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February 08, 2006

'Spooks' Try To Take Over

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DI 02/08/06
‘Spooks’ Try To Take Over
BB 02/08/06 MPs’ Oath 'Should Be Re-Examined'
BT 02/08/06 MPs' Anger At Bid To Restore SF Allowances
SF 02/08/06 Sanctions - To Prevent Further SF Advances
BT 02/08/06 Moderator Elect Calls For Loyalists To Disarm
SF 02/08/06 Sinn Féin Meet Victims Commissioner
DI 02/08/06 Almost All NIO Staff In Unionist Districts
SF 02/08/06 Figures Reinforce Concerns About Agenda Of NIO
SF 02/08/06 DUP Blocks RC Nom To Community Centre Committee
BN 02/08/06 DUP Slams Brits Acceptance Of Decommissioning
UT 02/08/06 Call For Economic Forum During Assembly Talks
RT 02/08/06 McDowell Apologises To Ludlow Family
SF 02/08/06 Support for Irish Language Act in 6 counties
NL 02/08/06 Anger Over Erection Of Tricolour
NL 02/08/06 SF Slammed After Ban On Flag At Pipe Band Event
BT 02/08/06 Ex-GAA Chief Backs Lawyer In Forgery Trial
BT 02/08/06 Paramilitaries May Be Behind Kidnap Ordeal
SF 02/08/06 SF Welcomes O2 End Roaming Charges In Ireland
NL 02/08/06 McAleese 'Rant' Was Sectarian, Says McCartney
BT 02/08/06 Opin: A Bubble Of Goodwill About To Burst?
DI 02/08/06 Opin: Paisley A Blip In Ongoing Peace Process
DI 02/08/06 Opin: Grandpa Was A Firm Socialist Until End
BB 02/08/06 NI Schools Get £41m Funding Boost
SF 02/08/06 Hallinan - Stop Tolling Madness
TC 02/08/06 Daly’s Praise For BBC Bloody Sunday Reporter
DL 02/08/06 Frankie Gavin -Trad Fest


‘Spooks’ Try To Take Over

Angry Finucane family demands to know “who the hell is
running the country?” after Hain meeting

By Jarlath Kearney

The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane last
night appealed for the Irish government to urgently
intervene in the controversial case.

Pat Finucane’s widow Geraldine and son Michael, together
with Jane Winter of British-Irish Rights Watch, met with
secretary of state Peter Hain and senior British government
officials yesterday morning in Belfast.

Speaking to Daily Ireland last night, Michael Finucane
angrily demanded to know “who the hell is running the

During yesterday morning’s meeting, Mr Hain insisted that
an inquiry into Pat Finucane’s 1989 murder by loyalists
could only take place under the terms of the controversial
Inquiries Act.

The British government’s position is based on an alleged
need to protect “national security” considerations.

This Sunday marks the 17th anniversary of Mr Finucane’s

Five of the loyalists directly involved in the murder have
since been exposed as agents working for different branches
of the British intelligence services, including RUC Special

At the Weston Park political negotiations in 2001, the
British government agreed to implement any recommendation
made about the case by Canadian judge Peter Cory.

After Judge Cory conducted his independent review of the
facts, he found strong evidence of state collusion in Mr
Finucane’s murder and recommended a full independent

However last year the British government introduced the
Inquiries Act to provide for an inquiry under terms
controlled by a government minister rather than an
independent tribunal.

Describing yesterday’s meeting as “disappointingly
familiar”, Michael Finucane hit out at Peter Hain’s refusal
to consider any vehicle other than the Inquiries Act for
investigating his father’s case.

“That position now means that the British government is
insistent on proceeding with an inquiry that will not have
the co-operation or the endorsement of the Finucane
family,” Mr Finucane said.

“The meeting really did underline the extent to which this
government (the British) is under the control of the
intelligence services, to such an extent that they - MI5,
Special Branch and so forth - are capable of dictating the
terms of an inquiry into an issue as serious as Pat
Finucane and collusion.

“Insofar as the British maintain that the Inquiries Act is
the best vehicle in these circumstances, they are obviously
pandering to the whims - and sometimes demands - of the
security services.

“Mr Hain and his officials continually talked about the
need to achieve the co-operation of the intelligence
services and that such co-operation is only possible if the
Inquiries Act is used and restriction notices are employed.

“What was agreed at Weston Park in 2001 was a public and
independent inquiry if so recommended by Judge Cory.

“What is now being proposed is an intelligence services’
inquiry, in which it is entirely possible the only people
who will see all of the relevant material are the
intelligence services who created it in the first instance.

“Mr Hain said that the intelligence services would only be
prepared to co-operate in providing information when
restriction notices would be in place.

“That demonstrates that it is the people who currently have
the information locked away in their offices and files who
control any inquiry.

“You really come away from such a meeting with the burning
question: who the hell is running the country?” Mr Finucane

Appealing for the urgent intervention of the Irish
government, the Finucane family are now seek a meeting with
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in coming weeks.

Michael Finucane stressed his family’s consistent position
that they remain “very anxious to take part in any inquiry
that is obviously and verifiably independent”.

However Mr Finucane expressed concern that “there is now a
serious risk of an impasse developing that will be very,
very difficult to solve”.

He said: “Ultimately it has to be solved, because in my
view it really has now become something of an acid test for
the British.

“They have to deliver on it.

“If they are ever going to be hopeful of gaining public
confidence to any degree, then they’re going to have to
establish a proper public independent inquiry into Pat
Finucane’s murder,” Mr Finucane said.


MPs Oath 'Should Be Re-Examined'

The oath of loyalty to the Queen should be re-examined if
it meant Sinn Fein would take their Commons seats, the
Conservative NI spokesman has said.

David Lidington made the comments before a debate on
proposals to restore Sinn Fein's Westminster allowances.

Mr Lidington said a general commitment to uphold the law
and democratic politics could be considered as an
alternative to the compulsory oath.

The Commons allowances are worth about £500,000 to Sinn
Fein's five MPs.

"If Sinn Fein said it was the wording of the oath that was
the sole obstacle, then I think that it's something any
government would have to be willing to re-examine," Mr
Lidington said.

"But at the moment Sinn Fein are taking a very firm line
and saying it's not the wording of the oath, it goes far
beyond that."

Following a General Election, all MPs and peers must take
an oath of allegiance to the monarch before they can take
part in the work of Parliament.

The debate on Sinn Fein's allowances is expected to take
most of Wednesday afternoon in the Commons.


I swear by Almighty God [or, I do solemnly and sincerely
affirm] that I shall be faithful and bear true allegiance
to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors
according to law [So help me God]

They were withdrawn last year after allegations of IRA
involvement in the Northern Bank robbery.

The government wants to restore the allowances in
recognition of the IRA's disarmament initiative last year.

It is also proposing to pay Sinn Fein £80,000 a year
assistance for the party's representative business.

