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March 14, 2006

Adams - New Opportunities For Progress

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 03/14/06 Adams - New Opportunities For Progress
IN 03/14/06 UVF-Linked Appointee Puts Hain In Spotlight
SD 03/14/06 U.S. To Maintain Ban On Sinn Fein Fundraising
AB 03/14/06 Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams Visits New York
IT 03/15/06 Gardaí Link Border Oil Operation To Property Empire
MN 03/14/06 Religious Leaders Protest Immigration Bill
IN 03/14/06 ‘Hypocritical’ DUP Man Loves Dublin
EX 03/14/06 SDLP Leader Describes MI5 Spies As ‘Para-Terrorists’
BB 03/14/06 Cost Of NI Weapons Body Tops £8m
IN 03/14/06 Opin: Pain Of Past Could Help Build Better Future
BN 03/14/06 Disneyland Link Bids To Lure Visitors To Ireland
BN 03/14/06 UK Suffers From 'Plastic Paddy Syndrome'
SW 03/14/06 Bobby Sands: How Ordinary People Become ‘Terrorists’
TH 03/14/06 Maureen Stapleton
JS 03/14/06 No 'Danny Boy'


Adams - New Opportunities For Progress

Published: 14 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in advance of a
major speech at St. John's University in New York this
evening said:

"2006 will be a vital year in the Peace Process. The
political situation in Ireland has been transformed since
the last St. Patrick's Day. Last year saw huge historic
initiatives from the IRA. It formally ended its armed
campaign in July, dealt definitively with the arms issue in
September and removed itself from the stage.

"All of this has created huge opportunities which seven
months later need to be built upon. That is my principle
message to US politicians, media and especially Irish
America. I will be asking supporters of the peace process
in Irish America and political leaders on Capitol Hill to
re-double their efforts to ensure that the opportunity
which has been created is not thrown away.

"Irish America, in particular can take great satisfaction
in knowing that it has made a significant contribution to
the peace process and that friends of Sinn Féin can feel
vindicated by recent developments.

"But the focus of those who want to see the full
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has to be on
the next steps in the peace process and what needs to be
done to break the impasse.

"Sinn Féin believes that the approach of the two
governments, in pandering to the intransigence of the DUP
is contributing to this impasse. Last week I wrote to
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair setting out a clear strategy to
move the process forward. I took this unusual course of
action because I am increasingly concerned at their
handling of the current talks. I also have to say that I am
concerned at the partisan behaviour of the American
Administration in recent months. Not only does this go
against the principles of equality and inclusion that are
at the heart of the peace process, it is being used by
those opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

"I get the sense that there is a shared frustration in
Ireland and the US that the process is being allowed to
dangerously drift. At a time when leadership and certainty
is required the two governments have failed to act

"The attitude of the Irish government within the process
has been disappointing It's stance in the recent Stormont
talks in which it supported the DUP proposal to exclude
Sinn Féin, its breach of commitments on northern
representation, and its pre-occupation with next years
general election and the growth of Sinn Féin, have all had
a negative impact on the process. It needs to see beyond
narrow party political concerns.

"It is my firm belief that we can make progress. Sinn Féin
has put forward proposals for breaking the logjam in the
process in the short term and we are seeking US support for
them. We need to see progress before the summer and well in
advance of the marching season. That means the British
government lifting the suspension of the political
institutions and both governments making it clear to the
DUP that the Good Friday Agreement is the only show in
town. The two governments need to set out a timetable for
the restoration of the political institutions and delivery
on policing, justice, equality and human rights.

"There is an opportunity to end the impasse in the
political and peace process but it means the governments
taking decisive action in the coming weeks." ENDS


UVF-Linked Appointee Puts Hain In Spotlight

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

The appointment of a UVF-linked politician to the Policing
Board put Secretary of State Peter Hain under the spotlight
again last night.

The shock nomination of Progressive Unionist Party
representative Dawn Purvis comes despite repeated warnings
about UVF paramilitary activity.

Criticism of the PSNI watchdog emerged soon after the names
of 19 new members were unveiled.

Ulster Unionists have threatened to boycott the board after
political representation was re-duced to eight.

The number of independents has risen from nine to 11,
including two with SDLP or UUP links.

But the appointment of Ms Pur-vis, an unelected loyalist
politician, was the most controversial.

Last September the UVF’s ceasefire was officially declared
over after it was linked to murder, sectarian attacks and
serious rioting.

Mr Hain said at the time: “It makes it absolutely clear to
the UVF and everybody associated with it that they’ve got
to stop this, they’ve got to find a political way forward.”

Since then a number of dossiers by the Independent
Monitoring Commission have stated that the UVF remains an
“active, violent and ruthless organisation”.

New UUP board member Danny Kennedy said the party would
seek clarification from Mr Hain about Ms Purvis’s

SDLP assembly member John Dallat, who sits on Coleraine
District Policing Partnership, said: “It illustrates the
insensitivities of [government] who haven’t given any
thought to the ongoing activities of the UVF and don’t have

any sensitivities towards ordinary people trying to change

Mr Hain was also criticised last month following the
appointment of Portadown Orangeman Don MacKay to the
Parades Commission after it emerged that Mr MacKay had
supplied the name of a nationalist politician as a referee
without consulting her.

Ms Purvis hit back at criticism, saying she would report
UVF members linked to criminal investigations to police.

“The principles and practices of my party are not alien to
the principles of the Policing Board and an effective and
efficient police service. I would be totally opp-osed to
violence and criminality of any sort,” she said.

Sinn Fein, which has refused to nominate to the board, said
membership was not the issue.

“The key for us is that the Policing Board has failed to
hold police to account,” a spokesman said.

The DUP, which has objected to any Sinn Fein representation
on the board, said members must be “free from terror and

In the House of Commons last night Mr Hain defended Ms Pur-
vis’s appointment, saying she had been “highly

“Dawn Purvis performed ex-tremely strongly in the
interviewing process in front of a panel which had an
independent member on it,” he told MPs.


U.S. To Maintain Ban On Sinn Fein Fundraising

By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press
3:28 p.m. March 14, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration does not intend to
lift a fundraising ban on the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party, a
leading Irish-American congressman said Tuesday.

Expectations had been growing that the administration might
end the ban after inviting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to
a St. Patrick's Day event at the White House this week.

Adams was not invited last year because of growing
criticism of the Irish Republican Army, even among
traditional supporters of its cause within the U.S.

