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March 04, 2006

Ahern & Blair Forced To Delay NI Initiative

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 03/04/06 Ahern And Blair Forced To Delay NI Initiative
IT 03/04/06 Collusion Will Be Studied 'In Broadest Sense'
IT 03/04/06 Claim That Garda Gave Info To IRA Is 'Monstrous Lie'
GU 03/04/06 The Legacy Of The Hunger Strikes
IT 03/04/06 Return Of Love Ulster Parade Looks Increasingly Unlikely
IM 03/03/06 Dublin Riot: No To Orange And Green Sectarians
UT 03/03/06 Fears Over Future Of Out Of School Clubs
SS 03/03/06 1916 Anniversary Parade Angers The Revisionists
EX 03/03/06 Opin: Shadow Assembly Will Solve Nothing
EX 03/03/06 Opin: Rioters Not Republicans & Neither Is Our Govt
IT 03/04/06 Opin: Riot Exposes Malaise And Lack Of Tolerance
IT 03/04/06 Opin: Gardaí Must Learn How To De-Escalate Tension
IT 03/04/06 Opin: The M3 & Tara- A Wrong Road
IT 03/04/06 Opin: Economy Vulnerable To Housing Crash
IT 03/04/06 Gardaí Recover Stone Stolen From Mount Leinster Monument
IH 03/03/06 Gardai To Respond To Cardiac Arrests
IT 03/04/06 Wintry Weather Shows No Let-Up
IT 03/04/06 Hollywood Celebrates Irish Writing For Film
DV 03/03/06 Ryan's Daughter (Special Edition)


Ahern And Blair Forced To Delay NI Initiative


Vehement Sinn Féin opposition to the proposal to re-
establish the Northern Ireland Assembly in "shadow" form
has delayed plans for a major announcement next Wednesday
by British prime minister Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern
intended to force the pace in the stalled talks., writes
Mark Brennock and Frank Millar

The Government has signalled that next Wednesday's meeting
at Downing Street between the Taoiseach and the prime
minister is now likely to be a stocktaking exercise in
relation to Northern talks, rather than the occasion for a
significant initiative as had initially been hoped.

The change in mood follows strong Sinn Féin and SDLP
opposition to the initiative, which is believed to include
the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly in
"shadow" form, a move sought by the DUP.

A Government spokeswoman said yesterday that Wednesday's
meeting between Mr Blair and Mr Ahern would be dedicated to
"reviewing the process" and assessing the contacts which
had been made recently with all parties, including Sinn
Féin and the SDLP.

A statement is expected afterwards, but it is not now
expected to announce any significant new initiative.

Government sources say that the two governments are
continuing to work towards achieving early progress, but
they have signalled that Wednesday's meeting is now
unlikely to see a major new step forward.

Despite last night's announcement in Dublin, Downing Street
insisted Mr Blair's strategy remained on course and that
the moment of "tough decision" about the future of the
Northern Ireland Assembly could not be long delayed.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "The prime
minister has an increasingly clear view about what needs to
be done, as I've said before, but we are not yet at the
point of decisions being taken."

He characterised the "no announcement/no press conference"
nature of next Wednesday's private meeting as a natural
opportunity for the prime minister and Taoiseach to take
stock of the situation ahead of the usual break in
proceedings generated by the annual St Patrick's Day
celebrations at home and abroad.

Political sources in Dublin and Belfast earlier this week
talked up the prospect of Mr Blair and Mr Ahern announcing
plans next Wednesday to take the initiative in relation to
restoring the suspended political institutions.

This was expected to include the restoration of the
Northern Assembly in "shadow" form.

This Assembly would continue for a limited period, with
full restoration of the elected Assembly conditional on
agreement to re-establish the power-sharing executive.

The strength of Sinn Féin and SDLP opposition is believed
to have led to a view among government officials that more
time is needed to decide how to proceed.

Senior British and Irish officials met in London yesterday
to consider how to go forward.

It was accepted in Whitehall that last night's announcement
would excite talk of fresh crisis in the political process.

However, while the precise timeframe for the proposed
British initiative remains to be decided, the preference
now appears to be for a period of six months rather than a
year, pointing to a decision to reconvene the Assembly by
the beginning of May.

The impression from usually well-informed sources was that
Mr Blair remained keen to have the proposed "shadow"
Assembly make a decision - to restore power-sharing or
collapse the institutions - in October or November this
year following further reports from the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC).

Mr Blair is resisting Sinn Féin and SDLP demands that he
"set a date for restoration" and the immediate triggering
of the mechanism to form an executive, in the certain
belief that DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley is under no
pressure from the unionist community to deal following the
most recent IMC report implicating the IRA in continued
criminality and intelligence-gathering.

© The Irish Times


Collusion Will Be Studied 'In Broadest Sense'

By Martin Wall

The chairman of the new tribunal of inquiry which is to
examine whether there was collusion by gardaí in the murder
of two senior RUC officers 17 years ago has said that it
will investigate whether anyone turned a blind eye as well
as any evidence of active collaboration with

The sole member of the tribunal, the former president of
the District Court, Judge Peter Smithwick, said that the
tribunal would examine the issue of collusion in the
broadest sense of the word.

The tribunal is to investigate suggestions that members of
the Garda or any other employee of the State colluded in
the fatal shootings of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt
Robert Buchanan on March 20th, 1989.

The two RUC officers were murdered by the Provisional IRA
just north of the Border as they returned from a meeting in
Dundalk Garda station.

In a statement yesterday, Judge Smithwick said that, while
collusion generally had the meaning of the commission of an
act, he was of the view that it should also be considered
in terms of an omission or failure to act.

"In the active sense, collusion has amongst its meanings to
conspire, connive or collaborate. In addition, I intend to
examine whether anyone deliberately ignored a matter or
turned a blind eye to it, or pretended ignorance or
unawareness of something one ought morally, legally or
officially oppose," he said.

Judge Smithwick said that the tribunal had been established
by the Oireachtas on foot of a recommendation in a report
by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, who had examined six
cases of alleged collusion between the British or Irish
security forces and paramilitaries.

"On the question of collusion, Judge Cory stated that it
could be said that the Provisional IRA did not need
information from the gardaí to mount the ambush and that
intelligence reports received shortly afterwards could be
taken to point to a similar conclusion.

"However, there were also, according to Judge Cory, two
intelligence reports which referred to a Garda leak," Judge
Smithwick said. Judge Cory had also considered a statement
from a man said to have been a former British intelligence
agent who became a member of the Provisional IRA. This man,
who went under the pseudonym "Kevin Fulton", stated that on
the day of the ambush his senior IRA commander was told
that a garda had informed the IRA that the two RUC officers
were in the station in Dundalk.

"In the view of Judge Cory, this statement could add
credence to the two intelligence reports which referred to
a Garda leak," Judge Smithwick said.

In the event of persons or agencies outside the State
declining to co-operate with the tribunal, it could report
the matter to the clerk of the Dáil, he said.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell had said last year
that, should the need arise, a "formal approach could be
made by the Irish authorities to the British authorities to
assist in securing the co-operation of persons in Britain
and Northern Ireland", Judge Smithwick added.

© The Irish Times


Claim That Garda Gave Information To IRA Is 'Monstrous
Lie', Inquiry Told

By Martin Wall

Counsel for a retired Garda detective sergeant has
described as a "monstrous lie" claims by a leading unionist
politician that his client had passed on information to the

Barrister Jim O'Callaghan told the Smithwick tribunal
yesterday that his client, retired sergeant Owen Corrigan,
could be of no assistance to its work in examining the
circumstances surrounding the killing of two senior RUC
officers 17 years ago. He said Mr Corrigan had been dragged
into the controversy.

He said that in 2000 unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson (now a
member of the Democratic Unionist Party) had made a
statement under privilege in the House of Commons in
Westminster saying Mr Corrigan had passed on information to
the Provisional IRA in respect of the tragic killing of the
two RUC officers.

"That statement was a monstrous lie and had a severe impact
on my client's reputation," Mr O'Callaghan said.

He said it was a monstrous lie given that his client had
spent the latter part of his career in the Special
Detective Unit (Special Branch) in Dundalk fighting
subversives, and had carried out this work at some personal

Mr O'Callaghan said Mr Corrigan felt compelled to come
before the tribunal and seek representation as under its
terms of reference it was to examine "suggestions" of
collusion between gardaí and the IRA in the killing of the
two officers. Such suggestions had been made under
privilege by Mr Donaldson and were false, he said.

Solicitor Ernie Telford also sought representation
yesterday for the family of Robert Buchanan, one of the
officers murdered by the Provisional IRA in March 1989.

Judge Peter Smithwick also said he had received a request
for representation from the family of the second RUC
officer, Harry Breen.

After the hearing, Mr Telford said the Buchanan family
welcomed the establishment of the tribunal. The intervening
years since the deaths of Supt Buchanan and Chief Supt
Breen had been difficult for their families and friends, he
said. "There are so many unanswered questions and so many
lingering suspicions as to what happened on the lonely
roads of south Armagh 17 years ago," he said.

© The Irish Times


The Legacy Of The Hunger Strikes

Bobby Sands and nine other republican prisoners died on
hunger strike in Long Kesh 25 years ago. What became of
those who survived? Melanie McFadyean finds seven of them
and asks: was it all worth it?

Saturday March 4, 2006
The Guardian

In a layby on a country road a few miles outside Belfast
are some high, padlocked gates. Beyond the gates, the
deserted compounds of Long Kesh jail stretch bleakly into
the distance. These days, you can push your way through
brambles and disconnected barbed wire and climb into its
eerie, grey expanses. The jail is empty, closed in
September 2000, its maximum-security fence breachable, its
searchlights dismantled. But its fearsome reputation lives

For many years, this was the epicentre of the Northern
Irish war, the front line where 53 republican prisoners
engaged in two hunger strikes, the second of which, in
1981, resulted in the deaths of 10 men.

But what of those who survived? As they look back on its
legacy, a quarter of a century on, they say the strikes
paved the way for the republican movement's shift from
militarism into electoral politics and peace. The catalyst
was the Fermanagh and South Tyrone byelection on April 9
1981: Bobby Sands, then in his sixth week of hunger strike,
stood as an Anti-H-Block/ Armagh Political Prisoner and won
with more than 30,000 votes. He died 26 days later, but the
nationalist community, identifying with the prisoners'
cause, had taken a crucial step towards electoral politics.

Perhaps Sands had an intimation of the reverberations his
election and subsequent death would set off. It was a
turning point in Northern Ireland's war that culminated
last April when Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams called on
the IRA to commit to "purely political and democratic
activity", a resolve he underlined two weeks ago at the
party's annual conference. But the sense of achievement
felt by the survivors is tempered by regret. One, Laurence
McKeown, says, "Time numbs little of the sorrow and sense
of loss we experienced as, one by one, our friends and
comrades died on the hunger strike."

