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March 27, 2006

Dail Group To Lobby US On Immigration Bill

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 03/27/06 Dáil Group To Lobby US Politicians On Immigration Bill
RT 03/27/06 US Senate To Debate Immigration Reform
BT 03/27/06 Assembly Plan Not On, Say Parties
BT 03/27/06 DUP Hits Back At Failure Blast By Sir Reg
BT 03/27/06 UUP Must Halt Fall In Numbers Or Face Oblivion
BT 03/27/06 Martin Ingram In Mole Query For SF
BB 03/27/06 Legal System Is Undergoing Revamp
NH 03/27/06 Denis Donaldson — Squalid Living After A Life Of Lies
BT 03/27/06 Call To End SF Use Of 'Oglaigh' Title
FT 03/27/06 US Pursues Former IRA Chief Over Forged Dollars
IT 03/27/06 Masked Man Fires 20 Shots At Drug Dealers In Car Chase
BT 03/27/06 Blair: I Was Wrong To Reveal My Retirement Plan
WT 03/27/06 Opin: Teddy's Terrorist Loophole
EX 03/27/06 Drinks W/ Steve Collins, Sligo Scenery On Tysons Itinerary
IT 03/27/06 Rolling Stones Not Dublin-Bound, Court Hears
BT 03/27/06 Lads' Mags Banished To The Top Shelf
BT 03/27/06 David Norris: Pope's Stance On Gays 'Like Hitler'
BT 03/27/06 Lincoln: The Conspiracy
BT 03/27/06 It's Easier Being A Jew In Belfast Than LA
BG 03/27/06 Eugene O’Neil - A Playwright Who Paid The Ultimate Price


Dáil Group To Lobby US Politicians On Immigration Bill

27/03/2006 - 09:29:23

A delegation of TDs and Senators is due to depart for
Washington DC today as part of an ongoing campaign to seek
an amnesty for illegal Irish immigrants in the US.

The delegation from the Oireachtas foreign affairs
committee will be meeting with US politicians and
organisations representing the illegal Irish during the

The group will be seeking to drum up local support for a
bill that would allow all illegal immigrants to regularise
their status and receive a green card within six years.

Irish politicians have been lobbying in favour of the
legislation for some time and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern,
raised the matter with President George W Bush on St
Patrick's Day.

Up to 50,000 Irish emigrants are believed to be living and
working illegally in the United States without any

Many have put down roots, but risk being deported at any
time or denied the chance to return to the US should they
ever decide to visit their homeland in Ireland.


US Senate To Debate Immigration Reform

27 March 2006 10:44

The US Senate will debate legislation on immigration reform
this week.

It follows a weekend of demonstrations by thousands of
illegal immigrants across the US.

There are estimated to be upwards of 12 million
undocumented people in the United States, including up to
50,000 Irish people.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to produce
legislation on immigration reform that will be debated
later in the week on the Senate floor.

It is expected to mirror proposals by the US President,
George W Bush, for a guest worker programme.

This proposal has been criticised by opponents because it
does not allow a path to citizenship and could create a new

The McCain Kennedy Bill favoured by the Irish Government
would allow people to stay in the US and work while
applying for a green card. It also involves paying a fine.

The leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Bill Frist,
said he intends to introduce separate legislation that will
tighten border controls.

Even if the Senate is successful in passing legislation, it
must reach a compromise with a bill passed by the House of
Representatives in December that makes illegal immigration
a crime.

The debate is expected to last for at least two weeks.


Assembly Plan Not On, Say Parties

By Noel McAdam
27 March 2006

Sinn Fein and the SDLP have warned the British and Irish
governments they will not accept any 'shadow' form of

As Secretary of State Peter Hain warned that the political
process is reaching "crunch time", the main republican and
nationalist parties criticised the blueprint which is
believed to involve a two-phase partial restoration of the
Assembly later this year.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are expected to unveil their
proposal next week which could see a six-week recall of the
Assembly around June.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams warned that his party would
not support any proposals which amounted to a "repackaging"
of the concept of the so-called 'shadow' Assembly.

The SDLP urged the Governments to go all the way to "real"


DUP Hits Back At Failure Blast By Sir Reg

By Noel McAdam
27 March 2006

The DUP has hit back after a verbal onslaught from Ulster
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey.

He told his party's annual meeting that after eight years
of claiming to have the answers, the DUP had "stopped
nothing, changed nothing and delivered nothing".

"Not a Fair Deal. Not a Fairer Deal. Not a Fairly Similar
Deal. Not even a Fairytale Deal," he said.

But DUP MP Sammy Wilson said for Sir Reg to call his party
failures really was "hypocrisy of the highest order".

"His attempt to escape from past poor judgment and distance
himself from the catalogue of political surrenders to Sinn
Fein/IRA will be treated with the credibility it deserves,"
the East Antrim MP added.

"The history of the past eight years is plagued by the
mistakes of the Ulster Unionist Party. On every major issue
over the last eight years the UUP have been proved wrong
and the DUP analysis has been vindicated.

"Even yet the UUP has not learned its lesson with its
insistence that the Belfast Agreement is the best way


UUP Must Halt Fall In Numbers Or Face Oblivion, President

By Noel McAdam
27 March 2006

The Ulster Unionists' new president has bluntly told the
party that it faces oblivion if it continues to lose

And veteran member John White also warned the party it must
not allow the "big personalities" to derail it.

The 75-year-old grandfather, who takes over the senior
position from Lord Rogan, insisted internal bickering must
stop and demanded greater transparency in party
organisation, particularly on finance.

The decision of Lord Rogan to stand aside, avoiding a
contest, took many at the party's weekend annual general
meeting by surprise - including Mr White, who served as a
councillor for 30 years.

"I was totally unaware of it," he said. Other party members
suggested any vote could have been portrayed as a pro or
anti-Good Friday Agreement split.

Sir Reg Empey, facing his first AGM as leader, also said
Lord Rogan is increasingly involved with House of Lords

While regarded as largely a figurehead, the UU president
also plays a key role in presiding over meetings of the
party executive and officer team meetings.

A former mayor of Coleraine, Mr White said for Northern
Ireland to survive and prosper the UUP must regain its
position as the largest political entity.

"We must stop the internal bickering," he said in a letter
to delegates. "We must not allow the big personalities to
de-rail the party.

"We must treat those who have the courage to voice their
concerns with respect and we must recognise that if we
continue to lose members, we face oblivion," he said.

Speaking after the result, Mr White said his message was:
"If we're not on the same hymn sheet, don't sing."

And he denied that with the party targeting younger
recruits - especially people in the 35-55 age bracket -
that he is too old for the post.

"I thought long and hard about standing for office. I
decided I never wanted to see the challenge as the fight to
the last drop of someone else's blood," he said.

"One issue convinced me to take the plunge. At recent
meetings of the executive we have discussed, with some
difficulty, the need for greater transparency in our
financial affairs. Such a development would greatly assist
our decision-making."

