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April 01, 2006

DUP is Bullying Governments

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BN 03/31/06
SF: DUP Is Bullying Governments
DI 03/31/06 Over Watching The Detectives
JN 04/01/06 McCain Calls For Immigration Reform In Yonkers
BT 04/01/06 Move To Take SF Off Terrorist Watchlist
BB 04/01/06 Mural Removed Near Protest Church
DI 03/31/06 Council Debates United Ireland
BB 03/31/06 Loyalist Cash Boost 'Not Enough'
SF 03/31/06 De Brún Travels To Basque Country Today
RT 04/01/06 DUP Delegation To Meet US Politicians
BB 04/01/06 Shot Fired During Armed Robbery
UT 04/01/06 Armed Raid At Belfast Hotel
BT 04/01/06 'Mo' Courtney Trial Delayed
BT 04/01/06 Anatomy Of A Bloody Feud...
BT 04/01/06 Mary Parades Her Courage
DI 03/31/06 Opin: Empey Talks Move Exposes Hypocrisy
BB 04/01/06 Opin: Could Plan B Be Spur To Progress?
IT 04/01/06 Opin: McGahern's Legacy
IT 04/01/06 Full Irish Not Just What Tourist Ordered
BT 04/01/06 Tourists Write Up Irish Visits In Online Blogs
IT 04/01/06 Taoiseach Thanked For Honouring Son Of Executed Leader
EX 04/01/06 War Of Independence Film A Fascinating Work
BN 04/01/06 Irish Worker Dies In Bahrain Cruise Boat Accident
BN 04/01/06 Search For Man Swept Out To Sea Resumes
NI 04/01/06 New Ireland Group Meets In South Down


SF: DUP is bullying governments

31/03/2006 - 16:00:38

The British and Irish Governments were today accused of
allowing themselves to be bullied by the Rev Ian Paisley’s
Democratic Unionists into diluting the Good Friday

The allegation was made by Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator
Martin McGuinness as officials in London and Dublin
finalised the roadmap for restoring devolution in Northern
Ireland which will be unveiled by British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern next Thursday.

It is believed the two will confirm during their visit to
Armagh the Assembly will be recalled in May.

However the parties are expected to be given a November 24
deadline to agree to the formation of a devolved

But with speculation mounting that the Assembly will be
given some kind of role, the governments were warned today
by Mr McGuinness that Sinn Féin would not tolerate anything
which watered down the 1998 Agreement.

“We are deeply concerned at the approach of the two
governments,” the Mid Ulster MP said.

“Rather than defend the Agreement by standing up to
unionist rejectionists, the two governments are allowing
the DUP to bully them into diluting the Agreement.

“This is a mistake and we have told the two governments
this. We remain in close and constant contact with both the
Taoiseach and the British Prime Minster.

“Our focus is on defending the integrity of the Good Friday
Agreement. Anything less than that is unacceptable to Sinn

Sinn Féin and the nationalist SDLP have been highly
critical of suggestions that the Assembly could sit for
months ahead of the formation of an executive.

The DUP has insisted it will not be bound by any deadline
imposed by the governments and will only base a decision on
whether to form an executive on the basis of evidence that
the IRA has ended all criminality and paramilitarism.

The two governments were also warned today by nationalist
SDLP deputy leader Dr Alasdair McDonnell his party was not
interested in an Assembly which amounted to a DUP inspired
talking shop.

But he also blamed Sinn Féin for the governments’

The South Belfast MP said: “The SDLP’s only interest is in
the path to restoration and the full implementation of the
Good Friday Agreement.

“That is the benchmark by which we will judge the proposals
of the two governments and make our detailed public

“We remain clear in our rejection of the Shadow Assembly
negotiated by the DUP and Sinn Fein in December 2004.

“Indeed Sinn Féin has to take a lot of the blame for the
current direction of the political process. The current
proposals are largely a consequence of the dodgy deal they
negotiated with the DUP.

“Indeed the truth is that without Sinn Féin’s help we would
not be in this mess.”


Over Watching The Detectives

In his final interview before retiring as vice-chairpman of
the North’s Policing Board this week, Denis Bradley spoke
with Jarlath Kearney

Jarlath Kearney

DI: Is Martin McGuinness’ phone currently bugged by
Special Branch?

DB: I would be very surprised if it was, but I wouldn’t see
any reason why it should be and if it is, I think that it
should be very deeply inquired into as to why the hell
Martin McGuinness’ phone should be bugged by the Special
Branch. I would think that was an horrendous situation to

DI: And the reason I ask, of course, is because there is a
precedent, as you know.

DB: There is a precedent for everything in Northern
Ireland. I think that the Sinn Féin statement is a very
valid one, when it says when are the British going to stop
their war too because we have stopped ours. My only problem
with it is that Sinn Féin have access to the Prime Minister
on a daily basis, so why ask me is their phone bugged when
they have total access to the Prime Minister?

DI: The point is that on the last occasion in which it
emerged publicly that Martin McGuinness’ phone was bugged,
the conversations were in fact conversations with 10
Downing Street. Now that happened on the Policing Board’s

DB: It also happened on Martin McGuinness’ watch. I think
that you are giving the Policing Board an import which is
way beyond its brief in this point of view, that all things
have to be post-hoc as opposed to pre-hoc. Things are made
accountable post, not prior. Otherwise what you do is that
you run the organisation and that’s the job of the chief
constable and people like that. But to answer your
question, I don’t do this victim stuff. Sinn Féin are
probably more critically powerful in their access than any
other political party are. We have authority post, if
something is wrong then you come to us and you say that’s
the piece of evidence, we have mechanisms to deal with

DI: A Special Branch officer called Peter Adamson was
charged with offences in relation to the alleged leaking of
transcripts of Martin McGuinness’ phone calls. The charges
were withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions last
autumn on the basis that it was not ‘in the public
interest’ to proceed. Did the Policing Board investigate,
analyse, assess or inquire in any way whatsoever about that

DB: Well why would the Policing Board inquire about
something that the DPP decided to do?

DI: Why did the Policing Board then attempt to deal with
the issue of the Stormont case which collapsed ‘in the
public interest’ and people were declared not guilty by
verdict of the Crown Court? The Policing Board then made
extensive comment about that – you and Des Rea – at a press
briefing in Belfast. Why did you do that?

DB: You’re the first person who has asked me to comment
upon this one, right, nobody asked me to comment on this,
on one that I’m not well-briefed on and I don’t know that
much about, but if you had asked me I would have certainly
went looking to find out. But you didn’t ask and nobody
else asked. But on the second one, everybody was asking,
right? So you cannot blame me for not commenting on
something which I wasn’t asked about and which you’re post-
haste asking and coming down the road asking me about and
kind of making into something.

DI: In the view of some it is as big a public interest
issue that a Member of Parliament’s phone and his
conversations with the secretary of state and 10 Downing
Street would be bugged by a PSNI Special Branch which then
leaks them to the media, while at the same time the
Policing Board doesn’t consider the issue to be of
sufficient public interest to make comment or inquiry.

DB: Well I told you, you’re the first person to ask me the
question. And Martin didn’t come to me because if he had I
would have dealt with it. I would have opened up the issue.
He didn’t come to me with it and I didn’t know about it. So
I mean the real point here is engagement, the real point
here is engagement.

DI: So should Martin McGuinness be engaging as a member of
the Policing Board if – and you’re not in a position to say
and neither is he presumably – his phone is still bugged by
the PSNI Special Branch?

DB: What I’m saying is that if it is, I think it should be
inquired into and seen to and dealt with.

