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March 12, 2006

Storm Damage Closes Murder HQ

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 03/12/06
NI: Storm Damage Closes Murder HQ
BN 03/12/06 Irish Govt Planning Gun Amnesty To Combat Violent Crime
IT 03/13/06 Ahern Insists Crime Not Out Of Control
EM 03/12/06 Undocumented Irish Rally In Washington
IT 03/13/06 Opin: Fate Of Irish 'Illegals'
IT 03/13/06 Opin: Just What It Means To Be Irish These Days
BB 03/13/06 Crowds Celebrate St Patrick's Day
BN 03/13/06 Economic Boom 'Making Irish More Selfish'
TE 03/13/06 Dublin Repeals English Laws Designed To Curb The Irish
IT 03/13/06 Harbour View: 100-Berth Marina Planned For Killybegs


NI: Storm Damage Closes Murder HQ

12/03/2006 - 15:30:51

The headquarters of a team of detectives looking into
unsolved murders from Northern Ireland’s troubles have been
temporarily closed following storm damage.

The Historical Enquiries Team, which was launched in
January, had begun its work at a police station in
Sprucefield, near Lisburn, Co Antrim.

However, heavy overnight rain caused structural damage to
the roof of its offices.

It is understood there was flood damage to electrics,
computer and information technology equipment in the

However, files, records and documents were not affected.

“At this stage it is not known how long the offices will be
closed for as an assessment of the damage is still being
carried out,” a police spokesperson said.

The Historical Enquiries Team has been given a budget of
more than £30m (€43.6m) to re-examine 3,268 killings
between 1969 and 1998.

In January the team headed up by retired Metropolitan
Police Commander Dave Cox began work on its first 100 cases
from April 1969.

The team hopes to complete its work within seven years.

It was established to help relatives of people killed in
Northern Ireland find the answers to any remaining
questions about their loved ones’ murders.

It also looks at whether any remaining investigative
opportunities can be exploited to the full.

The team, which reports directly to Northern Ireland Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde, has a squad of around 100
detectives and support staff and access to all files and
forensic science techniques.

It is split into two investigative units, with one of the
teams made up exclusively from police officers from outside
Northern Ireland to work on cases where there have been
allegations of security force collusion.


Irish Govt Planning Gun Amnesty To Combat Violent Crime

12/03/2006 - 16:06:34

It is understood that the Government is making plans to
bring in a gun amnesty.

It aims to tackle the growing rate of gun-crime, with four
shootings in north Dublin in the past week.

A similar move in Britain resulted in over 43,000 firearms
being handed over to the police.

Dublin Fianna Fáil deputy John Curren said that the details
of the amnesty, which will start in the summer, will be
announced in the next two weeks.


Ahern Insists Crime Not Out Of Control

Seán MacConnell and Stephen Collins

The Taoiseach maintained yesterday that there was no
question of crime being out of the control but Fine Gael
leader Enda Kenny accused the Government of being
completely out of touch with what was happening in
communities all over the country.

Speaking to journalists in Birr, Co Offaly, Mr Ahern said
it was always disappointing when the level of crime went
up. "We are now up to 14,000 gardaí, we have put in huge
resources in terms of the work we have done in the
stations," he said.

"We have a huge detection rate and are still getting a lot
of very good prosecutions. In the murder last week, I don't
want to say anything about that, but the people were
apprehended and the course of justice will take its place,"
he said.

"We are having a lot of success in this area but we are
dealing with very, very vicious people and that's what we
are having to contend with. The money in drugs nowadays is
just very attractive and it attracts a very, very difficult
criminal element which the gardaí now have to face up to
and fight," said Mr Ahern.

He said the Government had changed the position on murder
where people used to get out after seven years on the
recommendation of the Parole Board. "Now it's up to 13 and
I understand the Parole Board is going to move that out to
15 years," he said.

"The Criminal Justice Bill will be brought in shortly and
there will be a lot of tough measures in that," he added.

However, Mr Kenny maintained that the Government had
abandoned some communities.

"I think that the first thing that should happen is that
the Minister for Justice should leave aside his megaphone
and get down to serious action in respect of the gun
culture and lawlessness which is now endemic in some of our
suburbs in some of our cities and is driven on by greed, by
lawlessness and by the cocaine epidemic that is sweeping
the country."

Speaking on RTÉ radio's This Week programme, Mr Kenny said
that during Mr McDowell's term as Minister 500,000 headline
crimes will have been committed by next year. "The litmus
test for this Ministry and for this Government is 'are the
people safer on the streets and safer in their homes than
they were previously?' The answer clearly is no."

Mr Kenny said that if the will was there the Government
could take on the drugs barons as the last Fine Gael-led
government had done after the murder of Veronica Guerin.

