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April 06, 2006

Premiers Unveiling N Ireland Plan

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 04/05/06 Premiers Unveiling N Ireland Plan
IT 04/06/06 Republican Members Suspected Of Killing Donaldson
BB 04/05/06 Donaldson Murder Scene Examined
IT 04/06/06 Locals Shrug Shoulders At The Loss Of An Invisible Man
SF 04/05/06 Witness Statements Must Be Video-Recorded - O Snodaigh
BB 04/05/06 Paisley 'Meeting On Abuse Claims'
BN 04/05/06 Govt Warns Of Post 9/11 Sellafield Threat
BN 04/05/06 'Quicken Pace To Democracy' Republicans Warned By DUP
IT 04/06/06 Opin: Maverick Likely To Have Killed Donaldson
IT 04/06/06 Opin: Sorry Tale Of Boyne Site Deal
TE 04/06/06 Norris Given Ammunition For Extradition Appeal
BN 04/05/06 Relocation Of Civil Servants Impossible, Admits Chief Whip
BN 04/05/06 Taoiseach Leads Tributes To Maritime Historian
IT 04/06/06 Freed Guantánamo Prisoners Tell Story In Dublin
IT 04/06/06 Battle To Preserve The Irish Funeral


Premiers Unveiling N Ireland Plan

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern are travelling to Northern
Ireland to give political parties a "take it or leave it"
plan for restoring devolution.

Under the plan the assembly is expected to return by 15
May, with parties being given six weeks to select an

If that fails there will be another attempt in the autumn.

A second failure is likely to mean the assembly would
close, but until then it would operate without an executive
- a plan bitterly opposed by Sinn Fein.

It is understood Northern Ireland that Secretary Peter Hain
would have the power to refer policy matters to the
assembly for consideration.

However, these will require cross-community agreement.

The move is overshadowed by the murder of former Sinn Fein
official and British agent Denis Donaldson two days ago.

Despite denials of involvement, the DUP is blaming the IRA
and that has pushed the prospect of power-sharing even
further away.

The prime minister and the taoiseach are also meeting
church and business leaders during their visit to the city
of Armagh.

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

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/06 02:10:15 GMT


Republican Members Suspected Of Killing Donaldson

Gerry Moriarty and Dan Keenan in Glenties

Denis Donaldson's killers were most likely republicans who
carefully planned their operation and more than one person
was involved, according to Garda sources in Donegal.

However, as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime
minister Tony Blair travel to Armagh city today to unveil
proposals to fully restore devolution by November senior
British and Irish government sources said there is no
evidence that the murder was "authorised" by the IRA

But if such evidence should ever emerge then that would
spell the end of the political process in Northern Ireland,
they warned.

Garda Chief Supt Terry McGinn, who is heading the
investigation, was asked yesterday did she believe
republicans killed the British agent. "At this stage I am
keeping an open mind on the inquiry and following all
avenues," she said.

Garda sources in Donegal however said the main line of
inquiry was that republicans were responsible although the
possibility that some of Donaldson's former British
intelligence handlers were involved was also not ruled out.

They said that "republicans" could mean Provisional IRA
members acting officially; Provisionals operating
individually to kill Donaldson in revenge for his acting as
a British agent; or dissident republicans. The IRA denied

The Garda sources said the murder was carefully planned.
"All the signs are that his cottage was carefully cased
before the killing and that an organised unit rather than
an individual was involved in what amounted to an
execution," The Irish Times was told.

Garda sources added that it was significant that Donaldson
was murdered with shotgun blasts rather than shot by an
army or paramilitary-style weapon. They believed a shotgun
was intentionally used to make it difficult to forensically
trace from where it originated.

Postmortem results issued last night by the gardaí reported
that death was due to a shotgun wound to the chest. Results
also indicate that other injuries to the body were
consistent with shotgun blasts, including a severe injury
to his right hand.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair both acknowledged that the killing
has made today's latest attempt to effect political
progress more difficult. They nonetheless decided that they
must press ahead with their plan to reveal their proposals
in Armagh this morning.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair indicated yesterday that they do not
believe Donaldson's killing was an officially sanctioned
IRA murder.

