News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

April 14, 2006

Ahern Hopes For Shared Future

To Index of Monthly Archives
To April Index
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click HERE
(Paste into a News Reader)
To receive this news via email, click
No Message is necessary.

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 04/14/06
Ahern Hopes For 'Shared Future'
NL 04/14/06 DUP Insist: Give Us The Time And We Will Deliver
UN 04/14/06 Sinn Fein Member Says No Sympathy For Murdered Donaldson
BT 04/14/06 Taxpayer Forks Out £9m To Retain Stormont
BT 04/14/06 DUP Man Tops Assembly Travel Expenses League
UT 04/14/06 IRA 'Sorry' For 1974 Death
BN 04/14/06 UDA Divided Over Expulsion Of Spendthrift Members
BT 04/14/06 UVF Is Not Sabre-Rattling: Ervine
UN 04/14/06 Rangers Bigots Celebrate As UEFA Fail Beautiful Game
BT 04/14/06 Judge Lashes US Anti-Terror Laws
BN 04/14/06 Easter Rising Parade 'Day Of Proud Commemoration'
BN 04/14/06 Sinn Féin’s Easter Rising Celebrations Fall Foul Of DUP
RT 04/14/06 McAleese Addresses Legacy Of 1916 Rising (A4)
BT 04/14/06 Opin: Language Used By The IRA Being Seen As Significant
NL 04/14/06 Opin: Loyalists It Is Time To Disband
BT 04/14/06 Book: The Female Spy At The Very Top Of Sinn Fein
BT 04/14/06 Belfast Restaurant Is The Best, To The Power Of Ten
BT 04/14/06 Drown Your Sorrows, The Price Of A Pint Is To Go Up
BT 04/14/06 Painting A Picture Of Lavery's Artistic


Ahern Hopes For 'Shared Future'

The Irish prime minister has said he is hopeful that the
political parties in Northern Ireland will work towards a
future together for everyone.

Bertie Ahern said he believed that was the message being
sent out from this year's Easter Rising commemorations.

"We want to commemorate the past and where the state was
founded on," he said.

"We also want to give the inclusive message that we want to
work on shared history and work on our shared future."

This Sunday marks the 90th anniversary of the Rising, when
rebels seized control of parts of Dublin and proclaimed
Ireland a republic.

The rebellion was put down by the British in a week of

This year also sees the 90th anniversary of the Battle of
the Somme in which both the 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish)
Divisions fought in the battle between 1 July and 13
November 1916.

Mr Ahern said that he hoped there could be work on a shared

"I think we can do that - we'll do it on this Easter and do
it on the Battle of the Somme," he said.

"We want to work together on things that bring us together
and hopefully we can also do that with the assembly, which
will start off again next month, and hopefully we can do an
inclusive executive as well - I think that's what the
people want us to do."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/14 08:43:28 GMT


DUP Insist: Give Us The Time And We Will Deliver

THE public have been urged to be patient with the DUP as
they try to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson reassured people
yesterday that no matter how uncertain the future of the
Province appears, the DUP have a "serious and sustained
strategy" to represent unionism.

Mr Donaldson was responding to comments made by Ulster
Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, who criticised the DUP

leadership for their handling to date of the Stormont

Mr Donaldson said: "While it may at times be slow and even
frustrating, (our strategy] will ultimately be to
everyone's benefit. People will thank the DUP for ensuring
that the republican movement turns its back on illegality
and commits to exclusively peaceful and democratic methods.

"No-one will thank a party that agrees to an acceptable
level of terrorism and criminality."

Mr Donaldson insisted he and his party colleagues would not
make the mistakes he says the UUP made before them.

"The DUP's position is and will remain that no-one who is
associated with terror and criminality should be anywhere
near government of Northern Ireland," he said.

"The UUP's position is that those associated with terror
and criminality should be in Northern Ireland's government
and that any subsequent illegality should be ignored.

"Law-abiding people of all political persuasions will
rightly fail to see how such a strategy will give them good

"A second-rate, sub-standard form of democracy for Northern
Ireland where a blind eye is turned to murder or robberies
or smuggling by those associated with members of the
Government is absolutely unacceptable."

Mr Donaldson also accused the UUP of "tearing up their
manifesto and chaperoning Sinn Fein into Northern Ireland's
government while the IRA remained active".

And he asked why Sir Reg was so keen to repeat the mistakes
of his predecessor, David Trimble.

"Only recently, Sir Reg made a very public apology for the
serious strategic mistakes that he and David Trimble made
and for letting unionism down," said Mr Donaldson.

"Now he has the audacity to urge the DUP to repeat those
very same mistakes. Sir Reg has proven only that he is a
political lightweight who would willingly surrender his
principles simply to get his hands on the reigns of power.

"The Government might be able to bully the UUP into
accepting one bad deal over another bad deal, but the DUP
will not be browbeaten into making the wrong choices for
unionism by these tactics."

14 April 2006


Sinn Fein Member Says No Sympathy For Murdered Donaldson

12:57 Friday April 14th 2006

A prominent member of republican Sinn Fein in Donegal has
stated he has no sympathy for Denis Donaldson who was
murdered last week.

