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April 08, 2006

Disappointment For Irish As US Bill Collapses

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 04/08/06 Disappointment For Undocumented Irish As US Bill Collapses
BB 04/08/06 US Chef Awaits Break-In Decision
BN 04/08/06 Donaldson's Final Moments Revealed
IN 04/08/06 Adams Describes Last Time He Saw Spy Alive
BB 04/08/06 Dead Swans Not Killed By Bird Flu
IT 04/09/06 No Further Sanctions Against Shell Protesters
IT 04/09/06 Court Continues To Hold 'Slab' Murphy Assets
IC 04/09/06 IRA Double Agent Arrested In Holyhead Apr 7 2006
IT 04/09/06 Opin: Reading 1916 Politics Via Official Acts Of Memory
GU 04/09/06 Opin: Donaldson: The Thorn In The Republicans' Side
TO 04/09/06 Opin: The Spy Who Left Peace Out In Cold - Twice
IN 04/08/06 Opin: Proposals Likely To Fall Short Of The Mark
IN 04/08/06 Opin: Our Memories Need To Be
DR 04/08/06 How Ireland Has Changed
IT 04/09/06 1916 Leader's Son (92) To Return For Ceremonies
TA 04/05/06 ‘The Dublin Affair’ - Easter 1916 In The Parish
IT 04/09/05 'President Bartlett' Retiring To New Role At NUIG
WN 04/08/06 Michael Collins - The Musical Drama For The Theatre Royal


'Disappointment' For Undocumented Irish As US Bill Collapses

07/04/2006 - 19:43:28

The collapse of a deal which would have helped the
undocumented Irish in the US is “a sharp disappointment”,
Fine Gael said tonight.

The compromise deal between the Republican and Democratic
parties fell through after failing to clear a procedural
hurdle in a sharply divided US Senate.

Fine Gael Foreign Affairs spokesman Bernard Allen said the
announcement of a deal of immigration reforms yesterday had
been a ray of hope for the undocumented Irish in the United

“However, the collapse of this accord is a sharp
disappointment for the undocumented Irish, and their
families at home,” he said.

The Bill would have created a temporary worker programme,
as proposed by President George Bush, and opened the way
for more than seven million illegal immigrants, including
an estimated 30,000 Irish people, to become US citizens.

When the Bill fell 22 votes short of the 60 needed in the
100-member Senate to move forward, both Democrats and
Republicans blamed each other.

Mr Allen said the Government had to redouble its efforts to
get a new agreement between the two sides during the US
Senate recess, which runs until April 20.

“I hope that the Senate recess will give both sides the
opportunity to cool off, and to reflect on the vital
importance of these legislative proposals,” he said.


US Chef Awaits Break-In Decision

A decision on whether to prosecute a New Yorker for
involvement in a break-in at a Belfast police station could
be made within weeks.

Larry Zaitschek, 38, worked in the canteen at Castlereagh
when Special Branch offices were broken into and files
stolen on 17 March 2002.

His lawyers have lodged papers in the High Court seeking a
judicial review.

He claims the wait is stopping him from returning to NI to
fight a child custody battle with his estranged wife.

Mr Zaitschek worked as a chef in Castlereagh police station
for seven years.

He was questioned by police in Belfast and later in New
York when he returned to the US five days after the raid.

Mr Zaitschek's lawyer told the High Court in Belfast on
Friday there was a "volume of material" relating to the

The lawyer said: "A decision in respect of whether or not
prosecution would ensue has been taken (by the PPS) in

He added the decision was likely be to reached "between the
middle and the end of April".

The judicial review was adjourned until 28 April.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/07 12:36:50 GMT


Donaldson's Final Moments Revealed

07/04/2006 - 17:17:10

(See what bloggers are saying about Donaldson at: )

Denis Donaldson’s desperate final moments as he tried to
save himself from assassination were revealed tonight.

The British spy was blasted with a double-barrel shotgun
through the front door of the dilapidated Co Donegal
cottage where he had taken refuge.

He was also shot in the cheek, according to informed

His killer, intent on avenging more than 20 years treachery
to the republican movement, first distracted him by
smashing a window with a rock.

When Donaldson, a former top Sinn Féin official, realised
his life was in peril he made a last-ditch attempt to
barricade himself in.

Throwing himself against the entrance to his run-down
retreat near the remote town of Glenties, the double agent
tried to stop the gunman breaking through.

“Denis had his right hand held against the door, but
whoever was on the other side fired through.

“His hand was virtually severed at the wrist.”

Two shotgun cartridges were found outside the cottage on
Tuesday, when Donaldson was finally hunted down.

But the murder was completed inside.

He was shot at least twice more – once to the body and then
in the head.

Donaldson, a former confidant of IRA hunger striker Bobby
Sands, was exiled to the cottage, owned by his son-in-law
Ciaran Kearney, soon after his sensational exposure as an
MI5 and police Special Branch spy in December.

That followed a decision to drop a three-year case against
him, Mr Kearney and civil servant William Mackessy, who had
been accused of operating a republican spy ring inside the
Northern Ireland Office.

Donaldson went to ground, holing up in the crumbling
cottage without running water or electricity, after making
a public confession.

With the IRA declaring an end to all violence, he probably
thought he would escape the ultimate punishment.

But whoever pulled the trigger was not to be placated.

It has also emerged that the alarm was raised by a woman
driving in to Glenties to buy groceries.

She noticed the cottage door lying open as she drove past.

Her suspicions heightened when she returned and noticed it
was still open.

Gardaí were alerted and found the body of Donaldson inside.

When they discovered him, in a room to the left, his hand
was found under the body and hanging on just by its skin.



Adams Describes Last Time He Saw Spy Alive

By Catherine Morrison

SINN Fein president Gerry Adams has described the last time
he saw his former colleague Denis Donaldson before he was
murdered at a remote cottage in Co Donegal on Tuesday.

In his regular column in the Dublin-based magazine The
Village, Mr Adams said he last saw him the day Mr Donaldson
admitted working as a British agent.

“I passed him in the corridor in our office on the Falls
Road,” he said. “He lowered his head and said ‘Hello
Gerry’. I said ‘Hello Denis’. That was the last time I saw

Mr Adams revealed he was watching television when he
received a phone call from Secretary of State Peter Hain
informing him of Mr Donaldson’s death.

“To say Peter Hain’s news surprised me is an

“I asked him to repeat what he had said. He told me again,”
he said. “Denis Donaldson’s body had been found. It was
presumed he was murdered.”

The Sinn Fein leader said Mr Donaldson had never told the
party the extent of his “activities” with British

“Denis Donaldson was very unforthcoming about his
activities. The party broke off all contact with him
shortly after all this.

He was told that if he wanted to make a full disclosure he
should get in touch with us. He never did.

“Denis Donaldson had turned into a pathetic figure. I have
huge sympathy for his family as I do for the families of
other informers and agents, particularly those who were
killed by the IRA.”

Mr Adams said he did not think the killing was motivated by

“Did I expect Denis Donaldson to be killed? There was
always a danger that he could be attacked if he was in some
public place,” he said.

“But no, I didn’t expect that any republican would go out
premeditatedly to kill him.

“Not when the IRA had clearly set its face against this.

“So I don’t think the killing of Denis Donaldson was a
revenge killing. I think his killing was to make sure that
his secrets died with him. The timing may or may not be


Dead Swans Not Killed By Bird Flu

Tests carried out on the dead swans found in Counties Down
and Antrim show they did not die from bird flu, the
Department of Agriculture has revealed.

Northern Ireland chief vet Bert Houston said other swans
recently tested were not infected with H5N1.

Routine tests were being carried out on dead swans found on
Thursday at Moira and near Randalstown.

The agriculture minister has said Northern Ireland is
prepared to deal with any outbreak.

Lord Rooker's comments followed the news on Thursday that a
swan found in Scotland was carrying the H5N1 strain.