Rep. James Walsh, chair of the Friends of Ireland
congressional group, said the ban imposed last year would
remain in place.

“It's true, though there hasn't been an official statement
yet. What they decided to do was invite Adams to the White
House, but they're not lifting the fundraising ban,” said
Walsh, R-N.Y.

Walsh strongly criticized the decision, saying it
effectively punishes Sinn Fein for the IRA's pledge last
year to decommission its weapons, announced by Adams and
Martin McGuinness, a veteran IRA commander and chief
negotiator for Sinn Fein.

“What is absolutely bizarre about the decision is that
Adams and McGuinness have delivered. They got a complete
cessation, a complete decommissioning. The IRA stood down.
To punish them for it makes no sense at all,” said Walsh.

Sinn Fein historically relies heavily for support from
Irish-American backers, who had hoped the ban would be
lifted after the IRA's decision last July to make permanent
its 1997 cease-fire, followed in September by its handover
of weapons stockpiles.

The key aim of Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, a
joint Catholic-Protestant administration, has remained in
political limbo since 2002, when the previous coalition
collapsed over an IRA spying scandal. Leaders of the major
Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, say they will
not share power with Sinn Fein until the IRA disbands.

Last year an international fact-finding panel blamed the
IRA for killing a Catholic civilian in January 2005 and
robbing a Belfast bank of $50 million in December 2004.


Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams Visits New York

(New York-AP, March 14, 2006) - Sinn Fein leader Gerry
Adams said that the Bush administration is hampering the
Northern Ireland peace process by restricting his party's
ability to raise funds in the United States even after the
Irish Republican Army agreed to scrap its weapons.

Adams has been invited to the White House on Friday, a
warmer reception than he got last year for St. Patrick's
Day, when the Bush administration refused to meet with him
or any of the Northern Ireland party leaders in addition to
cutting off Sinn Fein's fundraising privileges in the
United States.

That was intended principally to isolate the Irish
Republican Army-linked Sinn Fein, which relies much more
heavily than other Northern Ireland parties on support from
Irish-American supporters.

The U.S. moves followed a 2005 verdict by an international
fact-finding panel that blamed the Irish Republican Army
for killing a Catholic civilian in January 2005 and robbing
a Belfast bank of the equivalent of $50 million a month

On Tuesday, Adams criticized the Bush administration for
maintaining the sanctions.

"Not only does this go against the principles of equality
and inclusion that are at the heart of the peace process,
it is being used by those opposed to the Good Friday
Agreement" of 1998, a bid to end Northern Ireland's
decades-long civil strife.

The key aim of Northern Ireland's peace accord, a joint
Catholic-Protestant administration, has remained in
political limbo since 2002, when the previous coalition
collapsed over an IRA spying scandal. Leaders of the major
Protestant party, the Democratic Unionists, say they will
not share power with Sinn Fein until the IRA disbands.

"It's quite remarkable, I don't understand why this
restriction is being put on me. I've been invaluable to the
White House, and I don't understand why I can't walk around
the corner and go into a restaurant," Adams said at a press
conference, referring to a fundraising event planned in
Washington on Thursday.

"I'm surprised and bewildered as to the rationale and the
purpose" of the fundraising ban, Adams told The Associated

"The issue is that the administration has chosen to treat
Sinn Fein differently than it treats the other parties, and
the peace process is based upon equality, and based upon
inclusivity," Adams said. "And I find it quite remarkable,
given the huge advances that have been made by Irish
Republicans in Ireland last year and the IRA putting its
weapons beyond use.

"Many people, Irish Americans and friends of Sinn Fein, are
angry," Adams said of the continued ban, but he added that
he would shake President Bush's hand if he encountered him
at Friday's White House event at which other Northern
Ireland leaders will be present.

In 1995, President Clinton lifted fundraising restrictions
on Sinn Fein and invited Adams to the White House for St.
Patrick's celebrations, a policy continued annually under
Bush until last year.

A leading Irish-American congressman said Tuesday that the
Bush administration does not intend to lift the fundraising

Rep. James Walsh, chair of the Friends of Ireland
congressional group, said: "It's true, though there hasn't
been an official statement yet. What they decided to do was
invite Adams to the White House, but they're not lifting
the fundraising ban.

Walsh, a New York Republican, strongly criticized the
decision, saying it effectively punishes Sinn Fein for the
IRA's pledge last year to decommission its weapons,
announced by Adams and Martin McGuinness, a veteran IRA
commander and chief negotiator for Sinn Fein.

"What is absolutely bizarre about the decision is that
Adams and McGuinness have delivered. They got a complete
cessation, a complete decommissioning. The IRA stood down.
To punish them for it makes no sense at all," Walsh said in

Outlawed Irish Protestant paramilitary groups, chiefly the
Ulster Defense Association and Ulster Volunteer Force, less
armed than the IRA but involved in much more violence, have
said they will not disarm.

While Sinn Fein and its supporters were frustrated about
the fundraising ban politically, they said the financial
effects were minimal, if not inspiring, to donors to the

"Interestingly enough, I was denied a visa to attend a
fundraiser in November and I didn't come to the U.S. and I
think we raised $500,000," Adams explained. "So I think my
absence was a financial boost for our efforts."

"At the end of the day it doesn't restrict how much money
we make," said Larry Downes, president of the Friends of
Sinn Fein.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights


Gardaí Link Border Oil Operation To Property Empire

Conor Lally

Gardaí investigating the oil laundering operation raided
along the Border last week believe they have found the
first links between it and the €44 million Manchester
property empire being investigated by the UK's Assets
Recovery Agency, The Irish Times has learned.

The UK property portfolio, which includes 250 houses, and
the Co Louth laundering operation are both linked to the
IRA's alleged former chief of staff, Thomas "Slab" Murphy.

New evidence has also emerged suggesting the property
portfolio in the Republic linked to Mr Murphy is worth up
to €10 million, significantly more than previously

Senior Garda sources said the Irish portfolio includes two
lots of recently purchased farmland costing almost €2.5
million, as well as a new housing development just south of
the Border and a number of older houses which are being

Gardaí are satisfied that documentary evidence gathered
last week reveals a pattern of cash regularly leaving the
Republic for the UK and that a bureau de change along the
Border has been used in the movement of the money. Gardaí
believe these parcels of money are the proceeds of the oil
laundering business targeted last week.

