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March 09, 2006

Finucane Family Welcome Dail Move

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BB 03/09/06 Finucane Family Welcome Dail Move
SF 03/09/06 Blair Is In Collusion If He Fails To Confront Securocrats
DI 03/09/06 Police Notify Catholic Taxi Firms Of Loyalist Threats
BT 03/09/06 Wright Inquiry Cost £500,000 In A Year
BT 03/09/06 Bertie To Plead With Bush For 25,000 Irish In US
JN 03/09/06 Irish Lobby Goes To Nation's Capital
NS 03/09/06 Irish Win Clinton As Ally Of Immigration Law Change
NL 03/09/06 Politicians Give Mixed Response To Statement
BT 03/09/06 DUP Says Monitoring Body Confused About Status Of IRA
UT 03/09/06 RIR Redundancy Packages To Be Unveiled
SF 03/09/06 RIR Involvement In Collusion Will Not Go Away
BB 03/09/06 Youth Held Over City House Attack
FO 03/09/06 Alleged IRA Chief's Border Home Raided
DI 03/09/06 Concerns As PSNI Plans To Use Taser Stun Guns
UT 03/09/06 Nationalists Oppose Police 'Tasers'
BB 03/09/06 Watchdog Criticises Shankhill Museum Grants
DI 03/09/06 MI5 Agent Sought In Omagh Probe
BT 03/09/06 MI5 Head Refuses To Meet Families Of Omagh Victims
BM 03/09/06 'Don't Tar Us With Same Brush'
BM 03/09/06 DUP Councillors Blame SF For Riots
BM 03/09/06 Moyle Council Support For Irish Unity
DI 03/09/06 Opin: Not Facing The Truth But Dodging The Question
DI 03/09/06 Opin: Does Immigration Overhaul Plan Border On Injustice?
DI 03/09/06 Opin: Playwright’s Tribute To Hunger Strike
DI 03/09/06 Opin: No Stomach For Facing Down DUP
IN 03/09/06 Opin: Questions Of Collusion Need To Be Addressed
IN 03/09/06 Opin: Failed NIO Notion Keeps North Polarised
NS 03/09/06 Opin: Reality But No Reconciliation
BT 03/09/06 Opin: London Life: Mlas Must Take Centre Stage ... Now
BT 03/08/06 McAleese Luxury Home Is Up For Grabs At £600,000
TN 03/09/06 Book Rev: Who Was The Real Michael Collins?
IN 03/09/06 Mid Cannons Roar .... We’ll Mumble A Soldier’s Song
DI 03/09/06 Russell For Raglan


Finucane Family Welcome Dail Move

The family of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane have welcomed
a call from the Irish parliament calling for a full public
inquiry into the 1989 murder.

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

The NIO said the motion was "fundamentally flawed and

Geraldine Finucane, who attended the debate, said she hoped
it would send a message to the British government.

"I think it certainly sends out a very clear message that
not only the Irish government supports our call for an
independent inquiry but the entire Dail now supports us,
openly and publicly," she said.

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

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

'Strategic decision'

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.

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

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: "The inquiry into the murder of
Pat Finucane must be forensic, independent and public."

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: 2006/03/09 07:26:30 GMT


Blair Is Complicit In Collusion If He Fails To Confront
Securocrats - Ó Caoláin

Published: 8 March, 2006

Speaking to the all-party motion supporting the demand for
a fully independent public inquiry in to the murder of Pat
Finucane in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin TD, Caoimhghin
Ó Caoláin described the British Government's Inquiries
legislation as "the main obstacle to an inquiry" in to the
murder of the Belfast solicitor. The Cavan/Monaghan deputy
called on the Irish Government to internationalise the
campaign and described this evening's all-party motion as a
"significant" and "positive development."

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "All-party motions of any kind are a
rarity in the Oireachtas and today's motion is highly
significant. It shows the strength of support for the
family of murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane in
their demand for a full independent public inquiry. As such
this is a very welcome motion and a most positive

"By refusing to hold the inquiry as recommended by Judge
Peter Cory the British government is in flagrant breach of
its own commitments given at the Weston Park talks. It
stands indicted before the international community.

"The main obstacle to an inquiry into the murder of Pat
Finucane is the British government's insistence that the
inquiry 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

"Pressure must be brought to bear on the British government
to repeal that draconian Act. The Irish Government needs to
make very plain to the Irish people, to people in Britain
and to the international community why an inquiry under
this legislation would be entirely unacceptable.

"The Taoiseach should now use the All-Party Dáil motion
before us as part of an international effort to bring
attention to this anti-human rights British 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 manner by the Irish government at EU and UN

"As a follow-on to this motion the Taoiseach should call a
special summit meeting with British Prime Minister 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.

"The word collusion is inadequate to describe what went on.
Loyalist paramilitary groups, in their various guises, were
used as counter-insurgency gangs by the British state. Key
British strategist Brigadier Frank Kitson admitted this
quite openly.

"At all levels the hand of the British state was evident.
In some cases, as in that of the UDA, it was actually in on
the establishment of the paramilitary groups. In other
cases it controlled key players and operations, either
directly or indirectly. In all cases it heavily infiltrated
these groups with its agents and protected them at all
costs, even if this meant allowing murders to be carried
out. And of course British intelligence pointed killers in
the direction of their targets, in the case of Patrick
Finucane through their agent Brian Nelson.

"So long as the British Prime Minister fails to confront
these forces in his own system he is complicit with them."

Full Text Of Statement Follows -- Check Against Delivery

Statements on All-Party Dáil Motion on Patrick Finucane
Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, Sinn Féin Dáil leader.

I have to tell members that before these statements even
commenced this evening the Northern Ireland Office had
issued a statement dismissing the content of the all-party
motion. I was handed it before I came in. They did not even
have the courtesy to wait to hear what was said in the
House. That should only spur us on.

All-party motions of any kind are a rarity in the
Oireachtas and today's motion is highly significant. It
shows the strength of support for the family of murdered
human rights lawyer Pat Finucane in their demand for a full
independent public inquiry. As such this is a very welcome
motion and a most positive development.

By refusing to hold the inquiry as recommended by Judge
Peter Cory the British government is in flagrant breach of
its own commitments given at the Weston Park talks. It
stands indicted before the international community.

The main obstacle to an inquiry into the murder of Pat
Finucane is the British government's insistence that the
inquiry 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

Pressure must be brought to bear on the British government
to repeal that draconian Act. The Irish Government needs to
make very plain to the Irish people, to people in Britain
and to the international community why an inquiry under
this legislation would be entirely unacceptable.

The Inquiries Act gives sweeping powers to British
Ministers. It would be like, for example, the Minister for
Justice in this State having the power to decide what
evidence could and could not be heard at the current
tribunals of inquiry at Dublin Castle, stopping the
tribunals when he wanted to and then editing their final
reports as he saw fit.

This is exactly what the British government wants to do in
the much more serious issue of collusion. This is not about
beef or political donations or planning corruption. This is
about the lives of hundreds of people who have been killed
because of collusion between British state forces and
loyalist paramilitaries. It is about their bereaved
families and loved ones and their demand for justice and

The Taoiseach should now use the All-Party Dáil motion
before us as part of an international effort to bring
attention to this anti-human rights British 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 manner by the Irish government at EU and UN

As a follow-on to this motion the Taoiseach should call a
special summit meeting with British Prime Minister 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.

Over 1300 people were killed in Ireland by British state
forces and their loyalist paramilitary surrogates since
1969. Nearly 50 of those deaths were in the 26 Counties --
33 of them in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974.

The word collusion is inadequate to describe what went on.
Loyalist paramilitary groups, in their various guises, were
used as counter-insurgency gangs by the British state. Key
British strategist Brigadier Frank Kitson admitted this
quite openly. He applied to the conflict in Ireland methods
used in other British colonies. The methods refined here
have in turn been used in other conflicts.

At all levels the hand of the British state was evident. In
some cases, as in that of the UDA, it was actually in on
the establishment of the paramilitary groups. In other
cases it controlled key players and operations, either
directly or indirectly. In all cases it heavily infiltrated
these groups with its agents and protected them at all
costs, even if this meant allowing murders to be carried
out. And of course British intelligence pointed killers in
the direction of their targets, in the case of Patrick
Finucane through their agent Brian Nelson.

They also imported tons of weapons into Ireland -- most of
which remain unaccounted for and none of which have been
put beyond use under the auspices of the Independent
International Commission on Decommissioning.

At the height of the use of collusion as a weapon of terror
against the entire nationalist population, it was dismissed
by many as republican propaganda. Time has lifted the mists
of censorship and misinformation. But the full truth has
yet to be told. We have seen in the cases of Pat Finucane,
Rosemary Nelson, the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and many
others how powerful forces within the British state will
move heaven and earth to prevent the facts being revealed.
They have already treated with contempt the call from this
Dáil for an inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

So long as the British Prime Minister fails to confront
these forces in his own system he is complicit with them.

Tá guth na Dála seo le cloisteáil go soiléir sa rún seo.
Cuirim comhbhrón ó chroi le clann Finucane atá anseo linn
inniú agus ar son Teachtai Shinn Féin glacaim go hiomlán
leis an rún.


Police Notify Catholic Taxi Firms Of Loyalist Threats


Warnings of loyalist death threats against Catholic taxi
drivers in north Belfast have been passed on by police.

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said yesterday that
the PSNI had delivered warnings of threats against at least
three taxi firms and to the homes of a number of local men
on Tuesday night.

Mr Kelly accused the Ulster Defence Association of a fresh
campaign of intimidation against nationalists. He called on
unionist politicians to stand with the taxi firms against
the threat.

“Last night’s threats are the most recent attempt by the
UDA in north Belfast to crank up sectarian tension and
intimidation,” he said.

The development, coupled with a gun being put to the head
of a taxi driver at the weekend, was further evidence that
the UDA’s public pronouncements on its ending criminality
were “nothing more than a publicity stunt”, Mr Kelly said.

“How do they square this circle when they are making
threats under the names of the Red Hand Defenders?”

He called on unionist politicians to stand in solidarity
with those providing a public service and work to have the
death threats removed.

Criticising unionist politicians, he said: “Their silence
has been deafening on this matter. They sit on forums with
these loyalist organisations and need to speak out publicly
and call on the UDA to withdraw such threats.”

The PSNI said it did not comment on the security of
individuals but that, where it received information that a
person needed to review their personal security, “we take
steps to inform them”.

A spokesman added: “We never ignore anything that may put
an individual at risk. The threats were revealed on the
same day that the Independent Monitoring Commission said
they believed there were signs of a possible readiness
within loyalism to turn away from criminality.

“However, they added that, at this stage, it was impossible
to say how far, if at all, the signs would develop into any
real changes of behaviour.”


Wright Inquiry Cost £500,000 In A Year

By Deborah McAleese
09 March 2006

The public inquiry into the murder of LVF boss Billy Wright
- which has yet to begin - has already cost the Prison
Service almost £500,000 in one year.

An average of around £40,000 a month has been paid out by
the Prison Service to cover costs preparing for the
inquiry, such as legal fees and staffing.

Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph from the Prison
Service show that the probe, which is not due to begin
until autumn, will have cost it an estimated £461,000 this
financial year.

The Billy Wright Inquiry is being headed by retired
Scottish Judge Lord Randal MacLean.

