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April 15, 2006

Adams Calls For National Coalition for Irish Unity

 Ronnie Drew and Elenanor Shanley
Ronnie Drew and Elenanor Shanley: 'It's great not to get stuck in
the one genre, to broaden your horizons. We both find certain songs
simply strike a chord in us, and others might make a sort of a
whimsical impression on us, but that guides us towards the song
selections,' says Drew.

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News About Ireland & The Irish

SF 04/15/06 Gerry Adams Calls For A National Coalition For Irish Unity
BB 04/15/06 Assembly Must Have Powers - SDLP
BB 04/14/06 Moderator Turns Down RUC Invite
IT 04/15/06 Rising Ceremony Expected To Draw 100,000
BN 04/15/06 Plaque Honouring Youngest 1916 Volunteer To Be Unveiled
SF 04/15/06 McDonald Calls On Young People To Join The Campaign
RT 04/14/06 1916 Parade Not Party Political - Ahern
IT 04/15/06 DUP, UUP Decline Invites
BT 04/15/06 Rising Revolt
IT 04/15/06 Minister Criticised Over Pearse Centre
IT 04/15/06 Parades: Countrywide
IT 04/15/06 Breathing New Life Into 1916
EX 04/15/06 How Rising & Casement Fell Victim To Murphy’s Law In Kerry
IT 04/15/06 1916 - What Does It Mean To You?
SF 04/15/06 Irish Govt Must Deliver On Principles Of 1916 Proclamation
IT 04/15/06 Opin: Commemorating The 1916 Rising
IT 04/15/06 Opin: Rising A Catholic Revolt Against Redmondite Elite
IT 04/15/06 Opin: Revising The Rising
BB 04/15/06 Opin: Hard Tasks For Recalled Assembly
IM 04/15/06 Launch Of Book On Ó Brádaigh
SF 04/15/06 Adams Delivers Oration At Funeral Of Siobhan O'Hanlon
IT 04/15/06 Repeat Offenders May Avoid Jail In New Scheme
IT 04/15/06 Action Urged On Threat To Wildlife
IT 04/15/06 Ronnie Drew & Eleanor Shanley: Songs Sung True
IT 04/15/06 Marking 1,000 Years Of Religion
IT 04/15/06 Naked Actors Without Irish Need Not Apply


Gerry Adams Calls For A National Coalition For Irish Unity

Published: 15 April, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the Easter
Commemoration in Dublin this afternoon called on all those
who support Irish unity, regardless of political
affiliation, to come together in a national coalition for
Irish unity. He said

‘The Taoiseach has called for a return to the core values
of Irish republicanism. I welcome that call. That is what
the Easter commemoration is about. So, I urge the
Taoiseach to follow through on the logic of what he has

The men and women of 1916 were very definite about the type
of Republic they wanted to create. The Proclamation makes
that clear. In it they use words like sovereignty,
independence, equal rights, civil and religious liberties
and cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.

It is words and values like these that continue to guide
Sinn Féin in 2006.

Sinn Féin doesn't have all the answers but there are enough
people on the island of Ireland to make partition history
if we work together.

I want to send out a call to all those who support Irish
unity, regardless of political affiliation, to come
together in a national coalition for Irish unity.

I believe such a coalition could come together around three
basic principles.

the sovereignty of the people, to democracy in its fullest

unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter and the
rejection of sectarianism of any kind.

unity of this island and its people, national self-
determination, an end to partition and the establishment of
a sovereign 32-County Republic.

So there is a lot of work for all of us in the time ahead
if the Proclamation is to be made real.”

In relation to the peace process Mr. Adams said:

“The two governments are now faced with a stark choice. Are
they going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement or are
they going to continue to pander to rejectionist unionism.

The answer to that question will become clear before the
summer months.

The governments have said that they will lift the
suspension of the Assembly on May 15th. Sinn Féin will be
in Stormont that day. We will be there for one reason and
one reason only – the election of a government in line with
the Good Friday Agreement.

We are not interested in talking shops or shadow
assemblies. This also has to be the focus of the Irish and
British governments.

Republicans have taken the hard decisions over the past
number of years. We have honoured and stood by every
commitment entered into. Decision time now looms for
others. And I speak specifically of the DUP.

Ian Paisley has a decision to make. He has failed in his
campaign to smash Sinn Féin. He has failed in his bid to
see unionist majority rule returned. The only way Ian
Paisley will exercise political power is in an Executive
with Sinn Fein. I do not say that to be triumphalist in
any way. I say that because that is the reality, which
faces him today.

If Ian Paisley continues to refuse to recognise the rest of
us as equals then the two governments must deliver on their
commitment to jointly implement all other elements of the
Good Friday Agreement and increase substantially all-
Ireland harmonisation and management.

But regardless of the decisions taken by Ian Paisley,
either to share power or not - and I hope he decides to
share power - we as Irish Republicans have a mighty job of
work ahead of us.”ENDS

Full Text of speech

I want to dedicate these words today to our friend Siobhan
O Hanlon who died this week in Belfast.

90 years ago this Easter an alliance of Irish republican
organisations and others, including elements of the Irish
Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, Sinn Féin, the Irish
Republican Brotherhood, the woman's movement, trade
unionists and Irish language activists, rose up against
British rule in Ireland and declared a Republic.

On Easter Monday 90 years ago Pádraig Pearse stood on these
steps and read out The Proclamation of that Republic. Six
days later, and with the centre of this city in ruins the
leaders of the Army of the IrishRepublic ordered the

In the weeks which followed 15 of the leaders were
executed, and four months after that Roger Casement was
hanged in London.

The British hoped by the speed of their actions and the
scale of the executions that the flame of freedom would be
extinguished in Ireland. They were wrong.

At his court martial Pádraig Pearse got it exactly right:

'Believe that we, too, love freedom and desire it. To us it
is more desirable than anything in the world. If you strike
us down now, we shall rise again to renew the fight. You
cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish
passion for freedom.'

I believe that passion for freedom is to be found in the
heart of almost every Irish person - of every man and
woman. And why wouldn't it?

The desire for freedom, of the right to be treated properly
and with dignity, to be acknowledged and cherished in your
own place, is part of the human condition.

It is not uniquely Irish but for those of us who are Irish
there is no better cause than the struggle for the freedom
of our island and the emancipation of our people.

In my view the vast majority of Irish people recognise
this. That is why the decision to re-establish the state
commemoration of 1916 is a popular decision.

That is why O’Connell Street will be thronged with people

That is why in every county on this island, and in the
United States and Canada and Australia, and in England and
other parts of the world, Irish republicans will gather to
celebrate and commemorate the men and women of 1916 and of
all the generations since then.

I welcome the reinstatement of the government’s
commemoration of 1916. It should never have been abandoned
in the first place.

And let us not forget that successive governments didn’t
just abandon this event, they also banned other

On one shameful occasion, the daughter of James Connolly,
Nora Connolly O’Brien, by then an old woman, was arrested
here for daring to do what Irish republicans have never
failed to do – to honour our patriot dead.

The Taoiseach has recently said that tomorrow's state event
is to commemorate what the Irish Defence Forces have done
for the state and for the United Nations. That is a good
thing to do - but it is not what the Easter Commemoration
will be about.

Since 1916 there has been an almost continuous struggle for
the liberation of our country and the freedom of our
people. It's little wonder that this struggle is so well
known in the history of freedom struggles, not only here
but also throughout the world.

I am proud to be part of that struggle. It is a struggle
which continues. There is now a need for a great national
effort to bring it to a conclusion. The Irish government
should be part of that effort.

The Core Values of Republicanism

The Taoiseach has called for a return to the core values of
Irish republicanism. I welcome that call. That is what the
Easter commemoration is about.

The heart and soul of Irish republicanism - its core
values - are to be found in the Proclamation of 1916. It
is suggested, by some within the Irish establishment, that
the Proclamation has been delivered on. This is a great

Yes, there has been progress and no one can gainsay that.
Yes, there has been a lot of great work done. But in truth
The Proclamation is unfinished business.

It is unfinished business which the vast majority of the
Irish people want to see brought to completion.

Are there any real doubts about where Tom Clarke, Sean Mac
Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh; Pádraig Pearse; Ceannt,
Connolly or Joseph Plunkett, would stand on the great
issues of our time?

The Proclamation is about self-determination and democracy.
Does anyone think that the men and women of 1916 would
settle for a partitioned Ireland?

Does anyone believe that they would block northern
representatives being accorded speaking rights in the Dáil?

Does anyone believe that they would settle for anything
less than an active engagement with the British government
and unionism to promote and seek support for reunification?

The Proclamation promises to cherish all the children of
the nation equally.

Today, despite the unprecedented prosperity in the Irish
economy we have one of the most inequitable societies in
the developed world.

In this state one in seven of our children live in poverty.

There is a two-tier public/private health care system which
is grossly unequal. We have hospitals in which patients
linger on trolleys.

There was never any excuse for this type of system. But at
a time of great wealth such conditions are a direct result
of a policy which holds that inequality is good for
society. It sees health as a private business, as opposed
to a public service.

The Proclamation says that the ownership of Ireland belongs
to the people of Ireland.

Successive governments have sold off natural resources to
powerful multi-national corporations. In their Proclamation
the ownership of Ireland belongs to Shell or to the
National Toll roads and other big businesses.

This government is also about the business of selling off
public or state bodies to their cronies in the private

The ideology, which underpins the privatisation of our
health services is evident also in the sell-off of Aer
Lingus. What part of the Proclamation does this fulfil?

In 1916 Pearse and Connolly and Markeviez stood against the
war being waged by the big powers of that time. Today the
Irish government hands over Shannon airport to be used by a
big power waging war in Iraq in this time.

In the spirit of the Proclamation we also say it is vital
that the new communities who have made their home in
Ireland, people from all over the world who have come here
to work and study, should be made welcome.

So, I urge the Taoiseach to follow through on the logic of
what he has said.

The men and women of 1916 were very definite about the type
of Republic they wanted to create. The Proclamation makes
that clear. In it they use words like sovereignty,
independence, equal rights, civil and religious liberties
and cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.

It is words and values like these that continue to guide
Sinn Féin in 2006.

Sinn Féin doesn't have all the answers but there are enough
people on the island of Ireland to make partition history
if we work together.

I want to send out a call to all those who support Irish
unity, regardless of political affiliation, to come
together in a national coalition for Irish unity.

I believe such a coalition could come together around three
basic principles.

the sovereignty of the people, to democracy in its fullest

unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter and the
rejection of sectarianism of any kind.

unity of this island and its people, national self-
determination, an end to partition and the establishment of
a sovereign 32-County Republic.

So there is a lot of work for all of us in the time ahead
if the Proclamation is to be made real.

I hope that those in political leadership of all the
parties will put partisan politics to one side when the
Dáil returns and support Sinn Féin's motion to prevent the
sale and export of irreplaceable historical documents.

They should be kept here in Ireland and in the ownership of
the people.

Dialogue with Unionism

A central part of the work of Irish republicans in the time
ahead is to engage with unionists, to talk to, debate with,
but ultimately to seek to persuade unionists that their
future and that of their children, lies on this island.

The fact is that no British politician has ever governed in
any part of Ireland in the interests of nationalists and
republicans and unionists.

They have always governed and exercised power in British
interests. And they have used and exploited and deepened
the divisions and fears of people to advance British

The result has been exclusion, conflict, division,
inequality and poverty. And no section of our people has
been immune from these.

Why should a British Minister take decisions on the future
of our children?

Why should a British Minister have the power to decide the
priorities in our health or education services?

Irish republicans believe that in an independent and united
Ireland we have the best chance of effectively tackling
these issues.

Unionists have a different opinion. That's fine.

Let's talk about these matters. And let us begin by
reassuring unionists that we are not in the business of
coercing them into a united Ireland.

Instead as we seek to build a shared space in which we can
move forward we all must appreciate that, as some northern
protestants have said to me, 'the wise man builds his house
upon the rock'.

In this case that means a meaningful, working partnership
between nationalists and republicans, unionists and

I believe the opportunity to do that now exists.

The Peace Process

I believe there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the
historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green
in unity and justice and on the basis of equality.

And it exists in no small measure because of the courage
and wisdom of IRA Volunteers.

Since we last met in 2005 momentous events in Irish
politics and in the life of this country have taken place.

The announcement by the Irish Republican Army on 28 July to
formally end its armed campaign was a historic development.

I want to pay tribute to the Volunteers of the IRA for
taking this courageous and unprecedented step in order to
advance the cause of peace with justice in Ireland.

Despite the profound difficulties of all this for many
republicans, the IRA has provided a unique opportunity to
significantly advance the peace process and to open up a
new era in politics and relationships on this island and
between Ireland and Britain.

It is vital that this opportunity is availed of and the
peace process advanced.

This must include the release of all republican prisoners
and an end to the ongoing discrimination against republican
ex prisoners. It must include the full delivery of the
Good Friday Agreement.

Decision time for the governments and the DUP

So there are many challenges ahead. There are many
decisions to be taken. But the challenges presented by the
IRA initiative of last year are not confined to Irish

The two governments are now faced with a stark choice. Are
they going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement or are
they going to continue to pander to rejectionist unionism.

The answer to that question will become clear before the
summer months.

The governments have said that they will lift the
suspension of the Assembly on May 15th. Sinn Féin will be
in Stormont that day. We will be there for one reason and
one reason only – the election of a government in line with
the Good Friday Agreement.

We are not interested in talking shops or shadow
assemblies. This also has to be the focus of the Irish and
British governments.

Republicans have taken the hard decisions over the past
number of years. We have honoured and stood by every
commitment entered into. Decision time now looms for
others. And I speak specifically of the DUP.

Ian Paisley has a decision to make. He has failed in his
campaign to smash Sinn Féin. He has failed in his bid to
see unionist majority rule returned. The only way Ian
Paisley will exercise political power is in an Executive
with Sinn Fein. I do not say that to be triumphalist in
any way. I say that because that is the reality, which
faces him today.

If Ian Paisley continues to refuse to recognise the rest of
us as equals then the two governments must deliver on their
commitment to jointly implement all other elements of the
Good Friday Agreement and increase substantially all-
Ireland harmonisation and management.

But regardless of the decisions taken by Ian Paisley,
either to share power or not - and I hope he decides to
share power - we as Irish Republicans have a mighty job of
work ahead of us.

Building unity - building peace

An unprecedented opportunity to open up a new era in
politics both on this island and between Ireland and
Britain now exists. It is vital that we grasp this

Republicans have mapped out a peaceful path which can
deliver Irish unity. But we have to build a party which can
achieve it.

