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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
March 23, 2006
Adams: British & Irish Must Deliver GFA Assembly
The British And Irish Governments Must Deliver The Assembly Envisaged In The Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Adams Insisted Today.
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News About Ireland & The Irish
SF 03/23/06 Adams: British & Irish Must Deliver GFA Assembly
IT 03/23/06 Delegation To Lobby In US For Illegal Irish
SF 03/23/06 Kelly Raises Controversial Cases With Police Ombudsman
SF 03/23/06 Republicans Light Candles To Remember The Hunger Strikers
ON 03/23/06 Fr Reid: 'I Explained The Lessons We Learned In Ireland'
BN 03/23/06 Court Freezes €1m Of 'Slab' Cash
DI 03/23/06 Opin: No Two-Track Approaches Will Work
DI 03/23/06 Opin: Like Father, Like Son
BB 03/23/06 Mournes Fire 'Thought Deliberate'
ST 03/23/06 Film: In The Name Of The Son
Gerry Adams warns Irish and British Governments over next
Published: 23 March, 2006
Speaking today at the launch of a commemorative candle to
remember the Hunger Strikes of 1981, Sinn Féin President
Gerry Adams told the two government that Sinn Féin and
other republicans have delivered big time in terms of this
process and that it was now over to the governments to do
Mr. Adams said:
"I'm very concerned at the current position of both
"The responsibility and the obligation of the governments
is to implement the Good Friday Agreement, and the
briefings being done, particularly by the Irish government,
are all about shifting the focus of responsibility for
progress away from the governments and onto Sinn Féin and
"Rather than looking at how they can change the Good Friday
Agreement to suit the DUP, the governments need to be
coming forward with propositions which are about
implementing the Good Friday Agreement and then
endeavouring to get the DUP on board.
"So I think there is a considerable challenge facing the
governments in the upcoming time and a considerable
challenge facing the DUP, and it isn't between Sinn Féin
and the DUP. Our party obviously will look at whatever
proposals the governments are going to bring forward and
we're obviously, as you may guess, in daily contact with
"Our position is very well known to everyone.
"There's only one Assembly and that's the Assembly as
outlined by the Good Friday Agreement. There isn't any
half-way house, in-between, transitional, interim
arrangement. There is the Assembly that the Agreement set
out, that people voted for, that worked for a short while,
that was popular and relatively efficient when it did
function, and that's where the governments need to be.
"Sinn Féin and other republicans have delivered big time in
terms of this process. It's now over to the governments to
deliver big time. That is what they obliged to do - to
deliver their obligations. This is particularly for the
Irish government. It has a very special onus to come
forward with propositions that are about the Good Friday
Agreement - not some notion that Ian Paisley has conjured
Smiles For The Camera As Bush Meets Adams
Congressman denies any snub by White House
Sean O'Driscoll in New York
23 March 2006
New York Congressman Peter King has released photographs of
President George Bush meeting Sinn Fein president Gerry
Adams to discount newspaper reports that the US President
had "snubbed" and "humiliated" Adams during his visit to
Mr King said he was aware of reports which said that
President Bush "declined a private meeting with (Adams) at
the official White House St Patrick's Day reception."
Under the headline: "Bush humbles Adams after insult to
envoy" a Sunday Independent newspaper article suggested
that Adams "faced a pointed snub from US President Bush".
Mr King, a close friend of Mr Adams and a strong supporter
of Sinn Fein, said that the photographs, taken at the
Speaker's Luncheon in Congress, were proof that the Sunday
Independent was misinformed.
One photograph shows a smiling Mr Bush posing for a
photograph with Mr Adams and Mr King.
Another photograph shows a smiling President Bush greeting
Mr King as he introduced Adams.
Mr King said that President Bush had no problem meeting Mr
Adams, even though Sinn Fein were banned from fundraising
and had to return $$100,000 given by donors for a Sinn Fein
fundraiser in Washington.
He said he was dismayed to read reports which said: "The
Bush administration's isolation of Sinn Fein-IRA was
complete in the US yesterday," an article which connected
the lack of interaction between Mr Adams and President Bush
to the Sinn Fein president's detention at Dulles airport in
The Times also reported that Mr Adams had not been allowed
to meet with the president.
"This year, the Sinn Fein leader was allowed back into the
"But he was not asked to a private, more intimate, meeting
with Bush," it said.
Before St Patrick's Day The Guardian ran with the headline:
"Adams faces St Patrick's snub by Bush" and said:
"President George Bush will not even shake hands with the
Sinn Fein leader at a reception for Irish politicians in
the White House on Friday, sources claim."