A High Court challenge has been launched over Secretary of
State Peter Hain's decision to convert the inquiry from the
Prison (Northern Ireland) Act 1954 to the Inquiries Act

The Prison Service said it was unable to provide a total
estimated cost of the inquiry for NIPS.

Wright (37) was shot dead in the Maze jail by the INLA in


Bertie To Plead With Bush For 25,000 Irish In US

By Gene McKenna
09 March 2006

US President George W Bush will next week be asked to allow
up to 25,000 undocumented Irish regularise their status in
the US.

Both Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Affairs Minister
Dermot Ahern will raise the issue at the St Patrick's Day
ceremonies in the White House tomorrow week as they did on
the same occasion at the ceremonies last year.

Irish-American campaign have now formed a major group, the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, which had a rally in
New York's Gaelic Park on Sunday and yesterday organised a
march to Capitol Hill in Washington. During eight visits to
the US last year, Dermot Ahern held a series of top-level
meetings with Senators and Congressmen in New York,
Washington and Boston to press for a breakthrough which
would help bring about a resolution to the problem.

He is expected to meet the leader of the Irish lobby group,
Niall O'Dowd, again in Washington next week.

Many emigrants have found themselves in traumatic
situations in having to decide whether to stay in the US or
return home to visit sick relatives with the risk that they
would not be allowed back into the US.

The Kennedy-McCain Bill put forward by Senators Ted Kennedy
(Democrats) and John McCain (Republican) is still believed
to be a long way from being approved.

Under this Bill, undocumented people could regularise their
status by applying for a temporary residency visa.

They would receive work and travel authorisation, which
would provide them with greater protection in the work
place and allow them to travel to and from Ireland without
fear of being refused re-entry to the US.

What distinguishes the Kennedy/McCain Bill from other
proposals is that it includes a path to permaHnent
residency. Official estimates here of the number of
undocumented Irish living in the US range from 20,000 to


Irish Lobby Goes To Nation's Capital

By Suzan Clarke
The Journal News
(Original Publication: March 9, 2006)

Dozens of Irish immigrant advocates from the Lower Hudson
Valley joined more than 2,400 of their counterparts in the
nation's capital yesterday to urge passage of a
comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Speaking from a pro-Irish immigrant rally organized by the
New York-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Blauvelt
resident Matt Reilly said he and others had received a warm
response in Washington, D.C., from several high-ranking
elected officials, including Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton of New York.

The favored bill, proposed last year by Sen. Edward
Kennedy,D-Mass, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would enable
many undocumented workers to register with the Department
of Homeland Security, pay a $2,000 fine and be eligible for
a work permit. The immigrant would then have to commit to
working for six years, pay taxes — including back taxes —
and then would be eligible for a green card, which confers
permanent residency.

A competing bill, introduced by Republican Sens. John
Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, creates a two-year
visa that would be renewable no more than three times for
foreign workers newly entering the U.S., but would require
undocumented immigrants already in this country to return
to their home countries within five years to qualify for
new visas or other means of entry. The bill bars temporary
workers from seeking permanent residency while in the U.S.

Immigration reform has become a hotly debated issue in
American politics. Immigrant and social justice advocates
widely prefer the Kennedy-McCain bill because it allows an
undocumented immigrant who qualifies to eventually get a
green card.

About 45 Rockland County residents boarded a bus at 4:30
a.m. yesterday and arrived in Washington about 9:30 a.m.
for a full day of meetings and a rally attended by Clinton
and others. About 18 busloads of people came from New York,
Reilly said.

"It was absolutely brilliant, to sit back and watch these
people speak about what the Irish had done and how they
were now not going to rest until this bill has passed,"
Reilly said.

Undocumented Irish who live quietly and contribute to
American society, he said, are "living in limbo."

"They don't know what tomorrow is going to bring," said
Reilly, who came to America 48 years ago from Ireland's
County Fermanagh. "They are working-class people who want
nothing from nobody, just give them a job, put them out in
the field to work, and they'll give you a day's work and
they'll pay their taxes and pay their bills."

Also present at the rally was Tony Doyle, a native Dubliner
who lives in Pearl River. Doyle said the Rockland group
visited several elected officials yesterday.

"We asked them what the situation on the new reform bill
was, and they were very, very favorable toward it," Doyle
said. "What we got out of it was, we brought the plight of
the illegal immigrants up and it's being addressed at the
highest level."

There are an estimated 10 million undocumented people in
the U.S., about 50,000 of whom are Irish.

Reilly thanked local people for their support of the rally
and gave special thanks to county Legislator Legislator
Patrick Moroney, R-Pearl River, who attended the rally with
the Rockland contingent.

Andrew Wiley, a Pearl River resident of Irish descent, was
invigorated by the group's reception.

"It was quite incredible to think that you got that many
nationally recognized individuals coming to us to engage us
for a long period of time," Wiley said. "The biggest thing
is you've got to be persistent to get this thing done. This
is far from the end of it."


March 9, 2006 Edition > Section: New York >

Irish Illegal Aliens Win Clinton As Ally Of Immigration Law

By Daniela Gerson - Staff Reporter Of The Sun
March 9, 2006

WASHINGTON - Not long after the pubs shut their doors for
the night, the Bronx's Little Ireland sprang back to life
yesterday. Hundreds of the city's newest wave of illegal
Irish immigrants - students and carpenters, waitresses and
nannies - descended on Woodlawn's main strip, bundled
against the cold and cracking jokes as they waited in the
dark to board buses headed for Washington.

A few hours later, as the Senate Judiciary Committee began
its second day of crafting an immigration bill, the
busloads from the Bronx joined nearly 2,000 other Irish
from across the country, canvassing the halls of Congress
in T-shirts emblazoned with "Legalize the Irish."

Of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in America,
the 50,000 illegal Irish are just a tiny drop in the pool,
but yesterday the newly formed Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform proved a unique force in the drive for a
legalization program.

For months, the absence of Senators Schumer and Clinton
from Congress's debate on comprehensive immigration reform
has frustrated New York's immigrant leaders. But there was
no question where New York's senators stood yesterday
afternoon as they addressed the Irish. Mrs. Clinton warned
that the Republican-controlled House had moved toward
creating a "police state." Mr. Schumer called the House
bill that passed last year "legislation that turns its back
on America."

Joining Senators McCain and Kennedy, they played to the
crowd with strong commitments to create an "earned-
legalization program." Senator Clinton, who until now has
not disclosed her stance on immigration reform in detail
publicly, came out swinging. Speaking to a crowd already
fired up by addresses from Senators Schumer and McCain that
greeted her with a rousing standing ovation and stomping
feet, she began by saying, "I'm here to announce the
surrender. I'll tell you there's never been a presence like
we've had today."

The energy the Irish could bring to the debate was not lost
on politicians yesterday. Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat of
New York, noted, "I'm one of the few elected officials here
who is not running for president." One of those potential
candidates, Senator McCain, after three standing ovations
before he had a chance to start speaking, went on to
counsel the crowd, "your cause today is not just for the
Irish, your cause is some Hispanic woman who is washing
dishes but cannot join us."

In Mrs. Clinton's comments, and in a simultaneous four-page
letter sent outlining her principals for comprehensive
change to the immigration laws, she criticized the House
bill, saying criminalizing illegal immigrants and those who
help them, "would turn millions and millions of Americans
into lawbreakers because they want to continue the
tradition of outreach and assistance that has been the
hallmark of our nation."

The tact she promoted, instead, strongly resembled those
her potential Republican challenger for President in 2008,
Senator McCain, proposed last year in a bill he coauthored
with Senator Kennedy. They include stepped-up border
protection, greater cross-border cooperation, family
reunification, and, in what received the loudest cheers
from the crowd, "a path to earned-legalization."

In the vocabulary of immigration reform, "earned-
legalization" has emerged as the magic word for illegal
immigrants and their advocates. Rather than an amnesty, or
a blanket legalization where past trespasses are forgotten,
under the McCain-Kennedy plan it would require immigrants
to fulfill certain requirements to receive a green card,
such as paying a $2,000 fine, background checks, learning
English, and completing a temporary status. Critics,
however, say despite these measures it is just an amnesty
in disguise that rewards unlawful behavior with

The Senate last week appeared to be following the House's
lead in rejecting an earned legalization. After months of
conflicting immigration bills, the chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, Senator Specter, had introduced an
immigration plan that would create two statuses for
temporary workers: One for illegal immigrants already in
the country, and another for those who wanted to come as
guest workers.

As the Irish moved through the halls of Congress yesterday
morning, their mission was to let representatives know they
would not stand for that. "We don't want a three-year
Mickey Mouse visa where we'll have to go home after that,"
said Samantha, a bartender in Yonkers who has emerged as a
leader of the Irish lobby.

Like most of the Irish, Samantha, 30, who graduated with a
degree in psychology in Ireland, came to America as a
tourist and stayed on for years after it expired, thinking
she would be able to get a visa. Ireland's economy is
thriving and Samantha could survive financially in her home
country, but she says she prefers her life in Yonkers.

Life as an illegal immigrant stopped her from moving
forward in psychology and prevented visits back and forth
to America and Ireland, but until two years ago, the
challenges were not debilitating. Then the state Department
of Motor Vehicles began to limit driver's licenses to those
with valid Social Security numbers. "That's when we got
together and said we've got to do something or we'll leave
like everyone else," Samantha said. "America is really
forcing Irish out of this country. This is the do-or-die

For a little more than six months, Samantha and her friends
and neighbors - a plumber who owns his own business but now
has to hire a driver, a certified nurse who cannot work -
plotted with little effect. Than last December they got
word of a larger effort funded by the Irish government, the
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Since then it's been a
whirlwind: Town Halls across the country and a fundraiser
at Gaelic Park in the Bronx on Sunday that raised $60,000
on Sunday night, all leading to the lobby day in

The Irish immigrants lobbying to get visas appeared to take
some congressmen by surprise yesterday. Senator DeMint, a
Republican of South Carolina, returned to his office and
found Samantha's contingent of Irish parked in front.

Samantha told him "there's no way for the Irish to get
visas" and asked him to support the earned-legalization
program in the Kennedy-McCain bill. Mr. DeMint appeared
sold on the idea that the group of Irish "is a good example
of the folks we'd like to have work here" but would not
support a broad legalizing program. "America's security has
got to come first," he said.

Senator Kennedy said that security and a legalization
program were not exclusionary, particularly when it comes
to the Irish.


Politicians Give Mixed Response To Statement

By Simon Hunter Political Correspondent
Thursday 9th March 2006

THE confirmation by the latest Independent Monitoring
Commission report that security normalisation is well under
way has been met with a mixed response.

Secretary of State Peter Hain was happy to see that the
Government has met its commitments in the process and hopes
it will continue to do so in the future.

"I am confident that the remaining commitments in the first
tranche of normalisation will be delivered in the next two
months and that the IMC will be able to confirm this in
their next report on security normalisation," he said.

Mr Hain also welcomed the assessment by the IMC that the
IRA is not a terrorist threat and is attempting to move
along a political path.

However, he did stress that any change in this situation
would undo the normalisation work carried out so far.

"If the security situation changes and there is not an
enabling environment, I will not hesitate to ensure that
appropriate security measures are in place to safeguard the

Yet the response within unionist circles has been less

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson made clear his party's
feelings on the latest IMC report.

"The comments in the report indicate the IRA is no longer a
terrorist threat but it does not negate or disguise the
fact that the IRA still exists and is engaged in
substantial criminal activity," he said.

