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March 06, 2006

Loyalists Claim Threat To Taxi Driver

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 03/06/06 Loyalists Claim Handgun Threat To Taxi Driver
IN 03/06/06 Questions For Orde As Shoukri Free Again
BT 03/06/06 Agreement Fundamentalists Blocking Progress: Alliance
BT 03/06/06 Talks Shambles
BB 03/06/06 PSNI Attacked With Petrol Bombs In Derry
BN 03/06/06 Police Injured In Belfast Mob Attack
DB 03/06/06 The Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform
WP 03/06/06 America's Immigration Advantage
BB 03/06/06 Kerry Makes NI University Address
IN 03/06/06 North ‘Has Nothing To Fear’ In Uniting Separate Schools
IN 03/06/06 Visionary Idea To Prevent Closure ‘A Lost Opportunity’
NL 03/06/06 Ahern Is Seeking To Welcome Marchers
IM 03/06/06 US War Veterans Speak In Cork
IN 03/06/06 Opin: Take The Guns Off Our Streets
IN 03/06/06 Opin: UDR Inherits Legacy Of Gross Injustice
IN 03/06/06 Opin: Learn From Our History Instead Of Reliving It
DI 03/06/06 Opin: Little Tolerance In Love Ulster Man
UN 03/06/06 Publicans And Taxi-Drivers To Be Barred From Garda Reserve
IT 03/06/06 McAleese Aide Seeks Injunction Over Inquiry
EX 03/06/06 Facing The Last Of The Bogmen
SF 03/06/06 By Proclamation All San Franciscans Become Irish March 13
BN 03/06/06 Minister For Tourism Refused Admission To Ryanair Flight
BT 03/06/06 Flann O'Brien: Ireland's More Neglected Literary Lions
IN 03/06/06 Voice Of The Gael Echoes In Stormont
FB 03/06/06 Irish Film Board Film SIX SHOOTER Wins OSCAR®
NY 03/06/06 Lieutenant of Inishmore: Blood Simple
AB 03/06/06 Which Irish Actor Named His Son After A Famous Welsh Poet?


Loyalists Claim Handgun Threat To Taxi Driver

By Linda McKee
06 March 2006

Loyalist paramilitaries were behind the threatening of a
taxi driver at gunpoint in north Belfast.

The Red Hand Defenders' admission to a daily newspaper
follows Sinn Fein claims that the driver only escaped
unscathed because the weapon jammed.

The Red Hand Defenders is a cover name that has been used
by the UDA/UFF, which claims to be on ceasefire, and LVF-
linked loyalists.

The man was targeted after picking up four men at the
Belldoc area of the Crumlin Road shortly after 10pm on

He drove to Ligoniel, where one of the men produced what is
believed to have been a handgun, placed it to the back of
his head and threatened to shoot him.

Police said that in the ensuing struggle the driver escaped
from the vehicle uninjured.

It is thought the four attackers fled down an alley at the
side of McKenna's pub.

Sinn Fein North Belfast councillor Caral Ni Chuilin said
the taxi driver narrowly escaped a murder bid after the gun

"These men went with the intention of killing someone.
There is clearly a sectarian motivation in this attempted
murder," she said.

"This is a very serious development. This taxi driver was
going about his daily business. He was targeted because of
where he worked.

"The only thing that saved this man's life was the fact
that the gun jammed."


Questions For Orde As Shoukri Free Again

By Barry McCaffrey

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde came under pressure last
night to explain why senior north Belfast loyalist Ihab
Shoukri was freed despite being caught at a UDA show of

Shoukri (31) was one of 17 people arrested after police
raided a north Belfast bar on Thursday.

He walked free 48 hours later despite being caught in a
room with men in paramilitary uniform and appearing to have
broken bail conditions banning him from associating with
known loyalists.

Shoukri is on bail awaiting trial for UDA/UFF membership
and it is the second time he has been caught in breach of

In September 2004 a High Court judge questioned why Shoukri
had not been arrested when police found him in Belfast in
breach of bail conditions banning him from the city.

In reply to the judge’s query, a Crown barrister replied:
“There are certain things I am not at liberty to go into at
the moment.”

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness expressed
“astonishment” that Shoukri had escaped prosecution.

“People will ask what this man was doing in a room with men
in paramilitary uniforms and other known loyalists but has
not been charged,” he said.

“The police have stated that they raided these premises
following intelligence that a UDA show of strength was
taking place.

“How can a well known loyalist be found at a show of
strength and walk free?”

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said “serious
questions” remained over Shoukri’s release.

He called for nationalists to be vigilant after a gun was
held to the head of a Catholic taxi driver in north Belfast
at the weekend.

“The UDA and PSNI seem to be at loggerheads and in those
situations it is often the case that nationalists become
targets,” he said.

“I would appeal for people to vigilant in regards to their
personal safety.”

A police spokesman said six people, including Shoukri, had
been released while files were prepared for the Public
Prosecution Service.

The remaining 11 are due to appear in court this morning
charged with arranging, managing or assisting in a meeting
to support the UDA/UFF.

Seven face further charges of wearing clothing in
circumstances in which they are suspected to be members of
the UDA/UFF.

Police refused to comment on why Shoukri had been freed.

Sammy Duddy of the UDA-linked UPRG defended his release.

“This meeting was held to arrange a fundraiser for loyalist
prisoners which was interrupted by the heavy-handed actions
of the PSNI,” he said.

“Ihab Shoukri was an innocent by-stander.”


Agreement Fundamentalists Blocking Progress: Alliance

06 March 2006
By Noel McAdam
Political Correspondent

Good Friday Agreement "fundamentalists" have become an
obstacle to political progress, the Alliance Party's annual
conference has warned.

But there are concerns the Government has only accepted the
need for changes to the Agreement because of the electoral
rise of the DUP and Sinn Fein which a senior party figure
called the "extremes".

Party general secretary Stephen Farry said there had not
only been mistakes in the implementation of the almost
eight-year-old Agreement but flaws within it.

As the first formal deadline in the political talks which
could lead to the restoration of the Assembly was
abandoned, the party's new deputy leader Naomi Long warned
it would be reckless to bring back devolution until the
cracks which went to the foundation of the Agreement had
been dealt with.

"The Governments simply cannot afford to take short-cuts to
get the Assembly back on the road, knowing that the wheels
will inevitably come off at the next bump," she said.

The East Belfast Assembly member said if Secretary of State
Peter Hain wanted to see lasting progress sooner rather
than later he must get a "serious, intensive and inclusive"
process under way to tackle all the barriers to

"We must have a proper review of those structures, to
ensure that any new Assembly is constructed on a firm
foundation and is built to last," she added.

Ms Long said she was tired of being lectured on work ethics
by a Secretary of State whose definition of engagement was
half an hour with each of the parties once a fortnight.

But it was also time, she said, for the parties to decide
if they are serious about consensus politics or preferred
to settle for direct rule, joint authority and a permanent
sectarian stand-off.

Addressing a motion which said only full Executive
devolution can deal with the problems of the province, Mr
Farry said the process needed "not a band aid but major

Politicians had been rewarded for being as extreme as they
liked and Executive Ministers encouraged only to look out
for the interests of their own traditions.

"This is no way to govern a country," the North Down
councillor argued. "Those who stick their heads in the sand
and pretend everything is well with the Agreement are an
obstacle to progress. They are 'Agreement fundamentalists'.

"The Governments have accepted the need for changes to be
made to the Agreement. But I am concerned that the
Governments have only come to this conclusion due to the
new electoral context with the rise of the extremes, rather
than any appreciation of the much deeper problems with the
Agreement," he went on.

In an emergency motion the conference at the Dunadry Hotel
near Templepatrick condemned the decision of Education
Minister Angela Smith to refuse to fund four new integrated
schools - one of which has an enrolment of 120 for

Leader David Ford said the Government was throwing money at
existing segregated schools while last year 700 pupils had
been turned away from integrated schools because of
insufficient places.

During a debate on the elderly, Sean Morrisey, a retired
transport union official, said Northern Ireland MPs needed
to come together to recognise the level of poverty
pensioners are compelled to live in.


Talks Shambles

06 March 2006
by Noel McAdam
Political Correspondent

Wednesday's deadline for devolution discussions is
abandoned as Blair and Ahern prepare for summit

THE prospects for political progress faded further last
night as crunch talks involving all the main parties to
decide on the first phase of moves towards restoring
devolution were called off.

The Government had set this Wednesday as the first deadline
since the renewed talks got under way for changes to the
Northern Ireland Bill, including Assembly procedures and
the election of a new Executive to be agreed.

But the sessions, which would have been co-chaired by
Secretary of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern, have now been postponed.

Instead Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will meet in
London on Wednesday to attempt to assess the best way
forward which could involve recalling the Assembly in
'shadow' form - despite the opposition of Sinn Fein and the

But the idea of setting a date for the suspended Assembly
to meet for the first time - giving the parties six weeks
to reach a deal - appeared to gather pace yesterday.

Former Secretary of State Paul Murphy indicated he would
back starting the clock on Assembly members, possibly
leading to new elections in the event of their failure to
reach agreement.

A senior Northern Ireland Office source said the Wednesday
meetings could still go ahead if the Blair/Ahern meeting
does not happen but it was more likely the focus will be on
Downing Street. Both Mr Hain and Dermot Ahern would also be
involved in the London meeting.

"Whenever meetings take place the issues are the same and
the timeframe which included the March 8 deadline was not
artificially created," a spokesman added.

"The timeframe in terms of a window of opportunity for the
legislation going through Parliament in April has not

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the way the
recent talks had been organised was the worst he had seen
in recent years, even on an administrative level.

Speaking on the BBC Politics Show, he said: "We have
unfinished business and we cannot expect Blair and Ahern to
do it."

Sir Reg said he wanted to see the maximum attainable level
of devolution but republicans "had played fast and loose
with democracy" and lost the opportunity to participate on
equal terms with other parties.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said he questioned the judgment of
the NIO and others but that the talks planned for Wednesday
would have been a "political misadventure".

He said he was glad the "arbitrary and fatuous" deadline
which would have left parties "scrambling" had been
removed, adding: "The DUP and Sinn Fein need to know the
ball isn't going to stay at their feet all the time."


PSNI Attacked With Petrol Bombs In Derry

A police Land Rover was set on fire after being attacked by
petrol bombers in Londonderry on Sunday.