On the same day, council workers found a newly-dead swan on
the River Bann near Portglenone. Later, a second partly
decomposed bird and two badly decomposed swans were found

Officials also recovered the carcass of a dead swan from a
grassy field near Moira.

Mr Houston said there was a contingency plan in the event
of avian flu being found in Northern Ireland.

"It will involve us setting up a series of command
structures, getting a local exotic disease centre placed on
the ground, we will put in 3km protection zones, 10km
surveillance zones and apply all the control measures
required by the European Commission," he said.

'Intensive security'

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Dungannon-based poultry company
Moy Park, which deals with about 350 farms across Northern
Ireland, said "intensive security" had been in place "for
at least two years".

Gareth Jones said there was "no unnecessary movement" on
poultry farms, and all major producers were "united in
keeping this thing at bay".

Mr Jones said he felt people understood that "contracting
bird flu does not happen from eating chicken or eggs".

On the wider issue of bird flu preventative measures, he
said testing "has been going on for many months, in excess
of 1,000 birds, and they've all proved negative".

"The public should be reassured that this testing is
happening. I was surprised to read that it was only (a
small number of) birds being tested, I thought it was a lot

The H5N1 virus does not at present pose a large-scale
threat to humans, as it cannot pass easily from one person
to another.

But experts fear the virus could mutate to gain this
ability, and in its new form trigger a flu pandemic,
potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.

The Department of Agriculture has set up a special phone
line. It is 028 90 524999 . The advice is that you should
ring if you spot a dead swan or other waterfowl, or large
numbers of dead birds.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/07 17:04:01 GMT


No Further Sanctions Against Shell Protesters

Mary Carolan

Five Co Mayo men will not be further punished at this stage
following the High Court's finding that they were in
contempt of court orders restraining interference with a
Shell high-pressure pipeline near their homes in Co Mayo,
the president of the High Court has decided.

Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, said that because the men -
known as the Rossport Five - had already spent 94 days in
prison last year because they breached court orders
restraining interference with the pipeline linked to the
Corrib gas field development, he did not intend imposing a
further penalty on them.

However, he awarded costs of the contempt proceedings
against them to Shell E&P Ireland. He also warned that,
should the men "again physically prevent Shell E&P
exercising its rights" and if a further injunction was
obtained against them, the court had jurisdiction to impose
a penalty of a further fixed term of imprisonment of "an
appropriate duration".

He rejected arguments that the court could not of its own
volition impose a term of imprisonment for contempt of its
orders and found such a power to impose imprisonment or a
fine was inherent in the court.

The men had made it clear they were determined to act in
defiance of laws presumed constitutional, decisions of the
executive and a court order, the judge said.

It would be wrong for the court "to shirk its
responsibility" to the Oireachtas and executive "or to
tolerate a continuing determination on the part of the
contemners to persevere by the threat of violence to
obstruct the development of the Rossport gas field".

Mr Justice Finnegan said it was appropriate for the court
to take into account the consequences of the men's actions,
including losses for Shell, the loss of employment in the
Rossport area and the loss to the local and national

However, in all the circumstances, the fact the men had
each spent 94 days in prison contained a sufficient
punitive element and he did not propose imposing on them a
further penalty.

After the judge directed the men to pay the costs incurred
by Shell E&P in bringing the contempt proceedings, Frank
Callanan SC, for some of the men, objected and said Shell
E&P, which was not represented yesterday, had not applied
for those costs. Mr Justice Finnegan said he was making the
costs order in any event.

He further indicated that the men's continuing refusal to
purge their contempt would be a factor which would
influence the court's discretion in relation to making
other costs orders in the forthcoming hearing of a
challenge to the Corrib gas field development.

Mr Justice Finnegan was delivering a reserved judgment, in
a courtroom packed with supporters of the five men, on the
issue of whether they should be further punished arising
from the contempt proceedings. The men's lawyers had argued
against any further punishment.

Before handing down his judgment, the judge sought
assurances from the five men - brothers Philip and Vincent
McGrath, Willie Corduff, Micheál Ó Seighin and James
Brendan Philbin - that there would be no protests in the
court building. The court building was "not designed for PR
stunts and protests".

The case arose after Shell secured an injunction in April
2005 restraining interference with pipeline works. The
company said that if certain works were not under way by
June 1st, 2005, it would be liable for €25,000 a day in
standby costs and, if works had to be deferred to 2006, it
would incur a remobilisation fee of €2.5 million.

In June 2005, Shell issued a motion for attachment and
committal of the five for contempt of the April 4th court
order. On June 29th, 2005, the five men were jailed until
they purged their contempt. The men refused to do so but
they were released from prison in September 2005 after
Shell applied to have the April injunction discharged.

© The Irish Times


Court continues to hold 'Slab' Murphy assets

The High Court has continued orders permitting the Criminal
Assets Bureau to continue holding more than €1 million in
cash and cheques discovered by gardai during a major cross-
border search earlier this month of lands, including the
residence of the alleged former IRA Chief of Staff Thomas
"Slab" Murphy.

Thomas "Slab" Murphy

The order to appoint a receiver to take possession of Euro
cash and cheques and Sterling cash and cheques was granted
by the President of the High Court Mr Justice Joseph
Finnegan on March 20th last. The application was brought by
CAB on that occasion an ex-parte basis (only one side

The receiver was given power to lodge the cash and cheques
in new accounts pending further orders of the court. The
totals seized during the searches of land owned by the
Murphy family were €256,235 and £111,185 in cash and
cheques and drafts totalling €673,460.

Yesterday, when the proceedings were briefly mentioned, the
President of the High Court, Mr Justice Jospeh Finnegan,
continued the orders until the matter comes before him
again in the new court term.

The orders, made under the Proceeds of Crime Act, are
against Mr Thomas Murphy, also known as Tom "Slab" Murphy,
Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, his brothers Mr
Patrick Murphy, Ballybinaby, Hackballscross and Mr Francis
Murphy, Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, and Ace Oils Ltd, with
a registered office at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co

The extensive searches were carried out on March 9th last
by the Criminal Assets Bureau assisted by local gardai from
the Louth/Meath division, customs officers and officers
from the Revenue Commissioners, members of the Garda Bureau
of Fraud Investigation, the National Bureau of Criminal
Investigation and the Special Detective Unit. Simultaneous
searches were carried out on the northern side of the
border by the PSNI.

In documents supplied to the court, the head of CAB,
Detective Chief Superintendent Felix Mc Kenna said the cash
and cheques were found in black plastic bags in a cattle
shed owned by Mr Patrick Murphy adjacent to his residence.

Access to the shed was through a gate on a road on the
Northern Ireland side of the border which opened out on to
a farm complex owned by the Murphys and access from the
southern side of the border was through a field registered
in the name of Mr Patrick Murphy's wife, Rosemary, it was

Detective Chief Supt Mc Kenna said the Bureau has been
investigating the Murphys for some considerable time. He
said Tom, Frank and Patrick Murphy have for the past 20
years been involved in the oil distribution industry and
oil smuggling and money laundering activities.

© The Irish Times/


IRA Double Agent Arrested In Holyhead Apr 7 2006


Prosecution chiefs in Northern Ireland are to study a file
on a Real IRA double agent questioned over a series of
terrorist attacks prior to the Omagh bomb massacre.

Paddy Dixon, 42, was arrested by police in Holyhead, North

He was handed over to detectives in Northern Ireland and
interviewed about serious terrorist crime.

Although Dixon was released yesterday, a police spokeswoman
confirmed a report will be sent to the Director of Public
Prosecutions, Sir Alasdair Fraser.

The Dublin man, who was at one time living under a police
protection scheme, was an Irish Special Branch informer who
was asked to provide a car by the organisation which bombed
Omagh in August 1998, killing 29 people.

Days before the atrocity he was told the car he was asked
to supply was not needed.

