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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 02, 2006
Move To Have Peter McBride's Murdering Soldiers Kick Out
Ógra Activists holding a vigil in Omagh (pic relates to prev posted story - click pic for story)
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News About Ireland & The Irish
UT 03/02/06 Move To Have McBride Convicted Soldiers Thrown Out Of Army
IV 03/02/06 ILIR: 1,000 Turn Out In San Francisco
IT 03/03/06 SF To Play No Part In Shadow Assembly
IT 03/03/06 SDLP Objects To 'Shadow' Plan
DI 03/02/06 New Line Of Inquiry In 1974 UVF Bomb Probe
IT 03/03/06 Policing Board Line-Up To Vex Hain
IT 03/03/06 Tribunal Opens Into Fatal Shooting Of RUC Men
IT 03/03/06 Army Meeting NI Obligations Per Leaked IMC Report
BN 03/02/06 Belfast Bar Raid 'Targets UDA Figures'
BB 03/02/06 Police Search Stab Victim's Home
BN 03/02/06 Three Held In 'Dissident Republican' Probe
NG 03/02/06 Peace Priest (Fr Reid) To Speak In Native Nenagh
DI 03/02/06 BSands: Pursuing &Winning Freedom Through Books At Bedtime
IT 03/03/06 Opin: All Is Far From Lost After Riots
IT 03/03/06 Gertie Goes Back To Dublin Town
PG 03/03/06 Molly Maguires Descendants Ask For A Pardon
Move To Have McBride Convicted Soldiers Thrown Out Of Army
More than 50 MPs are backing moves to have the two Scottish
soldiers convicted of murdering Belfast teenager Peter
McBride thirteen years ago thrown out of the army, it was
Members of a range of parties at Westminster have signed an
SDLP Early Day Motion pushing for a change in the
regulations which allow the soldiers who shot him to return
to the army after serving just three years in jail.
The news came after it was disclosed that Prime Minister
Tony Blair has refused to meet the mother of the murdered
teenager, Jean McBride.
She has long been campaigning to have the solider expelled
from the army.
SDLP Justice spokesman, North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness,
accused Mr Blair of having "slapped the family of Peter
McBride in the face" after refusing to meet them.
He said: "It is a disgraceful situation that the Prime
Minister could not afford some time to meet with them in
order to discuss their very legitimate grievances."
Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher were sentenced to
life for murdering Peter McBride in 1995.
However, they were released from prison three years later
and allowed to rejoin their regiment. At their trial they
said they opened fire because they wrongly thought McBride
was carrying a bomb.
Mr Maginness said the Early Day Motion was demanding that
those convicted of murder, rape, torture and other serious
crimes were expelled from the army.
"Armies are meant to protect the public, that`s why they
shouldn`t have serving in their ranks those who have
murdered, raped and tortured. It`s as simple as that," he
The MLA also said that, as the next step in their campaign,
the party would be proposing amendments to the Armed Forces
Bill currently going through Westminster, to make the
principles behind their campaign requirements of law.
"If the British Government are at all serious about human
rights we hope that they will get serious about this
campaign and back our amendments and early day motion," he
ILIR: 1,000 Turn Out In San Francisco
By John J. Gallagher
THE Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) that began in
New York has turned from a snowball into an avalanche of
support in the last three months. Over 1,000 San Francisco
residents turned up for a meeting on immigration reform
last Thursday night to support the proposed Kennedy/McCain
immigration bill that will be debated in the Senate this
The public meeting hosted by the Irish Immigration Pastoral
Center, an advice center for Irish immigrants, petitioned
the crowd to make themselves heard in the Senate. “They
have the power to change our lives. The U.S. government
needs to hear your voice,” said Kelly Fincham, executive
Fincham urged the crowd to contact California Senators
Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to ask for their support
for the Kennedy/McCain bill. “Get friends and family to
contact them, use the phone, use the fax,” said Fincham.
“We need to remind Americans of the contribution the Irish
have made. We’ve earned it, we deserve it.”
The meeting held in San Francisco’s United Irish Cultural
Center follows similar events across the U.S. in Queens,
Yonkers, Boston and Philadelphia, all of which saw an
Former California State Assemblyman Charlie Meyers, who
attended the San Francisco meeting, said, “ I haven’t seen
anything like this in the last 20 years.”
As the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on
immigration this week, ILIR will hold rallies in
Washington, D.C. with bus loads of petitioners expected
from the major east coast cities and supporters from
Joe Hackett, first secretary at the Irish Embassy in
Washington, D.C. who addressed the meeting said, “It is
impossible to think of these cities without the Irish
The Irish government has endorsed the Kennedy/McCain
immigration bill and visiting Irish ministers this month
for the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will aim to raise
awareness of the issue. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie
Ahern will raise the issue with President Bush.
“On St. Patrick’s morning this will be one of the main
issues discussed when he meets with him,” said Hackett.
Many recipients of past visas attended the meeting,
including Angus McCarty, a winner of a Morrison visa who
addressed the crowd.
“As time passes you don’t want to be looking over your
shoulder…There are people here who have paid their dues.
