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March 02, 2006

PMs Plan To Force Pace On Assembly

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BT 03/02/06 Premiers Plan To Force Pace On Assembly
UN 03/02/06 Taoiseach Says Govts Have To Seize North Initiative
UT 03/02/06 Nationalists To Meet Leaders
UT 03/02/06 RIR Soldiers To Get £100,000 Pay-Off
BT 03/02/06 New Witnesses To IRA Bombing
UT 03/02/06 Suicide Teenager's Family Welcome Case Review
BB 03/02/06 DUP Member Leaves Policing Board
BB 03/02/06 'Serious Failings' At Jobs Agency
IM 03/02/06 "We Want A New Inquiry Into Cause Of Stardust"
BN 03/02/06 Ahern To Address Church Conference
BB 03/02/06 Climate Change 'Will Affect NI'
BJ 03/02/06 Irish Music Fest Saturday At Greystone
WP 03/02/06 Mary Gereau, 89; Lobbyist On Education, ERA - RIP
IT 03/02/06 Ronnie Drew Named Dublin Grand Marshall


Premiers Plan To Force Pace On Assembly

By Brian Walker and Noel McAdam
02 March 2006

The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach are planning to force
the pace of political developments by meeting in London as
early as next Wednesday to outline an agreed plan for
restoring the Assembly.

The summit would come as the political parties are due to
finalise changes to legislation which could underpin the
restoration of devolution in meetings chaired by Secretary
of State Peter Hain and Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern
on the same day.

But, as parallel talks with Direct Rule Minister David
Hanson resumed today, party sources have indicated there is
little basis of agreement on the way forward.

"We are going to this meeting with Mr Hanson and (Irish
Minister) Noel Treacy today and we don't even know what is
on the agenda," one party leader said today.

While Downing Street has yet to confirm the urgent summit
officially, the two premiers are expected to present to the
parties and the public firm options for restoring the
Assembly, first in shadow form and then - following an
election - proceeding to full devolution in less than a

Sources said that while options have been prepared "nothing
has yet been decided", including whether to confront the
parties with a stark "take it or leave it" ultimatum.

While accepting the idea of a shadow Assembly, the DUP is
firmly opposed to a deadline for restoring the Executive
and the other institutions, while the SDLP and Sinn Fein
have hardened their language recently against a shadow

After talks with Mr Ahern yesterday, Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams said he had firmly ruled out any contemplation
of a shadow Assembly which would be a "sop" to the DUP.

"Ian Paisley is not going to move if he doesn't feel any
incentive to move," Mr Adams said.


Taoiseach Says Govts Have To Seize North Initiative

11:39 Thursday March 2nd 2006

The Taoiseach has said the Irish and British Governments
are not prepared to wait around indefinitely for the
North's political parties to reach a deal among themselves
on restoring the power-sharing institutions.

The two governments are expected to publish their own
proposals on the way forward in the North as a result of
the DUP's refusal to negotiate a power-sharing deal with
Sinn Fein.

They are then expected to recall the Northern Assembly, but
leave the power-sharing Executive in suspension for a year
to allow the DUP to assess whether the IRA is genuine about
its commitment to non-violence.

Sinn Fein is unhappy with the plan, believing it will
encourage unionists to seek even more concessions.

However, speaking ahead of talks with SDLP officials in
Dublin today, Bertie Ahern said the two governments had no
other option but to take the initiative.

"If we can't bring everybody with us, then we have to make
a call how we move on," he said. "I'd still like to bring
everyone with us, but we can't wait around indefinitely."


Nationalists To Meet Leaders

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will
today hold separate meetings with nationalist politicians
from Northern Ireland as they continue to plot a path back
to devolution in the province.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams will lead a delegation to
Downing Street to meet Mr Blair.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan
will hold talks with Mr Ahern, who met Sinn Fein yesterday.

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern have been involved in discussions on
a road map that could lead Northern Ireland out of direct
rule by British ministers and back to devolution.

Sources have said that officials in London and Dublin have
yet to decide the exact shape of the proposals.

