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March 20, 2006

SF Calls For Restoring of Powersharing

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 03/20/06
SF Calls For Restoration Of Powersharing In North
SL 03/19/06 DUP Fury At Irish Over Deal Choice
SL 03/19/06 Unionist Group's New Line On Peace
SL 03/19/06 Rogue UVF Trio 'Were Behind Taxi Death Bid'
SL 03/19/06 Man Blinded By LVF Home At Last
SL 03/19/06 McCord: UVF Must Come Clean On Killings
BB 03/19/06 Mayor Angry At PSNI Family Search
SH 03/19/06 Former Terrorist Defends Bombing On Holyrood Visit
SL 03/19/06 Leader: Welcome Move To Heal Wounds
SL 03/19/06 Fr Reid’s Move To Stop Feud
SL 03/19/06 Gray A Spent Force
SL 03/19/06 Writing On Wall For Loyalist Murals
SL 03/19/06 Opin: Action, Not Words!
IT 03/20/06 Call For Right To Conjugal Visits In Irish Prisons
RT 03/19/06 Woman Rescued From Cliffs In Wicklow
IT 03/20/06 Six Escape As Vessels Collide In Kinsale
IT 03/20/06 The Forgotten Role Of Women Insurgents In The 1916 Rising
IT 03/20/06 Women Excluded From Army Despite Role In 1916 Uprising
IT 03/20/06 A Shot In The Arm For Traditional Music


SF Calls For Restoration Of Powersharing In North

Martin McGuinness has called on the Irish and British
governments to honour the Belfast Agreement and to restore
powersharing in the North.

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator made his comments after the
Taoiseach indicated it was possible that the Assembly might
be set up without the Executive.

Mr McGuinness said he believed it possible to "collectively
deliver a fully functioning Assembly and Executive."

However, he said that for this to happen, the Governments
would "need to stand firmly behind the Good Friday

"I look forward to seeing the proposals being put together
by the two Governments.

Outlining the way forward for the peace process, the Mid
Ulster MP said: "In our discussions with the two
Governments we have made it crystal clear that progress had
to be made in the immediate period.

"This means the lifting of suspension and a determined
effort to establish a fully functioning Executive."

Mr McGuinness also claimed the Governments should stop
pandering to the DUP. He said: "It is clear that big
decisions now lie ahead for Ian Paisley and his party.

"All of the other parties and the two Governments have
stated that they wish to see the political institutions put
back in place.

"The DUP remain isolated as the only party who continue to
oppose progress." "Well, obviously if we don't get
agreement on the Executive you can't have an Executive.

"But that shouldn't stop the Assembly operating for a
period of time while there is work for it to do and that
could take a few months," Mr Ahern said.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP oppose the concept of setting
up a shadow assembly in advance of restoring the
powersharing executive but the move is favoured by the DUP.

In an interview with the BBC's Politics Show, Mr Ahern said
there would be safeguards to prevent this period without an
Executive being dragged out.

Mr Ahern said he and British prime minister Tony Blair did
not intend to go through another year with the Assembly
still suspended. "I think the difficulty for the Prime
Minister and I, is that it's eight years on.

"It's last summer since we got the IRA's statement, which I
think that most people thought we'd never get. "The arms
issue was dealt with in the early autumn so we are heading
quickly towards another summer."

Mr Ahern said he believed that all the obstacles to
powersharing had been removed and it was just a matter of
working out how to restore it.

"Politicians all over the world like to be in power and I
am sure in Northern Ireland it is no different, they want
to deal with the everyday issues, what's known all over the
world as the bread and butter issues - to deal with
education, local government and health."

© The Irish Times/


DUP Fury At Irish Over Deal Choice

Alan Murray
19 March 2006

The DUP have responded angrily to Irish Foreign Minister
Dermot Ahern suggestion that Dublin and London would take
"the tiller of power" in Northern Ireland if local parties
can't agree on power-sharing.

Peter Robinson last night claimed Mr Ahern's bid to push
unionists towards a deal on an Assembly were "ill-judged"
and "foolish".

Mr Ahern said that in the absence of agreement between
local politicians over an Assembly the two governments
would have to "step in" and make an "inter-govenmental
approach" to decisions.

"It's probably not the preferred option," said Mr Ahern in
an interview.

"We would far rather that people from Northern Ireland have
their hand on the tiller of power but if they decide not to
want that then the two Governments would have to step in
and take decisions and people from Northern Ireland and
their representatives won't really have any great say in
that respect and that is unfortunate."

With the two Governments expected to produce a revised
'blueprint' for future political development in three weeks
time, Mr Ahern's remarks are being interpreted as an
indication of the outline of proposals being considered by
Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

But Peter Robinson, the DUP deputy leader, warned Mr Ahern
that his comments wouldn't assist in establishing secure
political structures here.

"These are ill judged remarks from the Irish Foreign

"He says he is trying to push the process forward, so for
his Government to attempt to tell Unionists what to do, or
else, is foolish.

"He and Bertie Ahern are hardly in a strong position to
recommend that unionists should embrace arrangements for
government with Sinn Fein that they themselves won't touch.

"It's the Irish Government that has been telling Sinn Fein
that it isn't fit for Government in the Republic and
telling Gerry Adams that his party can forget about any
coalition with Fianna Fail," added Mr Robinson.


Unionist Group's New Line On Peace

Ciaran McGuigan
19 March 2006

A think-tank made up of a group of Ulster Unionists last
night published proposals for a major reconciliation
programme for Northern Ireland.

The paper, 'Drawing a Line Under the Past', proposes that
small, private forums be drawn from across all communities
across Ulster to allow people to share their experiences.

The forums, proposed to be away from the glare of the media
spotlight and non-judicial, are designed to "acknowledge,
empathise and increase mutual understanding among

The paper's authors, who include prominent Ulster Unionists
Trevor Ringland and Roy Garland, have already met with a
variety of groups, including a republican ex-prisoners
group based at Clonard Monastery, loyalists from the
Shankill Road, and members of the political wing of the

Members of the SDLP and Alliance parties, as well as
ministers in both governments, have also held discussions
with the group which calls itself 'The Unionist Group'.

