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March 11, 2006

Thugs Desecrate Belfast Parish Church

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 03/10/06 NI: Thugs Desecrate Parish Church
SF 03/11/06 Gerry Adams Will Seek US Support To Advance Peace Process
BB 03/11/06 Bush Meets IRA Victims' Families
IT 03/11/06 DUP To Reject White House Invitation
BB 03/11/06 DUP's Loyalist Meeting 'Useful'
SF 03/10/06 Sinn Féin Launch "End Political Policing Campaign"
IT 03/11/06 Border Cannot Get In The Way Of Crime - Orde
BN 03/11/06 'All Or Nothing' Approach On Assembly Criticised
WT 03/10/06 Embassy Row: Illegal Irish
HE 03/10/06 McCain And Hillary Rally Illegals
BB 03/10/06 Extradition Fight Man Attacks Law
BB 03/10/06 Medal Plan To 'Mark RIR Service'
BN 03/10/06 Adams: 'Slab' Murphy Is Innocent
BN 03/11/06 ‘Slab’ Murphy Left Home Minutes Before Raid - Reports
BT 03/11/06 Bunker Hunt For Missing Murphy
IM 03/10/06 Easter Lily Not A Fashion Item
SF 03/10/06 Sinn Féin Welcome NASUWT Demand For Return Of The Assembly
IM 03/10/06 Four Peace Activists Aquitted At Shannon
BB 03/11/06 NI 'Off The Radar' In Washington
IT 03/11/06 Opin: The Belfast Agreement Has Resulted In Stalemate
IT 03/11/06 Opin: Protestants For Whom Past Is History, Not Politics
IT 03/11/06 Opin: What It Means To Be Irish 2 Decades Into 21st Cent?
IT 03/11/06 Opin: No Irish Need Apply?
IT 03/11/06 Opin: Prejudice Rains On The Parade
IT 03/11/06 Opin: Tread Softly Or Triumph?
IT 03/11/06 Opin: The Church Clearance Sale
TT 03/11/06 Opin: Battle For St Patrick
BT 03/11/06 Opin: Are We Ready For Reconciliation?
SF 03/11/06 SF Demand Equality For Irish Language In Schools
BN 03/11/06 FG’s Call For End To Compulsory Irish In Schools
SF 03/10/06 Govt Must Stop Auctioning Of Priceless 1916 Heritage
IT 03/11/06 Bob Dylan Cork Tickets Sell In 10 Minutes
IT 03/11/06 State Assigns €1.7m To Buy Blaskets
IT 03/11/06 Keane Regrets TV Disclosure Of Haughey Affair
ST 03/11/06 St. Patrick’s Day Open House To Feature Celtic Books
BT 03/11/06 Getting Down To Earth ... In Old Co Down


NI: Thugs Desecrate Parish Church

10/03/2006 - 13:50:00

Thugs smeared excrement and daubed racist graffiti inside a
Catholic church in Belfast, it emerged today.

Sectarian slogans were also scrawled over the walls of St
Colmcille’s in the east of the city.

The desecration was discovered by a woman who opened the
church in preparation for a service on Thursday night.

Parish priest Fr Patrick Delargy said: “She noticed
excrement, the most offensive in the tabernacle area, the
most sacred part of the church.”

With worshippers already in the building, which was hosting
a special mission involving Redemptorist priests from the
Clonard monastery in west Belfast, further damage was
found, including defaced posters.

Some of the vandalism was directed at Catholic youngsters,
but most of the hatred focused on foreign nationals who had
come to the area in search of work.

Unable to utter the words used, Fr Delargy confirmed: “It
was about killing people of other nations, as serious as

“A large part of our congregation would be immigrants
working in local care homes and hospitals.

“They contribute so much to the parish, but obviously
people see them coming to church and take exception.”

Windows on the church, located on the mainly Protestant
Upper Newtownards Road, have been broken in the past.

But the priest insisted relationships with the wider
community have been good until the latest outbreak.

Representatives from the neighbouring Presbyterian churches
were swift to offer solidarity, he stressed.

“This is very, very unpleasant,” Fr Delargy said.

“What happened in the past was sectarian, but this looks
more racist.”

CCTV footage of people entering the church yesterday has
been given to police in a bid to identify the vandals

Police investigating the attack have urged anyone with
information to come forward.


Gerry Adams Will Seek US Support To Advance Peace Process

Published: 11 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP will travel to the US
next week to attend a series of engagements in New York,
Washington DC and Massachusetts.

During the trip Mr. Adams will be seeking US support for
the party's strategy for the speedy restoration of the
political institutions.

In New York Mr. Adams will brief Irish American supporters
of the peace process and meet with the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform. Mr. Adams will then travel to
Washington DC where he will brief senior members of
Congress including Senators Kennedy, Dodd and Clinton and
attend the St. Patrick's Day event in the White House.

Speaking in advance of the trip Mr. Adams said:

" Last week I wrote to the Taoiseach and the British Prime
Minister asking that they set out a timetable for the
restoration of the Assembly and the Executive, well in
advance of the start of the loyalist marching season.

Next week I will be meeting with supporters of the peace
process in Irish America, Congress and the White House and
I will be urging everyone to do all in their power to see
this happen.

The governments know that the current talks are going
nowhere but if they continue to allow the DUP to veto all
attempts at progress they risk running the entire process
into the ground. There is an opportunity to end the impasse
in the political and peace process but it means the
governments taking decisive action in the coming


Adams added: “We have asked for fundraising as well but it
is not the main focus.”

On the significance of the trip, he said: “The main reason
for going to the States particularly on St Patrick’s Day
and around that period is to brief Irish Americans.

“We have made it very, very clear to the two governments
(British and Irish) that we expect them and want them to
put the institutions in place in advance of the Orange
marching season.

“Going to the States, and I do intend to go, is an
opportunity to seek support for that proposition and to
encourage the two governments to go down that road.”


Bush Meets IRA Victims' Families

US President George Bush is to meet relatives of IRA
victims during next week's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

They include Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law
were killed in the 1993 Shankill bomb, and the sisters of
murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney.

Relatives of Dublin man Joseph Rafferty, who claim he was
shot by a member of the IRA, will also attend.

Northern Ireland's main political leaders are expected to
be invited to the White House on 17 March.

Mr McBride's wife Sharon, and father-in-law John Frizell,
were among nine people killed in an explosion in a fish
shop on the Shankill Road, in west Belfast in October 1993.
IRA bomber Thomas Begley, also died.

Mr McBride, who now works for a group called One Small
Step, said he would update President Bush about its work.

"Whilst we've had the Good Friday Agreement signed seven
years ago, we still haven't got the sort of peaceful
society that we all wanted," he said.

"I suppose really what the One Small Step campaign is about
is trying to encourage people to come together and to
recognise that we have to share this peace of land."

Last year, no politician from Northern Ireland received an
invitation to St Patrick's Day festivities at the White
House, following failed attempts to restore devolution and
the Northern Bank robbery fall-out.

It is believed invitations have been extended to the main
party leaders this year, but it is not thought any of them
will meet Mr Bush.

Invites are believed to have been issued to Sinn Fein
President Gerry Adams, DUP leader Ian Paisley, Ulster
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey and SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Government ministers

Invites have also gone to the Alliance leader David Ford
and the Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine.

Last year, much was made of the fact that Mr Adams, who was
in Washington, was not invited to the White House while the
sisters of Robert McCartney, allegedly murdered by
republicans, were brought inside to meet the president.

However, while Mr Adams will be back in Washington next
week, Sinn Fein sources do not expect any change in the
decision to prevent him from fundraising there.

The DUP leader is unlikely to join him at the White House -
his party have no plans to send a delegation to Washington.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is due in Washington to meet
President Bush at the White House along with four other
government ministers.

Devolved government at Stormont was suspended in 2002
following allegations of a republican spy ring at the
Northern Ireland Office.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/11 12:33:40 GMT

The family of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane may
also be greeted by the president at Friday's White House
event - a meeting that would throw more American scrutiny
on the Government's conditions for holding a collusion
inquiry into his murder.

Catherine McCartney, one of Robert's sisters, said the
family was surprised when US envoy Mitchell Reiss phoned
last night and asked them back to the White House.

"We hadn't really been intending to go," she said. "We were
there in November, but we decided to take the opportunity
and inform the Americans about what's going on to see if
they can apply any more pressure."

The McCartneys and Raffertys will meet Mr Bush as part of a
small gathering after the official ceremony, when Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern presents the President with a bowl of

The families and the politicians will all attend the larger
gathering, but the Northern Ireland political leaders will
not be meeting Mr Bush privately.

Catherine McCartney said she "won't be deliberately
avoiding Gerry Adams" during that first ceremony. The only
people who can ultimately deliver justice in Robert's case
are Sinn Fein and the IRA," she said.

"At the same time I don't like meeting people for the sake
of it."

Pat Finucane's widow, Geraldine, will meet a number of
Congressmen to explain her family's concerns about the
Government's handling of the collusion inquiry into his

The family has objected to legislation that gives Ministers
greater secrecy powers.

An all-party motion in the Dail this week criticised the
Government for its handling of the Finucane inquiry.

"I intend to build on this support in Europe on my visit to
the USA and I am very pleased that the Irish Government is
assisting me to do so by arranging meetings on Capitol Hill
and a possible opportunity to meet with President Bush,"
Mrs Finucane said.


DUP To Reject White House Invitation

Mark Brennock and Denis Staunton, Washington Correspondent

The DUP is to reject an invitation to attend President
George Bush's St Patrick's Day reception at the White House
next Friday, which the leaders of the other four main
political parties in the North are expected to attend.

The families of Robert McCartney and Joseph Rafferty, both
believed to have been murdered by IRA members, are also
being invited to the event, which will take place after a
30-minute meeting between President Bush and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern.

The families will have a brief private encounter with the
president, along with members of the North's policing board
and other civil society leaders, before the main reception.

The White House began sending formal invitations on
Thursday to the annual event, which will be attended by
about 100 people, mainly Irish-American supporters of the
Republican Party.

A DUP spokesman said yesterday that his party had no plans
to send anybody to the reception.

There had been speculation that while the Rev Ian Paisley
would not go, he might send a senior party figure such as
deputy leader Peter Robinson.

The spokesman said his party "was never a big fan of
trotting out to the White House on St Patrick's Day". A
delegation was going to Washington in early April to meet
various members of Congress and "we took a decision a while
back that it didn't suit us to go during St Patrick's

This decision was not intended as a snub of any sort, he

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will be granted a visa to
visit the US but is not expected to be allowed to engage in
fundraising. SDLP leader Mark Durkan, UUP leader Sir Reg
Empey and Alliance Party leader David Ford are also
expected to be at the White House.

Last year the White House invited the McCartney family and
representatives of civil society in the North to the St
Patrick's Day celebrations. Not wanting to invite Sinn Féin
in the wake of the Northern Bank robbery, the McCartney
killing and the continuing failure to decommission weapons,
the White House chose to invite none of the party leaders.
This decision is believed to have been taken to ensure they
were not seen to discriminate against Sinn Féin.

The Taoiseach will make the traditional presentation of a
bowl of shamrock to the president on Friday morning. In a
statement yesterday, White House press secretary Scott
McClellan said this ceremony "dates back decades and
symbolises the close friendship between the United States
and Ireland".

Mr Ahern and President Bush will meet in the Oval Office
for up to 30 minutes. They will discuss plans for
immigration reform in the US, which Irish-Americans want to
be framed so as to regularise the situation of up to 50,000
Irish people living illegally in the United States.

Mr Bush will brief Mr Ahern on the situation in Iraq and
the fight against international terrorism, while Mr Ahern
will update the president on the efforts to restore the
North's power-sharing executive.

Mr Bush and Mr Ahern will then be joined by northern
secretary Peter Hain for the private meeting with the
McCartneys, the Raffertys and Northern civic leaders. At
this meeting, according to Mr McClellan, Mr Bush, Mr Ahern
and Mr Hain will "greet civil society leaders who are
striving to build an inclusive and peaceful Northern

This will be followed by the larger reception.

© The Irish Times


DUP's Loyalist Meeting 'Useful'

The first meeting between two DUP MPs and the chairman of
the Loyalist Commission was "useful", the party's deputy
leader Peter Robinson has said.

Mr Robinson said he and Nigel Dodds met Reverend Mervyn
Gibson to see what the DUP could do to help end loyalist
criminality and paramilitary activity.

He would not be drawn on whether the party would go further
than meeting the loyalist umbrella body and see the UDA.

He said they wanted to report back to colleagues before
giving more details.

"I want to encourage people to end paramilitary and
criminal activity," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Inside
Politics programme.

"Where people are clearly intent on doing that,
encouragement will come from us.

"The form of it would be a matter for the party to decide
and I wouldn't want to prejudice any decision that they
might take."

Earlier this week, the Independent Monitoring Commission
said loyalist paramilitaries remained heavily involved in
organised crime, although there were signs of a possible
readiness to abandon some criminality.

The Loyalist Commission is an umbrella group which includes
members of the UVF, Red Hand Commando and the UDA, as well
as clergymen and community representatives.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external
internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/11 09:25:49 GMT


Sinn Féin Launch "End Political Policing Campaign"

Published: 10 March, 2006

Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams speaking at the launch of
the party's "End Political Policing Campaign" has said that
political policing is a threat to everyone. Mr Adams was
joined at the launch by North Belfast MLA Kathy Stanton and
Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd.

Mr Adams said:

"This campaign is about confronting and ending Political
Policing. It is a threat to us all.

"It was Political Detectives who effectively organised a
coup d‚etat to collapse the power-sharing Executive and
Assembly which was voted for by people. This was a direct
attack on democracy. We also saw it in the arrest of
Francie Brolly and the raids on Casement Park.

"The securocrats and the political detectives are still at
war. Their aim is to prevent change - changes in policing;
to stop the restoration of the power-sharing Executive and
the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement; and to
undermine the Peace Process.

"The end of political policing requires action by the
British government. It is their responsibility. The end
political policing requires powers on policing and justice
to be transferred into a locally elected Assembly within a
new framework of equality and human rights on an all-
Ireland basis.

"With 3,000 posters, 150,000 leaflets, a day of action and
protest on March 15th and lobbying Sinn Féin is challenging
political policing and demanding that the British
government move to end it."

Upper Bann MLA John O‚Dowd added:

"There are still those in political unionism or nationalism
who try to ignore Political Policing. This is cowardice.

"In four years on the Policing Board, the SDLP in
particular has failed to hold the Political Detectives
publicly to account and failed to end Collusion and
Political Policing.

"Hugh Orde admitted in 2003, when speaking in America, that
there are some in the PSNI who want him to fail. I believe
that there are still British securocrats and Political
Detectives who want the Agreement, power-sharing and
negotiations for a new beginning to policing to fail. The
evidence shows that many of them are still in the PSNI
today." ENDS


Border Cannot Get In The Way Of Crime - Orde

Fiona Gartland in Waterford

The Border cannot get in the way of dealing with organised
crime, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief
Constable Sir Hugh Orde said yesterday.

Commenting on Thursday's cross-Border operation against
oil-laundering on the Louth-Armagh Border, he said that, by
working together, the PSNI and the Garda had shown what
they were capable of delivering.

He was speaking in Waterford before addressing a conference
on policing in 21st century Ireland, along with Garda
Commissioner Noel Conroy.

Mr Conroy said both forces were homing in on organised

Asked whether the family of Donna Cleary, who was shot dead
in Dublin last weekend, had been let down by the Garda
because there was a bench warrant for the chief suspect
outstanding at the time of the murder, Mr Conroy said he
regretted the loss of life but the Garda had not failed the
family in any way.

He suggested people with outstanding warrants against them
should turn themselves in to a police station or present
themselves in court. This would save a lot of Garda time.

The conference, the first of its kind in Ireland, was held
at the Waterford Institute of Technology. Speakers included
both police chiefs and Breda Allen of the Dublin Rape
Crisis Centre.

Mr Conroy told the conference that the Garda would continue
with its policy of consensual, non-confrontational policing
but that no one agency had the sole ability to prevent
crime or control it. Community involvement was very
important, especially in combating public order offences.

