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February 21, 2006

Unionists Ignoring Loyalist Violence

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 02/21/06 Unionists ‘Ignoring Loyalist Violence’
BT 02/21/06 Loyalist White A Police Informer
MS 02/21/06 Questions Loom Over Adams' Visit To Holyoke
SF 02/21/06 SDLP & DUP Bid To Exclude SF & Undermine GFA
BT 02/21/06 SF Were Not Excluded From Assembly Talks - NIO
BT 02/21/06 Hain Turned Down Wright Letters Bid
BT 02/21/06 Paisley Challenge Over Rivers Body
BT 02/21/06 Terror Group Link To Murder Probed
II 02/21/06 DUP Slams Colombia 3 Appearance At SF Ard Fheis
DP 02/21/06 Prof Held In Visa Problem-Unusual Suspect
IN 02/21/06 Opin: Heartbreaking Lament Is Cry For Justice
BN 02/21/06 Garda Station Evacuated In Anthrax Alert
BB 02/21/06 'Busiest Year' For Lifeboat Crews
EE 02/21/06 Baby Joy For Sinn Féin MEP
IN 02/21/06 Irish Writing Talent To Be Honoured
AB 02/21/06 Travel: Irish Offerings Beyond Dublin


Unionists ‘Ignoring Loyalist Violence’

By Maeve Connolly

NATIONALIST politic-ians have called for more attention to
be focused on loyalist paramilitaries after they were
implicated in two murders in the past week.

Loyalists have been blamed for the weekend murder of Thomas
Hollran, while speculation has also linked them to the
killing of Ronald Todd whose body was found in the River

The murders come after the latest report from the
independent body which monitors paramilitary activity found
that the UDA was continuing to “undertake targeting,
shootings and assaults”.

The loyalist activity follows allegations that Greysteel
killer Torrens Knight, who murdered 12 people, was being
paid by Special Branch after his release from jail.

Last night nationalists claimed there had been little
political reaction to the events, although un-ionists
denied this.

East Derry SDLP assembly member John Dallat accused
unionist politicians of having “different standards” when
reacting to loyalist violence.

“There are too many people on the unionist side who are
still not prepared to speak clearly on the whole issue of
loyalist paramilitaries. There are different standards of
behaviour [within unionism] when it comes to loyalist
paramilitaries,” he said.

Sinn Fein West Belfast assembly member Michael Ferguson
said unionist politicians had a history of “ignoring what
unionist death squads have been involved in”.

While police said there was no evidence of a paramilitary
link to Mr Todd’s murder, Mr Ferguson said “it would come
as no surprise” if loyalists were to blame.

“It is commonly known that loyalists are heavily involved
in the trafficking and distribution of drugs,” he said.

There has been speculation that Mr Todd (30), a father-of-
two, was abducted, killed and dumped in the River Lagan by
loyalists over his drug-dealing activities.

Meanwhile, the detective leading the inquiry into the
murder of Mr Hollran (49) last night said police were
investigating possible loyalist involvement. Mr Hollran’s
family has blamed the UDA for beating the father-of-one to

However, Lagan Valley Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey
Donaldson dismissed the SDLP and Sinn Fein criticism as
“absolute nonsense”.

“We raised these issues with the secretary of state in
meetings at Stormont today,” he said.

“We will continue to work with police on all of these

“Where there’s clear evidence of paramilitary involvement
it is to be condemned, it is to be exposed and those
responsible brought to justice.”

Carrickfergus UUP councillor Roy Beggs jnr said unionist
politicians were concerned about the extent of loyalist
involvement in crime because “on many occasions violence is
inflicted within the unionist community”.


Loyalist White A Police Informer

Special Branch recruited killer

By Brian Rowan
21 February 2006

One of the most notorious sectarian killers of the Troubles
worked for the Special Branch, the Belfast Telegraph can
reveal today.

According to a senior intelligence source, Belfast loyalist
John White was a police informer.

He was jailed for life for the 1973 murders of nationalist
politician Paddy Wilson and Irene Andrews, both of whom
suffered multiple stab wounds.

White is said to have become an informer after his release
from prison.

The loyalist, who was once a close associate of Johnny
Adair, has been living in exile since February 2003, when
he was forced out of Northern Ireland during a feud inside
the UDA in which White had sided with Adair's so-called "C"
Company in the lower Shankill.

A senior intelligence source said during the summer of 2004
that White was an informer ? a covert human intelligence

And his coded details are believed to have been among those
stolen in the robbery at Special Branch offices at
Castlereagh in March 2002.

In recent days, another senior security source appeared to
confirm White's role as a Special Branch informer.

Asked if there was any doubt in his mind about what was
being suggested, he replied: "Not a lot."

After his release from jail in the early 1990s, White first
emerged as prisoners' spokesman for the then Ulster
Democratic Party.

He was at the loyalist top table with Gusty Spence, David
Ervine, William Smith, Jim McDonald, Gary McMichael and
David Adams when the original Combined Loyalist Military
Command ceasefire was announced in October 1994.