DI: How could he join the Policing Board if post-hoc, as
you described it, two years from now, further transcripts
emerged of conversations that he is currently having with
Peter Hain or Jonathan Powell or Tony Blair?

DB: Well, Labour governments have discovered that
intelligence at times did things that they weren’t supposed
to do, right? It has happened within the south of Ireland
not all that long ago. It didn’t collapse governments,
right, people dealt with it and got on with it and made
people accountable for it. That’s the way you deal with
these types of situations.

DI: Who made the PSNI Special Branch accountable for the
leaks that took place on the watch of Hugh Orde and the
Policing Board?

DB: Well you’re saying that they actually happened. So
you’re asking me about something I know nothing about, that
nobody informed me of, nobody asked me a question about,
that nobody actually brought to my attention. The
difficulty about the Sinn Féin argument is that we will
join policing when it is perfect according to our
definition. Now they then began to discover, correctly so
in my opinion, that devolution of policing and justice
powers was a fundamental issue, not necessarily to policing
but to good governance of policing.

DI: One of the issues which the Policing Board manifestly
can’t control is the issue of MI5 receiving primacy over
intelligence-gathering in Ireland.

DB: The board can’t solve it but the political parties can
solve it and I think that the best definition is coming at
this moment in time from the SDLP because they split
national security into two situations – one is Irish
national security and the other is British national
security, and I think that is a very valid analysis.

DI: So you agree then that MI5 does have a role to play in
Ireland vis-a-vis so-called international terrorism?

DB: I will tell you this and Sinn Féin will come to this
because they can’t go to any other position, no government
in the world will give away its own national security. But
what it should be giving away within Northern Ireland is
national security within the island of Ireland. That’s the
issue, it won’t give away its own national security, and we
have to live, we all have to mature into the situation,
because Britain, while its here, will take an interest in
its own national security out of that island, or the part
of the island in which it has a place.

DI: So this is fundamentally an issue of sovereignty?

DB: Of course its about political sovereignty. That’s what
it was always about.

DI: Hugh Orde specifically stated on the BBC that loyalists
in general are not a threat to national security and that
republicans in general are a threat to national security.
Do you agree with that?

DB: I don’t agree with Hugh Orde’s position on this. I
actually side with the SDLP on this that the police should
continue to hold national security as they do at this
moment in time on the island of Ireland, I agree with that.

DI: Do you accept that a better model is that those powers
should be vested with a locally accountable minister of

DB: I have no difficulty with any of that except that I
think you are not analysing the situation properly at all
and I don’t think you’re grasping the situation because
governments hold onto their national security. Neither of
the two governments, in no matter what model you create,
will give up their own national security issue. There are
still dark rooms but there are not as many of them and
there is a little bit more scrutiny, but the scrutiny will
always reside in the parliament of that country and should
not reside on a Policing Board. We were handed a situation
from the British government that it was a done deal and
Sinn Féin in my opinion didn’t protest enough. I’m saying
its carries dangers. I am not saying it’s fundamental. I’m
saying it carries dangers and it should be properly
explored. But I don’t think it is fundamental. I think that
the danger as I see it is that a force without a force,
which is the British model, is not necessarily conducive to
a post-conflict situation, where sovereignty is still the
disputed territory.

DI: You acknowledge that the PSNI and MI5 currently have a
‘relationship’. You’ve acknowledged that.

DB: Of course I have.

DI: Many observers regard that relationship in the Tasking
and Co-ordinating Group as effectively a force beyond a
force, because there has been very little public
accountability of any of the actions emanating from that
relationship over the past four years. Do you accept that?

DB: We were never tasked by the politicians to sort out the
relationship between MI5 and the internal workings of the
police. Nobody ever tasked the Policing Board with that,
neither should they because that’s the politicians’ role. I
think it is healthier that dark rooms disappear and that
things come out into the open as much as they can. The role
of the Policing Board is not to work out politics and I
think that part of the republican argument is that it
invested far too much expectation in something that is only
a construct of proper politics and which gives a chance and
an opportunity to achieve a greater oversight of policing
than we had up to now.

DI: Hugh Orde in March 2003, during your period as vice-
chair, talked about people within his organisation who
wanted him to fail. Where have those people gone? Or are
they still there? Or do you know?

DB: There are people within every organisation that wish
somebody to fail. We also unfortunately, still to a degree,
because the politicians have failed to get their act
together, end up in a situation where some of the politics
flow into policing, so the kind of clear water that we were
promised by the politicians in the Good Friday Agreement
was never provided.

DI: Is there a case, which republicans refer to, for
labelling police who flow into politics as political

DB: Culturally I think there was a greater onus on Sinn
Féin to actually lift more of the burden by taking their
place on the Policing Board and holding Hugh Orde to
account and having the type of questions that you’re
directing at me, directed at them because why didn’t they
lift part of this burden and expect people like me to kind
of hold ground which I was only partially capable of ever

DI: Is that not a victim approach that you eschewed earlier

DB: No, it’s a reality statement, it’s a reality check on
this situation. I don’t feel a victim, I just feel a bit
saddened by it. I think it was a wrong tactic. I disagreed
with it.

DI: Do you accept Sinn Féin’s argument now that, number
one, there are still in some influential positions within
the PSNI ‘political detectives’, and number two, that
devolution is now fundamental to securing maximum community
confidence in the police?

DB: I think that is put in a fashion which is a completely
Sinn Féin question, because it bears no reality to reality.

DI: So there aren’t political detectives?

DB: No, I didn’t say that. Let me finish the thing.
Everything that happens is political. And when a very
prominent Sinn Féin person becomes a police officer, I
don’t expect him to change his heart, nor his culture, but
what I expect him to do and what I would demand if I was
still on the Policing Board is that he police with
neutrality and with the best interests of all the people at
heart. That’s what I mean by that the politics now flow
into policing because those questions are asked because we
don’t have an assembly, we don’t have an agreed executive.

DI: Yes but in fairness, Denis, republicans currently
analyse a set of individuals within the PSNI as political
detectives because they, in fact, conspired to bring down
the assembly that you’re actually talking about.

DB: Well, you use the word conspire, I don’t think they
conspired at all.

DI: But that’s why republicans talk about political

DB: No, they didn’t conspire. I think they made a mess of
it. That’s been acknowledged by the chief constable and I
certainly thought they made a mess of it and said so at the
time. That’s why I think that analysis is not good enough.
You see as republicans – and I talk about myself as a
republican – we need to get past this. But if you begin to
actually say he did that or she did that because he comes
from the unionist tradition therefore it has to be a
political position and therefore he has to be a political
detective, we will never in true republican definitions
move past where we’re at. Sinn Féin have had the experience
of knowing more about change than probably any other entity
within the North over the last 10 years. They have handled
it extremely well except mainly on this one issue which I
think they got wrong, because they politicised policing. If
anyone politicised policing they politicised it by actually
saying that we’ll only do it when it’s perfect according to
our view. They politicised policing by saying, that’s one
we will not touch with a barge pole.

DI: Patten came about because policing was political...

DB: No, hold on...

DI: That’s why Patten came about.

DB: Everything is political if you want to use that

DI: Policing is fundamental to the maintenance of the
status quo. That’s why it so serious for republicans.

DB: It is so serious for republicans and it’s the one that
they didn’t engage with. To be fair to them, they said we
will do that through legislation. If they don’t find a way
of the policing to do that, then the only thing we’re left
with is what is now being described in vague terms as joint
management. And the rest of Ireland, which they now have a
big stake in politically, will be left saying that there is
one of the political parties here who doesn’t support
policing within part of the island until they get some kind
of devolved situation which might not happen for the next
20 years. Now that is not a political position I would
advise anybody to take up.