The attack happened near a community centre at Drumleck
Drive in the Shantallow area at about 2000 GMT.

Firefighters said they put the fire out, but had to
withdraw when they were attacked with bottles and bricks.

Fire officer Terry Morrison said crews had no alternative
but to pull out from what he described as a "life-
threatening situation".

"Once anything like that occurs, we have to think of the
safety of our personnel," he added.

On Saturday, a police officer was injured when a crowd
attacked two patrol cars in Shantallow.

Man escaped

Up to 20 youths were involved in that attack.

Officers used CS spray after the group attacked two patrol
cars and tried to drag them from their vehicles.

The incident happened at about 0030 GMT in the Mosspark and
Glengalliagh Road areas. The policeman was later treated
for a hand injury.

A 20-year-old man has been charged in connection with the
incident and will appear in court later this month.

He will face charges of disorderly behaviour, assault on
police and resisting arrest in connection with the

A second man who was arrested at the scene escaped from

Officers say the man is still wearing handcuffs on his

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/06 07:32:31 GMT


Police Injured In Belfast Mob Attack

06/03/2006 - 08:04:06

Four police officers were injured today when they were
attacked with bottles and bricks by a 30-strong mob in the

Two shots were fired in a bid to calm the disturbance in
north Belfast, during which a policewoman was struck in the
face with a bottle.

The trouble started after four men got out of a car and
launched missiles at Tennant Street police station, shortly
after 1am.

They drove off into Montreal Street, followed by two police
officers, but abandoned their vehicle and were eventually
pursued on foot.

Minutes later, one of the suspects grabbed the policewoman
and hit her in the face with a bottle.

A hostile crowd emerged from a local pub and surrounded the
officers, who managed to return to their vehicle but were
unable to start it.

The vehicle then came under a hail of missiles and was
seriously damaged as the officers waited on reinforcements
to arrive.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman said two
shots were fired as police attempted calm the disturbance.

Four officers were hurt but their injuries were not

One man has been arrested in connection with the trouble.

Afterwards, a van was set on fire in Cambrai Street and
police were maintaining a presence in the area this

Meanwhile, a police Land Rover was set on fire in Derry as
officers came under attack with petrol bombs and other

Police came under sustained attack after they were called
to an incident in Drumleck Gardens yesterday evening.

A number of men forced their way into a house and
threatened the occupants.

One man was arrested. A PSNI spokeswoman said no one was
injured in the trouble, which ended at around 9pm.


The Irish Lobby For Immigration Reform

February 22nd, 2006

I tuned into an interesting debate on the Shaun Doherty
Show today, discussing the position of the “undocumented”
Irish in America. One caller, from Donegal now living in
Boston, detailed how her life in America, without a Green
Card, has changed drastically since the tightening of the
security-net in America after 9/11.

This is a huge issue which affects members of most families
in Donegal, and has done for generations. It also raises
important questions for those of us here in modern Ireland;
we call for greater rights for undocumented (or Illegal, if
that’s what you want to call them) workers in America,
while the tensions between Irish and immigrant workers here
in Ireland continue to deepen.

As part of the campaign in support of the McCain/Kennedy
Bill, which seeks to regularise the circumstances of
undocumented Irish in America, an organisation called The
Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is organising a large
rally in Washington on March 8th.

Cllr Dessie Larkin and I hope to meet with representatives
of this group when we travel to the USA in March, for the
St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Philadelphia and New York.
The support of public representatives in Ireland for this
campaign is vital; both to help the Irish in America, and
to learn important lessons for the future of Ireland from
the experiences of the USA.

Councillor Damien Blake
Mayor of Letterkenny
Member of Letterkenny Town Council

My Background

I’m Damien Blake, I’m 23 years old and I live at Covehill,
just off the Port Road in the centre of Letterkenny. I am
the son of Laurence and Denise Blake, and a brother to
Aiden, Ian and Jason. I’m a Fianna Fail member of
Letterkenny Town Council.

I was educated at Scoil Cholmcille & Saint Eunan’s College
in the town, and in 2005 I earned a First Class BSc (Hons)
Degree in E-Business & Connectivity from the University of
Ulster at Magee College in Derry. I setup my own website
design company and computer business at the age of 13 in
1996, and am currently a director of b4 Innovations.

I have been involved with politics locally for a number of
years. I have been actively involved in setting up Ogra
Fianna Fail, the youth wing of Fianna Fail, both in and
around the town and in Letterkenny IT.

In June 2004 I was elected to Letterkenny Town Council, and
later in the month I was elected Deputy Mayor by the other
members. I was the youngest person ever to be elected to
the Town Council. Since then, I have worked with the other
members and the Council officials on a number of important
issues. My time on the Town Council, while at times
difficult, has been very rewarding. As a Town Council, we
are working to improve our town and to safeguard its future

In June 2005, I was elected Mayor of Letterkenny with the
support of my fellow councillors. I look forward to working
over the next year for the advancement of a number of
priority issues, including pushing for a Community-based
CCTV system in Letterkenny, improvements in Youth and
Community facilities, a resolution to the troubles we are
currently having with Recycyling and working with the
Council on the upcoming Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann. With the
help of my fellow councillors, I hope to make serious steps
on all these issues, and more.


America's Immigration Advantage

By Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco
Monday, March 6, 2006; Page A15

As Congress gears up for another round of immigration
debate, it is instructive to place the recent American
experience in context. How do we compare to the other side
of the Atlantic, which is wrestling with its own
immigration dilemmas? There are three major areas of
difference between this country and Europe.

First, in Europe, the combination of the welfare state and
the job ceiling that immigrants face is creating a huge
problem for the second generation, which receives fairly
good schooling but then crashes into a wall of
discrimination and racism in the labor market. Algerian
French citizens with good French educations simply cannot
find jobs commensurate with their educational credentials
and achievements, because of their last names or physical
appearance. One cannot underestimate the frustration this

In the United States there is a powerful segmentation in
the labor market according to one's education, but for many
immigrants moving to this country, America can be a dream
realized when it comes to achieving educational success and
rewards in the job market.

Furthermore, about a third of all immigrants arrive in this
country with college degrees, a "gift" in free human
capital to the U.S. economy estimated to be in the order of
$50 billion per year. Every fall when I was teaching
"Latino Cultures" at Harvard College, I would ask the 100
or so eager undergraduates, "How many of you are immigrants
or the children of immigrants?" Some two-thirds would raise
their hands. While the United States surely has problems
educating immigrant youngsters and easing their transition
into the labor market, they do not approach those in
Europe, where unemployment among the second generation
approaches 50 percent in some cities.

Second, in most European countries formal immigration
stopped in the early 1970s, and immigration is now mostly
driven by asylum-seeking and marriage. In Europe today
immigration is patterned by kinship and social structures
that favor arranged marriages and marriage within the
group. It is common for second-generation Kurdish or Afghan
girls in Stockholm to end up marrying cousins back in
Kurdistan or Afghanistan so that the men can migrate to
Europe. This has two immediate effects: It prevents the
immigrants from crossing a most cherished threshold of
social integration -- marriage with people of the new
country -- and it replenishes the cultural traditions of
the old country as newly arrived villagers settle in
European cities.

In contrast, immigrants in the United States have always,
over many years, gravitated to marriage outside their own
groups (a dynamic sometimes called "ethnic flight") -- from
Jews marrying Christians and Japanese marrying whites to
Latinos marrying African Americans.

Third, in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Germany,
immigrants have no place in the cultural narrative of the
nation. In the United States, immigration is at the center
of the quasi-sacred narrative accounting for how we came to
be the country we are today. The United States is one of
only a handful of advanced democracies that can claim
immigration as both history and destiny. Immigrants built
the nation, and the immigrant second generation is now the
fastest-growing demographic sector of the population. Today
immigrants proudly enter the mainstream through hyphenated
identities: We talk about Mexican Americans, Haitian
Americans, Irish Americans and Chinese Americans as natural
categories of belonging to the American tapestry. When I
was teaching in Paris a few years ago, I asked my students,
"Do you talk about Tunisian-French, Algerian-French or
Turkish-Germans here in Europe?" There was an uncomfortable
silence. "You don't understand; we are all French," was the
polite answer of a shy graduate student.

Immigrants thus face a double bind: They are asked to be
French while not really allowed to fully join the new
society in terms of jobs and the opportunity structure.

In the United States, the current anxiety is over illegal
immigration. In Europe the continuing concerns are cultural
practices -- within-group marriage, arranged marriages,
free speech, equality between the sexes in Muslim immigrant
communities, and the separation of religion from the
political process -- all of which, when combined with
enduring European xenophobia and labor market
discrimination, will prove to be much harder to address,
let alone fix.

The writer, co-founder of the Harvard Immigration Project,
is now a university professor and co-director of
immigration studies at New York University. He is the co-
author of "Children of Immigration."


Kerry Makes NI University Address

Former presidential candidate John Kerry has delivered a
lecture at the University of Ulster's Magee campus in
Londonderry on 21st century security.

He was invited to give the Tip O'Neill lecture by ex-SDLP
leader John Hume.

The lecture has previously been given by prominent figures
like Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton and Romano Prodi.

Mr Kerry said the west's long-term security was "dependent
on addressing the multi-layered fabric of life which
motivates those who use terror".

The Democrat senator for Massachusetts added: "The truth is
that we are caught in the middle of a decades-old internal
struggle in the Islamic world."

"It is fundamentally a war within Islam for the heart and
soul of Islam, stretching from Morocco east to Indonesia.

"In regions where the mosque remains the only respected
alternative to autocratic state structures, there is no
credible secular alternative.

"And no centre of moral authority has emerged to stop those
who would murder in the name of Islam."

Mr Kerry said success in the war on terror depended on the
west having a strategy to increase the internal demand for
transformation in the Middle East.

He said the case of Northern Ireland was an example of how
to overcome a turbulent history and emerge into relative
peace and stability.

"History is replete with examples of conflicts that at
times seemed endless and intractable. But history also
teaches us that if the desire for peace stays strong, it is
always possible to prevail.

"There are lessons of perseverance and determination for
peace to be learned from your experience here in Northern
Ireland. You know better than anyone how long and arduous
this process can be.

"The citizens of Northern Ireland have proven that progress
is possible for those with the courage to seize it."