"While the IRA organisation is active, its personnel is
active and while they are still involved in intelligence
gathering, then they are still a threat. So long as the IRA
remains, they are a threat."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said: "The fact
remains that the IRA is still issuing instructions to its
members to desist from any criminal activities.

"It clearly indicates that the IRA is a fully capable

Sir Reg said the Government may have acted " prematurely by
removing any locally recruited security force for the first
time since partition".

The SDLP welcomed the normalisation outlined in the IMC
report but wanted to see the Government make even bigger

"Normalisation is a cumulative process of
confidencebuilding and the more we do the more becomes

"An intrusive military presence is a barrier to building
confidence in community policing and is slowing progress
towards a lawful society," said Newry and Armagh MLA
Dominic Bradley.

Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell believes the IMC
report proves the commitment the British Government has to

He also said that this put more pressure on Sinn Fein to
become involved with policing in Northern Ireland.


DUP Says Monitoring Body Confused About Status Of IRA

By Noel McAdam
09 March 2006
Political Correspondent

Northern Ireland's paramilitary watchdog is "confused" over
the Provisional IRA, the DUP has argued.

Deputy leader Peter Robinson said the Independent
Monitoring Commission (IMC) was confused between the
definition of a 'threat' and paramilitary activity.

His criticism came after the first IMC report on Government
demilitarisation reiterated its view that the IRA is no
longer a terrorist threat.

"No amount of spin or explanation by either the British
Government or the Government of the Irish Republic can wipe
away the conclusions contained in the IMC report published
in January."

It had detailed IRA intelligence gathering "authorised by
the leadership" and "involves some very senior members" and
serious organised crime involving "members and former
members of the PIRA", Mr Robinson said.

"Clearly the IMC is confused between the definition of what
is a threat and what is activity."

Sinn Fein, however, said the latest IMC report was
"irrelevant" and demanded the Government press on with the
completion of 'normalisation'.


RIR Redundancy Packages To Be Unveiled

The British government will today reveal details of a
redundancy package for more than 3,000 soldiers in Northern

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram is expected to announce
details of the financial settlements for members of the
Royal Irish Regiment.

All three of its Home Service battalions are to be axed in
August next year as part of a major security scaledown.

Redundancy deals worth up to £100,000 in some cases are
believed to have been negotiated in a package that may be
worth £65m to £70m in total.

The arrangements are for 2,000 full-time and 1,000 part-
time soldiers affected by the normalisation plans.

Mr Ingram, British Defence Secretary John Reid and Northern
Secretary Peter Hain have all been involved in the
severance talks.

DUP leader Ian Paisley met British Prime Minister Tony
Blair in London yesterday as part of his party’s demands
for a fair deal for the troops that he claimed would
restore unionist confidence in the political process.

The disbandment is part of sweeping demilitarisation plans
announced by Mr Hain last year in response to the IRA’s
declaration of an end to its armed campaign.

This will leave troop levels at a 5,000-strong garrison.

It is understood full-time Royal Irish soldiers will
receive a redundancy, pension and ex-gratia government
payment in recognition of the role played by the regiment
and its predecessor, the Ulster Defence Regiment, during 30
years of violence.

A scale will be used based on rank and length of service.

Part-time troops will be given a tax-free lump sum.

Sources said the severance arrangements were comparable
with what police officers received as a result of policing
reforms in the North and in some cases better.


RIR Involvement In Collusion Will Not Go Away

Published: 9 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has
said that many nationalists who have lost loved ones both
directly and as a result of collusion will be angry at the
pay-off for former UDR and RIR members.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The RIR and old UDR were responsible for the murder of
many nationalists and republicans both directly and as a
result of collusion. The victims of this paramilitary force
will be disgusted and angry at this pay-off.

"Sinn Féin have consistently raised the issue of the
continuing role of the RIR, its sectarian composition and
its collusion with the unionist paramilitaries.

"The issue of collusion and the RIR will not go away. The
most recent example involved the handing over of the
details of 400 people contained in a dossier removed from
Castlereagh and given to one of the loyalist gangs by the
RIR. The British attempted to cover up this collusion
scandal involving the RIR

"Unionist arguments about the economic implications
resulting from the scrapping of the RIR expose the truth
about their opposition to progress on demilitarisation. It
is based on unionist self-interest not the interests of the
peace process or the demilitarisation of our society.

"Sinn Féin have argued that demilitarisation should and
could release millions of pounds for use on frontline
services such as health and education and to tackle decades
of under investment and neglect, particularly West of the
Bann. Rather than seek a British Exchequer subvention of
millions for the exclusive benefit of the unionist
population I believe that many people in places like
Fermanagh and Tyrone would prefer to see this money spent
on improving the roads infrastructure, improving local
schools and in developing the local economy to the benefit
of everyone." ENDS


Youth Held Over City House Attack

A 14-year-old male youth has been arrested by police on
suspicion of attempted murder.

A police spokeswoman said the youth was arrested early on
Thursday morning.

It is understood he is being questioned about a petrol bomb
attack at a home in Ballymurphy, west Belfast, on

Two women and three children escaped from the burning house
at Whitecliff Parade following the attack, which happened
at about 0130 GMT.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/09 09:21:12 GMT


Alleged IRA Chief's Border Home Raided

By Shawn Pogatchnik , 03.09.2006, 06:40 Am

Police, soldiers and customs officials from both parts of
Ireland launched a dawn raid Thursday on the border home of
the Irish Republican Army's alleged chief of staff, Thomas
"Slab" Murphy.

Backed by British and Irish troops, more than 300 officers
from the Garda Siochana, the Republic of Ireland's national
police, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland raided
about a dozen properties in a borderland area nicknamed
"bandit country" because of its history as the IRA's rural
power base.

Among the first properties targeted was Murphy's border-
straddling farm, where roads in all directions were sealed

Police said they arrested three people, including two men
in a car that sped through a police checkpoint on the
southern side of the border. Their identities were not
immediately released.

An anti-racketeering detective, who spoke to The Associated
Press on condition of anonymity because he was not
authorized to speak to the media, said the operation was
partly a follow-up trawl for documentation into alleged IRA

The detective said the raids hoped to identify links to a
portfolio of properties in Manchester, England, that were
frozen last September on suspicion of having been purchased
by IRA proceeds. One of Murphy's brothers has admitted he
owns some of those properties but denies any link to the

A moderate Catholic party in Northern Ireland, the Social
Democratic and Labour Party, welcomed the raids as a sign
of close cooperation between both police forces on the
island and the two countries' anti-racketeering agencies,
which have the power to impound criminals' property and
other assets.

"Any crime boss or foot soldier must know there is no
hiding place for them on the island," said the party's
policing spokesman, Alex Attwood, a stern critic of the

Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most of
Northern Ireland's Catholics, declined to comment.

Murphy has never been convicted of any crime, but anti-
terrorist police and several published histories of the IRA
identify him as the outlawed group's longtime chief of
staff. Since the early 1980s he also has legally operated,
then shut down, a series of fuel distribution businesses
that officials long have suspected of massive tax evasion
through cross-border smuggling.

In 1985, The Sunday Times newspaper of London published a
major investigation into Murphy that identified him as a
millionaire smuggler and a pivotal figure in plotting bomb
attacks. Murphy sued for libel but lost twice. In 1998, a
Dublin jury ruled he was an IRA commander and a smuggler.


Concerns As PSNI Plans To Use Taser Stun Guns

By Connla Young

Human-RIGHTS groups in the North have voiced concerns at
PSNI plans to purchase a hi-tech gun that fires 50,000
volts of electricity into its victim.

Earlier this week, PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde announced
his intention to equip what he termed a “limited number” of
PSNI officers with potentially deadly Taser guns.

The weapon, which can kill, causes the target to collapse
in intense pain and lose control of their bodily functions.

The Policing Board began a consultation period on the
purchase of the weapon this week. The consultation period
will end on March 23.

A spokesperson for the Policing Board said the weapon would
be used only by “specialist firearms units” within the PSNI
and would not be deployed during public order incidents.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s director in the
North, said he had strong reservations about the weapon.

“Amnesty International is not opposed to research into
finding less lethal alternatives to firearms — but before
such weapons are deployed here, they must have been fully
tested. There should be a rigorous, independent review of
the effects of Tasers and their safety prior to any wider

“In addition to these concerns on such an important matter,
it is utterly inadequate that the Policing Board should
announce a consultation that lasts only two-and-a-half

The Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre has expressed its
opposition to plans to arm PSNI officers with Tasers.

“We have been invited by the Policing Board to make
submissions on the possible introduction of the
controversial Taser weapon,” confirmed a spokesman.

A PSNI spokesman told Daily Ireland last night: “Tasers
have been approved by the Home Office for use by police
forces in England and Wales.

“The chief constable is considering the introduction of the
Taser in a pilot capacity to specialist firearm teams to
provide an addition to our range of less lethal weapons.”


Nationalists Oppose Police 'Tasers'

Both nationalist parties in Northern Ireland have
criticised the PSNI for plans to introduce electric 'Taser'
weapons for firearms officers.

SDLP Policing Board member, Alex Attwood said: "The SDLP is
totally opposed to the introduction of TASERs - even for
the limited purposes that the PSNI wants them.

"The fact is that these weapons have killed at least 15
people in the US and Canada. There is also a dearth of
proper research about their safety - especially their
effects on children.

"The SDLP questioned Home Office scientists who did a
presentation on TASERs at the Board. They admitted that
there was no science on their effects on children - but
that when they were tested on smaller weighted animals,
they had `a disproportionate effect.` So the bottom line is
that we can expect the same if they are used against
children too. The dangers of this are all too clear."

Derry City Sinn Fein councillor, Paul Fleming said: "Under
the Patton recommendations the PSNI were to be transformed
into a routinely unarmed policing service however what we
have actually seen is the rearming them with a array of new
lethal weaponry.

"Rather than give the PSNI Tasers to kill or injure people
we should be seeking a new beginning to policing with the
development of non-lethal crowd control weapons."


Watchdog Criticises Shankhill Museum Grants

A government department made "irregular payments" to a
museum in a loyalist area of west Belfast, the Northern
Ireland Audit Office has said.

The watchdog said the Department for Social Development
informed it that the Fernhill House Museum was closing
after getting a £98,175 rescue grant in 2004.

But museum manager Tommy Kirkham denied it would be
closing, and said it had now secured private funding.

The museum houses exhibits about the history of the Greater
Shankill area.

In October 2004, it successfully applied for a one-year
rescue package to the Department of Social Development

'Novel and contentious'

The Audit Office said in its report that no established
rules existed for fast-tracking assistance of this kind so
the package was "novel and contentious" and required prior
approval by the Department of Finance and Personnel.

As it had failed to obtain this, the Audit Office said the
payment was irregular.

The Audit Office report said the DSD had informed it the
museum was to close.

However, Mr Kirkham said it would be staying open.

"In fairness, what they are saying is there's no more
public money going in and it may have to close," he said.

"But what I am saying quite clearly on behalf of the staff
and the board of directors is that we have found
alternative methods of keeping it open."

It is understood the museum intends raising money by
renting out office space.

In its defence, the DSD denied there was any question of
favouritism and that they were satisfied the request for
money was subjected to appropriate assessment and

Sinn Fein West Belfast MP Gerry Adams said it was not
"simply bureaucratic ineptitude" but a "highly political
decision taken by DSD to drive a coach and horses through
the regulations".

