News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

March 26, 2006

Make It Work Or It's Plan B Time

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IN 03/26/06 Make It Work Or It’s On To ‘Plan B’ Parties Warned
JN 03/26/06 Irish Lobby Prepares Way For McCain Visit To New York
RT 03/26/06 Opposition To Proposed Immigration Laws In US
OF 03/26/06 Apology Demanded Over Undocumented Comments
JN 03/26/06 New Era Of Immigration Raises Issues Of The Past
IN 03/26/06 No Date Yet To Question Murphy
BG 03/26/06 The Irish Links Are Strong In Ending Basque Conflict
SB 03/26/06 FF Support Slumps Again
ST 03/26/06 McDowell Plans Tough Privacy Law
SB 03/26/06 McDowell: Quoting Controversy
SB 03/26/06 Opin: McDowell: Breaking All The Rules
SB 03/26/06 Opin: Why Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
SB 03/26/06 Opin: Pds May Regret McDowell’s Instinct For Stunts
SB 03/26/06 Opin: McDowell Must Learn Virtues Of Patience And Subtlety
SB 03/26/06 Opin: A Glimpse Of Ireland’s Future
SB 03/26/06 Opin: Racist Until Proven Innocent
IN 03/26/06 Opin: No Special Privileges
DD 03/26/06 Opin: Erin Go Braugh - Ireland Is A Wonderful Journey
IN 03/26/06 Divisions Over Connolly’s City Hall Memorial
IN 03/26/06 Parties Unite In Battle To Preserve Boyne Site
IN 03/26/06 Republic ‘Belonged In Empire’ Debate


Make It Work Or It’s On To ‘Plan B’ Parties Warned

By William Graham Political Correspondent

The British and Irish governments will move to ‘Plan B’ by
the end of this year and “jointly manage” Northern Ireland
under an intergovernmental body if a recalled Stormont
assembly fails to work.

The Irish News understands that this is now a serious
political pressure point which will be applied, although
only under circumstances where recalls of the assembly
prove unsuccessful.

Clearly ‘Plan A’ is the preferred option – getting the
assembly back up and fully operating – and both governments
are hoping to make progress.

It is believed Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern will visit Armagh on April 6 to make an
announcement about recalling the assembly – possibly in
June for a six or seven-week period.

After this time it would go into summer recess until the
end of September and then reconvene.

The autumn assembly would then be put to the test, after a
relatively short period, of trying to move to executive
power-sharing devolution.

But the warning signs are that if this experiment ends
without an executive, the assembly would be shut down.

According to political sources, it would then mean the
implementation of Plan B and the “joint management” of the
Northern Ireland situation.

This would probably involve the setting up of an inter-
governmental body where Irish and British ministers would
cooperate on a range of issues.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair held talks in Brussels yesterday to
discuss their plan for recalling the assembly before the
summer marching season.

Mr Ahern said the two governments wanted to bring all the
parties with them, bridging the gap.

He also said Northern Ireland politicians must take
responsibility and do the job they have been elected to and
are paid for.

In what was seen as an important statement yesterday, DUP
deputy leader Peter Robinson said he was “a staunch
devolutionist”, that Northern Ireland was best administered
by local people, and that he wanted to see progress.

There are some hints in the statement that perhaps
political attitudes are changing inside the DUP.

Mr Robinson said the republican movement has not made a
full transition, but entered the caveat that “steps have
been taken”.

“Substantial decommissioning has taken place. There has
been a substantial change in levels of terrorist activity,
but the road has not been completed,” he said.

“It remains evident that Sinn Fein/IRA continues to enjoy
the proceeds of a huge criminal empire.”

The DUP currently refuses to go into an executive with Sinn
Fein, and Mr Robinson said he believes no quick-fix is
available to the government.

The party favours as a first step some shadow form of
assembly with “a meaningful role”.

Mr Robinson said he believed it was a necessity “for the
IRA to clean up its act, to cease criminal and paramilitary
activities” and indicated it has “started a move in that

“No-one knows how long it will take, and it is necessary
for it to reach the end of that road,” he said.

“It is important at this stage that the government satisfy
themselves that progress is being made, but they must hold
out until we have reached the end of that road.”


Irish Lobby Prepares Way For McCain Visit To New York

By Gerald McKinstry
The Journal News
(Original Publication: March 26, 2006)

NYACK — Immigration activists are hoping to fashion more
awareness before a former presidential candidate comes to
the area next week.

Matt Reilly, Fergal Hayes and Paul Keane, are among many
residents in the Lower Hudson Valley area who are asking
people to support the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform's
efforts to change immigration laws. To help do that, they
plan to attend the community meeting wearing the group's
white and green T-shirt that says ""

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform is sponsoring a town
hall-style meeting with U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican
from Arizona, who will be in the area to discuss a reform
bill that he co-sponsored with Sen. Edward Kennedy, a
Massachusetts Democrat.

The forum will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday at St.
Barnabas High School auditorium, 425 E. 240th St., in the
Bronx near the Yonkers border.

"I think people who are undocumented need to have a voice,"
said Hayes, a Nanuet man who owns O'Malley's Pub in Nyack
with Keane. "I'd like to see this bill passed."

O'Malley's is one of several locations in the tri-state
area selling the $10 shirt for the Irish lobby group.
Proceeds go toward its efforts to get this law passed.

Kelly Fincham, executive director of the group, said the
movement has grown since its first January meeting at Rory
Dolans in Yonkers.

"In less than three months, we've gone around the country,
and we're bringing back Sen. McCain," Fincham said Friday.
"This really is an opportunity for people to come out and
ask the chief architect questions about this legislation."

The Town Hall meeting is one of several means of raising
awareness for this issue. Earlier this month, close to
3,000 people convened on the nation's capital to lobby
congressional leaders on this bill.

"It's going very well, but we still need to keep the push
on," said Reilly, a resident of Blauvelt, who was one of
about 50 people from Rockland to go to Washington, D.C.
"This McCain-Kennedy bill is a bill worth fighting for."

There are no official statistics on the number of illegal
immigrants in the United States, but estimates range from 6
million to 11 million. It is estimated that 40,000 to
50,000 are from Ireland in the country.

Although the bill affects all immigrants, the Irish
community has been very vocal.

"On this particular bill, the Irish are setting the pace,"
Reilly said.

If it's passed, the bill would enable many undocumented
workers to register with the Department of Homeland
Security, pay a $2,000 fine and be eligible for a work

A person would then have to commit to working for six
years, pay taxes —including back taxes — and then would be
eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Other stipulations in the bill propose a temporary worker
program, increased border security and penalties for hiring
illegal aliens. It would also require foreign governments
to help control the migration of people to the U.S.

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

Local immigration advocates prefer the Kennedy-McCain bill
because it allows undocumented immigrants who qualify to
eventually get a green card.

"The Kennedy-McCain bill is the only bill that will give
them a path toward a green card," Fincham said. "It would
fix a broken immigration system."

Where to shop

Shirts are available for $15 online at or for $10 at some local businesses.
The online fee includes shipping.

61 E. Central Ave.
Pearl River, NY 10965

Harbour House
457 Piermont Ave.
Piermont, NY 10968

Heritage Bar & Restaurant
960 McLean Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10704

Horse & Jockey
33 W. Central Ave.
Pearl River, NY 10965

Murty's Publick House
29 W. Central Ave.
Pearl River, NY 10965

O'Malley's of Nyack
108 Main St.
Nyack, NY 10960
845 727-0514


Opposition To Proposed Immigration Laws In US

26 March 2006 12:29

UP to 500,000 people have taken part in a march in
opposition to plans to toughen US laws against illegal

The organisers of the protest in Los Angeles said they
wanted a system that is humane and not racist.

Under the proposed legislation, already approved by the
House of Representatives, all undocumented immigrants would
be considered criminals.

The law would require all employers to verify the
immigration status of their employees and allow for the
construction of a wall along much of the US-Mexico border.

An estimated 12 million undocumented migrants currently
account for 24% of all farm workers, 17% of cleaners and
14% of construction workers in the US.

Similar rallies have been held in other US cities. In
Chicago, police estimate that 100,000 gathered to show
their opposition to the proposed legislation earlier this


Apology Demanded From Journalist Over Undocumented Comments

Mar 25, 5:04 pm

An Irish journalist has aroused anger with an article in
which she accuses Irish immigrants of being tax-evading,
IRA- and KKK-supporting 'rats'.

Eilish O'Hanlon's article was published in the Sunday
Independent on 19 March.

The Irish Pastoral Center in Quincy, Massachusetts has
called for an apology from the newspaper.

The Center's Executive Director Sr. Marguerite Kelly said
her remarks were downright wreckless and full of

Bundoran town Cllr Michael McMahon has just returned from
visiting undocumented Irish in the States.

Speaking on Ocean Current this morning, he demanded an


New Era Of Immigration Raises Issues Of The Past

By Leah Rae And Marcela Rojas
The Journal News
(Original Publication: March 26, 2006)

New immigrants aren't learning English, union officials and
activists told a congressional panel. They send all their
earnings home and refuse to become Americans.

"They depreciate property and drive other people out," said
Frank Hawley, a union president. "They do not become
citizens; they do not become interested except as to the
amount of money they earn."

The year was 1909. The new arrivals were coming by
steamship from Italy, Russia, Greece, Austria-Hungary and
elsewhere in Eastern Europe. At the time, there were no
caps on immigration from Europe, and the numbers of people
coming through Ellis Island had reached their peak. The
main restriction was a ban on Chinese laborers. The
Chinese, it was thought, could never assimilate.

America's immigration story is far more complex than the
images of huddled masses finding safe harbor at Ellis
Island. For at least 100 years, the issue has been fraught
with controversy — combining economic concerns, national
security, racial resentments and clashes of culture.
Immigration has been a continual tug-of-war, and it's being
played out bitterly right now in places like Mamaroneck,
Brewster and Spring Valley.

"There are some differences with respect to the immigrants
of the past and those of today," said Richard Alba, a
sociology professor at Albany University, SUNY, who has
written about assimilation. "But they are not as profound
as people make it out to be."

Congress is in the throes of another debate over
immigration reform, confronting some age-old issues along
with a thorny modern question: what to do about the
undocumented population, estimated at 12 million. The
debate often brings up references to immigrant ancestors —
most recently from Irish-American Sens. Edward Kennedy and
John McCain, who are pushing a reform bill with a
legalization plan for the undocumented. There is a constant
refrain from suburban residents angered over the presence
of undocumented day laborers: "When my grandfather came
here, he played by the rules."

