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March 04, 2006

Bobby Sands & Britain's Own Gitmo, 25 Yrs On

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News About Ireland & The Irish

ZM 03/04/06 Bobby Sands And Britain's Own Gitmo, 25 Years On
JN 03/04/06 Rally For Immigration Reform Scheduled Wednesday
BT 03/04/06 Ellis Island: The Green Men On The March
BN 03/04/06 Dáil Body To Discuss Pensions For Returning Emigrants
BB 03/04/06 Woman Arrested Over City Bar Raid
UT 03/04/06 Alliance:'End The Side Deals'
BT 03/04/06 Education 'Has To Be Target For Cash'
BT 03/04/06 Laird And Rooker In 50:50 PSNI Row
BB 03/04/06 Alliance Angry At School Decision
BN 03/04/06 Stardust Survivors Mount Protest At Taoiseach’s Office
BN 03/04/06 Man Injured In Paramilitary-Style Shooting
BN 03/04/06 Three Released After Questioning About Riots
DI 03/04/06 Un-FAIR Face Of Love Ulster
SB 03/05/06 Queen’s Visit On Hold After Riots
BT 03/04/06 Crime Victims 'Should Have Judge Input'
RT 03/04/06 Protests Over Bush's Shannon Stopover
II 03/04/06 Opin: Ahern Offers Unionists 1916 Olive Branch
BT 03/04/06 Opin: It's Time For The UDA To Come Clean
ST 03/05/06 Opin: Leading Article: Time For Maturity
BT 03/04/06 Opin: Gong Beyond Belief
BN 03/04/06 Peace Activists To Mount Protest For Second Bush Stopover
QC 03/04/06 Ginnity Brings Irish Cabaret To Circa ’21
UT 03/04/06 Mullan Hails 'Hero' Gordon Banks
ND 03/04/06 Irish Music's Feminine Side
US 03/04/06 The Chieftains Make A Stop In New Brunswick
MC 03/04/06 1870s Molly Maguire Murder Case Still Unresolved


Bobby Sands And Britain's Own Gitmo, 25 Years On

by Denis O'Hearn
March 01, 2006

Why should we be surprised at this violation of the Magna
Carta when the nation that wrote the document threw it out
a quarter century ago?

The name Bobby Sands is emblazoned on the Irish psyche, 25
years after he began his hunger strike on March 1, 1981. He
died 66 days later, on May 5. Nine of his comrades followed
him to their graves. It is an irony of history that as we
arrive at this anniversary, men have been on hunger strike
in Guantanamo, being cruelly force-fed and artificially
kept alive. No one wants another Bobby Sands.

Some memories fade, others remain. It was not that long ago
that I arrived in Kingston, Jamaica. The first person I met
was a combi-taxi driver.

'Where you comin' from, brother?'


'Ah, Ireland, Bobby Sands, the IRA is fighting for their

I've heard many similar stories over these 25 years. Most
have one thing in common: they come from people who have
themselves been in struggle in places like South Africa,
Palestine, Turkey and Latin America. The example of Bobby
Sands still means a lot to such people. When Turkish
political prisoners went on hunger strike five years ago,
their secret codeword for their plans was 'Bobby Sands'.

But few people know who Bobby Sands really was, and how he
and nine others could endure such a slow and painful death.
Until recently, with the unfolding of the Irish peace
process, his comrades were either in jail or unwilling to

Some things about Bobby Sands will be familiar to veterans
of political struggle. He grew up in Belfast under extreme
violent threat, first from racist (Protestant) gangs, then
from representatives of the state: the police and the
British army. He reacted to those threats by joining the
IRA, believing that to be the only way to fight the
violence that was aimed at his community.

At seventeen, Sands was jailed for his IRA activities. He
spent all but six months of the rest of his life in prison.
There, he became politically conscious. He learned about
other struggles and revolutionaries: Che Guevara in Cuba,
Camilo Torres in Colombia, George Jackson in Soledad.

But the greatest lessons he learned were practical. He
learned the importance of education and, particularly, of
learning the Irish language. By using Irish to discuss
strategy with his fellow prisoners under the noses of the
prison guards, he made it a living language. Likewise, he
brought history and politics to life for his fellow

This political awareness is why, when Britain stripped IRA
prisoners of political prisoner status in 1975, they
refused to be branded as criminals. When they rejected
prison uniforms, their jailers threw them naked into their
cells, draped only in a blanket. They were under 24-hour
lockup, seven days a week, without reading materials.

While not quite in total incommunicado like the prisoners
at Guantanamo, these 'blanketmen' might have stayed there
for years, quietly suffering in what Sands called 'these
concrete tombs', the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison near

But then Bobby Sands arrived. He convinced his fellow
prisoners to reclaim their prison spaces, to take visits
with friends and relatives, even if they had to wear prison
uniforms on visits. Once they left their cells, the prison
corridors became a battlefield. Prisoners used visits to
smuggle in writing materials and tobacco, and to smuggle
out accounts of the inhuman conditions of their

Bobby led by example. His smuggled accounts of life in the
H-Blocks, written out on toilet paper in tiny script,
showed the world what was going on.

Sands wrote about the daily events like mirror searches,
where the prison guards forced the men to squat over
mirrors while they searched up their anuses for illicit
ballpoint refills. He wrote about how the men retained
their dignity: the stories they told at night, the
singsongs and talent contests, the political debates.

Most of all, he wrote of the inhumanity of the process that
he called the 'conveyor belt'. This was the process whereby
hundreds of young Catholics were lifted from the streets
and held incommunicado in interrogation centers. In a
practice that foreshadowed Guantanamo, the government told
detectives that interrogations differed from interviews,
and mistreatment was justified if it led to confessions.
From there, the suspects were convicted in juryless courts.
And then they were thrown into the H-Blocks.

This should look familiar. Michael Ratner from the Center
for Constitutional Rights argues that Guantanamo Bay has
taken U.S. citizens back nearly a thousand years, before
the Magna Carta, in terms of the rights that were
established by that noble document in 1215, written into
the US Constitution, and lost in the post-9/11 moral panic.
Had he been looking at Ireland 25 years ago, perhaps he
would not have been so surprised. After all, the Magna
Carta was an English document, and it was England that
ignored it in its fight against the IRA, Maggie Thatcher's
'terrorist threat'.

Article 39 of the Magna Carta reads, "No free person shall
be jailed without a jury of his peers."

Bobby Sands was jailed by a judge sitting alone, a judge
who even admitted that the police had produced no evidence
to tie him to the bombs that he was accused of planting.
The 'pig-in-a-wig' is how Sands described him in his
'Castlereagh Trilogy', a savage poetic variation of Oscar
Wilde's 'Ballad of Reading Gaol' that satirically charts
the process from arrest and interrogation, to juryless
conviction and, finally, to naked imprisonment.

In the H-Blocks, Bobby Sands was stripped of nearly
everything he had. They even took away the furniture,
leaving the men to sleep on foam mattresses that were
soaking from the urine that lay in pools on the floor.

Yet a funny thing happened to the prisoners. The more they
lost the stronger they became. Stripped of reading
materials and the most rudimentary implements in life
including even their beds, they created a political letter-
writing factory and a site of cultural production, with
Bobby Sands at its center.

It was in these unspeakable conditions of twenty-four hour
lockup that he wrote songs such as 'The Voyage' and
'McIlhattan', which are now standards in the Irish folk
repertoire. His 'One Day in My Life' stands alongside
Solzhenitsyn as a classic of prison literature and an
account of the grim realities of Gitmo-like prison life.

Despite interventions on behalf of the prisoners by
churchmen and politicians, Margaret Thatcher refused to
compromise. 'A crime is a crime is a crime', she said. 'It
is not political, it is a crime.'

