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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
April 03, 2006
McCain Promises Full Status fo Irish
In this photo provided by the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform,
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at the Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform Town Hall meeting in the Bronx borough of New York, on Friday
evening March 31, 2006. (AP Photo/Irish Lobby for Immigration
Reform, Sean McPhail) (Sean Mcphail - AP)
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News About Ireland & The Irish
IT 04/03/06 McCain Promises Full Status For Irish Illegals
ND 04/02/06 A Brogue Gets Heard In Debate
IN 04/02/06 Commissioner’s Orange Order Comments Spark Bias Row
BT 04/02/06 SF Rules Out Scrutiny Role
BN 04/02/06 Powerless Assembly Would Be A Farce - Sinn Féin
SF 04/03/06 Sinn Féin To Meet With Tony Blair In Downing Street
BB 04/02/06 Demolition Of Last Towers Begins
SF 04/03/06 Final British Watchtowers Being Removed - Conor Murphy
BB 04/03/06 Council To Debate Connolly Window
BT 04/03/06 Call To Mark British Easter Rising Deaths
BB 04/03/06 Omagh Families Fear 'Bomb Deal'
BB 04/03/06 Town Home Target Of Petrol Attack
IT 04/03/06 Gates Erected In Bid To Cut Belfast Crime Rates
IC 04/03/06 Dark Despair
IN 04/03/06 Harryville: Mass At The Front Line
IN 04/03/06 DUP Motion Over Criticising School Over McAleese Visit
BB 04/03/06 Extradition Fight Man Attacks Law
GU 04/03/06 Yesterday In Parliament: US-UK Extradition Treaty
BN 04/03/06 76% Want Govt To Inspect CIA Flights At Shannon
IT 04/03/06 'Mystery Men' Of The 9/11 Attacks Emerge
BT 04/03/06 Opin: Opportunity To Break Deadlock Must Be Seized
BT 04/03/06 Opin: The Reality Of Normalisation
IN 04/03/06 Opin: Bugle Call Has Sounded At Last For All Our MLAs
IN 04/03/06 Opin: DUP Must Realise ‘Facts’ Are Subjective
IN 04/03/06 Opin: Time In The Wilderness Might Be Wisest Option
IT 04/03/06 Opin: John Paul II- The Funeral Of A Great Man Recalled
IT 04/03/06 Opin: Civil Marriage For Gays Should Be Next Reform
II 04/03/06 Large Cars And Suvs Blamed For Rising Emission Levels
IT 04/03/06 Plane Returns To Shannon After Cabin Fire
IT 04/03/06 McDowell Condemns 'Disturbing' Dublin Robbery
IT 04/03/06 1916 Parade To Include 'Starry Plough' Flag
IT 04/03/06 McGahern: Farewell, A Prayer He May Face The Rising Sun
IT 04/03/06 McGahern: Loved Life But Did Not Fear Death'
IT 04/03/06 McGahern: Artists Among Congregation
IT 04/03/06 Guarded Welcome For Latest Initiatives To Protect Burren
IT 04/03/06 Cruises Will Bring 40,000 Tourists To Cork
IT 04/03/06 Body Of Missing Angler Taken From Sea
IN 04/03/06 How Church Uses U2’s Music In Its Liturgy
McCain Promises Full Status For Irish Illegals
Seán O'Driscoll in New York
Senator John McCain, who has hopes of running for US
president in 2008, promised full legal status for tens of
thousands of illegal Irish at a town hall meeting in the
Irish neighbourhood of Woodlawn, New York, at the weekend.
To the strain of "We're all part of Jackie's Army", the
unlikely anthem of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform,
Mr McCain took the podium before an audience of hundreds of
Tricolour and US-flag waving supporters in a neighbourhood
that has seen many people return to Ireland because of post
9/11 immigration clampdowns.
While the line "We're all off to Italy" from Ireland's 1990
World Cup song Put 'Em Under Pressure may seem
inappropriate for immigrants determined to stay in the US,
Mr McCain took it in good spirits, nodding his head in
approval as the "Olé, Olé, Olé" chorus kicked in.
Mr McCain, along with Senator Edward Kennedy, is sponsoring
the so-called "McCain-Kennedy" immigration reform Bill in
the US Senate. This contains provisions for a guest-worker
programme and a way for those living in the US illegally to
work toward citizenship.
Interviewed on the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio
yesterday, he said there was a "very significant" Irish
influence on the campaign to grant legal status to illegal
immigrants in the US. He said he did not know how long the
legislative battle over the issue would take.
Hundreds of people, many of them wearing "Legalize The
Irish" T-shirts, crammed into the St Barnabas School's
auditorium on the Bronx-Yonkers border for his weekend
speech while dozens more listened on speakers set up
outside the hall.
To laughter from the audience, the senator repeatedly had
to ask bar owner and Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
deputy chairman, Ciarán Staunton, to translate some of the
audience questions into American English.
In answer to one question, he said he didn't know why
Congressman Peter King, a close ally of Sinn Féin president
Gerry Adams, was co-sponsoring a Bill that would make
illegal immigration an aggravated felony crime.
To loud applause from the audience, he said Mr King needed
a "better education" from the Irish community on the
realities of undocumented immigration.
Asked about President Bush's credibility on immigration
issues by Irish woman Mags O'Brien from Stanford,
Connecticut, Mr McCain said the president had a lot of
experience on illegal immigration issues as Governor of
Texas and viewed immigration reform positively.
A woman who identified herself only as Siobhán, asked Mr
McCain how he felt about a possible presidential run by
Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is strongly anti-immigrant.
"Come on in," Mr McCain said, addressing Congressman
Tancredo directly, "the water's fine".
On his own possible run for the presidency in 2008, Mr
McCain joked that the only members of Congress that were
ever ruled out of a presidential run were either
incapacitated or in detox.
© The Irish Times
A Brogue Gets Heard In Debate
By Bart Jones
Newsday Staff Writer
April 2, 2006
Tony emigrated from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland in
1996, overstayed his tourist visa when it expired and set
up a thriving floor installation business on Long Island.
For a decade now, the New Hyde Park resident has been
living in the shadows - an undocumented immigrant who can't
even get a driver's license. He hires someone to take him
"I'm stuck between a rock and hard place, as they would say
in Ireland," said Tony, 31. "We're hardworking, decent
people. ... We're not terrorists."
Tony, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of
deportation, is among 50,000 undocumented immigrants from
Ireland, including an estimated 1,000 on Long Island, who
are forming unlikely troops in the battle over immigration
Handing out T-shirts that declare "Legalize the Irish," and
backed by 250,000 legal Irish immigrants and many thousands
of Irish-Americans, they are flexing their political muscle
and hosting rallies that attract national political stars
such as Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy.
The Bronx-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, formed
only in December, claims credit for getting New York Sens.
Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton to embrace
legalization for the undocumented, positions they announced
at rallies organized by Irish groups.
While the two senators say a variety of immigrant groups
influenced them, some observers contend the political punch
of the Irish is undeniable, even though they make up a
small portion of the nation's estimated 12 million
"Part of it is they put a face on the issue that to some
extent is more amenable to a sort of white middle-class
audience," said Patrick Young of the Long Island Immigrant
Alliance. "You would like to think that people wouldn't be
frightened by a brown face. But you will often find a heart
that might be impervious to somebody talking about el
pueblo unido will melt when listening to a lilting brogue."
He said Latino and Asian immigrant groups that lobbied for
reform for years don't resent the sudden success of the
Irish. They simply marvel at their clout and formidable
Rallies and T-shirts
Irish immigrants - legal and undocumented alike - have held
immigration reform rallies recently in Chicago, San
Francisco and Washington, D.C., where 3,000 came in from
around the country on March 8.
After the "Derry Destroyer" John Duddy knocked out Shelby
Pudwill in a boxing bout at Madison Square Garden on March
16 and became the WBC Continental middleweight champion, he
donned a "Legalize the Irish" T-shirt.
On St. Patrick's Day, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern met
with President George W. Bush in the White House and urged
him to push for legalization.
"A lot of people are surprised that the Irish are involved
in this issue, but we actually have a very significant
undocumented population in proportion to the legal Irish-
born population," said Niall O'Dowd, head of the Irish
The lobby is pushing for legalization of the nation's
undocumented immigrants - three-fourths of them Latinos -
and the creation of a legal mechanism for low-skilled
immigrants to come to the United States.
O'Dowd, a Syosset resident who is publisher of the
Manhattan-based Irish Voice newspaper, estimates that half
the nation's 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants live in
the tri-state area, with the others in cities including
Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Many of the men work in
construction, while the women are nannies.
On Long Island, pockets of undocumented Irish immigrants
have formed in communities including New Hyde Park, Glen
Cove and Long Beach.
Most have come because Ireland's thriving economy is
growing mostly in high-tech areas and excluding many low-
skilled workers from the boom. Those who decide to emigrate
usually come on tourist or student visas they overstay
after they expire, O'Dowd said. They don't stay legally
because getting a long-term visa or green card is almost
impossible for low-skilled workers, no matter where they
The two other groups with significant numbers of
undocumented immigrants on Long Island are Italians and
Poles, Young said.
Fewer Irish seen coming
The immigration system "is broken, broken very badly,"
The problems are prompting fewer Irish to come, while
others already here like Tony are thinking of going back,
he said. The result is Irish strongholds such as Woodlawn
in the Bronx, Yonkers in Westchester and Maspeth and
Woodside in Queens are dwindling, with local Irish soccer
and hurling teams unable to attract enough players, for
instance. "You're in danger of losing the Irish in this
country," he said.
One politician the Irish have not been able to persuade in
their campaign is Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), co-sponsor
of a bill passed by the House that would make it a felony
to be in the United States illegally, criminalize anyone
who assists them and erect a 700-mile wall along the U.S.-
Some Irish are disappointed if not seething with anger over
the position of King, until now a prized ally whose
grandparents emigrated from Ireland.
"Peter has probably been the best friend to the Irish we've
ever had in Congress," said Eamonn Dorman, a Manhattan-
based immigration attorney and a native of County Down who
praised King's role in the Northern Ireland peace process.
"But on this one occasion, he seems to have parted ways
with his former friends and he's not on the side of the
In response, King said in a statement, "Immigration reform
is not about, nor directed to, any one particular ethnic
Tony said his wife's driver's license expires next year,
and they may have to move back to Ireland if immigration
laws don't change.
"We have a great life. We love this country," he said. But
"the noose is tightening around our throats every day. It's
like we're squeezed and squeezed and squeezed slowly out of
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.