Delegation To Lobby In US For Illegal Irish
Five TDs are to travel to the US next week to lobby in
favour of the proposed Kennedy/McCain legislation which
aims to regularise the status of undocumented Irish people
in the US.
The delegation are all members of the Oireachtas Foreign
Affairs Committee and include committee chairman Michael
Woods, vice-chair Michael Mulcathy, PD deputy Liz
O'Donnell, Labour deputy Micheal D Higgins and Fine Gael
deputy Bernard Allen.
Deputy Mulcahy said the next few weeks would be very
important for undocumented Irish in the US and that was why
the delegation was going to Washington.
The delegation plans to hold a number of meetings including
with the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security
Peter King. However, Deputy Mulcathy admitted he was
relatively pessimistic that the Kennedy/McCain bill would
be passed as the atmosphere in the US had become
significantly more security conscious.
Deputy Higgins said the number of undocumented Irish varies
between 5,000 to 40,000 people.
"The Irish affected are forced to live in the shadows. They
run considerable risks of a health, social and economic
kind. They are not free to return home for family events,
births, deaths or funerals," said Deputy Higgins.
He added that new legislation such as the Sensenbrenner
Bill, which concentrates on the control of immigration has
created new difficulties associated with even possessing a
"The timing of the visit of the delegation is vital. The
Senate Judiciary Committee will reach a summation next week
and then there will be an attempt to reach an agreement
between the Senate and the House of Representatives," said
The delegation will depart on Monday the 27th and return on
Friday 31st of March.
© The Irish Times/ireland.com
Kelly Raises Controversial Cases With Police Ombudsman
Published: 23 March, 2006
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice issues Gerry
Kelly said that he had raised the Mc Ilwaine/Robb, McCord
and McConville cases in discussions with the Police
Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan. Mr Kelly also raised with the
Ombudsman the British government plans to give MI5 primacy
and the implications of the enabling legislation currently
Mr Kelly said:
“In our discussions with the Police Ombudsman I raised the
Mc Ilwaine/Robb, McCord and McConville cases.
“The Ombudsman confirmed that her investigations into these
controversial cases were ongoing and that in particular she
intended to meet once again with the McIlwaine and Robb
families to discuss further revelations concerning the role
of a Special Branch agent in the killings and the role of a
number of PSNI members in the subsequent investigation.
“In relation to the issue of the British government
planning to give MI5 primacy over intelligence gathering in
the north I made it clear to the Ombudsman our firm belief
that the role of British securocrats in the six counties
needs to be ended not supported or expanded.
“This engagement is the latest in a series of meetings we
have held with the Police Ombudsman and I would expect to
continue this dialogue across a range of crucial matters in
the coming months.” ENDS
Republicans Urged To Light Candle To Remember The Hunger
Published: 23 March, 2006
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was today joined by former
Long Kesh O/Cs Brendan McFarlane and Seando Moore for the
launch of a commemorative candle to remember the 25th
Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike.
Speaking at the launch at the Roddy McCorley Club in
Belfast, Bik McFarlane urged people to place the candle in
their window this Sunday, March 26th, Mothers Day.
Mr McFarlane said:
"The commemorative candle is an initiative aimed at
remembering in a small way the sacrifices of the 10 men who
died and also showing continuing solidarity with their
families, 25 years on from the events of 1981.
"We choose Mothers Day as the day when we are asking people
to place the candle in the window of their homes as a
particular tribute to the immediate families of those who
died and as a tribute to the courage they displayed
throughout those long and difficult months from March to
October 1981." ENDS
Fr Reid: 'I Explained The Lessons We Learned In Ireland'
AP Interview: Belfast priest who coaxed IRA toward peace
advised ETA, too
By Shawn Pogatchnik Associated Press Writer
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ A Roman Catholic priest from Belfast
who prodded the Irish Republican Army toward peace said
Thursday he also has been advising leaders of ETA, the
Basque paramilitary group, to commit to a permanent cease-
fire and diplomatic compromise.
''I explained the lessons we learned in Ireland,'' the Rev.
Alec Reid said in a telephone interview from Bilbao, Spain,
in the heart of the Basque country, where he has spent
weeks discussing the way forward with activists from ETA
and its affiliated political party, Batasuna.
Reid, a confidante of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams for the
past two decades, helped oversee the IRA's disarmament last
year. He said a Bilbao priest had invited him to help
encourage similar peace moves from ETA.
''This is the end of the physical-force tradition in Basque
politics,'' Reid said. ''It's what happened last year with
the IRA. It's the beginning of a whole new era.''