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said the party was entitled to the

"The allowances that are afforded to people isn't dependent
on anyone sitting at Westminster," the Newry and Armagh MP

"I think this whole situation highlights how farcical the
situation in relation to the Independent Monitoring
Commission has become.

"The IMC, on the basis of what they alleged were IRA
activities, recommended to the British government that
financial sanctions be imposed against Sinn Fein and the
British government moved on that.

"Then we have a situation that the IMC reports that the IRA
are engaged in a range of activities and recommends that
the sanctions be lifted."

The Independent Monitoring Commission was set up by the
British and Irish governments in January 2004 to monitor
the activity of paramilitary organisations.

It also monitors the "normalisation" of security measures
in Northern Ireland.

Its four commissioners come from Northern Ireland, the
Republic of Ireland, Britain and the US.

BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said
that both payments would be backdated to November last
year, if approved by MPs.

"Some MPs have objected to the additional financial
assistance, arguing that a new kind of allowance is being
specifically created for Sinn Fein," he said.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/08 10:40:15 GMT


Mps' Anger At Bid To Restore SF Allowances

By Brian Walker
08 February 2006

Government moves to restore Westminster allowances to the
four abstaining Sinn Fein members suspended in the wake of
the Northern Bank raid and the murder of Robert McCartney
has split MPs.

Ulster Unionist Lady Hermon, the DUP MPs and the
Conservatives were challenging Secretary of State Peter
Hain's assertion that the time was ripe to resume the
payments, following the IRA's July 28 statement ending
their campaign of violence and the verdict of the
Decommissioning Commission in September that they had
disposed of their arsenal.

In the Commons last night, DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson
said his party's claim that the IRA has not disposed of the
totality of their weapons " had been vindicated".

The IICD was "in no position to state that the Provos have
destroyed all their arsenal", he said.

Allowances of £260,000 will cover five months of the
financial year, backdated to last November.

A new payment of £35,000 of "Short" money for parliamentary
research, also backdated and worth £85,000 for a full year,
is also to be awarded.

Ahead of the debate DUP MP Gregory Campbell accused the
Government of "double standards" in restoring the
Westminster allowances, while Mr Hain was at the same time
pointing out the "widespread discontent regarding Assembly
members' pay and allowances while the Assembly is not


Financial Sanctions - An Attempt To Prevent Further Sinn
Féin Advances

Published: 8 February, 2006

Commenting on the moves today in Westminster by the British
government to end the financial discrimination against Sinn
Féin and our electorate, Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness
said that ‘the financial sanctions had been used to try and
distort the electoral landscape and prevent further Sinn
Féin advances’.

Mr McGuinness said:

“The British government introduced these discriminatory
sanctions in a bid to distort the electoral landscape and
give advantage to our political opponents who support the
status quo. They were a crude attempt to prevent further
Sinn Féin advances which ultimately failed at subsequent
elections as our support continued to rise.

“These monies are not as some are suggesting a British
government handout. They are monies which are the
entitlement of the people who vote Sinn Féin in ever
increasing numbers and contribute in the same way as
supporters of all of the other political parties.

“Sinn Féin are absolutely opposed to discrimination on the
grounds of political belief. Those who supported these
sanctions clearly are not.

“Throughout the past year we have consistently argued with
the British government to bring this political
discrimination to an end and once again ensure that
elections here are fought on a level political playing
field.” ENDS


Moderator Elect Calls For Loyalists To Disarm

Coleraine minister to lead Presbyterians

By Alf McCreary
08 February 2006

The new Presbyterian Moderator elect, the Rev David Clarke,
has called for loyalist paramilitaries to decommission
their weapons.

He was elected yesterday by 14 of the 21 Presbyteries in
the Church throughout Ireland.

The runner-up was the Rev Jimmy Johnstone from Larne, with
six nominations.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, shortly after
his election was announced, Mr Clarke said: "There has been
progress in Northern Ireland and I believe that the
Provisional IRA carried out a significant decommissioning
last autumn.

"It would help the situation greatly if the loyalists
decommissioned their weapons and I cannot see any reason
why they should hold onto them."

Mr Rev Clarke also said that he would be prepared as
Moderator to take part in joint worship with Catholics.

He said " My instinct is to represent the Presbyterian
Church in whatever arena I am required to do so."

This is in contrast with the present Moderator, the Rt Rev
Dr Harry Uprichard, who has theological difficulties in
sharing in joint worship.

Some years ago Mr Clarke visited several North American
cities on a "Rev Tour" with a Catholic priest Fr Sean
Rogan, now in Downpatrick.

He said " I regard him as a friend, though we haven't met
for some time."

Mr Clarke also said that he would participate in inter-
faith events.

"Where we are able to preserve our Christian integrity, I
would participate. We have to respect the point of view of
other people. Part of the Christian approach to life is
that we should be sensitive to the feelings of others."

Mr Clarke (59), is minister of Terrace Row in Coleraine.
This is the first time that a minister of this church has
become Moderator.

He is one of a family of eight, and two of his brothers
Arthur and James, are also Presbyterian ministers. Another
brother, Norman, formerly played football for Ballymena
United and Sunderland.

He is married to Hazel and they have two daughters, Ruth
and Sarah.

The Moderator elect will take up office during the opening
night of the General Assembly in June.


Sinn Féin Meet Victims Commissioner

Published: 8 February, 2006

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Truth, North Antrim MLA Philip
McGuigan speaking after the party's first meeting with the
newly appointed Victims' Commissioner Bertha McDougall has
said that it is essential that the 1,500 people killed by
the state and its' surrogates in the unionist
paramilitaries are not marginalised.

Mr McGuigan said:

"While Sinn Fein have serious concerns about the
appointment process used to appoint Ms McDougall we will
meet with anyone to ensure that all victims' are treated
equally. The bottom line is that there must be equality of
treatment for all victims and an end to the approach that
perpetuates the discrimination against victims of state
violence and collusion such as the appointment of the DUP's
nominee as Victims' Commissioner

"Almost 1,500 people were killed by the British state and
its' surrogates in the unionist paramilitaries. These are
the victims that have never received the acknowledgement
that all victims deserve. The Bloomfield Report, for
example, contained only two paragraphs about these victims.

"We need to ensure that there are adequate resources and
funding put in place by both governments to enable victims
groups to pursue their remits. We also need to see
International best practice adopted to support the
development of special community-based initiatives,
including trauma and counselling services.

"The British government, RUC and British Army have never
acknowledged their role in the conflict. As a next step
forward there is an onus on the British government to
acknowledge its role in the conflict and clarification of
its actions." ENDS


Almost All NIO Staff Based In Unionist Districts

Just three NIO workers located in deprivation-hit west

By Jarlath Kearney

More than 90 per cent of Northern Ireland Office staff are
located in predominantly unionist constituencies of the
North, it was revealed yesterday.

NIO minister Shaun Woodward revealed that 1,723 staff (or
94.3 per cent) of NIO employees are based in constituencies
across Belfast, East Antrim, Lagan Valley, East Derry,
North Down and Strangford.