Mr Adams said he intended to raise his "fundamental
questions about structured political bias and
discrimination" about the Belfast Regeneration Office and
the DSD with minister David Hanson.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/09 06:45:20 GMT


MI5 Agent Sought In Omagh Probe

By Connla Young

Solicitors representing a man accused of involvement in the
Omagh bomb have made a request to interview former Federal
Bureau of Investigation and alleged MI5 agent David Rupert.

Peter Corrigan, from Kevin Winters and Company, confirmed
last night he has informed the British Public Prosecution
Service that he wants to interview the man who helped put
former Real IRA leader, Michael McKevitt, behind bars for
20 years.

Mr Corrigan believes information held by Mr Rupert will
prove that his client Sean Hoey did not make the Omagh bomb
which killed 29 people in the Co Tyrone town in August

David Rupert was recruited by the FBI as an agent in the
1990s and encouraged to infiltrate the pro-republican
organisations in the US. Information supplied by him later
led to Mr McKevitt being sentenced to 20 years in 2003 for
‘directing terrorism’ and membership of an illegal

Earlier this month, it was claimed that Mr Rupert later
also worked for MI5. The British intelligence agency has
been accused of failing to pass on information to RUC
Special Branch that the Real IRA was planning to place
devices in Omagh and Derry city in 1998.

Mr Hoey’s solicitors say they want to meet Mr Rupert after
it was claimed that he provided the security forces with
the identities of the Real IRA Omagh bomb-makers.

Mr Hoey’s legal team maintain questions remain unanswered
in respect of the information supplied by Mr Rupert. Mr
Hoey denies all the charges against him.


MI5 Head Refuses To Meet Families Of Omagh Victims

By Chris Thornton
08 March 2006

The head of MI5 has rebuffed a request for a meeting with
Omagh survivors and the families of victims.

The Omagh Support and Self-Help Group received a letter
yesterday from Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director
general of the Security Service, saying she is "unclear as
to why the group should wish to meet me".

The group asked for the meeting before the PSNI revealed
that her agency did not pass on intelligence to the RUC - a
dispute to which she referred in yesterday's letter.

Now the head of the group, Michael Gallagher, said it is
more incumbent on her to listen to the families' concerns.

Last month, PSNI officers told the families that MI5 did
not tell the RUC about a warning that Omagh was a dissident
republican target - four months before the blast that
killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

The revelation - discovered in American files - came in the
middle of a transition that will see MI5 take over national
security responsibility from the PSNI.

Last week, Sir Hugh Orde told the Policing Board that the
MI5 information would not have helped the inquiry into the
murder, but he would not comment directly on how it may
have served as a warning.

In her letter, Ms Manningham-Buller said she regrets the
distress the situation has caused the families.

"It might seem odd if I did not touch on the recent
publicity over the Omagh bombing," she wrote.

"The Chief Constable made a clear statement to the Policing
Board on the 1st of March that the Security Service did not
withhold intelligence that was relevant or would have
progressed the Omagh inquiry. I have nothing to add.

"I recognise that these allegations aired in the media are
likely to have caused concern and much regret the added
distress this will have caused the Omagh families."

Mr Gallagher, whose son died in the bombing, said the group
will continue to insist it meets with the head of MI5.

"There have been concerns raised in the public domain. The
least she can do is meet the families, listen to what they
have to say, and respond to them. That's all we're asking
her to do," he said.

"This is a lady who is no more important than the Prime
Minister and the Taoiseach and they haven't refused to meet

"We are not saying that MI5 was holding back information
that may have helped the Omagh inquiry.

"They withheld information that may or may not have changed
the outcome of August 15.

"The RUC had the right to that information and they had the
right to every chance to try and avert what happened."


'Don't Tar Us With Same Brush'

RESIDENTS of Loughgiel will not be held to ransom,
according to Sinn Fein councillor Anita Cavlan.

The statement comes after a gang of local youths went on a
three-day rampage around the village.

The spat of violence and anti-social behaviour started last
Wednesday when a gritter was attacked and £500 worth of
damage caused.

Then on Thursday and Friday, nine cars were discovered
burnt out and damage was caused to property at Altnarichard

As a result of increased concern, local residents have
organised a public meeting in Loughgiel Millennium Centre
this Wednesday (March 8) from 8pm.

SF representative Anita Cavlan explained: "Over the past
few weeks, residents have become increasingly worried about
the rise in anti-social behaviour and criminal damage in
the area.

"However last week was particularly bad after a gritter was
stoned on Wednesday and over two days (Thursday and Friday)
nine cars were found burnt out and a gate to the sewage
plant damaged on Altnarichard Road.

"This three day spat of violence is the talk of the town
and everyone agrees something needs to be done about it.
Even the parish priest during his Saturday services spoke
of his concern.

"In response I have been talking to a number of residents
who have vowed that the whole village will not be subjected
to such activity nor tarred with the same brush.

"These thugs are in the minority and seem to be a small
gang of around 10 from the local area. They are not
children but men and women in their early 20's and should
know better.

"However one thing is for certain, the local community will
not be held to ransom and are retaliating by holding a
public meeting this Wednesday to address the situation."

Cllr Cavlan added: "These people are also continually
racing each other up and down the village - doughnuting and
rallying around in runarounds.

"By doing this they are paying little heed to the
consequences if a collision occurred. It's only a matter of
time before they are going to put some innocent family off
the road.

"I would therefore appeal to people selling these
runarounds to think beforehand - it could save a life."

09 March 2006


DUP Councillors Blame SF For Riots

THE riots which greeted the abandoned Love Ulster Rally in
Dublin was the focus for an often-heated political debate
in Ballymena Council chamber on Monday night.

DUP Councillors, William Wilkinson and Robin Stirling led
the stinging criticism of the Irish state and what they
claimed "its latent sympathy for Republicanism". Both
representatives also quoted Southern newspapers, which
claimed there was Sinn Fein/IRA involvement.

Ballymena Council's solitary republican, Monica Digney,
said it was "without fear of contradiction" that she could
say "no Sinn Fein members were involved in the riots".

Author of the Council motion, Cllr. William Wilkinson, a
member of the group FAIR said the journey to Dublin had
from the outset been difficult: "For many the road to
Dublin physically led past the site of their loves murder."

The young DUP man likened the subsequent violence to the
early Nazis.

"Just like Hitler's Brown shirts, they use street violence
with the same ease as political posturing, they spread
their ideology of hate with ease amongst the baser elements
of society and they stand poised to seize increasing
political power."

"They had murder in mind as they organised their violence.
This was naked sectarian hatred focused by an absolute need
to silence the victims.

Cllr. Wilkinson then labelled his Sinn Fein council
colleague Monica Digney as an 'apologist for fascism'.

He said: "In Sinn Fein and in its member here in this
Council, we have the apologists for this fascism, across
the globe we defeat and punish those who hold such anti-
democratic views, however, here we are asked to accept them
in government."

Next to take the floor, Cllr Stirling seconded the motion,
stating that the protest and violence was "a manifestation
of the sectarianism which lies at the heart of

Cllr. Stirling went on to slam the Pope for nurturing what
he called 'vile anti-Protestantism'.

"What mechanism of indoctrination is responsible for this
vile anti-Protestantism? The utterances of bigoted Roman
catholic clerics comes to mind.

"The present Pope, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, claimed
the Reformed Churches had no spiritual validity."

Speaking against a background noise of drumming coming from
the DUP side of the chamber, Cllr. Digney said the comments
made by the two DUP men "were a total disgrace".

"The people who attacked the Love Ulster rally were not
Republicans. They were a disgrace.

"While the Love Ulster rally was not inclusive, and for
example excluded the many, many victims of state violence ˆ
people brutally murdered by the RUC, the UDR, the RIR,
Special Branch and the British Army they should have been
allowed to march."

As the drumming noise grew the DUP Mayor Tommy Nicholl,
stepped in, and asked those from his own party to stop
'dimelling with their fingers'.

DUP man, Ald. Roy Gillespie said the riots were an
indication of what was to come.

"This is a very serious motion. Be warned. This is what
lies ahead for those who are for a United Ireland."

Putting forward a doomed amendment, the SDLP's Declan
O'Loan said the allegation that Sinn Fein was involved was
'unfounded'. Party colleague, PJ McAvoy seconded the

The DUP countered with Cllr. Mills stating that the riots
had "all hall marks of Sinn Fein/IRA" as they were he said
"adept at firebombs and spontaneous response".

Cllr. Wilkinson concluded the debate by challenging Sinn
Fein on the their All-island policy on parades, referring
to their stated lack of opposition to the Love Ulster rally
in Dublin.

With the SDLP amendment roundly thrown out, the original
DUP motion was passed with the added support of the Ulster
Unionist members and the one independent member. 19-3 in
favour. The motion read:

"Ballymena Borough Council expresses outrage and profound
hurt that the Republican Movement prevented the Victim's
Groups from exercising their democratic and legally
approved right to parade on behalf of the victims of

_ Cllr. Stirling said he believed he was providing a
service to Council during his three-day visit to the Irish
capital, and asked whether he was entitled to any expenses.
"I have kept all the receipts", he joked.

09 March 2006


Moyle Council Support For Irish Unity

UNIONIST Councillors in Moyle have accused their Sinn Fein
colleagues of "driving a political wedge through council"
after they proposed to call on the Irish Taoiseach to take
a more proactive pursuit of All Ireland agenda policies.

At last Monday's council meeting the proposal to write to
Bertie Ahern in support of Irish unity was agreed with six
members in favour and four against.

However, the motion proposed by Sinn Fein Councillor Cara
McShane and seconded by SDLP Councillor Orla Black,
attracted strong opposition from Unionists.

UUP Councillor William Graham led the objections: "I have
been here a long time and I feel this to be very offensive
to the Unionist Councillors who sit on this council.

"For years we have been trying to promote good relations
between all councillors. We understand this is a
nationalist council but as far as I can see it is getting
more and more hardline.

"I feel Sinn Fein are causing a political wedge within this
council. This is not what the Unionist people want, surely
this could have been done through the North/South border

DUP Councillor Robert McIlroy said he agreed with
everything Councillor Graham had said.

"How can Cara McShane want the Unionist people of this
island to be part of an All Ireland Republic when you see
what happened in Dublin. We have a long way to go."

UUP Councillor Helen Harding added: "I always try to help
everyone regardless of their colour, creed or religion.
There is a nationalist side of council who always bring up
these sorts of things which have an echo of politics with a
captial P."

SDLP Councillor Catherine McCambridge said her party was
supporting the motion from "a social and economic

She added: "We want everyone to feel that they can move
freely. What happened in Dublin was deplorable. It would
not have been mine or my party's wishes for that to have

SDLP Councillor Orla Black said it was important to try and
build good relations between the North and South.

Whilst Councillor McShane said the motion was "not meant to
be contentious".

However, Councillor Graham said the motion was "seen by
everyone of the Unionist Councillors to be contentious".

"The Unionist people are not getting the same attention
even within Moyle. What about the play area in Bushmills?
he asked.

Chairman Oliver McMullan said the decision not to fund a
Woodvale Kickabout area was "down to economics".

He added: "It was about what was the best thing to do with
the money. You accepted IFI money in Bushmills but it
wasn't that long ago you refused it.

"If this is a Nationalist council it is because the people
of Moyle voted for it."