Mr Conroy said organised crime was of particular concern to
both police forces and the activities of organised
criminals had become transnational.

"In Ireland, it consists of small groups who operate
independently but facilitate each other with firearms,
transport and other facilities," he said.

Non-national involvement in crime was on the increase, in
areas such as document fraud, human trafficking, financial
fraud and drug-smuggling, the commissioner said. The
"dramatic increase in cultural and ethnic diversity" in
Ireland would have to be addressed by the force through
"visible manifestations of diversity".

Sir Hugh Orde also emphasised the need for community
involvement and transparency. He spoke about the policy of
recruiting more Catholics and said that Sinn Féin's refusal
to be involved with the Policing Board meant they were
denying people who voted for them the opportunity to work
for the PSNI.

The chief constable said that, though ethnic minorities
were still less than 1 per cent in the North, race crime
was one of the biggest challenges the force faced.

© The Irish Times


'All Or Nothing' Approach On Assembly Criticised

11/03/2006 - 12:03:02

Nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland were today
accused of pursuing a scorched earth policy over the
revival of the Stormont Assembly.

Democratic Unionist Deputy Leader Peter Robinson said it
was regrettable that Sinn Féin and the SDLP appeared to be
adopting an all or nothing approach to the resumption of
power sharing.

The East Belfast MP also said that his party’s call for the
revival of the Assembly short of full blown devolution was
not, as some nationalist critics claimed, an attempt to set
up a talking shop.

“It is regrettable that nationalists have adopted an all or
nothing approach to executive devolution when they know
that the outcome is going to be nothing,” the former
Stormont Regional Development Minister told PA.

“The Independent Monitoring Commission has said criminality
by the IRA is still going on and in that context you cannot
expect us to go into government with Sinn Féin.

“This idea that you call the Assembly together and give it
six weeks is certainly a recipe for ensuring it collapses
and we have a crisis.

“It is a scorched earth policy by nationalists.”

Devolution in Northern Ireland has been suspended since
October 2002 and it has been run by a team of British
government ministers currently headed by Peter Hain.

There have been three attempts to revive the Assembly but
all have failed.

The last in December 2004 involved the DUP, Sinn Féin and
the British and Irish Governments but faltered when the Rev
Ian Paisley’s party insisted IRA decommissioning should be
accompanied by photographs.

Last year in an unprecedented move, the Provisional IRA
declared an end to its armed campaign and in September
completed its programme of disarmament.

However unionists remained sceptical, insisting they could
not go into government with Sinn Féin without any proof
that the IRA had given up all involvement in crime.

Their scepticism was also fuelled by reports that despite
the final act of weapons decommissioning, intelligence
sources believed some Provisionals had retained a range of

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern have both expressed determination to bring back
devolution in Northern Ireland this year.

However recent efforts to secure an agreement between
unionists and nationalists have floundered over the
proposal that the Assembly could meet in shadow form.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and SDLP leader Mark Durkan
have both described the proposal as unacceptable.

The idea was originally floated by the DUP.

Mr Robinson explained that the DUP’s proposal wasn’t about
setting up a meaningless body.

“We want a maximum amount of devolution that can be
obtained at this time,” the East Belfast MP said.

“We are not looking for a shadow assembly that is going to
sit around until we have executive devolution.

“We want something meaningful. We want an assembly which
will have a real role and be able to tackle issues like the
review of public administration, water charges, the rates
and the shake up in education.

“That can be done at this stage without moving to executive


Embassy Row: Illegal Irish

By James Morriosn
March 10, 2006

St. Patrick's Day this year will be dominated by Irish
politicians lobbying for protection for the thousands of
illegal Irish aliens in the United States, a Northern Irish
lawmaker predicted in Washington this week.

P.J. Bradley, a member of the Social Democratic and Labor
Party, was a one-man advance party for political leaders
from both the Republic of Ireland and British Northern
Ireland who will converge here for a week of activities to
celebrate the annual Irish festival.

At a Capitol Hill rally, Mr. Bradley praised a bill
sponsored by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen.
Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, to create a
guest-worker program that could lead to citizenship for
millions of illegal aliens in the United States.

"There is no doubt whatsoever that the McCain-Kennedy bill,
which is our best and only hope of resolving this issue, is
going to dominate the St. Patrick's Day events in the U.S.
this year," Mr. Bradley said.

"I would appeal to all the Irish-Americans who have not yet
got involved in the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
activity to do so now or we risk it falling in favor of
bills that could criminalize our relatives, their families
and connections. I hope that people at home will use their
influence to persuade all Irish-Americans to rally to the

The Irish government estimates the illegal Irish population
at about 25,000, while some immigration reform groups say
the number is more than 40,000.

Next week, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern is due to meet
with President Bush for their annual St. Patrick's Day
visit. Peter Hain, Britain's secretary of state for
Northern Ireland, Duncan Morrow of the Northern Ireland
Community Relations Council, and Michael Wardlow of the
Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education are
expected to address the United States Institute of Peace.

The Ulster Unionist Party is sending party leader Reg
Empey, Chairman David Campbell, President Dennis Rogan and
Will Corry, the chief executive officer.


McCain And Hillary Rally Illegals

by Terence P. Jeffrey
Posted Mar 10, 2006

Senators John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Hillary Clinton (D.-
N.Y.), the current frontrunners for their parties’ 2008
presidential nominations, joined Senators Teddy Kennedy
(D.-Mass.) and Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y,) in rallying a
group of illegal aliens who came to Washington, D.C., on
March 8 as part of a lobbying effort funded by a foreign
government to push for amnesty for illegal aliens.

McCain and Clinton both effusively greeted the illegal-
alien lobbyists as if they had come to champion some great
moral and constitutional cause.

“It is so heartening to see you here,” said Clinton. “You
are really here on behalf of what America means, America’s
values, America’s hopes.”

“You are doing what democracy is supposed to be all about,
petitioning the government to right a wrong,” said McCain.

The lobbyists, part of an effort organized by the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), were not petitioning
their own government, of course. They were petitioning our
government, using Irish government money to do it.

What is the ILIR? “The purpose of the new organization is
to lobby for immigration reform at a local level, with a
particular emphasis on the legislation proposed by Senators
John McCain and Edward Kennedy (the ‘Secure America and
Orderly Immigration Act’),” says a January 23 press release
put out by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs. “This
will include lobbying congressmen and senators in a
bipartisan manner.”

The Irish government has launched an all-out effort for the
McCain-Kennedy immigration bill because it would grant
amnesty to illegal aliens in the U.S. by converting them
into legal guest workers. Funding ILIR is part of Ireland’s
pro-McCain-Kennedy campaign.

“The ILIR has been established at a particularly critical
time in the U.S. as the legislative debate on this issue
enters an important phase,” Irish Foreign Minister Dermot
Ahern said in the January 23 release. “The ILIR is throwing

its weight behind the McCain/Kennedy immigration reform
bill. … The positive initiative taken by Senators McCain
and Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, mirrored by Representatives
[Jim] Kolbe [R.-Ariz.], [Jeff] Flake [R.-Ariz.], and [Luis]
Gutierrez [D.-Ill.] in the House of Representatives would
enable undocumented Irish people to participate in the life
of their adopted country, free from fear and uncertainty.”

In debates on the floor of the Irish legislature, the Irish
government has made clear that this amnesty provision is
why they especially like McCain-Kennedy. “We believe this
[McCain-Kennedy] remains the most attractive approach for
the undocumented Irish, as it includes provisions which
would allow undocumented people to apply initially for
Temporary Residence Status, but with a route to Permanent
Residency,” Noel Treacy, Ireland’s minister of European
Affairs said in Ireland’s legislature on February 15. “We
know that Senators Kennedy and McCain and other like-minded
senators remain convinced that proposals that require
undocumented people to return home before applying for re-
entry to the U.S. are not practical and will not encourage
the undocumented to come out of the shadows.”

In a February 22 debate in the Irish legislature, Foreign
Minister Ahern said he had encouraged the creation of the
illegal-alien lobbying organization in the U.S. “Deputies
can be assured that in all my meetings with U.S. contacts,
including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and key
congressional figures, I made known the support of the
government … for the approach favoured by Senators Kennedy
and McCain,” said Ahern. “Their bill has also been strongly
endorsed by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a group
established in December to mobilize grassroots support
within the Irish community in the U.S. for immigration
reform. I welcome the establishment of this organization. I
encouraged the formation of such an organization and
recently approved a grant of €30,000 towards its
operational expenses.”

The Irish Times, published in Dublin, trumpeted the fact
that “illegals” had rallied on Capitol Hill with McCain,
Clinton, Kennedy and Schumer. One Times story on March 9
was headlined: “‘Illegals’ lobby for right to stay in U.S.”

“Capitol Hill became a sea of green and white yesterday as
thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants came out of the
shadows for immigration reform,” said the Times. “They were
rewarded with appearances from some of the most influential
figures in Congress, including the two front-runners to
succeed President Bush—Senators John McCain and Hillary

Another item in the Irish Times, with the headline “Irish
rally to press for legal status in America,” said: “More
than 2,400 undocumented Irish immigrants and their
supporters rallied in Washington yesterday in support of an
immigration reform bill that would allow them to remain in
the U.S. legally.” This report further noted that “Senators
Kennedy, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer
addressed the demonstrators, who wore white T-shirts with
the slogan ‘Legalize the Irish.’”

“There has never been a presence like we’ve had today,”
Clinton told the crowd of illegal aliens, according to the
Irish Times.

“This kind of reception is enough to make a guy want to run
for President of the United States,” said McCain, after the
illegal aliens gave him a standing ovation.

Clinton and McCain may think their pandering will appeal to
Irish-American voters. But when they run in the United
States of America in 2008, they just might find that their
fawning words for a foreign-government-funded lobby that
flouts U.S. immigration law sounded more like fighting
words to many plain, old-fashioned, red-blooded voters—even
if they happen to be proud, law-abiding Irish-Americans.

Copyright © 2006 HUMAN EVENTS. All Rights Reserved.


Extradition Fight Man Attacks Law

By Ollie Stone-Lee
BBC News political reporter

A blind British man who spent more than six months in a US
jail has vowed to join the fight against the extradition
laws which put him there.

Alex Stone, 34, has just returned to Britain after the
original charges against him were dropped.

He says it is unfair UK laws passed in 2003 allow US
prosecutors to request extradition without having to prove
in UK courts there is a case to answer.

Ministers say the laws have rightly cut the time needed for


Mr Stone's problems began towards the end of 2003 when he
was living in Liberty, Missouri, with his then girlfriend
and her 14-month-old child, who suffered broken bones.

"It transpired that the family and the local police decided
that it must have been me who had done it, even though
there was not really any evidence that I had," he said.

He said the police had been investigating but not trying to
arrest him and a US lawyer had advised him to return to

Requests from the US are now taking an average of six to
12 months to process compared to 30 months under the old

Home Office spokesman

"I hoped that was the end of it, I imagined that in order
to be extradited somewhere, there had to be some burden of
proof," said Mr Stone.

Back in London, his British solicitor told him the US
authorities could try to have him sent back to America
under the new extradition laws.

Everything went quiet until November 2004 when he was
horrified to discover British police were looking for him.


He turned himself in and was extradited under the new laws
after three hearings in Bow Street Magistrates Court.

"Basically, there appeared to be no defence to extradition
and no evidence at all was presented in this case," said Mr

Now he is back in his home city of London, Mr Stone said he
wants people to urge their MPs to join the campaign to
overturn the 2003 Extradition Act, which was brought in,
part, to speed up the removal of alleged terrorists.

Almost 150 MPs have signed a parliamentary petition begun
by Tory frontbencher Boris Johnson protesting about the
laws, which have also been used to extradite three UK
businessmen charged over the collapse of Enron.

They say the old system should be reinstated until the US
ratifies its side of the extradition deal between the two


The fast-track law removed the old rule that US prosecutors
had to show there was a prime facie case against somebody
when they asked British courts to extradite a UK subject.

Mr Stone told the BBC News website: "It is not right that
the British government is prepared to hand people over to a
foreign power, however friendly they might be, without them
needing to demonstrate there is a case to answer.

"I'm resentful that more than two years of my life has been
taken away from me. I'm certainly relieved now. I probably
am angry now too. I feel I was badly treated when
eventually I was not tried for anything."

Mr Stone spent just more than six months in prison - during
which time bail was set at $1m, unaffordable even though
only 10% of it had to be paid.


He said he spent 23 hours a day in a cell on his own and
let out for 45 minutes for a shower or to watch television.
It could be called solitary confinement, he said, although
there were advantages to not having to share with anybody.

"I was bored more than anything, I guess I was lonely," he
said, admitting he has no way of comparing the experience
to life in a British prison.

But during a visit by his mother the bail demand was
dropped and Mr Stone was able to be released on a bail
payment of $10,000.

Mr Stone took a lie detector test in his lawyer's office.
It could not be used in court but apparently helped to
persuade prosecutors to drop the original charge of first
degree assault, which could have put him behind bars for
between 10 and 30 years.

To have the charge dropped completely he pleaded guilty to
interfering with arrest by fleeing to Britain - even though
he says he was following legal advice in the US when he
returned home.

He was sentenced to 179 days in prison - time he had
already served while on remand for the original

Legal dilemma

Mr Stone is one of 12 suspects who have been extradited to
the US since the law change. Another 31 American requests
are still being processed.

His MP in Tooting, Sadiq Khan is also campaigning about the
laws, which have been used against another constituent -
Babar Ahmad.

A Home Office spokesman said the US/UK extradition treaty
brought benefits for Britain.

It meant crimes such as computer-related offences which
were unknown when the last extradition treaty was signed
were now covered.

"Our experience under the new arrangements has to date been
extremely positive," said the spokesman.

"Requests from the US are now taking an average of six to
12 months to process compared to 30 months under the old

"This is much closer to the time taken to process requests
by the US - five months. This benefits victims, witnesses,
our courts, and the fugitive themselves."

US requests are now handled in the precisely same way as
used with other European countries since 1991 and with
nations like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South
Africa, he added.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/10 11:28:42 GMT


Medal Plan To 'Mark RIR Service'

The service of the UDR and Royal Irish Regiment during the
Troubles may be marked with a medal, Armed Forces Minister
Adam Ingram has said.

Mr Ingram was speaking during a visit to Drumaad Barracks
in Armagh to meet some of the soldiers affected by the
disbandment of the home service units.

He said an honour could be similar to the George Cross
awarded to the RUC.

Mr Ingram said it was not yet "fully defined" and the Army
would decide "what's appropriate".

"We did it with the RUC in terms of the George Cross -
again richly deserved - and, I think, much appreciated by
those who served at the time and who had served
previously," he said.

"Something similar will be done, of that nature, though we
have not fully defined what and will announce that when we
are ready to do so."

The NI-based battalions of the regiment are to be disbanded
on 1 August 2007, the same day as the Army ends its support
role to the police.

On Thursday, the minister announced redundancy packages
costing up to £250m for 3,000 Northern Ireland Royal Irish
Regiment soldiers affected by the disbandment.

Full-time soldiers will receive a special payment of
£28,000, a redundancy payment and a pension.

Part-time soldiers will receive a special payment of about
£14,000, but are not entitled to redundancy.

The three home service battalions are due to be disbanded
by May next year. A senior officer with 22 years service
could receive approximately £151,211.

As an alternative to the severance package, the MoD is
offering a £10,000 taxable bounty to those who transfer
into general service with the armed forces.

There will also be a welfare package to help full and part-
time RIR members resettle, retrain and find work.

More than 3,000 soldiers serve in the three battalions,
many part-time.

Troop levels in the province are to fall from 10,500 to
5,000 within two years.

The Royal Irish Regiment was formed in 1992, with the
merger of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/10 12:23:28 GMT


Adams: 'Slab' Murphy Is Innocent

10/03/2006 - 13:39:09

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today stood by alleged
former IRA chief Thomas “Slab” Murphy.

The businessman, whose farm is at the centre of a police
probe into a multi-million pound smuggling operation, has
been wrongly demonised, he claimed.

Mr Adams declared: “Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He is a
good republican.”

Murphy’s sprawling estate, straddling the Irish border, was
among 15 properties searched on Thursday during police
raids planned in Belfast and Dublin.