Parades Commissioner’s Orange Order Comments Spark Bias Row
By staff reporter
SECRETARY of State Peter Hain came under increasing
pressure last night to sack Parades Commissioner Don McKay
after he made controversial comments in support of the
Mr McKay, who is a member of the DUP and was prominent at
Drumcree disputes, told Orangemen at a public meeting of
the Parades Commission in Portadown “not to give in”,
claiming he was fighting their cause “from inside the
“From a unionist perspective, we have got to have faith in
what we believe in and take the battle forward,” he said.
It is the third time since his appointment last November
that Mr McKay has been embroiled in controversy.
In December it emerged he had submitted the name of SDLP
councillor Dolores Kelly as a reference to the commission
without her knowledge.
It later emerged that Mr McKay had been the subject of a
sectarian harassment case while a senior firefighter.
Although the case was not upheld, the Fair Employment
Tribunal said it was satisfied he had played loyalist tunes
in a fire station and sold calendars to raise funds for an
Nationalists last night demanded his dismissal. Garvaghy
Road Residents Coalition spokesman Breandan Mac Cionnaith
said Mr McKay’s comments demonstrated his “unsuitability
and complete lack of impartiality”.
Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said his position was “untenable”
while Ms Kelly said the comments showed Mr McKay was
“committed to a partisan Orange agenda”.
Neither Mr McKay nor anyone from the Northern Ireland
Office was available for comment last night.
SF Rules Out Scrutiny Role
Parties react in bid to revive Assembly
By Noel McAdam
03 April 2006
With the countdown to an interim form of devolution
underway, Sinn Fein has insisted it will not take part in
any 'scrutiny' committees set up in a recalled Assembly.
North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly indicated his
party will participate in the Assembly as it will be
resumed in May but would not help to work any structures
which fall outside the Good Friday Agreement.
Its insistence came as DUP leader Ian Paisley prepared to
meet Tony Blair tomorrow ahead of the British and Irish
Governments unveiling of their blueprint for a potential
It is to be launched by Mr Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
in Armagh on Thursday, when most of the DUP senior team
will be in the United States.
Just two weeks after the Washington St Patrick's week
celebrations, which the party shunned, deputy leader Peter
Robinson and other MPs including Jeffrey Donaldson and
Gregory Campbell, have organised their own solo trip.
Meetings with more than 30 senators and congressmen are
planned, along with State Department and White House
Mr Paisley is not taking part, however. Instead he warned
that any attempt to recall the Assembly to set up a power-
sharing Executive would be absolute nonsense.
"They can't do that. It is not going to happen because the
foundation for such a decision is not even laid," he said.
"The foundation, of course, must be the end of terrorism
and must be that this is on a solid democratic foundation.
Now they haven't done that. So that is not going to work."
SDLP leader Mark Durkan warned the proposals on Thursday
should not be "the sort of shadowy Assembly that would be
right up the DUP's street. Because that could only lead to
"While the DUP have rights under the Agreement, they do not
have rights over it. The Agreement gives them some vetoes
in the institutions, but not a veto over their
establishment," he said.
Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty said it was apparent that the DUP
remained as opposed to the Agreement as it was in 1998.
"We believe that the suspension should be lifted and the
Assembly reconvened to elect a First and Deputy First
Minster and the appointment of Ministers," he said.
"If this fails to happen then the Assembly should be
scrapped and the salaries paid to the MLAs should be
Powerless Assembly Would Be A Farce - Sinn Féin
02/04/2006 - 16:41:27
British Prime Minster Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
were tonight warned that setting up a Stormont Assembly
with no real powers would be a costly, undemocratic farce.
Sinn Féin vice-president Pat Docherty sounded the warning
as Mr Blair and Mr Ahern prepared to unveil their roadmap
for restoring devolution in Northern Ireland this Thursday.
With speculation mounting that the two Prime Ministers will
propose a role for the Assembly ahead of one final push to
restore power-sharing in the province this November, the
West Tyrone MP also said Nationalists and Republicans were
deeply concerned that the two governments were going to let
Democratic Unionist Party leader the Rev Ian Paisley
dictate their approach.
Mr Doherty said: “Sinn Féin want to see the political
“We want to see an end to British day release Ministers
making a mess of the economy and taking disastrous
decisions in relation to health, education, farming and
“But creating Mickey Mouse work for a Shadow Assembly with
no real powers is not the way forward. It would be a
costly, undemocratic farce.”
Mr Blair and Mr Ahern are due to visit Armagh, when they
are expected to advocate a two-phase approach to reviving
It is believed the province’s 108 Assembly members will be
recalled in May and given six weeks to form a power-sharing
executive featuring the DUP and Sinn Féin.
If that proves impossible, the British government is
expected to introduce new legislation changing the rules
governing the Assembly, which will enable them to park the
body through the difficult summer marching season in
The Assembly would be recalled in September and given what
the party believes will be a November 24 absolute deadline
to set up the executive.
Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain insisted today that
politicians in the province would have to show a new spirit
He told Sky News: “People need to take up their
responsibilities, assume their duties and carry out the
functions for which they were elected, which frankly
they’ve not been doing.
“And if they don’t – and this is not a threat – they will
bring the curtain down on themselves.
“This is not me trying to blackmail or bully or threaten or
any of these things – the public are fed up to the back
teeth with the politicians continuing to be paid when they
won’t do their job.”
Earlier Mr Paisley said he believed it was nonsense for the
two governments to plan to recall the Assembly to enable an
executive to be formed.
He told BBC Radio Ulster: “They can’t do that. It is not
going to happen because the foundation for such a decision
is not even laid.
“The foundation, of course, must be the end of terrorism
and must be that this is on a solid democratic foundation.
“Now they haven’t done that. So that is not going to work.”
Mr Paisley also cast doubt on whether there would be an
executive and suggested that the Assembly should be allowed
to have its say on issues affecting Northern Ireland if the
devolved government could not be formed.
He asked: “Why do they not turn the Assembly into a body
that has power to consider important matters and let the
government know what the elected representatives feel about
Mr Doherty said it was clear from Mr Paisley’s comments
that there had been no road to Damascus conversion by the
“The DUP remain as opposed to the Good Friday Agreement as
they were in 1998,” he said.
“They are opposed to power-sharing political institutions.
They are opposed to key elements of the Good Friday
“The difference now is that the government seems intent on
allowing Ian Paisley to dictate their approach to the way
forward. This is deeply concerning to nationalists and
republicans throughout Ireland.”
Sinn Féin To Meet With Tony Blair In Downing Street
Published: 3 April, 2006
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, Chief Negotiator Martin
McGuinness MP and North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly will meet
with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Downing
Street this afternoon. This follows a meeting with the
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin last week. Speaking prior
to their departure Martin McGuinness said:
"Sinn Féin's message to Tony Blair today is very simple -
the British and Irish governments need to lift the
suspension and restore the political institutions and they
need to do this immediately.
"The sole task of the Assembly is the formation of a power
sharing government as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.
If the DUP refuses to allow this to happen then the
governments need to move ahead. A Shadow Assembly with
scrutiny committees is nothing more than a DUP attempt to
restore unionist domination. That is not acceptable.
"Sinn Fein is the largest nationalist party in the Assembly
and we will not consent to such an arrangement. What we
want to see is full power sharing within the institutions
as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement. All of the
parties with the exception of the DUP have stated the
Demolition Of Last Towers Begins
Work has started to remove the last British army
watchtowers in south Armagh, the military has said.
The removal of the towers was announced in August 2005, as
part of the security normalisation process.
Dismantling the five towers on Camlough Mountain,
Jonesborough Hill and Croslieve Hill began on Monday.
The hilltop sites will be returned to greenfield status and
a 'blue light' emergency services radio mast will remain on
The sangars - fortified defence posts - on top of the
towers will be removed by RAF Chinook helicopter and Army
engineers have been preparing the sites.
Eight towers have already been dismantled since December
1999 on Sturgan Mountain, Camlough Mountain, Glassdrumman,
Cloghoge, Tievecrom, Sugerloaf Hill, Creevekeeran and
At present there are just over 9,000 troops in the
province, but that will be reduced to no more than 5,000 by
1 August 2007.
The moves are part of the end of Operation Banner, the
Army's support role for the police during the Troubles.
It has been running for 35 years and is the longest
operation in British army history.
It will end on 1 August next year.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 08:30:44 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Final British Watchtowers Being Removed - Conor Murphy
Published: 3 April, 2006
Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh Conor Murphy has today
welcomed the beginning of the demilitarization of the
remaining British Army watchtowers in South Armagh and
called for the completion of the process as speedily as
possible. Mr. Murphy said that local people also needed to
be assured that the British Army would bring an end to all
of their spying on local homes and businesses.
Speaking from Jonesboro Mr. Murphy said:
"Sinn Féin has actively sought the removal of Britain‚s war
machine from South Armagh and right across the Six
Counties. This has been a crucial element of our
discussions with the British Government over this past
number of years. Consistent pressure from Sinn Féin has
ensured movement on this issue.
"However, there is considerable anger and frustration at
the slow pace of movement regarding demilitarization.
"The people of South Armagh need to know that in removing
the Jonesboro watchtower, there is not a correlating
increase in covert spying operations. In February of this
year, documentation was discovered that the British Army
was continuing to spy on local homes and the Dromintee GAA
club. Actions such as these only serve to increase local
"I am calling for the completion of this process as
speedily as possible and the lands taken from local
communities to be returned to them forthwith." ENDS
Council To Debate Connolly Window
Belfast City Council will decide on Monday if City Hall
will get a stained glass window in memory of the socialist
and Irish patriot James Connolly.
Connolly - executed for his role in the Easter Rising - was
born in Edinburgh of Irish stock, but spent time in Belfast
as a trade union organiser.
Unionists are set to oppose the move, but Sinn Fein's Fra
McCann said Connolly had a huge impact on Belfast.
"He was a champion of the working class and people of no
class," he said.
"We believe because of his connection with the working
classes, Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, that it would
be only right he be honoured in this way by the city
Mr McCann said City Hall was a building "full of regalia
that represented one community" and that a window
commemorating Connolly would encourage more republicans to
use to city hall.
But the DUP's Ian Crozier said the motion was simply an
attempt to "erode the British identity" of the province.
"They have been at this at the city hall for quite some
time," he said.
"First it was trying to remove the Union Flag, now it's
trying to put in a window to the Easter Rising.