Mr Kerry said Iran was the "world's leading state sponsor
of terrorism", which had defied the world by moving forward
with its nuclear programme.

"A nuclear armed Iran clearly poses an unacceptable threat
to global security," he added.


"To make sure this never happens, America must lead an
unrelenting collective effort that matches the urgency of
the threat."

Mr Kerry is an influential Democrat member of the US Senate
Foreign Relations Committee and an advocate of non-
proliferation controls.

During his election campaign in 2004, Senator Kerry accused
the Bush administration of pushing the Northern Ireland
peace process down the foreign policy agenda.

In a statement in February 2004, he called on the IRA and
loyalists to disarm.

However, he also angered Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist
Party by insisting they "should not be allowed to
disenfranchise half the population of Northern Ireland by
refusing to form a government with Sinn Fein".

The Tip O'Neill Chair, financed by the Ireland Funds,
commemorates the former speaker of the US House of
Representatives, who was well known for his support of the
peace process in Northern Ireland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/06 06:57:17 GMT

Turning to Northern Ireland, the Massachusetts senator said
the region had made a “positive journey” over the last
decade or so but still needed to clear a “big hurdle”.

“There’s undoubtedly been a lot of progress in Northern
Ireland and that momentum must be maintained,” he said.

“To my mind the Good Friday Agreement provides the best
direction for people to move in and it’s what the people
here voted for and ratified.”

The invited audience last night at Magee heard Mr Kerry pay
tribute to former Foyle MP John Hume and the SDLP founder’s
“courage, sacrifice and creativity”.

“He exemplifies the kind of leader we need to meet the
extraordinary challenges of this new century,” Mr Kerry


North ‘Has Nothing To Fear’ In Uniting Separate Schools

EDUCATION - Scottish model hailed as success - a shared

By Simon Doyle Education Correspondent

The school system is split into too many separate sectors –
and Secretary of State Peter Hain says we cannot afford it.

Education Correspondent Simon Doyle visited a Scottish
campus where schools of different faiths work within the
same walls and asks whether the same cost-saving scheme
could work in Northern Ireland

ON entering the gates of Scotland’s new ‘learning village’
it quickly becomes clear it has three separate schools
harboured within its perimeter.

Signs dotted around the giant campus tell visitors that
every main building is an individual school, each with its
own distinctive and vibrant exterior decor.

The luminous red facade of St David’s RC High School,
radiant green of Saltersgate and deep grey of Dalkeith High
are visible from vantage points around the site.

That so many institutions are within walking distance of
one another is not unusual but these three are exceptional
in that they form an equal part of Scotland’s first and
only ‘community campus’.

They are stand alone schools – one Catholic, one special
needs and one non-denominational – but share sporting
facilities, a large library/resource area, a cafeteria,
catering facilities and an office.

When Secretary of State Peter Hain decreed that retaining
parallel school sectors in the north was no longer
sustainable, he agreed that such sharing of facilities was
a remedy.

Some towns have Catholic, Irish-medium, integrated and non-
Catholic schools all within close proximity to each other
and this segregation is, in Mr Hain’s words, “coming at a
high price”.

By bringing 2,200 pupils from three Dalkeith schools
together in a £33 million campus, Midlothian Council
ensured savings that allowed money to be ploughed back into
new on-campus facilities.

Additional funding was awarded by Sportscotland and the
Scottish Arts Council to build facilities far beyond those
found in any single secondary or special school.

These include extensive PE space, floodlit Astroturf
pitches, an all-weather running track and athletics
facilities, swimming and hydrotherapy pools and theatre

The council stresses it was not trying to combat bigotry in
schools but instead was providing value for money and the
best possible facilities to allow all children to reach
their full potential.

Like many Northern Ireland towns, Dalkeith, on the
outskirts of Edinburgh, was encountering problems with its
school estate, in particular with Dalkeith High, parts of
which were built in the early 1900s.

St David’s RC High School was constructed in the 1970s and
was suffering from problems inherent to buildings built
cheaply at that time.

The council began exploring the possibility that the
synergy of bringing these two schools together in a linked
building might offer opportunities for additional
facilities to be created.

The Catholic Church in Scotland gave broad approval to the
idea with certain reservations, Donald MacKay, director of
education at Midlothian Council, said.

A number of parents and staff at St David’s, however, had
concerns that the school might lose its identity in such a

But any fears the Catholic school had about its ethos being
suppressed in sharing a campus with a non-denominational
school have been allayed.

Meticulous attention has been paid to safeguarding and
observing St David’s Catholic traditions.

Immediately catching pupils’ eyes as they walk through the
front door is a statue of the Virgin Mary – the centrepiece
in the window of the head teacher’s office.

Crucifixes take pride of place on classroom walls while the
school emblem – the mitre – and its motto – Mundum Pro
Christo Vincamus (forever the world for Christ) – adorn the

In addition, the school’s name has come through the move
intact – the letters ‘RC’ prominent at the entrance,
alongside a large crucifix.

At the heart of St David’s lies a small chapel – a
peaceful, prayerful room that allows pupils and staff to
reflect as part of the religious and moral education (RME)

Weekly Mass is also offered at lunchtimes and is available
to teachers and students across all three schools.

Next door is the school chaplaincy with a colourful array
of religious-themed artwork and a hand-crafted wooden
carving of the Last Supper mounted beside its door.

“It was made clear from the outset that there was no
intention to merge any of the affected schools. It was also
made clear that each school would retain its own ethos and
identity,” Mr MacKay said.

“Pupils in each of the three schools have easily identified
and defined separate parts of the buildings but also share
certain central core facilities.

“Each school has retained its own badge, uniform,
management team and teacher and support staffing.”

Described as “an airport with different terminals”, people
can walk from the front door of St David’s to the entrance
of Dalkeith High without setting foot outdoors.

And if the winding maze of corridors is negotiated
correctly they will find themselves on the doorstep of
Saltersgate School.

St David’s and Dalkeith High stand on opposite sides of a
large ‘shared area’, which houses the cafeteria, office and
foyer with artwork by pupils from each school.

Dalkeith High’s own symbols have survived the move.

An impressive stone ballerina, salvaged from its former
building which now lies dormant in the town centre, has
been erected at the entrance.

In an effort to promote greater inclusion with Saltersgate,
sixth year students from the two mainstream schools
participate in a mentoring programme.

One such mentor, Martyn Murray from St David’s, works with
teenage pupils at the special school for one hour each week
assisting them with their European studies.

Other mentors assist primary-age pupils with their artwork.

The intermingling of pupils from the three schools is most
evident in the library, where children, despite their
different uniforms, sit side-by- side helping each other
with their revision.

The campus suffered teething problems when it opened three
years ago with parents accusing the council of segregating
Catholic and non-Catholic children during periods when they
should have been playing and eating together.

Keeping pupils apart between classes, the council said, had
always been the plan while the youngsters settled into
their new surroundings. It had nothing to do with religion.

“When the campus first opened, over 2000 pupils found
themselves in a new and large building,”

Mr MacKay said.

“It was obvious to us that a degree of structure had to be
put in place to ensure that students used the building
safely and appropriately whilst becoming acclimatised to
their new surroundings.

“As the pupils at the two high schools shared the dining
area, it was decided initially that they should use
separate sides of the dining area until such time as the
pupils settled into their new environment.

“This was perceived by some as creating a divide between
denominational and non-denominational schools. We perceived
it initially as being a good health and safety approach.”

Collaborations between schools in Northern Ireland have
been suggested as a way of delivering full access to the
new curriculum, which demands pupils be provided access to
24 subjects at GCSE and 27 at A-level.

They may also help schools fight off the threat of closure
posed by the continuing fall in pupil numbers.

Such cross-sector cooperation is in place in towns
including Limavady, where schools have developed a learning

But nowhere have schools from the Catholic and the
‘controlled’ sector, which funds non-Catholic education,
come together under the one roof.

The three Dalkeith head teachers said Northern Ireland
would have nothing to fear by working towards a model which
had enjoyed considerable success.

Liz Wozniak from Dalkeith High said while the schools had
collaborated in the past, the campus model was a more cost
effective and practical way of sharing facilities.

“In the previous schools there have been neighbourhood
partnerships but if the buildings are three miles apart it
will be difficult to negotiate that,” she said.

“The timetables are all different as we are operating as
three separate schools but sharing some facilities and
sharing some classes.”

Jean Loughlin, Saltersgate’s head teacher, said her pupils
benefited greatly from a range of facilities that had not
previously been available, including a hydrotherapy pool
and ball room.

“Here we have access to hydrotherapy and the main pool and
for some of the older pupils, that is very important,” she

And Marian Docherty, head teacher of St David’s, said such
an original model of schooling could be exported

“There is no comparison between the quality of the old and
new buildings. There is also real potential for pupils to
gain from working with Saltersgate, which enhances what
they are studying and promotes inclusion,” she said.

“It could work elsewhere as long as people know what is
happening – if it is clear that the distinction is

“It can work if they trust the people who are responsible
for the arrangements. If they do not, it will not work.”

Now that the campus has established itself it is looking to
the future and plans to welcome another school.

“With regard to the two high schools, both have been
developed in such a way that additional accommodation can
be added should it be required in the future,” Mr MacKay

“A site has been reserved on campus for a primary school,
which is expected to be developed over the next two to
three years.”

Resounding support for new campus

PUPILS who made the move from their old school to the
Dalkeith community campus have given the new model of
education their resounding support.

A snapshot survey reveals that a majority of students
believe the move created more opportunities to mix and make
friends with their peers from the other schools.

In addition, most pupils said relocating to the campus
helped strengthen their school community while enhancing
ties with their neighbours.

And an overwhelming majority said their school had managed
to retain its own individual identity despite being part of
a larger campus.

Every respondent said they belonged to an individual school
rather than being a small part of Dalkeith Schools
Community Campus.


Visionary Idea To Prevent Closure ‘A Lost Opportunity’

EDUCATION - shared campus proposal ‘ahead of its time’ -
schools lose out

By Simon Doyle

The idea of bringing schools of different faiths together
on a single campus in Northern Ireland was first mooted
more than five years ago, it can be revealed. But at a time
when the Scottish venture was gathering pace, the attempt
made in the north failed to take off

THE closing down of neighbouring schools – one Catholic and
one ‘controlled’ – represented ‘a lost opportunity’ to
pioneer the community campus model in the north.