So Bobby Sands and his fellow prisoners decided that they
had no recourse left but hunger strike. They went into
their protest knowing that they would die. But Bobby Sands
hoped that their sacrifice would heighten public awareness
of their plight and that the people would force Thatcher to

The people responded. They elected Sands to the British
parliament. When he died, hundreds of thousands attended
his funeral. Parliaments closed down in mourning. Nelson
Mandela led a group of young prisoners in a protest on
Robben Island and Mayan militants went on the first hunger
strike at Cerro Hueco prison in Chiapas.

Twenty-five years ago, Bobby Sands and his fellow prisoners
took a stand and the world listened. Even the New York
Times editorialized that Sands 'bested an implacable
British prime minister'. The Irish prisoners eventually won
their rights. Irish Republicanism was immensely
strengthened as it gained a true icon.

No wonder the US government, with the complicity of the
British and MI5, will go to any lengths to ensure that no
prisoner dies on hunger strike in Guantanamo.

Denis O'Hearn is author of 'Nothing but an Unfinished Song:
Bobby Sands, the Irish Hunger Striker Who Ignited a
Generation', Nation Books, 2006. He is Professor of
Sociology at Queens University Belfast and Binghamton


Rally For Immigration Reform Scheduled Wednesday

The Journal News

Rally, fundraiser

(Original publication: March 4, 2006)

BLAUVELT — An Orangetown activist who is heading to
Washington next week wants congressional leaders to
accelerate green card reform.

And he won't be alone.

Matt Reilly of Blauvelt said he expected hundreds of
Rockland and Westchester residents to be among the
thousands from across the country to voice support for the
Kennedy-McCain bill, legislation that would provide legal
status for undocumented people already in the United

Wednesday's rally is organized by the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform. The New York-based group has buses
leaving from the Bronx, Queens, Yonkers and Rockland. Other
buses are leaving from Boston, Stamford, and Philadelphia.

The Rockland contingent is leaving at 4 a.m. Wednesday from
the Irish American Cultural Center in Blauvelt, Reilly

"It's a must that we get this bill passed. There are too
many people living on the edge," Reilly said recently,
citing how a scam last year targeted the Irish community
and forced many undocumented people to lose thousands of
dollars and face deportation. "The Kennedy-McCain bill will
hopefully eliminate this awful situation. Many local
families are in limbo and want to stay."

There are no official statistics on the number of illegal
immigrants in the United States, but estimates range from 6
million to 11 million. Additionally, it is estimated that
there are between 40,000 and 50,000 from Ireland in the

The bill was introduced last year by Sen. Edward Kennedy, a
Democrat from Massachusetts and Sen. John McCain, a
Republican from Arizona. If passed, it would enable many
undocumented workers to register with the Department of
Homeland Security, pay a $2,000 fine and be eligible for a
work permit.

A person would then have to commit to working for six
years, pay taxes —including back taxes — and then would be
eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Other stipulations in the bill propose a temporary worker
program, increased border security and penalties for hiring
illegal aliens. It would also require foreign governments
to help control the migration of people to the U.S.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, who is sponsoring a bus from
Rockland, said the bill is a move to fix a broken
immigration system that is "a cruel perpetuation of the
status quo."

Engel said too many undocumented people were hard-working
and faced a constant threat of deportation; this bill would
help restore some order to immigration, he said.

"This attempts to say if you come here, work hard and play
by the rules, you can gain legal status," Engel said
yesterday. "It attempts to bring some order to a very
difficult situation."

Engel said the leadership in both the House and Senate had
not yet supported this particular bill, so it was important
to keep discussion going.

"It's going to be a long, hard struggle, but ultimately
we'll win this struggle because there's no alternative," he
said. "This bill, or one similar, will pass because current
policies in the U.S. are broken and beyond repair."

For Reilly, the rally is an opportunity to show Congress
that there is strong support from the Irish community for

"Our intention is to put a full day campaigning for this
bill. I joined this campaign for the simple reason of being
a help," Reilly said. "So many Irish people are afraid to
live normal lives, always looking over their shoulder. So
many of these young people are in dire need."

:: Rockland residents interested in attending the rally may
contact Matt Reilly at 845-359-0392. Buses will leave at 4
a.m. from the Irish American Cultural Center in Blauvelt.

:: Westchester residents may call 914-237-4133 or 914-803-
1318 for information.

:: There will be a fundraiser at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Gaelic
Park, 240th Street in the Bronx. Admission is $20. Proceeds
will help pay for buses. Information: 914-476-7452.


Ellis Island: The Green Men On The March

Walter Ellis reports from New York
04 March 2006

Immigration is one of the biggest real-life issues in the
United States. President Bush and the Republican party may
bang on about the War on Terror, but so far as ordinary
people are concerned it's the porous nature of America's
borders that really gets the juices flowing.

The concern among whites - and blacks - is that the country
is going hispanic and there isn't a damn thing anybody can
do about it.

What they fear is not that another ethnic grouping is
adding its DNA to the American gene pool. The country has,
after all, absorbed waves of German, Italian, Polish,
Jewish and Irish immigrants over the last 100 years, and
emerged the stronger for it.

No. The fear is that this time the new arrivals are
different. Hispanics don't share the American Dream. They
don't feel beholden and they want to go into the melting
pot. Most of all, they don't want to speak English.

Yet in another 20 years, hispanics from Mexico and other
parts of Latin America will comprise the majority in as
many as 15 states, including California and Florida.

Most sensible politicians tread carefully on the issue.
First off, they don't want to come across as racist. They
also know that without the hispanic influx, the population
of the US would be falling, not rising and a lot of dirty
jobs simply wouldn't get done.

But one man's self-interest is another man's nightmare.
Senator James Sensenbrenner, a right-wing Republican from
Wisconsin, is sponsoring a Bill that would not only make
felons of undocumented aliens and penalise Americans who
give such people aid and comfort, but would actually fund a
700-mile wall between the USA and Mexico.

The Sensenbrenner Bill passed last year in the House of
Representatives, but has run into trouble in the Senate,
where John McCain, who spent years as a prisoner-of-war in
Vietnam, and Ted Kennedy, the veteran apparachik, have
joined forces to come up with an alternative: the Secure
America and Orderly Immigration Act.

McCain and Kennedy, with others, want to tighten up on
illegal immigration while making it possible for those who
are already here or who are determined to come to establish
a legal identity and begin to pay their way.

It is difficult to know who will have the numbers in the
Senate chamber, but many are betting on McCain and Kennedy.

Meanwhile, the Irish are fighting an entirely different

There are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US,
from both sides of the border. Most of them came over on
tourist visas and simply stayed on, living in the shadows.

Now, with competing Bills doings the rounds on Capitol
Hill, the Green Lobby has decided to speak out.

You'd wonder where they get the nerve. But there it is. The
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, or ILIR (which sounds
like the latest Dublin light railway) has gone ballistic.
As far as they are concerned, sorting out Irish immigration
is the only game in town.

A series of 'townhall meetings' is under way. The GAA (who
else?) has announced a giant fund-raiser in New York and a
mass rally in Boston. The campaign will reach its climax
with a 50,000-strong Green Man March on Washington on St
Paddy's Day.

If it is possible any longer for there to be an Irish cause
célèbre (apart, of course, from Gerry Adams not being
allowed to charge Americans a hundred dollars a head to
listen to him rant), this is it.

Back home, nationalists of all complexions have jumped on
the band wagon, the SDLP included. Bertie Ahern is to raise
the issue with the president at the White House. The
chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Michael Woods, has described the weeks ahead as "a very
critical time."

I have every sympathy with Irish people living illegally in
America. Some of them lead a bleak existence and they are
as much in need of help as any other group.

What sticks in my craw is the assumption by Irish
representatives that there is something uniquely unjust
about their plight.

It is a conceit to which some American politicians who
should know better still pander. Democratic Senator Charles
Shummer, the senior senator from New York, is a prominent
liberal who a few years ago made it easier for undocumented
aliens to work their way towards official recognition.

But in addressing a recent gathering of the ILIR, the good
senator went completely over the top.

