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February 16, 2006

Transfer Of Policing & Justice Power Is Critical

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 02/16/06 Transfer Of Policing & Justice Power Critical
IT 02/17/06 SF Unlikely To Alter Policing Stance
DU 02/16/06 Are Sinn Fein Being Short Changed Again?
BN 02/16/06 Decision Not To Interview 'Probably Political'
IT 02/17/06 DPP Receives File On IRA Northern Bank Raid
BN 02/16/06 SF: SDLP Should Join Our Push For Dáil Rights
DI 02/16/06 SF Man Seeks Legal Advice Over Article
IM 02/16/06 Ard Fheis 2006: Wide Ranging Policy Debates
IT 02/17/06 SF Wants To Abolish Private Hospitals
DI 02/16/06 Crowds Protest Over Asbestos Dump Plan
BN 02/16/06 Ballymena Council Flag Row Brewing
DI 02/16/06 No Probe For First Victim
IT 02/16/06 Opin: SF Rank-&-File May Need To Let Off Steam
CN 02/16/06 Opin: SF Must Support Police & Rule Of Law
IT 02/17/06 Fruit Of Loom Closes Buncrana Plant In May
IT 02/17/06 Hunt Museum Inquiry Completes Interim Report
ON 02/16/06 Cherished Music
IT 02/17/06 Decline In RTÉ Radio Station Flagship Shows
IT 02/17/06 Established Names Fail To Halt Slide At 2FM


Transfer Of Power On Policing And Justice Critical

Published: 16 February, 2006

Commenting after the British government brought forward
legislation introducing an enabling bill for the transfer
of powers on Policing and Justice, Sinn Féin spokesperson
on the issue Gerry Kelly said:

Mr Kelly said :

" The introduction of an enabling bill for the transfer of
power on policing and justice is a welcome first step.
Publicly and in meetings with the British government Sinn
Féin have been pushing strongly for the transfer of powers
on policing and justice away from London.

“ In negotiations with Sinn Féin in December 2004 the
British government agreed to introduce this framework
legislation as a first step. However the important detail
of the powers to be transferred, what the best departmental
model is and the timeframe involved are all issues which
need to be worked out as a matter of urgency.

“The DUP amongst others need to be ready to discuss the
detail on transfer as a core issue in setting up the
interdependent political institutions agreed under the Good
Friday Agreement.

“ Delays in dialogue need to cease and the DUP need to
engage in the inevitable negotiations on these important
matters now.” ENDS


SF Unlikely To Alter Policing Stance During Ardfheis

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is expected to be barred by
the Bush administration from fund-raising during next
month's St Patrick's celebrations in the US.

Last November, Mr Adams dropped plans to attend a major
"Friends of Sinn Féin" fundraising dinner in New York after
Washington imposed the restriction as a penalty for the
party's refusal so far to join the Northern Ireland
Policing Board.

The ban is set to be reimposed by members of the
administration's National Security Council, which has
become increasingly frustrated by lack of progress on the

Policing will feature strongly during this weekend's Sinn
Féin Ardfheis in the RDS in Ballsbridge in Dublin, when
over 1,000 party delegates are expected to gather.

None of the motions to be debated on policing on Sunday
morning favours any movement by the party, while many adopt
a traditionalist approach - ruling out any involvement
until the British quit Northern Ireland.

Despite the lack of support, the Sinn Féin is expected to
make major moves on the issue in April - though it is not
yet clear if this will amount to an unqualified membership
of the policing board.

Announcing the programme for the weekend, Cavan/Monaghan
TD, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Democratic Unionist Party
had failed to respond positively to the IRA's
decommissioning last September.

The party will also offer "welcome home greetings" to the
"Colombia Three" - James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and
Martin McCauley - who disclosed their return to the State
last August.

Last night, a Sinn Féin spokesman was unable to say whether
the party intended formally to introduce the three men to
the conference, as happened in 1998 with the return of the
four IRA Balcombe Street bombers.

During a debate on the peace process, delegates will be
asked by Ógra Sinn Féin, West Tyrone Ógra and Dublin Ógra
to support a motion that recognises "that Republicanism
would not be in a strong position today without the armed
campaign of the IRA" and that there would have been no
peace process without the IRA.

© The Irish Times


Are Sinn Fein Being Short Changed Again?

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has argued that it is clear
that the Government are again seeking to entice Sinn Fein
on to the Policing Board by making promises about the
future devolution of policing. Mr Wilson said,

“Whilst the DUP are not entirely happy with the proposals
currently being put forward by the Government and will seek
to ensure that Unionists have as strong as possible veto
over the timing of devolution, it is quite clear that even
if policing was devolved to an Assembly tomorrow, and Sinn
Fein were put in charge of such a department, they would be
denied any access to, or input into, the one element of
policing they desire to control- namely intelligence

The transfer of national intelligence from the police to
MI5, something police in Northern Ireland have done for
decades, will be a major blow to Sinn Fein / IRA, and
rather like the ‘On the Run’ legislation, it would appear
that once more Sinn Fein negotiators have been short
changed by the Government.