In 1969, when British soldiers were drafted on to the
streets of Belfast, they were welcomed fleetingly by some
nationalists. That mood soon changed. The Provisional IRA
came to the fore and stepped up the campaign against the
Northern Ireland security forces and British troops. A
country whose jail population had been less than a thousand
suddenly found its numbers swelling exponentially and Long
Kesh, a former RAF base, was opened as a jail in 1971. By
1976 it had expanded into eight H-shaped blocks with a
capacity for nearly 800 men. When it closed 24 years later,
10,000 prisoners had been through its gates.

All the prisoners were connected to the armed struggle - or
were assumed to be - and republicans always heavily
outnumbered loyalists. In 1972, Billy McKee, an IRA
prisoner at Long Kesh, initiated the first hunger strike.
He was determined not to be treated as a criminal: he won -
the then Tory government granted "special category status",
PoW status in all but name. In 1976, as the H-blocks were
filling up, the Wilson Labour government reversed this
decision. Kieran Nugent, a 19-year-old republican, in
September 1976 was the first to be denied special category
status. He refused to wear prison uniform, saying they'd
have to nail it to his back. He was left naked but for a
blanket; so began the "blanket protest".

The protest escalated in March 1978 when prisoners were
told to remove the towels wrapped around them when they
went to slop out. They refused. When prison officers kicked
over slop buckets in the cells, the men began to throw
their faeces through the bars of the windows. This was the
"no wash", or "dirty" protest as the outside world called
it. Each prisoner had only a blanket and a sponge mattress,
no reading or writing materials, radios, letters. Unless
they put on prison clothes, they didn't get their monthly
visit. For every day on the blanket, one was added to their
sentence. In December 1979, prime minister Margaret
Thatcher made her position clear: the prisoners, she said,
wanted to establish "that their crimes were 'political',
thus giving the perpetrators a kind of respectability, even
nobility. This we could not allow."

On October 27 1980, the first hunger strike began. It ended
53 days later, on December 18, following an appeal from the
Catholic Primate of Ireland, on the assumption that the
British government would make some concessions to the
prisoners. It didn't. Nothing was to change.

Three months later, on March 1 1981, Bobby Sands, OC of the
IRA in Long Kesh, began the second hunger strike; the
blanket protest was called off the day after, to avoid
detracting attention from him. Sands died on May 5, 100,000
attended his funeral and his name is now known
internationally. The nine who died after are not, but their
faces look down from murals in republican Belfast. There
were 13 other prisoners who survived that hunger strike
(two, Pat McGeown and Matt Devlin, have since died). Seven
agreed to be interviewed: Laurence McKeown, Paddy Quinn,
Pat Sheehan, Jackie McMullan, Brendan McLaughlin, Gerard
Hodgins and Brian (not his real name - his workmates know
nothing of his past and his job takes him to loyalist
areas). They pass unnoticed in the street; they have
slipped into ordinary lives.

All of them grew up amid the civil rights campaign of the
1960s and were in their early teens when the British troops
arrived. The army was on their streets, they were regularly
searched and their homes raided.

Laurence McKeown is from Randallstown, outside Belfast. He
is an intelligent man of great presence. His father was a
van driver, an SDLP voter. In his teens, McKeown had
ambitions to be an architect and at 15 got a job in a
quantity surveyor's office. He grew up with Protestants:
"It was a mixed area and we had excellent relations with
them. I still did, in jail, in later years." When the
Ulster Defence Regiment was set up in April 1970, as a
successor to the hated B-Specials, it was, recalls McKeown,
"just a larger Protestant militia... Suddenly one side of
the community was armed and had the power to harass me,
which they did."

McKeown didn't join the IRA lightly. "I was 16. There was a
lot of soul-searching. It's not like joining a state army,
where someone signs their name, gets a uniform and rifle,
and the chaplain blesses them." In 1976, aged 19, McKeown
was charged with causing explosions and the attempted
murder of a Royal Ulster Constabulary man; he got life.

Pat Sheehan's experience was similar. On the street where
he grew up, there were only three other Catholic families.
One day, two men came to look for him and fired a revolver.
The family moved out. After that attack Sheehan joined the
Fianna, the IRA youth wing, and then the IRA. Like McKeown,
by the age of 19 he was behind bars after taking part in a
bombing - there were no casualties - at a cash-and-carry.

The street where Jackie McMullan lives, near where he grew
up, is quiet now; but, as he dandles his baby on his knee,
he remembers when the nearby Falls was burning, Kashmir and
Bombay Street were torched by loyalists, and he watched as
troops put up barricades around the blackened streets. In
August 1971, 2,000 people were interned without trial, all
but 107 of them from the nationalist community. It made a
deep impression on McMullan. "In my teens I was arrested
maybe 20 times. Every male aged 13 to 65 would have been
arrested, the vast majority for screening. And every single
one of my friends joined the Fianna. We'd be scouting; you
wouldn't have participated in firing guns or in ambushes.
After school there were riots. The Brits, probably bored
out of their skulls, used to drive down the Glen Road every
day as schools were getting out."

McMullan arrived in Long Kesh in September 1976. He got
life for attempted murder. Like many others, he had refused
to recognise the no-jury, special Diplock courts.

Brian joined the IRA at 16. "Every day the army was there,
stop, up against the wall, slapped about. I had been
reading books my grandfather gave me about Michael Collins
and James Connolly." At 19 he was convicted of attempted

In his childhood, Gerard Hodgins was burned out of his home
by loyalists. The family moved. He left school at 16 with
no O-levels. When he joined the IRA, he was given a
warning: within a year, or two, he would be dead or in

You'd imagine a 20-year-old facing a life sentence would be
devastated. That's not how McMullan recalls it. "It was
September 1976 and the longest anyone was in was five
years. You had no conception of life. You were young and
full of beans, all your friends were going to jail. There
was an air of rebellion, and everybody thought it'd be over
in a couple of years." For McKeown, being taken to prison
was "that moment when teenage things were gone for ever".

All these men went on the blanket and dirty protests. "The
circle [the administrative centre in each block] was where
the officers would beat you," says McMullan. "You're made
to strip naked, you have eight screws telling you to put
your uniform on, you get a slap in the face. You're naked,
humiliated, cornered and getting beaten up by these big men
in uniform while other screws watched."

Paddy Quinn remembers buckets of scalding water and Jeyes
fluid thrown at him in his cell; others describe forced
washes in freezing water with hard brushes. Every two
weeks, cells and prisoners were forcibly hosed down. "What
made it possible to live like that," says McMullan, "was
that we were in it together. It was powerful. It was
unbreakable in spite of the no wash, and it was absolutely
freezing. We had no windows." They smashed them so they
could communicate and later to throw out the faeces. Amid
the repulsive surroundings of shit-smeared walls, says
Quinn, "You'd be sleeping on the sponge mattress on the
floor, you'd wake up in the morning and maggots would be
stuck to you. You'd have to pull them off. Then they'd turn
into flies."

The prisoners looked out for each other. There was bingo
and quizzes, shouted through the gaps in the doors. They
taught each other Gaelic, gave history lectures, sang
songs, recited stories. Bobby Sands relayed the whole of
Leon Uris's novel Trinity. It took him eight days.

Every day when McMullan woke up, he would speculate on
whether he would get a beating. And there was the nightmare
of the monthly visits. He did not see his family for the
first 30 months of the protest, because he refused to wear
the uniform. "The screws standing beside you, hating you,
hating your relatives. Your eyes are bulging because you're
locked in a cell 24 hours a day, you have matted hair,
you're filthy, you look like a deranged maniac. You go out
and try to act normal to your family, putting on a brave
face, and so are they."

On the next due visit, he waited to see his mother,
Bernadette, who supported the men - she had chained herself
to the railings in Downing Street. A priest came instead to
tell McMullan she had died.

The pressure was intense and some cracked. These seven
endured. The prison officers, Sheehan says, had no
restraint. "If a screw was fair, he'd get abuse from his
own people. They had orderlies who brought the food round
and one who was sympathetic squeezed a half-ounce of
tobacco through the door. The screws caught him and gave
him a beating. Another orderly was told to do his 'party
piece', and got on the table and urinated into the tea

Outside, republican and loyalist groups took revenge -
between 1974 and 1993, some 29 prison service employees
were murdered. During the Long Kesh years, 50 prison
service employees committed suicide. The pressure, recalls
one warder, led to "irrational behaviour and heavy
drinking". "You could smell it on their breath," Quinn

The first hunger strikers had what became known as the Five
Demands: the right not to wear prison uniform, the right
not to do penal work, the right to associate freely with
other prisoners, the right to get one visit, one letter and
one parcel a week, and the restoration of the remission
lost on protest. Quinn joined the fast in June, by which
time four men were already dead - Sands, Francis Hughes,
Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O'Hara.

On his 19th day, Quinn was taken to the prison hospital.
There he heard Joe McDonnell dying and his wife, Goretti,
weeping. He remembers Martin Hurson's death on July 13: "I
could hear his brother shouting, 'Martin! Martin!' I could
hear Martin saying that the lights were out. Then it went
quiet. The next day they put me into Martin's cell."

By that time Quinn couldn't keep even water down. "Maybe it
crossed your mind to go off the hunger strike, but I
wouldn't give up. You always had this thought - Maggie
Thatcher wasn't going to criminalise me. Some time around
then I came round in the intensive care unit. My lips were
swollen, chapped and cut. They said I'd been biting them. I
remember hyperventilating, my heart was going that fast, I
could hear the scraping and screeching of the blood on the
back of my brain, I could feel this terrible pain. A
medical orderly was helping me to breathe, but I was
hallucinating that the screws were trying to kill me, I
could hear the noise in my throat, gasping for breath. You
were watching the deterioration of your own body, thinking,
'I have to do this; I'm going to keep going.' It was just
pain, day after day. Then one day I went for a shower, I
collapsed in the shower, then there was the sickness.

"I remember looking at the jug of water and repeating to
myself, 'I'm going to keep it down.' And it did stay down.
That's when the walking stopped, I was in a wheelchair. My
eyes had gone, all I could see were shadows. I had reached
that point that I was looking forward to death. I felt a
real sense of contentment. I had accepted I was going to
die and I was happy with my decision. That was maybe after
43 days, in and out of consciousness at that stage."

Quinn had told his mother not to take him off the hunger
strike when he lapsed into coma: "I says, 'You either back
me or you back Maggie Thatcher.' I was weak, it was hard to
talk, and she said there was no point going on with it."

McKeown describes the moment when he thought his death was
a certainty: "It's like someone who has been on their feet
for days without sleep and then gets the chance to lie down
but is awakened to be told the house is on fire. They don't
want to know, they just want to sleep."

Encouraged by the Catholic clergy, the families intervened,
Quinn's mother and McKeown's relatives among them. Quinn
thinks his mother was deliberately brought into the
hospital when he was close to death. "She heard me roaring.
[They] thought I had a couple of hours to live." When he
went into a coma, she ordered that he be saved. A few days
later he met his mother - he was blind and angry. He's
never discussed it with her.

