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March 01, 2006

Loyalist Couple's Assets Frozen By Court

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BB 03/01/06 Loyalist Couple's £3.5m Assets Frozen By Court
IN 03/01/06 Mother’s Anguish 8 Years After Poyntzpass
IN 03/01/06 Families Seek New Killings Probe
DI 03/01/06 SF Won’t Accept ‘Two Stage’ Tactic
BB 03/01/06 Moves To Form New Policing Board
BN 03/01/06 Ahern Urged To Get Tough On Unionists
BB 03/01/06 City Council To Mark 1916 Rising
BB 03/01/06 Councils Move Goes Before Commons
IN 03/01/06 Riots Prompt Review Of St Patrick’s Day Celebrations
NL 03/01/06 Terrorist Amnesty 'Decades Away'
DI 03/01/06 Opin: Debrun - Riots Were Victory For Willie Frazer
DI 03/01/06 Opin: Morrison - Immortalised On The Lips Of Old And Young
DI 03/01/06 Opin: Two Governments Must Really Listen
BT 03/01/06 Opin: Dublin, The Real Face And The Real Victims
IN 03/01/06 Opin: Everything Has A Shelf Life, Even Proconsuls
IN 03/01/06 Opin: Dubya’s Posse Shoots Itself In The Foot Again
II 03/01/06 Opin: The Celtic Tiger's Lost Generation
DI 03/01/06 B Sands: ‘There’s Only 1 Solution… Back On Hunger Strike’
DI 03/01/06 Kerry Up To Derry
BT 03/01/06 Tragic Case Of Suicide Teen Danny
IT 03/01/06 Drink Body Seeks Patrick's Day Alcohol Curb
BT 03/01/06 Huge Security For Bush At Shannon
DI 03/01/06 Bush Drops In Like Thief In Night
BT 03/01/06 Van's The Man Of The Moment In Nashville
IT 03/01/06 Ahern To Lead Tributes To Former Fine Gael TD
ML 03/01/06 Paper City Hibernians Plan Mass, Breakfast
US 03/01/06 Theatre: When Irish Eyes Aren't Smilin'
IN 03/01/06 U-Turn Over Pope’s Image On Cross


Loyalist Couple's £3.5m Assets Frozen By Court

A married couple from Portadown has had assets worth more
than £3.5m frozen by the High Court in Belfast.

The Assets Recovery Agency alleges that Mark and Beverley
McKinney are involved in drug, fuel and cigarette smuggling
and money laundering.

It also alleges the couple, of Woodlands Manor, are linked
to loyalist paramilitaries.

Assets seized from the couple include property, the
contents of more than 30 bank accounts and a helicopter.

The agency also seized 70 vehicles including articulated
lorries, a Bentley Continental, a Jaguar X-Type and a Range
Rover from the couple who own MMK International Transport

The assets of a third person, Anthony James McNeill of
Selshion Parade, Portadown, were also frozen under the same

These assets include that property, which is valued at
about £60,000.

In pursuing its action against Mr McNeill, the agency
alleged in court that both he and the McKinneys were
engaged in laundering in excess of £650,000, and that he
has links to loyalist paramilitaries in the Portadown area.

ARA Assistant Director Alan McQuillan said the case had
been referred to his agency by the police.

He said: "While that company has some legitimate business,
it was part of ARA's case to the High Court that that
company was also used as a vehicle for smuggling drugs,
tobacco, and oil into Northern Ireland, and that the
McKinneys and Mr McNeill were involved in laundering the
proceeds of crime."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/01 12:02:09 GMT


Mother’s Anguish 8 Years After Poyntzpass

By Sharon O’Neill Chief Reporter

THE mother of a Catholic man murdered in what was described
as one of Northern Ireland’s most heinous sectarian crimes,
has told of her disgust at the continuation of paramilitary

Ann Trainor, whose son Damien, pictured, was gunned down
along with his Protestant friend Philip Allen just weeks
before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, spoke out
as the families prepared to mark the eighth anniversary of
their deaths.

In an in-depth interview in today’s Irish News Mrs Trainor
tells why she cannot bring herself to forgive the killers
and of her fear that one of them could soon be freed to
walk the streets for a second time.

Her 25-year-old son and his friend were targeted as they
drank in a bar in Poyntzpass on March 3 1998 in what a
judge later des-cribed as among the most hein-ous killings
in the north’s history.

Last month it emerged that LVF double murderer Noel
McCready had mounted a bid to be released under the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Sentence Review Commission will decide on his fate at a
special hearing in a few weeks.

As it prepares to convene, Mrs Trainor issued a plea to
keep the notorious loyalist behind bars.

Last year another of the Poyntzpass killers, Stephen
McClean, failed in his attempt to be released from jail.

Just weeks be-fore McClean and McCready were to be freed
under the peace accord in July 2000 they were rearrested
while on ‘pre-release’ following an attack on a Co Down

They were later cleared of all charges but have remained in
prison, the authorities successfully arguing in McClean’s
case that he had not severed his links with the LVF.

Campaigners argue that their detention is unlawful given
that they were acquitted of new charges and have demanded
their immediate release, following the LVF’s statement last
October that it had ‘stood down’.

But Mrs Trainor said: “Keep them in. Why should they get

Unlike other victims’ relatives, the 66-year-old would
never want to meet her son’s killers.

“I wouldn’t forgive them. They have a hard life now but it
will get harder. Please God I hope to see the day they
suffer,” she added.

Although the number of paramilitary killings has decreased
loyalists continue to be behind the bulk of such deaths and
just last month were linked to the murders of Ronald Todd and
Tommy Hollran.

“It’s bad. It will still go on,” Mrs Trainor, who gives an
emotional insight into the lasting effects of grief in such
tragic circumstances, said.


Families Seek New Killings Probe

By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

Relatives of victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan
bombings are seeking the establishment of an independent
body to investigate Troubles-related killings in the

Justice for the Forgotten, accompanied by representatives
of the Pat Finucane Centre, yesterday held talks in the
north with the PSNI team set up to enquire into murders
linked paramilitary violence over three decades.

Spokeswoman Margaret Urwin last night described as “very
positive” their two and a half hour meeting with the
Historical Enquiries Team (Het) in Lisburn.

Following the meeting, Ms Urwin said her group felt there
was a need for a similar “specially resourced unit” in the
Republic to investigate killings in the state.

She said around 130 people had lost their lives in attacks
in bombings and single attacks linked to the Troubles and
these needed to be fully investigated.

“The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were not the only murders
to take place. There were many others,” she said.

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that the leading criminal
lawyer Patrick MacEntee will not release the findings of
his investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings
until May 31.

He had been due to present his report to the Irish
government yesterday but he has sought an extension to
allow him to complete his work.

It is understood that individuals linked to the British
secret services, who have key information regarding the
atrocity, have been cooperating with Mr MacEntee in recent

Many suspect that loyalists paramilitaries worked hand-in-
hand with British agents to carry out the attacks.


SF Won’t Accept ‘Two Stage’ Tactic

By Jarlath Kearney

Martin McGuinness last night warned the British and Irish
governments that Sinn Féin would not accept a “two-stage”
approach to the restoration of the North’s political

The Democratic Unionist Party has insisted that it will not
take part in an inclusive power-sharing executive with Sinn

Republicans are concerned that both governments are now
considering proposals for re-establishing the assembly
without an executive to facilitate the DUP position.

Along with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Mr McGuinness
will today lead a Sinn Féin delegation into Government
Buildings in Dublin for a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie

Tomorrow in London, both Sinn Féin men will lead a
delegation to Downing Street in London for discussions with
British prime minister Tony Blair.

Mr McGuinness said: “Sinn Féin has expressed publicly and
directly to the two governments our belief that they are
pandering to the rejectionist demands of the DUP.

“The proposals put forward for talks, which would have
excluded Sinn Féin, is clear evidence of this.

“In our view, the two governments must defend robustly and
resolutely the principles of equality, inclusivity and
mutual respect which underpin the Good Friday Agreement,
and they must take the lead in resisting DUP attempts to
destroy its underpinning architecture and safeguards. Up to
now, both governments have failed to do so.

“They have no strategy for the implementation of the
Agreement or for facing down negative unionism. In fact,
they are now considering proposals, which centre on a
shadow assembly, to accommodate the DUP’s refusal to accept
the power-sharing arrangements set out in the Good Friday
Agreement,” the Sinn Féin chief negotiator said.