When the new academic year begins, a site in Antrim town
that housed two secondary schools which forged strong
cross-community links will be vacant.

Had they remained on site and shared services in a campus
with separate buildings, with their own identity, uniform
and ethos, they could have saved the schools £500,000 a

Instead, Massereene Community College is to shut with
pupils moving across town, while St Malachy’s High School
is to uproot and relocate to Randalstown as part of an

It has now emerged that efforts were made to pilot a shared
campus model to ensure the survival of both schools.

Minutes of meetings held by Massereene’s board of governors
in the lead up to its closure, reveal that the non-Catholic
school was open to the idea.

Those involved in negotiations said the proposal was “ahead
of its time” and failed to get out of the starting blocks
due to the unresponsiveness of the Catholic sector.

The schools enjoyed close ties and in 1997 shared the
President Clinton Peace Prize after linking their buildings
with a symbolic footpath.

Both began suffering from a fall in pupil numbers and
started to look independently at how to meet children’s
educational needs in the face of this demographic downturn.

When Massereene first opened, up to 12 per cent of its
pupils were Catholic but this fell dramatically in
subsequent years.

It was initially hoped Massereene would have 600 pupils but
it had 200 when it was earmarked for closure. St Malachy’s
was also said to be facing an enrolment “dilemma”.

According to figures from the North Eastern Education and
Library Board (NEELB), the two schools – based on a
combined enrolment of 589 pupils – had a total annual
expenditure of about £2.7 million.

The running costs for one school with a similar total
enrolment is about £2.2 million a year.

By agreeing to share facilities including those for dining
and sport, the schools could have made savings of half a
million pounds a year on a mutual campus.

Such savings would have seen Massereene’s £300,000 debt
cleared in a short space of time.

Where two schools from different sectors are already up and
running, there is no need to seek government approval to
share a single campus.

All that is required is a local arrangement between the

In the face of closure, Massereene had begun exploring ways
of strengthening links and forging such a local arrangement
with St Malachy’s – as early as 2000/01.

Those involved in the discussions at that time said the
shared campus model was innovative, offered great
possibilities and would have guaranteed the survival of the
Catholic secondary.

The schools, they said, had co-existed for a large part of
their history and this “visionary” idea would have
attracted Department of Education support, as it was “a new
way of setting up schools without the need to close”.

The Catholic sector, however, was said to be

By the time a Massereene steering group met in June 2003 it
was claimed that a model of cooperation between the college
and St Malachy’s “would not work”.

But Massereene’s board of governors months later considered
whether a model it could adopt to stay open “would be to
work with St Malachy’s post-14 curriculum classes”.

However, the NEELB last year voted to shut Massereene as
part of the “vision for controlled post primary education
in Antrim” – ending all likelihood that the joint faith
campus would open.

Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, Donal McKeown, said
the Catholic sector was now exploring new models of
education to facilitate the implementation of the new post-
primary arrangements.

Bishop McKeown met with representatives of joint-faith
schools in England – single schools managed by both the
Catholic and Anglican churches.

He said the Church was not averse to exploring new ideas,
including the Dalkeith Schools Community Campus model.

“It would be crazy not to look at what is happening
elsewhere and learn from other people,” he said.

“We have to be realistic about the particular needs of our
situation and be financially accountable to ensure that the
government gets value for money.”

Bishop McKeown added that a shared campus including schools
from different sectors could work in Northern Ireland.

“There are all sorts of models – the Scottish one, the
English one, the Northern Ireland ones we could invent and
export elsewhere.

“There is no reason why we should not be looking at
creative solutions to our problems here to ensure that we
do not just serve individuals but we serve society.”

Professor Tony Gallagher, head of Queen’s school of
education, said the idea of a shared school in which a
Catholic ethos is preserved was “feasible”.

“I’m not sure how interested the Catholic authorities are
in the idea of shared schools but it is clear that there
has been a shift in thinking among the bishops and that
they are willing to contemplate, or even encourage, a more
diverse intake to Catholic schools,” he said.


Ahern Is Seeking To Welcome Marchers

By Stephen Dempster Political Editor
Monday 6th March 2006

BERTIE Ahern is "looking at ways of accommodating" the
abandoned Love Ulster parade in Dublin.

The Taoiseach said he wants to see if there is a way to
fulfil the event's "need to have its voice heard" in the

In the wake of the riots which prevented around 1,000
unionists parading in Dublin city centre last Saturday
week, organisers would like a second chance to march if
their safety can be assured.

William Frazer of victims' group FAIR said: "We have had
many people and politicians in the south asking us to come
back and apologising for what happened.

"We would like to be able to hold our peaceful parade and
highlight the plight of IRA victims in the Province and the
failure of the southern government to assist them."

The fall-out from the riots has dominated the Irish media,
and yesterday's Dublinbased Sunday newspapers were still
extensively debating what went wrong and the issue of
freedom of speech and the right to protest which Republican
Sinn Fein (RSF) supporters blocked.

A Sunday Independent poll found that 68 per cent of people
in the south blamed RSF for last week's trouble, while 32
per cent blamed the Love Ulster marchers.

Mr Ahern expressed the embarrassment of the Irish people
over the rioting when he told the Sunday Independent: "In a
republic, people are entitled to express their views, to
march and to protest peacefully, irrespective of their
political opinions.

"Those involved in rioting and creating scenes of public
disorder are not republicans, and their behaviour is
contrary to all democratic principles."

Meanwhile, Mr Ahern has also confirmed plans to invite
unionists to the Republic for events commemorating the
Easter 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

He said that while he was aware unionists might not want to
attend the Rising event, he hoped the invitation would be
recognised for "the spirit of friendship and mutual
respect" in which it was being extended.


US War Veterans Speak In Cork

Cork Anti-War News Report Monday March 06, 2006 08:51
by Cork Antiwar

US soldiers speaking tour of Ireland: Stop the US war &
torture machine tour

Two US soldiers - Frank Corcoran (Vietnam Veterans Against
War) and Benjamin Hart Viges (Iraq Veterans Against the
War). will speak in Cork this Wednesday as part of a
national speaking tour organised by the Irish Anti-War

Details are as follows......

UCC Meeting
Wed March 8th 1PM
"Musrea" room in the Students Centre, UCC
Town Meeting
Wed 8th March 8PM
Spailpin Fanach, South Main Street

Benjamin Hart Viges said, "I am a member of Iraq Veterans
Against the War and Veterans for Peace. I was with the 82nd
Airborne Division as a Mortarman when my unit was deployed
to Iraq in Febuary 2003."

"I joined up the day after September the 11th 2001. I saw
action in Fallujah and Baghdad. My mortar platoon dropped
numerous rounds on the town of Samawa during the start of
the invasion. I don't know how many innocents I killed with
my mortar rounds."

"I was so disgusted by the war that after we came home in
January 2004, I filed for Conscientious Objector status and
received CO status in December 2004. I'm a Christian, what
was I doing holding a gun to another human being?"

Frank Corcoran served with the Marines in 1968 in Vietnam.
He said, "I have been a member of Philadelphia Veterans For
Peace since 1990, I have also been active in the School of
Americas Watch campaign for 10-12 years. I am a cancer
victim because of exposure to Agent Orange while in
Vietnam. I am an elementary school teacher for the past 20
years. I'm a Iraq Veterans Against War (IVAW) board member
and a volunteer staff member for IVAW for the past year and
a half."

"I wasn't long in Vietnam before my two best friends were
killed. It was a long time before I could talk about what
happened to me in Vietnam. But now I want to tell his story
has much as I can."

"In 2000 I travelled to Iraq to help repair a water
treatment plant destroyed by US bombing. I regularly speak
at schools to help convince American children

not to join the army when they are older."

This national tour is part of the build-up to the
international peace protest on March 18th 2006. On that day
every capital city on the planet will hold a demonstration
against the US led war and occupation of Iraq. In Ireland
the anti-war movement will also be calling for an end to
CIA torture flights through our airspace and an end to the
use of Shannon Airport by the US Military. This year alone
over 300,000 US troops have passed through Shannon Airport.
The March 18 demonstration in Ireland will take place at
2pm from Parnell Square, Dublin

Independent Media Centre Ireland

Indymedia is a collective of independent media
organizations and hundreds of journalists offering
grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a
democratic media outlet for the creation of radical,
accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.


Opin: Take The Guns Off Our Streets


THERE has long been serious concern about the growth in gun
crime in Ireland.

In the early hours of yesterday morning Dublin saw in some
ways the most shocking manifestation of this phenomenon.

A young woman was shot dead as she attended a birthday
party in the Coolock area of Dublin.

Every murder is shocking. What makes this murder all the
more so is because of its apparently random nature.

It has been reported that three men tried to gain admission
to the house where the party was being held but were turned

About 30 minutes later shots were fired towards the house,
one of them hitting

22-year-old Donna Cleary in the upper body and killing her.

If, as seems to be the case at this point in time, the
‘reason’ for shooting Donna Cleary was that three men could
not get into the party it is a terrible indication of just
how cheaply human life is viewed by some living in our

Over the past year or so there has been a very noticeable
increase in the use of firearms in many parts of Ireland.

There have been a number of murders, with most being linked
in some way to organised crime.

But over the past few days people from outside that world
have been targeted.

On Friday gardai were fired on as they investigated an
earlier shooting in a Limerick housing estate.

And then in the early hours of yesterday Donna Cleary was

In a press conference yesterday a senior Garda officer
talked about the ‘horrific’ incident and made it clear that
there were no circumstances linking anybody at the party
with criminality.

This rise in gun crime in Ireland is a cause for serious
concern and will hopefully be targetted by the Garda and
the PSNI.

Whoever murdered Donna Cleary has deprived a child of his
mother and apparently for no reason other than that they
were refused entry to a party.

Such people need to be taken off the streets as soon as

So too do the guns which such criminals have, guns which
given the increase in their use, there seems to be no
shortage of.


Opin: UDR Inherits Legacy Of Gross Injustice

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

Last month the Conflict Trauma Resource Centre (CRCT)
launched a report on the needs of ex-Ulster Defence
Regiment soldiers at Stormont. Some of them had previously
shared painful memories with people from both traditions in
Drogheda. I heard about flashbacks, sleepwalking, wakening
at the kitchen sink in the middle of the night and of
recurrent nightmares following horrific tragedies.