The statistics were published just days after it emerged
that only 23.6 per cent of NIO’s core departmental staff
(155 out of 657 employees) are Catholic.

Yesterday’s figures about the location of NIO employees
relate to 1,828 members of staff — excluding those on
career break, Youth Justice Agency social workers, and
uniform prison service staff.

The North’s border constituencies — Foyle, West Tyrone,
Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Newry and Armagh, and South
Down – are all represented by Sinn Féin and SDLP MPs. Just
33 NIO staff – or 1.8 per cent – are located among these
five constituencies.

Just three NIO staff are located in Gerry Adams’ Belfast
West constituency, even though this has the worst levels of
deprivation in the North. There are 49 NIO staff in Belfast

By contrast, 690 NIO staff are located in the Belfast East
constituency, and 672 staff in Belfast South.

South Down assembly member Caitríona Ruane said last night
that the new statistics reinforced her party’s concerns
about the composition and “agenda” of the NIO.

“Sinn Féin has voiced huge concern about the composition of
the NIO and particularly the fact that less than one in
four core departmental staff are Catholic,” she said.

“The huge disparities in terms of where civil service staff
are based reinforce these concerns. The fact that 1,414 out
of 1,828 or over 77 per cent of NIO staff are based in
Belfast suggests a huge Belfast bias. Within Belfast, only
three are based in west Belfast.

“If East Antrim, Lagan Valley, East Derry, North Down and
Strangford and Belfast are looked at together, over 94 per
cent, or 1,723 staff, are based in these constituencies.
This means that only 105 NIO staff are based within the
other nine constituencies. Only one member of NIO staff is
based within my own South Down constituency.”

Ms Ruane raised the issue of there being an association
between the new statistics and the apparent bias in
relation to the NIO treatment of nationalist constituencies
and areas west of the Bann.

“Many people would ask if it is any wonder that, when key
decisions are taken by the NIO, nationalist constituencies
and areas west of the Bann can be seen to lose out time and
time again.

“Sinn Féin has argued that there is an imperative to
decentralise the civil service, not just because of the
economic impact but also because of the impact on decision

“These figures reinforce the general argument about the
need for decentralisation but also reinforce specific
concerns that Sinn Féin has about the NIO in terms of
composition and its agenda,” Ms Ruane said.


New Figures Reinforce Concerns About Composition And Agenda

Published: 7 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson, South
Down MLA Caitriona Ruane has said that figures released
today by Direct Rule Minister Shaun Woodward on where NIO
staff are based reinforces Sinn Féin's concerns about the
composition and agenda of the NIO.

Ms Ruane said:

"Sinn Féin have voiced huge concern about the composition
of the NIO and particularly the fact that less than 1 in 4
core departmental staff are Catholic.

"The huge disparities in where civil service are based
reinforce these concerns. The fact that 1,414 out of 1,828
or over 77% of NIO staff are based in Belfast suggests a
huge Belfast bias. Within Belfast only 3 are based in West

"If East Antrim, Lagan Valley, East Derry, North Down and
Strangford and Belfast are looked together over 94% or
1,723 staff are based in these constituencies. This means
that only 105 NIO staff are based within the other 9
constituencies. Only 1 member of NIO staff is based within
my own South Down constituency.

"Many people would ask if it is any wonder that when key
decisions are taken by the NIO that nationalist
constituencies and West of the Bann are the areas that can
be seen to lose out time and time again.

"Sinn Féin have argued that there is an imperative to
decentralise the civil service, not just because of the
economic impact but also because of the impact on decision
making. These figures reinforce the general argument about
the need for decentralisation but also reinforce specific
concerns that Sinn Féin have about the NIO in terms of
composition and its agenda." ENDS

Note to Editors

Parliamentary constituency Number of staff

Belfast East 690
Belfast North 49
Belfast South 672
Belfast West 3
East Antrim 172
East Londonderry 66
Fermanagh and South Tyrone 1
Foyle 7
Lagan Valley 107
Mid Ulster 1
Newry and Armagh 2
North Antrim 1
North Down 11
South Antrim 1
South Down 1
Strangford 19
Upper Bann 3
West Tyrone 22

Total 1,828

The above figures include NI civil service and Home civil
service staff, industrial and non-industrial, permanent and
temporary staff but not staff currently on career break,
uniform Prison Service staff or Youth Justice Agency social
workers at 1 January 2005.


DUP Blocks Catholic Nomination To Community Centre

Published: 7 February, 2006

Sinn Féin have accused the DUP in Ballymoney of trying to
exclude a nominee to a Community Centre Committee in
Rasharkin because they’re Catholic.

Sinn Féin’s Group Leader, Philip McGuigan MLA, said:

“At this week's full Council meeting it was expected that
Council would ratify the recommendation of the Rasharkin
Community Centre Committee and the Leisure & Amenities
Committee to co-opt two new members onto the Community
Centre Committee, one Protestant and one Catholic.

“However the DUP’s Roy Wilson then said that he wanted it
referred back to a DUP-controlled Committee as he was
unsure of the criteria for filling these positions and
whether the candidates met these.

“This was quite an amazing comment for him to make given
that he himself had nominated one of the proposed members
and had not raised this concern when given the opportunity
at both the Community Centre Committee and the Leisure &
Amenities Committee meetings. I must also raise the
question that if he was ‘unsure of the criteria’ then why
did he go ahead and propose someone for the role?

“The truth is quite clear. Roy Wilson was satisfied with
his proposal to the Committee, but has now stopped the
selection process in its tracks because the other nominee
is a Catholic woman. Even after the Director explained to
Cllr Wilson that the Catholic nominee had met the criteria
set out the DUP still voted to refer the matter back to a
Committee behind closed doors. This is just another example
of the bare-faced sectarianism that Catholic ratepayers
have to put up with in this area.”

Rasharkin Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay continued:

“This is not the first time that the DUP has used its
majority to deny fair representation of the
nationalist/republican community on this Committee. Last
year it blocked the largest nationalist party in the area –
Sinn Féin – and the 2 Councillors that represent them in
the area from sitting on the Community Centre Committee,
positions that Sinn Féin were, and are, entitled to.

“Its petty and pathetic behaviour and people in Rasharkin
are sick, sore and tired of the DUP’s continuing sectarian
misrule in this area.” ENDS


DUP Slams British Acceptance Of IRA Decommissioning

08/02/2006 - 08:09:59

The Democratic Unionist Party has expressed fresh fury with
the British government's acceptance of IRA decommissioning.

Yesterday, British minister Angela Smith told a House of
Commons committee that London was satisfied with the IRA's
disarmament last year.

The Independent Monitoring Commission has said "credible"
reports suggest the republican movement retained some guns
despite its historic decommissioning move in July.

However, Ms Smith said the British government believed any
retention of arms was not sanctioned by the IRA leadership.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has responded by accusing
London of believing the word of the IRA above that of its
own security services.