Mr McGuinness said the proposals for a shadow assembly were
“totally unacceptable to Sinn Féin”.

“In our view, it is a mistake for the governments to go
down this road. We will be telling both the Taoiseach and
the British prime minster when we meet them that this
approach will only further encourage DUP intransigence and
represents a real threat to the integrity of the Good
Friday Agreement,” he said.


Moves To Form New Policing Board

NI Secretary Peter Hain has written to the leaders of the
four main parties seeking their nominations for a new
Policing Board as of 1 April.

There is no expectation from government that Sinn Fein will
take their two places at this stage.

The DUP has been asked to put forward four names. This will
increase their current team on the board by one.

The Ulster Unionists and the SDLP have been asked to put
forward two each, which is a reduction in their teams.

Sinn Fein has resisted giving the PSNI, the Policing Board
and other institutions its support, insisting more
legislation is needed before they can sign up.

The government has stuck to their formula despite
speculation from some politicians that the resignation of
Paul Berry, which changes the arithmetic for any future
Stormont Executive, would have a knock on effect on the new
Policing Board.

"It is not clear what the attitude of the Ulster Unionists
will be to the new board - they had threatened to walk off
if the number of unelected members was greater than the
number of elected politicians," BBC Northern Ireland editor
Mark Devenport said.

On Tuesday, Sir Reg Empey accused the government of a power
grab - turning the board from a body with a democratic
majority into a "quango".

Some political sources suggest that the government might
choose to include elected politicians amongst the ranks of
independent members in order to meet Ulster Unionist

However, officials are advising against this possibility,
indicating that the UUP was being asked to put their
concerns to one side in the interests of preserving a
balanced board.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/01 09:07:13 GMT


Ahern Urged To Get Tough On Unionists

01/03/2006 - 07:18:00

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today face Sinn Féin demands
for the Irish and British governments to take a firmer line
with unionists in an effort to revive power-sharing.

With Mr Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair
believed to be working on a roadmap for the North's parties
to get back to the Stormont Assembly, Sinn Féin leaders
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were preparing to meet
the Taoiseach and deliver a "get tough" message.

Ahead of today’s talks in government buildings in Dublin,
Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said his
party believed both governments had failed to take a lead
in resisting attempts by the Reverend Ian Paisley’s
Democratic Unionists to destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McGuinness observed: “They have no strategy for the
implementation of the Agreement or for facing down negative

“In fact, they are now considering proposals, which centre
on a shadow Assembly, to accommodate the DUP’s refusal to
accept the power-sharing arrangements set out in the Good
Friday Agreement.

“These proposals are totally unacceptable to Sinn Féin and,
in our view, it is a mistake for the government to go down
this road.

“We will be telling both the Taoiseach and the British
Prime Minister over the next two days when we meet them
that this approach will only further encourage DUP
intransigence and represent a real threat to the integrity
of the Good Friday Agreement.”

Sinn Féin will meet Tony Blair in Downing Street tomorrow.

Mr Ahern is also due to meet SDLP representatives tomorrow
in Dublin to hear their concerns about the current round of

It is believed that Sinn Féin and the SDLP could snub a
shadow Assembly which would see the 108 MLAs return to
Stormont for debates and possibly to scrutinise the work of
the British ministerial team in the Northern Ireland

Both parties are insistent that there must be an immediate
bid to revive the power-sharing institutions.

However the Reverend Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists do
not believe that in the short term the political climate is
right for unionists to re-enter government with Sinn Féin,
even after last year’s declaration by the IRA that it is
ending its armed campaign and has completed its disarmament


City Council To Mark 1916 Rising

The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising should be
officially commemorated in Londonderry, city councillors
have decided.

The proposal was made by Sinn Fein representatives and
supported by the SDLP, however, unionists on the council
have opposed it.

Sinn Fein's Peter Anderson said the 1916 rebellion should
be remembered like other events.

The DUP's Joe Millar has said the council should not
support it.

"I don't think that Derry City Council, as a council,
should be getting involved in this if they are trying to
reflect the views of all the people," he said.

"We would not be supporting something that is anti-

Mr Anderson said commemorating the rising was a matter of

"What I was proposing, in my opinion, was just for
equality," he said.


"We have been sending councillors all over the world to
commemorate World War I and World War II and what I am
saying now is that we want an equal playing field."

SDLP councillor Pat Ramsey said he tabled an amendment to
the original Sinn Fein motion, which was passed on Tuesday.

Mr Ramsey said he asked for the need to cherish all
children equally to be the central theme of the

"The 1916 rising was a hugely important part of our history
and it cannot be airbrushed out," he said.

"This is not about coat-trailing but about enabling the
council to commemorate what was a turning point in Irish

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/01 09:39:08 GMT


Councils Move Goes Before Commons

The government is set to bring an order before parliament
in June dealing with the proposed shake up of NI councils.

The order will provide for the appointment of a
commissioner to decide the boundaries of new council areas.

It is expected to say the commissioner will work to the
plan of seven councils announced by Peter Hain last

However, the commissioner will have flexibility regarding
the exact borders of new council areas and the number of
councillors to sit on the new bodies.

In November, Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Hain said there
should be a maximum of 50 councillors in each of the new

Four out of five of the local parties are opposed to the
seven council model, arguing for the retention of 15

Sinn Fein backs the seven council model.

The leaders of the DUP, UUP, SDLP and Alliance oopsed it
and have requested a joint meeting with Prime Minister Tony
Blair to discuss the local government shake up.

However, they have yet to hear back from Downing Street.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/01 06:26:59 GMT


Riots Prompt Review Of St Patrick’s Day Celebrations

By Staff Reporter

Security plans for Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade will be
urgently reviewed after weekend riots engulfed the capital,
justice minister Michael McDowell said yesterday.

Protesters blocking the loyalist Love Ulster rally sparked
three hours of violence, vandalism and looting which led to
more than a dozen injuries and 40 arrests.

Mr McDowell yesterday defended the Garda’s policing plans
and cautioned that a security ring around the city could
have provoked more trouble.

He said 348 officers were on duty but were surprised by a
300-strong drunken mob which swelled a counter-protest of
50 Republican Sinn Fein members.

Mr McDowell told the Dail: “There are other upcoming public
events in our capital city, many of them celebratory that
may now have to be considered in the context of the
experiences of the past weekend.

As well as the St Patrick’s day parade, a military
procession to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter
Rising is also planned to pass along O’Connell Street on
April 16.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern earlier told the Dail that gardai
drew up a detailed policing plan in advance of Saturday’s
loyalist parade and could not have foreseen the rioting
that engulfed the city.

“What was deployed was a proportionate police presence that
would ensure public safety and not to overact, not to have
too large a force, or create too much tension,” he told

“A garda report into the violence, vandalism and looting is

The Taoiseach added that senior gardai were concerned about
the location of the parade on O’Connell Street and held six
meetings with Dublin City Council on the issue beforehand.


Terrorist Amnesty 'Decades Away'

By Alistair Bushe Security Correspondent
Wednesday 1st March 2006

IT COULD be "decades" before the people of Northern Ireland
are ready to countenance some form of an amnesty for
terrorists, the Police Federation believes.

In the latest edition of Police Beat, the federation says
the Government was right to scrap the OTR legislation, even
if it was mostly "for the wrong reasons".

Police Beat, the voice for Northern Ireland's 9,200
fulltime police officers, described the amnesty as "morally
bankrupt" and "insensitive" to the feelings of victims and
their families.

The key to the Government abandoning the legislation, it
claims, was Sinn Fein's change in attitude, prompted by the
amnesty being also offered to the security forces.

The federation also said that the widows and parents of
murdered RUC officers played a key part in changing the
mind of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State Peter

"The Prime Minister's and the Secretary of State's
diminishing enthusiasm to pursue the issue was also greatly
influenced by the devastating emotional impact of the
widows and parents of murdered RUC officers who spoke to
them with great dignity and courage in Downing Street, "
said the editorial.

"In the teeth of such universal opposition the Government
must have welcomed the opportunity to take Sinn Fein at
their word that they no longer wanted the legislation
unless on their terms."

The federation ruled out a truth and reconciliation
commission as a "guarantee of closure" for victims.

"The families of victims do have a story to tell but there
is little prospect of the perpetrators of atrocities coming
forward," it added.

"Those who have already been released under the Good Friday
Agreement have no incentive to declare more and those whose
crimes remain unattributed will hope to stay undiscovered."

The federation says Mr Hain should put away all such
proposals "deep into his bottom drawer".


