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March 28, 2006

Brian Higgins: Adams Off Terror List

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News About Ireland & The Irish

HC 03/28/06 Congressman: Gerry Adams Off Terror List
BB 03/28/06 'Nationalist Police Chief' Urged
BB 03/28/06 Troop Withdrawal Plan Published
BN 03/28/06 Ahern May Fly To US For Immigration Debate
UT 03/28/06 SF May Consider Proposals If They Lead To Power-Sharing
BN 03/28/06 PSNI Extends Taser Gun Consultation Period
BN 03/28/06 Ahern To Hold Talks With Northern Parties On Thursday
RT 03/28/06 False Alarm At Mcdowell Ranelagh Office
IT 03/29/06 President Visits Antrim School
IT 03/29/06 Opin: Letting Cars Rule Our World Vincent Browne
BB 03/28/06 Death Of NI 'Children's Champion'
PW 03/28/06 Warming The Pub, Drowsily
IT 03/29/06 Ahern To Press UK On Pardons For Shot Soldiers
IT 03/29/06 Shot At Dawn: 26 Irish Soldiers
IT 03/29/06 100th Birthday Payment Scheme Extended
IT 03/29/06 Statues To Be Unveiled To 1916 Signatories


March 28, 2006, 6:08PM

Congressman: Gerry Adams Off Terror List

By Devlin Barrett Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been removed
from the United States government's terror watch list, a
New York congressman said Tuesday.

Adams, who leads the IRA-linked party, was delayed at a
Washington airport on St. Patrick's Day because of security
concerns. Just hours earlier, he had been a guest of
President Bush at the White House.

Buffalo congressman Brian Higgins, a Democrat, and other
lawmakers complained to Transportation Security
Administration officials. Higgins said that during a
private meeting with TSA officials Tuesday, they told him
Adams was no longer on the list.

The lawmaker said it was still unclear which federal agency
had "nominated" Adams for placement on the list, but he is
determined to find out.

Because he was convicted for an Irish Republican Army-
related crime in the early 1970's, Adams requires a special
travel waiver when he travels to the United States.

"There's an agreement that in the event he travels in the
future between domestic point A and B that he be given
consideration, given the demands on his time and
attention," said Higgins.

The congressman is also pressing the agency to reveal what
other Sinn Fein leadership members are on the watch list,
and have them removed as well.

"This matter is not closed. I will persist until Sinn Fein
staff, those who have become instrumental in the movement
towards peace and the implementation of the Good Friday
Accords, are removed as well," said Higgins.


'Nationalist Police Chief' Urged

The next chairman of the NI Policing Board should be a
nationalist, the body's outgoing vice chairman has said.

However, Denis Bradley also said he looked forward to the
day when that would become a "non-issue".

He also expressed concerns about MI5 taking control of
intelligence gathering, fearing it would become "a force
within a force".

Mr Bradley also predicted that Sinn Fein would take its
seats on the board in the autumn.

"I leave the board with a regret that Sinn Fein have not
taken their places on the board, not because I disagree
with the politics Sinn Fein bring to bear on this issue,"
said Mr Bradley.

"I believe more than anybody else in the devolution of
justice and policing to an assembly, but I think that is
not alone achievable, but is now outlined in the
government's document that it has produced recently.

"I have not heard at this moment any great critique of that
from the Sinn Fein people."

On the issue of the chairman's post, the DUP's Ian Paisley
Junior said it should be left up to the board members to
elect a chairman.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood said: "The Policing Board has in
part been designed by shared leadership of, and shared
responsibility for, policing. This has been expressed in
many ways, particularly the joint role of Des Rea and Denis
Bradley as chair and vice chairs."

Mr Bradley was speaking on Tuesday after the current
board's final meeting.

The first public session of the new Policing Board will be
held on 3 May.

However, members will meet in private session to elect a
new chairman and vice chairman during the first week of

Current board chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said
"there is still work to be done".

"We are entering a new era, and the next Policing Board
will be responsible for building on the firm foundations
laid and establishing policing on an even wider community
basis," he said.

"Sinn Fein have not yet supported policing, but I hope that
once the politics are sorted, they will soon join with
those who have been committed to the future of policing
since day one."

Meanwhile, the board has extended the consultation period
over the introduction of Taser guns for the PSNI.

Concern about the proposed use of the Taser "stun gun" had
been expressed by the Northern Ireland Human Rights

The board had been expected to make a decision on the
introduction of the Taser on Tuesday.

It had been proposed that Tasers be made available on a
limited, pilot basis as a "less lethal alternative to the
use of firearms in one-to-one situations".

'Badly advised'

However, Sir Desmond said: "The Policing Board recognises
that the debate around the use of Taser, as with all less
lethal weaponry, is one of legitimate public interest and
that a decision on this matter should not be taken

He said board members agreed that the PSNI should undertake
"an equality screening exercise" on the impact of the
introduction of the weapons.

Earlier, Monica McWilliams of the Human Rights Commission
said not enough thought had been given to the impact of
Tasers on children or those with mental health problems.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said the Policing
Board would be badly advised to give them the go-ahead.

"We have to really ask some tough questions before we let
those weapons on the streets of Northern Ireland. We think
we have enough weapons here already without adding more to
the arsenal," he said.

However, Steven Ward, vice president of American-based
company Taser International, said they were non-lethal

"It delivers a small amount of electricity that makes a
person's muscles contract," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/28 15:30:42 GMT


Troop Withdrawal Plan Published

The Army has published a timetable for the withdrawal of
troops and the closure of bases in Northern Ireland.