Mr Blair appeared to believe dissident or maverick IRA
members were involved. "It is important that we don't allow
any act of violence, no matter by whom it is perpetrated -
and sometimes these things can be perpetrated by people in
disagreement with their own leadership - to derail the
process," he said.

Mr Ahern said he had "no idea" who killed Donaldson but
whoever was responsible "was no friend of the peace
process" - a point also made by Sinn Féin's Martin

Both Mr Ahern and Mr Blair seemed to believe the Sinn Féin
argument as enunciated by Mr McGuinness that the IRA would
not be so "stupid" as to wreck the political opportunity to
restore devolution that they had helped create by
decommissioning and ending their armed campaign.

A senior London source said there was no evidence that the
killing was "authorised" by the IRA leadership. "If it was
authorised by the IRA then this is bigger than the Northern
Bank robbery. The important thing is that we are not going
to duck this issue. If there is evidence that it was the
IRA then we will face up to that, and if there is evidence
then, that's it as far as the process is concerned," he

© The Irish Times


Donaldson Murder Scene Examined

Irish police are to continue examining the scene in County
Donegal where ex-Sinn Fein official and British agent Denis
Donaldson was murdered.

Members of the Garda's water and dog units will take part
in the search.

Post mortem results indicated Mr Donaldson died from a
shotgun wound to the chest, said police.

Other injuries to his body were consistent with shotgun
blasts, including a severe injury to his right hand,
according to the post mortem.

The IRA has denied involvement in the murder of the ex-Sinn
Fein man, who was found shot dead following a break-in at a
house in County Donegal on Tuesday.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said Mr Donaldson was warned
that his life could be in danger.

He said police became aware of his whereabouts in January,
but he did not request any protection.

Mr Donaldson, 56, was found dead in a room in a remote
cottage near the village of Glenties.

He had been expelled from Sinn Fein in 2005 after admitting
he was a paid British spy.

At a news conference in Donegal on Wednesday, Chief
Superintendent Terry McGinn refused to be drawn on details
of the killing, or on whether there had been a specific
threat to Mr Donaldson.

She said the door had been forced and a window broken in
the property. She added they were keeping an open mind
about the inquiry.

Mr Donaldson's death came ahead of Thursday's visit to
Northern Ireland by Tony Blair and Mr Ahern to unveil their
blueprint for reviving the assembly at Stormont.

The British and Irish prime ministers insisted they would
not let the murder derail the political process.

Mr Donaldson moved out of his Belfast home last December,
and had been living in the run-down cottage which had
neither electricity nor running water.

He had been Sinn Fein's head of administration at Stormont
before his 2002 arrest over alleged spying led to its

Charges against him and two others were dropped last
December "in the public interest".

One week later he admitted being recruited in the 1980s as
a paid British agent.

He said there had not been a republican spy ring at

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/06 01:50:41 GMT


Locals Shrug Shoulders At The Loss Of An Invisible Man


Denis Donaldson left few traces in Donegal, writes Dan
Keenan, Northern News Editor.

"I never met the wee man myself," said Leo McCloone as he
pushed a yellow J-cloth across the top of his bar. He
paused and added: "Thank God".

Leo's Bar in Glenties was the watering hole reputed by some
to have been favoured by the former Sinn Féin boss turned
British agent.

If it was true, no-one there knew it.

Not that denial or cover-up is the natural response by the
warm and open people from these parts.

Despite hosting the story of the moment, Glenties patiently
put up with the media invasion. Not even the clutter of
satellite vans and outside broadcast units outside the
neatly painted Garda station managed to furrow a local

There was no Crossmaglen-style hush in response to
reporters' questions. No Border-lands suspicion of the
outsider with the accent.

Sure, that man must have come here to do his messages and
have a drink, they said. But nobody, genuinely, really
recalled seeing him.

This reporter got more than a dozen versions of the same
answer in response to the same question.

"Maybe he took the glasses off," mused one proprietor. "And
when you let the beard grow a bit, that changes a man."

Denis Donaldson's violent end was a mystery. But it seemed
many were content to let others figure it out.

A few miles out the lumpy Derryloughan road and amid
magnificent wilderness, two gardaí stood by a single
stretch of crime-scene tape.