"It is just bit by bit, gradual attempts to erode the
British identity of the people of Northern Ireland - we are
not going to support it."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 07:32:47 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Call To Mark British Easter Rising Deaths
By Brian Walker
03 April 2006
British soldiers who were killed in the 1916 Easter Rising
should be remembered in the 90th anniversary commemorations
as a gesture of reconciliation, a leading Conservative MP
Patrick Mercer, spokesman for homeland security, made the
call in a Commons motion.
Mr Mercer is a former commanding officer of the
Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters regiment, the 'Robin
Hoods', whose ancestors bore the brunt of British
casualties during the Easter Rising in Dublin.
Around 230 members of the regiment were killed or wounded
in the Battle of Mount Street Bridge, compared to the death
of three Volunteers.
"I would like the British ambassador to visit British
military graves dotted about Dublin and often forgotten,"
added Mr Mercer.
Ten 'Robin Hood' military graves are clearly marked at
Grangegorman military cemetery. The regiment later provided
the firing squads that executed 15 of the Rising's leaders,
including Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.
Out of a total of 450 people killed in the Rising, 250 of
them were civilians, 119 were British soldiers and 64 were
The 90th anniversary will be marked by the largest
commemoration for many years, said by some to be the Irish
State's move to reclaim the republican tradition from Sinn
Fein and the IRA.
On Easter Day, a ceremony will be held at the GPO at which
the Proclamation of the Republic will be read and a
military parade of 2,500 will march down O'Connell Street.
The British ambassador Stewart Eldon has accepted an
invitation to attend. A minute's silence will be observed
for all those who died in Easter week.
Omagh Families Fear 'Bomb Deal'
The families of the Omagh victims will tell the Northern
Ireland chief constable of their fears a deal will be cut
with the bombers over the outrage.
Michael Gallagher will be on the relatives' delegation for
talks with Sir Hugh Orde and his senior officers.
The Real IRA was blamed for the 1998 attack, which killed
Mr Gallagher said relatives were concerned the lack of
convictions was because the government was afraid they
would later have to free the bombers.
"We are slowly coming to the view that the reason people
are not being put behind bars is because it is only a
matter of time before there will be a deal between the
Irish and British governments and the terrorists that
bombed Omagh," he said.
"That again has been the history of what we have seen
recently - it would be an embarrassment for the government
that if those responsible for the Omagh bomb had to be
"From the governments' point of view it is better to have
those people not in prison so that you don't have the
embarrassment of releasing the Omagh bombers."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 06:31:28 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Town Home Target Of Petrol Attack
A petrol bomb has been thrown at a house in Ballymena,
County Antrim, the police have said.
One female was treated for the effects of breathing in
smoke after the attack on the house in the Chiswick Walk
area of Dunclug at about 2200 BST on Sunday.
Police believe it may be linked to trouble in the the
Victoria Park and Camberwell areas on Saturday.
Four people were arrested in connection with the
disturbances, two of whom remain in custody.
Two other people were released pending reports being sent
to the Public Prosecution Service.
A number of weapons - including crossbows - were seized as
well as fireworks after the trouble.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/03 07:51:52 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Gates Erected In Bid To Cut Belfast Crime Rates
Locked gates are to be put across alleys behind terraced
houses in disadvantaged areas of Belfast in a bid to cut
down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Alleygate Project will involve installing 180 gates at
the rear entries to terraces in five parts of the city at a
cost of £500,000.
The areas are Beechmount and Woodvale in west Belfast, the
Mount in east Belfast, Lower Windsor in the south and
Little Americas in the north.
The pilot project is being funded by the Department of
Social Development's Belfast Regeneration Office and the
Northern Ireland Office's Community Safety Unit. The scheme
will be administered by Belfast City Council aided by the
Bryson Charitable Group, which has worked the communities
in each area to secure their support for the project.
The gates are are all expected to be fitted by the end of
March next year.
Alleygating has been used successfully in the Britain -
they have helped cut crime such as domestic burglary - and
an evaluation of the local schemes in Belfast will be
Each member of a community provided with gates will be
given a key to their specific gate, and master keys will be
held by the emergency and utility services.
© The Irish Times/ireland.com
• ‘Murph mother fears for her children’s lives as
neighbouring home is torched for NINTH time
by Roisin mcManus
A Ballymurphy mother says she fears for the lives of her
children in the ongoing unrest in the area.
Anne Marie Downey (36) lives next door to a house in
Ballymurphy Road that has been set on fire nine times.
The disabled mother-of-four says that the attacks have
severely impacted on the lives of her and her children – to
the point where her children are afraid to go to sleep at
night in case their home catches fire.
Anne Marie says that she has no involvement in the
continuing dispute in Ballymurphy.
Tensions have been running high in Ballymurphy in the wake
of the murder of Gerard Devlin and several homes in the
area have been attacked.
In light of the Downey family’s plight, Sinn Féin MLA
Michael Ferguson has called a rally in Ballymurphy on
Friday night calling for an end to anti-social behaviour.
Anne Marie’s home has sustained smoke damage following the
attacks on the neighbouring house and the Downey family
have been evacuated on several occasions. The last attack
on the neighbouring house was two weeks ago.
In the early hours of Saturday Anne Marie awoke to find a
young woman wielding a brick and screaming outside her
home. A PSNI spokesman has confirmed that they attended the
“Hell is not the word for what is happening here,” said
Anne Marie. “I have nothing to do with either side in
The local mother said that the incidents have deeply
affected her children who are aged from three to 19-years-
“I haven’t slept in weeks and the kids are really nervous,
when I wake my daughters up in the morning they are saying
‘smoke’ and ‘fire’ as they wake up because they think that
we have to leave the house again.
“During the day the fear isn’t so bad, but it is going to
sleep at night the kids are jumping up out of their sleep
and are crying.”
Michael Ferguson called for an end to the unrest in
“This is a family with four children living in fear of
being burnt out of their home and dreading going to bed,”
said Councillor Ferguson.
“We need to call time on such fear and just as we united on
the streets last weekend in a clean-up project, this Friday
night we need to call time on all anti-social behaviour and
we will take to the streets again in support of this family
and all families living in fear of criminal gangs and anti-
“This family have our complete support and next Friday
night we will demonstrate it while working in partnership
with housing bodies, health and social services as well as
educationalists and local community groups to end the
terror inflicted on the community by a small minority,” he
The rally will take place in Whitecliffe Parade on Friday
Journalist:: Roisin McManus
Mass At The Front Line
By Staff Reporter
THE Church of Our Lady in Harryville has been at the front
line of more than a decade of sectarian tension which at
times spilled over into violence.
The removal of a loyalist mural on Saturday was a piece of
good news for parishioners who have been beleaguered by
intermittent sectarian attacks.
In the late 1990s the cost of policing at the south
Ballymena church reached £2 million as loyalists staged a
And as recently as last September Sunday Mass had to be
cancelled at the church after a series of sectarian attacks
in the area.
The catalogue of incidents at the church extends back to
September 1996 when an Orange Order parade was banned from
the nationalist Co Antrim village of Dunloy.
Loyalists began a weekly picket during Saturday evening
Mass in protest at the decision. At its height, up to 200
loyalists protested at the church.
In June 1997 the church was forced to suspend services
until the marching season was over.
Later that year it was revealed that murdered loyalist
Billy Wright had given “advice and leadership” to those
involved in the picket.
In January 1998 protesters tried to ram-raid the church in
a hijacked car. The picket continued weekly until it was
officially called off in May 1999.
Six years ago concern was raised about the number of UFF
flags flying in the town and a controversial loyalist mural
glorifying the UDA was painted on a gable wall at Larne
Street close to the church.
At one stage Ballymena councillors enlisted the help of the
planning service in a failed attempt to remove the mural on
the grounds that planning permission had not been granted.
In July 2000 intruders cut through a metal grille and broke
glass to gain entry into the church. Altar cloths and
carpets were piled up against the pews and set alight.
After five years of relative peace, the church was the
target of paint-bomb attacks and anti-Catholic graffiti
Chief Inspector Stephen Martin said last July: “If it
doesn’t come to an end, I fear someone will end up losing
DUP Motion Over Criticising School Over McAleese Visit
By Staff Reporter
THE DUP is to put forward a proposal criticising a
Ballymena school which hosted a visit by President Mary
North Antrim DUP assembly member Ian Paisley jnr and other
party members have criticised Ballymena Academy for hosting
the visit on Tuesday. Now the DUP campaign is set to
continue with Councillor William Wilkinson tabling a motion
at tonight’s meeting of
DUP-controlled Ballymena council. The motion says:
“Ballymena Borough Council deplores the fact that Ballymena
Academy assisted/facilitated the President of the Republic
of Ireland in a visit to this town, ignoring protocol and
flying in the face of the wishes of the majority population
who believe Mary McAleese to be the person who has
authorised a studied insult to their community.”
Extradition Fight Man Attacks Law
By Ollie Stone-Lee
BBC News political reporter
A blind British man who spent more than six months in a US
jail has vowed to join the fight against the extradition
laws which put him there.
Alex Stone, 34, has just returned to Britain after the
original charges against him were dropped.
He says it is unfair UK laws passed in 2003 allow US
prosecutors to request extradition without having to prove
in UK courts there is a case to answer.
Ministers say the laws have rightly cut the time needed for
Mr Stone's problems began towards the end of 2003 when he
was living in Liberty, Missouri, with his then girlfriend
and her 14-month-old child, who suffered broken bones.
"It transpired that the family and the local police decided
that it must have been me who had done it, even though
there was not really any evidence that I had," he said.
He said the police had been investigating but not trying to
arrest him and a US lawyer had advised him to return to
Requests from the US are now taking an average of six to
12 months to process compared to 30 months under the old
Home Office spokesman
"I hoped that was the end of it, I imagined that in order
to be extradited somewhere, there had to be some burden of
proof," said Mr Stone.
Back in London, his British solicitor told him the US
authorities could try to have him sent back to America
under the new extradition laws.
Everything went quiet until November 2004 when he was
horrified to discover British police were looking for him.
He turned himself in and was extradited under the new laws
after three hearings in Bow Street Magistrates Court.
"Basically, there appeared to be no defence to extradition
and no evidence at all was presented in this case," said Mr
Now he is back in his home city of London, Mr Stone said he
wants people to urge their MPs to join the campaign to
overturn the 2003 Extradition Act, which was brought in,
part, to speed up the removal of alleged terrorists.