Around €300,000 in cash, 30,000 cigarettes, 8,000 litres of
fuel and weapons were all seized in the offensive against
organised crime.

Two men and a woman arrested during swoops in north Louth
and south Armagh were questioned and released last night by

Murphy, the one-time alleged IRA chief of staff, who is
already under investigation by the Assets Recovery Agency
probing house sales in the Greater Manchester area, was not

But police customs officials and soldiers were all involved
in a major operation on his land at Hackballscross.

Murphy, 62, insists he is a legitimate farmer with no
involvement in crime.

And Mr Adams offered his total support following raids
which were months in the planning.

“I read his statement after the Manchester raids and I
believe what he says,” the West Belfast MP insisted.

“He is also a keen supporter of the Sinn Féin peace

Asked if Murphy was a member of the IRA Army Council, Mr
Adams replied: “If he denies being a member of the IRA then
I accept that.”

Mr Adams was critical of the scale of the huge cross-border
operation, but backed its objectives.

“We support the pursuit of criminal assets,” he added.

“Anybody who is involved in criminality should face the
full rigours of the law.

“That includes the right to a fair trial and the right not
to be vilified in the media.”


‘Slab’ Murphy Left Home Minutes Before Raid - Reports

11/03/2006 - 09:06:08

Reports this morning have suggested that the alleged former
IRA chief of staff Thomas "Slab" Murphy left his home on
the Louth-Armagh border just minutes before gardaí and the
PSNI searched the area on Thursday.

Murphy's farm was one of 15 properties searched in a
massive cross border operation into organised crime.

According to newspaper reports, a search of his home in
Ballybinaby confirmed that he had slipped out just minutes
before security forces arrived - possibly because of a tip

Three people who were arrested following the operation were
released without charge on Thursday night, and a file on
the matter is being sent to the DPP.


Bunker Hunt For Missing Murphy

11 March 2006

FORMER IRA chief Thomas 'Slab' Murphy is believed to be
hiding out in an underground bunker on the Border as gardai
continue their hunt for him.

Gardai believe Murphy (56) may have received word of the
massive PSNI-Garda raid on his Co Louth farmhouse hours
before it took place on Thursday.

The terrorist, who is alleged to have made millions through
a fuel and cigarette smuggling racket operated from his
Ballybinaby property, was not at home when authorities
arrived with a search warrant on Thursday morning.

He is believed to be lying low at a secret IRA underground
bunker in the area.

Meanwhile, Gardai have denied a break-in at Dundalk
courthouse hours before Operation Achilles began was linked
to the raids.

Search warrants for nine properties, which included
confidential Garda details of the addresses to be raided
and other intelligence, were contained on the search

Gardai are now examining the hard drives of a number of
laptop computers discovered lying under the bales of hay at
Murphy's farm.

The computers are believed to contain details of a vast IRA
money-laundering operation, centering on a newly-discovered
diesel smuggling route from Dublin Port to Liverpool.

Over 120 gardai, along with detectives from the Criminal
Assets Bureau (CAB), customs officials and Irish soldiers,
took part in the operation.

On the northern side of the border, 200 members of the PSNI
carried out raids as part of the joint operation.

At one point, a Garda helicopter briefly strayed into
Ulster airspace above Armagh in pursuit of a speeding
vehicle, but gardai have rejected reports it followed the
4x4 for miles into northern territory.

The raids were spearheaded by CAB, under Chief Supt Felix
McKenna, working in conjunction with their Northern Ireland
counterparts, the Assets Recovery Agency.

Among the properties searched south of the border were Slab
Murphy's own house, his family home, and several nearby
houses. The offices of a solicitor's firm in Dundalk were
also searched by gardai.

Over 250,000 euro in sterling and cash, 30,000 cigarettes
and 8,000 gallons of diesel were seized in the raids, along
with thousands of documents, contained in 30 boxes.

Four oil laundering facilities attached to a network of
storage tanks, some of which were underground, were also
discovered in the searches.

The paperwork was being examined last night at CAB offices
in Harcourt Square.

The operation was linked to an investigation last year into
a 44m euro property empire in the Manchester area.

Two men, in their early 50s and mid 60s, and a woman in her
early 50s were arrested by gardai and questioned at
Drogheda and Kells. They were released without charge and a
file is being prepared for the Director of Public

A fourth person escaped across the Border during the raids
in north Louth. He is known to police and is being sought
by the PSNI.

Follow-up operations yesterday dealt with disposing of up
to six tonnes of synthetic chemicals believed to have been
used in the oil laundering business and which may be highly


Easter Lily Not A Fashion Item

National Crime And Justice Press Release Friday March
10, 2006 14:22

by Des Long –

Shannon Banks,. Corbally, Limerick (061) 343314

The Eater Lily has always been sold to raise funds for
Republican political prisoners - it should not now be
regarded as a fashion accessory for women

Media release from Des Long, Chairman Limerick Republican
Information Service

For the attention of News Editor/Newsroom…

The wearing of the Easter Lily in remembrance of 1916
must not be demeaned by being relegated to a mere fashion
accessory, the chairman of the Limerick Republican
Information Service said today.

Des Long from Corbally said that the Easter Lily was always
sold in aid of Republican prisoners and has been done since

“Now we have the leader of the Provisionals saying that his
party will use the Lily to attract more women,” said
Mr.Long. “This is demeaning the wearing of the Easter Lily
and promoting it as a mere fashion item.

“Republicans will be appalled by this “dumbing down” of the
Easter Lily but not surprised because it is all part of the
campaign to demonise Republicanism and denigrate the
aspiration to a new and united Ireland.

“The Easter Lily should not be used by any one party as a
recruiting gimmick or in fact to boost the coffers of a
political party.

“The proceeds of the sale of the Easter Lilies should go
to the Republican political prisoners fund and that is
through CABHAIR who support Republican prisoners and their

“Instead of wearing an Easter Lily as a fashion statement,
I would appeal to women to wear it with pride and in
solidarity with the Republican prisoners. In short, wearing
an Easter Lily should honour all those who gave their lives
and freedom for national self-determination.”


Issued on Friday 10th March 2006
for confirmation please contact Des Long, on (061) 343314
or e-mail contact: . website


Sinn Féin Welcome NASUWT Demand For Return Of The Assembly

Published: 10 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has
echoed the comments of NASUWT (The National Association of
Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) spokesperson who
called on local politicians to get back into the Assembly
to address the mess within the education system.

Commenting before start of the NASUWT Conference at a
Belfast Hotel Michael Ferguson said,

"I agreed entirely with the NASUWT Conference sentiments
that the Assembly needs to be functioning to address the
educational needs of our children and young people.

"I have travelled up and down the Six Counties meeting with
educationalists and also joining protests against the
reduction in services to schools; Indeed, Sinn Fein has a
policy that it will not police British government budgets,
which are reducing the educational entitlement of our

"It is also the case that the absence of any strategic
support to manage change has increased the stress of
teachers and brought their morale to an all time low when
there are so many changes being sought at one time and not
least among them a new entitlement framework at Key Stage
4, curriculum changes at Key Stage 2&3 the new Special
Needs Order and the RPA not withstanding the fact that
there were 364 attacks on teachers last year.

"I would support the NASUWT call for the restoration of the
Assembly and in doing so draw particular attention to those
marginalized children and young people who are suffering
worst from the absence of local accountability, ethnic
children, those from the travelling community and those
excluded or falling out of the schools system." ENDS


Four Peace Activists Aquitted At Shannon

Clare Crime And Justice News Report Friday March 10,
2006 23:59

by Conor Cregan –
Na Cosantóirí Síochána

Up the Banner!

On Thursday 9th March 2006 four Peace Activists were
acquitted at Shannon District Court as the charges brought
by An Garda Siochána were withdrawn at the beheast of the

These charges regarded an incident at Shannon Airport on
the 17th September 2005 where a group of members from Na
Cosantóirí Síochána (the Peace Network) hung a banner on
the balcony at the airport to protest the use of Shannon
Airport by the CIA in the illegal programme of
“Extraordinary Rendition”

Court Report
Shannon District Court 9/3/06
Co. Clare


Conor Cregan
Niall Harnett
Mags Liddy
St John O’Donnabhain


Inspector Kevin Moynihan
Judge Mr Joseph Mangan

As the names of the defendants were called out Inspector
Kevin Moynihan told the Judge that the charge was being
dropped. First to be called was Conor Cregan who
represented himself. When the judge heard his name being
called he instantly form reflex told the court clerk to put
it back but recalled Mr. Cregan after the inspector
instructed him that charge of obstructing Airport Police
Sgt Brian case was to be dropped.

Conor enquired if the Inspector had made his application
and told the Judge that he opposed the motion to withdraw
the charge. The judge then set the case back to the second

Next up was Niall Harnett who did not attend court on the
day. Judge Mangan ordered the charge struck out for “want
of prosecution”.

Then, Mags Liddy whose solisitor diidnt atttend court but
sent an agent who failed to hear her name being called
out.” Struck out for want of prosecution”.

And then. St John O Donnabhain again represented by the
agent who finally managed to stand up when called. “Struck
out for the want of prosecution”.

After Lunch Owen Rice who was acting as Conor Cregan’s
McKensie friend was thrown out of court in an unmannerly
fashion by Judge Mangan.

At approximately 14:50 Mr. Rise’'s mobile phone rang once
and he instantly turned to his right and turned off the
phone. As Mr. Rice turned off his phone he got off his seat
and turned left to the aisle to leave the court room.

This drew the attention of Judge Mangan who shouted out to
Mr. Rice

“Come back! Come back please”

and then

“Thank you thank you”.

When Mr. Rice turned around to Mr. Mangan the judge had his
arm stretched out of his desk with hand open. There was
several seconds of awkwardness as the judge seemed to be in
suspended animation silenced by his anger. Everyone in
court was waiting for the judge to say something or to give
some direction to Mr. Rice. There were a few in court who
let out a nervous laugh.

Mr. Rice who waited for the judge's direction that never
came asked the judge

“ Do you want me to throw it or what do you want me to do”
This in turn raised a few nervous laughs.

The judge roared “don’t get smart don’t get smart!” in return.

Then the Court Guard arrived on the scene and relieved Mr.
Rice of his phone which then handed to the court clerk who
in turn handed it up to the bench to Judge Mangan. As this
happened another phone rang and I heard some on to my rear
left whispering

“ that’s his own phone”.

This was in fact the phone of Judge Mangan but the caller's
identity is still unknown, as there were several clerks,
Gardaí and Solisitors with their hands under their
benches.. Then Mr. Rice’'s phone rang again causing the
judge to panic himself as he fumbled to turn it off.
Failing to turn the phone off he handed it to a member of
An Garda Siochána who then turned it off.

After a moment the court had again settled and the case in
hand resumed. Within five minutes the Judge again turned to
Mr. Rice and ordered him to leave the court. The Judge then
threatened to have him held in “contempt of court” as Mr.
Rice wasn't leaving the court quick enough. The judge said

“ I have contempt warrants here you know!” The judge then
called for the clerk to hand him a contempt warrant.

As Mr. Rice was leaving the court room Conor Cregan stood
up and called to the Judge that Mr. Rice was acting as his
“McKensie friend”.

The Judge retorted he head to leave and while Conor
protested that his phone rang only once. The Judge then
abruptly cut him off saying the phone rang twice and then
threatened Cregan with contempt of court.

Conor Cregan sat down again and waited for his case to be
heard without enjoying the company of his “McKensie

When Mr. Cregan was eventually recalled the Judge denied
him right to have a McKenzie Friend present and the right
to speak on his own defence.

Judge Mangan; Conor Cregan!

Inspector Moynihan; The state is dropping the charge.

Judge Mangan; Does the state want to give any reason for
the charge?

Inspector Moynihan. No Judge.

Conor Cregan; Before we start there is another matter at .

Judge Mangan; Dont interrupt me!

Conor Cregan; My McKensie Friend has been ejeted!

Judge Mangan; I am not letting him in you won't need one

Conor Cregan; But Judge …

Judge Mangan; If you don't like what I am doing you can
take it up with the High Court

Conor Cregan ...

Judge Mangan; Or even Strasbourg

Conor Cregan; This matter has already been dealt with in
the high court.

Judge Mangan; Take it to The Hague if you interrupt me
again I will find you in contempt.

The state have indicated to me that it wishes to withdraw
the charges.

I have no discretion on the matter........if the state asks
me to withdraw the charge..... I am obliged to concede to
that application.

I have exercised as much discretion as I have by asking the
state its reason for dropping the charges.

And the state has declined to say their reasons therefore I
am going to mark the charge dismissed for want of

And I am going to mark the charge for stating it’s the
state that declined to make its reason known: That is to
deprive the state the opportunity of raising this matter
against the acused in the future.

Banner Drop at Shannon Airport, September 2005

On the 17/9/05 a group of eight peace activists held a
demonstration at Shannon Airport. Three of these peace
activists hung two anti-war banners, on the balcony of
Shannon Airport, counting the amount of innocents that died
since the start of George W. Bush’s “War on Terror”. Under
the balcony in front of the airport terminal building the
other five activists held banners calling for the Irish
Government to stop the CIA and the US military using
Shannon as a pit-stop for transporting prisoners for
torture on its illegal “Extraordinary Rendition” programme.

The three men dressed in Guantanamo Bay prison suits and
Army fatigues held their protest for over twenty minutes
before the Airport Police arrived on the since. One of the
demonstrators, Niall Harnett, was set attacked by Airport
Police Sergeant Brian Casey who tried to steal a dictaphone
out of his hands. This forced a reaction from the peace
activists to protect this recording device to secure
evidence of the heavy handed tactics of the Airport Police.
In an ironic twist the Airport Police Sergeant claimed
later in his statements to members of An Gardai Siochana
that he arrested Mr Harnett for assault. Although the
defendants attended Shannon District Court on many
occasions over the last six months this completely
unfounded claim has never been mentioned in submissions to
the judge by the DPP. Also arrested on the balcony was
local Shannon peace activist Conor Cregan, who was carried
through the airport's arrivals area by the airport police.

On the ground these events were being photographed by St
John O’Donnabhain and recorded on video by Mags Liddy, who
were both later arrested for failing to provide
identification to Airport Police Sergeant Brian Casey,
despite the fact they had given the names and addresses to
a junior member of the Airport Police moments earlier.

All four were detained for over eighteen hours before being
brought to the Shannon District Court sitting in Ennis.
Judge Joseph Mangan released all four defendants on their
own bail. Interestingly, this was the first time Judge
Mangan did not ban peace campaigners from the county of
Clare for their actions at Shannon Airport. Three of the
defendants were initially represented by Limerick solicitor
Ted McCarthy whose services were dispensed with after his
failure to attend court while Mr Cregan represented

All four defendants have attended Shannon District Court
for on a monthly basis for over six months as An Garda
Siochána waited patiently for directions from the D.P.P. On
several occasions one of the defendants has been dragged
out of the court room at the beheast of Judge Mangan who
instructed the court guards to use all force necessary.
Peace activists have encountered harassment on all levels
of the justice system in Ireland.

We of An Cosantóirí Síochána condemn the actions of the
Airport Police whose tactics were unwarranted and heavy-
handed. We remind these officers employed by the Department
of Transport of our rights to express our opinions and of
peaceful assembly, as laid down by Bunreacht na hÉireann
Article 40 section 6.i&ii.

We condemn the Fianna Fail Senators who recently impeded
investigation into allegations of “Extraordinary Rendition”
by the C.I.A. on Irish soil. This act of cowardice has been
well noted.

We stand firm with all the workers of Shannon Airport who
face difficulties, as employment in the airport becomes a
precarious situation. Nevertheless, we cannot sit idle
while the Irish Government lets the country’s second
international airport become an ad hoc U.S. Military Base.
This revenue of blood money is not an adequate substitute
for the enjoyment of ethical trade that the Irish
Governments is failing to provide for the Midwest region.

We demand that the Irish government withdraws refuelling
facilities and over-flight permission to the U.S. Military
and the C.I.A. This practise of discounted amenities as
given to the belligerent forces of George W Bush, strips us
of our neutrality and brings shame to the Republic of

Last week saw nearly a million euros of the tax-payer’s
money being spent on the security operation surrounding the
two short stopovers of U.S. President George W. Bush, who
broke diplomatic protocol by reviewing foreign (U.S) troops
on Irish soil. As “Air force One” is well equipped to
refuel during flight it would be more appropriate for the
town of Shannon to have an Ambulance service than the
company of the world's most dangerous man.