However, unionists and nationalists believe that the two
Prime Ministers may travel to Northern Ireland soon and
propose a Shadow Assembly and phased return to power

The Shadow Assembly, which Northern Ireland`s largest
party, the Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionist, has
proposed, could serve as a debating chamber or could enable
the 108 MLAs to scrutinise the work of Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain`s ministerial team until full blow
devolution returns.

However, Sinn Fein and the SDLP are not keen on the idea,
and there is suggestions that they could boycott such an

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness had called on
the British and Irish Governments to take a firmer line
with the DUP and robustly defend the Good Friday Agreement.

The Mid-Ulster MP has insisted that a Shadow Assembly would
be unacceptable to Republicans, and has accused both
governments of pandering to the DUP.

In a speech to Democratic Unionists at Queens University in
Belfast yesterday, MEP Jim Allister warned that his party
would veto any attempt to force Northern Ireland into the
previous system of power-sharing at Stormont.

He told party colleagues that any return to devolution had
to be to a radically different system, and he also said
that if nationalists were not up for change, his party
should be prepared to move on without them.

The SDLP has also been highly critical of the Shadow
Assembly proposal.

The party is expected to also accuse Sinn Fein today of
enabling the DUP to rewrite and undermine key sections of
the 1998 power-sharing arrangements.

SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell also challenged
Gerry Adams to state if his party was prepared to turn its
back on the deal it almost struck with the DUP in talks in
December 2004.

The South Belfast MP claimed the so-called Comprehensive
Agreement negotiated by Sinn Fein handed the DUP a veto
over nationalist ministers in a future Stormont executive
and limited the scope of increased co-operation between a
government in Northern Ireland and its counterpart in the


RIR Soldiers To Get £100,000 Pay-Off

Redundancy packages worth up to £100,000 are set to be
offered to disbanded Royal Irish Regiment soldiers, it has

By:Press Association

The financial settlements for many of the 3,000 troops
being axed as part of a major security scaledown in
Northern Ireland will better the severance deals taken by
police officers, sources said.

With negotiations involving Defence Secretary John Reid at
an advanced stage, the arrangements could be announced as
early as next week.

And Tony Blair was urged to treat Royal Irish soldiers
generously during talks with Democratic Unionist leader Ian
Paisley at Westminster today.

The North Antrim MP warned it was crucial to restoring
confidence in the political process.

He said: "This is a critical issue for us and I have again
impressed upon the Prime Minister the need to fairly and
adequately reward those who stood in the frontline for the
people of Northern Ireland through the worst days of
terrorist activity.

"The way in which the Government handles this is of
paramount importance to us and will have a direct bearing
on confidence in the community.

"Those who have served in a selfless manner must be treated
with the utmost dignity and respect when it comes to any
financial package."

All three Home Service battalions of the regiment will be
disbanded in August next year under the Government`s
sweeping normalisation plans.

Troop levels in Northern Ireland will be slashed from
10,500 to a 5,000 garrison.

The move, which provoked unionist outrage, was announced by
Secretary of State Peter Hain in response to the IRA
announcing its armed campaign had ended.

Although the decision could not be reversed, the DUP has
been heavily involved in talks with Mr Reid, Mr Hain and
Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram over the redundancy

It is understood the deal close to being finalised will
involve full-time soldiers receiving a redundancy, pension
and an ex-gratia Government payment in recognition of the
role played by the Royal Irish and their predecessors in
the Ulster Defence Regiment during 30 years of violence.

Part-time troops will be given a tax-free lump sum,
according to informed sources.

"Some people will walk away with packages in excess of six
figures," one said.

"Many of the full-time guys will come out slightly ahead of
what the police got," one said.

Under the severance arrangements drawn up as part of the
Patten blueprint for reforming the RUC, regular officers
clinched deals with as much as £100,000, while the part-
time reserve received up to £50,000.

But before the Royal Irish redundancy terms are finalised,
negotiations will focus on skills, employment training and
social issues soldiers leaving the Army are expected to

The Government tonight suggested the terms on offer would
be attractive.

A spokesman said: "The Government recognises the
outstanding role played by the Ulster Defence
Regiment/Royal Irish Regiment over many years in Northern
Ireland, as it does with the police and Prison Service.

"As with those settlements, we expect the Royal Irish
package to reflect that."

Mr Paisley stressed more talks were needed, but claimed it
was down to the finer details.