Almost 150 MPs have signed a parliamentary petition begun
by Tory frontbencher Boris Johnson protesting about the
laws, which have also been used to extradite three UK
businessmen charged over the collapse of Enron.
They say the old system should be reinstated until the US
ratifies its side of the extradition deal between the two
The fast-track law removed the old rule that US prosecutors
had to show there was a prime facie case against somebody
when they asked British courts to extradite a UK subject.
Mr Stone told the BBC News website: "It is not right that
the British government is prepared to hand people over to a
foreign power, however friendly they might be, without them
needing to demonstrate there is a case to answer.
"I'm resentful that more than two years of my life has been
taken away from me. I'm certainly relieved now. I probably
am angry now too. I feel I was badly treated when
eventually I was not tried for anything."
Mr Stone spent just more than six months in prison - during
which time bail was set at $1m, unaffordable even though
only 10% of it had to be paid.
He said he spent 23 hours a day in a cell on his own and
let out for 45 minutes for a shower or to watch television.
It could be called solitary confinement, he said, although
there were advantages to not having to share with anybody.
"I was bored more than anything, I guess I was lonely," he
said, admitting he has no way of comparing the experience
to life in a British prison.
But during a visit by his mother the bail demand was
dropped and Mr Stone was able to be released on a bail
payment of $10,000.
Mr Stone took a lie detector test in his lawyer's office.
It could not be used in court but apparently helped to
persuade prosecutors to drop the original charge of first
degree assault, which could have put him behind bars for
between 10 and 30 years.
To have the charge dropped completely he pleaded guilty to
interfering with arrest by fleeing to Britain - even though
he says he was following legal advice in the US when he
He was sentenced to 179 days in prison - time he had
already served while on remand for the original
Mr Stone is one of 12 suspects who have been extradited to
the US since the law change. Another 31 American requests
are still being processed.
His MP in Tooting, Sadiq Khan is also campaigning about the
laws, which have been used against another constituent -
A Home Office spokesman said the US/UK extradition treaty
brought benefits for Britain.
It meant crimes such as computer-related offences which
were unknown when the last extradition treaty was signed
were now covered.
"Our experience under the new arrangements has to date been
extremely positive," said the spokesman.
"Requests from the US are now taking an average of six to
12 months to process compared to 30 months under the old
"This is much closer to the time taken to process requests
by the US - five months. This benefits victims, witnesses,
our courts, and the fugitive themselves."
US requests are now handled in the precisely same way as
used with other European countries since 1991 and with
nations like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South
Africa, he added.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/03/10 11:28:42 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Yesterday In Parliament: US-UK Extradition Treaty
Friday March 10, 2006
US-UK extradition treaty
The US-UK extradition treaty was "grossly disproportionate
and unbalanced", Mr Heath said. Mr Hoon said the treaty
involved a "significant level of negotiation" and reflected
the "different constitutional arrangements" in the US.
76% Want Govt To Inspect CIA Flights At Shannon
03/04/2006 - 10:11:55
Three-quarters of Irish people want the Government to
inspect alleged CIA "torture flights" passing through
Shannon Airport, according to Amnesty International.
The human rights group says 76% of respondents to a poll it
carried out want such flights to be examined by the
Planes involved in the CIA's controversial "extraordinary
rendition programme" have landed at Shannon on dozens of
occasions over the past few years.
However, the Government refuses to inspect them, saying it
accepts assurances from the Bush administration that no
prisoners have been on board any of the flights.
The CIA uses the rendition programme to kidnap suspected
Islamic militants in countries across the world before
transporting them to secret interrogation centres.
Critics claim the CIA is effectively using the programme to
"outsource" torture because it is officially banned under
Amnesty says Ireland has a legal obligation to inspect the
flights landing at Shannon as it is required under
international law to try to prevent any act that could
support or facilitate torture.
'Mystery Men' Of The 9/11 Attacks Emerge
The sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has cast new
light on the planning of the 9/11 atrocities in the US.
Josh Meyer reports from Washington
The September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has
told his interrogators that at least 34 individuals were
"participants" in the attacks on New York and Washington in
2001, including a mysterious Jordanian who supposedly
prepared 10 of the hijackers for their grisly task by
training them to butcher camels and sheep with Swiss Army
Mohammed's statements were read aloud in court last week
during the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only
person charged as a co-conspirator in the attacks in the
His disclosures open a revealing window into the inner
workings of the 9/11 plot, in terms of who allegedly
participated in it and how it was carried out.
During his interrogations at undisclosed locations
overseas, Mohammed broke down the participants in the
attacks into six groups, each having differing levels of
involvement in the plot or prior knowledge of it, according
to a 58-page summary. The US government has refused to
allow Mohammed to testify in person.
In the top tier were Osama bin Laden, his loyal aide and
military commander Muhammed Atef and Mohammed himself,
along with his designated liaison to the hijackers, Ramzi
The only other member of the top tier was Abu Turab al-
Urduni, a Jordanian who, according to Mohammed's statement,
had "full knowledge" of the plot as trainer of 10 of the
"muscle" hijackers, whose job was to commandeer the planes,
subdue the pilots and keep the passengers at bay.
Abu Turab, as he was referred to in the summary, had years
of experience with al-Qaeda and was working at the terror
network's al-Matar complex in Afghanistan in late 2000 and
early 2001 when 10 would-be hijackers were given to him for
training, Mohammed's interrogation summary stated.
Abu Turab trained the men in how to hijack a plane, how to
disarm air marshals and how to put together and use
explosives, the summary said. He allegedly showed them how
to gain strength through bodybuilding and taught them basic
English words and phrases.
And at a second al-Qaeda camp, al-Faruq, "Abu Turab also
had each hijacker butcher a sheep and camel with a Swiss
knife to prepare them for using their knives during the
In consultation with Mohammed himself, the summary said,
Abu Turab instructed the "muscle" hijackers to focus on
seizing the cockpit first "and then worry about seizing
control over the rest of the plane". He also ensured the
hijackers did not know in advance what their assignment in
the US would be.
The disclosures, if true, are significant in that one of
the more senior co-conspirators of the September 11th
attacks - Abu Turab - has never been identified publicly
until now, despite years of investigations, public hearings
and commission reports. Mohammed also named two al-Qaeda
officials, whose identities were known, as having played
previously undisclosed but lesser roles in the attacks.
One is Ammar al-Baluchi, a relative of Mohammed who rose to
become one of al-Qaeda's top handful of operatives before
being captured in Pakistan last year.
Mohammed identified al-Baluchi as a key travel and
financial facilitator for the hijackers, along with Mustafa
Ahmed al-Hawsawi, whose role as a United Arab Emirates-
based paymaster for the attacks has been acknowledged by US
officials since he was captured with Mohammed in raids in
Pakistan in March 2003.
The other previously undisclosed operative was Abd al-Rahim
Ghulam Rabbani, also known as Abu Ramah, who Mohammed said
helped several of the hijackers go through Pakistan on
their way in and out of Afghanistan.
Several US authorities reacted to the evidence in court by
saying they viewed at least some of Mohammed's claims with
scepticism because he had been proven a calculated expert
at providing disinformation to send his pursuers down blind
alleys and protect ongoing al-Qaeda plots. But a US
intelligence official familiar with the continuing
investigation confirmed the basic outlines of Mohammed's
claims, particularly about Abu Turab. He said the Jordanian
was killed by US forces in Afghanistan in late 2001, around
the time that Atef was killed by a US airstrike.
That official and others, however, said that the true role
that Abu Turab, al-Baluchi and others played may never be
fully known to US authorities, at least until such key
figures as bin Laden and his second-in-command, Ayman al-
Zawahri, are captured.
© The Irish Times © Los Angeles Times
Opin: Opportunity To Break Deadlock Must Be Seized
03 April 2006
Given the lukewarm if not downright hostile reaction to
their plans from the SDLP and Sinn Fein, Tony Blair and
Bertie Ahern could be forgiven if they seek to invoke some
divine inspiration during their visit this Thursday to
Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland.
In an effort to end the prolonged political stand-off in
Northern Ireland, the two premiers have engaged in some
creative thinking. The result is that the Assembly is to be
recalled, perhaps for three six-week sessions, in an effort
to nudge the parties towards a new power-sharing executive.
Although the details of the proposals will not be unveiled
until Thursday, the governments have let it be known that a
new deadline for agreement of November 24 is being set.
Deadlines are nothing new in Northern Ireland politics and
regrettably, they have more often been missed that met.
This time round, there are ominous hints that should the
deadlock not be broken by November 24, the governments will
revert to a Plan B which will inevitably include a stronger
The hope must be that this will not be necessary. As this
newspaper has long maintained, an incremental approach is
the best way to achieve full-blown devolution. Nationalist
parties should be reassured by the commitment to a time-
limited initiative, which guarantees that the interim
Assembly cannot become an open-ended DUP dominated talking
Peter Hain is eager to proceed in what he has termed a
"make or break" year but he should not underestimate the
extent of mistrust within unionism towards Sinn Fein. The
fact that Gerry Adams is still persona non grata in the
United States has not gone un-noticed, and many people
still have no heart for seeing Sinn Fein ministers
regaining their grip on the levers of power.
The catch for unionists is that without Sinn Fein, there
will be no executive and no local assembly. If people
genuinely want devolution, they must come to terms with the
realities of political life.
But the first step is to get the politicians to re-engage
with each other, and it is vital that all parties lend
their support to this initiative. Provided the parties
commit, six months should be a sufficient period to gauge
whether consensus is likely to be achieved.
That said, Mr Hain should cut himself some slack. Come
November, if he is satisfied that genuine progress is being
made, he should be wary of pulling the rug from beneath the
Soon the ball will be back in the court of the Northern
Ireland parties, and they must not squander this
opportunity. Next time round, the terms on offer could be
Opin: The Reality Of Normalisation
By Pol O Muiri
03 April 2006
A Protestant church has its windows smashed by vandals; a
Catholic one is attacked by racists; another firefighter is
injured while doing his duty; a taxi driver is the subject
of a racist assault; a woman is raped; elderly people are
robbed and assaulted; a man is stabbed.
The above are a small sample of what has happened here
recently. These events have replaced the daily litany of
shootings and bombings with which we were accustomed. That
said, we don't live in a violent society. The unfortunates
blighted in such incidents are just that - unfortunates.
Poor, unlucky, pitiful victims who deserve our sympathy,
our support and our prayers.