But the rules have changed.

"All these ancestors of mine, when they arrived here, there
weren't restrictions on them as there are now," said Jerry
Coleman, a New Castle resident whose great-grandfather came
from Ireland in 1854. "Who's to say whether they would have
been able to come themselves if there had been
restrictions? But I'm glad they did, because here I am."

The first major immigration law, a policy that lasted from
1882 until the 1940s, was the exclusion of Chinese
laborers. Because of pressure from labor unions and
outright racism, only merchants, their families, students
and diplomats were allowed in from China.

Not until the 1920s did the U.S. limit immigration from
Europe or require visas. Quotas then were designed to curb
immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, while giving
British and German citizens a generous welcome.

The Mexican border was largely unguarded until the 1920s,
when the Border Patrol was created. Only in the 1960s were
numerical limits extended to Mexico and other Western
Hemisphere nations.

Immigration law has evolved since then into a complex
system of rules. At its core, the system is designed to
reunite family members, attract certain professionals and
accept those suffering persecution. But the process has
evolved into a bewildering bureaucracy.

"It's the most bizarre body of law that exists," said
Vanessa Merton, a Pace University law professor. "It makes
the Internal Revenue Code look like 'Dick and Jane and
Spot.' "

Most immigration is a result of one family member's
sponsoring another. The waiting times vary widely,
depending on the type of relative and the country of
origin. U.S. citizens trying to bring a brother or sister
to the United States, for example, have been waiting since
at least November 1994 — longer in four countries where the
demand is greater.

When Carla Brambila became a citizen at a ceremony in White
Plains on Wednesday, she thought of others who were waiting
for the same privilege.

"They have to give people opportunities," said Brambila,
26, a Port Chester resident who was born in Mexico and
sponsored for U.S. residency by her stepfather. With more
legal avenues, she said, there won't be so many people
risking their lives crossing the desert or the Rio Grande.

The concept of the "illegal alien" dates to the immigration
laws passed in 1921 and 1924, said Mae Ngai, an associate
history professor at the University of Chicago.

The federal government opened the Ellis Island Immigration
Station in 1892. European migration was mounting as a
result of overpopulation, land shortage and unemployment.
Initially, the rules for the arriving ship passengers were
based not on documentation but on health and financial
circumstances. The laws barred criminals, paupers,
prostitutes and the "feebleminded." Overseas, some
emigrants had to notify their governments of their
departure and be screened by the steamship companies.

"Before 1924, immigration required booking passage on a
ship, arriving and entering the country," said Jeffrey
Dosik, library technician at the National Parks Service on
Ellis Island.

Italians were the largest group to come through Ellis
Island, at 4 million. About half made a permanent home in
the United States, while others returned to Europe, said
Angela Danzi, a sociology professor at Farmingdale, SUNY.
Of the 25 million people who came to the United States from
the 1880s until World War I, only 1 percent were turned
away, Ngai said. At Ellis Island, 12 million passed through
and 250,000 were denied entry during its 62-year period,
Dosik said.

Things changed after the Dillingham Commission, appointed
by Congress in 1907, heard arguments about foreigners
failing to assimilate and taking jobs away from American

A union chaplain asserted that Italians were merely staying
long enough to make a sum of money and then return to
Europe. He said the country had wonderful assimilating
powers, but it "cannot assimilate the mass of lower Europe
and protect its high standard of morality and good order."
An elaborate report was drawn up on the different racial
and ethnic groups and their physical traits. A Columbia
University anthropology professor went so far as to measure
immigrants' heads. Arguments were made that an influx of
less-evolved races could pull down the rest of society.

The commission also heard from advocates who praised the
foreign workers for taking jobs that others refused, such
as highway construction and the building of the Ashokan

World War I brought a new emphasis on national sovereignty
and citizenship. In the 1920s, Congress adopted a set of
quotas designed to preserve the nation's ethnic makeup —
specifically, to curb immigration from Italy and Eastern
Europe. In 1929, the quotas gave Italy 5,802 slots, for
example, while Great Britain and Northern Ireland received
65,721 and Germany, 25,957.

A literacy test, forcing immigrants to prove they could
read and write in their own language, was imposed in 1917
with the same goal of curtailing Southern and Eastern
Europeans, Ngai said.

"Labor unrest, nativism and revolutions at large in Europe
and the Middle East all came together to convince Congress
to limit immigration," Dosik said.

That led to long waits for families like Giulio Cefaloni's,
which waited 20 years to come from Italy. Cefaloni, who now
lives in Mahopac, said his parents applied just after World
War II, and were finally admitted in 1966.

There were ways around the quotas. People with immediate
relatives in the United States could come under family
sponsorship. Others came through Canada before immigrating
to the United States. Europeans who had immigrated
informally before the quotas were allowed to register their
presence, Ngai said.

Some Chinese found a way around the Exclusion Act, buying
false documents and coming as the "paper sons" of Chinese
immigrants in the United States. Those who did manage to
immigrate were not allowed to become U.S. citizens. Not
until the 1940s, when China became a World War II ally, did
the United States repeal the Exclusion Act.

After the war, when the Communists took power, students
like John Tsai of Ossining were able to leave from Taiwan,
while others on the mainland were cut off from the United

"At that time, there were very few Chinese professionals,"
said Tsai, who came to study at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in 1959. There was no more Exclusion Act, but
the quota for all of China was 105. The number of
professionals from China would increase rapidly after 1965.

During the civil rights era, following pressure from
Italian-Americans and Jewish organizations, the quota
system was abolished. The new criteria were more equitable,
but they also limited immigration from Latin America for
the first time.

Lack of transportation infrastructure, from highways to
railroads, had kept migration from Latin America low, but
that changed about the same time. Travel became easier, and
today Latin American governments are not discouraging the
trend, because of the influx of money that is being sent
back home, Dosik said.

The past several decades brought a wave of immigrants
greater than that of the early 20th century, the largest
groups coming from Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean.

In 1986, the U.S. granted amnesty to almost 3 million
undocumented residents, and set penalties for hiring
illegal immigrants. Still, the undocumented population has
grown to 12 million people, including 7.2 million in the
work force, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

The center found that more immigrants came to the United
States illegally than through legal channels in 2003 and

"The fact that there are so many illegals here today is
because of restrictions," said Alba, of Albany University,
who co-wrote "Remaking the American Mainstream:
Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration."

The differences with today's immigrants include their
racial diversity, their range of professional backgrounds
and their legal status. Many encounter discrimination on
the basis of race and status. "We have many immigrants from
the Caribbean and Africa who are facing many hurdles," Alba

Haitians recently made a bid for a special temporary status
but did not succeed. Individuals have sought political
asylum, but Reginald Rouzard, an attorney in New City, said
such cases are difficult to prove.

"They don't believe that there's a political problem in
Haiti. They think it's more of an economic crisis that
we're going through," he said. One client of his was
refused asylum, in part because of the recent election in

"No person who sets foot in the United States — this is the
greatest country in the world — wants to go back to a Third
World country," he said. "No matter how the election goes,
it doesn't mean that things will change overnight."

The Senate is to begin discussions tomorrow on proposals
including the legalization program by McCain, R-Ariz., and
Kennedy, D-Mass. To obtain legal status, the undocumented
would pay $2,000 in fines, pay back taxes on employment and
go through criminal background checks.

Among those with immigrant ancestors, there are mixed
feelings on the question of undocumented status.

"No matter where you come from, whatever laws are in effect
at the time that you come, I think you should abide by
them," said Coleman, a retired U.S. customs agent.

It's clear to others that the dream of a better life in
America is stronger than any barrier that can be placed on
its borders.

"It's a two-way story. As long as there's opportunity here,
you cannot stop the illegal immigration," Tsai said.
"Still, they will come, until their living standards are
relatively equal."


LATE 1800s

1875: Congress, passing the first federal restriction on
immigration, bars prostitutes and convicts.

1882: Chinese Exclusion Act bans the immigration of Chinese
laborers. Congress also excludes convicts, lunatics, idiots
and people likely to become public charges.

1891: The federal government assumes supervision of

1892: Ellis Island Immigration Station opens in New York

EARLY 1900s

1907: The peak year at Ellis Island, when 1,004,756
immigrants arrived.

1917: Congress excludes new categories of people and
expands the grounds for deportation. A literacy test is
introduced for entrants.

1921: The Immigration Act limits European immigration to
about 358,000 a year, and assigns each country a quota
based on the existing U.S. ethnic makeup.

1924: The Johnson-Reed Act further limits immigration from
Southern and Eastern Europe.
The Oriental Exclusion Act bars immigration from Asia.
Federal law provides for the deportation of anyone arriving
from then on without a valid visa or without inspection.
Health inspections are performed abroad rather than at
Ellis Island.
Congress establishes an independent Border Patrol.

1930s: Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-
Americans are repatriated to Mexico in a Depression-era
effort to remove people from the California relief rolls.


1942: Mexico and the United States agree to the "bracero"
program, allowing for temporary workers in the U.S. The
program ends in 1964.

1943: Congress repeals the ban on immigration from China,
an ally in the Pacific during World War II. But many
restrictions still apply.

1948: Congress, after years of debate, allows 202,000
European war refugees to be admitted over two years under
the Displaced Persons Act.

1952: The McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization
Act ends race as a barrier to immigration, provides for
more screening of immigrants, and gives preference to those
with skills or with relatives in the United States.

1953: The Refugee Relief Act provides for entry of refugees
apart from the quota system.

1965: The Immigration Act of 1965, signed by President
Lyndon Johnson, ends the national quota system favoring
Western Europe. It admits immigrants based on
qualifications, with preferences for close relatives of
U.S. citizens, refugees and those with desired occupational

LATE 1900s

1986: The Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits
employers from knowingly hiring undocumented aliens. It
grants amnesty to 3 million people living illegally in the
United States, and provides for the admission of temporary

2006: The Senate Judiciary Committee considers a number of
immigration reform bills, including a bipartisan bill to
give undocumented immigrants a gradual path to legalization
if they have work histories and clean criminal records.

The Senate also considers an enforcement measure, passed by
the House of Representatives in 2005, that would make
unlawful presence a felony rather than a civil violation.

Rules for tourist vs. immigrant visas

Basic step-by-step guide to obtaining a tourist visa

• Make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Wait times vary from country to country.

• Submit the following paperwork

1) valid passport;

2) appropriate applications that can be obtained through an
embassy or consulate or by visiting: ;

3) documents to support application detailing employment,
reason for travel and financial status.