Councillor Cara McShane said she was disappointed some were
"taking it personally".

"The issue of the Kickabout was not Nationalist verses
Unionist. When you look at the size of a village like
Bushmills you have to ask could it sustain two football
areas plus one in the school?

"It was never described as a play area it was a kickabout
area. Does it make financial sense to have several football
pitches in the one village," she said.

Councillor Robert McIlroy hit back: "There is one football
pitch in Bushmills which five teams play on and it is not
even a proper size.

"Young people have to cross the Diamond to get to it and be
away from their parents which is not acceptable.

"At least the £70,000 was in the rates estimate. Tonight
because something is wanted in Cushendall at £13,000 there
is very serious consideration and not even one thought
about whether it is in the rates estimate. It was just the
maintenance costs that stopped it."

09 March 2006


Opin: Not Facing The Truth But Dodging The Question

“By presenting a forum for these meetings of former
enemies, the BBC casts itself in the role of neutral

Jude Collins

Former IRA man Ronnie McCartney asked an awkward question
during his appearance on BBC NI’s Facing the Truth last
weekend: “Are you looking to see tears here?”

The answer is of course yes. Tears are gems beyond price
for broadcasters, and TV history is moist with famous
tears. Gilbert Harding on a Face To Face interview, Maggie
Thatcher as she left Downing Street, Mickey Harte after
Tyrone’s second All-Ireland win, Michael Barrymore during
his tenure in the Big Brother house. You can probably add
your own to that list. The people who make TV programmes
love tears and high emotion generally.

So do viewers, which is why so many tuned into this series.
Will the people who suffered weep? Scream? Attack the man
who killed their loved one? Perhaps the person who did the
killing will weep as well? Some people told me they weren’t
sure at times if this was reality television or dramatic
reconstruction, what with the atmospheric music, men who
had killed emerging from the shadows, the many close-ups of
eyes and faces and mouths.

Was this exploitation television? No. Those who
participated did so voluntarily and, one assumes, without
payment. They did so probably for the same reason that a
lot of people who suffered during the Troubles allowed
themselves to be interviewed: because in some odd way the
cameras and microphones helped them cope with their pain.
If this was exploitation, it was exploitation of the

A better question would be: should we have been watching
it? The programme makers would argue that, in addition to
offering catharsis for those hurt during the Troubles, it
provided a model for the rest of us, showing that
reconciliation of sorts, even in the most extreme
circumstances, is possible.

I doubt that. The Coca Cola ads that sang of teaching the
world to sing in perfect harmony did damn all for world
peace, the United Colours of Benetton did damn all for
inter-racial harmony, and if you think hearing Ronnie
McCartney regret the suffering that occurred during the
Troubles or Michael Stone concede that Gerry Hackett’s
relatives were better Christians than he was will persuade
those filled with rage and bitterness to abandon such
sentiments, you’re more optimistic about human nature than
I am.

In fact, the argument that the series may have damaged
rather than healed is a more convincing one. It’s one that
was put forward last week by Roy McClelland, Professor of
Mental Health at Queen’s University. Being brought face to
face with those who killed your loved ones may prove
traumatic, leaving you in need of counselling and support
over an extended period: did the series makers provide such
support? Gerry Hackett’s widow, at programme’s end, ran
sobbing and shrieking from the room that contained Michael
Stone, one of those responsible for his killing.
Afterwards, Mr Hackett’s brother suggested that the
experience might be a starting point for healing. From
where I sat, it looked like the very opposite.

Professor McClelland made a second point about the series,
a point that was if anything more important. It was this.
By presenting a forum for these meetings of former enemies,
the BBC casts itself in the role of neutral arbiter, a non-
aligned channel providing a forum for those embroiled in
the Troubles, the warring factions, to come together, but
the conflict, Professor McClelland pointed out, was more
complicated than that, had many strands and many
participants, and the BBC, rather than a detached
institution, was one of those participants.

The professor is right and the point couldn’t be made often
enough or loudly enough. All forms of the media, including
this newspaper, have a perspective – they see the world in
a particular way. In an editorial last week, The News
Letter newspaper pronounced the 1916 Rising a treacherous
and criminal act perpetrated by republican terrorists.
That’s not a view shared by everyone, but The News Letter
is open about its political allegiances and is entitled to
its views. Our world is incorrigibly various and none the
worse for that.

Where the difficulty arises is when attempts are made to
deny the right of some to have a view. A good example of
that was when Justice Minister Michael McDowell declared
invalid and unacceptable the views of this newspaper before
the first copy hit the streets. A more insidious difficulty
arises when a particular media channel puts itself forward
as free from the kind of agenda or perspective that hobbles
all other media forms. That in essence is how the BBC has
presented itself throughout the conflict here and what it
continues to do today.

It’s a presentation of self that is singularly
unconvincing, for one very good reason: the closeness of
its line on the Troubles to that of the British government,
one of the major participants.

Throughout the conflict, the British government has
consistently presented the Troubles to the outside world as
a clash between two tribes full of prejudice, the reasons
for that prejudice lost in the mists of history. Faced with
these irrational factions, the British government and the
British army have done what they can to keep them apart,
maintain law and order, and coax republicans and loyalists,
Catholics and Protestants, nationalists and unionists
towards civilised conduct and parliamentary politics.

That’s also pretty much how the BBC has presented the
Troubles over the years, with Facing the Truth being the
latest manifestation of that. A British soldier, Cliff
Burrage, was included in the first programme of the series,
where he responded to the questions of Mary McLarnon, whose
brother he had shot dead. Their discussion turned on
whether Burrage had shot an unarmed man or, as he claimed,
a man he had seen with a pistol.

If he had indeed been guilty of that, Burrage finally
conceded, then he was sorry. Things concluded with
Archbishop Desmond Tutu murmuring some words of
congratulation and blessing on all concerned, including the

What the soldier wasn’t asked, and what the BBC over three
decades of broadcasting about our Troubles has never nerved
itself to ask a British soldier, is not “Did you shoot an
unarmed man?” but a question which could also be asked,
should also be asked of British soldiers in Iraq today, but
you may be sure it won’t. It’s a simple question: “What are
you doing in someone else’s country, shooting its people?”


Opin: Does Immigration Overhaul Plan Border On Injustice?

Jim Dee Daily Ireland USA Correspondent

Against a backdrop of increased lobbying regarding US
immigration policies, a study released this week has found
that undocumented immigrants comprise five per cent of
America’s workforce.

According to the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center, the
number of illegal immigrants living in the US rose by at
least 400,000 last year, making the total number of
undocumented between 11.5 million and 12 million.

The PHC study said that 7.2 of that number are employed.

The largest sector of undocumented migrants are Mexicans,
who account for 56 per cent of the total. The rest of Latin
America combined comprised 22 per cent.

The numbers of migrants from East Asia and South Asia have
also seen large increases.

In terms of employment, the PHC found that undocumented
immigrants hold 24 per cent of all farming jobs in America,
17 per cent of cleaning jobs, 14 per cent of construction
jobs, and 12 per cent of food preparation jobs.

Thirty-one per cent of undocumented immigrants work in
service jobs, as opposed to the 16 per cent of native-born
Americans who do.

A separate study by the National Immigration Forum released
last month, found that there are 13.9 million people living
in families in which at least one head of household is an
undocumented immigrant.

The NIF study found that 1.6 million children are
undocumented migrants, and that a further three million
children are US citizens with undocumented parents.

The release of the PHC study comes with the Senate
discussing several proposals that would allow undocumented
immigrants to continue living and working in the US.

Among the proposals is one advocated by George Bush that
would see the creation of a temporary worker program.

Under Bush’s scheme, undocumented men and women now working
in the US would be required to register with the government
and pay a one-time registration fee.

Their special status would last for three years, with the
possibility of one renewal, for a total stay of six years.
People outside the US will also be able to acquire
temporary worker visas, if they have a job offer from an
American employer.

For their part, employers must prove that they can’t fill a
given job with an American citizen before they can give the
job to a non-citizen temporary worker.

If the worker quits, the employer must alert the
government. Eventually, only people living outside the US
would be eligible to apply for temporary guest worker

Bush’s program would be overseen by the Department of
Homeland Security, which would work in conjunction with the
US Labor Department and other agencies.

At present, the US annually grants about 140,000 so-called
“green cards", which allow newly-arrived immigrants to work
in the US while applying for citizenship. As part of his
plan, Bush has asked Congress to increase that number.

Many immigrants rights groups around the country have
expressed concern about different aspects of the Bush plan.
Some consider the program to be encumbered by bureaucratic
requirements to work effectively.

Others say the expense of having to relocate ‘back to
countries of origin’ after six years will deter many
undocumented migrants from registering.

Still others say that the program lacks enough safe-guards
pertaining to political persecution which some immigrants
face in their home countries.

Immigration reform has sparked a national debate in this
country, founded upon waves of immigrants from all over the

Some, like the Minutemen groups in the southwestern states
of Arizona and Texas, have formed vigilante-style patrols
to try to catch undocumented migrants as they cross the
border from Mexico.

In December, a bill was introduced in Congress that would
require churches and other social service organisations to
ask immigrants for their legal documentation before
providing them any aid. Los Angeles Cardinal, Roger
Mahoney, leader of the largest Catholic archdiocese in
America, has vowed to defy the law if it is passed.

“I would say to all priests, deacons and members of the
church that we are not going to observe this law," said
Cardinal Mahoney, speaking after an Ash Wednesday Mass.

Mahoney urged Catholics to “make room” for immigrants, a
call that echoes the ‘Justice For Immigrants’ campaign that
was launched by US Catholic church leaders in 2005. Among
other things, the JFI campaign asks US Catholics to write
to their congressional representatives to lobby them to
back a legalisation system for undocumented migrants.

It is not the first time the US Catholic church has weighed
in on immigration. In 2003, American bishops joined their
Mexican counterparts in issuing a statement on immigration
which said that “more powerful economic nations, which have
the ability to protect and feed their residents, have a
stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows”.

The US/Mexican bishops’ letter also said that countries had
an obligation to respect the dignity of migrants
“regardless of their legal status”.


Opin: Playwright’s Tribute To Hunger Strike


Playwright, poet and writer Ulick O’Connor has allowed
Daily Ireland to publish two of his works on Bobby Sands
today, on the occasion of what would have been the hunger
striker’s 52nd birthday.

Ulick O'Connor was born in Dublin in 1929. His main works
include the plays The Dream Box (1972); The Dark Lovers
(1975); The Emperor's Envoy (1976); The Grand Inquisitor;
Submarine; and Deirdre (Dublin 1977, New York 1980);
Execution (1985); The Oval Machine (1986); A Trinity of Two
(1988); Joycity (1989); Deux de la Trinite (translated by
Ramond Gerome, 1990). His poetry collections include
Lifestyles (1973); Three Noh Plays (1980); All Things
Counter (1986); One is Animate (1990); Poems of the Damned
(translations from Baudelaire's Fleur du Mal, 1991). His
prose includes Oliver St John Gogarty: Biography (1964);
Irish Tales and Sagas (1981); Celtic Dawn: Biography
(1984); A Critic at Large (1984); Biographers and the Art
of Biography (1990); Executions (1992); The Troubles:
Michael Collins and the Volunteers in the Fight for Irish
Freedom 1912-22. He has received the Annual Literary Award
1985 from The Irish-American Institute, and is a member of
Aosdána. Visit for more


Opin: No Stomach For Facing Down DUP

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was in determinedly upbeat mood
yesterday when he said that he and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair are to share their plan for the restoration of
the political institutions in the North before the marching
season with us. There’s no doubt however, that the failure
of the two governments to publish their proposals
yesterday, as expected, is down to the unionist dinosaurs
for whom every delay, every hitch and every step backward
is a cause for celebration.