At present there are just over 9,000 troops in the
province, but that will be reduced to no more than 5,000 by
1 August 2007.

The number of sites where troops are stationed will be
reduced to 14 from about 40 in the next year and more
watchtowers will be demolished.

The moves are part of the government's security
normalisation plans.

It is all part of the end of Operation Banner, the Army's
support role for the police during the Troubles.

It has been running for 35 years and is the longest
operation in British Army history.

It will end on 1 August next year and by then the Army
presence in Northern Ireland will have been radically

'Other significant bases'

Details of the numbers have been known for some time.
However, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram has announced
details of the timetable.

During the next 12 months, the five remaining watchtowers
in south Armagh will be demolished and the Army will also
be withdrawn from most police stations where they still
have a presence, including Crossmaglen.

Mahon Road barracks in Portadown, a base for the security
forces during the Drumcree standoffs, will be closed by

Other significant bases being closed as part of the process
include Bessbrook Mill in south Armagh.

Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun said the cut was overdue.

"The issue of demilitarisation is one where the British
government had clearly dragged its heels," she said.

"Post-July last year, after some negotiations with Sinn
Fein, there clearly was some progress.

"There is more work still to be done, and if this is part
of that, then we welcome that."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/28 12:55:53 GMT


Ahern May Fly To US For Immigration Debate

28/03/2006 - 18:29:14

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern may jet into
Washington next week in a last-ditch lobbying bid on US
immigration reform.

The Kennedy/McCain Bill, which would allow Irish illegals
to eventually remain in the US, passed through the Senate’s
Judiciary Committee yesterday and is due to be debated on
the floor of the House this week.

Mr Ahern said tonight: “It’s doing better than we expected.
Last night’s agreement represents a very significant and
positive development in the debate on the complex and
sensitive nature of immigration reform.

“President [George] Bush has also been supportive of the
general issue.”

The minister has visited the US several times since 2004
and his officials confirmed that he may make a 36-hour
stop-over next week to lobby Senators on the Kennedy/McCain

“If the minister feels that a final push is needed to pass
the Bill, then he will make the trip,” one official said.

Hundreds of thousands of US immigrants staged weekend
protests on immigration reform in Los Angles, Denver and
several other cities.

A five-member delegation from the Oireachtas Foreign
Affairs Committee, led by chairman Michael Woods, is also
visiting Washington this week on the issue.

The Kennedy/McCain legislation would allow the estimated
50,000 Irish illegals to stay in the US and work while
applying for a green card and eventual citizenship.

“This would mean that the undocumented would receive work
and travel authorisation, which would provide them with
greater protection in the workplace and allow them to
travel to and from the US without fear of being refused re-

“I know that this would be a great relief to them and to
their families.”

Mr Ahern reiterated that the Government sees the status of
Irish illegals in the US as a top priority and remains
actively involved on a daily basis with his department’s
Irish Abroad Unit.

“It is a matter that is raised in all contacts with US
political leaders on St Patrick’s Day and other occasions
in recent years.”

Mr Ahern also praised the work of the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform (ILIR), which received a start-up grant
of 30,000 from the Irish Foreign Affairs Department.

The Irish Abroad Unit within the department was continuing
to liaise with the ILIR on the issue.

Mr Ahern added: “The Irish have made a significant input
into the debate surrounding the total estimated 12 million
undocumented immigrants in the US.”


SF May Consider Proposals If They Lead To Power-Sharing

Sinn Fein will consider proposals for reviving devolution
in Northern Ireland if they plot a path back to fully-
inclusive power sharing, a senior party figure signalled

By:Press Association

As Northern Ireland`s politicians waited for Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern to publish their plan next month for reviving
the Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin said Sinn Fein would give
the two Prime Ministers` proposals proper consideration if
they were aimed at easing the Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic
Unionists into a power sharing government.

But he warned Sinn Fein was not interested in proposals
which indulged the DUP and would not lead to the full
restoration of power sharing institutions.

"If their proposals are about easing the DUP into a full
executive, then we will give them due consideration," the
Foyle Assembly member said.

"If we get a proposition which simply supports or concedes
ground to the DUP and opponents of the Good Friday
Agreement, then we are not interested.

"We would not touch it with a bargepole, not even a 40ft

Devolution has been suspended in Northern Ireland since
October 2002 amid unionist concerns over ongoing IRA
paramilitary and criminal activity.

Since then there have been three failed bids to revive the

There has also been a declaration from the IRA in July last
year that its armed campaign has ended and the completion
of its disarmament programme last September.

The two Prime Ministers are expected to outline their new
plan for reviving devolution during a visit to Northern
Ireland on April 6.

London and Dublin are believed to be considering a two-
phase approach to restoring power sharing.

The first bid to achieve devolution will take place in May
with the the Assembly`s 108 members being given six weeks
to form an executive.

If it becomes apparent that no executive can be formed, the
British Government may introduce legislation designed to
park the Assembly throughout the difficult summer marching

The two governments envisage the 108 Assembly members will
be recalled to Stormont in September and given a second and
final deadline in December to reach agreement on the
formation of an executive.

During the 14 to 16 week period, MLAs would be given work
to do through Assembly committees on controversial issues
such as the rates, water charges and education reform.

The Governments are believed to be considering pulling down
the shutters on devolution if no executive featuring the
DUP and Sinn Fein can be formed.

