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March 08, 2006

Dail Pass Finucane Inquiry Motion

Members of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform protesting
in front of Capitol Hill in Washington DC yesterday Photograph:
Sean McPhail/Photocall Ireland

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 03/08/06 Dail Pass Finucane Inquiry Motion
SF 03/08/06 Taoiseach Should Use Dáil To Demand For Finucane Inquiry
BB 03/08/06 Taxi Drivers Are Warned Of Threat
IE 03/08/06 Adams Visa Status Still Up In Air
BB 03/08/06 Ex-Warder Guilty Of Porn Charges
BB 03/08/06 Summer Pledge On NI Talks Plans
SF 03/08/06 Demilitarisation & End Of Political Policing Required
IT 03/08/06 Illegals Lobby For Right To Stay In US
IE 03/08/06 Senate Maverick A Surprising Champion For Irish
IE 03/08/06 Hearing Reveals Deep Divisions Over Immigration
IE 03/08/06 Insurance Plan Relief For Undocumented
AO 03/08/06 Still Paddy After All These Years - Irish Defamation
IT 03/09/06 SF Denies IRA Involvement In Belfast Arson Attacks
IT 03/09/06 Opin: Way Forward Must Be Forged Quickly
IM 03/09/06 Stone Unveiling For Martyrs Of Spanish Civil War
SF 03/09/06 Adams Extends Condolences To Fullerton Family
IT 03/09/06 Hearing Told Girl (15) Who Fell From Ship Served Alcohol
IT 03/09/06 Sorry: US Embassy Regrets
IT 03/09/06 Holy Spirit: In The Pub
TM 03/09/06 Ireland's Anthem Up For Grabs On eBay


Dail Pass Finucane Inquiry Motion

The Irish parliament has backed an all-party motion calling
for a full public inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast
solicitor Pat Finucane.

The all-party motion called for the British government to
hold "a full, independent, public judicial inquiry".

The NIO said the motion was "fundamentally flawed and

Mr Finucane's murder by the UDA was one of the most
controversial of the Troubles due to allegations of
security force collusion.

His family have said they do not think an inquiry held
under the Inquiries Act would be able to get to the truth.

Moving the motion on Wednesday, Irish Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern said the Irish government had
consistently raised the issue over several years with the
British government, the European parliament, the Council of
Europe and the United Nations.

"The position of the Irish government remains firm and
emphatic. We ask the British government to establish a
full, independent, public, judicial inquiry into the murder
and nothing less," he added.

'Strategic decision'

Labour Party TD Michael D Higgins accused Downing Street of
taking a "strategic decision" to withhold the truth on the
Finucane death.

"One can only conclude that the British government want to
indulge in a major cover-up in order to prevent the true
nature of the collusion between the Royal Ulster
Constabulary and the loyalist paramilitaries who murdered
Pat Finucane coming into the public domain."

Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, and sons Michael and Dermot
were in the Dail visitors' gallery to hear the debate.

Opposition leader Enda Kenny, who originally suggested the
proposal to Mrs Finucane, said the world had lost a human
rights defender as well as a loving husband and adoring
father in the most savage of circumstances.

The Fine Gael leader said: "In this time of new and fragile
peace, it behoves the British government to confront,
unequivocally, what is a major disquiet for people north
and south.

"The inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane must be
forensic, independent and public. In terms of both justice
and human decency, it is long overdue. It is needed now."

Retired Canadian judge Peter Cory recommended separate
inquiries into Mr Finucane's murder, and three other
controversial killings in Northern Ireland.

These were the killings of solicitor Rosemary Nelson,
leading loyalist Billy Wright and Catholic father of two
Robert Hamill.

The Finucane family, human rights campaigners and
nationalist politicians, as well as Judge Cory, have
expressed alarm at moves by the government to ensure the
tribunal into Mr Finucane's murder is held under the
Inquiries Act, which was passed earlier this year.

They have claimed the Act will suppress the truth about
what happened, with Amnesty International saying crucial
evidence could be omitted from any final report at the
government's discretion.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/08 21:34:06 GMT


Taoiseach Should Use Dáil Motion To Internationalise Demand
For Finucane Inquiry

Published: 8 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has welcomed
the All-Party Dáil motion calling on the British government
to fulfil its commitment to hold a full public inquiry into
the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. The motion is
signed by party leaders in the Dáil including Deputy Ó
Caoláin, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Tánaiste Mary
Harney, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Pat

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "All-party motions of any kind are a
rarity in the Oireachtas and today's motion is highly
significant and shows the strength of support for the
Finucane family in their demand for a full inquiry as
required by Judge Peter Cory. By refusing to hold such an
inquiry the British government is in breach of its own
commitments given at the Weston Park talks.

"The main obstacle to an inquiry into the murder of Pat
Finucane is the British government's insistence that it
must be held under the odious Inquiries Act which would
give a British minister the power of veto over the evidence
given, the duration of the inquiry and the final report.
Pressure must be brought to bear on the British government
to repeal that Act.

"The Taoiseach should now use this Dáil motion as part of
an international effort to bring attention to this anti-
human rights legislation and to press the case for an
inquiry. The Finucane case and the issue of collusion in
general should be raised in a systematic way by the Irish
government at EU and UN level.