• For many applicants, a personal appearance interview is

• A visa application fee is $100. Visa issuance fees vary.

• Applications are reviewed by the consular office and in
some cases by officials in Washington. Consular officers
look at family ties, employment and whether the applicant
has a residence in his or her home country and other
binding connections that would insure the applicant's
return from the U.S.

• A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States,
only that the person can travel to a U.S. port of entry. A
U.S. immigration inspector authorizes or denies admission.

Typical wait times for some countries

Nonimmigrant visa interview appointment Visa processing

Krakow, Poland 8 days 2 days

Mexico City 126 days 30 days

Dublin, Ireland 5 days 2 days

Port-au-Prince, Haiti 167 days 1 day

Visa Waiver Program

The waiver program allows nationals of certain countries to
travel to the United States for tourism or business for
stays of 90 days or less without obtaining visas. These
countries include Iceland, Norway, Australia, Portugal,
Austria, Italy, Japan, Brunei, Spain, Sweden, France, the
Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

Visa information for permanent immigrants, family-sponsored

U.S. immigration law is a complicated patchwork of
regulations, caps, visas and preference categories. There
are three main categories of legal immigrants to the United
States: immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (or the
spouses and children of green-card holders); workers with
desirable, specialized skills and people fleeing
persecution. Nearly three-quarters of legal immigration
comes through family sponsors, with a ceiling of 480,000
visas a year. There is no cap on immediate relatives of
U.S. citizens, but others, such as siblings, are subject to
a preference system and a per-country limit. The waiting
lists for "family preference" visas are longer in nations
like Mexico and India, where there are high levels of
migration to the United States.

• The petitioner must file an immigrant visa petition with
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

• An affidavit of support is required to accompany many
immigrant visa applications to establish that the immigrant
will not become a public charge.

• Every applicant must undergo a criminal background and
security check and medical examination to rule out
communicable diseases.

• The Immigration and Nationality Act sets an annual
minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000 visas.
Quotas currently apply to Mexico, China, the Philippines
and India, because there are too many applicants from those

• The current wait times for permanent residents sponsoring
their spouses or children under 21 is four to five years.

• For permanent residents sponsoring unmarried children
over 21 years of age, the wait time is about 10 years.

• For U.S. citizens sponsoring spouses and children under
21, the wait time is six to 12 months.

• For U.S. citizens sponsoring unmarried children over 21,
the wait time is about five years.

• For U.S. citizens sponsoring married children, the wait
time is about eight years.


No Date Yet To Question Murphy

Sharon O’Neill

IT REMAINED unclear last night when gardai will question
one-time IRA chief of staff Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy as part of
their smuggling and money laundering probe.

On Thursday the High Court in Dublin seized more than e1
milliondiscovered in a cross-border search of land which
included the republican’s home.

Slab Murphy’s two brothers, Frank and Patrick Murphy, were
among three people arrested in the raids earlier this month
who were released pending reports to the Director of Public

The Irish News had revealed that the operation in north
Louth, south Armagh and Newry, came as a direct result of
information passed on from police in Manchester who mounted
a number of high-profile raids in the city last October.

The Garda’s searches are part of a criminal investigation,
while the Manchester raids relate to the civil side of the

Sources have indicated that Slab Murphy will be questioned
at some point but such a move will only be made when all
evidence has been scrutinised.


The Irish Links Are Strong In Ending Basque Conflict

Peace talks bring a cease-fire in 38-year struggle

By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff March 26, 2006

Last week, as the Basque separatist group ETA prepared to
make a videotape announcing an unconditional cease-fire, a
stoic Irishman named Seanna Walsh was in the background,
quietly offering encouragement and reassurance.

Walsh, a legendary figure in the Irish Republican Army,
made a similar video statement last July in Belfast,
declaring that after 35 years, the IRA had ended its
violent campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.
Walsh's presence in Spain's Basque country on Wednesday
when ETA announced what it called a permanent end to its
38-year armed struggle to create an independent Basque
nation was little known, but not surprising.

There are longstanding links between Irish republicans and
Basque separatists, who defended each other's struggle as
legitimate wars of self-determination against colonial
powers and rejected suggestions that they were terrorists
who had no popular mandate. In the 1970s and '80s, the IRA
and ETA traded not just mutual expressions of revolutionary
solidarity, but also training tips and tactics. The car
bombs that rocked the Spanish cities of Bilbao and
Barcelona were perfected in Belfast.

But since 1994, when the IRA called a cease-fire that
transformed the Irish republican movement from one driven
by its military wing to one driven by its political wing,
Irish republicans have been encouraging their Basque
friends to follow a similar path. According to some
analysts, the relative success of the peace process in
Ireland has been the most significant outside influence on
ending a dispute over a region that straddles Spain and
France. ETA, a group whose name means Basque Homeland and
Liberty in the Basque language, has been blamed for the
deaths of more than 800 people since 1968.

In recent years, the Irish influence in ending the Basque
conflict went beyond the IRA and its political wing, Sinn
Fein. Over the past four years, the Rev. Alec Reid, a
Belfast-based Roman Catholic priest who helped persuade the
IRA to pursue a united Ireland through strictly political
means, and who last year was an official witness to the
destruction of the IRA's hidden arsenal, was deeply
involved in negotiations to persuade Basque separatists to
end their violent campaign.

Four months ago, during a conversation in Dublin, a senior
IRA figure recalled that Reid's frequent visits to Basque
country made it difficult to coordinate a time when Reid
and a Protestant clergymen could witness the
decommissioning of IRA weaponry.

Alex Maskey, a Sinn Fein official who traveled to Spain to
advise the Basque separatists, compared the work he and
others did to the mentoring his party received from South
African politicians during the negotiations that led up to
the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which more or less ended
the long-running conflict in Northern Ireland.

''In any conflict resolution process, it's important to
hear from others who have been through it, especially when
you get to a sticking point," Maskey said Friday in a
telephone interview from Belfast, where he is a city
councilor. ''The South Africans helped us, and we helped
the Basques. In the Basque country, we told them that if
you can get a process, there may not be a guaranteed
outcome, but you can make progress."

Some of Sinn Fein's most prominent members -- including
party president Gerry Adams and chief negotiator Martin
McGuinness, a former IRA chief of staff -- visited Basque
separatist leaders and played host to them in Northern
Ireland. But it was a lesser-known Sinn Fein strategist,
Pat Rice, who spent the most time shuttling between Belfast
and Bilbao promoting the idea that what worked for Irish
nationalists could work for Basque nationalists.

Over the past decade, officials from Batasuna, ETA's
political wing, attended Sinn Fein's annual conference,
watching a party once marginalized as apologists for
terrorists rise fast in a post-conflict society, becoming
the biggest nationalist party in Northern Ireland and even
a potential power-broker in the Irish Republic.

In 1998, inspired by the remarkable transformation in
Northern Ireland, ETA called a cease-fire, and Arnaldo
Otegi, the charismatic Batasuna leader, was widely referred
to as ''the Basque Gerry Adams." But ETA called off its
cease-fire in 1999, asserting that the conservative
government led by José Maria Aznar was not serious about a

ETA's response was similar to that of the IRA in 1996, when
it broke a cease-fire, saying the Conservative government
of Prime Minister John Major was not serious about
negotiations. But the IRA restored its cease-fire in 1997,
after Blair's Labor Party swept to victory in the British
general election, and Blair promised to convene all-party
talks to resolve Northern Ireland's conflict.

Maskey said a similar opportunity arose in Spain two years
ago, when Aznar's party was driven from power by José Luis
Rodríguez Zapatero's Socialists. Ironically, it was the
Aznar government's efforts to blame ETA for the 2004
bombings carried out by Islamic extremists in Madrid that
tilted a close vote toward Zapatero's party, analysts say.
The revulsion created by those attacks, and a crackdown on
ETA by Spanish and French authorities, seemed to convince
ETA the days of using violence to gain political advantage
were over: ETA has not killed anyone over the past two

ETA said that as of Friday it was on ''permanent cease-
fire." Using such unambiguous language, ETA will be under
pressure to disarm, something the IRA didn't do for more
than 11 years after it called a more ambiguous cease-fire.
Still, the nascent stage of the Basque peace process was
underscored by the fact that the three ETA leaders who
appeared Wednesday were masked. When Seanna Walsh spoke for
the IRA last July, he did not hide his face.

''Seanna being there, the symbolism is appropriate," Maskey
said. ''I would like to think . . . you would have people
being able to represent Basque interests without wearing

© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


FF Support Slumps Again

26 March 2006 By Richard Colwell

It looks as if the budget honeymoon is well and truly over
for Fianna Fail as we move further into 2006. With the
election just over a year away at most, the latest Sunday
Business Post/Red C tracking poll sees Fianna Fail’s
support slump back to 33 per cent, the level recorded
before the budget. It appears to be on a downward trend
month on month so far this year.

The same poll sees Fine Gael stabilise its share of the
first preference vote at 25 per cent for the second month
running, which will please party strategists who were
somewhat worried by the fall in support seen in January.

The party appears to have made a significant step over the
past year in managing to hold on to a more regular mid-20s
poll rating, while the gap between Fine Gael and Fianna
Fail first preference support is even closer among those
who will definitely vote.

The results of the most recent in our series of monthly
tracking polls reflect the electorate’s change in attitude,
following a month where the news has been dominated by the
riots in Dublin at the failed Love Ulster march and a
significant focus on crime.

There was a succession of shootings reported last month,
and the government - in particular Michael McDowell - has
been attacked for its record on fighting crime, while the
concept of a Garda reserve has been vocally opposed by
Garda representatives.

The riots and the apparent annoyance among the public that
the march was allowed to go ahead could be among the
reasons why support for Sinn Fe¤ in rose to 11 per cent in
this poll, the highest recorded since the Sunday Business
Post/Red C polls began.

At the same time, it would appear that being bizarrely
attacked as the perpetrator of the riots has helped John
Gormley and the Green Party, whose support rises in this
poll to 7 per cent of first share preference.

Historically, Green Party support reacts very quickly when
the party gets good media coverage.

This was seen in January before the Dail returned, and
again this month.

During March, the party has had significant coverage in the
media due to the Bush stopover protests in Shannon, the
Dail attack by McDowell on Gormley, suggesting the rioters
were ‘‘his type of people’’, and its annual party
conference this weekend.