Of course, this latest delay is not exactly bad news for
nationalists and republicans who had made it clear that
they wanted nothing to do with the plan that was taking
shape in the collective mind of Dublin and London, a plan
that was broadly sympathetic to the DUP’s desire to have
their cake and eat it. The leading unionist party wants the
baubles and perks associated with office, but they refuse
to accept the responsibility that goes with them, favouring
instead a phased approach to the restoration of devolution
– without deadlines, without dialogue, without power-
sharing, and without hope.

Mr Ahern said yesterday that his hope is that a fully
functioning power-sharing executive might be in place
before the end of the year, but simply to express such a
wish without striving to create the conditions in which it
becomes possible is an exercise in futility.

Given the apparent willingness of the Irish government to
go along with the DUP strategy – until it was struck out in
no uncertain terms by the SDLP and Sinn Féin – there’s no
reason to suppose that there’s any appetite in Dublin for
playing hardball with the DUP. If it’s the case that the
Irish government is unwilling to take the hard decisions,
then the marching season deadline that Mr Ahern is talking
about could well be 2007 or later.

Meanwhile, with clanging inevitability, the ninth report of
the Independent Monitoring Commission has attempted to
offset the damage caused by its last one. The IMC now says
that the IRA does not pose a ‘terrorist threat’ and that
the organisation has decided to follow a peaceful path, as
if that information suddenly appeared to them in a vision.

It matters little, of course, whether the IMC praises or
damns the IRA, their words, whether they’re true or false,
are capable of providing a context and a justification for
any political agenda of every party, except the republican

Doubtless the plan was to choreograph this broadly positive
IMC report with the unveiling yesterday of the governments’
plans for progress. That idea went up in smoke when the
deadline for the unveiling of the strategy was put back
until the summer. Mr Blair says he’s now “clearer in his
head” about where the peace process is headed. If that’s
true, it’s entirely possible that he finds himself in a
minority of one.


Opin: Questions Of Collusion Need To Be Addressed

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

What kind of government kills the citizens it has a duty to

What kind of government covers up these killings?

What kind of government protects those involved in the

What kind of government does all of this in the name of
defending democracy against terrorism?

These are just some of the questions the British government
needs to address following a series of recent articles in
local newspapers exposing the links between loyalists and
state agencies and the use of those loyalists in a murder
campaign against nationalists.

Over the last month former security correspondent with the
BBC in Belfast, Brian Rowan, has written about the war
waged by Britain’s intelligence agencies.

Rowan is well placed to write on this subject. For 20 years
his work brought him into regular contact with the higher
echelons of the RUC/PSNI’s Special Branch and the
leadership of loyalism.

For years nationalists and republicans have highlighted the
organic link between the crown forces and loyalist death

Their assertions have been backed by some very senior

In his last report into the killing of Pat Finucane, Sir
John Stephens, former head of London’s Metropolitan Police,
confirmed collusion. In a special investigation Canadian
Judge, Peter Cory, concluded similarly.

In his report into those behind the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings Judge Barron connects loyalists and British
intelligence agencies to the outrage. In their attempt to
frustrate Barron’s investigation the British government
refused to hand over their intelligence files to assist

A few weeks ago an article in this newspaper claimed that
Torrens Knight, sentenced in 1993 for killing 12 Catholics
in two gun attacks, was working with the Special Branch and
was paid £50,000 a year.

Last week the family of David McIlwaine, killed with his
friend Andrew Robb in Tandragee in February 2000 by the
UVF, said they believed one of those involved in killing
the two teenagers was an agent being protected by the

In an article in the Irish Times in February, Rowan stated
that a report complied by the Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan – yet
to be published – says that the Special Branch ran a
‘series of agents’ who were involved in a ‘series of

He described a briefing he received from an intelligence
source which identified former and current loyalist agents.
One of these men is at the centre of O’Loan’s report,
another a senior figure in the UVF and a third sits on the
UDA’s Inner Council.

In a Belfast paper Rowan named John White as the Special
Branch agent under scrutiny by O’Loan.

White operated at the highest level of the UDA, their
‘Inner Council’.

There was no-one closer to Johnny Adair. During their reign
of terror on the Shankill Road in charge of the UDA’s ‘C’
company many Catholics and Protestants were killed.

Following the INLA’s killing of the notorious Catholic
killer, Billy Wright, the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name
for the UDA, killed many Catholics. It is widely believed
that ‘C’ company carried out the killings in Belfast.

The catalogue of death contained in these newspaper
articles is a small sample of the murder campaign by

And right at the heart of this activity is the hand of the
RUC/PSNI Special Branch and military intelligence.

The scale of their involvement with loyalists is endemic.
It is institutional. Words like ‘agent’, ‘informer’ and
indeed ‘collusion’ do not accurately reflect the
relationship. It goes beyond these descriptions.

The Special Branch and military intelligence created a
space for loyalists to act where they could not.

They organised loyalists as an ‘unofficial’, ‘undeclared’
arm of the British government.

They were a deadly extension of state repression.

The purpose behind their murder campaign was to demoralise
the nationalist population, to divert a democratic struggle
into a sectarian ‘tit-for-tat’ war.

Loyalists are not informers or agents but servants of a
British government strategy.

The political crisis at the heart of this issue, for the
British government, is the linkage between the loyalist
killers, the intelligence agencies and those in government
who set the policy which led to hundreds of people being


Opin: Failed NIO Notion Keeps North Polarised

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

You know the Swiss army knife, the red one with the famous
red cross on it? Do you know there are two versions? The
one most people here are familiar with is the Victorinox,
branded ‘the original Swiss army knife’. Alongside it is
the Wenger, branded ‘the genuine Swiss army knife’.

So, which is the Swiss army knife?

The answer is both, because in Switzerland, a country made
up of three major national groups, there are lots of items
which are almost identical except for the fact that the two
dominant language groups, German and French, use their own
version in the cantons they control. So it is with
Victorinox and Wenger, both companies which make a wide
range of products like knives, watches and other precision
instruments. They are both entitled to use the Swiss
national emblem, the red cross, so that from a quick glance
it’s difficult for an outsider to tell the difference. One
is based in a French-speaking canton, the other in a

Right across Europe this sort of duplication is the norm.
There are many examples in the Netherlands where Catholics
and Protestants are guaranteed representation on various
public and semi-public bodies including television and
radio. It’s the same in Belgium where French and Flemish
speakers are given guaranteed positions. There’d be hell to
pay if they weren’t. The reason is that various European
states have discovered the hard way that unless national
identities within their state boundaries are given full
recognition and equal rights the state is likely to be
ripped apart.

Except here. We have the inherent contradiction that Norn
Irn is recognised by all political scientists as an ethno-
political problem, yet the British administration tries to
pretend it’s a race relations problem. Well, it half does.

On the advice and experience of political scientists,
academics and civil servants, Dublin and London have been
working since the early 1980s to concoct a mechanism for
running this place which is technically known as
‘consociation’ in which the two communities cooperate
together in running the place recognising each other as

The main protagonist of consociation is the Dutch political
scientist Arend Lijphart who had an honorary doctorate
conferred on him by Queen’s in 2004. It’s generally
accepted that the Good Friday Agreement is based on his

Yet, in defiance of that political agreement, senior
officials at the NIO have continued to act as though the
theories under-pinning the GFA don’t exist. They prefer to
cling to the failed race relations analogy the NIO has
operated here since the 1970s because it keeps ‘Ulster’
British. Their approach is based on an idea that developed
as immigration from the so-called ‘new commonwealth’ began
to grow rapidly in Britain. That idea is now called ‘multi-

The notion is that you work to ‘educate’ the various
cultures about British society and about each other. You
bring in race relations legislation to deal with those who
fail to learn and to protect those who are victims of
racism. Essentially, however, the aim is that everyone
should become a loyal British subject while retaining their
own distinctive culture.

Applied to the north of Ireland, you can see it’s a
nonsense. Nevertheless, the NIO has been promoting that
nonsense for more than a generation. The best, or worst
example, depending on how you look at it, is the Community
Relations Council (CRC), a complete and utter waste of
money. After 12 years of its existence, society in the
north is more polarised than ever before. The CRC acts as
if this place is like Oldham or Bradford.

If only people could meet ‘across the divide’ they would
find goodness and sincerity in ‘the other side’.

Crucial to this failed notion is the idea, always unspoken
by its NIO proponents, that some day, like some shimmering
Shangri-La, there will be a Northern Ireland, wait for it,
‘at ease with itself’. If only somehow the Fenians could be
reconciled to respecting the dominant culture then all
would be well. Everyone would become ‘Northern Irish’ and
vote for the NIO’s failed front party, Alliance.

You can see it happening, can’t you? Everybody arm in arm,
gazing in rapture as the blue moon rises over Portadown.


Opin: Reality But No Reconciliation

Beatrix Campbell
Monday 13th March 2006

Observations on truth by Beatrix Campbell

During the BBC's daring truth and reconciliation
encounters, hosted by Desmond Tutu, Sylvia Hackett kept
asking the iconic loyalist killer Michael Stone about "the
files" that were, it seems, her husband's death warrant in
Northern Ireland.

Why couldn't she see them, she asked. The answer takes us
to the very heart of the strength and weakness of the
series Facing the Truth.

This was reality television like we never see it - human
beings living with great grief, unsoothed, lending their
pain to something bigger: the effort to sort this thing
out. They sat together with a guardian angel, the most
popular priest on the planet, Archbishop Tutu, in a
beautiful room where they were joined by men who had killed
their people - stoical, contemplative soldiers.

One family exemplified the hardship of just sitting still,
holding a gaze, asking a relevant question, speaking a
sentence worth saying. What on earth would that be? The
father's face seemed to be pulled away from the soldier as
if by a magnetic force. The mother's face was ripped in
sorrow. The young son, curious, and the daughter,
transfixed, stared at the paramilitary man, listening to
every word he said, watching every flick of his eyebrow,
every breath in his cheeks.

The soldiers, all of them dignified, confounded the blithe
contempt that the 30-year war has delivered to these men as
the people who were to blame: low life, subhuman killers.
Well, here they were, taking it, dangerous men deciding not to be.

We learned something that challenged the interpretation of
that war, this side of the water - of Paddies doing what
they do: killing each other - and something about their
non-equivalence. The republican soldiers' mission was to
kill the British state that was denying their right to be
human. The loyalist soldiers' mission was to kill

One of the loyalists, Michael Stone, a prolific killer,
insisted that his targets were on "the files" - and so they
were implicated. One such was the husband of Sylvia Hackett
and the brother of Roddy: Dermot Hackett. He was murdered
nearly 19 years ago by Stone, whose bravado was
memorialised in footage of his astounding attack on the
mass funeral at Milltown Cemetery. One of his victims was
Tommy McErlean, whose mother, Sally, was one of the fabled
good women of West Belfast, a pied piper who organised
youth clubs in Divis Flats, where there were probably
"files" on everyone.

Sylvia Hackett wouldn't have it: her man was just a person,
a Catholic. Stone insisted on "the files". They were the
source of his legitimacy.