Most of us don't wake up in the morning and think we are
about to emerge into downtown Baghdad. Yet, still there is
an odd feeling that we are being cheated. "Things are
getting worse," is a common enough refrain despite the fact
that our towns are not being reduced to rubble by huge car
bombs and we are not witnessing bodies being carried out of
pubs, shops and homes.
We have been deluding ourselves into believing that the
peace process will deliver us into a new Eden; that once
the political institutions are set up (wake me when it
happens) we will find ourselves sharing pastie suppers and
singing about my Aunt Jane drinking tea out of her wee tin.
We like to think that the thuggery and theft that dominate
our headlines will disappear like snow off a ditch.
It is total and utter rubbish.
The snippets of violence we read and watch show us very
clearly that this is what living in our corner of the
planet involves. It won't get any better because it was
never that good to start with.
We have been coarsened by 30 years of savagery and we
simply forgot that every society has ordinary decent
criminals who commit foul acts on their neighbours. We are
unfortunately experiencing the same problems other
Broken windows, beatings, theft, racism. This is as good as
It's not Darfur; it's not the sink estates of London and
Paris; it's not the shanty towns of South Africa. It is us.
Here, now and in the future. Get used to it. It's
Opin: Bugle Call Has Sounded At Last For All Our MLAs
By James Kelly
Do you remember who you voted for in that crazy assembly
election more than three and a half years ago? I mean the
108 MLAs against whom the doors of the Stormont assembly
have been shut ever since.
You didn’t vote? Oh well, I mean the crowd who turned up
and returned those poor old ghosts who have grown old
waiting on the call that never came because Dr No said “No”
for the umpteenth time. They must be unique in democratic
history – elected and paid to do nothing!
Well shiver their timbers, for these Rip van Winkles of
Ulster’s fraught devolution the bugle call has sounded at
last. All that mush about deals with the Ayatollah and the
DUP homes awash with unlikely new peers and a baroness –
for political services rendered – foundered at the last
minute when the powers that be at Westminster became
entangled in another row alleging sleaze by way of huge
loans from unworthy millionaires appointed to the House of
Lords. So it was no deal for our grubby little plans to put
the GFA on the long finger at least for the lifetime of old
man Paisley. The end result it seemed was ‘direct rule ok’
and to hell with the consequences – anything to keep the
Micks out of government. But over in Washington on St
Patrick’s Day it was a different story. The two bemused
premiers Tony and Bertie were told the US and Irish America
are fed up with the covert attempts to dismantle the
agreement in which Washington had played a leading role.
The Yanks, tied up in the Iraq shambles want action on this
one, so Prime Minister Blair – home at last from his trips
to Australia and New Zealand – facing trouble from Brown’s
supporters urging him to hurry up and hand over to the
glowering ‘PM in-waiting’, is also anxious to get the
Ulster mess cleaned up quickly.
As I write it has been announced that he and Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern will arrive here next Thursday to meet the
parties and set a new deadline for the restoration of the
Stormont assembly on Friday November 24. The plan is to
bring the long-ignored members of the assembly back to a
solemn conclave at Stormont for six weeks to decide their
own fate, devolution now or never! This ordeal could end
with the dumping of the NO men or political suicide with
Paisley, who celebrates his 80th birthday when the premiers
arrive here next week. The climax could come quickly or
after the dismal marching season in the cold light of a
gloomy November day when we are warned the two governments
will regretfully announce their back-up plan B to proceed
with the final implementing of the Good Friday Agreement,
the international enactment approved by the overwhelming
majority of the Irish people north and south.
Meantime despite the yelps of DUP spokesmen the British
army plans to slash troop levels in the north to no more
than 5,000 in two years, half the present force, as well as
the closure of 14 military bases, including Crossmaglen, Co
Armagh, reputed to be the most sophistacted listening post
The withdrawal of army support for the north’s police
service on July 31 next year puts the civilian police
footing here on the same basis as the rest of Ireland.
These changes and the enthusiastic reception for President
McAleese in Ballymena this week, in defiance of Paisley
threats of disruption, are welcome signs of the better
times ahead at long last.
On the economic front too there’s good news with Pat Wall,
tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers advising a Finance
Dublin Conference that skill shortages in the Republic
could be met with satellite operations in locations in
Northern Ireland to avail of the large workforce available
in many urban centres.
“For long-term growth we need to look at more cross-border
cooperation in terms of leverage with the resources of the
people and the skill base in Northern Ireland to support
this growth,” he said.
Thanks a million for this friendly voice from the Celtic
Opin: DUP Must Realise ‘Facts’ Are Subjective
The Monday Column
By Roy Garland
The unionist Drawing a Line Under the Past document [Irish
News, 21 March] advocated forums for personal narrative-
telling across community divisions. For this relatively
innocuous and unremarkable initiative the DUP launched an
attack on the authors via its website. The article then
mysteriously disappeared and I can only assume this is
related to the private dialogue taking place between DUP
and nationalist politicians.
DUP assembly member Jim Alister had misleadingly implied
the proposals were designed solely to address victims’
issues and was utterly vapid and insulting to them. But
while the suggested forums would be open to victims the
idea was to help address wider hurts and misunderstanding.
He also insisted the document was no maverick production‚
suggesting it reflected official UUP policy. It did no such
thing – UUP officers were not consulted at any stage.
Alister then rejected the idea that history is subjective
and referred to terrorist activities as objective facts.
Few would quarrel that there are facts related to
paramilitarism – for example UPV (Ulster Protestant
Volunteers) involvement in bombing electrical and water
installations in Belfast in 1969, threatening displays and
arming of Ulster Resistance in the 1980s or Third Force and
other paramilitary activities. These are facts but whether
such activities were wise or justified is a different
matter. Given that The Protestant Telegraph ascribed the
1969 bombings firstly to the IRA and later to the Irish
army before loyalists were charged, even the DUP must admit
facts should sometimes be taken with a dose of salt.
Alister then trundled out other questionable facts. No-one
formally heads up the unionist group as suggested and,
rather than ignore victims’ groups, some members have
themselves been victims while others have engaged in
dialogue, not only with the victims’ groups referred to but
with others not mentioned. We refused to sit on our hands
and instead tried to provide enabling environments so that
the voices of victims could be heard by combined groups of
nationalists and unionists. It was these experiences, which
incidentally also involved dialogue with DUP politicians,
that inspired us.
Some of the authors have engaged in this work over many
years and it became the primary model on which the document
was based. Members successfully encouraged victims, ex-
paramilitaries, members of political parties and ordinary
people north and south to relate their narratives and
The model was intended to help liberate participants – not
victims alone – from the tragic consequences of violence
and the effects of living in communities at enmity with one
Either we begin to live together, share our fears and tears
and bind up each other’s wounds or we remain entrapped
forever by the sectarian stumbling blocks we inherited.
Given this, Alister’s allegation that we don’t make an
adequate distinction between innocent victims and
perpetrators seems meaningless. Neither victims nor
are mentioned because the forums were not intended
exclusively for them. But after engaging with both
ex-paramilitaries and victims, I have discovered the same
pain, the same anguish, the same nightmares and sometimes
the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
It doesn’t matter whether one is victim, perpetrator,
loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist or something
else. If one has suffered pain as a result of our conflict
the results differ primarily only in degree. If someone
joined a paramilitary grouping, perhaps as a young
teenager, to defend his or her community and is injured or
traumatised, they become a victim in my book – innocence or
guilt is in some sense beside the point. Many years ago I
naively listened to political/religious sermons of the DUP
leadership. There were no restrictions then on dialogue
with paramilitaries – we only had to talk with ourselves.
One wonders why the DUP feels it must attack and
misrepresent such proposals. One is tempted to assume some
of them still don’t want a Fenian about the place. The real
danger is that in their mad pursuit of power they have lost
all semblance of principle and will back the kind of truth
commission sought by Sinn Fein while trying to rule out any
probe into their own role and blame others and try to hold
them out to dry.
Opin: Time In The Wilderness Might Be Wisest Option
By Tom Kelly
It will probably come as no surprise to you that there is
no correlation between intelligence and the ability to hold
high elected office. Some three years after the 2003
assembly elections, several murders, a major bank robbery
and the Stormontgate espionage, the government now realises
that ‘trust’ is the missing magic ingredient.
Lack of trust created Northern Ireland and partition and
with a few notable exceptions every single action since
then has eroded the cause of trust. In the simplistic minds
of the most devious players at Number 10, the unionists
don’t trust republicans and therein lays the Northern
Ireland version of the Gordian knot.
With a prognosis like that, it is clear that Blair can look
forward to being in Iraq as long as the British have been
in Ireland. The stop-go-stop proposals for getting things
moving is the clearest indication yet that not only is
there not a plan B – there is not even a plan A. The two
governments strategic outlook is about as sure as getting a
pair of sixes in a game of craps. It may work but for
Bertie and Tony rolling the dice is better than doing
nothing; for the rest of us it is going to be torturous.
Firstly, the British government seems to think that the
trust issue does not affect them. Now there is a surprising
British interpretation of native affairs. This is the same
British government that ruined the middle ground of
Northern politics by excluding both the SDLP and UUP from
negotiations. Does Blair really think that Durkan and Empey
would like to find themselves on a plane about to crash
with Paisley and Adams, only to find that Jonathan Powell
was in charge of the two remaining parachutes?
Does anyone think that the British/Provisional spy ring
engenders much trust between Sinn Fein and the government?
What about the families of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson
– do they and the rest of the nationalist community trust
the government that wants to muzzle the truth out of any
potential inquiry? Having watched Blair lure Trimble to his
political demise does the prime minister think that Paisley
will want to end his career in the belly of the Labour
whale? Trust is something successive British governments
would not know much about. It’s usually the first thing
parked at the front door of Whitehall.
Notwithstanding this the government is pressing ahead with
its talking shop of rolling devolution. Stormont will be
recalled while British ministers run the statelet and make
the decisions. The assembly members can bluff themselves
into relevancy by huffing and puffing at government
decisions from the comfort of benches knowing they don’t
have to make those decisions. Just what we need – more
politicians with authority and no responsibility. The
British care so little for us, the citizens of Northern
Ireland, that they don’t mind giving us this ‘all mouth, no
trousers’ form of representation. But we deserve better.
From a nationalist point of view there is absolutely no
reason to participate in what amounts to little more than a
flattery forum. To enter an assembly as proposed would be
an act of betrayal of anyone who voted for the Good Friday
Agreement. The very minimum any nationalist should expect
is that Irish ministers as well as British ministers should
take to the floor of Stormont, either in committee or as a
full house to answer questions relevant to cross border
bodies and initiatives involving both governments.