The paper, which has already been passed to Secretary of
State Peter Hain, reads: "Many people who lost close
relatives and friends wish to talk about their experiences.

"They want to be frank, open and confident with people
around them but this is only possible when the setting and
context are carefully and sensitively established.

"Truth is subjective and there is a serious risk that
enquiries seeking forensic or objective truth would prove
partial, inconclusive and unlikely to address the hurts in

"It is impossible to draw a single line under the past for
all time whereas healing can take place when people relate
to each other and reflect together on their narratives in
private, in small respectful groups and before respectful,
responsive and challenging audiences drawn form both major
traditions and their subcultures."

The group warn that any reconciliation model would need to
be established in such a way a so that it could not be
"exploited to rake over the coals of past grievances".

They also proposes that a shared space could be created in
each town across Northern Ireland where trees could be
planted to "reinforce a sense of hope and bring communities

Days of Reflection, memorials and oral history projects
should also be established, according to the paper.


Rogue UVF Trio 'Were Behind Taxi Death Bid'

19 March 2006

Three 'rebel' UVF men in west Belfast are now being blamed
for putting a gun to the head of a Catholic taxi driver two
weeks ago.

Loyalist sources say suspicion has now fallen on the trio
despite initial blame being placed on other loyalist

The finger is being pointed at a club manager and the son
of a senior UVF member.

"These two and their cronies have been spouting to their
mates that they're not accepting the 'stand down' agenda
and don't care what the leadership says," one loyalist told
Sunday Life.

"They made up this story that Protestant taxi drivers were
being harassed in nationalist areas and went out and
hijacked a Catholic driver and threatened to kill him.

"Then they claimed it was the Red Hand Defenders and that
put the blame on the UDA but it wasn't them or the LVF."

For the last number of weeks senior UVF figures have been
meeting members of the terrorist organisation in their own
areas around the province, telling them that their roles as
terrorists have ended.

The UVF is expected to make a formal public statement
announcing its disbandment during the summer.

But some in its ranks are angry at the move.

Said one Shankill loyalist: "There aren't many of them who
are expressing opposition but there are some and there's a
little group in the Shankill who think they can cause a few
problems and believe they can defy the leadership.

"They're nothing more than ceasefire soldiers but they are
capable of causing a bit of disruption."


Man Blinded By LVF Home At Last

Stephen Breen
19 March 2006

A Belfast man blinded in an LVF murder bid has been
discharged from hospital . . . eight months after he was

David Hanley, an innocent victim of the loyalist feud who
was left for dead by a gunman in a case of mistaken
identity, is being cared for at home by heartbroken mum
Valerie Wright.

The 21-year-old student was blasted once in the head and
five times in the stomach last July.

He was on his way home when the LVF terrorist jumped out of
an alleyway and pumped the bullets into him.

David has never spoken publicly about the gun attack that's
left him devastated. He'd been treated in the Royal
Victoria Hospital since the murder bid.

But the surgeon who saved his life, Kishor Choudhari, gave
the go-ahead for him to be discharged.

Valerie told Sunday Life how her son is still struggling to
come to terms with losing his sight and the serious
injuries he sustained to his stomach.

She said: "The only thing David lived for was his dogs. He
cannot believe he'll never be able to see his dogs again -
he just can't deal with being blind.

"I initially thought that David would not pull through, the
fact he has survived is an absolute miracle.

"But it's hard for us to give him hope when he has told us
that he wants to die, because he no longer has his sight."

She added: "The slightest sound scares him - the nurses in
the ward were moved to tears because of what has happened
to him.

"David's even afraid to go to the toilet because he is
afraid of urinating on the floor. He thinks he has nothing
without his sight. He's completely terrified - it's hard to
believe another human being could do this.

"The LVF may have disbanded, but look at the way they have
left my son - they are sub-human."

Valerie has had to give up work after David's discharge
from hospital.

"I was due to start a new course, too, but I had to give
this up because I have to look after my son on a full-time

"Our lives have been shattered, but I would hate to see any
other family going through what we are.

"The monster who committed this terrible act must be taken
off the streets before he does the same thing to some other
innocent person."


McCord: UVF Must Come Clean On Killings

Stephen Breen
19 March 2006

The campaigning father of a UVF murder victim last night
urged the terror group to issue public statements on dozens
of murders.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was battered to death
in 1997, urged loyalist godfathers to "come clean" about
killings committed by the UVF since the 1994 ceasefire.

Mr McCord issued the challenge after UVF leaders in Mid-
Ulster last week told anyone with information on the
killings of Co Armagh teenagers David McIlwaine and Andrew
Robb to contact cops.

The paramilitary organisation also said the brutal murders
were not sanctioned by the UVF leadership.

But Mr McCord, who is awaiting the publication of part of
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's report into his son's
murder, branded the UVF's statement as "rubbish".

"I do not believe the UVF's statement last week because I
was told the killings of McIlwaine and Robb were sanctioned
by a paramilitary leader."

Mr McCord, who will meet with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern next
Tuesday to discuss his son's case, wants the UVF to admit
that the man he believes murdered his son and other people
was an informer.

He also wants to know if UVF men convicted of unsanctioned
murders will be admitted to the loyalist wing on Maghaberry


Mayor Angry At PSNI Family Search

The Sinn Fein mayor of Newry and Mourne has said he intends
to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman after his
family were stopped and searched.

Pat McGinn claimed his family were detained for a
"considerable time" near their Bessbrook home on Saturday
night and accused the PSNI of harassment.

It is understood that they were stopped at a routine
vehicle checkpoint.