But, on the Shankill Road, he became closely associated
with Adair. Both men were later expelled by the leadership
of the paramilitary organisation.

White eventually fled Belfast in February 2003 when the UDA
moved against Adair's associates after the murder of the
senior loyalist John Gregg.

White was a suspected drug dealer. Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams came close to naming him as such during a
private session of political talks leading to the Good
Friday Agreement.

Loyalists also blame him for the collapse of the CLMC ? an
umbrella leadership covering the UDA, the UVF and the Red
Hand Commando.

"He had a deep hatred of the UVF," one loyalist source

Another source described him as "the most malign figure
within loyalism ."

The police do not comment on reports of this kind, but the
source who named White as an informer has detailed
knowledge of the intelligence world.

The truth about the Dirty War

John White is the latest name to be uncovered as a Special
Branch informer but, asks security expert BRIAN ROWAN, how
useful was he in the war on terror?

Just how dirty was the so-called Dirty War? Were the
loyalist killers John White and Torrens Knight really
informers? What other secrets might emerge as war becomes
peace in Northern Ireland?

"We would look through the whole range of who we could
recruit or who we thought we could recruit, and we would
look at anybody that we thought would be helpful to save
lives and to stop the terrorism in Northern Ireland."

This is a senior intelligence source speaking during the
summer of 2004.

"We would not rule anybody out. We looked at a number of
people, and a number of people were rejected. We looked at
a number of people and a number of people were successful,
but we don't rule in and don't rule out until the very last
moment," the source said.

Were John White and Torrens Knight really ruled in?

If they were, was anyone ruled out?

Were the worst elements in the paramilitary world working
for the Branch?

By the time of that conversation in the summer of 2004, I
had been told that White was as an informer, and, in the
past few days, in conversations with another senior
security source, I believe this was confirmed.

I asked the source if there was any doubt in his mind about
what was being suggested in relation to White, and he
replied: "Not a lot."

This source would know.

He said he would be "astounded" if the Special Branch had
recruited the Greysteel killer Torrens Knight, but in this
specific case, he was not in a position to say whether the
suggestion was true or false.

In the case of John White, you can understand why the
Special Branch would have considered him useful, and why
they would be prepared to pay for his information.

There was his association with Johnny Adair, no-one was
closer, his role within political loyalism after the
ceasefire and in the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement
and his links to the Inner Council of the UDA.

White sat in meetings attended by the so-called brigadiers
- the six most senior figures in the paramilitary group.

So, on the face of things, he would have been a valuable
listening device inside this part of the loyalist
community, but, of course, there is another side to the

He is a convicted killer. He was also a suspected drug
dealer, and he and Adair became two of the most
destabilising influences inside loyalism during the peace
process years.

Indeed, it could be argued that they are largely
responsible for the mess that loyalism now finds itself in.

In the run-up to the Good Friday Agreement, during a
private session of political talks in Castle Buildings at
Stormont, the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams came close to
naming White as a drug dealer.

"It was very pointed," a source, who was present, said. "It
wasn't a case of missing and hitting the wall. It was
obvious to everyone (who Adams was talking about), not
least John."

In the post-ceasefire period, White was blamed by loyalists
for the collapse of the Combined Loyalist Military Command
- the umbrella leadership of the UDA, the UVF and the Red
Hand Commando.

This command structure was crucial to achieving the
ceasefire and pointing these groups in the direction of
politics and peace.

"The most malign figure within loyalism," is how one source
described White ? an "agitator, always putting people
against each other".

This source said that at one meeting of the CLMC, White had
said he could see "no contradiction in being a drug dealer
and a patriot".

Another source said that he had attempted to take overall
control of the UDA: "At one time John wanted to be part of
the Inner Council, and wanted to be leader of the whole

Was this John White operating on his own initiative, or
were others directing him towards the decision-making table
of the UDA?

In the intelligence world and in the Dirty War there were
all kinds of puppets on all kinds of strings.

White sided with Johnny Adair during his Shankill feud with
the UVF and during a period of infighting inside the UDA.
Indeed, he stood with him until he had to run with Adair's
associates - driven out of Belfast in February 2003.

If it is true that White was an informer - and there is no
reason to question the sources I have spoken to - then what
was his role in this period? What did he do to stop the
terrorism in Northern Ireland?

Questions of this kind do not get answered. We are
dismissed with talk of national security and of it not
being in the public interest.

But the public and the politicians are interested -
interested in the goings on of the so-called Dirty War.

"It's significant enough to talk about the informers, but
to get the whole picture - what about the handlers?"

This is not a republican speaking, but the loyalist
politician and MLA David Ervine.

The Pat Finucane murder is surrounded by loyalist informers
and agents - Brian Nelson, William Stobie, Tommy Lyttle,
Ken Barrett and at least one other significant UDA figure
on the Shankill.

There was an agent - Stakeknife - operating inside the
IRA's internal security department, there is all of the
stuff of Stormontgate, and, soon, evidence of the
involvement of a "series of (UVF) agents" in "a series of
murders" will emerge as part of another investigation.