"I wrote the Schumer visas for the Irish," he said,
breaking into a brisk step dance. "People ask me why I
worked so hard for them [cue Paddy Maloney on tin whistle].
It's not only because I was raised in a neighborhood that
was mostly Irish, and not only because the Irish rallied to
my side in Brooklyn and went door to door for me … it's
because I truly believe in immigration, and I believe in
the Irish."

Pandemonium. After this, as Myles na Gopaleen would have
said, it was impossible for several minutes for any serious
work to be done. Schumer had got to the heart of the issue:
they don't call them Green Cards for nothing.

Here's how the ILIR sees it. When God made the Irish, the
hard work was done and he took the rest of the day off. If
only he'd put in a couple of extra hours and given us all a
Permanent Resident Card, sure he'd have been a great fella

Meanwhile, it is the hispanics who are making the pizzas,
serving up the burgers and mowing the lawns. But they
needn't worry. Nuestro día vendrá - Their day will come.

l Walter Ellis's book, The Beginning Of The End, is now
available. Published by Mainstream, £9.99


Dáil Body To Discuss Pensions For Returning Emigrants

04/03/2006 - 14:00:02

The issue of pension provision for returning Irish
emigrants is due to be discussed by the Oireachtas
committee on social and family affairs next week.

The meeting has been arranged to discuss the situation
facing returned emigrants who are not entitled to Irish
state pensions.

Committee chairman Willie Penrose has said he wants some
mechanism introduced to help these people in recognition of
the contribution they have made to the Irish economy by
sending money home during bad times.

"When we had no European Union, they were the backbone of
many households throughout the country," he said.


Woman Arrested Over City Bar Raid

A woman has been arrested in connection with a police raid
at a bar in the Tiger's Bay area of north Belfast.

Seventeen men who were arrested during the raid at the
Alexandra Bar on Thursday are being held under the
Terrorism Act.

The men are being questioned about membership of a banned
organisation and having items of use to terrorism.

Detective Sergeant Roy McComb said the raid was aimed at
the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

He said were acting on information suggesting a rehearsal
for a "show of strength" was in progress.

He said tactics - which included firing CS gas pellets into
the bar - were used in the belief that the men were armed.

"Information presented itself that members of an illegal
organisation with illegal firearms were going to present
themselves as some sort of defenders of the people," Mr
McComb said.


It is believed that half of those arrested were dressed in
combat style uniform, but police have not yet revealed if
anything, including weapons, were retrieved from the bar.

A full-scale search continued on Friday with police
officers coming and going from the pub wearing gas masks.

The UFF is part of the Ulster Defence Association, set up
as its "military wing" before the UDA was proscribed.

The police operation began just before 2000 GMT on

Bar doors were ripped off their hinges and some upstairs
windows in the bar were smashed during the raid.

It is understood that one of those arrested is already
facing terrorism-related charges.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/04 15:16:22 GMT


Alliance:'End The Side Deals'

The British and Irish governments were told today to stop
making side deals in a bid to get a quick-fix political
solution in Northern Ireland. By:Press Association

Alliance Party leader David Ford said the governments must
take the initiative in a truly comprehensive and inclusive
process and not just leave it to the parties to engage in a
further round of sectarian trade-offs and side deals.

He warned of the danger of the political process being
reduced "to a bad soap opera".

Addressing his party`s annual conference at Templepatrick,
County Antrim, he said that when Alliance met the two
governments for talks next week they would tell them to
forget the quick fix.

His message would be: "End the side deals between Downing
Street and the DUP, Downing Street and Sinn Fein. Take time
for a comprehensive agreement."

"That means both comprehensive and agreed," said Mr Ford.
He added: "It is time for attention to all the outstanding
issues, so that we get away from a stop-start, revolving
door devolution. Only by dealing with the core issues at
the heart of the (Good Friday) Agreement will we provide
any form of stability."

To have an Assembly which had not met for three-and-a-half
years was bad, but to see that Assembly sit and fall apart
again after a few months would be disastrous, he claimed.

"This time it must be got right," said Mr Ford.

He said it was time to abandon the failed `sectarian
political system` which had dominated as long as the state
had existed, and which had taken Northern Ireland precisely

He summed up Northern Ireland as "50 years of single-party
government, 25 years of violence, 10 years of tactical
ceasefires, tribalism and responsibility-shirking."

Another generation of political instability, social
backwardness and economic stagnation could not be afforded
while the neighbouring Irish Republic strode into the
future, he said.

He hit out at the SDLP and Unionist parties, but saved his
harshest words for Republicans, saying they needed to show
they understood the fundamentals of a normal peaceful

He said it was not good enough for them to highlight the
paragraphs in the International Monitoring Committee report
showing progress on the reduction of street violence, but
ignore the sections on organised crime.

And he insisted that, apart from there being no shootings
or bombings, there must be no street violence, no
paramilitary beatings, intelligence gathering or targeting.

"There must be no criminal activity of any kind," he said.
"And they must co-operate fully in bringing wrongdoers to
justice. Republicans must demonstrate their full support
for upholding the rule of law.

He added:"Alliance is not going to allow Northern Ireland
to move from a paramilitary-dominated society to a Mafia-
dominated one.

Loyalists did not escape comment from Mr Ford as he alleged
they had "almost abandoned terrorism for money-making".

He also said they had retained their ability to `twist
political events`.


Education 'Has To Be Target For Cash'

By Ashleigh Wallace
04 March 2006

The American Consul General has been told by the people of
the Shankill Road that any money ploughed into the area
should be directed towards education and not

The US Consul General Dean Pittman visited the loyalist
heartland earlier in the week where he undertook a
walkabout and talked to local business representatives.

During his visit, Mr Pittman was joined by Cathy McIlvenney
- the director of the Shankill Business Forum and the aunt
of murdered local man Craig McCausland.

Mrs McIlvenney owns a hairdressing salon on the Shankill
but has not been back to work since her 20-year old nephew
was murdered by the UVF last July.

However, she revealed that following Mr Pittman's visit,
she has decided to return to work with the full support of
the local business community.

Mrs McIlvenney said: "The Shankill Business Forum invited
Mr Pittman here to promote the area in a positive way.

"We wanted to get the message across that any money coming
to this area - be it from the British or American
governments or from European peace funding - should go
towards kids' education."


Laird And Rooker In 50:50 PSNI Row

By Brian Walker
04 March 2006

The usual Friday afternoon calm of the House of Lords was
shattered by an emotional argument between the outspoken
Lord Laird and the equally blunt Minister of State Lord

The war of words was over the 50:50 quota system for
recruitment in the PSNI.

Unionist peer Lord Laird said recruitment quotas for equal
numbers of Catholics and non-Catholics should be scrapped
on the grounds of religious discrimination.

Lord Rooker declared that Lord Laird and his supporters
were being negative and exaggerating the impact of 50:50.

In eight recruitment competitions since 2001, and a total
of 50,000 applicants to the PSNI - 28,000 of them non-
Catholic - only 541 (just 2%) were rejected due to the
quota system, Lord Rooker said.

In one competition, there were 13,00 applicants for 440
posts. "Rejection was due to the massive number of
applications - nothing to do with 50:50".

He also noted Catholic recruitment to the force had
increased from 8.3% to 19.14% and was due to rise to 30% by

He added that the cost of running the quota system was
about £13m or £10,000 per recruit, not the unionist claim
of £80m which he didn't recognise.

Sounding increasingly passionate, Lord Rooker went on: "To
say that hundreds and thousands are suffering due to 50:50
is not true. I challenge journalists to challenge
politicians on the basis of their figures".

He added that the 50:50 system would expire next March
unless renewed and would not stay in place "a moment longer
than was necessary".

"If we scrapped it now, we would not achieve the target of
30% Catholics by 2010/11 but would be likely to see only
22% if we abandoned it now."


Alliance Angry At School Decision

The Alliance leader has criticised the government for not
living up to its commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to
support integrated education.

Alliance supporters meet this weekend for their annual

David Ford told Radio Ulster's Inside Politics that denying
funding for four new integrated schools was "bizarre".