It would not make any sense to allow a Sinn Fein Minister
to have had access to intelligence gathering, or the
intelligence gathered on their own and other terrorist
organisations. The one thing we do know from all of this is
that they wanted control of special branch and its
activities – the transfer of intelligence to MI5 proves

The ultimate irony is that this transfer does not even
dismantle Sinn Fein’s despised Special Branch, because as
the Chief Constable make clear to me yesterday in the House
of Commons, it will be police officers from Northern
Ireland who will be handling intelligence gathering, so the
‘force inside the force’ will become the ‘force outside the
force’, with no Sinn Fein control whatsoever.

Our only concern is that the police in Northern Ireland
will have access to any information that they require in
order to pursue the criminal activities of the IRA and
other terrorist groups. A lot of intelligence will be a mix
of information about criminality and terrorist activities
and it is important that this should not be lost to police
in Northern Ireland.

Given the fact that that much of this intelligence will be
gathered by police officers and although controlled by MI5
there will be protocols covering how the police can use it,
I believe that the required safeguards can be put in place.

We do not foresee the devolution of policing in the near
future. We do not believe that people involved in
criminality should have any say in any kind of policing
whether it be local DPP’s, the Policing Board or
Ministerial responsibility. However, it is important that
should such devolution take place no-one with a political
agenda to destroy or frustrate those who uphold law and
order have access to, or control of, vital intelligence
operations directed at their associates.”


Decision Not To Ludlow Interview Suspects 'Probably

16/02/2006 - 15:35:26

The decision not to interview four key suspects in the
murder of a Dundalk forestry worker 30 years ago was
probably political, a judge said today.

Seamus Ludlow (aged 47) was abducted by loyalist
paramilitaries in Co Louth and shot dead on May 2, 1976,
but gardaí never interviewed the suspects identified by the
Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) 18 months later.

At the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Judge Henry
Barron was asked if this decision had been taken because of
the volatile situation at the time.

“I think the reality is that it was probably political,” he

Committee member Senator Jim Walsh suggested that while he
did not agree with it, one possibility was that the
Government did not want the loyalist suspects interviewed
because it might inflame republican sympathies.

In his report into Seamus Ludlow’s death, Judge Barron said
it was most probable the decision not to carry out the
interviews with the Northern Ireland-based suspects was
made by former Garda Commissioner Laurence Wren, then head
of the Garda C3 security section.

The two Garda detectives who received the information from
the RUC in 1979 never received authorisation from C3 to
travel across the border again to follow it up, despite the
fact that two of the suspects were in prison and readily
available for interview.

Judge Barron told the committee he stood over his report’s
conclusion, despite strong denials from Mr Wren that he had
any involvement in the decision.

“It must have been made by the most senior member and that
was Mr Wren,” he said.

Labour TD Joe Costello said that, in his opinion, this
failure to interview the key suspects meant there had never
been a proper murder investigation by the gardaí.

The four suspects named in Judge Barron’s report – Paul
Hosking, James Fitzsimmons, Richard Long and Samuel Carroll
– were arrested in the North in 1998, but the DPP there
decided not to prosecute them because of insufficient

Judge Barron said he would have liked to have seen the RUC
files on the Ludlow murder while compiling his report, but
this was not possible because he got no co-operation from
the British authorities.

Independent TD Finian McGrath asked him if there were any
other avenues for the committee to investigate.

“It’s an awful long time ago. That’s the problem.
Everything seems to suggest that four men were in public
bars in the state (on the night of Ludlow’s murder). At the
time, if photographs were shown to people, they might have
identified them,” said Judge Barron.

The family of Seamus Ludlow, who have travelled from
Dundalk to attend each committee hearing, are calling for a
full public inquiry into his murder.

They are set to give a public statement through their
solicitor, James McGuill, at the final committee hearing
next week.

Judge Barron’s fourth and final report into bombings in
Dundalk in the 1970s is within a week of completion, but
its publication may be delayed to see if the names of those
allegedly responsible can be included.


DPP Receives File On IRA Northern Bank Raid

Barry Roche, Southern Correspondent

Gardaí have handed over an extensive file to the Director
of Public Prosecutions as part of their investigation into
the suspected money-laundering of almost £5 million (€7.3
million) by the Provisional IRA following the Northern Bank
raid, The Irish Times has learned.

The file on Operation Phoenix, with close to 400
statements, was completed within days of the first
anniversary of the discovery on February 17th, 2005, of
£2.4 million at the home of a financial adviser in Farran
in Co Cork, when Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) detectives
and other local officers carried out a search of the

Gardaí believe the £2.4 million they found there was part
of a £4.9 million share of the Northern Bank raid proceeds
sent to Cork by the Provisional IRA for laundering through
various schemes.

Last October, Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy gave a joint
press conference with PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde, at
which he said he was satisfied the money recovered in Co
Cork was the proceeds of the Provisional IRA robbery of the
Northern Bank.

Commissioner Conroy, visiting Cork this weekend, had said
from the outset the investigation would take thousands of
man-hours. Up to 100 gardaí were involved.

Follow-up raids netted a further £605,000 which gardaí
believe is part of £1 million the financial adviser had
managed to disperse prior to his premises being raided.
This money included some £230,000 given to a local
republican, gardaí believe.