He said his message to ETA members and supporters was that
''the only way you can solve a conflict like the Irish one
or Basque one is through negotiations. There are no
''The first thing you have to do is take the conflict away
from the streets _ you can't solve it while it's on the
streets. Then you have to bring it to the conference table,
the table for dialogue. And there, in a dialogue between
all the political parties that represent the people, you
will certainly resolve the conflict,'' he said.
When asked if he thought ETA would split into factions
because of the cease-fire, Reid said, ''No. My information
is that ETA has been completely united heading into this.''
Court Freezes €1m Of 'Slab' Cash
23/03/2006 - 19:37:03
Nearly €1m seized by police during dawn raids on the home
of former IRA chief-of-staff Thomas “Slab” Murphy in north
Co Louth. Ireland has been frozen, it emerged tonight.
The Criminal Assets Bureau took control of the fortune
following searches at several properties skirting the Irish
border as part of probes into a massive smuggling
The High Court granted orders freezing the money, made up
of sterling and euro cheques and cash, and appointed the
legal officer of the CAB as receiver.
Officers attempted to serve a notice on Murphy at his home
in Ballybinabay, near Hackballscross, at 11am today, but he
was not there.
A CAB source said: “He wasn’t there but we left for him,
his brothers were there.”
The source revealed the money was recovered from a cow-shed
on Murphy’s farm which straddles the Louth-Armagh border
and he said the CAB believed it was all earned through an
elaborate smuggling operation going back years.
“We believe that money is the proceeds of crime, of
smuggling of all kinds, north to south and south to north,”
the source said.
Orders were made against Murphy, his brothers Francis and
Patrick, and an oil company which CAB believes is owned and
controlled by the Murphys.
A number of sterling and euro interest bearing bank
accounts have been set up to hold the cash until the matter
comes before the High Court next month when CAB officers
will apply for an extension of the freezing order.
The garda source insisted investigations were ongoing in a
bid to smash the smuggling empire.
“The investigation is continuing in respect of other
cheques and cash recovered during the search,” the source
“And we are also examining suspected money laundering and
the whole empire and other property that was believed
belonged to them, and other property that may have been
bought by them and others connected to them.”
The raids in north Louth and South Armagh were one of the
biggest cross-border security operations seen in years.
Involving more than 100 gardai, CAB officers, the National
Bureau of Criminal Investigation and customs officials,
Operation Achilles was the culmination of a major 18-month
investigation into Murphy and his close circle of
The extensive searches in the south were backed up by raids
by up to 50 PSNI officers, soldiers and British Army
helicopters in Newry and Crossmaglen in the north.
Bundles of cash and cheques were recovered at Murphy’s
farm. It is understood the money had been put into two
large bags and concealed under bales of hay in a shed.
Three people, aged in their 50s and 60s, were arrested, but
Murphy was not home when swarms of officers landed at his
farm. CAB detectives still want to question him about his
It is believed the raids have uncovered one of the most
profitable oil laundering facilities in the country.
Among the items found on the Ballybinaby townland were four
oil-laundering facilities, a series of underground tanks
linked to the laundries and six oil tankers used to
transport laundered oil.
Six tonnes of highly toxic synthetic chemicals believed to
have been used for laundering also had to be disposed of.
A 40ft curtain-sided trailer with oil tanks fitted was also
uncovered along with two firearms and a large amount of
Two laptop computers, which could provide the key to the
smuggling empire, were also recovered.
Opin: No Two-Track Approaches Will Work
Mary Lou McDonald
Yesterday’s publication of a research report by the
University of Edinburgh highlighting the fact that ordinary
people strongly support the restoration of the assembly,
should come as no surprise to people in Ireland.
Over this past number of weeks there has been a concerted
attempt by some commentators to suggest that people are not
interested in a local assembly.
Of course that is disingenuous.
People are disillusioned with the lack of progress made
thus far – with the DUP’s attempts to smother progress and
the snail’s pace policy of both the Irish and British
However, it is my belief that people want to see the
institutions and a fully functioning executive re-
Direct rule benefits no one – neither unionist nor
nationalist – and crucial decisions are being made by day-
release ministers with little or no accountability to
people in Ireland.
Like people right across Ireland, Sinn Féin is committed to
getting the institutions back up and running as speedily as
Even in practical terms, it makes absolute sense for us to
work together to tackle issues such as sectarianism and
The best way to show leadership is by demonstrating that we
can all work together positively to find solutions to what
are common problems faced by people, no matter what
community they come from.
Issues such as industrial de-rating, water charges, cuts to
education services and access to hospitals are issues that
The unionist argument that the IRA is holding up progress
has long since been put to bed.