He added: "Continually I have underlined the importance of
delivering a fair package to the Royal Irish Regiment and
the impact any package will have on the political process.

"I have given the Prime Minister some supplementary issues
for his consideration arising from our discussions.

"I want to see a speedy conclusion to this issue and I have
urged the Prime Minister to move quickly on the final
elements of any deal."

Comment posted on UTV site in response to above story:

On 2 Mar at 10:06 - David from Antrim said:

This is outragious reporting and very misleading. The only
ones who will get anywhere near £100k are those who have
served for some time (Over 20 years) and Full Time. This is
the standard Army redundancy package (FIS/FAS) which any
soldier would get which also involves a pension for full
timers only. Many soldiers will get nothing like £100k cash
in their hands! Indeed the full time may only get £20k more
than FIS/FAS package and the part time may get only £10k as
a recognition payment which does not reflect yerars of
service given by many part time soldiers. In addition the
part time are not currently entitled to pension or


New Witnesses To IRA Bombing

By Jonathan McCambridge
02 March 2006

The Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing will be one of the
first cases examined by Northern Ireland's new Historical
Enquiries Team, police have revealed.

Detectives have also recently uncovered new witnesses to
the IRA massacre who have been interviewed.

The Historical Enquiries Team was set up earlier this year
to investigate over 3,000 Troubles-related deaths between
1968 and 1998.

At a meeting of the Policing Board yesterday, Ulster
Unionist Sam Foster asked police for an update on the
police investigation into the IRA atrocity when a no-
warning bomb exploded at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen on
Remembrance Sunday in 1987.

Eleven people were killed and 63 were injured in the
bombing, which caused outrage across the world.

Mr Foster said he was very disappointed by the lack of
police progress. He said the victims were suffering from
"non-remembrance" by police.

Chief Superintendent Maggie Hunter said that the C2
department of Crime Operations was continuing to pursue
lines of inquiry in the Enniskillen bombing.

She said: "Recently we identified new witnesses and they
have been interviewed.

"When the new lines of inquiry have been examined, the case
will be passed to the Historical Enquiries Team.

"Their governing principle will be maximum disclosure,
subject to legal guidelines.

"I can assure you the Enniskillen case will be treated as a
case already opened and will be dealt with whenever the
inquiry team receive the papers."


Suicide Teenager's Family Welcome Case Review

The grieving family of a north Belfast teenager who took
his own life have said an independent review must learn
lessons from his death.

By:Press Association

Health Minister Shaun Woodward visited the home of Danny
McCartan to personally tell his parents the 18-year-old`s
suicide would be the subject of an inquiry.

Gerard McCartan said he hoped the probe would have far-
reaching consequences in tackling a problem that has
reached epidemic levels.

He said: "This is for all the people of Northern Ireland."

It is estimated 150 people take their lives in the province
each year, with the problem particularly acute in north and
west Belfast.

Philip McTaggart, who formed an awareness group to
highlight suicide and self harm, welcomed the probe and
said urgent action was needed.

The co-founder of the Pips project said: "We have the
highest rate of suicides among young people in Europe and
more people have committed suicide than died during the

Mr Woodward visited the McCartan family home in the Oldpark
area last night and told them he had asked the Eastern
Health and Social Services Board to commission a study of
the circumstances surrounding Danny`s death.

The teenager, who had a history of self harm, was found
hanging in a derelict house in April last year.

His family believe when he was in adolescent care he
received adequate support.

But after Danny turned 18 Mr McCartan and his wife Carol,
both 40, claim he did not get the same level of support in
the health and social care system.

Mr Woodward said the independent review would assess the
treatment and care offered to the teenager.

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

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

Mr McCartan said: "We are absolutely delighted that the
minister has launched the independent review and we hope
some good comes of it.

"Mr Woodward believes in early intervention in schools and
that Danny`s story needs to be told.

"He does not want it to be put on a shelf."

On the campaign for an inquiry, he said: "It has been a
long hard struggle but it has been something we had to do
for Danny and other children.

"We are hoping that some good comes of this."

Mr McTaggart, whose son took his own life in April 2003,
said he was happy the McCartan family`s concerns had been

He said: "It has been a hard campaign for them.

