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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
March 03, 2006
UDA Bar Riddled In Raid Drama
SHOTS FIRED: Police at the scene of last night’s shooting at the Alexandra Bar on the
York Road in north Belfast, with bullet marks apparently visible in the upper windows
PICTURE: Alan Lewis/Photopress
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News About Ireland & The Irish
BT 03/03/06 UDA Bar Riddled In Raid Drama
IN 03/03/06 Top UDA Men Held After Bar ‘Shootout’
IN 03/03/06 UDA Trial Judge Issues Warning
BT 03/03/06 More New Evidence In Teenagers' Murders By Loyalists
IN 03/03/06 Republicans Commemorate Hunger Strikers After 25 Years
DI 03/03/06 Sinn Féin Urges Action Now
DI 03/03/06 Bobby Sands: Resolve Is Strengthened In Face Of Adversity
IN 03/03/06 Omagh Bomb Accused May Call FBI Agent
BT 03/03/06 Laird In Lords Bid To Axe PSNI Religion Quotas
EE 03/03/06 Love Ulster Group Hoping To Hold March In Dublin
IN 03/03/06 Opin: Exclusion Is Politics Of Failure And The Past
BT 03/03/06 Opin: Ireland's Green And Unpleasant Land
IN 03/03/06 Opin: Clean Hands Are Not Always Innocent Hands
IN 03/03/06 Government ‘Failing’ North’s Irish Speakers
IN 03/03/06 Relatives Pay Visit To MP’s Birthplace
IN 03/03/06 Museum Appeal For 1916 Memorabilia
IN 03/03/06 Soldiers Needed For No-Go Area Film
RT 03/03/06 121 Jobs To Go In Dublin And Mayo
BN 03/03/06 Coldest Night In Ireland For 10 Years
IH 03/03/06 Review: Mick - The Real Michael Collins
UDA: Bar Riddled In Raid Drama
By Jonathan McCambridge and Deborah McAleese
03 March 2006
There was a tense atmosphere in Tiger's Bay last night as
an angry crowd jeered police who had taken part in a major
At one point, a crowd of up to 100 people, including women
and children in their pyjamas, surrounded the Alexandra Bar
and shouted abuse at the police who were attempting to seal
off the area.
Curious residents living in nearby houses came outside to
see what was happening and watched as police arrested up to
15 leading loyalists.
One resident told the Belfast Telegraph: "I just heard a
lot of bangs so I went outside and there were these bright
flares on the top floor of the Alexandra. I thought it was
some sort of fireworks and then I saw the police outside.
"Next thing all these people came streaming out of the bar.
The police lined a number of them up and then took them
away in Land Rovers."
One of the first on the scene was local Ulster Political
Research Group spokesman Sammy Duddy. He said he was in no
doubt that police were involved in a major operation
against the UDA.
He said: "Up to 15 men have been arrested. Shots of some
sort were fired and it seems that up to 50 rounds were
fired at the top windows. There was also tear gas fired in.
"The police have been carrying out searches in the bar. We
are lucky that no-one was hurt because this is overkill.
The police are obviously moving against the UDA in north
Belfast but they have gone way over the top."
It is understood police Land Rovers were also on standby in
the nearby nationalist New Lodge road area.
Sinn Fein members were concerned that the presence of the
police vehicles could attract young people wishing to
attack them and they pleaded with them to go home and not
Councillor Caral ni Chuilin said if it turned out that
loyalists were planning a show of strength in the bar, it
demonstrated how futile those actions were.
The north Belfast councillor said: "It is ironic that years
into an IRA ceasefire, months into a declaration of the end
of its armed campaign and since decommissioning was
completed, that loyalist paramilitaries are still involved
in shows of strength.
"If we are to go forward then we need loyalists to help
their own communities and copperfasten the peace process by
putting the weapons beyond use and not engaging in this
kind of activity.
"There is no need for armed organisations."
SDLP policing spokesman Alex Attwood said: "The actions to
close down the activities of the UDA or any other illegal
organisations are fully justified."
Eyewitnesses reported seeing bright flashes as cartridges
were fired at the upstairs of the bar and claimed that
tear-gas was used.
It is understood the raid started shortly after 7pm and the
York Road and Limestone Road remained sealed off for hours
There were several armoured PSNI Land Rovers and scores of
officers wearing body armour with sniffer dogs surrounding
the bar at one point.
Men who were drinking in the premises claimed they had to
dive for cover as the police operation began.
The windows of the bar were riddled with holes and a door
had been ripped off its hinges. There were several
discharged cartridges lying on the street.
Just moments after the police raid one employee of the bar
told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was just standing doing my
job when we heard these bangs and glass smashing. Then
dozens of cops in riot gear barged in and started shouting
and knocking over tables.
"They could have killed someone because they were pointing
guns at us. I ran behind the bar and other people were
diving for cover. There was no warning.
"They then went upstairs and barged in. When we asked them
what was going on they told us we could get a full report
from the local police station.
"If they had wanted to come in and do a search then they
could have done so. I do not know why they came in here
like they were the SAS."
A drinker in the bar said: "That was totally out of order
and heavy-handed. One minute we were having a drink and the
next we were being thrown out into the street.
"Then they lined a number of men up outside the bar and
took them away in Land Rovers".
DUP councillor Ian Crozier said: "It appears the police
used some sort of flash-bangs to stun people and get them
out of the premises.
"Local people are edgy and unsure about what is going on."
Top UDA Men Held After Bar ‘Shootout’
By staff reporters
LEADING loyalist Ihab Shoukri is understood to be among a
group of up to 15 UDA men arrested last night after police
raided a bar during a ‘show of strength’.
It is understood that police raided the Alexandra bar on
the York Road in north Belfast shortly
Unconfirmed reports said under-cover officers discharged
shots during the incident.
Tear gas was also fired into the premises.
Loyalist sources said that at least five UDA men in combat
uniforms were inside, taking part in what is understood to
have been a ‘practice’ show of strength.
The UDA’s entire north Belfast ‘brigade staff’, including
Shoukri, are believed to have been arres-ted at the scene.
“Following a police search at the Alexandra bar on York
Road, a number of males have been arr-ested. There are no
further de-tails,” a police spokesman said.
In the aftermath of the raid, wild rumours swept Tiger’s
Bay, in-cluding speculation that there had been fatalities
at the bar.
The rumours were later dispelled and it was confirmed that
no-one was killed.
Witnesses said up to 20 police vehicles and scores of
officers, some in riot gear, had surrounded the bar. The
area was sealed off for a time.
It is less than four weeks since Shoukri was part of a UDA
delegation which met President Mary McAleese’s husband
Martin at a hotel in Belfast.