Officers believe this republican also collected a further
£1.5 million from the financial adviser for further
dispersal but, when news of the Garda raid in Farran broke
on February 17th, 2005, this activist gave the money to
another man for safekeeping.

However, when this other man learned of the Garda raids and
investigation, he panicked and proceeded to burn the £1.5
million in the fireplace of his home in the Cork Harbour
area on the night of February 18th, 2005.

Detectives from Cab also seized documents and computers
from a business premises in Ballincollig and carried out
further raids on a firm of solicitors in Cork city and an
accountants office in east Cork.

© The Irish Times


SF: SDLP Should Join Our Push For Dáil Rights

16/02/2006 - 17:52:37

The SDLP was today urged to join forces with Sinn Féin to
press for the North's MPs to have speaking rights in the

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness issued the
appeal to SDLP leader Mark Durkan a day after Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern was accused of watering down such a proposal.

As Sinn Féin prepared for this weekend's party conference
in Dublin, the Mid Ulster MP also said nationalists in the
North were disappointed by the failure of the SDLP to work
with his party on a Durkan/Adams approach to key issues.

“Bertie Ahern appears to be saying he cannot deliver on his
original plan for Northern representation in the Dáil
because of opposition among Dublin's political elite,” Mr
McGuinness said.

“I would think it would be in the interests of nationalists
if the SDLP and Sinn Féin were to both make it clear that
representatives in the North have a right to address the
Dáil on matters affecting their part of the island."


SF Man Seeks Legal Advice Over Article


A Sinn Féin councillor is seeking legal advice after a
defamatory article appeared about him in a loyalist

Dessie Ward is to meet solicitors to discuss a report
contained in a recent issue of the Ulster Defence
Association-linked magazine Loyalist.

The magazine is distributed to homes in the greater Lisburn
area and in parts of counties Antrim and Down.

The article accuses Mr Ward of treating loyalists as
“cannon fodder”.

The politician is the only Sinn Féin representative on the
unionist-dominated Ballynahinch District Council in Co

In September, he was put on the Key Persons Protection
Scheme after loyalists petrol-bombed his Ballynahinch home.

Mr Ward said the magazine article could lead to more
attacks on his home.

“This article would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.
There are young people reading nonsense like this and
0acting accordingly.

“This is not only defamation of character – it is very
blatant incitement to hatred, and I am giving consideration
to seeking legal advice about this matter,” he said.

Loyalist is produced in Lisburn by people close to the
south Belfast UDA.

The normally peaceful County Down area of Ballynahinch has
seen an increase in sectarian attacks in recent months.
Irish soccer fans travelling to a game in Dublin in
September had their bus stoned by loyalists.


Ard Fheis 2006: Wide Ranging Policy Debates

Thursday February 16, 2006 17:19
by Ógra B - Ógra Shinn Féin

Delegates gather for biggest Ard Fheis yet

This weekend will see Sinn Féin's largest ever Ard Fheis
take place in the RDS in Dublin.

This conference is just one of the many opportunities for
party members to debate and establish policy.

Sinn Féin's refining and developing of policy across a vast
range of issues will be is reflected in the debates on
Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday, following a debate on the environment,
including sections on waste, transport, local government
and energy, delegates will discuss the all-Ireland agenda.
The issue of speaking rights in Leinster House for MPs of
all parties in the Six Counties comes up in this section,
as does the right of all Irish people to vote for a

Straight after, workers' rights and trade unions will b
discussed. Sinn Féin gave a clear lead on this issue during
2005, particularly in relation to the Irish Ferries' issue
and smaller disputes around the country such as at Doyle
concretes in Kildare. There are several motions centred on
these two issues and also on immigrant workers.

Health and children follow this section. The party's new
policy document, Health in an Ireland of Equals - Sinn Féin
All-Ireland Health Policy will be presented to delegates
for acceptance.

Health is a major campaigning area for the party in the
run-up to the next election. Traditionally this section,
which airs during the live television session, has seen the
highest quality contributions and this year will be no
different. The issue of abuse will obviously feature
strongly following the Ferns' revelations. An Ard
Chomhairle motion sets forward in the strongest terms the
rights for children and the need for greater child

Many of the Government's failed health policies will be
examined in this section.

The issue of acute services being pulled from regional
hospitals features strongly, and the lack of investment and
interest in Primary Care is also looked at.

The rolling out of cancer screening programmes has been a
recurrent motion in this section and will appear once again
this year. The topical argument around the lack of cervical
smear services for women will no doubt be discussed.

After lunch, elections and electoral strategy will deal
with the issue of coalition. There are no motions proposing
Sinn Féin involvement in any coalition government in the 26
Counties. There is a motion reiterating current party
policy by calling for a special Ard Fheis to debate the
issue following the next general election. There are
several motions calling for the party never to enter
coalition with a number of specified parties.

The culture section of the clár has grown this year, in
tandem with the resurgence in the activity of the party's
Cultural Department and interest in the Irish language over
the last 12 months.

After debates on education and the economy, and
contributions from the international guests and the Hunger
Strike commemoration, Gerry Adams will give the annual
Presidential Address. The 25th anniversary of the Hunger
Strikes is likely to feature largely in his speech, as will
the significance of IRA initiative of last year and the
political opportunities presented.