That means building a truly national movement. It means
recruiting more people. It means opening up our party. It
means building alliances with others. It means more
campaigning, more activism.

The events of the past year have placed a heavy
responsibility onto the shoulders of each and every one of
us here today.

I believe that the republican struggle is in better shape
today than at any time since partition. There are more
republicans on this island now than at any time in our
history. That is a good thing.

But there will be many battles in the time ahead.
Especially here in the capital. I want to commend all of
our Dublin members and activists – I want to commend you
for the mighty work you are doing.

In many ways you are the pace setters for the other parties
who envy our volunteerism and sense of idealism and energy.
I want also to commend our councillors and TDs and our MEP,
Mary Lou McDonald.

It was your success, which culminated in the election of
Mary Lou and triggered the most recent campaign of
vilification against us. That campaign has failed. But we
cannot be complacent.

The entire focus of the establishment parties has been
about stopping the growth of Sinn Féin, particularly in
this state and especially in this city.

Well, let me tell them that we have the leadership in
Dublin which will see off any effort to put us, or our
electoral base in second place.

We are a first class political party, representing first
class people, who have the right and the desire to build an
alternative to the mediocre politics of the other parties.

Building political strength is one of the key tasks, which
face us. It has been the historic failure to do this that
has allowed more conservative parties to engage in the
rhetoric, but not the reality of Irish republicanism.

A good example of this is to be found in the hunger strikes
of 25 years ago.

So as we gather today to remember the momentous events of
Easter week 90 years ago, we should also reflect on those
long and difficult months 25 years ago when a British
government cruelly and cynically allow ten of our comrades
to die on hunger strike.

The Irish government of the day stood back and let the
hunger strikers and their families down, safe in the
knowledge that republicans at that time had neither the
political strength nor organisation to stop them.

That is a lesson, which we all must learn from.

By this time 25 years ago Bobby Sands had already been
elected as MP in Fermanagh & South Tyrone. Thatcher had
already been exposed to the world for what she was.

But the struggle in the Blocks was to go on for another six
long and agonising months.

The women in Armagh and the men in the H Blocks were
extraordinary people who when faced with repression and
tyranny resisted in the only way they could.

Their stand, their determination to assert their rights and
the rights of the Irish people continue to inspire us, and
we owe them and their families a massive and continuing

It is vitally important that all of us use this anniversary
year to tell a new generation of Irish republicans the
story of 1981, just as it is vital that the idealism and
vision of 1916 is never lost.

So let us go from here today determined to complete their

Proud of the sacrifices of all our patriot dead. And
determined to make the Proclamation a reality.

Bobby Sands had a word for it, which echoed what Pearse and
Connolly said here 90 ago.

In the last entry in his diary he wrote: "If they aren't
able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won't break
you. They won't break me because the desire for freedom,
and the freedom of the Irish people, is in my heart.

The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have
the desire for freedom to show."

Comrades and friends let us go from here to continue the
work for that certain day.


Assembly Must Have Powers - SDLP

The SDLP will not take part in an assembly without power,
the party's deputy leader has said.

Alasdair McDonnell said his party was not interested in "an
insulting invitation" to engage in "pre-school playground"

He said there was no point in debating important matters if
they had no power to alter government policy.

The parties have been invited to return to Stormont on 15
May in a bid to restore devolved government.

Members will sit for an intitial six-week session before
rising for the summer.

Speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics programme, Dr
McDonnell said the SDLP would accept Northern Ireland
Secretary Peter Hain's invitation if the political parties
were given powers to alter decisions taken by direct rule

'Play group'

"If Peter Hain is saying to us, 'Yes, I 'll allow you guys
to make decisions on education and I'll allow you guys to
reverse some of the decisions my ministers have taken',
that's fine, then we will engage.

"But if it's just a question of having a pre-school play
group then we have no interest."

A deadline to restore devolution by 24 November was
unveiled in the "take-it-or-leave-it" plan, outlined by the
prime minister and the taoiseach in Armagh.

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern said the assembly would be
recalled on 15 May with parties being given six weeks to
elect an executive.

If that fails, the 108 members get a further 12 weeks to
try to form a multi-party devolved government.

If that attempt also fails, salaries will stop.

The British and Irish governments would then work on
partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday

Devolved government at Stormont was suspended in October
2002 following allegations of a republican spy ring.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/15 09:52:15 GMT


Moderator Turns Down RUC Invite

The Presbyterian Moderator Harry Uprichard has declined an
invitation to attend an inter-denominational service.

The service, scheduled for the first Sunday in June, is
held to mark the annual RUC George Cross Day.

Dr Uprichard said his decision was taken "simply and
purely" on the grounds of personal conscience regarding
joint worship.

"We are allowed that option as moderator and the church is
being represented," he said.

"I am more than happy and more than encouraged to support
the work of the RUC whatever the religious affiliations of
those connected with it are."

The Moderator said he appreciated "totally, completely and
absolutely, the fine work that has been done and is being
done in that particular aspect".

'Insuperable difficulties"

"My concern is that the involvement of inter-church worship
to that degree publicly aligns those of the reformed faith
with those not of the reformed faith," he said.

Dr Uprichard said there were "insuperable difficulties"
connected to interfaith worship and he felt it was
"incorrect to be so aligned under those circumstances".

"There are deep fundamental differences," he said.

"I respect those who disagree with me, I respect their
opinion but I disagree with it, feel I must agree to
disagree and that puts me in the position where I can't be
party to involvement."

The church's press officer, Stephen Lynas, said that "from
time to time" moderators would be prepared to involve
themselves in inter-church services.

"Consequently, we then are represented by a former
moderator who is prepared to represent our church in those
circumstances," Mr Lynas said.

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has about 300,000
members in over 560 congregations and is the largest
Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland.

Dr Uprichard ends his term as moderator in June. Reverend
David Clarke of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine will take

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/14 17:48:59 GMT


Rising Ceremony Expected To Draw 100,000

Fiona Gartland

Easter parade: Final preparations were being made in Dublin
yesterday in advance of tomorrow's Easter parade.

More than 100,000 spectators are expected for the ceremony
when 2,500 members of the Defence Forces will pass down the
main street of the capital.

The two-hour military parade, to commemorate the 90th
anniversary of the Easter Rising, will begin at Dublin
Castle and pass through Dame Street, College Green,
Westmoreland Street, O'Connell Street, and Parnell Square,
finishing on Western Way.

Comdt Brian Clery, Irish Defence Forces press officer, said
up to 100,000 spectators were expected on O'Connell Street

"Being such a historic occasion and the first time in many
years that such a thing has taken place, we're expecting
large numbers," he said.

"From calls I've received to my own office, there are
people planning to travel from far and wide around the
country to see the parade."

Dublin City Council sealed all litter bins along the route
of the parade yesterday on the advice of the Garda, and
road works on O'Connell Street have also been secured.

Some 900 invited guests will observe the parade from the
reviewing stands in front of the GPO. About half of those
will be representatives of the families of volunteers who
died in 1916.

Their invitations require them to be seated by 11.30am and
they will be provided with parking in Seán MacDermott

The guests will attend a lunch in the Gresham Hotel after
the parade and have also been invited to a reception with
President Mary McAleese in the State Apartments at Dublin
Castle on Sunday evening.

At 11.30am, the parade will leave Dublin Castle and then
pause when it reaches Westmoreland Street.

A 100-man guard of honour will be posted outside the GPO
from the Dublin 65th Reserve Infantry Battalion.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is expected to arrive at the GPO at
11.50am. Mrs McAleese will arrive shortly before noon with
her military escort, drawn from the 2nd Cavalry Squadron,
Cathal Brugha Barracks, and she will inspect the guard of

The commemoration ceremony will start at noon with the
lowering of the national flag to half-mast.

The Army No 1 Band will play Mise Éire and the President
will lay a commemorative wreath. The last post will sound
and a minute's silence will be observed for the 1,200
people who were killed or injured in the Rising.

The National Anthem will then be played, the flag returned
to full mast and the parade will resume.

Taking part will be representatives from the Army, the
Naval Service and the Air Corps, as well as members of the
Irish UN Veterans' Association and the Organisation of Ex-
Servicemen and Ex-Servicewomen.

It will include a display of the Defence Forces' newest
military equipment, such as the Mowag troop carriers.

Members of the Garda will also participate, representing
the force's role in United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Spectators are advised that viewing spots for the ceremony
outside the GPO will be restricted but the parade can be
viewed from most places along the route.

© The Irish Times


Plaque Honouring Youngest 1916 Volunteer To Be Unveiled

15/04/2006 - 08:49:19

A plaque in honour of the youngest volunteer to be killed
during the Easing Rising will be unveiled in Dublin later

Fifteen-year-old Sean 'Jack' Healy from the Dublin suburb
of Phibsboro was one of the Fianna Boys.

He was shot in the head at Doyle's corner as he ran to and
fro with messages for rebels.


McDonald Calls On Young People To Join The Campaign

Published: 15 April, 2006

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald speaking following
the unveiling of a plaque in Phibsboro to Seán Healy, a
member of Na Fianna Éireann who was killed during the 1916
Rising said ‘It is important to commemorate the 1916
Rising and to remember all those involved. But we must do
much more than that. The best way to celebrate the spirit
of Easter 1916 is for all of those who are committed to
Irish reunification to work together for that worthy and
achievable goal. Today I want to call on young people
across the city to join the campaign to make partition

Ms McDonald said: “I want to begin by commending the work
done by local republicans and Cllr Nicky Kehoe in
particular who took the initiative to mount a plaque to
mark the sacrifice of Seán Healy, who lost his life on this
spot 90 years ago while serving in Na Fianna Éireann.

“The tragedy and emotional impact of the executions of 16
of the leaders of the Rising can often overshadow some of
the other less well known but perhaps more heartbreaking
stories of Easter Week.

“The decision of the State to begin commemorating the 1916
Rising is one that we welcome, and for a number of months
it has led to a debate about what is being remembered, the
meaning and relevance of the Proclamation in modern Ireland
and even whether such a commemoration should take place at

“Sinn Féin welcomes the debate, as we welcome the new-found
interest in republicanism evident in this country,
sometimes in the most surprising places.

“But in all the debate and discussion, sometimes the human
side of what took place can be forgotten. The loss of any
life is a tragedy, but the loss of young people is
especially so because the potential of what they could have
been went unrealised.

“It is important to commemorate the 1916 Rising and to
remember all those involved. But we must do much more than
that. The best way to celebrate the spirit of Easter 1916
is for all of those who are committed to Irish
reunification to work together for that worthy and
achievable goal. Today I want to call on young people
across the city to join the campaign to make partition
history.” ENDS


1916 Parade Not Party Political - Ahern

14 April 2006 23:23

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has rejected suggestions that
the planned commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising has
been turned into a party political event.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Mr Ahern said that he hoped the
parade would attract people of all political opinions.

Meanwhile, the President, Mary McAleese, has said that
those who died in the 1916 Rising gave their lives for
those who now enjoy the benefits of the Celtic Tiger

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to the north of
England, Ms McAleese said freedom had allowed modern
Ireland to showcase its talents.

The President denied that there was any triumphalism about
the celebrations.

She said the people of Ireland took pride in what those
involved in the Rising had done, and that they had done it
in the belief that they were helping a new generation to
grow up in freedom and without fear.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Junior has criticised the President's

The North Antrim MLA said the claim that those who died in
the Easter Rising gave their lives for those who now enjoy
the benefits of the Celtic Tiger economy was utter folly
and did not stand up to historical scrutiny.

Audio and Video

News At One: David McCullagh, Political Correspondent,
talks to Bertie Ahern, Taoiseach, about the decision to
revive the traditional military parade as a commemoration
of the 1916 Rising

News At One: Maurice O'Keeffe, historian, says he has
Coroners Court statements showing three men died on a
mission to contact a German boat in Co Kerry three days
before the Rising

News At One: Commandant Brian Cleary of the Defence Forces
discusses the events planned for Sunday's military parade
in central Dublin to mark the 90th anniversary of the
Easter Rising

Morning Ireland: Conor Hunt talks to members of the public
at the GPO about what they think the Rising achieved


DUP, UUP Decline Invites

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Unionists' response: Unionist Assembly members have
declined a formal Government invitation to join the
commemorations of the 1916 Rising in Dublin tomorrow.

It was reported yesterday that there would be some
representatives of the unionists in attendance. However DUP
and Ulster Unionist sources said that no Stormont elected
representative would accept an invitation.

A Government statement confirmed that unionists had been

"The Taoiseach did indicate that all MLAs, including
unionists, would be welcome. But no unionist representative
has indicated a wish to attend. The Government fully
respects that position."

However The Irish Times understands that all invited guests
are entitled to be accompanied by a guest to a reception at
Dublin Castle after the parade. It is therefore possible
that unionist figures could attend in that capacity.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP will be represented, with many
of the SDLP's Assembly team, including leader Mark Durkan
and deputy leader Alasdair McDonnell, in attendance.

The DUP stepped up its criticisms of President Mary
McAleese following her claim yesterday that those behind
the 1916 Rising gave their lives for today's society which
enjoys the benefits of the Celtic Tiger.

Ian Paisley jnr said unionists would take "a very different
view of those involved in organising a rebellion against
the United Kingdom in 1916".

Those behind the Rising were motivated by nothing other
than a "hatred of all things British".

He accused Mrs McAleese of revising history, adding: "There
is no escaping the fact that those involved in the terror
rising were motivated by causing as much damage to the
British nation and as much opportunity to Germany during
the great war period." The North Antrim Assembly member
contested Mrs McAleese's likening of the men and women of
the Rising with the soldiers who fought in the first World

She said: "They did what they did in the belief that they
were helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and
without fear. That is true of those who died [ in Dublin]
in 1916, and it's true of those who died on the Somme."

Mr Paisley, however, said the rebels collaborated with the
Germans at a time when many of their fellow Irish men were
"fighting on the battlefields of Europe for the real cause
of freedom".

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said
yesterday he welcomed the commitment by the Taoiseach to
building a shared future on the island for everyone.

"In that spirit he should now move speedily to make
provisions for all citizens to participate in the political
life of the nation," Mr McGuinness said.

© The Irish Times


Rising Revolt

By Brendan McDaid
15 April 2006

The DUP has branded Limavady Borough Council a cold house
for unionists as a row erupted over plans to commemorate
the Easter Rising.

Sinn Fein hit back, however, claiming it was a sad state of
affairs when unionists felt they had to see every
celebration of nationalist or republican culture as an

The row broke out as preparations got under way to mark the
90th anniversary of the 1916 event in the borough.