Disappointingly for the Greens, when we analyse the poll by
those most likely to vote, the party’s share of first
preference votes falls back to 6 per cent. This analysis
also affects Sinn Fe¤ in, which sees its share fall back to
10 per cent.

This suggests that its increase in support is somewhat
based on apathetic voters, who cannot be relied upon to
vote on election day.

The challenge for both parties is to maximise turnout among
these possible supporters between now and the election, by
persuading them that their vote is worthwhile.

The Labour Party will be very disappointed with its results
from this poll, with its support falling to just 11 per
cent, the same as Sinn Fein, and the lowest level of
support seen in the Sunday Business Post/Red C tracking

While this appears to be a new low point for the party, it
is interesting to see that the downward trend is not
apparent when we omit the more apathetic voters and only
look at those very likely to vote Among them, its support
appears to be more secure and steady, at 12 per cent for
the last four months.

Perhaps surprisingly, the PDs do not appear to have been
hit by the headlines generated by McDowell in recent weeks,
with the party’s support stable at 4 per cent in March
after a rise last month.

It would appear that many were happy to see McDowell
continue with his approach in the Dail.

Because we are conducting polls every month, we can look at
some sub-groups in the data more closely by rolling the
results together.

By rolling the data from the polls conducted in January,
February and March together, we have a significant base to
look at voting intentions by region, which makes
interesting reading.

Note that the total figure differs from the headline data
in the recent poll, as they are averages for the last three

Fianna Fail support is significantly weaker in Dublin,
where it achieves just 31 per cent support. This is
certainly where the party needs its big hitters for the

However, Fine Gael does not capitalise on this, as it also
receives a much lower share of support, at 17 per cent.

Among the parties that gain in Dublin is the Labour Party,
with 15 per cent first preference share, 3 per cent above
its national share. Sinn Fe¤ in reaches 12 per cent of
support in Dublin, 2 per cent above its national share,
while the Green Party takes a high 12 per cent share of the
first preference vote, 5 per cent above the national share
in the first three months of the year.

Parts of Leinster outside Dublin are where Fianna Fail’s
support is at its highest, with 40 per cent of first
preference support, significantly above its national share.
Sinn Fe¤ in, the Green Party and independent candidates
take a lesser share of the support here than they do

Fine Gael has its highest level of support in Munster,
Connacht and Ulster, at 29 per cent, but Fianna Fail is
also relatively strong in these regions.

Sinn Fein records its strongest share of first preference
support in Connacht and Ulster at 15 per cent, which is 5
per cent above its national support.

This is also where the Green Party support is at its

Over the coming months, The Sunday Business Post/Red C
polls will be able to track support in each of the regions
to determine the trends that could win or lose the

Richard Colwell is the managing director of Red C.


McDowell Plans Tough Privacy Law

Stephen O'Brien, Political Correspondent

THE Minister for Justice has bowed to pressure from his
Fianna Fail colleagues and plans to introduce a tough
privacy law alongside reform of libel legislation.

Michael McDowell will go to cabinet before Easter with a
proposal that will afford strong protection to the privacy
of Irish public figures, even when they appear in some
public places.

The justice minister has drawn up privacy legislation after
he met cabinet resistance last May to introducing libel
reform. A number of ministers said they were opposed to
giving the media more freedom on defamation unless
provisions on privacy were strengthened.

Brian Cowen, the finance minister, Dermot Ahern, the
minister for foreign affairs, and Martin Cullen, the
transport minister, are believed to have led the demands
for a privacy law. Cullen was incensed at what he
considered to be breaches of his family’s privacy during
newspaper investigations into “Monicagate” last year.

Cullen was extensively investigated by the media after it
emerged that Monica Leech, a political associate, had been
awarded ¤300,000 in consultancy contracts by government

McDowell says he is intent on introducing libel reforms
before Easter. This will include a powerful new press
council to police the media.

“I will be bringing to government in the near future a
report on privacy, a proposal for privacy legislation, and
the defamation bill, and that is what was contemplated
originally by the Programme for Government,” McDowell said
in an interview with The Sunday Times.

“I don’t want to pre-empt government decisions on bits of
it, but I am doing what this department committed to in the
Programme for Government and a press council is going to be
part of it. The cabinet view [last May] was to keep [the
two pieces of legislation] not hand-cuffed together, but
going along in rough parallel.”

The proposals on privacy were drafted by a team of senior
civil servants in the Department of Justice and by
officials in the attorney-general’s office. Their work was
overseen by a senior counsel.

McDowell confirmed that the report will recommend
recognising in Irish law a ruling on privacy by the
European Court of Human Rights in a case taken by Princess
Caroline of Monaco. The Strasbourg court found that two
German magazines had breached her privacy when they
published photographs of the princess in a French cafe with
a male friend.

The court said that the German state was in breach of the
European convention on human rights because it gave the
princess no protection against breaches of privacy by
paparazzi. At the time McDowell admitted that the ruling
meant that the Irish government would also have to provide
some protection.

The minister’s defamation bill will include “a statute-
based press council”, with powers to regulate those media
who sign up to it. Members will not be appointed by
government, but will include representatives from the
National Newspapers of Ireland, the Regional Newspapers of
Ireland, the National Union of Journalists, the British
press in Ireland, and the magazine sector. Most members
will be drawn from outside the industry.

The council will have an independent chairman and will be
filled by an appointment process independent of government.
This is an effort to address industry concerns about a
government-appointed body regulating the media.

Newspapers will be able to cite the fact that they
subscribe to the press council as part of their defence
against libel actions. The courts will be allowed to take a
negative view of newspapers that do not sign up to it. “One
of the most significant duties of the press council is to
ensure the newspapers actually do observe the privacy
laws,” McDowell said.

He has indicated the new defamation law will create a new
legal defence to libel, allowing newspapers to claim they
adopted a “fair approach” and were not malicious in the
preparation of a report that may have included inaccurate

The National Union of Journalists says a defamation bill is
overdue, but welcomed news of its imminent publication.

Seamus Dooley, the NUJ’s Irish organiser, said he was
concerned the bill could be delayed by a protracted process
in drafting and introducing the privacy legislation.

“We believe the privacy concerns could be dealt with by the
press council without waiting for privacy legislation to be
introduced,” he said. “We would be concerned if one delays
the other.”

McDowell last week he circulated to Oireachtas members 340
pages of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill.

He also plans to publish two other important pieces of
reform legislation before the summer: a bill to codify, or
rationalise, 300 years of liquor licensing laws, and a land


McDowell: Quoting Controversy

26 March 2006

“I am not acquainted with the websites that Deputy Gormley
stares at in the early hours of the morning, but one of
them, on this occasion, produced footage
from outside the PD party offices being ransacked by a
group of Deputy Gormley’s type of people.”

McDowell to Green Party TD John Gormley in the Dail a
fortnight ago

“Small wonder that the Provisionals are now backing a new
daily newspaper heavily featured in last week’s An
Phoblacht. Will it be to Irish democracy what the
Volkischer Beobachter was to pre-WWII German democracy?”

McDowell on the then new national newspaper, Daily Ireland,
in January last year

“This is an example of gross abuse of public office by
Richard Bruton. A gross misleading of the public, a con job
on the media and grossly dishonest politics...

“I want to make this very, very clear, Deputy Bruton is
knee-high to me in terms of anything he has ever tried to
do for this country. Does anyone remember any achievement
by Deputy Bruton or Deputy Kenny when they were in office?”

McDowell on Richard Bruton last Monday

“I’m really angry with him and I think that it’s about time
that he got out of his ivory tower. He resembles a kind of
postgraduate student floating around that house [Dail] over
there . . . He is, I believe, the Dr Goebbels of propaganda
and the figures I am issuing here today prove conclusively
that what he is saying is rubbish.”

McDowell again on Bruton.


Opin: McDowell: Breaking All The Rules

26 March 2006 By Paul T Colgan

As Richard Bruton drafted his press release last weekend,
little did he know just how traumatic an effect it would
have on its intended target, Minister for Justice Michael

Fine Gael’s press office released the statement on Sunday
evening, in the hope that it would be picked up by the
newspapers the following morning.

The mild-mannered finance spokesman would have felt on safe
ground. The figures he cited came directly from the
Department of Justice. Garda numbers in Dublin had
apparently grown by just two last year, while overall Garda
numbers had increased by only 1 per cent over the past five

‘‘These facts speak louder than any political bombast from
the minister. Put simply, he has failed to put gardai on
the beat, when and where the public want them,” Bruton was
quoted as saying.

As Bruton looked over the following morning’s front pages,
he would have been disappointed that The Irish Times, the
newspaper of choice in McDowell’s leafy Dublin South East
constituency, chose to mention the statistics only in a
small article near the bottom of page six.

The Irish Independent, however, led with the story.
Borrowing heavily from Bruton’s figures, the paper made no
bones about where responsibility for the apparent
inadequacy in garda numbers lay.

‘‘The figures pose serious questions for justice minister
Michael McDowell,” it said.

McDowell, a minister already under significant pressure due
to Garda opposition to his plans for a reserve force, was
in no mood to bite his tongue.

As journalists gathered near Buswell’s Hotel outside
Leinster House last Monday morning, a ministerial Mercedes
pulled up across the road. The door was flung open,
McDowell disembarked and strode across Kildare Street.
Visibly furious, the minister launched into the most
vitriolic attack in his career on a political opponent.

Bruton, he said, was engaging in ‘‘grossly dishonest
politics’’, had perpetuated a ‘‘con job’’, ‘‘manipulated
public opinion in a disgraceful way’’ and bore comparison
to a ‘‘postgraduate student’’ and Dr Goebbels, the
notorious Nazi minister for propaganda.

He said Bruton was only ‘‘knee high’’ to him ‘‘in terms of
anything he has ever managed to do for this country’’, and
that he should square up to him ‘‘man-to-man’’ in theDail
to debate the figures.

Fine Gael and Labour couldn’t believe their good fortune.

Not only had McDowell increased the longevity of a story
which would have most likely been forgotten by midweek, but
he had very publicly lost his cool and blackened the name
of one of the most likeable and inoffensive TDs in the

An apology the following day, handshakes for Bruton and
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, and a retraction of an earlier
statement in which he appeared to link the Green Party to
the Dublin riots, may have limited some of the damage to
McDowell’s image, but questions about the minister’s
judgment are likely to plague him for some time.

His admission last Tuesday that he had been intemperate and
‘‘over-the-top’’ was an unusual example of contrition from
a politician who routinely uses colourful and powerful
language when taking on his opponents. Bruton is in a
minority of one in having received such a public apology
from the justice minister.