Related Link:


NI 'Off The Radar' In Washington

By Gareth Gordon

BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

The "best liberal newspaper columnist of the latter 20th
century" turned her mind to Northern Ireland's still
warring politicians and suddenly seemed very illiberal

It was St Patrick's week 2000, in the final stages of Bill
Clinton's presidency and, as usual, unionist and
nationalist alike had decamped to Mary McGrory's home town
of Washington.

"I mean, some of the parties come over here and I don't
think they have more than their immediate family on their
rolls but he sees them all," she told me with all the
mischief I'd been hoping for.

"They come to the White House; they're listened to; they're
made of; they're driven around to television studios; they
go to banquets; they go to the White House on St Patrick's
Day and they're so familiar with it now they know it.

"It's a great party but I think it's time for results

"I think in eight years, if we were going to do any good by
all this conviviality, it would begin to show and now the
great centrepiece of the talks and the negotiations, the
Northern Irish Assembly, has been suspended.

"So I have a feeling and I don't know how widespread it
is... that really this year it might have been better for
them to stay home and work out their problems. And not come
again until it was finally settled."

Mary McGrory passed away in 2004, but the political event
she called time on long ago is still going strong (well
strongish) and once again many of our politicians are
heading west.

Never-ending story

The assembly is still suspended - an altogether lengthier
suspension than the one she mentioned in 2000 - but
President Clinton is long gone and with him much of the
patience and interest in our never-ending story.

There is a big Irish story in the US capital at the moment
- the plight of the undocumented Irish immigrants and their
fight for legal status.

As for the plight of the Northern Ireland political
process, it's not even on the radar.

The party leaders have been invited to the White House -
unlike last year when they were shunned following the
collapse of attempts to restore devolution in December
2004, and the subsequent Northern Bank robbery.

But they won't meet President Bush. And the DUP isn't
going; instead a group of party MPs will visit Washington

The Northern Ireland secretary rolled his eyes last week
when just the BBC and one other news organisation turned up
to question him at a media opportunity in south Belfast.

We'll be ready to announce what we're going to do about
restoring the institutions when we're ready to announce it

Peter Hain

Northern Ireland secretary

"You've succeeded in boring us into submission," I told

"That's my intention," he replied, though no-one should be

No politician loves the spotlight like Peter Hain but
there's only so much even he can do to keep this story

By now the up-and-at-em tactic with which he began the New
Year by threatening to cut MLAs' salaries unless there were
signs of progress before the summer, might have been
expected to have borne some fruit.

Of course "progress" is open to interpretation. But it's
not a description which remotely fits anything we've seen
so far.

First we were promised a prime ministerial visit. That
hasn't happened so far.

Broad hints

And then there were the broad hints about a shadow assembly
and a big announcement in Downing Street on Wednesday.

The two prime ministers met but there was no joint news
conference, no communique and no blueprint.

"We'll be ready to announce what we're going to do about
restoring the institutions when we're ready to announce it,
" said Mr Hain, not particularly helpfully.

Now, maybe, something will be announced before the marching
season with activity at Stormont in the autumn.

But with the DUP insisting on a two-stage process with an
entry-level assembly, and nationalists calling on the
government to recall the assembly and set a six-week
deadline to elect a first and deputy first minister - a
tactic they know will result in the DUP bringing about a
crash - officials are head scratching like never before.

The one chink of light may be in loyalism with elements of
the UDA showing signs of being on the road to peace, even
if the instability within that organisation must be a


DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson has told the BBC that he
and the north Belfast MP, Nigel Dodds, have met the
chairman of the Loyalist Commission, the Reverend Mervyn
Gibson, with a view to helping this process along.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Inside Politics programme, he
said: "I want to give every encouragement to those within
the loyalist paramilitary groups who are wanting to take
their organisation away from criminality and violence.

"I think it's essential that they win out but there does
seem to be some conflict within that organisation at the
present time. We need to be very clear whose side we're

Although he wouldn't give any details about the meeting
until he has reported back to party colleagues, he
described it as "useful" adding: "I think we have a fair
idea of how we can make some further progress..."

Asked if he would consider going further and meeting the
UDA he said: "I want to encourage people to end
paramilitary and criminal activity and where people are
clearly intent to do that then that encouragement will come
from us.

"The form it comes in will be a matter for the party to
decide. I wouldn't want to prejudice any decision that they
might take."

It was put to Mr Robinson if that meeting with the UDA was
to take place, it could help pave the way to a meeting with
Sinn Fein.

"There would be those who would say that and that's why the
party officers will consider all elements of the issue
before they take a decision," he said.

"Possibilities might be plentiful. What the party does will
be their decision when they have heard the report and I
don't want to prejudice that decision."

That wasn't a "no."

Amidst of all this inertia, could that just be the first
hint that all is not yet lost?

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internet sites

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/11 10:11:38 GMT


Opin: The Belfast Agreement Has Resulted In Stalemate

Stephen Collins

Inside Politics: The determination of Bertie Ahern and Tony
Blair to give the people of Northern Ireland devolved
government, whether they want it or not, is beginning to
make them look increasingly foolish.

When they met in London on Wednesday they were forced to
recognise that, once again, the time was not right for an
initiative on devolution but they still proclaimed their
determination to continue the quest.

The two leaders were forced to recognise reality to the
extent of deferring plans for at least a few months to
restore the Northern Assembly, in some shape or form. They
might have been better advised to face the fact that
devolution is not going to happen for the foreseeable
future and to devise their political strategy accordingly.

It is not surprising that they are wedded to the Belfast
Agreement, which both played such a part in creating, but
it is time to subject it to a cold analysis. The hard fact
of the matter is that it is now eight years since the
agreement was laboriously put together. If one crucial part
of the deal is still not working, after all that time, then
maybe the inescapable conclusion is that it is never going
to work.

The Taoiseach and the prime minister are naturally
reluctant to draw that conclusion, particularly as Mr Blair
is probably in his last year in office and Mr Ahern is
facing a general election in a little over a year. They
seem desperately keen to give it one last go but the omens
are not good and it seems doomed to failure once again.

That is not to say that the Belfast Agreement has been a
failure. A great deal of good has flowed from it and from
the determination of the Taoiseach and the prime minister
to devote such a huge amount of their time to the problem.
Relations between the governments and peoples of the two
islands have never been better, there has been a distinct
thawing in unionist attitudes to the Republic, and the IRA
finally appears to have gone away.

The only serious problem left is that unionists and
nationalists seem incapable of working together in a power-
sharing arrangement in the North. For that state of affairs
the two leaders have to take some responsibility because
they allowed the conditions to develop in which the
moderate parties on both sides were undermined. The North's
voters chose the extremes of the DUP and Sinn Féin and the
predictable result was stalemate.

At the last meeting of the British-Irish Interparliamentary
Body in Edinburgh back in December, Paul Bew, the professor
of Irish politics at Queen's University, came up with an
interesting thesis. Referring to the conventional wisdom
that the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, negotiated by
Garret FitzGerald and Margaret Thatcher, had been a
stepping stone on the way to the ultimate settlement
represented by the Belfast Agreement of 1998, he suggested
that maybe the commentators and academics had got it all

Prof Bew said that instead of being a stepping stone, the
Anglo-Irish Agreement, which was based on the notion of the
North being run in some joint fashion by the British and
Irish governments, was more likely to provide the template
for a long-term solution.

The two communities in the North are now more polarised
than ever and polling data have shown that there is no
great demand for devolved government. Up to 70 per cent of
unionists don't want it and neither do 50 per cent of
nationalists. Given that underlying fact, it is hardly a
surprise that their political representatives cannot agree.

The basic problem as far as unionists are concerned is that
they don't want to be ruled by Sinn Féin and would much
prefer direct rule from London. On the nationalist side
there is no great affection for a return of Stormont in any
guise, even if it involves power-sharing. The paradox in
unionist attitudes is that while they are not willing to
have Sinn Féin in government, the Belfast Agreement has
changed their perception of the South. Instead of appearing
as an alien state wanting to take them over, the Republic
is now seen by at least some unionists as a bulwark against
domination by Sinn Féin.

When the Belfast Agreement was being negotiated, a central
preoccupation of unionists was to prevent the creation of
significant North/South institutions. Other issues, such as
the release of paramilitary prisoners, decommissioning and
the future of policing, which were to have such a huge
impact later, often appeared to be secondary to them at the

Now the main preoccupation of unionists is to avoid being
ruled by Sinn Féin. The penny seems to have dropped with
them that the same sentiment is shared by a significant
segment of the electorate in the Republic. Instead of
regarding the Irish Government as the antiChrist, some
unionists now take the view that it may be a more
acceptable partner for the future than Sinn Féin.

One thing that both politicians and the electorate in the
Republic may have underestimated is the impact of dropping
the territorial claim in Articles Two and Three of the
Constitution. They were never taken very seriously in the
South but unionists, tending to be more literal minded, did
have a genuine problem with them. Their removal has paved
the way for better relations between the unionist parties
and the Government of the Republic. A few years ago the
notion of the Rev Ian Paisley coming to Dublin for a
reasonably friendly chat with the Taoiseach would have
seemed impossible but it is now an accepted fact of
political life.

The task ahead is to devise proper structures for improved
North/South relations. The Minister for Finance, Brian
Cowen, has laid huge stress on economic co-operation,
particularly the creation of an all-Ireland approach to
infrastructural development. That should act as a spur for
genuine cross-Border political co-operation. Maybe it is
time to forget devolution and look at new ways of building
better North-South institutions.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Resolving Plight Of Illegals Tests The Spirit Of
Irish -US Relations


Immigration reform will be a key issue when the Taoiseach
visits the US next week, writes Mark Brennock

Bertie Ahern will spend close to four hours in the company
of George Bush during three separate encounters next week.
The annual level of engagement around St Patrick's Day
between the Taoiseach and the US president remains a symbol
of the remarkable access the Government of this small
State, relatively inconsequential in global political
terms, has to the global superpower.

Mr Ahern will update the US president on Northern Ireland,
Mr Bush will update the Taoiseach on his thinking on Iraq
and the "war on terror". The two men will discuss
peacekeeping requirements in Darfur, Congo and elsewhere.
Dermot Ahern's recent call for the closure of the
Guantanamo Bay detention centre - echoing the view
throughout the EU as well as that of UN secretary general
Kofi Annan - is also likely to feature.

But the hot political issue this year is the US
determination to clamp down on illegal immigrants - of
which there are an estimated 11 million. Up to 50,000 of
these are Irish, and new US legislation, driven largely by
post-9/11 security concerns, is driving many of these to
the margins of US society.

The Irish-born population in the United States is visibly
shrinking as the new rules bite. It is now impossible for
illegal immigrants to obtain driving licences or travel out
of the country and return without having their illegal
status uncovered, resulting in deportation. Employers must
now use a federal database to ensure all employees are

Genuine social security numbers are needed to get a job or
open a bank account. Those with none, or false ones, are
slowly being edged out of normal social participation. Some
have already come home, and more - who had initially hoped
to live and raise their families in the US - are
considering it.

The families of these Irish in America have made their
distress known to Irish politicians, and the Taoiseach and
Minister for Foreign Affairs have raised the issue with US
leaders on several occasions. The Taoiseach will raise the
matter directly with President Bush when they meet at the
White House next Thursday.

The issue goes well beyond the individual human stories
about the difficulties caused by the new cold climate for
relatively recent migrants.

The ties between Ireland and the United States resulting
from centuries of migration to the United States - and more
recently back home again - have helped define Ireland
politically. The number and depth of these transatlantic
ties are what allowed Mary Harney to claim in one of the
keynote speeches of her time in Government that
"spiritually we are probably a lot closer to Boston than

Her remarks were primarily intended to praise the US
liberal economic model as opposed to the more statist and
regulated European one. However, they also identified the
effect the tradition of transatlantic migration has had on
the population. For while the British/US transatlantic
relationship emerged from the shared interests of two
international players, the deep Irish/US relationship
originated in relationships between people rather than
between political elites.

Those now campaigning to give a break to illegal Irish in
the US warn that this migration-based relationship may
itself be under threat due to the new laws. More than 2,000
Irish illegals attended a rally in Washington DC on
Wednesday organised by the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform (ILIR) to press their case.

The Los Angeles Times this week quoted US census figures
showing the Irish-born population in the United States has
fallen from 251,000 in 1970 to 169,827 in 1990. It fell
particularly sharply between 2003 and 2004, from 148,416 to

The paper reported convincing anecdotal evidence that Irish
communities are dwindling in size, Irish shops are losing
business, Irish community newspapers are losing advertising
and the numbers of GAA teams in traditional Irish
neighbourhoods are falling. The new tough US regime,
coupled with the attractions of job-rich Ireland, is
shrinking the Irish community.

Niall O'Dowd, the founder and chairman of ILIR, wrote in
this newspaper recently: "If a deal is not reached the
footprint of the Irish in America will be elided in a very
significant way. Within a generation, the ties between
Ireland and Irish America will begin to fray as the direct
links between both countries begin to fade." This comes
less than a decade after this extraordinary people-based
relationship reached its highest point due to the
combination of the emerging peace process in Northern
Ireland, a sophisticated Irish lobbying operation launched
from here and from within the Irish/American community, and
a deeply engaged president Bill Clinton. Ithe mid-1990s the
entire peace process moved to Washington for a couple of
days each year to be bathed in the aura of president
Clinton and US goodwill. The East Room of the White House
was thrown open to the Irish.

Political leaders and business and cultural figures from
across the community in the North were joined by the
successful and politically connected members and
descendants of the Irish diaspora.

President Clinton addressed them and moved among them,
validating the integrity of the old quarrel while urging
compromise and fresh thinking. Politicians of different
outlooks sang, danced and told stories and Clinton stayed
until very late. The guns had only been silent(ish) for a
short period.

It was one of the great wonders to behold in the politics
of this island in recent times. The "feel-good" effect on
the population of this island, North and South, was
profound. In practical terms, stories emerged of the likes
of Martin McGuinness and Billy Hutchinson sitting in the
Irish Ambassador's garden in Washington as dawn broke,
having the longest and deepest conversations they had ever
had, after almost three decades of violence and bitterness.

There was great value in those early years in the White
House allowing itself to be used to create a mood in
Ireland. The issues are clearer and sharper now: no longer
are Northern politicians simply doing a lap of honour in
Washington. Last year the political leaders were not
invited to the White House at all, as the US administration
showed its frustration with the lack of progress.

The gesture was primarily aimed at Sinn Féin. The White
House wants Sinn Féin to sign up for policing and the DUP
for power sharing. When Mr Ahern meets Mr Bush on Thursday
he will update him on the continuing failure to restore the
power-sharing executive. No new major initiative is sought
or expected from the White House at this stage.

Claims that US aircraft used in the "rendition" process -
the transportation of secretly detained prisoners - are
passing through Shannon continue to be raised in Ireland.
The Government continues to accept the diplomatic
assurances repeated by Condoleezza Rice late last year that
Shannon is not being used as a stopover for this purpose.
This issue is not expected to feature in next week's

Immigration is the key issue on which the Government hopes
to influence both the White House and members of Congress
the Taoiseach will meet during his trip. The Kennedy/McCain
Bill on the subject is seen as most advantageous for the
Irish in America. Now it is accepted that whatever emerges
will be a compromise between this and various more hostile

Government sources say they are not concerned about the
precise mechanics of whatever new system emerges, so long
as it allows the Irish in America to relax and attempt to
build their lives there. Negotiations in Congress over the
next month are expected to be crucial, but there is no
guarantee that a new immigration regime will be in place in
advance of next November's mid-term Congressional

© The Irish Times


Opin: Protestants For Whom The Past Is History, Not

Martin Mansergh

Few families have as successfully bridged the political and
religious divide over the centuries as the Butlers. A young
historian, David Butler, who plays the organ in the
beautiful Nash-designed St Paul's, Cahir, on Sundays, has
written an important study, South Tipperary 1570-1841:
Religion, Land and Rivalry (Four Courts Press).