On top of that, we now have the allegations about John
White and Torrens Knight.

How dirty did it all get?

"Stinking", is how one source responded to that question.


Questions Loom Over Adams' Visit To Holyoke

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


WASHINGTON - Gaining a visa for Gerry Adams to visit the
United States is not in question, but whether the political
head of the now disbanded Irish Republican Army can raise
money while he is here for St. Patrick's Day celebration
remains to be seen.

U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, and U.S. Rep.
James Walsh, R-N.Y., have lobbied the White House to give
Adams a full visa that would allow him to not only visit
but attend fund-raisers for his political party, Sinn Fein,
the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland.

"The key is that everyone (from the Northern Ireland
political parties) be treated the same," Walsh said. "If
Americans don't treat Adams equally, then Ian Paisley will
hold that against Adams."

Paisley heads the Democratic Ulster Party, the largest
Protestant poltical party in Northern Ireland that refuses
to take a seat at the peace table with members of Sinn

"It makes it more difficult for Adams (in Northern Ireland)
if he is treated differently here," Walsh said.

Representatives from all other political parties from
Northern Ireland are allowed to raise funds in the United
States, said a spokesman for Neal.

Adams is coming to Western Massachusetts to march in the
St. Patrick's Parade in Holyoke on March 19 at the
invitation of Neal.

Walsh said yesterday he personally made a request to
President George Bush while he was at the White House on
Thursday for a briefing on Iraq to give Adams a full visa.

"After the briefing, I told the president that I thought it
was absolutely essential that Adams be given a full visa,"
Walsh said.

He said that the president told him, "that is not the first
time I heard that."

Neal agreed that the United States has played a key role in
laying the groundwork for lasting peace in Northern
Ireland, and political leaders there are mindful of U.S.

Ireland won its freedom from British rule in 1921, but the
unrest continued. The turning point in the civil violence,
which hit a boiling point in 1972 after British troops
gunned down 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers, was
in 1994 when President Clinton gave Adams a visa to travel
in the United States. At that time, Adams' voice was banned
from British television.

Nine months later, the IRA announced a cease-fire after
more than 30 years of sectarian violence. Protestant
paramilitary groups followed suit.

"The American dimension to the peace process is
indisputable," Neal said yesterday. "And it is one of the
great achievements of American foreign policy."

Neal said that Adams should be given the authority to raise
money for his political party while he is here.

"You have to give Adams credit, he brought the IRA to the
negotiating table," Neal said.

Walsh said that a lasting peace in Northern Ireland is one
issue where Democrats and Republicans are in sync.

Neal said he is arranging contact with Mitchell Reiss, the
U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland, to restate his position
that Adams should be given a full visa. The State
Department did not respond to The Republican.


SDLP Join With DUP In Bid To Exclude Sinn Féin And
Undermine GFA

Published: 20 February, 2006

Speaking after talks in Stormont this afternoon Sinn Féin
Vice President Pat Doherty MP said that it was becoming
clear that the SDLP had moved onto the DUP agenda of
exclusion and arrangements much less than the those
demanded by the Good Friday Agreement. Mr Doherty's remarks
came after the two governments confirmed to Sinn Féin that
the SDLP and DUP had agreed to take part in round table
discussions excluding Sinn Féin, a proposal which was even
rejected by the UUP.

Mr Doherty said:

"In our discussions this afternoon the two governments
indicated that they wished to press ahead with a round
table meeting involving the DUP and the other parties but
excluding Sinn Féin. We told the two governments in no
uncertain terms that this approach was completely
unacceptable and it was simply not an option to try and
exclude the vast majority of nationalist opinion from such

"It also became clear that the UUP were not onboard for
such an approach being adopted but that the SDLP and DUP
had indeed signed on for the exclusion of the largest
nationalist party from the round table.

"The SDLP now have serious questions to answer. It was the
SDLP who complained bitterly that they were excluded by the
two governments from playing a full role in the talks of
late 2004 yet have now aligned themselves with Ian Paisley
and the DUP in trying to exclude nationalist and republican
opinion from these discussions.

"It is also clear that the SDLP have now departed
fundamentally from the Good Friday Agreement and the
principles which underpin it. In 2004 the SDLP proposed
replacing elected politicians with British appointed
commissioners. Earlier this year Dominic Bradley indicated
that the SDLP were considering options short of the Good
Friday Agreement institutions. They have now clearly
demonstrated by their actions today that for reasons of
political expediency they are prepared to abandon the
Agreement and the principles which underpin it." ENDS


Sinn Fein 'Were Not Excluded' From Assembly Talks, Says NIO

By Noel McAdam
21 February 2006

With inter-party tensions increasing, the Government today
insisted there had been no intention to exclude Sinn Fein
from negotiations on the restoration of an Assembly.

And, while there was no round-table session, it also
emerged today the DUP held separate talks with the SDLP and
Alliance on its proposals for a phased return towards

No substantive progress on the key issues which could form
part of a choreography between the parties in the next few
months was agreed but the Northern Ireland Office insisted
that overall it had been a positive day.