Former Bundoran town councillor, Joe O'Neill said informers
in all codes are generally shot.

He said those who tolerate them are every bit as much, if
not more, to blame.

The double agent was killed by a shotgun wound at a remote
cottage in Glenties ten days ago.

Mr O'Neill added that in his opinion, Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness were just as bad as Denis Donaldson for
breaking up the Provisional IRA in 1986.


Taxpayer Forks Out £9m To Retain Stormont

Hain points to high cost of Assembly

By David Gordon
14 April 2006

Taxpayers forked out almost £9m last year in pay and
expenses for members of the mothballed Stormont Assembly,
newly-released figures showed today.

The salary and allowances totals for 2005 have been
released to this newspaper under freedom of information

They cover a period when the Assembly did not sit for a
single minute. No debates were held on the floor of
Stormont during the 12 months and its committees also
remained inactive.

Salaries alone for the 108 members added up to some £3.2m
in the year.

Allowances paid to Assembly members for running
constituency offices cost the public purse a further £4.9m,
while travel expenses totalled £617,878.

The overall figure, including other allowance categories,
came to £8,910,731.

Secretary of State Peter Hain has warned Assembly members
that their pay and expenses will be halted if a November
headline for the restoration of devolution is not achieved.

But anti-Agreement unionist Bob McCartney has said he will
not be surprised if this timescale is altered.

Commenting on the new Stormont pay and expenses figures,
the North Down Assembly member stated: "Hain is shouting
about this but the truth is that he is still paying their
salaries because he knows that once he stops he has signed
the final death certificate of the Assembly and the Good
Friday Agreement. That's the only reason.

"If he thinks it's such a bad thing to be paying this
money, it lies within his power to stop it now."

Mr McCartney also said he had not claimed any Assembly
mileage allowance since 2003 and did not have any family
members on his Stormont payroll.

A senior trade unionist has, meanwhile, called for the
urgent restoration of devolution.

Tom Gillen, from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said:
"We still believe that the Good Friday is the best way

"We would like our politicians to be in the Assembly and
have a working Executive protecting the rights of the
people of Northern Ireland.

"We feel that there is serious pressure coming from the
Treasury to take money out of the system here and to make
workers and families pay much more for services when we are
still one of the lowest paid regions of the UK.

"I know MLAs are doing their jobs on a day-to-day basis in
their constituencies, assisting people with their queries.
That's one element of it, but there is no substitute for a
locally devolved government working on behalf of the


DUP Man Tops Assembly Travel Expenses League

By David Gordon
14 April 2006

This is the politician who topped the Assembly travel
expenses league last year - while representing a
constituency just a few miles from Stormont.

According to officially-released information, the DUP's
south Belfast MLA Mark Robinson received £18,218 for
mileage in 2005.

This total is more than three times the Stormont average
and higher than figures claimed by MLAs for Fermanagh and

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Robinson said
he would be making no comment until he had obtained a
breakdown of his travel expenses from the Assembly's
finance department.

He also said that he did not live in the south Belfast
constituency, but declined to elaborate further.

Overall, MLAs received salaries and expenses totalling
almost £9m in 2005 - a year when the Assembly did not
conduct a single minute of official business.

Salaries for the 108 members came to £3.2m, while
allowances to run constituency offices added up to £4.9m.

A total of £617,878 was paid out in travel expenses in the
year. This does not cover expenditure on air fares, taxis
or public transport, which can be claimed under a separate

The figures have been released to this newspaper by the
Assembly under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mark Robinson is a former Castlereagh councillor and has
been a south Belfast MLA since 1998. He has a lower public
profile than many of his DUP colleagues and is not related
to the party's deputy leader Peter Robinson.


IRA 'Sorry' For 1974 Death

The IRA has apologised to the family of a man killed in a
bomb explosion three decades ago.

In a separate statement from its Easter message, the
Provisionals said that Eugene McQuaid, 35, from Newry was
not a member of the organisation nor was he on an operation
for them when he was killed at Killeen security checkpoint
on the Belfast to Dublin road in October 1974.

In its statement, the IRA said it had carried out an
investigation after being asked by Mr McQuaid`s family.

"Our investigation has found that an IRA operation was in
place on the day aimed at a British Army patrol that was
known to travel that particular stretch of road regularly,"
the Provisionals said.

"Eugene McQuaid was killed when an explosive device
intended for the patrol was detonated prematurely.

"Eugene McQuaid was not a member of the IRA. He was not
involved in the IRA operation."

The organisation acknowledged that at the time of Mr
McQuaid`s death, it did not admit its role in the incident.

"The IRA offers its sincere apologies to the McQuaid family
for the death of Eugene and for the heartache and trauma
that our actions have caused," the statement said.

The statement was released through the Belfast-based Daily
Ireland newspaper.

Mr McQuaid`s son-in-law Ciaran Tumilty welcomed the
statement, insisting they had wanted to clear his name and
any suggestion that he was involved in a paramilitary

"This was clearly never the case and the family welcome the
IRA investigation and statement," he said.

"Those making the false allegations against Eugene never
had any evidence to support their claims because none

"He was never a member of a paramilitary organisation. He
was a good family man."