We’ve paid our dues, we’ve proven ourselves,” said McCarty,
a successful businessman who employs over 30 people in
residential development projects.
Two undocumented Irish women who gave only their first
names spoke at the event. They echoed the thoughts of many
that sat in the hall. They said they were in full support
of the ILIR and were actively lobbying senators.
Samantha, originally from Dublin, said, “I’m doing it
because I love this country. I have a degree in psychology
and I’m bartending.” She urged the crowd to “stand together
and not be afraid. All we have to do is call.”
While New York Senator Charles Schumer has pledged his
support for the Irish lobby, a statement from California
Senator Diane Feinstein’s office read, “At present, Senator
Feinstein does not support the bill.” A statement from
Senator Boxer’s office read, “Senator Boxer is a cosponsor
of the bipartisan Craig-Kennedy Ag-Jobs bill. She believes
it is a good bill to start with and use as a model for
further improvements to our immigration policy.”
With an estimated 40,000 undocumented Irish workers in the
U.S., the Irish immigration issue was being overshadowed by
fears of a flux of immigration from Mexico and South
Bart Murphy, chairman of the Coalition of Irish Immigration
Centers, emphasized the value of trade and relations
between Ireland and the U.S. “It is our job to put [(Irish
immigration) on the radar…There is five times the
investment in Ireland, than in Mainland China.”
SF To Play No Part In Shadow Assembly
Frank Millar, London editor
Doubts about the viability of Tony Blair's latest Northern
Ireland initiative mounted last night after Gerry Adams
warned that Sinn Féin will play no part in any "shadow
Assembly" at Stormont.
Declining to say whether this would mean abstention or
resignation by Sinn Féin MLAs, Mr Adams told The Irish
Times specific tactics would be determined by the party
leadership in consultation with the Assembly group.
However, he insisted they would not "acquiesce" with such a
development, which he maintained could not work and would
result in the destruction of the Belfast Agreement.
The Sinn Féin president's warning came after talks with the
British prime minister at Downing Street.
Its immediate effect appeared to be to raise a question
mark over next Wednesday's planned summit between Mr Blair
and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
As SDLP leader Mark Durkan reinforced the scale of
nationalist/republican hostility to the emerging British
blueprint at his meeting with Mr Ahern in Dublin, the prime
minister's spokesman said "no final decisions have been
taken" about next week's London talks or the next steps in
However, the spokesman insisted that "decisions will have
to be taken" following Mr Adams's explicit call for the
abolition of the Assembly should the Rev Ian Paisley's DUP
refuse to resume power-sharing government "by early
summer". Despite apparent initial denials by the Northern
Ireland Office, Sinn Féin and SDLP leaders have confirmed
the British proposal - first reported in The Irish Times
two weeks ago - to reinstate the Assembly with initially
limited powers and an absolute deadline for the re-
establishment of an inclusive power-sharing Executive.
During subsequent negotiations the proposed timeframe for
this initiative has apparently been set at six months,
rather than a year, with the "point of decision" - to
resume power-sharing or collapse the Assembly - to be
reached in October or November this year.
However, Mr Adams said he went into his meeting with Mr
Blair yesterday "with the firm intention of ruling out any
sort of shadow Assembly."
Instead of "pandering to the DUP", Mr Adams said the
British and Irish governments "should give the DUP a choice
- between power-sharing, and the equality agenda, the
resumption of inter-governmentalism and the full
implementation of all other aspects of the Good Friday
Mr Adams said the onus was on London and Dublin "to show
that the process of change" would continue, whatever the
disposition of the DUP.
"It isn't the best," he said. "The optimum is still power-
sharing, with Ian Paisley as first minister. But if he [ Dr
Paisley] doesn't want that, he's a consenting adult."
Asked if he wasn't engaged in rhetoric designed to
pressurise the DUP, Mr Adams said: "The governments would
make a mistake if they think we're negotiating on this. It
would be to ignore the stresses on the republican project."
Mr Adams said Mr Blair should reinstate the Assembly and,
soon after, trigger the mechanism to appoint an Executive.
Asked what should happen in the event of a failure to
achieve that, Mr Adams said Secretary of State Peter Hain
would have "no alternative" but to follow through his
threat to close the Assembly and refuse further elections.
Of the proposed alternative, Mr Adams said: "We're not
against a shadow Assembly because we're bloody-minded but
because it won't work. .. There is no possibility of the
DUP coming on board if they are being pandered to ... We
won't be part of it.
"They [ the two governments] would just be tearing the Good
Friday agreement up. It cannot work unless we acquiesce,
and we won't."
© The Irish Times
SDLP Objects To 'Shadow' Plan
Stephen Colli and Gerry Moriarty
SDLP leader Mark Durkan yesterday told the Taoiseach of his
party's objections to a plan to restore the Northern
Assembly in "shadow form" in an attempt to force the
political pace in the North.
The meeting followed reports that the Taoiseach and British
prime minister had reached agreement on a joint plan to
restore the Northern Assembly in "shadow" form, with a
built-in deadline for full restoration conditional on
agreement to re-establish the power-sharing Executive.