The 31-year-old is on bail awaiting trial for UDA
Shoukri’s bail conditions inclu-ded that he should not
associate with known loyalists.
His brother, UDA north Belfast ‘brigadier’ Andre Shoukri,
is on remand awaiting trial on a number of charges
including blackmail, intimidation and money laundering.
Among the others believed to have arrested last night are
Alan McClean – currently on bail for the attempted
abduction of a bank manager in east Belfast last year – and
Gary MacKenzie, who is on bail awaiting trial for the
attempted murder of four police officers on the Westland
Road in north Belfast in October 2002.
It is understood a UDA function had been due to be held at
the bar tomorrow night at which a number of veteran
paramilitaries had been due to ‘retire’.
As part of that event the UDA had planned a ‘show of
strength’ with masked and armed men in paramilitary
Police are understood to have raided the bar after
receiving intelligence that UDA gunmen were rehearsing the
show of strength.
Loyalists sources last night insisted that the UDA
‘retirements’ were unconnected to any proposed deal with
the British government over disarmament.
UDA Trial Judge Issues Warning
By Staff Reporter
A judge has issued a warning to anyone who tries to
interfere with witnesses in a UDA drugs case that he will
not hesitate to use his “considerable powers”.
Belfast Crown Court trial judge Mr Justice Weir was
speaking after he heard allegations that two brothers of a
former UDA drug dealer made “unfriendly comments” to him as
he went into the witness box to give evidence against six
Co Down men.
After directing police to investigate the judge said he did
not know if there was any substance to allegations that the
men had said anything to witness Frederick Hamilton but
interference with the proceedings was “punishable by a
lengthy prison sentence”.
“If I get any suggestion whatever that there is an attempt
to interfere with witnesses, I have considerable powers,
including the power to revoke bail, and I will not hesitate
to use them if necessary,” he said.
The judge heard Frederick Hamilton claim that towards the
end of 2002 and up until March 2003, he was dealing in
cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines for the UDA in
In the dock denying UDA membership charges and a total of
27 drug-related offences, including supplying ecstasy,
cannabis and amphetamine, are Newtownards men Richard
Cedric Barry (35), of Cairndore Way, Robert Philip
Montgomery (34) of Scrabo Road, David Swindle (41) of East
Street, Arthur McChesney of Castle Street, Richard Hugh
Jackie Dalzell (25) from Mill Street and John Stephen
Miskimmin (37) of Georges Street.
Mr Barry also faces charges of blackmail, threatening to
kill and attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm on Noel
Lee, while Montgomery denies one charge of intimidation.
The case continues.
More New Evidence In Teenagers' Murders By Loyalists
By Chris Thornton
03 March 2006
More forensic evidence has emerged in the case of two
teenagers murdered by loyalists, six years after police
began investigating the killings.
The discovery is the second major advance by detectives
within a week, but it prompted renewed calls for an
explanation of why the evidence was not available earlier.
On Monday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a DNA link
has been found between a suspect and David McIlwaine, one
of the two teenage victims.
David and Andrew Robb were stabbed repeatedly by loyalists
linked to the UVF outside Tandragee in February 2000.
David McIlwaine's father, Paul, has called on the Police
Ombudsman to investigate the reasons why police did not act
on the evidence earlier.
Mr McIlwaine has maintained for several years that he
believed more evidence was available in the case.
A spokesman for the Ombudsman said an investigation into
police handling of the case is continuing.
"We are aware of the issue which has been raised by Mr
McIlwaine," he said.
"Our investigation is ongoing and as such it would be
inappropriate to comment at this time."
But Mr McIlwaine said he was told the Ombudsman's
investigation had all but formally closed before these
He said he had been told that a draft report concluded that
police carried out "a thorough and professional
The PSNI has refused to comment on the case.
Republicans Commemorate Hunger Strikers After 25 Years
By Staff Reporter
Catherine Morrison outlines some of the many events planned
over the coming months to mark the 25th anniversary of the
1981 Hunger Strikes
REPUBLICANS are preparing to mark the 25th anniversary of
the 1981 Hunger Strike with a packed programme of events.
In one of the most defining periods of republican and Irish
history, 10 men died over a period of eight months to
secure special category status in the H-blocks of the Maze
Bobby Sands became the first to lose his life, on the 66th
day his hunger strike, a month after being elected to the
House of Commons in a by-election.
Dozens of others were killed as rioting erupted on the
streets as the deaths continued.
This year is also the 30th and 32nd anniversary of the
deaths on hunger strike of Co Mayo men Frank Stagg and
Jim McVeigh, chairman of the National 1981 Hunger Strike
Commemoration Committee, said the courage and bravery
displayed by all the hunger strikers should be celebrated.
“This year is not just about remembering and commemorating
the men who died, it is also about celebrating their
lives,” he said.
“For many people, especially those with a personal
connection to the strikers, it is very sad and raw.
“For many republicans, it was our 1916.
“It was an event that catapulted a whole new generation of
republicans into the struggle, including myself,” Mr
“From a historical perspective, it’s one of the defining
moments of modern republicanism and it brought tens of
thousands of people into the struggle.
“To me, it is like a heartbeat ago – it just doesn’t seem
like 25 years has passed.
“I can remember as clearly the night Bobby Sands died. I
was 16 years old.”
Months of planning have gone into hundreds of anniversary
vigils, lectures and social, theatrical and sporting events
which willtake place across the north over the coming
The centrepiece will be a national commemoration rally
featuring singer Frances Black on Sunday August 13 at
Dunville Park in west Belfast.
New plays, books, murals and films on the hunger strike
will be published and scr-eened and an exhibition featuring
original artefacts from the time will embark on a tour of
Ten thousand copies of specially-designed calendars will
also be distributed featuring iconic images of the hunger
Mr McVeigh said: “Our objective this year is to bring Bobby
Sands and the rest of the boys to a new generation of Irish
“Hunger strikers going into schools to talk to pupils about
what it was really like at that time.
“They’re bringing artefacts with them like the transistor
radios that were smuggled in and the comms
“It brings it to life that whole period of history.”