They are also satisfied that when the money reached the UK
it was being used to buy at least some of the houses around
the Manchester area now under investigation by the Assets
Recovery Agency.

Last October members of the agency raided a number of
houses and offices in Manchester. One of the premises
raided was that of a UK property management company, which
the agency believes was being indirectly used by Mr Murphy
to build up the property empire, though he denied owning
the houses.

Raids by the Criminal Assets Bureau took place in the
Republic at the same time as part of a parallel
investigation here into the Irish property portfolio linked
to Mr Murphy.

The Irish Times has now established that evidence gathered
during last week's raids has uncovered information about
two substantial land deals here in the last 18 months by
those now under investigation.

One involved the purchase of a farm just south of the
Border for almost €2 million. Records have also been
recovered relating to the purchase of a plot of land which
was bought over a year ago for €500,000.

Evidence has also emerged that those involved in the oil
laundering business now under investigation are behind a
new housing development which is also located in the

The Irish Times understands that this development is being
carried out by a company to which the three people arrested
and released last week and Thomas Murphy have no recorded
formal link. However, senior officers are satisfied that
the targets of the oil laundering investigation have a very
substantial hidden share in the project.

Sources involved in analysing the information found during
last week's operation said it included bank statements from
a variety of bank accounts in Northern Ireland which gardaí
were previously unaware of.

The cash and cheques seized have now been counted. A final
€350,000 value has been put on the euro and sterling
currency found last week. It had been wrapped in plastic
bags and hidden in bales of hay in a shed on one farm that
was raided. The cheques seized have been valued at over

The money and cheques were seized on Thursday along with
vehicles, laundering machinery, computers, documentation,
contraband cigarettes and laundered fuel.

The searches of multiple sites and premises, named
Operation Achilles, involved more than 300 Garda and PSNI
officers, Irish and British soldiers, and customs and
revenue officials from both sides of the Border. Co-
ordinated searches took place around the townland of
Ballybinaby, Co Louth, and across the Border in
Crossmaglen, south Armagh, and in Newry, Co Down.

© The Irish Times


Religious Leaders Protest Immigration Bill

By Jessie Mangaliman
Mercury News

Dozens of Bay Area religious leaders - priests, nuns,
rabbis, ministers and Buddhist monks - gathered on the
steps of Mission Church at Santa Clara University Tuesday
morning to denounce proposed federal legislation that they
claim threatens to make felons of millions of illegal
immigrants and the clergy who help them.

``There is a hue and a cry from the religious community on
this,'' said the Rev. Carol Been, a Lutheran minister and
director of the Interfaith Council on Religion, Race,
Economic and Social Justice.

``It's a moral issue,'' she said.

The immigration reform bill, which is under consideration
by the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee, includes tougher
enforcement, a guest worker program, and a chance for
illegal immigrants to obtain legal status in the United

The religious leaders criticized provisions that would make
it a crime to be in the U.S. illegally, and that expand the
definition of ``alien smuggling'' to include those who
assist illegal immigrants to enter or remain in the United
States. Been and others fear this means that religious
service workers helping immigrants find jobs, learn
English, and fill out immigration forms -- would be subject
to criminal prosecution, too.

But this particular provision would only apply to
``churches that have crossed the line'' by harboring
illegal immigrants, said Ira Mehlman, a California
spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration
Reform, a national group that advocates for tougher
immigration controls and enforcement against illegal
immigrants. The group does not support the bill, which was
introduced by Sen. Arlen Spectre, because it believes its
guest worker program, which allows illegal immigrants to
remain in the U.S. on temporary work permits, is a kind of
amnesty program.

The religious groups' attempt to cast the immigration
reform debate as a moral issue, and their claim that the
bill will criminalize everyone working with illegal
immigrants, ``is a deliberate attempt to spread hysteria,''
Mehlman said.

The local protest comes on the heels of a Lenten week call
to his flock by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, to pray for
tolerant and humane immigration reform. A growing group of
national religious organizations, joining with labor,
immigrant and civil rights groups, have been campaigning
for legislation that will offer illegal immigrants a path
to legalization.

The Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network
(SIREN), a San Jose group, has collected about 3,400
postcards signed by Bay Area opponents of the Specter bill,
urging U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, (D-CA), who is a member
of the judiciary committee, to reject provisions that will
criminalize illegal immigrants, and religious workers who
help them.

Martha Campos, an immigrant from Mexico, and program
director for SIREN, said the support of the religious
community and its strong stance against the senate bill was

When she immigrated to the United States in 1995, Campos
said ``the only place I felt safe was my church.''

Feinstein has advocated for tougher border security, but
she has not defined her position on the senate bill.

Thich Giac Luong, a Buddhist monk with the Phap Duyen Tinh
Xa, a downtown San Jose Vietnamese Buddhist temple, said
the effect of the Specter bill is to restrict freedoms.

For refugees, who fled to the U.S. in search of freedom and
democracy, the legislation is not humane, Luong said.

``When the bill criminalizes -- by prosecution, fines and
possible imprisonment -- organizations and individuals who
assist undocumented persons,'' said the Rev. Paul
Locatelli, president of Santa Clara University, ``it
strikes at the heart of the mandate to feed the hungry and
comfort the victims of injustice.''

Locatelli said the bill is ``a revival of nativist
sentiment born of fear like the 19th century when ``No
Irish need apply'' for employment.''

Contact Jessie Mangaliman at or
(408) 920-5794.


‘Hypocritical’ DUP Man Loves Dublin

By Maeve Connolly

A DUP councillor who enthused about visiting Dublin has
been accused of hypocrisy after calling for President Mary
McAleese to cancel a trip to his home town of Ballymena.

Mrs McAleese is to visit a school in the Co Antrim town
later this month but the DUP’s Robin Stirling is strongly
opposed to it.

A weekend newspaper quoted the unionist talking about
regular visits to Dublin where he enjoys pottering in

“To me, it’s a different country. And this difference is
refreshing,” he was reported as saying.

Mr Stirling is believed to have taken the opportunity to
combine a city break with last month’s ‘Love Ulster’ rally.

Ballymena Sinn Fein councillor Monica Digney last night
said he was being “hypocritical”.

“This is the same party that sent a member to Dublin a
couple of weeks ago to represent the council at an event.
It is only right that Mary McAleese should visit and I am
more than happy for her to do so,” she said.