"At the start some people thought maybe it was all in their
heads but it has been justified and and now they are
getting justice for Danny.

"I hope no family has to go through what that family went

"This will help all young people in Belfast and the whole
of Northern Ireland."

Mr McTaggart called on the Government to pledge additional
funding to tackle the problem and said a sea change in
treatment was needed.

"Young people like Danny were asking for help but they
could not get it.

"We hope today is a turning point and we will be watching
it closely."

The Government is developing a strategy in Northern Ireland
to deal with suicide. But Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
has pressed for an all-Ireland strategy to be set up to
deal with the problem on both sides of the border.

South of the border suicide claims almost 500 lives on
average each year, with men under 35 accounting for around
40% of those deaths.

In September, Irish Health Minister Mary Harney announced
state agencies and interest groups in the Republic would be
involved in a 10-year suicide prevention plan to lower the
death rate.

Sinn Fein MLA Kathy Stanton welcomed today`s announcement
of the independent review.

She said: "I think it is a tribute to all the work the
families of suicide victims have put in and we would hope
we will learn the lessons from this case."

:: For more information visit or
contact 028 9075 2990.


DUP Member Leaves Policing Board

The DUP's East Antrim MP, Sammy Wilson, is leaving the
Policing Board.

Mr Wilson said he wants to concentrate on his work at
Westminster and is expected to make way for assembly member
Arlene Foster.

He is one of two MPs due to quit the board, the body which
holds the PSNI to account. It is expected to be
reconstituted next month.

The SDLP's Eddie McGrady is another who is due to leave the
board. It is not clear who will replace him.

Mr Wilson said that he is in London for three days a week.

"It really isn't possible to carry out the duties on the
Policing Board, and policing is one of the most important
issues in Northern Ireland."

"I think that for anybody to come onto the Policing Board
they have to recognise that it is a huge time commitment."

The SDLP's Joe Byrne is no longer eligible to sit on the
board as a political nominee, but it is understood he has
sought a place as an independent member.

The Ulster Unionist Party's chief negotiator Alan McFarland
is not seeking re-nomination, nor is Lord Kilclooney.

The party's Sam Foster is also retiring and is due to be
replaced by a member of the party's assembly team.

However, the Ulster Unionists have not said if they will
nominate to the board this time - it wants assurances from
the government first if politicians will outnumber
independents on the body.

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

Sinn Fein has confirmed that it will not be making
nominations for its two allocated places at this stage.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/02 06:44:39 GMT


'Serious Failings' At Jobs Agency

An organisation set up to create jobs in Tyrone and
Fermanagh has come in for stinging criticism from the
public spending watchdog for the second time.

The Audit Office highlights serious failings and controls
at Into the West and former small business agency Ledu.

In 2004, the Audit Office issued a damning report on the
running of Into the West and has taken the unusual step of
reporting again on the same subject.

Into the West was set up with the aim of encouraging
business start-ups.

It was run out of the Omagh office of the then small
business agency Ledu.

The Audit Office said Ledu did not have proper contracts in
place when it set up Into the West and did not strengthen
them over time.

In addition, it did not supervise its western office
regional manager, which meant that his negligence and poor
practice were allowed to continue unchecked, said the

It also highlights poor management of agents working in
Australia for the body and the avoidable loss of £15,000 on
a postponed trip to Australia at the time of the Sydney

The value for money of the trip is questioned as most of
the participants were not from business, but were linked to
district councils or were local dignitaries.

Ledu used to look after small businesses but is now part of
Invest Northern Ireland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/02 06:41:49 GMT


"We Want The Memory Of Our Loved Ones Honoured And A New
Inquiry Into Cause Of Stardust"

National Crime And Justice Event Notice Thursday March
02, 2006 12:51 by JOANNE

March To Bertie Ahern's Office, Drumcondra Sat. 4th

Demonstrate Saturday 4th March . Assemble at Cat and Cage
Pub, Drumcondra, at 10am and march to Bertie Ahern's office

The fire that engulfed Dublin's Stardust nightclub in the
early hours of St Valentine's Day 1981 killed 48 children
and young adults. Countless others were injured and they
and their families continue to suffer emotionally, mentally
and physically. Many others have comitted suicide as a
direct result of the turmoi in their lives. These families
have left for 25 years, and it is our moral duy to support
them. Lets not wait until it the 30 year anninversary.