Mr Durkan led the SDLP delegation to Government Buildings
for over an hour of talks with the Taoiseach and the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, on the prospect
of getting the North's institutions back up and running.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Durkan said it was clear the SDLP's
concerns about the comprehensive agreement were broadly
recognised and accepted by the Taoiseach.
"More importantly, we have the Taoiseach saying the
comprehensive agreement is not a baseline for progress," he
That comprehensive agreement included the idea of a "shadow
Assembly" as a step towards establishing a new Northern
Mr Durkan said the Irish Government was now looking at
setting a date for restoration of the institutions and that
was a positive step.
DUP leader Ian Paisley has insisted he will not countenance
any political proposal from the British and Irish
governments that would set a deadline for the restoration
of a fully functioning Assembly and Executive.
Dr Paisley said after an hour-long meeting with the North's
political development minister, David Hanson, yesterday
that he would resist any imposed deadline.
© The Irish Times
New Line Of Inquiry In 1974 UVF Bomb Probe
by Ciarán Barnes
Relatives of those killed in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan
bombings have welcomed the “significant advances” made by
the man investigating the murders.
Barrister Patrick MacEntee said yesterday that he had
received new security information on the bombings. The
information is believed to have come from British
The Irish government has extended the deadline for the
submission of his report on the killings until the end of
May, allowing him more time to pursue this new line of
The UVF carried out the bombings, which killed 33
civilians. The families of those murdered have long
maintained that the British security services played a
leading role in the attacks.
Robert McConnell, one of the UVF men who planted the bombs,
was a serving soldier in the British army. Robin Jackson,
another member of the murder squad, was a long-standing
Mr MacEntee’s commission was set up last year to
investigate specific aspects of the original Garda
These aspects include why the original investigation was
wound down, why leads were not followed up, and the
location of missing documents.
The barrister is believed to have recently met someone with
new information on the killings who he had been seeking for
some time. It is understood Mr MacEntee is hopeful of
contacting two other people he wants to interview.
All of these people are believed to be linked to British
intelligence. Mr MacEntee’s admission that these contacts
were outside the jurisdiction has hinted further at this.
The Justice for the Forgotten group, which campaigns on
behalf of the families bereaved by the bombings, welcomed
Mr MacEntee’s findings as a “significant advance”.
Spokeswoman Margaret Urwin said: “Reading between the
lines, it is obvious it is British intelligence he is
referring to when he talks about new contacts.”
In 2003, an inquiry into the bombings by Mr Justice Henry
Barron said British intelligence had failed to co-operate
in providing intelligence files about the attacks.
Policing Board Line-Up To Vex Hain
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor
Northern Secretary Peter Hain faces another politically
divisive problem, including a potential unionist boycott,
as he decides who should be appointed to the next Policing
Board for Northern Ireland in four weeks.
Unionist politicians have said they will not accept any
deviation from the appointments system used to form the
first board in November 2001 under the chair and vice-
chairmanship of Prof Sir Desmond Rea and Denis Bradley,
who, while independent members, were seen respectively to
reflect the unionist and nationalist traditions.
At present there are 10 political and nine independent
members on the board. The political members were appointed
using the same D'Hondt mechanism employed to form the first
Northern Executive based on the results of the 1998
In the first Executive the Ulster Unionist Party and the
SDLP had three ministries each while Sinn Féin and the DUP
had two each. But as Sinn Féin boycotted the board the
political seats, again using the D'Hondt system of the
proportional allocation of posts, were divided four for the
UUP and three each for the DUP and SDLP.
The incoming board will be appointed based on the 2003
Assembly elections results, where the DUP and Sinn Féin
surpassed the UUP and SDLP as the main unionist and
If Sinn Féin joined the board the political membership
would be four seats for the DUP and two each for Sinn Féin,
the SDLP and the UUP. But Sinn Féin made clear at its
recent ardfheis it would only join the board based on the
agreement of a special ardfheis. So, according to an expert
in the complex mathematical D'Hondt system, with Sinn Féin
excluding itself, five seats would go to the DUP, three to
the UUP and two to the SDLP.
Mr Hain is understood to be considering a number of options
for a new board on April 1st that would better reflect
unionist/natinalist breakdown in the Northern population.
One option could involve altering the appointments system
so that instead of the political seats dividing eight for
unionists and two for nationalists, Sinn Féin seats would
go to independent members deemed from the
nationalist/republican tradition. This would mean 11
independent appointees instead of nine, and eight political
appointees instead of 10.
But DUP board member Ian Paisley junior has warned Mr Hain
that his party will not accept "any sleight of hand" that
would change the system. The UUP has gone further by
insisting that if the number of independents is increased
it will boycott the board. "If he changes the system we'll
walk," said UUP board member Fred Cobain.
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said Mr Hain had not yet
decided on appointments. This week he invited the DUP, Sinn
Féin, the UUP and the SDLP to nominate political members.
While the deadline for a response is the middle of next
week, Sinn Féin has made clear it will not be
participating, at this stage at least.