To propose an assembly format akin to Welsh devolution even
on a six-month basis would spell the end of the Belfast
Agreement in spirit and law. If the assembly is recalled
and if after six weeks it is incapable of agreeing an
executive, no serious nationalist could disagree with the
assertion by Martin McGuinness that it should be closed
down and the two governments should implement a form of
Mark Durkan warned about the dangers of allowing the DUP to
dictate the pace of political progress but the government
is banking on the camaraderie of assembly members sharing a
scone or a scotch a couple of times a week to broker a
love-in between the main protagonists.
The government still thinks its better than doing nothing
but Biblically speaking even for Moses, John the Baptist
and Jesus a bit of time in the wilderness did no harm at
Here in the land where time stands still, doing nothing in
the short term may still prove the best option.
Opin: John Paul II- The Funeral Of A Great Man Recalled
Rite and Reason: In St Peter's Square this evening Pope
Benedict will preside at a Mass marking the first
anniversary of the death of John Paul II. Patsy McGarry
remembers the momentous events of this time last year
Almost 9pm and the Mass in Dublin had just ended. It was
held to honour the memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero,
murdered in San Salvador 25 years previously, while saying
Mass. He was assassinated by state security forces because
of his outspokenness against the persecution and oppression
of the poor of his benighted country, El Salvador.
In Dublin the congregation at the Franciscan Church on
Merchants' Quay that April Saturday evening last year was
small and made up mainly of people from the Catholic relief
At its end everyone stood for the final blessing when
someone approached the Mass celebrant, Archbishop Diarmuid
Martin, on the altar and whispered to him.
Dr Martin paused, turned to the congregation and said, with
a slight trip in his voice, "it has just been confirmed
that Pope John Paul has died".
Someone uttered an involuntary "Jesus!" Pope John Paul had
been ailing for weeks but the finality of the moment was
still a shock.
Speaking to The Irish Times after the Mass, Archbishop
Martin remembered the deceased Pope in a flurry of
recollection, coloured by admiration and affection. It was
hardly surprising. He had spent almost 30 years in Rome,
most of it during Pope John Paul's papacy, with whom he had
regular personal contact.
In fact he had helped with the preparation of the Pope's
influential encyclical on Catholic social teaching,
Centesimus Annus (1991). Before becoming Archbishop of
Dublin he had served as the Vatican's permanent
representative to the UN in Geneva, but previously and for
well over two and a half decades he held various positions
at the Vatican with the Pontifical Council for Justice and
It was also he who, famously, introduced the U2 front man
to Pope John Paul with the words "Holy Father, this is Mr
Bono", and it was through his intercession that Ireland's
soccer players became the only international team to have
an audience with Pope John Paul during the Italia 90 World
That evening last year in Adam and Eve's, the archbishop
remembered the holiness and stubbornness of a great old man
and how, for example, during preparations for the Great
Jubilee Year of 2000 he called Cardinal Roger Etcheguray to
see him in hospital to secure support for his own plans for
that special year.
The French cardinal was head of the Vatican committee with
responsibility for organising the jubilee celebrations.
Pope John Paul wanted to use the occasion to apologise for
the sins of the church in the past, but a powerful lobby of
cardinals in Rome had other ideas.
They wanted to use the occasion to celebrate the papacy's
triumphal survival for 2,000 years.
From his hospital bed Pope John Paul, with Cardinal
Etcheguray, organised the successful outflanking of those
cardinals which saw jubilee 2000 used for the more humble
purpose he espoused.
In the days following his death Rome was deluged with
millions of mourners, many of them Polish. Some queued for
up to 13 hours to see his remains in St Peter's Basilica.
Included were a young Polish couple Agnieszka Nonaczk (24)
and her fiancée Jakub Stadnik (28), with Jakub's 18-year-
old brother Karol, named after the Pope. They were from
Wielkopolska, near Poznan in western Poland.
Over those nights they slept in blankets laid on
cobblestones in a street near St Peter's. It took them 36
hours non-stop travel by coach to reach Rome. Agnieszka and
Jakub had planned to marry last August and then go to Rome
to get Pope John Paul's blessing.
All that changed with his death so they came to Rome to
pray before his remains, which they did, hoping to secure
his blessing in that way.
On the eve of Pope John Paul's funeral, chatting in a
street near St Peter's after he had seen the remains,
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern spoke of the "great honour" of being
The papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazarotto,
had arranged, through friends, to get him "very close" to
the body where he had prayed, the Taoiseach said.
The funeral itself was an extraordinary spectacle. Over 200
heads of state and prime ministers attended, including
three US presidents. It was unprecedented. In addition
there were many representatives of the Christian
denominations, other world faiths, as well as the hundreds
of thousands in St Peter's Square itself and in Rome's
Two memorable images stand out from the funeral Mass - a
gust of wind blowing shut the opened Gospel on Pope John
Paul's coffin, and the final salute before that coffin
entered St Peter's. There, the 12 pall bearers turned and
dipped the coffin front, to momentous applause.
It was a powerful moment - a final public act in the life
and death of one of the great men of our times.
Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The
© The Irish Times
Opin: Civil Marriage For Gays Should Be Next Reform
As a successful ambitious country, Ireland should now apply
its "can-do" approach to social reform, including
recognition of gay and lesbian relationships, writes Kieran
These are exciting and hopeful times in Ireland. After
centuries of decline our population is growing strongly and
predicted by Eurostat to grow by 45 per cent by 2015.
Ireland is one of the most globalised nations and and
instead of mass emigration, we now have significant
immigration - 167 languages are spoken in Ireland today.
There has been major progress in nearly every aspect of
Irish life; economic, social, cultural and in terms of our
self-confidence and in the rights and freedoms of people in
this country. Lesbians and gay men have benefited from and
contributed to this fundamental progress. There is an
entire younger generation of gay people who have no memory
of being criminalised, who take equality legislation for
These young gay people have high expectations for
themselves and their society and see no reasons why their
horizons should be limited. Previously many gay people had
to emigrate for two reasons; to get a job and to be in a
society where it was possible to live openly and happily as
gay; now gay people are coming to this country for the same
A symbol and encouragement of this progress was the
Taoiseach's unveiling of the Gay and Lesbian Equality
Network's "Building Sustainable Change" programme and his
opening of the network's offices.
This raises the issue of what progress still needs to be
made. The key outstanding legal issue for lesbians and gay
men is the recognition of our intimate relationships. There
is no reason why there should not be an equality of rights
and responsibilities for all, in other words civil marriage
for same-sex couples. As a country our self-confidence has
increased fundamentally - we now have a "can-do" success-
orientated approach. We recognise that in a world fast-
forwarding to the future, we can and must compete
effectively at a global level and continue to be at the
There is no reason why this approach cannot also apply to
areas of social reform. So in the recognition of gay
relationships, our aim should be to become the sixth
country in the world after Spain and South Africa to
provide for civil marriage for lesbians and gay men. These
high expectations and commitment to delivery should apply
across the board; for example, given our current resources,
there is no reason why we should not finally and
conclusively tackle the heritage of poverty and
disadvantage in this country which also affects gay people.
This social progress should be achieved for its own sake
but there is an additional benefit. Tolerant societies are
able to attract talented, creative people who contribute to
technological innovation. In The Rise of the Creative
Class, Richard Florida showed how jobs are now following
people, rather than the other way round. His emphasis on
tolerance comes from the recognition that creative people
prefer to live in places which are ethnically and socially
Recent research ranks European countries according to three
interlinked factors - the 3Ts of economic growth - which
Florida and others argue, are indicators of a country's
creative potential: talent, technology and tolerance.
One of the worst aspects of the old Ireland was the mindset
that high ambitions or expectations were futile if not
ridiculous for us in this country (not for our emigrants);
failure was to be expected, almost welcomed. Change was
something to be feared.
One of the most life-affirming aspects of contemporary
Ireland is the sense of self-confidence, the optimism and
the determination to succeed. The Gay and Lesbian Equality
Network has a strong commitment to effectiveness and is
highly ambitious and positive about what can be achieved
for Ireland and for our communities: we do not believe in
Glen is not here to manage our marginalization but to
abolish it, to make ourselves as an organization redundant
in the shortest possible time. We are working towards a
society where being gay/lesbian is unremarkable; where it
is possible to be openly gay/lesbian and be elected
taoiseach. Where a gay couple expressing ordinary
affections in public would be seen as ordinary. Where a
teenager can come to terms with their sexuality and have
all the support from their parents, siblings, friends,
school and society at large. Where parents will not worry
or have any greater concerns when their child says they are
gay. This fundamental progress is possible; the only
limitation is our ambition and our determination as a
society to deliver the changes.
One of the great barriers to progress is a reactionary
nostalgia for the "good old days". When and what were those
exactly? The days of mass unemployment, mass emigration and
TB? Authoritarianism, class deference and stultifying
social control? The days of no divorce but where married
couples did not talk to one another for 20 years?
I do not think you could find one gay person who laments
the passing of the "good old days", those days of
criminalization and the closet, of hierarchies when people
knew their place.
Kieran Rose is chair of Glen, the Gay and Lesbian Equality
© The Irish Times
Large Cars And Suvs Blamed For Rising Emission Levels
08:14 Monday April 3rd 2006
New research has reportedly found that the growing
popularity of large cars and SUVs is one of the biggest
contributors to Ireland's growing transport pollution
Reports this morning said a study by a firm of engineering
consultants had found that the rising number of large-
engine vehicles being sold had eroded improvements in fuel
efficiency developed by car manufacturers in recent years.
The company behind the study is estimating that this trend
will add 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases to Ireland's
emissions every year.
Last month, a report from the European Environmental Agency
said Ireland's transport-related emissions had increased by
six times the EU average since 1990.
Plane Returns To Shannon After Cabin Fire
A transatlantic jet with 172 passengers on board was forced
to return to Shannon airport yesterday after a small
electrical fire broke out in the cabin.
Continental Airlines flight 25 to Newark, New Jersey, had
left Shannon shortly after 9am yesterday and had not
reached the halfway point in its seven-hour journey when it
sought permission to return.
Crash crews and medical staff were on standby as the Boeing
757 landed safely at 1.30pm.
An electrical fault in the passenger cabin caused a small
fire, resulting in smoke filling part of the area. Cabin
crew swiftly brought the fire under control.
There were no injuries.