SAMPLE OF EVENTS IN THE COMING MONTHS
• Torchlit procession to Black Mountain for lighting of
30ft monument in shape of a ‘H’, and vigils to mark
beginning of the hunger strike at O’Connell Street GPO,
• Debate on Irish language at Stormont’s Long Gallery to
mark Bobby Sands’ birthday. Also launch of new book on
Bobby Sands by Denis O’Hearn at St Mary’s College in
• Third annual James Connolly Memorial Lecture on theme of
the hunger strike, Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin
• Commemoration at Ford’s Cross hunger strike memorial,
• John Dempsey commemoration at Falls Road bus depot
• Candelit vigil to mark death of Bobby Sands – vigils will
also be held on anniversary of every hunger striker’s death
in various areas
• Bobby Sands lecture with international guest speaker at
Devenish complex, west Belfast. Also parade in Kilcoo, Co
Down and unveiling of mural and vigil at Market Square,
• Hunger strike march at Altanhamman Park, Ballycastle, Co
• Unveiling of mural to commemorate death of hunger striker
Sean McGaughey at Brompton Park, north Belfast
• Camlough, south Armagh, weekend of events in memory of
• Night of poetry, prose and song performed by former
prisoners at Long Kesh
• Weekend of events to mark election of Kieran Doherty as
• Launch of commemorative blanket designed by Eilish
Reilly, sister of Joe O’Donnell and the Tar Annall 50+
• Torchlit procession at Galbally, Co Tyrone
• Launch of Kevin Lynch book by author Aidan Hegarty at St
Canice’s GAA club, Dungiven, Co Derry
• Launch of North Belfast Hunger Strike DVD
• National commemoration rally at 1pm, Dunville Park, west
• Vigil at Long Kesh. Former hunger strikers will read
concluding statement of 1981 strike. Torchlit processions
to mark end of strike at Bellaghy and Derry
• In addition, a National Hunger Strike exhibition will be
touring Ireland over the coming months.
Films documenting and dramatising the events surrounding
the strike will also be screened.
For a full catalogue of events see http://www.hungerstrike81.com/
or contact 028 9074 0817
Sinn Féin urges action now
Shadow assembly not an option – Adams
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams last night urged the
British government to fully restore the North’s assembly.
Mr Adams led a senior Sinn Féin delegation to Downing
Street for talks with the British government after
Wednesday’s meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.
Mr Adams revealed that direct rule Northern secretary Peter
Hain confirmed the British government would support
troubled west Belfast firm TriVirix to continue one month’s
“It is important that every effort is now made to ensure
that a buyer is found for the company within the next four
weeks,” Mr Adams said.
Calling for the assembly to be restored fully, Mr Adams
said continued suspension was an outrage.
“Our view is that the suspension of the assembly should be
lifted. Quite quickly after that the mechanism to have an
executive elected should be triggered.”
Mr Adams advised the British government of his party’s
strong opposition to the DUP proposal of a shadow assembly.
Democratic Unionist Party assembly member Ian Paisley Jnr
claimed that it was hypocritical for Mr Adams to complain
the assembly had not met.
“One move which would be absurd would be to put Sinn
Féin/IRA into government positions which they are clearly
incapable of holding,” the North Antrim MLA said.
“Government positions are for democratic parties and until
Sinn Féin/IRA meets the democratic standard they will have
to be content with looking in from the outside.”
The deputy leader of the Alliance Party Naomi Long
cautioned the British and Irish governments against taking
any shortcuts back to devolution.
“The Secretary of State is absolutely right that the
current situation of suspension cannot continue
indefinitely,” the East Belfast MLA said.
“However, if he wants to see lasting progress made in the
timescale he is outlining, which we in Alliance certainly
do, then he needs to get a serious, intensive and inclusive
process under way now which can actually address all of the
barriers to restoration of the assembly.
“It is not good enough just to set up the assembly as was
and hope it will all work out. The governments know that
the structural problems which plagued the last assembly are
“It would be reckless to attempt to restore the assembly,
without addressing those weaknesses as part of the
Bobby Sands: Prisoners’ Resolve Is Strengthened In The Face
Of Increasing Adversity
In the fifth excerpt from the Denis O’Hearn biography Bobby
Sands: Nothing But an Unfinished Song, the brutality of the
screws makes a second hunger strike inevitable
On the morning of New Year’s Day, Bobby’s family visited
him. He intended to tell them that he would be leading a
new hunger strike. But he couldn’t. Instead, he asked Adams
to get someone to tell them. A week later, Bobby was
finalising the details of a new hunger strike where he
would undoubtedly be the first to die. He even sent out a
short biography of himself for use in publicity.
Threats of a hunger strike began to have an effect on the
authorities, however. On January 15, Governor Hilditch came
to Bobby’s cell to talk to him about the situation. He said
he needed some time to think about how to respond to the
prisoners’ offer to come off of the no-wash protest in
order to test how far the authorities would change the
regime. He asked for a week’s moratorium on any new protest
by the prisoners while he considered the situation.
Bobby gave the governor one further by saying that “as an
indication of our good will and willingness and sincerity”
he would move ten men from his own wing and ten others from
H5 off of the no-wash protest. They would wash, shave, and
slop out. Bobby and Bik MacFarlane thought that they, too,
could use a bit of time to re-examine their position. In
the meantime, they could test what Hilditch meant when he
told Sands that the “prison regime was not static and was
The blanketmen gave Governor Hilditch his week. A wing of
prisoners from H3 (Bobby’s wing) and another from H5
(Séanna Walsh’s wing) moved into clean cells with furniture
and beds. They began washing. Bobby sent out word to the
families to bring their clothes the following Friday. If
the governor let them in, things could proceed further,
step-by-step. If the authorities failed this first test,
protest would be back on the agenda.
Did Bobby seriously think that the prison authorities would
move on the clothing issue? Clearly not. Rather, he had to
prove to his own people that he had gone the last mile
before calling on them to mobilise once again for a hunger
strike. By taking the step of moving into clean wings and
forcing the governor’s hand, Bobby’s primary goal may have
been to move his own comrades, not his enemies.
After shaves and haircuts, the prisoners were new men.
“Bed’s breaking my back,” Bobby wrote Liam Óg. “We’re not
used to such comforts . . . writing on a table is strange,
sitting on a chair. Men saw themselves in the mirror last
week for the first time in almost three years. It was
frightening, especially for Rasputin, or I mean Bik.”
Beginning on Friday, January 23, families arrived at Long
Kesh with packages of clothes. On Sunday, Bobby sent a
message to Séanna Walsh to have his men ready for Tuesday
night. If they did not have their own clothes by then, they
would smash their furniture and trash their cells at 9pm.
He wrote to the movement, telling them his plans for
Tuesday night. They were not amused. Liam Óg frantically
sent comms to Bobby on Monday and Tuesday, instructing him
to call off the protest. Bobby got the comms but he never
gave Walsh the message.
“The sagart [priest] didn’t appear,” he wrote to Liam Óg as
an excuse for not passing on his instructions.