This is as far as anyone gets to the white three-roomed
house on the left of the little road known locally as The

The same people that never saw Denis Donaldson named the
families that were reared in that house in the townland of
Classey - the O'Donnells and the Anthonys.

A description of the type of range in the kitchen was
offered. But there was little to be told of the small,
balding man with glasses who helped bring down a

Chief Supt Terry McGinn told us of the passer-by who
noticed the broken window and the forced door and how the
suspicions led to the arrival of the 24-hour news networks.

It is not that often that news reports are superimposed
with the banner "Live from Glenties". But that made little
difference to the chief superintendent, who calmly eyed the
horde of cameras and thanked us all for our questions.

She vowed that everything possible would be done in pursuit
of the killers and of justice. Within seconds Sky
proclaimed to most of Europe that the Garda would leave "no
stone unturned", as if the phrase had never been uttered

A thousand miles away in Belfast and Dublin, politicians
and former IRA men argued over who did it and why. In west
Donegal, they got on with life.

It is hard, after all, to sustain any real sense of crisis
when there is a sweet hint of turf smoke in the air.

© The Irish Times


Witness Statements Must Be Video-Recorded - O Snodaigh

Published: 5 April, 2006

The Justice Committee of the Dáil this afternoon discussed
four amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill tabled by Sinn
Féin TD, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, which would introduce mandatory
videotaping in all Garda Stations and sanctions for any
failure by the Gardai to comply.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "There is a rogue element within
the Gardai and video-recording would help to protect
against them.

"Video or digital recording in Garda Stations would protect
the Gardai from allegations of abuse as much as it would
protect all those in Garda detention. In this day and age
with the technologies available we should be looking to
ensure that recording is operating in all Garda stations,
in particular video-recording of witness interrogations but
also of all areas in Garda stations. We are also attempting
to ensure that the corridors of Garda stations be taped as
well. Because it is here that beatings occur that result in
vulnerable people signing confessions for crimes they
didn't commit."

The Dublin South Central TD argued that, "the admissions of
Detective Sgt. White to the Morris Tribunal in recent days
describing the routine practices of hard and tough
interrogations that disregard the manual on interrogation
techniques demonstrate the urgency of Sinn Fein's

Speaking afterwards Deputy Ó Snodaigh welcomed the
Ministers agreement to revisit his proposal for a new Garda
power to issue their own search warrants, on foot of
amendments tabled by himself and the Labour Party
spokesperson Joe Costello earlier in the day.


Paisley 'Meeting On Abuse Claims'

Free Presbyterian leader Ian Paisley held a meeting of
ministers to hear sex abuse allegations against a lay
reader, a court has heard.

The claim was made on the second day of the trial of 71-
year-old James Doherty at Londonderry Crown Court.

Mr Paisley met senior clergy three years ago over claims
the lay reader had sexually abused two sisters in his
congregation, the court was told.

Mr Doherty denies 25 charges, including rape and indecent

The offences are alleged to have been committed between
1974 and 1985, when the sisters were children.

The alleged abuse was said to date from when each girl was
about six years old.

'Contacted the police'

Under cross examination, the younger of the two told the
court that when she met Mr Paisley, the Reverend David
McIlveen and the Reverend John Douglas in March 2003, they
told her they were shocked that they had not been contacted

She said she made a written statement and they told her to
leave the matter in their hands.

The witness said she had first contacted her local Free
Presbyterian minister about the alleged abuse nine years
before that, but she believed he had done nothing because
he wanted to protect the defendant.

The alleged victim, who is now 35, said she hoped the
matter could have been sorted out within the church, as her
only concern was that children would be protected.

The woman said she eventually contacted the police in
October 2004.

Mr Doherty, whose address cannot be made public to protect
his alleged victims, has been remanded on bail throughout
the trial.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/05 17:28:25 GMT


Govt Warns Of Post 9/11 Sellafield Threat

05/04/2006 - 19:05:33

The nuclear plant at Sellafield is a real and present
danger to life in the post 9/11 climate, the Irish
Government said tonight.