"As a follow-on to this motion the Taoiseach should call a
special summit meeting with Tony Blair devoted exclusively
to the single issue of collusion between British state
forces and loyalist gangs, collusion that led directly to
many deaths throughout this island." ENDS

Full motion follows:

Motion calling for independent inquiry in to murder of Pat

That Dáil Éireann,

recalling the brutal murder of solicitor, Patrick Finucane,
at his home in Belfast on 12th February, 1989;

— noting the on-going allegations of collusion between
loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces in the
murder of Mr. Finucane;

— recalling the commitments made at the Weston Park talks
in July 2001 by the British Government to hold a public
inquiry into the Finucane case, if so recommended by the
Honourable Judge Peter Cory, it being clearly understood
that such an inquiry would be held under the UK Tribunals
of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921;

— noting that Judge Cory found sufficient evidence of
collusion to warrant a public inquiry into the case and
recommended that such an inquiry take place without delay;

— recalling that in his conclusions, Judge Cory set out the
necessity and imporan of a public inquiry into this case
and that the failure to hold a public inquiry as quickly as
reasonably possible could be seen as a denial of the
agreement at Weston Park;

— noting that the limited form of inquiry under the UK
Inquiries Act 2005, proposed by the British Government has
been rejected as inadequate by Judge Cory, the Finucane
family, the Government and human rights groups;

— commends the Finucane family for their courageous
campaign to seek the truth in this case of collusion;

— deeply regrets the British Government's failure to honour
its commitment to implement Judge Cory's recommenadation in

— welcomes the sustained support of successive Governments
and all parties for the Finucane family over the past
decade in their efforts to find the truth behind the

— acknowledges the work of the Oireachtas sub-Committee on
Human Rights in highlighting this case;

— welcomes the Taoiseach's commitment and efforts in
pursuing the case with the British Prime Minister Tony

— endorses the Government's international efforts at
highlighting the case in the U.S., at the United Nations
and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg;

— calls on the British Government to reconsider its
position on the Finucane case to take full account of the
family's objections and amend the UK Inquiries and

— calls for the immediate establishment of a full,
independent, public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat
Finucane, as recommended by Judge Cory, which would enjoy
the full co-operation of the in family and the wider
community throughout Ireland and abroad.''

— An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern; An Tánaiste agus an tAire
Sláinte agus Leanai, Mary Harney; Leader of Fine Gael, Enda
Kenny; Leader of the Labour Party, Pat Rabbitte;Leader of
the Green Party, Trevor Sargent; Leader of Sinn Féin,
Caoimhghin O´ Caoláin.

"Go ndéanann Dáil Éireann,

— á meabhrú di dúnmharú brúidiúil an aturnae Patrick
Finucane, ina bhaile i mBéal Feirste an 12 Feabhra, 1989;

— á thabhairt dá haire na líomhaintí leanúnacha i dtaobh
claonpháirteachais idir paraimíleataigh dhílseacha agus
fórsaí slándála Briotanacha i ndúnmharú an Uasail Finucane;

— á meabhrú di na gealltanais a thug Rialtas na Breataine i
bpléití Pháirc Weston mí Iúil 2001 fiosrúchán poiblí a
sheoladh faoi chás Finucane, i gcás go molfadh an
Breitheamh Onórach Peter Cory go ndéanfaí amhlaidh, agus é
le tuiscint go soiléir go seolfaí fiosrúchán den sórt sin
faoi Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 na Ríochta

— á thabhairt dá haire gur aimsigh an Breitheamh Cory
dóthain fianaise i dtaobh claonpháirteachais chun
fiosrúchán poiblí a sheoladh faoin gcás agus gur mhol sé go
seolfaí fiosrúchán den sórt sin gan mhoill;

— á meabhrú di gur leag an Breitheamh Cory amach ina
thátail an gá a bhí agus an tábhacht a bhain le fiosrúchán
poiblí a sheoladh faoin gcás seo agus, mura seolfaí
fiosrúchán a luaithe ab fhéidir le réasún, go bhféadfaí
amharc air sin mar shéanadh ar chomhaontú Pháirc Weston;

— á thabhairt dá haire go bhfuil diúltaithe ag an
mBreitheamh Cory, ag muintir Finucane, ag an Rialtas agus
ag grúpaí cearta an duine don fhoirm theoranta fiosrúcháin
atá ann faoin UK Inquiries Act 2005 agus a mhol Rialtas na
Breataine, á rá gur foirm neamhleordhóthanach í;

— muintir Finucane a mholadh as a bhfeachtas misniúil ar
thóir na fírinne sa chás claonpháirteachais seo;

— a rá gurb oth go mór léi mainneachtain Rialtas na
Breataine seasamh lena ghealltanas moladh an Bhreithimh
Cory a chur i ngníomh go hiomlán;

— fáilte a chur roimh an tacaíocht leanúnach ó Rialtas i
ndiaidh Rialtais agus ó na páirtithe go léir do mhuintir
Finucane le deich mbliana anuas le linn dóibh bheith sa
tóir ar fhírinne an dúnmharaithe;

— a thabhairt chun suntais obair an Fhochoiste Oireachtais
um Chearta an Duine i dtaca le haird a dhíriú ar an gcás

— fáilte a chur roimh ghealltanas agus iarrachtaí an
Taoisigh agus an cás á chur chun cinn aige le Príomh-Aire
na Breataine Tony Blair;

— a tacaíocht a thabhairt d'iarrachtaí idirnáisiúnta an
Rialtais i dtaca le haird a dhíriú ar an gcás i S.A.M., ag
na Náisiúin Aontaithe agus ag Comhairle na hEorpa in

— a iarraidh ar Rialtas na Breataine athbhreithniú a
dhéanamh ar a sheasamh i leith chás Finucane d'fhonn agóidí
na muintire a chur i gcuntas go hiomlán agus leasú a
dhéanamh ar an UK Inquiries Act 2005; agus

— a éileamh go mbunófar fiosrúchán breithiúnach poiblí
neamhspleách iomlán faoi dhúnmharú Pat Finucane láithreach
bonn, de réir mar a mhol an Breitheamh Cory, a
gcomhoibreodh muintir Finucane agus an pobal i gcoitinne in
Éirinn agus thar lear leis go hiomlán


Taxi Drivers Are Warned Of Threat

Police are investigating reports of threats being made to
taxi drivers in north Belfast.

Officers visited drivers and depots on Tuesday night to
tell them of the threats.

It follows an attempt to shoot a taxi man at the weekend.
That attack was admitted by the Red Hand Defenders - a
cover name for the UDA.

One driver, who did not wish to be identified, said it was
a very worrying development.

"Drivers are on real alert, we do work across the whole of
north and west Belfast through Catholic and Protestant
areas," he said.

"People are very, very edgy. It is disgraceful the way
things are going, they are targeting people who are trying
to make a days living."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/08 20:14:45 GMT


Adams Visa Status Still Up In Air

By Ray O'Hanlon

With just days to go before his advertised arrival in the
U.S., the active participation of Sinn Féin leader Gerry
Adams in a fundraising event is still up in the air.