Call For Economic Forum During Assembly Talks

The British government has been urged to set up an all-
party economic forum while talks take place to restore the
Northern Ireland Assembly.

By:Press Association

The cross community Alliance Party`s enterprise spokesman
David Alderdice said they put forward the idea during talks
with the British and Irish Governments on Monday because it
was essential to the political process.

The North Down councillor said: "There must be no hiding
place for politicians who seek to be law makers on an issue
as fundamental as promoting business and investment.

"It is very easy to criticise Government from the outside
but those seeking to be inside need to come up with a plan
that will promote high-skilled jobs and a prospering
private sector.

"In the past week we have seen small businesses in Belfast
yet again forced to the brink by an illegal and
unforeseeable postal strike completely outside their

"Rightly, they have asked their public representatives what
they are doing about it. Only the Alliance Party has

On Monday, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain and Irish
Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern hosted the first round of new
talks with Stormont Assembly parties at Hillsborough Castle
on restoring devolution.

The two governments are to hold further meetings next week
and on February 20.

However they have also set an April deadline for progress
in the talks because a Northern Ireland Bill on policing
and criminal justice will be reaching its committee stage
at Westminster.

Officials in London, Belfast and Dublin argue if there are
to be meaningful Assembly elections in 2007, the province`s
parties will need to come up with amendments to the the
legislation if there are to be changes to Stormont`s system
of devolution.

Mr Alderdice, a former Belfast Lord Mayor and brother of
Independent Monitoring Commission member Lord Alderdice,
said the public in Northern Ireland were concerned at the
instability of the province`s remaining industrial sectors.

Rising costs and rates were threatening the sustainability
of large firms here, he said.

"This is no time for the `blame game`. If people want
positions in a devolved government, they had better ensure
there is a functioning economy to govern.

"The Alliance Party has put forward an all-party economic
forum as fundamental to the forthcoming political talks,
and as fundamental to any political settlement beyond that.

"It is time politicians showed the people that they can


McDowell Apologises To Ludlow Family

08 February 2006 12:12

The Minister for Justice has apologised to the family of
Seamus Ludlow for the way they were treated by organs of
the State.

Michael McDowell was speaking to a justice sub-committee
which is looking at the Barron Report into the murder of Mr

Seamus Ludlow, a 47-year-old single man from Dundalk, was
shot dead as he walked home from the pub on 2 May 1976.


The Barron Report into his murder sharply criticised the
garda investigation into his death.

The RUC told the gardaí in 1979 that it believed four named
loyalists were involved in the killing but this information
was not pursued by the gardaí at the time.

The report also concluded that Seamus Ludlow had nothing to
connect him with any subversive organisations.


Support for Irish Language Act in 6 counties

Bairbre de Brún expresses support for campaign for Irish
Language Act in 6 counties

Published: 8 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún is supporting the Pobal
campaign for an Irish Language Act for the six counties.

Ms de Brún was speaking after an event in Belfast city
centre were Pobal launched their plans for an Irish
Language Act following a year long consultation with the
Irish language community.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"Legislation has been introduced throughout the world to
protect indigenous languages. I commend Pobal's work on
this issue and they have drafted proposals for a
comprehensive act. Irish language speakers in the six
counties should have the same rights as those in the rest
of the country.

"Sinn Féin will be making the case to the Irish government,
the British government and the other political parties.
This is a worthwhile project which deserves everyone's

"We will be ensuring that the rights of Irish speakers and
the framework to develop the language as recommended in
this act are at the centre of any negotiations between
ourselves and the two governments and other political

"Pobal will ensure that Irish will have a place in the
future, that Irish language speakers have clear rights, and
that the state is aware of its duties and
responsibilities." ENDS


Anger Over Erection Of Tricolour

By Anne Palmer And Simon Hunter
Wednesday 8th February 2006

Protestants in Fermanagh have accused republicans of
intimidation after a tricolour was erected on the site of a
former police station.

It is believed that a nationalist group entered Rosslea
police station, which is currently being demolished by
private contractors, and erected the flag last weekend.

The incident sparked clashes between unionists and Sinn
Fein at a meeting of Fermanagh District Council.

DUP MLA Arlene Foster branded the move a "disgraceful act
of triumphalism" and said those involved were guilty of
trespassing on a secure site.

"The Protestants in the area feel its upping the ante and
the republicans are reclaiming the area," she said.

"It's a very concerning development. It's not the first
area in Fermanagh to find a tricolour being put up. They
are trying to make those that live on the border feel

Mrs Foster said she had spoken to the contractors who
claimed hinges had been cut off doors and that plant
material was taken from the site during the breakin.

It is not just a protest, things have been stolen," said
the DUP MLA.

Ulster Unionist Harold Andrews said the incident was
"deplorable", while the DUP's Bert Johnston said it was
"criminal activity" to interfere with people at work.

However, Sinn Fein's Brian McCaffrey said the occupation of
the station was carried out by community group members
angered that the site was not given over for community use.

"Other than going into the station, no damage was done," he

His party colleague, Bernice Swift, claimed there had been
a lack of consultation across the entire county over
disposal of the PSNI stations.

A PSNI spokesman confirmed the situation was being

"We are investigating an incident in which the compound of
the former police station at Rosslea was entered and a flag
was raised over the weekend," he said.

"This site is currently being demolished by contractors."


SF Slammed After Ban On Flag At Pipe Band Event

By Anne Palmer And Alistair Bushe
Wednesday 8th February 2006

Sinn Fein councillors in Fermanagh have been accused of
sectarianism after they opposed the flying of the Union
flag at a pipe band contest.

They proposed that Fermanagh District Council write to the
Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association requesting that it
doesn't fly the flag at its future events in Enniskillen.

To the fury of unionists, the proposal was approved after
Sinn Fein's Bernice Swift obtained the votes of party
colleagues and the SDLP.

DUP MLA Arlene Foster accused Sinn Fein of unnecessarily
stirring up sectarian tensions, while the council also
confirmed that no complaints had been received from the
public about the flag. "This is an absolute disgrace," said
Mrs Foster. "Sinn Fein are trying to create sectarianism
where, frankly, there is none, and that is what is so
upsetting about all this. "The GAA get a huge amount of
money from the council every year and do they fly flags?
Yes they do."

Mrs Foster said Sinn Fein was obsessive about all things

She added: "This is the kind of nonsense that has been
going on since Sinn Fein became by far the largest party
last year. "They seem to think that anything remotely
British is sectarian, yet they sit in the chamber and speak
in Irish, trying to make us feel isolated and different.
"They have no recognition of the principle of consent,
which means that until the majority of people say
otherwise, this country remains part of the United

Fermanagh District Council already provides an annual grant
of £375 towards the staging of the pipe band event.

The authority's chief executive, Rodney Connor, said the
association was "by no means a single identity group".

He also confirmed there had been no complaints about the
manner in which the event was run.

"This has been one of the most successful events. It is
cross-community and I have had no complaints whatsoever,"
he said.