The proposed sale of the clean up operations of the state-
owned company British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), which operates
the huge plant in Cumbria, has raised fresh concerns across
the Irish Sea.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said the
nuclear disasters at Windscale, Three Mile Island and
Chernobyl showed the destructive potential of nuclear

“Sellafield remains a real and present danger to life on
this island, a danger which has deepened post 9/11,” he

The British Government has set up the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which will take over
BNFL’s assets and liabilities. The European Commission last
week approved the decision, which clears the way for BNFL
to sell off its £1bn (€1.43bn) clean-up business, British
Nuclear Group, to private companies in the next 18 months.

At a special debate in the Irish Dáil (Parliament), Irish
Environment Minister Dick Roche said he considered the NDA
to be fundamentally compromised because it relied on income
from reprocessing to fund its clean-up of Sellafield and
other sites.

“I wish to stress here that the Government will continue to
hold the UK responsible and accountable for the operation
of the Sellafield complex,” he said.

The Irish Government is awaiting a final decision from the
European Court of Justice to see if it can resume
international legal action against the British Government
over Sellafield.

“We will continue to pursue all legal and diplomatic
options to secure its safe and early closure,” said Mr

Irish Labour Party TD Emmet Stagg said the storage tanks at
Sellafield, which contained radioactive material, were the
greatest threat to the Irish people. He said there had been
a history of accidents and radioactive discharges at the

“Practically all of these have been handled with deceit and
cover-up by the British authorities,” he said.


'Quicken Pace To Democracy' Republicans Warned By DUP

05/04/2006 - 18:28:10

Irish republicans must quicken the pace of the
transformation from violence to peace and democracy if
there is to be any hope of a power sharing government at
Stormont by November, they were warned tonight.

Democratic Unionist deputy leader Peter Robinson told the
Council on Foreign Relations in New York he believed the
leadership of the Republican Movement had the power and
capacity to speed up the process of change.

But he also warned in his speech that if it emerged the
Provisional IRA was responsible for the murder yesterday of
former Sinn Féin official turned British spy Denis
Donaldson, it would have a serious impact on efforts to set
up a Stormont executive.

“Most unionists will say – given the length of time it has
taken to get republicans to where they are today – that
they will not have reached the stage of completion by
ending paramilitary and criminal activity and convincing
the community of its permanence by the date of November 24
which the (British) government has set as a deadline for
setting up an executive,” the East Belfast MP argued.

“I feel they are right. If republicans maintain the present
rate of change they will miss that deadline.

“But I believe the leadership of the Republican Movement
has the power and capacity, if it chooses to exercise it,
to increase the pace of its transition.

“The question is: will they apply their authority?”

With Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern
prepared to unveil their roadmap in Armagh tomorrow for
reviving devolved government by November 24, Mr Robinson
insisted his party would not be under pressure.

Rather it was Republicans, he argued, who would be under
pressure to meet the democratic standards demanded by the
DUP by the deadline.

“Back in December 2004, instead of using the time to
democratise, they engaged in robbing the Northern Bank and
other illegal activity,” the former Stormont Regional
Development Minister said.

“What will they do with this opportunity? Are they up for

“What is sure is that Sinn Féin will not meet the
government’s deadline if they continue whinging about the
two governments following a DUP agenda or attacking the
Independent Monitoring Commission because they report on
IRA misbehaviour.

“Sinn Féin will not do what is necessary if it remains in

In a specific reference to Mr Donaldson’s murder, the DUP
deputy leader continued: “What is clear is that if the
responsibility for the murder of Denis Donaldson falls on
the IRA, it would have serious implications for the
Government’s proposals.

“It need not impact upon the setting up of an Assembly but
it would impact on the setting up of an executive.”


Opin: Maverick Likely To Have Killed Donaldson


There were many in the North who wished Denis Donaldson
dead, writes Brian Rowan

So, after the killing of Denis Donaldson, all of the talk
and the biggest question is around the issue of who carried
it out. The place is awash with theories. There are many
possibilities, but up to now no one has produced the answer
of all answers.

It is much too soon to be definitive. Was it the IRA? Was
it the dissidents? What about the securocrats, or could it
have been some maverick, renegade, republican individual or
individuals who decided that Denis Donaldson should not
live beyond the public confession he made last December?