Yet ‘Post Traumatic Stress‚’ was long unrecognised and a
military psychiatrist says the army was embarrassed and so
dismissed it as indicating ‘lack of moral fibre’.

Many ex-UDR soldiers feel hurt, neglected, undervalued and
misunderstood. Their regiment never received proper
recognition and was often pilloried as part of the problem.
Yet early recruits came from both traditions hoping to
contribute to a better future.

Some Catholic members expressed reservations about the work
they might have to do and similar heart-searching went on
among loyalist recruits. How could they be expected to act
against their own communities on the streets? But the UDR
was not meant to engage in public order duties and service
outside Northern Ireland was not required. They were to
protect from terrorist outrage, guard key installations,
patrol and set up checkpoints. This might entail great risk
but also meant repetitive menial work in dirty, uncongenial
and even flea-infested huts – all for a pittance.

Up to 25 per cent of early recruits were Catholics some
courageously defying intimidation to serve the community as
they saw fit. When launched in 1970 the UDR had 2,440
recruits of which 946 were Catholic. In a moving ceremony,
pregnant with new hope, the first recruits, a 19-year-old
Catholic and 47-year-old Protestant, were sworn in. They
were to be a beacon of new hope in a society torn apart by
sectarian strife. As part of the British army it was hoped
that the UDR would avoid charges of sectarian bias.

But they came under heavy and frequent attack and faced
disruption on a large scale in 1971. Internment brought
threats to Catholic soldiers who were sometimes told to
leave their homes. All kinds of intimidation followed.
Businesses were boycotted, shopkeepers refused to serve
soldiers while children faced insults and bullying at
school. Before a ruthless enemy UDR soldiers were
restricted in their response and highly vulnerable living
in sectarian communities or isolated areas.

Part- timers followed normal day jobs and were attacked
while driving school buses or otherwise going about their
normal activities trying to earn a living.

One ex-UDR man told how many of his close friends and
relatives were murdered and he escaped death only by the
skin of his teeth.

After a serious wounding he lay in a muddy pond face
downwards. His attackers, convinced he was dead, kicked his
body before moving on.

But amazingly he then managed to drag himself to a nearby
house and knock on the door. It opened momentarily but was
quickly slammed in his face. Somehow he struggled to
another home in that desolated place and stumbled upon a
Good Samaritan Catholic family who bathed his wounds and
called for the help that saved his life.

A young son of a UDR soldier tells how as a 15-year-old boy
he witnessed his dad being shot through the front door of
his home and dying in his arms.

He recalled: “After the murder I didn’t go out much. On my
first day back at school people seemed to be talking about
me, behaving differently towards me – I didn’t go back. I’m
not aware of anyone from the school calling or writing to
see why I wasn’t there. I sat no examinations and received
no qualifications.” According to CTRC, many ex-soldiers
feel the government, the NIO and the army have all failed
the families. There is anguish at the failure to properly
honour and care for the needs of ex-soldiers and their
families. Yet 197 UDR soldiers, 61 ex-soldiers and five who
transferred to the RIR paid with their lives. In stark
contrast, the UDR killed eight people in the course of its
duties. Demonised and distraught the legacy lingers on. In
the early 1990s the UDR was replaced by the RIR and a wide
range of unresolved issues remained. Some ex-UDR members
say they still feel under threat and many hesitate to raise
their voices against what they see as gross injustice.



Opin: Learn From Our History Instead Of Reliving It

By Tom Kelly

In December 1918 two men returned from the Great War to
Newry. One had served with the Pioneer Corps in the Royal
Engineers. He was 46 years old. The other was in the Royal
Irish Rifles and he was 20 years old. The former being the
second son of a farmer from south Armagh joined, in 1890,
what was known as the Royal County Down Fusiliers which
later became the Royal Irish Rifles when the Fusiliers
‘laid up’ their colours at Downpatrick Cathedral in 1894.
He saw action in the Boer War. By the time the First World
War broke out both men answered the call of Redmond and
joined up for Europe’s last great imperial battle.

A combination of chronic poverty, mixed with a dose of
politics and a history of military service in what was a
garrison town meant there were many volunteers from Newry
only too willing to sign up for action. The older of the
two men was a veteran of conflict and at 46 had re-enlisted
for action at a time when the average male life expectancy
was 49 for a working-class man.

The younger of the two represented the spirit of adventure
and excitement that any 16-year-old would have of the
world, even today. The older man returned safely, though
psychologically scarred, but the younger was wounded
leaving him with a disabled hand for the rest of his life.
Neither of the two men came home to a country fit for
heroes as had been promised. Both became unemployed and
moved into two-up-two-down slum dwellings as they were
unable to afford the rents of the housing reserved for the
ex-service men.

The First World War, the world view of those who waged it
and the vast and wasted human life expended during it – had
changed everything. These two men were both in my family.

One was my paternal great grandfather and the other was my
maternal grandfather.

My great grandfather and his family epitomises the division
and generational gap that many families still endure. While
he fought in Flanders fields, his only son had joined the
IRA – post the execution of the leaders of the Irish
uprising. What one thought of the other is not known.
However what cannot be disputed is courage. My maternal
grandfather played an active role in the local British
Legion for many years and several of my uncles saw active
service in the Second World War.

Many families in the Newry area have had strong connections
with service in the British army right up to the early
1970s. While lack of jobs certainly contributed to the
uptake, most came from a tradition of military service.

Ironically, many of the more recognised British service
family names from the area now claim or wish for a more
traditional or orthodox republican background but it’s not
to be so.

It was the Catholic ex-service men who were to the fore of
the civil rights campaign and on Remembrance Sunday, until
the start of the Troubles, Catholic ex-service men had
their own service in the Cathedral.

Likewise, until the Troubles, the Easter commemoration was
an equally more civic occasion than it has been for a
number of years. Families like ours have had a fair share
from the fallout of the Troubles – we have had relatives in
the British army, the IRA, the INLA, the UDR and even the
UDA and most of them are from the same side of the family!
So being in the SDLP made me the constitutional, non-
violent black sheep.

Last week Bertie Ahern said: “New politics should learn
from old history” and it’s true.

An Ireland, more confident and more assured needs a new
type of politics, a politics of context and consensus.
There is no Ireland as we know it because Ireland is about
change and evolution.

We are the sum total of all that change and our ‘old
history’ is there to learn from but not live in.

As we approach the commemoration of the 1916 Rising, let’s
acclaim all things good about our history. But more
importantly, let us see, if in our manner of commemoration,
we can create a new idea about what it means to be Irish in
the 21st century world.

If we can we will learn that the mind once stretched never
regains its original dimensions.

How refreshing a political thought is that?


Opin: Little Tolerance In Love Ulster Man


There has been a lot of deliberate misinformation about the
nature and intent of Love Ulster, the group which announced
yesterday that it intends to try again to march through
Dublin. Last Saturday saw appalling acts of violence in the
capital as the proposed march was called off following a
riot in O’Connell Street.

We’re told by some that the group only wants to remind the
people of the Irish Republic of the dreadful suffering
inflicted on innocent Protestants by the IRA. Doubtless
there are some people within the organisation who have a
genuine desire to let the world know of what happened to
their loved ones, but as our front page story today on Jim
Dixon shows, the group has some very unsavoury people in
senior positions.

It was bad enough that Willie Frazer refused to guarantee
that a picture of loyalist mass murderer Robert McConnell –
said to be responsible for the Dublin/Monagahan bombs –
would not be carried at the march. It was bad enough to
read of some of the utterings of Mr Frazer in the past,
including his regard for Billy Wright and his belief that
no loyalist paramilitary should ever have seen the inside
of a prison. But the manic outpourings of Mr Dixon
underscore the reality that the group contains some people
with reactionary and extreme loyalist views.

Today, Dublin is a cosmopolitan and multi-racial society
which is home to many thousands of people from ethnic
backgrounds who supply the extra labour needed to power the
country’s economic growth. Of the entry of black people
into Ireland, Mr Dixon said yesterday: “It’s wrong that
blacks are coming to Northern Ireland. I go along with what
Enoch Powell said. I couldn’t care less if people call me a
racist. I couldn’t care less what they think.” Of the
disgusting apartheid regime in South Africa, Mr Dixon said:
“Under apartheid the black man was better paid, they had
better jobs, better everything. He was treated better than
anywhere else in the world.”

If Love Ulster is serious about this second march it should
require Mr Dixon to apologise for his outrageous remarks.


Publicans And Taxi-Drivers To Be Barred From Garda Reserve

08:03 Monday March 6th 2006

Publicans and taxi drivers are reportedly among a list of
professions that will be barred from joining the proposed
garda reserve.

Reports this morning said the two were among a wide-ranging
list of professions that Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy
wanted barred from the 4,000-strong reserve.

Others on the list include nightclub owners, bookmakers,
solicitors, auctioneers, court staff, private detectives,
security guards and active members of political parties.

The holders of any licence issued by the courts, the
Revenue Commissioners or the Gardai will also be excluded.



McAleese Aide Seeks Injunction Over Inquiry

A long-serving aide of President Mary McAleese is to seek
an injunction in the High Court today to halt a civil
service disciplinary investigation.

Protocol officer and speech writer for the President
Bridget Conway is attempting to secure an injunction to
stop the investigation, claiming it is bogus.

In a legal submission to the court in February, Ms Conway
alleged the investigation was instigated as a direct result
of her close working relationship with President McAleese.

She said the investigation was also part of moves to have
her removed from her role at Áras an Úachtaráin.

Relationships with her superiors in the Office of the
President turned sour after Mrs McAleese hugged her on her
return from funerals of the Omagh bomb victims in 1998, Ms
Conway maintains.

She has alleged bullying, plotting and resentment of the
relationship was rife at the Áras. The case is due for
hearing in front of Mr Justice Liam McKechnie.

© The Irish Times/


Facing The Last Of The Bogmen

By Donal Hickey

IT WON’T BE too long now before a few remaining survivors
of that almost extinct species - bogmen - will be making
their annual trek to the wind-blown peatlands.

But, like the bogmen, the bogs are also disappearing - to
the extent that a recent international report, which has
examined species diversity in several countries, has raised
concerns about threats to Irish peat bogs.

Nowadays, bogs are coming to be regarded more as refuges
for wildlife than sources of fuel - though some folk that
once cut turf are seriously thinking of sharpening their
sleans once again, as oil prices rise.