The parties return for detailed talks with Political
Development Minister David Hanson next Thursday, before
Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern meet them again on March 8.

It had been proposed yesterday afternoon that the DUP,
SDLP, Ulster Unionists, Alliance and the Progressive
Unionists should hold a round-table first, with Sinn Fein
outside because the DUP refuses to meet it.

Then the DUP would leave and Sinn Fein join the remainder
of the parties. Sinn Fein complained and contacted both
Downing Street and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Ulster Unionists
also rejected the proposal.

However, an NIO spokesman today said: "There was no
question of excluding anyone. It was a mechanism, or idea,
to try to bring as many people as possible.

"We are trying to think of ways to get this thing moving.
It didn't work, but it is no big deal."

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said it had again been
shown that Ian Paisley, not the governments, was in charge
of the talks.

The party argued the move would have taken the talks
process back 12 years, with republicans outside the door,
and castigated the SDLP for agreeing to it.

But the SDLP accused Sinn Fein of "pointless mischief
making" and pointed out that it had been excluded when Sinn
Fein negotiated the collapsed so-called Comprehensive
Agreement of December 2004.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said the Government had given
assurances it was no longer wedded to the Comprehensive
Agreement. "For us that has to mean the Government has to
return to the Good Friday Agreement as the baseline
document in any negotiations we have," he said.

Mr Paisley said: "These talks must take account of the fact
that there will be no executive-style devolution and that
the Government must get on with building fairness and
equality to address the major concerns within the unionist
community at the present.

"There will only be progress when Sinn Fein/IRA is told
that democrats are going on without them and they no longer
hold a veto."


Hain Turned Down Wright Letters Bid

Court forced Secretary of State to release documents

By Chris Thornton
21 February 2006

Peter Hain refused to release private letters he exchanged
with the chairman of the Billy Wright Inquiry before court
rules forced him to, the Belfast Telegraph has learned.

The Secretary of State turned down a Freedom of Information
request for the letters made by David Wright, the murdered
LVF leader's father, last year.

Last week, a judge decided that Mr Hain may have been wrong
to keep the letters from Mr Wright, even before the Freedom
of Information request - a point that will be decided at a
full hearing in April.

The inquiry, which is examining collusion around Billy
Wright's 1997 murder inside the Maze Prison, is on hold
until the judicial review is decided.

The case is likely to have an impact on the legal basis for
an inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder as well.

The High Court in Belfast heard last week that inquiry
chairman Lord MacLean and Mr Hain had exchanged letters
about the legal background to the inquiry - described in
court as "private correspondence" - before Lord MacLean
asked for controversial legislation to be applied to the

David Wright's lawyers claim there was a link between the
private letters and the decision to change the terms for
the inquiry - a decision that gave Mr Hain greater secrecy

Mr Wright is challenging Mr Hain's decision to hold
hearings under the Inquiries Act.

Mr Wright's lawyers say that gives "the Government
extensive powers to interfere with the inquiry".

A number of judges from around the world have objected to
the legislation, which is also scheduled to be used in the
Finucane case.

Last week, Mr Wright's lawyers argued in the High Court
that the private letters had a bearing on the decision to
change the Wright Inquiry's terms.

Before filing for a judicial review of Mr Hain's decision,
Mr Wright asked for details of all contact between the
Secretary of State and Lord MacLean.

The Northern Ireland Office refused, saying the release of
the papers could inhibit the conduct of the inquiry. "There
is a convention of confidentiality when inquiry chairmen
are writing to ministers," an NIO spokesman said.

However, the Government's legal team was forced to disclose
the letters when Lord MacLean referred to them in an
affidavit. The exchange of letters began days after Mr Hain
was appointed to the NIO last May.

The court heard last week that his predecessor as Secretary
of State, Paul Murphy, had told David Wright that the
Inquiries Act would not applied to his son's case.

But Mr Hain reversed that at Lord MacLean's request.

The judge asked for the controversial legislation to be
used in the Wright case because he said it would give the
tribunal better access to material from the NIO and MI5.

An NIO spokesman said Mr Hain is "perfectly happy" that the
letters were eventually released, stating: "We are happy to
have the content disclosed. This is essentially a
procedural point."

The Billy Wright Inquiry was originally set up under the
Prisons Act, but Mr Hain made the switch to the Inquiries
Act late last year.


Paisley Challenge Over Rivers Body

DUP chief voices party's concerns

By David Gordon
21 February 2006

The Prime Minister has been challenged by DUP leader Ian
Paisley over long-running problems at a cross-border body,
it can be revealed today.

The north Antrim MP has written to Tony Blair about issues
surrounding Waterways Ireland, which has its headquarters
in Enniskillen.

The north-south organisation has been embroiled in
controversy in recent years over job appointments and staff
bullying allegations.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Paisley highlighted
his party's concerns about the accountability of cross-
border bodies.

The DUP leader also recalled that proposals to enhance
accountability arrangements were raised during talks in
late 2004 on restoring the Assembly.