NIO spokespeople refused to be drawn on what Mr Hain might
do when Sinn Féin says no to its seats. "Our job is to
create a board that reflects the community it serves," said
a senior NIO source who knows that whatever the Northern
Secretary decides he will have more political trouble on
© The Irish Times
Tribunal Opens Into Fatal Shooting Of RUC Men
A new tribunal of inquiry to investigate whether there was
collusion between members of the Garda or other State
employees in the murder of two senior RUC officers by the
IRA in 1989 will get under way today.
The tribunal will be chaired by the former president of the
District Court, Peter Smithwick.
It will examine the fatal shooting of RUC Chief Supt Harry
Breen and Supt Robert Buchanan. Both were killed in an IRA
ambush north of the Border between Co Louth and south
Armagh on March 20th, 1989. They were killed as they
returned from a meeting with senior gardaí in Dundalk.
The case is one of six allegations of collusion between
British and Irish security forces and paramilitaries that
were investigated by retired Canadian judge Peter Cory
arising out of inter-governmental talks in Weston Park in
He recommended that a full inquiry be held into the case.
The allegations, which have been made by a number of
journalists in recent years, centre on claims that a member
of the Garda or a civilian employed within the Garda
organisation provided information to the IRA on the visit
of the two RUC officers and, in particular, on the time
they left Dundalk Garda station.
The tribunal will get under way today with an opening
statement on the case.There will also be an opportunity for
various interested parties to seek representation before
Public hearings of the tribunal are expected to begin in
the weeks ahead.
No firm date has been set at present for the start of
© The Irish Times
Army Meeting NI Obligations
Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor, in Belfast
A new report from the Independent Monitoring Commission
(IMC) has concluded that the British army is meeting its
obligations on scaling down its security presence in
Northern Ireland, according to well-placed sources.
The ninth report of the IMC presented to the British and
Irish governments last night deals with demilitarisation,
or normalisation, as it is officially called.
The report found that the British army is meeting its
commitments "in terms of timing and planning", said a
senior source last night.
"There probably will be complaints from certain quarters
but in terms of normalisation it is clear that everything
can't be done by tomorrow," the source added.
The report, which also deals with the defortification of
certain PSNI stations as additionally pledged in the
British government's demilitarisation programme, is
expected to be published in the middle of next week.
© The Irish Times
Belfast Bar Raid 'Targets UDA Figures'
02/03/2006 - 21:04:16
Police in North Belfast tonight raided a bar in what is
believed to be a major operation against the loyalist
Ulster Defence Association.
There were reports that at around 7pm police officers
swooped on the Alexander Bar near York St Railway Station
while UDA men were rehearsing a show of strength planned
for tomorrow night.
Loyalist sources claimed tear gas was fired during the
operation through upstairs windows.
They said several leading UDA figures in the north of the
city were arrested.
“Currently there are around seven Land Rovers around the
bar,” one loyalist source said.
“The place looks like it has been riddled with bullets.
Five top windows are nearly completely in.
“Between 10 to 15 people have been arrested and you are
talking about some well-known figures.”
Other sources said police were extensively searching the
bar for weapons.
Police Search Stab Victim's Home
The home of a father-of-six who was murdered in west
Belfast last month has been raided by the police.
Gerard Devlin, 39, was stabbed to death as he called for
his children at Whitecliff Parade in Ballymurphy. Four
people have been charged with murder.
Since the killing, homes have been burned and people
Mr Devlin's aunt said the family was angry at the search.
The police said it was not their intention to cause
distress but the search was necessary.
Bernie O'Rawe, Mr Devlin's aunt, said the police had told
her they were looking for petrol bombs.
"The family is very, very angry and very upset," she said.
"Here's a man that's lying dead three weeks. His own young
family are only back here about two days.
"His kids are left and we have the police in raiding their
house looking for petrol bombs, our family has had death
threats put on them."
Sinn Fein assembly member for West Belfast Michael Ferguson
said: "The bogus grounds being given for these raids is
apparently to search for explosives. So far the PSNI have
removed work mans tools from the house.
"This raid is insensitive, outrageous and completely
unwarranted and tensions are running very high in the
Police have been investigating a link between trouble in
the area and the death of Mr Devlin.
In a statement, the police said: "While we realise there
have been sensitivities and tensions in the area recently
we are still obligated to investigate the numerous serious
crimes that have been reported to us.
"If we did not we would failing in that duty and would
undoubtedly be held to account.
"It is not our intention to cause distress, however, the
searches are legal and are considered necessary and
proportionate. We would appeal to the community for any
information that could assist our enquiries into these
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/02 13:48:08 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Three Held In 'Dissident Republican' Probe
02/03/2006 - 22:55:54
Gardaí investigating dissident republican activity were
tonight questioning three men.
Officers arrested the three men in Wexford town this
morning under Section 30 of the Offences Against The State
They also discovered an explosive device in the Kilmore
Quay area, which was made safe by the army bomb disposal
The men can be held for questioning for up to 72 hours.