The Bush administration last fall forbade Adams from taking
part in a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser in New York.

FOSF is holding a fundraising breakfast in Washington, D.C.
on Thursday the 16th.

Whether Adams is allowed inside, or must remain outside the
door of the Capital Hilton Hotel has not yet been made
clear by the U.S. government.

Adams is expected to make landfall in New York on Tuesday,
March 14.

On that day he has a speaking engagement at St. John's
University in Queens and is listed -- in an ad carried in
this edition of the Echo -- to attend an FOSF community
event in Yonkers that same evening.

Funds are not collected at such events and there is no door

Adam's name is not listed in the notice for the Washington
breakfast contained in the same ad.

Even if Adams is prevented from attending the Washington
breakfast he could yet be invited to attend the White House
St. Patrick's Day reception.

If he does attend, observers will be watching the political
choreography closely to see if he meets and shakes hands
with President Bush.

Adams has additional engagements in Buffalo and Holyoke,
Massachusetts during his almost weeklong stay.

The refusal to grant Adams a fundraising visa thus far has
prompted criticism from Irish American politicians and
activists but the administration has not rushed into making
a public pronouncement.

"There's no white smoke yet," said one observer at
presstime Tuesday.

The continuing standoff between the administration and Sinn
Féin is centered on the party's refusal to take part in
policing as it is currently constituted in Northern

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin will be traveling
from north of one border to north of another.

McLaughlin, his party's general secretary, will be in
Canada over the St. Patrick's week festivities.

McLaughlin will be in Canada March 16 to 19 where he will
attend events in Toronto. London and Windsor, Ontario.

On Sunday, March 19, McLaughlin will be a guest on the
review stand for the Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade.

This story appeared in the issue of March 8 - 14, 2006


Ex-Warder Guilty Of Porn Charges

A prison warder and former soldier has been convicted of
downloading and saving two indecent images of children.

Craigavon Crown Court found Vincent Ditchfield, 46, from
Clarehill Court in Lisburn guilty on two counts of making
indecent photos in April 2000.

Ditchfield, who was acquitted on five similar charges, was
investigated as part of the UK-wide Operation Ore into
internet child pornography.

He was released on bail and will be sentenced at a later

Ditchfield, who had been a prison warder at the Maze jail
in County Antrim for 14 years before he was suspended from
duty, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register.

Over the course of the two day trial, the jury heard that
officers searched his home in September 2002 seizing two
computers and 40 floppy discs on which the indecent images
were found.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/08 15:25:34 GMT


Summer Pledge On NI Talks Plans

Both governments are committed to publishing plans for
breaking the political stalemate in NI before the marching
season, the Irish PM has said.

Bertie Ahern made the comments as he left Downing Street
where he and Prime Minister Tony Blair had held talks.

Mr Ahern also welcomed the publication of the latest
Independent Monitoring Commission report which said the IRA
was no longer a terrorist threat.

Nationalists want the governments to recall the assembly
this spring.

Mr Ahern said both governments wanted to work with all of
the political parties to find a solution acceptable to

"We want all the parties to help us in this, this is not
just for the two governments," he said.

"But if it's left to the two governments, the two
governments will give the leadership and make the decisions
if that's the way it has to be.

"But certainly we would like to find a way to carry
everyone with us."

Coordinated approach

A spokesman for Mr Blair said Wednesday's talks were to
ensure a coordinated approach between London and Dublin,
and that the prime minister was now "clearer in his head"
about where the process was headed.

The spokesman would not be drawn about details of what had
been agreed and whether a two-step assembly, leading to
full devolution after a period of trust-building, remained
part of the proposals.

However, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty said the Downing Street
talks were a "missed opportunity" to move the process

The West Tyrone MP said the governments should have heeded
his party's call to set a date for the recall of the
assembly and the election of ministers before the end of

Not workable

Mr Doherty rejected suggestions it was his party which
scuppered the "road map" and said it was not a workable
plan to have a shadow assembly.

He also dismissed the IMC as a "joke" and complained it had
failed to deal with what he called political policing.

Talks involving the two governments and local parties which
had been scheduled to take place at Stormont on Wednesday
were postponed.

Government officials said this was because of logistical

However, 8 March was the date set by the secretary of state
for agreement on rule changes to any future assembly.

Sinn Fein want the governments to set a deadline for the
DUP to get into an assembly with nationalists before the

However, Nigel Dodds of the DUP called on Mr Blair to "face
Sinn Fein down" and go for devolution without an executive.

Speaking ahead of the talks, he said: "Our message to Tony
Blair is clear - further procrastination will achieve

"Get on with the job of creating the maximum amount of
devolution which is possible in the circumstances and
clearly that does not include executive-style devolution.

"Recognise also that we will accept no kind of time-limited
option which demands a move to executive style government
at a certain arbitrary date."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/08 17:10:34 GMT


Completion Of Demilitarisation And End Of Political
Policing Required - Alex Maskey

Published: 8 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has described today's report by
the IMC on demilitarisation as irrelevant and called for a
speedy completion by the British Government of a full
programme of demilitarisation, including the dismantling of
its entire war machinery and an end to political policing.

Speaking today Mr Maskey said:

"Today‚s IMC report on demilitarisation is irrelevant. The
IMC is a discredited body and cannot be relied upon to
deliver an objective or independent assessment of progress
on demilitarisation.

"The British Government committed to a rolling programme of
demilitarisation. The facts of the matter are that there
has only been a minimal reduction in British Troop
deployment in the north of Ireland in the past year. There
are presently over 9000 British soldiers based in the Six
Counties. There are also a large number of British army

"The closure of a number of observation posts in South
Armagh is of course welcome. However, recent revelations
about the British Army spying operations in the area along
with growing evidence of an increase in incidents of
political policing throughout the north suggests that the
British Government are more interested in the
transformation of their war machinery in the north of
Ireland rather than dismantling it.