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter Robinson warned on
Friday his party would not be bound by any deadline the
governments set.

While the East Belfast MP acknowledged republicans had made
some progress over disarmament, he said the only factor
that would determine whether his party would get involved
in executive devolution would be if all parties were
committed to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

Sinn Fein, he said, would have to sever all ties to
criminality and paramilitarism.

Talks sources suggested today that Northern Ireland Office
minister David Hanson could announce two days before the
Prime Ministers` visit his plan for revitalising deprived
working class loyalist neighbourhoods.

Mr Hanson`s initiative is one of a series of measures,
including the recent £250 million package for Royal Irish
Regiment soldiers, designed to boost unionist confidence in
the peace process.


PSNI Extends Taser Gun Consultation Period

28/03/2006 - 15:32:42

The Northern Ireland Policing Board today extended the
consultation period over the introduction of 50,000-volt
Taser guns following pressure from human rights

Policing Board chairman Desmond Rea revealed that at a
private meeting the board had decided to ask Chief
Constable Hugh Orde to seek further opinion about his plans
to purchase 12 Taser guns.

Board members agreed that the Police Service of Northern
Ireland (PNSI) should undertake an equality screening
exercise on the impact of the introduction of the weapons
and to ensure that all groups were given a say on the
limited introduction of the guns.

They also committed the Board to seeking the views of human
rights advisers on the plan.

Earlier today Amnesty International claimed Tasers were
lethal weapons which could kill children, the disabled,
pregnant women and the mentally ill.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said: "Arming all
PSNI officers with a potentially lethal device that
delivers a 50,000 volt electric shock, causing the subject
to collapse in intolerable pain, would not be a wise or
welcome move."

SDLP Policing Board member Alex Attwood urged colleagues to
take more time to consider the plan.

Democratic Unionist Board member Ian Paisley Junior
supported the introduction of the weapon, arguing Tasers
were designed to protect the public from suspected


Ahern To Hold Talks With Northern Parties On Thursday

28/03/2006 - 19:27:21

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is to hold talks with the North's
political parties on Thursday in advance of a power-sharing
'roadmap' being unveiled by the British and Irish
governments next week.

Mr Ahern is expected to brief the Alliance Party, the SDLP
and Sinn Féin on the joint proposals at Government
Buildings in Dublin.

A government spokesperson confirmed tonight that separate
bilateral meetings with the parties were taking place on
Thursday afternoon.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP are vehemently opposed to any plans
for an interim Assembly and want the 1998 Good Friday
Agreement implemented in full.

The DUP has so far backed any temporary form of devolution
in place ahead of the possible formation of an executive.

It is believed that Mr Ahern and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair will announce their plans for an interim shadow
Assembly in Armagh city on April 6.

Speculation has mounted that they are considering recalling
the Assembly in May and giving the 108 MLAs a specific
deadline to form a power-sharing government.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair discussed their proposals on the
fringes of the European Council summit in Brussels last

Both leaders have repeatedly signalled that progress on the
restoration of the Assembly must be achieved in 2006.

The body was suspended in late 2002 following allegations
that Sinn Féin was operating a spy ring within Stormont.


False Alarm At Mcdowell Ranelagh Office

28 March 2006 19:50

A suspect package delivered to the south Dublin
constituency office of the Minister for Justice, Michael
McDowell, was declared safe earlier today.

Army spokesperson Commandant Brian Cleary said white powder
emanating from the package had been neutralised with a

A small sample was retained for forensic examination.

An explosive ordinance vehicle and armed soldiers attended
the scene in Ranelagh village at lunchtime.

The army said it had been alerted by gardaí that a suspect
package had been delivered in the post to the minister's


President Visits Antrim School

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, in Ballymena

President Mary McAleese yesterday paid her first official
visit to Ballymena, in the heart of the Rev Ian Paisley's
North Antrim constituency, where she fielded questions from
grammar school students about her views on Nazism and
unionism and whether a visit by Queen Elizabeth to the
South would trigger Love Ulster-style disturbances.

There was speculation that her controversial remarks last
year making comparisons between Nazism and Protestant
sectarianism would trigger protests over her visit to this
unionist-dominated town, often described as the buckle of
the North's Bible Belt.

However, no such pickets materialised when she arrived
yesterday afternoon at Ballymena Academy grammar school
where she addressed the sixth form's politics, history and
economics society. There were also suggestions that some of
the students would boycott the occasion, but a school
spokesman said there was a full attendance for the society
yesterday. In fact, he added, yesterday's attendance was
the biggest for a society event.

Other notables to speak at the school, which is the alma
mater of Sir Roger Casement, include Dr Paisley, John Hume
and PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde.

The school excluded the press from Mrs McAleese's address
and question and answer session with more than 100 sixth
formers, but her spokeswoman said the engagement was "very
frank and open".

© The Irish Times


Opin: Letting Cars Rule Our World Vincent Browne


Gabriel Byrne on Tubridy Tonight on Saturday mumbled about
the changes in Irish society in the last 15 years, changes
he could not quite define but which leave him feeling an
outsider, writes Vincent Browne.

There are obvious changes: the increased prosperity, so
evident all around the country, aside from the wastelands
of disadvantaged areas; the regeneration of the Dublin
quays; the huge construction projects undertaken in the
last decade, the roadways; the fall in unemployment,
immigration and the new Irelanders; the confidence that is
now so evident, as compared to 20 years ago when we began
to wonder if Southern Ireland, like Northern Ireland was
not also a "failed political entity"; the ending of the
Northern conflict and the peace dividend accruing from

But there is a sense that something has been lost along the
way. No, not that identity thing, I think, and anyway what
would that matter?