McKeown joined the strike two weeks after Quinn, on June
29. It was a time of waiting, he says. He was hoping
someone would materialise with a resolution to the demands.
"Nobody on the hunger strike wanted to die," he says. "This
martyr notion is nonsense, we were caught in circumstances
where we were going to resist to the death rather than
capitulate to the criminalisation." When he became
unconscious after 70 days, his family took him off the

On July 4, when four men had died and McDonnell was four
days from death, the hunger strikers sent out a document.
They were not asking for privileges, it said, their five
demands should apply to all prisoners. It sparked renewed
contact between a representative of the government, known
as the Mountain Climber, and the IRA leadership. A source
close to the events of that weekend told me that the
Mountain Climber was "a high-ranking, unelected Tory".

Thatcher held the public line - "We are not prepared to
consider special category status." Meanwhile, the Mountain
Climber told Adams that if the hunger strike ended, there
would be concessions.

Despite their refusal to negotiate openly, the British
wanted an end to the hunger strike. As Sir Ian Gilmour, a
minister at the Foreign Office, put it, the hunger strikes
were "a great propaganda coup for the IRA". Under Secretary
to the Northern Ireland Office Sir Kenneth Stowe said,
"Northern Ireland is not a place to grow martyrs if you can
avoid it. We were anxious to try to find some way of
enabling the hunger strikers to get off the hook."

The Mountain Climber had insisted on secrecy. However,
Adams felt compelled to tell the Catholic bishops, who were
themselves trying to broker an end to the hunger strike.
Once again, there was no deal. The deaths continued.

In his book, Blanketmen, published last year, former
prisoner and hunger strike public relations officer Richard
O'Rawe maintains that the IRA army council wanted the
hunger strike prolonged until the second Fermanagh and
South Tyrone byelection, to be held on August 20 and to be
contested by a Sinn Féin man. There is no corroboration of
O'Rawe's assertion, and other senior republicans deny it.

The strike went on. On August 10, Sheehan refused food.
"The hardest part was starting it," he says. "There's all
kind of self-doubt... You had to be focused on your own
hunger strike, nothing else matters - what's going on in
the outside world, what happens within your own family. You
have to blank out everything."

Four days before the hunger strike was called off, when
Sheehan was on his 51st day, a doctor told him he was
jaundiced and might not live even if the strike ended. By
the time McMullan began his hunger strike on August 17,
nine men had died. "With each death," he says, "we became
more angry, more steely. You knew those guys, you were
close to them. Closer to them than you would be to your own
brothers." For the first 20 or 30 days he was alone in his
cell. "There were people on either side, so you'd be up
talking at the window or you'd lie down on the floor and
speak into the pipe that ran from cell to cell - the sound

By the end he was in the prison hospital, wasting away,
sleeping more, always lucid, warding off fear with memories
of those who had died and his reasons for going on the
strike. He had been on the strike for 48 days when it ended
on October 3.

Brian, whose ebullience suggests he could survive anything,
joined the strike because he didn't see why "someone else
should do something for me if I wasn't prepared to do it
myself". He wasn't alone. "You'd be surprised that about
100 put their names forward." But how could he give his
life away? "Ask my wife - she'd say it's because I'm bloody

In retrospect, these men say the hunger strikes and the
sacrifices were worth it. "If the British had succeeded in
criminalising us, we would never have got over it," says
Quinn. "If Sinn Féin had remained hard-line and military,
then I think the sacrifices made on the hunger strike would
have been a complete waste. It was Sinn Féin going into
politics that made it worthwhile."

Only one of the men fails to welcome the political path
taken by the republican movement. Brendan McLaughlin is
still fighting the war in his head. He was on the hunger
strike for 20 days, but had to abandon it due to a
perforated ulcer. He is confined to a wheelchair in his
council house in Gobnascail near Derry after a stroke six
years ago. His fresh-faced 12-year-old son comes in and
out. McLaughlin's former wife lives a few houses along but
they're barely speaking. He's not complaining about that,
he's complaining about Gerry Adams. "The Brits have no
right to be in this country, never have, never will.
McGuinness, Adams, I know 'em all - scum bastards. I fought
for a 32-county republic, a united Ireland. They're selling
out. I'll never change. The war will never end."

Sheehan disagrees. "There is no need for the IRA any
longer. I grew up in a state that was unjust and
oppressive. I was vulnerable to attacks because of the area
I grew up in. I am proud that I took up arms; I believed it
was the right thing to do. The situation is a lot different
now." Sheehan got a first in philosophy from the Open
University during a second stint in jail. He now runs a
small business and is married with a young child.

McKeown works for a national network of republican ex-
prisoners. He got together with a woman who visited him
during his last years in jail and they have two children.
He got a social science degree in jail, and 10 years after
the hunger strike compiled numerous prison testimonies.
Since then, he's written plays and screenplays, made a
documentary, and writes a newspaper column for Daily
Ireland. I bumped into him at the opening night of the
Belfast Film Festival (which he co-founded), glass in hand,
standing beside one of the Corrs, a world away from the
seven-stone skeleton he was after 70 days on hunger strike;
he was rescued from death by his family, against his will.

Paddy Quinn can't work - he's had a kidney transplant. He
lives in a farmhouse in County Down with his wife and their
two little girls. His eyesight was permanently damaged by
the hunger strike. Has he regrets? "I remember somebody
saying to me once, 'You lost 10 years.' I said, 'In those
10 years I probably had more experience than you'll ever
have.' "

Gerard Hodgins lives in a flat that looks for miles across
Belfast to the hills. When the hunger strike ended, he had
been on it for 20 days. He looks back on the four years of
protest as a "terrible, despairing time". He occasionally
has flashbacks. In and out of jail, he says, "I had hatred
and a desire for payback, for revenge against the whole
system - screws, RUC, the British army." In 1995, when the
prisoners got 50% of their remission back, two years were
chopped off his sentence and he was due a week's parole. It
was then he met Lorraine, who is now his wife.

After his release in 1996, he got into community work,
which led to a post with the Department of Learning and
Education as a mentor in a job assistance scheme for people
who lack basic skills.

When Jackie McMullan left Long Kesh in 1992, he said it was
like arriving from Mars. He found it hard to be in company.
He was most at ease with former prisoners. As for women, in
his head he was still 20, and women his age - 35 - were
married with kids. He was in and out of relationships,
couldn't settle. He's not complaining, though. "I've had a
brilliant time since I got out," he says, chuckling. Four
years ago he met his partner, a teacher. He worked with
Sinn Féin on education programmes for ex-prisoners and is
still involved with community work.

The hunger strike is always with them, but they have
survived, even flourished. "Winning leaves you OK," says
McKeown. "They tried to criminalise us but failed - they
politicised us." Within days of the end of the hunger
strike, James Prior, Northern Ireland secretary, announced
a series of measures that went a long way to meeting the
five demands.

A Long Kesh mission statement published just before it
closed reads: "We will operate a secure, safe and humane
regime which recognises the individual and the
organisations to which he or she claims allegiance." If
that had been the mission in 1976, many lives would have
been saved.


Return Of Love Ulster Parade Looks Increasingly Unlikely

By Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern has indicated
that the Government feels that a return Love Ulster march
in Dublin is not feasible or appropriate despite head of
Fair William Frazer yesterday saying he hoped the parade
could be restaged in the capital.

Mr Ahern said in Belfast yesterday that he favoured some
alternative method, such as the former Forum for Peace and
Reconciliation, for dealing with reconciliation rather than
a repeat of the parade.

Earlier in Belfast yesterday, Mr Frazer, of the south
Armagh Protestant victims' group Families Acting for
Innocent Victims (Fair), said the Government had a
responsibility to ensure that the Love Ulster parade, which
was aborted in Dublin last Saturday due to rioting, could
safely take place. However at a Belfast press conference he
stopped short of saying the parade definitely would happen.

"We would like to go back as soon as possible. But there is
a lot of questions that are going to have to be answered by
members of the Dáil and gardaí.

"We want reassurances from them. We don't want to have
people batoned off the streets of Dublin so we can parade
down through Dublin."

Pressed on whether he thought the parade eventually would
be staged, he would only say: "I hope it happens."

Mr Ahern, who met the head of the North's Human Rights
Commission, Prof Monica McWilliams, yesterday, suggested
that the focus now should be on reconciliation rather than
on a return parade. He suggested the National Forum for
Peace and Reconciliation as a possible means of addressing
the issues of victims.

"The only way you can do that [achieve reconciliation] is
by sitting around a table; not by demonstrating, not by
throwing bricks, not by waving flags in such a way that is
regarded as confrontational by another side."

Asked was he implicitly stating that the Love Ulster parade
had caused offence, he said words should not be put in his

However he added: "We live in a democracy. People have an
entitlement to march, people have an entitlement to do so
in a way that does not cause offence. They have an
obligation to do it in a way that does not cause offence."

He referred to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, and
said perhaps the issue of reconciliation should be
addressed on a "more long-term" basis "where people like
Willie Frazer and his people could articulate their
feelings at something like that without in any way
discommoding the feelings of other people.

"If we can provide another way I think it would then
obviate the necessity for anyone to march and feel that
they have to march."

© The Irish Times


Dublin Riot: No To Orange And Green Sectarians

National Miscellaneous Press Release Friday March 03,
2006 15:41 by Cian - Socialist Party
Limerick 085-7077919

Joe Higgins TD's statement in the Dail on Saturday's riot
in Dublin - Dail Debate, 1st March 2006

The Socialist Party condemns those who orchestrated
Saturday's violence. It was a sectarian riot to prevent the
Love Ulster group marching through Dublin. My party
believes that the Love Ulster campaign is based on
sectarianism and that its activities heighten sectarian
divisions and encourage disunity among working class
people, especially in Northern Ireland. We strongly oppose
the political agenda and the activities of Love Ulster, but
we recognise its right to march and protest in the centre
of Dublin. The Socialist Party equally recognises the
rights of others to indicate peaceful opposition to Love
Ulster through disciplined protest, but they have no right
to stop others marching as happened on Saturday in Dublin.
My party strongly opposes the political agenda of both
orange and green sectarians, whether in the North or on the
streets of Dublin.

Let us contrast Saturday's disgusting scenes with those of
a few weeks ago, when striking postal workers in Belfast,
Protestant and Catholic, marched together up the Shankill
Road and down the Falls Road in a united working class
demonstration. With the many groups and individuals
subjected to disgraceful violence on Saturday, I highlight
violent assaults against workers, including migrant
workers, in their workplaces, particularly shops, by the
thugs who participated. Clearly, the Good Friday Agreement
is not providing a solution. It could not do so, since it
is the institutionalisation of sectarian division.
Therefore, I register my dissent and formally oppose that
section of the motion before us.

The key task remaining is forging unity among working class
people within Northern Ireland and North and South and, in
so doing, ensuring all communities and individuals can live
free from sectarian conflict. However, the British and
Irish Governments which push new liberal and right-wing
economic agendas at the expense of those working class
communities are not the ones to show the way forward in
this respect.

