News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

February 19, 2006

Sinn Fein ArdFheis

To February 2006 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)

News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 02/20/06 SF Sets Terms For Taking Part In Coalition
IT 02/20/06 SF: Should Not Be Hamstrung On Coalition
IT 02/20/06 SF: Leaders Oppose Ruling Out Coalition Talks
IT 02/20/06 SF: Delegates Against Service Charges
IT 02/20/06 SF: Shinners Look To Protect Their Wickets
IT 02/20/06 SF: ‘Shameful' Absence Of Leaders At Session
GU 02/20/06 SF Moves To Bury Past
IT 02/20/06 SF Mayor Refuses To Condemn McCabe Killing
BN 02/19/06 Murder May Be Linked To Loyalist Paramilitaries
EX 02/20/06 Opin: A Long Way From Agreed Version Of Rising
IT 02/20/06 US Feared No Policy Could Spark Civil War
IT 02/20/06 Irish Were Subject Of Secret US Embassy Files
IT 02/20/06 Shannon: Effort To Stop US Landing & Overflight
IT 02/20/06 Lack Of Support For Kenmare Harbour Plan


SF Delegates Set Terms For Taking Part In Coalition

By Mark Hennessy and Gerry Moriarty

Sinn Féin Ardfheis delegates have insisted that the
Offences against the State Act must be repealed before the
party will enter a coalition government, despite the strong
wishes of the party's leadership, write Mark Hennessy and
Gerry Moriarty

During a difficult weekend for Gerry Adams and Martin
McGuinness, delegates were persuaded not to vote for a
blanket ban on entering power in the Republic, but rather
to leave the issue aside until a post-election special
conference, if a coalition option was available.

The 1939 legislation has been the main legislation used by
the State in its fight against the IRA and includes powers
to set up the non-jury Special Criminal Court and to jail
people for five years for IRA membership on the word of a
Garda superintendent.

Calls for the party to rule out supporting the Police
Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Policing Board
were finally defeated following the intervention of key
leadership figures, such as West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty and
policing spokesman Gerry Kelly, who persuaded delegates to
retain the existing policy where Sinn Féin would hold a
special conference before making any change.

The most controversial of the weekend debates was on
coalition, during which a number of speakers warned
colleagues not to enter power with Fine Gael, Labour and,
particularly, Fianna Fáil, while Dublin Ógra Sinn Féin
wanted coalition vetoed until a united Ireland was

Alarmed, senior figures such as Mr McGuinness, Mr Kelly and
Arthur Morgan TD swung into the debate to urge delegates to
hold to the position of calling, if necessary, a special
ardfheis after the election to discuss coalition.

In the end, all anti-coalition motions collapsed without a
vote as a superseding motion supporting the existing policy
was passed.

Delegates, however, quickly delivered a snub to the
leadership by adopting the Offences Against the State Act
motion - even though Mr McGuinness, twice jailed under the
Act, opposed it.

In his keynote speech, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin was serious
about entering power in the Republic "if we have the
mandate and if we can secure an inter-party government and
a programme for government consistent with republican

He also stressed his opposition to a phased return of the
Northern Assembly, which British prime minister Tony Blair
is considering and which is generally favoured by the DUP.
"There can be no dilution of the Good Friday agreement to
allow for a two-tier or two-stages approach or British-
appointed commissioners to run the North."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said yesterday "no decisions" had
been made. "A lot of things are being considered, no
decision has been made. Anything we are looking at is

Sinn Féin delegates backed the release of all IRA
prisoners, including the killers of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.
Delegate Oilibhéar Ó Brolacháin from Armagh said he was
"ashamed" that so few Sinn Féin leaders were on the
platform for the prisoners' debate.

The so-called "Colombia Three", James Monaghan, Niall
Connolly and Martin McCauley, attended without any fanfare
or major comment, while Evelyn Glenholmes, who once faced
extradition from the Republic but who is now living openly
in the North, was elected to the Sinn Féin ardchomhairle,
along with assembly member Francie Molloy, who was briefly
suspended from Sinn Féin last year for opposing party
policy on local government.

Lands owned by "British aristocratic landlords" in the
State should be seized by compulsory purchase orders,
delegates also agreed, while fishing rights enjoyed by the
Duke of Devonshire and others should be abolished.