The police said that any concerns should be raised with
ombudsman Nuala O'Loan's office.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/19 18:26:00 GMT


Sunday Herald - 19 March 2006

Former Terrorist Defends Bombing On Holyrood Visit

By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor

A former IRA terrorist who helped bomb the 1984 Tory
conference has insisted that Conservative MPs were a
“legitimate target” for assassination.

Sinn Fein activist Martina Anderson, who visited Holyrood
last week to discuss devolution, said the Brighton
conference attack was aimed at people who defended the
occupation of Ireland. She also said the IRA’s armed
struggle against British rule in Ulster had been

Her comments were made in an interview to coincide with her
trip to the Scottish parliament. She met MSPs on a two-day
tour to talk about devolution and her party’s green paper
on Irish unity.

But her trip attracted controversy because of her past
links to republican terrorism. The so-called “beauty queen
bomber” was jailed for life in 1985 for planning a terror
spree in 12 seaside towns in England. She was also
implicated in the IRA’s assassination attempt on former
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet during the
1984 Tory conference in Brighton.

The one-time Conservative leader escaped the blast, but
five people were killed and 34 others injured.

But Anderson, who is Sinn Fein’s All Ireland co-ordinator,
said she could offer an explanation for the attack.

“Brighton was a target for those people who were
implementing British policy in Ireland. It was specifically
targeted at those people who were implementing the

She also said it would be wrong to divorce the Brighton
bombing from the background of UK presence in Northern

“I suppose … you would have preferred that those things
didn’t have to happen. But none of the activities that the
IRA has been involved in can be separated from the
historical context from which they emerged.”

Asked if the attack on the Tory conference was legitimate,
she said: “I can see why that would be a legitimate target.
The conflict in Ireland at that time had been of such a

On whether the IRA’s armed struggle had been vindicated,
she said: “Yes I do. I believe it was vindicated, born out
of the Irish experience.”

Anderson also used the interview to call on Scots of Irish
descent to get involved with the push towards a reunified

“There’s a constitutional duty on the Irish government and
people over here of Irish descent. We want the Irish
diaspora abroad to be involved in the shaping of the new
Ireland,” she said.

In particular, she said Sinn Fein had a message for people
in the “urban belt” between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“A new Ireland would appear to be coming. You should at
least put pressure on the Irish government to produce a
green paper, to at least lend your support. That’s the
message we would like to send out to the Irish communities
across Scotland.”

She also said there should be a “sharpening” of the links
between Sinn Fein and other independence parties, such as
the SNP and SSP.

“We would like to enter into a debate and a discussion.
Whether or not it leads to formalised links, or whether it
is about a shared understanding, who knows what will come
out of it?,” she said.

Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was confined to a
wheelchair following the Brighton bombing, said: “She
clearly feels no repentance and no remorse. This is a clear
and implied willingness to undertake the same acts again.”

But Independent MSP Margo MacDonald defended Anderson’s
Holyrood visit. “She came here to discuss how to advance
the peace process. It does us no harm to understand
people’s points of view,” she said.

Copyright © 2006 smg sunday newspapers ltd.


Leader: Welcome Move To Heal Wounds

19 March 2006

Hot on the heels of the controversial BBC Facing the Truth
series comes a particularly perceptive and thoughtful
contribution to the reconciliation debate.

As we report on page 12 today, a group of Ulster Unionists
has published a short paper entitled Drawing A Line Under
The Past which seeks to address some of the sensitive
issues surrounding the whole concept of "healing and
growth" between and within communities.

A wide variety of parties, including ex-prisoners groups,
local politicians and Government ministers were consulted.

Central to the group's conclusions was the absolute
imperative to avoid presenting opportunities that could be
exploited to "rake over the coals of past grievances".

We have no hesitation in endorsing this principle. The
"truth" is a subjective concept and, therefore, it is vital
that people are afforded the space and time to make their
own arrangements for confronting and dealing with the past.

Such is the sensitivity required it is recommended meetings
are conducted in private and away from the glare of the
cameras. And the whole process needs to be in the
collective ownership of communities all over Northern
Ireland, possibly with official assistance.

This report, which is already in the hands of the Secretary
of State, makes a valuable contribution to the
reconciliation debate.


IT was a case of Horgan the Hero as Ireland grabbed Triple
Crown glory at Twickenham last night.

Shane Horgan's last-gasp try sent waves of ecstasy across
the Irish Sea, capping a fine Six Nations campaign and
putting the side in good heart for next year's World Cup.

And what a night for young Ulster star Andrew Trimble, who
now adds a Triple Crown notch to his impressive CV.


Fr Reid’s Move To Stop Feud

Stephen Breen
19 March 2006

The priest who witnessed IRA decommissioning is set to
mediate in the bitter feud between two west Belfast

Senior sources told Sunday Life that community leaders in
the Ballymurphy area have made an approach to Fr Alex Reid
in a bid to end ongoing tensions between the Devlin and
Notorantonio families.

Fr Reid, who last year apologised after controversially
likening unionists to Nazis, helped end the violent feud
between the INLA and the IPLO in 1987.

And it is hoped he will meet with representatives from the
rival factions in Ballymurphy over the coming weeks.

Since the murder of Gerard Devlin last month, there has
been a series of shootings, petrol bombings and arson

Tensions remain high in the west Belfast estate and fears
are growing that lives could be lost.

Local community leaders and politicians have failed to
bring the feuding families together and are becoming
increasingly concerned at the recent spate of tit-for-tat

But they are hoping Fr Reid, who also helped end feuds
between the Provisional and Official IRA in the 1970s, can
bring the feud to an end.

Said a source: "Fr Reid has been approached and is only to
happy to do his best to help end tensions in the
Ballymurphy area.

"He is someone who is well respected by everyone in west
Belfast and he has a wealth of experience in bringing rival
factions round the table.

"He has met with one of the families and he is now going to
put his plan to the other family in the hope they can come
to some sort of solution.

"Many people feel the situation will get worse unless the
problems between the two families are sorted out once and
for all."