UUP councillor Bertie Kerr, a member of the Pipe Band
Association, said: "I hope the good relations in the
Scottish Pipe Band Association are not affected by anything
in this council."

Highlighting the flying of flags at GAA events, the UUP's
Tom Elliott asked whether the council's request not to fly
flags would be extended to all organisations.


Ex-GAA Chief Backs Lawyer Accused In Forgery Trial

By Claire Regan
08 February 2006

A past president of the GAA has given evidence in defence
of a former Ulster Unionist councillor accused of swindling
the Tourist Board - describing him as a "trustworthy" and
"very honourable" man.

Fermanagh businessman Peter Quinn took the stand yesterday
at the trial of Raymond Ferguson (64), who he said he had
known since their student days.

He told Newry Crown Court, sitting in Armagh, that
Ferguson, a solicitor, was a very popular figure.

"I have always found him very popular within both sides of
the community," he said. "He is a high-profile figure
within the county. He is a very honourable man and I would
have identified him as someone who would have been

Ferguson, of Lakeside Avenue in Enniskillen, is accused of
forging an invoice and cheque for £18,855 to dupe the
Tourist Board into handing over 40% as grant aid - around

He denies two charges of forgery and one of false
accounting on dates between November 1991 and December

The charges arise after Ferguson and former business
partner Alan Cathcart formed Castlehume Developments
Company to build a golf course outside Enniskillen in the
early 1990s.

Mr Quinn told the jury that the project, which was
Ferguson's idea, has proved "very beneficial" to Fermanagh,
creating 96 full-time jobs and boosting the county's
economy by £110m-£125m.

Ferguson admitted on Monday that a paid cheque and invoice
submitted to the Tourist Board were works of "fiction".

But he claimed the board's consultant on the golf course,
Tom McAuley, advised them to claim back fees paid to course
designers over the previous two-year period in that way.

Mr McAuley last week denied advising Ferguson to create a
cheque and invoice to cover the sum paid out to different
course designers in various instalments.

At hearing


Paramilitaries May Be Behind Kidnap Ordeal

Substantial ransom is handed over

By Clare Weir
08 February 2006

A possible paramilitary link is being investigated into
what police believe is Londonderry's first "tiger

Three men from the city were recovering today from a
lengthy ordeal which saw two of them dumped in a forest
after being abducted for a ransom.

The PSNI say that a "substantial" sum in cash was taken
from off-licence Star Value's headquarters after a staff
member, his brother and a friend were held hostage at a
house in the Rosemount area by four armed men on Sunday.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Richard Russell said yesterday
that two Derry men were abandoned in rural Donegal after a
substantial ransom was handed over on Monday.

The staff member was sent to work as normal on Monday
morning and ordered to bring a substantial lodgement to a
location to secure the release of his brother and a friend.

The pair held hostage were discovered by guards in a forest
near Grainne's Gap, near Muff, at around 4pm yesterday.

The victims, who police said suffered a "terrible ordeal"
were still being interviewed yesterday and tests carried
out on a car used to drop off the money.

Chief Superintendent Russell said that a paramilitary link
to the robbery was "a possibility".

He added that he had "serious concerns" about the robbery.

"I know there have been a number of these types of
incidents in Strabane, but obviously there are now serious
concerns that it has spread here.

"It is too early to say who carried this out, or if it is
connected to any previous incidents. However, the fact that
it was carried out by a paramilitary gang is a

There have been a number of "tiger kidnappings" - when a
family member or friend is held to force the victim to take
part in a robbery - in Strabane in recent years, with up to
£400,000 stolen during two robberies at the town's Ulster
Bank branch.

Other high profile targets across the province have
included a raid at Boots and the multi-million pound
robbery at the Northern Bank in Belfast.

But this latest incident is thought to be the first of its
kind in Derry.


Sinn Féin Welcomes Decision Of O2 To End Roaming Charges On
Island Of Ireland

Published: 8 February, 2006

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications, Seán Crowe TD has
welcomed the announcement by mobile phone company O2 that
it is to end the practice of charging 'roaming rates' for
calls made on the island of Ireland.

Deputy Crowe said "Sinn Féin has been consistent on this
issue for a long time -- raising it with O2 as far back as
2003. We have argued that mobile phone users, especially
around the border region, were being unjustly penalised as
a result of their proximity to the border.

"Mobile phone signals no more recognise the artificial
border on this island than a free flowing river or a wild
animal would and the result is that people on both sides of
the border are often incorrectly charged roaming rates,
which are significantly higher than normal rates, when they
hadn't even left either jurisdiction.

"That these charges are to be ended is a welcome
development which I hope will be followed speedily by other
mobile phone operators.

"We live on a relatively small island. Even the British
Government has acknowledged the merits of promoting our
economic development on an all-Ireland basis. Clearly O2
also see the merits of this and have acted accordingly.
What we need now is a more concerted effort across all
aspects life on this island, be it transport, health or
tourism or whatever, to build an island wide social and
economic infrastructure which will benefit all the people
living on this island." ENDS


McAleese 'Rant' Was Sectarian, Says McCartney

By Stephen Dempster Polictical Editor
Wednesday 8th February 2006

Irish President Mary McAleese has been accused of damaging
relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the
atmosphere of peace talks.

She was back under fire from unionism last night, after
recent allegedly " sectarian, anti-British" remarks she
made in a speech in Cork, spilled over into the
Hillsborough talks this week.

UK Unionist Party leader Bob McCartney said the address on
the Easter Rising at University College Cork was "a
republican rant" and he denounced them in discussions with
Irish Foreign Minster Dermot Ahern.

"They exposed the sectarian anti-Protestant, anti-unionist
streak which lurks just beneath the surface in the
Republic," he claimed.

His angry comments come quick on the heels of Ian Paisley
saying last weekend that he did not like Mrs McAleese, she
was "dishonest" and no friend of Northern Ireland.

Last year, Mrs McAleese was also condemned and forced to
apologise for comparing unionists to the Nazis.

The issue was also raised when the DUP met Dermot Ahern on

Insiders said that meeting was "tetchy" and Mr Ahern

Mr Ahern said: "I said to him (Mr Paisley) that I, on
behalf of the Irish Government and on behalf of the Irish
people, categorically found his remarks unacceptable,
unwarranted and untrue.

"I indicated that I found it very unhelpful. I indicated
that the Irish Government, none of the Government members
would do likewise with any head of state - not least the
Queen of England."

Mr Paisley retorted that he told Mr Ahern " in no uncertain
language that when she made remarks about Northern Ireland
and Ulster unionists (being like Nazis), that they were
strangely silent.

"I said you're not refuting anything I said because you
can't. What I said is the truth and you will just have to
take it that those are the views that we are going to put

Mr McCartney said he raised the Cork speech with Dermot
Ahern on Monday evening.

That address by Mrs McAleese was an impassioned defence of
the republican Easter Rising.