This interview has been edited down because of space


McCain Calls For Immigration Reform In Yonkers

By Ernie Garcia
The Journal News
(Original publication: April 1, 2006)

NEW YORK — Wearing T-shirts proclaiming "Legalize the
Irish," hundreds of people filled St. Barnabas School's
auditorium and spilled onto McLean Avenue by the Yonkers-
Bronx border last night to hear Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
discuss immigration reform.

The event, organized by the locally based Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform, featured a speech by the sponsor of an
immigration reform bill currently under discussion in the
U.S. Senate. McCain said the United States was at a
defining moment in its history, when it either would
continue its tradition of welcoming immigrants or turn to

He pointed to riots this week in France as a symptom of
countries that do not enjoy the social dynamism and
rejuvenation fostered by immigration.

"Some Americans believe we must find these people, round
them up and send them home," McCain said of the estimated 6
million to 11 million illegal immigrants in this country.
"I don't know how you would do that or why you would want

McCain added that after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the
country must guard its borders and find a way to separate
the illegal immigrants who want to contribute to the
country from those who want to do harm.

McCain also praised President Bush for supporting a guest
worker program that could allow illegal immigrants a
pathway to legalization.

After his talk, McCain took questions. One person asked
what the chances are for legalization of illegal

"If the kind of demonstrations continue across America,"
McCain said of recent pro-legalization marches, "I think we
will have a bill for the president to sign fairly soon."

McCain's visit drew many elected officials, including Rep.
Eliot Engel, Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone and state Sens.
Jeff Klein and Nick Spano, among others.

Engel and Klein sponsored some of the Irish Lobby's buses
to Washington on March 8. Both spoke before McCain did and
said they wanted legalization for illegal immigrants.

"We've certainly come a long way since we met at Rory
Dolan's," said Klein, referring to a winter meeting at the
popular Yonkers bar that kicked off the Irish Lobby's
advocacy campaign in the area.

Klein talked about his grandfathers, who were from Poland
and Hungary.

"When they came to these shores, they were welcomed with
open arms," he said. "We need to continue that today
because this country was built by immigrants."

The event drew mostly an Irish and Irish American crowd,
but there was some diversity.

Henry Lessel, 78, lives about three blocks from St.
Barnabas in the Bronx. Lessel is not an Irish American, but
he came to listen to McCain because he is interested in
McCain as a presidential contender.

Lessel said he favored legalizing illegal immigrants,
adding that the idea of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border
was impractical.

"You can't put up walls against people. It's against human
nature," Lessel said.

David Fitzgibbons, 37, a carpenter and Bronx resident,
bought a "Legalize the Irish" T-shirt last night and put it
on as he awaited McCain's speech.

Fitzgibbons said he knows many people who are illegal
immigrants and would benefit from a change in their status.

"They can't leave the country, or if they leave the U.S.
they can't get back in," he said.

After the event, Nanuet resident Linda O'Connor, a business
owner, said McCain had courage for addressing immigration.

"I was there because I believe that's what makes America so
great, and I believe we need to continue this tradition,"
said O'Connor, who traveled with the Irish Lobby to
Washington and intends to follow McCain's recommendation
that the audience contact elected officials and their

"I think it's very important to speak to our fellow
citizens and explain to them why we support it, what it's
about," she said of the immigration reform proposals
winding through the Senate.

Yonkers resident Alexander Sanchez, 44, was the only
Hispanic immigrant who approached the microphone to speak
to McCain after his speech. Sanchez, a math teacher who
fled a civil war in El Salvador 20 years ago, told McCain
that he appreciated what he is doing.

"It really pleases me that there is someone who understands
the equality of all people," Sanchez said after the event.
"I'm a Democrat, but it's wonderful to hear a Republican
talk like that."


Move To Take SF Off Terrorist Watchlist

From Sean O'Driscoll in New York
01 April 2006

IRISH American members of Congress are to campaign to have
all Sinn Fein staff members removed from the US
government's terrorist watchlist following a meeting with
Department of Homeland Security officials in Washington.

At the meeting, staff from the Transport Security
Administration said that Gerry Adams has now been removed
from the TSA's terrorist watchlist, according to New York
congressman Brian Higgins.

Adams was due to visit Higgins' district in Buffalo, New
York before he was detained at Dulles airport in Washington
on St Patrick's Day.

Congressman Higgins said that Sinn Fein staff members
remained on the list and that he and other members of the
House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs
would fight to have to have their names removed.

He said TSA staff confirmed that Adams had been on a
"selectee" list of people who are not considered a direct
terrorist threat but who must undergo further inspection
before flying.

Mr Adams had been expected to join Higgins at St Patrick's
Day festivities in Higgins' district in Buffalo, New York
before he was stopped at Dulles airport.

The detention came just hours after Mr Adams visited the
White House and posed for photographs with President Bush
at the US Congress.

Congressman Higgins said that the continued inclusion of
Sinn Fein staff members on the "selectee" list was
unacceptable and said the issue was not closed.


Mural Removed Near Protest Church

A loyalist paramilitary mural close to a Catholic church in
County Antrim which was the scene of weekly protests in the
1990s has been removed.

The UDA mural near the Church of Our Lady at Harryville in
Ballymena was taken down after cross-community talks.

It has replaced by an Ulster Scots mural featuring symbols
such as a shamrock and Red Hand of Ulster.

Tricolours were removed from the north end of Ballymena in
a deal brokered by Harryville Ulster Scots Society.

Youth workers also painted out red, white and blue paint
from railings around Harryville church.

Harryville priest Fr Paul Symonds was present for the
official Ulster-Scots mural unveiling on Saturday.

He has been working closely with the Ulster-Scots group and
he has welcomed the replacement of the UDA image for a
"non-militaristic mural".

"This is very positive for the area and it is a great
gesture," he said.

Geoff Calderwood, chairman of Harryville Ulster Scots
Society, welcomed the Harryville scheme saying: "We think
it is great for the area."

March objections

The church was the scene of loyalist protests and sporadic
trouble over the past few years.

There was a series of loyalist attacks on the church last
year, including paint attacks and grafitti.

Loyalist protesters mounted a weekly picket outside the
Harryville church during Saturday evening Mass between
September 1996 and May 1998.

The protests were called off shortly after the Good Friday
Agreement received 71% support in a referendum.

The picket was mounted because of loyalist anger over
nationalist objections to a march by the Protestant Orange
Order through nearby Dunloy.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/01 12:03:41 GMT


Council Debates United Ireland

Ciarán Barnes

The North’s largest council is set to debate a motion
calling on it to support a united Ireland.

On Monday night, Sinn Féin will ask Belfast City Council to
back the proposal that has already been endorsed by
councils in Fermanagh, Omagh and Strabane.

Similar motions have been rejected in Derry, Limavady and
Moyle following splits between Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

For the motion to succeed, Sinn Féin needs the support of
the Alliance Party, whose four councillors hold the balance
of power on the 51-member Belfast city council.

Former Alliance mayor and Balmoral councillor Tom Ekin,
told Daily Ireland his party would not support the motion.
He branded it “ludicrous” and accused Sinn Féin of
“mischief making”.

“This is a totally ludicrous motion from my own personal
point view,” said Mr Ekin.

“It is just mischief making from Sinn Féin. Why can’t they
get down to dealing with real issues such as the economy
and stop this rubbish?”

Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann called on Mr Ekin to “get
real”. He said Belfast City Council had debated everything
through the years bar a united Ireland. “Half the
population of Belfast want a united Ireland. Councillors
need to get real and accept that opinion is out there,” he

The row on Belfast City Council over the Irish unity motion
comes just days after Sinn Féin and the SDLP clashed
following a similar debate on Newry and Mourne District

SDLP councillor Michael Carr denied he branded the notion
of Irish unity an “April Fool’s joke” during the

Sinn Féin councillor Breandán Lewis says he was shocked to
hear SDLP councillor Michael Carr describe Irish unity as
an “April Fool’s joke” when a Irish unity motion sponsored
by republicans went before the council on Monday.

The SDLP man hit back saying it was the Sinn Féin motion
and not the ideal he branded a joke. Mr Carr also said he
is in favour of a united Ireland.


Loyalist Cash Boost 'Not Enough'

DUP say there has been inequality in loyalist areas

A £30m cash injection expected to be announced for deprived
loyalist areas is not good enough, a leading Progressive
Unionist figure has said.

An official government announcement on the issue is
expected next week.

Dawn Purvis said she believed more funds were needed to
tackle deprivation in loyalist inner-city areas.

She said: "£30m over three years, I regard it as not
enough. It's for vulnerable communities that have been
neglected over the last 35 years."

Ms Purvis was recently appointed as an independent member
of the new Policing Board, which comes into effect on

Sources have told the BBC that the package of economic
assistance for deprived loyalist areas should be between

Some sources within unionism have expressed disappointment
at the sum, given the recent cuts in areas such as
education in Belfast.

However, other loyalist sources said they saw the
initiative as a challenge and would work with whatever
money was provided for areas such as skills and training,
housing and urban regeneration.

In January this year, NIO Minister David Hanson said the
plan would focus on how government could empower working
class Protestant communities to tackle deprivation.

It was drawn up following concerns that policies were not
making the intended impact in loyalist districts.

On Friday, DUP assembly member Nelson McCausland said the
announcement was significant as it was recognition of
disadvantage in loyalist areas.

"Republicans and nationalists often attempt to deny that
there is a problem and even some people in the voluntary
sector attempt to deny that there is a problem," he told
BBC News.


"For decades, unionist communities have suffered inequality
and disadvantage... there will have to be institutional and
structural changes."

However, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he was
not happy with the package.

"I think the minister is trying his best to put a package
together to deal with deprivation in a number of areas -
primarily loyalist areas - but not exclusively," he said.

"But the problem is that this is a cross-government issue.
A couple of days ago, the Belfast Education and Library
Board cut £6.5m out of its budget - a very high percentage
of that cut will apply in loyalist areas.

"Given that educational under-achievement in the worst 15
wards in Northern Ireland - 13 are in loyalist wards - how
can you fix a situation in a loyalist area when one
government department is taking money out while another is
putting it in?"


De Brún Travels To Basque Country Today

Published: 31 March, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún will today travel to the
Basque Country as part of a European Parliamentary Basque
Friendship Group. The purpose of the visit will be to meet
political parties, civil society organisations and to
participate in a demonstration is support for the Basque
Peace process.

Speaking before her departure de Brún said:

"In January of this year a Basque Friendship Group was
formed in the European Parliament. It consists of MEPs from
different political groups and countries. The purpose of
the group is to support the Basque Peace Process.

"Our visit to the Basque Country this weekend is twofold.
Firstly to get a first hand account of political
developments since the ETA ceasefire announcement of last
week. We will be meeting political parties, trade unions
and social organisations. Secondly we will participate in a
demonstration on Saturday organised by a broad range of
Basque political forces is support of the peace process.

"From our experience in Ireland we understand that peace
processes need international support. Particularly at the
early stages of the process, the EU and the broader
international community needs to express its support for
dialogue and conflict resolution. This will be the message
I bring to the meetings on Saturday.

"In this context the ongoing imprisonment of Batasuna
leader Arnaldo Otegi is not only counterproductive but runs
against the logic of conflict resolution. Sinn Fein
believes that the Spanish government must grasp the
opportunity for peace, release Arnaldo Otegi and end the
political trials against Batasuna and other left
nationalist political and social organisations."ENDS


DUP Delegation To Meet US Politicians

01 April 2006 09:48

A DUP delegation led by Peter Robinson will travel to the
United States today to meet a number of leading

They will be seeking to broaden the understanding of
unionism in the US and persuade leading figures in Irish-
America that the DUP wants to become a party of government.

The meeting could be a significant move in the DUP's
journey from a party of protest to a party of government.

The DUP delegation consists of four MPs, Peter Robinson,
Gregory Campbell, Jeffrey Donaldson and the newcomer who
took David Trimble's Westminster seat, David Simpson.

At a time when the British and Irish governments and Sinn
Féin and the SDLP are wondering will the DUP be up to
power-sharing in the months ahead, this trip may provide
some interesting pointers.

In Washington the DUP delegation will meet key politicians,
Ted Kennedy, Hilary Clinton, Chris Dodd and the highly
influential Republican, Jim Walsh.

When they travel to New York on Wednesday, Peter Robinson
will speak at a function hosted by Bill Flynn, a US
businessman who has played a significant role in the peace

This is new territory for the DUP, making a case for
unionism, in very powerful US circles.

But more importantly, it will give those who want to see a
peaceful, prosperous, power-sharing Northern Ireland a
chance to assess if the DUP is up to cutting a deal.


Shot Fired During Armed Robbery

A shot has been fired during an armed robbery at a hotel in
Belfast city centre.

It happened at about 1900 BST on Friday when two men burst
into the Days Inn on Hope Street.

They threatened staff and demanded money. They made off
with an undisclosed sum of money in a red vehicle.

No one was injured. Police are appealing for anyone who
witnessed the incident to contact them.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/01 08:50:54 GMT


Armed Raid At Belfast Hotel

A shot was fired as two men robbed a hotel in Belfast city

By:Press Association

Police said the suspects threatened staff at the Days Hotel
on Hope Street with a firearm last night and ordered them
to hand over cash.

No one was injured during the raid which happened near the
loyalist Sandy Row around 7pm.

The pair escaped in a waiting red car, possibly a Nissan,
with an undisclosed sum of money.


'Mo' Courtney Trial Delayed

01 April 2006

The murder trial of alleged UDA commander William 'Mo'
Courtney was yesterday adjourned until September.

Both prosecution and defence QCs told Belfast Crown Court
they agreed the "best course of conduct" would be to
adjourn the trial and begin again in the first week of the
new term.

Courtney (42), from Fernhill Heights in Belfast, denies
murdering Alan 'Bucky' McCullough, a former associate of
deposed terror boss Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair, on May 28 2003
and of being a member of the UDA and UFF.


Anatomy Of A Bloody Feud...

It is a family dispute which has escalated into brutal
killing and tit-for-tat attacks. Reporters Ashleigh Wallace
and Lisa Smyth hear both sides of the story of the
Ballymurphy feud

By Ashleigh Wallace and Lisa Smyth
01 April 2006

Family describes long list of brutal attacks

The Devlins

By Lisa Smyth

Gerard Devlin was stabbed to death in a street fight as a
feud between the two west Belfast families reached a bloody
culmination in February this year.

In a candid interview with the Belfast Telegraph, his wife,
Aine Devlin, and aunt, Bernadette O'Rawe, detailed the
violence and intimidation they claim their family suffered
for almost three years before the murder.

And they strongly condemned petrol bomb attacks on a number
of homes in recent months, with Bernadette saying: "We
don't want these burnings because it takes away from the
fact that we have someone lying dead and we also don't want
to see someone else dead.

"God forbid anyone should be burnt in their bed but we
don't have any influence or control over the community and
the people carrying out these attacks."