As a chemist before retirement, Mr White led a campaign in
1983 to raise £1.7m to enable the independent pharmacists
in Northern Ireland to buy their own wholesale company. He
was later elected chairman of Alchem PLC which had a
turnover by 1992 of £130m.

Party officers argued Mr White's appointment and the
election of newcomer Terence Wright to the officers team
represented a victory for "progressive elements" in the


Martin Ingram In Mole Query For SF

Army agent says SF must face mole issue

By Michael McHugh
27 March 2006

A British Army whistleblower who worked for an organisation
allegedly connected to the murder of Pat Finucane has
challenged Sinn Fein to come clean on IRA informers.

Writing in an online discussion site, the agent handler
known as Martin Ingram warned the subject of collusion is
potentially explosive for the leaders of mainstream

Mr Ingram was a former agent handler at the Force Research
Unit, a branch of the Army charged with dealing with agents
and intelligence and linked with the February 1989 Finucane

In an article in the Blanket, a site edited by left wing
republican Anthony McIntyre, Mr Ingram said the unmasking
of high profile republican Denis Donaldson as an informer
came as a shock to supporters of Sinn Fein.

"The issue of informers within the movement is a real one
and the grassroots want answers to the many questions being
posed by supporters," he said.

"This subject, if left unchecked, is explosive, and when
the truth finally emerges it will be thanks largely to
those like myself who want to see victims given closure and
have a desire to see a United Ireland.

"If Sinn Fein does not deal with the issues of infiltration
and collusion among IRA/SF ranks, it has the potential to
reward the British and its agents who murdered almost at

Mr Ingram rose to prominence after claiming somebody from
FRU fed information to loyalist killers in 1987 to divert
them from targeting a high-level mole known as Stakeknife.

Francisco Notorantonio, an old republican who had not been
involved in the IRA since the 1940s, was killed by gunmen
using the information.

"It would be easy to argue that the (republican) movement
are not interested in this subject but we all know this is
not true," Mr Ingram added.

"Can you imagine the British Labour party not wanting to
discuss at a party conference the impact of, say, Alistair
Campbell being exposed as a Soviet spy for over twenty
years? Of course they would!

"So why would Sinn Fein not want to debate and learn from
its past mistakes; after all, this is what normal political
parties do."

Mr Ingram also exposed west Belfast republican Freddie
Scappaticci as Stakeknife. Scappaticci had allegedly been
the head of internal security for the IRA.

He quit his west Belfast home following newspaper
allegations in May 2003, and has since denied the claims.


Legal System Is Undergoing Revamp

The legal system in Northern Ireland is undergoing a major

The Public Prosecution Service is opening its first office
outside Belfast on Monday - in Lisburn - and unveiling a
first regional prosecutor.

The director of the service, Sir Alisdair Fraser, said it
was all part of a radical shake-up aimed at making the
service more open and accountable.

Sir Alisdair told the BBC it was important for the service
to get its message out to the community.

"There will be groups which we will target - young people
for example, people from the ethnic minorities and their

"And begin a dialogue so the community understands what we
do and we are receptive to their concerns," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/27 07:22:49 GMT


Denis Donaldson — Squalid Living After A Life Of Lies

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

Denis Donaldson was always dapper, with his trendy shirts
and jackets, and cheeky confidence. Only three months ago,
he strolled Stormont's marbled corridors as though he owned

It was a pathetic shadow of a man who Sunday World found
last weekend outside the rundown Donegal cottage he now
calls home. Nobody expected him to have been leading the
high-life since his unveiling as a British spy.

But this was a shock. The top Shinner, once entertained in
the White House, living in a pre-Famine hovel with no
electricity or running water. Unshaven, thin and raggedy
dressed, here was a man whose world had collapsed.

Journalist Hugh Jordan offered to take him for lunch or a
pint. Donaldson declined. How many pubs or restaurants
would want his custom? Most people would wish him no
physical harm but few would look him in the eye without

The informer, even by those implacably opposed to
paramilitary violence and the whole idea of 'armed
struggle', is still regarded as low-life in Irish society.
The feelings of republican grassroots are understandable
but, technically, Donaldson should be feted in some

For over two decades, he loyally served the Crown. Yet ask
any senior police officer, British Army officer or British
government official in the North if they admire him, and
there'd be silence.

Donaldson should be a hero to unionists. He was the hidden
enemy within their greatest enemy. His contribution to the
IRA's defeat was worth a thousand rants from the Rev Ian
Paisley. Yet had Donaldson arrived at the DUP's annual
conference last month, he'd have been chased.

An idealistic view of informers has them as brave, noble
individuals. But those senior figures who turn informer are
usually driven by one factor alone – money. It isn't always
their original reason for informing, but it's what keeps
them at it. How many have ever given their services free?
It's not just covering expenses: big bucks are made at the
top of the spying game.

Few inform for ideological reasons. A paramilitary with a
genuine change of heart could simply leave the
organisation. If they felt they wanted to do something to
save lives, they'd ring the police confidential telephone
line and relay what they knew. Then, they'd walk away.

Being an informer is poisonous. We all lie about something
to somebody at some stage of our lives – to our partners,
friends, bosses, or neighbours. But an informer lies to
everybody about everything, 24/7. Their entire life is a
lie. What child grows up dreaming of becoming an informer?

Low-level informers are often vulnerable people who are
either struggling financially or are being blackmailed by
Special Branch. Caroline Moreland, 34, shot dead by the IRA
in 1994, had been allegedly passing on information for £50
and £100 a week.

Donaldson was in a different league to a naïve West Belfast
single mother-of-three. There's a rumour he was recruited
after being caught shop-lifting from Marks-and-Spencer.
Even if that's true, he was too smart and wily to allow
himself to be coerced into spying for 20 years over a minor

And he wasn't a troubled soul. He enjoyed the women, the
craic, and the access to the corridors of power his role in
Sinn Féin gave him. He could look at the photo of himself,
with his arm around Bobby Sands, and not flinch. Maybe it
was a game he got kicks out of: 'See how clever I am, the
spider in the web, controlling them all!'

Informers undoubtedly save lives. Plenty have taken life

Ex-IRA internal security head, Freddie Scapatticci, joked
about murders. Portadown IRA man Gregory Burns gave
information which led to his own brother's death in an RUC
shoot-to-kill operation in 1982. Even after that, he
continued spying, and later killed his girlfriend, Margaret
Perry, for knowing too much.

When questioned by Sunday World, Donaldson stuck to the
nonsensical Sinn Féin line that there was no spy-ring at
Stormont. Clearly, he's done a deal with the Provos:
staying alive in exchange for parroting propaganda.

But where are the hundreds of thousands of pounds the Brits
paid him over the years? He can't have spent it all, and it
seems strange he'd live in a hovel if he'd loads of cash.
Maybe P O'Neill demanded his bank account be swollen by
some MI5 money?

Sources say Donaldson's wife hasn't disowned him and visits
the cottage. Some informers are airbrushed out of their
family history but Donaldson hasn't been. The couple's
Belfast home has just gone on the market so they might be
planning a new life. Scapatticci lives in rural Italy.