The two governments should lift suspension and run D‘Hondt
with the purpose of electing a First and Deputy First
Minster and the appointment of ministers.
People should be under no illusions that if this fails then
the assembly should be scrapped and MLAs salaries should be
withdrawn – we cannot sustain the current situation
If this scenario were to materialise then the British and
Irish governments should move to implement all of the
outstanding components of the Good Friday Agreement,
particularly its all-Ireland aspects.
There can be no shadow assemblies, no two track approaches
and no return to the failed discriminatory policies of the
Both the SDLP and the DUP need to hear this loud and clear
as they remain out of step with the wishes of those who
voted overwhelmingly for the Good Friday Agreement.
Yesterday’s decision by ETA to declare a permanent
ceasefire is a very welcome development.
Over the past number of years Sinn Féin has been in
dialogue with all of the Basque political parties including
My hope is that this decision will create the conditions
for a sustainable conflict resolution process and there is
now an onus upon the Spanish government to respond
positively to this initiative.
Opin: Like Father, Like Son
Editor: Colin O’Carroll
Quite why unionist politicians feel the urge to attack the
British prime minister after his speech on global terrorism
on Monday night is not entirely clear. Tony Blair wasn’t
speaking about all Protestants any more than he was
speaking about all Muslims and yet leading unionists, as
well as some prominent churchmen, insist that he was.
For the record, Mr Blair said: “There are those perfectly
decent-minded people who say the extremists who commit
these acts of terrorism are not true Muslims and, of
course, they are right. They are no more proper Muslims
than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in
Northern Ireland is a proper Christian. But unfortunately,
he’s still a Protestant bigot.”
That’s as clear as clear can be. Mr Blair was talking about
extreme Protestants who took up the gun and the knife – and
there were many – to target innocent people for no other
reason than they were Catholic. Did some Catholics do the
same? Yes, but Mr Blair wasn't giving a lecture on recent
Irish history, he was trying to make an easily-understood
comparison for an increasingly sceptical British audience.
Ian Paisley Junior was particularly exercised about Mr
Blair’s speech. He said the comments were a “studied
insult” to Protestants and added: “The prime minister’s
comment, singling out Protestantism as a root cause of
terrorism, is so unbalanced that it not only reveals his
true nature, but also identifies a weakness in his
judgements, his character and his understanding.”
To extrapolate from Mr Blair’s words that he has singled
out Protestantism as a “root cause of terrorism” is not
only plainly ridiculous, but it also suggests that Mr
Paisley Junior has weaknesses in his character and
understanding that he would do well to address.
Mr Paisley Junior is hardly the best man for the DUP to
wheel out on this occasion. We need not dwell here on the
utterances of Ian Paisley Senior in the distant as well as
the recent past – we are all too sadly familiar with the
incendiary and tribal tub-thumping which has done so much
to create division and strife in the North of Ireland. We
therefore suggest that Mr Paisley Junior might be better
employed talking to his father about studied insults –
after all, the man’s a world authority on the subject. And
perhaps when Paisley the Younger is accusing people of a
lack of balance, he might have a word in his old man’s
shell-like about that topic as well.
We do agree with unionists, however, that there was a
glaring omission from Mr Blair’s words. The loyalist
extremists of whom he spoke were bigots, Mr Blair was right
about that. But he neglected to mention that they were
Protestant bigots controlled by the British government –
and it is on this point that Mr Blair’s thesis collapses.
The prime minister went on to say in that speech:
“[terrorism] will not be defeated until its ideas, the
poison that warps the minds, its adherents, are confronted
at their essence, at their core”. London did, needless to
say, confront loyalist terrorism at its essence and at its
core during the darkest days of the Troubles; not to
disable it or order it to stop, but to arm and direct it
and to ensure it continued.
Mournes Fire 'Thought Deliberate'
The Fire and Rescue Service is dealing with a large blaze
in the Mourne Mountains it believes was started
The fire was reported to the service just after 1400 GMT on
It is understood the fire broke out in gorse land in the
mountains in County Down. The Fire Service said the blaze
was being fanned by high winds.
Several square miles are burning just above Bloody Bridge,
off the Newcastle to Annalong Road.
David Thompson of the National Trust, who was at the scene,
said important vegetation was being lost.
"The fire started at National Trust land close to Bloody
Bridge and if this fire keeps going it will go over the top
of Slieve Donard and onto other lands that the National
Trust dearly takes an interest in.
"We love this whole mountain - this whole mountain is
fabulously important for its natural vegetation."