It raged against "imperial English gentlemen" and the
"foreign class" (namely Anglo-Irish Protestants). Mr
McCartney said he exchanged words with Mr Ahern in a
difficult atmosphere. "I spoke to him and said 'do you
approve of what she said?'.

"He said he did." He continued: "Now this is the same man
who was telling me we had to intervene to stop sectarianism
in Northern Ireland.

"I told him he should take a look at his own country and
the number of Protestants forced out of there.

"He said this was untrue. But it is a matter of historical

"The burnings and killings of Protestants in west Cork, for
example, has been well documented by nationalist as well as
unionist historians.

"The number of Protestants in the Irish population has
dropped from 12 per cent to two per cent. Yet he had the
barefaced cheek to deny this text book fact."

The Cork speech was actually given almost a fortnight ago.

But amid political concerns and rows in Northern Ireland,
including the IMC report and fresh peace talks was picked
up more by journalists and commentators in the Republic.

Irish Independent commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards dissected
the speech.

"It demonstrated that despite her modish rhetoric, at 54
our president is little changed from Mary Patricia
Leneghan, who grew up sharing the prejudices of a fiercely
nationalist, Catholic Belfast community," she said.

Mr McCartney said: "This is the President of Ireland, who
likes to present herself as a woman of peace."

A spokeswoman for Mrs McAleese said she was not commenting
on the matter.


Opin: A Bubble Of Goodwill About To Burst?

London Life with Brian Walker
08 February 2006

Is the bubble of goodwill President McAleese has enjoyed
for most of the last eight years about to burst? The
offence she caused by comparing Protestant attitudes to
Catholics with Nazi hatred of the Jews seemed to have been

But now Ian Paisley has put the black spot on her, by
telling his annual conference at the weekend: "She pretends
to love this province but she hates it."

This is worrying because up to now Mary McAleese has been a
Belfast-born icon, able to cross the sectarian divide
deftly and warmly accepted all round.

Although he made no reference to it, Paisley must have had
in mind the row raging in the columns of the Irish Times
over her recent lauding of the 1916 Easter Rising.

In a lecture interpreted as claiming back the 1916
revolutionary tradition from the Provos before next year's
Dail election, McAleese admiringly quoted Pearse's
proclamation of the Republic: "The kind of Ireland the
heroes of the Rising aspired to was based on an inclusivity
that famously, 'would cherish all the children of the
nation equally.'"

Well up to a point, Mary. For making this sort of claim she
has attracted the worst attacks on an Irish President for
30 years. The academic lawyer in McAleese made the mistake
of allowing the words of the Proclamation to speak louder
than the Rising's actions, as her southern critics have
rushed to point out, putting even Paisley's attack in the

"Utter rubbish"; "Playing with fire", were the milder
comments. Among more thoughtful ones: "What about 50,000
Protestants driven out of Ireland?" and, "The Provos today
could be defended on much the same terms."

The contrary case to McAleese's runs that the Rising was

Home Rule, already granted in principle, would have led to
a federal UK or complete Irish independence peacefully. By
1916, partition could not have been halted but might have
been proved temporary. The Rising was a tragic error which
elevated the previously ramshackle physical force tradition
to the top of the tree, with the terrible results we are
still living out today.

Mary McAleese's attempts to draw a straight line from 1916
to the Good Friday Agreement's guarantees of 'mutual
respect' between north and south fails to stand up but her
intentions were of the best. By stretching her presidential
neutrality she exposed a flank to Ian Paisley, but he was
wrong to take advantage of it.

It's to the Republic's credit that they keep adjusting
their national myth to take account of the Troubles.
Perhaps one day we'll learn to be as self-critical north of
the border.

Just when John Lewis and Ikea are about to crown the
shopping boom, a backlash against big shopping has begun in
GB. Even worse, cheap flights are next in line.

An all-party Small Shops Group of MPs is demanding curbs on
the onward march of the big retailers. Fast track planning
permission is to be halted, (no change in Northern Ireland
there). Business rate concessions and free parking on
supermarket property are to be challenged because they
create unfair competition with the high street. The MPs are
reacting against the disappearance of 30,000 small shops in
a decade and what they see as the overweening power of a
handful of companies who swallow up 60% of UK consumers'
buying power.

Next up could be an attack on cheap airfares. These have
been creeping up with a surcharge for the privilege of
putting a bag in the hold. At this rate we'll be clinging
to webbing on the aircraft sides and ordered to jump on to
a bouncy castle after landing.

The short-term problem is the huge hike in fuel prices.
Longer term, the issue is, of course, global warming. A
London to Edinburgh flight produces 193 kg of carbon
dioxide compared to 23.8 by train, an option denied to us.

On another tack, Friends of the Earth claim that cheap
flights actually cost the country money. They say that
100,000 visitors to Northern Ireland in 2004 spent a fairly
meagre £39 million, while 215,000 flew out and spent £153
million elsewhere, a loss to the region of £114 million.

I'm not entirely convinced by this; it doesn't seem to take
into account the intangible but vital figure of business
won for the province.

However the debate shows that even the biggest blessings -
among which I count cheap travel and shopping - have their
downside and may not last forever.


Paisley Just A Blip In The Ongoing Peace Process

Danny Morrison

A few years ago I was speaking in Fermanagh in front of a
mixed audience. A unionist supporter stood up and asked
impassionedly had nationalists any idea the devastating
effect that 30,000 of them voting for Bobby Sands had on
the Protestant community. I replied: had unionists any idea
of how nationalists felt at a quarter of a million of their
number voting for Ian Paisley who had collaborated with the
UDA and continually insulted the Catholic faith.

By his silence I knew the man had never thought about it
that way because, you see, nationalists are the
troublemakers and unionists are innocent.

I wasn’t comfortable putting a courageous, virtuous person
on the same plane as Ian Paisley but the point was
apposite. Bobby Sands never instigated the conflict: he was
a victim of it.

Following Paisley’s reaction to the recent IMC report (‘IRA
didn’t fully decommission/IRA still active’) you can
understand the wisdom of the IRA refusing his demand for
the destruction of its weapons to be filmed and witnessed
by a DUP nominee. Couldn’t you just visualise Paisley at
his annual conference last weekend? Not only would he be
gloating that he had forced the IRA to wear ‘sackcloth and
ashes’ publicly on video – which would have been playing
out on a large screen behind his large head – but he would
have bellowed that the IRA had lied and not put all of its
weapons beyond use, therefore the DUP would not be going
into government with Sinn Fein.

Not that the IRA would have acceded to his demand but it is
a fact that throughout history it is the people who have
been oppressed who are always more willing to shake hands,
to compromise for the sake of peace, than bullies and
former oppressors.

There are many republicans who feel that the IRA leadership
went too far throughout this process. I myself think that
while there have been mistakes they got the balance just
about right. It has been a difficult road given that the
armed struggle was waged – and could only have been waged –
with idealistic zeal and for fundamental demands.
Independence and a socialist Ireland are what volunteers
signed up for and for which many laid down their lives.