The security hunch here in the North is that the IRA
leadership did not sanction this killing. Why would it risk
whatever slim possibility there is of making political
progress in the near future? Why would it throw away the
initiatives of last year - the ending of the armed campaign
and the acts of decommissioning? Why would it play into the
hands of Ian Paisley and his party - particularly at this
time? And why would it do it with another report from the
Independent Monitoring Commission just around the corner?

"I can't see who this benefits," a senior PSNI officer
said. "It has to be maverick."

It is in this direction that the security assessment here
in Northern Ireland is leaning, but it is not an assessment
that is based on hard facts and knowledge. It is the stuff
of hunch - nothing more than a gut feeling.

Inside the republican community there were many who wished
Denis Donaldson dead.

As news of the shooting broke at teatime on Tuesday, one
source remarked: "There would be no shortage of people
prepared to shoot him." Indeed, in the words of this
source, they would have been "queuing up to do it".

But asked was it the IRA? he replied "definitely not".
Others would not be so definite. It is a time for open
minds - a time to wait for more pieces of the jigsaw and
for the picture to become clearer.

Denis Donaldson lived and died in a murky world. He was a
player in the so-called "dirty war" and he died because of
the agent confession he made a little more than 100 days
ago. We do not know what secrets he was keeping, but we
knew that he had enemies and that there were those who
wanted him dead.

"On the eve of Bertie and Blair, somebody decided they were
going to make best use of Denis, alive or dead." This is a
republican hinting that the hands of the securocrats are on
this murder. But that theory is dismissed as quickly as the
suggestion that the IRA leadership had some part in this

Denis Donaldson's worth to the Special Branch and the
British security services was the political intelligence he
provided on Sinn Féin. For about 20 years he was their
human listening device inside the party.

An intelligence source put it this way: "He wasn't part of
the Adams kitchen cabinet, but he was close to it."

He said Donaldson was "always uncomfortable" in the role of
agent. "We just couldn't get military stuff out of him,"
the source added.

Whatever he told was too much for his one-time republican
comrades, and the Donaldson confession of last December
condemned him to a life and a death in the wilderness.

He leaves behind many unanswered questions. What is clear
is that even in our developing peace, there is no safe
place for the agent. The outing of Denis Donaldson cost him
his life.

Brian Rowan is former security editor for the BBC

© The Irish Times


Opin: Sorry Tale Of Boyne Site Deal

Mary Raftery

If ever there was a site that needed no whiff of
controversy surrounding its purchase, it was the location
of the Battle of the Boyne. Bought by the State to show the
unionist community that we in the Republic value its
historic significance, the transaction has since become a
subject of serious concern for the Public Accounts
Committee, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the
Flood/Mahon tribunal.

It popped up again this week at that tribunal when a Tim
Collins had one of those increasingly frequent lapses of
memory among witnesses giving evidence. His recollection
was described by Judge Mahon as being vague "even to a
greater extent even than we might normally be used to".

Tim Collins is an interesting chap. He has been a close
personal friend of Bertie Ahern for over 25 years. He is a
trustee of the Taoiseach's constituency office, and was
appointed in 1998 to the board of Enterprise Ireland.

Most intriguingly, he was the third man in the room during
the famous 1988 meeting between Bertie Ahern and Tom
Gilmartin at which the latter's proposals to develop the
Quarryvale shopping centre arose. Quarryvale is, of course,
also being investigated by the Mahon tribunal.

When identifying Mr Collins as the third man at the
Gilmartin meeting, Bertie Ahern described him in 1999 as
"one of my local supporters". However, just 18 month later,
his status had changed, with the Taoiseach saying that he
was "someone I know outside of politics".

Mr Ahern's efforts to distance himself from any political
connection with Tim Collins arose out of the increasing
pressure he came under in the Dáil to explain the details
of the Battle of the Boyne site transaction.

And what Tim Collins failed to remember this week at the
Mahon tribunal was that he had made a windfall profit of
over €750,000 as a result of that deal. He had told the
tribunal he had never received shares in any property
company as payment for his services as a land agent.

However, when presented with documents showing that this
was in fact the mechanism used for paying him with regard
to his involvement in the Battle of the Boyne site, Mr
Collins agreed that he had been mistaken.