Technically, this was true. But the missing priest was
convenient. Bik MacFarlane is definitive that he and Bobby
decided to send a clear signal to the authorities that they
“meant business”. They also wanted to put their own people
into a clear frame for action.
The movement was on a completely different wavelength. They
thought that smashing the furniture was the beginning of a
transition period back into the dirty protest. They were so
opposed to the second hunger strike that they did not
realise how far into that strategy the prisoners had
Tuesday came and there were no clothes. Since Séanna Walsh
had not heard the instruction to cancel the protest, Bobby
decided he also had to go ahead. He wrote the movement that
“H5 were going to move. So, rather than halt on the move,
we all moved”.
At nine o’clock on Tuesday night “the lads gave the
furniture the message”. They broke up their wooden beds,
the tables, and chairs. Some tried to break out their
windows. After half an hour, ten warders came to Bobby’s
wing. Whatever the prisoners expected, what happened was
even worse. The warders moved them from B-wing to C-wing,
and “they didn’t allow them to walk over, instead they
grabbed them by the hair and run them over, kicking and
punching the whole time”.
According to Bobby, six men were thrown over a table. The
cheeks of their behinds were torn apart by screws.
“Comrade, this is sexual assault,” he wrote to Liam Óg.
The same thing was happening over in H5. The screws
organised a gauntlet between the clean wing and the dirty
wing. Each prisoner was beaten to a pulp as he ran from his
clean cell to the new dirty cell. Men who were waiting to
be moved listened to the shouting and the screaming,
waiting in horror for their own turn. Bobby described the
scene that awaited them: “C-wing has just been vacated . .
. The cells were bogging, covered in excreta, also puddles
of water on cell floors where the cleaner had begun work.”
The prisoners were left in darkness in filthy cells, with
no water to drink, no beds, and “not even a bloody
blanket”. All they had was the towel they wore around their
waist. The men who went through that night agree that it
was the worst night of their lives. They were freezing.
They were sore. And it was one thing to live in your own
shit; being thrown into another man’s shit was positively
Bobby organised a singsong to keep them going. Each man
walked up and down his cell, trying to keep warm, singing
along to the songs. But before long, they’d had enough.
They just tried to concentrate on getting some heat into
themselves – walking up and down, sitting down and then
getting up, rubbing their bodies and hopping from foot to
foot. But Bobby kept going, trying to take everyone’s mind
off of the conditions. All night long he just kept up a
constant banter, singing away on his own, shouting down:
“Are you all right? C’mon boys!”
All night, while Bobby kept up their spirits, prisoners
rang the buzzers to call the warders. No one came. One
prisoner took sick twice in the middle of the night but no
one came to help. It was eight o’ clock the next morning
before the warders came back on the wing. When they
arrived, six men had to go to the doctor.
The PO finally came at 10am and gave the men, in Bobby’s
words, “half a fuckin’ blanket each!” The governor came at
11am. Each man asked for a complaint form so that their
lawyer could charge Governor Hilditch with breaches of
prison rules. That afternoon, the warders left the dinner
sitting until it was cold and then distributed it to the
men. It was nearly 1:30am when they finally received
“We sat all night naked, up until five minutes ago, before
the bastards found it in themselves to give us blankets and
mattresses,” Bobby complained to Liam Óg. “The boys are
exhausted, the wing’s like a morgue, all asleep . . . I’m
away for a sleep, think I’m sleeping now!”
Bobby Sands booklaunches:
Belfast: Thursday, March 9, 7pm, St Mary’s College, Falls
Dublin: Friday, March 10, 7pm, Pádraig Pearse Centre,
Dundalk and Drogheda: Monday, March 13, Barlow House,
Drogheda, 5.30pm; Imperial Hotel, Dundalk, 8pm.
Derry, Tuesday, March 14. Details to be confirmed.
Mid-Ulster, Wednesday, March 15, 7pm, Mid-Ulster Republican
Omagh Bomb Accused May Call FBI Agent
By Barry McCaffrey
Solicitors for a Co Armagh man accused of making the Omagh
bomb say they will call an FBI agent as a defence witness
to prove their client’s innocence.
Electrician Sean Hoey (36) of Molly Road, Jonesborough in
south Armagh denies charges that he made a series of Real
IRA bombs, including a device which killed 29 people,
including a pregnant woman with twins, in Omagh in August
However Mr Hoey’s solicitors say they have informed the
Public Prosecution Service (PPS) that they want to
interview FBI agent David Rupert over claims that he had
informed the security services of the identity of the Real
IRA's bomb makers at that time.
Earlier this month it was claimed that MI5 had failed to
pass on information to the RUC that the Real IRA planned to
target Derry and Omagh in April 1998.
PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde later denied that MI5
had failed to pass on relevant information about the Omagh
bomb, stating that the information had related to another
Real IRA unit.
Hoey’s solicitors say they want to interview Mr Rupert over
claims he identified the Real IRA’s chief bomb makers to
his handlers at that time.
It is understood the electrician was not among those named
by the FBI agent as the Real IRA’s bombmakers.
Solicitor Peter Corrigan said: “I have written to the PPS
to ask them to make arrangements so that we can speak to Mr
Rupert and view the evidence which was passed to MI5.
“We believe Mr Rupert may have passed on material to the
intelligence services which can prove that my client was
not involved in the making of the TPUs [timer power units]
used by the Real IRA at the time of the Omagh bomb.” Mr
Hoey’s trial is not expected to begin until October.
Laird In Lords Bid To Axe PSNI Religion Quotas
By Brian Walker
03 March 2006
A bid to abolish the 50:50 quotas for Catholic and "other"
recruits for the PSNI is being made in the House of Lords
Unionist peer Lord Laird argues that the quota system for
levelling up the proportion of Catholics in the force
violates fundamental European anti-discrimination law by
allowing religious discrimination.
He also claims it discriminates against whichever religious
group is in the majority in each pool of police applicants.
As part of a co-ordinated campaign against the quotas, a
rejected police applicant is to seek High Court permission
to appeal to the European Court of Justice against the
scheme, probably next month.
Lord Laird welcomes the fact that 36% of police applicants
are Catholic but, he argues, this is due to SDLP support
for policing and not due to 50:50, "which doesn't work".
Thirty-six per cent of recruits are women without "reverse
discrimination" proving, he claims, it is not necessary.
Lord Laird was also asking peers: "Why was it right to ban
religious discrimination for 30 years and then to enact
direct religious discrimination in 2000," the year the
Patten policing reforms were introduced?
Under the Freedom of Information Act, he has applied to the
Chief Constable to disclose the raw data on recruitment.
And he has challenged Lord Patten to disclose the name of
the lawyer who advised him that the rule was lawful.