Aren't we as identifiably Irish as ever? Just observe the
passionate support for the Irish rugby and soccer teams.
Local identities seem to have strengthened also. The
enthusiasm for Munster rugby, the support for county GAA

So what is it?

I offer this observation tentatively. It is a sense of
local community.

A sense of knowing one's neighbours and being involved in
each others' lives. Of a strong sense of solidarity with
one's local community, being able to drop into neighbours'
houses unannounced, children running from home to home.
Knowing everyone in the locality and almost everything
about them.

Being part of the social and sporting clubs and
associations, the drama groups, the local church, if one
was a believer or even if not.

Oneself living as a community being, one's identify caught
up with being part of a community, not just an isolated
individual or part of a nuclear family.

I know there is a great deal of blarney talked about the
old days, and a lot about the old days was miserable and
terrible. There was child abuse on a scale most of us never
imagined and community solidarity did nothing to protect
against that, indeed it might have covered up for that.

There was snobbery and class consciousness that negated
much of that solidarity. Society was judgmental. But there
was a sense of neighbourliness. And I think what did most
to undermine that was the car.

Not just that the car allowed people to develop
associations outside their locality or enabled people to
"escape" their locality and what was oppressive about it.
But that society came to be shaped by the car. We began to
build our society around it.

The huge infrastructural projects nowadays are not schools
or hospitals or centres of culture or entertainment or
sport, they are roadways.

Roadways hewn out of our landscapes, changing it as nothing
has changed it for hundreds of years.

They have provided the opportunities for shopping centres,
dazzling but entirely anonymous.

They have encouraged the emergence of the commuter, people
living forty, fifty, sixty miles from their work and
spending hours every day commuting in enclosed steel
bubbles, cut off from everyone, including those immediately
surrounding them.

I think the car has changed people, made them more
individualistic, less socially minded. How otherwise can we
explain conduct on the roads that would never happen

I think, perhaps, this has had a political effect, people
concerned with themselves and relatively little with

Traffic is the ubiquitous topic of conversation, and maybe
the main political issue of our times.

That is aside from crime and accident and emergency
departments. And both crime and accident and emergencies
are directly related to the car.

The rise in criminality is associated in part by the
weakening of social ties and in part by the opportunities
for criminality which the car provides. A&E departments are
clogged by casualties from car accidents.

In an unthinking way we have allowed society to be changed
in ways I believe we would not have agreed to if asked at
the outset. But this did not occur by the discreet actions
of hundreds of thousands of individuals exercising their
free choice, we facilitated and encouraged this by building
motorways, bypasses, dual carriageways and huge car parks.
And worse, we made it necessary by building society around
the car.

The car initially offered extraordinary choice and freedom
to the select few who could afford one. But the flexibility
and freedom that was first available has now disappeared
due to the number of cars.

We travel now in many areas at a rate far slower than we
did twenty, fifty or even a hundred years ago. And to help
it all along, the Government has removed the Groceries
Order, which will propel further this descent into an
Orwellian future of life in a steel can.

© The Irish Times


Death Of NI 'Children's Champion'

The man who was chosen by young people to champion their
causes in Northern Ireland has died.

Nigel Williams, a father of four, was selected as Northern
Ireland's Commissioner for Children and Young People
(NICCY) in June 2003.

Among his achievements as commissioner were the completion
of a large investigation into vetting in Northern Ireland.

Mr Williams died on Tuesday at his home in Glenarm, County

Chief Executive of NICCY, Barney McNeany, who is currently
acting commissioner said: "Nigel battled long and hard
against this illness, continuing to contribute to the work
of NICCY despite often significant obstacles.

"We offer our sincere condolences to his wife, Heather, and
all his family.

"The staff of NICCY and his many friends here - in
particular the NICCY Youth Panel - will greatly miss his
inspiring leadership and vitality."

Prior to working with NICCY, Mr Williams, who is originally
from Limavady, founded the charity, Childnet International,
in 1995.


He was also a board member of the Internet Watch
Foundation, and of the Internet Content Rating Association
and was appointed by the Home Secretary in 2001 to the Task
Force on Child Protection on the Internet.

Secretary of State Peter Hain said he extended sincere
sympathy to the family of Mr Williams on behalf of the

"Nigel's appeal to children and young people was
immediately evident when those involved in his appointment
gave him an overwhelming seal of approval. He was a real
children's champion," he said.

"At one of my first meetings with the commissioner, his
enthusiasm, dedication and solid determination were

The NI divisional director of the National Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Ian Elliott,
said Northern Ireland had been "robbed of a great advocate
for children".

"Even though he has been in post for a limited period,
Nigel has achieved a great deal and has left a wonderful
legacy on which to build," Mr Elliott said.

Barnardo's NI director Lynda Wilson said: "The
commissioner's post was designed to be a champion for
children and there is no doubt that Nigel Williams took on
this role with great gusto and enthusiasm.

"It was also clear that he cared deeply about the rights of
children and young people and their right to be heard and a
fitting tribute to him will be that we all continue our
efforts to make sure that all children have a stake in our

Sinn Fein assembly member Sue Ramsey said: "Nigel brought
an energy and passion and a deep commitment to his work.

"His leadership will be sadly missed by everyone who had
the opportunity to work with him and I am sure that many,
many people will share this loss with his family."