We demanded a British withdrawal within the lifetime of a
government. We demanded that Britain recognise the right of
the Irish people as a unit to national self-determination.
We demanded an amnesty for the political prisoners. And we
fought one hell of a long struggle and paid a heavy price
in pursuit of those demands.

There were many lessons learned along the way. The
exigencies of survival meant that republicans couldn’t
allow themselves to be constrained by their principles. So,
the IRA began ‘recognising’ courts, particularly in the
South where the unchallenged word of a garda superintendent
was enough to imprison a volunteer. Volunteers fought court
cases, took the witness stand and refuted allegations of
membership and IRA activity. In miscellaneous, political
and quasi-political court cases republicans paid fines and
some individuals – again quoting pragmatism, but against
republican policy – pleaded guilty in court to minimise
their sentences.

After the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order was
introduced in 1987, republican activists ‘filed’ for
marches, albeit insulating themselves from direct dealings
with the RUC through using solicitors. It was the same over
the Robert McCartney murder – using solicitors and the
ombudsman’s office rather than dealing directly with the
PSNI. (Incidentally, I consider sorting out the policing
issue to be a bigger priority and bigger prize than the
restoration of the institutions.)

Republicans have used the courts and judicial reviews to
sue the state or compel unionists to obey equality laws.

Purists will argue that this dilutes one’s republicanism –
but purists rarely have anything to show for struggle and
sacrifice. Life is complex, circumstances change, battles
are won and lost, opportunities arise, and, as in nature,
it is those who can adapt who survive and thrive. In fact,
to use and exploit the system in a considered way, both in
its contradictions or whatever advantages it offers to
achieve one’s ultimate aims is often to do the
revolutionary thing. This, to me, is the story of the peace
process, and the peace process to me is a phase of

The physical war with the British government is over –
though other battles continue, particularly with regard to
the truth about its murder campaign. Britain remains as the
administrator of the North. But it is willing to devolve
powers to an assembly and an executive and work co-
operatively with Dublin, despite unionist objections. The
British army is no longer in our faces or a part of our
lives. The majority of political prisoners have been
released. Irish government involvement in the North is now
a fact of political life. Sinn Féin involvement in the
Irish government is an election or two away.

As Dermot Ahern pointed out the other day to unionists, the
people of the 26 counties agreed to the amendments of
Articles 2 & 3 of the Irish Constitution as part of the
Belfast Agreement which involved a power-sharing executive
and all-Ireland bodies. Neither government is prepared to
abandon the agreement. Nor, it seems, are republicans, who
view it as a major compromise but also the template for
change and working towards Irish unity. Which brings me
back to Paisley.

Increasingly, I think we must need our heads examined. Just
because he represents the largest party might entitle him
to be First Minister – but, in truth, who could work with
this one-man executive? He is ill-mannered, arrogant,
pompous and bigoted. We want the North to change, to
modernise, and not to be stuck in the sixteenth century
having the Protestant Reformation shoved down our throats.
What an advertisement he would be around the world.

We would be a laughing stock.

We would be building on gas.

I thank God that Paisley is terrified of being First
Minister, and that the DUP, by making the North
ungovernable within, is demonstrating that the North is a
failed political entity. Ironically, that was one of the
aims of the IRA’s armed struggle. Goodbye Sinn Fein/IRA,
Hello DUP/IRA!

Republicans should remember that they wanted to bypass a
northern assembly and executive and work macro-politically
towards unification. Sinn Fein should go back to basics and
demand the abolition of the failed assembly.

Even though Hain rule is misrule and unrepresentative rule,
it is better than Paisley rule. We’ve waited for 800 years,
what’s a few more?

Danny Morrison is a regular media commentator on Irish
politics. He is the author of three novels and three works
of non-fiction.


Opin: Grandpa Munster Actor Was A Firm Socialist Until The

“My mother was an immigrant woman, a peasant woman.
Struggled all her life. Worked in the garment centre.
Understood what the struggle was about. My mother couldn’t
read or write but she had more sense than many a graduate
from Harvard.” – Actor Al Lewis

JIM DEE Daily Ireland USA correspondent

Al Lewis, the actor who played Grandpa Munster in the 1960s
TV sitcom The Munsters, died in New York last Friday at the
age of 95.

In the 1960s, Grandpa Munster — the cigar-smoking vampire
father-in-law of the Frankenstein’s monster-like Herman on
The Munsters — was a regular presence on television screens
from Cairo to Chicago, and Belfast to Buenos Aires.

Given that he rode the wings of US cultural imperialism to
global fame, it would seem likely that Lewis had a soft
spot for the US brand of capitalism. In fact, he had
anything but that.

Born as Alexander Meister on a farm in upstate New York in
1910, he moved to Brooklyn with his family as a child. His
introduction to show business occurred at 13 when he began
an eight-year stint as a circus worker — initially cleaning
up elephant droppings before graduating to become a clown
and eventually a trapeze artist.

From there, his trajectory as an entertainer would take him
into vaudeville and Broadway, before eventually landing him
a role in the hit TV sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? in 1961.
Car 54, a comedy about a police precinct in the Bronx, saw
him team up with the actor Fred Gwynne.

In 1964, a year after Car 54 went off the air, the pair
joined up again to play Grandpa and Herman in The Munsters,
which ran until 1966 and is still running on the TV Land
nostalgia network.

On paper at least, Lewis’ career appeared linear or as
linear as an entertainer’s could be. However, through it
all, he also developed deep progressive political
convictions, convictions that took him on periodic tangents
into union organising in the south and protesting for civil
rights and against the Vietnam War.

Along the way, he also acquired the title Dr Al Lewis, by
earning a doctorate in child psychology from New York’s
Columbia University in 1941.

In the 1960s, he would also become an ally and advocate of
the Black Panther Party. He actually taught black history
at some of the group’s teach-ins and helped to raise money
for defence lawyers needed by the group when it was
targeted by the FBI’s infamous Cointelpro programme.

He also became an ardent defender of Fidel Castro and the
Cuban revolution. He continued to visited the Caribbean
island regularly despite the 1963 law banning US citizens
from travel there. (Lewis’ PhD allowed him to exploit
exemption for academics in the law.)

By the 1990s, Lewis was owner of a popular restaurant in
Manhattan — named Grandpa’s, naturally. He had also become
a fixture on public radio in New York, where he used his
weekly show to champion the rights of workers, unions, the
poor and underprivileged. In 1998, he even ran for governor
of New York as a Green Party candidate. He didn’t have a
prayer of winning but his garnering of more than 52,000
votes was enough to guarantee the Greens a place on New
York’s electoral ballots for the next four years.

In 1997, during an extensive interview with The Shadow, an
underground New York newspaper, Lewis credited his mother
with giving him his political direction in life.

“My mother was an immigrant woman, a peasant woman.
Struggled all her life. Worked in the garment centre.
Understood what the struggle was about. My mother couldn't
read or write but she had more sense than many a graduate
from Harvard,” he said.