"Political progress requires the British Government to
commit to peaceful and democratic activity. They must end
their war against nationalists and republicans. This
requires the speedy completion of a full programme of
demilitarisation and the end to political policing." ENDS


'Illegals' Lobby For Right To Stay In US

Denis Staunton, in Washington

Capitol Hill became a sea of green and white yesterday as
thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants came out of the
shadows to petition Congress for immigration reform.

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Legalize the
Irish", they came from Boston, New York, Chicago, San
Francisco and many places in between, rising before dawn to
travel to Washington in specially chartered buses.

They were rewarded with appearances from some of the most
influential figures in Congress, including the two front-
runners to succeed President Bush - Senators John McCain
and Hillary Clinton.

"It is so heartening to see you here. You are really here
on behalf of what America means, America's values,
America's hopes," Ms Clinton said.

The rally was organised by the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform, a three-month-old grassroots group that has
transformed the campaign on behalf of Irish immigrants.

It came as a Senate committee started discussing plans for
immigration reform, including a bill sponsored by Mr McCain
and Senator Edward Kennedy that would give America's
estimated 11 million illegal immigrants the chance to
embark on a path to US citizenship.

Ms Clinton said the Irish should join with other immigrant
groups to keep pressure on Congress to pass a bill that
would strengthen border security but allow the undocumented
to work legally in the US.

© The Irish Times


Raising McCain

Senate Maverick A Surprising Champion For Irish

By Ray O'Hanlon

The John McCain File - Born: August, 29, 1936 in the Panama
Canal Zone. Residence: Phoenix, Arizona. Wife: Cindy.
Father of eight children, seven from first and second
marriage and one adopted. Education: United States Naval
Academy and National War College. Military Service: United
States Navy 1958-81. Shot down over North Vietnam where he
was imprisoned 1967-73. Winner of numerous medals including
Silver Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Political career: Member of House of Representatives 1982-
86. Member of U.S. Senate since 1987. Unsuccessful
candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in
2000. Recent words of note: "We do have to secure our
borders, every nation in the world has to. But as we have
doubled and redoubled our spending on border control, the
number of people coming into the country illegally has

John McCain is an avid Roddy Doyle fan.

This sounds like a strange opening line for a profile of
the oft-perplexing United States senator from Arizona who
might someday be president.

But John McCain is a man who frequently surprises.

And what is surprising not a few Irish Americans of late is
McCain's growing involvement in America's Irish story, one
that mirrors his interest in Irish storytellers such as
Dubliner Doyle.

McCain's emergence into Irish-American consciousness has
been a slow burn, a process that stands in contrast to the
"volcanic" temper ascribed to the man by the Arizona
Republic newspaper back in 2000, the year that McCain ran
for president and pummeled George W. Bush in the New
Hampshire primary.

McCain first wandered into Irish-American sights as a
critic of President Clinton's early Irish policies.

He loomed again over the Irish-American horizon in 1999
when his bestseller memoir, "Faith of My Fathers," rooted
the McCain family in the soil of County Antrim.

From that point on, John Sidney McCain was a proclaimed
member of Irish America, Scots-Irish branch.

McCain displays many of the characteristics that people
expect from that tribe.

When he was roaming the countryside in 2000 he did so in a
bus called the Straight Talk Express.

It might have been more accurately described as the tongue
lashing special. John McCain is hard-edged, flinty and
clearly does not suffer fools lightly.

No surprise then that he has frequently raised hackles,
Irish-American ones included.

When the San Francisco-based human rights group, Northern
Ireland Alert, issued its "Northern Ireland Congressional
Scorecard" in August 1998, it called for the defeat of
three U.S. senators in the next relevant election "due to
their lack of interest in Northern Ireland, a primary
United States foreign policy initiative."

One of the three was John McCain.

This was unfair to the then two-term Republican. McCain was
interested in the Northern Ireland troubles.

It was just that he wasn't particularly interested in the
Irish republican analysis of them.

The NIR volley stemmed from words written by McCain during
the 1996 Clinton/Dole presidential campaign in the
publication, Foreign Policy.

McCain had described the conflict in Northern Ireland as "a
sad and tragic affair" in a country to which many Americans
traced their ancestry.

"Yet it has never, even remotely, affected our security
interests in Europe," McCain wrote.

"Rather, the conflict has engaged only our concern that
pluralistic societies live peacefully and our despair for
the suffering that terrorism has inflicted on our oldest
and most trusted ally, Great Britain."

And he continued: "Motivated by romantic, anachronistic
notions of Irish republicanism, some prominent Irish
Americans persuaded the president [over the objection of
the State Department] to jump headfirst into the Northern
Ireland problem, severely straining our relations with

"The president gave a visa to Gerry Adams, the leader of
Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army
[IRA], a terrorist organization that has been for the last
30 years implacably hostile not only to Great Britain but
to our own democratic values. When that organization
resumed its terrorism campaign in Great Britain, President
Clinton again issued Adams a visa without even securing
from him a simple denunciation of the taking of innocent
life. Indeed, the United States received very little in
exchange for its concession to Sinn Fein."

McCain concluded: "With his credibility now substantially
at risk in Northern Ireland, the president finds himself
stuck in a conflict that has frustrated the best efforts of
many a skilled statesman."

By granting Adams a visa after the IRA's return to violence
and deciding to reinforce his earlier "mistaken
involvement" in the Northern Ireland problem, Clinton,
argued McCain, had "deepened the risk to his credibility
and further damaged relations with our British allies."

A few months later, McCain got into a heated discussion on
Northern Ireland with fellow Republican Peter King at a
dinner party in the British Embassy in Washington. But what
began as heat would become fruitful.

Four years later, when he himself was running for the White
House, McCain was telling reporters that he was "pleased
with the progress of the peace process." And though he did
not win the presidency, McCain's interest in Ireland now
appeared set.

In early 2001, a group of Republican legislators and Irish-
American GOP activists sent a letter to President Bush
urging him to directly involve himself in the search for a
lasting peace in the North.

The letter urged Bush to sustain Bill Clinton's Irish
policies as a top presidential priority.

"Your predecessor saw that career bureaucrats were not able
or willing to provide the political heft on this issue
necessary to achieve the real breakthroughs in the Peace
Process," the letter to Bush stated.