But he later emerged as a key intelligence figure in the
cross-border police investigation to track down the bomb

He was held on Tuesday for questioning about dissident
republican attacks across Northern Ireland in the months
before Omagh as part of what became known as a linked

Dixon, a former car thief who stole to order, first for the
Provisional IRA and then later for dissident republicans
opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process, worked for
Detective Sergeant John White, who himself became embroiled
in corruption allegations against the Garda in County
Donegal where he was once based.

Dixon, fearing for his life from republican dissidents,
later quit Ireland to live in Britain with a new identity.

But detectives involved in the Omagh investigation had been
under pressure from relatives of the dead and injured to
have him arrested.

It is understood he was questioned about car and mortar
bombings in Banbridge, County Down, Markethill, County
Armagh, Newry, County Down, Armagh City and Belleek, County

In September, south Armagh man Sean Hoey, 36, is due to
stand trial in Belfast for the murders of the 29 people
killed in Omagh.


Opin: Reading 1916 Politics Via Official Acts Of Memory

Paul Gillespie

WorldView: Who won in 1916? This is hard to answer, but it
is a vital aspect of the politics of commemoration. History
is written from the perspective of the victors and ought to
be written from that of the vanquished, wrote Walter
Benjamin. "All rulers are the heirs of those who conquered
before them. Hence, empathy with the victor invariably
+benefits the rulers." He preferred "to brush history
against the grain".

Applying Benjamin's insights to 1916 is salutary, but
difficult and ambiguous, because the rebels deliberately
set out to burst "the limits of what can be imagined". The
phrase is Charles Townshend's, in his recent fine study of
1916. This was the point of their symbolic action.

Another historian, Eric Hobsbawm, compares this "Easter
Rising principle" with the Paris Commune and Lenin's
storming of the Winter Palace - revolutionary acts intended
to provide inspiration for the future. It follows that
post-revolutionary history can be understood through the
history of its acts of commemoration. The politics of
memory have become much more active in recent European
history, as Ireland shows.

The Rising was put down summarily and its 15 leaders
executed over a nine-day period in which more and more
voices were raised against such exemplary punishments. That
began the swing in public opinion away from the Home Rule
leadership and towards more radical nationalists. The trend
was to be immensely reinforced by the conscription crisis
of 1917-18, the ascendancy of hardline unionists in Lloyd
George's government, the extension of the franchise for the
1918 elections and the ensuing war against British

In the epilogue to his book, Townshend argues that this
second fight, which led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the
establishment of the Irish Free State, "had the effect of
stifling re-evaluation of 1916 for many years". Pro- and
anti-treaty parties incorporated it in their genealogies,
gradually creating a tradition of uncritical nostalgic
commemoration of the Rising as the foundational myth of the
state and the people - as is typical of post-revolutionary
regimes the world over.

But the politics of republicanism continually intervened.
In his study Staging the Rising: 1916 as Theatre, James
Moran recalls how shocking to the new conventional wisdom
was Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars, first staged
in 1926. When the GPO was finally completely restored in
1929, the Cumann na nGaedheal government held a low-key
ceremony at which W T Cosgrave only mentioned the Rising at
the end of his speech.

The first large-scale public ceremony held there was in
1935, when Eamon de Valera set out to claim the inheritance
from the IRA and transform it into a Catholic nationalist
and patriarchal pageant for Fianna Fáil. An open-air Mass
was held at the GPO with 1916 veterans acting as altar
boys. Some 7,000 troops marched past and de Valera unveiled
the statue of Cuchulainn in the name of the men of Easter
week, antagonising many women who had participated. The
political timing was related to his campaign against the

It was to be another 30 years before what Townshend calls
the "stifling pieties" about 1916 began to be unravelled by
historians and commentators. The 1966 commemoration of its
50th anniversary was a large State occasion. But it saw the
emergence of a new self-reflection that was to flow into
the later debate on historical revisionism.

And although the 1916 leaders had shown little concern
about the risk of alienating northern unionist opinion, it
was the eruption of The Troubles there from the late 1960s
which stimulated further re-evaluation of the Rising. (So
much so that a joint research exercise between historians
from Queens and UCD is exploring what effects the 1966
commemorations had in stoking or provoking the conflict in
Northern Ireland.)

One of the most interesting essays published in the 1960s
was The Embers of Easter by Conor Cruise O'Brien. He took
his departure from Lenin, who defended 1916 against other
Marxist critics' dismissal of the Rising as a nationalist
putsch. Only those who did not understand social revolution
as a living phenomenon would describe it so, Lenin argued.
"The misfortune of the Irish is that they rose prematurely,
when the European revolt of the proletariat had not yet

O'Brien built on Lenin's case to argue that had the Rising
come later - during the conscription crisis of 1917-18 -
Ireland could have triggered a European revolution that
never was. Irish troops in the British army would have
mutinied, and the mutiny would have spread to the French
and perhaps the German army too.

This is one of the counterfactual scenarios the Rising has
stimulated. The more usual one was that Ireland could have
attained a Home Rule settlement in a united Ireland without
it. That this remains deeply contested is illustrated by
its firm rebuttal in a piece about 1916 on the Taoiseach's
Office website this week.

The 75th anniversary in 1991 was a muted affair,
overshadowed by continuing violence in the North as the
Provisional movement claimed its legitimacy from 1916 and
1918. The determination not to let Sinn Féin claim it this
year, or in 2016, best explains the Government's decision
to revive the State ceremony.

A more inclusive form of commemoration can be seen in the
concluding sentence of the article on the Taoiseach's
website: "The Rising resulted in the loss of many lives, be
they combatants or innocent civilians. We commemorate these
events on this their ninetieth anniversary and mourn the
loss of all those who died."

© The Irish Times


Opin: Donaldson: The Thorn In The Republicans' Side

IRA informer has been silenced but his death raises
questions for Sinn Féin's leadership

Rosie Cowan and Owen Bowcott
Saturday April 8, 2006
The Guardian

For a man renowned for his sense of humour, Denis Donaldson
would have appreciated the irony. Had he lived, he would
have been crowned Survivor of the Year by a leading Dublin
magazine at a gala award ceremony last Tuesday.

But even as the guests gathered at the fashionable Buswells
hotel in the Irish capital, news reached them that
Donaldson was dead, killed 200 miles away in the bleak
hills of Donegal, in the ramshackle cottage he had called
home since his exposure as a British spy.

Death by shotgun was an ignominious, though hardly
unexpected, end for a man once at the heart of the
republican political machine, trusted implicitly by its
leaders, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

His admission four months ago that he had been a British
spy for 20 years sent shockwaves through the republican
movement, and some believe it signed his death warrant,
regardless of the IRA cessation of all "offensive

"He was in the middle of the Good Friday agreement
negotiations and a lot of people felt if he was carrying
Sinn Féin's bottom line back to the British all that time
the agreement was worthless," one source close to
republicans said.

The IRA insisted it had not carried out or sanctioned the
murder. One source with republican links said it had
probably been "one guy, maybe Provo, maybe not, who blamed
Donaldson for his time in jail or the death of one of his

Time of unrest

But the death has also raised questions about the grip that
Adams and McGuinness now have over the movement. Both
security and republican sources have told the Guardian that
the IRA leadership was recently reorganised into three
independent cell structures: politics, fundraising - eg the
Northern Bank robbery - and discipline. "If the IRA killed
Donaldson, it's highly probable that those who weren't
directly involved had no idea," a security source said.

The reorganisation has taken place at a time of unrest
within mainstream republicanism about Sinn Féin's tactics.
It was evident in the open opposition at Sinn Féin's annual
conference to the party joining the Northern Ireland
policing board, the likely price of re-entering the
Stormont government.

The exposure of someone as close to the heart of
formulating party strategy as Donaldson also heightened
suspicions about how far the movement had been penetrated
by special branch and British intelligence.