According to the two women, Gerard was targeted because he
refused to be intimidated by the Notorantonio family and
the matter came to a head on May 16, 2003, when the father-
of-six was attacked as he returned home from the pub.

"There had been words before but nothing more than a fist
lifted until this point," explained Bernadette.

"Gerard was stabbed in the head and his throat was cut an
eighth of an inch from his jugular vein for which he needed
32 stitches."

Aine and Bernadette claim this was the beginning of a
series of violent attacks prior to the death of Gerard some
34 months later.

"After the stabbing, Gerard was constantly being threatened
and his kids were being taunted and that's very hard for
any mummy or daddy to put up with," said Bernadette.

"Every time Gerard was provoked, we would get the Community
Restorative Justice organisation involved - Gerard went to
every meeting he was asked to attend, he worked with the
police and the CRJ, he even got involved in mediation with
priests, but nothing seemed to work."

Bernadette said the next significant incident occurred two
years later on August 29, 2005, when Gerard, who she said
had moved away from his Whiterock Parade home in an effort
to defuse the tensions, was allegedly attacked as he came
to collect some of his children.

"Gerard stayed out of the area which was very tough, but it
showed the man in him and how far he was prepared to go for
his family but when he came to take one of the kids to
hospital, he was deliberately rammed by another car when he
had three of his children in the car," she explained.

"He got out of the car and they came at him with a
pitchfork and when he put his hands up to protect himself
he was hit and his finger was almost severed."

As Gerard tried to flee the scene, both women claim the
youngster's lives were put in danger when a spade was
thrown through the back window of the car, prompting Gerard
to press for a police investigation into the stabbing
incident two years earlier.

The women also claim the violence continued later the same
day when Gerard returned home to see his children and
during a confrontation, a gun was pointed at his chest.

"The next day Gary and I were walking down the street and
the same person who put the gun to Gerard's chest shouted
at us, 'your dad is dead later on'," Aine claimed, adding
that in October last year, the Devlin family discovered
there was a £10,000 bounty on the life of the father-of-

Recalling the frantic moments after Gerard was stabbed in
February, Aine went on to describe the devastating effect
her husband's murder has had on her and their children.

"After Gerard was stabbed I was trying to hold him up
because he had fallen over the car bonnet, he knew he was
dying - he even told me so and he blessed himself.

"You could see the blood leaving him, he was turning grey
and once the blood came out of his mouth, we knew there was
no hope.

"He was awfully good to his children. He was a family man
who loved his kids and this is something we will never come
to terms with."

Bernadette continued: "Aine has a really hard time, her
youngest child is disabled and another of her sons was
brain damaged last August but it's more dangerous now than
it was before Gerard was murdered."

Ballymurphy family tells of constant fear

The Notorantonios

By Ashleigh Wallace

SINCE the death of Gerard Devlin, most of the Notorantonio
family have been petrol bombed out of their homes on the
Ballymurphy estate.

The eldest member of the family, 77-year old Edith
Notorantonio, ended up in hospital as a result of the
attacks on her family. Now, the grandmother is unable to
return to her home of 53 years and is living in constant
fear for her life.

Her son, Francis, had an angina attack after the house he
was staying at in Whitecliff Parade was pelted front and
back with petrol bombs.

And, as a result of the same incident, another family
member broke her ankle jumping from an upstairs bedroom
window to escape the flames.

Since the Devlin murder, around ten homes - including a
holiday home in Donegal - have been attacked, rendering
families with young children homeless. Cars have been
burned out, businesses have been forced to close, threats
have been issued and family pets have been butchered.

Some of the younger members of the family are afraid to go
to school, while their mothers are too scared to use the
local shops.

But, according to Victor Notorantonio (56), reports the
tensions are down to a family feud are wrong.

Instead, he claims, the IRA is behind the attacks and is
using a group of local teenagers - which the Notorantonio's
have nicknamed 'the rugrats' - to carry out its work.

Victor said: "This is not a family feud, which is a mistake
the media are making. This is the IRA trying to get my
family out of the area, root and branch.

"The IRA leadership could stop this in a heartbeat. They
used Gerard Devlin the same way they are using his family.

"I believe prominent members of the republican movement are
behind the whole thing. "Whether they have the backing of
the leadership, I don't know, but I know the only one that
can stop this trouble is Gerry Adams himself."

He does admit that tensions between his family and the
Devlins go back to around three-and-a-half years ago when
his son and nephew were involved in a street fight with
Gerard Devlin.

Gerard ended up with stab wounds, but Victor claims his son
was acting in self defence as he was being attacked by a
"local hard man with a history of violence."

As for Gerard's murder, three members of the Notorantonio
family have been arrested and charged. All three have since
been released on bail and are living in England.

Victor said: "At the end of the day, the truth about what
happened that day is going to come out in court, so I would
say to the Loughrans and the Devlins, tell the truth about
exactly what happened."

In October 1987, Victor's father Francisco was shot dead by
loyalists as he slept in his bed beside his wife.

Speculation remains that the murder was set up by the state
to protect Freddie Scappaticci, who was last year unmasked
as an IRA informer.

In recent weeks, graffiti has appeared in and around
Ballymurphy, accusing the family of being 'MI5 touts'.

And Victor's reaction? "My brother wanted to go down and
wash it off but I told him to leave it. We have nothing to

His sister, Charlotte Burns, added: "It's rubbish. Why
would I highlight my father's case if I or any of my family
were touts.

"They're trying to put the onus back on us. My father was
sacrificed for Scappaticci and by talking publicly about
it, I've obviously rattled a few cages."

Charlotte's daughter, Gerardette Burns (18), said she is
living in constant fear. Since tensions on the estate have
boiled over, she has lost lifelong friends who she believes
have been ordered not to talk to her.

She said: "I'm scared to go to sleep at night in case I
don't wake up. We take shifts at night to keep awake and
try and keep ourselves safe but we don't know when the next
petrol bombing will be."

Some family members have installed CCTV to try and catch on
camera those responsible for attacking their homes.

One incident which was captured on camera clearly shows a
group of teenagers pelting a house with missiles and
issuing threats in broad daylight.

When asked about claims that the IRA was behind the attacks
on the Notorantonio family, a spokesman for Sinn Fein said:
"That is absolute nonsense.

"No republicans have been involved in killing people in
Ballymurphy, no republicans have been involved in shooting
people in Ballymurphy and no republicans have been involved
in petrol bombing people either.

"In fact, republicans have been up front in calling for all
that activity to cease."


Mary Parades Her Courage

By Lindy McDowell
01 April 2006

In one day this week, Irish President Mary McAleese toured
more loyalist areas of Northern Ireland than the average
flute band in the run-up to the Twelfth. OK. I'm
exaggerating a bit. Still. First Larne, then Ballymena. Not
a bad day's work for a woman whose out-reach project to
Protestants was badly derailed earlier this year, when she
compared her target community to Nazis.

But now Mary's back on track and her visit this week passed
off without incident. Which is how it should be.

In Ballymena one local DUP man worked himself into a tizzy
at the thought of Mrs McAleese being allowed to address the
sixth form at the local Academy.

The invitation to the school was even debated by Ballymena
council who sensibly (for once) decided that it was none of
their business.

Personally I thought the woman showed a fair bit of
courage. Not by travelling to what councillor Robin
Stirling called "a DUP heartland." But by taking on a sixth
form. Any sixth form. Any where.

Far from being the easily-influenced shrinking violets Mr
Stirling apparently assumes them to be, the vast majority
of sixth formers are only too able to handle themselves in
verbal combat.