Opin: Debrun - Riots Were Victory For Willie Frazer

Bairbre De Brún

Last week’s talks, or lack thereof, is further proof that
we have still some distance to travel on the road towards
equality of treatment.

The decision to exclude Sinn Féin from last Monday’s round
table discussions was absolutely unacceptable.

Both the British and Irish governments confirmed to Sinn
Féin that the SDLP and DUP had agreed to take part in round
table discussions excluding Sinn Féin, a proposal which was
even rejected by the UUP.

Republicans fought and won those battles many years ago and
the politics of exclusion should be part of a bygone era.

Last Thursday, I travelled to Dublin to attend the National
Forum on Europe at Dublin Castle and then travelled to
Leinster House to participate in the Oireachtas Joint
Committee on European Affairs.

At the National Forum I asked the EU Commissioner for the
Internal Market, Charlie McCreevey about the Country of
Origin Principle still being at the heart of the Services
Directive as passed at first reading by the European
Parliament last week. In spite of having several
opportunities to deny that this is the case, the
commissioner chose not to do so.

My participation in the meeting of the Oireachtas Committee
was just one example of the type of ongoing representation
that MPs from the Six Counties should have in the political
life of the nation. It is ironic that an MEP from the North
can address the Oireachtas yet an MP at present cannot. It
is essential that the Taoiseach now presses ahead with
proposals for northern representation in the Oireachtas.

Last Friday, I hosted a PEACE III seminar for community
organisations at the Wellington Park Hotel in south
Belfast. The event was chaired by South Belfast MLA Alex
Maskey and was addressed by Seamus McAleavey, chief
executive of Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action
(NICVA). I was particularly pleased to see people from
across the community and from both nationalist and unionist
areas of the city.

People welcomed the opportunity that a PEACE III will
bring. Many experienced community workers, however, felt
that their views are not being taken into account in
planning the shape of any future programme and some were
unsure even about how to go about making their voice heard.
This is disturbing.

Sinn Féin has long called for maximum engagement between
those who plan and administer such funding and those groups
who will be in receipt.

Previous funding has not fully taken into account the
concerns raised by the community sector. There must also be
recognition of the importance of social inclusion and the
role of women in reconciliation. The practical planning for
PEACE III must not take place behind closed doors. Indeed,
an inclusive approach to the roll-out of PEACE III could be
a beacon for the type of inclusion needed in preparing for
change more generally and in planning for the future. The
south Belfast event was one of a series of such engagements
between Sinn Féin and community organisations on the next
round of PEACE funding.

Finally, the weekend riots should be seen for what they
were – disgraceful. There was no justification for some of
the scenes witnessed in Dublin. This was a victory for
Willie Frazer who came to Dublin looking for a negative
reaction – and he got just that.


Opin: Morrison - Immortalised On The Lips Of Old And Young

Danny Morrison

When recalling the 1981 hunger strike, people often preface
their memories by saying: “You wouldn’t think it was 25
years ago. It seems like only yesterday.”

Even thirtysomethings who were just five or six in 1981
have vivid recollections of mass funerals and street
rioting or of their distraught parents in front of
television screens, watching with feelings of helplessness.
Or they sensed the anger, the palpable anger of people at
the injustice inflicted on the prisoners over so many years
and at British double standards even within the same

The hunger strike seems as if it happened just yesterday
because those seven months from March to October were of
such a magnitude — emotionally, historically, and
politically — that they are seared in the memory.

Twenty-five years is a long, long time. For the families of
the hunger strikers, it represents a continuum of constant,
unmitigated pain, desolation and longing. Their sons
experienced not instant death but death stretched out over
weeks while they and the families were teased with empty
promises and taunted.

I was trying to put an expanse of 25 years into
perspective, into an alternative perspective by thinking
that, when I was born, my mother was 28 — the same age I
was during the hunger strike. Twenty-five years before
that, when she was a child, what had been happening in the
world around her, in the year 1929? The Wall Street Crash
triggered the Great Depression. Penicillin was first used
to fight infection. Bingo was invented. The restored GPO in
Dublin was officially opened. And the unionist government
in the North, not content with its gerrymandering of local
government, abolished proportional representation in
parliamentary elections.

Twenty-five years has the appearance of being an instant
only when it is behind you. Imagine serving a sentence of
that length.

There were among our prisoners men and women serving 25
years, 20 years, 14 years, and they were mostly young
people. Had they been born into a democracy or normality,
they would have established careers, travelled, married,
built homes and raised families. In all probability, they
would have had long and fulfilling lives.

The real crime was that all of this was stolen from them by
a power that does not belong here and has no right to be

Under the most liberal prison conditions, even two or three
years in jail can crush and represent a lifetime to the
alienated social offender. However, it has often been said
of political prisoners that they serve time more easily
because of their beliefs, because of their selflessness and
with the knowledge that they have the support of their
community. Strength of conviction, the right of one’s
cause, solidarity, sympathy do all offer a degree of
succour. But in the end, each individual must draw deep
upon personal resources to face the enemy seen and unseen,
day and night.

Prison is meant to punish and does punish, and all
prisoners suffer, regardless of their status.

In the H-blocks and Armagh women’s prison, we had something
especially cruel at work. In the prisons where there was
political status, there was little friction between warders
and the political prisoners. No prison officers were
targets or lost their lives.

However, new standards and no standards applied to the
criminalisation programme. Many prison officers were ex-
service personnel and had a political axe to grind. Other
elements of the prison service, mostly unionist in outlook,
became fanatical and behaved as if they were on a crusade.
All of them were paid large bounties for working in the
protesting blocks and wings of the jails.

They were empowered to break the law, were encouraged to
use thuggery in order to capture the big prize — the defeat
and humiliation of Irish republicanism.

Their work was showered in lies by British ministers and
administration officials, words and propaganda that suited
those in society who didn’t want to know or who knew but
didn’t let on.

Each time the door of a cell opened, the protesting
prisoner faced the threat of a beating if not a battle, and
it went on for years and years until the prisoners had had
enough and decided to go on hunger strike in support of
their demands.

I know that Bobby Sands — who began his hunger strike one
quarter of a century ago today, two weeks in front of the
other hunger strikers — tends to overshadow his nine
comrades. That can be explained by the fact that he was the
first to die at a time when the international coverage was
at its height. He was a jail veteran, already a well-
established leader and prison spokesman. He devised the
strategy of the staggered hunger strike. He was elected to
the British parliament, and his name has been immortalised
by his prose and poetry.

But go to the counties, the local areas, the home places,
the townlands of the other hunger strikers; go to Camlough,
Galbally, Bellaghy, Dungiven, Derry or Andersonstown, and
there you will find each local hunger striker immortalised
on the lips of old and young alike, and a fierce pride in
the memory of each man and the detail of each man’s life
passed down the generations.

So, it began 25 years ago today. The seven-month-long 1981
hunger strike.

At the end of it, Britain took the lives of the hunger
strikers but not their spirits.

At the end of it, the jurors of world opinion knew who the
real criminals were and the heroes.

At the end of it, there tower ten incredibly courageous
Irish men.

Bobby Sands, Frankie Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy
O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran
Doherty, Tom McElwee and Mickey Devine.

Now and forever.


Opin: Two Governments Must Really Listen

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The Sinn Féin leadership will meet with Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern later today to no doubt once again exhort the Irish
government to play the honest broker and live up to its
obligations to restore the power-sharing executive in the
North and all its other commitments under the Good Friday

Tomorrow they will travel to London to encourage the
British government to do the same.

So far the two governments have done anything but –
apparently preferring instead to pander to the rejectionism
and reactionary agenda of the DUP.

The attitude and actions of the two governments are
bewildering, not just to nationalists and republicans, but
to any informed observer watching from the sidelines, who
would like to see a negotiated settlement on this island.

The question that must be asked is why the two governments
are prepared to let the party with the least to offer in
the way of progress dictate the pace and form of any
negotiations on our shared future.

In fact, the DUP’s avowed aim is the complete opposite of
all other parties in the negotiations, in that it has
declared it wants to destroy the Good Friday Agreement, and
is therefore anti-equality and all that goes with it.

Is the fear of a resurgent republican movement so great
that the two governments are prepared to fritter away this
hard-fought chance for a lasting settlement on the altar of
their own political survival?

It is to be hoped that in these last-gasp contacts before
the new round of talks are to begin, that the two
governments will really listen to what those who have the
interests of equality and justice, which will hopefully
lead to a lasting peace, have to say.