A civic reception will be held at the council offices for
the arrival of a replica of the 1916 Proclamation next
Friday, while a bowl of Easter Lily badges is due to be
placed in the council foyer throughout next week.

There will also be republican commemorative events in
Dungiven and Limavady this weekend.


Minister Criticised Over Pearse Centre

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

On the eve of the 1916 Rising anniversary, Minister for
Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív has been criticised for
failing to build a promised commemorative centre at Pádraic
Pearse's Connemara summer cottage.

However, Mr Ó Cuív says plans for the centre, close to the
Pearse Cottage in Rosmuc, are in the hands of Dúchas, under
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche.

The criticism was levelled by Galway county councillor
Seosamh Ó Cuaig (Ind), who says Mr Ó Cuív "presented the
project in a fanfare of publicity" as part of the National
Development Plan before the last election in 2002.

Former arts minister Síle de Valera had earmarked €1.2
million for the project, and Cllr Ó Cuaig said Mr Ó Cuív
"went so far as to announce 2004 as its completion date".
An additional €1 million was approved by Údarás na

However, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local
Government said in 2004 it was "reviewing" the plans for
the centre, which would have included a reception area, an
exhibition and audiovisual facility and cafe.

A department spokesman told The Irish Times this week it
was "still in discussions with the Department of Community,
Rural and Gaeltacht affairs" about the project, but that Mr
Roche had signalled that the "focus was elsewhere" this

Pearse spent much time at the cottage between 1903 and
1915, and it was there he wrote his historic speech for
O'Donovan Rossa's grave. It is open for four months each
year, houses an exhibition and some Pearse mementos, and is
maintained by Dúchas.

© The Irish Times


Parades: Countrywide


The 90th anniversary of the Rising will be marked by a
number of events this weekend.


Cork City Council will mark the anniversary on Monday when
Lord Mayor Deirdre Clune will officially name a new
riverside walk in the city "Slí Chumann na mBan" in honour
of women involved in the struggle for independence.

The ceremony starts at noon and councillors will assemble
at the Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald Park and march
along the new walk which links the Mardyke with the North

Tomorrow Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness
will give the oration at the Republican Plot at St
Finbarr's Cemetery following a march from the Grand Parade
in Cork city starting at 2pm.

In Clonakilty, west Cork, Sinn Féin has organised a parade
tomorrow through the town culminating with a reading of the
Proclamation and a ceremony at the Michael Collins statue.

In Mallow, the town council will hold a ceremony on Monday
starting at 9.30am with a parade from the courthouse to St
Mary's Church led by the Thomas Davis Pipe Band.

Afterwards, Fianna Fáil will hold a wreath-laying ceremony
at the national monument on Mallow Bridge before proceeding
to the Republican Plot at Goold's Hill Cemetery.

Barry Roche


The statue of Liam Mellowes is the venue for several
commemorations tomorrow, starting with a Galway Republican
Sinn Féin march at 11am from Galway Cathedral and a wreath-
laying ceremony.

Fianna Fáil's event also takes place under the Mellowes
statue shortly after noon, and will be attended by Minister
of State at the Department of Justice Frank Fahey and party

The Galway Alliance Against War will mark the date at the
statue at the same time.Members will be joined by Abubaker
Deghayes, brother of a Guantanamo Bay internee, in protest
over the war against Iraq.

Republican Sinn Féin has organised wreath-laying ceremonies
in Loughrea and Oughterard and its main commemoration will
take place at the Republican Plot at Donoghpatrick
Cemetery, Headford, Co Galway, tomorrow at 3pm.

Lorna Siggins


Kilkenny will hold a ceremony today at 10.30am outside
Kyteler's Inn pub, which was used as a meeting place by
Volunteers in 1916.

The ceremony will be led by Mayor Marie Fitzpatrick and
attended by councillors and local Oireachtas

The Proclamation will be read and a trumpeter will sound
The Last Post. An honour party from the 3rd Infantry
Battalion based at the city's James Stephens' barracks will
raise the Tricolour.

Michael Parsons

© The Irish Times


Breathing New Life Into 1916

Paul Cullen

RadioReview: There was I thinking the Rising was the name
of a rock festival when everyone started talking about the
90th anniversary of 1916. All through the week, radio re-
enactments and debates brought the anniversary to life in
the most vivid fashion, with neither the passage of time
nor recent memories of the Northern conflict hindering a
lively and muscular debate on the actions of Pearse,
Connolly et al.

As historian Diarmaid Ferriter pointed out to Eddie Hobbs,
who was filling the rejuvenated shoes of Marian Finucane
(RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday), it was President Mary McAleese who
effectively lit the fuse for subsequent arguments with her
take on events delivered earlier in the year, while new
material available to researchers has cast a fresh light on
the role played by previously neglected groups, such as
women or British soldiers. The media has played its part in
recreating the events of that Easter and their aftermath in
newspaper supplements and various re-enactments staged on
RTÉ Radio 1 during the week (This Week and Morning Ireland,
for example).

Strange then, that a tense Bertie Ahern, in an interview on
This Week (RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday), sounded like someone who
had organised a party and was afraid no one would come.
We'll see tomorrow.

Strange, too, that Eddie Hobbs spent more time talking
about the War of Independence than 1916.

Not once, but twice, he "treated" us to a preview of the
Leinster-Munster rugby game, a full fortnight before it
takes place. There were staccato silences at one point, as
Hobbs wrestled with the voices coming in through his
headphones and a breakdown in phone lines, yet within
minutes he was assuring us that the calls were coming in
"thick and fast".

There was plenty of financial talk, too, as you'd expect
from Mr Show Me the Money. Some of it, such as a discussion
on the flotation of Aer Lingus, was legitimate, but did we
have to listen to an hour's whingeing by various
contributors about their failed foreign property
adventures? It put in mind personal finance journalist Jill
Kerby's recent description of the boom in credit-driven
property speculation as "people buying things they don't
need with money they don't have" (Breakfast Show with Eamon
Dunphy, NewsTalk 106).

At least Hobbs, who doesn't lack confidence in any medium,
gave Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan a thorough
going-over on the avian flu issue, to the point where the
Minister started wailing down the phone from Donegal about
"skulduggery" and other such conspiracies in the framing of
the item.

The other big party this week was the 100th anniversary of
Samuel Beckett's birthday. RTÉ ran plays throughout the
week, read three novels in their entirety on medium wave
and devoted a Rattlebag special (RTÉ Radio 1, Thursday) to
the greatest writer to hail from Foxrock, while the BBC
opted to run its Beckett evening (Sunday) on the music-
orientated Radio 3 rather than speech-driven Radio 4.

I liked Tom McGurk's infectious enthusiasm for the writer
in an interview with Michael Colgan (Today with Tom McGurk,
RTÉ Radio 1, Tuesday), but could have done without his oily
encomium for the station's "marvellous" efforts to mark the
writer's centenary.

As usual, the Easter break saw many of RTÉ's top names
disappear on holiday, to be replaced by second-string
presenters (not to mention second-string radio reviewers).
Only barristers, TDs and Brendan Drumm's "value for money"
advisers seem to have more time off than Montrose's finest,
although at least Ryan Tubridy deigned to stay with us for
Holy Week.

It's still hard to know who The Tubridy Show (RTÉ Radio 1,
Monday to Friday) is aimed at, though increasingly the
programme seems to have an urban, young-professional
orientation. Notwithstanding that, the "king of witter" ran
an engaging hour of chat with a roomful of energetic
sixtysomethings on Monday that showed his skill in working
a crowd of any age.

Call me cynical, but hearing politicians fronting
advertisements for charities leaves me queasy. Currently,
radio listeners can hear Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness
appealing for women to run the mini-marathon on behalf of
Bóthar, while Senator Mary Henry does the honours for the
Irish Heart Foundation.

Now don't get me wrong - McGuinness and Henry have every
right to do voiceovers for charitable causes. McGuinness is
a former agricultural journalist and Bóthar is an
agricultural charity, while Henry is a doctor, so there is
a logical fit. Yet there's something unsettling about
politicians garnering publicity from heart-tugging appeals
for poor Africans or patients awaiting transplants. They
wouldn't be allowed advertise for political purposes, yet
somehow they slip through the net to reach prime time
audiences. Isn't it time someone shouted stop?

© The Irish Times


How The Rising And Casement Fell Victim To Murphy’s Law In Kerry

By Ryle Dwyer

AT the 1975 Munster football final in Killarney the much-
fancied Cork team were being hammered, and many Cork
supporters began to bail out early.

A Kerry supporter shouted at them, “Leaving early, can’t
take ye’r beating!”

One of the fleeing Cork crowd shouted back: “What do ye
mean ‘leaving’? Ye bastards, ye left Casement on Banna

In the midst of all the hype about 1916 the story of what
happened in Kerry has been largely overlooked. It was a
weekend in Kerry during which Murphy’s Law ruled.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

The Germans arrived in Tralee Bay on Thursday in the Aud
with an arms shipment for the Rising, but there was no one
there to meet them.

At the time the only person in the area who knew about
plans for the Rising was Austin Stack, the local brigadier
of the Irish Volunteers and head centre of the Irish
Republican Brotherhood.

On Good Friday three men were sent from Dublin to seize a
radio transmitter in Caherciveen and set up a transmitting
station in Tralee to get in touch with the Aud. Two of them
were drowned when their driver took a wrong turn and drove
off the end of the short pier at Ballykissane.

Some later contended that this tragic accident undermined
the whole Rising, but it really made no difference
whatsoever because even if they had got the transmitter and
set it up, they would not have been able to contact the
Aud, which had no radio.

Leaders in Dublin had changed the date on which the Aud
should arrive to Easter Sunday after it had sailed, so the
Germans had no means of contacting the ship. Roger Casement
set out from Germany on a submarine with that information,
but it had engine trouble and had to return to port, so
vital days were lost on getting another submarine.

It arrived in Tralee Bay in the early hours of Good Friday
while the Aud was still waiting impatiently for a signal
from the shore.

As Casement and two colleagues were coming ashore their
boat capsized and they were thrown into the water. Casement
was suffering from malaria and after being soaked, he was
in no condition to walk the six miles to Tralee. The other
two went for help, but he was captured before the help
arrived. The Germans were convinced that Casement came back
to Ireland to take part in the rebellion, but he was really
trying to prevent it. “The one hope I clung to,” he later
told his solicitor George Gavan Duffy, “was that I might
arrive in Ireland in time to stop the Rising.”

When Casement was brought into the RIC barracks in Tralee
he was put in the billiards room and a fire was lit for
him. Head Constable John A Kearney sent for a local doctor,
Mikey Shanahan, who was known to have Sinn Féin sympathies.

Shanahan was allowed to see Casement by himself.

Kearney knew the prisoner was Casement. The head constable
hoped Casement would identify himself to Dr Shanahan and
have the local volunteers rescue him. Before the doctor
left the station Kearney showed him a photograph of
Casement saying he was the prisoner. He wished to make sure
that Shanahan would tell the volunteers the RIC knew who it
was holding.

But Stack pretended not to believe the doctor. He insisted
that the RIC had only arrested a Norwegian sailor.

Meanwhile, Kearney invited Casement up to his residence for
a meal. “I would love nothing better than a good steak,”
Casement said when asked what he would like to eat.

Kearney’s wife went out to purchase steak from a local
butcher because they had no meat in the residence as it was
Good Friday. She cooked him the meal, and Kearney sent out
for some Jameson whiskey for the prisoner.

Before bringing Casement back down to the billiards room,
where he was left unrestrained with the front door unlocked
so that a rescue party could just walk in, the head
constable told his wife to keep their children upstairs as
he expected the volunteers to rescue the prisoner.

Casement asked Kearney to send for a priest. Fr Frank Ryan
was summoned from the nearby Dominican Church.

In Fr Ryan’s presence, Kearney asked Casement: “What do you
want with a priest? Aren’t you a Protestant?”

Kearney then left Fr Ryan alone with Casement, who
identified himself and asked the priest to get a message to
the volunteers.

“Tell them I am a prisoner,” he said, “and that the
rebellion will be a dismal, hopeless failure, as the help
they expect will not arrive.”

THE priest was taken aback. He had come on a spiritual
mission and had no desire to get involved in this kind of

“Do what I ask,” Casement pleaded, “and you will bring
God’s blessing on the country and on everyone concerned.”

Then “after deep and mature reflection”, Fr Ryan realised
that “it would be the best thing not alone for the police,
but also for the volunteers and the country, that I should
convey the message to the volunteers and thereby be the
means through which bloodshed and suffering might be
avoided. I saw the leader of the volunteers in Tralee and
give him the message. He assured me he would do his best to
keep the volunteers quiet.”

One can only imagine Stack’s state of mind when Fr Ryan
told him that Casement wanted the rebellion called off. He
was supposed to be the only person in the area to know
about the plans. Now he was being told about it by a priest
who had no involvement in the movement.

What was worse, Fr Ryan told more than Stack that Casement
wanted the rebellion called off.

“I also told the head constable of the steps I had taken,
and my reasons for it, and he agreed with me that it was
perhaps the wisest course to follow,” Fr Ryan noted.

At this point Kearney sent Stack a message that Con
Collins, a friend arrested earlier in the day, wished to
see him at the RIC barracks.

Paddy J Cahill, the deputy brigadier, advised Stack not to
go, or at least make sure he had nothing incriminating on
him. Stack handed over his revolver and supposedly checked
his belongings to ensure he had nothing else of importance.

When he was searched at the RIC station, however, he was
carrying a massive bundle of letters from people like
Pádraig Pearse, James Connolly, Bulmer Hobson and a
circular from Eoin MacNeill urging the volunteers to resist
forcefully any attempt by the Crown authorities to suppress
or disarm them. He was promptly arrested.

Stack later wrote to his brother, Nicholas, that he was
carrying “a large number of letters, ie, fully 20 or 30
letters, I imagine”. The count at the barracks was 52
letters. Somebody might carry that many letters in a
briefcase, but has anyone ever carried that number on their

One must ask why was Stack carrying so many letters when he
went to the barracks? With things obviously going so badly
wrong in relation to the plans for the rebellion, it looked
suspiciously like he wanted to be arrested so that he would
be in custody when the balloon went up?

It is about time people began examining the record for what
it was, not what it should have been.


1916 - What Does It Mean To You?


Shane Hegarty hears views from a selection of public
figures on the legacy of the 1916 Rising.