© The Irish Times


Negotiators Should Not Be 'Hamstrung' On Coalition

Compiled by Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Voices from the conference: Stiofan Long, a Sinn Féin
activist from south Belfast said party negotiators should
not be "hamstrung" by any absolutist positions on

"I don't see any difference between entering into a
voluntary coalition with the DUP, which we will probably be
doing in the very near future, than entering into coalition
with any of the parties in the South, as long as it suits
our strategic objectives. If the PDs become a republican
party, a united Ireland party, a socialist party, I would
not rule out coalition with them." As for the real
prospects of the DUP sharing power this year with Sinn
Féin: "I don't accept that things are as bleak as some
people are making out. I think people are taking pre-
negotiation stances. I think the threat of the removal of
Assembly salaries will force the DUP to move.

"I think there has to be an accommodation in the North and
the sooner the DUP come to the realisation that Sinn Féin
are not going away the better for all. There are pragmatic
leaders in the wings of the DUP waiting to emerge."

Rose Conway-Waslh, from Belmullet, Co Mayo, who is involved
in community development in the area joined Sinn Féin when
she returned from England in 1998. "I couldn't ever see
Sinn Féin sharing government with the PDs or Fine Gael. I
think Fine Gael's policies over the last number of years
would be more closely aligned with the DUP rather than Sinn
Féin or any other party. I would not rule out coalition
with Fianna Fáil but a lot would have to be done before
that could happen. For instance we would oppose the
inequalities of the two-tier system of health. I absolutely
don't believe Bertie Ahern; he certainly would be
considering Sinn Féin for coalition, but whether Sinn Féin
would be considering him is another matter." On power-
sharing with the DUP: "With Ian Paisley moving the
goalposts I think things will never be good enough for him.
The only thing I might bank on is he is getting a bit
older. But whether he would get any more accommodating I
have my doubts on that."

Emmet Steenson, from the North Strand in Dublin, whose
grandparents Michael Murphy and Martha Kelly were involved
in the Rising and met and fell in love in Kilmainham Gaol,
supported the leadership view to "leave our options open"
on coalition. "But I wouldn't go into power with Fine Gael;
I don't support fascism, I never did. I don't believe
Bertie Ahern when he says he wouldn't share power with Sinn
Féin. He would share power with anybody." On power-sharing
in the North: "Ian Paisley has said no all his life. Has he
ever offered any other option? Of course there is a
prospect of a deal. Everybody wants power; that's what it's
all about. I can't speak for the DUP but there are
definitely changes. We want an Ireland of equals. We stay
at it, and we are sticking at it."

Danny Churchhill, a trade union activist from Clogher Head,
Co Louth, knew where he stood on coalition in the South.

"Certainly not with Fine Gael, certainly not the PDs,
certainly not Trevor Sergeant's Greens. In the future
(Fianna Fáil and Labour) may come to their senses. Fianna
Fáil say they wouldn't share power with Sinn Féin but at
present I would not share power with them. Bertie would
share a bed with anyone." As for government with Ian
Paisley: "I hope there is a power-sharing government in the
North this year. But it is very hard to find common ground
with Ian Paisley. He is so inconsistent. But I do think
that there are pragmatists in the DUP who genuinely want to
share power. I don't think that Paisley represents the real
mind of the unionist people."

Compiled by Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
© The Irish Times


Senior Figures Oppose Attempt To Rule Party Out Of
Coalition Talks

By Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Senior Sinn Féin figures, including Martin McGuinness,
had to intervene to head off attempts by a significant
number of delegates to rule the party out of coalition
talks following the next general election, writes Mark
Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The ardfheis faced a series of motions that demanded that
SF should not consider coalition at all with Fianna Fáil,
Fine Gael or Labour, or not even enter into coalition talks
without the party membership's prior agreement.

Senior party figures took to the podium to argue against
the motions, following early signs that the "no coalition"
calls were being strongly supported by a significant number
of delegates.

Warning delegates not to be "presumptuous", Mr McGuinness,
the party's chief negotiator, said: "The people who will
decide the configuration of the next government will be the

"I think it would be grossly irresponsible for us here to
say to the electorate that we will have no say to decide
the future of this part of our island."

Mr McGuinness, who was late to join the list of speakers to
the heavily attended debate, said a decision to join a
post-election coalition could not be "taken by me, or Gerry
Adams. The people who will decide will be you."

Dublin delegate Justin Moran said a decision by Sinn Féin
to join a coalition of any form should require a two-thirds
majority of delegates because it would dictate the
development of the party for years afterwards.

Waterford delegate Jackie Feehan received considerable
applause when he sought support for a motion that would
stop SF going into coalition with Fianna Fáil "under any

Fianna Fáil, he said, is "a so-called republican party",
had set "the Special Branch loose on republicans for 30
years" and "taken brown envelopes" from developers. "People
are crying out for an alternative. We need to send FF out
to grass for a number of years. They have destroyed the
political system. SF should not in any circumstances go
into coalition and prop up FF."