Thankfully, the wider Donaldson and Scapatticci clans have
been let live peacefully in West Belfast. That's in
contrast to the extended Notorantonio family, who have been
held collectively guilty for the criminal actions of
individual family members, and have endured dozens of
petrol bomb attacks on their homes. It proves there's no
such thing as 'spontaneous' community violence in West

Sinn Féin has been no better than the British in offering
transparency on collusion. Scap and Donaldson were both
debriefed at length but the leadership has refused to
inform their base of the facts, despite the fact that Scap
sent 'innocent' IRA men to their death as informers.

In ruthless, darker days, Scap and Donaldson would be dead
themselves. Instead, they now exist in a purgatory from
which there is no redemption.

Working-class nationalist Belfast maintains a strong hold
on its inhabitants. Aged 16, Scapatticci was chosen to
train for Nottingham Forest football club. Three weeks
later, he returned to Belfast homesick. How he must miss
his old haunts.

Scap and Donaldson loved money, but they would surely
exchange everything they've ever earned to come home with
heads held high. That's something they won't ever be able
to buy.

March 27, 2006


Call To End SF Use Of 'Oglaigh' Title

By Tom Brady
27 March 2006

The Irish government has called on Sinn Fein to end its
misuse of the title, Oglaigh na h-Eireann, after party
teeshirts with the name were worn by some of the thugs who
took part in the Love Ulster riots in the centre of Dublin.

The Republic's Defence Minister Willie O'Dea has written
three letters to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams to point
out that, by law, the Defence Forces is the only legitimate
Army in this State and it alone can call itself Oglaigh na

Mr Adams has acknowledged the letters but did not make a
response while similar requests by the minister to the Sinn
Fein leader in the Dail, Caoimhghin O Caolain have been

Last night, the minister described Mr Adams' silence as
further evidence of the contempt he and Sinn Fein held for
the Defence Forces.

The teeshirts are sold by Sinn Fein in their shops and
through the internet.

Mr O'Dea said: "The Provisionals continue to use and abuse
the title, Oglaigh na hEireann, to line their pockets and
fund their political purposes.

"The legacy of 1916 is not a commodity for sale by anyone,
least of all by the provisionals," he added.

The issue will be raised in the Dail this week by Fianna
Fail's Dublin TD Charlie O'Connor.


US Pursues Former IRA Chief Over Forged Dollars

By Demetri Sevastopuloin Washington

Published: March 27 2006 03:00 Last updated: March 27
2006 03:00

The US is to seek the extradition of Sean Garland,
president of the Irish Workers party, who has been indicted
in the US on charges of trafficking North Korean-
counterfeited $100 bills in Europe, Russia and former
Soviet states.

Mr Garland, 72, the former chief of staff of the official
IRA, was arrested in Belfast last year on a US warrant
after a 16-year investigation.

The fake dollar bills - known as "supernotes" because of
their high quality - started to appear around the world in
1989. But after being released on bail, Mr Garland fled to
the Republic of Ireland to escape extradition.

A State Department official told the Financial Times that
Washington planned to formally ask Ireland to extradite Mr
Garland, although the official declined to comment on the
timing. The US attorney for Washington DC and Justice
Department declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Workers party declined to make Mr
Garland available for comment, but directed inquiries to a
website, ( ), which says: "He has been a
militant and committed political activist all his life. He
has never been involved in any type of criminal activity.
For most of his life he has sought political change through
democratic means."

The US attorney accuses him of operating a "years-long
scheme to obtain, transport, sell, and pass as genuine,
highly deceptive counterfeit $100 [bills]".

According to the indictment, Mr Garland (also known as "the
Man with the Hat") and six co-defendants conspired to
launder the fake notes between 1997 and 2000, allegedly
trafficking them in a number of countries, including
Ireland, the UK, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Denmark, the
Czech Republic and Germany.

Speaking outside the White House during a visit to
Washington on St Patrick's Day, Bertie Ahern, the Irish
prime minister, said he had not discussed the case with
George W. Bush, US president. Mr Ahern added that he would
not become involved in the case, saying it was a matter for
the Irish courts.

"We follow international obligations in cases, but it's the
courts that make decisions," Mr Ahern said.


Masked Man Fires 20 Shots At Drug Dealers In Car Chase


Gardaí believe more than 20 shots were fired by a gunman
using an automatic weapon at a car carrying two Dublin drug
dealers and three female associates on the M50 in the early
hours of yesterday morning, writes Conor Lally.

The attack, linked to a drugs feud, took place when four
masked occupants of one car repeatedly opened fire on a
second vehicle as both cars sped down a five-kilometre
stretch of the State's busiest road just after 4am.

As part of the follow-up investigation the northbound
carriageway of the M50 was closed for about four hours from
2pm yesterday, from the Cookstown exit to the Lucan exit.
Gardaí carried out a technical examination of the scene.

The shooting was the latest in a series of high profile gun
attacks in Dublin in recent weeks, prompting renewed
criticism of the Government. Fine Gael spokesman on justice
Jim O'Keeffe said the shooting represented further proof
that gangland crime was "out of control".

Labour justice spokesman Joe Costello said the situation
regarding armed crime in Dublin was "reminiscent of gang
warfare in east Los Angeles".

The two drug dealers in the car targeted were wearing
bullet-proof vests. They had spent Saturday night in the
Spawell pub, Templeogue, where they had just met the three
women. They all left in a Lexus car owned by one of the

They travelled towards the main roundabout in Tallaght and
then drove on the northbound carriageway of the M50. Before
they reached the Ballymount exit, an Opel Astra pulled up
alongside carrying four men wearing balaclavas.

At least one of the men was armed and opened fire on the
car. The driver of the Lexus accelerated but the Astra
pulled up alongside a number of times with shots being
discharged each time. The high-speed chase and gunfire
continued up the motorway before both vehicles took the
Palmerstown exit on to the N4. The Lexus had been hit up to
16 times at this stage.

The driver of the vehicle sped into the forecourt of a
petrol station near the Foxhunter pub and the two men and
three women demanded to be let into the locked shop. The
Astra then left the scene. A number of eyewitnesses had
called the gardaí who arrived within minutes.

One of the men sustained a number of minor wounds to his
elbow and torso. This man is a 24-year-old known drug
dealer from Finglas. He was the victim of a gun attack
close to his home last Saturday week in which he was shot
in the stomach. He was treated in James Connolly Memorial
Hospital, Blanchardstown, but discharged himself after a
short period. He has refused to co-operate with gardaí.

The other man, the owner of the Lexus, is aged 21, from
Clondalkin and involved in the drugs trade.

© The Irish Times


Blair: I Was Wrong To Reveal My Retirement Plan

27 March 2006

Tony Blair has admitted his decision to "pre-announce" his
retirement before last year's election may have been a

His remarks will be seen as a sign that he acknowledges
that his political capital is running out and acknowledges
he will not serve for the "full" third term as he hoped
when he announced in October 2004 he would not fight a
fourth election as Labour leader.