It tells with frankness and bleak honesty how a political
and religious minority established and extended its hold in
a particular area, and how the majority community
maintained its cohesion, and eventually prised open that
hegemony. It illuminates the chronic insecurities of
privileged minority rule, and some root causes of later

Other recent books throw light on the subsequent course of
interdenominational relations. Cesca's Diary 1913-1916:
Where Art and Nationalism Meet by Hilary Pyle (Woodfield
Press), reviewed by PJ Mathews (January 14th), is the story
of a granddaughter of Archbishop Chenevix Trench, who as an
artist became involved in the national movement till her
untimely death from influenza in 1918, shortly after
marrying a future clerk assistant to the Senate, Diarmuid

She was adept at crossing boundaries and is the subject of
a forthcoming Tuesday lunchtime lecture in Christ Church
crypt, in a series on Church of Ireland rebels in 1916 and
the War of Independence.

Cesca admired Pearse's writings, joined Cumann na mBan and
was contemptuous of Home Rule ("a species of little
parochial council which the English want to give us in the
hope of making us satisfied"). Where Redmond's Woodenbridge
recruiting speech filled her "with sorrow and shame",
listening to a Pearse lecture in October 1914 filled her
with "enthusiastic doubt".

She visited him in the GPO in 1916. She thought the Rising
was mad. "Our idea was to win Irish freedom," said he, with
a glow in his voice. Soon she began to agree with her
future mother-in-law Mrs Coffey's oxymoron, that, if an
Irish government emerged, "Mr Pearse will feel he hadn't
died in vain".

The Rev Norman Ruddock, latterly rector of Wexford and of
the extraordinarily shaped St Iberius Church, which hosts
often stunning lunchtime recitals during the opera
festival, has written an outspoken memoir called The
Rambling Rector (Columba Press).

He began ministry at a time when the Catholic Church
enjoyed its turn at being (de facto) the established church
and when Protestant ministers were largely excluded from
civic events. He had a baptism of fire in Fethard-on-Sea in
1957, when he was asked to reopen the school. Shortly
afterwards, he was posted to Belfast beside the Shankill
Road. He was not cut out to live in the unionist culture
and gladly headed for the Border, reciting Charles Wesley's

My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Ruddock had some political controversy with parishioners,
when pictured in the local paper with Brendan Corish
attending a Labour Party dinner, and when he put an
"Erskine Childers for President" sticker on his car. His
daughter Karen won the Young Scientist of the Year award.
He enjoyed a warm relationship with Bishop Brendan

Glimpses into the Past: Memoir of an Irish Anglican by
Roddy Evans is a short, cheerful autobiography by a
committed Christian. Brought up on a farm in Meath, he
trained as a doctor and travelled a great deal, but lived
in Belfast for the past 30 years. He is closely associated
with the mission of Clonard Monastery, and was a friend of
Dr George Dallas, who believed that Protestants also had to
repent. Evans has sharp comments about medical autocracy at
the Adelaide in the 1940s.

He had contact with many political figures here and abroad.
Paddy Little, minister for posts and telegraphs, told him
the Vatican had been appalled by the change of government
in 1932, but the part played by de Valera and his
colleagues in the Eucharistic Congress allayed their fears.
Much later President de Valera told him: "Including a small
Protestant community in this State was not a difficult
problem. In the North, a large Protestant community is a
different matter."

Evans witnessed in Brazil the shift of capital from Rio de
Janeiro to Brasilia and remarks: "If we think we have a
problem moving Irish civil servants into the Irish
countryside, think of the Brazilian civil servants moving
out of the delights of Rio into the back of beyond."

He recounts how de Gaulle refused to partition Algeria,
dismissing the notion it had worked in Northern Ireland:
"Northern Ireland may be quiet now, but the British will
pay for that folly with a generation of woe."

Evans regrets lasting damage done to the Christian faith by
the sectarianism inherent in the way Northern Ireland was
established. He comments, on the Short Strand, that the
Catholics living there could not obtain employment in heavy
industries just beside them.

One Protestant old lady told Dessie O'Malley: "I understand
that Limerick had a siege like Derry, except that the wrong
people were on the inside." Tommy Little conveyed a message
to Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith that 20,000 UDA men
stood ready to support him, embarrassingly misquoted in the
Rhodesian press as 20,000 IRA men.

The common thread running through all four books is the
desirability of escaping from hegemony of any kind, and of
contributing to Ireland on a basis of mutual respect,
tolerance and equality.

The Rev Brian Kennaway ( March 2nd) incorrectly attributes
to the Church of Ireland today a philosophy similar to the
Orange Order. A Synod resolution of 1999 distanced itself
from historic formularies like the Thirty-Nine Articles,
particularly negative and antagonistic statements towards
other Christians, as not representing the spirit of this
church today.

The purpose of the Orange Order is to uphold in Northern
Ireland the residue of Protestant hegemony via the British
connection. There have long been very different principles
among Protestants in Ireland as to whether minority status
can be willingly accepted or must be resisted.

© The Irish Times


Opin: What Will It Mean To Be Irish Two Decades Into The
21st Century?


2020 VISION: Kate Holmquist looks at what needs to be done
to integrate rather than alienate a generation of new
Irish, in the first of a three-part series.

To be Irish in 2006 is to be living through an
unprecedented social experiment. Our tight-knit island
society has welcomed some 750,000 newcomers from 211
countries since 2000. With 9 per cent of the workforce and
10 per cent of the population foreign-born, according to
the Central Statistics Office, we have reached levels of
immigration that other European countries took decades to

Few have dared attempt to forecast what, as a result, our
society will be like in 2020.

"There is no plan," says Prof Ronaldo Munck, sociologist at
Dublin City University. "In about five years Ireland has
gone from being a sleepy, parochial, secure and homogenous
society to one with immigration on the scale of France and
Germany - yet it took them 30 to 40 years to reach that
level and they're still having difficulties. The speed of
our transformation is worrying because people have had no
time to reflect on what all this means. There's an
underlying feeling that while the country has become rich -
and that's great - we still believe this is our place now
and we'd rather more immigrants didn't come in."

The fact there is no coherent plan to prevent the
potentially negative effects of immigration is a point made
again and again by academics, unions, employers and
immigrants. "No significant effort is being made to
integrate minorities," says Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski,
president of Dublin City University. "There is official
inaction and no sense of urgency around planning housing,
for example, to ensure minorities don't end up in ghettos.
It's really important to our future that we get this right.
We should be holding workshops and bringing in expert
committees to look at a range of issues."

He believes that far more than 10 per cent of the
population is foreign-born, and that there are half a
million immigrants here from eastern Europe alone.

"There's no vision," says Dr Jean-Pierre Eyanga Ekumeloko,
of Integrating Ireland, an umbrella organisation for
immigrant support groups. "They [ the Government] don't
know what they want Ireland to be in 20 or 30 years' time,
and because of that, the immigration policy is always bad.
Employment is rising, but unemployment is also rising and
many people are being left behind. Refugees can't access
third-level education and their professional qualifications
aren't recognised. Their children, who will be teenagers in
2020, will be feeling increasingly resentful at being
excluded. If Ireland does not handle this situation now,
Ireland will be handled."

The most glaring oversight is that the State has no way of
saying for certain how many immigrants are here, where they
are from or what they are doing here, a point made in a
report compiled for the National Economic and Social
Council by the inter-governmental International
Organisation for Migration (IOM). At least four departments
gather statistics, but they do not share or collate them,
partly because their computer systems are incompatible,
according to the IOM. In the five years since 2000, the
Department of Social Welfare has issued PPS numbers to
approximately 400,000 migrant workers from 25 EU countries
and an additional 350,000 to people born outside the EU. It
has also also issued PPS numbers to 140,000 "others" whose
nationalities are unknown.

Last year alone, PPS numbers were issued to 150,000
immigrants from within the EU and approximately 35,000 from
outside it. The number of PPS holders gives an indication
of trends, but cannot pinpoint exact numbers of different
nationalities living in Ireland at any given time as it
doesn't take account of PPS-holders family members who
might be living here, or PPS-holders who might have left.
So while there are close to 100,000 Poles with PPS numbers,
Evelina Sakduikyte from Lithuania, an organiser with Siptu
and publisher of a Lithuanian newspaper here, estimates
there are 200,000 Poles living here, as well as some
100,000 Lithuanians.

The discrepancies between official figures and estimates by
people working with immigrants are dramatic. Officially,
25,000 non-EU students are in the country, but the Irish
Congress of Trade Unions estimates that China alone
accounts for 60,000-85,000 students here.

There is "significant illegal employment", according to the
IOM report, but only three prosecutions have been brought
against employers using illegal workers. Racism against
migrant workers is ignored, despite Ireland's extensive
equality and employment legislation, the report states. And
the low wages paid to some migrant workers could undercut
Irish workers, with serious consequences.

The "widespread" abuse of student visas by Chinese people
who are really in the country to work is also raised in the
IOM report, which warns that this practice will ultimately
have a significant effect on the economy.

THE REPORT DRAWS a picture of barely disguised, employment-
driven chaos and if there's a best-case scenario, we may
have reached it: the economy is booming, employment is at
an all-time high and everybody seems to be getting along
just fine, thank-you (although discrimination cases have
increased fourfold - but perhaps that's to be expected
during the adjustment phase).

The National Task Force Against Racism has produced a
document with more than 200 recommendations, but as Dr
Ekumeloko points out, measures aimed at getting us to treat
each other nicely are not the same as a long-term
integration plan to manage the social and economic
repercussions of our overnight transformation.

Prof Munck agrees. "Racism isn't about skin colour any
more," he says. Munck successfully took a case to the
Equality Authority, after he was turned down for the post
of professor of sociology at NUI Maynooth on the grounds
that he was born in Argentina and that therefore his
experience would not apply, even though he'd lived in
Ireland for 30 years. Discrimination on the grounds of race
can be an elusive target, the equality officer pointed out,
awarding Munck damages of €10,000.

Tensions are beginning to emerge. Immigrants who have lived
in Ireland for a decade or more say racism is getting worse
- from the visiting south American professor who was spat
on outside Trinity College Dublin, to the Chinese student
beaten up in a random attack. When there were fewer
immigrants, they were welcomed and no one could do enough
for them.

"Nine years ago, when I arrived, everyone wanted to help;
now people are more standoffish and colder," says Carmela
Di Stefano, an Italian-Venezuelan. "Life is easier if you
have an Irish accent. I feel annoyed because I feel part of
Irish society."

For "the new Irish" to integrate, there has to be a sense
of what they are integrating into, yet the culture of this
State is in crisis, according to Munck.

"What are our essential values?" he asks. "To speak Irish
and drink Guinness? And who is more Irish, the Nigerian
immigrant who lives here or the third-generation Irish-
American whose grandparents emigrated to the US?"

"The Irish are racists in denial," believes Dr Shaheed
Satardien, founder of the Inter-Faith Roundtable. "They
don't want to be called racist, so they have taken certain
people as tokens and put them at the head of NGOs to give
the impression that this is integration - and it is not."

Racism, as Munck sees it, is a form of cultural nationalism
based on the premise that one's own culture is unique and
special. In a multicultural Ireland, where any number of
minority groups may see themselves as unique, the scope for
racism is vast. Meanwhile, the indigenous Irish will no
longer be able to define their culture by certain types of
music, language or sport any more than they can define it
by bloodlines.

But, just as the Orange majority in the North and the Wasps
in the US have maintained their dominance, there are subtle
ways for the indigenous Irish to prevent so-called
"minorities" from gaining too much influence.

"The elite who run the country remain a white, Irish, male
club who are reluctant to allow immigrants into
establishment jobs, preferring to see them as 'disposable
labour'," Munck suggests.

The current wave of immigrants may remain placid as they
focus on economic stability, but their children will have
higher expectations and may react with political protest if
they find they're not allowed into the club because their
parents were not born in the State.

"Anyone who lives on the island of Ireland is Irish," says
Lucy Gaffney, chairwoman of the steering committee of the
National Taskforce Against Racism. But will the indigenous
Irish remain so sanguine? For the worst-case scenario, we
only have to look to the UK and France.

"The Paris riots and London bombings of 2005 give us an
idea of what we could be facing," says Prof James Wickham,
of Trinity College Dublin. "Multiculturalism has become a
wholesome, 'apple-pie word'. But handling large numbers of
immigrants without racism is in reality a challenge. In the
health service, for example, we still have what he calls
'old-fashioned conventional racism', with non-consultant
hospital doctors from outside the EU unable to become
consultants, while consultant jobs go to Irish-born

Dr Satardien fears social unrest and even terrorism in a
generation's time. "The Irish are experiencing an identity
crisis as they transform from a predominantly Catholic
society into a secular consumer society. At the same time,
Muslim children are being reared in a way that will lead
them towards identity crisis in their teens and 20s. This
is because Muslims keep one foot in Ireland and one foot in
the home village, watching satellite TV from their home
countries and speaking in their own languages. So the
children are Irish by day and a completely different
identity by night. They are torn between two cultures."

Meanwhile, economic exclusion of some indigenous Irish
young people could create resentment of foreign-born
migrants. Ictu's Sally Anne Kinehan warns: "People who are
disenfranchised could lead to a rise in fascism, the Irish
national front. We fear that big time. We can see it
happening in Europe where immigration has not been handled
effectively. In the State, no one is making a coherent
policy. Instead, it's about 'give us bodies and it doesn't
matter if people are left behind'."


Opin: No Irish Need Apply?


The employment problems young indigenous Irish people face
need to be addressed if future conflict with immigrants is
to be avoided, writes Kate Holmquist.

Seventeen per cent of firms have vacancies, according to
latest figures from the Economic and Social Research
Institute (ESRI). So why is Glen Campbell (29), who lives
in Santry, Dublin, long-term unemployed and feeling "bored,
angry and penniless"? Despite sending out 250 CVs in the
past 13 months, he is going through his longest period of
unemployment since he left school after the Junior Cert in

He has done everything right, working on his CV and
developing his interview skills at his local job centre,
which confirms his account. He's licensed to drive a
forklift and has applied for warehouse work in Finglas,
Coolock, Blanchardstown and Tallaght. His entire family
have been looking out for job opportunities for him.

Yet during the same period of time that Campbell was
repeatedly rejected by employers - some of whom never
bothered to acknowledge his applications - employment rose
by 4.6 per cent, the highest rate of growth since 2000.
There was so much work available that 46,000 of the 92,000
new jobs officially created in 2005 went to migrant workers
born outside the State.

"Foreigners are coming in and working for less money," says
Campbell. "Companies are using agencies to bring employees
in from elsewhere. They don't want Irish people. I feel
resentful towards the Government for letting this happen.
They should stop the other nationalities from coming in and
taking Irish jobs. If it continues, by 2020 there won't be
any more Irish jobs."

Campbell isn't alone. Unemployment in the Finglas and
Ballymun areas doubled to 10 per cent last year, according
to official figures. But with many indigenous Irish people
in their 20s not signing on due to their mistrust of the
system, the figure could be higher, says Michael Creedon of
Ballymun Job Centre. He estimates that the true rate of
unemployment in Ballymun is 15-18 per cent.

"People assume that anyone who wants a job can get one, but
there are pockets where people are experiencing
difficulties, such as west Tallaght, Jobstown, Killinarden,
Clondalkin, Neilstown, Finglas and certain areas of
Limerick and Cork," he says. "Some may be individuals with
particular characteristics that make it very difficult for
them to access the labour market. If an employer has a
choice between an early school-leaver with literacy issues
and a third-level educated person from an accession state,
it's a no-brainer. The ESRI have said that there is no
displacement, but if they were to target particular groups,
they might find the story somewhat different."

The unemployment rate has doubled from one in 10 to one in
five for under-25s with Leaving Certs. For early school-
leavers, the situation is even worse. "Unskilled jobs are
now so poorly paid that it's hardly worth it for them to
work," says Creedon.

JOANNE O'TOOLE (17) left school during fifth year because
she "couldn't get along with the people there". She and her
mother are both unemployed, even though O'Toole has been
job-hunting since July 2005. The only job she has managed
to find paid €5 an hour - well below the minimum wage of
€7.65 per hour - and she was expected to work a 50-hour

"Immigrants will work for that wage because it's far more
than they would earn at home, but it's not enough to make
it worth my while," says O'Toole.