Those who know McDowell well say last week’s public joust
and subsequent apology is typical of the man. ‘‘I’ve seen
him try to browbeat people into accepting his view as the
truth,” said a source. ‘‘But if you stand up to him, state
your case and convince him that he is in fact wrong, he’ll
admit to it. Harsh but fair.”

McDowell’s mistake was threefold: he chose to attack
Bruton, a politician noted for his understated and
personable style; he did so in a fashion that suggested he
had reacted with undue haste; and he broke Godwin’s Law.

Godwin’s Law, a guiding principle for debate on the
internet, states that the longer a discussion grows, the
more probable it is that a comparison involving Nazis or
Hitler will arise. Once it does, whoever mentions the Nazis
has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

McDowell has used Nazi comparisons before, most notably in
his comments on the republican movement. Last year, he
prompted a legal action from the publishers of Daily
Ireland after he likened it to a ‘‘Nazi propaganda sheet’’.
The attack on the then fledgling newspaper went largely
unnoticed in the Dail, with few TDs other than those of
Sinn Fein demanding a retraction or an apology.

The mistake he made last week was in applying the same
tactics to his Fine Gael opponent.

If he had not made the comparison between Bruton and
Goebbels, he might have escaped much of the ensuing

Even those with experience of McDowell’s at times abrasive
style were taken aback by his assault on Bruton.

‘‘He’s under a whole lot of pressure at the minute,” said
one TD. ‘‘The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is up
in arms about the reserve plans. It just seems that
everything he touches at present turns to confrontation.

‘‘There’s also internal PD manoeuvrings. When you combine
the lot, it adds up to a lot of stress. He’s certainly
biting at people to a bigger degree than normal. He has
always been inclined to be over the top, and uses a very
personalised approach, but in this case, he’s gone beyond
the bounds of propriety.”

Evidence of McDowell’s apparent over-sensitivity was cited
by a number of observers after he insisted on issuing a
press release last Wednesday night which revisited the
Garda figures issue. Why, they wondered, would McDowell,
having just endured the most uncomfortable 48 hours of his
political life, want to risk igniting the whole
embarrassing affair all over again?

‘‘When he takes a stand, he’ll throw the whole kitchen sink
at it,” said one insider who has worked with McDowell.

‘‘In a way, he’s the embodiment of the whole PD project -
if you believe something is right, then you go after it.
Mary Harney goes about it more quietly, while Michael wants
to be front and centre. Maybe he’s too front and centre


Opin: Why Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

26 March 2006 By Tom Savage

A good apology is the public relations equivalent of a fire
blanket. It douses the flames and reduces the possibility
of permanent scarring.

Yet good apologies are rarely deployed. Indeed, apologies
of any kind are rarely deployed.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell may be unique in his
delivery of two within one day last week.

When it comes to business, a key reason for the dearth of
apologies is the legal profession.

Any lawyer instinctively baulks when faced with the
possibility of issuing an apology, believing that it may
serve as an admission of guilt and lead to legal penalties.

When it comes to political apologies, the obstacles tend to
be placed by colleagues who feel the other guy deserved it,
who feel the apology will connote weakness and who hope the
problem will blow over.

Even when those obstacles are surmounted, apologising isn’t
easy. PG Wodehouse said that a good rule in life was never
to apologise. ‘‘The right sort of people do not want
apologies and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of
them,” he said.

All these factors tend to get in the way of the first key
element of a functional apology, which is that it is
timely. A delayed apology may lead to the accusation that
it ‘‘took you long enough’’ or ‘‘it had to be beaten out of

After promptitude, the next key factor in a good apology is
acknowledgement - a clear public acceptance of the damage
done, the wound inflicted and the outrageousness of the
verbal assault. The tenet is: if the offender doesn’t
articulate it, the offence festers.

For example, saying ‘‘sorry about that’’ when you have
stood someone up cuts to the chase rather too quickly.

The person stood up needs to hear you talk about how
mortified they must have been, sitting on their own in the
restaurant, how humiliating it was to have all the waiters
sniggering, and how awkward the following day’s questions
from co-workers were.

Mollification requires offenders to move from their own
point of view to that of the other person and to make
explicit their understanding of how the other person felt.

Acknowledgement, in a political apology such as that
delivered by McDowell, is fraught with complications. Of
course the minister could have indicated that he understood
the hurt involved in likening an opponent to a squalid Nazi
propagandist who poisoned his children.

In the process, however, he would have introduced more
information than many may have known about Goebbels and
back-loaded the original insult.

Even an acknowledgement doesn’t prevent the conditionality
reflex kicking in. That’s where the offender says something
such as ‘‘I’m sorry if you felt insulted by my comment’’,
which carries the implication that ‘‘what I said was okay,
it’s just you got touchy about it’’.

Conditional apologies are lethal, complicating the original
blow without any gain to the person making the apology.

Instead, whether in a private squabble or a political
fracas, the next step is to characterise what was said. It
was wrong, untruthful, unjustified, profane, cheap - or all
of the above, depending on what was said. Only then comes

None of this is easy. Somerset Maugham once said that weak
men lay an exaggerated stress on never changing their
minds. McDowell showed that he didn’t share that weakness,
although it might have been better to let other people
praise him for this rather than do it himself. When you’re
in the wrong, unmitigated self-flagellation is the way to

The final element of a good apology is to make good the
damage. In commercial terms, that means some kind of
offering calculated to make it up to the customer.

In personal terms, it can mean seeking out the offended
person in a public context - since the insult was publicly
delivered - and attempting to rehabilitate the

This latter element was beautifully implemented by
McDowell, who sought out Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton while
the cameras rolled and - all credit to Bruton - encountered
a warm and open response.

The Catholic Church always required that the corrective act
ion which validated an apology was ‘‘a firm purpose of
amendment’’. It wasn’t enough to be sorry for a particular
sin: sinners had to change their future behaviour to
obviate recurrence.

This may be relevant to McDowell, because the Goebbels
simile fits into an established pattern in his discourse.

On previous occasions, he has described an offending
tabloid newspaper as ‘‘pond scum’’ and the Taoiseach as

He got away with those two, because the newspaper was
delighted with the publicity and the Taoiseach took a
‘‘sticks and stones’’ approach to the attack.

But, for the future, it’s safe to assume that a man as
clever as McDowell will make a firm effort to - in his own
words - play the ball, not the man.

Tom Savage is author of How To Get What You Want, a guide
to negotiation skills. A former adviser to Taoiseach Albert
Reynolds, he works with Carr Communications.


Opin: Pds May Regret McDowell’s Instinct For Stunts

26 March 2006 By Vincent Browne

An infamous Shamrock Rovers player some decades ago was
renowned for breaking the legs of opponents.

On one occasion, he managed to break his own leg, to the
great merriment of the nation.

The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, may suffer the
same fate from breaking the legs of opponents over the last
several years. And in trying now to break the legs of Fine
Gael’s Richard Bruton, he has broken his own. Actually,
both of them - again, to the merriment of the nation.

In fact, so bad are his self-inflicted injuries that he may
find that, at the next election, he has no legs at all.

He represents Dublin South East, once the most predictable
constituency in the country. It is now the least
predictable for any party, and no candidate is sure of
taking a seat there in the next election.

McDowell has never been elected in two successive general
elections. He won in 1987, lost in 1989, won in 1992, lost
in 1997, won in 2002. A crucial element in how he won or
lost has been how Fine Gael has fared. When Fine Gael did
well, he fared badly; when Fine Gael did badly, he did

His vote in Dublin South East is a Fine Gael vote - or at
least a large part of it is. But his recent antics may have
alienated a sizeable and crucial section of this vote, for
it was a Fine Gael pin-up boy whom he attacked and

It was that same Fine Gael pin-up boy who emerged
gloriously from that contest, not just by winning hands
down on Monday’s Six-One News on RTE1 in the debate to
which he was challenged by McDowell.

More tellingly, it was Bruton’s calm and coherent demeanour
which defeated McDowell’s frenzy, and later Bruton’s
graciousness in accepting McDowell’s self-regarding
apology. It is quite a skill to turn an apology into a
swagger, by claiming he was ‘‘man enough’’ to acknowledge
he was wrong.

Actually it was merely half an apology, for McDowell failed
to withdraw the brazen conceit and belittlement in the
remark: ‘‘Deputy Bruton is knee-high to me in terms of
anything that he’s ever managed to do for this country.”

McDowell is obviously impressed by his own record in the
Department of Justice. He is impressed by his record on
legislation, on crime, on reforming the Garda Siochana, on
ending prison officers’ overtime and in stemming the
‘flood’ of asylum-seekers.

In fact, the minister’s legislative record is no great
shakes when one examines it. He piloted 30 acts through the

The overall figure seems impressive, but only four could be
considered significant.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 was most significant for
the insidious little provision concerning Travellers.
Complaints by Travellers about being refused service in
public houses were henceforth to be heard in the District
Court, rather than by the more robust Equality Authority. A
neat anti-Traveller stunt and also a populist one.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004 gave effect
to the constitutional amendment on citizenship - and that
was another stunt, because the ‘‘problem’’ that the
amendment was supposed to remedy had already been remedied
by the Supreme Court.

The Commissions of Investigations Act 2004, supposedly to
replace tribunals, has never been invoked.

Then there was the Garda Siochana Act 2005. That was deeply
flawed in that it failed to deal with the malaise within
the Garda identified at the Morris Tribunal. It failed to
adequately resource the Ombudsman Commission by not giving
it sufficient autonomous powers and by refusing to
establish a police authority here.

And then there was the Criminal Justice Bill 2004, which
was supposed to pass through the Dail two years ago.
McDowell has now added some 290 amendments to the bill, and
proposes to have it rushed through the Dail - presumably to
give further lustre to his legislative record.

His own hysterics on crime disbar him from counselling a
calmer approach to the crime phenomenon, which essentially
has remained the same for 20 years. It may be these crime
hysterics - allied to the Bruton hysterics - that
eventually do him in.

The Fine Gael constituency is revved up over crime.

McDowell is seen as the man who has failed to deal with the
‘‘wave’’ of criminality. They may not rally to his cause in
2007, as they did in 2002 and before.

Actually, since Fine Gael has a good chance of taking a
seat in Dublin South East next year, McDowell could be in
trouble from the Fine Gael revival alone. Last time, Fine
Gael took only 16 per cent of the first preference vote

The PDs won 19 per cent.