© The Irish Times/ireland.com
McDowell Condemns 'Disturbing' Dublin Robbery
Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has described
yesterday's robbery of around €800,000 from a security van
in Dublin as "a disturbing development".
A lone gunman held up a crew member of a security firm's
unmarked 4x4 vehicle, which was delivering money to a bank
in Clondalkin in west Dublin.
There were no shots fired, and the Nissan Patrol vehicle is
now being examined by Garda technical experts.
The robbery was the third security van robbery in the past
week, netting around €1.5 million for the thieves.
Mr McDowell introduced a major overhaul of the private
security sector following a spate of robberies in the 18
months up to mid-2005, leading to a 27 per cent reduction
in such robberies last year.
The Minister said the new spate of robberies requires an
"effective response" from the gardaí, security industry and
He is meeting senior gardaí and security industry
representatives to discuss current rules governing the
transportation of large sums of money.
"I want to establish quickly and clearly the state of
compliance or otherwise of the whole cash-in-transit sector
with the voluntary protocols hammered out last year for
secure management of significant cash deliveries in this
© The Irish Times/ireland.com
1916 Parade To Include 'Starry Plough' Flag
The military parade in Dublin on Easter Sunday to
commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising will include people in
period dress carrying the "Starry Plough" flag of the Irish
Citizen Army and the flags of every country where Army
personnel are serving, the chief of staff of the Defence
Forces has said.
In an interview on RTÉ radio's This Week programme
yesterday, Lieut Gen Jim Sreenan said he was "not aware" of
any planned speeches to accompany the commemoration. There
would however be a reading of the Proclamation at the GPO
at noon, followed by the laying of a wreath by the
President, he said.
"It's a very significant parade. First of all of course
we're saying we're commemorating those who have gone before
us, and we're saying thanks to the people who made it
possible for us to march down O'Connell Street today."
Any defence force operating in a democracy had to have the
support of the people for it to be successful, Lieut Gen
Sreenan added. This was something which he was confident
was true in Ireland.
"This is an occasion for us to say thank you. To render
ceremonial in the military way, and say thank you to the
people of Ireland for the wonderful support they have given
us, particularly in our peacekeeping role down the years."
Asked what he thought of the concerns raised in some
quarters about the decision to hold a military
commemoration, he stressed the peacekeeping role of the
"I think there are very few people who could quibble about
our contribution to the cause of world peace," he said.
"From my perspective, the theme is picking up on the
proclamation and question of religious and civil liberty
and equal rights."
Former soldiers will also be participating in the parade,
which will be led by the trooping of the national colours
and will include a fly-past by the Air Corps.
A small ceremony will be held in Kilmainham Gaol earlier in
the day, he added.
© The Irish Times
McGahern: A Simple Farewell, A Silent Prayer That He May
Face The Rising Sun
Eileen Battersby At Aughawillan Church
A slow sun began to rise in the east. Hours before the
funeral we set off; if there was the urgency of a mission
at hand, there also had to be time to dawdle through John
McGahern's familiar landscape of lakes and lanes, the wet
fields interspersed by stunted birch trees.
The local people of the small south Leitrim towns where he
was an everyday sight, buying a newspaper, or nuts for his
few cattle, knew him and loved him, but above all - and far
more importantly - they liked him for his ordinariness and
humour. It was they who waited along the road side in
Roosky, Dromod, Mohill, Fenagh and Ballinamore for the
hearse returning from Dublin.
Ballinamore was quiet on Saturday morning. A lone man was
walking towards us. By way of greeting he pointed out there
was a shorter way to Aughawillan Church. "I can't go
myself, I've to work. I liked John, he was a great man, an
educated man, genuine, no nonsense. I never read his books,
but he'll be missed here."
The road to the church climbed slightly, flanked by wide,
banked fields with long views of Corduff Lake. On the small
rise stands St Patrick's, neither ancient, nor modern, but
firmly mid-20th century. The Catholic church in which the
young McGahern had prayed, and no doubt fidgeted as a child
and later served in as an altar boy. The doors were open.
Around the side, the new grave was ready, neat and as deep
as they seem when still empty. The headstone is difficult
to read now. Schoolteacher Susan McGahern had been laid to
rest here in June 1944 when her son John was still nine
years old, not 10 until the November. For 61 years he had
carried this grief. It had dominated his life and made him
Mourners had begun to arrive. Overheard exchanges had the
usual "very sad" and "too soon". Two of the men who had
published his books in London arrived. The size of the
church encouraged mourners to take their seats early. The
The voices became a babble of sound. A woman sat down
beside me. "Are you family?" she asked. "I'm not either,"
she said, "just a lover of the work. I tell my children -
they're mostly grown now - stories just like his. There's
so many people in Ireland who know the sort of lives he
writes about. Only you'd never be able to put it down like
She paused and glanced across the narrow aisle to three
men. Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel and Michael Longley.
"What is it that makes them write? Is it intellect or
imagination?" She paused and sighed, "I'd love to have,
what would you call it? An intricate mind."
Those three great Irish writers sat not as writers, but as
A fourth was also present, Tom Murphy. But there would be
Anecdotes were being exchanged privately. The babble
continued. Ritual had been called upon. An Irish local
funeral was in progress. John McGahern's extended family,
his contemporaries as well as the younger members,
including happy babies intent on play, filed in.
Outside, the cortege arrived and the priest, Rev Liam
Kelly, called for an end to the chatting. Silence simply
happened. The formal goodbye of a local country funeral
began. John McGahern's coffin was carried in, stray
raindrops appearing like tears on the varnished timber.
The middle-aged priest, a Leitrim man and the writer's
cousin, articulated the dignity of the moment, the simple
dignity that McGahern wanted.
No music, no elegies. There would be no speeches, no
graveside oration. It was devoid of all pomp and rhetoric.
The service was both simple and sophisticated and abided by
the instructions John McGahern had left.
"John loved life," said Fr Kelly, "but he was not afraid of
death." He had also left an invitation - all present were
invited to a lunch in a hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon. The
journey there would move through more McGahern territory.
Before this, though, ritual was followed. Outside, the
small churchyard was overwhelmed by numbers. At the
graveside, the coffin, shrouded in purple cloth, was
lowered into the earth. Rev Kelly began a decade of the
Rosary, as requested by McGahern.
It was time to fill in the wet yellow clay that had been
heaped over his mother's grave. A couple of men began
replacing the soil. The light rain turned into hailstones
and the men became a team of six - using four forks, a
spade and a shovel. They worked faster, the rain and the
sun played games.
After the lunch, the good-natured gathering began to
disperse. My daughter and I returned to Mohill and stood
outside the cattle mart which McGahern frequented and wrote
about. On the corner of Glebe Street, the road sign points
to Ballinamore and Fenagh and, in the opposite direction,
A shop had a book of condolences open on a music stand, and
with it a laminated poster.
It showed McGahern, photographed at a window and he is
quoted: "Art is an attempt to create a world in which we
can live a world of the imagination over which we can reign
. . ."
Further up the street, in another newsagent's, another
photograph of McGahern looked up through the window. It was
the back cover of the Leitrim Guardian.
In the photograph, he is standing in his shirt sleeves, the
famous lopsided smile against a backdrop of lake glimpsed
through the trees. The caption reads "John McGahern at
home, at ease, at rest in Leitrim."
It was a coincidence, not a memorial. The magazine had been
left down, upside down on the sill among a selection of
© The Irish Times
McGahern: Writer Who 'Loved Life But Did Not Fear Death'
Patsy McGarry in Aughawillan, Co Leitrim
John McGahern loved life but did not fear death, the main
celebrant at his funeral in Aughawillan, Co Leitrim, told
mourners on Saturday.
The chief mourners were John McGahern's widow Madeline and
his sisters Rosaleen, Margaret, Monica and Dympna.
Seven priests officiated at the funeral Mass, including the
parish priest of Crosskeys in Co Cavan, Fr Liam Kelly, a
cousin of the McGaherns who was the main celebrant.
"John and Madeline have been good and dear friends of mine
for over 30 years now. Over the past few weeks we had some
precious time together when John talked openly about his
impending death and the arrangements for his funeral. He
loved life but he did not fear death. He lived with the
reality of death since he was a child and liked to quote
Achilles who said 'speak not soothingly to me of death'.
That was his way.
"John was completely at peace during his last days and
never complained about his cancer or about dying while
still in his early 70s. Instead he quoted from Yeats's
"Oedipus at Colonus": 'Endure what life God gives and ask
no longer span/Cease to remember the delights of youth,
travel wearied man . . ./Never to have lived is best,
ancient writers say;/Never to have drawn the breath of
life, never to have looked into the eye of day;/The second
best's a gay goodnight and quickly turn away'."
In keeping with the sentiment, Fr Kelly said at the end of
the Mass that "John asked that there be no sympathising, no
oration at the graveside."
The church was filled in excess of its 200 capacity.
In his homily, Fr Kelly said it seemed appropriate "that we
should gather for this funeral Mass here in St Patrick's
It was where John first attended Mass and where he learned
to serve Mass, he said.
It was also where "he had his first brush with church
authority when, as a small boy, he was denounced for
rattling his beads too loudly during prayer. There would be
other brushes with church authorities later in his life -
and even though he was treated badly he never held any
grudges or traces of bitterness. He was bigger than that.
The church was, he said, his first book and he had learned
much from it," Fr Kelly said.
© The Irish Times
McGahern: Artists Among Congregation
Many of Ireland's leading artists were among the mourners
at John McGahern's funeral Mass in Aughawillan on Saturday.
Included were playwright Brian Friel and his wife, Anne;
poet Seamus Heaney and his wife, Marie; playwright Tom
Murphy; authors Eugene McCabe, Brian Lynch; poet Michael
Longley and his wife, Prof Edna Longley; poets Paula
Meehan, Michael O'Gorman, John Boland and his wife Marilyn.
President McAleese was represented by Capt Lorraine Fahey
and the Taoiseach by Cmdt Micheál Murray. Minister for
Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue represented the
Other politicians included local TD John Ellis (FF);
chairman of Leitrim County Council Gerry Reynolds (FG);
Cllr Declan Bree (Lab), Sligo council, and local SF Cllr
Martin Kenny. Former attorney general John Rogers was also
The Arts Council, of which John McGahern had been a member,
was represented by chairwoman Olive Braiden, director Mary
Cloake, and members Noelle Campbell Sharpe, Philip King,
Theo Dorgan, and former member Emer O'Kelly. Prayers were
offered during the Mass for Arts Council member Jerome
Hynes, who died suddenly last September. The Abbey
Theatre's director Fiach Mac Conghail was also there, as
was actor Gary Lydon.