“The DUP should welcome her the way they would welcome any
head of state.”

Mr Stirling said the visit should be cancelled because many
people were opposed to Mrs McAleese’s presence in the town.

Speaking after a council meeting last night, he refused to
rule out the possibility of a protest greeting the

Mr Stirling said he expected that a decision would be taken
at a “higher level” within the DUP as to whether any street
protest would greet President McAleese when she visits
Ballymena Academy grammar school.

The president last year claimed in a television interview
that Northern Ireland children had been taught to hate
Catholics in the same way Nazis had been conditioned to
despise Jews.

She later apologised for the comments.


SDLP Leader Describes MI5 Spies As ‘Para-Terrorists’

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has described members of Britain's
MI5 spy agency as "para-terrorists".

Mr Durkan claimed today that the undercover internal
security outfit had been involved in numerous terrorist
crimes in the North, including the murder of innocent
civilians in collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.

The SDLP leader was speaking during a House of Commons
debate in London about moves to give MI5 a greater role in
security in the North.

He said the SDLP could not accept British government
assurances that the spy agency's past misdeeds would not be

Mr Durkan claimed Britain was in denial about its ugly role
in the North and had acted precisely and deliberately to
make sure that the truth about its activities would never


Cost Of NI Weapons Body Tops £8m

The cost of the body overseeing the decommissioning of NI
paramilitary weapons has topped £8m, NIO minister Shaun
Woodward has told the Commons.

The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning
has cost between £276,000 and £701,814 each year since 1997
when the body was set up.

Mr Woodward said the British and Irish governments equally
shared the costs.

"The total cost to date is £8,381,956, with the British
government contributing £4,190,978," he added.

The DUP's Gregory Campbell said he was shocked by the

"It shouldn't cost the UK taxpayer £4m to get rid of some
of the weapons from some of the groups, and we haven't even
begun some of the loyalist groups," he said.

"It seems an absurd amount of money to look at in terms of
where we've got."


The commission was established in 1997 under chairman
General John de Chastelain, of the Canadian army.

Last September, General de Chastelain said the IRA had put
all of its weapons beyond use.

"We have observed and verified events to put beyond use
very large quantities of arms which we believe include all
the arms in the IRA's possession," he said.

The IRA announced an end to its armed campaign in July.

The republican organisation said it would follow a
democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.

Loyalists are said to have an "on-off" relationship with
the general.

A number of guns belonging to the Loyalist Volunteer Force
were destroyed in 1998 in a token gesture of
decommissioning, but no further arms have been handed over
from any of the loyalist groups.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/14 21:22:51 GMT


Opin: Pain Of Past Could Help Build Better Future

By Breidge Gadd

So the march to the White House for Bush benediction begins
this week.

Well, it’s a cross between a benediction and the receipt of
the dreaded report card, handed out as an integral part of
the pedagogic/paternalistic relationship Ireland has with
America and its presidents.

In times past, during the Clinton era, this event was seen
as an imperative deadline and/or a golden opportunity to
kick-start the struggling peace process.

This usually meant republicans being wooed (by the Clinton
ingredients of a charming veneer, masking a steely
determination) into taking another big step towards ending
their war and recognising the validity of the state of
Northern Ireland.

But now the republican coffers are genuinely empty. They
have offered and given away their most sacred cows –
decommissioning, destructions of their arsenal and the
dissolution of their paramilitary organisation.

They have said that the war is over; they will join the
policing board – timing, not principle is the issue – and
finally they no longer have the power or the will to
shelter their nefarious career criminals.

If media reports are accurate, still in the mindset of
pressurising Sinn Fein, President Bush now invites victims
of IRA violence to the shamrock ceremony, presumably to
ensure that American potential supporters realise that the
republicans have some way to go on the peace road.

Their report card still has a ‘must do better’ comment on

It is this policy that worries me for several reasons.

It reinforces the notion of a hierarchy of victims –
particularly unfair given the ongoing intimidation and
killing or attempted killing of Catholics by loyalists.
Most importantly, it is in danger of perpetuating the
erroneous notion that only the IRA had or has victims.

If we have learned anything over the past 35 years it has
been that the war in Northern Ireland had many causes and
many participants and perpetrators.

The first organised paramilitary violence in this most
recent prolonged bout of the Troubles was unarguably
started by loyalist insurrection.

There is no question that the IRA waged a terrible war. So
did the UVF, the UDA and increasingly we learn that some
elements in the British army and the RUC were not above
taking the law into their own hands and killing and maiming
non-involved victims in the process.

At this stage, when intransigence in moving forward – for
good reasons or not – rests with the DUP, it is puzzling
that the White House chooses to focus only on selected
victims of only one of the protagonists in this complex

I would even suggest that this selective approach, at this
time, could be counterproductive in that it could reinforce
the dangerous notion that only republicans have further
work to do. The BBC2 Facing the Truth programmes with
Bishop Desmond Tutu kick-started open and honest
conversations in many different forums about forgiveness
and healing.

In discussions, the right time to start healing was a
regular issue.

One person, whose relative had been killed 30 years ago,
said it was still too soon, the wounds were too raw for
people to move on.

While we must be entirely respectful of an individual
victim’s right to feel what they need to feel and to
receive the help they want, they cannot dictate the pace of
change. We must be wary of any hint of an assumption that
progress in reconciliation should be stalled until all
victims felt ready to forgive. Young people born at the
start of the Troubles, and now approaching middle age, have
every right to see their future defined by a forward-
looking agenda, not by people who for understandable
reasons are preoccupied with looking back in anger.

Rather than singling out only republicans for opprobrium,
it would be better if President Bush invited victims from
all sides of the conflict. In fact, he could do worse than
to focus on the young from all traditions, demonstrating
their vision of Northern Ireland’s future.

He has made a start this year with one young person, Alan
McBride, a brave survivor impressive in his determination
to use the pain of his past grief and the wisdom gained
from that experience to build a better, inclusive future.

He is an example for us all.


Disneyland Link Bids To Lure Visitors To Ireland

14/03/2006 - 18:59:43

Tourism chiefs are going green this week to attract Disney
fans to Ireland.

In a promotional first, Tourism Ireland has linked up with
the Disneyland Resort in Paris to market holidays during
its St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Thousands of international visitors will pass through
specially constructed information villages.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Paul O’Toole said: “The
Disneyland Resort Paris parade and party is an exciting
opportunity for us to reach a captive audience of around a
quarter of a million people who are, by virtue of the week
that’s in it, well-disposed to Ireland and who are also in
a holiday mood.