Our bogs are repositories of a variety of pretty rare flora
and fauna, but more than 80% of peatland habitat in Ireland
has been lost. Some of the peatland has been cut away, more
of it planted, some reclaimed for farming purposes, more of
it dug out to make way for roads and buildings and still
more drained by people that ought to know better - often
local authorities and State agencies.

Europe is doing poorly in safeguarding a range of wildlife,
from Iberian lynxes to Arctic lemmings, and has to do more
to reach a goal of halting a loss of species diversity by
2010, according to a report commissioned by the UN
Environment Programme and Council of Europe.

Lacking the spectacular range of the Amazon rainforest or
Africa’s plains, Europe often underrated its own diversity,
from polar bears to storks, from Alpine meadows to Irish
peat bogs, the report states.

Europe is faring badly on eight of nine tasks set in 2003
to halt a loss of species. Global warming, urbanisation and
pollution are all leading to extinctions. In Europe, an
area three times the size of Luxembourg was paved over with
roads, car parks, shopping centres and other buildings in
the 1990s alone.

The report gave Europe a green light on one measure -
parks. About 17% of Europe’s land area is in 18,000 nature
sites, whereas the global average is about 12%.

Many of our bogs are also becoming nature sites, a welcome
trend that’s likely to continue.

Memories of school days and the mystique of the Bog of
Allen in Co Kildare are evoked. A stick would be taken to
point out that bog on a map of Ireland on the classroom

We remember having huge bogs in places like Lullymore and
Littleton pointed out to us as we passed them on a first
train journey to Dublin.

It’s wholly appropriate that the Bog of Allen, so important
a part of our natural heritage, should become a centre for
research and a showcase for our bogs nationally. The Irish
Peatland Conservation Council (IPCC) has purchased a
building for a Peatland World Museum in the middle of bog.
Here, in surrounding acres, wetland habitats are being
developed for threatened species, on water, fen, marsh and
raised bog.

The Bog of Allen began to form 12,000 years ago after the
last Ice Age. The early Stone Age people of Offaly and
Kildare knew the Bog of Allen as a much wetter place than
it is today.

It went through different stages, including lake and fen
and eventually after about 4,000 years, became an extensive
raised bog, spreading over 48 kilometres from Clane, in Co
Kildare, to Tullamore in Co Offaly.

Most of the Bog of Allen has been cut away for fuel and
agricultural reclamation. Certain areas of relatively
undamaged raised bog remain and the IPCC has ongoing
surveys to identify areas containing natural treasures.

Ireland, according to the IPCC, has around 50% of the
blanket bogs of conservation importance remaining in the
north Atlantic region, underlining the necessity of
protecting the peatlands. The EU has introduced a range of
legislation that will help in this regard, including the
Birds Directive, Habitats Directive and various Agri-
Environmental Schemes.

Meanwhile, Jeff McNeely, chief scientist at the World
Conservation Union, says Europe is doing better than most
continents in protecting diversity, but is not yet doing

Slowing the arrival of invasive species, such as crop-
eating beetles or seeds from other parts of the world, is
becoming harder with the expansion of the EU to 25 nations
from 15.

“The border controls that used to be available are now only
at the port of entry,” Mr McNeely says.


By Proclamation All San Franciscans Become Irish March 13

Legendary Mary Callahan lilts the high notes
Legendary Charlotte Schulz honored sans cliché

By Pat Murphy
March 5, 2006

All San Franciscans become officially Irish for a week
beginning Friday in a tradition begun 154 years ago.

It was shortly after the City was incorporated that the
large Irish immigrant community of San Francisco held its
first St. Patrick's Day Parade, a tradition unbroken
through the generations.

Regardless of age, natives and immigrants turned out last
week for wearing of the Green as the Irish Tricolor
unfurled anew on the Mayor's Balcony of San Francisco City

Parade Grand Marshall Bob Baker joined hands with
qualifying Irish blood descendant Mayor Gavin Newsom to
hoist Green, White and Orange reminder it's time to once
again to sprout the Shamrocks.

Just as quickly, Newsom sounded Mayoral Proclamation that
'tis officially grand for all to be Irish March 10 through
March 17.

March 17 marks the religious Feast Day of St. Patrick, the
first Archbishop of Ireland, commemorating the day Roman
Catholic faithful hold that he entered the fullness of

Scant months ago Newsom, a practicing Roman Catholic, led a
City delegation to Sister City Cork with Irish full bred
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

Shortly thereafter, County Cork descendant Elsbernd begged
off from San Francisco reception for England's Prince
Charles, eyes twinkling that wedding preparations took all
of the District 4 supervisor's time, what with custom
fittings required for groom Elsbernd's Irish Kilt.

County Cork immigrants and descendents are highly visible
at any San Francisco Irish gathering and this year's
Tricolor raising was no exception.

Legendary former San Francisco Treasurer Mary Callahan
returned to City Hall for songful ode to Cork, all things
Erinacht, and to throw a maith an fear (good man) nod to
the mayor.

Surpise of the event came to Charlotte Schulz who
unexpectedly received uncliched and broadly agreed

Mary Dunleavy, past president of the Irish Societies of San
Francisco, interrupted the mirth to spotlight community
gratitude for Schulz' oft taken for granted service to the
City she loves.

A longtime philanthropist, board member of many
foundations, and volunteer San Francisco Chief of Protocol,
Schulz has been described as helping without fingerprints.

"Charlotte is everywhere helping and she doesn't leave
prints," remarked publicist Terry Sellards who worked with
Schulz on the 1985 Golden Gate Bridge 50th Anniversary

Her work ethic goes beyond planning, directing and writing
checks, a veteran City Hall reporter observed.

"I've always had the greatest respect for Charlotte since
the first time I saw her," San Francisco Chronicle staff
writer Rachel Gordon told the Sentinel.

"The first time I met her she was at an event and Charlotte
was putting out chairs on the floor. I thought, 'Wow,
that's a really good rich person -- the kind that you can
really like.'"

Gordon has held the mayor's beat for the Chronicle through
three administrations.

While American exuberance for St. Patrick's Day can startle
the native Irish, one community leader applauded the
opportunity to celebrate Irish culture.

"The St. Patrick's Day Parade is a day of joyful
celebration and a treasured expression of culture and
heritage in our language, literature, games, poetry, music,
and dance," said Pilar Barton of Irish Northern Aid after
the event.

Irish Northern Aid (INA) raises funds to help support
families of imprisoned Irish political prisoners.

Local INA parade contingent will recall the 90th
anniversary of the Easter Uprising, the 25th anniversary of
the H-Block Hunger Strike, and honor the Rossport Five, INA
President Seamus Collins told the Sentinel.

"In honoring those brave men and women who gave their lives
for future generations, we chose to honor the Rossport Five
who are present day examples of courage," Colins explained.

"These give men and their communities are standing up to
Shell Oil and the Irish government and saying, 'The lives
of our families and the well being of our beautiful country
is not up for sale to the highest bidder.'"

The Rossport Five, residents of County Mayo, are honorary
grand marshals of this year's parade.

"This is an appropriate time to raise awareness regarding
the continuing struggle in Ireland for reunification and
independence," Collins said.



Minister For Tourism Refused Admission To Ryanair Flight

06/03/2006 - 09:56:50

Minister for Tourism John O'Donoghue was reportedly refused
permission to board a Ryanair flight at Cork Airport

Reports this morning said the minister was due to fly to
Dublin yesterday morning to record an interview with a
television show, but had failed to bring any picture
identification with him..

As a result, he was refused admission to the Ryanair flight
under the airline's policy of not carrying any passengers
who cannot produce a passport, driving licence or national
identity card.

This morning's reports said officials at Cork Airport had
offered to mediate between the minister and the airline,
but Ryanair insisted that it would not be making any
exceptions to its policy.


Flann O'Brien, One Of Ireland's More Neglected Literary Lions

Forty years after the death of one of Ireland's most
eccentric literary stars, thousands of Americans are
rushing out to buy his work. Why? because one of his books
appeared on a hit television drama series. david mckittrick

06 March 2006

Flann O'Brien, one of Ireland's more neglected literary
lions, would undoubtedly have been both bemused and amused
by the revival of interest in his works sparked by, of all
things, the American television drama Lost. O'Brien, who
was born in Strabane in October 1911, imagined and created
many fantastic things in his writing career, but the idea
that television should suddenly cause such a rush on his
book would surely have caused him to blink in disbelief.

Yet the Lost series has such a large and mesmerised
following that even a fleeting glimpse of his novel The
Third Policeman was enough to send thousands of American
viewers hurrying to the bookshops.

Although its cover was shown on-screen for just one second,
the book sold 15,000 copies after a scriptwriter hinted
that it had been chosen "very specifically for a reason".

But fans anxious to unravel the mysteries of Lost will find
no easy answers in O'Brien's book since it is, in one
reviewer's words, "a fusion of the real, the fantastic and
the legendary". Another reader has it as a "brilliant comic
novel about the nature of time, death and existence".
Decades of debate among O'Brien devotees have failed to pin
down quite what the book is all about.

It is about hell, involving a murder and a policeman
fixated on the possibility of molecular transference
between a bicycle and its habitual rider, so that each
partially becomes the other. The narrator, who is one of
the murderers, is himself blown up and killed in the first
chapter. But, not realising this, he narrates on. The
reader, meanwhile, is made aware that something has
happened, but is not told that the narrator is dead.

There are, plainly, no easy answers in this book though at
least it does not start, as another O'Brien novel does,
with three separate openings. As this suggests, those
venturing into the world of Flann O'Brien will find it
funnier than that of Lost but, if anything, even more
bizarre, absurd and baffling.

Though much of the literary world would not agree, quite a
few in Ireland speak of him in the same breath as Joyce and
Beckett. Graham Greene and Dylan Thomas were among his
admirers, while a small but ardent cult following means the
world of letters has never forgotten him since he died in
1966, at the age of 54. The story of his life is an
extraordinary tragi-comic tale: comic in that the few books
he produced are ranked by some as among the most brilliant
humour ever written; tragic in that his legendary heavy
drinking may well have shortened his life.

Many of those who knew him were utterly fascinated by him.
"He was pugnacious and obnoxious but he was wonderful,"
Anthony Cronin, who wrote his biography, No Laughing
Matter, says. "There is a sense in which he was genius or
bust. There was a quality of extraordinary originality and
brilliance about him."