DUP assembly member Arlene Foster said Mr Williams would be
"sadly missed".

"Nigel certainly brought a lot of energy to his post and
will be sadly missed by all who worked with him," she said.

"As a party, we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and
family at this difficult time."

Geraldine McAteer of the West Belfast Partnership said Mr
Williams would be remembered "as a champion for the rights
of all our children".

"His commitment and dedication to young people here was
remarkable, and our partnership is deeply saddened to hear
of his passing," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/28 13:12:06 GMT


The Dubliner

Warming The Pub, Drowsily

Dispatches from a writer living in Dublin.
by Katie Haegele

"C'mere. This is where we are," the bartender says,
pointing at a northern point on the map spread open on the
bar. The bartender is a small person in her 20s with laugh
lines and long hair like polished wood.

"And here's where you should go next." She swirls her
fingertip around on the space next to where we are. "That's
a place where they'll take ya out and ... " She mimes
elaborate hand clapping and foot tapping, bringing her knee
up waist high.

Weak winter sun is warming the pub drowsily, like my mom's
kitchen, like church. I dragged myself in here feeling the
deep, resonant kind of sad you get when you're a stranger
somewhere and you can't even remember what you're sad about
because you're so totally alone. One pint wouldn't hurt.

Michaela has already told me about her French boyfriend,
the fact that she's seen the Aurora Borealis four times,
and how her friends from the south call her Subtitles cause
they can't understand her accent. Now she's moving and
ducking behind the bar, nonstop motion.

"You're more energetic than I am, I'll tell you that," I
say. I've almost finished my one pint, and I'm already

"I'm a fookin' hellion is what I am," she corrects. "A
hell-yun." She lights a cigarette. No smoking ban in this
Ireland. "Another pint, Kee-yayteh?"

I peer down into my glass where it's quiet and have a
little moment with myself. It might not be wise to get rip-
roaring drunk in a strange city I've traveled to by myself
without bothering to tell anyone where I went. Oh wait! I
told Emily!

"Okay." Michaela smiles her approval. "Katie, girl, we're
gonna get you out there tonight. John, I've adopted Katie,"
she says as a guy pushes the door open, letting in a burst
of lemon yellow light.

"You're in for it now, Katie," John says, the corners of
his mouth turned up slightly. He has a book with him, the
same photo essay I looked at over mugs of tea in my B&B
last night. Black-and-whites of Derry on Bloody Sunday and
the nasty years that followed, of British soldiers
crouching in doorways with machine guns, of teenagers in
bellbottoms and gas masks.

"You guys are so much nicer than people in Dublin," I
announce with sudden real feeling. It comes out like a

"And we have much less reason to be," Michaela says,
eyebrows raised in the direction of John's book. "Now try
this. It's my latest recipe."

I get to work sipping a sloshy alcoholic milkshake through
a straw. Bailey's? I don't ask, I just drink, then slide
what's left down the bar to a smiling middle-aged woman and
a couple of quiet men.

At some point a dark not-Irish guy slings his leg over the
stool next to me. Michaela's boyfriend. They kiss quickly.

"Pint a stite?"

He looks confused. "Stite?"

"Stite," she says impatiently, pointing to the Guinness
tap. Stout.

The two of them have a halting conversation with the
performative air of people wanting to prove to themselves
that they get each other, and I think about the difficulty
I had, in the end, with my cross-cultural love affair, and
about the miscommunications that happen between two people
who think they're speaking the same language but find out
they aren't, and haven't been all along.

My stite and I have some more thoughts like this, and three
hours go by.

At 5 Michaela scoops up the anthill of coins I've piled on
the counter to pay for my drinks and drops them in the
register, pulls on her jacket and pulls her hair out from
under its collar, and in a good-natured tone, tells
everyone, "You're all a fookin' mess and a passel of no-
good hooligans, the lot a' ya. Not you, Deirdre. This place
is a kip, and Katie and I are off to find the real craic,
so we are."

I hoist myself off my seat stiffly and teeter on my feet,
like I'm the statue of myself being raised by ropes. I lift
a hand to the hooligans and follow Michaela out. When
someone adopts you, it's only polite to go along for the

Outside it's cool and darkening. There's a pleasant buzz in
the air, and I feel incongruously like we're going to a
bonfire on the beach rather than another bar.

But another bar it is. All of Michaela's friends are guys,
and they're doing rounds. Similarly, they take turns
chatting with me, like we're at a garden party and not a
pub, furnished with cast-off couches, that smells like a
men's room.

"I've been drinking all day!" I tell a dark-eyed boy with
fat cheeks like a cherub, clutching a fresh pint. I might
throw up.

He blinks. "We still haven't gone home from last night."
Then he announces he has a baby coming in three weeks.

"That's lovely," I tell him, thinking there are some
aspects of his parental situation that seem less than
lovely, but still. A baby.

"I would love to have a baby someday."

He hooks his thumb at the grubby green couch behind him and
grins, gives me a why-not shrug.

"Why wait?"

Michaela's boyfriend and John are there, then and they
stand over us, also gripping pints. My old friend John! Oh,
John has two pints, and one's for me! I sip it and smile up
at him. My face aches from smiling so much.

Then something conks me on the head and I wake up.

"You have company," says a guy on the green couch.