Next time, Fine Gael should get around 22 per cent, and the
likelihood is that this will be largely at McDowell’s
expense, bringing him back to around 14 per cent. If so, he
is in deep trouble.

There is one way he could save his skin and, come to think
of it, his bacon as well: he could join Fianna Fail.

This is not as implausible as it might seem, for he
considered joining Fianna Fail before he was appointed
attorney general in 1999.This was when he was disillusioned
with the PDs, being led at the time by Thelma and Louise
(Mary Harney and Liz O’Donnell).

The only problem with this scenario is that Fianna Fail
would not have him. Harney would probably now like that
option too, but she and the PDs are stuck with him.

As surely as he may have swung a few seats with his ‘‘One-
party government? No thanks’’ stunt in 2002, his recent
antics may do in the PDs - which, of course, would be a
national disaster.


Opin: McDowell Must Learn Virtues Of Patience And Subtlety

26 March 2006

Given that we are living in a land long lauded in song and
verse for the wit and wisdom of its characters, it is a sad
fact that our political scene contains precious few.

The laughter which greets the limp scripted offerings
served up each day during the Dail’s opening sessions does
a lot to give our great halls of democracy the air of a
schoolyard at playtime. There are times when you are left
wondering how many of our public representatives might have
heart attacks if someone actually said something genuinely

In the midst of the greyness, Michael McDowell has always
stood out. He has wit, intelligence and an ability to
rapidly turn a phrase - leaving many of his colleagues
deeply envious.

Last week, many of these same colleagues were left
scratching their heads and asking: ‘‘Surely to God he’s
finally lost it?’’ An over-the-top attack was followed by
an even more over-the-top apology, leaving him and the
government looking all over the place.

Fine Gael’s Richard Bruton was simply up to his usual
tricks of using a bit of smoke and mirrors to present
Ireland under Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats as
one of the most distressful places in the world.

Using a perfectly legitimate device, he chose the right
dates for justifying a claim that Dublin (which is in the
midst of a crime wave previously unseen outside riot-torn
Compton, according to his leader Enda Kenny) has seen an
increase of just two gardai under McDowell.

Any politicians worth their salt would use such figures to
their own end.

What seems to have upset McDowell most was the amount of
coverage Bruton got, and the thundering editorials
attacking the minister for having failed to deliver more
gardai to the capital. He was said to be incensed that
journalists just took the feed from Fine Gael and didn’t
bother checking what the situation in Dublin is today,
rather than on Bruton’s chosen day.

Instead of attacking Bruton, or expecting journalists to
check their stories, McDowell could have used his time
better in putting out the real figures immediately. He
could also have asked himself how he could allow such a
hostage to fortune be issued in a reply to a parliamentary

To get tripped up by something so utterly meaningless
suggests that he has become too wedded to the idea that he
has to be radical and hard in everything.

If you look back at his political history, you see that he
is a curious animal. Born into the bluest of blue Fine Gael
families - that of Eoin McNeill - he first came to
prominence as chairman of Garret FitzGerald’s constituency

While FitzGerald was a sitting taoiseach, McDowell
apparently attempted to have him deselected. This was
followed by his high-profile defection to the PDs, where he
joined the now-disgraced Michael Keating as the only former
Fine Gaelers in a sea of former Soldiers of Destiny.

With a background like this, it is not surprising that
McDowell is both the most modern and most traditional of

He is ideologically committed to the type of modern market
economics which are unexceptional in most countries, but
are still viewed as heretical in Ireland.

He is also the last of the barrister-politicians who is
genuinely eminent in both professions. For example, it is
unlikely that any of the other members of the Bar now in
Leinster House would ever be seen as realistic candidates
for the High and Supreme Court benches.

His ability to follow electoral victories with defeats (he
has yo-yoed in and out of the Dail since 1987) seems to
have led him to become more frantic, rather than
reflective. Thus he has passed a blizzard of legislation
and is going from one interest group to the next ‘‘taking
them on’’.

McDowell is undoubtedly bright, and has a gift for a
quickly-turned phrase. He is committed enough to his cause
to delight in the opposition of persons such as Pat
Rabbitte, Vincent Browne and most of the leadership of our
trade unions.

But - and this is a very big ‘‘but’’ - all this revelling
in the cut and thrust of aggressive politics can get out of

The most successful politician of this generation has
surely shown us all that the tongue-tied, non-adversarial
tortoise can win the race more often than the loquacious
and aggressive hare (if you had a few pints too many last
night, apologies for what this last sentence may have done
to your head).

While he’s at it, he might also like to revisit his most
famous exhortation to his party, that they could either be
‘‘radical or redundant’’. This has led its leaders up many
blind alleys in the search for ways of always being

The most obvious one is the insistence on opening up Dublin
Bus to competition. Where the voters are for this policy is
not clear, but it is now obvious that it is a distraction
that has slowed the purchase of new buses and opened up a
potential Pandora’s Box through a reference to the European
Commission competition authorities.

It is far too early to say what the record of Michael
McDowell will look like in the years ahead. The scale of
the legislation enacted and the reforms to the workings of
prisons and the gardai that he is implementing are
objectively impressive.

With, as we now know, rising Garda numbers and a falling
crime rate (details of which were outlined in this paper
last week), it should have been an easy job for him to
knock back Richard Bruton’s assertions.

The fact that he made such a mess of it suggests that a
different approach is required if our Minister for Justice
wants the public to appreciate his work half as much as he


Opin: A Glimpse Of Ireland’s Future

26 March 2006 By David McWilliams

Do you want to live in an Ireland with another million
people, with traffic gridlock like Mexico City, where 20
per cent of the population are immigrants, where house
prices are double or treble what they are today and where
the suburbs stretch right across the country?

This is the Ireland envisaged by a new report published
last week. The economists at NCB have done the rest of us a
great favour with the publication of their comprehensive
and fascinating view of Ireland in 2020. The authors,
Dermot O’Brien and Eunan King, are credible, experienced
professionals, not given to hyperbole.

They have painted a picture of the economy and society in

Some of the projections are startling.

For example, the population might rise by one million, and
as many as one in five Irish people will be foreign

They see enormous growth in cars on the roads and continued
rapid increases in house building.

You can learn more about the economy from scanning the
marriage, births and death columns than poring over many
academic reports, because economics is about people. It is
the study of families, baptisms, weddings and funerals.
When demographics are positive and money is not scarce,
little can stop the march of an economy.

The problem for most countries is that they rarely get this
dream combination.

Sometimes they have great population growth but no cash,
like the Congo; or loads of money, but no population
growth, like Germany. The NCB team assumes that we will
have both for the next 20 years.

If there is a flaw in the logic of the report, it is that
the authors have decided that we are unlikely to experience
an economic cycle for the next decade and a half.

Still, let’s not nit-pick, because to do so would be to
miss the central point of the report.

Let’s assume NCB is right. What tensions will we have to
deal with? What plans should we put in place? What would an
Ireland with more than five million people look like? A lot
more sallow, for starters.

We would be able to take the sun better.

The report envisages huge immigration in both historical
and comparative terms.

The implication is that we may face serious social and
racial tensions, where Chinese landlords evict black
tenants and a displaced white Irish underclass votes for a
21st-century version of a National Socialist party that
promises an Ireland for the Irish with a strong state.

One potentially hot issue touched on in the report is that
the productivity of the average Irish worker is falling. As
we move to a more service-related economy, productivity
will decrease further. This means output per worker will
lessen, which implies that wages have to fall relative to
where they were before. In practice, this means that Irish
and foreign workers will be working side by side on lower
wages, causing resentment.

Yet different immigrants are likely to have different
experiences. Recent history of Chinese migration indicates
that they will prosper in business more quickly than
others. South-east Asia is full of Chinese emigre
billionaires. They are particularly well represented in the
property business.

In Britain, the most successful recent immigrants are the
Indians who were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin. Time
will tell what happens in Ireland, but it’s interesting to
speculate about who will be the New Ireland’s Ugandan

The great Polish community of Chicago made its presence
felt economically in the blue-collar trades, and it used
this power to launch first generation politicians who
agitated for the community. Might we have a second-
generation Polish taoiseach in the decades ahead?

In contrast, if the experience in Britain and France is
replicated here, Africans and Muslims could struggle

That sense of alienation appears to heighten, rather than
diminish, in the second and third generation.

Obviously, we are using very broad brush strokes here, and
such racial stereotyping can be dangerous, but we need a
framework and a point of reference - and where better to
learn from than our neighbours’ experiences?

It seems fair to conclude that such levels of immigration -
over one fifth of the population - will cause some racial

The probable political implications are that either a new
party will emerge with an ‘‘Irish first’’ policy, or some
sort of bar on free immigration will be introduced.

What about the practicalities? Where are people likely to
live? While the NCB report shies away from this issue, the
CSO attempted to answer the question in a fascinating
publication last May when it confirmed what most of us
privately suspected – that Dublin between the canals will
be a largely non-Irish zone by 2021.

During the same period, the white Irish middle classes will
flee to the suburbs. We saw this pattern in the US during
the 1970s and 1980s.Likewise, in Britain, immigrants are
over-represented in central London and thin out as you head
towards the M25.

This is described as the ‘‘doughnut theory’’ in the US,
whereby centres of the cities are left to immigrants, while
the richer natives flee to the sanctuary of the suburbs for
better schools, a perception of greater safety and,
frankly, to ‘‘be among their own’’.

This is the historic middle-class reaction to immigration.
They don’t riot - they trade up. The Central Statistics
Office predicts that, by 2021,112,000 white Dubliners will
move out (10 per cent of today’s population), to be
replaced by 250,000 immigrants (25 per cent of today’s

Where will the natives go? The CSO forecasts that the
region with the strongest growth will be the mid-east area:
counties Offaly, Westmeath, Laois, Kilkenny and Carlow. The
population of this region will increase by 51 per cent.
Already, these are amongst the most fertile counties in the
country. Their growing populations will be bolstered by
unprecedented white-flight from Dublin.

While the CSO spoke of 250,000 new immigrants in Dublin,
the NCB forecast suggested as many as three quarters of a
million new immigrants. Are they to live outside the
capital? And if so where? If we do not build new cities
like Almeer in Holland or Milton Keynes in England, the
implication is that provincial towns will absorb huge
population increases in the years ahead. This has already

Quite apart from the Dublin commuter belt, the 2002 census
reveals a similar arc spanning a 40-mile radius around
Galway, Cork and Limerick, where young families, both
indigenous and immigrant, are nesting.