Peace Priest To Speak In Native Nenagh
Saturday March 4th 2006
By Gerry Slevin
Nenagh native Fr Alex Reid, one of the two independent
witnesses to the IRA's decommissioning of weapons last
September, is to pay a rare visit to the town in which he
grew up and was educated next month.
As part of the Nenagh parish's Lenten programme, the
Redemptorist priest will speak at a special Reflections
series (instead of the 1.05 Mass) in St Mary of the Rosary
Church on Tuesday April 4th.
A long-time confidant of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Fr
Alex arranged the ground-breaking talks between Adams and
the then SDLP leader John Hume which led to a common
nationalist approach and, in time, to the Downing Street
agreement of 1993. This, in turn, eventually led to the
1998 Good Friday agreement.
It was to Fr Reid also that the IRA turned when under
pressure to reveal where the bodies of those secretly
murdered and buried by the IRA were hidden. The locations
were passed on to Fr Reid who was acting as a conduit
between the IRA and the authorities.
Trusted and respected by both sides, Fr Reid, along with
Methodist minister Revd Harold Good was chosen to oversee
the decommissioning of IRA weapons last September. Some
weeks later at a public meeting in south Belfast during an
exchange with a member of the audience Fr Reid said
unionists had politically persecuted Catholics in Northern
Ireland for more than sixty years, adding that he believed
they were in the same category as the Nazis.
Fr Reid later apologised for the comments, saying he had
uttered them in a flash of anger and that he had been
provoked by a member of the audience.
Now engaged in the Basque region in Spain, trying to bring
peace to that part of the world, Fr Alex will conclude
three special Tuesday afternoon sessions in St Mary of the
Rosary Church. The first speaker on March 21st will be
Sister Redempta Twomey, Columban Sister, assistant editor
of 'The Far East' and a former missionary in Hong Kong.
She will be followed on 28th by Fr Peter McVerry S.J. who
has spent a lifetime looking after the homeless in Dublin.
These three reflections will immediately follow the parish
Mission which takes place from Saturday March 11th to 18th.
© Nenagh Guardian
Bobby Sands: Pursuing And Winning Freedom Through Books At
In the fourth excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography
Bobby Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, Sands
discovers a talent for entertaining the other republican
prisoners with his power of storytelling.
Night time belonged to the prisoners. Once the warders
left, they began their nightly routine of cigarette
manufacture, button shooting, news broadcasting, and
general entertainment. After the religious prisoners said
the rosary and everyone distributed cigarettes and
messages, there was debate and discussion.
The men told the time by the night guard’s “bell checks”.
He came on at nine o’clock and every hour he pushed the
security grille at the bottom of the wing to show that he
had checked the cells. Time was measured by the first bell
check at nine, the second at ten, and the third at 11.
After the third bell check, the last business of the night
was entertainment, including the “book at bedtime”. The
storyteller pulled his mattress up to his cell door and
shouted out a story while the rest of the men lay,
listening. All the surfaces in the prison were hard, with
nothing to dampen sound, so noises travelled. When the book
was a good one and the storyteller was engaging, everyone
got lost in the story.
Bobby told an array of stories. His speciality was epics.
His story of Geronimo and his Apache guerrillas “epitomised
everything that he thought a human being should be,” says
Richard O’Rawe. “Compassionate but unbreakable, fighting
the whole of America on his own.” There were other stories,
all about struggle. Bobby told Trinity [by Leon Uris]
several times and How Green Was My Valley, about the Welsh
miners. He told Doctor Zhivago. The other prisoners began
to learn political lessons from the stories.
“Bob’s stories was all about heroes… It was always about
the individual against the establishment and how the
individual, no matter what happened, couldn’t be broken. If
he had to fight them all on his own, so be it. If he had to
die, so be it. That’s just the way he was. That was his
mentality. Bob just had a spirit that couldn’t be tamed,
and he wasn’t going to allow it to be tamed. If it came to
it, he was going to fight them on his own, he was going to
carry the burden of everybody.”
It was not long before Sands told a story that became
legendary among the blanketmen. He said that he had read a
novel the last time he was in the prison hospital. Its
title was Jet.
Like all of Bobby’s books, Jet was a story of someone
pursuing and winning freedom in the face of all the
oppression that the forces of reaction could muster. Jet
was about a man who took on the US military-industrial
complex and achieved his own personal freedom through
struggle. To the prisoners, it was a story about them,
about how they could achieve an inner freedom even as they
lay isolated in their grim cells, surrounded by barbed wire
and concrete and a hostile force of screws. For a couple of
hours a night as they listened to Bobby tell his stories,
they were free. Their mind’s eyes took them beyond the
walls, beyond the razor wire, wherever Bobby chose to take
Each prisoner latched onto his words and created a vivid
image of a place where, at that time, they most wanted to
be… free, in struggle. Bobby was their travel agent and
their guide and these stories, perhaps more than any other
aspect of his seemingly tireless efforts to organise the
prison struggle, turned him into their leader. They
followed him because he could take them to the most special
of places. He never let them down.
Jet was a young American named Jonathan Eisenhower Truman.