Delegates are advised to take it easy on the revelling on
Saturday night and make it in for the Negotiations Report
at 11am on Sunday morning. This will be followed by the
section on party development and rules. The last two years
have seen this section dominated by the debate over gender
quotas on the Ard Chomhairle. It's expected the debate will
move on from that argument this year and begin to deal with
more ways of developing the party, including in the area of

An Phoblacht is traditionally discussed in this section,
and this year will see a contribution from the party's new
Editor Seán Mac Brádaigh, who took over from Martin Spain
last June.

Policing and Justice will follow. Last month's conference
on policing will be discussed in this section, with
contributions from Gerry Kelly and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Delegates will be asked to accept the document Core
Principles and Values for an All-Ireland Justice Policy.

Despite the media's attempts to seize on alleged divisions
over policing in the party, most of the motions reflect
current Sinn Féin position - a special Ard Fheis on
policing will only be held after a number of conditions,
which the party has already set out, are met. There are no
motions calling for the party to sign up to the current
policing arrangements in the Six Counties.

There will still be valuable and interesting contributions
from members on the issue of the PSNI, and also on Garda

Sunday will finish with sections on housing, prisoners and
social justice

Related Link:


SF Wants To Abolish Private Hospitals

Mark Hennessy Political Correspondent

Private hospitals and private medical insurance would be
abolished and replaced by a "free-to-all" health service
under Sinn Féin health proposals published yesterday.

Under the plan all new general practitioners would become
salaried employees of the State, while existing GPs would
become State employees over time.

Proposing that the health service should be run on an all-
Ireland basis, the party said emergency services should be
made available to all citizens within a 45 minute journey
of their home.

Once in power, Sinn Féin would lay out "a timetabled and
fully resourced strategy to deliver the additional 3,000
hospital beds required", though the party has decided not
to make any attempt at estimating the cost of its entire

The policy document, which has been worked on for months by
a party group led by Cavan Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó
Caoláin, will be debated at the party's ardfheis in Dublin.
"In an era of unprecedented wealth and healthcare spending,
the continued inequalities in health and in access to
healthcare care are an indictment of successive
administrations, North and South," said the document,
Healthcare in an Island of Equals.

Questioned about the cost of the package, Mr Ó Caoláin said
it is impossible to put a figure on it, though citizens, he
said, are already paying taxes, private health insurance
and hospital fees, while they are also paying for tax-
breaks granted to the rich to build private hospitals.

Acknowledging that "a world-class, all-Ireland universal
public healthcare system" will cost extra, he said: "If
that means that we have to look at increasing taxation in
any given area then this party is up for that because we
believe that citizens are prepared to pay for a quality
health service."

One of the "core" aims of Sinn Féin will be to enshrine a
legally enforceable right to proper healthcare in the

© The Irish Times


Crowds Protest Over Asbestos Dump Plan

by Francesca Ryan

Hundreds of people turned out yesterday for a protest
against a proposed asbestos dump in west Belfast.

Politicians, community representatives and families who
have lost relatives to asbestos-related diseases stood
shoulder to shoulder at the rally outside the offices of
Grove Services Group. They heard Sinn Féin councillor Paul
Maskey tell those assembled that west Belfast would not
stand by and let the dangerous substance be stored in the

Anxious parents, concerned pensioners and children listened
as Mr Maskey reaffirmed his commitment to getting the plans
shelved: “We will not allow this to happen in
Andersonstown. If this application is given the go-ahead,
it will act as a green light for other companies to do the
same across Belfast,” he said.

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said the large turnout showed
the deep concern that the people of West Belfast had about
the plans: “It is just incredible to think that the
planners have agreed to an asbestos dump so close to a
large housing estate, nursery school and business park. It
is probable that asbestos will be transferred from across
the North to here. Reports have shown that there is a high
risk of asbestos escaping from bags being transported to
the dump, and a medium risk of the deadly dust escaping
during manual handling by plant workers. This is totally


Council Flag Row Brewing

A ROW is brewing between Sinn Fein and the DUP over flags
and emblems at Ballymena Council.

Ballymena Sinn Fein Councillor Monica Digney has said if
the Union Jack and portrait of the Queen are to be kept in
the Council chamber, a symbol of nationalist identity must
be placed alongside them.

If no nationalist flags or symbols are to be displayed,
said Cllr Digney, the existing flag and portrait should be

DUP man Roy Gillespie has said he will resist any attempts
to remove the Union Jack and the Queen's Protest, and will
stand firm against what he calls 'republican stirring'.

Cllr. Gillespie who in the past fought to stop the Queen's
portrait being covered in the Council chamber, said there
would never be a Tri-colour flown alongside the Union Jack
in the seat of local government.

Cllr Digney's comments come as the Council prepares to
complete an EQIA (Equality Impact Assessment).

She said: "After my appointment to Council last year I
immediately raised with the Council the issue of inequality
within the Council Chamber.

"The display of a portrait of the British Queen alongside
both the Union Jack and the Unionist state flag reflects
the identity of the Unionist community but there is nothing
in the Chamber to reflect ratepayers of a
nationalist/republican persuasion.