“Several thousand of these visitors will be family groups
and we will use this opportunity to promote family, as well
as other holidays, throughout the island of Ireland, with a
special focus on the more rural parts of Ireland.”

Tourism Ireland hopes to capitalise on the global interest
in all things Irish this week by hosting consumer, media
and trade events all over the world, from Tokyo to Toronto.

A potent mix of sports and St Patrick will be used to
promote the island at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne,
Australia with Northern Ireland fielding a team and Olympic
hero, Dame Mary Peters, speaking at the high-profile Irish
Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.

Mr O’Toole added that visits by Cabinet members to key
tourism markets play a very important part in raising
Ireland’s profile around this time.

“People instantly identify St Patrick’s Day with the island
of Ireland,” he said. “We are envied by many tourism
agencies around the world who would love to have such a
well-recognised occasion associated with their country.”


UK Suffers From 'Plastic Paddy Syndrome'

14/03/2006 - 18:41:07

A third of people living across the United Kingdom suffer
from “plastic paddy syndrome”.

Irish is the number one wannabe nationality, with new
evidence revealing many claim Irish connections – including
having Irish ancestors “somewhere“, “knowing someone
Irish“, and simply “wanting to be Irish“.

In the independent survey commissioned by Rankin Selection
Irish Breads, nearly half of all English, Scottish and
Welsh people questioned said they would prefer to be Irish,
after their own nationality.

Welsh emerged as the least popular with only 13% choosing
it, while English was just in front with 14%. Scottish came
second with a modest 29%.

A mutual love between the Irish and Scottish was also
revealed with 58% of Scottish people choosing to be Irish
and 72% of Irish people opting to be Scottish.

Biggest fans of Ireland were the younger generation, with
52% of 16-24 year olds nominating Irish as their preferred
nationality, compared to 36% of 55+ year olds.

The survey which was conducted across Britain and Ireland,
also revealed that 80% of respondents put St Patrick’s Day
ahead of their own patriotic days, as part of what the
survey commissioners branded “plastic paddy syndrome”.

In England just 13% nominated St George’s Day as most
important, while St Andrew’s and St David’s Days got 5% and
only 3% respectively.


Bobby Sands: How Ordinary People Become ‘Terrorists’

Socialist Worker 1992, 18 March 2006
( )


We reproduce three extracts from a new book by Denis
O’Hearn about Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands, showing the
violence of the British state in 1981


by Simon Basketter

Twenty five years ago, Irish Republican prisoners went on
hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison in
Northern Ireland. After 66 days Bobby Sands, aged 27, was
the first of ten hunger strikers the British government
allowed to die.

Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher denounced Sands as a
“criminal” and “terrorist” on the day of his death.

Sands and the other hunger strikers were ordinary working
class Catholics who found themselves up against the
extraordinary violence and repression of the British state.
Republican prisoners were prepared to starve themselves to
death for the right to be treated as political prisoners.

Sands was typical of the men and women who joined the IRA.
His family were twice forced to flee their home by Loyalist
gangs. Loyalists threatened Sands at gunpoint when he
worked as an apprentice coach builder.

He later wrote in an article smuggled out of prison, “I had
seen too many homes wrecked, fathers and sons arrested,
friends murdered. Too much gas, shootings and blood, most
of it our own people’s. At 18 and a half I joined the IRA.”

Sands was arrested in the early 1970s. Like other
Republican prisoners he was given “special category
status”, which allowed them to wear their own clothes and
associate freely.

He read widely in prison. His favourites were the political
writings of Franz Fanon and Che Guevara. He was arrested
again in 1976, tortured in the Castlereagh interrogation
centre and sentenced to 14 years.

It was a Labour government in 1975 which introduced a
policy of trying to “criminalise” the Republican movement.

The government had been embarrassed by international
criticism of the number of political prisoners – then 3,000
– in Northern Ireland’s jails. Labour’s Northern Ireland
secretary Merlyn Rees withdrew political status from

The fight to regain political status began in 1976.
Prisoner, Ciaran Nugent refused to wear a prison uniform.

He was forced to sleep on a concrete floor with only a
blanket. Hundreds of other prisoners joined him “on the
blanket”, and two years later nearly 400 Republican
prisoners began a “dirty protest” after prison officers
deliberately spilt shit and piss from chamber pots on cell

A hunger strike began with seven prisoners in October 1980.
It ended two months later when the now Tory government
seemed to offer concessions. The government reneged, and a
second hunger strike began in March 1981, led by Bobby

The hunger strikes won huge support in Ireland, North and
South, and around the world. Sands was elected as MP for
Fermanagh and South Tyrone a month before he died.

Over 100,000 people attended his funeral.

Peaceful civil rights marchers were brutally assaulted by

This first extract explains how the young Sands was

Society was splitting apart. For Catholics in mixed areas,
the most immediate worry was the emergence of violent
racist gangs. Rathcoole’s were among the worst. Years
later, Bobby Sands wrote that his “life began to change”
after 1968.

Civil rights marchers took to the streets and he watched as
the television news showed the police attacking them. Sands
was particularly impressed in early 1969, when a group of
students from Queens University in Belfast set off on a
civil rights march to Derry. Along the way they were
repeatedly ambushed and the police blocked them from
entering towns. The RUC were often observed chatting
amiably with the attackers.

As the students reached Burntollet Bridge outside of Derry,
several hundred B-Special paramilitaries viciously attacked
them. “My sympathy and feelings really became aroused after
watching the scenes at Burntollet,” he wrote. “That
imprinted itself on my mind like a scar, and for the first
time I took a real interest in what was going on… I became

Bobby’s anger grew throughout 1969 as the conflict
heightened. In April, the police banned a civil rights
march in the Bogside area of Derry.

During the rioting that followed, a group of RUC men burst
into a house and beat the Catholic owner to death. In
August, a huge crowd of Protestants attacked Unity flats in
Belfast. When local Catholics resisted, the RUC went on a
violent rampage, beating one man unconscious and batoning
another to death. Three people had now died from the recent
outbreak of “the troubles.” All were Catholics. All had
been beaten in the head by police batons.