Dissent is also being shown in small, but significant ways.
For months a large lorry has been parked beside the main
Dublin to Belfast motorway just south of the border,
bearing the graffito: "Adams Must Go - Controlled By RUC."
It is in Co Louth, the dissident republican heartland, but
no one has removed it.

But even if Donaldson's murder was timed to unsettle Adams
and McGuinness at a difficult political juncture, some
republican sources insist it will prove no more than a
temporary hiccup.

"They may not have wanted Donaldson dead, but he was a
problem and they won't shed any tears for him," one source

Donaldson's betrayal was seen as particularly galling,
given his impeccable republican credentials. Born in 1950
in the Short Strand, a staunchly republican enclave of east
Belfast, he joined the IRA in his teens. In 1971 he was
caught trying to bomb a distillery and government buildings
in Belfast and jailed for four years. In Long Kesh, later
known as the Maze, he befriended Bobby Sands, posing for a
famous photograph with him. His time in the Kesh also saw
the start of his 30-year friendship with Gerry Adams.

Ten years later he was arrested at Orly airport, Paris, on
his way back from a Hizbullah terrorist training camp in
Lebanon, but strangely no charges followed. Some think this
was when the British "turned" him as a spy but others think
his recruitment came a few years later, as a result of his
incorrigible womanising. Despite his marriage to Alice, and
young son and daughter, Donaldson was a "chaser", in
Belfast parlance.

In the mid-80s, the RUC raided a house in west Belfast
expecting to find an arms cache but instead stumbled upon
Donaldson with a woman. Officers told Alice and she
allegedly threatened retribution if he transgressed again,
which he did, giving special branch their opportunity. But
another security source told the Guardian: "It takes more
than sexual indiscretion to turn a man like Donaldson."

But what the 5ft nothing Donaldson lacked in height, he
made up for in charm. Feminist Marie Mulholland recalls a
hilarious night out at the Falls Road Women's centre, when
she dressed up as Blind Date host Cilla Black, clutching
Donaldson under her armpit as Action Man - one of the
eligible "dates".

"He had charm, buckets of it, not the schmoozing of an
operator, but real charm, a blend of wit, generosity,
mischief," she wrote, explaining her shock when Donaldson
was exposed as a spy.

Powers of persuasion

But Donaldson also used his charm and powers of persuasion
as Sinn Féin's head of international affairs. In 1987 he
returned to Lebanon to negotiate for the release of the
Belfast hostage Brian Keenan. He was unsuccessful, but
Keenan later credited Donaldson and Terry Waite with having
risked their lives for him.

After the 1994 ceasefires, Bill Clinton overlooked
Donaldson's prison record to allow him to open Sinn Féin's
first US office, where he played an influential role in the
gradual acceptance of Adams and McGuinness on Capitol Hill.
After the Good Friday agreement in 1998, Donaldson became
Sinn Féin's senior legislative aide at Stormont.

In his dramatic televised "confession" last December,
Donaldson dismissed the Stormont spy ring as a figment of
the British security services' imagination. But others
claim it was real, and that Donaldson took part, whether to
protect his cover or to keep a foot firmly in both camps,
and police had no choice but to arrest him, and three other
men, when the ring was exposed by another agent.

However, the announcement in December 2005 that it was not
in the public interest to prosecute brought special branch
scurrying to Donaldson's door, warning he was about to be
outed. Adams, according to a source, was "initially
appalled" by the betrayal, but soon got over it in a sphere
where double crossing is common.

The British offered to relocate Donaldson but he took his
chances in his son-in-law's Donegal cottage, where a
journalist tracked him down a fortnight ago, a bedraggled
shadow of his former self, spending his days alone drawing
water from a well and collecting peat for the fire, and
nights reading by oil lamp. His next visitor may well have
been his killer


Opin: The Spy Who Left Peace Out In Cold - Twice

By David Sharrock, Daniel McGrory and Sean O'Neill

Our correspondents investigate a murky world where politics
collide with brutal realities

DENIS DONALDSON will be remembered as the British agent at
the heart of the republican movement who nearly toppled the
Northern Ireland peace process not once, but twice.

As Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, his Irish counterpart,
unveiled their final plan this week to restore the
Province’s political structures, they must have reflected
on the cruel irony that a man at the centre of the IRA spy-
ring allegations which brought down Ulster’s power-sharing
executive 2½ years ago could yet, in death, scupper the
prospect of restoring those same institutions.

Mr Ahern is on record as calling the “Stormontgate” affair
“as bizarre as it gets, for who would have thought that an
informer in the pay of the British Government could turn
out to be the instrument for the undoing of all that Mr
Blair has worked so diligently for throughout his prime

But was Mr Donaldson’s exposure, set in motion by the
uncovering of an IRA intelligence-gathering operation
inside the Northern Ireland Office, a matter of conspiracy
or cock-up?

Like a torch beam in a dark forest, the Donaldson affair
has briefly sent shafts of light into the blackest recesses
of the “dirty war” that has been waged down the decades in
Northern Ireland.

It is a complex, murky world in which there appear to be no
clear answers and where the imperatives of political deal-
making collide, sometimes with catastrophic results, with
the brutal realities of intelligence-gathering.

The facts are few. Irish police have established how Mr
Donaldson died but have no clear lead, although they
suspect Republicans were responsible.

Mr Donaldson was hit by four blasts from a shotgun as he
tried to keep his killer out of his primitive cottage in Co

The assassin or an accomplice initially threw a stone that
smashed a front window, presumably to draw him outside. Mr
Donaldson had no intention of revealing himself. He tried
to bolt the front door or to put his weight against it. The
gunman fired the first two shotgun blasts through the door
and as Mr Donaldson staggered back towards the rear room,
the killer reloaded, leaving the spent cartridges on the
ground, and entered the cottage.

There was no back door and the 56-year-old victim, trapped
and wounded, put his right hand over his face in a vain
attempt to shield himself. The third and fourth shots, one
to the body and the other to the head, killed him.

The attacker apparently fled immediately, without ejecting
the other cartridges, and escaped from the remote wooded
district, possibly with the aid of an accomplice. Nobody
saw or heard the shots and because the murder weapon was a
shotgun there is no trail for forensic scientists to

The suspects are legion. As an informer and a British
agent, in the eyes of the IRA Mr Donaldson automatically
sentenced himself to death. If the organisation’s ruling
Army Council did not pass the sentence or approve the
killing, because of its commitment last summer to ending
its activities, that would still leave any number of its
members, past or present, with the incentive to carry out
an unsanctioned murder. The sad and brutal truth is that in
republican circles there will be few tears shed.

A second possibility is that the IRA is showing early signs
of fracturing into factions as it lapses into inactivity
and that mavericks carried out the killing to make a point
to the leadership, knowing that Mr Donaldson’s unpopularity
would make it impossible to punish them.

A third possibility is that the IRA approved and carried
out the murder at leadership level, as a lesson to others
thinking of selling secrets, and is lying. In the past it
denied certain murders, including those of police officers
and postmen, and later admitted them, claiming that they
were unsanctioned.

After the murder of Robert McCartney in January last year
it denied involvement but later, under pressure from the
dead man’s sisters, went back on that and offered to shoot
the perpetrators. It still denies carrying out the £26.5
million raid on the Northern Bank, though police on both
sides of the Irish border say the IRA did it.

Another theory is that dissident republicans from the
breakaway groups the Real IRA or Continuity IRA killed Mr
Donaldson with the motive of wrecking the prospects of a
political settlement.

But the counter-argument is that for those who parted
company with the Provisionals, the continuing presence of
Mr Donaldson was a reminder of how rotten the IRA had
become; he achieved a certain “recruiting sergeant” status
for those who disagree with Sinn Fein’s strategy.

Not surprisingly, the theory that Sinn Fein has been
promoting is that the “securocrats” killed Mr Donaldson —
the very people to whom he was carrying the republican
movement’s secrets.