Victor Notorantonio, whose relatives' homes have been
petrol bombed, confirmed that Fr Reid was attempting to end

Said Mr Notorantonio: "I have already met Fr Reid and he
has spoken to me about meeting representatives of the
Devlin family.

"I would have no problem doing this and I'm now waiting for
him to get back to me. I'm pleased he's got involved
because nobody else seems to be doing anything about it.

"Fr Reid is highly respected and if he can help end the
attacks against my family then I would welcome his input."

"Everybody says this is a family feud but it's not. The IRA
is doing this and they could put a stop to these attacks at
the drop of a hat."

No-one from the Devlin family was available for comment.


Gray A Spent Force

Assets Recovery Agency in for shock - 'brigadier of bling'
was skint when he died

Stephen Breen and Ciaran McGuigan
19 March 2006

Loyalist godfather Jim 'Doris Day' Gray blew his entire
fortune . . . UP HIS NOSE!

The bleach-haired UDA 'brigadier of bling' - who
shamelessly led the high-life on proceeds from drug dealing
and rackets - had spent almost every penny he had before he
was gunned down.

Most of his ill-gotten gains were blown on his insatiable
appetite for the three Cs - COCAINE, CHAMPAGNE and designer

Loyalist sources have revealed that Gray's flash lifestyle
belied the fact that by the end he was actually up to his
neck in debt - even his status symbol BMW was on tick.

"Claims about Gray's wealth have been greatly exaggerated,"
said one leading east Belfast loyalist.

"Sure he made a fortune when he was running his rackets.
But he spent it as fast as it was coming in.

"By the end, the UDA had booted him out, the cops were all
over him like a rash and his money was slipping away."

Last year, the Assets Recovery Agency won a court order
freezing Gray's assets, believed to be worth about

They included an interest in a house in the Clarawood
estate in east Belfast and a top-of-the-range BMW M5, worth
over £60,000.

However, if loyalist sources are right, Gray was so heavily
in debt that his net worth may turn out to be only a
fraction of the value of the assets that were frozen.

Said one loyalist source: "When Gray died he had very
little money left.

"Everything that he owned was on credit, the house and cars
and whatever. All the money was gone.

"What he didn't snort up his nose went on the foreign
holidays, the flash clothes and the rest of his 'bling
bling' lifestyle. He loved showing off, playing the big
man, taking his cronies on holiday or for weekends in plush

At a court hearing in May, 2005, it was revealed Gray
received £130,000 from the sale of two pubs in east
Belfast, the Bunch of Grapes and the Avenue One.

But it is understood the money quickly disappeared as
Gray's life in the fast lane gathered pace.

Fellow UDA bosses gave Gray the boot last year, after even
they became embarrassed by his flamboyant lifestyle and his
Mafia-style crime empire.

In just one weekend in Dublin, the perma-tanned gangster
spent more than £20,000, living it up in a penthouse suite
at the plush Merrion Hotel and guzzling gallons of

Financial investigators had originally hoped to retrieve a
net amount of around £100,000 from Gray's assets.


Writing On Wall For Loyalist Murals

Alan Murray
19 March 2006

Loyalist paramilitaries have begun a 'changing walls'
makeover operation in Mid-Ulster to remove images
glorifying terrorism.

Over the last fortnight murals honouring the LVF have been
obliterated in parts of Portadown and Lurgan.

Tributes to the rival UVF have also gone in an operation
agreed by both terror groups last year.

Some are to be replaced by murals honouring the UDR and
sporting heroes like George Best.

And, by the end of the revamp, only one mural of LVF
founder Billy Wright is likely to remain, sited in

The transformation of gable walls is all part of the
agreement struck between the UVF and LVF when a violent
feud between the two ended.

One senior LVF source said: "We agreed to do this late last
year and now it is virtually completed.

"Probably only one mural to Billy will remain, but that is
all there will be.

"We don't want children to go to school anymore seeing
these images of masked men with guns.

"We as loyalists and unionists want to move on from that
position and this is part of the positive role we are
playing to change the environment down here, and create a
more positive one for our young people."

It's understood a large LVF mural in Lurgan's Mourneview
estate will be replaced by a UDR one.

Around 27 members of the UDR from Mid-Ulster lost their
lives in the Troubles and it was felt a mural in tribute to
them would be more appropriate.

"There will probably be a tribute to the sacrifices of the
UDR members from the area placed there instead, and other
local heroes in sport and other fields will be put at some
of the other sites.

"It's a revamp for the area to change the image from one of
paramilitarism to more positive issues, and everyone should
welcome that," one man involved in the operation said.


Opin: Action, Not Words!

Lynda Gilby
19 March 2006

I DO hope that Peter Hain has got the guts to put his money
where his mouth is. He was playing hardball when he
addressed a St Patrick's Day gathering in Washington last
week. How about these for a few choice quotes.

"We can't continue with the state of political paralysis
and impasse that we've had for far too long.

"There's got to be a decision made and progress made and we
are determined to do that.

"The time for easy choices and opting out - of not doing
jobs for which people are being paid and the Assembly
sitting there at Stormont costing millions of pounds -
those days are over.

"All the parties know that the game is up on the Assembly
sitting idle and the politicians arguing amongst themselves
instead of working together.

"The clock is ticking for the Assembly and for politicians.
Either they are going to take their responsibility
seriously or they are not."

But Hain refused to make any announcement on our future,
saying: "We will announce our plans when we are ready to do

Wrong, Mr Hain! For pity's sake, announce them NOW.

"Tell our elected representatives EXACTLY how you intend to
make decisions over their heads if they don't buck their
ideas up. Give them an absolute deadline and bloody well

Then watch them all run about like headless chickens,
turning on their opponents, on each other, and, most of
all, on you.

Vague, formless threats and flexible deadlines on your part
will most definitely NOT cut the mustard.