But "the files" took us to the limits of these encounters,
to the absent presence - the state itself. British military
intelligence and the Royal Ulster Constabulary created
those files. Stone's safe passage to and from that cemetery
was organised by the RUC. Stone couldn't give Sylvia
Hackett the files. The RUC, MI5 and Downing Street won't
give her the files, either. Stone's encounter with the
Hacketts will not be replicated by the army officers, the
Special Branch personnel, the security commanders and
politicians who sanctioned Stone and the death squads.

Truth and reconciliation processes depend upon the
sponsorship of states. They depend on states subjecting
themselves to scrutiny, to opening their files, and in so
doing, acknowledging their own role as contributors to the
conflict, or rather, as the cause of the conflict.

The British state won't surrender itself to these
relatives. It won't hazard the encounters that the men who
killed their loved ones dared to enter. That is why there
is no truth and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.


Opin: London Life: Mlas Must Take Centre Stage ... Now

By Brian Walker
08 March 2006

A load of nonsense is being talked, as the latest attempts
to get the Assembly up and running look like faltering yet
again. For example, the idea that the Assembly doesn't

Yes it does, even though public confidence is at rock
bottom. For one thing, if the MLAs finally leave the stage,
the middle ground will be depleted, leaving complete
dominance by two parties run tightly from the top. Although
the 2003 mandate has been supplanted, people often forget
that the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP each won over 40% of
the designated unionist and nationalist votes. The absence
of even a shadow Assembly would deprive them of a revival
platform as catalysts for a new deal one day, and put them
at a severe disadvantage for elections to the eventual

Admittedly, in last year's council elections, they both
came just short of 40%. Even by that measure, their
annihilation is not what the 703,000 people who bothered to
vote seemed to want.

Dark talk of joint British-Irish authority if the talks
fail again is more nonsense. Dublin cannot afford an equal
share of our cost and he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Nonsense again is the view that Direct Rule is simply
British. In the big political picture, Dublin is in the
frame forever.

Next, the suppose incompetence of Direct Rule. Provided we
can put up with the humiliation of being governed by men
and women we cannot elect, Direct Rule, although a mite too
cautious, has been a bargain. Thirty years of Barnett
negotiations have won for us £5bn a year more than we could
ourselves afford, a whopping 29% above the UK average. I
doubt if local ministers could ever have delivered that.
Yes, the gap of advantage over GB will narrow, but in line
with the overall UK trend. So in this respect, UK rules OK.

The public sector is too large? Well, Northern Ireland is
enjoying the closest it has come to a boom for a century,
fuelled by the property boom. The banks are turning over
£600-700m of private investment a year. The jobless total
is just 4.7%, at 37,000.

As old-style manufacturing declines, new services are
springing up. Local farmers, butchers and bakers are
creating new products to meet the demands of Tesco.
Shoppers flock from the south to Newry, yes Newry, where
the stores would not disgrace Chelsea. Banbridge will soon
play host to a new wave of multiples from the continent.
The case for 12.5% company tax? A waste of breath. Big
profits are banked elsewhere and we would lose too much
Treasury funding.

On public spending, Peter Hain has been waving the stick
more than offering the carrot. If the parties don't shape
up, the roof will fall in. He exaggerates. He's actually
about to spell out the big capital programme of loadsamoney
to soften the blow of efficiencies.

Here's where the Assembly could make a real difference. The
NIO want to tempt the parties into a shadow Assembly with
committees, to check the onward march of Direct Rule.
Members could exploit their local knowledge to make A
Shared Future, the largely stalled programme of investment
in deprived areas, a reality at last.

They could shape the new health reforms making lengthy
hospital waiting a thing of the past. As the number of
quangos is about to be cut by half, they could affect which
should survive and what they do. The magic number of seven
councils need not be final and the grammar schools row
could begin to defuse, by allowing head teachers a sight of
meaningful pupil profiles. This agenda is possible - and it
would only be the start. The Assembly could have reformed
the creaking planning system long ago. A National Stadium,
a dynamic Titanic Quarter and a world-class Giant's
Causeway heritage and visitors-centre, all major
attractions and icons of confidence, should have been up
and running by now.

North-South? The one that matters most is southern
investment. Dublin investors still fear the North too much
resembles the republican rabble that rioted in O'Connell
Street Republic-based multinationals will hang back from
investing big time in new northern branches unless a
settlement emerges.

If we stay hooked on the intractabilities of the big
picture, we won't face disaster. But progress towards
cooling down sectarianism and building better lives will be
slower than need be - not just because of what MLAs would
do, but for what their elected presence would mean for all-
round confidence. The political zero-sum game - my gain is
your loss - can be won by nobody. The time for percentage
politics is long overdue. If you agree, you might tell your
MLAs before it's too late.


All the president's rooms

McAleese Luxury Home Is Up For Grabs At £600,000

By Helen Carson
09 March 2006

Have you ever fancied living like a president? Well, now
you can . . . if you have £600,000 to spare.

President Mary McAleese is selling her Rostrevor home.

The luxurious five-bedroom property, which is situated in
its own private grounds and known as Kairos, is on the
market with estate agent, Gerry O'Connor for £599,950.

And the family residence on Bridge Street should appeal to
many buyers due to its location in the heart of the town,
yet offering spectacular views of Carlingford Lough and the
Mourne Mountains as well as a high degree of privacy and

The telltale signs of the importance of its owner include
electric gates, a floodlit garden, an alarm system and a
perimeter wall made of Mourne granite. Inside there are
video entry systems to several rooms, including the first
bedroom, the main kitchen, the study and the raised living
area. The study is also soundproofed so no politically
sensitive conversations can be overheard.

The telephone and television points in virtually every room
indicate it is important for whoever lives there to keep in
touch with major events at all times.

But it's not all hard work with the Rostrevor bolthole
offering a relaxing retreat for the President when she's
not at her official residence, Aras an Uachtarain in
Phoenix Park, Dublin. Apart from the beauty of the scenic
surroundings, inside there is luxury aplenty with a fully-
fitted bar in the first floor lounge, leading to a sun
room, sauna and jacuzzi.

The interior style is a mix of classic and contemporary,
with period touches such as corniced ceilings, ceiling
roses, a claw foot bath and a Belfast sink mixing with
pitched pine floors in nearly every room in the house.

Guests are also made to feel welcome with their own well-
equipped kitchen and bathroom.

And it's a great house to entertain in as both the dining
room and living area with balcony are situated to take
advantage of those great views. Outdoors there is a paved
patio area with a built-in barbecue, a water feature and a

A spokesman for estate agent Gerry O'Connor said he did not
want to comment on the property.

An Aras an Uachtarain spokeswoman confirmed President
McAleese was selling the Rostrevor property.


Book Rev: Who Was The Real Michael Collins?

The Organizer
by Fintan O'Toole 1 2
Post date 03.09.06 Issue date 03.13.06

Mick: The Real Michael Collins
By Peter Hart
(Viking, 485 pp., $27.95)

An Internet site dedicated solely to merchandise bearing
the image of the early twentieth-century Irish
revolutionary Michael Collins, you can buy a T-shirt
imprinted with the hero's face and the slogan "Rebel With a
Cause." Michael Collins is the James Dean of the Irish
nationalist revolt against Britain. Peter Hart, in his new
biography, describes Collins as "the first example of that
twentieth century phenomenon: the guerrilla celebrity."
Young, good-looking, moody, and sexy, he also had the wit
to die in 1922 at the age of thirty-one, before the
banalities of peacetime government or the disappointments
of middle age could turn him into a bore. Killed by some of
his old comrades, who rejected the deal that he struck with
the British, he could be admired for apparently
contradictory reasons: as a ruthless terrorist leader and
as a heroic compromiser.

On the one hand, Collins can be remembered as the father of
twentieth-century asymmetric warfare, in which a small
guerrilla gang takes on a lumbering imperial giant and
wins. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph in
1998, Yitzhak Shamir revealed that one of the great
inspirations in his life was Michael Collins. Shamir said
he admired Collins's personal courage, and had studied his
tactics. He chose the name "Michael" as his nom de guerre
while leading the Lehi group (the so-called Stern Gang, a
Jewish band of anti-British terrorists in Mandatory
Palestine) as a tribute to Collins. As Shamir wrote in his
memoirs, "The spirit and circumstances of [Collins's]
struggle against the British came to life for me in faraway
Poland and remained with me." The Collins who inspired
Shamir was the hard, cold, clear-eyed leader of the Irish
Republican Army, who was prepared to use violence as a
political tool.

On the other hand, Collins can be remembered as a brave
peacemaker. Shortly after the peace deal in 1998, which
brought an end to thirty years of violence in Northern
Ireland, David Trimble, the leader of the pro-British
Ulster Unionist Party, was asked about the man who had been
his greatest enemy--Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the
political wing of the present-day IRA. He confessed that he
thought it "possible that Gerry Adams could be a Michael
Collins." What he meant was not that Adams was a cold-
blooded mastermind of terror, but that he, like Collins,
could lead the IRA into democratic politics by making a
pragmatic deal, as Collins had done in 1921 when he
negotiated an Anglo-Irish treaty that left Britain in
control of Northern Ireland and created a state on the rest
of the island whose independence fell short of the
republican ideal for which he had fought.

Collins's double image gives his memory a peculiar
pliability. The original publicity poster for Neil Jordan's
film Michael Collins, which came out in 1996, showed Liam
Neeson as Collins leaping over a barricade with a rifle in
his hand. It was scrapped in favor of a poster showing him
making a speech from an election platform. The
transformation of radical gunman into democratic politician
was designed, of course, to resonate with the peace process
in Northern Ireland, and the film broke Irish box-office
records. As a result, Collins's image was commodified
through posters, t-shirts, phone cards, and kitschy bronze
statuettes. In the village of Granard, home to Collins's
girlfriend Kitty Kiernan, the new Michael Collins Bar and
Kitty Kiernan Restaurant did a roaring trade. Politicians
made speeches about what Collins, had he lived, "would
have" done and thought. All of it, remarkably enough,
happened to coincide precisely with their own deeds and
ideals. In his Michael Collins: A Life, published in 1996,
James Mackay, typically of the Collins biographers, wrote
that had he lived Collins "would have" peacefully re-united
the island and created a thriving economy. The young
revolutionary had become the patron saint of lost

he malleability of Collins's memory owes much to the facts
of his astonishing life, but much, too, to the way his
early death made his future a matter of pure possibility.
The men who shot Collins in an ambush during the civil war
between rival nationalist factions that followed British
withdrawal from most of Ireland were partisans of the more
hard-line Eamon de Valera, who went on to dominate the
Irish state in the coming decades. De Valera still held the
ceremonial office of president of the Irish Republic fifty
years after Collins's death, and is remembered now as
ancient, decrepit, and half-blind. Collins stayed fresh in
the imagination as the country boy who had humbled the
greatest empire the world had ever known. Revelations that
he had a foul tongue and an eye for women only made him
seem more attractively contemporary. In the wars of memory,
Collins has routed those who killed him.

The process of shaping an official memory began early. As
Anne Dolan has shown in her brilliant book Commemorating
the Irish Civil War, Collins was scarcely cold before the
process of myth-making was under way. Less than a month
after Collins's death in August 1922, the embattled
government of the new Irish state commissioned an official
biography. A few weeks later, it agreed to purchase his
death mask and a bronze bust. On the second anniversary of
the killing, the Irish army unveiled a large stone cross,
with an image of the crucified Christ, at the alleged site
of the fatal ambush on a rural road in Collins's native
County Cork: a place now declared to be holy ground, "made
sacred by the blood of General Collins."