Another Irish author, Tony Gray, described him in his book
on Irish journalism as "a small, shy, taciturn character
with teeth like a rabbit and a greasy felt hat". He added
that he was "by far the angriest man I ever met". Gray, who
worked with O'Brien at The Irish Times, summed him up as
"not one character but many, all of them angry, intolerant,
irascible, extremely critical of the Establishment,
violently opposed to pretension in any shape or form, and
all very, very funny".

The story of how O'Brien came to write a column for The
Irish Times is as peculiar and outlandish as anything in
his writings. A brilliant Gaelic and classical scholar, he
started his own college magazine, called Blather,
announcing in its first issue: "Blather has no principles,
no honour, no shame. We are an arrogant and a depraved body
of men, as proud as bantams and as vain as peacocks."

As a Dublin civil servant during the Second World War,
O'Brien was strictly forbidden to express his opinions
publicly, and so resorted to pen names instead of his own
name, Brian O'Nolan. He carried this practice to extremes,
writing spurious letters to The Irish Times, sometimes in
the names of actual people: then he would write follow-up
letters denouncing his own correspondence.

He did this so well that the editor of The Irish Times, R M
"Bertie" Smyllie, became greatly worried that the letter
columns were being hijacked with bogus correspondence.

Eventually Smyllie, who was himself something of a
character, announced: "I have decided to employ O'Nolan as
a columnist. If we pay the bugger to contribute to this
shuddering newspaper, he will probably no longer feel
tempted to contribute gratis, under various pseudonyms, to
the correspondence columns."

The result was a stream of columns, written under the name
of Myles na Gopaleen, which O'Brien filled with the most
idiosyncratic humour which was often combined with
lacerating satire. The paper gave him an extraordinary
degree of licence, even allowing him to write parodies of
its own leading articles on the same page. With collections
still in print, the columns have given him a double
reputation among admirers as an author and journalist.

His best-known books, The Third Policeman and At Swim-Two-
Birds, meanwhile have bizarre histories of their own. The
latter, written while he was at university, was well
received but got less attention than might have been

First, it was rather overshadowed by the outbreak of the
Second World War and, second, most of the copies were
destroyed during the Blitz: it was a scenario, some said,
worthy of O'Brien himself.

The Third Policeman had an even more difficult genesis:
O'Brien was so crushed at its rejection by a London
publisher that he hid it away, claiming to his friends that
it had been lost. He produced the typically surreal
explanation that the manuscript had been placed in the boot
of a car and, during a drive round Ireland, had blown away,
page by page. It was only after his death that the text was
retrieved and published, to some acclaim.

He had two personal forms of escape from reality, his
writing and alcohol. He took to drink while at college and
throughout his life drank with steady dedication throughout
the day, beginning in the morning. He came up with some
brilliant ideas, a friend recalled, "in the brief interval
between the time when his hangover was so insufferable that
he couldn't bear to talk to anybody at all, and the time
when the 'cure' (ie more drink) began to take effect."

He drank so much, in fact, that he was generally in bed by
early evening.

The Ireland of the 1940s and 1950s is known as a dull
literary period when a number of writers emigrated,
complaining about a suffocating atmosphere and a lack of
artistic appreciation and freedom. But The Irish Times gave
O'Brien a quite astonishing amount of licence to write
literally thousands of columns poking fun at many
politicians, government policies and the sacred cows of the

He also benefited from another huge element of licence in
his day-job in the famously dull Dublin civil service. He
was not supposed to voice any public opinions; nor was he
supposed to drink himself senseless during the working day.
But he had understanding and sympathetic civil service
superiors who for years shielded him from disgruntled
government ministers. In the end, though, he wrote one
political attack too many, and was eased out of his job.

The hurtful rejection of his book, together with his
general view of the human condition, did nothing to change
his self-destructive drinking habits, described by Tony
Gray as "a highly expensive method of killing oneself".
Anthony Cronin concurs, believing that drink shortened his
life. Both Gray and Cronin think he would have benefited
from more recognition. According to Cronin: "There was an
element of non-fulfillment about him, an element of
unfulfilled promise."

So what would O'Brien have made of Lost? Cronin guesses:
"He would claim he was interested in the money aspect of
it, and he would say it was of no great importance."


Voice Of The Gael Echoes In Stormont

By Robert McMillen

The voice of the Gael echoed through the halls of Stormont
on Saturday as the annual Glor na nGael awards were

The awards, given for the community which best promotes the
Irish language, were presented by the Republic’s minister
for community, rural and Gaeltacht affairs, Eamon O Cuiv.

There were probably more Gaels per square inch in
Parliament buildings than anywhere else in Ireland as
gaeilgeoiri from places as far apart as Kerry, Derry and
Frankfurt gathered to receive cash awards and trophies.

This year the Glor na nGael prize fund has gone up from
e96,000 (£67,000) to e120,000 (£82,000).

Also up was the number of committees entering the
competition, 20 from 17 counties throughout the country.

Speaking under the statue of Lord Craigavon, Mr O Cuiv, who
is Eamon De Valera’s grandson, said being in Stormont was a
reflection of the growth of Glor na nGael, an organisation
first mooted by the late Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich.

Mr O Cuiv paid particular tribute to the Glor committee
from Frankfurt in Germany.

“It is striking the number of groups across the globe who
are showing an interest in the Irish language,” he said.

“There are 50 universities throughout the world which teach
Irish. That’s amazing and something which could inspire
people back home to reawaken their interest in Irish.”

Joe McDonagh, outgoing chief executive of he awards’ main
funder, Foras na Gaeilge, said the aim was to “recognise
the committees throughout Ireland who worked so diligently
throughout the year developing their communities and the
Irish language within those communities.”

“Many of the groups who entered the competition were groups
of learners there was a great diversity in the groups who
entered the competition, coming as they did from cities,
towns and rural areas, from Gaeltacht and former Gaeltacht
areas, from north and south, and from all over the world,”
he said.

The top prize of of e40,000 (£27,000) went to the south
Belfast school and cultural centre An Droichead, on the
Ormeau Road.

“An Droichead provided an example of how best to approach
and implement positive language planning,” Mr McDonagh

On behalf of An Droichead, Pilib O Ruanai was presented
with a new Glor na nGael trophy which represents the growth
of the Irish language.

“This is the highlight of the struggle we have gone through
throughout the years, pupils, staff, parents and voluntary
workers,” he said.

“We are proud to have people of all religions and none on
our committee.”

“The trophy is a testament to the spirit of those people
who have strived to promote the Irish language and culture
in south and east Belfast.

“We never ever thought we were beaten, even in the worst of


Irish Film Board Financed Short Film SIX SHOOTER Wins
OSCAR® For Best Live Action Short


The Irish short film SIX SHOOTER, directed by renowned
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh and funded by the Irish
Film Board and Film Four Lab has won the Oscar® for Best
Live Action Short Film.

An imaginative black comedy, SIX SHOOTER boasts an
impressive cast of Irish talent and stars Brendan Gleeson
(STUDS, BREAKFAST ON PLUTO) in the lead role and Ruaidhri
ACTORS, THE WAR ZONE) in supporting roles. The film was
shot on location in Wicklow, Waterford and Rosslare.

“It’s excellent to see a new filmmaker like this winning a
top award – with a film that is really fresh and arresting,
rather than something more traditional. It’s a tribute to
the Irish government for their enlightened support of our
film industry. Congratulations to Martin and all involved.”
said Simon Perry, CEO Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish
Film Board.

The LA Times described SIX SHOOTER as ‘original’ and
‘daring’ and the film has been released by Shorts
International and Magnolia Pictures in cinemas across the
UK and the US. SIX SHOOTER will also soon be available to
purchase from i-Tunes.

SIX SHOOTER was produced by Missing in Action Films, Funny
Farm Film & Television and Fantastic Films and co-financed
by the Irish Film Board, Ireland’s national screen agency
and Film Four Lab, the experimental division of Film Four
dedicated to working with first time writers and directors.
SIX SHOOTER is the first collaboration between BSE/IFB and
Film Four Lab with the aim of developing new film talent.

McDonagh, who won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best
New Play for the second year running, for his play ‘The
Pillow Man’, first gained recognition with the multi-award
winning ‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’. McDonagh’s work has been
sold to over 40 countries and has been translated into over
28 languages, gracing stages from Broadway to Sydney to the
West End. SIX-SHOOTER is McDonagh’s first transition into

Irish producer John McDonnell’s credits include the
upcoming Irish film 48 ANGELS and the multi-award winning
SONG FOR A RAGGY BOY. Fantastic Films was set up in 2000 to
produce quality film and television projects by John and
Anne Marie Mc Donnell. Producers Kenton Allen and Mia Bays
have extensive experience in film and television production
and distribution. Allen is a veteran of comedy production
whose credits include BAFTA award-winning THE ROYLE FAMILY
and Bays has worked in film distribution for over 13 years,
before setting up her own production company Missing in
Action Films.

Further Information

For more information contact: Louise Ryan, Bord Scannán na
hÉireann/the Irish Film Board Tel: +353 86 329 7819 Email:


Blood Simple

Martin McDonagh’s “Lieutenant of Inishmore.”

Issue of 2006-03-13
Posted 2006-03-06

The grotesque is a formidable literary strategy. Flannery
O’Connor explained it this way: ““To the hard of hearing
you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and
startling figures.” The louts and lunatics who inhabit
Martin McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” (which is
having its American première at the Atlantic Theatre
Company, under the firm-handed direction of Wilson Milam)
are just such gruesome and unforgettable figures; as all
gargoyles do, they inspire an almost childish terror and
elation in the audience. Like McDonagh’s earlier, similarly
gleeful and macabre yarns—“The Beauty Queen of Leenane,”
“The Cripple of Inishmaan,” and “The Lonesome West”—“The
Lieutenant of Inishmore” is a sort of cautionary fairy tale
for our toxic times. In its horror and hilarity, it works
as an act of both revenge and repair, turning the tables on
grief and goonery, and forcing the audience to think about
the unthinkable.