The Boyne site deal is a sorry tale. Various attempts had
been made to develop the land commercially, with both Liam
Lawlor and Frank Dunlop involved in providing advice.
Planning permission for a hotel and golf club was secured
but never activated, and the 450 acres lay in pasture.

In 1997, the site was bought for €3.4 million by the McCann
family, who control Fyffes, the giant fruit-import company.
They formed a separate company to own the land, Deepriver
Ltd, of which Tim Collins had 12.5 per cent of the shares.

Just over a month after the McCann transaction was
completed, the then minister for foreign affairs, David
Andrews, announced that the Government planned to develop
the Battle of the Boyne site as part of the peace process.

Negotiations to purchase the site on behalf of the State
began, and were concluded in 2000, at a cost to the
taxpayer of just under €10 million. In only two years, the
value of the land had trebled, netting the McCanns and Tim
Collins a tidy profit of more than €5 million between them.

It then transpired that the actual transaction had been
concluded in an unusual manner. Instead of directly buying
the land from the company (Deepriver Ltd), the Office of
Public Works had instead bought the whole company, whose
only asset was the site in question.

In this manner, the company's owners (Collins and the
McCanns) were spared the necessity of paying the level of
capital gains tax due had it been a simple land transfer.
That tax bill - almost €1 million - was instead borne by
the OPW (ie, the taxpayer) when it wound up Deepriver some
years later.

The Public Accounts Committee questioned this method of
purchasing land. The OPW told them that it was all above
board, that sanction had been obtained from the Department
of Finance, and that anyway they had bought companies in
this way on many occasions.

This, however, was simply untrue. The Boyne site was the
first time that land had been purchased by the OPW through
the acquisition of a company. And before the OPW appearance
at the committee, there was only one other example of this

Fine Gael's Michael Noonan summed up the unease felt by
members of the Public Accounts Committee. "I find it
peculiar that an agency of the State should assist in tax
avoidance. . . it does not seem right that the Office of
Public Works should enter into arrangements involving the
avoidance of tax. I am choosing my words. It was not
illegal or improper, but it was, at least, peculiar. Many
citizens would find it a little strange."

It would be only the most easy-going of taxpayers who would
content themselves with the words "peculiar" and "strange"
to describe this saga. But until the Mahon tribunal fully
investigates, perhaps they will have to do.

© The Irish Times


Norris Given Ammunition For Extradition Appeal

(Filed: 05/04/2006)

Ian Norris has been given the legal ammunition he needs to
launch an appeal to the Law Lords against his extradition
to the United States on charges of price fixing.

Ian Norris

The High Court, although refusing permission to appeal,
certified that the case raised a legal issue of general
public importance - the first step in an appeal to the
House of Lords.

The US authorities want Mr Norris, 63, former chief
executive of manufacturing giant Morgan Crucible, to stand
trial on seven counts of conspiracy to defraud and two
counts of perverting the course of justice.

Mr Norris, who has prostate cancer, denies accusations that
he fixed prices of components used to power trains between
1989 to 2000.

In February, the High Court rejected his legal team's
argument that the Home Secretary's decision to order his
removal under the 2003 Extradition Act was "unlawful and

The Act allows "designated territories" to use fast-track
procedures and does not require the production of prima
facie evidence that a crime has been committed by fugitives
they wish to extradite from the UK.

One of the main complaints in the Norris case - and other
cases heading for the House of Lords - is that the US has
not yet ratified the 2003 extradition treaty between the
two countries. It means the UK cannot extradite American
citizens in the same way.

This "lack of reciprocity", it is argued, means the UK/US
extradition arrangements are "hopelessly lopsided in favour
of the US authorities".

Today Sir Igor Judge, president of the Queen's Bench
Division, and Mr Justice Cresswell certified a question of
law which could form the basis of an appeal to the Law
Lords: Is the continued designation of the US as a
qualifying territory for the purposes of the 2003 Act

A petition by Mr Norris, who lives near Windsor, Berkshire,
for leave to appeal will be considered by a committee of
Law Lords in the next few weeks.

It is expected to be heard alongside similar appeal moves
by former NatWest bankers David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew
and Giles Darby, who are wanted in the US on Enron-related
fraud charges.

Mr Norris has other grounds of appeal, including a
challenge under the Human Rights Act, which have yet to be
dealt with by the High Court.