The Prime Minister is believed have a departure date in his
mind but is keeping his cards close to his chest.

Mr Blair told ABC Radio in Australia: "I think what happens
when you get into your third term and you are coming up to
your tenth year is that it really doesn't matter what you
say, you are going to get people saying it should be time
for a change. This speculation, I think, probably would
happen whatever decision you take. Now, it was an unusual
thing for me to say but people kept asking me the question
so I decided to answer it. Maybe that was a mistake."

Downing Street aides said later that Mr Blair meant it was
a mistake to think he could stop media speculation about
when he would stand down by answering the questions ­ and
not that it was a mistake to announce his intention to
leave. Officials said there was some confusion over his
remarks, broadcast early today, because he was interrupted
at a critical moment.

Some close allies urged Mr Blair in 2004 not to go public
with his plans, warning he would be seen as a lame-duck
leader in his final term. But the Prime Minister, who had
studied closely the problems that afflicted Margaret
Thatcher in her third term, felt his announcement would
prevent Labour's election campaign last year being dogged
by questions about whether he would "go on and on."

He also wanted to allay Gordon Brown's fears that he might
run for a fourth term at a time of great tension between

Yesterday John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said he
supported Mr Blair's decision. "I thought it would be
[better] announcing then [so] you could get on with a
peaceful transference of power," he told BBC TV's The
Politics Show.

Mr Blair, who watched the close of the Commonwealth Games
in Melbourne with his wife Cherie and met British athletes,
returned to business today by making another defence of his
strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the second of three keynote speeches on foreign affairs,
Mr Blair told the Australian Parliament in Canberra: "If
the going is tough, we tough it out. This is not a time to
walk away but to have the courage to see it through."

He stressed the importance of "global alliances for global
values" in an "interconnected" world in which foreign
policy stretches across continents like economics or
communications. The Prime Minister said: "To win we have to
win the battle of ideas as much as arms, we have to say
these are not Western, still less American or Anglo-Saxon
values, but values in the common ownership of humanity,
universal values that should be the right of the global
citizen ... Ranged against [this] are the people who hate
us, but beyond them are many more who don't hate us but
question our motives, our good faith, our even-handedness,
who could support our values but believe we support them


Opin: Teddy's Terrorist Loophole

By Joel Mowbray
Published March 27, 2006

Waving to the cheering crowd at the St. Patrick's Day
parade with a giddy congressman by his side, Irish
Republican Army political leader Gerry Adams visited the
United States thanks to a special provision put into the
law for him more than a decade ago by Sen. Ted Kennedy. And
in that time, many other staunch advocates of terrorism
have utilized that very same provision in order to come to
the United States -- including several affiliated with the

Simply put, the language Mr. Kennedy inserted into the
Immigration and Nationality Act in 1990 states that
consular officers cannot refuse a visa to someone on the
grounds of advocacy of terrorism.

But while the law has been effective in keeping the
door open for Mr. Adams -- allowing him to march in a St.
Patrick's Day parade yet again this month in Holyoke, Mass.
-- it has also proved a bonanza for people such as the
former spokesman for the Taliban and an imam who helped run
a school that is closely tied to the Taliban.

Though Mr. Kennedy has steadfastly refused to close the
Gerry Adams loophole (including shortly after September
11), the State Department has the authority under the law
to do so. Yet the State Department has tweaked it, but has
otherwise refused to act.

(While the Patriot Act grants the Department of
Homeland Security the authority to deny visas to those who
use "position of prominence within any country to endorse
or espouse terrorist activity," DHS seems to do so only

So, who has gotten in thanks to Mr. Kennedy? For
starters, the Gerry Adams provision is almost certainly the
reason former Taliban spokesman Rahmatullah Hashemi was
able to obtain a student visa to attend Yale University.
The lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of him that
caused quite a stir last month indicated that he was open
about his Taliban past, yet he received his visa with ease.

Whichever consular officer granted Mr. Rahmatullah's
visa, though, was just following orders. Under the
subheading, "Advocacy of Terrorism Not Always
Exclusionary," a high threshold is set, whereby inciting
people to commit terrorist acts is not enough cause to deny
someone a visa. The visa applicant's "speech must not only
have induced others to undertake terrorist activity, but it
must also have been made with the specific intent that such
activity would result in death or serious bodily injury."

That's not in the law written by Congress, but in the
regulations as written by the State Department. And it
appears visa applicants are given quite a bit of leeway on
that two-part test.

In October 2001, Imam Shabbir Ahmed took to the podium,
speaking to an angry mob that was gleefully burning
American flags and effigies of President Bush. The slight,
bearded man of the cloth exhorted the crowd to wage jihad
against the United States. He did this in Islamabad,
Pakistan's capital -- at a market that was a stone's throw
from the U.S. Embassy.

Less than three months later, Mr. Ahmed was issued a
visa and traveled to the United States.

Once he arrived in Northern California in January 2002,
the imam worked with his mentor to establish an Islamic
school modeled on one the pair had run back in Pakistan.
Karachi-based Jamia Farooqia counted many high-ranking
members of the Taliban among its graduates and teachers.

Mr. Ahmed was deported before he and his mentor could
open a U.S. version of Jamia Farooqia, but not until after
at least one of his followers allegedly traveled to
Pakistan for terrorist training. One member of his flock,
U.S.-born Hamid Hayat, 23, is currently standing trial on
charges of material support for terrorism for allegedly
undergoing terrorism training. Authorities reportedly
believe, however, that up to six other young men from Mr.
Ahmed's former mosque in Lodi, Calif., also attended
terrorism training in Pakistan.

And those are just some of the cases in which the Gerry
Adams loophole has benefited cheerleaders for Islamic

Those holding out hope that the State Department might
use the authority granted it under the law to simply scrap
the provision are likely to be sorely disappointed.
Consular Affairs currently is run by Maura Harty, the
protege and clone of the founder of the courtesy culture,
Mary Ryan. Ms. Harty has largely continued the open-door
policies of her mentor, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which
sent us 15 of the 19 September 11 terrorists.

Which brings us back to Congress. Repealing Mr.
Kennedy'shandiwork, though, is no small task. Not only
would he present quite the roadblock in the Senate, but
many members of the House probably would as well. Chief
among them would be Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts
Democrat, who was practically glowing as he marched
alongside Mr. Adams in the St. Patrick's Day parade.

One would hope, though, that if Mr. Neal knew that the
price of having Mr. Adams as his guest was the entry of
supporters of Islamic terrorism, that the smile would be
wiped off his face. But even if that happened, would it be
enough to spur him and Mr. Kennedy into action to close the

Does the question even need to be asked?

Joel Mowbray occasionally writes for The Washington


Drinks With Steve Collins, Sligo Scenery On Tyson’s

By Catherine Shanahan

THEY paid €200 a head for the highly questionable privilege
of dining with a convicted rapist, a man who bit an
opponent and was once heavyweight boxing champion of the

Packing into Dublin’s plush Burlington Hotel, 700 fans of
Iron Mike Tyson gathered for an audience with their now
bankrupt hero.