The identification of the hero's blood sacrifice with that
of Jesus was by no means accidental. Collins's closest
military acolytes had been known as "the Apostles," and his
own dying words were even reported as "Forgive them"--an
echo of Christ's words on the cross. And like the memory of
all dead saints, the memory of the real Collins was being
made to measure. The site of the monument, chosen for its
capacity to accommodate large crowds of pilgrims, was in
fact forty yards away from the real site. A cement cone
that had marked the actual place of his death was moved so
as to stand, as it still does, next to the cross. The
tendency to shift the facts to shape a usable memory goes
back a long way.

he subtitle of the new biography by Peter Hart, with its
claim to reveal the "real Michael Collins," is thus an open
declaration of skepticism in the face of a deliberately
constructed image. Collins, Hart notes in his introduction,
has virtually disappeared into "the realm of the
incredible, of Monte Cristo, the Scarlet Pimpernel and
Sherlock Holmes" through "innumerable tales of his
miraculous feats, subterfuges and evasions of near-certain
capture and death." Hart's aim, he writes, is not to debunk
Collins, but simply to "start from scratch and from a new,
forensic perspective," one that is "analytical and
systematic rather than heroic." Hart is well fitted for the
task. His great book The IRA and Its Enemies is a micro-
study of the guerrilla campaign in Collins's native Cork,
and his collection of historical essays, The IRA at War
1916-1923, includes a groundbreaking study of the Irish
nationalist underground in London, where Collins forged his
political persona.

The delicious irony that emerges from Hart's sober analysis
of the available documentation is that Collins, the arch-
enemy of British imperialism, was in fact the perfect
product of Victorian Britain. He was upwardly mobile: born
in 1890 as the third son of obscure farmers in rural Cork,
by the age of thirty he had become chairman of, and
minister for finance in, the government of a new state and
commander-in-chief of its army, negotiating as an equal
with Winston Churchill and Lloyd George. He achieved his
ambitions, moreover, by embracing the very values that his
imperial masters preached to their subjects: hard work,
organization, relentless discipline. If the British ruling
class developed a perverse regard for the young man who
directed a dirty war against them, it was surely because
they recognized him as their own creature.

Collins was not a born genius. When, at fifteen, he took
the examinations for a job as clerk in the Post Office
Savings Bank in London, he failed two of the four subjects
and did not achieve the required grade of sixty-six. He got
the job only because so many successful candidates did not
accept their offers. Yet it was the Post Office Savings
Bank that made him such a successful revolutionary. Irish
nationalism had always had a surplus of dreamers, poets,
visionaries, rhetoricians, and idealists. What it lacked
was bureaucrats. Collins became the indispensable man of
the Irish revolution because he knew how to run things.

The guerrilla chief who demanded that his subordinates
supply reports "done in tabular form and furnished in
duplicate" was simply a grown-up version of the boy in the
Post Office Savings Bank, where hundreds of thousands of
transactions had to be recorded accurately every day and
clerical errors were not tolerated. The earnest, punctual
Collins who earned a reputation as "the speediest young
clerk in the Savings Bank" was, in embryo, the leader whose
favorite terms of castigation were "lazy," "inefficient,"
and "unbusinesslike." Obscured by the legend of the
trickster-terrorist is the real Collins story: the literal
treason of the clerk.

Collins's pragmatism and aptitude for micro-management made
him a perfect revolutionary bureaucrat. Very few guerrilla
leaders can have devoted mental space to the question of
dog licenses, as Collins did at the height of the IRA's
campaign in 1920, when he suggested that the issuing of
licenses for dogs and illegal whiskey might be a good way
to make up revenue lost to nationalist-controlled local
councils by the withdrawal of British grants. This appetite
for detail combined with an ability to survive without much
sleep might seem merely the makings of a good middle
manager. But the context of Irish revolutionary culture
gave a special potency to Collins's ethic of efficiency.

That culture was one of heroic failure. Its cardinal
virtues were courage, self-sacrifice, and a noble death.
After a decade in London, where he divided his time between
respectable day jobs in banking and a burgeoning career in
both open and conspiratorial Irish nationalist
organizations, Collins returned to Dublin to take part in
the most glorious failure of them all, the Easter Rising of
1916. He was in the revolutionary headquarters
(appropriately enough, the General Post Office in Dublin)
for most of the five days during which a few hundred armed
rebels held out before their inevitable defeat by vastly
superior British forces. The grand gesture reached its
culmination with the cold-blooded (and, from the point of
view of public opinion, catastrophically misjudged)
execution of the leaders by the British. Collins emerged
from a prison camp at the end of 1916 with all the élan of
a man who had taken part in the bloody national sacrifice,
but also with a contempt for heroic gestures. The
revolution he would run would not be a grand opera; it
would be a corporation.

Next: "Romantic rhetoric might sanitize or even substitute
for violence, but Collins intended to get on with the dirty
business itself."


Mid Cannons Roar .... We’ll Mumble A Soldier’s Song

By Keith Bourke

A Fianna Fail TD has called for all schoolchildren to be
taught the national anthem to mark the 90th anniversary of
the Easter Rising.

Dublin TD Martin Brady said it was obvious that most Irish
people did not know the words of Amhran na bhFiann.

“At sporting and other public events across the country it
is clear that when our anthem is played that many people do
not know the words and mumble along with the crowd,” he

Singer Brian Kennedy recently attracted criticism when he
had to read the words of the national anthem when
performing at the rugby international between Ireland and

Mr Brady said he would be asking the education minister,
Mary Hanafin, to consider making the teaching of the anthem
and its history part of the civics curriculum in second-
level schools in the Republic.

“It is important that we remember the history of our anthem
and as well as ensuring that our young people are familiar
with the words we should through our schools teach them the
meaning and history of Amhran na bhFiann,” Mr Brady said.

The original handwritten words of the anthem are to go on
auction in April with a guide price of E1.2 million.

The lyrics of the song were written by Peadar Kearney and
the music by both Kearney and Patrick Heeney. It was
composed in 1907 and first published in the magazine Irish
Freedom in 1912.

Amhran na bhFiann was relatively unknown until it was sung
by rebels in the GPO during the Easter Rising of 1916 and
afterwards in British internment camps. The song became the
official anthem of the new state in 1926 when it replaced
the unofficial anthem, God Save Ireland.

God Save the King served as the anthem of Britain and
Ireland until the Irish Free State was established in 1922.

The continued use of God Save the King by some Irish people
caused embarrassment to the new Irish state and on one
famous occasion Governor General James McNeill refused to
attend a public function in Trinity College Dublin when he
discovered that the college intended playing the anthem
during his visit.

Even after the adoption of Amhran na bhFiann as the
official anthem a minority continued to sing the British
anthem right up until the declaration of the Republic of
Ireland in 1949.

In recent years there have been calls to replace the Irish
anthem, with some people arguing that the current wording
is excessively militant and anti-British. Others have
argued that the melody is difficult to play.

The suggestion has also been made that, as occurred in
Germany after the Second World War, the government might
change the words of the anthem while keeping the original

In 1995 the Irish Rugby Football Union commissioned Phil
Coulter to write a new sporting anthem. Ireland’s Call is
now played at all Irish rugby internationals.

The Irish national anthem

A Soldier’s Song

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song,
With cheering rousing chorus,
As round our blazing fires
we throng,
The starry heavens o’er us;
Impatient for the coming fight,
And as we wait the morning’s light,
Here in the silence of the night,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.


Soldiers are we
whose lives we pledged to Ireland;
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave.
Sworn to be free,
No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or
the slave.
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal
’Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song

In valley green on towering crag,
Our fathers fought before us,
And conquered ‘neath the same old flag
That’s proudly floating o’er us.
We’re children of a fighting race,
That never yet has known disgrace,
And as we march, the foe to face,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song


Sons of the Gael! Men of the Pale!
The long watched day is breaking;
The serried ranks of Inisfail
Shall set the tyrant quaking.
Our camp fires now are
burning low;
See in the east a silv’ry glow,
Out yonder waits the Saxon foe,
So chant a soldier’s song.

Amhran na bhFiann

Seo dhibh a chairde duan Oglaigh,
Cathreimeach briomhar ceolmhar,
Ar dtinte cnamh go buacach taid,
’S an speir go min realtogach
Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo
’S go tiunmhar gle roimh thiocht
do’n lo
Fe chiunas chaomh na hoiche ar seol:
Seo libh canaidh Amhran na bhFiann


Sinne Firnna Fail
A ta fe gheall ag Eirinn,
buion dar slua
Thar toin do rainig chugainn,
Fe mhoid bheith saor.
Sean tir ar sinsir feasta
Ni fhagfar fe’n tioran na fe’n trail
Anocht a theam sa bhearna bhaoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil chun bais no saoil
Le guna screach fe lamhach na bpilear
Seo libh canaidh Amhran na bhFiann.

Cois banta reidhe, ar ardaibh sleibhe,
Ba bhuachach ar sinsir romhainn,
Ag lamhach go trean fe’n sair-
bhrat sein
Ta thuas sa ghaoith go seolta
Ba dhuchas riamh d’ar gcine chaidh
Gan iompail siar o imirt air,
’S ag siul mar iad i gcoinne namhad
Seo libh, canaidh Amhran na bhFiann


A bhuion nach fann d’fhuil Ghaeil
is Gall,
Sin breacadh lae na saoirse,
Ta sceimhle ‘s scanradh i gcroithe namhad,
Roimh ranna laochra ar dtire.
Ar dtinte is treith gan spreach anois,
Sin luisne ghle san speir anoir,
’S an biobha i raon na bpilear aghaibh: Seo libh, canaidh
Amhran na bhFiann.


Russell For Raglan

By Connla Young

Hollywood actor Russell Crowe may visit the border this
summer to take part in the annual Raglan Road Festival.

The festival was set up three years ago to celebrate the
life and works of the world-renowned poet Patrick Kavanagh.

It attracts hundreds of participants each year to the
poet’s home village of Inniskeen in Co Monaghan.

During the three-day festival, special workshops are set up
to to focus on dance, music, drama as well as poetry. Daily
Ireland understands that moves to bring Russell Crowe to
the village are at an advanced stage.

Last year, Carrickmacross mayor Vincent Martin invited the
star of A Beautiful Mind, who is known to be a massive
admirer of the poet’s work, to take part in the three-day
festival. In 2002, the Antipodean actor was forced to
apologise after losing his temper with a TV producer after
a Patrick Kavanagh poem he recited during the Bafta awards
was cut from the final broadcast.

The Apollo Gallery in Dublin recently sold a painting by Co
Down artist Willie Mulhall depicting Russell Crowe as
Patrick Kavanagh. News that a star of the silver screen
could take part in the Raglan Road Festival comes as
preparations are being finalised for the funeral of the
poet’s brother Peter, who died in the US in January.

Peter Kavanagh was the poet’s only brother. Peter is
credited with bringing Patrick’s work to a wide audience.
Peter Kavanagh, who emigrated to the United States in the
1960s, will be laid to rest in the same graveyard as his
brother after mass at the Church of Mary, Mother of Mercy
in Inniskeen on Easter Monday.

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