"Many early school-leavers are not even receiving replies
when they send in their CVs and job applications," says
Tracy Hickson, project worker with Opt-In, run by the Irish
Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) in Finglas. Sixty per cent
of these unwanted job-seekers are young, indigenous Irish

"Almost unemployable" is how Sally Anne Kinahan, Ictu
advocacy director, describes this growing group of young
people, who are being socially excluded, a phenomenon that
is a predictable side-effect of globalisation and the
thriving migrant labour market.

IN 2002, THE national training and employment authority,
Fás, carried out an analysis of the potential labour supply
and found that the majority of work permits had been issued
for work in unskilled occupations for which there appeared
to be a sizeable supply of local labour. A report by the
International Organisation for Migration, commissioned by
the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), warns that
immigration has the potential to generate adverse effects
during an economic downturn. The State's failure to protect
local workers is a "serious weakness" in its current labour
immigration system, it states.

"Rising youth unemployment is a sign that we're falling
into all the traps, as in the UK and France," says Mark
Harding, of Finglas Job Centre. "We're ghettoising people
and making no attempt at integration. The dark side will
rear its ugly head when we have the inevitable downturn in
the economy. In 1999, when we had a slight downturn, our
young people were blaming migrant workers and we saw
potential for conflict. Clearly they were wrong in their
analysis, but their anger was serious and we had to work
with them to address their attitudes.

"Something has to be done to integrate not just migrants,
but our own young unemployed indigenous Irish into the
society.They need further training, education and
motivation to participate, or we will see huge problems."

An excluded indigenous "underclass" who cannot compete with
better educated, socially appealing migrants appears to be
developing, although it's hard to prove it without the
necessary research, says Prof James Wickham, of the
Employment Research Centre in the sociology department of
Trinity College Dublin. Employers in certain areas want
"aesthetic labour" that makes the right impression.

"The white working class get marginalised, don't speak in
the right sort of way, don't fit win with the identity of
certain services, don't dress properly," says Wickham.
"They could be taught these things, but employers don't
need to [ do this] when there are so many migrants
available. All the evidence points in this direction, but
we don't know for sure."

Many employers are engaging in "short-termism", Wickham
believes, seeking no more than the cheapest labour they can
find with no concern for building human capital. When the
economy flops, the migrants will leave for the country that
takes Ireland's place as the next economic miracle and
employers will be left with a workforce of low-skilled
locals who have been under- utilised and under-educated
during the boom. And this underclass may feel increasingly
resentful for having been excluded during the good times.

"In an economic downturn, it's possible that the riff-raff
could be employed to turn against immigrants with a bit of
straightforward racial violence," Wickham says. "Foreign
students are already being subjected to racist attacks. The
potential is there, but nobody wants to play with that one.

"The mentality of short-termism enables us to dodge many
serious policy issues, such as childcare, which worries

Bringing in childless migrants means employers don't have
to hire women with children and can avoid developing
childcare policies and family-friendly work practices.

WOMEN ATTEMPTING TO re-enter the workforce are also big
losers, says Kinahan. Single mothers are finding it
impossible to find jobs that pay enough for them to afford
childcare. Although 27,000 Irish women re-entered the
workforce last year, many women who have reared families
are still finding it impossible to gain a foothold.

Margaret McMahon (36), a mother of four children, has been
looking for work for two years. The six-month computer
course, interview skills course and work experience she has
undertaken have been of no help. She has been advised to
tell employers that she has no children, but does not want
to lie.

"If we continue with growth for growth's sake, we will
increasingly see polarisation of the very rich and the
very, very poor, and things will disintegrate," says
Kinahan. "Look at France and the rise of the ultra-right
there, we are walking ourselves into that situation
blindfolded, rather than learning from those mistakes."

Ian Bruff, of the University of Liverpool, spent a year at
TCD's Employment Research Centre studying the job market in
this "historically unprecedented" time.

"The booming economy masks the fact that the skill-set of
the Irish population is quite low - only one quarter have
third-level qualifications, compared to two-thirds of
immigrants," Bruff says. "It appears that many companies
are not recruiting and training local people. You can't
prove it, but from interviewing migrants it was clear that
many had amazing qualifications and were willing to work in
relatively low-skilled work because the pay was so much
higher than in their home countries."

Some 800 indigenous Irish left jobs in hotels, restaurants
and catering last year, while 3,600 "non-Irish nationals"
were taken on in the sector, according to the Central
Statistics Office.

But there are responsible employers in catering who refuse
to hire for less than the minimum wage and who want to
develop young, local people, according to Tony Moyles,
instructor with Fás's hospitality training programme in
Finglas, which has a 70 per cent success rate in placing
its graduates in jobs.

Michael Bradley (17), who started the course this week, has
been unemployed since leaving school at 14 but is now
hopeful that he will get work in catering. "I don't blame
migrants for my situation. They don't affect me," he says.

Kinahan insists, however, that less responsible employers
are making subtle changes in workplaces which drive
indigenous Irish employees out so that they can be replaced
by migrants willing to work for low wages.

Patricia King, Siptu regional secretary in Dublin, says the
union has evidence that in the retail sector migrant
workers are being paid less for the same work and being
deprived of sick-pay and over-time bonuses. Rather than
advertising jobs, employers in retail are going straight to
migrant worker agencies because they see migrants as more
productive and "flexible" than local Irish workers, who
won't put up with lesser conditions.

Some employers are "off-loading" Irish staff by making the
workplace unpleasant, "typically, you hear workers say,
this place has gone to hell", she says. Redundancy offers
start to appear attractive and soon Irish staff with
pensions and other entitlements are replaced by a much
lower-cost migrant workforce.

"You can say that the Irish Ferries situation was a blip in
the system, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that
this is the new Ireland, in which a policy of displacement
of current workers is in force. Some employers will say
that this is the only route open to them due to competitive
pressure," King says.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Prejudice Rains On The Parade


Never mind who's in the St Patrick's Day parade in
Manhattan, the key question is who has been left out,
writes Seán O'Driscoll in New York.

St Patrick's Day parades in greater New York - green beer,
police marching bands, county associations, Irish dancers,
junket-loving government ministers - it's all a bit
predictable. The real story this year is not who's taking
part, but who's being left out.

For a start, a group of Irish dwarfs has been banned from
the Belmar parade in New Jersey for being too drunk last
year. Meanwhile, in Morristown, New Jersey, the local
bishop is leading a campaign against the inclusion of the
National Organisation for Women (Now) in the parade.

In Manhattan, the parade continues to ban gay groups
because they are "anti-Catholic". In Woodside, Queens,
where gay groups set up their own parade, the local
anarchist marching band refused to march in the Manhattan
parade because it excludes gays. The first openly gay
speaker of New York city council, Christine Quinn, is also
boycotting the Manhattan parade, as is author Frank
McCourt, who noted that if you threw a bomb among the
leaders of the Manhattan parade, you would kill "the cream
of Irish mediocrity". His brother Malachy, dressed in an
outlandish Tricolour hat for last Sunday's pro-gay Woodside
parade, is even running for governor on the Green Party
ticket to raise awareness of the anti-gay discrimination.
Meanwhile, the Manhattan parade banned the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform, the largest and most active Irish lobby
group in the US, because it is too much of an "advocacy"

IT'S DOUBTFUL THE US Supreme Court had any idea what it was
unleashing when it ruled in Hurley V Irish Lesbian and Gay
Organisation 11 years ago that St Patrick's Day parades
could exclude incompatible groups.

For the dwarfs out in Belmar, it's bad news. The parade
organiser Eugene "Chip" Cavanagh, has said that the dwarfs,
or "little people" as they want to be called, got drunk at
the parade last year and said he was justified in excluding
them this year. "They're lucky they didn't get locked up,"
he said. The little people hit back by picketing the
parade, which took place last Sunday. Dressed in green and
carrying signs that read: "Belmar Oppresses Little People,"
they denied public drunkenness and say they face
discrimination because of their size. The group's sponsor,
party organiser and sex toy salesman Glen Kislowski, a big
person, has said he will run for local office to highlight
the cut down on good times in Belmar.

In Morristown, at the request of Bishop Arthur Serratelli
some 20 priests have complained to parade organisers about
the inclusion of the Now. The organisation has retaliated
against the bishop by showing a 1997 documentary about the
Vatican's discrimination against women on their local
access TV show.

In Manhattan, meanwhile, the parade has yet to condemn
comments made two years ago by then parade chairman Jim
Barker that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured in
a hospital and that, if gays were allowed to march, they
might attack children lining the parade route. These
comments were published verbatim in the Irish Voice, whose
editor, Niall O'Dowd, has been excluded from the parade,
along with the group he chairs, the Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform (ILIR). The new parade chairman, John
Dunleavy, says ILIR is an advocacy group. He has also
refused a last-minute compromise to allow members of the Co
Louth Association to wear ILIR T-shirts.

OUT AT THE pro-gay Woodside parade last Sunday,
participants said the days of trying to negotiate with the
Manhattan parade are long over and that the only solution
is their own parade, which includes Trotskyites, the
American Green Party and the marching band, dressed in the
green of St Patrick and the black of the anarchy movement.
"We were given the opportunity to march in Manhattan but we
turned it down," said the band's banjo player, Andy, who
describes himself as more of a socialist than an anarchist.
"The Manhattan parade discriminates, so we're not going to
join. I guess it's discrimination against the
discriminators. Someone has to take a stand."

© The Irish Times


Opin: Tread Softly Or Triumph?

Eddie Holt

Connect: In 1966 a Christian Brother pinned a facsimile
copy of the Proclamation to the wall above the blackboard.
Prints of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising festooned
the side walls of the classroom. Insurrection was running
nightly on five-year-old Teilifís Éireann. Commemorative
coins and stamps of the Rising were issued and the pageant
Mise Éire was screened live from Croke Park.

Veterans of 1916 were honoured amid a military march on
Dublin's O'Connell Street and a 21-gun salute by soldiers
on the GPO roof. It was a time of homage. Many teenage
girls, for instance, treated posters of the Proclamation's
signatories like those of pop stars. Daft as it sounds, the
Beatles, the Stones and the Kinks vied with Pádraig Pearse,
James Connolly and the rest.

Ireland was a very different country 40 years ago. There
was no free secondary education. Jack Lynch defeated George
Colley to take over as taoiseach from Seán Lemass. Eamon de
Valera beat Tom O'Higgins to become president for a second
seven-year term. Arkle won his third successive Cheltenham
Gold Cup and England had a football team good enough to win
the World Cup.

Much of the 1966 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of
the Easter Rising was designed to bolster the origin myth
of the Irish State. That myth emphasised "blood sacrifice",
gallantry against superior forces, religious - specifically
Catholic - commitment, and the fact that a revolution of
poets is, after all, more romantic than a revolution of
say, van-drivers, teachers, doctors or journalists.

Yet just three (Pearse, Tomás MacDonagh and Joseph
Plunkett) of the seven signatories could be considered
"poets". More of them, in fact, published prose. Still, all
states romanticise their origins and in that sense, the
50th anniversary of the Easter Rising was unexceptional.

Now, with Fianna Fáil determined to out-republican Sinn
Féin, this year's 90th anniversary is controversial.

It's controversial principally because of the outbreak of
violence in the North three years after the 50th
anniversary of the Rising. That conflict continued for more
than a quarter of a century. It's controversial too because
militarised commemorations appear dated, absurdly solemn
and even obscene to many people. But state power -
especially nowadays - centres on the control of weapons.

Even in the US, where electors are relentlessly
propagandised by big business to seek small government and
a huge private sector, the state retains control of big-
time arms and munitions. Indeed since the Reformation,
which strengthened states at the expense of religious -
specifically Vatican - power, control of weapons has become
a defining mark of state power.

Consider that during the sex abuse scandals of the past
decade or so, some Irish Catholic bishops saw their primary
allegiance to canon rather than State law. In that sense,
then, Protestantism aids a state by allocating more powers
to it. But in the Free State which was the result of 1916
and the War of Independence, colonisation by London gave
way to colonisation by Rome.

So we got the darkest days of the Catholic Tiger. Yet
through the long haul of the early decades of industrial
schools, orphanages and Magdalene laundries, the early
generations - front-line troops - clung to the ideal of a
free Ireland. They were not free, of course, from severe
Catholic strictures any more than current generations are
free from domination by American-led globalisation.

Anyway, haven't we "moved on" from all of that? Well, time
has passed and Ireland 2006 has changed, although it hasn't
changed utterly. It's a regular criticism now that the
leaders of the Rising were unelected and had no democratic
mandate. Then again, the monarch of Britain and assorted
family members are always unelected and never have a
democratic mandate either.

The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising is a sensitive
issue. There's legitimate pride at winning control of 80
per cent of the island but triumphalism is seldom pretty.
It's sometimes argued - at times persuasively - that Orange
marches are really about nothing other than triumphalism.
However, if they are, is it right then to incorporate
elements that automatically rankle? It's certainly human to
do so and at root it all has to do with notions of
identity. That's why people should tread as gently as
possible. It's not easy, of course, particularly if you
believe that it's your turn for a spot of triumphalism. So,
should this Republic hold a military march to commemorate
the Easter Rising of 1916? Given that all other states
remember their independence, it appears a reasonable thing
to do. Nonetheless, there are degrees of triumphalism
which, even if you've been subjected to comparable
barbarism, are likely to corrode the celebrator as much as
his or her enemies.

That's the risk - you want to celebrate your own identity
but realise that excess harms rather than complements it.

The aim therefore is neither to swagger nor to be a
doormat. Calling 1916 or Orange marches "cultural events"
is disingenuous. Does politics enclose culture or vice
versa? We know from the North that such "cultural" events
are excuses to make political points about people whose
status has been historically second class. The
Proclamation's anti-sectarianism is worth celebrating.

© The Irish Times


The Church Clearance Sale


Irish religious orders, in decline, are selling up prime
properties, but what do they do with the money? Kathy
Sheridan reports.

Religious communities in Ireland continued their inexorable
decline into history this week with the news that the
Franciscan Order is ending its 700-year link with Carrick-
on-Suir, Co Tipperary, and that the Jesuit Church of the
Sacred Heart, a Limerick city landmark since 1868, had been

Only a few weeks ago, the Benedictines announced the
closure of their spectacularly situated Kylemore Abbey
school in Connemara. It emerged that of the 23 teaching
staff there, only one is a member of the Benedictine

For several years, the reins of once-thriving Catholic
schools have been passing steadily into the hands of lay
principals as priests and nuns fade into retirement with no
one to replace them. What Sr Elizabeth Maxwell calls "the
house on the hill" - the convent building looming over many
Irish towns - is disappearing from the landscape and with
it the visible army of steely women who ran tightly
disciplined schools and immaculately clean hospitals.

As recently as 1999, there were about 11,000 nuns in the
country. Five years later, that figure had fallen by more
than 2,000. Sr Maxwell, the elected leader of the
Presentation Sisters' northern province and former
secretary general of the Conference of Religious of Ireland
(Cori), notes that the average age of the sisters in her
province is 73 - "and that's pretty standard". At 67, she
would be regarded as "a young nun".

The sales or closures rarely come out of the blue. Two
years ago, the Franciscan order announced that by 2009 it
would be unable to provide full-time resident friars for
six Irish friaries. Its Irish membership had fallen from a
high of 400 to 120 and the average age was about the mid-
60s. Meanwhile, only five priests remain in the Jesuit
community in Limerick, where the average age is 77.

A significant feature of Irish life is vanishing, almost
unmarked. Public indifference may be rooted partly in
distaste at the canny compensation deal negotiated by the
orders for victims of abuse - although this involved only
18 out of 130-plus - and partly in resentment over
spectacular prices achieved by some orders for prime

THIS WEEK THE sale of the Jesuit church in Limerick was
flagged in terms of its reported sale price of about €4
million. But the bar was set five years ago by the Sisters
of Charity, with the sale of 14.5 acres of land on Merrion
Road for €45.7 million, which set a new record for a
development site in Dublin. A year before, the same order
got £8 million (€10.1m) for 3.5 acres at Mount St Anne's in
Milltown and about the same for an adjoining 18 acres in
1995. Among last year's major property deals was a 208-acre
site at Belcamp College, Malahide, which made €105 million
for the Oblate order.