After squandering a fortune in excess of €400 million, he
was happy to come to Ireland for an €80,000 appearance fee.

As one commentator put it, since Kevin McBride ended
Tyson’s career last June, the word Ireland has tormented
the baddest man on the planet. Now bankrupt Mike was going
to make money out of it.

And so they came in their hundreds to savour the words of
the man who once said: “I wish that you guys had children
so I could kick them in the f***ing head or stomp on their
testicles so you could feel my pain, because that’s the
pain I have waking up every day.”

His path to the “Burlo” was not smooth. A hiccup in
bringing his luggage to Gatwick Airport meant missing his
flight and a four-hour delay, forcing him to cancel a press
conference. There were rumours of a hissy fit when his
accommodation failed to live up to his rock-star lifestyle.

Tyson was met at Dublin Airport by fight fan Gerry “The
Monk” Hutch, with his €2,000-a-night Hummer limo.

He revealed plans to take in the scenery in Sligo and to
hook up with former WBO super middleweight champion, Irish
boxer Steve Collins, for a few pints of the black stuff.

Asked if he would ever step back in the ring, the answer
was predictable. “It all depends on the offer,” the former
Ironman said.


Rolling Stones Not Dublin-Bound, Court Hears

The Rolling Stones concert in Dublin will not go ahead, the
High Court heard today.

The news came during a court appearance involving music
promoters MCD, who were challenging the decision of the
Office of Public Works (OPW) to give permission to rival
firm Aiken Promotions to stage the gig on August 18th.

At the High Court, senior counsel Jim O'Callaghan,
representing the OPW, said he had been informed by Aiken
Promotions that the concert would not be going ahead
because the Rolling Stones would not be performing in the
Phoenix Park.

He said the OPW had no idea why the concert was not going
ahead. "Our client will be seeking an explanation as to the
reason behind the decision," he said.

Senior counsel Maurice Collins, representing MCD said it
appears the contract with the Rolling Stones hadn't
materialised and that the band were now going to play in
Spain on the date that had been arranged for the Phoenix

He said MCD had made it clear it was not going to seek to
have the contract for the concert restrained and had not
been informed that there were any difficulties with it
until now.

MCD had argued that the decision to award the tender for
the concert to Aiken Promotions had breached EU law and
government procurement policy.

The OPW had been seeking an early hearing of the case so
that the preparations for the concert would not be

The president of the High Court, Judge Joseph Finnegan,
agreed with both sides that the cancellation of the concert
meant that there was no urgency for the case to be heard
quickly. He put the case in for mention on April 7th.


© The Irish Times/


Lads' Mags Banished To The Top Shelf

By Steve Bloomfield
27 March 2006

Two women wearing nothing but G-strings stare out
seductively from the cover of a magazine. Standing close
together, they are arm-in-arm and their breasts are
touching. The reader is clearly invited to imagine them
having sex.

On the cover of another magazine, a heavily made-up woman
shows her cleavage. Below that she is covered up, and
almost demure. Which of these magazines is considered

The answer is the second one, featuring the clothed woman.
But Penthouse is banished to the top shelves of the
newsagents, away from the sight of children. The magazine
that features the two nearly-naked models is Loaded, seen
as nothing more than a cheeky "lads' mag" and subject to no
censure in the shops. Until now.

Loaded and the other magazines such as Nuts and FHM that
flourished with it after the "lads' culture" explosion of
the Nineties are to be placed out of reach of children, and
displayed next to old-fashioned porn.

The Home Office has agreed new guidelines with the National
Federation of Retail Newsagents. The deal was welcomed as a
"step in the right direction" by MPs and campaigners, who
have been calling for legislation. The guidelines are not
legally binding but trading standards will be able to
reprimand offending outlets.

The feminist critic Beatrix Campbell called the move "very
positive", although it was criticised by female sex
writers. The new guidelines will also affect the Daily and
Sunday Sport. They will be able to remain on the bottom
shelf if they are folded in such a way that the sexually
explicit images are hidden.

The Labour MP Diane Abbott said: "Some of the stuff now
available in news-agents should be out of the reach of
children. This is a step in the right direction."

A comparison of leading "lads' mags" and pornographic
magazines revealed a similar number of sexually explicit
images in both. However, the covers of the "lads' mags"
featured women with less clothes on than the pornography

Ms Campbell said: "For the overwhelming majority of women
it is a horrid feeling to see these images, possibly every
day. Given the prevalence of crimes of oppression against
women, like rape and domestic violence, this is a very
positive cultural intervention by the Home Office."

But there was criticism from sex writer Kate Taylor, the
author of A Woman's Guide to Sex and a former sex columnist
for GQ: "The real boobs on show here are those that think
lads' magazines are pornography," she said. "Lads' mags
contain roughly as much porn as a Carry On film."

The editor of one of Britain's best-selling lads' mags,
Nuts, said he sympathised with campaigners who wanted his
magazine displayed out of the reach of children. "As a
parent myself, I don't think it should be sat next to
Disney Princess magazine," said Phil Hilton. "But this is a
mainstream men's magazine. If you put it down on a table
next to a porn magazine it would take two seconds to work
out which is which."


Pope's Stance On Gays 'Like Hitler'

John Cooney
27 March 2006

Pope Benedict XVI's has come under renewed attacked from
Irish Senator David Norris over his condemnation of

He said that a lot of the problems of prejudice against
gays were sourced in religion, both from the Vatican and
other Christian Churches, as well as the Jewish and Muslim
religions, especially in "unspeakable regimes" such as in

Referring to statements from Rome, especially by Pope
Benedict, Senator Norris said that "he would not take moral
instructions from a man with a swastika on his arms," a
reference to the Pope's membership of the Hitler Youth
Movement in 1940s Germany.

His outspoken criticisms sparked off heated debate at a
weekend meeting of theologians in Mary Immaculate College
of Education in Limerick.

But the outspoken Senator stuck to his belief that
statements from Rome saying that homosexuality was
"objectively evil" and "intrinsically disordered" were "in
line with the prejudices that included Hitler and Himmler".

Senator Norris, however, welcomed recent statements of
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr
Diarmuid Martin, acknowledging the need for social and
legal rights for gays and others in committed but non-
constitutional relationships, as "a definite step forward".

Last night, Senator Norris told the Irish Independent that
he knew some of his remarks against the Pope caused
offence, but he felt it was his duty to continue to
criticise attitudes against gays which were against the
common good of society.


Lincoln: The Conspiracy

27 March 2006

Most people will remember that Abraham Lincoln was the
first US president to be assassinated, that he was shot at
close range in his box at a Washington theatre, and that
his assassin was John Wilkes Booth, a sympathiser with the
confederate South who had been left aghast by the outcome
of the recently concluded Civil War.