It is a view endorsed by Mr Donaldson’s family, who said
yesterday that they believed the IRA’s denial of
involvement, adding: “The difficult situation which our
family has been put in is the direct result of the
activities of the Special Branch and British intelligence

This theory has the attraction of deterring other would-be
informers from taking the shilling and of shifting the
blame for everything that has gone wrong in the peace
process to the “dark forces” of the British Establishment.
The problem with this explanation is that the evidence of a
Stormont IRA spy ring lies in documents that Northern
Ireland police were led to, not by Mr Donaldson, but by
another informer.

According to Brian Rowan, a former BBC security editor, who
has written extensively on the subject, the source who
uncovered the spy ring was a man who approached the police
offering information, motivated by a falling out with a
senior Sinn Fein figure.

“The informer is not a significant republican figure but he
was able to identify the house that was being used to hide
the Stormontgate documents,” Mr Rowan said.

This was just months after the IRA had carried out a daring
raid on Castlereagh police station on St Patrick’s Day
2002, escaping with a bulging file of sensitive material.
After that, Operation Torsion was launched, a bugging and
surveillance operation whose targets included the IRA’s
director of intelligence.

Instead of simply seizing the documents, Special Branch
decided to try to catch the IRA chief with them in his
possession, thus getting revenge for Castlereagh. The
police even managed to remove the documents and a computer
from the house where they were being hidden, make copies
and return them with bugging devices attached so that their
movement could be monitored. According to Mr Rowan’s
sources, Mr Donaldson’s house was “the end of the chain”
for hiding the documents but they were there “for a very
short time”.

Furthermore, Mr Donaldson had not told his handler about
them. “If he had, we would have let it (the bag containing
the documents) make another move (to another location),” Mr
Rowan’s source said. “Does anybody really believe that
Special Branch would risk such a high-level source?”

As the trial preparations proceeded for Mr Donaldson and
two others charged in relation to Stormontgate their legal
teams pushed for disclosure on Operation Torsion.

But Special Branch had much to lose by revealing those
details: the informer who identified a house where the
Stormontgate documents were being held, and Mr Donaldson,
who had not revealed that the documents were in his house
but who had provided valuable political intelligence over
many years.

It was in these circumstances that all charges were finally
dropped last December, leading to Mr Donaldson’s triumphant
appearance on the steps of Stormont, flanked by Gerry Adams
and Martin McGuinness, to claim that “securocrats” had
destroyed the power-sharing executive.

“It came as a complete shock to everyone when he was
exposed,” a republican source said. “Nobody had any
suspicions about Denis — he just wasn’t seen as that sort
of character, “He was an administrator and an awful lot of
stuff went through him. From a Brit point of view he was
useful because although he wouldn’t know any of the big
secrets, he knew all of the wee ones.”

As the clock ticks towards Tony Blair’s November deadline
it is yet possible that the Denis Donaldson mystery
influences the course of politics. If it is established
that the IRA did murder him, an act which it has performed
on countless occasions in the past in the case of other
informers, it is certain that the Unionists will use it as
a justification for not sharing power with Sinn Fein.

There is one other legacy which Mr Donaldson and
Stormontgate bequeathed to the peace process: as a sop to
Unionists after it and the IRA’s Castlereagh raid, the
International Monitoring Commission was established to test
the ceasefires’ validity.

Sinn Fein hates the commission, which reported this year
that while the IRA was moving in the right direction, it
was still involved in serious crime and spying and had
retained weapons. Its further reports will play a vital
role in judging if republicans have passed the democratic
test before Unionists will be ready to sit down with them
in government.


:: Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot 14 times by
the loyalist Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom
Fighters. His wife was wounded and their three children
witnessed the attack in February 1989. The UFF claimed that
Mr Finucane was an IRA officer, which his family deny,
saying that he defended republican suspects. There are
allegations that members of the security forces
collaborated with loyalist paramilitaries.

:: Brian Nelson was a former British army agent at the
centre of alleged security force collusion with loyalist
paramilitaries. He died in April 2003 of a brain
haemorrhage. Nelson, who operated as the intelligence chief
of the UDA, was recruited by British military intelligence
at the height of the Troubles.

:: The unmasking of a top-level mole in the IRA — named as
Freddie Scappaticci — reopened claims that the security
services ordered the murder of republican sympathisers to
protect their informer. On October 9, 1987, Francisco
Notarantonio, a pensioner, was shot dead by loyalist gunmen
at his home in West Belfast. They appeared to believe that
Mr Notarantonio, an old friend of Gerry Adams’s father, was
a top IRA figure. Mr Notarantonio had been in the IRA in
the 1940s but for decades was a taxi driver. His family
deny that he knew about “Stakeknife”. His handlers are
alleged to have let their prized informer carry out IRA
killings so that he would not be discovered, so saving many
more lives. In May 2003 Freddie Scappaticci denied that he
was “Stakeknife”.

:: Governors of Northern Ireland’s Maze prison were warned
two months before the murder of the loyalist godfather
Billy Wright that republican terrorists were planning to
kill him in jail – but did nothing. Wright was shot dead by
three Irish National Liberation Army activists on December
27, 1997. The hit team had been housed in the same H-block
as Wright, the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force. No
guards were on the watchtower overlooking the yard in which
Wright was shot and a security camera was out of action.

:: Rosemary Nelson, a human rights lawyer, claimed that she
had been threatened many times by RUC officers for her work
in defending republican suspects. In 1998 Param
Curamaswamy, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
Independence of Judges and Lawyers, said in his annual
report he believed that her life could be in danger. He
made recommendations to the British Government that were
not acted upon. Mrs Nelson was killed by a car bomb in
March 1999. The loyalist Red Hand Defenders claimed


Opin: Proposals Likely To Fall Short Of The Mark

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

Denis Donaldson’s death is a tragedy. Particularly for his
family. The violent nature and suddenness of his death will
only add to their grief.

Since he emerged as a British agent before Christmas his
family’s life has been turned upside down.

Until this revelation Denis Donaldson was a respected
republican activist.

For 35 years his family carried the burden that came with
him being a republican activist – gaol, harassment,
financial insecurity, death an ever present threat.

They carried this burden willingly because they believe in
the freedom of this country.

Denis Donaldson’s double life and death symbolises all that
is wrong in this society.

He is a direct by-product of Britain’s occupation, of a
country beset by a long history of political conflict.

The peace process is about bringing an end to the
circumstances which led Denis Donaldson to betray his
comrades in the republican struggle.

Those behind his death are enemies of the peace process.
They do not want it to succeed.

In Armagh today Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair would do well
to reflect on the life and death of Denis Donaldson. They
would do well to appreciate that his life as an agent and
the circumstances which led to his death represents the
organised opposition inside their systems to the peace

Denis Donaldson was used to spy on republicans, people who
are trying to bring peace to this war-torn country.

The people who ran and controlled Denis Donaldson and
others like him have brought the peace process to an all
time low.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair are presiding over a system
which is following its own agenda, an agenda which is
undermining people’s confidence in the peace process.

Both men are failing to measure up to the challenges posed
and changes expected and promised by the peace process.

In the long history of Britain’s occupation of Ireland
there has never been a decade of opportunity like the one
just past.

The political changes heralded by the IRA’s cessation of
August 1994 generated unprecedented hope that a conflict
rooted deep in history was at last entering a new and
peaceful era of far reaching change.

Prior to August 1994 the outlook was bleak. History had
bequeathed a legacy where state oppression and armed
conflict were centre stage. It required a brave person or
persons to create a new approach to resolving political

That is precisely what Gerry Adams and the leadership of
the IRA did supporting Sinn Fein’s peace strategy.

The peace process challenged what passed for normal
politics in post-partitioned Ireland; 75 years of two
states and two conservative establishments created
partitionists on both sides of the British-imposed border.

They were bound to try to block change.