UDA Divided Over Expulsion Of Spendthrift Members

14/04/2006 - 09:04:09

Tensions are high within loyalist factions in the North,
after the UDA has failed to come to a decision on the fate
of two north Belfast brothers.

All but two sections of the organisation want to expel Ihab
and Andre Shoukri but a meeting last night failed to make
any ruling.

The half-Egyptian brothers are holding out against other
UDA members who want to desist from drug-dealing, extortion
and blackmail.

Court evidence was given during a bail hearing that Andre
Shoukri spent three quarters of a million pounds in one
north Belfast bookmakers last year.

Their spendthrift lifestyle has increased tension within
the UDA with all but its North Belfast and South East
Antrim units wanting them expelled.

Attempts to oust them, however, have so far failed with
loyalist sources predicting possible violence unless the
issue is settled quickly.


UVF Is Not Sabre-Rattling: Ervine

By Noel McAdam
14 April 2006

Recent internal UVF consultations over its future have been
dominated by the British and Irish Governments' plan for
joint management of Northern Ireland if the Assembly
collapses, it was claimed today.

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine said: "It
certainly is an issue for them, but they are not sabre-
rattling. There is nothing threatening in what they are

Mr Ervine, whose party is linked to the UVF, said he
regarded the UVF statement as significant and generally

His comments came after yesterday's exclusive Belfast
Telegraph interview in which a UVF spokesman said the
organisation was delaying any decision over its future
until after the Governments' November 24 deadline for the
restoration of a power-sharing Executive.

The hooded spokesman for the illegal loyalist terror group
and Red Hand Commando, whose ceasefires are not recognised
by the Government, said they wanted to wait to see the
shape of so-called 'plan B'.

London and Dublin have said in the event of the recalled
Assembly collapsing, new British-Irish partnership
arrangements will be agreed to implement the Agreement.

"Whether it is called 'plan B', joint management or joint
authority, it spells the same thing to this organisation,"
the spokesman said.

Mr Ervine said: "It's a difficulty but it's only a
potential difficulty. They seem to be saying that they have
a preference, and their preference is accountability."

The positive interpretation was that the UVF would not
stand in the way of a devolved power-sharing administration
including Sinn Fein.

Mr Ervine said on Good Friday eight years ago that many
unionists had hung their "hats, coats and trousers" on the
promise of accountability in the Good Friday Agreement.

"From what I am being told when they have been trying to
hold consultations recently the main issue which they are
taken back to is this 'plan B.'

"I think the preference is accountability, that Government
behind closed doors must not happen."

But the East Belfast Assembly member played down the
suggestion that if a power-sharing Executive is formed, UVF
guns will follow.


Rangers 'Billy Boy' Bigots Celebrate Victory As UEFA Fail Beautiful Game

Friday April 14th 2006

THE unrepentant hard core of the Rangers support - those
followers who were characterised last year by David Murray,
the Ibrox chairman, as the 'F*** the Pope brigade' - have
been celebrating their unexpected status as football's
gingerbread men.

Called to account by UEFA for their incessant bellowing of
such sectarian ditties as 'Hello, Hello! We are the Billy
Boys!' with its obscene code in reference to the incumbent
at the Vatican, it was widely anticipated that a long
overdue official sanction would be visited upon them.

UEFA's gathering of evidence from Rangers' recent Champions
League meetings, home and away, with Villarreal was
substantial. However, the control and disciplinary body
(the independent panel which acts as judge and jury to
UEFA's role as prosecutors in such matters) dismissed the
charges - and out of the pan jumped the gingerbread men.
News of the verdict was received in Scotland with the same
open-mouthed incredulity that followed the publication of
the Hutton Report.

Just as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and spin-doctor
Alistair Campbell were braced for a lacerating critique of
the treatment meted out to Dr Kelly, so David Murray had
feared the possible consequences of Rangers' failure to
muzzle the club's coterie of bigots.

True, he presented evidence of the attempts Rangers have
made to address the problem in the last three or four years
- consistently, if belatedly - and was entitled to expect
that this would be considered in mitigation.

What neither Murray nor the indicted fans could have
anticipated was the breathtaking ingeniousness with which
the control and disciplinary body threw open the door for
bigots and racists throughout Europe to justify their

By citing the continued existence of offensive behaviour -
and the Ibrox louts' conduct is certainly offensive to all
but a very few in Scotland - as proof it is tolerated
within a social context, the verdict offers cover for the
fascist contingent within Lazio's Ultras to claim
historical continuity for their anti-Semitic and racist
demonstrations. Does the name Mussolini ring a bell here?

If not, then the committee's members might ask their
Italian member, Maurizio Laudi, for a brief cultural
narrative of Italian politics, with special reference to
links with football clubs.

For that matter, their Northern Irish representative, David
Bowen, could surely explain the Billy Boys anthem in the
context of Belfast Celtic, who were intimidated out of
existence, and Derry City, forced to play in the Republic
of Ireland for the preservation of their own skins.