© The Irish Times


Undocumented Irish Rally In Washington

About 2,500 Irish immigrants attended a rally in Washington
DC on Wednesday to lobby for US immigration reform. Wearing
t-shirts that said "Legalize the Irish", they travelled
from as far away as Boston, New York, Stamford,
Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. They are
supporting legislation that they hope would benefit the
estimated 20-50,000 undocumented Irish in the US, along
with the 12 million so-called illegals of every
nationality. Events attended by the group included a rally
on Capitol Hill and the distribution of letters to elected
officials calling for immigration reform. The events were
sponsored by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

The rally was addressed by US Senators Ted Kennedy and John
McCain, who co-sponsored legislation which the Irish Lobby
supports. Senator Hillary Clinton also addressed the
crowds. The New York Sun newspaper reports that she
received a rousing ovation as she called for "a path to
earned legalization".

The issue of the Irish undocumented is expected to be on
the agenda when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Foreign Affairs
Minister Dermot Ahern meet US President George Bush at the
annual St Patrick's Day ceremonies in the White House.


Opin: Fate Of Irish 'Illegals'


Thousands of undocumented Irish and their supporters
demonstrated in Washington last week in support of an
immigration reform Bill, sponsored by Senators Edward
Kennedy and John McCain, that would allow them to remain
and work in the United States and eventually qualify for
permanent residency.

On Friday, when he visits the White House on St Patrick's
Day to meet President Bush, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern,
will place immigration reform and the treatment of
undocumented Irish at the top of his political agenda.

Life has become increasingly difficult for an estimated
25,000 Irish immigrants because of new security provisions
in the aftermath of 9/11 and passage of the Real ID Act.
Because of their status, such people cannot renew driving
licences needed for work or secure health insurance. They
cannot risk returning home for fear of being denied re-
entry to the US. While many of them have set up their own
businesses and become dynamic members of their adopted
society, they live in fear of being arrested and deported
as illegal aliens.

The Irish are a small but important part of the illegal
immigrant problem in the US. Because we were favoured by a
series of concessions, including the granting of Morrison
visas, the number involved is minuscule compared to an
estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants overall - two-
thirds of them Latinos. In approaching this politically
sensitive and divisive issue during a Congressional
election year however, Irish influence could prove to be
significant in moderating the more extreme anti-immigrant

Last year, Government ministers, Fine Gael politicians and
representatives of the Irish Catholic Bishops lobbied
prominent US senators, members of Congress and
administration officials on the need for a sensitive and
generous response. The Dáil made an all-party appeal to
President Bush to support the provisions of the
Kennedy/McCain Bill. In spite of such representations,
however, Mr Bush appears to favour a more limited approach,
involving a temporary guest worker programme aimed
primarily at Latinos. Republicans recently introduced a
guest worker Bill to the Senate that would permit people to
work for six years in the United States, after which they
would be required to return home. But if the millions of
undocumented immigrants who have been working hard and
contributing to the wealth of US society over many years
are to be treated fairly and equitably, they should not
have to face expulsion. It is a consideration that is also
relevant in this State.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Just What It Means To Be Irish These Days


Rite and Reason: The challenge for the two nations on this
island is to overcome identities which see their own
legitimacy and security as grounded in the disappearance or
destruction of the other, writes Irene Whelan.

The approach of St Patrick's Day with its attendant focus
on national identity has rarely been preceded by such a
chorus of opinions on what it means to be Irish these days.

Fallout from clerical scandals and the exposure of abuse in
Catholic-run institutions has shattered, if not destroyed,
the almost organic connection between being Irish and
Catholic that dominated the national consciousness for so

The term "post-Catholic" thus gained vogue as a trendy
description of contemporary Irish society in the last
decade. Recent stinging criticism of President Mary
McAleese's interpretation of 1916 also suggests that it may
soon be joined by "post-nationalist". But how much of this
is superficial glossing over of subjects that are at the
heart of who we are as a collective?

As we loosen our moorings from the traditional sanctities
of faith and fatherland, on what terms are we going to
define a new identity, especially if it is one that
embraces the other tradition on the island?

Does the jettisoning of traditional Catholicism mean that
we are now to embrace the antithesis of Rome as the root of
all evil and the Pope as the Antichrist? Will overturning
the sanctity of 1916 in the national canon mean that we are
now to see Patrick Pearse as a fellow traveller of Adolf
Hitler or other fascists? This is a prospect that is not
without its risks.

The recent challenge of the "Love Ulster" march on February
25th was a transparent embarrassment to those who
anticipated the event with indifference and nonchalance, as
if it was nothing more than an American high school band
over for St Patrick's Day.

The manner in which reality blew up in their faces brought
home to serious observers the difficult path that lies
ahead for any effort at reconciliation.