By now, delegates were roundly applauding those calling for
support for the motions - to the obvious concern of the
party leadership, which rapidly added people to the
speakers' list. Urging delegates to reject the motions,
outgoing ard comhairle member Seán MacBrádaigh said the
anti-coalition motion "would hand our enemies a weapon that
we are a purely opposition party.

"Nobody in the leadership is proposing going into
government. Trust yourselves and make the right decision
when the time comes. You have the power to decide," he told
the crowded ardfheis session.

Seán Crowe TD, Dublin South West, said he had detected a
lot of nervousness about going into government, though he
had said he had become a bit annoyed when he heard party
members fearing that it would "dilute our principles".

"I have no worries about losing my edge. I am confident
about my ability. I am confident about the ability of the
people in this party.

"I believe that we can bring about positive change.

"We need to go into the next election with our options
open. I don't want to go into negotiations with my hands
tied behind my back," the Tallaght-based TD declared.

In his speech, Sinn Féin's vice president Pat Doherty
emphasised that the issue of coalition would finally be
decided after the electorate had cast its vote, and party
delegates had their say.

"We should not pre-empt that decision. If after a future
election other parties come knocking on our door seeking to
talk about future government then well and good. But,
ultimately, it will be up to all of us to make that call,"
Mr Doherty said.

© The Irish Times


Delegates Against Service Charges

By Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Bin charges: Sinn Féin delegates backed demands to force
party councillors to vote against service charges in all
cases, despite a plea from the party's leadership.

The motion, from the Cathal Brugha Cumann in Waterford and
Munster Ógra Shinn Féin, called on all elected
representatives "not to vote for service charges under any

Furthermore, the motion said the party's ardchomhairle
should be mandated "to initiate disciplinary measures
against any councillor who votes for estimates which
includes service charges, up to and including expulsion
from the party".

In a bid to head off the motion, the ardcomhairle put down
an amendment that restated the party's opposition to
service charges, but which, crucially, did not make it
obligatory on councillors to vote against them in all

"Let there be no misunderstanding," Louth TD Arthur Morgan
told delegates, "this amendment does not advocate that Sinn
Féin councillors should vote in favour of estimates."

Councillors, he said, are now faced with "a new context"
since the Government gave city and county managers the
power to impose charges for rubbish collection, regardless
of the opinion of councillors.

"If Sinn Féin had a majority on every council in the State,
we still could not abolish bin charges," he said. The
ardchomhairle amendment "seeks to put an end to the myth
that by voting against [ local authority] estimates we have
the ability to abolish bin charges.

"It would be a tactical mistake to tie the hands of all our
councillors in relation to decisions on whether to vote for
or against estimates."

He added: "This decision must be made on a case-by-case
basis in conjunction with the party leadership. We cannot
allow all decisions to be taken on the false premise that
by voting against estimates we can bring about the
abolition of service charges."

Opposing the leadership's views, however, the party's
general election candidate, Cllr David Cullinane said:
"There is a world of difference between a county manager
imposing service charges and a Sinn Féin councillor doing
it. The most logical way to oppose something is to vote
against it."

Tipperary South delegate Muiris Ó Suilleabháin said the
"only essential" difference between the leadership's
amendment and the original motion is that the amendment
would "not compel" councillors to vote against the charges.

"The question that has to be asked is, 'why'? There is only
one reason why it might be considered advantageous, and
that is when we are in power with other parties," he said.

Cllr Joe Kelly from Waterford said Sinn Féin's local
election manifesto in 2004 had made the party's opposition
to local charges clear. "If we are a party that wants to
give strong leadership then let's do so," he said.

Supporting the leadership's "equivocal" amendment made "no
sense", he said, since council managers can impose the
charges: "It will not cost us anything anyway."

© The Irish Times


At 101 Not Out, Shinners Look To Protect Their Wickets

Further evidence of Sinn Féin's peace strategy emerged
when the ardfheis passed a motion congratulating the Irish
cricket team on reaching the world cup.

The vote was close. A show of hands proved inconclusive and
the decision had to be referred to the third umpire. But
the motion's eventual passage was another small signal from
the provisional movement that its war is, as they say in
cricket every six balls, "over".

Critics may see in this a sign that the movement is getting
too comfortable in Dublin 4. Yet you can see the appeal of
cricket - a game that requires endless patience - for
contemporary Sinn Féin.