Robert Ballagh,
Artist and co-ordinator of 75th anniversary commemorations

The contrast between now and 1991 is stark. I suppose I
entered that effort with a degree of naivety, but I soon
had death threats and Special Branch surveillance. I was
walking up Parnell Square for lunch one day, and an
unmarked squad car suddenly braked beside me, out jumped
two plain-clothes officers who pushed me against the
railing. They asked me for ID, then jumped in the car and
drove off. An amused crowd had gathered to see who this
dangerous criminal was. We also had a Leaving Cert student
at the committee meetings, an enthusiastic chap who always
did everything with a smile on his face, the kind you need
to get these kind of things moving. And then he
disappeared. It turned out the Special Branch had gone to
his school and told the headmaster that he was a member of
the IRA. He had told the pupil's parents and threatened him
with expulsion. It was horrendous.

I suppose the difference is that people might believe me
now that we were then interested in a historical and
cultural event. On one level, then, I'm pleased with
today's discussion and debate, because back then we were
interested only in raising the issue and I'm delighted that
has finally happened. And there are new facts and new
material, which show it as a complicated event. The black-
and-white approach did no service to historical studies.

I'm less impressed with the military ceremony. We called
ours Reclaim the Spirit of Easter 1916, and we were
interested in why they did what they did, their aims and
objectives, but we were accused of giving aid and comfort
to the IRA. It was a very poor level of debate. So it's
ironic that we were slammed for supposedly being
militaristic, yet now the Government is resorting to
militarism. But this weekend's event, given all that is
happening in the world, is inappropriate and hypocritical.
It should be more creative.

I wasn't asked to be involved in this year's events, but I
was actually relieved at that. I'm always happier when I'm
on the outside.

Lorcan Collins
1916 Rebellion Walking Tour of Dublin guide

What I've seen this year is an increase in the number of
Irish taking the tour. We've been running this year's tours
only since March, and already the phones have been hopping
with mothers trying to push their teenage sons over our
way, because they're suddenly interested in it. The older
generation feel they can now talk about 1916. I was never
embarrassed about it myself, but I guess others were.

In 1996, when we started doing the tours, I would go into
hotels and they kind of looked at you like you had two
heads. They'd ask me "What are you talking about that for,
all that violence?". It's a part of our history that has
been neglected. Walk around Dublin and there's none of
those brown tourist plaques telling you that this is where
Pearse lived, or where Connolly lived, and that kind of
thing. Yet, there are loads for the likes of George Bernard
Shaw or Oscar Wilde. There was this silly idea that it
would offend the English. But we get loads of English on
the tours and they're fascinated by it all. They get a bit
of a slagging, but they love it. They'd think it was weird
if there was no slagging.

I don't know why there has to be a separated seating area
for the parade, and that the numbers have been limited to
only 900. I don't see why everyone can't just muck in
together. I don't think that the men and women of 1916
would have liked to see a dividing line between those in
the inner circles and the common man.

Ray D'Arcy
Today FM presenter

It doesn't mean that much to me, to be honest. I never
really got into history. I'm a bit of a philistine in that
respect. The only time I did was when I was a supervisor on
a Fás project that had to index a parish register in
Kildare, and that gave me the idea that it is better to
teach history from particulars and then move on to the
general. They should start teaching it locally, so that if
we had been taught about our locality's part in 1916, and
the global stuff afterwards, then I might have made more
sense of it as a teenager.

It's something I regret, and sometimes I feel guilty for
not listening more intently. In fact, I'm more confused
after this anniversary than I was before. I used to see it
as very black and white, that they were heroes out to save
Ireland, rising up against the British. But listening to
all the debate I've come to see it as greyer than that.

I wouldn't want to speak for my listeners. Just because I
didn't like history doesn't mean that they don't. But I do
get the sense that it's a vocal minority making a big
hoohah rather than the average person in the pub. And if I
was being cynical I might say that it's about Fianna Fáil
running scared and trying to get the Easter Rising back
from Sinn Féin. When did anyone ever celebrate the 90th
anniversary of anything? But I listened to Bertie give his
recent speech, and there's no doubt that he feels strongly
about 1916, that he's lived with it and read about it a
lot. I'm convinced by him, so maybe I'm not being fair to

Mick Fealty
of Slugger O'Toole, Best Political Blog at the Irish Blog

It has not particularly inspired me in terms of its
political importance, but I come from a Northern Irish
nationalist background, and in a sense the Easter Rising is
a seminal point. Once you move into the North, it's much
more contentious and unsatisfying nationalist myth, because
what it achieved for the Republic it did not achieve for
the North. Whether you take the nationalist or unionist
perspective, it was an incomplete act.

It has been a 26-county debate. What's obvious is that the
people who are missing from it are some of the original
Republicans - those Northern Protestants who picked up the
values of the French and American republics and
crystallised them. It's interesting to ask why that
generation fell away from the revolutionary ideal. It seems
to me that the Republic has been involved in a narrow
discussion with fellow Irishmen. It has been fundamentally

I wonder how, if there are genuine intentions about
establishing a 32-county polity of unity and trust with
Northern Protestants, why that element is missing. No
Northern Protestant that I know is in the least bit
interested in the Irish republican project.

Although, I just think that the Republic started talking
about it all very late on, so it shouldn't end with the
90th anniversary, but should continue through and should
try and bring in outsiders.

There was an interesting letter to the blog The Blanket
recently from a unionist, asking "What is my colour doing
in your flag?" And that is fundamentally interesting
territory to get into. There is a political pay-off for
Republicans in that, even if they may never see that in
political unification.

Anne Haverty

A number of years ago I wrote a biography of Constance
Markievicz and at the time the Rising and anything to do
with it was seen as somewhat shameful. And that attitude
was very juvenile, really. I think it's a sign of some kind
of maturity that we can look back and regard the event with
objectivity and even pride. Not that we have to necessarily
feel proud, but certainly we should have objectivity.

It's something that happened at a different time and
shouldn't automatically be regarded negatively. For my
part, I feel pride. Not everyone should, but I'm happy that
we're taking it back again and owning it.

At the time I remember being surprised by the sense of
disapproval and the muted nature of the response to my
book. And I remember becoming aware of the depth of feeling
and even fear people had. The appetite should be there for
us to be able to look at our identity, how we live, and why
we are here now, because we wouldn't have reached this
point without it. It's like saying it didn't exist, and I
don't think that's a very good idea. It's important to keep
these things as a record of another chapter in a long
episode of a country. That was denied us for several
decades, something which must have been very painfulfor
those who were involved.

Eddie Hobbs
Financial consultant and TV presenter

I would have come up through an Irish school, and in those
times, in the 1960s, outside our classroom there was the
famous drawing of Connolly on the stretcher in the GPO. The
events in the North after that put the Rising into the
background. And it was then hijacked by some political
analysts, and there was a lot written by the revisionists.
But these were the sort of people who would never have
manned the barricades in 1916. But I'm sure I would have
been there. So it means a lot to me personally.

It was the start of the State, and it was messy, but
conflict is never clean. I'm in west Cork right now, a
place where 340 men of the flying columns were completely
outmanned by British troops, but still succeeded. And
without these people we wouldn't have what we have today.
We may have made a pig's breakfast of that with the
economic war, and what happened in the North may have
tainted it, but I never felt anything shameful about the
Easter Rising. There should be no apologies for creating
the Free State, and later the Republic. My instinct is that
the Easter Rising commemoration should be like Independence
Day in the US. Like a party rather than a military event.
Not that it should be like St Patrick's Day, but it could
certainly be lightened up a bit.

I've also been interested in doing a television project
looking at the Irish military heritage abroad. People
forget our involvement in several famous battles, and our
heritage in the British army. We should commemorate that
too. It's all part of our history, and to let the past be
flavoured by current events is for the birds.

Dan Keating
104-year-old veteran of the War of Independence. His
reminiscences are included in Maurice O'Keeffe's CD
collection, Recollections of 1916 and its Aftermath

I was 13 and a half at the time of the Rising, and I
remember, when it was all over and Connolly was executed in
a chair, there was revulsion in the country. I was too
young for it to have much of an effect on me.

I regard this thing in Dublin as pure nonsense. It serves
nothing. We can start something like that when we have a
32-county republic. The whole thing is just the Government
preparing for an election. There has been an Irish Army for
more than 80 years, but they haven't regained a single inch
of our national territory.

It will cost a lot of taxpayers' money and serves no
purpose. I think that the dead who died should be
commemorated by people who believe that we should have a
32-county republic. Ten per cent of the population is
holding on to a larger population's land, for England.
Where is the democracy in that? If I was invited to the
event I wouldn't go. I will attend our own commemoration in
Tralee as I always do.

Mary Frances Loughran
Soprano with quartet Pzazz, whose current CD is Daughter of

I'm from north Belfast, so the political aspect to
Ireland's history was a big part of my life, the history of
the whole island and not just of the North. I knew of the
facts but also the spirit and feeling of the Rising. For
me, personally, I connect more with the story of a person
such as James Connolly, with the socialist aspect rather
than the political.

I did notice in the North that people were afraid to speak.
It was such a shame. Yes, it had a political aspect, but
because there was automatic discrimination and labelling
that we all grew up with it was unfortunate that Connolly's
message was lost in the face of prejudice. That saddens me.

I'm 21, and when I was studying for my A-level history, it
was all about results. I was cramming, and under pressure,
and it's a shame that it all has to be learned that way.
For young people in general, it's hard to get interested in
history, and when they don't relate to it it's even harder.
I don't think many of my Protestant friends are interested.
It's about different traditions, although that doesn't
necessarily make them wrong. Everyone is different, and we
should embrace that.

Sean Love
Director of Amnesty International Ireland

I have a strong family connection with the 1916 Rising. My
maternal grandfather, John Reid, was a Section Commander of
the Dublin Brigade of the Volunteers, B Company 2nd
Battalion, stationed in the GPO. My paternal uncle, Michael
Love, was a very young volunteer in F Company, 2nd
Battalion, stationed in Jacob's factory. Both survived the
conflict, subsequently fought in the War of Independence,
and ended up on opposing sides in the Civil War.

Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather Joseph Love, father of
Michael, was serving with the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers,
at Ypres, during the battle of the Somme, and several other
nightmares during the first World War.

"From the Amnesty perspective, I think it is pointless to
seek to judge the 1916 Rising by the standards that
subsequently formed the international legal instruments
adopted since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human

The most enlightened element of 1916 was the article in the
Proclamation of Independence that states: "The [ Irish]
Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal
rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and
declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity
of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of
the children of the nation equally." This was visionary,
very much ahead of its time. Much of what later evolved in
international human rights standards mirrors this
commitment, and I feel certain that the signatories of the
Proclamation would be profoundly unhappy with the
subsequent failure of the Irish Republic to properly
deliver on this pledge. Think of children with
disabilities, Traveller children, children born in Ireland
whose parents are foreign nationals, children with mental
health problems . . .

It seems that, currently, all shades of political life in
the Republic are jockeying to see who is the most
egalitarian and most republican. A simple test would be to
see who will guarantee to seek to have enshrined in
Bunreacht na hÉireann the pledge to equal rights, equality
of opportunity, prosperity of the whole nation, and the
cherishing of all the children of the nation equally.

Ferdia MacAnna
Musician and author of a memoir The Rocky Years

My father was the director and producer of a pageant,
Glorium Eirí Amach na Cásca, which ran in Croke Park for
Easter week in 1966. It coincided with hurricane season in
Ireland, and on three of the five nights people were being
blown all over the place, and the heavy artillery props
were floating over Hill 16, which somewhat took away from
the sheer terror the crowd was supposed to feel. I also
remember that when an Irish insurrectionist had a shot, he
always seemed to kill six British soldiers, and when a
British soldier had a shot he always hit a civilian.

I was 10 years old and was part of a crowd carrying letters
spelling out "Republic of Éire". I was the second E in
Éire, but the wind blew off the bottom half of my letter.
The Republic of ÉIRF was born that night. But there were
big crowds, and cheering, and for me as a 10-year-old
Pádraig Pearse was like Clint Eastwood. It was James Bond
stuff, except there were no women involved. But there was a
bunch of heroes, fighting for independence, and we got 10
shillings each, which made it even more impressive.

It was a bit mad, and I suppose a sign of the innocence of
the times. It's a sign of our cultural health that we can
look again at the truth of it. My feelings now are a mix of
admiration for the ordinary volunteers and ordinary
Dubliners, but I still don't think we've worked it out yet.

No great novels came from the Rising, and no great movies
have been made about it, so I think there's something
missing from it. We haven't quite nailed it. A great work
might do that.

Dan O'Brien
Senior Europe editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit

For almost a century Ireland has been among the most
successful of states. It is the fifth-oldest continuously
functioning democracy in Europe. Few countries globally
have enjoyed our social calm. Civil, political and economic
liberties have been more successfully protected in only a
handful of countries worldwide.

My pride in being Irish flows from these civilian
achievements, which have been pursued patiently over
decades, not from a brief moment of militarism 90 years

It is for this reason that I feel more than a little
uncomfortable about giving prominence to 1916 ahead of
other landmark moments in the State's history. By making
the Rising the defining moment of our statehood we are in
danger of elevating revolutionary values above the unheroic
democratic virtues - restraint, compromise and tolerance -
which have made Ireland the successful political entity
that it is.

Other European countries celebrate their statehood with
independence days, constitution days and republic days. We
have all of these [ reasons to celebrate]. None would cause
division and any one would serve to generate cohesion - the
real purpose of such commemorations.

The lesson of France is a reminder of how the 1916
commemoration could go wrong. It is the only country in
Europe to mark explicitly its revolutionary birth, and it
is no coincidence that it is also the country where resort
to street violence to achieve political ends is most

But while my reservations about the wisdom of the
commemoration itself are strong, the debate sparked by its
holding has been healthy. It has been conducted calmly and
respectfully. It has also generated much more light, and a
lot less heat, than it might have done in the past. This,
surely, is a sign of our maturity as a state and as a

Emer O'Reilly Hyland
Editor of VIP magazine

Certainly the Easter Rising should be commemorated. The
Rising is seen by many as the beginning of what became an
independent state with its own national identity including
a proud history and culture. It is a significant part of
our history and should not be forgotten, but it should be
remembered as that - part of our history and not a modern
political tool. This point in time, 90 years after the
event, is a good time to establish an annual celebration of
our independence and our Irishness, with a view to the
centenary anniversary.

My only regret is that there are very few women remembered
from the time of the Rising, and there were hundreds of
brave women who have been airbrushed out of our history.
That's not a good message for this generation.