"Only after he moved lead responsibility for this issue
from the State Department to the National Security Council
was President Clinton able to give a clear indication of
how important of an issue this would be for his

"A similarly clear and convincing statement of this issue's
political importance to your administration would be an
early and welcome sign of your intention to continue
America's unbiased involvement in the peace process."

The letter was signed by seven members of the House of
Representative and two U.S. senators. One of the two was
John McCain.

But even if McCain had turned a corner with regard to the
principle of a U.S. role in Ireland, that famous glare of
his was still fixed, critically, on the Irish Republican

This was starkly evident in March, 2005 when McCain rose to
accept an award from the American Ireland Fund at its
annual dinner in Washington, D.C.

What followed came directly from the back seat of the
Straight Talk Express.

"No one can honestly claim today that the IRA is anything
better than an organized crime syndicate that steals and
murders to serve its members' personal interests," McCain

The IRA, said McCain, were "cowards."

Gerry Adams was in the audience. So was Bertie Ahern.
McCain later justified his no-holds-barred attack as being
necessary to advance the peace process.

Nobody argued, not there, not that night.

What was more notable than McCain's words that night,
however, was the fact that a politician who had once sniped
from the Irish-American fringes was now commanding center

Just a few years previously, during a campaign stop in
Vermont, McCain had been unable to answer a question as to
the identity of the Irish prime minister. The best he had
been able to come up with was that it used be Charles

Five years on, McCain had the podium while the correct
answer, Bertie Ahern, sat in the audience listening and

But even as he was training his gimlet eye towards Northern
Ireland one more time that night, McCain was also turning
his attention to another issue of perennial interest to
Irish America: immigration reform.

McCain would soon afterwards join Ted Kennedy in
formulating a bill that is now seen as the main hope for
the undocumented Irish - no matter what their views on the

Indeed, it is to McCain that Irish eyes will be mostly
turning in the coming days.

He is, crucially, a member of the majority party in
Congress and will be facing his onetime antagonist, Peter
King, in the debate intended to blend the varied and
contradictory reform ideas coming out of both the Senate
and House of Representatives.

This time, however, it will be McCain who will seem like
the softer touch.

Few would have predicted a decade ago that so much of Irish
America's future would be resting in the hands of the
senior senator from Arizona.

But this has now come to pass.

The 2006 John McCain has been a multiple visitor to Ireland
and frequent guest at Irish diplomatic and philanthropic

The Roddy Doyle fan is in the van of the immigration reform
wing on Capitol Hill, is committed to securing an earned
legalization path for the undocumented and, should he seek
the presidency in 2008, is certain to snap up a very
respectable number of Irish American votes.

"Certainly the Irish American Republicans see Senator
McCain as a leader, not only in our party, but in our
community and on the issues important to our community,"
said Brian McCarthy, chairman of the political action
group, Irish American Republicans.

Who, a decade ago, would have imagined such a turn?

This story appeared in the issue of March 8 - 14, 2006


A Capitol bill

Hearing Reveals Deep Divisions Over Immigration

By Caitriona Palmer

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- It was standing room only in a
congressional hearing room Thursday of last week as the
Senate Judiciary Committee met to begin work on drafting a
new immigration bill.

As journalists, lobbyists and immigrant families jostled
for a place in the back of the austere wood-paneled room,
passions ran high as senators argued as to whether a new
bill should strengthen America's porous southern borders,
or offer a guest worker program to bring the millions of
illegals living in the United States out of the shadows.

Calling the challenge ahead of them, a "gigantic task",
committee chairman

Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), admitted that it would be difficult
to gain consensus before a March 27 deadline imposed by
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

"I have seen virtually no agreement on anything when it
comes to this immigration bill," Specter said.

Up for discussion was a 305-page bill cobbled together by
Chairman Specter as a compromise based on previous

Specter's draft legislation included some aspects of a bill
introduced by Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy that
is favored by pro-immigrant groups such as the Irish Lobby
for Immigration Reform (ILIR).

Specter's proposal calls for heavy border enforcement
provisions while also creating a guest worker program
allowing immigrants to work in the U.S. for six years
before returning to their home country.

Unlike the McCain-Kennedy bill, however, it offers no
chance of citizenship. The Irish government argues that a
path to permanent residency must be a key component of any
new immigration bill.

Sitting beneath a wooden crest bearing the American eagle
and flag, Senator

Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, angrily denounced
the idea of a guest worker program, saying it would lead to
more illegal immigration.

"If we go forward with a guest worker program, we'll have a
much worse problem," he said jabbing his finger repeatedly
in the air.

"Nobody raises any questions about the illegality of people
right out on Main Street, Washington D.C., waiting to get a
job," he shouted.

Democratic senator Dick Durbin rebuked Grassley for his
outburst and reminded the committee that four members
sitting around the table were first generation Americans
from immigrant families

"To start this immigration debate in negative terms is the
wrong way to start," he said. "God only knows where we
could be without the immigrant spirit that has made this

"The problem is not immigrants, the problem is our system
of immigration,"

Durbin said, echoing a view held by many Republicans and

The debate in the hearing room sounded abstract at times,
but for some of the families who showed up that day,
immigration law is a crisis lived day to day.

Before the hearing started, a gaggle of children
accompanying one Latino group ran amok among the lobbyists,
lawyers and journalists lining up. The excited cries echoed
down the long corridors and bounced off the high ceilings.
Congressional staffers, clearly unused to such unruly
guests in the senate, gingerly picked their way through the

An overflow crowd, made up heavily of immigrants from Latin
America and what appeared to be ranchers from Texas,
watched the hearing via a television link upstairs until a
harassed-looking legislative aide turned down the volume
and announced the room was needed for another meeting. The
crowd left reluctantly, telling the aide what they thought
of the senator.

As congressional elections approach in November, illegal
immigration and increased violence along the border have
become hot domestic issues on the electoral trail.

It was clear from this initial day of debate that forging
common ground between those who favor enhanced border
security and those supporting some type of status for the
estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the
United States will be hard to find.

Lawmakers have just three weeks to come up with compromise
legislation. If they fail, Senate Majority leader Bill
Frist has threatened to impose his own bill, one that
focuses solely on enforcement.