I wish to issue a strong, loud and clear warning to senior
Dublin City Council officials and anyone in the Government
who echoes the call made yesterday by the Dublin city
manager. Effectively, he called for the right to
democratically organise, protest and march in Dublin city
centre to be curbed and restricted. Disgracefully, the
Taoiseach echoed that call today. It is disgraceful that
the hooliganism of a tiny few, who sought to curb the
freedom to march on Saturday, should be seized on by city
council bureaucrats to curb our freedom to march peacefully
and express ourselves on a whole range of issues that
concern ordinary people, workers and working class
communities. All, whether it be the farming community,
trade unions, community organisations or political
organisations, have the democratic right to come to the
centre of their capital city and show their cause.

Just as working class people of Dublin, with one of their
great leaders, Jim Larkin, exerted their right to bring
their movement, grievances and cause on to O'Connell Street
in the time leading up to and during the monumental events
and struggle for justice by workers in 1913, we will not
tolerate any attempts by bureaucrats or anyone else to
prevent our right to demonstrate peacefully and
democratically in the centre of this city of Dublin

Related Link:


Fears Over Future Of Out Of School Clubs

More than a third of out of school clubs in Northern
Ireland are facing closure in a move that will force
hundreds of parents to give up their jobs, it was claimed

By:Press Association

Working mothers and fathers may have to quit work as they
cannot afford private after-school care, according to

The out of school organisation said the sector is facing a
crisis after it failed to secure vital European Union

PlayBoard chief executive Jacqueline O`Loughlin

warned: "These clubs desperately need long-term financial
support from the Government now."

There are 224 voluntary out-of-school clubs in the province
which provide affordable child care for around 6,000

But of that number 78 are under threat.

The Just Kids club on the Rathenraw estate, near Antrim is
one of those threatened with closure.

Club manager Alison O`Neill claimed many parents will have
to quit their jobs and return to benefits if it closes.

Ms O`Neill said: "Our area has a high level of deprivation,
relative to other parts of Northern Ireland.

"This cross-community club has enabled many parents to
return to work and, as a result, to lift their families out
of poverty.

"But most of them can`t afford privately-provided childcare
and many may will have to leave their jobs if this club

On the impact of the uncertainty, Ms O`Neill added:
"Recently, my doctor ordered me to take sick leave because
the constant worry and need to juggle dwindling budgets was
getting to me so much.

"All of us at Just Kids are worn down by the anxiety and
all because the Government can`t get round to taking any
decisive action."

The Short Strand Community Forum Play Care Project in
Belfast, Camowen Smart Kids Out of School Clubs in Co
Tyrone and Play-Links After School Club in Strangford, Co
Down are among those whose future is in doubt.

PlayBoard said the situation in Northern Ireland is in
stark contrast to England where the British government is
investing millions in the sector.

The Northern Ireland Children`s Minister Lord Rooker
announced an emergency cash handout for the clubs last
October but the group has demanded a greater financial

At the end of last year the Secretary of State Peter Hain
pledged a two-year funding package worth £62 million for
children and young people in Northern Ireland.

It is expected the fund will provide support for childcare
but the Government has so far failed to detail how the
money will be spent.

While it is widely expected this will include support for
childcare, PlayBoard said the Government had so far failed
to provide any further details of how the money will be

Ms O`Loughlin said: "This is a disgraceful case of
`fiddling while Rome burns`.

"It is so frustrating that the Government has the money,
but is dragging its feet on deciding how to spend it."

The Department of Health said the Secretary of State gave a
firm commitment to fund and extend the role of out of
school hours activities last December.

A spokeswoman for the department said: "The fund will drive
forward policies in areas such as pre-school and
extended/out-of-hours school-based activities, childcare
and Sure Start, as well as measures to foster children and
young people`s health and well-being.

"A detailed announcement on the fund and how it will be
allocated will be announced on Tuesday.

"It is nonsense to suggest ministers have not made funding
decisions, as full details will be announced on Tuesday, as
PlayBoard have known."


1916 Anniversary Parade Angers The Revisionists

Here & There

By Archon

DON Berto's plan to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the
1916 Rising with a military parade has provoked outrage
from revisionist commentators. The usual suspects are
leading the attack and they're giving full vent to a
hypercriticism that frequently topples into old fashioned

President Mary McAleese's 1916 speech in Cork is the
springboard for their rancour. "A crude piece of myth-
making" was how an Irish Times editorial described it,
taking particular umbrage at her statement that the
Proclamation was the basis for the freedoms, values,
ambitions and success of today's Ireland. The reality, as
The Irish Times saw it, was that the Rising led to a narrow
nationalism which was destroyed only by the changes to
Irish society that liberals, like themselves, had brought
about in recent years.

The analysis was followed by an onslaught from columnists
who denounced the militarism and sectarianism of 1916 and
the retrospective validation, they claimed, that it gave to
the IRA from 1979 onwards. As far as they were concerned,
the 'tribal time-bomb' (President McAleese), had finally
gone off. David Adams proclaimed she was presenting
nationalist propaganda as historical truth and avoiding the
fact that 1916 initiated "a campaign of intimidation,
assault and murder directed against scores of Irish
Protestants". They were persecuted on the pretext of
religion because, being Protestant, they were perceived as
"British sympathisers and collaborators".

Even the colourful Lord Laird got involved. For him the
1916 leaders were driven by "nascent fascist sentiments,
messianic Roman Catholicism, mythical Gaelic history and
blood sacrifice". Kevin Myers called the Rising

An Irish Independent editorial reminded us that Bertie
Ahern actually had a portrait of Patrick Pearse in his
office and Mary McAleese's nephew was an H-block hunger
striker. It wanted no military parade but rather a public
debate on the changes in Irish society since 1916 and a
recognition of the part Irishmen played in the Battle of
the Somme.

For Bruce Arnold the Easter Rising was so malign a myth
that it cast a shadow over events since 1916. What's more,
the President was living in a political cloud cuckoo land
if she was trying to make plausible "the deeply remote
possibility of the 32 county republic envisaged by the

Ruth Dudley Edwards in the Sunday Independent wrote: "We're
no longer bullied by bishops or impoverished little
Irelanders but, as a nation, we still have a few sacred
cows hanging about the place whose right to life needs to
be called into question. One such is the belief that the
Easter Rising of 1916 was a good thing". And, she went on,
"although the cow had sickened and was worshiped by only a
few fundamentalists, it got a new lease of life with the
Government's decision to call in the vets, fill the cow
with antibiotics, monkey glands and sedatives."

Even the Labour Party's deputy leader, Liz McManus,
formerly of the Stalinist Workers Party, threw in her
tuppence worth. She seeks the inclusion of British Army and
RIC casualties – the very people who tried to smash
Ireland's demand for freedom. Crown forces should get equal
recognition, she says, on the basis that many of them were
Irish born or of Irish extraction – as balmpot an idea as
suggesting the Labour Party celebrate William Martin
Murphy's contribution to the 1913 lockout.

To what extent are such sentiments representative of what
the Irish people think about 1916? Difficult to say, but
the hostility to the proposed commemoration is certainly
reflective of the neo-unionist undercurrent, sponsored by
sections of the Dublin media, that has emerged in recent

To make matters worse, Bertie Ahern muddied the waters when
he gave his reason for the commemoration: "To reclaim the
spirit of 1916 from the extremists because they had
denigrated the sacrifices of Ireland's greatest generation
and had abused and debased the title of republicanism".
Many observers interpreted this as Berto-speak for a
hypocritical stunt to amplify Fianna Fáil's "green
credentials" as it faced a strong challenge from Sinn Féin
in a number of key constituencies across the country.

The last full scale commemoration was in 1966, just before
the Northern Troubles began. On the 75th anniversary, in
1991, the government refused to involve itself and when
small committees tried to organise commemorative events
they were met with suspicion. This scribe remembers a 90-
year old member of Cumann na mBan, a veteran of the War of
Independence, harassed by detectives as she entered Dunlaoi
in Cork for a simple ceremony. On another occasion, gardaí
photographed all of a 60 strong group, led by a retired
Irish Army officer, that made its way into Cork Jail to lay
a wreath on the grave of Thomas Kent. At that time to be
associated with anything that honoured the people who gave
us our political independence was akin to subversion – a
climate, one feels, that the present crop of revisionists
would like to revive.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness MP probably got it right when
he welcomed the government's decision to commemorate the
Rising but said it should also focus on the "unfinished
business of the men and women of 1916 – the need to end
partition". Gerry Adams, at his party's recent Ard Fheis,
did not see the point of a military march and said what was
needed was a national debate based on the Proclamation.

Neither of them will get far if Ahern's back-tracking on
Northern representation in the Oireachtas is anything to go
by. The Taoiseach had earlier agreed to establish a
committee of the whole Dáil to accommodate the
participation of Northern MPs (nationalist and unionist) in
specific debates. But, under pressure from Fine Gael and
Labour, he scrapped the idea because it would be 'anti-

Even at a local level there's hostility. Peter Levi, an
Irish Examiner writer – and a very good one – denounced
"IRA commemorations" such as Kilmichael and Béal no mBláth.
He argued that since all the witnesses to Kilmichael were
dead the participants should not be remembered and that if
commemorations were to take place at all they should not be
carried out by committees who were trying to keep the Civil
War alive but by the State. Needless to say the Kilmichael
and Crossbarry Commemoration Committees were not impressed.
The Counter-Revolution, it seems, is not yet over.

The Come-Back Kid

P. J. Sheehan who sensationally lost his FG seat in Cork
South West is tipped by the punters to make an equally
sensational return to the Dáil. Not for him the maniacal
press releases favoured by his Blueshirt comrades also
hunting the seat. Just the plodding, and the canvassing of
the FG vote – the wink and the nod of the 'Paddy'll look
after you' sort of canvassing. Definitely one to watch.


Opin: Shadow Assembly Will Solve Nothing

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

REMEMBER Bill Clinton’s horrible gaffe? No, not the blatant
lies he spun about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but the
joke he made about the Irish during an address to the
United Nations.

Here it is in all its glory and gory:

“I spent an enormous amount of time trying to help the
people in the land of my forebears in Northern Ireland get
over 600 years of religious fights. And every time they
make an agreement to do it, they’re like a couple of drunks
walking out of the bar for the last time - when they get to
the swinging door they turn around and go back in and say,
I just can’t quite get there.”

Poor Slick had to make an abject apology for the
misbegotten metaphor.

But for the life of me, I could never figure out what all
the fuss was about. Granted, people with microscopically
thin skin might have taken offence at the ‘drunken Irish’
slight. But as a synopsis of the Irish peace process, it
was spot on.

For us complacent southerners, last weekend’s craven
violence in the heart of our capital city brought it all
back home for us.

We may be an independent republic. We may have a mature and
peaceful democracy. Eighty years of separation may have
inured us from the immediacy of the Troubles. But there
remains an overlap. We remain protagonists, not bystanders.

The right of citizens to freely express their views is a
cornerstone of a functioning democracy.

Sadly, the concept isn’t as simple and neat in practice.
It’s all very well quoting Voltaire’s dictum that I
disapprove of what you say but I will defend to my death
your right to say it.