The party celebrated its maiden century last year and not
much has changed since.

The wicket is still sticky and the outfield is slow, but
the Shinners have persevered and, with the speed of a
Geoffrey Boycott, have now moved onto 101 not out (except
still of the Executive).

One of the disadvantages of the RDS, even for cricket-
loving republicans, is that it hosts different events
simultaneously, which can be confusing.

Delegates who entered the wrong hall at the weekend - and
many did - found themselves at the annual conference of the
Divine Word Missions. They might not have immediately
recognised their mistake, either.

The DWM event was replete with posters and banners that
wouldn't have been out of place next door. "Rise up," urged
a slogan on a stall selling the Sacred Heart Messenger.
"Can you handle the truth?" asked the Legion of Mary stand.

Another banner proclaimed the revolutionary message: "He
has put down the mighty from their thrones and raised up
the lowly (Luke 1:52)."

By an uncanny coincidence, back at the ardfheis, Gerry
Adams was also quoting Luke (Kelly, of the Dubliners) on
the betrayal of Ireland's martyrs: "For what died the sons
of Róisín - was it greed?"

Perhaps the sight at the DWM event of people doing stations
of the cross might first have alerted a Sinn Féiner that he
was in the wrong place. But probably the key difference was
the air of penitence. It's the thing that separates the
sinner and the Shinner, generally: only one of them does

The ardfheis had its stations too: an exhibition on the
hunger strikers past which the devout filed respectfully.

The keynote of Adams's speech linked the imminent 25th
anniversary of the strikes with the 90th anniversary of
1916, while rejecting claims that SF had "hijacked" the

Symbolically at the first post- decommissioning ardfheis,
his address was followed by a song. Velvet- voiced Francie
Brolly performed a republican ballad, while the platform
swayed along with him, like hippies at a Joan Baez concert.

Henceforth, republicans will take power with a ballot box
in one hand and a guitar in the other.

Never a party to miss a trick, Sinn Féin gave the job of
chairing the televised address to poster-girl Toiréasa
Ferris, whose recent Late Late Show appearance had exposed
her (in more ways than one) to overnight celebrity. Filling
time while awaiting the green light from RTÉ, she regretted
she couldn't sing and joked: "If I had my short skirt on, I

The jeans she was wearing for the ardfheis were a blatant
cover-up, but just for once, Sinn Féin was not demanding a
public inquiry.

© The Irish Times


'Shameful' Absence Of Leaders At Session

By Marie O'Halloran

Political prisoners: Senior Sinn Féin members were
sharply criticised for not attending an ardfheis session on
political prisoners during which the so-called Colombia
Three, Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly,
were welcomed home.

An Armagh delegate, Ollivher Ó Brollacháin, said it was
"shameful" that no senior Sinn Féin figures were on the
platform during the session, which also called for a
campaign for the release of the Castlerea Five, the men
jailed for the killing of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.

Mr Ó Brollacháin was equally critical that the debate was
being held on Sunday afternoon, when the attendance had
thinned out dramatically. The Colombia Three were present
over the weekend and Niall Connolly sat in the front row
during the short debate. When MP and MLA Conor Murphy
proposed that the ardfheis welcome them home, there was
sustained applause, but the attendance was very small
compared to previous sessions.

Mr Murphy afterwards explained that the reason none of the
leadership was on the platform was that "people were caught
out having lunch".

A statement was read out from the Castlerea Five, who said
there was a "clear breach of the Good Friday agreement"
that they had not been released.

Meanwhile, there was a sustained standing ovation for
Micheál Ó Seighín, one of the Rossport Five who were jailed
over their opposition to the Corrib gas project.

In a witty speech he berated the Government over its
policies on Ireland's natural resources and spoke of "our
Dáil year in jail", referring to the length of time the
five men spent in prison being equivalent to a year's
sitting of the Dáil.

© The Irish Times


Sinn Féin Moves To Bury Past

· Leadership wins crucial vote on policing board
· Adams warns dissident republican groups

Owen Bowcott in Dublin
Monday February 20, 2006
The Guardian

Sinn Féin signalled yesterday that it was closer to joining
Northern Ireland's policing board when hardline proposals
to reject a deal were defeated at its annual conference.

The vote on one of the most sensitive political issues
facing the republican movement exposed tensions within the
party over closer involvement with a force that was its
enemy throughout the Troubles.