By August, the trouble spiralled. In Derry, some older
Republicans set up a defense committee to confront the
trouble that always accompanied an annual Loyalist march
around the city’s old walls. They set up barricades at the
entrances to the Bogside and when the marchers threw
pennies at them the Bogsiders threw stones back. When the
police attempted to invade the Bogside, Catholic missiles
drove them back. Soon, they were firing petrol bombs and CS
gas at each other. After two days of intense fighting, the
British government sent in its army for the first time
since the end of the IRA’s 1950s campaign. Catholics like
Bobby Sands watched the “Battle of the Bogside”on their TVs
at home, encouraged by the feeling that they were
recognized internationally as being “in the right.”

Back in Belfast, the police patrolled the Catholic lower
Falls district in armored cars mounted with .30-inch
Browning machine guns. Catholics used stones and petrol
bombs against the big machine guns while groups of
Protestants and B-Specials took advantage of the melee and
attacked Catholic houses. The RUC drove around Catholic
streets, firing randomly.

When they were done, nine-year-old Patrick Rooney lay dead
in his bed with his brains scattered against the wall. In
north Belfast, police shot dead one man as he sat in his
front room and another as he walked along the road. Ten
others were injured, eight of them by police bullets.

All were Catholics. To Catholics, many of whom initially
welcomed them to their streets as protectors, the British
army made a bad situation worse. They stood by while
Protestant crowds burned out hundreds of Catholic homes.
The violence went down in the memory of an increasingly
angry and militant Catholic community as “the pogrom.”

These events had a significant impact on Bobby Sands. Not
only did he begin to link the police with violence against
Catholics, he also began to view the British army as the
enemy. Catholics generally began to feel that they must
defend themselves. Yet they had no weapons and even the IRA
had failed to stand up to their attackers. A famous wall
slogan went up: “IRA=I Ran Away.” By Christmas, a group of
militants broke from the IRA and formed the Provisional IRA
Army Council and an associated political party, Provisional
Sinn Féin (the old movement became known as the Official
IRA and Official Sinn Féin). The Provisionals promised to
protect the Catholic community, and eventually organized an
all-out offensive against British occupation.

Britain’s Abu Ghraib in 1981

In this second extract, Bobby Sands is on dirty protest

At nine o’clock on Tuesday night “the lads gave the
furniture the message”. They broke up their wooden beds,
the tables, and chairs. Some tried to break out their
windows. After half an hour, ten warders came to Bobby’s
wing. Whatever the prisoners expected, what happened was
even worse. The screws moved them from B-wing to C-wing,
and “they didn’t allow them to walk over, instead they
grabbed them by the hair and run them over, kicking and
punching the whole time”.

According to Bobby, six men were thrown over a table. The
cheeks of their behinds were torn apart by screws.

“Comrade, this is sexual assault,” he wrote to Liam Óg.

The same thing was happening over in H5. The screws
organised a gauntlet between the clean wing and the dirty
wing. Each prisoner was beaten to a pulp as he ran from his
clean cell to the new dirty cell. Men who were waiting to
be moved listened to the shouting and the screaming,
waiting in horror for their own turn. Bobby described the
scene that awaited them: “C-wing has just been vacated… The
cells were bogging, covered in excreta, also puddles of
water on cell floors where the cleaner had begun work.”

The prisoners were left in darkness in filthy cells, with
no water to drink, no beds, and “not even a bloody
blanket”. All they had was the towel they wore around their
waist. The men who went through that night agree that it
was the worst night of their lives. They were freezing.
They were sore. And it was one thing to live in your own
shit; being thrown into another man’s shit was positively

Bobby organised a singsong to keep them going. Each man
walked up and down his cell, trying to keep warm, singing
along to the songs. But before long, they’d had enough.
They just tried to concentrate on getting some heat into
themselves – walking up and down, sitting down and then
getting up, rubbing their bodies and hopping from foot to
foot. But Bobby kept going, trying to take everyone’s mind
off of the conditions. All night long he just kept up a
constant banter, singing away on his own, shouting down:
“Are you all right? C’mon boys!”

All night, while Bobby kept up their spirits, prisoners
rang the buzzers to call the warders. No one came. One
prisoner took sick twice in the middle of the night but no
one came to help. It was eight o’ clock the next morning
before the warders came back on the wing. When they
arrived, six men had to go to the doctor.

The PO finally came at 10am and gave the men, in Bobby’s
words, “half a fuckin’ blanket each!” The governor came at
11am. Each man asked for a complaint form so that their
lawyer could charge Governor Hilditch with breaches of
prison rules. That afternoon, the warders left the dinner
sitting until it was cold and then distributed it to the
men. It was nearly 1:30am when they finally received

“We sat all night naked, up until five minutes ago, before
the bastards found it in themselves to give us blankets and
mattresses,” Bobby complained to Liam Óg. “The boys are
exhausted, the wing’s like a morgue, all asleep… I’m away
for a sleep, think I’m sleeping now!”

Stories about struggle

In this third extract, Bobby Sands is on hunger strike

Night time belonged to the prisoners. Once the warders
left, they began their nightly routine of cigarette
manufacture, button shooting, news broadcasting, and
general entertainment. After the religious prisoners said
the rosary and everyone distributed cigarettes and
messages, there was debate and discussion.

The men told the time by the night guard’s “bell checks”.
He came on at nine o’clock and every hour he pushed the
security grille at the bottom of the wing to show that he
had checked the cells. Time was measured by the first bell
check at nine, the second at ten, and the third at 11.
After the third bell check, the last business of the night
was entertainment, including the “book at bedtime”.

The storyteller pulled his mattress up to his cell door and
shouted out a story while the rest of the men lay,
listening. All the surfaces in the prison were hard, with
nothing to dampen sound, so noises travelled. When the book
was a good one and the storyteller was engaging, everyone
got lost in the story.

Bobby told an array of stories. His speciality was epics.
His story of Geronimo and his Apache guerrillas “epitomised
everything that he thought a human being should be,” says
Richard O’Rawe. “Compassionate but unbreakable, fighting
the whole of America on his own.” There were other stories,
all about struggle. Bobby told Trinity (by Leon Uris)
several times and How Green Was My Valley, about the Welsh
miners. He told Doctor Zhivago.

The other prisoners began to learn political lessons from
the stories.“Bob’s stories were all about heroes… It was
always about the individual against the establishment and
how the individual, no matter what happened, couldn’t be
broken. If he had to fight them all on his own, so be it.
If he had to die, so be it. That’s just the way he was.
That was his mentality. Bob just had a spirit that couldn’t
be tamed, and he wasn’t going to allow it to be tamed. If
it came to it, he was going to fight them on his own, he
was going to carry the burden of everybody.”