What happens when it’s a group of neo-Nazis calling for the
extermination of Jews?

Or the Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa against Salman

Or a protesting Muslim in London wearing the garb of a
suicide bomber?

Or for that matter, a Danish cartoonist mocking the image
of the Prophet Mohammed?

There is a point where free speech comes up against the
cliff-face of incitement to hatred and there ain’t no
getting over it.

The Love Ulster march last Saturday could never be
considered in that in extremis category. But it was very
obvious there were a wasp nest of political sensitivities
surrounding it.

The marching season in the North is regarded as the scrub-
brush of the political landscape.

Just one nasty confrontation along a contentious route
could spark it all into conflagration and raze everything.

The perils of the process hitting the doldrums in the run-
up to the marching season has been a recurring theme of
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s for the past few years.

So much effort goes into dampening down the mood
surrounding marches - extending from political initiatives,
to comprehensive consultation, to the work of the Parades

But for some reason, none of those realities were apparent
in the planning for last Saturday.

The low-key approach of the gardaí was founded on what
seemed a solid enough rationale. But there was also a
naivety there, an unfounded expectation that the tribal
animus of the North wouldn’t transfer to the safe and sane

Justice Minister Michael McDowell argued that as Irish
citizens (albeit those who would deny such citizenship) the
marchers had a right to march.

But in the real world, without resolution in the North, was
it too early? And was the route - down O’Connell Street on
a busy Saturday afternoon - the only feasible one?

And back to the swing doors. Bertie Ahern will meet Tony
Blair on Wednesday to see what they can do to get the
process out of its current rut.

The British are now pressing for a shadow assembly (with no
functioning first minister, deputy first minister or
executive). They say they will impose a sunset clause of
six months, at which time the executive is set up or the
assembly is collapsed.

But there is a new reality in the North. The IRA is no
longer the problem. The provisional movement has delivered
what was asked of it. But the problem now - and the SDLP
and Sinn Féin are unusually of the same mind on this - is
the DUP and its intransigence.

A shadow assembly will ultimately only lead to another
swinging door bringing us all back to where we started


Opin: Those Rioters Weren’t Republicans And Neither Is Our

By Ryle Dwyer

THE riot in Dublin last weekend was a grim reminder that
Fianna Fáil came to power in 1997 promising zero tolerance
on crime.

But the only thing that remains to be answered is just how
much people are going to be asked to tolerate.

If the Taoiseach confuses the words condemn and condone,
should anyone be surprised?

During the week, Environment Minister Dick Roach was
advocating that cash-strapped councils should be funded by
the reintroduction of rates, which were scrapped as part of
Fianna Fáil’s infamous 1977 manifesto, which was the
greatest confidence trick pulled by any party in the
history of the State. It was also the last time that any
party won an overall majority in a general election here.

What happened last week must damage our tourist appeal,
because it makes a mockery of the effort to depict this
country as Ireland of the welcomes into which so much money
and effort has been ploughed.

The Love Ulster rally afforded a magnificent opportunity to
show that we are different in the Republic. People usually
love a parade, and it can be a real family occasion.

Northern bands are the most colourful that can be seen
anywhere. It could have afforded a magnificent opportunity
to market the capital, especially with the rugby
international the following day. But a tiny minority - who
represent some of the worst elements in our society -
undermined the whole thing.

What kind of conduct will be tolerated during the next
march? Drunken louts have already been upsetting the St
Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin in recent years, but
last Saturday was something very different. The Good Friday
Agreement is not going to work unless there is respect on
both sides for the traditions of each other.

It is for the Republic to take the lead, because we have
been relatively unscathed by the troubles of the latter
third of the 20th century.

During the celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary
of the Easter Rising in 1966 the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass,
stated that he and many others had been guilty of
questioning “the motives of those men who joined the new
British armies formed at the outbreak of the war but it
must, in their honour and in fairness to their memory, be
said that they were motivated by the highest purpose”.

Unfortunately, Lemass stood down before the next Armistice
Day when he might have given formal expression to those
sentiments. It would have been so much better if one of
1916 generation - a participant in the Rising - had paid
tribute to those who had fought for the rights of small
nations. The depths of obscenity were plumbed in 1987 when
the Provisional IRA bombed the commemoration ceremony in

Ignorant people are still questioning the motives of those
who fought in the first world war. We don’t have to believe
that those who fought in the war were right, but we should
believe that they thought they were right. The same should
apply to the people who took part in the Easter rebellion.

Even those who were so determined to resist Home Rule
because they feared it would be Rome rule, deserve respect.
For a long time it would appear that they were right about
Rome rule, because our gutless politicians essentially
betrayed the Republic by secretly handing over the ultimate
say in government to members of the hierarchy who were
elected by nobody.

Some of the scenes last Sunday were reminiscent of the
extensive looting in O’Connell Street that marred the early
part of the Easter Rising. People from nearby slums could
hardly believe their luck once they realised there were no
police on the streets to stop them looting to their heart’s

Against the backdrop of last Saturday’s rioting, Jeffrey
Donaldson suddenly sounded like a voice of reason and
moderation. He even warmly complimented the gardaí.

Ian Paisley was presented with a victory. He has been
bellowing that President Mary McAleese hates Ulster, but
now he will be able to say that the people of the Republic
hate Ulster. It does not matter that only a tiny
unrepresentative minority was responsible for what happened
last week. Amidst the tribalism, it is convenient
perception that counts most.

In the early days of the troubles in the North, when the
civil rights people wished to hold a march, Paisley would
announce a counter rally, and the police would then ban
both. We are asking for trouble if we surrender to such

AMONG the people attacked in the streets during the riot in
Dublin were some Chinese workers. It may be simplistic to
describe those attacks as nakedly racist, because if the
gurriers had been able to identify a few Kerrymen they
would probably have attacked them, too. Charlie Bird, who
must have one of the most recognisable faces in Ireland,
was attacked. This was recreational violence, an old style
Donnybrook in the centre of the city.

The fact remains, however, that Chinese workers were
attacked and, if this kind of thing is tolerated, there
will inevitably be a backlash from the estimated 50,000
Chinese people now living in Dublin.

This is something that needs to be addressed before it
leads to an eruption. Such things can frequently be
rectified at an early stage with commonsense and
discretion, but they become very difficult to resolve if
passions are allowed to boil over. We don’t have to look
very far north to see the living consequences of allowing
such stupidity to fester.

If a newspaper suggested that Pakistanis were responsible
for last Saturday’s riot, there would be outrage, because
it would be clearly inaccurate. But there was not a murmur
of dissent when the media said that republicans were
responsible for the riot. Let’s get it straight for once
and for all; that crowd are not republicans any more than
they are Pakistanis. They are homegrown gurriers.

Republicans are people who accept and believe that supreme
power rests in those to whom the people have delegated
authority. In the small ancient republics people expressed
their preferences directly, but in the larger, more
populous, modern republics people elect representatives to
act for them. In this way the country is governed by the
will of the people.

The so-called republicans, who caused the trouble last
week, do not recognise the will of the people, and they
should not therefore be called republicans. They have been
allowed to hijack the term. The overwhelming majority of
Irish people are republicans, but they are ashamed to admit
it, because of the reprehensible conduct of the likes of
that neo-fascist clique that organised last week’s riot and
exploited the mindless yobs who revel in recreational

They are our counterparts to the soccer hooligans and the
National Front in Britain. Part of our problem is that we
have essentially been betrayed by the lying duplicity of
those who promised zero tolerance to get votes, but never
even tried to deliver.

Instead, we have been witnessing the growth of organised
crime, the breakdown of social order, and the orgy of
sleaze and depravity that has been exposed by the various
tribunals of enquiry.

Nobody is being held responsible, and the public - not the
culprits - are being forced to pay. That’s not justice and
it’s not good government either.


Opin: Riot Exposes Malaise And Lack Of Tolerance


Inside Politics: Politicians of all the Dáil parties were
shaken by the shameful scenes that prevented the expression
of free speech in Dublin last Saturday. An obvious
consequence of the riot was the direct and damaging impact
it will have on the latest Anglo-Irish political
initiative, writes Stephen Collins

The more shocking aspect of the riot for our political
leaders was that it raised profound questions about the
self-image of modern Ireland.

Only a month ago President Mary McAleese spoke proudly
about the 1916 Rising, claiming it as a broad, inclusive
and non-sectarian event. Last Saturday a hard-core
republican element, who claim to be the political
inheritors of 1916, brought thuggery and violence to the
streets of Dublin in a successful effort to stop a march
down O'Connell Street by unionist victims of IRA violence.

More shockingly, they spewed vicious sectarian abuse at the
marchers who were to have been accompanied by six Orange

Willie Frazer, the combative march organiser, hit a raw
nerve later when he said that in modern multicultural
Dublin it appeared that people from every background were
entitled to be openly proud of their culture, except for
Irish Protestants from the unionist tradition. After
decades of preaching to unionists about their lack of
tolerance, Dublin failed the first test of its sincerity.

Of course it was just a handful of dissident republican
activists, augmented by drunken louts wearing Celtic
jerseys and a mob of looters, who caused the trouble, but
there is no escaping the fact that it succeeded in its
objective of preventing the march. It was also the worst
riot in Dublin since the attacks on the British embassy in
1981 during the hunger strikes. Almost as sinister as the
riot was the growing consensus, in the days following, that
the march itself was provocative and should never have been

Practical arguments like the building works on O'Connell
Street, and the likelihood of a rabble emerging, were
cited, but there was also an undercurrent suggesting that
it was inappropriate in any case to have Orange bands
parading past the GPO.

Fine Gael TD, Seymour Crawford, knocked that point on the
head in a fine Dáil speech on Tuesday when he pointed out
that, only last Easter, Sinn Féin "organised a march down
the same street with balaclavas and all sorts of regalia
showing what it stood for. Nobody passed any remarks and
that march was allowed to take place. Despite all the
sentiment questioning which route should have been used, it
was the route that all of us have used. I perhaps more
often than anyone else in the House, with farm
organisations and Monaghan hospital groups, have often
walked that route in protest. It is the accepted route."

The bottom line is that the accepted route for every kind
of march, from the sinister to the frivolous, is not
acceptable for a unionist demonstration. As Labour leader
Pat Rabbitte said in the Dáil, it is hard to overstate the
seriousness of the episode for our democratic society.
"Those who set out to ensure that this parade did not take
place were directing their hostility not just towards those
who planned to march but also towards the values that all
democrats hold dear - tolerance, non-sectarianism and
respecting the views of others - which are values that
should be the norm for anyone who considers him or herself
to be a republican. The real test of our tolerance is not
accepting those marches with which we agree, but accepting
the right of those with whom we might disagree to parade

Mr Rabbitte also made the pertinent point that vile
sectarianism was not far below the surface in some sections
of our society and was not simply confined to the Orange
Order or the DUP. It had contaminated a minority of soccer
supporters in this country.

"We also need to exercise caution in the way in which we
plan to commemorate key events in Irish history, such as
the 1916 Rising. Nothing should be done that would deepen
divisions, further inflame passions or give those who
caused such mayhem in Dublin further excuse to vent their
sectarian hatred," he said.