Present too were Prof Declan Kiberd of UCD; Prof Iognáid Ó
Muircheartaigh, president of NUIG; Dr Micheál O'Rourke of
TCD. Faber and Faber publishers were represented by former
managing director Lord Matthew Evans, current managing
director Stephen Paige, and the company's former senior
editor Robert McCrum, now literary editor with the
Observer. Irish publisher Peter Fallon was also there.
Members of the media included friends of John McGahern such
as Joe Kennedy and Justine McCarthy of the Irish
Independent; Gerry Smyth, Caroline Walsh, Patsey Murphy,
Susan McKay, Micheal O'Regan of The Irish Times; Séamus
Hosey, John Quinn, Kevin Reynolds, and John Kelly of RTÉ.
Other friends included Maureen Kenny, of Kenny's bookshop
in Galway; and Michael Keohane and his wife, Rosemary, of
Keohane's bookshops in Sligo, Ballina, and Galway.
© The Irish Times
Guarded Welcome For Latest Initiatives To Protect Burren
An ad-hoc approach to managing tourism in the Burren
prevails despite previous plans to manage the region,
writes Gordon Deegan
Fifteen years after plans were unveiled for a visitor
centre at Mullaghmore, there are no signposts in the Burren
telling tourists where the mountain is or what area the
Burren National Park covers. Visitors rely on directions
The absence of any signage or information for one of
Ireland's most recognisable landscapes highlights the ad-
hoc approach to promoting and managing tourism in the
This may all be about to change, however, as Clare County
Council, along with a number of other agencies, unveil
ambitious plans for an integrated visitor management
strategy for the area.
The move coincides with work by the EU-sponsored Burren
Life Project on a blueprint for sustaining the region into
Along with these two initiatives is an ambitious proposal
by the Heritage Council's wildlife officer, Dr Liam
Lysaght, who believes the Government should establish a
national park authority for the Burren in a dramatically
enlarged national park that would cover almost the entire
north Clare area and stretches of south Galway.
Describing the existing national park as simply too small,
Dr Lysaght said a large-scale designation "has huge
marketing potential - national parks are recognised
worldwide as special places".
The chief political proponent of the Mullaghmore visitor
centre, Junior Minister and local TD Tony Killeen (FF),
said yesterday the council's €1.4 million initiative "is
the most significant development tourism-related initiative
to take place in the Burren since the attempt to provide a
visitor centre at the national park".
Mr Killeen said: "The council's plan and the Burren Life
work are very positive developments because the approach to
the Burren in recent times has been totally haphazard and
disorganised and any services have been provided by the
The Minister said Dr Lysaght's proposal was worthy of
consideration and should be studied by the Department of
In its proposal lodged with Fáilte Ireland, the council
said the absence of a visitor management plan and growing
tourism demands "are taking their toll on the environment
of the Burren".
The council said three major reports had been published on
managing the region over the past 12 years, with worthy
recommendations, "yet unfortunately, until recently very
few actions have followed these recommendations".
The absence of a visitor management strategy had resulted
in the destruction of limestone pavement by visitors
building "mini-dolmens", writing graffiti on ancient
monuments and picking rare and endangered flora, the
A member of the Burren Action Group that successfully
fought Government plans for Mullaghmore, Prof Emer Colleran
of NUI Galway, yesterday welcomed the council's proposals.
"It is long overdue as nothing has happened in the Burren
for the past four or five years, and is to be welcomed as
long as the proposals are open to debate and involve all
the stakeholders in the community."
Chairman of the Burren Irish Farmers' Association, Michael
Davoren, said: "These are exciting times in the Burren and
it is wonderful to see environmentalists and farmers
working together in the Burren Life project. We are very
pleased with the progress so far, but the acid test will be
in the findings of the project. We are under no illusions."
The director of Heart of Burren Walks, Tony Kirby, said:
"The Burren is Ireland's most important landscape and is a
world-class place, but it is not a world-class tourist
destination because of the lack of equilibrium between mass
tourism and sensitive tourism."
© The Irish Times
Cruises Will Bring 40,000 Tourists To Cork
Cork is set to attract 40,000 tourists through its port
with 37 cruise ships scheduled to visit the city over the
next six months. Cruise companies coming to Cork include
companies within the Carnival family, the world's largest
cruise consortium, and Royal Caribbean International
represented by its flagship Legend of the Seas.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian controlled Nordnorge, on her
maiden call to the port, will mark the start of the 2006
season this spring by sailing directly up the river Lee to
Cork city centre.
The 2006 port of Cork figures compare favourably with last
year, when there were 32 visiting cruise ships involving
Port of Cork company chairman Dermot O'Mahoney said a
number of factors contributed to the satisfactory growth of
the cruise business in the city.
Among these, he listed his company's recent €3.6 million
investment in enhancing facilities at the Cobh terminal -
Ireland's only dedicated cruise terminal. The Cobh facility
can now accommodate vessels up to 320m in length at any
stage of the tide - a vital consideration for cruise lines
at a time when their newer and bigger ships are presenting
challenges for many ports.
Mr O'Mahoney said American tourists were also displaying a
marked interest in the history of Cobh, particularly its
links to the ill-fated Titanic.
Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating welcomed
efforts being made to extend the cruise season. A
particularly well-received and interesting innovation in
December of last year was a successful four-day mini-cruise
undertaken by Fred Olsen Line, linking British and French
ports with Cork.
He added out that an independent economic impact study
undertaken by UCC found that the regional economic
contribution of Cork's cruise business in 2004 amounted to
€28 million and supported 204 full-time jobs.
© The Irish Times
Body Of Missing Angler Taken From Sea
The body of the Dublin man who was swept out to sea while
fishing last Friday at Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, was
recovered yesterday afternoon.
A large search operation had been taking place over the
weekend for David Cooney, a 29-year old single man from
Newcastle in Dublin.
His body was recovered alongside the spot where he was
washed out to sea while shoreline fishing.
He was fishing from rocks with his brother and two friends.
At around 2.30pm he was standing at the edge of a small
rise on the shoreline, near the pier in Ballinskelligs when
his lines became tangled.
He moved forward to free the line and was swept into the
sea by what locals described as a freak wave.
Emergency services were called and a large search got under
It included the Shannon rescue helicopter as well as
inshore rescue groups from Derrynane, Waterville and
Supt Michael O'Donovan said Garda divers from the sub-aqua
team were on the scene but were unable to dive on Saturday
because of conditions. However, they were able to continue
their search yesterday.
© The Irish Times
In God’s Country: How Church Uses U2’s Music In Its Liturgy
By Staff Reporter
Churches in the US are using music by U2 to make their
services more app-ealing to young people. Episcopal
parishes from California to Maine are holding ‘U2
Eucharists’ in an effort to make their services more
attractive to worshippers interested in rock music and
At the Grace Episcopal Church in Providence, Rhode Island,
the Rev Robert Brooks welcomed worshippers and then added
some unusual advice – he warned them to protect their
“If the sound’s an issue, we do have earplugs available,”
he said at the Friday service.
Ushers handed out complementary ear plugs and fluorescent
glow sticks for this communion service punctuated by the
Irish band’s music.
Multicolour streamers flew over worshippers’ heads at this
service. Children danced by the altar. Plasma-screen TVs
illuminated the gothic sanctuary. Some people sang and
clapped. A few looked puzzled.
Mr Brooks said the service was part of an effort to
reinvigorate his congregation by infusing it with young
people and those interested in social activism.
The service included an offering for local charities and
enlisted volunteers for The One Campaign, an effort to
alleviate global poverty and fight Aids which is supported
by U2 frontman Bono.
“We absolutely need to grow in order to survive,” Mr Brooks
A similar U2 Eucharist in November proved popular at All
Saints’ Church in Atlanta.
Organisers had planned on 300 worshippers. About 500 showed
U2 Eucharists appear to have been limited so far to
Episcopal churches. The service in Providence was based on
a playlist created by the Rev Paige Blair, a parish priest
in York Harbor, Maine.
Her format has spread by word of mouth and via email lists.
She has received calls from more than a dozen interested
churches and helped put on the Providence service.
Christian Scharen (39), a Lutheran pastor and professor at
Yale Divinity School, said he had often argued that U2 are
heavily influenced by Chris-tianity.
He has written a forthcoming book, One Step Closer: Why U2
Matters to Those Seeking God, and says it is unsurprising
that churches have caught on to U2.
“People who have these liturgical resonances in their
bones, they go to a U2 concert and they just get it. In a
sense I think it was just a matter of time before this
started happening,” he said.
Bono has told interviewers that he worships God through
music. In February he spoke at the National Prayer Break-
fast in Washington, attended by US President George Bush.
But band members also swear, drink and sing about sex – all
anathema to conservative Churches, Prof Scharen said.
He believes that Episcopal churches are experimenting with
U2 because the denomination encourages members to look for
the divine in the worldly.
“They don’t make the stark divide between Heaven and earth,
between the Church and the world,” he said.
It is not known whether the band members would endorse such
services: Ms Blair said she received permission from U2’s
publishing company to use their music but never talked to
Representatives for U2 did not return phone calls seeking
At the Providence service, Ms Blair delivered a homily to
pitch The One Campaign, which the Episcopal Church
She ticked off statistics about poverty and infant
mortality in Africa, underscoring her points with equal
parts Bono and Bible.
“If you’re a Bono fan, you know the next line: Where you
live should not determine whether you live or die,” she
Then, borrowing from the Gospels, she added: “What divides
the goats from the sheep, those that take up the cross and
follow him, is whether they took care of those in need.”
The opening hymn was one of the band’s earliest hits, Pride
(In the Name of Love). Pictures of famous believers
including Rosa Parks and the Rev Martin Luther King jnr
flashed on a screen set up behind the altar.
Several songs included in the service sound more like angry
lamentations than hymns of praise. Peace on Earth, inspired
by the Omagh bombing, asks why God won’t halt human
Some Christians might not be able to relate to the shades
of doubt and anger, but Ms Blair said that struggle is
evident in the Bible.
For example, Bono echoes the 40th Psalm in the opening
lines of the band’s song 40, belting out, “I waited
patiently for the Lord. He inclined and heard my cry.”
While U2 has conquered the pop charts they have not yet won
a place in the Episcopal Church’s authorised hymnal.
“I seriously think the day will come,” Ms Blair said.
“There’s a gift they have in speaking to the human soul.”
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