That said it would be folly to ignore the progress that has
been made over the last decade and acknowledge,
notwithstanding justifiable criticism, the contribution
made by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

The enormous advances we have made include, the IRA and
loyalist ceasefires; the Good Friday Agreement; the release
of political prisoners; the setting up of the institutions
– the All-Ireland Ministerial Council, the executive and
assembly; the replacement of the RUC with the PSNI; the RIR
disbanded; ongoing demilitarisation; changes in the
Criminal Justice system; the Bloody Sunday enquiry; the re-
routing of Orange marches; the demilitarisation programme;
weapons put beyond use by the IRA and the end of their
armed campaign.

However most of the decisions involving the British and
Irish government’s were in reaction to initiatives taken by
republicans. Neither government voluntarily took unilateral

On the British side they failed to rein in their
securocrats and limit the negative influence of unionists
in their system.

On matters of joint decision the Irish government has
operated in the shadow of their British counterparts.

On their own terrain the response of the Irish government
to important issues, such as speaking rights for northern
politicians in Leinster House, is pathetic.

But the area where both governments let down the peace
process and the people miserably is their failure to defend
the agreement against DUP wreckers.

Their proposals today are likely to fall far short of what
a peace process under pressure requires.


Opin: Our Memories Need To Be

First Friday
By Denis Bradley

Death comes. It comes in many guises. It is most poignant
when it comes on a lonely hillside in Donegal.

Denis Donaldson’s savage killing stirs all the diverse
emotions that inform and define our memory.

It is the same memory that defines and is itself defined in
the relationship between Britain and Ireland and that
resulted in the heartless spilling of human blood on that
bleak Donegal hillside.

There are those who advise that those memories are best
left aside and, if not forgotten, at least ignored. They
say that our task and responsibility is to move beyond
those memories of England and Ireland.

They advise that the future and the construction of that
future is what need concern us – that to keep those
memories alive and to give them prominence is to wallow in
a place that keeps us shackled to the past.

Others claim that you cannot move to that future until
those same memories are acknowledged and echoed within the
political spaces and institutions.

Those people are convinced that the resonance of those
memories are so great that their power will only dissipate
when they find expressions that are appropriate and

I admit that I have understood both arguments and failed to
come down fully on either side.

I wouldn’t be persuaded that those who killed Denis
Donaldson did so to destroy the peace process or to
influence the road map as laid out by the two governments
yesterday in Armagh.

Memory that cruelly kills a defenceless man is seldom
subject only to timetables or agendas. That kind of memory
is its own master. But there is a way in which the two
governments need to constantly remember the depth and the
power of the memory that flows through both our histories
and that locks us into love and hate.

Maps chart journeys and they lay out where you are at and
where you wish to go. They don’t get you there.

Until we get past the memories or create the safe spaces
that moderate and temper those memories, the governments
have a duty and a responsibility to provide as much safety
as is possible.

Safety is a bland word that stirs little enthusiasm or
excitement until its absence is felt. Safety is not a word
that inspires or excites, its very blandness relegates it
to a lesser place in our imagination.

However, when people begin to feel unsafe, then the dynamic
changes. Safety becomes a precious gift. It becomes a
desired and an attractive need.

Whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not, all
of us, all of our traditions, all of our memories, need to
be taken to a place of safety.

We need to be taken to a place where all our memories are
contained. It cannot be just Irish memory and it cannot be
just British memory. It must be both.

Maybe it should always have been apparent. But recent
events, going back over the last few years and reiterated
in the deaths of Jim Gray and Denis Donaldson, to name just
two, makes it crystal clear that we need safety. We need
safety from the powerful undertow of our history.

Safety is not the complete road map. It is not one that
espouses all our needs and all our ambitions. But it is the
one that underpins the more grandiose roadmaps.

Many commentators and politicians will write off the death
of Denis Donaldson and others as an inevitable and
predictable outworking of the ending of conflict. They will
say it is old scores being settled.

I think that analysis has validity. But it is also
incomplete, heartless and narrow.

It fails to draw the bigger lesson. Individual actions feed
off memory but they also feed memory. And it is beginning
to look like our local politicians are incapable of
providing the space that provides safety. So the two
governments are running out of options.

The two governments are again trying to persuade our
politicians to do the deals that will put the necessary

into place.

If they cannot put them into place or if they cannot
sustain them long enough and effectively enough to drain
off the bile, then the two governments must do it.

They must do it not just for economic reasons. They must do
it not just for socially or politically correct reasons.
They must do it not just for the sake of doing it.

They must do it to provide their people with as much safety
as is possible.


Opin: Fri 07 Apr, 2006

How Ireland Has Changed

"Ireland has arrived," writes David McWilliams in the
airline magazine for Aer Arann, the little commuter line we
took from London to Waterford.

We saw the evidence with our own eyes. Ireland has changed.
Driving around the countryside, we saw many substantial
houses under construction, condominium developments, along
with shopping malls and fancy automobiles. Except for the
hedgerows, and the fact that people drive on the wrong side
of the road, it might have been a suburb of Atlanta or

"We are richer than any of us imagined possible ten years
ago," continues Mr McWilliams. "No Irish person has to
emigrate, none of us need pay for education and even our
universities are free. Unemployment is the lowest in our
history. We have more choice than ever, the place is more
tolerant and no one can be legally discriminated against.
We have more cash in our back pockets than almost anyone in
Europe. We are better off than 99% of humanity. We are at
the top of foreigner’s lists as places to live. Unlike many
of our rich neighbours, in survey after survey we claim to
be very happy. We no longer need to beg from others in the
EU; in fact, we are giving them cash. We are a success. We
have money and time."

"Yes, it’s not like it used to be, Ireland has changed"
said our cab driver. "You won’t see any more houses with
thatched roofs, for example. Nobody knows how to put on the
thatch. And then you can’t get insurance for them. Too bad,
I liked to see a nice thatch roof and it was so warm and
cosy in winter. But nothing is like it used to be."

How Ireland has changed: Not the same city

The river Liffey still flows through Dublin just as it
always has. But it’s not the same water and not the same
city either. Nowadays, you’re likely to enter a pub and be
served, not by a smiling publican with a round bog-
trotters’ face, a turned up Paddy nose and a lilting Irish
voice, but by an immigrant from Slovakia or Serbia. “Vot do
you vant?” she asks you.

We attended a conference held in an old castle on a private
300-acre island near Waterford. The place had been
converted to a resort, with tennis courts and golf course.
Soon, developers are planning to build high-end houses. Our
cab driver filled us in.

"If they can get planning permission that is. I remember
when this place was for sale, 20 years ago it’s been.

Somebody came along and paid 300,000 Irish pounds for it.
And people called him a silly fool for spending that much
money. But now they’re planning on selling each lot –
without a house - just an empty building lot – for a
million euros. I don’t have to tell you. I wish I was the

How Ireland has changed: Importing people

At lunch, we noticed that both of the serving staff were
foreigners. One must have been Polish. The other, perhaps
Greek or Bulgarian. For 500 years boats on the the Liffey
carried out Ireland’s biggest and most successful exports –
the Irish themselves. Now they import people.

The Irish left to find work to get away from the
revolutions, uprisings, massacres and suppression, to get
free from their English masters, to make their fortunes, or
to avoid starving to death. They left for Baltimore, New
York, Boston, Sydney and Buenos Aires – a vast diaspora
that helped to fill up the New World. Even there, they were
not especially welcome. 'No Irish need apply, said the
signs. The Irish were riff-raff. They drank too much and
had too many children. The Irish slums were dangerous,
dirty and desperate. Besides, they were papists.

When, in New Orleans, they began to build the Pontchartrain
canal, in the early 19th century, the diggers were laid
down by fever. They began with slave labour, but fever got
them so often their owners refused to let them continue. So
the canal was dug by Irish labourers. The micks could die
as often as they wanted; who would care?