Mr Paisley described Waterways Ireland as having been
"surrounded in controversy and adverse media comment"
during its "relatively short existence".

His letter to Mr Blair also stated: "I would be grateful if
you would set out what precisely are the arrangements for
accountability for Waterways Ireland and whether you
believe that they are sufficient."

DUP MLA Ian Paisley Jnr told the Belfast Telegraph that his
father is awaiting a reply from the PM.

"Our party has been contacted by a number of people who are
concerned about issues involving Waterways Ireland," he

This newspaper revealed last month that Waterways Ireland
is facing tribunal proceedings on two fronts.

One of the cases is being taken by its former corporate
services director Brian McTeggart.

During his time with the body, Mr McTeggart made bullying
allegations against chief executive John Martin.

An independent report concluded that he had been bullied on
more than one occasion.

It further stated: "We have no hesitation in concluding
that these incidents represent examples of bullying and
highly inappropriate behaviour on the part of a senior

The report did not uphold a number of other complaints made
by Mr McTeggart and also criticised him for not informing
his boss "at a much earlier juncture" that he found his
treatment unacceptable.

It added: "While there is evidence that Mr McTeggart was
the subject of bullying by Mr Martin, the seriousness of
this aspect is mitigated by Mr McTeggart's failure to alert
Mr Martin to the impact of his behaviour at a much earlier

Another tribunal case has been initiated by a Belfast man
and relates to past appointments made at Waterways Ireland
without public competition.

The cross-border body has stated that it is contesting both


Terror Group Link To Murder Probed

By Michael McHugh
21 February 2006

Paramilitaries may be behind the murder of a Co Antrim man
beaten to death at the weekend.

Detectives investigating the murder of Thomas Hollran (49)
in a Carrickfergus alleyway on Saturday night have
confirmed that the involvement of an armed group is "one
line of inquiry".

The former gravedigger and taxi driver was discovered by
two youths close to Woodburn Avenue at around 10pm. He was
taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but died from his

Mr Hollran was forced to leave Carrickfergus by
paramilitaries last year and had been in a hostel in
Belfast for the last four months.

The investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector
Phillip Marshall said: "Involvement of paramilitaries is
one line of investigation.

"It's not the only line of investigation and that is why it
is particularly important that I speak to everyone who was
moving in the area."

According to his family, Mr Hollran was forced from his
home and his car damaged last year before he left
Carrickfergus but Det Chief Insp Marshall said it was too
early to make a definite link with the weekend's killing.

"I am aware of that background, those matters are under
investigation, we are at the early stages of that

"We're carrying out a number of lines of investigation,
including detailed forensic examination and house-to- house
enquiries in the area."

Police believe Mr Hollran got the train from Belfast and
alighted at Clipperstown at 9.20pm. He continued on foot to
his sister Jill's home and was only yards away when he was

"I want to speak to anyone who was in the area at the
time," Chief Insp Marshall said, adding that the two youths
- aged between 16 and 23 - who found the victim may have
seen the attack and could provide evidence.

Mr Hollran's separated wife Doreen and sister Jill have
spoken of their devastation at the loss.

Anyone with information should phone the police inquiry
line on 90541804.


DUP Slams Colombia Three Appearance At SF Ard Fheis

11:06 Tuesday February 21st 2006

The Democratic Unionist Party has slammed the appearance of
the so-called Colombia Three at Sinn Fein's ard fheis in
Dublin over the weekend.

James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly all
attended the conference despite still being wanted by the
Colombian authorities for allegedly training FARC rebels in
bomb-making techniques.

The three men fled Colombia after their acquittal on the
charge was overturned on appeal.

DUP MEP Jim Allister is now demanding to know why the
Gardai did not arrest them at the ard fheis and has pledged
to raise the matter at EU level.

He also said the Irish authorities' failure to send the men
back to Colombia was a damning indictment of the Irish
legal process.


An Unusual Suspect

[David Wang/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

English professor John McCourt reads in his Fisher-Bennett
Hall office. McCourt was held in a jail cell overnight
while trying to enter the United States for not bringing a
J-1 visa along. Some say customs practices are scaring off
academics from abroad.

Visiting scholar detained at airport for forgetting visa

By deena greenberg
February 21, 2006

Visiting English professor John McCourt has followed James
Joyce's trail around the world.

Like Joyce, McCourt is from Dublin, Ireland, and moved to
Trieste, Italy. And like Joyce, McCourt -- an
internationally renowned Joyce scholar -- has been thrown
into a jail cell upon entering a new country.

While Joyce was imprisoned after encountering some rowdy
sailors, McCourt encountered what he described as heavy-
handed treatment at customs upon arriving at the
Philadelphia International Airport last month.

Though officials at Penn's Office of International Programs
described the incident as "unusual treatment," they say it
represents a trend of increasing difficulties for
international faculty and students when traveling to the
United States.

While McCourt simply forgot to bring a J-1 visa -- an error
that can be fixed by paying a $265 fine -- he said a
customs officer told him that "university professors don't
make mistakes like this."