If I may be permitted to paraphrase George Orwell,
reconciliation in the present and future will most
certainly be contingent upon reconciliation of the past - a
daunting challenge in a country with a history such as

Wise grandmothers and socially aware politicians have
always counselled that the interests of civil discourse and
good manners are best served when religion and politics are
left out of polite conversation. The reality of Irish
history, unfortunately, does not allow this luxury.

The overpowering reality of our troubled past is that
political life in Ireland has always been dominated by
religion. The conquest and colonisation of Ireland in the
16th and 17th centuries was occasioned and justified by
England's fear of domination by Catholic Europe.

The architects of the Penal Laws had no trouble vindicating
their harsh treatment of Catholics when they could point to
Louis XIV's Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) that
sent Huguenot refugees flooding into every country
(including Ireland) that would receive them.

In the aftermath of the 1790s religion came powering back
in answer to the destabilisation and upheaval unleashed by
the "infidelity" of the revolutionary period. What emerged
in Ireland, against the backdrop of the Catholic campaign
for political freedom and Protestant resistance to it, were
two rival nations with oppositional identities, the
legitimacy and future security of the one being necessarily
grounded in the anticipated disappearance or destruction of
the other.

Those with faith in the Union convinced themselves that
Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom and that
its character could be changed through a cultural
revolution in which the blessings of Protestantism and
membership in the "moral empire" would transform the

But (and herein lies an example that the promoters of
western-style freedoms and democracy in the contemporary
Middle East would do well to heed) what this attempt at
imposing moral and cultural hegemony actually succeeded in
doing was to cement the already powerful bond between
priests and people, and to provide the Catholic clergy with
a position of political leadership that they might
otherwise never have aspired to.

This ideological division, already securely in place by the
1840s, guaranteed the political division of the country
regardless of whether a home government would be realised
through Home Rule or a Republic. It has never successfully
been transcended.

As the dust settles after the upheavals of the last 30
years, the debate of how such transcendence might be
achieved will no doubt become more urgent.

If there is any lesson that can be garnered from our
troubled history, it is that any such debate should begin
by removing itself from the polemics and bitterness that
created much of the division in the first place. In other
words it should take place in the kind of civil and polite
manner of which grandmothers might approve.

Irene Whelan is the author of The Bible War in Ireland -
the "Second Reformation" and the Polarization of
Protestant-Catholic Relations, 1800-40 (Lilliput Press,
Dublin, and the University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). She
teaches history at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New

© The Irish Times


Crowds Celebrate St Patrick's Day

Thousands of Londoners have taken to the streets for the
fifth annual St Patrick's Day parade.

Irish dancers, floats and bands wound through central
London, while Irish band Hothouse Flowers performed in
Trafalgar Square.

Water in the square's fountains was dyed green for the day,
Irish food was sampled in Covent Garden and a Ceilidh was
performed in Leicester Square.

Organisers say celebrations now rival those in New York,
Boston and Chicago.

The parade left Park Lane and passed through Piccadilly
Circus, Lower Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and

We have got such a great city because people get on so
well and we want to enjoy all the parties that we can have

Mayor Ken Livingstone

Among more than 4,000 performers were singer-songwriter
Gemma Hayes and Brian Kennedy who is to represent Ireland
at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern praised the event, which recognises London's large
Irish community - a third of Irish people in Britain live
in London.

London mayor Ken Livingstone told BBC London: "It's a great
day out.

"It's not just St Patrick's Day, we celebrated Russian New
Year in January, Chinese New Year and this year, for the
first time, we will celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid in
Trafalgar Square.

"We have got such a great city because people get on so
well and we want to enjoy all the parties that we can

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/12 16:31:43 GMT


Economic Boom 'Making Irish More Selfish'

12/03/2006 - 15:01:25

Ireland’s economic boom is making Irish people “selfish and
arrogant”, a Government minister warned today.

Social and Family Affairs Minister Seamus Brennan told the
Accord conference in Co Cavan that the nation had always
prided itself on its humanity and decency and the new
challenge was to retain these traits.

He told his audience in Ballyconnell: “Economic, social and
cultural success does not cure all ills – it comes at a

“Ireland must now face up to new pressures and fresh
challenges – what you could call the problems of swift and
remarkable success.

“I am struck, for example, by how many Irish people are
increasingly displaying what I view as selfishness,
impatience and, even, an arrogance.

“This to me is something that runs against the grain of the
humanity and decency that we as a nation have always prided
ourselves on.

“How we hold onto that humanity and hold onto that decency
must surely be one of the greatest challenges that all of
us face going into the future.”

The Minister said the current generation will be judged on
how it harnesses the economic success to improve the
quality of life for everybody.

How the wealth is distributed among children, the elderly
and disadvantaged groups will be the test, he added.

“How well we respond to these challenges, these hopes,
these aspirations will, at the end of the day, be our
legacy,” he noted.

Mr Brennan praised marriage counselling agency, Accord’s
work in building solid and practical foundations for
couples and later counselling if required.