Only when our politicians are firmly hog-tied and oven-
ready, and whatever grim reality you have in mind is
actually in operation, will the kerfuffle even begin to die

It will then take at least five years of autocratic high-
handedness from the NIO for them to concentrate their minds

Then, by the time Labour is voted out after its next term
of office, we may actually have the new, tender shoots of a
workable agreement beginning to sprout.

The iron hand has been limply sheathed in the velvet glove
for far, far too long. Go naked and unashamed, Mr Hain, and
do it NOW.

Bad reception for civil partnerships continues

IT'S not just here, then, that bigotry towards the new
civil partnerships is in full flower.

A gay couple in Brentwood, Essex, are extremely annoyed
because they cannot mark their partnership with a reception
at their favourite hotel, The New World (bit of an ironic
title, as it happens).

The owner says that his hotel has stopped accepting gay
bookings after two men at a function "cavorted" in a
churchyard and upset elderly locals.

I see. Can we take it, then, that if a pair of heterosexual
guests at a heterosexual wedding had behaved similarly, the
owner would now also be refusing to host heterosexual
wedding receptions?

Well, of course not!

The "they are all the same" attitude is the same one that
other disadvantaged groups have suffered in the past. I
remember it being said about West Indians in the Fifties
during the first influx of immigration from the Caribbean,
where immigrants came to take the jobs that none of the
rest of us wanted.

As for wedding receptions, I could tell you a few tales. In
my youth, I worked part-time in a local hotel. When the
drink is in, the wit is out.

On one notable occasion, the bride was discovered in
compromising circumstances in the ladies toilet - her
garters round her ankles - happily engaging in activity
with the best man that should have been her husband's
privilege on his wedding night.

We managed to get the resulting punch-up shifted outside,
so breakages were minimal.

Please give us break from same old story

I'M convinced that the tabloids actually have one story on
file that they reprint ad infinitum, merely changing the
name and the location.

Last week, yet again, it surfaced in one of our national
red tops. The headline screamed: 'Police let paedo live 300
yards from school.'

In this instance, a former headmaster, put on the sex
offenders' register after molesting children at his prep
school, was permitted to live yards from another one.

And their point is?

Look, 300 yards, for heaven's sake, is a fair distance. And
even if it wasn't, any paedophile who wants to get his
kicks from covertly observing schoolchildren has only to
pay the price of a bus ticket to do so.

Children, you may or not have noticed, are everywhere. The
little beggars walk around our streets quite shamelessly on
their way back and forth from school, or to run errands for
their parents.

Sensationalising this fact gets us no further forward at

Catch-22 situation for patient

DID you hear the one about the 22-stone man whose
potentially life-saving heart treatment was cancelled
minutes before it was due to go ahead?

Doctors explained to Alan Nolan that, unfortunately, he was
far too fat to fit on the operating table.

A miffed Mr Nolan is now demanding a grovelling apology
from the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

"I'd be better off in a Third World country," he

Yes, he probably would. In a Third World country, after
all, he'd have been unlikely to get enough grub to reach 22
stone and to suffer from heart disease as a consequence.


Call For Right To Conjugal Visits In Irish Prisons

A former US prison governor has called for Irish inmates to
be given the right to conjugal visits in prison.

James Cummins, who introduced the practice of letting wives
and children stay overnight with prisoners in Washington
State Penitentiary, said it had very positive effects.

"The purpose of it is to try and keep families together.
Because when someone goes to prison that's married, it's a
tremendous strain on the family. And those involved with it
say it's been very successful," he said.

The practice has never been introduced in Irish prisons but
schemes have been set up in the US, Canada and other
countries around the world. They allow most prisoners, with
the exception of violent and sexual offenders, to spend
occasional weekends with their wives and children in
purpose-built accommodation units in the prison complex or
in mobile homes.

"It's an incentive for good behaviour for prisoners and it
certainly does make a difference. It's my view that it's
certainly worth considering seriously (in Ireland)," said
Mr Cummins.

He emigrated from Tullamore, County Offaly in the 1960s and
in 1973 he began a ten year reign as governor of Washington
State Penitentiary, which housed 2,000 prisoners on a 540-
acre site.

"You name it, we had everything. It was kind of the end of
the line in the system - lots of lifers doing life without
parole, all cultures, all races," said Mr Cummins.

He said that in all his years in charge, there had been
only one problem -a domestic violence incident - during the
conjugal visits. "It's highly regulated. Not every Tom,
Dick and Harry in the joint can get it.

They have to show good behaviour and be classified by a
committee to make sure they are suitable. We also have to
make sure that the people coming in are OK too, that they
don't pack drugs into the institution," he said.

He added that because the scheme was restricted to married
prisoners, there was no question of 'some guy and his
girlfriend' getting weekend privileges.

The first conjugal visits were allowed in a Mississippi
prison in 1918 but the practice remains controversial in
the US. It is restricted to just six states, because many
see it as making prison too comfortable for inmates.

"You get the argument that those people did wrong and need
to be punished and kept outside the pale. My belief is that
it is a tool to assist the family unit," said Mr Cummins.

The Irish Supreme Court rejected a court challenge in the
1970s to the ban on conjugal visits for prisoners and the
issue has remained dormant since, although Sinn Féin did
raise it in negotiations about political prisoners' rights
prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The Irish Prison Service said there were currently no plans
to introduce conjugal visits. "It's not something that has
come up at all.

There are obviously issues about how you manage that sort
of situation, the resources needed and the risk of
contraband being passed," said a spokesman.


© The Irish Times/


Woman Rescued From Cliffs In Wicklow

March 19, 2006 20:59

A woman in her 20s has been rescued from cliffs in Co

The tourist had been walking with friends near Cable Rock
between Bray and Greystones when she ventured off the

The Irish Coastguard helicopter, Coastguard Cliff Unit and
Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team were involved in the
rescue operation.