In the Republic a blind eye has been turned to the antics
of the admittedly small number of soccer supporters who
chant IRA and sectarian slogans. At international matches
the widespread booing of any Glasgow Rangers player who
happens to be playing for an opposing team is regarded as a
bit of harmless fun. Last weekend was a warning that the
tolerance of such behaviour reflects a deeper malaise.

The riot certainly highlighted the dangers of a simplistic,
triumphalist approach to the 1916 commemoration. Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern, in a thoughtful speech last December,
anticipated the point by accepting that there were no
hierarchies of sacrifice, suffering or loss as between
those who died in Dublin in 1916 or on the fields of

"In years to come, we must also recognise, with less
inhibition, the unionist contribution and tradition on this
island. We need to acknowledge openly that there are also
positive aspects to our long interaction with Britain. It
is becoming easier to do this now, with our independence
fully respected by our neighbours, and as mutual respect
for both traditions grows," he said.

Unfortunately it was not as easy as the Taoiseach thought
and there was no respect on the streets of Dublin last
Saturday for one of the traditions he was referring to.

There was no respect either for the gardaí who bore the
brunt of the violence. On one level this has handed a very
obvious political weapon to the DUP, at a time when the
party is being pressurised by the Irish and British
governments to share power with Sinn Féin.

At a deeper level it has exposed our own complacency about
modern Ireland's sophistication and tolerance.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Gardaí Must Learn How To De-Escalate Tension


Last Saturday someone lit a match, and the city centre
exploded. For an explanation, I think we need to move
beyond tribalism and thuggery, though both played a part.
There has been much talk in the past week about values such
as respect for the right to free speech and freedom of
assembly, and condemnation of those who are unable to
respect the views of others, writes Breda O'Brien

Perhaps there are other kinds of respect that also have a
bearing on Saturday's events. The space for nationalism in
public discourse has been squeezed and crushed almost to
nothing. The savage and murderous actions of some
nationalists alienated and sickened many. However, we have
also had several decades of corrosive contempt poured on
the ideals that prompted the men and women of 1916, and
deeply ahistorical judgments passed on their actions.

As President Mary McAleese said in her speech on 1916, the
words "narrow" and "nationalism" are practically
inseparable in some commentators' minds. Love for one's
country and a desire to see it reunited by peaceful means
automatically mean you are placed in a box marked narrow,
intolerant and regressive. There is no space for the idea
that those securely rooted in a national identity can then
reach out to others who do not share that identity.
Instead, nationalism is associated only with divisiveness
and war.

What happens when it is no longer legitimate to espouse in
the public square the ideals of nationalism? People who are
part of the mainstream hesitate to express their views
publicly. More significantly, those who are already
alienated, perhaps because of poverty and lack of
education, begin to identify with the more extreme elements
of nationalism.

The growth in republican sentiment in deprived areas has
less to do with any thought-out position on nationalism
than with a perception that republicans are anti-
establishment. If the system has dealt you a poor hand, it
is easier to support those who seem to want to upset the
whole card table.

It is also sobering that the majority of what might be
called "opportunistic rioters" were so young. Fr Peter
McVerry is a voice to whom it is always worth listening. If
he says, as he did during the week, that there was a deep
well of resentment towards the Garda among the young in the
inner city that found expression in rioting, then his voice
should be heard. That is not in any way to diminish or take
away from the immense personal and collective bravery shown
by gardaí last Saturday. In the face of mayhem, they appear
to have reacted in a disciplined fashion.

However, it would be ironic if part of the indirect cause
contributing to the riots was, as Peter McVerry suggests,
that there are some gardaí who have not learned "to use
power lightly."

He gives the example of the constant stopping and searching
of young people, for no reason other than that they are
inner-city kids. Being searched in public is embarrassing
and frustrating, and they resent it greatly. He also
suggests that gardaí are not trained sufficiently in how to
de-escalate tension in their daily contact with inner-city
young people where conflict situations may arise.

Obviously, he is not talking about riots, but far more
mundane situations. It is not realistic to expect that a
16-year-old who left school at 13 will have developed the
skills to de-escalate a situation of conflict with an
authority figure. An adult charged with maintaining order
should have such skills.

As an example of good practice, he cites the "fabulous"
community garda who comes into a drop-in centre for
homeless young people. When this garda first arrived, all
the young people used to get up and walk out. Now they call
in looking for him, wanting his advice or his help.

Some medical personnel in hospitals receive training in how
to defuse potential aggression or violence through use of
body language and particular speech patterns. I asked the
Garda Press Office whether such skills used for everyday
challenges form part of a garda's training.

The courteous and helpful garda told me there was no such
explicit training, but that much of it is common sense.
There is, however, an intensive module on public order and

Interestingly, she also commented that medical personnel
would need such training more, because they "don't have the
powers that we have". That may be the point. It is
precisely because of the powers that gardaí have that they
need these skills.

Police forces in the US have a far worse reputation than
the Garda, including an unenviable reputation for racism
and trigger-happy reactions. To help to build more positive
relations, the New York Police Department communications
office told me, all officers now receive training in a
technique called "verbal judo tactical communication".

A professor of English turned police officer, George
Thompson was fascinated by why some police officers were so
good at their job. They managed to ensure voluntary
compliance by the way they spoke to aggressive and
potentially violent members of the public. He observed for
a year, in a search of a "teachable" formula that would
distil methods used by the best cops who had years of
experience. Verbal judo was the result.

Traditionally, police forces have had a macho culture of
"showing who is boss". Thompson contends that using verbal
skills to de-escalate conflict is not weakness, but
strength. He counsels asking rather than commanding,
explaining rather than insisting, and "professional respect
and empathy" even when the person does not appear to
deserve that respect.

Verbal judo might not translate well to Ireland, as the
phrases used are very American, but the underlying concepts

Policing in deprived areas is difficult and often
dangerous. Gardaí are expected to pick up the slack on
society's many failures in educational and social policies.
Being highly trained in defusing common potential
situations of conflict would also reduce stress levels for

Simmering resentments exploded last Saturday in an orgy of
violence that was rightly condemned. However, condemnation
is not enough. If we wish to prevent other such explosions,
not just in the inner city but in all deprived areas, one
useful step would be if gardaí give priority to developing
skills in de-escalating conflict in everyday contact with
already alienated sections of society.

© The Irish Times


Opin: The M3 & Tara- A Wrong Road


Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has expressed the
hope that this week's High Court judgment dismissing a
legal challenge to his directions on the treatment of
archaeology along the route of the M3 will bring "finality"
to this unfortunate affair. The chances are that it won't.
Although Mr Justice Thomas Smyth gave short shrift to
plaintiff Vincent Salafia, finding against his case on all
counts, the controversy about plans to run the motorway
through the valley east of the Hill of Tara is bound to
continue, both in the courts and elsewhere.

The judge was right to upbraid the plaintiff for not taking
action earlier, by seeking a judicial review of An Bord
Pleanála's decision in August 2003 to approve the M3 as
planned. The appeals board's decision was flawed. It laid
down not a single archaeological condition and,
furthermore, there had been little consideration during the
course of the oral hearing of the central issue of whether
the wider area around the Hill of Tara constitutes an
"archaeological landscape" that would clearly be altered by
the insertion of a motorway, 120 feet wide.

One of the central points at issue is the constitutionality
of the 2004 National Monuments (Amendment) Act, under which
all power regarding the treatment of Ireland's rich
heritage is vested in the hands of the Minister. This was
intended by the Government to tilt the balance in favour of
infrastructural development as against heritage protection
so that there would be no repetition of the debacle
involving Carrickmines Castle. A Supreme Court ruling on
whether the appropriate balance was struck is long overdue.

The mystical setting of the Hill of Tara, once the seat of
Ireland's high kings, is considerably more important than
the fate of the outer defences of a Pale fortress in south
Co Dublin. Dick Roche could, and should, have declined to
issue his directions on the treatment of 38 archaeological
sites on the route of the M3 between Dunshaughlin and
Navan. But there was a political impetus to forge ahead
with the motorway, whatever its consequences for the Tara

Nobody could deny that the existing N3 is plagued by
congestion, mainly caused by commuters using it every day
to travel to and from work in Dublin. But an alternative
route should have been found - one that would protect,
rather than damage, the Tara landscape - and a much higher
priority attached to re-opening the old Navan railway line.
This project would provide a real alternative to car
commuting for many but is not scheduled for completion
until 2015. That is much too long to wait while rushing
ahead with a misconceived motorway plan.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Economy Vulnerable To Housing Crash


A dramatic fall in house prices is possible, but not yet
probable, writes Marc Coleman, Economics Editor

Nearer, clearer and deadlier than before, the possibility
of a housing market crash approaches. On Thursday the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
warned us that our housing market is overvalued. On the
same day the European Central Bank raised interest rates
for the second time since December.

Last Tuesday new credit figures showed mortgage lending
growing at record levels, while the Permanent TSB/ESRI
house-price index showed house-price inflation reigniting
to double-digit growth. But is a crash - sorry, a
correction - really in prospect?

The good news is that, although possible, a crash is not
yet probable.

The bad news is that the moderation in prices needed for a
soft landing is not happening: quite the reverse. And there
is further bad news. In raising rates last Thursday, the
European Central Bank has signalled at least one and
possibly two such increases are on the cards before

This is not enough to cause a crash. But with clear signs
that last December's rate rise has dented consumer
confidence, the mix of rising debt and tighter money may
squeeze consumer spending in years ahead.

Although it doesn't say so directly, yesterday's OECD
report on the Irish economy implies that our housing market
is overvalued by around 15 per cent. The figure has its
origins in a confidential OECD memo The Irish Times
published last November.

The memo contains details of conversations held in
September between OECD and Central Bank of Ireland
officials. It shows that the Central Bank broadly agreed
with the OECD's analysis. But it cautioned the OECD against
publishing any precise figure on the extent of
overvaluation, for fear of frightening the horses.

This approach was reasonable at the time. Then, the extent
of overvaluation was modest and easily correctable. A 15
per cent overvaluation can be unwound over four or five
years by simply ensuring that house prices grow by a few
percentage points less than nominal incomes.

With nominal GDP rising at around 8 per cent, house-price
growth of 5 per cent in the coming three years would do the
trick nicely. In that scenario, frightening the horses was
unnecessary and counterproductive.

Interviewed last November, Central Bank governor John
Hurley was able then to express genuine relief that house
prices were indeed moderating. But he also said any
resumption in double-digit house-price growth would be very
worrying. He added that, if this happened, a sharp
correction of the market would have serious consequences
for the economy.

His first fear has materialised. House price inflation in
January rose to just over 10 per cent, compared with just
over 9 per cent in December and just over 8 per cent in
January 2005, according to the latest Permanent TSB/ESRI
house-price index. Mortgage lending is running at a record
29 per cent. With borrowers exploiting the anticipated
leverage from SSIA money later this year, the surge will go
on until at least 2007.