What may not be so familiar, at least to non-specialists on
this side of the Atlantic, are some of the other hair-
raising details of the assassination plot. It was not just
Lincoln, but the whole top echelon of the government that
was targeted on the night of 14 April 1865. William Seward,
the secretary of state, was viciously knifed in his own bed
and came close to perishing nine days after he almost died
in a horse-and-carriage accident. Andrew Johnson, the vice-
president and eventual successor to Lincoln, would have
been shot in his Washington hotel had his designated
attacker not chickened out at the last moment. Ulysses
Grant, the commander of the victorious Union army and
future president, was originally scheduled to join Lincoln
in his box at Ford's Theatre and might not have survived
had he kept the appointment.

The whole episode was, in many respects, an eerie
foreshadowing of what happened to the US almost a century
and a half later on 11 September 2001. The country quickly
realised it was under devastating attack, but did not
immediately know who the attackers were, on whose behalf,
if anyone, they were acting, or how much more they had
planned after the initial strike. Fear and paranoia gripped
the nation, as wild rumours spread of a reconstituted
confederate army rising again, of dastardly plots to spread
germ warfare (by the dissemination of clothing infected
with yellow fever) or to poison the water supply of New
York City.

Hundreds of people suspected of approving of the
assassination were set upon, beaten or even killed by angry
mobs. Lincoln, a controversial leader throughout his tenure
- not least because of his willing suspension of habeas
corpus and other core constitutional rights in his
prosecution of the war - was suddenly elevated to the
status of a secular saint, a transformation at least a
little reminiscent of George Bush's sudden, if much more
shortlived, surge in opinion polls four and a half years

The man charged with hunting down Booth and his co-
conspirators, Edwin Stanton, the secretary of war, did not
hesitate to arrest people merely for association with the
assassins. He put federal troops on battle-ready status,
and sent them out to comb the Maryland and Virginia
countryside; a staggering 87 of them drowned while
patrolling the Potomac river. Stanton did not capture
everyone he was after, but grabbed whoever he could, had
them tried by military commission and hanged the eight most
notorious. The rest were sent off to do hard labour in the
Dry Tortugas islands off Florida - the Guantanamo Bay of
the day.

It was only a few years later that the wisdom of the
draconian approach came under question. One of the
hangings, of Mary Surratt, keeper of a Washington boarding-
house frequented by Booth and his co-conspirators, came
under particular scrutiny because she did not appear to
have been involved in any criminal activity whatsoever.
When her son, John Surratt, who had escaped abroad in the
chaotic aftermath of the assassination, was captured and
repatriated in 1867, he went before a civilian jury which
was unable to reach a guilty verdict. One of the inmates in
the Dry Tortugas, a doctor who had sheltered Booth in the
immediate aftermath of the assassination, without at first
knowing what Booth had done, was subsequently pardoned and

None of these intriguing parallels with present-day events
have received much attention to date. But that could be
about to change dramatically as the US looks set to revive,
once again, its never-ending fascination with the country's
16th president, the man who saved the Union but could not
save himself from his defeated enemies.

In recent years, the focus of the Lincoln mania has settled
variously on Honest Abe's sexuality, his propensity for
melancholia and depression, and his unique political
prowess. Now the focus is shifting slightly away from
Lincoln on to Booth, his assassin. One critically acclaimed
reappraisal of Booth, Michael Kauffman's American Brutus,
has just come out in paperback. A tightly written narrative
of Booth's crime and the 12-day effort to track him down,
James Swanson's Manhunt, has just been published and is
racing up The New York Times bestseller list.

Swanson's book, which reads so much like a blueprint for a
movie that it's hard to imagine he didn't have one in mind,
has already been optioned by Hollywood. The buzz in
industry circles is that Harrison Ford will take a starring
role as the cavalry officer who eventually cornered Booth
in a tobacco barn in rural Virginia. The role of Booth - an
irresistible one to all thespians, since he was one
himself, and a singularly dashing, charming, good-looking
one at that - has yet to be assigned.

The fiendishly intricate plot so much feared at the time by
Stanton and others, turned out to be little more than an
expression of rage and frustration by a relatively small
circle of like-minded people. Booth and his fellow
conspirators - who weren't Southerners or anti-Unionists so
much as white supremacists opposed to the excessive
centralisation of governmental power and the granting of
any rights to Negroes - started hatching a wild scheme to
kidnap Lincoln about a year before the assassination, but
never even attempted to put it into practice because of its
obvious logistical difficulties.

On the day of Lincoln's second inauguration, in March 1865,
Booth found himself just a few feet away from the president
on the steps of the Capitol and later kicked himself for
not taking a gun and shooting while he had the chance.

The assassination plot ended up being cobbled together more
or less on impulse in a matter of hours. Booth happened to
be at Ford's Theatre picking up some mail at about noon on
14 April when he overheard the manager receiving the news
that the president intended to watch that night's
production of Our American Cousin, a durably popular
transatlantic comedy of manners that is now only remembered
by association with Booth's crime.

Over the next eight hours, Booth arranged for one friend,
George Atzerodt, to check into Andrew Johnson's hotel, and
for another, Lewis Powell, to plot his entry into the
Seward household by posing as a doctor come to treat the
ailing secretary of state for the injuries from his
carriage accident. Booth arranged for horses, and men to
hold them while the crimes were being committed. He made
the vaguest of plans for the conspirators to join up on the
Maryland side of the Navy Yard Bridge, east of the city,
but otherwise had no clear idea of how they were to make
their getaway to what he presumed would be the safety of
the Deep South.

Booth had no trouble penetrating the hallways and passages
of Ford's Theatre, since he was a regular performer who
knew the building's most intimate secrets. Armed with a
.44-calibre Deringer pistol and a Bowie knife, he managed
to use part of a wooden music stand as a makeshift wooden
bolt which he used to prevent anyone coming into the
presidential box after him. He lurked unobserved just
inches behind the president, waiting for what he knew to be
one of the loudest laughs in the third act of the play
before pulling the trigger right at the nape of Lincoln's

As the pistol shot startled the theatre to silence, he used
his knife to slash at one of the president's companions, a
certain Major Rathbone, who suffered a deep cut to the
upper arm. Booth then jumped up on the railing separating
the box from the auditorium, shouted the Virginia state
slogan "sic semper tyrannis" ("thus ever to tyrants"),
declared the South to have been avenged, and proceeded to
jump down on stage.

As he descended, he hit a framed portrait of George
Washington, and one of his riding spurs became entangled in
a stars-and-stripes flag - a moment that was later dubbed
"Old Glory's revenge". Some accounts suggest he broke his
left leg in the fall, but it seems more plausible that he
received that injury later in the night in the frantic rush
out of town. Either way, he dashed across the stage and
made his exit so fast the stunned theatregoers did not have
time to stop him.