"Throw pillow," I joke weakly, reaching around for the one
that just conked me. The guy is sitting politely but, in
his altered state, a little too perfectly upright, like a
stuffed animal that's been propped up for its role as tea
party guest. He ashes onto the floor and smiles at me like

Gray light is starting to fill the bar-a new day. I feel
the kind of happy you feel when you're a stranger somewhere
and you can't even remember what you were sad about because
you're not alone at all.


Ahern To Press UK On Pardons For Shot Soldiers

Stephen Collins, Political Correspondent

The Government will continue to put pressure on Britain to
find a mechanism to pardon the 26 Irish soldiers who were
executed during the first World War for alleged dereliction
of duty, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern,
told the Seanad last night.

Speaking in a special debate on the issue, after the
publication of an Irish Government report into the
individual cases, Mr Ahern said there had been regular
contact with the British, and he hoped that there could be
a mutually-agreeable solution.

"While there are differences between ourselves and the
British government on the issues raised in the report, I am
of the view that the British government is cognisant of the
need to address this issue. In our contacts, they have made
clear they too are motivated by an enduring desire to ease
the pain and suffering of the families of all the 306 men
who were shot at dawn, including the 26 Irish cases that
were examined in our report," the Minister said.

"In its findings, the report described a military system of
justice which was seriously flawed, which appeared to
ignore clear evidence of medical afflictions and which was
marked by class bias and a disparity in the treatment of
different nationalities including, in particular, Irish

Mr Ahern said that the report was not an attempt to rewrite
history or to impose today's norms on the past, but the
reality was that the manner in which the men had been tried
and found guilty was the subject of controversy and concern
at the time.

In response to that campaign, the British parliament
decided in 1930 that the offences should no longer carry
the death penalty.

"This is a very important issue, in particular for the
families of those unjustly executed. This year we mark the
90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the
Somme," Mr Ahern continued. "For too long, the experiences
of the Irish men who fought in the first World War and the
losses suffered by their families were not talked about and
commemorated as they deserved."

© The Irish Times


Shot At Dawn: 26 Irish Soldiers


The cases of the 26 Irish soldiers serving in the British
Army who were executed in the First World War were set out
in a recent report released yesterday by the Department of
Foreign Affairs.

Private A Smythe
1st Irish Guards
Executed on January 28th, 1915

Charged with deserting when on active service in France on
November 1st, 1914. Military police found him in a barn on
January 15th. He said that on the evening of November 1st
his battalion was under heavy shell fire and he volunteered
to go and help carry wounded men back to dressing stations.
After walking for most of the night he met some French
troops but they could not help him with the whereabouts of
any British troops. He was only resting at the farm, and
planned to leave that night. "I had no intention of
deserting, I had a complete set of equipment."

Private T Cummings
1st Irish Guards
Executed on January 28, 1915.

Charged with deserting November 6th, 1914. Apprehended with
Smythe on 15th January 1915. On November 7th Cummings was
one of the many of the 1st Irish Guards absent from roll
call after heavy fighting. Cummings stated that during the
fighting he became separated from the rest of the men and
lost his way. He met a group of French troops and stayed
with them for some time while attempting to locate his
battalion. The day before being apprehended he heard that
there may be Irish Guards in La Bassee and was intending to
go there to find them.

Private T Hope
2nd Leinster Regiment
Executed March 2nd, 1915.

On February 14th, 1915 Pte Hope was charged with deserting
his majesty's service, drunkenness and conduct prejudice to
good conduct and military discipline. On February 9th, 1915
Pte Hope was arrested when drunk, wearing a police badge
and when asked for his name provided Lance Cpl Stout. In
his defence Pte Hope stated that on the night of December
23rd, 1914, he was very upset owing to the news of the
death of two of his brothers. "I had no intention of going
absent when I left the trenches. It was a sudden impulse".
He said he had by mistake entered German trenches later
that night where he was kept some days before being taken
to Lille. During an attack he managed to escape and got
into the French trenches where he stayed for some days
before moving on and trying to find his own regiment.

Driver J Bell
57th Battery Royal Field Artillery
Executed on April 25th, 1915

Driver Bell was charged with three counts of desertion. The
prosecution alleged that on October 20th, 1914, both Bell
and his associate Wilkinson were ordered to march with a
dismounted party. On arriving at billets that evening both
men were reported absent, and not seen again by their
battery until February 10th. In his defence Driver Bell
stated that on October 20th, 1914, he had asked to fall
out, which was granted, and upon returning 10 minutes later
he found the battery had moved on without him.

Private T Davis
1st Royal Munster Fusiliers
Executed on July 2nd, 1915.

Charge of quitting his post without permission on June
22nd, 1915. Disappeared while on sentry duty. Pte Davis
stated that around 2.15am he got a bad cramp in his stomach
and had to visit the latrine. He was there about two hours
and upon leaving had another attack and had to return.

Lance Corporal P Sands
1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles
Executed on September 15th, 1915.

Sands was granted 4 days leave from his Battalion in France
on February 26th, 1915, but did not return on 1st March as
arranged. He was subsequently arrested in Belfast on July
7th, 1915. Sands said he reported to Belfast Depot on March
2nd, 1915 as he had lost his warrant card and could not
return to France without a new one. He spoke to a corporal
who was unable to help, so he then went back home.

Private J Graham
2nd Battalion Royal
Munster Fusiliers
Executed on December 21st, 1915.

On December 9th, 1915 Pte Graham was present with his
battalion in the trenches at Cuichy, but that he was absent
from his company from January 26th until the following
November. Apprehended in Bethune on November 20th following
an altercation in a brothel.