The woman was not injured and has been reunited with her


Six Escape As Vessels Collide In Kinsale

Olivia Kelleher

Six crew members on board a private yacht in Kinsale, Co
Cork, had a lucky escape yesterday after their vessel
started to sink following a collision with another boat.

The incident happened shortly after 12.15pm yesterday
outside Kinsale harbour.

One of the yachts escaped serious damage while the vessel
containing six people incurred a number of dents and holes.

The crew left their yacht and boarded the other vessel
which was involved in the collision.

A spokesman for the Lifeboat Service said their services
were not required as the individuals involved dealt with
the situation with great speed and commonsense.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incident.

© The Irish Times


The Forgotten Role Of Women Insurgents In The 1916 Rising


Cumann na mBan volunteers around the time of the rising. Kathleen Lynn is in the front row right. Many of the women were sentenced to death. They went on hunger strike and succeeded in having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Eventually, they were released. Photograph : Courtesy of Kilmainham Gaol and Museum

The debate surrounding the 90th anniversary of 1916 tends
to forget about one important group of participants -
women. Tom Clonan examines the role of women in the rising

Contemporary accounts suggest that up to 90 women took part
in the rebellion of Easter 1916 in Dublin. Sixty or so were
members of Cumann na mBan (the League of Women), formed in
1914 by a group of women who attended the inaugural meeting
the previous November of the Irish Volunteers.

The constitution of Cumann na mBan contained explicit
references to the use of force by arms against crown forces
in Ireland. Under its constitution, the primary aim of the
organisation was to "advance the cause of Irish liberty"
and "teach its members first aid, drill, signalling and
rifle practice in order to aid the men of Ireland".

Weapons training became an integral part of Cumann na
mBan's core activities. For example, in addition to the
rifle training mentioned in their constitution, documents
held at Military Archives in Dublin show Cumann na mBan
members including a Lily O'Connor to have been "highly
proficient" in the use of a wide range of weapons including
Webley, Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers.

On the day of the Rising, 40 such women - including
Winifred Carney who arrived armed with both a Webley
revolver and a typewriter - entered the General Post Office
on O'Connell Street in Dublin with their male counterparts.
By nightfall, women insurgents were established in all of
the major rebel strongholds throughout the city - bar one.
Éamon de Valera, located in Boland's Mill had no women
under his command.

According to some sources, de Valera steadfastly refused,
in defiance of the orders of Pearse and Connolly, to allow
women fighters into the Boland's Mill garrison. One Cumann
na mBan member who fought in the Rising, Sighle Bean Uí
Donnachadha later remarked: "De Valera refused absolutely
to have Cumann na mBan girls in the posts. The result, I
believe, was that the garrison there did not stand up to
the siege as well as in other posts."

The women in the rebel garrisons fought alongside the men
and were not confined - as is commonly believed - to
nursing duties or other tasks traditionally assigned to
women such as making tea and sandwiches for the fighting

Constance Markiewicz for example - armed with a pistol -
during the opening phase of the hostilities shot a
policeman in the head near St Stephen's Green. Later,
Markiewicz along with other female fighters - after a day
of carrying out sniper attacks on British troops in the
city centre - demanded that they be allowed to bomb the
Shelbourne Hotel. Their superior officer, Michael Malinn,
refused on the grounds that the risks to the women were
"too great".

According to contemporary accounts, Markiewicz's indignant
reply was that the 1916 Proclamation, the rebels'
declaration of their beliefs and intentions, stated that
women were equal and that they had the same right to risk
their lives as the men. Mallin relented and a number of
women were shot en route to the Shelbourne.

In a related incident, volunteer Margaretta Keogh was shot
dead outside the South Dublin Union.

Margaret Skinnider, a Glasgow schoolteacher who had heard
about the rising through suffragette contacts travelled to
Ireland during her Easter holidays to join the armed
struggle on the basis that it promised equal voting rights
for women - a revolutionary idea at the time.

She arrived - miraculously - by bicycle and managed to join
the garrison at the Royal College of Surgeons on St
Stephen's Green. Later, on being shot and captured by
British troops near Harcourt Street, she was imprisoned and
sentenced to death by the military authorities.

Later, while on hunger strike her sentence was commuted to
life imprisonment. She was subsequently released and
returned to Scotland to write a memoir of her activities
entitled Doing My Bit For Ireland.

Another sizeable contingent of women, mostly members of the
Irish Citizens Army, also fought during the rising.

The Irish Citizens Army expressly committed its female
members to combat during the insurrection and women from
this organisation played a vital role in a failed attack on
Dublin Castle - from the rebel's point of view, the most
potent symbol of British occupation and oppression.

Under the command of Seán Connolly, a contingent of 10 men
and nine women - armed with revolvers - launched an attack
on the gates of the castle.

Failing to gain entry, they fell back and occupied City
Hall just beside it. Later, the rebel garrison at City Hall
under the command of Kathleen Lynn - the only officer
present - surrendered to the British. At first, the British
refused to take the surrender from a woman and seemed at
odds as to what to do with the women they encountered in
the various garrisons throughout the city.

Initially, the British military authorities simply asked
the women to "go home". They refused.

Many, like Kathleen Lynn, were sentenced to death. Those
sentenced to death went on hunger strike and succeeded in
having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
Eventually, they were released.

Lynn - the first female medical doctor to be elected a
resident doctor to the Adelaide Hospital - subsequently
went on to found St Ultan's Hospital in Dublin's city
centre where she initiated Ireland's first immunisation
programme for children.

As the rising ground to a halt under a ferocious British
onslaught, women all over the city surrendered with their
male counterparts.

In the GPO, Pearse selected Elizabeth Farrell to present
the surrender to the British authorities.

Rose McNamara, the officer in command of the female
detachment at the Marrowbone Lane Distillery presented the
surrender of herself and 20 other women to the British.
According to an account of that surrender: "The women of
the garrison could have evaded arrest but they marched down
four deep in uniform along with the men. An attempt was
made to get them to sign a statement recanting their stand
but this failed.