The British government regards Sinn Féin's ability to
overcome its distrust as necessary for the restoration of
devolution. The party discussion came before a fresh round
of political talks starting in Belfast today to revive the
Stormont assembly. The prime minister had been due to
attend, but Downing Street cancelled the trip, a sign that
it recognised further groundwork was required.

In Sinn Féin's policing debate one motion - which was lost
- had opposed the party joining the policing board until "a
timetable for British withdrawal" had been agreed.
"Republicans should not be enforcing the armed wing of
British rule in this country," said a delegate.

Gerry Kelly, on the party executive, condemned the decision
to hand over to MI5 responsibility for national security in
Northern Ireland, including threats from republicans.

"The police force has been a partisan, political,
protestant and paramilitary force," he said. "Republicans
will not be badgered or forced into accepting less than the
new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday

Party leaders won the vote to delay a decision on the issue
until a special delegate conference. Last week the
government published a Northern Ireland bill which proposes
devolving policing and justice to a new assembly.

Around 1,000 delegates were at the party's first conference
since the IRA announced it had destroyed its weapons. The
only recently released prisoner to win a standing ovation
was Michael O'Seighin, a community activist jailed for
preventing the oil company Shell building a pipeline across
his land in County Mayo.

The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, reminded republicans
there was no going back to violence. "The decisions by the
IRA were undoubtedly deeply difficult for many," he said.
"There are republicans still trying to come to terms with
it many months later.

"Indeed, there are some who believe that the IRA has made a
mistake. They are entitled to their opinion but to no more
than that. No one should harbour the notion that the
republican struggle can be advanced any further by armed
campaign. The leadership is firmly opposed to such a

He warned dissident republican groups to "look objectively
at the political situation" and "carefully consider your

The conference was focused, however, on the electoral
advances the party is confident of making at the next Irish
general election. Sinn Féin holds five seats - mainly won
since the IRA's ceasefire - in the Dáil, the republic's

Ireland's system of proportional representation could put
Sinn Féin in a future coalition government. "Kingmakers"
was the headline in one newspaper, accompanying a picture
of Gerry Adams and the party chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin.

Several motions from branches in the republic attempted to
rule out deals with "rightwing parties" or a Fianna Fáil-
led government. But the party's chief negotiator, Martin
McGuinness MP, warned against tying the leadership's hand
before a campaign.

"I have the advantage of having been in coalition," he
said, "with unionists [in the power-sharing executive at
Stormont]. As minister of education I abolished the 11-plus
exam. The future of our children would have been pretty
dismal without that reform."

Attempts to block deals with specific parties were
defeated, although one motion, requiring Sinn Féin to
"insist upon the repeal of the Offences Against the State
Act as a condition to entering any coalition government"
scraped through.

The decision by the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, to
deny elected representatives from Northern Ireland the
right to speak in the Dáil was condemned by Mr Adams as
"nothing less than bad faith".


Mayor Refuses To Condemn McCabe Killing

By Anne Lucey

The Sinn Féin mayor of Kerry Toiréasa Ferris is expected
to face heavy criticism at today's monthly meeting of Kerry
County Council, because of her refusal to condemn the
shooting of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.

Two separate emergency motions are expected to be put
before the council today. Fine Gael's Johnny O'Connor is
proposing a motion of no-confidence in Ms Ferris, following
her refusal on RTÉ and on local media to condemn the
killing of the detective garda in Adare in 1996. In a
counter proposal, agreed at a special meeting of FF
councillors this weekend, Fianna Fail's Paul O'Donoghue
will attempt to widen the censure to include the Sinn Féin
party and its stance on the shooting.

© The Irish Times


Antrim Murder May Be Linked To Loyalist Paramilitaries

19/02/2006 - 19:26:54

It has emerged that the 49-year-old man who died following
a serious assault in County Antrim last night may have
defied orders from loyalist paramilitaries to leave town.

Detectives launched a murder inquiry after Tommy Hollran
died in hospital from serious head injuries, after being
found lying in an alleyway in Carrickfergus.

It is claimed he had been told to quit the town late last
year after a dispute with loyalist paramilitaries.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to come



We Are Still A Long Way From An Agreed Version Of The

IT is clear from the responses to President McAleese’s
defence of the moral and political status of the Easter
Rebellion of 1916, such as that you published by Brian
McCaffrey (‘President’s speech under fire,’ Irish Examiner
letters, February 7) ...

... that we are still far from possessing an historically
agreed version of the Rising and of the events preceding
and following it.

The only possible conclusion (given the intelligence with
which the debate is conducted on both sides) is that the
complexity of these historical events has still defeated
our best efforts to understand them.