And as for toleration of polluted behaviour, on the grounds
of what the committee calls 'social and historical
background', the control body's chairman, Josep Guasch,
might conduct a tour of Spain, where entire football crowds
direct monkey gestures and chants at Samuel Eto'o and
others, at a cost to their clubs of derisory fines.

The plea in mitigation need only be that this is an ongoing
response to the former Moorish occupation of the country.

In any case, the control body errs in matters of fact. The
'Billy Boys' is not and has never been sung at Scotland
games, the Scottish Executive has legislated against
sectarianism and Murray himself has been increasingly vocal
in his condemnation of sectarianism amongst Rangers'

The verdict is, of course, an implied indictment - with
some justification - of Scottish culture and Scottish
football for having been slow to deal with this particular
cancer, but progress has gathered considerable momentum in
recent years. After this verdict, though, the bigots may
have a new chant.

'Run, run, as fast as you can - you can't catch me, I'm a
sectarian fan.'

Roddy Forsyth


Judge Lashes US Anti-Terror Laws

'No choice' over deporting ex-INLA man to Britain

By Sean O'Driscoll
14 April 2006

A new Jersey federal judge has lambasted the US
government's anti-terrorism policies while agreeing that
she had "no choice" but to allow the deportation of a
former INLA member and two of his children.

In a very strongly worded opinion, Judge Maryanne Trump
Barry, a sister of billionaire mogul Donald Trump, said the
words engraved under the Statue of Liberty in New York were
now meaningless.

She said that Malachy McAllister's conviction for
conspiracy to murder an RUC officer was part of an 800-
year-old struggle by the Irish people against British
oppression and that he could not possibly be considered a
threat to US national security.

She appealed to the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales,
to intervene. "I would implore the Attorney General to
exercise his discretion and permit this deserving family to

The judge said that the US should consider "the 800 years
of history that led Malachy to fight with his people to
remove British rule, and the persecution inflicted by that
rule on Northern Ireland and on Malachy and his family."

She also said it was a shame on the US if the words
engraved under the Statue of Liberty are now meaningless.

"I refuse to believe that 'Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . .' is now
an empty entreaty. But if it is, shame on us."

Concurring with the three judge appeal court that the
McAllister family should be deported under US anti-
terrorism laws, she said that she had struggled to find a
way to keep the family in the US.

"I concede. I cannot find a way to keep the McAllisters in
this country, and I have surely tried ? Congress's
definition of 'terrorist activity' sweeps in not only the
big guy, but also the little guy who poses no risk to
anyone. It sweeps in Malachy McAllister. Malachy's
children, Sean and Nicola, are swept in, too," she said.

The ruling appears to end legal hopes for McAllister, who
fled with his family to Canada and the US after loyalists
fired 26 shots into his Belfast home in 1988.

However, his Belfast- born lawyer, Eamonn Dornan, said that
New Jersey Congressman Steven Rothman will be introducing
legislation into the House of Representatives specifically
to halt the family's deportation.

In deciding the case, the three-judge court agreed that
existing law did not allow the McAllister family to stay in
the US but differed sharply on Mr McAllister's claim that
his family would still be under threat if they returned to
the UK.

Judge Jane Roth said that the McAllister family faced
little danger of persecution in Northern Ireland. She said
that the Board of Immigration Appeal were justified in
ruling against the McAllisters, based on a US government
report on Northern Ireland.

She noted that the report found that "Catholic
nationalists, conservatives, and IRA supporters and former
IRA members (even those who were convicted and sentenced
for terrorist offenses) were able to freely go about their
lives, hold prominent positions in business, government,
education and other walks of life, and participate openly
in the political process and hold public office."

Mr Dornan said that the decision was not unexpected, given
the views expressed at a hearing of the appeal court last

He said a number of members of Congress hope to persuade
the Attorney General not to proceed with the deportation.


Easter Rising Parade 'Day Of Proud Commemoration'

14/04/2006 - 11:23:45

Final preparations are being made today to commemorate the
90th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916.

An annual parade was shelved in 1969 after conflict broke
out in Northern Ireland and the IRA sought to claim the
mantle of the rebels.

However, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced last autumn that
the Easter Rising parade, with full military trappings,
would resume again to honour the dead patriots.

President Mary McAleese today said the celebration will be
an occasion of civic pride for Irish people.

She dismissed concerns that the occasion could be used as a
vehicle of triumphalism for republicans.

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that Sunday will be a day of
proud commemoration and I have every expectation that it
will be very well attended," she said.

“We rightly look back on our past with pride at the men and
women who lived in very different times from ours, and who
made sacrifices of their lives so that we would enjoy these
good times.”

Sunday’s two-hour spectacle will include 2,500 members of
the Defence Forces, Garda and United Nations veterans.

The parade will begin at former English seat of power
Dublin Castle and wind down Dame Street and College Green
before passing the General Post Office on the capital’s
O’Connell Street thoroughfare.

The GPO was the headquarters of the Rising and its exterior
walls remain pockmarked from bullets fired at the time.

The national flag will be lowered on the roof of the GPO
and an army officer will read out the Proclamation of

President McAleese will then lay a wreath at the site and a
minute’s silence will be observed in memory of all those
who died.

Then the national flag will be raised to full mast and the
national anthem played.