"When it's part of the shared future policy it's just
completely bizarre for the department to say there are
spaces in existing schools," he said.

Earlier this week, Education Minister Angela Smith turned
down plans for schools in Clogher Valley,
Moira/Hillsborough, Saintfield and funding for an existing
independent primary school in Ballycastle.

She said the new schools have been proposed for areas which
already have surplus capacity.

Some Alliance Party members have said they will seek to
have the decision overturned, and intend to propose an
emergency resolution at the party conference.

Party vice-chair Michael Long said the government was
leaving parents "stranded" and forcing their children "into
segregated schools against their will".

"They talk about parental choice, but yet are refusing to
properly fund a sector which is heavily over-subscribed,"
he said.

The party will also debate the political situation at the
Dunadry Hotel on Saturday.

Members are expected to back the analysis that failing to
resolve the deadlock will ensure "that division, dependency
and apartheid policies continue to impact upon all in
Northern Ireland".

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/04 09:32:53 GMT


Stardust Survivors Mount Protest At Taoiseach’s Office

04/03/2006 - 13:16:23

Survivors of the Stardust disaster and relatives of those
killed in the nightclub fire are protesting outside the
Taoiseach's constituency office in Dublin today.

The protest is part of a renewed campaign for a proper
inquiry into the blaze, which killed 48 people on
Valentine's Day in 1981.

The survivors and relatives have never accepted the outcome
of the original inquiry, which criticised owner Eamon
Butterly, Dublin Corporation and the Department of the
Environment for safety failings.

They say they have been inundated with new witness
statements since the airing of a television documentary to
mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster last month.


Man Injured In Paramilitary-Style Shooting

04/03/2006 - 11:04:04

A man was recovering in hospital today after he was shot in
the leg in a paramilitary-style shooting in Co Antrim.

The 30-year-old man was attacked and shot in the Ballyronan
Park area in Newtownabbey shortly before 11pm last night.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “He is being treated in hospital
for his injuries which are not thought to be life-
threatening at this stage.”

Detectives in Newtownabbey appealed to anyone who may have
witnessed the shooting or who can assist them to contact
Newtownabbey police station.


Three Released After Questioning About Riots

04/03/2006 - 18:45:08

Three people arrested by gardaí earlier today in connection
with riots in Dublin city centre a week ago have been
released on bail, to appear before sittings of the juvenile
and district courts.

The 32-year-old man, 28-year-old woman, and youth, were all
detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Their arrests brought to 47 the number of people arrested
following the disturbances, which broke out last Saturday
as a Loyalist march was due to take place in the capital.


Un-FAIR Face Of Love Ulster

One of the Love Ulster campaign organisers praises old South African system

Ciarán Barnes

“Under apartheid, the black man was better paid, they had better
jobs, better everything.”

“I couldn’t care less if people call me a racist. I
couldn’t care less what they think. Apartheid meant the
black man was better treated and respected."

The Opinions of Jim Dixon

The British Home Office has said it lodged all relevant
documents with the Irish authorities last September.

Gerry McFlynn of the Irish Commission for Prisoners
Overseas said: “Aidan has to be sent back to Ireland as
soon as possible. He is one of about 20 prisoners waiting
to come home. The process takes between two-and-a-half to
three years, which is unacceptable given the distress it
causes to inmates and their families.

“You have to wonder if the will is there to move quickly on
these issues. All we can do is try to keep as much pressure
on the authorities as possible. In this case, the hold-up
is with the Irish, and we are pushing for a resolution
given the state of his health,” said Fr McFlynn.

Michael Holden of the Irish Political Status Committee said
Mr Hulme’s brother Robert, who is also serving a prison
sentence in England, had asked to be transferred to Full

“They were separated about 18 months ago and, since then,
the prison authorities have made it difficult for them to

“Robert is happy to move from Long Martin back to Full
Sutton to be with his brother.

“Aidan has been told by a specialist that his leg will have
to be amputated. He doesn’t want to be given priority
treatment but the specialist is recommending that he be
transferred back to Ireland before his leg is amputated.”

The Department of Justice refused to comment on individual


Queen’s Visit On Hold After Riots

05 March 2006 By Paul T Colgan

The failure by the gardai to predict last weekend’s violence will
lead to a reassessment at a political and security level as to
whether such contentious events can be held in Dublin city centre
in the future.

The organisers of the Love Ulster parade have said they intend to
stage a second march through the capital and that are not going
to allow the rioters ‘‘to win’’. Serious consideration will be
given to their application to return, and it is deemed likely, in
political circles at least, that a march could now be allowed
only with significant restrictions in place.

Aside from the obvious threat of a repetition of violence at such
a march, gardai are reassessing their ability to police other
high-profile events in the city centre and around the country.

Concerns have been raised about the planned military
commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and the
likelihood that this will bring tens of thousands of people into
central Dublin.

Some observers fear that the riots may have had a radicalising
effect on large numbers of young people in the city who feel they
have scored a victory over the authorities and who are waiting
for their next opportunity to confront police lines.

Political sources also said this weekend that any possibility of
a visit by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in the near future had been
ruled out in the wake of last weekend’s incidents.

They predicted that dissident republicans would try to make the
visit impossible through showdowns with gardai and said they
feared that the Continuity IRA, which is the only republican
group not formally on ceasefire, might attempt to carry-out a so-
called ‘spectacular’.

President Mary McAleese is known to be in favour of a royal visit
and recently met the British monarch in the North. The Prince of
Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh have visited Ireland in the past,
but sources said that any visit by Queen Elizabeth was considered
too dangerous.

Republican Sinn Fein, which staged a protest before the attempted
march last week, told its supporters beforehand that it would be
a ‘‘dry run’’ for the queen’s visit.

The party’s vice-chairman, Des Dalton, said that if people failed
to protest against the Love Ulster event, it would be taken as a
signal by the government that the way was clear for a royal

The party’s newspaper, Saoirse, devoted its front page to the
planned march, saying republicans needed to be seen to oppose it.

‘‘And now on the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising ...the siren
voices tell Republicans to ignore this loyalist march. If we do,
they will return with even greater insistence and tell us to
ignore the state visit of the Queen of England,” its front page
editorial read. Security concerns also surround the staging of
the Ryder Cup in Co Kildare this September.

A specialist team of gardai in Naas has been assigned to draw up
security plans for the golfing tournament and will spend the
coming months ensuring it passes off without incident.

The Sunday Business Post has learned threats have been made
against the tournament by people claiming to have played a role
in the Dublin riot.

The gardai would not comment on whether they believed the threats
were genuine, but are understood to be actively investigating the
possibility that violence may be being planned to coincide with
the visit of the world’s top golfers to Ireland.


Crime Victims 'Should Have Judge Input'

Policy paper wins DUP backing

By Michael McHugh
04 March 2006

Victims and relatives of those affected by serious crime
should be able to make representations to a judge before
sentencing, the DUP has said.

A policy paper detailing the approach has been submitted to
the Department of Constitutional Affairs which is
considering the changes in England and Wales.

It is unclear at this stage whether such a measure, which
has been given a warm response from victims' groups, would
be extended to Northern Ireland through fresh legislation.

Relatives of murder or manslaughter victims would be able
to make representations to a judge after a conviction and
before sentencing.

The DUP response said: "Historically, victims have not
enjoyed the priority or importance in the criminal justice
system which they deserve. They were often an afterthought
and their experience of the process varied hugely depending
on a variety of circumstances.

"This has started to improve in recent years and
undoubtedly this proposal has the potential to enhance the
role of victims still further. As a matter of principle we
believe that it is right that victims should have the
opportunity to speak at the sentencing stage of a trial.
While this particular proposal relates to murder and
manslaughter there is no reason in principle that it should
not be extended to other cases."

The Government proposed that relatives should be able to
make a personal statement in court at the sentencing stage
about how the death has affected them. Relatives would be
able to receive advice and assistance in preparing and
making their statement.

Relatives would be provided with enhanced advice and
information about the progress of the case and the
decisions about the case.