Relocation Of 10,000 Civil Servants Impossible, Admits
Chief Whip

05/04/2006 - 19:01:26

Ambitious plans to relocate 10,000 civil servants out of
Dublin are impossible, the Government chief whip admitted

Three and a half years since decentralisation began, Tom
Parlon TD, who is charged with running the scheme, revealed
it was failing.

The Progressive Democrat TD praised the project, initiated
by former Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy, saying it
was a brilliant plan and very ambitious.

“But in terms of it being deliverable as he [Mr McCreevy]
said, before the next general election, it is impossible
when you get into the nitty gritty,” Mr Parlon said.

The chief whip said it was a mammoth task on a human
resources level, retraining staff and allowing workers to
move departments.

“It is actually one of the biggest infrastructural projects
ever undertaken by the state,” he said.

The revelation came after 50 FAS employees picketed the
agency’s headquarters on Dublin’s Baggot Street against
plans to decentralise them to Birr, Co Offaly.

Mr Parlon’s admission is a total u-turn from just over one
year ago when he rejected claims by the country’s leading
think-tank, the ESRI, that decentralisation was not
progressing quickly enough.

He said an achievable timetable had been set with 1,000
places to be filled at the end of 2006, 3,000 at the end of
2007 and the progress would continue until 2009.

And he claimed buying sites in 53 locations around the
country was a long process.

“Certainly there are problems but I think everyone today
acknowledged that the bulk of the project is working
extremely well and of course the opposition honed in on the
FAS and the ones where there are problems,” he told RTE

“Clearly I accept there are problems and I fully commit
myself and the Government to working very, very hard to
solving those problems.”

Meanwhile, the Government Chief Whip insisted that he meant
no offence after he compared Limerick to deepest Africa.

“Any suggestion that I was trying to be racist is
ridiculous,” he said.


Taoiseach Leads Tributes To Maritime Historian

05/04/2006 - 13:36:02

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today led the tributes to maritime
historian John De Courcy Ireland who died at the age of 94.

The well-known campaigner, described as a champion of the
sea and the winner of national and international awards for
maritime research, died yesterday at Dublin’s Clonskeagh
Hospital following a long illness.

The Taoiseach described Mr de Courcy Ireland as a man of
great principle and a committed socialist.

“A man of great independence of thought he never flinched
from taking unpopular positions,” Mr Ahern said.

“He also had a great quality of gentleness and all those
who came in contact with him, whether they agreed with his
politics or not, were impressed by his considerable
intellect and dedication to the things he cherished.

“Above all John de Courcy Ireland will be remembered for
his life-long dedication to the world of the sea.”

Mr Ahern added: “He was also a man of world vision and was
internationally recognised as a great linguist, writer,
teacher and committed mariner.”

A socialist activist all his life, Mr de Courcy Ireland
campaigned for equality, peace and human rights and was a
regular, passionate speaker at many political events.

He joined the Maritime Institute in 1943 and was one of the
founders of the Maritime Museum in 1959.

“He is irreplaceable,” said friend Des Brannigan, former
head of the Maritime Institute of Ireland.

“There is nobody in this country who could go anywhere near
him in so far of his knowledge and ability.

“He was a brilliant teacher, a prolific author and a very
competent linguist. He did Ireland a great honour by being
nominated by so many different countries for awards in
recognition of his abilities.”

As an author, Mr de Courcy Ireland penned many historical
books, including The History of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, The
Admiral from Mayo, Ireland’s Sea Fisheries, and Ireland and
the Irish in Maritime History.

Eamon Gilmore, Labour Party Dun Laoghaire TD, said he was
honoured to know Mr de Courcy Ireland for 20 years and
described him as “a great champion of the sea”.

“More than any other individual he reminded this country
that we are an island and that we should never neglect the
sea and our maritime tradition,” he said.

“He was our country’s greatest maritime historian, who was
more appreciated abroad than at home.”

Mr Gilmore, who extended his sympathy to Mr de Courcy
Ireland’s son and daughters and their families, added:
“John will be sadly missed by Ireland’s maritime community,
by the people of Dun Laoghaire, by all who learned from
him, and by all those where were stirred by his passionate
campaigning for the causes he so strongly believed in.”