The official inquiry into the disaster found that the
Stardust owners had acted with "reckless disregard" for the
safety of their customers, but no charges were ever brought
against them. In fact Butterley was awarded a substantial
figure in damages for the loss of his business.

The inquiry didnot go far enough. Why despite numerous
inspections of the Stardust by Dublin Corp., were the
owners able to get away with repeated breaches of fire
regulations and building bye-laws? What caused the flames
to spread so rapidly?. Why were so people prevented from
escaping by locked or chained exit doors? Why were steel
plates fixed onto toilet windows preventing others from

The Stardust victims want the site to honour the 48 young
people who died, not to be turned into another profit
making pub for the owner who was responsible for locking
the emergency exits on the original stardust. They want a
full independent inquiry to re-examine the causes of the
disaster given that new evidence has been uncovered.

Pickets continue at Butterelys garage


Ahern To Address Church Conference

02/03/2006 - 07:07:35

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will today address a major
conference of the Catholic Church that is exploring the
values inspiring Irish political and social life.

Mr Ahern is just one of the speakers at the Dublin event
which is aiming to inform people on the social doctrine
behind the Church in Ireland.

In June 2005, the Pontifical Council of the Catholic Church
published its social doctrine to influence lay people in
the community on a variety of issues including family,
work, economic life, the political community and the
promotion of peace.

Some of the other speakers at the all-day conference,
entitled ‘The Common Good in an Unequal World’, include
Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical
Council for Justice and Peace; Primate of All Ireland Dr
Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin.

Other people addressing the conference on various aspects
of the doctrine include Lord Chris Patten of Barnes; Nuala
O’Loan Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; David Begg
General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions;
Deirdre Carroll from Inclusion Ireland and Trinity College
Dublin Professor William Binchy.

At the publication of the Irish edition of the Compendium
of the Social Doctrine of the Church last June, Dr Martin
said: “The social doctrine of the Church is not a political
manifesto and cannot be simply appropriated as the agenda
of any political party. The social teaching is not a ‘third
way’, it is an original way.”

He added: “The Social Doctrine of the Church is above all
an instrument to guide the formation of the consciences of
Christians especially Christian lay persons.”


Thongs Of Praise From Ulster Girls

By Maureen Coleman
02 March 2006

To thong or not to thong, that is the question...

And according to Ulster women, the bottom hasn't yet fallen
out of the g-string market.

While national figures reveal that sales are down by 28%,
lingerie-loving ladies in Northern Ireland are still giving
the thumbs up to thongs.

Bridget Jones may have brought back the big knickers, but
on the streets of Belfast the g-string is still the only
thing to wear.

So despite boy-shorts being on the rise in other parts of
the UK, it seems local ladies prefer to flash the flesh
rather than cover it up.

Ashley MacDonald (21), a sales manager from Carrickfergus,
said thongs were the things for her. "I don't think thongs
will ever lose their appeal because they're more
comfortable to wear, especially with trousers, and they
show no VPL (visible panty line).

"Personally I feel more feminine in thongs. I just think
they're sexier."

Belfast actress Karen Hassan (24) said she owned both g-
strings and 'shorties', but preferred the former. "They're
more discreet and easy to wear."

Siobhan McGlynn (18), from Lisburn, said she liked hipster-
style underwear but still preferred thongs. "Bridget Jones
may have liked her big knickers, but I certainly don't like

And Belfast lad Mark Hylands (20) also prefers g-strings.
The sales rep, from the Shore Road, said: "It's a visual
thing. I just think g-strings are nicer. Obviously you see

But LeeAnne Sheeran (20), from Newtownabbey, said she
thought g-strings were unsightly.

"There's nothing tackier than a woman wearing a g-string
that comes up over her jeans the way Jodie Marsh does.
That's really horrible."


Climate Change 'Will Affect NI'

Northern Ireland could face one of the worst storm threats
in Europe, according to a report.

The World Wildlife Fund predicted the number of winter
storms in the UK could rise by up to 25% over a 30-year
period, if emissions are not reduced.