"This Council is run using the money of ratepayers from
across the entire community, not just one particular
political or religious persuasion, and Council must take
steps to address this. The Council must subscribe to either
Equality or Neutrality when it comes to issues like this
and I would expect the Council's EQIA to reflect that.

"The Council must take steps to improve its image in terms
of equality and tackling the issues of flags and symbols
would be an all-important first step.

"I was elected on the commitment that I would combat
inequality whenever or wherever I come across it and I have
already opened a case with the Equality Commission
regarding this.

"Be rest assured that if Unionist Councillors are in any
way found wanting in terms of resolving this issue that I
will not hesitate in taking this case all the way."

Incensed, Cllr. Gillespie responded: "If the Union Jack and
the Portrait of our majesty were taken down, I think the
majority of people would be offended, that is my personal

"I have always stood for the flag of our nation for which
so many men gave their lives. I will be totally opposing
any changes."

The DUP representative was equally unimpressed by the
alternative: "There is no way that we can have the tri-
colour the flag of a foreign state flying in our Council
chamber. Nationalists and Catholics are treated just the
same as everyone else in Ballymena. They enjoy the same

"Cllr. Digney is just trying to stir up tensions like she
has been doing in Ahoghill and Portglenone. She is a
British subject just like me and the rest of the people
living in the Borough."

The Equality Impact Assessment on Flags and Emblems is due
to be completed by the end of March. The consultation
documentation was issued by Ballymena Borough Council on
February 6 and the closing date for responses is February

16 February 2006


No Probe For First Victim

PSNI Historical Enquiries Team yet to investigate
circumstances of Francis McCloskey’s 1969 death

By Connla Young

A new investigation into the death of a man regarded as the
first victim of the Northern conflict has not yet begun, it
emerged yesterday.

Almost three weeks after the launch of the PSNI’s
Historical Enquiries Team investigation of killings
committed during the conflict, the case of the first
fatality has yet to be examined.

Francis McCloskey died after being beaten by the RUC in
Dungiven, Co Derry, in July 1969.

Although the 67-year-old is regarded as the first victim of
the conflict, the circumstances surrounding his death have
yet to be investigated.

Differences have emerged between the PSNI and the Police
Ombudsman’s office in relation to how cases involving
people killed by the RUC should be examined.

This means that the investigation into those deaths has
been held up indefinitely.

At a press conference held last month, representatives of
the Historical Enquiries Team claimed that the case files
would be dealt with in chronological order.

The PSNI was later forced to clarify that the first 100
cases to be examined excluded those people who had died as
result of RUC actions.

Neither the PSNI nor the Police Ombudsman was able to say
when the investigation into RUC killings would begin.

Lucy McCloskey, a neighbour and close family friend of
Francis McCloskey, urged the HET and Police Ombudsman’s
office to sort out their differences.

“An acknowledgment or an apology would make a difference,”
she said.

“It would make a difference not just to the people of
Dungiven but to people across the North.

“It would form part of the healing process, and there has
to be a healing process if we are going to live together.

“My memories of Francis are that of a lovely man, a willing
neighbour and a great help to my family.

“His death was a very grave injustice. And that extended to
his sister Rose Ellen. He was the only family she had and
she lived for many years after him and had to carry that
pain until she died. She was the forgotten victim in all

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman’s office said: “A
number of issues are still to be resolved and, at this
stage, we are still in discussions with the Northern
Ireland Office and PSNI about the transfer.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed that details of 48
RUC victims had been handed to the Police Ombudsman.

“The process of referring those cases to PONI [Police
Ombudsman for Northern Ireland] is the subject of
discussions between HET and PONI. PONI’s acceptance of the
cases is a matter for them.

“The relationship between HET and PONI is one of ongoing
liaison through a structured process, which includes a
protocol and memorandum of understanding. This ensures that
both agencies can progress their independent and important
work in a complementary fashion, especially in any cases
where a process of parallel review may be necessary.

“It is important to clarify that, when reference was made
to HET dealing with 100 cases in chronological order, this
was intended to mean the first 100 cases which fall
appropriately to be dealt with by HET,” said the PSNI

An inquest in 1970 into Mr McCloskey’s death found that the
bachelor had suffered a fractured skull and torn artery.

His name was not included on the RUC’s official list of
people killed in the conflict until the list was amended in


Opin: SF Rank-And-File May Need To Let Off Steam

IRA decommissioning, while undoubtedly historic, has not
so far delivered "bounce" in Sinn Féin's southern support,
writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

Reading through the list of motions going before this
weekend's Sinn Féin Ardfheis, one detects a slight
grumpiness on the part of the ordinary party member.

For months senior figures, led by party president Gerry
Adams, have kept open the possibility that Sinn Féin could
be part of the next government in the Republic.

The mention of the idea, which obviously emphasises Sinn
Féin's relevance to the Dáil arithmetic next time, drives
Fianna Fáil mad since even the possibility of it happening
raises questions in the mind of some voters about the
truthfulness, or otherwise, of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's
repeated declarations that he would not have anything to do
with the party.

However, the prospect of government within several years is
no more attractive to many Sinn Féin rank-and-file,
particularly those in the Republic, some of whom suspect
that their leadership is, for now, more keen on the idea
than they are.