In a letter to Lord Laird, Lord Patten says he strongly
disagrees with the attempt to scrap the quotas: "I believe
our proposals have worked extremely well."
Love Ulster Group Hoping To Hold March In Dublin
03/03/2006 - 12:15:15
The organisers of last Saturday's contentious loyalist
march in Dublin have said they want to restage the event at
a future date.
The so-called Love Ulster parade, arranged by the loyalist
victims group FAIR, was cancelled after hundreds of rioters
attacked gardaí and blocked the route along O'Connell
Speaking at a press conference in Belfast today, FAIR
founder Willie Frazer said he wanted to hold the march in
the future, but would only do so if the Irish authorities
guaranteed it would not be attacked.
Asked about the matter this morning, the Taoiseach, Bertie
Ahern, said it was up to the Gardaí to decide if the march
should be allowed to go ahead given the violent scenes of
Republican Sinn Féin, meanwhile, has vowed to mount another
protest if the march is allowed to take place.
He said the march was being portrayed as a remembrance for
victims of republican violence, but was actually a show of
"If these people are genuine in what they claim to be, the
question I would need to pose is why the need for the
loyalist paraphernalia," he said.
Opin: Exclusion Is Politics Of Failure And The Past
The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney
What were the British and Irish governments, the SDLP and
the DUP doing when they tried to exclude Sinn Fein from
negotiations 10 days ago?
Where did this silly proposal come from? Who suggested it?
Was it the British government, the Irish government, the
SDLP, the DUP?
What did those behind the exclusion proposal think would
happen? Did they think Gerry Adams would accept such an
Did they think he would meekly withdraw Sinn Fein’s
negotiators from the room and allow those opposed to Sinn
Fein free reign?
The proposal was not only unworkable it was undemocratic
and insulting to Sinn Fein and the tens of thousands of
people who vote for the party across this island.
The proposal raises questions about the intellectual
capacity of Britain’s secretary of state Peter Hain and the
Irish government’s foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern.
Sinn Fein had no prior warning of the proposal nor were
they aware the governments were thinking along these lines.
The first Sinn Fein knew about it was when Peter Hain
proposed to exclude Sinn Fein.
Gerry Adams’s swift response was as you would expect. He
accused the two governments of ambushing Sinn Fein and
trying to turn back the clock 10 years to an earlier period
when both governments excluded Sinn Fein from negotiations
at Dublin Castle.
It did not work then when Sinn Fein had less political
strength. It had no chance now with Sinn Fein’s enhanced
So what is it all about?
It is hard not to believe that those advocating exclusion
are doing so to suit the current needs of the DUP.
The DUP are trapped in a situation of their own making. On
the one hand they know they have to share power with
nationalists and republicans yet they have not prepared
their party for what they consider is a seismic shift on
Whereas in the past David Trimble was looking fearfully
over his shoulder at a menacing DUP, the DUP leadership is
now looking fearfully over its shoulder at the menacing
rebels in its own ranks.
Instead of pandering to the DUP the two governments should
be confronting them with the reality that the days of
unionist majority rule are over.
They foolishly think they can deal with the DUP’s tactics
by appeasing them. They are preoccupied with locking the
DUP into some sort, any sort, of negotiating process, even
one which is flawed and undemocratic.
In their desperation they are floundering around testing
absurd ideas, like last week’s.
It is easy to understand why the British government would
side with the DUP. They do after all swim in the same
But why are the Irish government and the SDLP swimming
alongside them? The Irish government have a national
responsibility to safeguard and promote the interests of
all the people of this nation.
The nation includes the people who live in the six as well
as the 26 counties. After deluding themselves for decades
that the nation stops at the border this might be difficult
for the Irish government to accept.
But it is one of the new realities they face as a result of
the peace process.
At all times but especially when times are difficult, like
now, the democratic imperative for the Irish government is
to think and act in the national interest.
They might think it is in their sectional or indeed
electoral interest to exclude Sinn Fein, or make them look
unreasonable but this is putting the interests of Fianna
Fail and the PDs above the national interest.
Serving the national interest means upholding the peace
process, opposing parties like the DUP or anyone else,
including the British government, who seek to undermine it.
Serving the national interest also means being on the side
of northern nationalists against whom a great wrong has
been and is being committed.
The SDLP also need to publicly explain their support to
exclude Sinn Fein.
Partition and the society which emerged from it was
purposely designed to exclude nationalists.
The Irish government and the SDLP know this well. Exclusion
is the politics of failure and the past.
Under no guise should it be advocated.
Opin: Ireland's Green And Unpleasant Land
By Eric Waugh
03 March 2006
If I had been organising the Love Ulster procession in
Dublin last Saturday, I would have left the Union flags at
It was not meant to be that kind of occasion and it should
not have been made to look as if it was.
Flags should not be used to provoke - ever.
By carrying them in Dublin, the Love Ulster brigade lowered
themselves to the level of those who flaunt Irish
tricolours before Belfast City Hall on St Patrick's Day to
provoke unionists. St Patrick's Day is not that kind of
But the flag business was the only offence the visitors to
In every other respect, they were victims.
Their treatment confirms the presence in the Republic of as
rich a seam of bigotry as that which - to our cost - we
know exists within Northern Ireland. But there is a
The freedom to parade and march north of the border remains
contentious. But, within the limits imposed by the
segregation of the two communities, there is freedom of
expression: no one, no vested interest, can shut anyone up.
In Dublin on Saturday it was confirmed that freedom of
expression there is readily denied.
I say "confirmed" for it has long been a fact that the
unionist voice and the Protestant voice enjoy only
conditional freedom of expression in the Republic.
Many southern Protestants would deny this. Saturday's
disgraceful melee says otherwise.
The patent embarrassment of Government spokesmen was very
obvious. But they had the honesty to confront evil when
they saw it and to condemn it without any mealy-mouthed
They deserve some sympathy. The people of Northern Ireland
have been here before. They know the public humiliation,
the feeling of helplessness, the impatience of the
peaceable majority for action against looters and thugs:
but how to act?
I think the first step is for southerners frankly to
contemplate the society which, eight decades after the
foundation of the state, they have created: for,
fundamentally, it is a sectarian creation.
Denied the normal left-right division in political choice,
all that is left for southern Irish voters is shades of
The missing option is the unionist voice: missing, not
because no one would espouse it, but because its proponents
were systematically bullied into silence in the 1920s, or,
if they refused to be silent, bullied out of the state - or
A Protestant community which numbered 400,000 at the time
of Parnell in the 1880s shrank to little more than half
that number before partition.