It said low-lying coastal areas such as the Ards peninsula,
Belfast Lough and the Foyle estuary could be hardest hit.

Fruit producers such as Armagh's apple growers could also
suffer, it claimed.

The Stormy Europe report suggested climate change could
mean 10 extra storms between 2071 and 2100. It said the UK
would be the worst affected in Europe, with wind speeds
rising between 8-16%.

Malachy Campbell, WWF Northern Ireland, conceded there were
"uncertainties" with any long-term prediction, but pointed
out the report had been produced from scientific research.

"This report is yet more evidence of the reality of climate
change and its potentially serious consequences for us," he

"However, there seems to be a reluctance on the part of our
government to really tackle climate change and its
potential impacts," he added.

"The Northern Ireland Administration has so far failed to
produce any long-term vision on how we reduce emissions and
move from being an overly fossil fuel reliant economy to
one which maximises our substantial renewable energy

The report indicated that fruit producers throughout
Europe, including Armagh's apple growers, could be badly
hit by climate changes.

Disease spread

It said this was because extreme and unseasonal
fluctuations in temperature, particularly unseasonable
frosts affect fruit producers.

It said it was also likely that the cold season would
shorten, cutting down the number of days below freezing by
up to 120 days per year across Europe by the end of the
21st century.

Apples need a certain amount of cold to complete their

The report also predicted that seasonal temperature change
could have severe affects on the farming industry.

Additionally, it said pests and diseases could have better
chances of surviving warmer winters and could spread more
rapidly during warmer springs.

Mr Campbell said: "The only way we can explain the severe
rise in temperature over the last 20, 30, 40 years
especially, is if we include man made emissions."

The WWF's report looked at three areas to compare European
countries - the increase in severe winter storms, the
increase in the number of days with extremely high wind
speeds and the increase in maximum wind speeds.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/02 11:55:58 GMT


Irish Music Fest Saturday At Greystone

St. Patrick's Day is more than two weeks away, but it's
never too early to celebrate the Emerald Isle. On Saturday,
Akron's Ancient Order of Hibernians will put on its 24th
annual Songs of Ireland event.

Dance and music will be the order of the day at Greystone
Hall & Theatre in downtown Akron as four area bands --
Callahan and O'Connor, Fergie and the Bog Dogs, Fitzmusic,
Irene Uhalley and the Shaffer Brothers -- and the O'Hare
Irish Dancers, world dance champion Tim Seeman and the
Hiberian club's adult and kids' Ceili Bands will perform.

Former Whose Line Is It Anyway? cast members Colin Mochrie
and Brad Sherwood will do their improv comedy thing at
Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall on Saturday. The interactive show
features the two guys calling on regular folks to help them
with audience-suggested bits.

Tommy Chong, one-half of the famed comedy duo Cheech &
Chong, will perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the
Improv comedy club in Cleveland with his wife, Shelby.

Also on the radar is the wrap-up of the Cleveland Auto Show
at the I-X Center on Sunday, the Antique & Classic Bicycle
and Motorbike Show & Swap Meet on Saturday on Killian Road
at Myersville Road in Akron and former Creed frontman Scott
Stapp at House of Blues Cleveland on Wednesday.


Mary Gereau, 89; Lobbyist On Education, ERA - RIP

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 2, 2006; Page B06

Mary Condon Gereau, 89, one of the first female lobbyists
in Washington, who pushed for state and federal education
legislation during a 40-year career and championed the
Equal Rights Amendment, died Feb. 12 at Mary Washington
Hospital in Fredericksburg. She had renal failure.

In 1948, Mrs. Gereau was the first woman elected as
Montana's superintendent of public instruction. During her
two four-year terms, she pushed for public school systems
on the state's seven American Indian reservations.