Up to now, the Adams leadership has insisted that Sinn Féin
would not enter government unless delegates approved such
an action in a special ardfheis, though options should be
kept open.

However, the ardfheis motions adopt a much more negative
attitude to the prospect.

Not only should Sinn Féin not go into government, but it
should not support from the opposition benches the
candidacy of any party leader - for which read, support for
a minority government led by Ahern.

Even further, some delegates seem wary of letting the
leadership decide the timing of a special delegate
conference, demanding that a guarantee be given now that
such a conference would take place before negotiations
begin with any other party, rather than being held
afterwards when they could be faced with a fait accompli.

Judging by the negative tone of some of the motions about
southern coalition and northern policing, the leadership
may feel that the rank-and-file need to let off steam this

Talk of government and power is, perhaps, premature since
Sinn Féin currently holds just five seats in the Dáil, but
the reality is that the party has stayed relatively steady
in the opinion polls since the last general election, in or
around the 10 per cent.

Such a result, if mirrored on polling day, would deliver
somewhere between 10 and 15 seats, particularly if the
party's long-standing inability to attract transfers is
buried once and for all now that the IRA has decommissioned
its weapons, credibly in the view of the International
Independent Commission on Decommissioning and witnesses.

Besides holding five seats, Sinn Féin intends to target
Donegal North East, Donegal South West, Waterford, Wexford
and Cork North Central, while Dublin North East and Dublin
North West will also be high on the list.

The considerable publicity surrounding the "Rossport
Five's" campaign against the Shell gas pipeline in Mayo has
brought with it some collateral advantage for the party's
county councillor, Jerry Murray, who has been involved in
the campaign and who has visited the men in Cloverhill
Prison alongside Adams.

Up to recently, the brutally competitive Mayo constituency
was not thought to be ripe territory for Sinn Féin,
although the increasingly regular visits by Adams to the
county marks a growing belief in the chances of Murray, a
former Fianna Fáil councillor for Swinford.

He parted company with Fianna Fáil before the 2004 local
government elections, where he was comfortably re-elected
with 1,255 votes and has now replaced convicted IRA bomber
Vincent Wood as the party's standard-bearer in the

The importance of the "Rossport Five" issue to the party's
fortunes in the county is evidenced by the decision to
invite Micheál Ó Seighin, one of the men jailed for their
opposition to the Shell scheme, to speak to the ardfheis.

Though undoubtedly historic, the IRA's decommissioning has
not jump-started the re-creation of the political
institutions in Northern Ireland.

Neither has it delivered any "bounce" in the party's
support in the Republic, though few in the party
necessarily ever believed that it would.

The existence or otherwise of the IRA will make little
difference to the opinions of those who in the past voted
Sinn Féin, since they clearly did not object to the IRA's
campaign, even though some Sinn Féin party members suspect
that the decision of the IRA "to go away" means that the
party's negotiating hand has been significantly weakened.

"But the IRA decommissioning might help on transfers,
getting them and being affected by them. Nicky Keogh wasn't
just beaten to the last seat in Dublin Central because of a
lack of transfers. He was beaten because too many people
voted all the way down the ballot paper to ensure that he
didn't get transfers," said one party supporter.

Frequently criticised in the past for not having any
policies, Sinn Féin has spent much of the last year or more
putting some meat on their bones.

So far, the party has adopted the unusual tactic of telling
voters that it would be prepared to put up general taxation
to deliver better health and public services, even if the
pill is wrapped in a more appealing message about driving
up business taxes - which they initially denied they were
considering when The Irish Times first reported same some
months ago - and clamping down on the banks.

© The Irish Times



Opin: Lidington: Sinn Fein Must Support The Police And The
Rule Of Law

Commenting today on the publication of the Northern Ireland
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Shadow Northern Ireland
Secretary David Lidington said:

"I support the Government's objective to restore devolution
to the people of Northern Ireland.

"My Party has always said that in principle we are not
opposed to the devolution of powers over policing and
justice to the Assembly. But before this can take place two
things must happen.

"First, we must be confident that the Assembly can operate
on a stable and durable basis.

"Second, all political parties involved in government must
actively support the police, the courts and the rule of

"In the case of Sinn Féin, this is more than simply taking
up its seats on the Policing Board or the DPPs.

"We need to see an ideological shift with republicans
formally recognising the legitimacy of the police and
criminal justice system. That change of policy should then
be expressed in practical form, by urging republicans to
co-operate with the police in investigating crime and
encouraging young men and women from republican backgrounds
to join the police."

David Lidington MP


Fruit Of The Loom To Cease Operations At Buncrana Plant In

Linda McGrory

Fruit of the Loom, which once employed nearly 3,000
people in the northwest, will cease all operations in
Buncrana, Co Donegal, on May 26th. Management confirmed the
phasing out of production in Buncrana following a meeting
with Siptu earlier in the week.

A total of 70 workers are expected to finish up at the end
of March, while the shutdown of machinery on May 26th will
result in 100 further redundancies. It is understood around
12 workers chose to finish up early last week.

A further 90 will be retained in Buncrana until December to
help the company relocate its entire operation, including
machinery, to Skhirat, Morocco. The remaining 12 employees,
paid hourly, will be retained after January 2007, to assist
with the start-up of production in Skhirat.