And the members of Ballymena Academy's Economics and
Politics Society are presumably every bit as bolshy,
opinionated and straight talking as their peers.

One of them, we're told, raised the issue of the
President's Nazi remarks. Mary apologised again. Whether
this will cut much ice in the unionist community among
those who don't like her anyway is debatable.

But what those remarks revealed about the Irish President
in the first place (apart from an even more appalling
contempt for the feelings of the Jewish community) was her
prejudice towards Prods.

That's why visits like this week's when she gets the chance
to meet ordinary Protestants and listen to their views can
only be constructive for all concerned.

I've said before, I don't think Mary McAleese is a bad
person. I don't think that she despises Protestants in
Northern Ireland in the way that, say, Fr Alec Reid and
certainly Tony Blair appear to.

But Mary does give the impression that she believes that
only Catholics in Northern Ireland have known deprivation,
discrimination and suffering.

And that only Protestants have been hateful.

Whatever you say about her, though, however misguided you
think she's been in terms of some of those she and her
husband have chosen to cozy up to, you have to accept that
she is trying. She is, at the very least, driving home to
many in the South who'd prefer to forget, the message that
there is a unionist community up here whose views also have
to be taken into consideration.

But that's a two way process.

Prods can't go on crying, "nobody understands us, nobody
listens to us" and then when somebody of influence signals
interest, turn their backs and huff.

If I was a DUP councillor in Ballymena I be a whole lot
happier at the thought of the Irish President having her
ear bent by some of the brightest and best youth of the
area than by a golfing brigadier.

In her infamous remarks Mary compared Nazis to Protestants
in Northern Ireland who "taught their children to hate

Hopefully the lesson she took away from Ballymena Academy
this week was that actually many, many, Protestants teach
their children to open their minds, to listen to others and
not be afraid to voice their own opinions.

But, above all - to think for themselves.

Water fuss we should be making about rights

This week Northern Ireland hosted the UK's first Water
Cannon Conference. (I'm not making this up.)

The PSNI who, you'd think, would have better things to do
with their time (shouldn't they be out there trying to
catch some criminals?) staged a water cannon riot
reconstruction for representatives of other police forces
to show how the things work.

Some cops threw stones and then got hosed along the yard.
All good clean fun.

But hardly had the puddles dried on the simulated riot
scene than it occurred to me that Amnesty International
might have something to say about all this.

Amnesty International have things to say about Tazer guns.

Surely water cannons too are a gross infringement of
rioters' civil liberties and pose an unacceptable risk?
People could get colds.

Water cannon water temperature is already controlled. (I'm
not making this up either.)

But it is still very wet. Shouldn't rioters be equipped
with government issue umbrellas to counteract potential
damp risk? Then again, stupid idea. You could put your eye
out with a badly held umbrella. Also shouldn't there be
public warning before water cannoning begins, advising
rioters of the dangers of opening their mouths during the
spraying process (potential ingestion of water-borne

Best not to put these ideas in Amnesty's head.

But here's something they might care to consider though.

No possibility that they might have even a few gentle words
of censure to offer on the human rights abuses posed by
those who pelt other human beings with lethal petrol and
blast bombs, catapulted ball-bearings and golf balls,
bricks and paving slaps, improvised firework devices,
barbaric missiles with sharp metal spikes and metal spears
launched from specially-adapted crutches?

Time for Ulster to capitalise on our own Eastern charm

Spring has sprung and the first shoots of our infant
tourist industry are visible. The other day I was asked by
a group of Scandinavian teenagers where they could get a
taxi tour of the Shankill and Falls. There's even a
"Belfast tourist stall" in the city. People are already
making good money. But tourism has yet to truly take off
here. One of our hallmarks is our seeming inability to
capitalise on our best points. From the Titanic to CS
Lewis, it's a story of allowing others to steal our

Among our unsung treasures (and I've made this point
before) are Northern Ireland's outstanding Chinese/Eastern
restaurants. Cities like Bradford in the north of England
have rightly made a great play of their Indian restaurants.
We could easily do something similar.

Chinese and Japanese fusion restaurants like Eddie Fung's
brilliant Zen, where I had a great night this week, can
hold their own with the very best. I know people who come
over from London just to eat in Chinese restaurants here.
This week it's reported that Chinese restaurants in England
are suffering a demise due to staff shortages. They're
employing Eastern Europeans who in many cases have never
even sampled Chinese food, never mind cooked it.

Another item from the news which may also have a bearing on
why we should promote this section of our hospitality
industry. China, it's reported, is now an increasingly
spectacular economic success. It's making more money than
Bill Gates. And as its people become ever richer they're
going to travel. It may be a bit optimistic to think that
people might travel all the way from Beijing to Belfast for
a good feed. But surely it would be a helpful selling point
when travellers from the East consider coming here, that we
can at the very least provide them with an impressive
flavour of home.

Bin there...but helpline really isn't

Given this week's one-day strike, a Bangor reader whose bin
is normally collected on a Tuesday, rang his local council
to enquire, when it would be lifted.

"Hold on and I'll put you through to our helpline," he was

The helpline operative, a pleasant woman with an English
accent, told him it would be the next day. It wasn't. So
next day he rang the council again. Again he was told he
was being put through to the helpline. Again it was a
pleasant woman with an English accent. This time she told
him it would be two weeks. Intrigued by her accent, he
asked her where she was from. She told him that she was
speaking from Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the helpline was

"If you're in Newcastle-upon-Tyne," he said, "How come you
know when my bin's being collected?"

"Your council told me," she said.

The reader wonders why the council couldn't simply have
told him themselves.

A story of waste. Not all of it bin-related.

A big star

The BBC's award winning Stephen Nolan is reported by one
newspaper to be considering stomach-stapling to lose

Maybe he wants to lose a bit for health reasons. But his
size is certainly not holding Nolan back in terms of his
job. On screen he has a commanding presence. He's also a
bloke viewers obviously feel they can relate to.

As his recent win at the RTS awards might suggest, viewers
want to see more of you, Stephen. Not less.


Every time there is talk about a return to Stormont, there
is inevitable mention of how the government might "trigger
the d'Hondt mechanism." Why does the d'Hondt mechanism
always require "triggering"? Surely inappropriate language
at a time of peace-processing?


Opin: Empey Talks Move Exposes Hypocrisy

Editor: Colin O’Carroll

The recent announcement by the leader of the Ulster
Unionist Party, Reg Empey, that he has been meeting
loyalist paramilitary leaders since the autumn of 2005 came
as a surprise to some, but for other UUP-watchers it was
very much par for the course.

Down through the darkest years of the Troubles the then
main unionist party held a hard line about talks with the
IRA. That line was that talks were out of the question and
that a military victory had to be ruthlessly pursued.

In January 1988, John Hume began talks with Gerry Adams
which would eventually lead to the IRA cessation of 1994.
The howls of protest that went up were ear-splitting in
their intensity. Because the IRA campaign was in full tilt
and blood was being spilt on the streets, the UUP accused
John Hume and the SDLP of ‘giving in to the terrorists’ and
the invective levelled at the SDLP leader was withering in
its intensity.

Today the UDA and the UVF continue to murder each other
over sordid drug and territory disputes, they are fully
armed and active and show no signs of laying down their
weapons. Yet Mr Empey sees continuing loyalist violence as
no bar to a seat at the table with the UUP. The unionist
parties, he said, “had a special responsibility to persuade
the loyalist paramilitaries to commit to purely peaceful

The benign view of all this would go something like this.
Well, it took them a long time to learn the lesson of Hume-
Adams, but better late than never and good luck to the
unionist parties in their attempts to wean the UDA and the
UVF off the drugs and guns.