He said he had attended large May Day demonstrations in New
York with his mother from an early age. By the time the
Great Depression hit, he was a full-blown socialist. He
said the hard times of that era had solidified his beliefs.

“You’re aware of bread-and-butter issues. How could I not
be aware during the Depression that people were starving?
And I was helping my mother sell apples. How could I not be
aware?” said Lewis.

He said his activism, particularly in defending the rights
of homeless people during the Great Depression, had
frequently led to confrontations with the police.

“During the Depression, people were getting evicted, ten a
day. We used to come along and break the lock and put the
furniture back in again,” said Lewis.

“We would storm the Home Relief Centres, that or this
person didn't get a cheque for $8 or something, and get hit
on the head” by police, he said.

After an era of progressive gains during the 1960s, the
United States went on to experience a backlash during the
Reagan years that turned the country sharply to the right
but Lewis never lost his idealism.

“Everybody in this society wants the quick fix,” he told
The Shadow.

“So do the radicals, whatever you want to call them. A
bumper sticker, put it on your car: ‘I'm a radical’, ‘I'm a
lefty’, ‘I'm a progressive’, ‘I'm left of centre’. It's all
bullshit. I learned a long time ago — I've been in the
struggle over 70 years. It doesn't bother me I may not win.

“After doing X amount of time or years, don't throw your
hands up in the air because, you see, everybody wants ‘the
win’. They want it today,” he added.

“It doesn't happen. The struggle goes on. The victory is in
the struggle, for me. And I accepted that a long time ago.”


NI Schools Get £41m Funding Boost

Schools in Northern Ireland are to get an extra £41m next
year after Education Minister Angela Smith announced a
budget increase of 4.3%.

However, Ms Smith warned money was being spread too thinly
because too many schools have empty places.

Three education and library boards will get more money, but
funding from the two which overspent will be deducted.

The £10m from the Belfast and the South Eastern Boards will
be redistributed among other areas of education.

The minister said the challenge of falling pupil numbers
has to be addressed.

"This is a significant injection of extra funding into our
schools, and will make a real difference to many but it
could deliver so much more," she said.

"The fact is that this investment is spread too thinly
across too many schools, many with significant surplus

Ms Smith said the independent review of education spending
in the province announced last week by Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain would examine how best to use

The minister acknowledged efforts made by the two
overspending boards in reducing their deficits.

"The challenge must now be for the boards to prioritise to
ensure a strong focus on key front-line services, including
support for special educational needs; healthier school
meals; and school maintenance," she said.

"I also want them to look at ways of working together on
shared services in readiness for the new education

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/08 12:51:27 GMT


Hallinan - Stop Tolling Madness

Published: 7 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Councillor Martin Hallinan today called on the
Minister for Transport Martin Cullen to scrap the proposed
toll on the Fermoy by-pass and to end the chaos surrounding
the policy of tolling on our major roads.

Cllr Martin Hallinan said: “It is absolutely nonsensical
that while the Minister of Transport is removing toll
booths from the M50 he is overseeing the installation of
new ones on the Fermoy bypass. Is this man incapable of
learning from past mistakes? Must he continue to waste
huge amounts of taxpayer’s money in a mistaken belief that
he is saving face?”

“The amount of money expected to be paid to National Toll
Roads for the M50 debacle would build two new hospitals on
green field sites. Yet here he goes imposing new toll
booths on the Fermoy bypass while the technology is
available to toll without stopping traffic. He is
repeating the very mistakes made on the M50. In a few
years will Martin Cullen or his successor turn around and
pay a huge sum of taxpayer’s money to buy out this tolling
operation – another cash cow for some private firm”

“It is clear that the policy of tolling on our roads is ill
thought out and extremely expensive for drivers and
taxpayers. Tolling the Fermoy by-pass will cause untold
misery for towns like Watergrasshill and Rathcormac, which
will have to bear the brunt of the expected 40% of
motorists and the HGV drivers who will use them as a rat
run to avoid the high cost of the trolls. It will result
in an increase in deaths and injuries from accidents on
these rat runs.”

“I am calling on the Minister to stop this nonsense.
Scrap the tolls now before they cause untold misery to
drivers and residents and expense to the taxpayers.”Ends


Daly’s Praise For BBC Bloody Sunday Reporter

Posted on February 08, 2006

The former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, has paid tribute to
the late BBC reporter John Bierman for his reportage of the
1972 Bloody Sunday riots. Bishop Daly said Bierman had
captured one of the most iconic images of Bloody Sunday and
was the first person to show it to the world as he referred
to the award winning-journalist's capture the image of
fatally wounded Jackie Duddy being carried away led by the
then Father Daly waving a white handkerchief The ex-bishop
said Bierman, who has died aged 76, was “the first person
to bring news to the world of the events of Bloody Sunday
and one of the first international journalist to recognise
the significance of the events and he was very important to
Derry because of that."


Frankie Gavin -Trad Fest

17-Mar-2006 to: 17-Mar-2006

Frankie Gavin, legendary fiddle player from De Danann,
plays the National Concert Hall on Friday, the 17th of

A fitting way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the
penultimate concert of Trad Fest is given over to renowned
fiddler and member of De Danann, Frankie Gavin.

For the concert, Frank Gavin leads a troupe of some of
Ireland's best emerging young traditional talent through an
exciting cultural landscape of traditional music featuring
Sean Nos and Step Dancing.

Born in county Galway in 1956, Frankie Gavin hails from a
very musical family and began playing Irish traditional
music at the age of four on the tin whistle. Martin Rabbitt
taught him to read music in Galway but he is largely self-
taught and has a remarkable ability for learning music by

At the age of seventeen, the prodigious Gavin was placed
first in the All Ireland Uner-18 Fiddle and Flute
competitions on the same day. Gavin soon developed a vast
repertoire of tunes from the traditional music of the West
of Ireland and the 78s US recordings of Michael Coleman and
James Morrision.

In the early '70s, Gavin began playing in a session with
Alex Finn, Mickey Finn, Johnnie McDonagh and Charlie
Piggott that eventually transformed into the renowned trad
group, De Danann.

When De Danann were looking for a singer, Gavin drafted in
Dolores and her rendition of "The Rambling Irishman" on
their debut album gained the band a lot of radio airplay.

Over 15 albums, De Danann showcased the talents of Maura
O'Connell and Martin O'Connor while reinterpreting rock
tunes such as "Hey Jude" and classical pieces such as "The
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" in imaginative trad

Frankie Gavin has released six critically acclaimed albums,
published "A Classical Reel", "Do It in Jigtime" and "Maam
Valley" and performed with everyone from The Rolling Stones
to Earl Scruggs to Stephane Grappelli.

A pivotal figure in Irish traditional music, Frankie Gavin
plays the National Concert Hall on the 17th of March.

Frankie Gavin
National Concert Hall
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: €25/€20/€17.50
Tickets are available from the National Concert Hall Box

National Concert Hall
Earlsfort Terrace,
Dublin 2.
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 4170000

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