NCB implies in the report - by the car ownership figures
that it predicts - that the government will not get its act
together on public transport. NCB envisages an explosion in
car ownership and suggests 200,000 new cars on our roads
per year for the next ten years. Obviously, Mexico City is
the model, as traffic and the commute times will reach
intolerable levels.

The big question is whether this is the country you want to
live in. What is the alternative?

Maybe it’s time we reassessed the basis of our economic
model. Is economic growth the objective in all cases, at
all levels of income and for all people?

There is a discipline of economics called ‘‘steady state
economics’’ which questions the addiction to ‘‘growthism’’.
It contends that gearing the economy - and, by extension,
our lives, families and society - exclusively for growth is
somewhat silly, given our present levels of wealth.

The NCB report offers a vision of the future. It is not the
only vision, but it is the most likely outcome of our
present policies and philosophies. Is this what you want?

Or have you even taken a break from the rat race to
consider the future?


Opin: Racist Until Proven Innocent

26 March 2006 By Tom McGurk

Apparently, we have all been behaving disgracefully.

According to a new report entitled Breaking Down Barriers,
commissioned by Amnesty International and published last
week, the Irish state is still apparently in the ‘‘dark
ages’’ where racism is concerned.

The report alleged that the government had failed to
acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination in its
laws, policies and practices, and had failed to take
meaningful steps to combat it.

Written by Dr Vinodh Jaichand and Louise Beirne of the
Irish Centre for Human Rights at UCG, the report
recommended that the government acknowledge that racism
exists within state institutions and that anti-racism
training should be given to all state agents, including
judges and policy makers.

At the report’s launch, Imran Khan (not the cricketer, but
the lawyer), who acted in the case of Stephen Lawrence, the
black teenager murdered in a racist attack in Britain, said
he was shocked by the institutional racism findings. Khan
went on, somewhat alarmingly, to state that there could be
similar racist murders here unless the government acted to
tackle the ‘‘institutional racism’’ issue.

‘‘I hope not, but I would have difficulty in imagining that
it’s not going to happen,” Khan said. ‘‘How many deaths
before we realise we have a problem?”

At the report launch, Kathleen Joyce of the Blanchardstown
Traveller Development Group said Travellers were now worse
off, in terms of human rights, than in the past.

She gave as an example the introduction of the recent
trespass legislation, which meant that families living on
the side of the road could not integrate with the local
community because they could be moved on.

She further complained that the transfer of equal status
cases from the Equality Tribunal to the District Courts
meant that Travellers were discouraged from taking cases
because of the costs involved.

I have to say that my overall impression of this type of
campaigning raises almost as many questions as it is
supposed to answer.

In the face of the evil that racism is - and the impact it
can have on the lives of those who suffer at its often
invisible hands - the approach adopted by Amnesty
International is disastrous. If I were a victim of racism,
I would be upset by this excess of platitudinous and
inaccurate moral indignation.

For a start, the allegation that - despite the extensive
and comprehensive body of equality and anti-discrimination
law it has enacted - the state is still in ‘‘the dark
ages’’ is simply nonsense. And well these people know it.

The performance of Khan at the launch of the report, with
his hysterical warnings about ‘‘Stephen Lawrence-type
racist murders here’’, was a cheap shot and, dare I say it,
a very poor usage of the tragedy that ended this young
man’s life.

Lawrence’s memory deserves a little more respect than to be
the principle weapon in Khan’s polemical armoury.

Apart from being a disastrous approach to the problem of
racism, there is also a sort of deeply disturbing subtext
in this type of report and its approach. It is somehow
telling all of Irish society that we are all, at some
point, invisible racists.

We are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent.

The finger, of course, is pointed at the government, but
since we elected them, are we not by extension also
dwelling in the ‘‘dark ages’’?

This, of course, is Amnesty’s latest intervention in the
‘‘Irish racism’’ issue.

Some years ago, they issued a truly disgraceful series of
public posters suggesting that various government ministers
were already racists through the omission of legislation
Amnesty demanded.

Would it be unkind to question whether, in the age of
consumer society Ireland, Amnesty sees the racism issue as
one of the few industries left?

And what of the report’s recommendation that the Travelling
community be formally recognised in future as an ethnic
minority group? Why does one sense that it is just more
verbiage to stir the pot?

What exactly does it mean? In what way would such a
recognition change the increasingly dreadful quality of
life that so many Travellers suffer? Or is it all no more
than ‘‘Amnesty-speak’’ for fellow politically-correct

And what are we to make of Teresa Joyce’s complaint at the
report launch that the new trespass laws leave the human
rights of Travellers worse off than before? What about the
human rights of those whose property is illegally occupied?

Or don’t they have any as far as Amnesty is concerned?

The truth about racism in Ireland is much more banal and
ordinary than the ‘‘issue industry’’ would admit. In the
last ten years, Ireland has had an immigrant revolution,
the last European country to experience it.

In the face of all the challenges that have gone with it,
and the suddenness of it all, in the main we have behaved
with considerable decency, hospitality and goodwill.

Already, throughout the country, the enterprise and
industry of our new Eastern European citizens has earned
enormous praise.

If anything, the integration process has been something of
a miracle, with new communities integrating even in the
smallest provincial towns.

Of course, there will always be unscrupulous attempts to
exploit new arrivals, and people who seek confrontation
will use anything - including skin colour - as an excuse,
but none of that could justify the claims made in Breaking
Down Barriers.

If anything, this type of sensationalism damages the very
cause it seeks to promote by blandly insisting that people
should not believe the extent of their own experiences.

We are neither historically nor culturally racist - in fact
we are, surprisingly enough, rather decent people. But then
that’s no news in the lexicon of the thought police -
because it’s good news.


Opin: No Special Privileges

By James Kelly

Britain’s last colony across the Irish Sea was not even
mentioned in Gordon Brown’s 10th budget.

It was as if we didn’t exist in the eyes of the chancellor,
described in The Times as ‘Prime Minister in-waiting’.

Certain naive people here talked about local tax incentives
to put us level with the Celtic Tiger down south in
attracting American and global investors.

They forgot that we are part of the UK and no matter how
much super-loyalists protest their undying love of the old
flag the Brits cannot afford to grant troublesome Ulster
special privileges. If they did there would be an unholy
row from the constituents of our Labour lords and masters
now running the show at Stormont.

So if the old dinosaur, Ian Paisley, insists on torpedoing
devolution to keep the other side out of government we must
knuckle down and pay through the nose for the water we
drink and use in the bath, suffer the increased rates and
the other burdens imposed on the luckless inhabitants of
what is called ‘the mainland’.

So the message for what used to be known as the hard-headed
Ulsterman is that the old buffer’s intransigence is going
to cost us all a pretty penny as he and his bemused
followers fool around in the swamps of Neverneverland,
month after month and year after year.

Oh yes, don’t forget the nonsense of Ulster devolution has
been staggering around for years. One cannot imagine this
kind of meandering around endlessly happening anywhere else
in Europe.

Are we an astonishingly patient people here in this part of
the island or have we been drugged over the years with
mysterious orange and green intoxicating potions depriving
us of recognising the reality of

life in the 21st century?

It is worth pondering over as we read the news that, like
the IRA, the Basque terrorist organisation Eta has called a
ceasefire, bringing peace to Spain after the popular
revulsion against the 2004 Madrid bombing in which 191

They are reported to have chosen the ballot box in
preference to violence which cost the Basque region E9
billion between 1993 and 2002 as business refused to invest
there. That amazing saintly priest Fr Alec Reid, from
Belfast’s Clonard Monastery, who played such a big part
behind the scenes in our peace negotiations, was revealed
as a secret negotiator in the Spanish peace efforts!

Let it never be forgotten too that on that appalling scene
at Casement Park, Belfast when two soldiers who found their
car surrounded by a raging mob, it was Fr Reid who appeared
from nowhere and was pictured on television rendering the
Last Rites as he prayed over their murdered bodies. Not
long after that he reappeared to console the stricken
relatives searching for the unidentified graves of IRA
victims on the coast of Co Louth.

A humble and holy Redemptorist priest whose probity as a
devoted peacemaker was attested to when he was called in as
one of the official witnesses to the IRA’s destruction of
its final cache of arms in the presence of the government-
appointed Canadian general.

We hope and pray that his efforts to end the misery of
terrorism in the Basque country are met with success.

Let’s hope that, unlike our own long- delayed peace
process, they have no Dr No fulminating and fuming in the
background with the obvious intention of keeping the
sectarian pot boiling. Fr Reid has been unfairly criticised
for angrily comparing the unionists in the past to Nazis in
their treatment of Catholics, for which he handsomely

But like a dog worrying a bone they keep on at it. A
sickening attempt to besmirch a man whose devoted efforts
to end the turmoil of 30 years and its aftermath must have
saved countless lives. We wish they would shut up. The same
applies to the audacity of Mr Ian Paisley jnr, in
attempting to stir up a hate campaign against Prime
Minister Tony Blair because he compared Protestant bigots
still killing Catholics to Islamist terrorists. Blair
denied saying that all Protestants were bigots, in fact
quite the reverse. But this new version of the dreary old
blame game soon took a new turn with the Paisley boyo
declaring that the prime minister’s remarks were a studied
insult to the Protestant community and Blair was perceived
as “a charlatan and a liar”. Although a few muddled
unionists fell for this line of stupid abuse the rest must
wonder where this crooked DUP attempt to take over the
leadership of the whole Protestant community will land
them. Let them recall all the other hate figures conjured
up by Paisley snr over the years, including the most
revered Pope in modern times, John Paul II, insanely
insulted in the European Parliament at Strasbourg before a
horrified assembly as “the Anti-christ”. That was the day
Northern Ireland was disgraced throughout the world. Until
this monstrous incubus of bigotry is removed from the
political scene we will continue to stumble along on the
rocky road to nowhere.


Opin: Erin Go Braugh - Ireland Is A Wonderful Journey

For the better part of two weeks, I have been abroad,
discovering the joy that is Ireland. I went as a part of a
class sponsored by the Madison Center at Delta State
University, to do research on the troubles that have
plagued much of Northern Ireland for the last 30 or so

While there, I was introduced to a plethora of experiences,
some pertaining to my studies, some not. I met with
political leaders on all sides of the divide, I enjoyed the
beauty and quaint charm of the Emerald Isle and experienced
the awesome occasion of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin.