An official viewing stand on O’Connell Street will be
attended by more than 900 dignitaries, including Northern
Ireland’s unionist and nationalist politicians and British
Ambassador to Ireland Steward Eldon.

A wreath will also be laid at Kilmainham Jail, where 15 of
the Rising’s leaders were executed by British firing

A lavish state reception at Dublin Castle will follow in
the evening.

President McAleese compared the 1916 leaders to the
thousands of Irish soldiers who fought in the British amy
during the first World War.

“Whatever our background or our take on history, religion
or politics, we take pride in what they gave.

“They did what they did in the belief that they were
helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and without

“That is true of those who died (in Dublin) in 1916, and
it’s true of those who died on the Somme.”


Sinn Féin’s Easter Rising Celebrations Fall Foul Of DUP

14/04/2006 - 08:13:43

The DUP has ridiculed Sinn Féin for holding an Easter
commemoration at Stormont.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said the mere fact that Stormont exists
proves the Easter Rising failed 90 years ago.

Sinn Féin said Stormont was in fact a fitting venue, as
successive Unionist governments had banned any Easter
Rising commemorations throughout the North.

The party claimed that republicanism was flourishing on
both sides of the border, despite attempts by unionists to
suppress it.

Mr Wilson retorted that Stormont is the symbol of the
North's Britishness and Sinn Féin's commemoration there
would make the 1916 rebels "spin in their graves".


McAleese Addresses Legacy Of 1916 Rising (A4)

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

Morning Ireland: Dr Diarmuid Ferriter, historian, ponders
what would have happened had the 1916 Rising not taken

Morning Ireland: Eileen Sprague and Michael Finucane recall
their experiences during the Easter Rising in 1916

Morning Ireland: President Mary McAleese speaks about how
the 1916 Rising should be remembered and the importance of
this year's commemoration

14 April 2006 10:04

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 economy.

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, but that they had done it
in the belief that they were helping a new generation to
grow up in freedom and without fear.


Opin: Language Used By The IRA Being Seen As Significant

14 April 2006

The Provisional IRA has denounced former members involved
in crime. Political Correspsondent NOEL McADAM sees
indications of change in the Provos' latest statement

The IRA statement attempting to distance the organisation
from former members who have "embraced" criminality will
not have unionists sprucing up their Easter bonnets.

Instead unionists, who rarely enough even distinguish
dissident activity from the general mainstream republican
family, will interpret the move as an attempt to bolster
Sinn Fein ahead of renewed political negotiations when the
Assembly is recalled.

But the language and tone of the Easter statement is
significant, at least potentially.

It could, along with the next two reports from the
paramilitary watchdog, the Independent Monitoring
Commission, help the governments create the 'enabling
environment' they need to generate the maximum momentum for
a devolution deal.

The section of the statement which may indicate internal
disgruntlement over the state of the peace process is the
appeal for organisational unity.

The Provisionals said: "We urge maximum unity in the time

But with decommissioning now off the political agenda -
even the DUP accepting that something significant happened
in the aftermath of last summer's IRA decision to stand
down its units - the Provisionals know the last issue to be
dealt with is criminality.

The statement repudiated "criminal activity" and said the
organisation "denounce those involved" - indicating a
wholesale change from the traditional republican attitude
towards criminality.

In the past this was something republicans were incapable

Attempts by senior Sinn Fein figures, including party
chairman Mitchel McLaughlin, to explain their time-honoured
position caused consternation in the aftermath of the
speculation surrounding the Northern Bank raid last year
and led to the worst relations between Sinn Fein and the
Irish Government since the current political process began.

But now the Provisionals insist they have "no
responsibility for the tiny number of former republicans"
involved in crime."


Opin: Loyalists It Is Time To Disband

Loyalist paramilitaries would do the people of Northern
Ireland a big favour if they decommissioned all of their
illegal weaponry and disbanded.

The existence of both the UVF and the UDA remains a shadowy
throwback to the dark days of the Troubles, and the
leadership and political advisers of both these
organisations must realise there is a new community
dispensation and more zero-tolerance of paramilitarism.

The UVF says it is not prepared to give up its weaponry
yet; ominously for citizens who live there, there is little
sign the UDA is going to disappear from its known stomping

Loyalist paramilitaries have operated on the pretext that
they are the defenders of Protestant working-class
communities from republican attacks.

But brutal terrorist acts committed over the past 35 years
and an increasing criminal involvement has left them with
little credibility, even in hardline areas.

The Provisional IRA may not have completely given up on its
"armed struggle" and, despite what Tony Blair and Bertie
Ahern may tell us, remains operational.

Loyalist paramilitaries, however, should be setting their
own agenda for permanent peace and stability in this part
of the United Kingdom – by getting off the stage for good.