He was the son of a fanatically militaristic colonel in the
US army who named him after his two great commanders in
chief, President Dwight David Eisenhower and President
Harry S Truman. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, the
young boy rebelled. But he could not avoid the plans that
his gung ho father had for him. War was raging and his
father made him enlist and ensured that he would serve a
tour in Vietnam. Jet was wrenched away from his music and
his teenage parties, from the girl he loved.
Jet went to Vietnam and everything he saw fed his sense of
rebellion. After a time, he began to hatch a plan of
escape. He faked his own death by leaving his dog tags
where his comrades would find them and think the Viêt Công
killed him. After a series of dangerous adventures, Jet
finally made his way back to the United States, where he
took the pseudonym John Ernest Thornton… Jet. He bought a
Harley, grew long hair and a beard (like a blanketman), and
met his old girlfriend. They set off for the open road.
The blanketmen lay on their foam mattresses, miles away
from the maggots and the shit, imagining Jet as he rode the
American highways on his Harley, his girlfriend on the back
with her arms around him and the wind blowing through her
hair. They loved it when Bobby interspersed the narrative
with music, adding a new dimension that made the fantasy
even more real. As they rode along the open roads, Jet and
his girl listened to music, loud, on the radio. They rode
down the highway at 70 miles per hour, the sun beating down
on them, when Bob Dylan came on the radio. Bobby broke into
song, his husky voice turning book-telling into concert.
Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I’m not the one you want, babe
I will only let you down
… it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe.
But somebody was looking for Jet. His father learned of his
son’s treachery and vowed to take his revenge by having him
court-martialled and executed as a traitor. He hired a
renegade gang of Hell’s Angels to find Jet and bring him
in. The head of the gang, a big militaristic guy called
Hoss, had been a drill sergeant in Vietnam.
Jet took many nights to tell, “a bit of a record” since
most books lasted only a couple of nights. At 2am on the
last night, when Jet made a dramatic escape from the
pursuing motorcycle gang, handing a decisive defeat to his
father and (figuratively) to the oppressive forces of the
state, the wing erupted into applause and whistling.
“It was an absolutely terrific story,” recalls Richard
O’Rawe. “And it was a story that you could relate to
because Jet was a free spirit and he was rebelling against
conscription, he was rebelling against his father who was
the establishment, he was on a big Harley with the hands up
and he was on that road, hair flowing and the world was out
there and he was going out to get it.” Jet was “even
spiritual, in the sense that you were actually on the
passenger’s seat with him when he went down the highway.”
Joe Barnes says that Jet really was an out-of-body
experience. “The boys absolutely adored it because it was
everything you wanted to be. You wanted to be free, you
wanted to be your own man on that Harley-Davidson and the
world’s your oyster and any worries you have are back there
and you’re just heading forward.”
Tomorrow’s excerpt describes how Bobby Sands informed his
family about the next hunger strike.
Bobby Sands book launches:
Belfast: Thursday, March 9 at 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls
Dublin: Friday, March 10 at 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre,
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13. Barlow House
Drogheda 5.30pm, Imperial Hotel, Dundalk 8pm.
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm, Mid-Ulster
Republican Centre, Gulladuff.
Opin: All Is Far From Lost After Riots
Much of the media coverage and comment that followed last
Saturday's Dublin riots was so outlandish it bordered on
hysteria. All sorts of incredible claims were made. With
the dust largely settled, so to speak, hopefully a more
rational and balanced discussion will take place, writes
For that to happen, it is essential that some of the myths
that have already taken hold be dispensed with. Contrary to
initial reports, it is clear that "busloads of republican
supporters" were not ferried in from Northern Ireland to
initiate and take part in the violent disorder.
In fact, the addresses of those who have appeared before
the courts show that most rioters travelled from no farther
than the outskirts of Dublin city.
Though it will undoubtedly disappoint many, there is no
evidence to suggest that Sinn Féin was involved in
organising or lending support to last Saturday's
disturbances. It would have been incredibly stupid of them
if they had. Sinn Féin have many failings but stupidity is
A year or so before a general election in the Republic,
they could not risk getting involved in last Saturday's
mayhem, regardless of how they felt about a "Love Ulster"
contingent processing through the streets of Dublin.
Besides that, considering the deep animosity between them,
it is stretching credulity beyond its limits to imagine
Sinn Féin and the republican splinter groups responsible
for the disturbances agreeing to co-operate on anything.
The truth is, the trouble was caused by a few hundred
Republican Sinn Féin and Irish Republican Socialist Party
supporters willingly assisted by an opportunist ragbag of
drunkards, malcontents and thugs, the like of which one
finds in any city centre on a Saturday afternoon.
Also, the riot took place on a building site, putting the
Garda at a serious disadvantage. A ready supply of
ammunition allowed rioters to gain the upper hand for a
time, giving the impression that they were stronger and far
better organised than actually was the case.
The most extraordinary claim made by some commentators is
that the events of last Saturday somehow showed that,
beneath a thin veneer of liberalism, the Republic is a
deeply sectarian society.