The DUP's response to the plans added that it was important
to recognise the rights of the accused and the victims.

"A forgiving approach by the victims should not result in a
lesser sentence than would otherwise be merited, nor should
the absence of it result in a greater sentence.

"One can see how there could be a very real danger that
such consideration could impact on the sentence.

"There is no doubt that giving a victim an opportunity to
be heard in court can play an important role in helping
them deal with the impact of the crime in a constructive


Protests Over Bush's Shannon Stopover

04 March 2006 23:39

Anti-war activists are protesting outside Shannon Airport
ahead of a brief stopover by US President George W Bush
early tomorrow morning.

Airforce One is stopping to refuel on its return flight to
the US from south Asia.

Gardaí say the flight is expected to land at around 3am.

More that 500 gardaí and defence force personnel are
providing a major security cordon at the airport, where at
present only a handful of people are protesting.

Mr Bush's aircraft will stop at Shannon while en route to
the US from his visits to India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier today, Mr Bush held talks in the Pakistani capital,
Islamabad, with President Pervez Musharraf on the last
stage of his tour of Asian countries.

At a news conference, Mr Bush said a lot of work remained
to be done to defeat the al-Qaeda network.

He also reaffirmed the strategic partnership between
Pakistan and the United States and said Mr Musharraf
remained committed to the fight against extremism.

Yesterday, Mr Bush ended his visit to India with a speech
highlighting the partnership between the two countries.


Opin: Ahern Offers Unionists 1916 Olive Branch

Jody Corcoran And Jim Cusack

BERTIE Ahern intends to link the planned commemorations of
the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme in an attempt
to encourage unionists from Northern Ireland to participate
in both events.

The Taoiseach's initiative will be seen as significant
after riots forced the abandonment of the Love Ulster
parade in Dublin last weekend, intended to highlight the
plight of relatives of Protestants murdered by the IRA.

The Sunday Independent can reveal that calls to engage in
violence to stop the Northern Protestant marchers were
posted on an extreme republican website last December.

Gardai now believe thatresponsibility for the rioting lies
with a group of violent young 'republicans' who split from
Republican Sinn Fein last year.

The break-away group has been attracting dozens of
teenagers, in Dublin and the North, where they congregate
under the guise of Celtic soccer supporters.

Yesterday Mr Ahern told the Sunday independent that while
his Government was aware that unionists may not wish to
attend his planned joint commemorations of the Rising and
the Battle of the Somme, he hoped his invitations would be
"recognised for the spirit of friendship and mutual respect
in which they are extended".

There is a distinct possibility, however, that some
unionist politicians, many of whom are also members of the
Orange Order, will take up Mr Ahern's offer. It could
result in the potent symbolism of an Orange sash on the
reviewing stand outside the GPO during the Rising
commemorations next month. Mr Ahern also said that his
Government was "looking at ways of accommodating" the
'Love Ulster' group in its "need tohave its voice heard in Dublin".

It is understood the Government is considering the
establishment of a forum, possibly at Dublin Castle, where
the group can express its views and feelings.

In 1916, men from the north and south of Ireland, unionist
and nationalist, fought side by side in the Battle of the
Somme. The battle was intended to be a decisive
breakthrough in the First World War, but it instead became
a byword for futile and indiscriminate slaughter.

A Sunday Independent telephone poll has found that 68 per
cent blamed Republican protesters for the riots, while a
surprisingly large 32 per cent blamed the 'Love Ulster'
marchers; 58 per cent were dissatisfied with the Garda's
handling of the riot, with 42 per cent satisfied, and a
massive 80 per cent said the Government was not
sufficiently alert to the dangers.The Government, acutely
embarrassed by events last weekend, has since been
criticised for failing to understand, or at least express
the potential significance of the riots, particularly on
North-South relations.

Mr Ahern seemed to be aware of this in a speech he
delivered to the Fianna Fail Kevin Barry Cumann at
University College Dublin on Wednesday, which went
relatively unreported.

In that speech, he again expressed his abhorrence at the
scenes of disorder and violence in Dublin city centre, and
condemned unequivocally those engaged in what he said was
"clearly orchestrated thuggery and hooliganism".

But he also added: "In a republic, people are entitled to
express their views, to march and to protest peacefully
irrespective of their political opinions. Those involved in
rioting and creating scenes of public disorder are not
republicans and their behaviour is contrary to all
democratic principles.

"New politics should learn from old history. In meeting the
challenges of tomorrow's Ireland we must also apply what we
have learnt about the dangers of religious intolerance,
cultural closure and contempt for democratic institutions.
In every facet of Irish life, we must embrace the
challenges of change."

The Taoiseach went further yesterday when he told the
Sunday Independent: "The Irish Government is committed to
respecting all traditions on this island equally.

"It also recognises that developing a greater understanding
of our shared history, in all of its diversity, is
essential to developing greater understanding and building
a shared future.

"The Government has announced plans to mark the 90th
anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Dublin at Easter and to
mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with a
ceremony at the war memorial in Islandbridge on July 1.
These events will be complemented by other events to mark
these anniversaries, such as recently announced
commemorative stamps.

"These initiatives form part of an overall programme that
reflects the shared history and shared experience of the
people of this island, from all traditions, in the year of

"It has been the practice to invite representatives from
all walks of life in Northern Ireland to State occasions.
This is a gesture of both friendship and respect.

"The Irish Government will invite Members of the
Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Northern Ireland to attend
the commemorations for the 90th anniversary of the 1916
Rising and of the Battle of the Somme.

"The Government is, of course, aware that representatives
of the unionist tradition in Northern Ireland may not wish
to attend some or indeed all of these events. It is equally
recognised that the events being commemorated are very
important to many people in Northern Ireland.

"It is hoped that the invitations will be recognised for
the spirit of friendship and mutual respect in which they
are extended and that both traditions on the islandwill
participate in at least some of the programme being


Opin: It's Time For The UDA To Come Clean

04 March 2006

Although the circumstances surrounding events at The
Alexandra bar in north Belfast on Thursday evening have yet
to become entirely clear, there seems little doubt that
good work by the police disrupted plans by the UDA for a
show of strength under their cover name, the UFF.

The detention of men clad in what has been called "battle
dress" suggests that a rehearsal for a paramilitary-style
event was under way. This raises worrying questions about
the strategy of the UDA, an organisation which is
officially on ceasefire.

First and foremost, the PSNI deserves credit for carrying
out a well-organised swoop. They were acting on sound
intelligence and with the aid of CS gas rounds, officers
were able to break up the gathering and make a number of

While all those detained must be presumed innocent until
proven guilty, all the indications are that this was a
high-powered meeting of the UDA. This is bound to fuel
suspicions that for all its talk of peace, the organisation
has not forsaken its paramilitary associations.

The UDA needs to come clean about its intentions. Is it
committed to peace or preparing for a return to war? There
was never any justification for any loyalist grouping to
hold arms but now that the IRA has completed a significant
act of decommissioning the retention of weaponry is

The UDA's political representatives may not have the same
clout as Sinn Fein, but the organisation cannot expect to
escape the same strictures as the IRA. What the public
wants to hear from the UDA is that it is disarming, ending
all criminal activity, and disbanding.

Loyalist paramilitaries and dissident republicans portray
themselves as defenders of their communities, but nothing
could be further from the truth. They may wrap themselves
in different flags, but both are labouring under a
misapprehension if they believe that violence provides any

The recent Independent Monitoring Commission report
suggested that loyalist groupings were being challenged by
the "dynamic of change" but it is a painfully slow process.
The IMC described the UDA, in particular, as an
organisation which is still involved in crime and drug

Instead of setting vehicles on fire to protest against the
raid, the people of north Belfast should be paying tribute
to the PSNI for reminding the paramilitaries that they are
not above the law. Street violence achieves nothing except
to create further misery for people living in the locality.

The UDA, and other active paramilitary organisations, need
to come to terms with new realities. The only possible
formula for the future is to give up the masks and guns and
make a genuine commitment to democratic politics.