"Miss McNamara who led the contingent went to the British
OC [ the officer commanding] and explained they were part
of the rebel contingent and were surrendering with the

In the years that followed, women played a high profile
role in the emerging Irish Free State. Six women were
elected to the first Dáil of May 1921. Forty three women
were also returned to borough and district councils.

Kathleen Clarke, the first female lord mayor of Dublin was
elected in this period. Women also served as judges in the
Sinn Féin courts between 1919 and 1921. All of these
developments for women - revolutionary when compared with
the lot of women elsewhere in Europe at the time - were
consistent with the renewed and newly stated aims of Cumann
na mBan.

In 1921, the organisation reiterated at its annual
convention that its primary aim was: "To follow the policy
of the Republican Proclamation by seeing that women take up
their proper position in the life of the nation."

In the same year, negotiations in London between an Irish
delegation led by Arthur Griffith, the founder and head of
Sinn Féin, and Michael Collins, minister for finance in the
government established by the first Dáil in 1919 and head
of the IRA, and the British government headed by prime
minister David Lloyd George, led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty
which delivered Irish independence but at a price: six
counties in Ulster would, as Northern Ireland, remain part
of the United Kingdom because a majority there wanted
nothing to do with the Irish Free State, as the South was
to be known.

The Treaty was supported strongly by Griffith and Collins,
and ratified by the Dáil, but was rejected by Éamon de
Valera. In the ensuing civil war, Cumann na mBan also took
the anti-Treaty side.

The role of the women drew particular criticism at the
time. A London newspaper, The Sunday Graphic published an
article headlined "Irish Gunwoman Menace" which described
them as "trigger happy harpies". Underscoring the
conservative years to come, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in
Ireland issued a pastoral letter in October 1922 urging all
women to desist from revolutionary activities.

The government of the Free State banned Cumann na mBan in
January 1923 and opened up Kilmainham Gaol as a detention
prison for suspect women.

Minutes of the executive council of the Senate and Army
Intelligence reports of the period - held at Military
Archives - identify female dissidents at the time as a
primary threat to the security of the state.

The then minister for home affairs, Kevin O'Higgins,
described the female dissidents as "hysterical young women
who ought to be playing five fingered exercises or helping
their mothers with the brasses".

Slowly but surely, the women were deterred from continuing
in their dissident activities as greater numbers were
arrested and interned.

Some remained defiant, however. In 1922, Máire Comerford
found herself inside the Four Courts which was being
shelled by the newly formed Free State Army. She later
recounted the manner in which "the building was shelled
through and enveloped in flames. It was time for all of us
to leave or surrender. I rode off through the smoke and the
ruined buildings on my bicycle. I had stayed almost to the
end and had cheated the enemy".

Comerford was subsequently arrested for her part in a plot
to kidnap the then taoiseach, W T Cosgrave. She was shot
and wounded while trying to escape. She resorted to hunger
strike and was eventually released.

A final handful of women continued to fight. Armed with a
revolver an Eithne Coyle held up the evening train at
Creeslough and set fire to all of the newspapers on board.

For a month she continued hijacking and burning trains.

In order to facilitate these activities, Cumann na mBan
operated city-wide creches to release women for active

In documents held at Military Archives in Dublin, a Free
State army officer describes raiding a "baby club" at 21
Werburgh Street where "seditious" papers were seized.

Other papers seized by the military authorities at the time
reveal a great deal about the wider military activities of
female volunteers.

One letter from the intelligence department of the IRA -
1st Northern Division - to female "Operative No 23" states:
"Girls can get any amount of information from most men. Get
them going. Don't think there is anything ignoble about
army intelligence work. There is not - decidedly not. No
army can move an inch or win the slightest victory without
it. Help us move miles. Help us win victories. Realise your
own importance - we realize it and rely on you."

However, as the 1920s wore on, the role that women played
in the political life of the nation steadily waned.

The mythology of 1916 that became central to the emerging
identity of the State contained little or no reference to
the activities of the women who participated in the rising.

Their contribution remains largely unrecognised in the
debate today on the legacy of 1916.

© The Irish Times


Women Excluded From Army For 50 Years Despite Role In 1916

Tom Clonan

Despite the role women played in the 1916 Rising, Irish
women were to remain largely excluded from the Army for a
further half century until 1977, when the Department of
Defence decided to form a "Women's Service Corps" (WSC).
This was to be an all-female corps - a separate entity from
the regular army.

The military authorities duly convened a "committee on the
establishment of a women's service corps". When the
committee - consisting entirely of male officers -
furnished its report in 1978, its recommendations raised
eyebrows in the government at the time. On the question of
pay, the committee stated: "After full consideration of the
matter, the majority of our members recommend that the
basic rates of pay to members of the WSC should be less
than those payable to men."

On the question of pregnancy, the committee went on to
state: "We are aware that pregnancy is not a ground for
termination of service in the Ban Garda or the public
service in general. Nevertheless . . . we recommend that
pregnancy should be included as a reason for automatic
termination of the service of members - for both officers
and other ranks."

However, equality legislation enacted in the State during
that period put paid to these plans, and the WSC was never
established. Instead, women were recruited for general
service to the Defence Forces in 1980. The initial intake
of female officer cadets was sent to Sandhurst Military
Academy in Britain for training. The second intake of
female officers was trained in the Army's military college
in the Curragh camp. After some initial teething problems -
the female cadets were taught dress and deportment and
given make-up lessons instead of heavy weapons training -
the military training became more and more integrated.

With the election of Mary Robinson as president - and
commander in chief of the Defence Forces - in 1990, a
number of significant obstacles to women's fullest
participation melted away because of necessity and the
requirement for a higher public profile for female troops.

Men and women in today's Defence Forces train and serve
together in a more integrated environment. At 3 per cent of
strength, however, the quota of serving women remains very
low by international standards. With an average of 15 per
cent of strength throughout members of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation and as high as 25 per cent in the US
military, Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea is set to
introduce new measures this year to encourage female
recruitment here.