McDonagh sets his ghoulish satire in 1993, during the
Troubles—the euphemism for Northern Ireland’s sectarian
strife—in an Aran Island cottage as threadbare as the
surrounding terrain is inhospitable. The curtain comes up
on two men—Donny (Peter Gerety), the middle-aged owner of
the house, and a ponytailed teen-ager called Davey
(Domhnall Gleeson)—discussing a cat that is lying on the
kitchen table with half of its head missing. “Do you think
he’s dead, Donny?” is the play’s exquisitely dopey opening
line. We are clearly in the world of what psychiatrists
call “negative hallucination,” where people can’t see
what’s right under their noses. We are also in the world of
Grand Guignol. Donny picks up the limp cat—Wee Thomas, as
he’s called—and, according to the stage directions, “bits
of its brain plop out.” “He might be in a coma,” Davey
says. “Would we ring the vet?” Unfortunately, the person
they really have to ring is Donny’s son, the infamous
terrorist Padraic (David Wilmot), who is Wee Thomas’s
loving owner.

Padraic’s reputation for carnage precedes him: he’s so
bloodthirsty that even the I.R.A. has refused him. “Sure,
Padraic would kill you for sweating near him, let alone
this,” Davey says, dropping to his knees. McDonagh’s two
panic-stricken clowns grasp at any excuse to placate their
likely executioner. Donny, on whose watch Padraic’s cat has
apparently died, needs an alibi; Davey, whose only crime
was to retrieve the wounded animal, is blackmailed into a
false confession. “If you admit it was you knocked poor
Thomas down, Davey, I won’t tell him,” Donny says. “If you
carry on that it wasn’t, then I will.” After Davey agrees
to say that he killed the cat, Donny asks, “How?” “However
you fecking want, sure!” Davey says. “I hit him with me
bike, then I banged him with a rake, then I jumped up and
down on the fecker.” “You hit him with your bike, uh-huh, I
suspected,” Donny says. The absurd repartee signals the
play’s psychotic climate; it also shows off McDonagh’s gift
for the mechanics of the farcical. (The fluting, camp
swagger of some of his lines echoes that of the British
playwright Joe Orton, whose dark-comic blueprint McDonagh
has adapted for his own subversive purposes.)

McDonagh’s tactic is to keep the stakes simple: he forces
his craven characters onto the horns of a clear-cut
dilemma, then, as they slowly try to wriggle free, he
stands back and relishes their panic and pain. He trusts
the depth of his characters’ folly and his own talent,
pushing both to the limit. More often than not, he strikes
funny. For instance, once Donny and Davey reach Padraic—he
gets the news about his “sick” cat on his cell phone as
he’s about to remove the nipple of a drug dealer who has
been hung upside down from the ceiling—they have to get
their story straight; they also have to get a substitute
black cat. Inevitably, for two such dimwits, this is an
almost insurmountable problem. Finding no black cat on the
island, Davey grabs the orange tabby that belongs to his
sister Mairead (Kerry Condon)—an act of sibling revenge on
the trigger-happy air-gun-toting teen-age termagant, who,
in a previous scene, took potshots at him and his bike. The
stand-in cat’s marmalade tail waves from the bag that Davey
and Donny are holding it in as they drunkenly apply black
shoe polish to its fur.

While Padraic is on his way home to nurse the animal who,
according to his father, has been “his only friend for
fifteen year,” we learn that Wee Thomas was actually
whacked as political payback by the local I.N.L.A.—three
thugs with Northern Irish accents, who took issue with
Padraic’s having tortured a drug dealer whose kickbacks
were subsidizing their mayhem. “What Padraic doesn’t
understand is it isn’t only for the schoolkids and the oul
fellas and the babes unborn we’re out freeing Ireland,”
Christy (Andrew Connolly), one of the thugs, whose eye
patch is a permanent reminder of Padraic’s anarchy, says.
“It’s for the junkies, the thieves, and drug pushers, too.”
McDonagh has a field day sending up terrorist principles.
Mairead, for instance, who is a kind of terrorist groupie,
has already tried to earn her paramilitary spurs by
shooting out the eyes of ten head of cattle, a daft gesture
intended to damage the meat trade. “Who would want to buy a
blind cow?” she says.

Act II isn’t so much a bloodbath as a bloodfest. Padraic
begins the spree by killing the substitute cat, whose
fraudulence he discovers the second he pets it. Declaring
himself a “tribunal,” Padraic then administers his own form
of rough justice. He chops off Davey’s ponytail, then binds
Davey’s and Donny’s hands and forces them onto their knees
for execution. But, before killing them, Padraic insists on
a confession. Donny claims to have an almost clean
conscience. “Trampling on your mam all them times’ll do for
a start-off,” Padraic suggests. That violence, his father
pleads, took place a decade ago. Padraic shoots back,
“There’s no statute of limitations on mam trampling.” Just
then, Christy and his sidekicks enter, pulling their guns
on Padraic. “Does the word ‘splinter group’ mean anything
to you?” Christy says, when Padraic demands an explanation.
“ ‘Splinter group’? ‘Splinter group’ ’s two words,” Padraic
says. The two kneeling figures are now faced with a phalanx
of five drawn guns pointed more or less in their direction;
the scene works as a sort of Montana Shift of mayhem. “It’s
incidents like this does put tourists off Ireland,” Donny

Soon, the cycle of violence kicks up to a whole new level
of scenic absurdity. When Christy and his henchmen cart
Padraic outside to kill him, they return bleeding from the
eyes and screaming. The sound of air-rifle shots offstage
tells us that Mairead has been at work. The men wedge
themselves against the walls, firing wildly through
bloodstained curtains at enemies they can’t see. As they
blast away, their targets—Mairead and Padraic—stroll past
them, falling in love with each other’s inner barbarian.

McDonagh bravely pushes ugliness to the extreme. As the
river of blood becomes a sea, dripping down over the lip of
the stage, Donny and Davey slowly saw up dead bodies in
order to dispose of them. I counted three severed heads,
six severed hands, and four amputated legs, one of which
Davey uses to prop up a head he’s laboring over. In
McDonagh’s universe, bloodletting is not a ritual of
regeneration but a sign of brutalization. Padraic and
Mairead separate from a passionate embrace to reveal that
Mairead’s yellow dress is badly stained. “You can’t go
walking the streets of Ulster dripping blood, now,” Padraic
says. “Sure, who would notice?” she responds, unwittingly
condemning her benumbed homeland.

When, at the end of the play, a live black cat—Wee Thomas
himself, back from his walkabout—hops through the window
and heads for his food, he seems a startling emissary from
the natural world, supremely indifferent to the madness and
murderous blight of Homo sapiens. Davey and Donny are
gobsmacked at the sight of him. All the loss of life, all
the woe they’ve endured has been for nothing. “Four dead
fellas, two dead cats . . . me hair style ruined!” Davey
says. He adds, “That cat deserves shooting!”


Amazon Moves 450 Jobs To Cork

Published on : Mon, 06 Mar 2006 06:05

By : James Rowe

LONDON - Online retailer has decided to shift
its European customer care call center from the UK to the
Irish Republic in order to benefit from the better language
skills available there. The new center will cater to
customers of the UK, French and German sites.

Amazon will shift about 450 jobs from Slough to Cork, "Cork
offers the ability to provide our customers with
multilingual support," said Jim Adkins, the director of the
European customer services at the online retailing giant.

The Financial Times reported that when Amazon needed to
beef up its workforce around Christmas time, it was unable
to fins part-time employees and hence decided to move the
center. "We have not made a final decision on what will
happen to our centre in Slough where 90 people work. But we
have had a problem in recruiting people with the language
skills," an Amazon spokesman said.

"We hope that some of the existing staff in Slough will
relocate to Cork. We know Slough is often the butt of
rather cruel jokes but this is unfair. We have confidence
in Slough and we are keeping our corporate headquarters in
the town."

Slough shot into prominence with the sitcom The Office, but
has always had this reputation for being a sleepy town.
However the loss of jobs must surely rankle since a
Eurobarometer poll conducted for the European Commission
last year had found that only 30% of UK citizens were able
to master a second language, while 41 percent or the Irish
Republic inhabitants were able to do so.


Which Irish Actor Named His Son After A Famous Welsh Poet?

All of these Irish actors were blessed with a son, but
which actor named his little one after a Welsh poet?

By Deirdre Byrne

In the March issue of American Baby magazine, we asked
readers which of these Irish actors named his son after a
famous Welsh poet: Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Colin
Farrell, or Liam Neeson?

County Meath, Ireland, native Pierce Brosnan bestowed the
name Dylan Thomas, after the famous poet of such works as
"Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night", on his son, born
in 1997. Brosnan, known for his role as James Bond in films
such as Die Another Day and The World is Not Enough, has
two other children, Sean William Walter and Paris Beckett,
with his wife Keely Shaye Smith. Brosnan also has two
adopted children, Christopher and Charlotte.

In addition to his acting abilities, Brosnan has his own
production company, Irish DreamTime, with producing partner
Beau St. Clair. To date, Irish DreamTime has produced five
films, including The Thomas Crown Affair, in which Brosnan

Brosnan and his wife are actively involved in numerous
conservation organizations, particularly in support of
marine mammals, and Brosnan is also an International
Ambassador for UNICEF.

Irish Actors, But No Writers' Names

Colin Farrell was born in Castleknock, Dublin, Ireland. He
made his North American debut in Tigerland, a movie about
recruits going through Advanced Infantry Training at Fort
Polk, Louisiana's infamous Tigerland, before being sent to
Vietnam. Last year his ex-girlfriend Kim Bordenave gave
birth to his son, whom they named James. Farrell can
currently be seen in The New World.

Gabriel Byrne of The Usual Suspects fame was born in
Dublin, Ireland. He has two children, Jack and Romey
Marion, with ex-wife Ellen Barkin. Byrne was nominated for
Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor for a revival of
Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten. In addition to
acting, Byrne has also established himself as a producer
and writer, and he does charitable work with the Croi-
Ireland Heart Disease Foundation. He can be seen soon in
The Namesake.

Liam Neeson, famous for his role as Oskar Schindler in
Schindler's List, which earned him nominations for the
Academy Award and Golden Globe, was born in Northern
Ireland. He has two children, Michael Antonio and Daniel
Jack, with wife Natasha Richardson. Neeson was given the
honor of being named an Officer of the Order of the British
Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in her 1999 New Year's Honours
List. His voice can currently be heard as Aslan in The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the

Originally published on, February 2006.

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