Opin: Leading Article: Time For Maturity

Northern Ireland’s tortuous political process continues to baffle
and frustrate Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair. The taoiseach and the
prime minister meet this Wednesday to take stock, but have
apparently abandoned plans to make any announcements.

Stalemate is the order of the day, now that Sinn Fein and the
SDLP have refused to countenance the establishment of a “shadow
assembly” that would have decided whether devolved government
could be re-established in the province, or whether that cause
should be abandoned.

Eight years after the signing of the Good Friday agreement, which
was meant to deliver a stable political process on the back of
republican and loyalist paramilitary ceasefires, the best the
prime minister’s official spokesman can say is that Mr Blair “has
an increasingly clear view about what needs to be done . . . but
we are not yet at the point of decisions being taken”. Bully for

The difficulty of re-creating a devolved assembly and power-
sharing executive remains the same: Sinn Fein has not earned the
trust of the unionist parties. Despite the cessation of the
Provisional IRA’s armed campaign and the decommissioning of
weapons, Sinn Fein’s leadership has failed to demonstrate that
the movement it leads understands the nature of democracy.

Republicans have not ceased their involvement in organised
criminality and have shown no willingness to assist the law
enforcement agencies on either side of the border as they strive
to shut down smuggling and extortion rackets. In particular, Sinn
Fein still refuses to endorse and work with the PSNI.

Until republicans have abandoned their illegal operations and are
fully committed to the principles of parliamentary democracy, it
is wrong to force the unionist parties to share power. Once the
assembly and the executive are reformed, they must be on solid
ground and there must be no possibility of them imploding again.
Given the lack of trust between the parties, that is simply not
achievable in the current climate.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair must exercise caution. Over the past eight
years they have been responsible for an erosion of confidence in
the political process because, in their desperation to deliver a
solution, they have allowed messy compromise and concessions to
triumph over principle. That must now cease.

There can be no place for a party that does not recognise the
PSNI in an executive that is charged with administering law and
order; neither can there be a place in the executive for a party
that retains links with organised crime and does nothing to put
the criminals out of business.

Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists, however, must not shift the
goalposts. They have a responsibility to share power with Sinn
Fein once that party passes democratic scrutiny, and they have a
responsibility to provide political leadership to the people who
elected them. There is, however, no rush for agreement. Direct
rule may not be ideal, but it works. It is undeniably better than
a fractured executive, and it can at the very least address the
immense economic challenges that Northern Ireland faces.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern may desire closure and settlement, but they
must no longer try to force the pace of change. That can only be
set by the province’s own politicians. Their failure to reach a
point where devolution could resume has been made easier by the
knowledge that both the Irish and British governments are so keen
for a deal that they will make concession upon concession to the
party that behaves the worst.

Rewarding bad behaviour and bad faith is no way to build
stability. Rather than intensify their search for a solution, the
two governments should instead back away. It is time for Northern
Ireland’s elected representatives to demonstrate that they have
the maturity and the capacity to reach agreement between


Opin: Gong Beyond Belief

Lindy McDowell
04 March 2006

Armed men dressed in sinister looking outfits took part in
an unusual "show of strength" in a north Belfast bar this
week. The PSNI. And not before time, too.

Firing what's described as "irritant rounds", the officers
stormed the bar and lifted a number of men who, it was
reported, were taking part in a "rehearsal" for their very
own, much more familiar sort of "show of strength."

We're so used to this sort of stuff in Northern Ireland
(well, the bit about the paramilitary "shows of strength"
anyway) that we hardly blink an eyelid when we read about
it any more.

Even if the goons of the UDA feel the need for "rehearsal",
the rest of us know the drill.

Usually it involves a team of yobs of comically divergent
girth and height, dressed in a ramshackle collection of
items from the army surplus store, waddling out in front of
a local mural.

Guns are produced, orders are guldered and shots are fired
into the air as supporters, swaying erratically while
clutching their alcopops, roar approval.

Cameramen, tipped off in advance so that they can record
this historic moment, capture a few shots for posterity.

Then a fat bloke in a tight-fitting bomber jacket and ill-
fitting balaclava adjusts his reading glasses and delivers
a "prepared" statement. (It's always a "prepared"
statement. Paramilitaries don't do impromptu.)

This statement is the usual dizzying mix of florid
pomposity - "It is incumbent upon others to recognise the
outstanding contribution of our organisation to community
regeneration" - and grammatically incorrect menace - "Yous
have been warned."

Bizarrely, this week's rehearsal, it is reported, was for
some sort of medal awards ceremony. This is a bit of a
break from the usual format. What would they give gongs for
at the UDA Oscars?

lThe Award for Best Brigadier's Contribution to the
Bookies? lThe Hole-in-One Award for Golfing Outreach in the
Irish Republic? lThe Lifetime Achievement Award for
Distribution of Class A Pharmaceuticals?

We'll never know. The ceremony was unceremoniously chopped
by that police raid which has since been described by URPG
spokesman, Sammy Duddy as "overkill."

It's a description that might strike outside observers as a
tad ironic.

For while, as I say, most of us in Northern Ireland tend to
take paramilitary "shows of strength" in our stride, how
must this look to outsiders? Dozens of police storm a bar
where upstairs a terrorist gang dressed in "battle gear"
are rehearsing some sort of paramilitary two-step.

Rounds are fired, windows smashed ... and customers badly

One drinker described the police raid as "out of order and
heavy-handed." Another said: "I do not know why they came
in here like the SAS." Possibly because there was a
terrorist gang fine-tuning their footwork in the upstairs

It occurs to me, though, that it's not just the customers'
irritation with the cops that might strike outsiders as a
bit odd - but the CVs of some of the boys who got scooped.

To give just one example, they included a man out on bail
while facing charges of attempting to murder four police

And heart-warming as it has been to see the PSNI move in
this week and kick some paramilitary ass, isn't it shocking
that, after all these years of cessations, ceasefires and
relentless peace processing, terror bosses are still in

Still strutting around the place.

And still organising their "shows of strength" in much the
same way that elsewhere, community groups might organise
the village fete.

But then, that's the logical outcome of the Blair
Government's policy towards paramilitaries.

Which amounts to an ongoing, and interminable, show of

Titanic legend

A little piece of our history passed away this week. John
Parkinson was just a child of six when his father took him
to see the great Titanic leave the Harland and Wolff
shipyard. Mr Parkinson died this week at the age of 99.

His father had helped build the Titanic and among John's
possessions were the tools he'd used. John's passion for
the doomed liner and his enthusiasm to educate others about
this city's role in creating the legend, helped sustain
local interest in the Titanic during the long years when
little official effort was put into preserving this
priceless part of our heritage.

Now that the authorities have finally, finally wakened up
and decided that the city which actually built the Titanic
might be able to capitalise on it too (along with all those
other places with tenuous or often non-existent links to
the ship) it would be nice to think that they could find a
way of recognising his contribution.

In every sense John Parkinson represented the best of the
men who laboured in the Harland and Wolff shipyard and
whose role in the history of this place has never been
properly celebrated.

When the Titanic project is finally completed, it would be
fitting if some part of it could be named after him - John
Parkinson, the grand old gentleman who kept the story of a
legend alive. And in the process became a bit of a legend

The disgrace that puts Orde in deep water

Sir Hugh Orde has an odd way of dealing with criticism.
When concerns are raised about aspects of the PSNI's work,
he tends to cite comparisons with other police services.

Policing in Northern Ireland? It's no different from
policing in south London, is the usual refrain.

But actually it is different. Every police force,
everywhere, faces problems that are unique to the geography
and demography of the place.

This week Sir Hugh was asked extremely pertinent questions
about the lack of resources for the PSNI diving team.

When policing board member Alan McFarland raised the issue
of why what was once a diving team of 12, had been reduced
to six and a sergeant, Sir Hugh countered: "It would be
nice to have a team of 15 or 20 but a lot of the time they
would be doing nothing because there is not the demand."