Up until relatively recent times, being Irish was
synonymous with being the underdog, a suppressed, poverty-
stricken nation, which, as recently as the late 1980s, was
a nation of emigrants. But when the Celtic Tiger roared, a
new generation was created, basically anyone now under the
age of 30 has no idea what it feels like to live in an
economic recession, where emigration was the only option
for many young people. They don't feel in any way like an
underdog. They are confident, educated and wealthy. They
also see themselves as part of the global community, in
particular Europe. And they're right. Why look back? The
Rising has already become less relevant to a whole
generation who are living in a wealthy, modern, progressive
European society, who are looking to the future.

Anna Pas
Editor of Dublin-based publication Polski Express

We will have an article on the Easter Rising in the next
issue, an historical overview which will also explain how
it was an uprising involving poets and artists. And I am
also going to write about the parade. I wouldn't think that
there is great interest among Polish, but Poland had four
uprisings, although they weren't very successful. All of
these were connected with the fight for independence and
it's close to every Pole's heart. So if it is explained
that this anniversary is about a national uprising and
fighting for independence, then they will be very

I am curious if any trouble will happen, because the recent
march in Dublin wasn't peaceful and the police weren't able
to stop the riot. Myself and my friends have been talking
about it and we are wondering if it will happen again.

© The Irish Times


Irish Government Must Deliver On Principles Of 1916 Proclamation

Published: 15 April, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has called on the Irish
Government to “move decisively to deliver on the promise of
the Proclamation.” Speaking at an Easter Commemoration in
Coalisland today Ms. de Brún claimed successive Irish
Governments had “failed to deliver on the social and
economic principles set out in the 1916 Proclamation.”

She said, “The Irish patriots who we remember here today
gave their all in pursuit of freedom. Their commitment,
their dedication, their selflessness and their integrity
inspire all of us who describe ourselves as Irish
republicans. As we look back over generations of struggle
we see that each phase in our long journey has been
different from what went before. That is the nature of
struggle. A freedom struggle cannot stand still. It always
has to be advancing. Our basic republican principles remain
the same. There can be no compromise on Irish unity and
independence. The British government has no right to rule
in Ireland. Pearse and Connolly set out far better than me
our political core when they produced the Proclamation on
the steps of the GPO all those years ago.

“The Easter Rising of 1916 was a watershed in Irish
history. Historians now recognise the other major event we
commemorate this year in similar terms, as a watershed
whose impact on the politics of Ireland today has yet to be
fully realised.

“Successive Irish governments have failed to deliver on the
social and economic principles set out in the 1916
Proclamation. Natural resources have been sold to multi
nationals. People continue to live in poverty. And just as
Connolly stood against the war being waged by the British
Empire in which tens of thousands of young Irishmen were
used as cannon fodder in its army, we oppose Irish airports
being used as a staging post by the US troops in the war in
Iraq. We also oppose their use for the transfer of
prisoners to centres where they may be subjected to illegal
detention and torture.

“Now that the Irish government has decided once again to
commemorate 1916 they must move decisively to deliver on
the promise of the Proclamation.

“Despite the current campaign by our political opponents
the republican struggle will continue to grow. That is what
the opponents of change fear most. Our struggle continues
to grow because republican ideals continue to inspire one
generation after another. The road to freedom was never
going to be easy. Opponents of peace and democracy in
Ireland have too much to lose for that to be the case. As a
collective leadership we will not be deflected from our
task. We will continue to lead the struggle forward.” ENDS


Opin: Commemorating The 1916 Rising

The Defence Forces will march past the GPO on O'Connell
Street in Dublin tomorrow in the first military parade
commemorating the 1916 Rising for some 30 years. The event
comes at the end of what Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called
a week of remembrance, reconciliation and renewal. Mr Ahern
has also indicated that he sees the current 90th
anniversary celebrations of the Rising as a prelude to a
grander centenary commemoration in 10 years time.

Nobody would argue with the Taoiseach's desire for an
inclusive, celebratory and forward-looking commemoration
but is a military parade the most appropriate symbol to
celebrate our sovereignty, independence and democracy? One
can agree that the level of sovereignty and independence
which we have enjoyed over most of the 20th century was the
result of the 1916 Rising. But it is a much greater stretch
to see that event as the cradle of our democracy.

The fact that tomorrow's official State commemoration is
the first to be held in this form since the early 1970s
tells its own story. The annual military Easter parade was
abandoned because of the Northern "Troubles" with its
inflamed emotions, vicious and often vindictive violence,
and attempts at polarising people throughout this island
into crude camps of republicans and loyalists. In that
tinder-box climate - and it is easy to forget the
uncertainty and dangers of those days because we now know
how it all turned out - it was considered unwise to
continue official celebrations of an event in which a small
minority took up arms to pursue goals for which they
believed history would thank them. All the ambiguities in
our national and political culture, symbolised by 1916, had
come face to face with the barrel of a gun.

What has changed now, of course, is that the barrel of that
gun is no longer in our faces. But it is unwise to assume
it has gone away forever. There are still those among us
who believe in the right of individuals to ignore through
force of arms what the people think they want. They can
point, with some justification, to the terrible beauty of
1916 to vindicate their belief.

The Northern peace process, the Belfast Agreement and the
IRA's decommissioning of weapons last year have all changed
the political landscape. To political cynics, tomorrow's
parade may be nothing more than an attempt by Fianna Fáil
to deny Sinn Féin the electoral advantages of being the
only ones to wrap the Tricolour around them. While
political decisions are frequently electoral in motivation
and short-term in design it would be a major mistake to use
something as important as 1916 for expedient purposes. We
learned a lot, often painfully, over the years of bloodshed
in the North; the depths to which hatred can go, the
viciousness of sectarianism, the bloodlust of revenge
killings, the perversion of idealism. Unfortunately, there
are signs that once the horrors stop the memories fade
rapidly for those without personal experiences.

Ireland went through all of this once before, during the
War of Independence in the years that followed 1916.
Afterwards, the nasty parts were excised from our
collective memories and we learned only of heroic deeds and
victorious struggles against impossible odds. It would be
unfortunate if recent history was to be handed down with a
similar selectivity. Irish history should not have to be,
to paraphrase Seamus Mallon's famous phrase, a succession
of lessons for slow learners. Eamon de Valera shouldn't
have had to wait for half a decade to learn the lessons
that Michael Collins did in the Treaty negotiations: it
should not have taken another 70-odd years for Gerry Adams
to learn the lessons Eamon de Valera learned in the 1920s.

The greatest political achievement of independent Ireland
has been the creation of a stable, sovereign democracy. Its
birth was by no means certain; the 1916 Proclamation
promised a future elected government but its leaders'
actions also created an undeniably undemocratic and
militaristic strain in Irish politics. The State's first
years were ensnared in civil war and subsequent examples
from abroad extolled the merits of fascism or communism and
derided the weaknesses of democracy. Yet, against the odds,
democracy prevailed and we should be truly grateful for
that and to all those who made that outcome happen.

Mr Ahern has done much over the years to end the civil war
divisions, honouring, as he put it last weekend, those who
founded the State as well as those who stood by the
Republic. One can take issue, as Enda Kenny has done on
Fine Gael's behalf, with the potted history of subsequent
events that the Taoiseach outlined last weekend in his
National Library speech and in an interview on RTÉ's This
Week programme. But the creation and maintenance of this
democracy is something to which all parties have

That is something to celebrate, something which can unite
and reconcile old divisions as well as accommodate
newcomers. Re-instituting an old-fashioned military parade
is not the best way to do this. That is not to criticise
the Defence Forces - the real Óglaigh na hÉireann, as Mr
Ahern correctly described them - who have served this
democracy very well, especially during its first uncertain
decades, and, more recently, with their peace-keeping
duties. Military parades are not what peace-keepers do;
they are dated, remnants of the 20th century and
reminiscent of regimes who extolled the merits of
militarism. They are surely not the symbols of a State
which prides itself on its military neutrality.

The militarism of Easter 1916 was of its time, in a world
at war, but it has left us an uneasy legacy that does not
fit too readily with today's Republic of citizens who, as
Mr Ahern rightly said last weekend, should be tolerant,
respectful of other's view, have a civic responsibility and
be welcoming to the new Irish coming to make their home

© The Irish Times


Opin: Rising Was A Catholic Revolt Against Redmondite Elite

The Rising produced an economic and social philosophy which
condemned Ireland to material failure until the 1960s,
writes Paul Bew

It is hard not to admire the bravura of the President's
recent speech on 1916 given in Cork. The Irish
Parliamentary Party and John Redmond, the democratically
elected leadership of Irish nationalism on the eve of the
Rising, was retrospectively excommunicated from the Irish
body politic.

The Rising was recast in a modern idiom - a revolt against
the reactionary elitism of the Kildare Street Club, a
rising designed to push Catholics through the glass ceiling
of social opportunity.

From the Kildare Street Club to the K club, triumphant
indeed is the story of modern Ireland.

There is only one problem. The President's speech is an
exquisite misdirection as to the meaning and implication of
the events of Easter 1916.

Let us take the issue of the "glass ceiling" first. With a
malicious precision of timing, Harvard University Press has
just republished Gustave de Beaumont's celebrated and
highly sympathetic 19th-century text Ireland - Social,
Political and Religious. As early as 1863, de Beaumont is
able to point out that eight of the 12 High Court judges in
Ireland were Catholic.

It is true that even in 1916 there were pockets of anti-
Catholic discrimination in Dublin but the fact remains that
the peculiarity of the Rising lies in the fact that it is a
largely Catholic revolution, one of whose principal targets
was the Catholics who had already gone through the glass

John Redmond, for example, who had turned down a position
in the British cabinet; those dozens of UCD doctors who
served in the British army and were highly decorated in the
first World War; those Catholic officials who worked at the
apex of British administration in Ireland. These were the
people who were about to inherit the political leadership
of a home rule Ireland, and these were the people who were
knocked out of place by the insurgents.

Inevitably the insurgents had to gain popular appeal by
intensifying the sense of religious and historical
grievance, the reasons for which are outlined in de
Beaumont's book.

The Redmondite elite, on the other hand, believed that the
moment was coming which would allow a genuine
reconciliation between Ireland and Britain and Protestant
and Catholic.

The former Redmonite MP Stephen Gwynn in his 1938 essay on
"Hatred" acknowledged the cost implicit in the triumph of
1916: "We know in Ireland, and probably they know in
Poland, in Slovakia and in Russia, and a score of other
countries where revolution has succeeded what is the cost
of victorious hate."

The consequences are still with us - consider the Dublin
reaction to the "Love Ulster" rally and the brutal death of
Denis Donaldson, the most recent victim of the cult of the
gun sanctified by 1916.

Let us also take the case of the poor old Kildare Street
Club. It was indeed a haunt for Irish conservative and even
reactionary opinion; though as Michael Laffan has pointed
out, it also contained members very sympathetic to
constitutional nationalism.

The source for the President's remark is almost certainly a
speech given by John Dillon - Redmond's senior colleague -
on May 11th, 1916: "In my opinion, at present the
government of Ireland is largely in the hands of the Dublin
clubs. In my opinion, and I think I really am speaking on a
matter that I know, the British cabinet has much less power
in Ireland than the Kildare Street Club and certain other
institutions. It is they who are influencing the policy of
the military authorities, there is no government in Ireland
except Sir John Maxwell and the Dublin clubs."

It is important to note, however, that Dillon is describing
the situation after the Rising when military reaction ruled
and the leaders of 1916 were executed. He is not describing
the situation before the Rising. He is describing the
situation created by the Rising. Anyone who has read
Dillon's intimate and cosy correspondence with the Irish
Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell from 1907-16 will
discover that Dillon himself was one of the prime
influences on the governance of Ireland in this period, as
Birrell sought to prepare Ireland for home rule and a
formal handing over to the political class represented by
Redmond and Dillon.

If the President is going to take John Dillon for an
authority, some of his other remarks are worthy of notice.
Consider his entirely accurate, as it turned out, criticism
of the Sinn Féin project as he went down to defeat in East
Mayo in the 1918 general election: "If they (Sinn Féin) can
get an independent republic, and separate this country
completely from England, and by way of a hors d'oeuvre -
squelch Carson and the Orangemen (laughter) - they will be
very remarkable men".

But of course, remarkable as the Sinn Féin revolutionaries
were, they were not that remarkable. Soon the life-long
nationalist Dillon was openly saying that the
revolutionaries had created a situation in Ireland more
intolerable than British rule.

The other interesting aspect of the President's speech is
the treatment of the issues of sectarianism and Catholicism
and their relationship to nationalism. We are reminded that
the culture of Catholicism is broader than the narrow
culture of the British Empire in this period. There is a
pleasing vigour to this line of argument but it does also
recall the arguments of the Catholic Bulletin in the
revolutionary and post-revolutionary epoch.

The Bulletin played a central role in placing the martyrs
of 1916 firmly within the Catholic tradition and later in
undermining the relative caution of the Cosgrove
government, as compared to a more enthusiastic Catholic and
nationalist approach embodied by Fianna Fáil.

But the Bulletin believed some other things that are not so
widely believed today - and certainly not by President
McAleese. It believed that Salazar's Portugal was the
proper model and ally for Ireland in inter-war Europe. It
believed that an Irish government dependent on anything
other than Catholic votes was not fully legitimate - a line
of thought which achieved inglorious apotheosis in the
O'Connell Street riot in recent times.

The truth is that 1916 did play a vital role in creating
modern Ireland. It led to independence but also endowed the
country with an economic and social philosophy which
condemned it to material failure until Seán Lemass had the
courage to change its course in the 1960s. It is not to
impoverish the success and self-confidence of modern
Ireland to point out that the route back to 1916 is a
complex one with many dark sides.

The irony is that in its relations with Britain and its
relations with the Northern unionists, the Irish State has
returned today to where Redmond was in 1916; a belief in
the principle of consent and a desire for Anglo-Irish
harmony. It is this reality which makes the President's act
of simply writing the Redmondites out of history so

Paul Bew is Professor of Irish Politics at Queen's
University Belfast.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Revising The Rising

Eddie Holt

Connect: Last Sunday, the Observer newspaper published an
article by Geoffrey Wheatcroft. Headlined "The Evil Legacy
of the Easter Rising", it was among the most ignorant
tirades I've ever read. It's not that Ireland's 1916 Easter
Rising is beyond criticism and a provocative newspaper
column can certainly make engaging reading. But
Wheatcroft's contribution was wretched.

He compared the Rising to the Nazis. He misunderstood
Yeats. He misleadingly said home rule was granted, without
mentioning it had never been enacted. He never referred to
British royals, for whom "blood" is even more defining than
it was for Patrick Pearse. He called the government of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland "lawful"
(slavery and hanging children were also lawful once but
that doesn't mean they were right). He said the Rising's
legacy has "poisoned Irish life".