Given how often the Central Bank has been crying wolf on
this issue, its singular cry could be easily ignored this
time. But that cry is now a chorus coming from the OECD,
the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund
and the Economist magazine. In the fable of the boy who
cried wolf, the wolf did eventually come.

There is much evidence to suggest that economic conditions
are changing in a way that makes further house price growth
less sustainable than before.

Incomes and employment - the linchpins of the housing
market thus far - are increasingly reliant on sectors that
are themselves exposed to the housing market. Economic
inbreeding - an over-reliance on one sector - has resulted
in the construction sector contributing one-third of the
new jobs created last year. And many of the jobs created in
the financial services sector were property-related.

Ireland's savings ratio is healthy enough to bulwark the
housing market against any moderate declines in house
prices. But what if the decline is not moderate?

Correcting a property market overvaluation is a bit like
jumping off a wall. If the wall is six feet high, little
damage will be done. If it's 12 feet high, you might sprain
an ankle or break a leg. If its 24 feet high, make sure
you've got medical cover. In short, we need to know exactly
how far above the ground our property market really is. Far
from discouraging the publication of estimated levels of
overvaluation, the Central Bank should be monitoring them

A further justification for high housing prices is that
levels of mortgage lending are moderate compared with the
assets with which they are backed. But we come back to the
issue of economic inbreeding. Are those assets well
diversified holdings of stocks and bonds and property? Or
are they increasingly dominated by property? If so, that
asset base is itself vulnerable to a correction in the
housing market.

And to what extent have bank deposits been inflated by
temporary factors such as equity withdrawal and SSIAs? At
the very least the Central Bank must gather more
information on this and, perhaps, on the extent of
interest-only loans, a factor associated with overvaluation
on the US housing market.

Even if a correction in the property market doesn't happen,
expect to see an economic impact from rising rates. On its
own, one rate increase is like a speed bump in the path of
a speeding juggernaut. But a prolonged tightening phase
will squeeze consumption among younger mortgage borrowers.

A recent survey of consumer sentiment indicates that
confidence dipped sharply in February. This was because
consumers are increasingly worried about their financial
situation as the ECB raises rates. On Thursday the
Department of Finance published Exchequer returns that
showed revenues relating to the property market - such as
stamp duty - roaring ahead, but returns related to
consumption, such as VAT and excise duties, performing less
well than expected.

There is one further concern. With a quarter of a million
construction workers in the economy, the Government will
now have to start thinking about the consequences on
unemployment of any slowdown in housing construction.

© The Irish Times


Gardaí Recover Stone Stolen From Mount Leinster Monument

By Michael Parsons

Gardaí yesterday recovered part of the historic "Nine
Stones" national monument which was stolen from Mount
Leinster on Thursday.

One of the 3ft granite stones, protected under the National
Monuments Act, was spotted on the roadside by a passing
motorist in nearby Killedmond, outside Borris, Co Carlow.

Green Party deputy leader and local councillor Mary White,
who is leading a campaign against vandalism in the "Nine
Stones" area, said yesterday a telephone caller on Thursday
claimed the stone was buried at the entrance to her home in

The stone, which was undamaged, was brought to
Graiguenamanagh Garda station, and handed over to Carlow
County Council yesterday. It was then returned to its site,
a popular viewing point halfway up Mount Leinster.

Séamus O'Connor, director of services with the council,
said the council had reported the "criminal offence" to the
National Museum in Dublin.

He said the stones, which have been in place for thousands
of years, were concreted into the ground 20 years ago
because of vandalism.

The council would now have to consider fencing off the

In local folklore the "Nine Stones" are believed to
commemorate nine shepherds lost on Mount Leinster.

Ms White's home was attacked twice last month in what she
says is an attempt at intimidation after she had spoken out
about illegal dumping on Mount Leinster.

She has also been critical of the destruction caused by the
use of quad bikes and of burnt-out vehicles abandoned in
the "Nine Stones" area.

She said on local KCLR radio that she has asked the Carlow
county manager to provide €50,000 for the refurbishment and
maintenance of the "Nine Stones" area to combat vandalism.

She said new trail signs, picnic tables and litter bins
were also needed.

© The Irish Times


Gardai To Respond To Cardiac Arrests

[Posted: Fri 03/03/2006]

A pilot programme aimed at reducing the number of deaths
from sudden cardiac arrest, has been launched in Dublin and

The Garda First Responder Pilot Programme is a community-
based scheme, involving the Gardai and Connolly Hospital,
Blanchardstown. As part of it, automated external
defibrillators (AEDs) have been fitted in on-duty Garda
control cars in one rural area (Kilkenny) and one urban
area (Blanchardstown).

A defibrillator is a device used to administer an electric
shock to a person in cardiac arrest. While once only
available in hospitals, technological advances have led to
the development of portable devices, which can be used by
people with minimal medical training.

A portable defibrillator

Earlier this week, the report of the Task Force on Sudden
Cardiac Death highlighted the importance of community first
responder programmes and AEDs in reducing the overall
cardiac death rate.

AEDs are already fitted in a number of places accessed by
high volumes of people, including some shopping centres and
airports. However this new programme is the first public
access defibrillation programme in Ireland to include the
Garda Siochana.

As part of the programme, around 140 Gardai have been
trained in CPR and the use of AEDs. With the support of
accident and other emergency services, uniform patrol
vehicles in the pilot areas will respond to emergency calls
where a cardiac arrest may have occurred.

"Defibrillation within five minutes of cardiac arrest is a
potentially life saving option for the thousands of Irish
people who experience sudden cardiac arrest. Survival rates
decrease by 10% for every minute from 'drop to shock', that
is the time between cardiac arrest and defibrillation",
said the Health Service Executive (HSE), which launched the
scheme with the Gardai.


Wintry Weather Shows No Let-Up


Birr, Co Offaly, is continuing to live up to its name, with
night-time grass temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees
forecast for this weekend, writes Kitty Holland

Recent nights have been "among the coldest of the past 10
years on the basis of having had very, very low
temperatures across the country", Gerry Murphy of Met
Éireann said.

Thursday night's air temperature in Birr dropped to minus
7.8 degrees, and the grass temperature was minus 16.

"The bitterly cold spell will continue over the weekend
with further snow showers in Ulster, north Connacht and
west Munster," Mr Murphy said.

Snow was lying in these areas, he said, but it was not
expected to settle on the ground in Leinster.

In parts of Donegal and Sligo some schools closed again
yesterday due to heavy snowfalls, but they are expected to
reopen on Monday.

The AA said there was no discernible increase in road
traffic accidents. "It would seem people really are heeding
the warnings people like the gardaí and ourselves have been
giving and have been taking it easy on the roads," said a

Age Action Ireland has urged people with elderly
neighbours, relatives and friends to make particular
contact with them during this cold spell.

Mr Murphy said the cold weather would continue until

© The Irish Times


Hollywood Celebrates Irish Writing For Film

By Denis Staunton and Patricia Danaher

Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and David Holmes have been
honoured at a Hollywood celebration of Irish writing in

Film stars, writers and studio executives paid tribute to
the three Irishmen at an event called "Oscars Wilde:
Honouring Irish Writing in Film." It was hosted by the US-
Ireland Alliance at the Ebell, a 75,000 sq ft Italian
Renaissance-type building in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Jodie Foster, Anjelica Huston and Adrian Dunbar were among
those attending.

Foster said that it was "a cruel and unjust world" in which
Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto "is not this year's Oscar
favourite". Foster, who is working on Jordan's coming movie
The Brave One, recalled growing up in Los Angeles with her
Irish mother "who every St Patrick's Day would boil up a
bunch of cabbage which no one ate, dance around the kitchen
and then go out to the local pub and get smashed".

Anjelica Huston, who presented Jim Sheridan with his award,
recalled how he had arrived in the United States illegally
and had gone on to become "one of the most respected
writers and directors of his time". She said his children
had told her they thought "he preferred the actor children
who portrayed them in the autobiographical film In America
to them, because he could get them to do what he wanted,
unlike his own children".

Adrian Dunbar presented the "Oscars Wilde" award to Belfast
man David Holmes who wrote the musical score for several
Steven Soderbergh films.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál
Martin greeted the party guests, who included actors
Terrence Howard, Daryl Hannah, Colm Meaney and Fionnuala
Flanagan. Irish guests included playwright Martin McDonagh,
whose film Six Shooter has been nominated for an Academy
award, Samantha Mumba, Damien Rice and Keith Duffy.

The US-Ireland Alliance is a non-profit organisation
dedicated to educating Americans about contemporary Ireland
and to strengthening the relationship between the two
countries. Its president, Trina Vargo, said the Hollywood
celebration will be an annual event to honour the craft of
writing and expand ties between the entertainment
industries in the US and Ireland.

Ruadhraí Conroy, one of the actors in Six Shooter, was not
allowed into the US this week. He was detained by
immigration officials for 20 hours before being put on a
plane back to Ireland. A spokesman for the Irish consul in
San Francisco confirmed that they were providing assistance
to the actor, but refused to say what the issue was which
prevented him from entering the US.

© The Irish Times


Ryan's Daughter (Special Edition)

03-03-2006 18:00

It is 1916 and two wars are being fought in Europe - the
first world war as well as a guerilla war being fought by
the IRA seeking independence from Britain. Years of direct
rule have made the British soldiers no more welcome than
they were when they first arrived and the Irish population
bear their presence whilst quietly cheering on any
successful attacks on them by the fledging IRA. On the
Dingle peninsula in the southwest of the country, a small
army camp is stationed close to a small, close-knit
community that survives on fishing and farming with only
the pub and a grocer's shop to break up the run of houses
that line the road through the village. Only the daily bus
offers a way out but even Dublin is more than a bus journey
away - the distance between the village and the capital of
Ireland cannot only be measured in miles.

Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles), the daughter of the landlord Tom
Ryan (Leo McKern), feels herself to be above the small-town
chatter of those who've made a home here and listens out
for news from Dublin, even when it is only word of a
concert recital that local schoolteacher Charles
Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum) took in when he was up in the
city. Their talking and the stroll along the beach that
accompanies it is the first, stumbling turn in a romance
that eventually sees them married but what Shaughnessy
offers her is a dull, tweedy home in which she knits by the
fire whilst he presses flowers and listens to his beloved
gramophone. Where once Rosy was only trapped by her family,
she is also now trapped by marriage and can do nothing as
her ambitions remain unfulfilled, first amongst them being
her falling in love.

But when the British office Major Doryan (Christopher
Jones), Ireland being his first posting since seeing action
in World War I, walks into her father's pub and has a panic
attack, Rosy brings him round with soothing words and a
soft touch, which is the first step in an affair that must
remain a secret. In a village that small, though, nothing
remains a secret for long and Rosy is no longer welcome for
her fraternising with those that are seen as the enemy. At
first, she doesn't care - Doryan has given her a glimpse of
a passion that was all but dead - but when her father is
forced to assist a group of IRA men recover arms and
informs on them, the village believe that it was Rosy and
they begin to take a most terrible revenge.