It was not long before Sands told a story that became
legendary among the blanketmen. He said that he had read a
novel the last time he was in the prison hospital. Its
title was Jet. Like all of Bobby’s books, Jet was a story
of someone pursuing and winning freedom in the face of all
the oppression that the forces of reaction could muster.
Jet was about a man who took on the US military-industrial
complex and achieved his own personal freedom through

To the prisoners, it was a story about them, about how they
could achieve an inner freedom even as they lay isolated in
their grim cells, surrounded by barbed wire and concrete
and a hostile force of screws. For a couple of hours a
night as they listened to Bobby tell his stories, they were
free. Their mind’s eyes took them beyond the walls, beyond
the razor wire, wherever Bobby chose to take them. Each
prisoner latched onto his words and created a vivid image
of a place where, at that time, they most wanted to be…
free, in struggle.

The blanketmen lay on their foam mattresses, miles away
from the maggots and the shit, imagining. Bobby was their
travel agent and their guide and these stories, perhaps
more than any other aspect of his seemingly tireless
efforts to organise the prison struggle, turned him into
their leader. They followed him because he could take them
to the most special of places. He never let them down.

Bobby Sands: Nothing But An Unfinished Song by Denis
O’Hearn published by Pluto, £12.99.

© Excerpts copyright Denis O'Hearn and Pluto Press


Maureen Stapleton

Brian Pendreigh March 15 2006

Maureen Stapleton, actress; born June 21, 1925, died March
13, 2006.

Maureen Stapleton was not one of America's most famous or
most glamorous actresses. But she was one of the most
respected, winning the acting "grand slam" of a Tony (for
theatre), an Emmy (television) and an Oscar, for her
performance as anarchist Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's
Reds (1981).

Her personal story rivals the ups and downs of those of
iconic friends like Marlon Brando, Monty Clift and Marilyn
Monroe. She called her 1995 autobiography A Hell of a Life
and that just about sums it up. Professional highs were
matched by the personal lows of an unhappy childhood, two
divorces and a battle with alcohol and pills, phobias and

Ultimately, she outlived many Hollywood and Broadway
contemporaries, regaling listeners with showbiz anecdotes
and challenging all-comers at charades in her favourite bar
in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she lived. She was a heavy
smoker, and died on Monday of chronic pulmonary disease.

She was born Lois Maureen Stapleton, into an Irish-American
family in Troy, New York, in 1925, and decided to become an
actress not because of any great love of Shakespeare but
because she was infatuated with cowboy star Joel McCrea.

In New York City, she worked as a waitress to pay her way
through stage school, joined the famous Actors Studio, got
to know Brando there and for a while lived in the same
building as him.

She made her Broadway debut in 1946 in The Playboy of the
Western World but got her big break when it was decided
Anna Magnani's English was not up to playing the lead role
in Tennessee Williams's play The Rose Tattoo in 1951.

It was the beginning of a long association between Williams
and Stapleton, who also starred in the original 1957
Broadway production of Orpheus Descending and, much later,
played Big Mama to Laurence Olivier's Big Daddy, in a 1976
TV adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Ironically, Anna Magnani starred in the films of both The
Rose Tattoo (1955) and Orpheus Descending, which was
renamed The Fugitive Kind (1959). Stapleton was given the
consolation of a supporting role in the latter, having won
an Oscar nomination for her debut film Lonelyhearts (1958),
alongside Clift.

Stapleton lacked the looks and figure of the likes of
Magnani and Monroe. She was round of face and just a little
too ordinary for a Hollywood leading lady. Her fear of
planes and trains did not make it easy to criss-cross from
Broadway to Hollywood.

During the 1950s and 1960s, she made only a handful of
films. She did play Dick Van Dyke's mother in the musical
comedy Bye Bye Birdie (1963) – although she was only six
months older than him.

Her career was really built on Broadway and she was in the
original productions of Arthur Miller's The Crucible
(1953), Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic (1960-61) and
Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (1968-70).

Simon reputedly used Stapleton as the model for the lead
character in The Gingerbread Lady (1970-71), a play about
an alcoholic entertainer struggling to sort out
relationships with her young lover and teenage daughter.

Stapleton married Broadway producer Max Allentuck in 1949.
They had two children and divorced in 1959. She was also
briefly married to writer David Rayfiel in the 1960s but
there were also many ill-fated romances and an on-going
struggle with addiction.

The Gingerbread Lady brought her a second Tony award to add
to the one she received for The Rose Tattoo 20 years

Although she never actively pursued film stardom, she found
herself in demand with directors and producers, at an age
when many film actresses find it difficult to secure work.

She played the wife of Van Heflin's suicidal bomber in
Airport (1970), she was Walter Matthau's wife in the 1971
film of Plaza Suite, played the loud, unpopular Pearl in
Woody Allen's "serious film" Interiors (1978) and was
prototype feminist Goldman in Warren Beatty's Russian
Revolution epic.

She had tried to get into the role by reading Goldman's
autobiography but had to give up because it was so boring.
Some might feel the same about Beatty's film.

Nevertheless, it brought her a fourth Oscar nomination as
best supporting actress. The winners in the three previous
years had been Mary Steenburgen, Meryl Streep and Maggie
Smith. It looked like an omen and the curious pattern
continued with a win for Stapleton. She had already won an
Emmy for the drama Among the Paths to Eden (1967), so it
completed her set of acting honours.

Asked how it felt to be recognised as one of the greatest
actresses in the world, Stapleton, who was noted for both
her wit and her profanity, replied: "Not nearly as exciting
as it would be if I were acknowledged as one of the
greatest lays in the world."

Later films include Cocoon (1985), Heartburn (1986), with
Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, Nuts (1987), with Barbra
Streisand, and the romantic comedy Addicted to Love (1997),
with Meg Ryan.


No 'Danny Boy'

Out of haze of ambiguity emerges one clear fact: the song's
about as Irish as the queen of England

Posted: Mar. 14, 2006

"Danny Boy" is surely the most beloved Irish song that
isn't really Irish.

The lyrics were written in 1910 by an English lawyer named
Frederick Weatherly. While the song has been recorded
hundreds of times, it's been done mostly by non-Irish
artists. Irish bands often refuse to play it.