He had other complaints too, but the half-dozen examples
listed above will do for starters. What may have coloured
Wheatcroft's attitude to this topic remains unknown - at
least to me. He has written a book titled The Strange Death
of Tory England, so perhaps lamenting Britain's empire put
him in the mood to offend Irish people. He claims surprise
at the reaction his article has generated.

It's easy to be angered by bilge like Wheatcroft's. Maybe
it was intended to infuriate through insult but that seems
irresponsible for a newspaper that claims to be among
Britain's most serious. There are admissible criticisms to
be made about 1916 but the myopic, colonialist attitudes of
Wheatcroft's contribution are wearying - especially 90
years later.

"It was Ireland's misfortune that the greatest European
poet of the age should have been Irish and extolled the
Rising. WB Yeats wrote of Easter 1916 that 'a terrible
beauty is born' and he hymned the martyred 'Sixteen Dead
Men'," wrote Wheatcroft.

"A terrible beauty" is arguably Yeats's most famous phrase
but "terrible" (strong enough, Geoffrey?) shows the
ambiguity he felt about it.

Few, if any, Irish people want to rule Britain and,
unionists excepted, few - though there are some - want to
be ruled from London. It's remarkable that people such as
Wheatcroft should apparently have difficulty in
understanding this. The notion that any people (strangely,
it's usually your own) should have the right to rule other
countries and debar challenge to that rule is selfish and

To me the tone of Wheatcroft's article was to exalt British
imperialism. The people who fomented and carried out an
insurrection against British rule in 1916 may or may not
have been misguided. That argument continues, but to liken
them to Nazis is vile. Not only is such a comparison vile,
it's lazy and astonishingly ignorant, especially
considering the early support given by British royals to
Adolf Hitler.

This column has commented before on the alarming levels of
ignorance in Britain towards Ireland. Certainly, there are
excellent British people (Chris Mullin, Tony Benn, Ken
Livingstone and others) who understand that, for centuries,
their country treated ours shamefully. But it's mostly
ignorance, fuelled by undue hauteur and articles like
Wheatcroft's, that prevails.

Imagine, say, middle-class British Home Counties buyers of
the Observer. They may feel relatively "liberal" -
considered, knowledgeable, educated - in their choice of
Sunday newspaper. Then they read tripe - and for me it was
pure tripe - such as Wheatcroft's crass polemic on 1916.
What are they to think? Ireland is unlikely to feature
prominently in their consciousness.

So the ancient enmity continues. Many British believe a
"lawful" - and for most, especially people at a distance,
that means a "morally lawful" - government was gratuitously
attacked by deluded and incorrigibly mad Irish militants.
The natural predilection to think well of any group that
includes yourself reinforces these perceptions. British
people are being made ignorant by such journalism.

Mind you, it's not just British people who are playing
politics with the events in Dublin at Easter 1916. Minister
for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern denied this week on RTÉ
1's Questions and Answers that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was
resurrecting the commemorative military parade for
political reasons. In itself, that's almost as insulting to
Irish people as Wheatcroft's rubbish.

Everybody - even the greenest of Fianna Fáil supporters -
knows that tomorrow's parade has been organised to counter
Sinn Féin's claim to the legacy of 1916. As a political
move, this may well be wise - Bertie Ahern, after all, is a
canny operator - but to deny any political motivation is an
abuse of political discourse. Furthermore, it treats us all
like children.

Anyway, arguments will continue over 1916 and it's right
they should. The roles of 1798, the Famine, the huge
upsurge in pro-Land League and later pro-nationalist
journalism in Ireland, the literary revival of the 1890s,
the Gaelic League, the GAA, the Shan Van Vocht magazine,
the Irish-Ireland movement, Edward Carson and all the rest
contributed to the Easter Rising.

How you interpret the influences of these and other strains
of the period in Irish life will determine your attitude to
1916. However, the idea that one country should invade
another, kill, enslave and debase far more people than it
endured in the process, yet remain morally superior, is
contemptible. Consider Iraq today and Ireland of
yesteryear. Then think of the Wheatcrofts among us.

© The Irish Times


Opin: Hard Tasks For Recalled Assembly

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

The government is expected to publish its emergency
legislation for the revived Stormont in the coming week.

It is understood the measure will be a broad brush giving
the secretary of state powers to change the assembly's
standing orders, but not spelling out the detail, which is
still being worked upon by civil servants.

The SDLP is concerned that Peter Hain wants to take what it
terms "vice regal powers" to alter the Good Friday
Agreement. Mr Hain denies this.

The law is due to be rushed through the Commons by the end
of the month, then to clear the Lords by early May.

This will set the scene for the first sitting of the new
assembly on 15 May. Many assembly members will find
themselves double booked on the big day.

In the morning, they will head to Stormont to sign the
register as unionist, nationalist or other. Then in the
afternoon, some will travel to Hillsborough to attend Peter
Hain's garden party, presuming they are not delayed by an
opening day filibuster.

In charge of the proceedings will be North Down assembly
member Eileen Bell. Appointing her, Peter Hain said she got
on with everyone and would do a good job.

Eileen Bell could face a tough task keeping in line the
notoriously fractious assembly members - there could be
skirmishes over the appointment and/or election of a

Mrs Bell had already stood down as Alliance deputy leader
and announced she would not contest her seat at any future
election. So she sees this as a fitting final chapter to
her long career.

Eileen Bell could face a tough task keeping in line the
notoriously fractious assembly members. There could be
skirmishes over the appointment and/or election of a

There will certainly be no agreement over the election of a
first and deputy first minister. And that will be just the
start of the problems.

Peter Hain has offered assembly members the chance to
discuss bread and butter issues like education, the
economy, council re-organisation and water charges.

But he is making no guarantees that his ministers will
change tack if faced by a decisive vote from the local

The DUP, who won't join a power sharing executive with Sinn
Fein, want to talk about the issues.

But nationalists and republicans see the government's offer
as an insult.

Speaking on the BBC's Inside Politics, SDLP deputy leader
Alasdair McDonnell said his party was not interested in
taking part in what he termed "phoney committees".

He described Peter Hain's offer as an "insulting"
invitation to "pre-school play group politics".

That won't be music to the government's ears, especially as
the SDLP control the 40% of nationalist votes necessary to
secure cross-community consent for a debate.

Dr McDonnell appeared more interested in any discussions
which would further the talks process.

While the government will be concerned about nationalist
non-cooperation with the start of their six month process,
loyalists fired another shot across their bows about what
might happen at the end

Some Ulster Unionists favour moving the talks into a public
arena via Stormont debates. But the SDLP deputy leader did
not sound convinced that holding the talks on camera would
serve much purpose.

While the government will be concerned about nationalist
non-cooperation with the start of their six month process,
loyalists fired another shot across their bows about what
might happen at the end.

The UVF confirmed reports of their disquiet about talk of
"joint stewardship" between London and Dublin by telling
the Belfast Telegraph that they would make no statement
about standing down until they see how the land lies after
24 November.

Peter Hain was already moderating the talk of joint
stewardship within two days of the prime ministers' Armagh
news conference.

Watch to see the governments soft pedal this further as
they strive to keep the loyalists on track.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/15 09:08:07 GMT


Launch Of Book On Ó Brádaigh

National Miscellaneous Press Release Friday April 14,
2006 16:59 By J Sheehy - None

"Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of an Irish

"In a very real sense, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh can . . . be said
to be the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans.
Studies of the Provisional movement to date have invariably
focused more on the Northerners and the role of people like
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. But an understanding of
them is not possible without appreciating where they came
from and from what tradition they have broken. Ruairí Ó
Bradáigh is that tradition and that is why this account of
his life and politics is so important."

—from the foreword by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret
History of the IRA


THE biography "Ruairí Ó Brádaigh - The Life and Politics of
an Irish Revolutionary" was launched by Dr Ruán O'Donnell,
Department of History, Limerick University, on April 12 -
the Wednesday before Easter.

Other speakers at the launch in the Cúltúrlann, Monkstown,
Dublin; included the author Professor Robert W White of
Indiana University and the subject of the book himself,
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

The book is in hardback and runs to 350 pages with another
60 pages of notes and is the result of over 20 years of
research and interviews with the subject. Dr O'Donnell did
extensive work for the bicentenaries of 1798 and 1803 and
is now engaged in a study on the Republican Movement in the

Speaking at the launch of Robert White's biography on April
12 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin,

"This work is a biography. It is not a disguised
autobiography. The facts have been checked with me but the
assessments, judgements and conclusions reached in it are
essentially those of the author, Professor Robert W White.

"The project has taken 22 years, ever since he interviewed
me in depth in Roscommon when writing his earlier work,
'Provisional Irish Republicans'.

"While engaged in this 'Life' he took a sabbatical leave
from his post at Indiana University to spend six months in
Ireland with his wife and family in order to engage full-
time in research.

"He read the files of the Longford Leader, the Seán MacEoin
papers (now at University College, Dublin) and checked all
published material he could find. He cites as sources 140
books and he interviewed personally about 40 different

"Bob White visited Ireland frequently, assessed among other
sources the Linenhall Library in Belfast, tracked down
people and interviewed them as he meticulously sought the
data. Now that he has completed his decades of work, I wish
to express my wholehearted gratitude to him.

"I think I was accurate when I told him one evening on the
telephone to the United States - I had just finished
reading the final draft of his work - that I felt he had
succeeded in getting inside my head.

"For my own part, on completing, this Easter, 55 years of
endeavour with the Republican Movement, I can sum up the
'Life' by quoting these words from the tombstone of
Charlotte Despard in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin
Cemetery, Dublin:

" ' I slept and dreamt that life was beauty

I woke and found that life was duty.' "

Launching the "Life" historian Ruan O'Donnell said: "Robert
White's new biography of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh is an essential
starting point for historical discussion of Ireland in the
1970s, with valuable insights pertaining to the Republican
perspective between the early 1950s and late 1990s. The
book explains and illuminates many significant incidents,
policies and practices raised in outline by the late John
Bowyer Bell and Tim Pat Coogan."

Table of contents for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh : the life and
politics of an Irish revolutionary / Robert W. White.

Bibliographic record and links to related information
available from the Library of Congress catalog.


1. Matt Brady and May Caffrey
2. The Brady Family: Irish Republicans in the 1930s and
3. Off to College and into Sinn Féin and the IRA: 1950-1954
4. Arms Raids, Elections, and the Border Campaign: 1955-
5. Derrylin, Mountjoy, and Teachta D la: December 1956-
March 1957
6. TD, Internee, Escapee, and Chief of Staff: March 1957-
June 1959
7. Marriage and Ending the Border Campaign: June 1959-
February 1962
8. Political and Personal Developments in the 1960s: March
9. Dream-Filled Romantics, Revolutionaries, and the
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association:
1965-August 1968
10. The Provisionals: September 1968-October 1970
11. The Politics of Revolution: Eire Nua, November 1970-
December 1972
12. International Gains and Personal Losses: January 1973-
November 1974
13. The Responsibilities of Leadership: November 1974-
February 1976
14. A Long War: March 1976-September 1978
15. A New Generation Setting the Pace: October 1978-August
16. "Never, that's what I say to you--Never": September
1981-October 1986
17. "We are here and we are very much in business": October
1986-May 1998

Notes on Sources
Works Cited

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Ó Brádaigh, Ruairí.
Revolutionaries -- Northern Ireland -- Biography.
Northern Ireland -- Politics and government.
Northern Ireland -- Biography.

"In a very real sense, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh can . . . be said
to be the last, or one of the last Irish Republicans.
Studies of the Provisional movement to date have invariably
focused more on the Northerners and the role of people like
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. But an understanding of
them is not possible without appreciating where they came
from and from what tradition they have broken. Ruairí Ó
Bradáigh is that tradition and that is why this account of
his life and politics is so important."

—from the foreword by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret
History of the IRA

Since the mid-1950s, Ruairí Ó Bradáigh has played a
singular role in the Irish Republican Movement. He is the
only person who has served as chief of staff of the Irish
Republican Army, as president of the political party Sinn
Féin, and to have been elected, as an abstentionist, to the
Dublin parliament. Today, he is the most prominent and
articulate spokesperson of those Irish Republicans who
reject the peace process in Northern Ireland. His rejection
is rooted in his analysis of Irish history and his belief
that the peace process will not achieve peace. Instead it
will support the continued partition of Ireland and result
in continued, inevitable, conflict.

The child of Irish Republican veterans, Ó Bradáigh has led
IRA raids, been arrested and interned, escaped and been "on
the run," and even spent a period of time on a hunger
strike. An articulate spokesman for the Irish Republican
cause, he has at different times been excluded from
Northern Ireland, Britain, the United States, and Canada.
He was a key figure in the secret negotiation of a
bilateral IRA-British truce. His "Notes" on these
negotiations offer special insight to the 1975 truce, the
IRA cease-fires of the 1990s, and the current peace process
in Ireland.

Ó Bradáigh has been a staunch defender of the traditional
Republican position of abstention from participation in the
parliaments in Dublin, Belfast, and Westminster. When Sinn
Féin voted to recognize these parliaments in 1970, he led
the walkout of the party convention and spearheaded the
creation of Provisional Sinn Féin. He served as president
of Provisional Sinn Féin until 1983, when he was forced
from the position by his successor, Gerry Adams. In 1986,
with Adams as its president, Provisional Sinn Féin
recognized the Dublin parliament. Ó Bradáigh led another
walkout and later became president of Republican Sinn Féin,
a position he still holds.

Dr. Robert White is the Dean of the Indiana University
School of Liberal Arts and Professor of Sociology at
Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis. He has
previously authored “Provisional Irish Republicans: An Oral
and Interpretive History” and was co-editor of “Self,
Indentity, and Social Movements”.

Independent Media Centre Ireland

Indymedia is a collective of independent media
organizations and hundreds of journalists offering
grassroots, non-corporate coverage. Indymedia is a
democratic media outlet for the creation of radical,
accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.


Gerry Adams Delivers Oration At Funeral Of Siobhan O'Hanlon

Published: 14 April, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today delivered the oration
at the funeral of Belfast Republican Siobhan O'Hanlon. Mr
Adams paid tribute to Siobhan's work over many years and
extended condolences to Siobhan's husband, son and extended

Oration: April 14th 2006.

I want to begin by extending my sincerest and deepest
sympathy to Pat and Cormac, to Siobhan‚s mother Tess, and
to the O'Hanlon, Cahill and Sheehan families. I also want
to thank all of the nurses and doctors and consultants who
were involved in Siobhan‚s treatment over recent years.