From what evidence there is, it is beyond understanding how
anyone can arrive at that conclusion. It was amply
demonstrated, of course, that a tiny minority within the
Republic are indeed sectarian. But that is hardly grounds
for declaring them representative of everyone else around
How atypical the Dublin troublemakers really are was
confirmed by the outpouring of anger and revulsion at
Saturday's events from virtually every quarter in the
Last Saturday's thugs are no more a reflection of broader
opinion than are the criminals, racists, homophobes and
bigots that loiter on the margins of every society.
It should be appreciated, as well, that authorities in the
Republic had no hesitation in granting permission for the
Love Ulster parade to take place while the Garda risked
life and limb protecting those intending to march - hardly
the actions of a sectarian state and its servants.
Where others are correct is in stressing the importance of
last Saturday in terms of it being a salutary reminder to
everyone of the true nature of many of those who pass
themselves off as Irish republicans.
While, undoubtedly, much of the actual disorder can readily
be attributed to various malcontents and drunken thugs, the
fact remains that the violence was planned and orchestrated
by associates of the IRSP and Republican Sinn Féin. These
are people well versed in the slogans of republicanism, but
totally divorced from any real commitment to the sentiments
contained therein. Their narrow, sectarian and exclusive
brand of politics has much in common with the worldview of
extreme nationalist groups like the British National Party.
The danger lies in the fact that for far too long a
simplistic one-sided version of recent history, such as
people like this recount, has gone largely unchallenged in
the Republic. This history ignores - or at worst bestows -
nobility on countless sectarian atrocities committed over
decades by the IRA and its offshoots. By their account,
unionists (code for northern Protestants) and their British
allies are inherently bad and fully deserving of whatever
agonies were heaped upon them.
While the government of the Republic, over recent years,
has succeeded in building good relationships with virtually
all strands of unionism, this has largely taken place over
the heads of the wider community in the South.
There remains among the general population in the Republic,
and this is particularly true among younger people, an
almost complete lack of understanding of the unionist
people of Northern Ireland, their history and the suffering
they had to endure.
To date, the organisers of the riots in Dublin, and others,
have had free rein to stereotype unionists as they like.
But all is far from lost, for by their actions of last
Saturday the same people have now gifted the rest of us
with a perfect opportunity to set things right.
© The Irish Times
Gertie Goes Back To Dublin Town
A Dublin woman revisits the city centre she hasn't seen in
25 years, with Frank McNally at her side
Gertie Kennedy is enjoying the novelty of being able to
walk up the middle of Grafton Street. The last time she was
here, anyone walking in the street would have been in
danger of being run over by a bus. So not for her the
complaint about how jaded the street looks these days, with
its eurobrick and shops that could be anywhere. "Sure this
is lovely," she says, still impressed by pedestrianisation.
Until yesterday, Gertie hadn't walked the city centre for
at least 25 years.
She had her reasons. One is that she lives in faraway
Dalkey, eight miles south of the GPO. Another is that she's
88 in April.
For a woman as lively as this, however, age is no excuse,
so she explains her boycott of the city by asking why she
should leave her own area anyway. There's nothing in
Dalkey, she admits. "But we have everything you could want
Gertie revealed her self-imposed exile in a letter to RTÉ's
Ryan Tubridy on Tuesday, when his radio show was broadcast
from Temple Bar. Temple Bar was earmarked for a state-of-
the-art bus garage the last time she frequented the city.
Finding a Dubliner who hadn't been in Dublin since then was
not quite like finding one of those Japanese soldiers who
didn't know the war was over, but it was close. So
yesterday, The Tubridy Show's Katriona McFadden brought her
on a tour of her old haunts. Not that there were many left.
There was Bewley's and there was Arnotts, and that was
about it. There was no McDonald's in the Grafton Street she
remembered. The pharmacy she worked in is now a clothes
shop. And what was that apparition at the end of Harry
Street? The Westbury Hotel? "That's new," she said.
Then there was the Luas, beside which Gertie was being
photographed until security staff informed us that we
needed prior permission and that - contrary to our belief -
the platform we were on was not public property. No sooner
had Grafton Street been liberated, it seemed, than a piece
of Stephen's Green had fallen. You win some, you lose some.
It's not that Gertie has led a sheltered life. A daily
visitor to the bookmakers, she produced a wad of €50 notes
yesterday that she had relieved Paddy Power of the day
before. She is also a card-shark who has played poker with
the mothers of the rich and famous, including Nan Smurfit,
something she'll be reminding young Michael of when she
tries to blag tickets for the Ryder Cup.
A regular correspondent of Gay Byrne, she once appeared on
The Late Late, and she featured on Joe Duffy's Christmas
broadcast from Duke Street last year. But they sent a taxi,
apparently, and drove her straight home afterwards. Oh, and
she was the first person to suggest disposable coffins
(during a call to Pat Kenny), as a result of which Keith
Massey has given her a voucher for her own no-frills
All this seems perfectly plausible, as does her
indifference to the city centre. Asked what she thinks of
the Spire, she says "not much" and regrets they didn't
rebuild the pillar and put Gay Byrne on it. On the other
hand, she's impressed by the rising docklands, even if they
only confirm that the city's getting bigger "and I'm
getting smaller". O'Connell Street looks "lovely" too.