The key fact, it seems to me, is that the Easter Rising did
not settle the Irish question once and for all. It did not
deliver a 32-county independent Ireland (surely the
original intention of the rebels) and it also confirmed
rather than removed the divisions on the nationalist side
of the equation.

These divisions remain to be reconciled in respect of
nationalist and republican interpretations of these events.

It has recently been said by Eoin Neeson that Home Rule was
“dead in the water by 1912”. But in 1912 and 1913 the
Liberals and the Irish Parliamentary Party in the House of
Commons drew the teeth of the constitutional opposition to
Home Rule in the House of Lords and, by September 1914, the
Home Rule Act was on the statute book with the royal

This was a triumph of constitutional and democratic
struggle over a period of at least two generations. Only
then did John Redmond commit Irishmen to the British cause
in World War I, and it was in the acknowledged defence of
Home Rule that the 10th (Irish) Division went to its
destruction in Gallipoli in August 1915.

The tragic effect of the Rising in the following April was
to marginalise still further the Irish Parliamentary Party
and to make it possible for British opponents of Home Rule
at Westminster to call into question an Act of its own
sovereign parliament.

The British Government with which Michael Collins
negotiated was composed of all the most implacable
opponents of Home Rule, in particular Arthur Balfour,
Andrew Bonar Law and Walter Long. Lloyd George’s betrayal
of the Liberals thus involved above all the betrayal of
Home Rule enacted by his own party.

The Irishmen who had fought through the war understood well
enough in their petition to the king at its end that they
had been betrayed.

We have some way to go before we can remedy all these
wrongs. An agreed version of events by our best historians
from all sides of the political spectrum seems to me the
precondition of our doing so.

Dr Gerald Morgan
Trinity College
Dublin 2


US Embassy Feared British Policy On North Could Spark Civil
War - Papers

By Denis Staunton

US State Department and White House papers, some recently
declassified, offer insights into the US view of the
Republic and the activities of the US embassy in Dublin in
the early 1970s. Denis Staunton has been sifting through
the Washington archives.

The American embassy in Dublin warned Washington after
Bloody Sunday in 1972 that its failure to press Britain to
change its policy in the North threatened to plunge Ireland
into civil war, according to recently declassified State
Department and White House papers.

The embassy wrote in February 1972 that US national
interests could suffer if a deepening conflict diverted
British troops from Nato duties and toppled the Government
in Dublin.

"The sober view of people in the Government here, and of
most of the diplomatic corps - including ourselves and
members of the British mission - is that the present course
of events on this island, if not modified by a change in
British policy, runs a grave risk of leading to civil war,
or at least further bloodshed . . .

"Further, if the present course is not altered and this
island becomes convulsed, it is difficult to predict what
sort of Dublin government would emerge in the aftermath,
with significant consequences for ourselves, the EEC and
western Europe.

"Finally, we think that our government would wish to say it
did not stand by unconcernedly as Ireland headed towards
bloodshed," it said.

Since The Troubles began in 1969, Washington had refused to
intervene with Britain, either publicly or in private, on
the basis that the political problems were a domestic
concern of the United Kingdom.

"The United States has no appropriate basis to intervene in
the domestic issues of another sovereign country, and we do
not wish to become involved in the political debate over
Irish partition or reunification," the State Department
said in a September 1969 briefing paper.

After Bloody Sunday, as external affairs minister Patrick J
Hillery flew to Washington to urge the US to support a
proposal for four-party talks on the North, British foreign
secretary Alec Douglas-Home wrote to US secretary of state
William Rogers.

"The demands put forward by Dr Hillery's government are not
only inappropriate but tend to make the situation worse,
raising as they do the problem of a united Ireland.

"This is not a matter where HMG [Her Majesty's Government]
can lay down the law.

"If the majority in Northern Ireland wanted reunification
we should gladly accept. But two-thirds of the population
remain resolutely opposed," he wrote.

In July 1972, president Richard Nixon asked the National
Security Council to consider what the US could do to help
achieve "a solution to the Ulster problem". Nixon's
national security adviser Al Haig acknowledged that the US
administration's refusal to intervene created political
problems for the president and angered Irish-Americans.

Haig believed, however, that any change in policy would be
self-defeating and that "there is no way we can out-Kennedy
Kennedy" on the issue.

"The very fact that US Catholics are heartened by our
domestic policies on abortion, busing and aid to parochial
schools should more than compensate for a lack of do-
goodism on the Ulster problem," he wrote.