14 April 2006


Book: The Female Spy At The Very Top Of Sinn Fein

A British spy close to the very heart of the Sinn Fein
leadership? It's a story with great contemporary resonance.
But the informer, uncovered in a new book by historian
Michael Foy, operated during the Republic's War of
Independence, was close to Michael Collins - and was
female. Chris Thornton talks to the author about his
discovery of the "Irish Mata Hari"

14 April 2006

Gerry Adams says he's learned to be philosophical about
informers. "You may or may not be surprised at a certain
individual," he said last week, mulling over the fate of
Denis Donaldson, "but I've been around for a fair bit of
time so I just took it." Donaldson's killers weren't so
laid back, but they must also realise that he was not the
first to wear the mask, nor is he likely to have been the

As long as there's been conflict in Ireland, it seems that
informers and agents have been at work. Their motives are
often base - money and fear - sometimes noble, depending on
which side you talk to, and frequently inexplicable. They
are reviled and despised and dead if they are exposed, and
sometimes treated with contempt by their own masters if
they are not.

Success for them may just be survival, but they always seem
to show up at the decisive turns of history: the
information they provide plays into the intricate bluffs
and double bluffs of intelligence at war, and informs the
momentous decisions that can mean life or death for so many

The consequences are that obvious, but their actual work
often remains hidden. As a graduate student at the start of
the Troubles, then as a teacher at Methodist College in
Belfast throughout to the ceasefires and beyond, historian
Michael Foy has witnessed the public side of one conflict.
As an author, he is now probing the hidden side of another.

Michael Collins's Intelligence War looks at the forces
below the surface of the bloody chess game that was the
Republic's war of independence. At the 90th anniversary of
the Easter Rising, it is an important consideration of what
came afterwards - the battle played out in the streets and
shadows of Dublin between IRA leader Michael Collins and
British intelligence chief 'O', Colonel Ormonde Winter.

Foy says it was natural material for him. He is "fascinated
by the intelligence world", Irish history between 1912 and
1921 is his area of expertise, and he had already co-
authored a book on the Easter Rising. "I've absolutely no
interest in doing another retread book on the Anglo-Irish
war," he says.

"That's been well done. And it's not a biography of Collins
and it's not, as previous works on this topic have tended
to be, pretty well exclusive on the Irish side. Full
coverage is given to the British side.

"I want to produce a book where people will read it and
will say 'oh, I didn't know that' and will keep on saying
'I didn't know that'. And this for me was an opportunity to
do that."

He can claim to have accomplished that mission in at least
one respect. Foy's research uncovered the existence of an
agent like no other - a woman inside Sinn Fein who
apparently gave the British side exceptional political
intelligence about republican leaders.

This woman, who Foy describes as an "Irish Mata Hari", told
the British that Eamon de Valera was "a red-hot extremist"
who advocated the assassination of King George V at the
opening of the Northern Ireland parliament. She also knew
the consequences of revealing such information. "I am
risking my sanguinary neck every day, and all day," she
reported back. "I wouldn't get ten minutes' grace if they
had the slightest suspicion."

The agent is not named in the available papers, but Foy's
conclusion about her identity is perhaps as shocking as her
existence. He believes she must have been Molly Childers,
the American wife of Sinn Fein publicity chief, former
British officer and novelist Erskine Childers.

Foy says the discovery was "a eureka moment". "What it
establishes beyond doubt is that the British had a female
spy at the very top of Sinn Fein. That's the baseline for
all discussion from now on. That's not in doubt - it's
incontrovertible," he says.

"Her report which I found does not have her name - at least
at the top there's a name, either a name or a codename with
a blue pencil through it. One would love to know what's
underneath the blue pencil.

"The long letter to her controller gives very, very strong
clues to her identity. Using those clues, it's my argument
that it excludes everyone but Molly Childers. The clues are
so strong that they only fit her.

"Anyway, given the role of women in politics in the period,
it could have only been a small number of suspects. If
anyone wants to come up with a better name, fine; but the
baseline is that we're now talking about identity, not the

He says the spy sent "personal assessments of people like
Collins and De Valera on the basis of her obviously close
contact with them" - contact that apparently gave her very
clear assessments.

"Interestingly, the line which most of British intelligence
was prepared to accept was that the doves were on the
political side - De Valera was the dove, and Collins was
the hawk.

"Her argument was that there really wasn't any difference
between them, that they were both extremists. The argument
from her was, 'look all this peace talk is so much hot air,
they're taking you for mugs'. If David Lloyd George had
gone with this argument, there may well not have been a
truce in 1921."

Foy says the period was filled with fascinating characters,
but it seems inevitable that Michael Collins stands out. "I
think even if he'd never entered politics, here's a person
endowed with considerable qualities - highly intelligent,
he's charismatic, dynamic, complex, mysterious, all that,"
says Foy.

"He's a major player in the period. But also I wanted to
find out as far as one could and nail down what was his
concept of being a spymaster and how did he operate.

"Instead of talking in generalities - he was good, etc -
how did he organise an operation, for instance? How did he
network with people, how did he use people? I think
throughout the book I've given material which illuminates
what he was like as a spymaster - how he operated, how he
used people, how he inspired people, how people related to
him and also how he projected himself.

"I think in one sense he was his own spin doctor - very
acutely aware of how important it was to project himself,
both in personal terms with people but also through
journalists in building up an image of himself, to become
really almost a physical embodiment of the revolution.