There are few countries who are more proud of their
cultural heritage than Ireland. Calling itself the land of
saints and scholars, Ireland has nurtured an image for
itself as being above the petty squabbles of other nations
and more as one concerned with higher ideals - of religion,
of culture and of the arts. Irish folk music is known
throughout the world and it reveres its writers as few
other countries do, finding the passion is not unrequited.
James Joyce, for example, despite living abroad for most of
his life, has the events of Ulysses remembered in
Bloomsday, a day of celebration (16 June) in Dublin where
the novel is set, whilst, during his life, he claimed that
were Dublin to be razed to the ground, it could be rebuilt
brick-by-brick from his works. Even when asked when he
would return to Dublin, Joyce replied, "Have I ever left

As for films, The Quiet Man, The Field and The Commitments
are all examples from varying times that have been made
much of by a proud Ireland. The streets of Cong are busy
with those retracing the steps of John Wayne and Maureen
O'Hara whilst there was no small amount of pride in Jimmy
Rabbitte declaring the Irish as, "the niggers of Europe."
Where else in Europe could have hosted Self Aid, a Live
Aid-styled concert that starred the mid-eighties cream of
Irish musical talent - In Tua Nua, Brush Shiels and Chris
de Burgh - as a means to help the less well off. Ireland
has long fostered the talents of its sons and daughters and
with the occasional exception - a Sir John Pentland Mahaffy
said of Joyce, "[he] is a living argument in defence of my
contention that it was a mistake to establish a separate
university for the aboriginals of the island" - so too has
its population.

All that is generally true but for Ryan's Daughter, which
has not enjoyed the same level of adulation as The Quiet
Man, being another film that watches a romance play out
against the rugged Irish landscape. It may be that it's not
a particularly good film, being an intimate love story
stretched thin across David Lean's epic canvas. It may be
that Ryan's Daughter, unlike the number of films set in
Ireland that paint too rosy a picture of ruddy-faced folk
sat atop a pony and trap, reveals something unflattering
about its people, from their chattering in the street to
the horrific punishment dealt out to Rosy Shaughnessy. It
may even be that Ryan's Daughter was just a spectacularly
badly timed release, coming out a year after the Troubles
in Northern Ireland shone a harsh light on the problems of
the country and how a new generation of the IRA, the
Provisional IRA, were taking up the fight against the
British as did the Official IRA in the film.

Ryan's Daughter is, of course, all three and can be
summarised as being a very confused film. The scale of the
production certainly doesn't help with Robert Bolt's
rewrite of Madame Bovary coming across as insubstantial
when set against the churning waters of the Atlantic and
the clouds that roll down the cliffs. It is an astonishing
looking film for that, though, but cinematographer Freddie
Young gave the country a character that is stronger than
any of those portrayed in the film with Christopher Jones,
in particular, being of less interest than the shadows of
the clouds that race over the lush green fields of Kerry.
That issue with characters is also there in the villagers
that line the roads and lanes of the town land in which
Ryan's Daughter is set. Mrs. McCardle (Marie Kean) and
Moureen (Evin Crowley) are particularly spiteful harridans
set on drawing pleasure from the misfortune of others, be
that from Michael (John Mills in an Oscar-winning
performance) or from Rosy.

As for its portrayal of the IRA, we're both asked to see
them as common criminals but also as a young men inspiring
an uprising against the British. Early in the film, Tim
O'Leary, once a hero of the IRA in Dublin and who now
smuggles guns into the country, shoots a policeman dead on
a quiet country lane after being recognised and our
sympathies are clearly with the policeman, who exits the
film being dropped into a disused mine but later, we're
asked to celebrate when, against a raging storm, the
village comes out to rescue the boxes of explosives, rifles
and rounds of ammunition from the sea. The score certainly
doesn't help, being jaunty and almost comic when there are
moments of tension. The low point of this excessive joy is
when Michael arrives at Rosy's house after an explosion is
heard on the beach, with the soaring score being as out of
place as had a comedy car-load of clowns accompanied him

Yet, even accepting all of that, Ryan's Daughter is almost
rescued by Lean's wonderful visuals. Even at its most
ludicrous, being the sex scene between Sarah Miles and
Christopher Ryan in which the wind blows through the
forest, two webs dance about one another, the sun breaks
through the trees and dandelion seeds break away from the
flower and settle on a lake. There is no score, just the
sound of Miles and Jones breathing and of the wind. It is
amongst the most ridiculous love scenes ever committed to
film but it's probably the most affecting one - it may have
been inspired by Mills & Boon but it's the only time that
we see Rosy's passions being sated. Ireland may imagine
itself to be a nation of saints and scholars but Ryan's
Daughter impresses on the audience that it's more one of
schoolteachers, village gossips and of petty jealousies,
where revenge is taken on Rosy as much for her thinking
that she's too good for the village where she grew up as
for her affair with Major Doryan.

Where the IRA are concerned, the film appears to say that
these men were rare indeed and that although they may have
enjoyed popular support for their killing of British
soldiers, your typical Irishman could not be called upon
for service. Even Tom Ryan informs on the IRA in the end
despite him having a picture behind his bar of him
receiving a medal from Tim O'Leary (Barry Foster), then a
commander in the IRA. That duplicity, cowardice even, is
shown when Ryan phones the police even as he's assisting
O'Leary in the tying up of the local police sergeant.
Ryan's actions suggest that the IRA might be worth a, "God
bless you, Tim O'Leary" but few Irishmen will stand up
beside them when counted upon. O'Leary is presented as such
as a heroic figure - making a run for it when faced with
the guns of the British soldiers - that one can't be sure
if Lean and Bolt want us to be enamoured with him even
after his killing of the policeman early in the film as
well as his casual threats much later. Their view of the
IRA is very confused and out of place as the Provisional
IRA were, a year after the release of Ryan's Daughter,
breaking away from the Official IRA to begin a campaign
that would last until very recently.

It's far from being a flattering film about Ireland and
despite some comparison with The Quiet Man, the two films
are not at all similar. Ford's film plays up to Ireland's
image of its past - there, the IRA are represented by a
pair of genial country folk out for a good time as much as
they are the civil war. Ryan's Daughter, though, is a much
more troubled affair, almost that, in its length, it
forgets exactly what it is to be - comedy, drama, romance
and short bursts of violence do not sit well together here.
Similarly, it's no Lawrence Of Arabia and nor is it a
Doctor Zhivago given that gun running in County Kerry is no
match for the Russian revolution - had Ryan's Daughter been
set in Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising, there would
have been more cause for comparison. Beautiful, yes but too
long and with not enough of a story to carry it, Ryan's
Daughter is something of a folly. It is, though, a grand
one and never without interest, showing that in Lean's
hands, a slender story may not carry well to the screen but
it can still look wonderful and that is where the value of
this film lies - a treat for the eyes if not for the heart.


Warner Brothers have done an outstanding job with this DVD,
being a restoration of the film from a 65mm print that is
in remarkably good condition. Here, it is simply beautiful
with the rich colours and sparkle in the picture being
faithfully reproduced on any equipment and noticeably
improved on higher-end equipment. Indeed, the screenshots
here don't really do the film justice as I watched Ryan's
Daughter on a plasma screen via a HDMI interface and it
really is one of the very best pictures that I've seen with
a detail that's quite exceptional.

Similarly, the audio track, reproduced from the original
70mm 6-track recording is the equal of the picture with the
rescue of the arms shipment from the sea being a clear
highlight. The subwoofer handles the rolling waters whilst
the front and rear speakers keep the crash of the waves
moving about the room. Detail is excellent on the
soundtrack and it copes with the silences of Shaughnessy's
house just as well as it does his wedding to Rosy. Once
again, it's just a marvellous transfer from a studio that
is, by some distance, the very best at restoring archive


Audio Commentary: Laurent Bouzereau, the producer of this
Special Edition, hosts this track, which features various
members of the cast and crew - Sarah Miles, Assistant
Director Michael Stevenson, Location Manager Eddie Fowlie
and Stuntman Vic Armstrong - as well as interested
commentators like John Boorman and Hugh Hudson and informed
relatives like Lady Sandra Lean and Petrine Day Mitchum,
Robert Mitchum's Daughter. With so many contributors, it's
something of a mixed bag with Boorman, as you'd expect,
being very good indeed but Sarah Miles, Lady Sandra Lean
and Petrine Day Mitchum are clearly not watching the film
and their contributions appear to have been taken from
interviews. It is reasonably good throughout with there
being few silences and a great deal of background
information on the film, some of which doubles up on the
features that follow on the second disc.

The Making Of Ryan's Daughter: Broken into three parts -
Storm Rising (27m46s), Storm Chaser (20m55s) and The Eye Of
The Storm (14m11s) - this document, which has a Play All
option, describes the making of Ryan's Daughter as well as
the critical reaction to it. There's a very general view
taken on the pre-production and the actual shoot of Ryan's
Daughter with this documentary pulling away from that for a
few specific scenes, being Michael arriving in the village
with his lobster, the villagers taking their revenge on
Rosy and the rescue of the arms shipment from the Atlantic.
The final part of the documentary examines Lean's reaction
to the critical drubbing handed to Ryan's Daughter, after
which he retired from directing feature films for fourteen
years. The impression given is that it was reviews like
Pauline Kael's that drove Lean out of the business but what
can be picked up across this set is that he simply couldn't
get the material off the ground until 1984's A Passage To
India, which includes his failure to make Mutiny On The

We're The Last Of The Travelling Circuses (20m02s): Very
much like a PR release today, this BBC Film Night
documentary on the making of Ryan's Daughter shows up
intermittently in The Making Of Ryan's Daughter but this is
well worth a look for an interview with Robert Mitchum in
which he reveals his reason for joining the cast of the
film. That it has something to do with him committing
suicide and Robert Bolt agreeing to bear the cost of his
funeral suggests that it's not to be taken entirely

Ryan's Daughter - A Story of Love (6m14s): Narrated either
by Donald Sutherland, or someone who sounds remarkably like
him, this second vintage documentary is more of a
promotional piece, describing the characters and the
behind-the-scenes preparation for the shoot for a release
some months before the film. As such, it is more like an
extended trailer than a documentary and is certainly the
slightest of the three features in the set.

There are also two trailers, an Announcement Trailer
(2m21s), which makes much of David Lean's past work, and a
Theatrical Trailer (2m56s).


You might think that it is worth passing on Ryan's Daughter
having read all of the above but that's not the case. It is
a film typical of David Lean in that it looks simply
stunning as well as being nothing less than an epic but it
lacks substance and, personally, I'm not entirely sure that
it would work as well in the theatres as it does at home.
Oddly, breaking the film over two discs actually seems to
improve it, allowing the viewer the chance to walk away
from it for an night or two and return afresh, making its
epic length not quite so suffocating. Compared then to a
single showing in the cinema or to watching it on
television, this DVD could be my recommended way of
watching Ryan's Daughter, with a wonderful transfer, a good
set of extras and the ability to take your time over the
kind of quiet epic that passed on with its director.

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