He added that most police forces do not have their own
diving teams because of the "sporadic nature" of incidents
when they are required.

The point is surely, Sir Hugh, that what applies to "most
police forces" is not the point at issue. Not the demand?
As I've said in this column before, Northern Ireland is
almost surrounded by water. There is a major expanse of
water smack in the middle of the place. We have a still
sizeable fishing industry.

Other police forces may not face the same problems. In
which other police region in the UK, for example, are there
currently two families, as there are here, waiting
desperately for the recovery of their sons' bodies?

This is a shocking situation and Alan McFarland is right to
ask, with regard to the resourcing of the PSNI diving team:
"How did we get into such a shambolic state?"

And no, we don't need to hear what other police forces are
doing, Sir Hugh.

What we want to know is what the hell you're going to do
about it?


Peace Activists To Mount Protest For Second Bush Stopover

04/03/2006 - 10:24:13

Anti-war activists are planning a protest outside Shannon
Airport today ahead of another brief stopover by US
President George in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Air Force Once is due to make a brief refuelling stop of
the Co Clare airport while bringing Mr Bush home from a
visit to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.

The US President also stopped over in Shannon while en
route to Afghanistan earlier this week and briefly left his
plane to speak to US soldiers who were also passing through
the airport.

Speaking ahead of today's protest, peace activist Edward
Horgan said Mr Bush's landings were a gross insult to Irish
sovereignty and neutrality.


Ginnity Brings Irish Cabaret To Circa ’21

By David Burke

For 20 years, comedian Noel V. Ginnity has brought a bit of
Ireland to America with Dublin’s Traditional Irish Cabaret.

But he says he’s also bringing back some old-time
entertainment as well.

“It’s so difficult to find variety shows or vaudeville now
that’s for family, y’know?” Ginnity asked in a phone
interview from Dublin. “Most of (entertainment now is) a
bit blue and dirty, especially the jokes and that.”

Ginnity said the Irish Cabaret — which plays two shows
Thursday at Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, Rock Island — is a
combination of comedy, singers, dancers and novelty acts.

“You get a little bit of everything,” he said. “They’re not
going to be offended.”

Ginnity, who refuses to give his age, said he’s from the
previous generation of comedians, not like today’s “filthy,
awful” comics.

“I tell stories with beginnings, middles and ends,” he
said. “You’ll never get confused with me.

“I have somewhat of a market built up for someone who
doesn’t want to be offended, but is still in for a good

He is one of 17 performers who travel for a month
throughout the United States.

Ginnity said it’s always hard to find dancers — in their
late teens and early 20s — each year, but it’s even more
difficult this year: Michael Flatley, the Irish dance
sensation, is casting a new show this spring and tied up
many of the country’s best dancers.

“It’s difficult to get people who are not in shows,” he

The young Irish are always amazed by traveling around the
United States, Ginnity said.

“Ireland is so small and I’m still amazed by the big
signage on the road and the vast shopping malls,” he said.
“I’m still amazed, so you can imagine these kids.”

Ginnity said there’s been a resurgence of Irish culture in
America in the past decades.

“In the latter years, Riverdance has given it a boost
again,” he said of the Irish dance troupe. “But there’s so
many Irish-Americans and they do like something from home.”

David Burke can be contacted at

(563) 383-2400 or .


What: Dublin’s Original Irish Cabaret
When: 1 and 7:15 p.m. Thursday, March 9 (lunch at noon for
early show; dinner buffet at 6 p.m.)
Where: Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 3rd Ave., Rock
How much: $36.50 matinee, $41.50 dinner show
Information: (309) 786-7733, Ext. 2


Mullan Hails 'Hero' Gordon Banks

Legendary English goalkeeper Gordon Banks today said he was
humbled to have influenced a dyslexic child to overcome his
problems to go on to become an acclaimed writer.

By:Press Association

A new book by journalist Don Mullan `Gordon Banks: A Hero
Who Could Fly` tells how he was motivated to learn to read,
despite being affected by dyslexia, as he wanted to find
out more about his hero footballer.

Former England and Stoke City goalkeeper Banks, who
famously blocked Pele`s header in the 1970 World Cup, said:
"I am humbled that I could have such an influence on
someone in such a positive manner."

The legendary footballer, who travelled to Dublin to help
raise funds for children with dyslexia, said: "I am proud
to be the hero of an amazing person and writer, who indeed
has made his own significant contribution to society. I am
delighted that all the royalties of the book will be
donated to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland."

Mr Mullan, who was born in Derry in 1956, only discovered
he was dyslexic at the age of 38 and pursued a career as a
writer and investigative journalist.

His book, Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, led to the re-opening
in 1998 of a public inquiry into the fatal shootings
following a civil rights march in Derry in January 1972.

After co-producing the award winning film, Bloody Sunday,
he received the `Defenders of Human Dignity Award` from the
International League for Human Rights at the United Nations
in 2002.

The writer, who is donating the royalties of the book to
the support association, said: "Growing up in Derry and
through the Troubles, Gordon Banks did more than inspire me
to be a better goalkeeper, he changed my life for the

"I can honestly say my life would not have led me to where
I am today if I didn`t have someone like Gordon Banks to
look up to."

Anne Hughes, director of the Dyslexia Association of
Ireland, said the monies raised from the book and a
fundraising dinner in Dublin`s Gresham Hotel attended by
the famous goalkeeper would be used to provide specialist
tuition to children with reading difficulties.

It is estimated six to eight per cent of the Irish
population have some form of dyslexia.

"It is a very, very common difficulty people are affected
to different degrees," she said. "We also run courses for
adults with dyslexia, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, who
have been told all their lives they are stupid, thick or

Ms Hughes said the help given to adults to overcome
dyslexia has ensured many go back into the workplace, or
advance in their jobs or it aids them in learning to read.

"It has a huge effect on a person`s entire life. And of
course on the next generation as it inclined to run in
families in genes," she said.

Ms Hughes said the association`s 35 branches run classes
for children with dyslexia. The association raises funds to
pay for classes for children, at a cost of 1,000 euro
(£700) a head for a year, in instances where their parents
may not be able to fund them.

"If young people had a motivation such as this it would
help," she said, adding that Mr Mullan`s fascination as a
child with Banks had enticed him into libraries to search
for cuttings.

The writer said: "Dyslexic children need an interest to
help them sustain and develop their reading skills. Every
picture, article and drawing I could find on Gordon Banks
was carefully cut out and sellotaped into an old wallpaper


Irish Music's Feminine Side

Mar 5, 2006

In the 1950s, when researchers visited the venerable Sarah
Makem, looking to tap her knowledge of old Irish songs, she
told them she was uncomfortable performing for them. But
she didn't turn them away. She simply went about her chores
and sang while she worked.

Dublin-born singer Susan McKeown tells Makem's story to
illustrate women's vital, if overlooked role in Irish music
over the years. McKeown notes that a handful of women sang
in the early part of the 20th century, but rarely recorded
or toured. In the 1970s, groundbreaking singers such as
Mary Black and Dolores Keane rode the crest of the
traditional music revival.

Despite the advances in performing, McKeown noted that in
"Irish music, like the music at large," women are far
outnumbered by men, particularly when it comes to the
business side. Today, a few of the most successful Irish
musicians are, in fact, women, though the exceptions prove
the rule.

Enya has sold an astounding 65 million albums in her
unusual career path. Starting with some family members in
the tradition-stretching Clannad, she struck out on her own
and created an atmospheric sound that departed from Irish
music, but is unmistakably linked.

On "Amarantine" (Reprise), Enya leaves Gaelic behind,
singing in "Loxian," an invented language. The concept is a
bit much, but it's apparently a result of her dancing with
elves and singing in Elfish in "The Lord of the Rings."
"Amarantine" continues Enya's new-agey ways, but her voice
can still cut through the clouds of ethereal electronics to
evoke the lonesome, ornamented cries of the old sad songs
of Irish music.