Mary Condon Gereau became one of the first female lobbyists
in Washington after serving as an elected education
official in Montana. (Family Photo)

After a failed run for a third term, she moved to
Washington and joined the National Education Association,
where she became a go-to person on education legislation.
During her 15 years in NEA's legislative division, she
lobbied for federal education laws such as Head Start and
the Higher Education Act of 1965. She also served as
assistant executive director of the White House Conference
on Education in 1960. She ended her career as a legislative
assistant for education for Sen. John Melcher of Montana

A first-rate raconteur, Mrs. Gereau delighted in telling a
story about a vote against an education filibuster in the
Senate. "This little nun, not quite five feet tall, came up
to two of us outside the Senate chamber and told us a
certain senator was with us. We looked at one another, and
my partner responded, 'Sister, when Senator Jones votes to
end a filibuster on Lyndon Johnson's education bill, Mary
and I will throw our arms around each other and leap over
the balcony to the Senate floor.' The vote proceeded.
Senator Jones voted against the filibuster. There was a
gentle little tap on my shoulder, and the little nun said,
'Jump, lady, jump!' "

When Congress was considering the Equal Rights Amendment,
Mrs. Gereau served as the president of the Equal Rights
Ratification Council.

In 2000, she was honored by the Veteran Feminists of
America with its Medal of Honor for her work on behalf of
the Equal Rights Amendment and in the women's rights
movement. At that time, Jacqui Ceballos, the group's
founding president, talked about Mrs. Gereau's quiet,
effective style.

"She worked in the back rooms in Washington," Ceballos told
a reporter for the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star in 2000.
"The radical activists had the support of those in high
positions, like Mary. Because of her, changes were being
made in Washington."

Mary Margaret Condon Gereau was born Oct. 10, 1916, in
Winterset, Iowa, the granddaughter of Irish immigrants.
Among her ancestors was Daniel O'Connell, known as "The
Liberator" of Ireland for leading the movement that won
Catholic emancipation.

She graduated from the University of Iowa during the
Depression. Afterward, she pursued a teaching position but
could not find one. She returned to the university for
graduate school, and when she was turned down for a loan
from a member of the scholarship committee who opposed
scholarships for women, several faculty members
successfully lobbied for her loan.

After receiving a master's degree in history, Mrs. Gereau
taught English at a small rural Iowa high school during
World War II. In 1943, she became a program director with
the American Red Cross and was sent to India, where her
team opened the first recreation club for the Navy in
Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. She later transferred to
Karachi, India, which is now Pakistan, before returning to
the United States in late 1945.

She became an assistant professor of English and dean of
men at Eastern Montana College in Billings, before being
elected Montana's state superintendent. Mrs. Gereau later
served as a consultant to the U.S. Senate Interior
Committee's subcommittee on Indian affairs. After working
at NEA, she served for four years as a legislative director
for the National Treasury Employees Union.

Mrs. Gereau received a number of honors, including a
Veterans of Foreign Wars Distinguished Service Award for
her work on behalf of veterans and the 1984 Congressional
Staffer of the Year Award from Roll Call, the Capitol Hill
newspaper. She also was adopted as a princess by the
Montana Blackfeet tribe.

She was vice president of the National Woman's Party from
1984 to 1991, and president of Woman's Party Corp., owners
of the historic Sewall-Belmont House, from 1990 to 1996.
For a while, she and her husband lived in the Sewell-
Belmont House, the headquarters for the women's rights

She and her husband moved to Colonial Beach, Va., about six
years ago.

She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Gerald Robert
Gereau of Colonial Beach.

Mrs. Gereau said in the 2000 newspaper article that she
hoped young women would never face some of the
discrimination she faced. "Every time you get a break
because you are a woman, take advantage of it," she said.
"Because there was a time when you got kicked in the teeth
for it."


Ronnie Drew Named Dublin Grand Marshall

Last updated: 02-03-06, 12:02

Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners will lead the St Patrick's Day
parade in Dublin this year, it was announced this morning.

St Patrick's Festival chairwoman Mary Davis made Drew this
year's Grand Marshall in recognition and appreciation of
his "unique contribution to Dublin and Irish culture".

About 700,000 people are expected to attend this year's
parade, and the worldwide television audience is likely to
be over seven million.

"This is a great day for all the family. I'll be joined by
my children and grandchildren on the parade route. See you
there," Drew said.

More than 3,000 participants will take part in the parade,
which has a theme of Wishful Thinking. The parade leaves
Parnell Square North at noon before running down O'Connell
Street and ending at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The five-day St. Patrick's Festival runs from March 15th to
19th, 2006.

© 2006

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