates
have been disrupted and changed forever. We need to take
action now, before it's too late," Conaghan, who also heads
the Federation of Irish American Societies of the Delaware
Valley, said.

Details on this Friday's meeting and immigration reform
activities in the Philadelphia area are available from the
center at (610) 789-6355 or (610) 613-2389.

This story appeared in the issue of February 1-7, 2006


Rooney Dons NY Grand Marshal Sash

By Ray O'Hanlon

Brevity is the soul of wit. And if the evening was entirely
determined by the combination, Tim Rooney would have had
them rolling in the aisles.

But there is a serious side to the anointing of a grand
marshal of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The office holder is, after all, a keeper of Irish
America's flame for his or her twelve months in office.

So Rooney, whose acceptance speech was the very essence of
brevity, was greeted with nothing but thunderous applause
after he accepted the honor of being leader of the biggest
celebration of St. Patrick's Day in the world.

Rooney, a son of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art
Rooney, and a director of the franchise that will face the
Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl this Sunday, was
officially elevated to the grand marshalship of the 245th
consecutive parade at a ceremony last week in the New York
Athletic Club.

His acceptance speech came, crucially, at the end of 90
minutes of speeches, musical interludes and introductions
so its restrained length won immediate praise from parade
committee vice-chairman, Dr. John Lahey, who smiled as he
reminded veterans in the room of previous installation
nights of an acceptance speech by a grand marshal some
years ago.

That one weighed in at a solid hour.

Rooney's was solid too. It was merely the hour that was

At the outset, Dr. Lahey reminded the room that the parade
remained the most important single event in the calendar
that brought together Irish and Irish Americans.

In that vein, he introduced the thirteen Irish and
American-born aides to the grand marshal.

Committee president John O'Connor opined that the parade
had become even more successful over the last decade and
was now very much a world, as well as a New York City,

Irish Consul General Tim O'Connor said that the city was an
extraordinary place to be Irish and was nothing less than
the center of the universe on St. Patrick's Day.

This year's parade, O'Connor said, would be a showcase for
Ireland itself at a time when the island was enjoying
greater peace and prosperity than ever before.

O'Connor not only had words of praise for the incoming
grand marshal, but also the man who was handing over the
grand marshal's title to his successor, Denis Kelleher,
first citizen of the 2005 parade.

In a gracious farewell, Kelleher -- as he did the night a
year ago when he himself was installed -- singled out the
New York parade in what is now a sea of parades around the
U.S. and the world beyond.

"Last year I described the parade as the diamond in the
fleet and I still feel the same way. Thanks for bestowing
on me the greatest honor," he said.

Kelleher, who said he would forever bask in the honor and
memories of a great day, praised the committee for choosing
an "outstanding candidate" in Tim Rooney.

Parade chairman John Dunleavy, brought the audience to its
feet when he announced that this year's parade would be
dedicated to the Fighting 69th regiment and Task Force
Wolfhound, a combined New York and Louisiana National Guard
contingent that recently returned from a tour of duty in

Most especially, Dunleavy said, the parade would be
dedicated to the 19 members of Task Force Wolfhound who
were killed on duty in Iraq.

This year's parade will be a homecoming for the 69th, which
traditionally leads the long line of march. Last year its
combined rear guard and veteran's corps represented the

"Because of their sacrifice we enjoy our freedoms,"
Dunleavy said of the 69th, which has been a fixture for 156
out of the parade's 245 years.

If the 69th is a fixture, the leading fitting each year is
the grand marshal.

Dunleavy introduced the Pittsburgh-born Rooney as a husband
and father, a businessman and owner of Yonkers Raceway, a
venue the new grand marshal had frequently opened for
charitable functions and fundraisers.

Rooney, in accepting what is widely regarded as Irish
America's ultimate honor, said that being grand marshal was
a "tremendous" and "great" honor for himself and his entire

And he expressed his particular appreciation that the
parade was being dedicated to the Task Force Wolfhound
members who had died in Iraq.

As for St. Patrick's Day, Rooney was keeping his fingers

"I sure hope the weather is good on March 17th. I don't
care how it is in Detroit," he said to applause and cheers
and in reference to the sixth appearance by the Rooney
family concern in pro football's ultimate game.

This story appeared in the issue of February 1-7, 2006

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