Private P Downey
6 Leinster Regiment
Executed on December 27th, 1915

At Salonica, Greece, on December 1st, 1915, it was alleged
that Pte Downey had refused to fall in when ordered, and
refused to put on his helmet when ordered. With a history
of minor insubordination and pleading guilty to the charge,
Downey was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Rifleman J Crozier
9th Royal Irish Rifles
Executed on February 27th, 1916

It was alleged that on January 31st, at 9pm Rifleman
Crozier was found to be absent from the trenches. He was
apprehended on February 4th, when walking aimlessly around
without his identification or pay book. In his defence
Rifleman Crozier stated that on January 31st, he went into
the front line trenches with his platoon and was feeling
very unwell, with pains all over his body.

Rifleman J.F McCracken
15th Royal Irish Rifles
Executed March 19th, 1916.

On February 21st, 1916, McCracken was told to be ready for
duty in the trenches with his platoon but later that day
could not be found. He gave himself up a few miles away the
same night. In his defence Rifleman McCracken stated that
he had only just came out of hospital and was not feeling
fit enough for duty in the trenches.

Rifleman J Templeton
15 Royal Irish Rifles
Executed March 19th, 1916.

Evidence heard that on February 20th the 15th battalion
were told that they were to proceed to the trenches later
that day, and Templeton himself was told that he would be
on sentry duty on arrival. At the 9pm parade Rifleman
Templeton could not be found. Three days later he gave
himself up to an officer behind the lines. He offered no
defence, and simply stated "I am sorry for what I have

Private J Cassidy
1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Executed July 23rd, 1916.

Went missing on June 24th, 1916. On June 30th, Pte Cassidy
was apprehended by the French authorities and handed over
to the British military police. In his defence Pte Cassidy
stated that on the morning he went missing he went to the
latrine and while there a shell exploded beside him,
covering him with clay. He got nerve shock and for a couple
of days he wandered around dazed before being picked up by
the French.

Private J Carey
8th Royal Irish Fusiliers
Executed September 15th, 1916.

Charged with two counts of deserting. Alleged on June 14th,
he absented himself until June 15th and on June 20th, 1916,
after being told to parade for the trenches, he absented
himself until apprehended on June 21st,. In his defence at
courts-martial Pte Carey stated: "I lose my head in the
trenches at times, and I do not know what I am doing at
all. My family is afflicted the same way. My father
committed suicide over it. My brother's death in the
Phoenix Park five years ago on March 17th, 1911, was due to
the same thing".

Driver J Mullany
72nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery
Executed on October 3rd, 1916.

Mullany was alleged to have knocked a Sgt Major to the
ground and punched him when they fell. The two men were
pulled apart but Mullany again went toward his superior
hitting him and knocking him to the ground again. Mullany
stated that he did not strike the Sgt Major, but that they
had confronted each other and ended up tumbling to the

Private B McGeehan
1/8 (Irish) King's Liverpool
Executed on November 2nd, 1916.

On October 21st, 1916, it was alleged that McGeehan had
gone absent on the night of September 19th. Apprehended
five days later near Montreuil when looking for food and
water. In his defence McGeehan said that ever since he had
been in France (18 months) the other men had picked on him
and made fun of him. He didn't know what he was doing when
he went absent.

Rifleman S McBride
Royal Irish Rifles
Executed December 7th, 1916.

Charged with desertion while serving on Vimy Ridge between
May 15-17th. The court heard that during the time that they
were positioned on Vimy Ridge they had been subjected to
heavy and sustained shelling with McBride's platoon
suffering severely, especially from trench mortars. McBride
was subsequently apprehended on September 17th near

Private A Hamilton
14th Battalion Durham Light Infantry
Executed March 27th, 1917.

Alleged that on the morning of February 8th, 1917, Pte
Hamilton left his position in the trenches and was absent
from his scheduled duty later that day. When questioned at
Calais he had no army book in his possession, and that he
had given a false name. Pte Hamilton stated that he had
left to go to the dressing station. He had been attending
the doctor for some time previous suffering from trench
foot and bronchitis and did not feel fit for duty.

Private T Murphy (aka T Hogan)
2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Executed on May 14th, 1917.

Alleged that he had on March 17th, 1917, willingly deserted
subsequent to being told to be ready to move forward that

Pte Murphy was apprehended on April 3rd, 1917, and in his
defence stated that he thought his platoon were staying in
a dugout for the night, and he had not known they were
readying to move forward.

He had gone to look for wood to make tea, had become lost
in the trenches. He eventually found himself in a village,
where he was later discovered in a dishevelled state.

Private J Wishart
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Executed on June 15th, 1917.

Charged with two counts of desertion. On March 31st at
Hazebrouck he absented himself and was apprehended in
Boulogne on April 20th. On April 30th, he again absented
himself and was again apprehended in Boulogne on May 11th.

In his defence, Wishart said that in December 1916 he
received a telegram from his wife who told him that their
child was ill. He applied for leave to return home but was
refused and as time passed and he received no further
information from home he became more worried. "It was only
worrying about my child that made me absent myself. It was
not through cowardice."

Private J Hepple (aka R Hope)
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Sentenced to death but no confirmation of decision.

Allegedly went absent on January 21st, 1917, following an
order for his company to proceed to the trenches. Pte
Hepple was arrested in an abandoned house on May 1st, 1917.
In his defence Hepple made no statement other than saying
that when found he was attempting to rejoin his battalion.