© The Irish Times


A Shot In The Arm For Traditional Music


Now in its fifth year, the Glór Irish Music Centre in Ennis
has learned the hard way that you can't always rely on
tradition for survival, writes Brian O'Connell.

What if you build it and they don't come? Five years ago,
the Glór Irish Music Centre in Ennis, Co Clare, was
unveiled as the most significant arts initiative in the
mid-west, and - at a cost of £6.5 million - the most

Billed as the centre for the performance of traditional
Irish music, the 500-capacity, state-of-the-art theatre was
to house an ambitious programme of traditional
performances, mainstream and avant-garde theatre, national
and international dance productions and visual arts
exhibitions. With Riverdance coining it across the globe,
it seemed Glór was in pole position to capitalise on the
commercial "come-all-ye" factor.

Yet barely three years after its opening, Glór found itself
with financial difficulties, dwindling audience numbers,
seeming Arts Council ambivalence, and a realisation that
traditional music in a large-scale concert setting was dead
as doornails. Glór artistic director Katie Verling dug her
heels in, shredded the original business plan and set about
encouraging the local community to take more ownership of
the venue.

Her hard work and dedication seem to have paid off, with
Glór receiving €120,000 in Arts Council funding this year,
an increase of more than 60 per cent on last year. Coupled
with this, Clare County Arts Office received an extra
€40,000 and the Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy received
€80,000, placing Co Clare fourth in terms of national
funding statistics. Glór's experience and that of the
county as a whole, serves as an example to venue managers
and local authorities throughout the country struggling to
register on the Arts Council radar.

"When I first approached the funding issue," says Verling,
"I was told by our board that we would never get any money
and not to waste my time. The first year we got nothing
sure enough, the second year we got 10 grand, 20 grand the
next year, then 30, then 40, and finally this year we get a
threefold increase. Our application to the Arts Council has
been approached the same way every year - in it we set down
a set of plans for ourselves. Previously it was an exercise
in humiliation and degradation because at Christmas you
heard you had failed. So all the plans couldn't come about,
and there was very little feedback about the selection

FOR ITS PART, the Arts Council points to the fact that it
lacks the resources to support the new breed of arts venues
that have sprung up in the past decade.

Several more established venues, such as the Dean Crowe
Theatre in Athlone, are struggling for survival of late,
while the Abbey continues to colonise a large chunk of the
Council's budget.

So what changed for Glór? "We worked very hard over the
past few years," says Verling, "Last year we did a huge
rethink. We had to. Five years in, the business plan we
started out with had to be thrown out the door. I think
originally we may have been naive in thinking that you
could get big audiences for the traditional arts. There's
an issue here of bringing coal to Newcastle!

"What I mean is that Clare has a surfeit of fantastic
music, and I think one of the things we have tested is that
Irish music began in the home and, from there, where it has
had its greatest success was in intimate venues and pubs.
Bringing it to a concert hall setting has never been
entirely successful for a native audience, which is
something we have learned the hard way. We now have a huge
amount of experience under our belts - a lot of that has
been negative experience, but it has been a huge learning

At a time then when Glór openly acknowledges the
difficulties facing traditional music in the county, the
decision by the Arts Council to award Clare County Council
and Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy the largest funding
increases in their history, seems somewhat at odds. While
the traditional arts in Co Clare have been further
bolstered, there is a feeling that the performance and
literary arts have suffered as a result.

The county lacks a writer-in-residence programme, annual
arts festival, youth or professional theatre company, or
purpose-built exhibition space.

County arts officer, Siobhán Mulcahy, sees her job as
playing to the county's artistic strengths and helping
create the impetus for non-traditional art forms to develop

"For years we've been making the case that a lot of what we
do is in the traditional arts, but that wouldn't be
something that the Arts Council would necessarily have been
funding. In terms of funding, we were mid-way down the
scale. This year we are up by a third, and are now the
fourth highest in the country. I felt that was an
endorsement of the work we have been doing. It means that
we can now consolidate our work, particularly in the area
of the traditional arts."

GIVEN THE DIFFICULTIES Glór experienced, both in
maintaining an audience and altering its programming remit,
question marks have been raised as to whether the venue
owes its existence more to Síle de Valera's political
legacy (she was Minister for Arts and a Clare TD at the
time), rather than any actual cultural needs. Mulcahy
doesn't see it this way.

"I think that you need to put it into the context of the
time. Clare didn't have an arts venue, so for a county very
much steeped in the culture from a ground-up perspective,
especially with the traditional arts, it was certainly
justifiable. Other counties, who may not be as culturally
active as here, had venues. It's also worth bearing in mind
that the population in Clare is now more than 100,000. So I
think for people like us, and also places like Portlaoise
and Thurles, people felt that their county was getting its
just desserts. The fact that the Minister was here helped,
but it was long overdue."

That may be so, but were it not for the continued financial
support of Clare County Council, Glór would have found it
impossible to adapt and survive over the past five years.
Should there have been greater support from the Arts
Council? "I think the Arts Council signalled from an early
point that they had concerns over who was going to pay for
the running and support of these venues. There isn't any
venue in the country making money, and I think they flagged
that from the outset.

"But at Government level there seemed to be disparity from
what the department wanted - a capital building programme -
and what the Arts Council wanted. It's not that they didn't
want counties to have venues, but I do think they were
marking people's cards.

"There is a huge question about sustainability, not only
about Glór, but about every arts centre in the country, and
really, you have to look at the logic of a new building
going up and not having the money or resources to staff
them. Having said that, Glór has found a way to alter its
programme radically and give people access to a lot more
performance arts and non-traditional art forms. But these
things take time to establish, given that we are about 20
years behind most other counties in terms of cultural
infrastructure. But the landscape is changing, thankfully."

For details of Glór's programme see

© The Irish Times

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