Between 1911 and 1926 it was halved again. Between January
1922 and March 1923, 139 country houses of the
overwhelmingly Church of Ireland gentry, many of them
treasure houses of great beauty whose families had shaped
Irish history, were burned to the ground by de Valera's
Irregulars, opponents of Collins' Anglo-Irish Treaty of
The effect was to wipe the Protestant-unionist strand from
the body politic.
The 80 Orange Halls in the 26 counties before 1914,
although they pledged loyalty in 1922 to "the Government
under which, against our will, we are placed", steadily
crumbled: some burned, the members of others intimidated.
WT Cosgrave, struggling head of the new Government,
honestly admitted their right to march, but said he could
not guarantee it. The result is that, even now, Protestant
representation in the Dail is limited to two deputies among
166, Seymour Crawford (Fine Gael) and the Green Party
leader, Trevor Sargent: a representation of 1.2%.
Similarly, the national police force, the Garda, with a
strength of some 12,000, contains but 14 Protestants, equal
to 0.12%. It would never do north of the border. Even in
the darkest days of disorder, the RUC was never so
Remarkably, though, a higher proportion of the Republic's
population is mainland British-born than is the case in
Northern Ireland. But that nucleus, some 250,000, remains a
notably Trappist bunch. Their voice is not to be heard
politically and little socially.
After Saturday, anyone still wondering should know why.
The effect on the Love Ulster visitors was predictable. One
chap, "not a member of any organisation", declared "never
again" would he go to Dublin.
A woman from Co. Armagh, significantly, on her first visit,
said she would be unlikely to set foot there again.
This, presumably, was what the street hooligans wanted to
hear. But for the state as a whole the challenge is
daunting. Is the Republic's quest for a pluralist society
just a sham? If so they may let go of what is left of the
Agreement, to the fragments of which they cling with such
Opin: Clean Hands Are Not Always Innocent Hands
By Denis Bradley
As very young children we used to play a silly game. We sat
on our hands for as long as we could. We then compared
hands to see who had the most crinkly fingers and palms. If
we sat on our hands long enough we always ended up with
pins and needles.
In every political conversation at the moment someone or
other will refer to the DUP and describe them as sitting on
their hands. When you talk to people in or around the DUP
they will admit that sitting on their hands is precisely
what they are doing and they have every intention of
continuing doing it for the foreseeable future. They give
the strong impression that they are quite comfortable in
that position and they are having no sensation of pins and
The DUP appear to be genuinely convinced that they hold the
high moral ground of democratic integrity. They point out
that they attract the highest vote of any of the political
parties and that they hold primacy in their support for law
and order. They see themselves as the ones who are driving
the IRA into surrender. They ward off every challenge and
argument with a reference to these principles and wag a
moral finger at others who do not agree or defer to their
position. They are even showing signs of believing that
they are attracting many of the nationalist community on to
this solid moral ground.
It is an interesting position and, it has to be admitted,
it is very clever. It should also be admitted that it is a
very dangerous position and one that verges on being
Morality is the most difficult of all the
philosophical/theological disciplines. It is subject to and
dependent upon so many other disciplines. All morality
surrounds itself with a cluster of beliefs and stories that
support and underpin the whole enterprise. And those
beliefs and those stories have to be placed in a context
that gives some clarity to the motivation that underpins
All of us on this island are tasked with finding our
morality within the story that is Anglo/Irish history. That
is the task of the two governments and all of our political
parties. The story that is Anglo/Irish history is where we
live; it is what underscored and motivated so much violence
and death and it is what remains to be resolved.
The DUP answer to this accusation is that they are quite
willing to play their part in this story by standing out
against the presence of the IRA, while at the same time
being prepared to share power in a government with the
SDLP. Again, interesting. Except it fails to admit that
they are imposing their version of morality not just on the
SDLP but also on all the other political parties. The
morality that Irish nationalism has adopted, based on its
reading of the Anglo/Irish story, is one that has
persuaded, cajoled and pressurised the IRA into ceasing its
campaign and giving up its arms. That strategy has been
pretty successful and it is founded on a much sounder moral
base than anything the DUP has yet offered. It is also
founded on an intelligent and comprehensive reading of the
history of these two islands.
But the context and the motivational issues that must
inform morality go way beyond that simple analysis. The DUP
has a history. Its attitude and its behaviour during all
the years of the Troubles sits heavily on the scales of
responsibility for initiating and sustaining those same
Troubles. They have promoted and provoked attitudes and
policies that are narrow, sectional and self-interested.
They claim that the motivation behind those attitudes
arises from a proper desire to achieve reassurance for
their own supporters and the broad unionist community. They
claim that their people do not trust republicans. But the
context is that the republican community and the broad
nationalist community equally need reassurance from the
DUP. That community does not trust the DUP.
The DUP position of sitting on their hands actually reveals
a breakdown of forensic concepts of morality at a time and
in a context where what is needed is a respect for the
human reality of each situation. Without this respect,
principles have no meaning in concrete life.
In Biblical and theological terms it is the equivalent to
Pilot washing his hands of the death of Christ.
Clean hands are not necessarily innocent hands.
Government ‘Failing’ North’s Irish Speakers
By Bimpe Fatogun
THE British government is failing to live up to its
obligations to Irish speakers in Northern Ireland a new
report has found.
The research into the implementation of the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was carried out
for Irish language umbrella group Pobal.
It identifies a number of areas where the administration
has failed to implement commitments signed up to in July
“The charter is not being implemented appropriately,” Janet
Muller, Pobal chief executive, said.
“There is a total lack of information and a total lack of
coordination and strategic direction coming from central
“The European charter has been implemented in such a way
that the Irish language remains a hidden language.”
The charter was signed by the department of foreign affairs
on behalf of Irish, Welsh and Scots Gaelic. However,
campaigners in the north claim that Irish is not enjoying
the same benefits and protections as the other two
languages because there is primary legislation protecting
them in each of the other jurisdictions.
The report has been forwarded to a EU committee of experts
who will send their finding to the committee of ministers
on the Council of Europe who can require the British
government to act.
At the report’s launch yesterday there were calls for the
introduction of a Language Act for the north as the only
guarantee of equality for Irish speakers
Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun, who is hosting a visit of
various Irish language group representative to the European
Parliament next week, said European monitoring is vital to
the Irish language sector.
However, she said the domestic legislation will prove to be
the most important factor in its future protection and
“The charter had been widely regarded as an opportunity to
elevate the Irish language onto a similar level as other
such languages throughout the EU,” she said.
“However, the British government is guilty of dragging its
feet and adopting a piecemeal approach to implementing its
“The report shows that the British government commitments
under the charter have not led to the requisite resolute
“This further strengthens the case for an Irish Language
Act for the north.”