This Sunday we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Easter
Rising.Since that time there has been an almost continuous
struggle forthe liberation of our country and freedom of
our people.

This struggle has been blessed by having so many brave and
courageous people. Siobhan in her time played her role.
It‚s little wonder that Irish republicanism is so well
known is the history of freedom struggles, not only on
these islands but throughout the world.

Siobhan's loss will be felt most by her family. But because
she and Pat are republicans the line between family and
activism sometimes fades. And I know that Pat knows that
many of us who knew Siobhan well are grieving with him.

Particularly that small company, some might say a coven, of
Siobhan's women friends who kept faith with her in her long
battle against cancer. Even though we knew she was dying we
are still trying to absorb the reality that she has died.

Her life was too short.

We could say that she went before she got to do all the
things she wanted to do. But, is é sin an saol.

Maybe it isn't the length of our lives - it's what we do
with our lives that counts. It's the difference we make to
the lives of others that counts. Siobhan packed three or
four different lives into one. She made a huge difference
in the lives of many, many people. There was her life as a
child and a young nationalist from a strong republican
family ˆ growing up in north Belfast. There was her life in
the IRA. There was her life as a political prisoner. Her
life as a Sinn Féin activist. Her life as a mother and a

And for the last four years or so her life in all these
dimensions as she fought the cancer.

For the last 17 years or so I am very proud to say that I
was part of Siobhan‚s life and she was part of mine. She
headed up our office here in West Belfast. When we think
back to that time it was a very dangerous and difficult job
to work in a Sinn Féin office. State forces in and out of
uniform and their surrogates attacked us. All of the
offices in this city were hit with bombs, gunfire, and
rocket launchers.

Comrades and friends were killed or wounded. And every day
we picked ourselves up and worked on. Sinn Fein is now the
largest party in the city of Belfast. Many of the older
people who lived here since partition, including Siobhan's
uncle Joe used to marvel at that. And of course there were
hundreds of Siobhan‚s who put together that machine.

She was efficient and she was effective. All of this was
done with very little resources. Very little money and on a
voluntary basis. Her involvement in west Belfast was
pivotal. For example she became a key figure in Féile an
Phobail and with others turned the Féile into the largest
peoples festival on these islands.

When I was in meetings with John Hume and eventually lines
of contact were opened with the Irish and British
governments, Siobhan was one of the very small group of
people to play a part in that project. She was totally
trustworthy. Some have described her as a notetaker. She
was more than that. When Martin McGuinness laid the first
Sinn Fein delegation into Parliament Buildings to publicly
meet British government representatives for the first time
in 20 years Siobhan was there.

When we were locked out of the negotiations in June 96 and
a small delegation entered Castle Buildings to be told why
- Siobhan was there.

When we held our first meeting with Tony Blair in October
97. There was Siobhan.

When we made the first Irish republican visit to Downing
Street to meet the British Prime Minister in December 97
Siobhan was there.

And when we spent 8 long months in Castle Buildings
negotiating the Good Friday Agreement Siobhan was one of
the stalwarts who ran our operation and made it the envy of
our political opponents.

It would take too long to tell all of the twists and turns
of the process since then but right up until a very short
time ago, Siobhan was heavily involved in this work.

She built a huge network of contacts. Over the last few
days we have been receiving messages from all over Ireland,
from England, the United States, Cuba and South Africa.

She had her own unique way of working. I overheard her once
in animated telephone conversation talking about babies and
teething and pregnancies and all of that. When I asked her
out of curiosity who she was talking to she said that was
so and so from Downing Street.

Someone said to me yesterday Siobhan didn't suffer fools
gladly. Many of us know that to be true. She was very
direct. If she reared up on you, you knew you were reared
up on. But it rarely lasted. She was also territorial. She
protected me. And managed schedules and itineraries. She
also dealt with many individual cases of people who came to
us looking for help.

I know that Paula does a huge amount of work and that John
and Lorna and others also do great work in our advice
centres but I'm minded of the little boy from Ballymurphy
who was very seriously ill.

His parents were beside themselves trying to get him

"Let's send him to Cuba". Siobhan said, and we did. Or
families who were bereaved through suicide, victims of
child abuse who needed counselling, young people who were
self harming.People who feel through the cracks in the
health services.

We have a wonderful group of people here in West Belfast,
mostly Downes Syndrome adults who perform in a group called
'The Sky's the Limit'.

A few years ago I had no hesitation in asking Siobhan to
organise for them to go to New York. They did and they
performed off Broadway.

There are numerous other cases, including many from
unionist people who contact our office and who know her
only as the voice on the telephone who gets things done.
And it wasn't just those who feel foul of the system or
were disadvantaged. People with grievances against
republicans also had their cases championed.

There are children here from Belarus. Siobhan's battle with
the British Home Office and the Belarus government to have
them stay here with Irish families is the stuff of legend.

She was also responsible for our South African desk. She
loved South Africa. In 2001, on the 20th anniversary of the
hunger strikes she planned and organised a visit to Robben
Island where Mandela and the leaders of the ANC had been
imprisoned for decades. It is a world heritage site and no
other monuments are supposed to be there.

Siobhan cut through the red tape and Sobhan, Pat and
Cormac, Richard McAuley and I travelled to Robben island
and I unveiled a memorial to the hunger strikers in the
prison yard where Mandela exercised for almost 30 years.

We met President Mandela and presented him with a St Gaul's
jersey. Siobhan and I believed that it was from that point
that St. Gaul's luck changed. We‚re claiming credit for the
club‚s success in recent years.

In October 2002 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And
for the next three and a half years she battled it every
single day. Siobhan was a very private person but in
September of the following year she planned and organised a
conference at BIFHE on the Whiterock Road.

October was Breast Cancer awareness month and Siobhan
lobbied Action Cancer to bring their mobile screening units
into west Belfast. The BIFHE conference was a way of
bringing community activists and others together to talk
about this issue and raise awareness, as well as draw
attention to the mobile screening units.

So focused was Siobhan on this issue that for once she set
aside her natural reticence to speak publicly and addressed
the audience about her experience.

She told of getting the news that she had cancer and of the
approach taken by the hospitals; of having her breast
removed, and of discovering that the cancer was aggressive.

It was one of the most moving contributions I have ever
hard. I have no shame in saying that I cried at the end of
it. It was typical Siobhan. Honest and frank.

I'm afraid even if I wanted to I couldn‚t read all of it to
you today. She says when you have cancer there are a number
of big days. And she talked of these.

She included the day when she lost her hair. At one point
she says, „I was a mess. I had no hair, no eyebrows. No eye
lashes, one breast. My nails were all broken. I was tired.
I knew I had to get my act together. My hair had stated to
grow but it was very slow. It was also terrible grey." She
described how there are "three terrible days in relation to
your hair". They are, she said: "1. when your hair starts
coming out, 2. when you put a wig on for the first time,
and 3. when you have to take it off again. That was an
awful day. I remember going into the office and this guy
was going across the top of the stairs. He said "Ah,
Siobhan". "Don't open your mouth" I told him. "I have more
hair than you". And I did!"

Pat Sheehan was the best thing to happen to Siobhan. And
Cormac was the best thing to happen to both of them.

She said of Cormac. "My son Cormac is 4 ears old and he's a
chauvinist. He remains the greatest delight in my life." So
all of this and much more was Siobhan. Truth in many ways
that women are the boldest and most unmanageable of

I asked Rita O Hare to get me a piece of poetry or some
such thing, which would define Siobhan. Rita said
"Siobhan's not really a poetry type of person. She wouldn‚t
go for any of that WB stuff."

So yesterday Rita plagued me with all sorts of bits and
pieces. None of which were appropriate until eventually
late last night she said, "Here's a bit of WB that sums
Siobhan up:

For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?

I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.



Repeat Offenders May Avoid Jail In New Scheme

Conor Lally

Repeat offenders who commit new crimes can escape
prosecution under a new Garda cautioning scheme if they
admit their guilt and agree to pay compensation to their

This aspect of the scheme is likely to be controversial and
will lead to fears that the scheme may be used by wealthy
or well- known figures to escape prosecution even when
caught committing an offence.

Full details of the adult cautioning scheme have just been
published by the Garda. Proposals to include first-time
possession of cannabis as one of the offences have been

Details of the new plan reveal that even individuals who
have offended many times in the past can be considered for
a caution for new offences if the garda dealing with the
matter deems it suitable.

The guidelines add that while the views of the victim
should be considered when deciding if a caution is best, "a
caution may be appropriate even if the victim is opposed to

The guidelines also note: "An offer of compensation may be
a feature which might properly support the decision to

However, the decision to administer the caution should not
be conditional on the "completion of a specific task such
as payment of compensation".

"Under no circumstances should members of An Garda Síochána
become involved in negotiating or awarding reparation or

The individual garda investigating a crime has the power to
decide if a caution is the most suitable course of action.
They can consult their superior officer or the Director of
Public Prosecution's office if necessary.

There is no mention in the guidelines of suitable levels of
compensation. However, it is clearly stated that gardaí can
take into account an offer of compensation when deciding if
a caution is the best course.

The adult cautioning scheme came into operation on February
1st. The full details of the plan are only emerging now.

The scheme has been approved by the Director of Public

It was devised by the Garda and officials at the DPP's
office as an alternative to involving in the court system
those who commit minor offences.

The Department of Justice said it was too early to say how
it was working.

The benefits of the scheme include easing the workload on
the courts and freeing up gardaí for front-line duties who
would otherwise be giving evidence in court cases involving
minor crimes.

It covers a wide range of offences, from intoxication in a
public place to assault, theft, disorderly conduct and
threatening and abusive behaviour.

It covers 13 offences and can be used in respect of any
offender aged 18 or over once certain conditions are met.

There must be prima facie evidence of the offender's guilt.

The offender must admit the offence and understand the
significance of a caution. The offender must also give an
informed consent to being cautioned.

© The Irish Times


Action Urged On Threat To Wildlife

Seán Mac Connell, Agriculture Correspondent

A major North/South study of the threats posed to Ireland's
native wildlife and habitats by invasive species has
recommended the formulation of contingency plans to meet
the threat.

Ten key recommendations have been made in the report, which
examined the threat posed to native species such as the red
squirrel, white-clawed crayfish, red deer and earthworms.

It also examined the specific habitat types under threat
including freshwater river systems, ponds, mesotrophic
lakes, native woodland, lowland heath, coastal floodplains
and saltmarshes and sand dunes.

Commissioned by the Environment and Heritage Service for
Northern Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife
Service in the Republic, it listed the damage caused by
species such as the grey squirrel, the zebra mussel, the
New Zealand flatworm and rhododendron.

In terms of predation, the New Zealand flatworm was stated
to be the most serious predatory introduced species in
Ireland due to the choice of earthworms as a prey item.

"Earthworms are fundamental in maintaining soil quality and
their loss of reduction in numbers could have extensive
economic impacts on agricultural production," said the

It also charted the damage to other fish stocks caused by
the introduction of the roach to rivers and the damage to
native Atlantic salmon and brown trout by the introduction
of rudd to Irish rivers.

Another case study carried out by the experts at Quercus,
Northern Ireland's research centre for biodiversity at
Queen's University Belfast, who prepared the report, is on
the impact of giant hogweed on Irish river habitats.

The key recommendation is that detailed risk assessments
and contingency plans should be urgently prepared for
species that are likely to invade Ireland in advance of
their arrival.

"Barriers to a rapid and decisive response to the new
invasions should be minimised by high-level cross-
jurisdictional and inter-departmental support for and
funding for contingency plans," said the report.

It recommended that a new legal framework be developed
specifically for dealing with the problem and a framework,
including support for specialist identification skills, for
the collation and cross-Border exchange of information on
non-native species.

It also stressed the need to develop and maintain a
comprehensive database of species similar to the centre
established by the Ulster Museum in 1994.

© The Irish Times


Songs Sung True


Ronnie Drew and Eleanor Shanley have plundered the songs of
Nick Cave, Neil Young and Tom Waits with eclectic results,
writes Siobhán Long

Ronnie Drew guffaws at the very suggestion that his latest
CD, El Amor de mi Vida, recorded with his now regular
collaborator, Eleanor Shanley, is an attempt to strike a
blow at the creeping conservatism of the listening public.
A kick against the pricks? A fitting riposte to an endemic
ageism that would rather see him tucked safely in a snug
rather than ripping it up with borrowings from Eels, Neil
Young, Tom Waits and Nick Cave?

"I suppose I can understand why people would expect both
Eleanor and myself to come out with a 'traditional'
recording," he offers, with an obvious appetite for
unpicking the threads that define an artist's public
persona. "Essentially though, I'm a purveyor of songs, and
it's great not to get stuck in the one genre, to broaden
your horizons. We both find certain songs simply strike a
chord in us, and others might make a sort of a whimsical
impression on us, but that guides us towards the song

Not that Ronnie Drew is a stranger to unlikely
collaborations. Having shared a mic with Antonio Breschi,
Rory Gallagher and Jah Wobble, it's probably safe to assume
that he has no great penchant for recycling past glories in
the (un)holy name of record sales.

"Eleanor and I put a lot into this," Drew explains, "so
that we'd go with songs that'd complement both our voices.
We weren't setting out to make a record that'd sell by the
bucketload, necessarily."

There's still a certain resistance among the public to the
unknown, Drew suggests, and this conservatism doesn't serve
any musician, regardless of the genre of music.

"Most musicians I know have a catholic taste," Drew
maintains, and it's this primal spirit of adventure that
informs the wilful eclecticism of El Amor de mi Vida.

"We branched out on this album," Eleanor Shanley says,
carving a sweeping arc in the air with her hand, as if to
gather every musical style into her gabháil. "But you know,
I sing Sé Fáth mo Bhuartha because I just love the
sentiment expressed in it: this woman has everything, the
milk, and honey and bees, but the one thing that's missing
is the man. And we sing Nick Cave's Henry Lee, which I only
realised when we decided to sing it, that it's a
traditional song."

So, while Drew gives it bottle on the stalwart tradition
embroiled in The Verdant Braes of Screen, both he and
Shanley had little difficulty bending and stretching their
vocal cords to take on El Amor de mi Vida (The Love of my
Life), one of the last songs written by the late Warren
Zevon. It's a song that also gave Drew the chance to relive
the glories of a youth spent working the tapas bars of

"In the late Fifties we just went off and chanced our arm,"
he says. "I didn't want to work, basically, so I went off,
and the beauty of it is that because I learned my Spanish
in pubs and restaurants, my accent is quite convincing. The
other part, my grammar, is arseways!"

DREW'S SOCIALIST SPIRIT is another unlikely driving force
behind the pair's decisions to shake up their repertoire.