Private M Monaghan (aka S Byrne)
1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Executed on October 28, 1917.

Charged with wilfully absenting himself to avoid service in
the front line on August 5th, and also with escaping
following his arrest on September 22nd. In his defence he
stated that on the morning of August 5th he had felt very
unwell with rheumatic pains in his head and feeling very
cold and ill, he lay down in a hedge and slept.

When he awoke he found his battalion had left, so he
wandered around looking for them, afraid to report himself
for fear of what may happen.

The accused was found on September 9th by the French.

Private G Hanna
1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers
Executed on November 6th, 1917.

It was alleged that on September 28th, Private Hanna went
missing when his unit was moved to the trenches.
Apprehended two days later when asking for food.

In his defence Private Hanna stated that he had no
intention of deserting - he had been on service for three
years, and had lost three brothers in that time to the war.

His last leave was in December 1914 and he had since heard
from his sister in Belfast who was not well. He absented
himself because he was upset at not being able to go and
see "his people".

Private J Seymour
2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Executed on January 24th, 1918.

Alleged that on the morning of November 27th, 1917, the
accused went absent after being informed that the platoon
were forming up into the line.

Pte Seymour was arrested in a YMCA hut on December 28th,
1917. In his defence Pte Seymour stated that on the night
of November 26th, 1917, he was sent to get some rations.
Along the way he met some men who gave him some rum.

The next morning he woke up about three kilometres from his
last position and tried to find his regiment but failed to
do so.

Private B O'Connell
1st Battalion Irish Guards
Executed on August 8th, 1918.

Alleged that on July 7th, 1918, Pte O'Connell was noted as
absent during the evening roll call. In his defence he
stated that he was unaware his battalion was going on into
the front line, and left to find a woman in one of the
surrounding villages.

As he was unable to read or write, he stated that he was
unaware of the seriousness of his offence, and had intended
to return to his battalion.

Private P Murphy
47th Battalion Machine Gun Corps
Executed on September 12th, 1918

On July 31st, 1918, the accused absented himself until his
arrest on August 12th. Shells had landed near the position
of the working party before Pte Murphy disappeared.

During the court-martial the accused did not make any
statement, was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Private James H. Wilson

He fought with Canadian forces. His case file has been
reported as lost by the Canadian authorities.

© The Irish Times


100th Birthday Payment Scheme Extended

Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

The Government has agreed to extend the €2,500
"Centenarians' Bounty" to all Irish citizens born in the
State who reach their 100th birthday, no matter where they
now live.

A working group has been set up to consider how to
administer the payments, currently made only to centenarian
citizens born in Ireland who reside here.

The Cabinet decided to extend the payment yesterday, after
hearing that it may almost quadruple the number of people
receiving it each year.

At present, an average of 160 people receive the money each
year at a cost of some €400,000. When extended to
emigrants, the Department of Social Welfare estimates that
450 to 600 people will receive this money each year at a
cost of up to €1.5 million.

The Taoiseach yesterday described the tradition of paying
this sum to those reaching 100 years of age as not just a
practical gesture, but a token of regard. "Over the past
decades, hundreds of thousands of our people emigrated out
of economic necessity," he said.

After yesterday's Cabinet decision, Bertie Ahern said that
not only did those emigrants make a huge contribution to
their adopted countries, but many also continued to
contribute to their families in Ireland by sending money

Describing the bounty as a token of regard, Mr Ahern said:
"It is appropriate therefore that this regard should be
extended equally to Irish people wherever they are in the

"At a time in life for older emigrants when friends and
family in Ireland may no longer be as numerous as they once
were, it is a fitting gesture that the State should
acknowledge their 100th birthday."

© The Irish Times


Statues To Be Unveiled To 1916 Signatories

Marie O'Halloran

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea is to unveil statues to
each of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation as
part of the 90th anniversary commemorations of the Rising.

Mr O'Dea was announcing details of a €22 million budget for
capital projects for the Defence Forces this year.

Some €64 million was spent between 2000 and 2005. During
the announcement he told the Dáil he would unveil the
monuments at the Curragh.

Pat Carey (FF, Dublin North West), who asked if there were
any measures to commemorate 1916, said seven barracks at
the Curragh were named after the signatories of the 1916

He welcomed the capital investment "because there was a
period in which the Defence Forces had been starved of it".

"While many of the barracks in which members of the Defence
Forces were housed were fine architecturally, they were
from another era."

The investment includes the upgrading of the NCO (non-
commissioned officers) school; accommodation refurbishment
at Cathal Brugha barracks, Dublin; and upgrades at Collins
barracks in Cork and Sarsfield barracks in Limerick.

Fine Gael's defence spokesman Billy Timmins said "the
mental telepathy on the monuments for the signatories of
the 1916 Proclamation shows a Government on song and in
tune with its backbenchers".

He asked how much of the investment was from the sale of
Defence Force properties, and said it would "save the
Exchequer several million euro" if available State land at
the Curragh was used for new headquarters rather than
acquiring expensive land at Newbridge. Mr O'Dea said they
"have almost run out of money" from property sales, and the
capital now was "money I have managed to wrest away from
the Department of Finance".

He said they had gone a "considerable distance" towards
purchasing land in Newbridge.

Earlier he told Maire Hoctor (FF, Tipperary North) he
expected to have the military authorities' report on the
possibility of reducing the minimum height requirement by
June 1st.

He said other issues such as bullying and the perception
women have of army life were factors when it came to
improving female representation.

© The Irish Times

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