“The provision of these services has proved invaluable in
offering people the means to safeguard and nourish their
marriage and family relationships,” he said.

Last year the Government allocated €2.75m to Accord to help
run its head office in Maynooth and almost 50 centres

Mr Brennan said he understood the new challenges facing
Accord in a multi-cultural society and with births outside
marriage, separation and divorce now commonplace.

“This results in greater discontinuity and instability in
family life and makes the work of an organisation such as
Accord more challenging, but ultimately more rewarding.

“You are also working today in an Ireland, which includes
people of many different nationalities with diverse
cultures and backgrounds,” he commented.

The Dublin TD said he appreciated couples were under bigger
pressures nowadays with commuting as well as rent and
mortgage payments.

“With the pace of life today it has become more difficult
for people to maintain strong and stable relationships.
Children above all benefit from stability and continuity in
their family life and from a regular and close relationship
with both parents.

“Marriage makes a major contribution to achieving this goal
and, therefore, has always commanded respect and support in
Irish society.”

Statistics have shown that marriage is on the increase,
with over 20,000 unions each year.

Mr Brennan also paid tribute to the work of Accord in
providing relationships and sex education information to
post-primary schools in Northern Ireland .


Dublin Repeals English Laws Designed To Curb The Irish

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 13/03/2006)

The draconian laws the English imposed on Ireland to keep
the natives at bay are to be repealed hundreds of years
after they were first put on the Statute Book.

Bertie Ahern, the Irish prime minister, has finally got
round to dealing with more than 2,000 pieces of legislation
drawn up by colonial parliaments following the 12th
century, Norman invasion of his country.

The revision programme will see the removal of ancient acts
banning the Gaelic language, prohibiting the English from
fraternising with the locals and preventing Jews from
owning armour.

According to some of Ireland's more archaic laws, the Irish
are forbidden from marrying the English or joining
religious orders.

Laws promoting an Anglo-Irish apartheid have remained in
existence despite it being almost 90 years since the
rebellion that led to the withdrawal of the British and the
creation of the Republic of Ireland.

The overhaul of the Irish Statute Book has been initiated
not only to remove relics of the past that are no longer
relevant in modern Ireland but also to simplify the legal
system for lawyers and the public.

"This will be the single largest body of legislation to be
repealed in this way in the history of the State," said Mr
Ahern. "As legislators, Governments tend to add to the
Statute Book, but not to take away from it. There is a
large volume of legislation that pre-dates the foundation
of the Irish State, much of which is now redundant."

Many of the old acts reflect England's determination to
suppress Irish nationalism.

Many still resonate today. Resentment at legislation that
forced the Irish to give up their land still simmers.

Many of the laws listed for appeal are "acts of attainder",
which declared certain people to be enemies of the English

Those decried as traitors would forfeit their lives and
have their lands confiscated by the Crown.

One Act of 1798 relates to the Attainder of Lord Edward
FitzGerald, one of the leaders of the 1798 rising under
Wolfe Tone that attempted to sever Ireland's links with
Great Britain.

Lord Edward's imprisonment in Dublin contributed to the
failure of the uprising. He died in Newgate Prison, aged
35, from wounds sustained while resisting arrest.


Harbour View: 100-Berth Marina Planned For Killybegs

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Killybegs is hoping to become the "Kinsale of the north-
west", following planning approval for a 100-berth marina
in the harbour.

Donegal County Council has sanctioned the privately funded
€3 million project for the old fishery harbour, subject to
15 conditions.

The backers say they are confident that the Department of
Communications, Marine and Natural Resources will award a
foreshore licence for the project. If the licence is
approved, the marina could be open this summer, they say.

The plan for the marina, immediately north-west of the
Blackrock pier in the town, was drawn up almost three years
ago by three local businessmen, Barry Sharkey, managing
director of Barry Electronics, Paul O'Neill of O'Neill
Fishing Co Ltd and Charles Vial, managing director of C
Fish Ltd.

The group said that the project would give a vital boost to
tourism, following completion of the €55 million deepwater
harbour at the port.

Their plans included construction of an administration
centre and a maritime cultural centre. However, the plan
was opposed by Killybegs Parish Council which said any such
marina should be built with State funds.

A Deloitte & Touche report commissioned by Donegal County
Council had recommended that five marinas be built in the
county at Burtonport (100 berths), Killybegs (100 berths),
Bunnagee (15 berths), Ballywhoriskey, Fanad (three berths)
and Tory Island (15 berths).

Mr Sharkey welcomed the decision.

"There are no marinas for visiting yachts from Kilrush to
Lough Swilly, and this is an ideal location for marine
leisure, from sailing to sea angling to scuba diving. We
will also be catering for small fishing vessels."

He added: "It is good news for Killybegs at a time when it
needs some good news."

© The Irish Times

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