Bush fires through

Many Irish people will be outraged to learn this morning
that US President George W Bush passed through Shannon
airport overnight without so much as a formal by- your-
leave and without paying the normal courtesies due when
visiting another nation.

It’s clear that Mr Bush and his cronies see Ireland as
simply a lackey nation to be used as a refuelling pitstop
for its troops and commanders, never mind the allegations
of the CIA using Shannon airport to transport captives to
torture centres around the world

Of course, we shouldn’t expect much more of a man who has
led his country into a war that has cost the lives of
countless thousands and who has no plan to end the
slaughter that he started through his overweening desire
for US world domination.


Opin: Dublin, The Real Face And The Real Victims

Lindy McDowell
01 March 2006

We're all Orange b******* now. Even Charlie Bird. Mr Bird
may not be a household name in Northern Ireland. But in the
South the RTE man is really quite famous. It would be fair
to say, though, he would not exactly be seen as someone
whose name was synonymous with the Sash.

Yet during Saturday's riots on the streets of what its
Justice Minister calls "the peaceful, prosperous capital of
a liberal, open society," the broadcaster was singled out
by yobs who attacked him viciously. And as they did so they
called him an "Orange b*******."

Welcome aboard, Chas. How does it feel to be a Hun?

Hun. That was just another of the names being lobbed around
by the rioters who so objected to the sight of a few
hundred Ulster Protestant victims of the Troubles daring to
attempt to walk through the city centre that they uprooted
half of O'Connell Street, invaded Foot Locker and pelted
Garda officers with the dozens of petrol bombs that
automatically come to hand at times like this.

The violence, the sheer scale of the hatred and the
hardware unleashed understandably appalled and shocked

And understandably the name-calling got nothing like the
same attention. But the name-calling, the labelling
matters, too.

For in the aftermath of Saturday's riot, even Peter Hain
seemed at pains to want to spread around the blame.

People, he said primly, had the right to protest
peacefully, but it was very important they also worked
together rather than "provoke each other".

So who were these provocative protesters from the North,
Peter? For a start the march was not, as has been widely
reported, a "Love Ulster" march. Love Ulster was just one
of the organisations which signalled support.

This was a victims' march.

These victims? They included people like Aileen Quinton.
And if it is ludicrous to call Charlie Bird an Orange
b*****d, it is equally lunatic to call Aileen Quinton one.

For this is a brave, honourable and fair woman who, since
the murder of her mother Alberta in the 1987 Enniskillen
bomb, has campaigned for the victims of terrorist violence.

Alberta Quinton was a nurse - a woman who had dedicated her
life to helping others. She grew up in Donegal and when she
married, she and her husband spent their honeymoon in
Dublin. It is a city with which her daughter retains fond
and personal family ties. When she goes to Dublin, Aileen
stays in her cousin's house.

"I always remember," she told me this week, "how after the
Enniskillen bomb, the people of Dublin queued for hours to
sign books of condolence. I remember my cousin telling me
about one old man who couldn't see asking people to sign
the book in his name, so determined was he to express his
sympathy. That to me is the real face and people of

It goes without saying then, that on Saturday Aileen had
not gone to that city to strut in a provocative manner, to
offend or to try to "shove it up" anyone. The bands and the
flags carried in the parade she saw as representative of
the culture from which she and the other victims come. That
was the point of the parade.

To highlight the forgotten suffering of Protestant victims
of republican violence. In any other democratic setting
such a march would have passed quietly without incident.

Yet Aileen is convinced that, but for the heroism of gardai
on Saturday, she and others could have been killed. Earlier
this week she phoned the Gardai to express her gratitude -
and her concern for injured officers.

Would she go back for another march?

"There were people on the bus with me who were terribly
shocked who told me they would never set foot in Dublin
again. I understand that totally. But to me what happened
on Saturday was not about the real Dublin. If I was to go
back it would be an expression of trust in what I see as
the real Dublin."

Aileen Quinton looks beyond labels and flags when she
assesses people. Those who criticise the march she and
other victims hoped to take part in do not.

All they see are flags and drums and Protestants - and
therefore provocation.

Not real people. Not victims.



Opin: Everything Has A Shelf Life, Even Proconsuls

The Wednesday Column
By Brian Feeney

You would have thought that our proconsul and his boss in
Downing Street might have learned something from the last
few weeks’ debacle.

Certainly the poisonous atmosphere between the DUP and Sinn
Fein, which even NIO officials detected, led Blair to
cancel his planned presidential visit here.

The parties were not going to be knocked into shape by
anything Blair could say.

Deeply discredited, he’s now long past his sell-by date.

Our proconsul can’t even get all the parties round a table
because the Paisleyites won’t play ball, yet he’s still
pressing on with the notion that talks on the future of
Northern Ireland are about to begin, or so he claimed on

His approach seems to be to wave what he imagines is a big

He might abolish assembly members’ salaries. He might close
the assembly. He could set up a shadow assembly. He is
taking new powers to enable him to call an election before
May 2007.

Why does he think, or – to put it more accurately – why do
his advisers think any of this will have the slightest
effect on any of the northern parties? It won’t.

First, he should close the assembly and abolish members’
salaries because it’s right, not because it threatens MLAs.

To suggest doing it for political reasons is absurd.

Which parties would suffer most?

It would hasten the inevitable demise of the SDLP and UUP
and reinforce the dominance of SF and the DUP who have
between them 14 of the north’s 18 MPs with all the
parliamentary cash aid that brings.

Would that make the DUP more likely to cooperate in talks
with SF? The DUP has thrived on victimhood and exclusion
for 30 years. So has Sinn Fein. They’re well used to it.

Suppose he sets up a shadow assembly. Why should SF
cooperate with it? They could abstain or they could turn up
and vote everything down because they control the
nationalist vote in the assembly.

Why would a shadow assembly make the DUP any more likely to
talk to SF?

Yes, there could be a time limit on it. So what? At the end
of the prescribed period it collapses and he’s back to
square one.

If, in his dreams, our proconsul harbours delusions that
the electorate will punish either the DUP or Sinn Fein for
the current impasse, then he needs a dose of reality.

The simple fact is that the polarised electorate here will
go out and vote for people who represent their own side
regardless of what some carpet-bagging politician from
Britain says.

It’s true that fewer people are voting in recent years but,
sadly for our proconsul, the people who are staying at home
are former UUP and SDLP voters.

It may be they are occupying a place or state of grace in
electoral limbo for a couple of years before they make the
jump to SF or the DUP, depending which tribe they belong
to. Whichever it is, it won’t change the result of an

The truth is that people who vote here believe what their
political leaders tell them, especially when they tell them
who to blame.

On the nationalist side it’s much easier. It’s all the
fault of the British, and indeed the more meddlesome each
proconsul becomes in the north’s affairs, the simpler the
task for nationalist politicians. In the absence of any
change, the default position for the north is unionism, so
the proconsul naturally must support that position.

On the unionist side, the bogeyman of the IRA is
indispensable. That’s why in the last couple of weeks the
DUP has again trotted out a ridiculous series of lies –
decommissioning never happened; the IRA is ready to use its
weapons; the NIO is destroying the north's education system
at the behest of republicans; republicans have convinced
the British government to agree to an all-Ireland economy.
So therefore they can’t go into talks. Do you follow that?

HL Mencken, the ferocious American columnist who died
exactly 50 years ago, knew how important such lies are.
They are comforting and powerful.

He said: “The truth that survives is the lie it is
pleasantest to believe.”


Opin: Dubya’s Posse Shoots Itself In The Foot Again

By Ray O'Hanlon Letter from America

Since the first hours after the attacks of 9/11, President
Bush has been speaking about “the enemy”.

Hardly a day goes by without Americans being warned about
“the enemy”, what harm they want to do to America, what
they would try to do if given a chance, what they would
surely accomplish if America let its guard down for an

Since the first hours after 9/11 some critics argue that
there have also been attempts by the Bush administration to
blur the lines between real and present enemies and the
more distant kind.

Before that September day had ended, according to documents
that have just come to light under the Freedom of
Information Act, Osama and Saddam were being lumped
together in the real and present enemies corral by top
administration officials, not least defence secretary
Donald Rumsfeld.

And despite the clear distance between both men in terms of
their particular ambitions and abilities to strike at
America’s heart, many Americans very quickly accepted that
both were bad guys of equal measure and deserving of
equally swift justice.