"There's a whole group of Irish-American songs," says Barry
Stapleton, director of the Irish Music Archives in
Wauwatosa. "Harrigan," "My Wild Irish Rose," "Danny Boy is
one of those. . . . Irish bands rarely do those songs.
Irish-American bands do them. Irish bands feel those tunes
are not Irish and they're schmaltzy."

Malachy McCourt has written a book on the tune called
"Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad."

He cheerfully admits "beloved" is not a word many Irish
musicians would use to describe "Danny Boy."

"The Irish-Americans and people who are not really Irish
are notoriously sentimental about things that never were
and could never be," says McCourt, who was born in
Brooklyn. "So they have a vision of Ireland that they fall
for a saccharine thing like 'Danny Boy.' "

Some of the warmth Irish artists harbor for "Danny Boy" can
be inferred from the parody written by Yorkshire musician
Peter Benson.

The first verse goes:

"Oh, Danny boy, they claim that you are Irish

But we both know you're English through and through

And if you really want to know what I wish

I truly wish that I had never heard of you

'Cause every March they make me sing about you

And every drunkard thinks that he can too

And when they miss that high note it's so painful

That if you heard it, I think it would kill you, too."

To be fair to Danny, the song is clearly part Irish.

The melody was given to Weatherly by his American sister-
in-law, who had supposedly heard Irish-American laborers
singing it.

Weatherly had already written the lyrics and found they
adapted easily to the tune.

The melody comes from an old Irish air that may go back 200
years or more. It was originally published in 1855, and
scores of lyrics were written for it before Weatherly made
his magical match.

Even the title of the original air is fraught with
contention. It's often called "Londonderry Air" after a
city in Northern Ireland.

"Depending on whether you call it the 'Londonderry Air' or
the 'Derry Air,' you can get in big political trouble,"
says Irish Fest entertainment coordinator Chuck Ward.

"Londonderry is the English name for the city of Derry. If
you see an Irishman and you tell him he lives in
Londonderry, it isn't going to go over very well. It is
Derry. That word alone has huge implications.

"As I say, 'Be careful. You'll find a leprechaun head in
your bed.' "

Part of the appeal of "Danny Boy" may rest in its
ambiguity. The Irish "references" are vague. It mentions
"the pipes are calling," but some think that infers English
pipes calling Irish conscripts to war.

It talks about the glen, but Ireland doesn't have a
monopoly on glens. Danny sounds like an Irish name, but
Danny Glover is African-American, and Danny Thomas was

The context is full of English fog. Is it being sung by a
woman to her lover? A mother or father to a child? Is Danny
going off to war or simply embarking to another place,
probably America?

Cloaked in deliberate ambiguity

Although Weatherly died in 1929, wrote an autobiography and
had 1,500 published works, he apparently never shed much
light on the meaning of his most popular tune.

McCourt believes some of the ambiguity was deliberate to
allow different versions.

"As far as I know, he never did say what it was about,"
McCourt says. "What we do know is that they always wrote
songs in those days so that any gender could sing them."

"Danny Boy" is also different than many other iconic songs
in that there is no definitive recorded version.

"White Christmas" has the Bing Crosby original. "Yesterday"
has the Beatles' blueprint. "Over the Rainbow" has hundreds
of versions, but the Judy Garland original is still
recognized as the standard.

Although "Danny Boy" has charted numerous times, there have
been no really huge hit versions.

The most commercially successful version of the rock era
was probably Conway Twitty's 1959 hit, which reached No. 10
on the Billboard singles chart.

Twitty does not tread softly over that Irish gravesite in

Done in Twitty's rocker incarnation before he went straight
country, it starts out as a growling ballad and then kicks
into a pure rockabilly rave-up that might well have
disturbed the slumbering departed.

McCourt's personal favorite version comes from the Glen of
Motown. R&B great Jackie Wilson liked the song so much he
recorded it twice.

The second version was a minor hit for Wilson in 1965 and
is full of the dramatic swoops and glides that marked
Wilson's multi-octave ballad style.

It also inspired some of Jackie's famous fans, since the
subsequent recordings by Tom Jones and Elvis Presley were
clearly patterned on Wilson's version. "Danny Boy,"
incidentally, was a favorite of Presley's and was played at
his funeral.

As one might expect, given the apparent Irish skepticism
about old Danny, most of the recordings are by Irish

Some of the other artists who visited the valley hushed and
white with snow include Judy Garland, Harry Connick Jr.,
Rufus Wainwright, Duane Eddy, Mario Lanza, Bing Crosby,
Judy Collins, Patti LaBelle, James Galway, Ray Price, Roger
Whittaker, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Charlotte Church,
Tennessee Ernie Ford, Harry Belafonte, Neil Sedaka, Tony
Bennett, Eric Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carly Simon, Andy
Williams, Slim Whitman, Johnny Mathis, Eva Cassidy, Johnny
Cash, Mahalia Jackson, Roy Orbison, Connie Francis, Boxcar
Willie and Kate Smith.

World War I connection

It's possible that "Danny Boy" was the beneficiary of good

The song was first published in 1913 as Europe was on the
cusp of the massive bloodletting of World War I.

As such, it played to the painful parting that many
thousands of parents and girls left behind had for their
young men marching off to the trenches.

The sadness of that parting has never waned and seems to
have a unique power to transcend language and culture.

McCourt reports that he has a Korean friend who loves
"Danny Boy."

In his book, McCourt reports that actor Liam Neeson loves
the song so much he once asked Barbra Streisand to sing it
when the two of them shared a limo ride. Streisand refused.

Ward, who is also a musician, does the same. He politely
declines requests to play "Danny Boy." He considers the
song trite and sentimental.

"If you were looking for a typical Irish ballad, 'Danny
Boy' would be very, very far down on my list," he says.
"It's almost more of a melting pot-type song than anything.
It's an Americanization of an Irish song.

"There are a lot of people who just don't like the tone of
the song. 'The pipes, the pipes are calling, . . . Well,
the pipes are calling you to war. The Irish didn't use
pipes to call you to war. The English did."

But he understands it has a hold on people's hearts.

"I remember being at a funeral and somebody did 'Danny Boy'
because it was a song that this guy just loved. Maybe I
softened a little. . . .

"Who am I to say, 'Well, if you love our music, here's what
you ought to love.' It's all part of the spectrum of being

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