Some would say that the orders can't win. When they donate
valuable property, it receives little attention. The
Franciscans' decision to leave its church building in
Carrick-on-Suir as a gift to the Respond Housing
Association - which provides housing for elderly people -
means that the friars will not benefit from their
departure. The Sisters of Charity's gift of two convents
and grounds to St Vincent's Hospital was overshadowed by
the massive sales figures.

Sr Maxwell reels off other sizeable donations: buildings in
Stanhope Green handed over by the Sisters of Charity; a
"massive property" in Cork Street given by the Sisters of
Mercy; another in Finglas donated by the Holy Faith order.

The Augustinians left their Ballyhaunis priory and grounds
to the people; the Divine Word missionaries in Roscommon
donated property for a respite care centre. Her own
Presentation order handed over buildings on George's Hill,
Dublin 7, for development by Focus Ireland. Their convent
in Oranmore - now being developed by Respond - was sold to
the county council for €300,000, "well below market value",
and playing fields were donated to the schools and

Sr Maxwell recalls that the Sisters of Charity eventually
were driven to explain that much of the proceeds from its
massive south Dublin gains went into the development of a
centre for the blind. But if the lack of transparency in
the first place can lead to such suspicion, why aren't the
orders more upfront about their intentions?

"We were never ones for proclaiming our good works - so it
never occurred to us that we would have to say that we
would be doing something good," she replies. Anyway, she
points out, they are subject to strict audits and charity

"We are bound much more than people realise . . . We are
not private owners. We cannot dispose of property without
the permission of the charity commissioners and they will
insist on our getting market value. It's their
responsibility to oblige us to make prudent provision . . .
We're not free to dispose of our funds to buy feather beds
. . ."

With the ageing profile of the orders, it's not surprising
that enormous sums are now committed to nursing care for
elderly sisters and padres, many of them retirees from the
foreign missions. The Presentation order has some 72
nursing-home beds for its sisters and they're full. At
€30,000 minimum per bed, nursing costs alone run to more
than €2 million a year.

"Many of us were teachers or nurses and we gave up
everything we ever earned [ to the order] . . . But in
return, we were guaranteed that we would be taken care of
till we die ".

But the other major outgoing, she says, is on "keeping the
mission alive for younger people". Like every order, the
Presentation has had to adapt or die. Nuns now live
anonymously in little groups of three or four in ordinary
houses on the edges of towns and cities, near their work on
halting sites and marginalised estates. The work of Mercy
sister Joan Bowles, as director of the Limerick Youth
Service, only came to prominence last year when hundreds of
young people attended her funeral.

THE PRESENTATION'S OBLIGATIONS as a charity include the
promotion of faith, education, the well-being of the
general community, and alleviation of poverty. So they
continue to support their 10 Irish sisters in Slovakia,
working with Roma children, as well as missions in Zambia,
Zimbabwe, Equador, Chile and Peru (all run by trained
teachers). At home, they have re-dedicated their ministry
to learning innovation for marginalised children, to social
inclusion, human rights and the environment and advocacy
for groups such as Travellers and prisoners.

On the environment, they have led the way in the race
against waste in Mountmellick. Today they are hosting a
seminar on fair trade and, on March 27th, another in Croke
Park on learning technology. All of this, she points out,
requires "serious money", to pay organisers and experts.

Outgoings on the collaborative schools trusts (run jointly
with the Mercy order) run to €500,000 a year. Their
residential retreat house, with fully-staffed school and
adult programmes, costs €200,000 a year in wages alone. The
order's "socially-directed" investment fund, Clann Credo,
for those without access to bank credit, took €5 million to
set up and now stands at €11 million, with help from other

The Presentations have 26 novices in India and more in
other missions. In Slovakia, they have a 24-year-old
graduate and linguist seeking to join them. In fact, the
order is building a community house there to accommodate
the other young women who, they expect, will surely follow.

World view: nuns with a new mission

As the only girl in a family of boys, Orla Treacy was aware
of certain expectations. Her father Blaise - the former
manager of Wicklow County Council - was a fan of the Steve
Martin movie Father of the Bride, and had rather advanced
plans for his daughter's big day. He practised walking up
and down the "aisle" with her in the hall and, although he
had sworn off cigars, made it known that he planned to
smoke an entire box of them the day he walked her up the
aisle in marriage.

Last October in Bray, after Orla, radiant in green silk,
had been walked up the aisle by both her mother and father
to take her final vows as a Loreto nun, her father wryly
recalled his great plan: "She out-foxed me".

Now, at 33, Orla and two other Loreto sisters, Anne Farren,
most recently a youth director in Dromore diocese, and
Dolores O'Connor, after eight years working for a Dublin
inner-city Aids housing project, are settling into an
unfinished house in the ramshackle town of Rumbek in
southern Sudan. After decades of a devastating civil war,
millions of displaced Sudanese are trickling home to a
place where the roads remain unpaved, the airstrip is a
dirt track, there is no electricity or running water and
cattle are more valuable than women.

The sisters are answering the call of their Loreto head who
two years ago asked each province to begin a new mission
beyond their national boundary. She called it "Courage to
Move". The order is now in seven new countries - Ecuador,
Zambia, Ghana, Bangladesh, Albania, the Seychelles and

The invitations to Ireland gave a choice: secretary to the
Bishop of Namibia or educate girls in Rumbek, where only 13
girls are enrolled in secondary school. The women don't
quite roll their eyes. In a saying attributed to their
founder, Mary Ward: "Half women are not for these times".

There are no skills in southern Sudan, and no assets.
Materials and craftsmen have to be imported from Nairobi by
a long and dangerous road journey. "This country has been
at war for 40 years. There is this huge need to train
people to be engineers, teachers, computer workers," says

Anne is the historian, sociologist and linguist, who talks
knowledgeably about oil interests, religious unrest and the
Dinka language. She will be assembling a thesis on the
challenges facing Europeans going into southern Sudan.

But, in a pastoralist culture where women outnumber men by
two to one and have started to do men's work, the sisters'
first job is to persuade the men to agree to their girls'
education. They take courage from the fact that their
invitation came from the five local chiefs. "And it was
they who donated the land," says Orla.

They are also acutely aware of how missionaries have got it
wrong in the past.

"I think we used to go in with a package," says Anne. "But
we're going out to listen and learn."

Their guiding principle comes from a former missionary:
"Eyes open, ears open, bowels open and mouth shut for the
first year."

© The Irish Times


Battle For St Patrick

Chris Ryder
Opin: 11/03/2006

The patron saint of Ireland, once an exclusively Catholic
icon, is the subject of some rivalry for ownership between
the Protestant and Catholic communities. But his adoption
by both sides could have a cohesive effect, as his image
becomes an increasingly secular symbol

Eight years ago, the Belfast sculptor Annette Hennessy
designed an 8ft-high bronze depiction of St Patrick as a
shaven-headed warrior, clad in a skirt and carrying a staff
topped with antlers. The radical creation outraged purists
who raised such a hue and cry that the authorities backed
down and what was prematurely called “the homo on the hill”
was never cast, nor installed on its planned site at the
Hill of Tara in Co. Meath, a site conventionally associated
with Ireland’s national saint.

Traditionalists much prefer the long-established image of
St Patrick as a Catholic bishop, clad in a mitre, chasuble
and carrying a crosier, the way he is portrayed in another
landmark statue at Saul, Co. Down. This year, as they have
done every St Patrick’s day since Cardinal McRory unveiled
the work in 1938, many of the faithful will make the
customary pilgrimage there and to his reputed grave at
nearby Downpatrick to pay homage to his memory.

But the concept of Patrick as an exclusively Catholic icon
is undergoing a far more serious redefinition than any at
the hands of an imaginative creative artist. The Protestant
majority community in Northern Ireland is staking out as
never before a claim to a share of the Patrician heritage.
However, the result of this bid for diversity is,
ironically, that perceptions of St Patrick are
fundamentally changing and the religious dimension of his
legacy is being weakened. Steadily his life is being
unravelled and re-interpreted, and his reputation as a
pastor and harbinger of Catholicism or Christianity in
Ireland is being re-assessed. The entire character of St
Patrick’s Day is increasingly secular.

In Belfast, for instance, St Patrick’s Day this year will
be celebrated with a far-from-traditional £100,000
multicultural parade and an open-air rock concert in the
city centre. There will be the usual abundance of toe-
tapping traditional Irish music but most of the
participants will come from 400 groups across the community
and include representatives of the growing Indian, Chinese
and Ba’hai communities, as well as performers from the
Ulster-Scots tradition.

Pat Convery, the city’s deputy mayor, says that all flags,
emblems, football tops and alcohol have been banned. “We
are saying there should be no emblems or symbols that would
be deemed as sectarian or racist or anything that would be
offensive to anyone.” Green shamrocks, however, have been

In Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, where the
Catholic and Irish-Anglican primates minister from twin
hill-top cathedrals, the local-council-organised parade is
being freshened up with a series of cameos depicting the
seven ages of St Patrick, one of which focuses on the
customs of the Roman baths from his time in Wales. Such
innovation is in line with the council’s view that “St
Patrick is for everyone and we want everyone involved.”

Ever since Northern Ireland was created by partition in
1922, St Patrick’s Day has been seen as a Catholic
celebration. While officially designated a bank holiday, it
was not a public holiday. Only the Catholic schools closed
for the day and the main festivities were those arranged by
the Church or the Gaelic sports clubs. As with Ash
Wednesday, when Catholics could be identified by the black
smudge on their foreheads, they also stuck out on “Paddy’s
day” by wearing a bunch of shamrock, usually wrapped in the
silver foil from a cigarette pack, pinned to their lapels.
The uncomfortable fact that St Patrick was said to be
buried under a great stone within the shadow of the
“Protestant” – Church of Ireland – cathedral at Downpatrick
was dismissed with an embarrassed shrug.

As with all things Irish in the Unionist dominated pre-
Troubles era, the BBC largely ignored the day, consistent
with an era in which the morning radio newspaper review
gave the impression there were no Dublin newspapers, the
large number of Gaelic sports were totally ignored and even
the television weather forecast seemed to be confined to an
isolated wiggly outline map called “Northern Ireland” where
the rain, clouds and sun stopped at the border. No more.

The modern BBC Northern Ireland is not only a model of
political correctness but also a comprehensive forum where
all shades and points of view are aired across the spectrum
of radio and television. This reflects a massive cultural
revolution, the scale of which is only now becoming clear
as the fog of the Troubles clears and a faltering conflict
resolution process steadily consolidates.

There is now official recognition that the history,
heritage and values of the two main traditions are equally
valid and to be cherished. Thus Irish language broadcasting
increases and flourishes, not least because of a generous
government subvention for programme making, and the
expression of arts, literature and sports from both
traditions is given full and detailed exposure. Where the
broadcasters have led, the print media have followed and,
even though Belfast’s three main newspapers have well-
defined and widely recognised political standpoints, their
editorial content is increasingly identical as they reflect
the cultural and social diversity that is the new

Against this backdrop, the challenge to the historic
standing of St Patrick dates back to 1997 – the same year
the traditionalists opposed the statue – when the Education
Committee of the Orange Order published a scholarly
pamphlet, A Protestant View of Patrick, which examined the
St Patrick story in detail, dismissing many of the myths
and perceived realities that had developed during the 16 or
so centuries since he is thought to have first come to
Ireland as a slave.

The pamphlet concludes that he wore neither chasuble nor
mitre – they were not invented until 1,000 years after his
death – and that he did not drive snakes out of Ireland as
he is reputed to have done. Above all the pamphlet disputes
the association of Patrick with the Church of Rome,
preferring the interpretation that what he brought to
Ireland was “a ministry covering the length and breadth of
Ulster and through his preaching many became Christians”.
They built churches and men of God came forward to be
ordained and preach in them – “Patrick was God’s man for
Ulster, the Apostle of Ulster”.

The study proved to be far more influential than its
authors could ever have imagined for it helped spark off a
hunt for cultural roots among the Protestant community and
ignited a rivalry between factions of St Patrick supporters
that would convulse debate for several years, most notably
among the deeply divided councillors of Belfast, for
several years.

As nationalist cultural traditions became more widely
recognised and disseminated, longstanding Protestant
allegiances to the Union flag, the Queen and that
community’s sense of Britishness dwindled. Distrust of the
British commitment to the union with Northern Ireland
burgeoned. In their search for an alternative cultural
allegiance, many Protestants turned to Scotland from where
the planters of Ulster had come. An Ulster-Scots cultural
caravan gathered pace, although many dismissed its efforts
to characterise Ulster dialect as a language on a par with
Irish as merely people speaking English with a funny “Norn
Iron” accent.

Meanwhile, others turned to questioning the ownership of
the Catholic-Nationalist cultural and religious legacy,
triggering the rivalry over St Patrick. The initial
manifestations of the contest were decidedly unsavoury. In
Belfast, a cross-community committee to organise St Patrick
commemorations splintered. Unionists could not live with
the Irish-tricolour-waving celebrations that diehard
Nationalists intended.

Behind the scenes, however, a consensus was slowly
building. In 2000 a cross-party group of Assembly members
called for the St Patrick holiday to be elevated to the
status of a full public holiday. The proposition remains on
the table awaiting the full implementation of the 1998 Good
Friday Agreement. A year later a state-of-the-art St
Patrick’s centre opened in Downpatrick, its treatment of
the St Patrick story notable for the comprehensive and
neutral way it accommodates dissenting and conflicting
views of the saint. Last year in central Belfast unofficial
St Patrick’s parades converged on the City Hall from three
Catholic areas but protests about the political aspects of
the event were muted. That paved the way for the new
consensus about a neutral and secular St Patrick to come
into play among the councillors whose “Good Relations”
working group agreed to the bold step of funding this
year’s event.

It will be watched closely by its supporters with bated
breath and firmly crossed fingers. Any manifestation of
ugly politics or, more worryingly, violence would be a
distinct setback but whatever the outcome there will be no
going back to the view that St Patrick was a Catholic, and
a saint only for Catholics.

Chris Ryder is an author, journalist and broadcaster based
in Belfast.


Opin: Are We Ready For Reconciliation?

By Barry White
11 March 2006

HAD enough peace and reconciliation yet? I don't know about
you, but while I was riveted by the Michael Stone
confrontation with the widow and brother of Dermot Hackett,
one of his victims, the BBC's decision to milk the subject
five nights in a row smacked of exploitation.

Each case is different, just as the reactions of the
victims' families, and the perpetrators, are different.
Some sound as if they've gained some peace in their lives
as a result, but for many more who didn't go through the
Tutu experience I suspect the old wounds have been re-

They weren't lucky enough to have been chosen by the BBC,
or to have found a gunman or the family of a victim to take
part in the TV programme.

For them, there was no possibility of reconciliation, or

Personally, while I couldn't hit the 'off'' switch, I often
felt I was intruding on grief, and an immensely difficult
exchange of questions and answers which should have been
kept private. It had nothing to do with me whether the
killers and the families of their victims shook hands, yet
I was watching and judging, like a spectator at a Roman

The real villains, apart from the mostly pathetic,
inadequate people who made the choice to murder in the name
of their cause, are the leaders of opinion, large and
small, who filled their heads with hatred or bogus

They didn't appear because they wouldn't, even if the BBC
was brave enough to ask them.

I'd like to know more about how the participants were
chosen, from so many possibles, and why there were few
confrontations between republicans and Protestants, and
between loyalists and Catholics.

It couldn't be so hard for an English ex-policeman to face
an IRA man who had wounded him in Southampton, or an
English soldier to meet and get friendly with a former IRA
leader, when neither had anything against the others'
politics, then or now.

For me, the series didn't prove that Northern Ireland is
ready for any kind of peace and reconciliation process on a
grand scale.

The hurt is too close, when politicians who represent the
causes for which people were killed are still with us, and
still spreading dissention.

But I can accept that for a few admirable, forgiving
people, like the Hacketts, taking part in the programmes
was a valuable experience.

We should try to learn from them and emulate them, though
we shouldn't feel guilty if we can't.