American justice would catch up with Saddam. Osama remains
in his cave somewhere and is still giving the slip to
Dubya’s posse.

By joining the two at the gangrenous hip, however, the
process by which many Americans view Arabs, Persians,
Afghans and sundry others in a highly negative light was
accelerated to the point that they have morphed into a
single entity. And a threatening one.

And it wasn’t just Bush and his team who were portraying
everyone with a beard, a turban and a robe as dodgy.

Michael Moore, in his no-holds-barred Fahrenheit 9/11, made
the Saudis and other Gulf area Arabs look very dodgy

So who could be surprised at the Dubai Ports World fiasco?
That the President appeared to be says much of the apparent
insularity of an administration that is loath to admit
wrongdoing, poor judgment and mistakes.

Forgetting the fact that the Dubai folks might do a heck of
a job keeping America’s imports and exports on the move, it
was absurd that the administration did not seem to
anticipate uproar as news emerged that the ports would be
run by a company controlled by one of only three
governments on the planet who had recognised the Taliban
government in Afghanistan.

If the Dick Cheney quail-hunting farce just a week
previously was an administration shooting itself in the
foot, the Dubai affair was akin to the White House pulling
the pin from a grenade and forgetting to throw

the thing.

That the Democrats, a party being described by more than
one pundit lately as a “herd of cats”, could not fail to
pounce on the Dubai affair was a given.

That congressional Republicans – Congressman Peter King to
the fore – are fit to be tied is quite another problem for
Team Bush.

King, long familiar to devotees of the north’s political
situation, now finds himself sitting at the head of the
House of Representatives homeland security committee.

And as chairman he has called for a hearing into a proposed
deal that has prompted President Bush to state that he will
use his veto should Congress scupper it.

King’s views, and his chairmanship position, have resulted
in a blizzard of coverage for a congressman who usually
finds himself competing for attention with New York’s
Senate big hitters Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer.

Last weekend it was impossible to turn on a news or current
affairs show without King popping up taking aim at the
ports deal.

King, a fast talker who has little to learn about throwing
out soundbites, has expressed amazement at the potential
sight of the President falling on his political sword for
the likes of Dubai.

As he does so there are a lot of Democratic heads nodding
in agreement.

So Dubai could be the fusion issue that gives King the kind
of national profile that will be crucial should he ever
decide to go for higher office.

King has dropped hints in the past that he might seek a
Senate seat.

Such a move would be facilitated should Hillary Clinton
leave her seat and run for the presidency.

A pairing of King, the Republican, and Schumer, the
Democrat, would be attractive to voters in New York because
that would give the state dual-party leverage in the

So King’s people, if they are about their business, will be
storing away numerous copies of pictures taken at Sunday’s
joint press conference in which King and Schumer sang so
harmoniously from the same song sheet.


Opin: The Celtic Tiger's Lost Generation

David McWilliams

The Celtic Tiger is famous for its millionaires; but as
Saturday’s riots revealed, not everyone has been swept up
in the slipstream of success. DAVID McWILLIAMS on the rise
and rise of the new hopeless.

THE blame for Saturday's riot seems now to rest with local
football hooligans drawn from what has been described as a
feral, aggrieved underclass which has, in the economic
effervescence of the past few years, been ignored.

If this is the case, we had better get used to them because
this track-suited, white Irish underclass will grow

And this growing-suburban underclass - mirroring
developments in the US and the UK - is likely to remain
firmly beyond mainstream politics.

You may have caught a glimpse of these looters in Celtic
shirts, stoking the riot on their pre-paid mobiles; if not,
just watch any Eminem video.

In the US, this class is referred to as "white trailer-
trash" - people living in trailer parks at the wrong end of
US cities, defined by a weakness for tracksuits, sovereign
rings and lotto scratch cards.

Eminem is their Elvis, rapping about alienation, anger,
destitution, alcoholism, family break-ups, teenage
pregnancies and welfare dependency.

If they are working, it is for the minimum wage at KFC,
McDonald's or Wal Mart.

They feature strongly in the Army casualties in Iraq.

Despite having little or no stake in US society, they, like
the rioters on Saturday, display warped patriotism for
flag, country and tribe, defined more by what they are
against than what they are for.

The US has a long history of well-paid blue collar workers,
so how did these people slip down the social pecking order
in the past 20 years? And will it happen here? Three major
global factors have created the "trailer-trash underclass"
in the US and, arguably, they are at work here. More
worryingly, the pace of change here is faster.

First, with the opening of China, India and Russia over the
past 15 years, the world's labour force has doubled.

This is a once-in-a-century development and has enormous
repercussions for politics and society.

This means that low-skilled jobs have migrated to China and
India in particular - and we have only seen the beginning.

A good example of what happens when the world is hit with
an economic shock of this magnitude is the impact of the
American prairies on global food markets of the 1860s.

The push of the American settlers to the West opened up
enormous tracts of land that were immediately mechanised.

In no time, American farms, unencumbered by small peasant
holdings and petty European familial jealousies, became
considerably more efficient than the farms of Europe.

This huge increase in supply from the American mid-West
pushed down world prices for crops.

The peasantry, which had been the backbone of European
society for years, suddenly found itself facing
considerably lower prices at market.

Their already meagre incomes fell further.

From 1870 to 1900, world agricultural prices fell

This decimated Europe's small farmers and thousands left
the land, choosing to emigrate to the US and Argentina or
migrate into Europe's rapidly expanding industrial cities.

Lower food prices also helped industrialisation as it was
now cheaper to feed the urbanised masses.

So the first victims of globalisation were Europe's peasant

However, back then, millions availed of the safety valve of

Ireland's post-famine emigration trends also reflect this.

Indeed, the political ramifications of the US-inspired,
agricultural recessions of the 1870s included the Land
League, the Home Rule movement and continued agrarian

Fast-forward to today and similar global rebalancing is

Low-skilled industrial/service workers today are the 21st-
century equivalent of the 19th century's peasant labourers.

These jobs have no future in high-cost, high-income
countries like Ireland.

To make matters worse, unlike our ancestors, today's
displaced low-skilled workers have nowhere to migrate to -
even if they wanted to.

Equally, there is not much incentive to emigrate - the
welfare state sees to that.

However, the Chinese and others will continue to come here
and so demographic competition will sharpen.

Thus, the second squeeze on the underclass comes from

The history of immigration is the history of social
fluidity and of winners and losers.

Again the history of the Irish in America is instructive.

Whenever there is net immigration, competition for jobs
increases dramatically as the immigrants do whatever it
takes to get by.

The experience of black manual workers in the US faced with
thousands of Irish workers coming into the major cities of
the US in the 1840s and 1850s gives us a fascinating
glimpse of what is likely to happen to our unskilled
workers over the next five years.

Initially, the Catholic Irish were seen as untermensch by
the Wasp (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) establishment, but
that changed in the late 19th century.

Going back to the Famine, it has been pointed out waves of
immigrants from Ireland displaced the American black
labourers with alarming speed, by undercutting them in a
classic example of 19th-century outsourcing.

As is the case today, displacement and outsourcing created
much discussion in the editorial pages.

Here is an extract from a letter published in the
'Philadelphia Daily Sun' in 1849: "There is direct
competition between the blacks and the Irish, as we all
know. The wharfs and new building attest to this fact; when
a few years ago we saw none but blacks, we now see nothing
but Irish."

Not only did the Irish replace the blacks but, having
replaced them, we set up a powerful trade union movement
based on race to make sure that we kept them out.

Economic history is replete with other examples of the
dislocating nature of immigration.

Let's get back to our own looters, whom we saw on Saturday.

What is likely to happen to them as our economy changes
with globalisation?

History and recent UK and US experience suggest that the
growth of an indigenous white Irish underclass is not in
doubt but two other factors will determine the pace of

The first is the scale of immigration and the second is the
skill level of the Irish workers.

If immigration remains at its present rate, we will see
another 60,000 workers enter the country in the next 12

This rate is likely to taper off but it still puts us top
of the European league for immigration.

Just to put the figure in context, we are now accepting
eight times more immigrants per head than France.

Perhaps the more striking issue is not the influx of
foreigners, but the educational underachievement of our own

For all our talk about our great education system, new
figures reveal that the indigenous Irish are the least
skilled people in the workforce.

According to the ESRI, 32.9pc of Irish workers in the
labour force are unskilled and uneducated. (This figure
measures the amount of our workers who have left school at
or before Junior Cert.)