The officer handcuffed McCourt and sent him to Montgomery
County Jail, where he spent the night in a cell, McCourt

He was sent back to Italy the following day but made it to
Penn within a week, he said.

International student and scholar adviser Sheila Gaarder
said that visiting professors who lack documentation
generally encounter "more of an inconvenience than

This was "an unusual incident," said Gaarder, who works for
the Office of International Programs.

McCourt agrees that his case wasn't the norm.

"I just think that I was the wrong person on the wrong
day," McCourt said.

However, he added that rough treatment at customs has led
to a "growing reluctance to come to America" from within
the academic community.

Gaarder said, though, that numbers of visiting professors
have remained steady over the past few years at Penn. While
an Institute of International Education study showed that
international student enrollment in American universities
declined 3.6 percent from the 2002-03 school year to last
year's, the number of international applications for the
Class of 2010 at Penn increased by 11 percent over the
previous year.

Gaarder added that Penn is lodging a formal complaint with
the State Department. While department spokespeople didn't
immediately return calls for comment, Kelly Klundt, a
spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The
New York Times in an article published Feb. 10 that "there
are unfortunately going to be a few instances [like
McCourt's] that do not demonstrate perfect discretion."

English Department Chairman Jim English said that McCourt's
experience is the first incident affecting a visiting
literature scholar he is aware of.

However, he added that hostility toward foreigners is
having a "dire impact on our higher educational system."

Visiting students, too, have faced similar treatment at
border control.

Santiago Massons, an exchange student from Pompeu Fabra
University in Barcelona, Spain -- who arrived in
Philadelphia the day before McCourt did -- said that the
treatment he receives at airports is "inconvenient and

While McCourt said he is having a "wonderful" time at Penn,
his experience at the airport was a sobering one.

It's "actually a very frightening experience when your
freedom is taken away," he said.


Heartbreaking Lament Is Powerful Cry For Justice

By Susan McKay

They are playing Christy Moore’s song, They Never Came
Home, on the street outside the Silver Swan pub in Artane
in Dublin these nights. People are walking slowly up and
down with placards that read, ‘48 dead when you put profit
before people’.

This is the place where, 25 years ago, an inferno consumed
the lives of 48 young people at a Valentine’s night disco.
Many of the bodies were beyond identification and many
families have no grave to visit. This, then, is a sensitive
site, you would think.

A place haunted by grief.

The Silver Swan was the name of the pub attached to the
Stardust. Its reincarnation was rumoured to be due to open
on Valentine’s Night last week.

The Butterly group of companies owned the Stardust and
still owns the site.

Eamon Butterly was the manager of the Stardust on the night
of the fire. The families say they will continue their
picket and keep the new pub closed. Wreaths and bunches of
flowers are building up against its doors.

Christy Moore’s song is a heartbreaking lament for the lost
young people. It is also an angry indictment of the
Stardust’s owners and of the politicians who ‘shed
crocodile tears’. The song, which came out in 1986,
describes how, “All round the city the bad news it
spread/There’s a fire in the Stardust there’s 48
dead/Hundreds of

children are injured and maimed/And all just because the
fire exits were chained.”

Moore was brought to court and found guilty of contempt.
The song was banned. But it was true. The fire exits of the
Stardust were chained. There were also steel bars over the
windows in the toilets. The owners had done this to stop
people getting into the club without paying. They had done
it instead of placing bouncers at the exits because it was
cheaper. They had done it because they could get away with
it. Although fire inspectors had repeatedly pointed out
that it was in breach of fire regulations, nothing had been
done to enforce the law.

There was a tribunal of inquiry which found there was a
‘reckless disregard’ for the safety of customers. The state
was found to be negligent for failing to deal with breaches
of the fire safety regulations. The owners were not
prosecuted. (A bereaved father who damaged one of their
cars was.) The state was not prosecuted.

Because the late Mr Justice Keane also ruled that the cause
of the fire was, “on the balance of probabilities” arson,
the owners sued and got more than £600,000 in compensation
for malicious damage. Relatives of those who died were
blocked from taking legal action and ended up having to
accept compensation of less than £7,500 for each lost

Some did not even get that.

Last week RTE showed a powerful two-part drama about the
Stardust tragedy. It also carried an investigative report
Which compellingly challenged the arson theory. Now the families
want the evidence to be re-examined by an independent body.

One of the mothers spoke about looking back and realising
how easily fobbed off they’d been when they were young and
too full of grief to fight.

They were also working class people from housing estates
far from the corridors of power.

Patrick Butterly, Eamon’s late father, was part of a
wealthy business elite and boasted of his closeness to
leading Fianna Fail figures.

“Our laws favour the rich or so it appears”, sang Christy

That was four years after the atrocity.

It took until 1993 before a memorial was erected in a
commemorative park near the site of the fire. It shows a
dancing couple surrounded by 48


There is little patience in the Republic with Northern
demands for inquiries into Troubles’ atrocities. While there was a wave
of sympathy for the Stardust families on the anniversary, by the end of
last week the news was dominated by an internal Fianna Fail spat over
the unexpected appointment of one lacklustre TD to a junior
ministerial position and the slighting thereby of another.
There began to be murmurings about the need for people to
‘move on’.