Alan Fulford from the Fire and Rescue Service said it had
been difficult to get at the blaze. Firefighters were
forced to beat down the flames.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/23 18:27:20 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Film: In The Name Of The Son
By Mark Harris
Publish Date: 23-Mar-2006
Gerard McSorley plays Michael Gallagher, a Northern
Irishman who would have quietly lived out his life in
obscurity if not for the Omagh bombings.
Talking to Michael Gallagher isn’t like interviewing some
talented filmmaker who might one day win an Oscar or Palme
d’Or; it’s more like speaking with an ordinary but heroic
private citizen who deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
If he’d had his druthers, both Omagh the film and Omagh the
human tragedy would never have happened and Michael
Gallagher would have lived out his life in quiet but
contented small-town obscurity.
However, fate denied this Northern Irishman that option
when the Real IRA detonated a car bomb that killed 29
people and injured hundreds more on August 15, 1998,
thereby ending the existence of his only son, 21-year-old
Aiden. When the Georgia Straight telephoned this bereaved
father–turned–human-rights activist in Toronto, he was
promoting Omagh (which opens Friday [March 24]) not as a
studio flack but as a deeply committed social witness. For
Gallagher, every terrorist attack needs to be challenged,
not by the explosive counterterrorist methods favoured by
the George W. Bush cabal, but by something much harder to
When asked if he saw his activities as political, he
replied, “Maybe with a small ‘p’. I think these are human-
interest matters I’m dealing with, although everything in
life can be deemed political. Where I’m most active is in
the victims’ sector, and, to be honest, it’s taken more
time than I thought it would. I can still work, but I might
also be researching at 12 o’clock at night. This is not
something I’ve chosen to do, but I don’t feel like it’s the
right time to walk away from it either.”
Such activities are certainly not innocent of risk.
Every morning, Gallagher must look under his car to make
sure that nothing “infernal” is attached. “Because I’m
probably the most high-profile person in the movement, I
would never agree to meet anyone in a dark alley,” he
elaborated. “I only meet people in hotels and prearranged
offices. And if a car follows me through a few turns or
junctions, I become very aware of that.”
Of course, violence isn’t always necessary for
intimidation. “There are certain people in the community,”
Gallagher claimed, “who can attack your character just by
looking at you in a certain way.”
Gallagher’s friends, like his enemies, are intimately aware
of the nonsectarian nature of the redress movement he’s
involved in. This is not coincidental.
“I think, in total, there were 29 bombs of various sizes in
Omagh before the bomb,” this reluctant activist recalled,
“and in all that period I think there was one man who lost
a leg. But to put things in perspective, Omagh wasn’t a
town with sectarian tensions, like Belfast or Derry.
Protestants and Catholics worked together; people mixed.
The car bomb wasn’t caused by sectarian tensions. In fact,
it was an attempt to create them.”
The Omagh bombing has done little credit to any side in the
Northern Irish dispute. “I asked [Sinn Féin head] Gerry
Adams to approach the people he has influence with and tell
the real story to the police on the north and the Garda on
the south side of the border. You won’t be surprised to
learn that Gerry Adams has never done that,” Gallagher said
with surprisingly little bitterness.
On the other hand, U.K. security service MI5 apparently
foiled a similar bomb plot four months prior to its
successful successor and didn’t bother to tell anyone,
including British security forces, even though at least one
participant was an Omagh resident.
“We all know that it’s important to have sources, but it’s
how you use those sources that matter,” Gallagher said with
a sigh. “Intelligence services take the attitude that
they’re not going to expose their assets because they must
be in place to prevent the next bomb. Well, the sad reality
of this policy is—as I told a junior minister in the Home
Office—4,000 people in their graves who shouldn’t be
As for the film Omagh, Gallagher seemed to be quite pleased
with the end result. “Before the film got made, the
families had a meeting with [producer-cowriter Paul
Greengrass] and told him we didn’t want to see a glitzy
Hollywood-type movie. In the end, I think they got the
balance just right.”
As for seeing himself portrayed on-screen, “That was
extremely strange because, before the film, Gerard McSorley
[who plays Gallagher] and I spent a lot of time together.
We’d go out for a meal or a few beers. I thought the guy
was being my buddy, but what he was actually doing was
studying my mannerisms. Still, I think he brought a lot of
passion and pain to the part, all the qualities that a
person would have in a situation like that.”
As for the Omagh criminal trials, they’re still going on.
When they’ve finished, the families of the victims will
launch a civil suit against the Real IRA, an unprecedented
legal challenge that might well change the nature of
politics all over the globe, something inconceivable if a
Northern Irish father hadn’t decided to transmute his
personal grief into a universal search for justice.
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