Freed Guantánamo Prisoners Tell Story In Dublin

Two men released from the US army base in Guantánamo Bay,
Cuba, were in Dublin today to tell their story of being
held captive for nearly three years before eventually being

Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul were speaking at a press
conference to launch an Amnesty International report on
rendition flights and ahead of a screening of the film, The
Road to Guantánamo.

The men, who were released in March 2004, claim that they
were subjected to abuse and beatings during their
"arbitrary" detention at the US base.

Mr Rasul said he still does not know why he was kept in the
Guantánamo Bay for 2 1/2 years.

"The worst part was not knowing what was going on," Mr
Rasul said. "My hands were chained together and I was told
to write to my family - it was impossible".

Mr Ahmed said the film was not just about Guantánamo but
about prisons all over the world like Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

The men who say they still have had no apology from the
British and US governments consider themselves the "lucky

Shortly before their release they were accused of visiting
the al-Farouq training camp in Afghanistan and appearing on
a videotape with Osama bin Laden there in 2000. However,
through British counter-intelligence (originally intended
to corroborate the prosecution for a US military tribunal)
the men could prove they were in England at the time.

The Road to Guantánamo tells the story of three men from
the town of Tipton, near Birmingham - Mr Ahmed, Mr Rasul
and Asif Iqbal - who went to Pakistan for a Mr Iqbal's
wedding just prior to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan
in 2001.

Just before the wedding the men went to Afghanistan in an
attempt to help the victims of the war.

A few days later they realised their mistake and tried to
leave the country, only to find it more difficult to get
out. Another of their friends from Tipton, Munir Ali,
disappeared and was never seen again,. His family still
don't know what happened to him.

The remaining three men were arrested in Afghanistan by the
US-backed Northern Alliance before being handed over to the
Americans and eventually sent on Guantánamo Bay.

They will be participating in a Q&A session after The Road
to Guantánamo, along with the film's co-director, Mat
Whitecross. The screening will take place this evening at
6pm in the IFI in Dublin's Temple Bar.

© The Irish Times/


Battle To Preserve The Irish Funeral

Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, in


A last-ditch attempt to save the traditional Irish wake and
funeral has been mounted by Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley,
who is exploring ways to delay the implementation of a
Brussels directive that would alter our time-honoured
burial customs.

Open coffins and viewing of the deceased are a traditional
feature of Irish wakes and funerals, but these are under
threat from EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas, who
wants chemicals used by embalmers withdrawn under a new
biocides directive

In a letter circulated to politicians last month, the Irish
Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) said the directive
would change completely the way embalmers prepare the
deceased for viewing and burial.

"Viewing the deceased is part of Irish culture, and it is
recognised that such practice is an important part of
bringing closure to bereavement, and ample evidence from
psychologists exists to back this up," the undertakers

"The cessation of embalming would generally mean that
viewing in funeral homes and private residences would cease
as we know it."

The Department of Agriculture, which has the authority to
apply for a derogation, has stated that it would be happy
to meet with the IAFD "to discuss the issues arising and
decide on what action is appropriate".

It is understood that, following Mr Crowley's intervention,
a meeting along these lines will take place in Dublin on
April 27th, where the department will discuss the matter
with the IAFD and Irish members of the British Institute of

The directive aims to withdraw certain agents, such as
formaldehyde, which are capable of destroying living
organisms and this would take effect on September 1st.
Formaldehyde is a key element in embalming.

Mr Crowley, who represents the constituency of Ireland
South, said in Strasbourg yesterday that undertakers may
still have a chance of obtaining a derogation.

"I have discovered that Irish undertakers can receive
derogation from the directive which allows them on the
market for further years while other safer alternatives are
researched and developed.

"The biocides directive currently falls under the remit of
the Department of Agriculture in Ireland. It is up to the
Irish Association of Funeral Directors to ask the
department to request derogation for their industry.

"From my reading of the regulation the embalmers may argue
a requirement of derogation on the grounds of protection of
cultural heritage, or by proving it is critical to the
functioning of society and/or that there are no

He added that paying our respects to the remains of the
deceased was an integral part of Irish culture.

© The Irish Times

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