But they can’t and shouldn’t be asked to, not least because
as Christy Moore’s song says; “injustice breeds anger”.

The singer visited the protest outside the new Silver Swan
last week. His song plays over and over these nights under
the stars at Artane. They Never Came Home is a powerful
lament that still cries out for justice.


Garda Station Evacuated In Anthrax Alert

21/02/2006 - 11:07:19

A garda station was evacuated in an anthrax alert after a
suspicious package was discovered at the International
Financial Services Centre, it emerged today.

Detectives at Store Street in Dublin had been alerted to
the package by a company working in the financial district.

The package was removed to the garda station and an
emergency evacuation of the 20 staff in the detective unit
was ordered after they opened the envelop and saw white
powder inside.

The Army Bomb Disposal unit, which has expertise in
chemical devices, was called in when the package was opened
last Thursday.

“It wasn’t felt that the device was of any major
significance. Our people confirmed what the Gardai
suspected, that it wasn’t a viable device, that it was just
someone who took fright at white powder,” said Defence
Forces spokesman Comdt Brian Cleary.

He said the powder was not a chemical device and added that
the all-clear had been given shortly afterwards.

Anthrax is among the most feared of biological weapons
because once the spores from the bacteria have lodged in
the lung and caused an infection, nine out of 10 patients

The anthrax attacks in the USA in the wake of September 11
led to a wave of alerts in Ireland in 2001, with 16 suspect
packages sent to a variety of addresses, including Pearse
Street Garda station in Dublin.

But the tests for anthrax bacteria all proved negative, and
there have been few reports of similar devices since.


'Busiest Year' For Lifeboat Crews

More than 230 people were rescued from Northern Ireland
waters last year, according to latest record figures.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution said its 300
volunteer crew members launched 208 times in often
difficult and sometimes dangerous sea conditions.

The busiest station was Enniskillen which launched 35 times
and rescued 56 people, followed by Portrush, launching 34
times and rescuing 32 people.

The charity's UK and Irish lifeboats were called upon 8,273

Colin Williams, the RNLI's divisional inspector for
Ireland, said without the huge commitment and dedication of
volunteers "we would be unable to carry out our
increasingly demanding task of saving lives at sea".

"It is important that we continue to monitor the number and
types of rescues that the RNLI's crews take part in, to
ensure that we match the demands of sea users with the
correct level and type of lifeboat cover around the coast."

The RNLI has urged all water users to think and act
responsibly in the coming months.

"The use of inflatable toys, airbeds and small dinghies in
the sea remains a concern," said Mr Williams.

"They may be great fun in a pool, but in the sea they are
potentially deadly. We strongly advise people not to use

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/02/21 10:28:01 GMT


Baby Joy For Sinn Féin MEP

21/02/2006 - 10:37:06

Sinn Féin MEP and General Election candidate Mary Lou
McDonald has given birth to a baby boy, it emerged today.

Ms McDonald, who will battle the Taoiseach in his own
Dublin Central constituency next year, named her son Gerard
Patrick after her father.

The birth took place in Dublin at 6.45pm yesterday.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Mother and baby are doing

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams wished the Ard Chomhairle
member well during his presidential address to delegates at
the party’s Ard Fheis last weekend.

The MEP and her husband, Martin Lanigan, already have a

Ms McDonald was selected in December to run in Bertie
Ahern’s Dublin Central constituency at the next General

Sinn Fein councillor Nicky Kehoe was just 79 votes short of
the last candidate elected in the four-seater in 2002.

The other TDs in the constituency are Dermot Fitzpatrick
(Fianna Fail), Joe Costello (Labour) and Tony Gregory


Irish Writing Talent To Be Honoured

By Staff Reporter

Acclaimed director Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and Belfast
music producer David Holmes are to be presented with
honorary awards at an event celebrating Irish film-writing
in Los Angeles next month.

Actress Jodie Foster will present Jordan with the award at
the US-Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde – Honouring Irish
Writing in Film on March 2.

Mr Sheridan and Mr Holmes, who wrote the score for Out of
Sight and Buffalo Soldiers, will be presented with their
accolades at the pre-academy awards party by Anjelica Huston and Adrian

Trina Vargo, president of the US-Ireland Alliance, said:
“The event is designed to honour the craft of writing and
expand the existing ties between the entertainment industries in the US
and Ireland, particularly in film production, gaming, music
and animation.”

Foster will be starring in Jordan’s upcoming revenge
thriller, The Brave One, along with Terrence Howard, which is scheduled
to begin production in the summer.


Irish Offerings Beyond Dublin

Scenic Drives, Waterfalls and Delightful Meals in Northwest


BLACKLION, Ireland, Feb. 21, 2006 — - Kiss the Blarney
Stone, have a pint at the Guinness Brewery and stay in a
castle on a wind-swept green hillside.

But if you want to see real Ireland, make a stop here.