Incredibly, the main unionist party continues to refuse to
have any dealings with Sinn Féin; it refuses to acknowledge
the most basic personal courtesies, it talks to republicans
through a third party and, crucially, it continues to rule
out the speedy return of the power-sharing executive and
assembly. The benign view of that would go something like
this. Ah, but the DUP have always taken a harder line than
the UUP and at least they’re being consistent.

Except of course that the DUP wouldn’t know consistency if
it jumped up and bit them on the nose. The party is on the
brink of entering into talks with the UDA and the UVF
without any prior commitment being given by the loyalist
paramilitaries in regard to guns and violence. The excuse
for parleying with men in balaclavas while refusing to have
anything to do with the North’s largest nationalist parties
is that while the DUP might, just might, have some
influence over the UDA and the UVF, it has none over ‘Sinn
Féin/IRA’. This is the same party that damned John Hume as
a fellow traveller for doing almost 20 years ago what
they’re proposing to do now. Except John Hume at that time,
by his own admission, would have talked to anyone and
anybody, republican or loyalist. The DUP position now, in
essence, is that talks with armed groups are not governed
by morality, by right or by wrong, but by practicality and
realpolitik. Perhaps somewhere in there is a glimmer of


Opin: Could Plan B Be Spur To Progress?

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

So will this be the return of the assembly - or are we
looking at something much more like the short-lived
Northern Ireland Forum?

Not a lot of funny things happened in the forum, housed in
the unprepossessing former Co-op building in north Belfast.

However, it did have a very engaging chairman in the person
of the decorated war hero, Sir John Gorman.

The Ulster Unionist caused a stir when he told the press he
rather admired Gerry Adams as a fellow military man.

But whilst Ian Paisley fumed about the comments, the DUP
leader was soon disarmed by the charming former tank
commander's explanation.

The structural problem with the forum was its lack of
nationalist support.

Sinn Fein boycotted the body, whilst the SDLP walked out in
protest over a Drumcree marching decision.

Could the new model assembly suffer from a similarly half-
hearted nationalist approach?

The indications are that both Sinn Fein and the SDLP will
turn up to the new Stormont and participate in any votes
for a new speaker and a new first and deputy first

But even if the rules are changed to enable the assembly to
form committees, Martin McGuinness says republicans won't
take places in them.

Sinn Fein's logic would be that such scrutiny committees
operating without a local power-sharing executive are not
part of the Good Friday Agreement.

If Sinn Fein stick to this approach it may pressurise the
SDLP to also take an a la carte approach to the new

It's understood the talk of a green form of direct rule
may be complicating and delaying the UVF's consideration of
how to respond to last year's IRA initiatives

The logic for re-invigorating the assembly was that getting
the politicians to rub shoulders together might help them
overcome their differences.

If nationalists are keeping the body at arms length this
might undermine the entire raison d'etre.

In tandem with reviving Stormont, the governments have
sounded out the parties about another round of talks at an
English stately home over the summer.

Some politicians are less than impressed by the suggestion
arguing that it would make a nonsense of the first session
of the new assembly.

They say the parties would do nothing at Stormont in order
to keep their powder dry for the summer talks.

Nationalists insist they won't be dragged into a never-
ending shadow assembly.

That's why the governments have set November as the
backstop for their efforts.

Failure then, they hint, will mean that Stormont's doors
will be shut and Plan B will come into play.

Given that Plan A is still fairly vague, the details of
Plan B are even more opaque.

However, it's fairly clear that it revolves around giving
powers to the seven new super councils and pursuing what's
being called "joint management", a green-tinged form of
direct rule.

Both Irish and British ministers have hinted at this in
order to spur the DUP towards agreeing a deal.

But there are signs that such talk could be unsettling
loyalists, especially the UVF, who have set great store by
the routing power through the Assembly as an insurance
policy against any dilution of the union.

It's understood the talk of a green form of direct rule may
be complicating and delaying the UVF's consideration of how
to respond to last year's IRA initiatives.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair are hoping that the success of
their Plan A will render the UVF's concerns about their
Plan B academic.

The betting has to be that we won't know whether their
hopes will be justified until the clock strikes midnight on
24 November.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/01 10:15:34 GMT


Opin: McGahern's Legacy


Since the publication of his outstanding debut novel, The
Barracks, in 1963, John McGahern has come to be regarded by
many critics and fellow authors as Ireland's greatest prose
writer of his time. With his beautifully crafted novels and
stories, works of insight and clarity, he earned that
accolade. It was a view shared by many readers who loyally
followed him from book to book and for whom he became a
beloved familiar.

In an essay on Tomás Ó Criomhthain's classic portrait of
life on the Blaskets, An tOileánach, McGahern reminds us of
how the islander author saw his task as "rescuing the day
from forgetfulness". McGahern did as much for his own time
and place, the Ireland of post-Independence. Here was a
writer with a keen sense of the national psyche.

President McAleese, in her tribute, rightly alluded to his
"enormous contribution to our self-understanding as a
people". His was an intuitive and deeply insightful
understanding of the society that emerged, with all its
faults and failings, in the first decades of the new State
- the same society which, with its certainties and dogmatic
outlook, banned his work and drove him from his position as
a national school teacher.

It has been remarked that his experiences in that old
Ireland of the 1960s might well have sent any other writer
into bitterness and permanent exile, but in his case it
strengthened his resolve and his conviction that a writer
should be a force of enlightenment, of straightforward

Instead of exile he settled down to a private life in the
Leitrim-Roscommon environs that provided many of the
characters that populated his work, the incidents that
flavoured it and in the landscape which he celebrated with
the lyrical deftness of the poet. The ordinary and
commonplace, which became central themes in his work, were
transformed by the sureness of his imagination and his
forensic attention to language. Local histories were, he
once said, "far more moving than accounts of great affairs
of State".

He was the most non-egotistical of writers and rightly
acknowledged as the master of precise language. His
fidelity to place was as constant in his own life as it was
in his writing. His last published book, his powerful and
painfully-recollected Memoir, illuminated much of the
fiction that preceded it - fiction that was in fact openly
autobiographical and closely linked to his life.

John McGahern leaves behind him a rich literary harvest
that will endure and will indelibly live on as surely as
the memory of the man himself.

© The Irish Times


Full Irish Not Just What Tourist Ordered

Marese McDonagh

Despite the reputation of the full Irish breakfast, many
tourists "gag" at their first taste of Ireland, broadcaster
Derek Davis, right, told a food tourism seminar yesterday.

Ireland produces "arguably the worst rashers and sausages
in the world" but we are in denial about how appalling the
traditional Irish breakfast can be, he said.

Davis, a knowledgeable cook who has presented many food
programmes, told the meeting of accommodation providers and
artisan food producers that he had seen Americans "gag"
after tasting factory-produced rashers and sausages. He
railed against "deep-fried sausages" and fried eggs "which
are started at 6am and kept alive in lukewarm fat".

He also hit out at "single supplements" levied on those
booking single rooms, saying he had come across a case
where guests were charged double because only double rooms
were available.

The seminar was organised as part of a bid by the Western
Development Tourism Programme to use quality local food as
a tool in reversing the decline in tourism.

Launching the event in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, the Minister
for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, said fine food
should be a central part of a holiday rather than an
auxiliary benefit.

Carol O'Gorman, chairwoman of the Town and Country Homes
Association which represents 1,400 registered B&Bs, hit out
at "over-regulation", saying her members often could not
use local cottage industries or small producers in their

They were once able to buy free-range eggs from the local
farmer or jams and other products from small local
producers, but now in many cases could no longer do so

"Our hands are tied because if the health board called,
there would be uproar unless the producer was registered."