Lincoln did not die immediately, but was carried to a
nearby house on 10th Street, which struck everyone as a
more seemly place to die than a place of popular
entertainment. (Lincoln would later come in for muted
criticism for going to the theatre so soon after the end of
the war, and on Good Friday too.) Booth, meanwhile, sweet-
talked his way past the sentry on the Navy Yard Bridge, as
did one of his accomplices, David Herold, who followed on
behind. The pair would spend the next 12 desperate days
together, first by managing to stay ahead of the news of
the assassination and then by outwitting the Union troops
who came out in force to sniff them out.

On that first night, they stopped at a tavern and then at
the house of Dr Samuel Mudd, whom they had earlier roped
into the kidnapping plot. Mudd treated Booth's broken leg
before discovering what he had done and then, fearful of
being tarred as his accomplice, as indeed he eventually
was, sent the pair on their way. A Confederate veteran
called Thomas Jones hid them in a pine forest on the
Maryland side of the Potomac for five days while they
waited for the manhunt to die down, making an attempt at
crossing into Virginia possible.

Once across the river, Booth and Herold found a distinctly
chilly reception, even among confederate troops returning
home from the battlefield. They threw themselves on the
mercy of the Garrett family, who let them stay one night in
their house and then sent them out to the tobacco barn,
where the feds, acting on a tip-off, eventually caught up
to them.

There then ensued a siege not unlike modern ones pitting
the federal authorities against neo-Nazis at Whidbey Island
in 1984 or the Branch Davidian sect at Waco, Texas, in
1993. As in those much later instances, the end result was
conflagration and death. Colonel Everton Conger, the
putative Harrison Ford character, decided to smoke out
Booth and Herold by setting fire to the barn. His mission
to take the assassin alive was botched, however, by one of
his own men, who saw Booth raise a weapon and shot him in
the neck, in much the same place as the bullet that felled
the president.

Booth's final words: "Useless, useless." Having dreamed of
reviving the confederacy with a single pistol shot, he died
in the knowledge that his victim had become a martyr, and
his own name was destined to go down in infamy. The actor
in him appeared to crave the attention anyway; the fact
that he is now destined to be immortalised once again on
the silver screen might not, in the end, have entirely
displeased him.


It's Easier Being A Jew In Belfast Than LA

27 March 2006

A new BBC documentary offers a unique glimpse into the
largely unseen world of Ulster's Jews, but just what future
does the community have? To find out more, Judith Cole
talks to Belfast Rabbi, Avraham Citron (30) and his wife
Devora (26), who are originally from the USA and have three
children, Yosef (4), Chaya (3) and Shemuel (6 months)

Rabbi Avraham Citron certainly has a challenge on his
hands: with the 130-year-old Jewish community in Belfast
having plummeted from 1,000 to just a few hundred, future
progression is far from certain.

But he is ever hopeful of building up the community to
resemble something of what it was in the beginning, when
exiles from Europe and Russia made their way to Belfast to
escape repression in their native countries.

The first Belfast rabbi was appointed in 1870, and Rabbi
Citron is the 14th since then to hold the post.

He and his young family arrived in Northern Ireland in
November 2002 after searching for a small community to

It's a far cry from Los Angeles, where Rabbi Citron grew up
within a 500,000 strong Jewish community.

Despite the support that was available there, he remembers
a 'difficult' time because of the pressures of being
religious in a somewhat unforgiving society.

"In some ways it seems easier to bring up children in
Belfast than in Los Angeles," the rabbi remarks. "It's a
very permissive society there and I found it difficult to
grow up within it, especially as someone who is religious.

"You couldn't escape the negative aspects of society in LA:
the way people dress, their outlook on life, the

"The overall influence on a young boy growing up is more
negative than positive and some people in my community were
affected by it, I believe, and their religion became
watered down. People in California are certainly looking
into spirituality but often it's superficial, a quick fix
sort of spirituality."

Rabbi Citron attended Jewish schools all his life at which
he had half a day of religious studies and half secular.

His Bar Mitzvah - the ceremony to mark a 13-year-old boy's
newly acquired status as an adult - was a memorable
experience during which he had to read from the Torah, the
Jewish bible, to a sizeable congregation, a skill in itself
given that the words have no vowels.

As a child he dreamed of becoming an American footballer or
a doctor - but, like his father, he decided to qualify as a

"I've always enjoyed studying Jewish texts, which is a very
important thing in becoming a rabbi, and I enjoy
interaction with people at different levels and Jewish
observance," he says.

"To become a rabbi I had to do a series of tests on certain
subjects which were given by prominent rabbis. I passed the
tests and got a call to say I was officially a rabbi. That
doesn't mean a community will accept you, but at least you
have the title.

"I continued studying after that, met my wife and moved to
Detroit where she was living. Then, after I got a job as
teacher of religious studies in a Jewish high school, I
started putting out feelers looking for a position as a
rabbi in a community."

So what did Rabbi Citron think of Belfast before coming

"I knew that I couldn't believe everything that was said in
the Press, at least not to the extent to which Belfast was
portrayed regarding all the violence that was reported. So
I came with a pretty clean slate," he says.

"Obviously, I knew that a lot had happened here but I
believed that, other than occasional violence, Belfast was
a quiet place compared to big American cities."

Rabbi Citron says it was a 'dramatic change' to relocate to
the comparatively tiny Belfast from Detroit, where he
settled after marrying his wife, Devora.

"Well, almost every Jewish community is big in comparison
to Belfast. Detroit has about 60,000 members and many
synagogues, and there was a kosher bakery and supermarket
just across the road.

"For me, personally, the greatest challenge is that there
is no Jewish school here to send my children to. For the
moment we home school, but we will probably have to look
elsewhere in the future.

"I would like to see a much larger Jewish community and
more kids for my own to socialise with - and maybe even one
day open a school."

Devora, who is tutoring their children, says that they will
home school the children as long as there is no Jewish

"I hope that our children will grow up to have a pride in
who they are and not feel left out of community life," she

"I hope that they will become proficient in their Jewish
studies and that they will pursue whatever talent they

Apart from the convenience of American shopping malls,
Devora did not feel any huge changes when she came to

"I miss the big supermarkets where you could get everything
under one roof," she says.

"The pace of life is much slower here but I think the
countryside is very nice and it's great to be so close to
it here."

Devora bakes her family's bread and gets a delivery of
kosher chicken, meat and dairy products from Manchester
every two months; most other things she buys locally.

She relished the 'new adventure' which the family embarked
upon in coming to Belfast and has taken on a role within
the synagogue of teaching women and planning learning
programmes for them - but it has been an adjustment to find
so few women her own age in the community.

"The women are open to learning more and we have started
new programmes with them," she says.

One unfortunate similarity to Los Angeles is the name-
calling which Rabbi Citron has encountered - although he
says it has not been as bad here.

"There hasn't been any place where I haven't experienced
it," he adds. "It bothers me a little but it doesn't make
me think worse of Belfast because I've experienced it in
places where there are a lot more Jewish people.

"In Los Angeles, to a certain extent, it was worse. And to
me that's surprising because there are 500,000 Jews in LA
and it's a very open, tolerant society - sometimes too much

Despite this, he is determined to focus on his role - that
of teacher and leader within the Jewish community.