"In such a capitalist society as this, it's hard to do
anything different, because people run with the herd so
much," he says. "But you always live in hope, and this is
Eleanor's and my contribution to changing that."

The Good Old Days, by Eels, is one of the most startling
covers on the album: a plainchant yin to the yang of Gladys
Knight's infamously effusive live recording, The Way We
Were. With its opening couplet of "I know I'm not too much
of a bargain/ You know that's not what you bargained for",
delivered by Drew in a suitably life-worn growl, and
countered by Shanley's flyaway vocals, the pair transform
one of Eels's throwaway beauties.

"The minute we heard that, we both loved it," says Shanley
. "It's a really good story for a duet, even though it
wasn't that originally." It's the song's simple wisdom that
appealed to Drew. "I like it because nobody's expressing
any great pride or self-pity. It's saying 'everything's not
perfect, but we'll get on with it'. We're not all Sharon
Stone and George Clooney. We're not all millionaires. Life
isn't like that. It's a reminder that life can be good, if
you make the effort."

Neil Young's When God Made Me, was a must-have, according
to Shanley, in light of the impact of George Dubya's right-
wing stewardship. "I chose that song," she offers, drawing
on her recent experience as a development worker with Self
Help Development in Uganda and Ethiopia, "because I think
it's a great comment on the world as it is today; that
religion and God are used to create so many wars. It really
pinpoints the preciousness that some people feel, as if
they're the only one on the planet. I really think that's
why the world is in such a mess, because religion isn't
being used to create a spiritual bond between people. It's
separating people. It's our job, for the short time we're
here on the planet, to look after one another, not to kill
one another."

As a self-confessed journeyman, Drew welcomed the arrival
of such a perfectly formed gemstone as Young's to his door,
its lyric crying out to be interpreted rather than simply

"You must make a song your own," he insists. "And I can't
imagine singing that song without digging underneath its
surface. That's what music is all about."

Drew and Shanley are no strangers to fervent musical
expression, so the scathing perspective of Young's diatribe
sits easily with both of them.

"I've sung The Magdalene Laundries and The Glasgow
Lullaby," Shanley notes, "and they have pretty hard,
striking messages, so I think audiences who know us would
expect us to face right up to a subject in the way that
song does."

Bob Dylan's Farewell (a variation on The Leaving of
Liverpool) is an ode to the road, and to the inevitability
of emigration, that might, ironically, find more resonance
among young immigrants who've come to Ireland in search of

"When I heard that song first," Shanley recounts, "the
lines that struck me were: 'With my hands in my pockets and
my coat collar high/ I will travel unnoticed and unknown'.
It's so true that it closely reflects this country these
days. There are so many people here just trying to earn a
living wage, and so many of them are invisible."

DREW HAS A different take on it, though. "I wasn't thinking
of economic migration at all when I was singing that song.
When I was young, nobody had any money anyway. It wasn't
Angela's Ashes grinding poverty but it was just the norm.
There was no question of buying houses. Pensions? Hah! I
remember meeting people who'd taken the permanent
pensionable jobs after school, and by 43 or 44 years of
age, they were twisted and bitter. The way I looked at it
was that you can't always wait for the green man to cross
the road. Sometimes you have to go when it's red - to get
to the other side."

El Amor de mi Vida is on the Daisy label

© The Irish Times


Marking 1,000 Years Of Religion


Archaeologist and art historian Peter Harbison has compiled
a fine record of church sites in Galway, writes Eileen

Tall it stands against the sky, tall it is - standing about
112 feet - but not quite straight. The Round Tower at the
ancient early Christian cathedral site of Kilmacduagh,
which was founded by St Colman in the seventh century, is
the tallest surviving Irish round tower and among the
oldest such monuments. It is also the most distinctive and
appears to move in and out of sight when approaching it on
the road from Gort. In addition to its fine state of
preservation is this tower's particular characteristic,
that of its swaying lean - indicative more of insecure
foundations than an overly relaxed attitude.

Framed by long views of the Burren hills, the Kilmacduagh
monastic complex, often described as the "Glendalough of
the West", has a range of stone buildings and impressive
later additions dating from the medieval period such as a
15th-century doorway and a beautiful traceried east window
from the same period. According to folklore, the saint had
been offered, by a generous kinsman, any site of his
choosing for the establishment of a monastery. St Colman
left the selection to divine intervention. He happened to
drop his belt and saw this chance act as a sign from

Kilmacduagh is the most southerly point of the remarkable
legacy of church building that extends across the east
Galway region. Spanning monastic sites from the early
Christian and medieval periods and on to churches decorated
in the Celtic Revival style, the range not only expresses
the continuity of a thousand years of active worship, it
plots the evolution of church architecture and design from
the earliest times to an era in which Ireland's finest
stained glass artists were commissioned to create memorial

Archaeologist and art historian Peter Harbison, an
international authority on the Irish High Cross and a one-
man custodian of Irish heritage through his scholarly but
accessible approach, has compiled a lively and persuasively
illustrated gazetteer, A Thousand Years of Church Heritage
in East Galway, which looks at 49 sites throughout this
rewarding region.

Such is the array of stained-glass art by artists such as
Evie Hone, Sarah Purser, AE Child, Michael Healy and
Patrick Pye in St Brendan's Cathedral at Loughrea that
visiting the church is akin to exploring an art gallery.

Other more modest churches such as that of Killure, heading
west from Ballinasloe, near Ahascragh, will take the
visitor by surprise with the splendour of two fine windows,
one depicting the Holy Family, the other the Crucifixion -
both dating from the 1930s, but both unsigned. Centuries
before the stained-glass window became a narrative
expression of memory and faith, came the wonder of the
majestic carved c.12th-century west doorway at St Brendan's
Clonfert cathedral. Decorated in the Romanesque style, the
arched doorway is arranged in six orders and has a variety
of motifs including human and animal heads and foliage.
Above the doorway itself is a dramatic pointed hood of
human heads alternating with triangles below which is a
further line of less surreal heads.

THERE ARE MANY magnificent church sites in Ireland, and
several occupy more physically beautiful settings than
Clonfert, but it is a special place.

Believed to hold the grave of St Brendan, who is the most
dominant presence throughout this region, it was twice
attacked by the Vikings, survived at least three serious
fires and is home to an important bat colony. Above all,
there is a wonderful atmosphere. Birds favour it and it is
a living place which engages and inspires at any time, not
least Easter. Also among the early Christian sites explored
by Harbison in this present survey is Drumacoo, with its
decorated stone work and Kilbennon, believed to have been
important from pagan times for its association with
Lughnasa celebrations.

Kiltartan, more widely known through Lady Gregory, is also
home to a small stone church.

In the entry for St Mary's Church of Ireland in Tuam which
occupies the site of a sixth-century monastery founded by
St Jarlath, there is an evocative photograph showing the
12th-century, decorated sandstone chancel arch. Harbison
also provides a good history of the church, including the
contribution made by the 19th-century architect Thomas
Deane in the preservation of the arch, and notes the fact
that playwright JM Synge's grandfather is buried in the

Several wonders feature in the Medieval section of the book
which includes Annaghdown, Abbeyknockmoy and Ross Errilly.
Annaghdown beautifully situated on Lough Corrib, is where
St Brendan founded a convent headed by his sister Briga.

It was also a cathedral from the 12th until the 14th
centuries when it became joined with Tuam. The cathedral
here boasts a splendid Romanesque carved window in its east
wall and Harbison acknowledges it as "the finest late
Romanesque-style window to survive in Ireland from the
period around 1200", and adds that it is "one of the
greatest masterpieces of sculpture in Connacht before it
was overcome by the Normans in 1235".

Abbeyknockmoy is the only Cistercian house in the area and
is a typical example of Cistercian ground layout. The
church is to one side - the domestic buildings, including
chapter-house, refectory, kitchen, stores and sleeping
accommodation on the other. It is known to have been home
to a professional scribe, although none of his work
endures. What does survive though is a wall painting dating
from circa 1500 on the north wall of the chancel at
Knockmoy Abbey which is interesting to compare with those
found in the church on Clare Island.

Clontuskert, one of the most decorative late-medieval
priories in Ireland, possesses a fine west doorway with a
frieze consisting of four figures. There is detailed entry
in the book on the site.

But as always the imagination returns to Ross Errilly, off
the Headford Road and located on the Galway/Mayo border. It
is one of the largest, best-preserved and most beautiful of
Ireland's medieval Franciscan friaries. From a distance it
looks to be still active and alive with busy monks. There
is a tall, battlemented tower and it was obviously home to
a large community, judging by the extensive range of
domestic buildings. Life was peaceful here, and even after
the Suppression of the Monasteries, the friars enjoyed the
protection of the Earl of Clanrickarde. For almost 200
years the community battled to stay, returning after each
upheaval only to finally leave in 1753. It is, quite
simply, one of the most atmospheric places in Ireland.

ANOTHER ELOQUENT SITE is that of the Dominican Friary in
Athenry. This is a place with a complex and detailed story
to tell, well illustrated by the number of medieval tombs.
Unfortunately many of these lie neglected and damaged
beyond legibility of the ground. There are some good
examples in the walls. In addition to the grand and
somewhat showy limestone vault honouring the de Burgh clan,
is the gracious monument to the memory of the Rt Hon
Matilda Bermingham, who died in 1788.

Unfortunately, recent history has left an ugly postscript
in the form of vicious vandalism perpetrated on it in 2002.
Harbison reports that Mass was celebrated here in 1991 "750
years after its foundation" and some 450 years after the
friary was closed because of the Reformation.

Ballynakill Abbey is host to one of only two medieval
knight effigies found west of the Shannon and this one is
believed to be a 16th-century knight, possibly a Burke. A
comment made more than a century ago by Francis Joseph
Biggar who decided the 15th-century Franciscan Friary
church at Kilconnell "is perhaps the most perfect of the
Franciscan houses at present remaining to us in Ireland",
and is quoted by Harbison, is well supported by the
accompanying photograph. Kilconnell has the finest
collection of western Irish tombs and Harbison's text gives
a detailed reading of them.

The concluding section surveying 24 Celtic Revival sites is
the largest. As expected, it is dominated by the
achievement of mainly native stained-glass artists. Many of
the designs are immensely sophisticated and all of them are
vivid and expressive.

While the area under scrutiny is local and specific, this
is a book of national importance. It is a celebration of
church sites and their evolution, it is also a record of
the pioneering artistic achievement of the mason and in the
modern era, the stained-glass artist.

A Thousand Years of Church Heritage in East Galway by Peter
Harbison is published by Ashfield Press (hardback: 25;
softback: 20)

© The Irish Times


Naked Actors Without Irish Need Not Apply


Wanted: fluent Irish-speakers with the sex factor.
Catherine Foley sits in on auditions for the TV soap opera,
Ros na Rún

Tall, handsome, tanned and intriguing - he looks a dead
cert for the TV screen-test. Until he opens his mouth. His
limited command of Irish means he hasn't a hope of landing
a major part at this week's auditions for the highly
successful TG4 soap, Ros na Rún.

Then, with a humorous glint in his eye, he offers to take
his clothes off. Series producer Deirdre Ní Fhlatharta
smiles in mock disbelief, declining his proposition. There
is palpable disappointment among the all-female crew in the
room at having to let this sexy actor go, not least because
the show is currently looking for people with that elusive
"sex factor . . . to play controversial and steamy roles"
in the next series, as the advertisements in the press and
elsewhere declared.

So is the series producer struggling to find that winning
combination of star quality and fluency in Irish?

"Absolutely," admits Ní Fhlatharta.

In spite of this difficulty, there has been a "huge
response" to the advertisement from men and women of all
ages, all backgrounds and all parts of the country. The
auditions this week screen-tested a wide range of people,
including teachers, surfers, actors, IT technicians,
students and musicians, with more men than women applying.

There are plans to introduce four new characters to the
series next season. However, to get a part in the soap,
which has been running for 10 years and attracts 300,000
viewers a week, "a strong grasp of Irish is essential" says
Ní Fhlatharta. There is no time for teaching Irish on set.

Pádraig Mac Donnchadha, from Salthill in Galway, who has
given up his nine-to-five job in a computer business to
follow his heart and become an actor, travelled out to
Spiddal from Galway on Wednesday to be screen-tested for a

He is asked to act out the part of Ros na Rún character
Fergal. It's a fresh and unusual storyline. The short scene
concerns Fergal's wife, Eilís (as played at the audition by
actor Sorcha Ní Chéide), a wheelchair-bound woman
(following an accident in a car driven by her husband) who
has allowed her husband to go out with other women on
condition that he does not fall in love with them.

"In her head, it's the only way she can make the marriage
work," explains Ní Fhlatharta.

Of course, Fergal has fallen in love with someone else and
the scene marks a turning point in the couple's story.

"It has come to the end of Fergal's marriage to Eilís,"
says Ní Fhlatharta. Camera, action.

MAC DONNCHADHA READS the lines with great passion and
anger, raising his voice, pointing his finger, laughing
sarcastically and showing clearly that the character is "ar
buille". Now, for the next take, he is asked to tone it
down slightly and not show as much anger.

"It's racy!" Mac Donnchadha says afterwards. "That's a very
generous offer she made him . . . What about give a man an
inch and he'll take a yard?"

In fact, it's not that racy in comparison with other
storylines the soap has handled to date, including
abortion, marital infidelity, a double suicide, clerical
love, teenage pregnancy, rape, euthanasia and internet

The characters in the series "are not cardboard cutouts,
there's a bit of depth to them. It's different to other
soaps in that way", according to Mac Donnchadha's younger
brother, Fergal, a session musician based in Galway, who is
next up for audition in the soap's offices, which are
attached to the Ros na Rún set. He reveals afterwards that
his favourite character in the series is crusty publican
Tadgh, as played by Macdara Ó Fatharta.

"I like the evil content in him," he says.

Yes, that character has the elusive X factor because
"without opening his mouth he's got a presence", explains
Ní Fhlatharta. "He's very attractive. People are drawn to
him because he's such a baddie."

Other stars in the series, who have become household names
in places such as the Philadelphia area of the US, where
Ros na Rún is broadcast, include Sorcha Ní Chéide, from
Lettermore, Co Galway. She auditioned for a part in Ros na
Rún about five years ago, not long after her Leaving Cert,
and now "she's got a huge male following", according to Ní

As the day draws to an end, Ní Fhlatharta leans back after
a full day of auditioning, smiling wryly at the memory of
the handsome auditionee who fessed up to not having that
much Irish. Well, whatever about a major role, he'll
definitely get a walk-on part, she concedes.

© The Irish Times

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