Meanwhile, it is understood around 200 workers at the
company's Derry plant in Campsie, will meet with union
representatives shortly to discuss the timing of its
closure .

In a statement this week, the company said: "Fruit of the
Loom has consulted fully with all employees and union
officials throughout the shutdown and relocation process
and will continue to do so in the months ahead." Senior
Siptu branch secretary for Donegal, Seán Reilly, confirmed
that the company had honoured its commitment to keep the
union informed about redundancies.

"This is a very dark day for the Inishowen peninsula. We
would urge the Government to take action immediately to
secure alternative jobs for those being made redundant.

"Replacement jobs have not been secured for the thousands
that have been lost," he said.

Mr Reilly added that Co Donegal and Inishowen, in
particular, now had to be considered an "unemployment
blackspot" and made an immediate priority for replacement

Employees will get a total of nearly five weeks' pay per
year of service including a statutory entitlement of two
weeks' pay per year served and one extra week's wage, the
union confirmed.

Buncrana town mayor Cllr Pádraig MacLochlainn criticised
the Government for failing to find alternative employment
for the area. He backed a call by his Sinn Féin colleague
Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, for the northwest to be designated
an area of special economic need.

"It is time for a radical departure from the laid-back and
indifferent approach to tackling the jobs crisis in the
northwest that we have seen to date."

© The Irish Times


Hunt Museum Inquiry Completes Interim Report

Karl Hanlon

An expert group established to investigate allegations of
Nazi links to artefacts at the Hunt Museum in Limerick has
completed its interim report.

In the report, the group states that a computer database of
the entire collection at the Hunt Museum has been completed
ahead of schedule. This database is now available on the
web and it covers some 1,946 art objects managed by the
Hunt Museum.

The expert group was appointed by the Royal Irish Academy
to carry out an independent investigation into the origin
of all artefacts in the museum, following allegations by
the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Paris.

The Hunt Collection, with an estimated value of €70
million, is one of the world's largest private collections
of art and was donated to the State by the Hunt family. The
inquiry was established after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre
wrote to President Mary McAleese alleging the late John and
Gertrude Hunt had links to Nazi art dealers.

The interim report - compiled by a four-person group
chaired by Seán Cromien, former secretary general at the
Department of Finance - has been submitted to the
Department of the Arts, Sport and Tourism.

As part of the comprehensive investigation, an
international art expert, Nancy Yeide, whose area of
expertise is second World War provenance research, was
appointed to work alongside the group.

The interim report said the inquiry had received full co-
operation from both the board and management of the Hunt

According to the report, the group's next task is to ensure
the museum carries out detailed provenance research on all
its art objects in collaboration with Ms Yeide. Priority
should be given to objects acquired during the 1933-45

It also recommended that the Hunt Museum should arrange a
meeting with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre .

© The Irish Times


Cherished Music

Acclaimed Cherish the Ladies to showcase Celtic stylings

Cherish the Ladies, one of the most successful Irish-
American groups in Celtic music history, will perform at
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, in Waterman Theatre.

The performance marks a sort of homecoming for the group's
leader, Joanie Madden, whose career took off while she
attended SUNY Oswego.

The all-female group has headlined festivals all across the
globe; appeared on "CBS This Morning" and shows on National
Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.; and earned
such honors as Musical Group of the Year from the BBC,
Entertainment Group of the Year by the Irish Voice
Newspaper, and Top North American Celtic act by NPR's
"Thistle and Shamrock."

"Cherish the Ladies has been a leading group in the Irish
traditional world for more than a decade now. . . . It is
simply impossible to imagine an audience that wouldn't
enjoy what they do," observed Richard Dyer of the Boston

Jon Pareles of the New York Times has hailed the group's
"passionate, tender and rambunctious" music, while Fintan
Vallely of the Irish Times in Dublin raved that the group
"brilliantly strutted that very Irish-American sound which
simultaneously exudes a tremendous joie de vivre and deep

The group has released several internationally acclaimed
albums, most recently 2005's "Woman of the House" on
Rounder Records. Their 1999 collaboration with the Boston
Pops Symphony, "Celtic Album," earned a Grammy nomination.

Taking their name from the name of a traditional Irish jig,
the group initially won recognition as the first and only
all-women traditional Irish band. In a relatively short
time, they soon established themselves as musicians and
performers without peer.

Madden is the Grammy Award-winning whistle and flute player
who has been the leader of Cherish the Ladies since its
inception 18 years ago. Millions have heard her as the
featured soloist on the final "Lord of the Rings" movie
soundtrack. Other members of the group are Mary Coogan on
banjo, mandolin and guitar; Mirella Murray on piano
accordion; Roisin Dillon on fiddle; and lead vocalist Heidi

Noting that the band sounds "more traditional than most
bands from Ireland," Madden told the Rocky Mountain News
that the band plays Celtic music as construed through
Irish-American culture. "We are American -- that has to
come across," she said. "We represent America."

The concert is presented by the Artswego Performing Arts
Series and the Student Association Programming Board.