"First and foremost, a rabbi is a pastoral leader, someone
who can give pastoral care to their membership," Rabbi
Citron explains.

"A rabbi is really a teacher, a guide. The most important
thing they do is teach people Judaism and the Jewish way of
life, and a lot of time here in Belfast is taken up with
pastoral duties, like Sunday School for the children,
visiting the elderly, social occasions and parties,
religious services and classes."

And while proselytising is not allowed, there is work to be
done in encouraging 'occasional' visitors to the synagogue
to attend more regularly.

"There's a paid membership here in Belfast - that is,
people who pay a membership fee - of about 120 but I would
say there are up to 500 Jewish people in Northern Ireland,"
he says.

"There are other members who occasion the synagogue for a
special holy day, or who do not come at all.

"My outreach work is within the Jewish faith. I try to
encourage those Jewish people who aren't members of the
synagogue to get more involved both in their personal
Judaism and in communal life."

There is also the packed calendar of Jewish holidays which
must be prepared for around the normal busy week.

"In the next few weeks we're getting ready for Passover
which is a major holiday, so we have to ensure that
everybody has the kosher food they need. This comes from
mainland UK.

"We prepare Passover meals for members of the community who
don't have family to share it with and we have special
programmes leading up to the holiday.

"We also have our usual events during the week including
services on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday
morning, readings from the Torah and scrolls, visitations
to hospitals and regular classes, including one which my
wife teaches."

Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - is the day when, Rabbi
Citron explains, the concerns of the rest of the week are
put to one side.

"While there are many things we don't do on the Sabbath,
like watch TV, go shopping, cook (Saturday meals are cooked
on Friday) or drive the car, the emphasis should be on what
we do.

"The Sabbath is 25 hours of family time, special meals we
have together, services, study and relaxation, removing
yourself entirely from all the troubles of the other six
days of the week."

So why has the Jewish community here so dwindled? Rabbi
Citron says that many children of Jewish families moved
away to university or relocated to Manchester or Israel.

"The tide stopped years ago but it was too late. We were
left with an older population and very few newcomers," he

"Belfast had rabbis on and off for quite some time. There
was a retired rabbi at one time, there were reverends who
would come in at weekends to lead services and there was a
time when they got weekend help from Dublin."

However, he is hopeful about the future and believes it is
an advantage to have arrived here only a short time ago.

"I am ever optimistic," he maintains.

"Perhaps because I wasn't here to see the Jewish community
at its height, I don't have that sense of doom which many
of the old timers do.

"The community is now at a point at which it could go
either way. That's because Belfast itself is, I believe, at
such a point where, due to relative stability, we could see
Jewish people moving into Belfast and turning the tide of
the community. Or, on the other hand, this might not happen
and we would just being left with those who are here at

÷The Year I Turned 13 is on BBC ONE Northern Ireland
tonight at 10.35pm.



Eugene O’Neil - A Playwright Who Paid The Ultimate Price

By Sam Allis, Globe Staff March 27, 2006

Tonight, Ric Burns leads us on a stunning descent into the
hell of our greatest playwright, Eugene O'Neill. It is a
vast place, and Burns could have consumed two hours poking
through the more lurid wreckage of the man's life. Instead,
he cleaves tight to the signal question posed by director
Lloyd Richards: ''What did being Eugene O'Neill cost Eugene

Everything. Tennessee Williams said that O'Neill ''gave
birth to the American theater, and died for it."

Before him, there was nothing American of note on the
stage. People saw Shakespeare and sentimental fare like
''The Count of Monte Cristo," performed ad nauseam by
O'Neill's father, the popular actor James O'Neill, who
squandered real talent for easy money. The son then gave
them a searing look into the bitter truths of life.

Burns delivers a rich film brimming with large judgment and
fine detail that dramatically increases our understanding
of America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize. Six
years, on and off, in the making, it is a definitive piece
of filmmaking that in its relative economy can stand with
anything Burns's more famous brother, Ken, has done in his
leviathan documentaries.

To do so, he fielded a nonpareil team of O'Neill experts --
actors, directors, and producers steeped in his work -- who
say smart things well. Included on this roster are the late
Jason Robards, John Guare, Robert Brustein, Christopher
Plummer, Sidney Lumet, Zoe Caldwell, Tony Kushner, Al
Pacino, Liam Neeson, and Robert Sean Leonard, among others.
(Plummer also narrates.)

Anchoring the film are the O'Neill biographers Arthur and
Barbara Gelb, who co-wrote the documentary with Burns and
inject tremendous insight into the man who won four
Pulitzer Prizes, including one after he died, utterly
spent, in a Boston hotel room in 1953 (the Shelton Hotel on
Bay State Road, now a BU dormitory).

A delight are the iconic black-and-white still photographs
of O'Neill that are now part of the American canon. They
come from the golden age of theatrical portraits,
brilliantly backlit, and the haunting darkness of O'Neill,
nattily dressed, emerges through the artistry of Edward
Steichen and Arnold Newman.

The architecture of the film properly puts great weight on
O'Neill's two late, monumental masterpieces, ''The Iceman
Cometh" and ''Long Day's Journey Into Night," at the
expense of his early career. (''Long Day's Journey" was
performed for the first time on Broadway 50 years ago. The
first performance of the play was in Stockholm, but that's
another story.)

''This film stakes its flag on the late, great plays,"
confirms Burns. This construction makes sense given their
brilliance and importance as lenses into O'Neill's psyche.
Plummer delivers for this show a famous monologue from
''Long Day's Journey." Robards, the definitive O'Neill
actor, recalls opening night.

O'Neill grew up in a disaster of a home on the Connecticut
shore with a bitter drinker of a father and vacant,
morphine-addicted mother. One older brother died young and
the other became a severe alcoholic who later succumbed to
the disease. O'Neill was an unwanted child who would
attempt suicide and become a vagabond for the rest of his
life. It is this household that he re-creates in the
unsparing ''Long Day's Journey." And it is his life as a
hopeless regular at a seedy New York bar that he re-creates
in ''Iceman."

He was a terrible husband and father, a drunk until age 40
who abandoned two wives. His third wife, Carlotta, stayed
with him to the end through ugly times. He was happiest as
a young man alone on a ship sailing to Buenos Aires, free
of responsibility and relationships of any depth.

O'Neill wrote the pair of plays after he had exhausted
everything else. He had devoted years in his early career
to dramatic experimentation and later wrote more than a
million words for a cycle of 11 plays spanning 150 years in
the life of an Irish-American family, most of which he
ultimately destroyed. He had enjoyed huge success in the
'20s and subsequent decline. In the late '30s, his
reputation in eclipse and his health failing, he finally
confronted the dystopia of his family and his alcoholic
wandering. By then, notes Guare, ''I've had the feeling
that all the fat is burned away."

The pain in his life is no different from that of countless
miserable artists. What separates him is his creative
achievement. He sacrificed everything for his work. Was it
worth it? That's the wrong question. He had no choice.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

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