More closely resembling the sean-nos style of unaccompanied
singing are McKeown on her "Blackthorn: Irish Love Songs"
(World Village) and Niamh Parsons on "The Old Simplicity"
(Green Linnett). Unlike modern pop performers who lean
heavily on hooks, a zippy rhythm or attitude, these women
focus listeners on the songs and their lyrics, acting as
storytellers as much as singers.

McKeown produced her own album, one of the few women
producers in the field. The album grows out of McKeown's
thinking about love and all its facets after the deaths of
her father and a good friend, Irish fiddler Johnny

Working in spare, acoustic arrangements, McKeown unearths
overlooked old tunes and makes the feelings of the long-
gone writers accessible to contemporary audiences,
occasionally incorporating sounds from outside Ireland,
such as instruments from the Celtic cultures of northern

The instrumental tradition has also opened a bit wider for
women. Accordionist Sharon Shannon's debut in 1991 was the
biggest-selling traditional album in Ireland, even though
it incorporated Cajun and Portuguese tunes. Recently
released is "The Sharon Shannon Collection," though it
overreaches a bit by making one of the two CDs primarily
vocal music, which Shannon has only recorded on recent
albums. It's a fine introduction to her joyous playing, but
newcomers could just as easily buy any of her consistently
fine albums.

Flautist Sarah Allen is one of the members of the Brit-
Irish quartet named Flook, which sparks up some real magic
as an ensemble. Allen and Brian Finnegan front the band
with their two flutes carrying the melodies, flying over a
rhythm section of guitar and the funkiest bodhran frame-
drum playing in Irish music.

I don't know if Allen and Finnegan are, as they say,
skating together, but the way her velvet-toned silver flute
and his piercing tin whistle playfully tumble over each
other certainly sounds like what being in love should be

Flook's newest, "Haven" (World Village), matches the high
standards of their last outing, "Rubai." Not nearly strict
traditionalists, they dance with the old tunes like no one
else. Their singular sound and easy-going inventiveness
make them something truly apart and worth seeking out.

There's no telling what old Mrs. Makem would make of these
women in the spotlight, but there's no doubt she'd love the
sounds they are creating.

Marty Lipp can be contacted at .


The Chieftains Make A Stop In New Brunswick

(New Brunswick, NJ) – The Chieftains, Ireland's musical ambassadors, make their annual return to the State Theatre on Thursday, March
9, 2006 at 8pm with a lively and heart-warming review
featuring singing, dancing, humor, fiddling, piping, and
footwork that makes it hard to stay in your seat. Added to
this year's line-up are special guests, The Cottars.
Tickets range from $25-55 (group, college student, and
senior discounts available).

The Chieftains are Paddy Moloney on Uileann pipes and tin
whistle, Kevin Conneff on bodhran (a goatskin drum that's
played with the hand or a stick to get a certain effect)
and vocals, Sean Keane on fiddle, and Matt Molloy on flute.
The Cottars are Ciaran MacGillivray (keyboard, guitar,
whistle, lead and harmony vocals, percussion, step-dance),
Fiona MacGillivray (lead and harmony vocals, whistle, harp,
percussion, step-dance), Roseanne MacKenzie (fiddle,
harmony vocals, whistle, percussion, step-dance), and Jimmy
MacKenzie (guitar, banjo, percussion).

The Chieftains Paddy Moloney, the group's founder and front
man, first brought together a group of local musicians in
Dublin in 1962, fashioning an authentic instrumental sound
that stood in sharp contrast to the slick commercial output
of most Irish music at the time.


1870s Molly Maguire Murder Case Still Unresolved

By Christina Gostomski
Call Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG A 129-year-old feud over ethnic prejudice, workers'
rights and murder morphed Thursday into a legal discussion over
due process and the definition of pardons, leading a state board
to postpone a decision on whether to clear the name of John
''Yellow Jack'' Donahoe.

A Donahoe heir and protectors of Irish heritage asked the board
to clear the reputed Molly Maguire of the murder charge that led
to his hanging in 1877. They told the board Donahoe should be
pardoned because he and the Molly Maguires did not receive fair
trials according to modern-day standards of due process.

''Nearly 130 years later … it is time to let the generations
before me rest in peace, the present remain in peace,'' said
Donahoe's great-great-granddaughter Margaret Juran, who filed the
pardon request.

But Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias and some family
members of Morgan Powell — the man Donahoe was convicted of
killing — opposed the posthumous pardon. Dobias said there is no
new proof of Donahoe's innocence and that granting pardons for
individuals tried under older standards of due process would
upend the state's criminal justice system.

''I am asking this board today to not rewrite history,'' Dobias

Dobias and Grainger Bowman, the attorney representing Juran, each
had 15 minutes to present their arguments before the four-member
board. The board then questioned the lawyers and Juran.

Donahoe was hanged in 1877 in Mauch Chunk, now Jim Thorpe, for
the 1871 killing of Powell, an assistant superintendent of the
Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Co. A bullet hit Powell in the chest
as he stepped outside a general store in Summit Hill. He died two
days later.

Donahoe said at the time that he didn't know Powell and had no
reason to kill him.

But prosecutors linked Powell to the 19th-century secret Irish
miners society known as the Molly Maguires. Between 1862 and
1875, the Molly Maguires fought other ethnic gangs and the
growing power of the Pennsylvania coal mining companies.

Twenty men identified as Molly Maguires were hanged in
Pennsylvania in the late 1870s after being convicted of murder,
often on questionable evidence.

Juran and Bowman said Donahoe was a victim of the era's anti-
Irish sentiment.

Bowman questioned the fairness of Donahoe's trial because no
jurors were Irish and because pre-trail media portrayed him as
guilty. ''Donahoe was denied due process,'' Bowman told the

Bowman said a 1970 pardon granted John J. ''Black Jack'' Kehoe by
the board and then-Gov. Milton J. Shapp set the precedent for his

At the request of Kehoe's great-grandson Joseph J. Wayne, Shapp
pardoned Kehoe, a reputed Molly Maguire executed in 1878 for the
1862 killing of mine foreman Frank W.S. Langdon in Audenried,
Carbon County.

Bowman said the Board of Pardons is the only venue available to
family members trying to clear Donahoe's name. ''This is a
perfectly appropriate place to be,'' he told reporters.

But Attorney General Tom Corbett questioned that assertion.
Pardons typically are granted as an act of mercy to those
admitting guilt, not to find innocence, Corbett said. Posthumous
pardons are extremely rare.

''I did not hear what we normally hear … [that] the individual
seeking pardon admits to committing the crime,'' Corbett said. He
then turned to Juran and gently said, ''You do not know whether
he did it or not.''

Corbett went on to tell Bowman: ''We do not sit here … as a court
of law.''

But board member Lt. Gov. Catherine Knoll appeared to favor Juran
by raising questions about the fairness of the trial.

Dobias argued that if a pardon is granted, it would reverberate
through the justice system. If the board applies existing due
process rules to old cases, he said, a future board could be
asked to pardon a criminal convicted before today's Miranda

Dobias pointed out that two other men also were convicted in
Powell's murder, two others were found not guilty and one was
acquitted. ''The evidence indicates the jurors deliberated
carefully in the cases of all [six] individuals,'' he said.

Bowman presented letters from Donahoe's relatives and some of
Powell's descendents in support of the pardon. But Dobias
submitted letters from other Powell descendents opposing the

Donahoe supporters, including nine members of the Ancient Order
of Hibernians wearing Irish flag-colored sashes and pins, filled
the hearing room.

Outside the Capitol, Zenos Frudakis, a Philadelphia artist who
designed a bronze sculpture depicting a Molly Maguire that will
be placed in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County, this year, stood in
the rain with a plastic version of the sculpture. Frudakis, whose
father was a miner, said he came in support of Donahoe.

''We're not looking for innocent or guilty,'' Ancient Order of
Hibernians member Tom Coughlin said, ''we're looking for them to
admit those trials were unfair and unjust to the Irish.''

The board does not have a deadline by which it must make a
decision. Its next meeting is April 6.

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