Tickets cost $20 for adults; $16 for seniors and students;
$7 for SUNY Oswego students. For more information or
reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or

- END -
(Posted Feb 15, 2006 in Happenings @ Oswego)


Decline In RTÉ Radio Station Flagship Shows

Emmet Oliver

RTÉ's long standing dominance of radio listenership
continues, but its position is increasingly threatened by
the commercial sector, new figures show.

The Joint National Listenership Research (JNLR) survey for
January to December 2005 shows RTÉ Radio One's Morning
Ireland in an unassailable position with 476,000 listeners.
While this was a static performance, it was a strong
outcome considering the decline for other flagship shows.

Yesterday the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI)
compared the 2005 calendar year figures with the period
between October 2004 and September 2005. However, most
stations and advertising agencies ignored this comparison
and used simple year-on-year comparisons instead.

Based on these most of the main RTÉ programmes suffered a
decline, although weekend programmes like Playback and
Mooney Goes Wild on One bucked the trend. During 2005 RTÉ's
two main stations - 2FM and RTÉ Radio One - underwent some
change. In the case of the latter Marian Finucane moved out
of weekday broadcasting and was replaced by Ryan Tubridy.

It is hard to say whether this change has been successful,
but it appears RTÉ One can rely on thousands of more mature
listeners to support the station, where as 2FM is at the
mercy of younger, more fickle listeners. The figures appear
to suggest that the greying profile of 2FM is putting off
some younger listeners.

In the commercial sector the most intense competition
appears to be in the evening. Last night NewsTalk 106,
which is seeking a national licence, said its presenter
George Hook had "floored" his rival Matt Cooper on Today
FM. Mr Hook's programme now has 35,000 listeners and
NewsTalk chief executive Elaine Geraghty said she was
particularly pleased at this outcome.

Today FM for its part pointed to the resilience of Cooper's
show, the Last Word, with Today FM managing director Willie
O'Reilly saying it was a very credible performance. Today
FM's main success story, however, was Ray D'Arcy, who was
the only presenter in the commercial sector to gatecrash
the top 10 programmes, normally dominated by RTÉ flagship

Q102 has managed to make an older demographic work in its
favour. Its listenership in Dublin was up 1 per cent in a
highly competitive market. The youth station Spin 103.8
also turned in a reasonable performance.

In the traditional battle between 98FM and FM 104, the
latter station was well ahead.

© The Irish Times


Established Names Fail To Halt Slide At 2FM

The latest survey on radio listenership trends suggests
older broadcasters have not managed to halt the decline at
RTÉ and in particular at 2FM,writes Emmet Oliver.

During the period under review Marty Whelan was brought in
to present 2FM's main breakfast show. The station also
depends heavily on Gerry Ryan and Larry Gogan. The presence
of these established names does not appear to have halted
the slide in listenership for 2FM generally.

Based on 2005 versus 2004 calendar years the station lost
84,000 adult listeners and its performance among 15 to 34-
year-olds was almost as bad. It is possible the station is
growing old with its audience, but advertisers will want to
see the station recruiting and developing some younger
talent in the years ahead.

Over at RTÉ One the situation is slightly different. The
station still retains the most listened to radio programme
in the Republic - Morning Ireland with a staggering 476,000
listeners. In a fragmenting media landscape the enduring
popularity of this programme is remarkable.

RTÉ One currently has a blend of broadcasters, with Ryan
Tubridy, a relative newcomer, sharing space with more
established figures like Seán O'Rourke at lunchtime and Joe
Duffy in the afternoon with Liveline.

Because RTÉ has been dominant for so long, many critics
argue that its ratings can only go in one direction. There
is much truth in this, but eventually the head of RTÉ Radio
Adrian Moynes will be hoping the decline comes to a halt.

Still RTÉ executives are not going to be losing too much
sleep over the next few months when you consider that nine
of the top 10 radio programmes in the Republic are RTÉ
productions. In that context the performance of Today FM's
Ray D'Arcy, who ironically first found widespread fame with
RTÉ, is notable. The Ray D'Arcy show is the only non-RTÉ
programme in the top 10 with 223,000 mainly young

Elsewhere in the commercial sector things are going to get
even more competitive with Dublin's NewsTalk 106 now in the
driving seat to pick up a national licence. At present the
station's main asset would appear to be George Hook who has
35,000 listeners, an all time record for the station.

The next most listened to show is Eamon Dunphy's programme
with 25,000 listeners. What will be interesting in the long
term is whether these two presenters can replicate these
Dublin only audiences in a national context.

Another trend evident in the figures is the growing
popularity of weekend shows. For example Marian Finucane,
who no longer broadcasts during the week, has managed to
reach an audience of 238,000 on Saturdays between 11.00am
and 1pm. Also making strong gains is Derek Mooney with his
Mooney Goes Wild on One show.

The conventional wisdom in the radio business over many
years was that weekend radio was downtime, mainly to be
filled with just sports reports and repeats from during the
week. But the latest figures suggest stations are realising
the increasing importance of Saturday and Sunday.

While most of the media attention tends to focus on big
national personalities, local stations continue to provide
vibrant schedules that command the loyalty of listeners.

Based on a national picture local stations have an sizeable
lead over all RTÉ stations put together.

© The Irish Times

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