But three weeks seems an impossibly meager amount of time
to find a solution that has eluded Congress for decades.

Congress has struggled with the immigration issue for the
last 30 years,"

Senator Edward Kennedy told the judiciary hearing.

More than anybody else on the committee, Kennedy has the
years on Capitol Hill to know what he is talking about.

This story appeared in the issue of March 8 - 14, 2006


In good health

Insurance Plan Relief For Undocumented

By Ailbhe Jordan and Ray O'Hanlon

Undocumented Irish immigrants have discovered a new way to
get healthcare: buying a policy that does not require legal
residency but still offers coverage in the United States.

Multinational Underwriters Inc., a company that specializes
in international travel insurance, has confirmed to the
Irish Echo that the Platinum cover insurance plan it offers
as part of its International Citizen Series is open to
undocumented people living in the U.S.

The insurance is aimed primarily at non-U.S. residents
living in the U.S. or Canada for extended periods of time
and is also available to people living in the U.S. without
permanent visas.

"It's not a question as to whether you're a resident or
not, it's a worldwide plan," according to insurance broker
Eugenia Wright, who is familiar with the plan through
selling it to clients around New York.

The news will come as a relief to many of the 25,000 or
more undocumented Irish immigrants who live in fear of
becoming ill because other healthcare companies require a
green card or other visa.

Meanwhile members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are
expected to convene again today against a backdrop of a bus
cavalcade that the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
predicts will result in 1,600 reform supporters gathering
under the shadow of Capitol Hill.

The senators are wrestling with a 305-page immigration
reform bill that will compete with several other proposals
in the weeks ahead.

Pro-reform campaigners have said they hope the issue can be
resolved by May, fearing that it could otherwise become an
election issue.

"Time-wise we're dealing with a pretty small window," said
one source.

This story appeared in the issue of March 8 - 14, 2006


Still Paddy After All These Years - Irish Defamation

By: J. Michael Finn, AOH State Historian

With St. Patrick's Day quickly approaching it is good to
address the subject of Irish defamation. We Irish continue
to allow the most heinous forms of defamation to our
history, our culture and our religion. These insults and
misrepresentations would not be tolerated by any other
nationality or religion. It is time we all stepped forward
to rid the marketplace of these stereotypes.

Where did all of this derogatory Paddy crap begin? During
the Great Hunger of the 1840s it was necessary for the
British to justify their failure to provide relief to
millions of starving Irish. In addition, for political
reasons they wanted to reinforce the idea that the Irish
were a sub-human race and certainly not on the same
evolutionary level as the Anglo-Saxon. So, they depicted
the Irish as drunken, violent, lazy animals. Surely, no one
would want to provide relief to a pack of violent animals.

English editorial cartoonists depicted the Irish as apes
with simian features, turned up noses and animal-like
pointed ears. Why a turned-up or so-called pug noses? It
happens that a deformed nose was a symptom of untreated
syphilis. This denoted to the 19th century viewer that
clearly the Irish were immoral (the 1840s equivalent of
"Kiss Me, I'm Irish"). In case anyone was still unclear
whom they were depicting, these apes most often had a
bottle of whiskey sticking out of their pocket and a gun or
club in their hand.

The association of the Irish with apes in caricature was
carried across the Atlantic and stolen by American
political cartoonists such as Thomas Nast and Frederick
Opper who drew the Irish as, you guessed it, out-of-
control, drunken, violent gorillas (you remember Thomas
Nast, he's the guy that drew all of those classic images of
Santa Claus). These cartoons continued from the 1860s
through the beginning of the 1900s. Frederick Opper's 1902
cartoon Happy Hooligan, depicted a happy, but stupid, dolt
who wore a tin can for a hat and still retained simian

As we all know, the Irish can be their own worst enemy when
it comes to defamation. Just look at some of the images we
use today of leprechauns. Pointed ears with simian features
are common. The original folklore collectors who collected
stories of leprechauns described them as small old men with
beards, not elves or animals, and certainly not with a
glass of green beer in their hands. We must first clean up
our own house before we can expect the non-Irish to do the

The AOH has made considerable progress over the years in
working with the national greeting card companies to stamp
out stereotypes and stage-Irish images; however, much more
work is needed as some companies are slipping back into the
old easy stereotypes.

Do not purchase or send greeting cards that defame or make
fun of our race or religion.

Be sure to let card shop owners know of your objection to
any cards or gift items that depict the Irish as drunken
fools or animals, or that insult St. Patrick or our
religion. These images are neither cute nor funny. In
answer to the most common merchant response, "No, the Irish
can't take a joke, and certainly not at the expense of our
heritage or religion."

If we want the public to take the Irish seriously on issues
that we care about (Freedom for all Ireland, abortion,
extradition, etc) we must put an end to this "drunken
Paddy" image. Today, as in the bad old days, our enemies
use this 'fun-loving' image against us.

Now you and I know where it all started. Your help in this
effort is needed during this season and throughout the


SF Denies IRA Involvement In Belfast Arson Attacks

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

Sinn Féin has denied that provisional republicans are
implicated in more than 100 arson attacks in the
Ballymurphy area of west Belfast that follow from the
murder of Gerard Devlin five weeks ago.

Six people - three women, one man and two children -
narrowly escaped with their lives after the latest attack
in the early hours of yesterday morning on members of the
Notorantonio family. Their home on Whitecliff Parade in
Ballymurphy was badly damaged in the petrol-bomb attack.

Members of the Notorantonios have blamed the IRA for this
arson attack, while local SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood
also said that "certain republican elements" were involved.

The incidents stem from the stabbing to death after a fight
of Mr Devlin in Whitecliff Parade, a dispute that goes back
to a long-running feud involving the Notorantonios and the

On Tuesday, Christopher Notorantonio, who lives in the
house targeted early yesterday but was not in the building
at the time, was freed on bail. He is one of four people
charged in connection with Mr Devlin's murder.