But Dublin is for young people, she says, after a quick
visit to the bookies in Moore St, where her selection in
the 2.35 at Limerick can only finish second. There had been
no time to see Temple Bar, but Gertie isn't complaining.
"It's very nice, but it's not for me," she says of the city
generally. "I won't be in again."
© The Irish Times
Nearly 130 Years After The Leader Of The Molly Maguires Was
Hanged For Murder, His Descendants Ask For A Pardon
Friday, March 03, 2006
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- A leader of the legendary Molly Maguires was
hanged for murder 130 years ago, and now his great-great-
granddaughter is asking the state to pardon him in "an act
Bradley C Bower, Associated Press
Zenos Frudakis inspects his sculpture of a convicted coal
miner headed to the gallows, which is on temporary display
in front of the state Capitol. It is destined for a Molly
Maguire historical park in Schuylkill County.
The Carbon County district attorney, though, argues it
would be a travesty of justice to second-guess an 1877
court decision that relied on the due-process standards
that were in effect at that time.
The state Board of Pardons heard from both sides during a
hearing yesterday but did not issue a decision in the case
of John "Yellow Jack" Donahoe. Its next meeting is
scheduled for April 6.
The case was initiated by Margaret Juran of Dauphin County,
who wants to clear her ancestor's name. She was joined
yesterday by her father, her husband and nine members of
the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic
fraternal organization whose members wore orange-white-and-
green sashes, the colors of Ireland's flag.
Philadelphia-area sculptor Zenos Frudakis came for support,
too, along with a 7-foot sculpture he had made of a hooded
man ready for the gallows.
Mr. Frudakis, whose father was injured in a mine accident
almost a century ago, said the figure represents "Yellow
Jack" and 19 other coal miners hanged in the late 1800s for
their alleged involvement in the Molly Maguires, a secret
society of Irish coal workers notorious for violence and
intimidation against mine owners who they believed were
unfair and unkind to workers.
Both art and artist stood in the rain on the steps of the
Capitol yesterday, while the Pardons Board met inside.
Inside, Mrs. Juran did not offer evidence of her ancestor's
innocence, but instead argued that Mr. Donahoe was denied
due process. He was not judged by a jury of peers, she
claimed, and prosecutors had worked for railroad companies
that ran Pennsylvania coal mines.
The case was tainted by pre-trial publicity, prosecution
witnesses may have been intimidated and four jury members
did not speak fluent English, argued Mrs. Juran and her
attorney, Grainger Bowman.
Mr. Donahoe was hanged in a small Carbon County town that
was then called Mauch Chunk -- and is now called Jim Thorpe
-- for the 1871 shooting death of Morgan Powell, of the
Lehigh & Wilkes-Barre Coal Co.
Mrs. Juran's family didn't talk much about that when she
was young, but she was curious and learned about it on her
"I was intrigued. I wanted to know the truth, I wanted to
know why, and I found out: There was an injustice," she
"Five generations of the Donahoe family have endured pain,
suffering, ill truths and hardships that will not be
tolerated any longer," Mrs. Juran said.
"John Donahoe stood up for what he believed in. ... He was
instrumental in forming a camaraderie of men, a brotherhood
of men working together to improve working conditions,
secure employment and to implement a fair wage scale. ...
His dream is our reality today."
There was reasonable doubt in the case, she said, and a
pardon would right a wrong and bring her family peace.
Carbon County District Attorney Gary Dobias, though, warned
that the pardon could affect the integrity of the justice
system. It is improper, he said, to judge due process in a
130-year-old case based on today's standards.
"You cannot hold a trial from the 1870s to the fair-trial
standards of today, just as I hope the trials of today
won't be held to the fair-trial standards that will exist
100 years from now," he said.
"The jury verdict was supported by credible evidence and
testimony and it met the due process requirements as they
existed in the 1870s," Mr. Dobias said. "I'm asking the
board not to rewrite history."
A pardon for Mr. Donahoe could open the door to countless
other pardon reviews, he said.
Pardons are meant to show mercy to petty criminals who
admit guilt and provide compelling evidence for wiping
their records clean. Mr. Donahoe never did that, and he
cannot be shown mercy anyway, because he is dead, Mr.
"I don't think anyone knows or is saying Mr. Donahoe is
innocent. At best, they assert he didn't get a fair trial
and, if that is true, a pardon is not the remedy," Mr.
Mr. Bowman, though, said it is the only venue available and
that a pardon is appropriate, even 130 years after trial.
"Our system of justice is sufficiently flexible to allow
justice to prevail at any time in the process," he said.
"It's the way our system self-corrects."
Posthumous cases are rare but not unheard of in
Pennsylvania. At least one other deceased Pennsylvanian --
also a Molly Maguire -- was pardoned in 1979.
"The relief that is being sought here is extraordinary, but
it has occurred," Mr. Bowman said.
(Tracie Mauriello can be reached at email@example.com or 1-717-787-2141.)
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