"But also as well to project himself as a kind of elusive
Scarlet Pimpernel, a man of semi-mythical character as
well, to create an air of mystery and danger about himself.
I think he would have been very successful in the age of PR
and spin doctor. In that sense, he's a very modern

However, he indicates that Collins' reputation can be
overstated. "There's a balance to be struck. Clearly the
image that some of his followers project as a genius, an
omniscient man, someone who knew everything; that's clearly

"IRA intelligence was not omniscient. It was limited. It
made mistakes, some serious mistakes. He was strong in
Dublin at a certain level, but if the British had a spy at
the top of Sinn Fein, as far as I'm aware he never had the
equivalent spy at the top of the British end.

"He wasn't the man who won the war. Intelligence can't win
a war anyway. But what it can do and what I think he did
was, he prevented the war being lost. His use of
intelligence helped stave off a defeat.

"In short, not the infallible genius that some of his
followers made him out to be, but not a figure of secondary
ability, not at all - clearly one of the most talented
politicians of his time.

"He was a man who packed also, I think, a dozen lifetimes
into a very short period of time. I mean, really, in terms
of being a politician of the front rank, you're talking
about three years.

"This is a man who's dynamic. He's always on the go. One
wonders in fact, had he lived, would he have been able to
keep up that kind of level of activity. Thrived on
responsibility, relished power and the ability to make
decisions, give orders, etc. Whatever he was, he wasn't

Collins' aides and operatives gave personal accounts of
their roles which were kept locked away for decades. Thanks
in part to their recent release, Foy's book gives a
remarkably detailed rundown of Bloody Sunday, the IRA
strike in 1920 that left more than a dozen British officers
or associates dead, followed by the retaliatory massacre at
Croke Park by British Auxiliaries.

"Bloody Sunday is usually looked upon as the pre-eminent
example of Collins' deadly effectiveness and I don't think
that is borne out by the facts," argues Foy. "The book
makes it clear that IRA ambitions for that day were much
greater than has ever been known before. They were going
for as many as 70 British agents.

"They got very many fewer and I've been able to pin down
pretty well the intelligence status of almost every one of
the people who were shot by the IRA on Bloody Sunday and
it's clear that a reasonable number of were not
intelligence agents. Collins even admits one of them was
clearly a very bad mistake on the part of the IRA."

One of Foy's contentions is that, in spite of the truce
that followed, "by the summer of 1921, the IRA effectively
is beaten in Dublin."

"The British feel that in military terms and intelligence
terms they're getting on top. It's an assessment, by the
way, that I do not think is inaccurate.

"I think the truce came just in time for the IRA in Dublin.
I think they were beaten, in the same way that it can be
argued by the end of the IRA campaign here it was running
out of steam, British intelligence was becoming
increasingly effective, a lot of IRA operations were being

The path from Molly Childers to Denis Donalson is a
reminder, as Foy puts it, that history can have "great
contemporary resonance". "The faces change," he says, "but
the stories remain the same, really."

÷Michael Collins's Intelligence War - The Struggle Between
the British and the IRA 1919-1921 by Michael Foy. Sutton
Publishing. £20.


Belfast Restaurant Is The Best, To The Power Of Ten

By Claire Regan
14 April 2006

A Belfast city centre restaurant has been labelled the best
eating experience in Ireland after wowing a panel of judges
with "simple things done well".

Ten Square's Grill Room and Bar beat off stiff competition
from across the island to lift the Best Eating Experience
in Ireland title from Theme Magazine at an awards ceremony
held recently in Zen restaurant in Belfast.

The restaurant will now compete in a UK and Ireland final
with several leading restaurants including celebrity chef
Gordon Ramsey's 'f' Kitchen', with the winner being
announced at a glittering bash in London on June 6.

Judges visited venues in Limerick, Galway, Cork as well as
Belfast and Dublin, and the shortlist was made up of the
most outstanding venues.

The judging panel said Ten Square had a "no nonsense
approach to cuisine".

"The eatery boasts a culinary style that matches perfectly
with its interior design scheme, both of which demonstrate
that good quality food doesn't have to come with a hefty
price tag nor with unnecessary ceremony," they said.

"Ten Square Grill Room and Bar proves that the mantra of
'simple things done well' suits the customer perfectly, and
has seen the venue heralded as one of Belfast's most loved

Ten Square Hotel manager Paul Smyth said: "We are really
pleased to be presented with this award and it's great to
see the staff achieving recognition for making Ten Square
Grill Room and Bar the best eating experience for all our
visitors by creating a fantastic atmosphere against the
backdrop of our eclectic decor."


Drown Your Sorrows, The Price Of A Pint Is To Go Up

By Linda McKee
14 April 2006

Misery looms for Ulster's tipplers as the price of a pint
is set to increase.

Last night Diageo confirmed it would be hiking the
wholesale price of a pint for all its draught and bottled
beers by 3.4% from May 1.

Added to rising rates bills and a hike in duty, this move
could see the price of a pint soar.

Diageo blamed increasing business costs and revealed that
the price hike would apply to all draught Guinness,
Budweiser, Carlsberg, Harp, Smithwicks and returnable
bottles of beer such as Satzenbrau. Off-licence prices will
not be affected.