The SDLP’s Dominic Bradley said Irish speakers have been
“disappointed and frustrated” at the lack of progress on
“even the most basic things”.
“I think that even though things are in a state of care and
maintenance at the moment, a lot more could be done by this
“At the very least there should be a plan for providing
services for Irish speakers,” he said.
Mr Bradley called for a model like that of Wales to be
introduced in the north.
Relatives Pay Visit To MP’s Birthplace
By Suzanne McGonagle Newry Correspondent
THE picturesque border village of Carlingford stepped back
in time yesterday when descendants of a renowned historian,
peace activist and poet returned to his birthplace.
D’Arcy Francis Quinn, a great-great-grandson of Thomas
D’Arcy McGee, was accompanied by his son during the visit
to the Canadian statesman’s 1825 home.
Relatives of the Co Louth native were given a guided tour
of the area where he was born and raised.
He has no direct descendants still living in Carling-ford.
However, the coastal village still harbours unique
connections to the historic figure.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee was born in Carlingford on April 13
1825, his father was a coastguard and his mother a Dublin
bookseller who was a veteran of the 1798 rebellion.
He was an active participant in the 1848 Young Ireland
movement and after the abortive uprising, escaped from
Inishowen in Co Donegal disguised as a priest on a vessel
bound for Philadelphia.
He then became a prominent advocate for Irish immigrant
rights and was the editor of several Irish/American
newspapers in the US.
McGee moved to Canada in 1857 where he later served as an
MP and was a ‘Father of the Canadian Confederation’.
However, after delivering a speech on Canadian unification
to the parliament, he was assassinated in Ottawa on April
His legacy was recognised by Trinity College Dublin.
Since his death his family have scattered to various parts
of the world.
His daughter Mary Euphrasia married Francis Quinn in Canada
and their son Thomas D’Arcy McGee Quinn – a Canadian
surgeon – emigrated to California to help with the 1906 San
Dr Quinn’s grandson – D’Arcy Francis Quinn – grew up in San
Francisco where he became a lawyer before moving to Paris.
Museum Appeal For 1916 Memorabilia
By Seamus McKinney
THE Co Donegal museum service has appealed for information
and material relating to the 1916 Easter Rising under plans
to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the event.
Several Donegal men took part in the rising, including
Joseph Sweeney from Burtonport. Mr Sweeney was educated at
Scoil Eanna, the school founded by 1916 leader Patrick
In Easter week 1916 he was part of the company of
volunteers who took over the GPO in Dublin and was
stationed on the roof of the building.
After the rising Mr Sweeney was imprisoned in England and
Another Co Donegal man, Donnacha McNellis, from
Glencolmcille, was known to have taken part in exchanges
with British forces in Macroom, Co Cork during Easter week
Anyone who can help has been urged to contact Caroline at
the Donegal County Museum at High Road, Letterkenny, on (00
353) 7491 24613 or Ciara at the Donegal County Archive on
(00 353) 7491 72490.
Soldiers Needed For No-Go Area Film
By Seamus McKinney
A DERRY film-maker has appealed to former British soldiers
who were in the city during the ‘Free Derry’ period to
assist him in his work.
Vinny Cunningham of Open Reel Productions is making a film
about the two-month period after the British army was
deployed on the streets of Derry in 1969.
No Go, The Free Derry Story will recall life in the city
between August 14 1969, when soldiers were first deployed
onto the streets of Northern Ireland, and October of the
During the infamous ‘Battle of the Bogside’, Derry’s
Bogside and Creggan areas had became no-go areas to British
forces. And while the soldiers were viewed in some quarters
as arriving to protect the north’s Catholic minority, the
no-go areas – known as Free Derry – continued to exist
right up until Operation Mot-orman in 1972.
The area became a virtual mini-state with its own services
– including Radio Free Derry and DJs Barricade Joe and
Barricade Bill – and other ways of dealing with daily life.
In the two months after the soldiers’ arrival in Derry the
army agreed not to enter and nine weeks passed before they
began forcing their way into the Bogside and Creggan.
Mr Cunningham – who with John Peto is responsible for the
award-winning documentary Battle of the Bogside – said it
is this period that he is particularly interested in.
“We are dealing with all that period of the barricades. The
barricades were replaced with a white line and we have
found some brilliant footage of the British army standing
on one side of the white line and nationalists on the
other,” Mr Cunningham said.
He said that while there were many in Derry who lived
through and took part in Free Derry, he was keen to speak
to people from a British or unionist perspective with
memories of the era.
He said he was particularly keen to hear from former
British soldiers who arrived in Derry during that two-month
Mr Cunningham said there may even be some former soldiers
who married and settled down in Northern Ireland after
arriving in Derry in August 1969.
He urged anyone who could assist the film-makers in any way
to contact him at Open Reel Productions at 028 7128 5072 or
121 Jobs To Go In Dublin And Mayo
03 March 2006 12:39
121 jobs are to be lost with factory closures in Dublin and
Forty jobs are to be lost at the Oasis Watercoolers
manufacturing plant in Ballina, Co Mayo.
Workers were told that the company plans to transfer its
manufacturing operation to Poland.
It said the decision had been forced on it by increased
The company, whose parent firm is based in Ohio in the US,
is to retain 15 jobs in Ballina. It came to Ballina in 1992
and at its peak employed a workforce of over 100.
The town's Chamber of Commerce has said the decision is a
further blow to the town, which has lost 1,300 jobs in the
past nine years.
Elsewhere, 81 jobs are to go at the PCTEL factory in
Finglas in Dublin. The parent company, based in Chicago,
said the PCTEL's financial losses are now at an
Plans are now underway to transfer the technology operation
to Eastern Europe.
Coldest Night In Ireland For 10 Years
03/03/2006 - 10:22:51
Last night was the coldest night in a decade, Met Éireann
Air temperatures plunged as low as minus 8C for the first
time since Christmas 1995.
The National Roads Authority also recorded road surface
temperatures as low as minus 15C.
Met Éireann forecaster Gerald Fleming said the cold snap
will continue until Sunday.
He said: “Our weather station in Birr registered minus 5C
last night, while others in Kilkenny, Shannon and Monaghan
went as low as minus 3C.
“The last time it was as cold was in Christmas and New Year
period in 1995/1996.”
Road conditions remain dangerous, especially in parts of
western Connacht, Munster and the Midlands, as a result of
freezing conditions and snowfall in some parts overnight.
Tonight will also be bitterly cold again with temperatures
again falling as low as minus 6C in places.