She described a single person charged double the rate as
"an isolated incident".

© The Irish Times


Tourists Write Up Irish Visits In Online Blogs

Agency puts £1.8m into websites

By Linda McKee
01 April 2006

TOURISTS from across the globe are going to document their
Irish experiences with their own online blogs set up by
Tourism Ireland ( )

And they'll be able to pick up the lingo by listening to
radio broadcasts in Ireland before they even reach these

The tourism agency has invested £1.8m in a network of new
multilingual websites in a bid to see Ireland compete with
the world's biggest holiday destinations.

The website will target 27 markets
across the globe and will be translated into 14 languages.

Visitors will be able to use the new 'My Visit' function to
store their favourite web pages and build up a holiday
itinerary, which they can save or send to friends.

"Digital media will be integrated from the start with
digital radio serving to provide a local flavour and engage
the customer," said a spokesman. "Further realism will be
provided by user-generated content including visitor
testimonials and online holiday journals or blogs."

The first phase of the all-Ireland website, launched in
Belfast yesterday by enterprise Minser Angela Smith and
Irish Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue, coincides with
Tourism Ireland's multi-million 'Discover Your Very Own
Ireland' advertising campaign.

The website calls on a database of more than 30,000 tourism
products including accommodation, festivals, attractions
and events, updated daily. It will be rolled out to key
British and American tourism markets to start with.

Tourism Ireland chief executive Paul O'Toole explained that
the Internet is of crucial importance in the battle to stay
competitive in the international tourism sector.

"For that reason, we saw it as vital for Tourism Ireland to
invest just as much in web development as our major
competitors and our expenditure is on a par with that of
NTOs in Great Britain, France and Canada," he said.

"In essence, we took the view that when you're on the
internet as a consumer looking for a holiday, you are not
going to make allowances for Ireland having a small budget.

"If you're going to play with the big boys, you have to do
it on the same level and in we believe
we a have a truly world-class offering."

Tourism Minister Angela Smith said the continuing
popularity of the Internet for sourcing information,
comparing offers and buy holidays means the customer is


Taoiseach Thanked For Honouring Son Of Executed 1916 Leader

Stephen Collins

Relatives of Fr Joseph Mallin (92), the last surviving
child of a 1916 leader, have written to the Taoiseach to
express sincere thanks and appreciation for the way the
priest, who lives in Hong Kong, is being treated as an
honoured guest at the 90th anniversary commemorations of
the Rising.

In the letter to Bertie Ahern, the family expressed
surprise at remarks made by Labour TD Tommy Broughan,
earlier this week, suggesting that Fr Mallin had not
received an invitation to the anniversary commemorations.

Airline tickets were sent to Fr Mallin by the Taoiseach's
Department on March 15th. He has served in Hong Kong since

Fr Mallin is the son of Comdt Michael Mallin, who was chief
of staff of the Irish Citizen Army.

Comdt Mallin was in charge of the St Stephen's Green
garrison during the Rising and was executed on May 8th,

His execution left behind a wife and five young children,
including two-year-old Joseph.

Invitations to the reviewing stand in O'Connell Street in
Dublin city centre for the military parade on Easter
Sunday, and to a reception in Dublin Castle that evening,
are being issued to almost 250 relatives of those who took
part in the Rising.

A range of dignitaries, including members of the
Government, the Dáil, the Northern Assembly, the judiciary,
the diplomatic corps and the social partners will be
invited to the take their place on the reviewing stand.

On Sunday, the 2,500 members of the Defence Forces, who
will participate in the parade, will take part in a dress
rehearsal at the Curragh.

© The Irish Times


War Of Independence Film A Fascinating Work

The Irish Film Institute and RTÉ are to be congratulated
for helping to restore Irish Destiny (€19.95), a
fictionalised film set in the War of Independence and
launched at the 10th anniversary of the Easter Rising in

Directed by George Dewhurst and written and produced by Dr
Isaac Eppel, it is not just a historic Irish film, but is
unusual in that it features newsreel clips from the burning
of Cork and the Dublin Customs House.

This tale of a young man caught up in the fight for freedom
may be seen as largely propagandist featuring as it does
real IRA men in the cast, but it is remains a fascinating

The film has been restored with new titles and a score by
Micheál O Suilleabháin.

Star rating: 4/5.


Irish Construction Worker Dies In Bahrain Cruise Boat

01/04/2006 - 09:37:51

An Irish construction worker based in Bahrain was among
those who died when a dinner-cruise boat capsized on
Thursday night.

Derek Cunningham, aged 52, originally from Drogheda, Co
Louth, was working with Dublin-based firm Mercury
Engineering. Mr Cunningham's Thai-born wife, Orathai, also
died in the accident. Their two daughters, aged 11 and
seven, are being cared for by friends in Bahrain.

Mercury Engineering was sub-contracted to carry out the
mechanical and electrical work on the two towers of the
World Trade Centre.

Mr Cunningham, who was the electrical construction manager
on the trade centre project, had been living in Bahrain
since last May.

Mr Cunningham had a son, Dominic, from a previous marriage,
who was recently hired by Mercury Engineering. He was on
his way to Bahrain to join his father when the tragedy
occurred. He was stopped at Dublin Airport and given the

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern expressed his
sympathy with the family.

He said the indications were that Mr Cunningham was the
sole Irish victim.


Search For Man Swept Out To Sea Resumes

01/04/2006 - 12:18:30

The search for a man swept out to sea at Ballinskellings
Bay, Co Kerry, resumes this afternoon.

The man, believed to be from Dublin, was rock-fishing with
three companions just before 3pm when he was washed away.

Liam Lynch, of the RNLI in Valentia, said its volunteer
service was on the scene within minutes of the call
yesterday afternoon, and would be returning again today.

The Shannon-based coastguard helicopter, the Valentia
lifeboat and a number of cliff and coast-rescue teams are
also involved in the search.


New Ireland Group Meets In South Down

Statement: New Ireland Group Visualising A New Ireland

It is hoped in the near future to constitute another
branch of the New Ireland Group, this one in South Down.
With this in mind a Conference/Debate has been organised to
take place in the Newry Arts Centre on Saturday, 1st. April
commencing at 10.45 am. This will take the form of
considering the visualising the future New Ireland and
will be chaired by the the Newry business executive,
Michael McKeown.

The Community Activist, Frances Gallagher, will outline
‘Why we need such a debate’ at this time. Mr. Mike Smith,
the University of Ulster economist will consider the
economic challenge and John Robb, founder of the New
Ireland Group and its present Consensor will address the
subject of ‘A Citizen’s Democracy for a New Ireland,.

After the lunch break,Jack McDowell, the Group’s Vice-
Chairperson will speak on ‘A Pathway to a Better Ireland.’
The presentations will conclude with Eamon Duffy outlining
the work of his group who are campaigning for a more
accountable Health Service. A policy document, ‘Democratic
Accountability in a District Health Service’ will be
available. This will urge Local Rural and/or Remotely
situated Communities to ‘Hold On or Reclaim’ the acute
services which they are losing in their localities, the
point being that Health is defined as a ‘State of Well-
Being’ and that Community Well-being is being fragmented by
the pursuit of Centralism.

Each speaker is scheduled to speak for not more than half
an hour after which there will be 15 minutes open
discussion on the respective topic.

From 3.00pm until 3.30 the floor will be open to the
delegates to contribute theirparticular vision of a New
Ireland and how it should evolve.

Spokesperson for the New Ireland Group, 59 Hopefield
Avenue, Portrush.

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