A lawyer for Mr Notorantonio said there had been more than
100 attacks in the Ballymurphy area since Mr Devlin was
murdered, most of them on members of the wider Notorantonio

Victor Notorantonio yesterday blamed the IRA for most of
the attacks. Mr Attwood added: "Let's be clear, there are
certain republican elements around this issue and their
agenda will end up being hostile to the best interests of
the community. People need now to be very cautious or these
elements will abuse their power."

Local Sinn Féin Assembly member Michael Ferguson said he
"repudiated" the charges. He said he and other Sinn Féin
and community activists were actively engaged in trying to
defuse tensions in the area.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Way Forward Must Be Forged Quickly


Encouraging political parties to share power in a divided
society can be a messy, frustrating and awkward business,
as Northern Ireland has shown in recent years. Doing
nothing, however, risks the danger that that society may
slip backwards into anarchy. Because of that, the Irish and
British governments must persevere in their efforts to
restore the devolved institutions which were established
under the Belfast Agreement and to bring about new policing
arrangements. Nothing is served by a vacuum.

At their meeting in London yesterday, Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair considered the
difficulties arising from all-party talks in Northern
Ireland and prepared to publish details of a way forward in
advance of the "marching season". Mr Blair had hoped to
announce the restoration of the Northern Assembly with
limited powers, coupled with an absolute deadline for the
restoration of a power-sharing Executive. But fierce
opposition from Sinn Féin and the SDLP convinced Mr Ahern
that such an approach would be counter-productive,
particularly as there was no guarantee that the Democratic
Unionist Party would share power with Sinn Féin at the
designated time.

In spite of tactical disagreements, the governments will
take comfort from the latest report of the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC), which reflects a changed
security environment in Northern Ireland following IRA
decommissioning last year. The IMC found that the IRA no
longer presented a terrorist threat and had taken a
strategic decision to follow a political path. Its members
had been instructed not to engage in public disorder. As a
result, most illegal activities could be dealt with by the
PSNI. However, dissident republicans and loyalist
paramilitaries posed a continuing threat to the security
forces. And there remained, the report concluded, "risk of
significant and unpredictable public disorder".

That uncertainty, in itself, poses a danger to the
democratic process. But, as Alliance Party leader David
Ford warned at his party conference last weekend: a more
immediate threat involves growing public cynicism because
of the failure of politicians to accept their
responsibilities in relation to the economy, public
services and the environment. Should that hiatus continue,
he warned, the electorate would conclude that politics had
no real contribution to make to their lives.

The IMC is due to make a further report on the activities
and attitudes of paramilitary groupings next month. It is
likely to be more positive about the IRA than last
January's assessment when it questioned whether it had
decommissioned all its weapons and ended criminal activity.
A favourable judgment would put pressure on the DUP. But
lack of trust remains a major obstacle. Mr Ahern has
indicated that if the Northern parties cannot or will not
move forward, the governments will bring forward proposals
to restore devolved government later this year. The road
ahead will be difficult.

© The Irish Times


Stone Unveiling For Martyrs Of Spanish Civil War

Antrim History And Heritage Event Notice Wednesday
March 08, 2006 19:34 by Ciarán

The National Graves Association invite you to the unveiling
of a stone commemorating the sacrifice of Irish republicans
who fought against fascism during the Spanish civil war.

The stone will be unveiled by a prominent speaker at the
County Antrim plot in Miltown cemetery, followed by a talk
by Ruan O'Donnell of Limerick University, and Sean Quinn
from Belfast.

Entertainment with songs, readings and poetry hosted by Pól
Mac Adaim will then be held.

County Antrim Plot
Miltown Cemetery
Sunday 12th March, 2pm sharp


Gerry Adams Extends Condolences To Family Of Albert

Published: 8 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed his deep
sorrow at the death of Albert Fullerton in Donegal this
afternoon. Albert had been gravely ill since being
involved in a serious traffic accident in Donegal on Monday
morning. Mr. Adams extended his condolences to Albert’s
extended family, in particular to Stephanie and their sons
Ricky, Eamonn and Bryce and also to his mother Diana.

Mr. Adams said:

“The death of Albert Fullerton in such tragic circumstances
will be a difficult loss to all those who knew him.

“Albert was an inspiration to all those seeking truth and
justice. In recent years he travelled the length and
breadth of Ireland campaigning for an independent inquiry
into the death of his father Eddie, who was killed in 1991
as a result of collusion between loyalists and British

“On behalf of Sinn Féin I want to extend condolences to
Albert’s extended family in particular to Stephanie and
their sons Ricky, Eamonn and Bryce and also to his mother

“Albert will be deeply missed by all of us who knew him. I
measc laochra na nGael a raibh sé."ENDS


Hearing Told Girl (15) Who Fell From Ship Was Served Alcohol

Seán O'Driscoll, in New York

A 15-year-old Dublin girl was served at least 10 alcoholic
drinks before she fell over the side of a cruise ship last
January, a family friend has told a congressional hearing
in Washington.

Brian Mulvaney also said the FBI has refused to help the
family because , Lynsey O'Brien was not a US citizen and
the drink was served outside US territory.

Mr Mulvaney was appearing on Tuesday before the
subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and
international relations, which was hearing evidence on
cruise-ship safety.

He told the subcommittee that the cruise line, Costa
Cruise, had allowed Lynsey to drink huge amounts of alcohol
though the company's passenger charter said it would not
serve alcohol to minors.

He called on Congress to introduce new legislation that
would make US cruise companies criminally responsible for
any cruise that leaves US ports.

Lynsey fell overboard on January 4th off the Mexican coast
and her body has not been found. The cruise began and ended
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Mr Mulvaney told the subcommittee he was there to tell them
about a "terrible tragedy" involving a "beautiful young

He said he was a childhood friend of Lynsey's father, Paul
O'Brien, and the two families went on the cruise together.

"Lynsey O'Brien, a vibrant 15- year-old girl, died as a
result of a bartender on the Costa Cruise ship, Majica,
serving excessive amounts of alcohol, more than 10 drinks,
knowing she was a minor," he said.

Mr Mulvaney said that the bartender did this despite a
"bold statement" on the passenger contract that prohibited
serving drink to minors. He said there were signs posted
all over the ship to that effect.