A spokesman said: "This is necessary to help the company
meet the ongoing cost increases in its business, in
particular the rising cost of fuel and utilities."

Gerald Magee, a director of the Library Bar in Belfast,
said customers were coming to expect price rises every

"There used to be days when it went up 5p a pint: now it's
10p," he said.

"Duty has already risen, but the breweries had to put their
price rise on too. Once it's across the board, I think
people will come to accept it."

Library Bar customer Laura Lafferty said the drinks
industry was making too much profit. Her friend Laura Doyle
said: "Not all bars charge the same so you probably
wouldn't notice it, as it's different in some places."

And customer Raymond Wilson added: "The amount of profit
people who sell drink make is obscene."

Frank Caddy of the Northern Ireland Drinks Industry Group
said the industry was changing.

"A recent report said the level of binge drinking in pubs
had gone down, but more people are binge drinking at home -
overall consumption has remained fairly steady," he said.

"Price increases are part of modern living these days," he

Diageo said there was no truth in speculation that the
company might be about to sell Guinness, as it had invested
€23m last year to double production capacity at its St
James's Gate brewery in Dublin and would be spending €14m a
year on capital investment into the future.


Painting A Picture Of Lavery's Artistic

A Multitude of Sins: Sir John Lavery is a landmark new
documentary about the Belfast painter. The luminescent TV
biopic highlights the bonds between the politicial and
social sets of 1920s London, as well as meticulously
documenting the Ulster painter's influential life and art.

To be screened on Easter Sunday night, the timely tribute
shows the meteoric rise to the highest echelons of society,
including royalty, of the boy from the humblest of
beginnings in Belfast.

Born in North Queen Street, Lavery was orphaned at the age
of three and left his home country at the age of 10.

He went on to paint almost every influential figure of his
time, including Queen Victoria, as well as those with
political palettes of every hue, whose hands wrote the
history of the island of Ireland.

But Lavery's portrait of Sir Edward Carson apparently did
not find favour with the unionist leader, according to the
painter, played with a dazzling dexterity in the programme
by actor Simon Callow: "Carson, knowing that I was a
Catholic, although from Belfast, remarked, 'Ah, it's easy
to see which side you're on.'''

Then Carson looked at the portrait for a long time and, as
if speaking to himself, said: "Well now – you can call that
'Edward Carson after the surrender.'''

Crucially, Lavery's friends included both British Cabinet
minister Winston Churchill and Irish leader Michael
Collins. The programme alleges that the Treaty might never
have been signed, if the duo had not mixed socially in
Hazel Lavery's salon.

After Collins' assassination in West Cork, Lavery painted
the murdered leader as his body lay overnight in the
mortuary chapel.

The artist bitterly recalled the subsequent political
impliations of the death: "I felt then, and feel still,
that on that night the Irish slew the Irish, that the Irish
killed Ireland as a force for good and greatness in the
world of today, when every horror is committed in the name
of nationalism.''

The dialogue comes courtesy of Lavery's own autobiography
and adds a modern vitality to point up the vibrancy of his
acomplished art. Lavery's own life was full of ambiguity.
Knighted by Prime Minister David Lloyd George for his
services as an official war artist (1914-18), he also
painted Sir Roger Casement in the dock at the Old Bailey.
Casement was condemned to death for treason in June 1916
and subsequently executed.

As well as mixing with politicians, royalty, the rich, the
famous and the influential, Lavery came under the spell of
and married one of the most beautiful and ambitious women
of their time. Hazel Martyn, daughter of an industrialist
from Chicago, became Lady Lavery and her influence kept
herself and her husband close to key events in the
turbulent political relationship between Britain and

Hazel's iconic image appeared on the Republic's banknotes
until the 1970s and was used as a watermark until the
introduction of the euro. Her Green Coat portrait in
Belfast's Ulster Museum clearly shows the love of Hazel's
husband the painter in every brush stroke. Lady Lavery
herself wrote of the painting in 1929: ''It is to my
thinking the best one of me he has ever painted ... and I
like to have the best of his work seen in Belfast, his own
native land and city.''

Lavery himself, thought of creatives on a par with the
world's oldest profession, however.

Near the end of his long and eventful life he wrote: ''I
doubt if there are a more heartless crew than poets,
painters, and composers. We are encouraged in it by our lay
brethren. I often wonder why?

"Robert Louis Stevenson said that we are merely on a par
with the daughters of joy who are paid for doing what they
enjoy most.

"Art is so sacred, the love of it covers a multitude of
sins, and so we excuse ourselves.''

With narration by Amanda Burton and informed contributions
by Kenneth McConkey, the acknowledged world expert on Sir
John Lavery; Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History
at Oxford University and Sinead McCoole, the exuberant
young author of Hazel: A Life of Lady Lavery, this
documentary by Chistera Productions for BBC Northern
Ireland will undoubtedly earn international acclaim for
Drumbeg-based writer, producer and director Moore

BBC ONE NI Sunday at 10.20pm.
14 April 2006

To receive this news via email, click
No Message is necessary.
To Get RSS Feed for Irish Aires News click
(Paste into a News Reader)
To April Index
To Index of Monthly Archives
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?