This compares to only 3pc of our new immigrants from the

As a group, these largely eastern Europeans are 10 times
better educated than we are.

According to the ESRI, 87pc of other (non-EU) immigrants -
mainly Chinese and Africans - are skilled, as opposed to
only 67pc of us.

These are truly shocking comparisons, implying that, when
the going gets tough, the greater skill level of the
foreigners will ensure that they will be the ones who will
weather the storm.

We have already seen the first signs of trouble as new
figures reveal an alarming rise in unemployment among Irish
school leavers in the past year or two.

Think about the following choice.

You are faced with two candidates for a basic manual job.
One is an enthusiastic, well-turned out, numerate, multi-
lingual Polish graduate; the other is a snarling, barely-
literate local in full-tracksuit mufti, who left school
before the Junior Cert.


Which one would you pick?

The fact that so many of our workers are unskilled and so
many are leaving school early means that what the Americans
would describe as the "trailer-trash" underclass is likely
to grow rapidly in the years ahead.

There will be fewer jobs for the unskilled and more
competition for these jobs.

If house prices continue to rise and local authority houses
continues to fail to keep up with demand, trailer parks
will become a reality.

There, cut off from the rest of us, wrapped in their Celtic
scarves, an underclass will fester.

Is that the future we want for our society?

It's time to answer a few hard questions.

Saturday's riot should force us to wake up.

* Are Islam and the West on course for a Clash of
Civilisations? That's the topic for Leviathan, hosted by
David McWilliams and featuring radical UK-based Muslim
agitator Angem Choudary, in Crawdaddy on Harcourt Street
tomorrow might, Thursday, March 2, at 9pm.

Tickets at http://www.ticketmaster/ .


Bobby Sands: ‘There’s Only One Solution… Back On Hunger

In the third excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography Bobby
Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, after the end of the
1980 hunger strike, the republican prisoners in the H-
blocks begin planning the 1981 hunger strike that would
lead to the death of Sands and nine of his comrades.

Thursday, December 18, 1980

The screws brought Bobby Sands back to his cell in H-block
3 at a quarter to nine. They took him from the
administrative area, in the crossbar of the H, down the
long grey corridor to his cell at the bottom of the wing.
As he passed by rows of solid steel doors on either side of
the corridor, some of the other prisoners called out to

“Right, Bobby?”

“Cad é an scéal, Roibeard?” (“What’s the news, Robert?”)

Sands finally reached his cell. The prisoners around him
waited anxiously to find out what was happening. They had
been waiting ever since the screws took Bobby away at a
quarter past six. They expected him to return with the good
news of a victorious end to the hunger strike that was now
over two months old. At the very least, they expected some
indication that they were closer to a successful resolution
of their four-year struggle to win recognition as political
prisoners. They knew that one of the hunger strikers, Seán
McKenna, was near death but there had been talk of last-
minute British concessions to end the protest before a
death ignited Irish society.

“Teapot” was in a cell beside Sands. What he heard next was
“a bolt from the fucking blue”. What their friend and
commanding officer told them made their hearts sink to rock

Sands spoke out the door in Irish to Bik MacFarlane, his
second in command. He was bitter, deeply angry; he felt
betrayed. There was more of Calvary than Bethlehem in his
voice. It felt more like a week to Easter than a week until

“Tá an stailc críochnaithe” (“The hunger strike is over”),
he told Bik.

“Cad é a tharla?” (“What happened?”)

“Fuair muid faic.” (“We got nothing.”)

Sands withdrew momentarily from the door. He could not
settle. Well, he could never settle but now his mind was
racing even more than usual. He strode quickly to the back
corner of his cell and lay down on his filthy sponge
mattress by the heating pipe to talk to Teapot, who had his
ear to the crack in the shit-smeared wall at the other

“Another fucking hunger strike… crazy… die… crazy,” were
the jumbled words that Teapot could make out from Sands’
low voice. It was enough to tell him what Bobby had already
set his mind to do.

Then, unable to sit still for even a few seconds, Sands
rose and paced back to the cell door to speak to Bik.

“Bhuel, Bik, beidh stailc eile ann.” (“Well, Bik, there’ll
be another hunger strike.”)

“Tá an ceart agat.” (“You’re right.”)

And that was it. In the minds of the prisoners around
Sands, the men who effectively made up the leadership of
all the Irish republican prisoners in the H-blocks, the die
was cast. They immediately began to plan another hunger
strike, speaking through their cell doors in Irish. They
talked over how it would go but, whatever way they played
it, the plot ended the same way. Bobby Sands would
certainly die.

Friday, December 19, 1980

Sands met twice with the officers commanding (OCs) of the
other H-blocks that housed protesting IRA prisoners. The
screws brought them in to see him in the “big cell” at the
bottom of the wing.

He could not just repeat “we got nothing” to them, as that
would wreck the morale of the whole prison. He had to give
them some measure of hope. He told the OCs bluntly that the
agreement they got after the hunger strike ended was not
what they wanted, that it was full of holes. But maybe, he
said, they could step through those holes to achieve some
form of political status.

At least, maybe, they could get their own clothes to wear
and then continue struggling for more rights.

Séanna Walsh, OC of H5 and one of Bobby’s oldest friends,
did not believe the positive spin he was hearing. He knew
Sands too well and he could see right through him. He could
tell from Sands’ demeanour that there was really little
hope of getting anything concrete from the agreement that
Margaret Thatcher’s government had offered them the night
before. Not even their own clothes, much less their other
demands, like the right to free association and freedom
from prison work.

They had been protesting for four years to achieve this
goal, ever since young Kieran Nugent refused to wear a
prison uniform after he was convicted of hijacking a car
for the IRA in 1976. Sands had only to look around him to
see how far the protest had come, for bad and for good.
Now, more than 300 prisoners had joined the protest. Not
only were they living naked in their eight-by-ten foot
cells, as they had been from the beginning of their
protest, with only a blanket and a small towel to keep them
warm and hide their nakedness. Not only were they locked up
24 hours a day, without even a book to read, a radio to
listen to, nor pen and paper with which to write. They were
not even allowed to leave their cells for exercise or meals
or even to go to the toilet and have a wash.

Now, they were literally living in their own shit —heaps of
it, along with rotted food and maggots, lay in the corners
of each cell. The cell walls were plastered in it. Some of
the lads hadn’t seen their families or loved ones for

Never mind their families, some of them had not even seen
each other. Some of their closest friends were just
disembodied voices that came out of a crack in one cell
door and back in through a crack in their own cell door. By
now, they knew more of the intimate lives of these
disembodied voices than they did of their own family

Despite these unimaginable conditions, they had never been
crushed. Deprived of radios and reading materials, they
invented their own forms of entertainment: bingo, quizzes
and, best of all, the “book at bedtime” where they told
each other stories out the door. Kept from formal
education, they organised their own classes, with teachers
shouting out the lessons through the cell doors. Many men
who never finished secondary school were now fluent in
Irish and experts in history and political theory. Paper
and pens were banned, yet they had developed a
communications infrastructure that kept them in constant
contact with each other and with their comrades outside of
prison. Under Bobby Sands’ direction, they were running a
virtual propaganda industry, churning out hundreds of
letters about their protest to movie stars, journalists,
and politicians around the world. Tobacco was banned, so
they found ways to smuggle it into the jail and then to
manufacture cigarettes and to distribute them from cell to
cell so that each prisoner could enjoy a smoke in the

After all they had endured and all they had achieved, Sands
told the other OCs, they would not quit now, short of
gaining recognition as political prisoners. He said he
would talk to the prison governor and offer to end the
prison protest if the prisoners were allowed to wear their
own clothes. He expected that the appeal would fall on deaf

Sands’ prediction came true within hours. Bobby met with
the governor, who took his offer to his political bosses
and then came back and told him that all he could offer was
“prison-issue civilian-type clothes” during non-working
hours. After a few days to build up their strength after
their long protest, they would have to start doing prison
work. And they would have to wear the prison uniform when
they were working. After all, the government still
considered them to be criminals.

“Your civilian clothing is nothing but a uniform,” Sands
bitterly told Governor Hilditch. “Not only will we not be
ending the protest but we will escalate it and take other

“What actions?” asked the governor.

Sands knew that he was taken aback by the blunt refusal of
his offer of civilian-type clothing.

“You’ll find out,” was Bobby’s reply.