Along my journey, I picked up a few tidbits of knowledge,
that if I may, I would share with you now:

:: Ireland is a darn cold place in March. Not to mention
wet. That notwithstanding, Ireland is perhaps one of the
most beautiful places I've ever had the good fortune to

:: Airplane bathrooms aren't quite as unpleasant as I had
anticipated. They aren't great, mind you, but they will
make your bladder gladder on an eight hour flight.

:: Much to my surprise, Irish food was not the travesty I
had feared. Rather, it is quite tasty. I've found that I
have developed a taste for strong English tea in the
mornings and have yearning for a good healthy heaping of
fish and chips. (Of course, that being said, I must admit
the first thing I did when we landed in Atlanta was to find
and consume the largest, greasiest cheeseburger I could.
You can take the kid out of America, but not the America
out of the kid.)

:: Traveling for 23 hours straight is not my idea of a good
time. Although, I have learned, given the right
circumstances and a high enough level of exhaustion, I can
sleep just about anywhere, in just about any position - on
a plane, on a bus, on a train, in a chair, in a cab,
sitting up, standing up, laying down, upside down - you
name it. Sleep, I've discovered, is a powerful drug.

:: You think you've experienced St. Patrick's Day? You
haven't experienced it until you've been in Dublin to
celebrate the event. Folks, let me tell you, it was
something I'll never forget. Imagine Mardi Gras, only on a
slightly smaller scale, and being swept away in a sea of
shamrock, surrounded by drunken Irish folk decked out in
green to the nines. Y'all, it was quite simply, wondrous.

:: And on that note, green beer is exceptionally gross.

:: I'm grateful for Irish bartenders (especially one named
Stephen), who can't always understand what you are saying,
but manage to give you what you want anyway.

:: I'm thankful for the American dollar bill. While in
Ireland, I used two forms of currency, the pound and the
euro. Both currencies fail to have one dollar bills,
instead opting to use a coin version to represent what we
as Americans would call a dollar. I hate change and was
forced to carry around massive amounts of it for a 10 day
period. The value of the dollar may have fallen in recent
years, but it has definitely risen in my opinion as of

:: I was perhaps most surprised to learn that Northern
Ireland is one of the most segregated societies I've ever
come across. Imagine Mississippi, circa 1965, only the
civil rights battle isn't between black and white, but
between Protestant and Catholic and unionists and
loyalists. In the last few years, political leaders of
Northern Ireland have made great strides in the name of
peace, but the road is rocky and both sides have a long way
to go.

:: Standing next to men who are responsible for the deaths
of countless individuals is somewhat disconcerting. As a
part of our research, the group met two individuals, David
Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist Party and Danny
Morrison, public relations officer of the Sien Fien, the
political wing of the Irish Republican Army, who both
openly admitted to having killed for their respective
causes and who both have served time for political crimes.
The most unsettling aspect? I actually found myself liking
both men a great deal.

And that my friends, made me stop and do something that
many avoid at all costs - I had to stop and think, and then
re-evaluate my own morals and values. I found myself
uncomfortable with the fact that I could empathize with men
who did not kill in self-defense, but men who killed
countless, many innocent, people in the name of a political
cause. But, sometimes I suppose, uncomfortable is

I've learned that in life, not everything is black and
white, but rather tinted by shades of gray. It is a hard
lesson to learn, but a necessary one. Ervine and Morrison
most definitely fall into the gray category.

:: I have become witness to the fact that American culture
is indeed a pervading force in this world. Perhaps it was
naive of me, but my perceptions of Ireland before my
journey were admittedly idealistic. I fancied I would see
old-fashioned pubs on every corner and become haunted by
Irish melodies. Instead, what I found were American
restaurants, American music, American stores and this list
goes on. It was an unexpected discovery and one that I must
admit, saddened me.

But perhaps the most important thing I learned while abroad
had little to do with my studies.

You see, sometimes, not often, but sometimes, a group of
strangers can come together and form a family. I consider
myself quite lucky to have met such a group of people and
formed such a family. It has been my experience that
whenever you get a large group of individuals together for
an extended period of time, bloodshed is likely to occur.
Factions or cliques tend to form and a mini version of West
Side Story takes place, with the Jets and the Sharks
battling it out to the end.

Fortunately, this was not the case during my trip. That is
not to say that there weren't problems. I can assure you
readers, there were a few hitches in the get-a-long (with
three women to a room, how could there not be?), but
overall, we all flowed and grew to not just tolerate one
another, but enjoy one another's company.

It is a rare thing to find a group of individuals, from
vastly different backgrounds with completely diverse
aspirations, who actually walk away from an experience like
ours, better for having known one another.

We all hugged one another goodbye on a cold, wet Delta
morning, with promises of keeping in touch and a general
feeling of regret that when we awoke the next morning, it
would not be to the faces which had become all too
familiar. I found myself feeling much like Henry Higgins,
having grown accustomed to their faces, like breathing out
and breathing in.

We all vowed to get together soon, and in my heart of
hearts, I hope we all keep our promise.

So, here's to the Madison Center Lobbyists - Erin, Ben,
Lauren, Anthony, Robert, Jolana, Stormy, James and
Professor Jennings - otherwise known as my friends.

Thanks for the memories.

Logan Mosby is a reporter for the Delta Democrat Times


Divisions Over Connolly’s City Hall Memorial

By Barry McCaffrey

Nationalists and unionists were last night divided over
plans to create a stained glass window in Belfast City Hall
in memory of James Connolly.

The council’s powerful policy and resources committee has
voted to press ahead with a £12,000 window in memory of the
republican leader executed after the 1916 Easter Rising –
but a final decision has yet to be made.

Born in Dublin, Connolly lived in Scotland until 1910 when
he came to live in Belfast to work alongside trade union
leader James Larkin.

For the next four years he lived at 420 Falls Road in west
Belfast, where a plaque today bears his name.

While in Belfast, Connolly worked as a leader of the Irish
Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

His role in a dock workers’ strike and his vigour in
organising new members led him to become a key figure in
the Irish labour movement, going on to be one of founders
of the Irish Labour Party.

During his time in the city he was also prominent with the
Irish Textile Workers’ Union and campaigned for female
workers in the linen mills.

In 1913 he stood as a candidate for the old Belfast
Corporation, later to become the city council and in a
characteristic election address declared boldly for
socialism and a united Ireland.

He received 905 votes, behind the successful unionist
candidate on 1,523.

Later that year he moved to Dublin and in 1916 led his
‘Irish Citizens Army’ in the Easter Rising at the city’s
GPO (General Post Office).

After the rising was quashed, Connolly was sentenced to
death with the other leaders in Kilmainham jail. His
injuries from fighting at the GPO meant he had to be
strapped to a chair to be executed.

The erection of a memorial in Belfast is part of
nationalist proposals to mark the 90th anniversary of the
Easter Rising.

Sinn Fein councillor Fra McCann insisted that commemorating
the event was an essential part of being a shared city.

“Belfast City Hall has been filled with the symbolism of
unionism and the British army ever since it was first
opened,” he said.

“There is little or no sign that nationalists make up half
of the population of this city.

“Sinn Fein has made serious efforts to respect the unionist
tradition in this city and we feel that a stained glass

window dedicated to Connolly would be a sign that both
traditions can be equally respected. It is the ethos for
which Connolly fought for during his life.”

However, DUP councillor Nelson McCausland vowed unionists
would oppose any attempt to commemorate the leader of the
Easter Rising.

“Our view is that the 1916 rebellion was the outworking of
the views of Patrick Pearse and others who were committed
to the concept of blood sacrifice,” he said.

“1916 was directly responsible for poisoning and polluting
Irish political life for the past century.

“There was no rebellion in Belfast or Ulster in 1916
because Irish republicans couldn’t even muster enough men.”

Mr McCausland insisted that unionists had made strong
efforts in recent years to make Belfast City Hall more
inclusive to nationalists.

“We have a bust of Mary Ann McCracken in city hall and have
attempted to reflect more of the working-class life of the
city through the paintings of William Connor and Sir John

“The fact remains that Northern Ireland remains part of the
United Kingdom and as the capital city of Northern Ireland
it is entirely appropriate to have British symbolism in
Belfast City Hall.”

A final decision on the Connolly memorial will be taken by
the full council when it meets in two weeks’ time.


Parties Unite In Battle To Preserve Boyne Site

Southern News
By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

THE DUP has joined a cross-border fight against a proposal
to expand cement works and build an incinerator near the
site of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.

Campaigners last night welcomed news that the party was
objecting to plans by Irish Cement to expand its Co Meath
facility, including constructing a 125m chimney that “would
dwarf Dublin’s Spire”.

The site is close to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bru
na Boinne which includes Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

The area is also the subject of a campaign against plans by
Belgian company Indaver Ireland to build the Republic’s
first municipal waste incinerator on a 25-acre site near
the historic landmarks.

The major Orange institutions have already called for
UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to extend Bru na Boinne
to include the site of the Battle of the Boyne.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland fears that continued
industrial concentration in the area can only be
detrimental to the preservation of the site.

A spokesman for heritage group The Battle for the Boyne
said: “The 21st century battle to protect the exceptional
heritage of the Boyne Valley is under way. People from all
shades of opinion on this island are saying ‘No Surrender’
to this type of cultural vandalism.

“Both Bru na Boinne and the Battle are ancient graveyards –
allowing heavy industry into the area would be a
disgraceful move.”

The Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Fein have also backed
the group’s campaign to safeguard the historic site.


Republic ‘Belonged In Empire’ Debate

Southern News
By Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

An Ulster Unionist assembly member plans to tell the people
in the Republic why the state should have remained part of
the British Empire.

East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland will join students and
members of Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael for a
debate at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth on

The motion ‘This house believes we should never have left
the Empire’ has been sparking interest among students as
the state prepares to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the
1916 Easter Rising.

Mr Copeland, a former UDR lieutenant and an Orange Order
member, has described the events at Dublin’s GPO as “an act
of terrorism during a time of war”.

He also said he believed that if the 26 counties had
remained in the United Kingdom, today’s “giant chasm”
between Catholics and Protestants would not be “half so
wide, half so bitter and half so unbridgeable”.

His party has refused an invitation from the Irish
government to attend a state event to commemorate the
pivotal rebellion next month.

Debating society spokeswoman Niamh Gargan said students had
been “quite shocked” at news of Tuesday’s debate, adding:
“Nothing like this has been done here before.

“People are very interested to see what will happen.

“The approach of the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter
Rising, one of the pivotal events in Ireland’s separation
from the Empire, will no doubt contribute to what will be
the most passionate debate seen in NUI Maynooth in recent
years,” she said.

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