He added that any bartender working on US soil would be
arrested and prosecuted for serving minors and the bar
would lose its licence.

"Just because it was aboard a ship, it should not isolate
the bartender and the company," he said. "I can't imagine a
worse crime than plying a 15-year-old girl with so much
liquor she literally died as a direct result."

He called on Congress to change the law so that US law
applied to all ships that leave US ports.

Other witnesses testified about deaths and assaults on
cruise ships in recent years.

However, Lawrence Kaye, a Los Angeles attorney who
represents the cruise-ship industry, told the committee
that the number of such cases was low and that Florida law
allowed cruise ships to be sued for injuries caused to
drunk customers.

He said cruise ships had been sued even though the
potential harm was much less than on land, where drunk
customers were more likely to drive a vehicle.

The Costa Line communications department did not reply to
requests yesterday for a comment on Mr Mulvaney's evidence.

© The Irish Times


Sorry: US Embassy Regrets

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

The US embassy in Dublin has said it "regrets any
inconvenience" caused to actor Ruaidhrí Conroy, who was
denied entry to the US last week because he had overstayed
a previous visa by two days.

Conroy had travelled to attend the Oscars ceremony on
Sunday evening, but was denied admission to the US on
arrival at Los Angeles. He is starring in Martin McDonagh's
film, Six Shooter, which won the Oscar for for live action
short film.

In a statement yesterday, the embassy said Conroy's was a
recurring problem. It reminded prospective visitors that
any citizen from a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country -
which includes the Republic and most European states - who
violated the terms of the VWP must obtain a visa for any
future visit.

"This process is simple, but should be undertaken by any
VWP traveller who knows he/she has overstayed a visa in the
United States previously."

While "a very small number" of travellers may be
permanently ineligible for visas, in most cases the visa
would be issued quickly, the embassy said.

The Republic has a pre- departure clearance arrangement for
travel to the US, under which officials from the US
Department of Homeland Security check all documents before
passengers board their flights in Ireland. For citizens of
other European states, this clearance takes place on
arrival. Conroy left for Los Angeles from London, therefore
had not been cleared before boarding his flight.

© The Irish Times


Holy Spirit: In The Pub

Peter Gleeson

The Catholic Church in Co Tipperary is about to bring God
into the most famous of Irish institutions - the pub.
People attending a week-long mission in Nenagh, starting on
Saturday are being invited by the church to events in two
local pubs where they will have the opportunity to talk
about their faith and attitudes to religion.

Priests in Nenagh are billing the events as the "Wine and
Whine" sessions. They are joining parishioners over a drink
to talk about God, faith, sin, life, death, religion or
anything else of concern.

"It's going to be a listening exercise for all of us," said
local curate Fr Willie Teehan. "It's an informal
opportunity for people to air some of their concerns. We
want to hear how they feel and think about different issues
in the church. It's a reaching out in a different way."

He added: "The Irish pub is part of Irish culture. It is a
level playing pitch and our view on it is that it is better
to light a candle than curse the dark." The first "Wine and
Whine" event will be held in Una Powell's pub on Monday
night and the second will be in the Dapp Inn on Wednesday
night. Both events start at 10pm.

The mission, entitled "Springtime in Nenagh - A Call to
Growth and New Life", will be led by a team of religious
who are all based in Edinburgh, Fr Ed Hone, Fr Michael
Hennessy and Sr Mary Timmons.

The parish council said the mission offers an opportunity
for spiritual renewal. "It represents a chance for our
whole community to take stock of where we are, and look
forward with hope to where we would like to be: a chance
for growth and new life."

© The Irish Times


Ireland's Anthem Up For Grabs On eBay

(Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)THEY go to the very
heart of Irish history.

They are the rousing words - handwritten by a patriotic
young Dubliner - which would become Ireland's national

But the original copy of Peadar Kearney's Amhran na
bhFiann, penned in 1907, could soon be on its way out of
the country when it is put up for sale on Internet auction
site eBay.

The words, scrawled on two sheets of paper, are among 400
items relating to the struggle for independence going under
the hammer in Dublin next month.

Other lots include a telegram from King George V to Irish
secretary of state William T Cosgrave informing him that
Ireland would be granted independence.

The tricolour thought to have flown over the GPO in the
Easter Rising of 1916 and a typewriter belonging to Michael
Collins, with an essay he wrote about warfare, aged 14, are
also included.

The sale, by leading auction houses James Adam & Sons and
Mealy's Auctioneers, is expected to fetch more than
E3million, with Kearney's anthem estimated at between
E800,000 and E1.2million.

Adam's director Stuart Cole admitted the eBay sale would
increase the chances of historically important items being
sold to foreign collectors. He said: 'The chances are that
a lot of it will go out of the country, but that's the
nature of the beast.

'We are here to get the best possible price for our clients
and market the lots to the widest possible audience.' The
Independence Sale, scheduled for April 12 to coincide with
the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, is described as
the 'most comprehensive and significant auction of Irish
history yet to take place'.

Fonsie Mealy, who runs Mealy's, described the national
anthem lot - currently owned by a private Irish collector -
as of 'supreme national importance' and said he hoped it
would stay in Irish hands. Kearney wrote his song in
English, with the title The Soldier's Song, in 1907 when he
was a 24-year-old housepainter and part-time teacher.

His friend Patrick Heaney wrote a stirring tune to
accompany his words.

It lay forgotten for almost 20 years before being
translated into Irish and adopted as the national anthem in

Bids for the document will be accepted on eBay's

. An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence
has been donated to the National Museum.

The family of Joseph McCrossan, who worked for many years
as librarian in the Oireachtas, handed over the document,
which is similar to one which sold for a world record
E390,000 at auction in Dublin in 2004.

Research has failed to establish how many Proclamations
survived the Easter Rising but it is believed around 20
still exist.

Michael Kenny, keeper at the museum, said: 'The
Proclamation was picked up in O'Connell Street in 1916 by
Mary McCrossan, the paternal grandmother of the McCrossans.

'She hid the document in the lining of her hat to protect
it.' The Proclamation will be central to the exhibition
'The Easter Rising: Understanding 1916', which will open in
the museum in April for the 90th anniversary.

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