Back in his cell at three o’clock, Sands asked his cellmate
Malachy for a pen and some paper. Malachy carefully slid
his thumb and forefinger into his anus and slipped out a
huge wad wrapped in plastic wrap. He carefully unwrapped
the package, took out a refill for a ballpoint pen and some
cigarette papers, and handed them over. Sands hunched down
on his bit of filthy foam mattress and wrote a letter to
his old friend Gerry Adams, the man he called comrade mór
(“big comrade”). He told him what had transpired over the
past 24 hours and gave him the “disturbing” news that they
would soon be starting another hunger strike.

Two hours later, at five o’clock, Sands told the other
prisoners around him about the meetings he had held earlier
in the day and about his encounters with the prison

Again, they debated their options. With cooler heads than
the previous night, Sands, Bik MacFarlane, Richard O’Rawe,
Jake Jackson, and Pat Mullan discussed how they could carry
the protest forward.

Was there another way, short of another hunger strike?
Bobby already knew the answer in his heart, but they all
wanted to find some way out. The debate went on and on.
People suggested some alternatives but they kept coming
back to the same thing.

Finally, Pat Mullan stopped the discussion in its tracks.

“Níl ach freagair amháin… ar ais ar stailc arís.” (“There’s
only one solution… back on hunger strike.”)

It was the end of debate. They all knew it.

Bobby had the last word. We can only begin to imagine the
despair he felt when he told them: “I’m gonna wake up
tomorrow morning and I’m not gonna like the first thought
that hits my head.”

From that moment, says Richard O’Rawe, Bobby Sands became
less effervescent and more solemn… slightly more distant.
Outside, he maintained his bubbly disposition, still
optimistic, as was his character. But they could see
through the surface to a difference on the inside.

“You just knew that there was a sadness in Bob.”

Tomorrow’s excerpt describes how Bobby Sands educated other
prisoners while entertaining them with stories to keep up

Bobby Sands book launches:

Belfast: Thursday, March 9 at 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls
Dublin: Friday, March 10 at 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre,
Pearse Street.
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13. Details to be
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm, Mid-Ulster
Republican Centre, Gulladuff.


Kerry Up To Derry


Former SDLP leader John Hume is to welcome US senator John
Kerry to Derry on Sunday.

Professor Hume, who holds the Tip O’Neill Chair of Peace
Studies, invited John Kerry to deliver the Tip O’Neill
lecture at the University of Ulster at Magee.

Previously, Professor Hume has welcomed former US president
Bill Clinton, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former European
Commission president Romano Prodi, Senator Hillary Clinton,
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Taoiseach Garret
FitzGerald, and former French prime minister Michel Rocard.

Speaking yesterday, Professor Hume said: “I am delighted to
welcome Senator John Kerry to Derry. The Tip O’Neill
lecture is always a major event for Northern Ireland, and I
have no doubt that John Kerry will be well received.”


Tragic Case Of Suicide Teen Danny

Review over level of care on offer

By Nigel Gould
01 March 2006

An independent review has been ordered into the
circumstances around the death of an Ulster teenager who
committed suicide last year, the Belfast Telegraph can
reveal today.

Danny McCartan (18) took his own life last April.

He was found hanged in a derelict house near his north
Belfast home.

The apprentice joiner's dreams of starting a new life in
the United States were shattered after anti-depressant
tablets bloated his body and brought back the weight taunts
that tormented his childhood.

The teenager had to wait to see a psychiatrist.

When it came to treatment, though, there was no appropriate
bed and he was sent to an adult ward.

Months later he was dead.

Last August his distraught family held talks with Health
Minister Shaun Woodward at a major suicide prevention
conference in Belfast.

At the time they had called on health chiefs to do
something "for the people of Northern Ireland".

The Telegraph understands Mr Woodward had further talks
last night with Danny's parents, Gerard and Carol at their
home in Oldpark.

They had expressed concern about the medical support their
son had been given.

Mr Woodward said: "I have asked the Eastern Health Board to
commission an independent review into the circumstances
surrounding the death of Danny McCartan and the treatment
and care offered to him by the Health and Social Care

"The untimely death of Danny is a tragedy for his family.

"We need to establish whether lessons can be learnt so that
such tragedies are avoided as far as possible in the

A Department of Health source said the terms of reference
for the review would be established in the near future.

Last August, dad, Gerard recalled the events leading up to
his son's death.

He said: "Danny was 6ft and slim, but when he was younger
he was small and heavy. He got taunted at school and they
came back again.

"In the four weeks leading up to his death he was getting
more withdrawn, and then an appointment with his
psychiatrist in April was cancelled until October without

"The day he died Danny came down and spoke to the nurse, he
was willing to go into any place to get his head all
cleared but we were told there were no beds.

"There's a whole lot of answers we are still looking for. I
believe if Danny had seen the psychiatrist he would still
be alive."

Last July, Mr Woodward told the Belfast Telegraph how he
was making the issue of suicide his number one priority.

Announcing the setting up of a special Task Force, he said:
"We want to know why some 150 people take their lives every
year here."


Drink Body Seeks Patrick's Day Alcohol Curb

By Éanna Ó Caollaí Last updated: 01-03-06, 12:35

The chairman of the National Off-Licence Association has
invited the Minister for Justice to introduce measures to
curb the sale of alcohol on St Patrick's Day in an effort
to avert public disorder.

John Shiel said public disorder due to the drunkenness,
particularly underage drinking, warranted legislation
"rather than voluntary measures" as "the only effective
way" to combat it.

He was speaking in response to calls by the Dublin Chamber
of Commerce and the St Patrick's Day organising committee
for all off-licences to remain closed until 6pm on the
national holiday.

"In recent years, especially since the introduction of the
St Patrick's Day Festivals, there have been many instances
of public disorder in certain areas due to over consumption
of alcohol", said Mr Shiel.

"The National Off Licence Association, and its 330
independent, specialist off -licences throughout the
country, welcomes and fully supports any initiatives that
will help combat underage drinking and the abuse of

Mr Shiel said his association's members could be relied
upon to "co-operate fully" with any new initiative.

Mr Shiel emphasised that the availability of drink had been
greatly increased with the proliferation of outlets such as
pubs and convenience stores selling alcohol.

"It is consequently no longer meaningful to expect
voluntary measures to curb the sale of alcohol early on St
Patrick's Day to be effective", said Mr Shiel.

© 2006


Huge Security For Bush At Shannon

Eugene Hogan
01 March 2006

A £200,000 security operation was in place overnight at
Shannon Airport as nothing was being left to chance ahead
of the anticipated stopover of US President George Bush.

Up to 500 gardai, army personnel and airport police were
involved in what was the biggest security operation at the
airport since President Bush's brief visit to Ireland for
an EU-US summit in June 2004.

There was still some slight doubt late last night about the
bona fides of the stopover, with speculation that it was a
decoy or just one of a number of re-fuelling options
arranged for Airforce One along the long Presidential
flight-path to New Delhi, India.

Last May a similar operation was put in place as the
President returned from the Middle East but the landing was
cancelled just minutes before the scheduled arrival as tail
winds enabled Airforce One to continue on directly to the

Arrangements for this morning's visit, the President was
due to touch down at 1.30am, were set in motion over a
month ago.


Bush Drops In Like Thief In Night

Anti-war activist slams US president’s midnight visit and
calls for a ban on leaders of countries involved in torture
being allowed to visit Ireland

By David Lynch

A leading anti-war campaigner yesterday denounced US
president George W Bush stopover at Shannon airport.

Mr Bush’s official aircraft, Air Force One, was expected to
make a refuelling stop early this morning at the Co Clare
airport while carrying him to India for an official visit.

Ed Horgan, a retired Irish Defence Forces commandant, told
Daily Ireland: “Leaders like George Bush from countries
that are involved in torture should be debarred from

Mr Horgan works with a non-governmental organisation in
Dublin called the Spiritan Asylum Services Initiative
(Spirasi), which helps victims of torture.

“I think the issue of torture is crucial here. The United
States has admitted it uses forms of torture.

“There is also evidence that CIA planes have gone through
Shannon to bring people to be tortured. The Irish people
should have nothing to do with President Bush and he should
not be allowed land in Shannon.

“This is a very serious issue when you see the aftereffects
on human beings who have suffered torture.”

A major Garda security operation was to get under way late
last night ahead of George Bush’s stopover.


Van's The Man Of The Moment In Nashville

By Eddie McIlwaine
01 March 2006

Van Morrison, the Belfast Cowboy, is to be given the
freedom of Nashville, Tennessee.