Likewise, on the loading docks of the Old South, black
labourers pitched bales of cotton into the cargo ships.

But Irish labourers had to catch them. That end of the
transaction was considered too dangerous for slaves. But on
the river Liffey they had no choice. They had to leave the
green and glorious island; the great river of history
carried them away.

How Ireland has changed: The Irish potato famine

What is history but a vast Public Spectacle; a record of
absurdities and mishaps for the edification of future
generations? Some people – usually fools and knaves – make
history. Others suffer it. Decent people who mind their own
business and do their best appear in history only as
statistics. An Gorta Mor, the Irish potato famine of the
mid-1800s, caused between 500,000 and a million deaths.
Millions more avoided starvation only by emigrating.
Ireland’s population was cut in half – from

8 million to only 4 million during the famine years. How
many were killed in the Easter Rising, whose 90th
anniversary will be celebrated in less than two weeks?

"A shadow of cloud on the stream/Changes minute by minute,"
wrote Ireland´s greatest poet about that fateful moment in

And how many massacred in Portadown?

"We won’t make those mistakes," say the living, then go
right ahead with their own absurdities and legislative

The proximate cause of the Great Hunger was an act of
nature, a fungus. Behind it acts of parliament, centuries
of man-made history. Catholics risked having their land
taken away. Those that retained them saw their holdings
grow smaller and smaller. The English had taken up much of
the land in large plantations. What was left for the Irish
was divided, and redivided, so that the typical farm was
only a few acres – and much of that was marsh or swampland.
The only thing that could be grown on such land that would
produce enough calories to feed a family was potatoes. And
done on such a small scale, there was no margin for error,
there were no savings, no cushion on which the typical
family could fall back in times of trouble. When trouble
came with the spuds, they were in a jam.

Much is made of how the English authorities caused the
problem and then made it worse through various
interventions. But Lord Russell just made history, like
Cromwell and Henry VIII before him. The Irish bore it as
best they could.

How Ireland has changed: Studying history

But here at the Daily Reckoning, we would not stoop to
making history. Instead, we study it carefully – usually
with amusement – so that we won’t have to suffer it

We watch the waters of the Liffey flowing like life,
sometimes bringing good news and sometimes bearing barges
with trouble. We wonder where the clouds and currents come
from. For example, what turned Ireland from one of Europe’s
poorest countries to one of its richest?

"The Irish economy has been booming at an annual growth
rate of over 5.6% for 20 years now. In barely 18 years
Ireland has made the unbelievable jump from 22nd to the 4th
place in OECD prosperity ranking," writes Martin De
Vlieghere and Paul Vreymans of the Flemish think tank, Work
for All.

How did it do it? It joined the European Union and cut
taxes. "Ireland thanks its success to its clear-cut
different tax policy," say the Flemish thinkers. "With 33%,
the Irish overall tax burden is the most moderate of
Europe. Ireland also has a unique fair flat-tax structure,
the key to Ireland’s success."

And so the river of history flows in Ireland’s direction.
But shadows still appear.

The Irish are no longer starving. "According to the
national task force 30% of Irish women are overweight and a
further 12% are obese; diabetes is the fastest- growing
disease in the country,” writes McWilliams.

Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning


1916 Leader's Son (92) To Return For Ceremonies

Stephen Collins, Political Correspondent

Fr Joseph Mallin (92), the last surviving offspring of one
of the executed 1916 leaders, will travel back to Ireland
from his home in Hong Kong on Tuesday as a guest of the
Government. He will remain here for a month before
returning to the school in which he still teaches.

The Jesuit priest, who has served in Hong Kong since 1948,
told The Irish Times yesterday that the invitation to
attend the 90th anniversary commemoration of the Rising had
come as a surprise.

"I was planning to go to China at Easter as the titular
leader of a group from the school but I cancelled that when
the airline tickets arrived," said Fr Mallin, who is a
teacher and administrator in a Jesuit-run school in Hong

Fr Mallin, the son of Comdt Michael Mallin, chief of staff
of the Irish Citizen Army in 1916, said he was looking
forward to his visit, although he had been home last year
after the absence of some years.

"I will attend the parade on Easter Sunday, as the
Government was good enough to invite me, but what I am most
looking forward to is being able to go to the grave of my
father in Arbour Hill, with the other families of those
executed, for a ceremony in early May," he said.

Fr Mallin will join dignitaries including members of the
Government, the Dáil, the Northern Assembly, the judiciary,
the diplomatic corps and the social partners on the
reviewing stand in O'Connell Street for the parade next

Invitations to the reviewing stand and to a reception in
Dublin Castle that evening have been issued to almost 250
relatives of those who took part in the Rising.

Fr Mallin, who was ordained in the 1930s, has been in Asia
for over six decades. He was in Canton in China in the
1940s but was expelled after the communist takeover.

Fr Mallin was just two years old when his father was
executed on May 8th, 1916, leaving a wife and five small

Comdt Mallin was born in Dublin in 1880 and joined the
British army as a drummer boy. He served abroad and was
promoted as a noncommissioned officer.

After 14 years he returned to Dublin where he worked as a
silk weaver and became secretary of the silk weavers union.

>on its form>>He wrote military lectures and gave training
on street fighting to the Citizen >Com>d>>the tactic of
burrowing through the walls of houses, which enabled
>against overwhelming odds >(ends)

© The Irish Times


‘The Dublin Affair’ - Easter 1916 In The Parish

Wednesday April 5th 2006

When the Easter Rising began on Monday April 24th 1916 the
Administrator of Saint Patrick’s Parish in Dundalk was Fr
James McKeone. The Rising was referred to at first in the
local press as ‘The Dublin Affair’. It was also described
as, ‘an act of madness’ and a ‘mad and hopeless fight’. Fr
McKeone addressed the issue of ‘The Dublin Affair’ in a
lengthy sermon at 12 noon Sunday Mass in Saint Patrick’s,
shortly after the uprising.

He spoke on the theme of the season, the Easter gift of
peace that Christ offered to his church and on how peace
ought to be sought and preserved. ‘The preacher’ as one
local account put it, ‘then took occasion to refer to some
recent occurrences’. He said that he would not refer at
length to the ‘tragedy of bloodshed through which they were
passing’. Moving to a wider worldview, Fr McKeone then said
that he did not wish to refer to the heaps of graves in
which hundreds and more than hundreds of Irishmen were
lying – graves dug by British cannon. With a flourish of
pulpit oratory he described these as ‘graves of folly and
fantastic hopes’. He said that he would merely pray for
‘the unfortunate and misguided men’ - ‘peace be on their

Fr McKeone was from Kilsaran. His family ran a public house
there, opposite the parish church. He was born in 1875 and
entered Maynooth in 1893. He was ordained six years later
in 1899 and returned to the College to what is called the
Dunboyne Institute for further, post-graduate study. He
received his S.T.L or Licentiate in Sacred Theology some
years later. During the period when James McKeone was a
student, my grandfather worked as a drayman, driving a
horse-drawn dray or flat cart as a delivery man for a
bottling company in Church Street, Dundalk. The bottling
company was called Walshes. My grandfather, Francis
Murtagh, was an employee and a neighbour of Walshes, both
families being from the Shelagh area, near Hackballscross.
The young James McKeone used to travel around the
countryside with my grandfather on his horse and dray
during his summer visits home from Maynooth.

In his Easter sermon, Fr McKeone moved on from ‘The Dublin
Affair’ and the World War that was tearing Europe asunder
to deal with ‘the one thing that concerned’ him as
Administrator of Dundalk parish. He then went on to speak
of the killing of an unarmed policeman in Castlebellingham
‘by the Volunteers on their way through’. He said that ‘the
man that fought commanded some respect’, even when he
‘regarded his aims as foolish and fruitless’ but he said
that he could not look on the occurrence at
Castlebellingham in that light. He said that he was not
laying the blame on anybody. He had ‘nothing but pity for
the unfortunate young men who were led astray’. He ‘had
nothing but pity for their leaders who took upon themselves
the awful responsibility of leading these men to bloodshed
and slaughter’. He awaited an enquiry, he said, and hoped
that none of those responsible were from Dundalk.