The American embassy in Dublin received regular, detailed,
confidential briefings from senior Irish diplomats,
including Eamon Gallagher (Jack Lynch's top adviser on the
North) and Sean Donlon, who later became Irish ambassador
to Washington.

Embassy reports of these briefings describe frank
conversations about Irish policy on the North and the
Government's political difficulties.

In the summer of 1970, Washington was hungry for details of
the events that led to the Arms Trial, expressing concern
about the future of Lynch's government and his conciliatory
policy towards the North.

Ambassador John D Moore told the State Department that
Dublin, "which is a gossiping town" was full of "unfounded
nonsense" about the gun-running plot and expressed doubt
about any involvement on the part of Charles J Haughey.

"Mr Haughey has always struck me as an intelligent man and
a cool customer.

"If, in fact, he is involved it must have been for some
political reason or perhaps he was just doing a favor for a
friend or relative, but I should be surprised if he is
convicted . . .

"The 'inside information' I hear is deeply colored by the
extreme dislike of Haughey which has come into the open
among his fellow leaders of the Fianna Fáil. "They imply
the most dreadful things against him but I don't think the
trial will support all this, if there is a trial," he

In September 1971, alarmed by reports that 75 per cent of
IRA funds came from American supporters, the US authorities
started to investigate Republican supporters in New York
and other American cities.

In June 1971, Robert DuBose, the State Department official
responsible for Ireland, was called to the White House to
be told of the imminent indictment of a number of US
citizens for attempting to buy guns for the IRA.

Despite the fact that both Dublin and London had been
pressing Washington to crack down on IRA supporters, the
White House did not want to inform London or Dublin about
the investigations until charges were brought.

"This move does NOT mean we are getting involved in the NI
question. We are NOT working with the British; we are
merely keeping order in our own house.

"The reasoning is, I admit, a bit shaky, but this is an
election year and I won't go into the reasons why all of
this is a bit delicate.

"In fact, these indictments may never come off at all," Mr
DuBose wrote.

The following year, in 1972, five Irish-Americans were then
subpoenaed in Fort Worth, Texas in connection with a plot
to smuggle guns to the IRA. The men, who became known as
the Fort Worth Five, spent almost a year in prison but were
not charged.

© The Irish Times


Irish Public Figures Were Subject Of Secret US Embassy

The American embassy in Dublin compiled secret reports on
dozens of prominent figures in Irish politics, business and
diplomacy. Among those profiled were former president Mary
Robinson, former taoiseach John Bruton, Conor Cruise
O'Brien, Desmond O'Malley, Garret FitzGerald, Sir Anthony
O'Reilly and rising stars in all the main political

The reports were sent to Washington as part of the
Potential Leader Biographic Reporting Programme, which
focused until the late 1960s on Third World countries.

"When this programme was initiated, heavy emphasis was
placed on its implementation in the new and emerging
nations of Africa and Asian and in Latin America. However,
its applicability to more stable and politically developed
nations in Europe and elsewhere was also amply demonstrated
in the first cycle," the State Department wrote to the
embassy in Dublin in 1969.

Apart from basic biographical data, the reports included
details of "personal appearance, habits, mannerisms,
interests and hobbies, attitudes and views regarding
significant issues".

A 1973 report on former minister and tánaiste Michael
O'Leary identifies a "personality" which has puzzled those
who know him well. "He has often been erratic, with visible
ups and downs. When he visited the US on a leader grant in
1970, he proved extremely difficult to programme, sometimes
showing up late, or never, for scheduled appointments. Part
of the problem may have been that he dislikes programmes of
any kind, preferring flexibility and informality," it says.

The reports were classified as secret - as were all
communications relating to them - and the embassy avoided
making subjects aware they were being profiled.

When Washington asked for a report on Raphael Siev, a mid-
level civil servant, the ambassador cabled back that no
biographical data was available without approaching Siev
directly. "Irish have highly developed sense of privacy,
however, and Siev might be puzzled by a request unless we
can tell him that bio data is needed for some specific,
non-controversial reason - such as international
conference. If dept [ department] has such a reason, we
would be glad to make request," he wrote.

However, there is no evidence of covert intelligence-
gathering in the reports, and the CIA appears to have had
no presence in Dublin in the early 1970s. In September
1972, the political officer at the Dublin embassy wrote to
CIA headquarters to report that "we are now regularly
getting your output on Ireland". The officer offered to
provide any information the CIA might find useful, "because
I'm always eager for an excuse to do more reporting".