Icy stretches are likely on many roads.
Met Éireann has forecast sleet and snow showers in the
north and west regions for later today.
Review: Mick - The Real Michael Collins
By Denis Donoghue The New York Times
Friday, March 3, 2006
Mick: The Real Michael Collins. By Peter Hart. 485 pp.
Viking. $27.95. MacMillan. £25.
Peter Hart considers that, "in the time allotted to him,"
Michael Collins "became the most ruthless, the most
powerful, the most calculating and the most successful
politician in modern Irish history." There is no disputing
Collins's ruthlessness, power and calculation. Success is
harder to measure. Collins's great onetime friend and
rival, Eamon de Valera, in the much longer time allotted to
him, was the most forceful presence in Ireland, through
victory and defeat, from the Easter Rising of 1916 to the
end of the civil war in April 1923; again from his coming
to power in 1932 to his loss of power in 1948; and yet
again when he returned as taoiseach (prime minister) from
1951 to 1954 and from 1957 to 1959. It was de Valera, not
Collins, who gave Irish people a sense of themselves as a
nation, mindful of their history and mythology, their
nearly lost language, their identity and difference. Even
when he moved to the mainly nominal office of president of
the Irish Republic, from 1959 to 1973, de Valera retained
much of his symbolic aura and maintained his dream of "the
republic." He was for good and ill a visionary, something
of a scholar, a mathematician, nearly a poet; Collins was a
pragmatist, determined to take one strong step at a time,
Michael Collins was born on Oct. 16, 1890, the youngest of
eight children, to Michael and Marianne Collins, a farming
couple in Woodfield, County Cork. At the age of 15, after a
nondescript education, he managed to pass the post office's
boy-clerkship examination and took up a job in London. He
consorted only with Irish emigrants like himself, joined
the Gaelic Athletic Association, played Gaelic football and
hurling with no great distinction. In 1908 he joined Sinn
Fein and the following year was sworn in as a member of the
Irish Republican Brotherhood. Moving from one minor job to
another, he apparently stayed in London till January 1916,
when he went back to Ireland and - in April - took part in
the Easter Rising. But he was not one of the leaders. On
the collapse of the rising, he was arrested and interned in
Frongoch, Wales, where for the first time he asserted
himself among his peers.
Released in December 1916, he returned to Dublin and a few
months later took a job as secretary to the Irish National
Aid and Volunteer Dependents Fund, an association to help
those who suffered for their participation in the rising.
This was an ideal job for Collins at that moment, because
it kept him in touch with men and women of similar
convictions: he used these connections to set up a
remarkably effective underground intelligence network.
During the war of independence, from 1919 to 1921,
Collins's spies infiltrated Dublin Castle, center of the
British administration in Ireland. His "Squad," as it was
called, was responsible for killing several senior
detectives and members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.
Not a natural-born killer, Collins killed for what he
regarded as cause. On Nov. 21, 1920, the Squad executed a
dozen British secret service agents. Fearless for his own
life, though with a price on his head, Collins stormed
through the streets of Dublin and thought himself
The aim of his insurgency was to make Ireland ungovernable
and to force the British to call a truce, to begin with,
and then to talk terms of peace, departure and
independence. In September 1921, de Valera, as president of
the Dail (the provisional government), chose Collins,
Arthur Griffith and five other men as the delegates to a
peace conference in London. A question is often asked: Why
did de Valera refuse to take part in the talks? Collins did
not want to go to London without de Valera, but in the end
he did. De Valera probably thought the talks with the
British prime minister, David Lloyd George, would fail to
achieve what he - de Valera - wanted: that the whole of
Ireland would be granted its independence, and that the
only tie with Britain would be "external association,"
whatever that meant.
What Collins, Griffith and their colleagues brought back
from London was much less than de Valera's dream. They got
dominion status for 26 of the 32 counties, with complete
independence in domestic affairs and fiscal matters. They
accepted under duress an obligatory oath of allegiance to
the crown. Naïvely, they took seriously the promise of a
boundary commission that might or might not propose to
reduce the size of Northern Ireland - already established
by the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 as the Six
Counties - in consideration of the demographic, religious
and cultural conditions in perhaps two counties, Tyrone and
Fermanagh. The Irish delegates thought these Articles of
Agreement were the best they could get, and they signed
them on Dec. 6, 1921. They were accepted by a narrow margin
of the Dail on Jan. 7, 1922. De Valera and the republicans
rejected the terms. A civil war was inevitable. In April
members of the Irish Republican Army occupied the Four
Courts in Dublin. The government - the Irish Free State -
did not respond till June 28, when it ordered its troops to
shell the Courts and drive the I.R.A. out. In July, Collins
became commander in chief of the Free State Army. One month
later - flamboyant to the end - he was traveling in the
back seat of an open car with a small convoy to protect
him, when they were ambushed by a few I.R.A. men in a small
valley in County Cork. Collins was shot to death, probably
killed by a ricochet.
Peter Hart's "Mick," a fine biography, concentrates on
Collins's work, the tasks he took on for the associations
he joined and ultimately for the provisional government:
minister of finance, a job he carried out brilliantly;
director of intelligence, the main source of his reputation
as a hero, daring beyond description; and commander in
chief of the army, in which he acted as if he had indeed an
army to inspect in full order and battle dress. According
to Hart (the author of "The IRA and Its Enemies"), the
secret of Collins's success is that he worked harder, and
at more tasks, than anyone else. If de Valera was one of a
kind, Collins was the perfection of a common kind. He did
not have "the moral stature of a Daniel O'Connell, a Martin
Luther King or a Nelson Mandela," but he had other
qualities, short of greatness. Hart's book is written with
immense verve, as if he wanted to acknowledge by the
rapidity of his own style the relentless pace of the man he
describes. He doesn't bother much with Collins's private
life, his fiancée (Kitty Kiernan), his dalliances with
women of high estate (Lady Hazel Lavery, Moya Llewelyn
Davies, Lady Edith Londonderry), his drinking and carousing
in London. There is plenty of such lore in Tim Pat Coogan's
"Michael Collins: A Biography" (1990), one of the reputed
sources for Neil Jordan's film "Michael Collins" (1996).
Hart's account of the peace talks is especially good, but I
wish he had explained more thoroughly why Griffith and
Collins and the rest allowed themselves to be intimidated
by Lloyd George and accepted his deadline, Dec. 6, 1921,
for the end of the talks. The threat of sending in
thousands of soldiers and destroying the Irish insurgents
seems to me to have been a bluff.
Denis Donoghue teaches Irish, English and American
literature at New York University.
Copyright © 2006 The International Herald Tribune
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