Van the Man will become an honorary citizen of the world
centre of country music at a ceremony in the Ryman
Auditorium next Tuesday.

The Mayor of Nashville Bill Purcell will interrupt a
concert by Van in the auditorium to perform the ceremony
which will make the Ulster superstar a freeman of the city.

It will be an emotive occasion in hoe-down town especially
as Nashville has been twinned with Belfast for several

The honour comes just as Morrison devotes his latest album,
Pay the Devil, to a range of his favourite country songs
including Your Cheatin' Heart, a hit for Frankie Laine back
in the '50s.

It was a tune Van used to sing as a teenager and he will be
performing it at the show.

In the audience will be millionaire businessman Dr Ian
Brick and his wife Catherine who are from Northern Ireland.

On Pay the Devil, Van pays tribute to songwriters Hank
Williams, Rodney Crowell, Webb Pierce and Leon Payne.

He plays tracks such as Half as Much, Big Blue Diamonds and
There Stands The Glass, as well as three original songs of
his own including the title track.

The album - and especially the Your Cheatin' Heart track -
is creating a stir in Nashville, where Morrison is revered.

And by coincidence a novel by Belfast writer Annie
McCartney has just arrived on the Nashville bookshelves.
Its title? Your Cheatin' Heart.


Ahern To Lead Tributes To Former Fine Gael TD

Last updated: 01-03-06, 06:21

The Dáil will today hear all-party tributes to a Fine Gael
TD elected in the wake of the Arms Crisis political scandal
in the 1970s.

Tallaght native Larry McMahon died last month aged 78.

He became a TD when he won a by-election sparked by the
dramatic resignation of Social Welfare Minister Kevin
Boland in 1970.

Mr Boland quit the government after Fianna Fáil colleagues
Charlie Haughey and Neil Blaney were sacked over their
alleged involvement in illegal IRA arms smuggling.

Mr Haughey and Mr Blaney were later cleared of the charges.

Mr McMahon went on to serve as a TD and a senator for 22
years and was also a long-time member of Dublin County

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today lead messages of sympathy
to Mr McMahon during the Dáil's Order of Business.



Paper City Hibernians Plan Mass, Breakfast

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

HOLYOKE - The city's Hibernian Chapter is inviting the
public to attend its annual memorial Mass and breakfast on
March 12.

The 8 a.m. Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick's Chapel
at St. Jerome's Church on Hampden Street, followed by a 9
a.m. breakfast at The Wherehouse? on Lyman Street.

The breakfast speaker will be poet-historian Danny Sheehy
of Ballyferriter, Ireland. He will talk about Brendan the

Sheehy was born and brought up on a small farm at the
westernmost area of the Dingle Peninsula.

He started writing in 2001, and has published books,
articles and poems. He has won five Oireachtas Awards for
oratory and storytelling.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is the oldest Roman
Catholic lay organization in America. It was founded to
defend Irish and church property, and to preserve the Irish

Tickets for the March 12 events are $12 for adults and $6
for children. The breakfast menu will be ham and sausages,
scrambled eggs, home fries, muffins, pastries, orange
juice, and coffee. The Wherehouse? is handicap-accessible.

People may call The Wherehouse? at (413) 534-3039 or CMS
Landscaping at (413) 533-3300.

Submitted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians.


Theatre: When Irish Eyes Aren't Smilin'

By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — The Irish flair for storytelling has been well
documented, so it should have surprised no one that the
best plays of the 2004-'05 Broadway season both came from
sons of Erin.

Chris Chalk, left, and Stephen Lang star in John Patrick
Shanley's military-themed drama Defiance, which is playing
at New York City Center through April 30.


OK, so John Patrick Shanley, the Irish-American author of
the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt, is
technically a son of the Bronx. And Martin McDonagh, whose
Tony-nominated The Pillowman earned equal acclaim, was
raised in London, though he would travel to his parents'
native Ireland during summers. In any case, his and
Shanley's new off-Broadway offerings are as different, and
as briskly compelling, as their previous efforts.

Shanley's Defiance (* * * 1/2), which opened Tuesday in a
Manhattan Theatre Club production at New York City Center
(through April 30), is the second in a trilogy launched by
Doubt. Like that last play — also initially presented off-
Broadway by MTC, under Doug Hughes' direction —Defiance
finds Shanley drawing on his personal experience with a
revered, patriarchal institution, in this case the
military, and examining how such institutions can test and
betray our sense of autonomy and faith.

The play is set in 1971 at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune,
where Shanley himself was stationed as a Marine at the
time. Amid boiling racial tensions, to say nothing of
festering disenchantment over Vietnam, the feisty Lt.
Colonel Littlefield promotes a black captain, Lee King.
King admires Littlefield's apparent fair-mindedness but is
wary of being pushed forward as a symbol.

For a while, Defiance suggests an earnest reflection on
race relations and the social discontent of the era. But
then a white private enters King's office with a complaint
that has nothing to do with the color of the captain's skin
and everything to do with the content of Littlefield's
character, and the play veers into more complicated, and
exciting, terrain.

Chris Chalk and Steven Lang are robustly convincing as the
young black captain and the aging white colonel, a well-
meaning man with his own struggles. Margaret Colin
effectively plays Littlefield's smart, elegant wife,
through whom Shanley critiques the inferior reasoning
powers of lust-driven men. (In some respects, she is a
gentler descendant of Doubt's Sister Aloysius, who was
frustrated by the male-dominated hierarchy of the Catholic
Church.) And Chris Bauer is excellent as a military
chaplain whose own passion is funneled into an unforgiving

Padraic, the title character of McDonagh's The Lieutenant
of Inishmore (* * * * ), in its American premiere at the
Atlantic Theater Company through April 9, has found a
different outlet: terrorism, with an emphasis on exotic
torture. Not even the Irish Republican Army will sanction
this lieutenant's experiments in mayhem and dismemberment;
the more extreme splinter group he runs with is having some
doubts as well.

Padraic does have a soft spot, though: for Wee Thomas, his
great love and only friend in the world, who happens to be
a cat. If you're fond of felines, as I am, what befalls a
couple of them here might make you squeamish. But the cats
in Inishmore ultimately seem more resourceful, and smarter,
than the two-legged characters, who in many cases come to
even more grisly ends.

And besides, McDonagh, as is his wont, finds brilliant
comedy in the blackest of places and slips us food for
thought even as he's wildly entertaining us. He's abetted
by Wilson Milam's razor-sharp direction and a superb cast
that includes David Wilmot as Padraic, Peter Gerety as his
hapless dad and Kerry Condon as a fledgling terrorist and
fellow cat lover.

Kudos also are owed scenic designer Scott Pask, whose flair
for vivid, hilarious gore would be the envy of any B-movie

I wouldn't count on the luck of the Irish bringing this
bloody gem to Broadway. But then I didn't expect that
Pillowman would be judged safe for matinee crowds, so you
never know.


U-Turn Over Pope’s Image On Cross

By Seamus McKinney

Councillors in a Co Donegal town have scrapped plans to
have an image of Pope John Paul II placed on a new Celtic

Letterkenny mayor Damien Blake revealed that while the 26ft
civic cross will still be erected at St Eunan’s Cathedral
car park the late pontiff’s image will not be included.

Despite the use of public money and the cross’s proximity
to Presbyterian and Church of Ireland churches, the town
council had failed to seek their views about the plans.

Members voted unanimously to have Pope John Paul’s image
commemorated on the cross shortly after he died last year.

Rev Stuart Wright of the Church of Ireland and Rev William
McCully of the Presbyterian Church expressed concern at the
lack of consultation but Church leaders have claimed that
inter-faith relations are still in a healthy state in Co

Speaking at the annual Donegal Person of the Year awards in
Dublin at the weekend, Church of Ireland bishop Ken Good
said the relationship between the churches in the area had
never been better.

Mr Blake said the Celtic cross would now include a
depiction of St Columba (a native of Co Donegal) and images
of Letterkenny’s “shared heritage”.

He said the section featuring Pope John Paul’s image would
be offered to the Catholic church in Letterkenny.

Mr Blake claimed it had never been the policy of the town
council to have the late Pope’s image included on the cross
but the situation had arisen through “crossed wires”.

He said he had spoken to clergy from “both sides” and was
now hopeful the matter could be resolved.

But Presbyterian minister Rev McCully said that if his
opinion had been sought he would have suggested that a
plain cross be erected rather than a Celtic cross which, he
said, might be a “bit imposing”.

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