In January 1974, when the Russians were preparing to open
an embassy in Dublin, news came from Washington that one
George Holmes was planning to visit and that "his agency
has the intention of asking to open a station in Dublin,
regardless of what the Russians do".

The embassy expected Holmes to be accompanied by Cord
Meyer, CIA station chief in London at the time. In a letter
to the State Department, the embassy complains that Holmes
"has developed a somewhat proprietary attitude" towards Col
Pearce Quinlan, who "is the primary point of contact for
George and his colleagues during their infrequent visits to

© The Irish Times


Use Of Shannon: Effort To Stop US Landing And Overflight

By Denis Staunton

The Government attempted to withdraw blanket landing and
overflight rights for unarmed US military aircraft in 1970
and to grant permission on an annual basis only.

In November 1969, a US navy aircraft overflew Ireland
without giving the customary notice to air traffic
controllers at Shannon.

The Government issued a note of protest to the American
embassy in Dublin and the embassy apologised for the lack
of communication with Shannon.

However, in Washington, state department officials found a
1959 letter from Frank Aiken, then minister for External
Affairs, agreeing that unarmed military aircraft carrying
only passengers and cargo could overfly Ireland, adding
that "this permission will be subject to reconsideration in
the event of a serious deterioration in the international

An internal state department document in May 1970 suggests
that the US should seek to have the Irish note of protest
withdrawn and ask the Government for an apology for having
falsely accused the US navy aircraft of breaching the

Three years earlier, the Government told Washington that
nuclear-powered naval vessels and ships carrying nuclear
weapons would not be welcome at Irish ports.

In November 1967, however, the American embassy in Dublin
reported that Hugh McCann, secretary of the Department of
External Affairs, had suggested a "don't ask, don't tell"

"Mr McCann said that in future that when the embassy asked
for permission for a visit of naval vessel, Extaff [ the
Department of External Affairs] would assume that nuclear
weapons and power plants would be on board without our
having actually to give such assurance. The tacit agreement
would be government-to-government and confidential and
there would be no reason for it to become public property,"
the report said.

US policy was not to reveal which of its ships carried
nuclear weapons, but a American embassy official in Dublin
suggested that Washington might employ a little deception.

"Not obviously nuclear-weaponed ships may be sent to
Dublin, leaving us uninformed about such weapons, and we
would ask for clearance on the assumption that they were
not on board," he wrote.

Washington rejected the suggestion, concluding that if
Ireland banned nuclear vessels, no large US warships could
call at Irish ports.

"Under no circumstances, however, would we wish to deceive
the Irish by leaving the embassy in ignorance . . . and
thereby implying that we were abiding by Irish wishes, when
in fact we were not," the state department said.

© The Irish Times


Lack Of Support For Kenmare Harbour Plan

By Anne Lucey

An attempt to upgrade the 180-year-old harbour at
Kenmare, Co Kerry is likely to be reconsidered or abandoned
altogether following a public meeting at which there was a
clear lack of support for the idea.

An attempt to upgrade the 180-year-old harbour at Kenmare,
Co Kerry is likely to be reconsidered or abandoned
altogether following a public meeting at which there was a
clear lack of support for the idea.

The €10 million plan was drawn up by the specially convened
Kenmare harbour development group.

Last autumn, the proposal was presented to Kerry County
Council, where it received much support and was described
by some as "an exciting project" for the town.

A busy fishing and goods harbour in the 19th and mid-20th
century, Kenmare has now become silted and usable only at
high water by boats with a shallow draught.

The ambitious works included proposals to dredge large
deposits of shingle and mud, and to create a working port
of fishing and leisure vessels with up to 150 berths.

Harbour buildings and a playground were planned for a land
bank to be formed from reclaimed material.

The works would also prevent "a New Orleans style flooding"
in the town, which has experienced heavy flooding in recent

However, at a public meeting in Kenmare, attended by 500
people, objectors claimed the development would spoil the
traditional beauty of the harbour. It was also suggested a
private developer was involved.

Donald Lynch of the harbour group said afterwards that
people were afraid to speak in favour of the project at the
meeting and he had received a number of supportive calls.

He denied a private developer was behind the idea.

The group had hoped to get Government and EU funding, but
would now be writing to the Department of the Marine, Kerry
County Council and other organisations asking them not to
proceed with surveys of the harbour area.

"We've done our bit. We've been transparent and I'd hope
someone would take up the mantle eventually to try to push
the project forward," Mr Lynch said.

The project was perhaps 10 years ahead of its time, he

© The Irish Times

To receive this news via email, click HERE.
No Message is necessary.
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)
To February 2006 Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?