Forgiveness, even if the other party doesn't deserve it,
lifts a self-destructive burden from anyone's heart.

How do you describe what it is like, swooping down a snowy
mountainside, turning at will, riding the bumps and
breathing in sparkling mountain air? It's the best antidote
against Northern Ireland politics I know.

My resort was in Andorra, a tiny principality in the
eastern Pyrenees, which has a lot of lessons for Northern

The 75,000 inhabitants import everything, which they tax at
the border, and only recently have they lost their duty-
free status, charging a whole 4%.

They have the smallest 28-member parliament in the world,
in an ancient manor house, and their joint heads of state
are the President of France and a Catholic Bishop from
Spain. You could call it joint authority, because each
country pays for its own Andorran schools, but no one does.

Tourism contributes 80% of their wealth, with 9m annual
visitors, so they've invested heavily in ski lifts and snow
cannons - for producing the white stuff, in the usual clear
skies. Their only problem is a lack of flat land, so bus
transfers from Girona take four hours.

They prosper, with everyone speaking three languages, and
no one trying to unite with Spain or France. Independence
is possible, even in the shadow of two big brothers.


Sinn Féin MLA's Join Forces To Demand Equality For Irish
Language In Schools

Published: 10 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA's Michael Ferguson (spokesperson for
Education) and Francie Brolly (Irish language) have today
joined forces to challenge Angela Smith on British
Government discrimination against the Irish language in
schools in the Six Counties.

The Sinn Féin MLA made their comments after it emerged that
the 'Education Order (Northern Ireland) 2006' has
recommended that secondary school students should study at
least one official European language "(other than English
and Irish)."

Speaking today Francie Brolly said:

"The recommendations contained within the 'Education Order
(Northern Ireland) 2006' would disenfranchise thousands of
students across the Six Counties who wish to study Irish at

"At a time when the Irish language is experiencing a
revival across the North, the British Government is
recommending that students should study at least one
official language of the 'European Community' - other than
English or Irish. I would like to remind both Angela Smith
and the British Government that the Irish language has been
afforded full and working status as an official EU language
on the 1st January 2007.

"Many people will be shocked that the Irish language is
being accorded a lesser status than other European

Speaking today Michael Ferguson said:

"At a time when the British Government is using the excuse
of falling roles to reduce investment in schools, there is
no comparable increase in investment in the Irish language
sector despite increasing numbers in this sector.

"It is disgraceful that young people, in their most
formative years could be denied the opportunity to study
their native language and I would also be extremely
concerned that the new entitlement framework available to
all children at the age of 14 will not be accessible to
children within the Irish medium sector because of lack of
investment both at Key Stage 4 in schools and in the FE
sector who are now required to partner with schools to
ensure the an increased number of vocational opportunities
are available to young people." ENDS


Fine Gael Repeats Call For End To Compulsory Irish In

11/03/2006 - 12:02:27

Fine Gael has repeated its call for compulsory Irish to be
scrapped in secondary schools

The party is holding a day-long conference on the Irish
language today.

It has claimed that a radical overhaul of the Irish
curriculum is necessary and that after the Junior Cert,
students should not be forced to study the language.

Party leader Enda Kenny believes that if the subject is
made more relevant for modern students, the majority of
them will choose to study it.


Government Must Stop Auctioning Of Priceless 1916 Heritage
- Ó Snodaigh

Published: 10 March, 2006

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has described as
"scandalous" the planned auction of priceless historical
documents and other artefacts associated with the 1916
Rising and the independence struggle in a sale planned by
two auction houses in the week of the 90th anniversary of
the Rising.

Two auction firms, Adam's and Mealy's (see attached copy of
press release), plan to sell off some of the last letters
of executed signatories of the Proclamation, Seán Mac
Diarmada and Tom Clarke, manuscripts of Pádraig Pearse and
Thomas MacDonagh, a handwritten copy of the National Anthem
by its author Peadar Ó Cearnaigh, a Tricolour believed to
have flown from the GPO in 1916 and Michael Collins's
typewriter, among other unique historical items.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It is scandalous that these
priceless historical documents and other irreplaceable
parts of our national heritage are to be auctioned off to
become the private prestige property of wealthy
individuals. There is nothing to stop these items being
taken out of the country. To add insult to injury the
auction firms are promoting this sale by linking it to the
90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

"The Government should immediately intervene with emergency
legislation to prevent this sell-out of our heritage.
Successive governments have failed to put in place
legislation to protect heritage items from market forces.
If anything should spur long overdue action it should be
this latest indignity. For any Government to allow these
items to be auctioned in this way makes a mockery of our
reputation for cherishing our history and culture,
something that is touted around the world as one of the
main reasons for people to visit Ireland.

"The State has the legal authority to declare an historical
site a national monument. It also has the power to issue
compulsory purchase orders on lands in certain
circumstances. Similar powers should be put in place for
historical items such as those about to be sold off." ENDS

Note to editor: Below is a copy of a press release from
Adam's and Mealy's auction firms

Press Release

Adam's and Mealy's Announce Irish Sale of the Century

Ireland's leading auction houses, James Adam & Sons and
Mealy's Auctioneers are joining forces to host what could
be the most significant sale ever to be held in Ireland.

Comprising previously unseen documents of the utmost
historical importance charting Ireland's struggle for
independence, Adam's and Mealy's 'Independence Sale' will
be the most comprehensive and significant auction of Irish
history yet to take place.

Scheduled during Easter week (12th April) to coincide with
the 90th anniversary celebrations of the 1916 Easter
Rising, it includes a number of significant lots of
historical, political and national value and most notably
includes the original words and music to Ireland's National
Anthem, estimated to fetch €800,000 -- €1.2million.

Handwritten by Peadar Kearney in 1907 on two pieces of
paper, the Soldier's Song (Amhrán na Bhfiann) was
popularised by Irish revolutionaries during the Easter
Rising and formally adopted as Ireland's National Anthem in

Commenting on the significance of the Independence Sale,
Stuart Cole, Director of James Adam & Sons, said,

"This sale is unique in every respect. No sale of such
national importance has ever been held before, and we
imagine it won't be matched for a long time after.

"Many of the items consigned for auction are one-offs.
Previously unseen and entirely irreplaceable, they derive
from important Irish families directly involved in the
Easter Rising and the battle for Irish independence.

Fonsie Mealy, Director, Mealy's Auctioneers, Castlecomer,

"The Irish national anthem is a wonderful sale highlight
and we are honoured to have been chosen to auction it. Of
supreme national importance, it will naturally be of
interest to many Irish collectors and we would hope to see
it stay in the country. However, having already been
offered to the State on different occasions, we are
concerned that it could leave Ireland because of huge
international interest."

"Although Mealy's and Adam's are both specialists in Irish
history and militaria, it is difficult to place estimates
on some of the lots, due to their uniqueness and the level
of interest they may incur. A case in point is the recently
sold handwritten letter by Padraig Pearse asking volunteers
to surrender, which fetched ten times its estimate at
Adam's, making €700,000 on the night," Fonsie Mealy

The National Anthem will be auctioned alongside items that
together track the history of the Irish revolution - from
the spark of 1798 right through to the British Government's
telegram announcing the declaration of the Irish Free

Of the 400 lots catalogued for sale, other important items

Sean McDermott's poignant handwritten letter on the eve of
his own execution addressed to John Daly, Mayor of Limerick
who is Uncle to Edward Daly and Kathleen Clarke

An archive of papers from the 1880-1916 period, written by
and relating to Thomas Clarke, the first signatory of the
Proclamation, including his final letter, before execution,
to his wife Kathleen Clarke

The first communication that Ireland was to become a free
state - a telegram from the Duke of Devonshire, informing
the Irish Secretary of State, WT Cosgrave that the King has
just agreed to give Ireland independence

Tricolour believed to have flown over the GPO during the
1916 Easter Rising

Irish revolutionary, Thomas Francis Meagher's last letter
written before deportation to Tasmania

Collections of Padraig Pearse letters and poetry, including
an autographed unpublished manuscript appealing for funds
and explaining plans for St. Enda's -- also signed by
Thomas McDonagh

Original architect's watercolour drawings showing the
elevations of the GPO building

An original Proclamation dating to the 1916 Easter Rising

Michael Collins' typewriter and an essay he wrote on
Ancient and Modern Warfare aged 14

Member Firm

James Adam & Sons Ltd. Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers since

26 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: + 353 1 676
0261 Fax


Bob Dylan Cork Tickets Sell In 10 Minutes

Tickets for Bob Dylan's Live at the Marquee concert in Cork
this summer sold out in 10 minutes yesterday, making it one
of the city's fastest-selling concerts.

Dylan will play the Cork Showgrounds in Ballintemple near
Páirc Uí Chaoimh on June 25th.

The showground venue has a capacity of 4,500.

© The Irish Times/


State Assigns €1.7m To Buy Blaskets

Áine Kerr

The Government has earmarked €1.7 million to buy the
Blasket Islands on behalf of the State.

Under an €18.56 million package for built heritage projects
presented yesterday by Minister for the Environment Dick
Roche, the €1.7 million has been set aside to buy the
islands in order to preserve "core conservation areas",
according to the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Negotiations on the purchase of the islands, which extend
over 1,100 acres, began in 2004 between the OPW and
landowners after the launch of the Great Blasket Island
Management Plan.

Under this plan €8.5 million was for work such as building
a pier, upgrading the existing pier at Dún Chaoin and
conservation of the village in its present state as a
ruined village.

Last year, about € 700,000 was spent on implementing the
Great Blasket Island Management Plan, an OPW spokesman

He said the OPW hoped to make the purchase as soon as
possible, but that people were entitled not to sell their

The package announced yesterday provides funding for
several sites including the Rock of Dunamase, Co Laois;
Castletown House in Co Kildare; and St Enda's College in
Rathfarnham, where Pádraig Pearse once taught.

Conservation architects are also undertaking a study to
assess the feasible options for improved use of St
Selskar's Abbey in Wexford and Nenagh Castle.

Over €6 million of the total package will go to local
authorities, which is an increase of 50 per cent since
2004, according to Mr Roche.

He said the Heritage Council was to be commended for its
implementation of the Buildings at Risk scheme.

"This scheme, which will see 74 projects to the value of
€1.2 million being grant-aided in 2006, is an important
element in the overall State mechanism for supporting the
conservation of the built heritage and is in addition to my
investment programme today," said Mr Roche.

A grant of €5,000 to both Waterford County Council and
Galway County Council will facilitate a survey arising out
of recommendations made in a recent report on the future of
thatched buildings in Ireland.

Mr Roche said the task of systematically identifying and
recording Ireland's built heritage would continue this year
under the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

"I believe that heritage conservation represents good-value
investment by the State in terms of the quality product
that it achieves," he said.


Built heritage capital works
State Properties ... €

Phoenix Park Gate Lodges 1,350,000
Rock of Dunamase 450,000
Drumacoo Mausoleum 59,000
Castletown House 1,200,000
St Enda's, Rathfarnham 1,000,000
Emo Court 500,000
Exhibitions Upgrades 250,000
Rathfarnham Castle 100,000
Phoenix Park Avenue 20,000
Rock of Cashel 90,000
St Selskar's Abbey 72,000
Nenagh Castle 30,000
Purchase of Blasket Islands 1,700,000
Other purchases 200,000
Apprenticeship programme 625,000
Other 50,000

TOTAL ... 7,696,000

Properties in trust/private ownership etc

Waterford Cathedral 750,000
Westport House 650,000
Russborough House 531,000
Headfort House, Kells 420,000
Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin 353,000
Fota House, Co Cork ( OPW) 350,000
Moore Hall, Co Mayo (Coillte) 25,000
Waterford Town Walls (Waterford Council) 1,000,000
Lucan Demesne Weirs (OPW/SDCC) 500,000
Ennis Cathedral 150,000
Duckett's Grove (Carlow Co Council) 125,000
Thatch Surveys in Galway 10,000

TOTAL ... 4,864,000

© The Irish Times


Keane Regrets TV Disclosure Of Haughey Affair

Áine Kerr

Journalist Terry Keane last night said she regretted an
appearance on RTÉ television seven years ago in which she
disclosed details of a relationship with the former
taoiseach Charles Haughey.

In an interview on the Late Late Show last night, Ms Keane
said that she had just been diagnosed with heart disease
when she appeared on the show in 1999 and had been "under
pressure", "misguided" and "misled" at the time.

She said she now viewed the appearance as a "mistake" and
that she "lives to regret it to this day".

Ms Keane appeared on the Late Late Show in 1999 and
revealed details of a 27-year affair with Mr Haughey.
During that appearance, Ms Keane said: "I love him. I think
he loved - loves - me very much."

Last night, however, she said that she had panicked at the
prospect of a "tell-all" book being published and had
decided to reveal details of the relationship first.

Asked by presenter Pat Kenny if Mr Haughey had "forgiven"
her for the appearance, Ms Keane said that she had not
spoken to Mr Haughey since the day following the broadcast.

After two years in Ireland in which she continued working
as a journalist, she then decided to move to France as it
"seemed like a good time not to stay around".

"I feel it's behind me now . . . I acknowledge what I did
was wrong," Ms Keane added.

She said she regrets hurting so many people and "bitterly"
regrets not thinking out her planned appearance with Gay
Byrne. "I deeply regret all the pain I caused to so many
people . . . innocent people got hurt," she said.

Asked how history might remember her, Ms Keane concluded
she had at least another 20 years to change people's
perception of her, but she was essentially "someone who
loves her family and who is loved by her family".

In the interview, Ms Keane also spoke of her recovery from
colon cancer.

© The Irish Times


St. Patrick’s Day Open House To Feature Celtic Books

The University of St. Thomas ' O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library
Center and Center for Irish Studies will co-host their
annual St. Patrick's Day Open House from 3 to 5 p.m.
Friday, March 17, in the library's Special Collections
Reading Room, Room LL09.

The event features readings and the display of new and rare
Irish books from the university’s Celtic Collection. St.
Thomas' 9,200-volume Celtic Collection, the largest of the
university's special collections and one of the 10 largest
collections of Celtic materials in North America, includes
works on Irish history and politics; church history and
religion; and folklore, art and music of the Celtic

A brief program begins at 3:30 p.m.

The collection was begun in 1917, when the Ancient Order of
Hibernians of Minnesota gave to the library 500 titles on
then-contemporary Irish politics and 19th-century Irish
history, evidently to commemorate the 1916 Easter Uprising
in Ireland.

Donations and acquisitions since have bolstered the
collection. About 85 percent of the collection focuses on
Ireland; 10 percent on Scotland; and 5 percent on the other
Celtic nations (Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and
Brittany). Nearly 30 percent of the Celtic Collection
consists of titles written in Celtic languages, most often

The St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies was established in
1996 to advance teaching and scholarship in Irish studies
for students, faculty and friends of the university through
publications, instruction and public programs. Among other
activities, the center publishes New Hibernia Review, a
quarterly journal of Irish Studies.

For more information about the open house, call Special
Collections, (651) 962-5467, or the Center for Irish
Studies, (651) 962-5662.


Getting Down To Earth ... In Old Co Down

By Linda McKee
11 March 2006

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have learned how early Christians in Co Down
protected themselves from raiders - they went underground.

A 1,000-year-old tunnel system discovered at Rooneystown
near Raholp would have been built so that families could
take refuge with their valuables when threatened by

The mysterious stone tunnel was uncovered by a builder
working on new housing after the ground gave way beneath
his digger.

Environment and Heritage Service archaeologist Ken Neill
confirmed that the tunnel was a previously unrecorded
example of a souterrain, built during the early Christian
period more than 1,000 years ago.

"Souterrains are usually known as caves or coves throughout
the countryside," he said. "They were underground tunnels
built as a refuge against raiders. Some were rock-cut, but
most were built by digging a trench, lining it with
drystone-walling and placing heavy stone lintels across the
top before covering with earth.

"It was one of these lintels which had given way under the
weight of the digger to expose the souterrain. Many were
built within circular earthen raths or stone cashels, but
others, like this one, are discovered in apparent isolation
although there was almost certainly originally a house

Mr Neill said the design and complexity of the souterrain
supports the idea that it was built as a place of refuge
from neighbouring tribes or even Viking invaders.

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