In a country chock-full of kitschy shops catering to
tourists, much of the nation's Northwest remains untouched.
And it boasts astounding scenery, friendly locals with
strong rural accents and a sleepy peacefulness despite
being near a surprising number of things to see and do.

The town of Blacklion in County Cavan, population 166,
borders Northern Ireland and is a perfect example of one of
the Northwest's quintessentially Irish towns -- complete
with a one-street strip peppered mostly with pubs, a small
tourist center and not much else. It is Blacklion's
location in picturesque lake country, as well as its
proximity to various attractions, that make it a perfect
stop for relaxation and sightseeing.

A walking path, snaking up from the town between two rather
unremarkable buildings, could easily be missed by passers-
by. But the path marks an entrance to the Cavan Way, a 16-
mile trail that leads hikers through hills and valleys,
past everything crumbling stone houses and megalithic ruins
(ancient structures made from giant slabs of stone). Points
of interest along the Way include the Shannon Pot, the tiny
body of water that marks the start of the country's famed
Shannon River, and forests where you can find ancient tombs
and stone monuments.

Even just a partial tour of the Way, up from the town and
down back onto the main road, provides trailgoers with
breathtaking elevated views of cottage-dotted hills and
sparkling lakes, all the while leading them past sheep-
filled pastures and hauntingly beautiful abandoned cottages
-- the overgrown, forgotten remnants of families who
"bought steam," leaving the area to immigrate by ship to
America, England or Australia.

"It's an area that I think doesn't get a lot of attention
from visitors, which kind of makes it even more special,"
said Tourism Ireland spokeswoman Ruth Moran, citing the
path's attractions "from ancient times."

"Just from walking along there, people say that they get
goosebumps," she said.

Reserve a Meal With a Top Chef

And hungry hikers won't be disappointed with the culinary
offerings in Blacklion, which happens to boast one of the
country's premier gourmet restaurants, MacNean House &

Celebrity chef Neven Maguire, a familiar face on Irish
television who also happens to be a local, places
particular emphasis on incorporating regionally grown
ingredients into creative contemporary Irish cuisine --
drawing dining connoisseurs from across the country to the
village. Restaurant hours vary, however, so diners should
plan carefully and call ahead.

Visitors interested in more casual fare can stop into any
of the multiple pubs in the town for a toasted sandwich or
stroll to the local chipper, serving greasy food and fries
across the bridge -- which is also across the border, in
the equally small town of Belcoo, in Northern Ireland's
County Fermanagh. Along the way they'll pass the beauty
salon that used to be the local one-room schoolhouse, and
on the return trip visitors can stop into Blacklion's
version of a general store, selling everything from
postcards to Wellington boots to dolls -- and whose owner,
Harold Johnston, can provide more than a few bits and
pieces of local history and anecdotes.

A stop in the local bars, which occasionally offer
traditional music, will also give visitors the opportunity
to enjoy a pint and chat with the locals -- who will hurry
to put out their cigarettes (banned in pubs nationally)
when new faces enter.

Other attractions include touring the Marble Arch Caves and
lake fishing. But one of the most impressive activities is
as simple as a leisurely drive west along N16, the route
from Blacklion to Sligo. The road winds through County
Leitrim beneath canopies of trees and provides views of
misty valleys and mountains. Scenic overlooks invite you to
stop and take the perfect photograph.

About halfway through the hour-long drive, look for a small
sign on the right for Glencar Waterfall. A narrow, twisting
lane leads down the valley to the 50-foot falls, nestled
near a clear, quiet cove called Lough Glencar. The peaceful
lake and tranquil falls inspired William Butler Yeats to
mention the waterfall in his poem "The Stolen Child."

The county of Sligo, itself, is a bit more popular with
travelers, famous for its association with Yeats -- who
grew up in the area and is buried at Drumcliffe, under the
mountain of Ben Bulben, which can be seen from the N16
drive. Signs directing you to the grave are everywhere in
Sligo, which also boasts the Yeats Memorial Building on
Hyde Bridge and other attractions for literary pilgrims.
Visitors have their pick of restaurants and shopping in
Sligo's town center, too.

But it is the drive back to the country -- with the
silence, scenery and sweet scent of peat burning on a fire
somewhere as you pass by -- that prove most memorable and
that represent the real Ireland so many visitors hope to

If You Go …

(011) 353-71-916-1201. Tourism offices for Ireland in the
U.S., (800) 223-6470.

CAVAN WAY: A 16-mile trail between Dowra and Blacklion in
County Cavan; details under "Environment & Wildlife" at

MACNEAN HOUSE & BISTRO: Main Street, Blacklion, County
Cavan. Phone (011) 353-71-985-3404. Accommodations are also
available above the restaurant, with five en suite rooms,
about $48.

MARBLE ARCH CAVES: Marlbank, Florencecourt, County
Fermanagh; . Open from late
March through September.

SLIGO: or (011) 353-
71-914-2693. Yeats Memorial Building located on Hyde Bridge
in Sligo. Annual Yeats "summer school," with poetry
readings and writing workshops, July 29-Aug. 11.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights

Copyright © 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures

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