An early casualty of the Easter Rising was another
clergyman who was from Dundalk, Fr F.J. Watters S.M. He was
a brother of Alexander Watters, a bacon curer, of 17
Clanbrassil Street. Fr Watters, a member of the Marist
Community in Catholic University School, Leeson Street was
caught in crossfire while standing at the door of his

In 1917 the Irish Hierarchy issued instructions to both
laity and clergy advising them that ‘all organisations that
plot against the Church or lawful constituted authority,
whether openly or secretly, are condemned by the church
under the severest of penalties’. Priests were reminded
that it was, ‘strictly forbidden to speak of political or
kindred affairs in the church’. Speaking at an Irish
Convention that was held in Dundalk in 1917, Fr McKeone had
no reservations about expressing his political opinions. He
appealed for the Convention to be given a fair chance. ‘The
greatest difficulty in the way of a settlement’ he said,
was ‘the attitude of the Ulster Unionists’. He had come to
the meeting, he said, ‘to protest against the partition of
the country’. Despite his earlier misgivings about the
Great War, he invoked the example of Major Redmond,
‘fighting for Ireland, fighting beside Ulstermen’, as ‘a
guide to those who would assemble to discuss the future of
the country’.

Following the June meeting of the Irish Bishops in
Maynooth, Cardinal Logue and his fellow bishops addressed
the priests of Ireland. ‘Amongst other wise and salutary
and timely counsels’, their Lordships wrote that priests
ought to be moderate and prudent, temperate and truthful in
speech. ‘Priests’, they counselled, ‘should refrain from
all recrimination or the imputation of base motives’.

Fr McKeone served in Dundalk during a most difficult
period. He was curate from 1908-1915 when he succeeded Fr
Lyons, (later Bishop of Kilmore) as Administrator for the
next nine turbulent years. He later dealt forcefully with
the issue of conscription; ‘a policy of madness’; the
sinking of the S.S. Dundalk by the Germans; the Great Flu
of 1919; Dundalk’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ when four policemen were
attacked outside the C.Y.M.S. Hall; the burning of three
innocent employees in Craig’s premises and guerrilla-type
warfare on the streets of the town. He refuted the use of
the word ‘war’ as an explanation for the killings of the
time and called on the young to ‘repudiate these methods’.
He was highly praised for his role in negotiations with
Frank Aiken during the taking and re-taking of the town by
‘Irregulars’ and by National Troops in 1922.

In 1924 Fr McKeone was appointed parish priest in Kilcurry.
He may have planned for a quieter life in the shadow of
Saint Brigid’s shrine. His dreams of a rural idyll were
shattered a few years later when, on May 27th 1927, he
returned from a journey to find his housekeeper missing.
She was Mary Callan (pronounced Caulan) from Culloville.
This was to develop into a widely-known murder case in
which his houseman and chauffeur, eighteen year old Gerard
Toal was convicted and later hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint
in Dublin on August 29th 1928. Fr McKeone died in the
relative quiet of South Armagh serving finally as parish
priest of Upper Creggan or Crossmaglen from 1933-1947
having renewed his acquaintance with the drayman of his
youth and having anointed him on his deathbed in Shelagh in

(From Saint Patrick’s Dundalk- An Anniversary Account. 1997
Michael Murtagh).

© The Argus


'President Bartlett' Retiring To New Role At NUIG


The Government should not believe anything the US says
about its use of Shannon airport, because the White House
is controlled by "a bunch of gangsters", The West Wing
actor Martin Sheen has claimed. But the man famous for
playing a fictional US president admits he may have to tone
down his opposition to the real one during his next major
role, as a full-time student in NUI Galway, writes Frank

Speaking after an honorary arts doctorate was conferred on
him by the National University of Ireland yesterday, Sheen
(65) said he would become the "oldest undergraduate" at
NUIG later this year when he begins a course in philosophy
and English literature.

As a "foreign student", he believes he will have to curtail
his real-life political activism, although he regards the
use of Shannon by the US military as an "outrage". He also
considers President Bush a "very, very dangerous man" who
has "opened the gates of hell in Iraq".

Sheen has been arrested more than 60 times in the US for
acts of civil disobedience. On a previous visit to Ireland,
playing his TV role as President Bartlett, he issued a
"pardon" to the five Catholic worker activists who attacked
a US aircraft at Shannon. "I still support them," he said

He shot his final episode of The West Wing last week and
says he will now "slow down a bit", although he has already
featured in a film directed by his son Emilio Estevez about
the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

Born Ramon Estevez to a Spanish father and a Tipperary
mother, Sheen deliberately failed his university entrance
exam so he could pursue a career in acting. He used to
boast about never having been to college, "but gradually
realised what I'd missed".

One of his concerns about attending NUIG is that he would
be a "distraction" to other students. Despite such
concerns, he will be attending lectures like everyone else.
"I'm very serious about it," he said.

© The Irish Times


Michael Collins - The Musical Drama For The Theatre Royal

On Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd April, Waterford’s Theatre
Royal will play host to ‘Michael Collins’ - The Musical
Drama, in a Workshop Concert format.

Written by Bryan Flynn and developed in association with
Cork Opera House, ‘Michael Collins’ is an epic new stage
show dramatising the life story of ‘The Big Fella’
incorporating the Easter Rising of 1916, The War of
Independence and The Irish Civil War. It documents Collins’
childhood in West Cork, his years working as a clerk in
London before returning to take part in the Easter Rising,
his subsequent imprisonment in Wales, his six year fight
for Irish Freedom and his tragic death during the Irish
Civil War in 1922 at the tender age of 31.

The show has been in development for over two years and a
full scale production featuring stunning scenery and state
of the art lighting is planned for later this year.
However, in order to gauge an audience reaction and to take
the show ‘off the page’ so to speak, Bryan Flynn Theatrix
and Cork Opera House have taken the decision to stage a
workshop concert version of the show for two nights in
Waterford. Ironically, the performances will take place
during the Easter period, 90 years after the tumultuous
events which changed the course of Irish history.

A cast of 18 experienced performers has been assembled and
for 10 days in April, this ensemble will workshop the show
in Cork. This is a vital time for the production team to
put the show on the floor and to hear the music sung by a
full cast. At the conclusion of the workshop, the cast will
travel to the Theatre Royal in Waterford to present the
results of the 10 days work. This is expected to be a 2
hour performance consisting of all the music and dialogue
from the show accompanied by a musical soundtrack and a
basic visual presentation.

The music for the show, which has been composed by Bryan
Flynn, is being arranged by acclaimed music
producer/composer Trevor Knight. No stranger to Waterford
audiences, Trevor played a major role in some of Red Kettle
Theatre Company’s big successes over the years. He composed
many soundtracks for the company’s plays including The
Crucible, Petty Sessions and Catalpa. Trevor has also
written for the Gate Theatre, The Abbey Theatre and has
toured the world with numerous stage productions, most
notably Donal O’Kelly’s ‘Catalpa’. The soundtrack for the
new Michael Collins show is an eclectic mix of traditional
Irish instrumentation, contemporary electro music, and
choral songs.

Many shows around the world now start life as workshop
productions. It is a trend which began over twenty years
ago when Andrew Lloyd Webber converted a small church on
the grounds of his Sydmonton home into a theatre. Every
summer, he presents the latest musical ideas to an invited
audience of family and friends.

For an audience, it is an exciting prospect to be in
attendance when a show is performed in a basic setting for
the very first time. So don’t miss this opportunity to
attend a truly unique concert....Tickets are on sale at the
Theatre Royal Box Office Telephone 051 874402...all tickets
are •18. Early booking is advised.

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