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 17, 2006

Security Low Key As Parades Pass

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

News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 04/17/06
Security Low Key As Parades Pass
SF 04/17/06
Loyalist Take Part In Apprentice Boys Parade
DI 04/17/06
Adams Recalls Sacrifices
DI 04/17/06
Officer In Sick Video Climb-Down
IT 04/18/06
Parties Clash Over Checkpoint Killing
DI 04/17/06
Event ‘Rehearsal For Centenary’
IT 04/18/06
Government Undecided About How To Mark 1916 Next Year
IT 04/18/06
1916 Ideals Undermined In Schools, Says INTO Leader
IT 04/18/06
March Of The Irish Citizen Army Re-Enacted
DI 04/17/06
Images Of Ireland’s Past At Photography Exhibit
IM 04/17/06
Opin:McDowell's Hitlerian Phrasing At Fascist Spectacle
DI 04/17/06
Opin: All Changed, Changed Utterly
DI 04/17/06
Opin: Proclamation At ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Republic
IT 04/18/06
Opin: Panzer Cardinal Is Dead; Long Live The Pope
IT 04/18/06
Opin: Neglect Of O'Connell Tells A Tale
IT 04/18/06
UN Members To See How Irish Children Are Treated
IM 04/18/06
Naked Woman Protests Arrival Of Belfast Circuses
DI 04/17/06
Call For Common Road Signage For Whole Of Ireland

DI 04/17/06
RIC Man Was One Of The First Victims Of 1916
DI 04/17/06
Lawyer Enters Shannon Airport Debate
IT 04/17/06
Putting Flesh On The Facts
IT 04/17/06
Are We All Part Of Seven Big Happy Families?


Security Low Key As Parades Pass

Thousands of people have attended Apprentice Boys parades
across Northern Ireland.

The largest was in Ballymena, County Antrim, on Monday in
which as many as 5,000 people took part.

Earlier, in Belfast, there was low-key security as parades
passed through contentious areas without incident.

At Ardoyne shops in north Belfast, about 100 nationalists
held a protest. Parades Commission, Roger Poole, was
present to monitor the situation.

"I thought it was a very dignified parade and a very
dignified protest, that bodes well for the future," Mr
Poole said.

"People are talking to us, I hope that we can get to a
point where they are talking to one another as well. In
all, it was a very good day."

The government-appointed Parades Commission was set up in
1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades
should be restricted.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/17 17:11:42 GMT


Gang Involved In Stabbing Take Part In Apprentice Boys Parade

For Immediate Release: 17/04/2006

Sinn Féin have voiced their concern after members of the
sectarian gang involved in the stabbing of a young Catholic
in Ballymena at the weekend were spotted participating in
the Apprentice Boys parade in Ballymena today.

Ballymena Councillor Monica Digney said:

“I have had a number of complaints from local people about
members of the gang involved in the stabbing attack at the
weekend were literally ‘dancing’ past locals standing at
the bottom of Market Road whilst participating in the
Apprentice Boys Parade today.

“The PSNI again seemed to turn a blind eye to loyalists
drinking on the streets, something that seems to be a
regular thing that occurs when loyalist parades are passing
through the north of the town.”

North Antrim Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay, who was
acting as an observer at the parade, said that the parade
was ‘awash with paramilitary paraphernalia.’

“We have noted at least 13 bands who were carrying loyalist
paramilitary flags as well as many others who played ‘The
Sash’ continuously past Catholic houses and the All Saints
Church. One band even had a full bannerette dedicated to
Noel Kinner, a UVF member who was convicted for killing a
Catholic in Belfast.

“The question must be asked why the parade organisers
thought it appropriate to include bands with strong links
to loyalist paramilitaries in a parade that was going to
march past nationalist homes. Given the evidence on display
it is clear that the DUP’s excuse that these bands are
referring to the ‘UVF of 1916’ does not hold any
credibility with nationalist residents in this town.”


Adams Recalls Sacrifices


The Irish government “stood back and let the hunger
strikers and their families down” in 1981, Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams told yesterday’s Easter Rising
commemoration in Belfast.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the H-Block protest at
the republican plot where hunger strikers Bobby Sands, Joe
McDonnell and Kieran Doherty are buried, the West Belfast
MP said: “The British government cruelly and cynically
allowed ten of our comrades to die.

“The Irish government of the day stood back and let the
hunger strikers and their families down, safe in the
knowledge that republicans at that time had

neither the political strength nor organisation to stop
them,” he said.

“This is a lesson which we all must learn from. The women
in Armagh and the men in the H-Blocks were extraordinary
people who faced up to repression and resisted it in the
only way they could.

“Their stand, their determination to assert their rights
and the rights of the Irish people continue to inspire us,
and we owe them and their families a massive and continuing

Mr Adams called on republicans to “tell a new generation of
Irish republicans the story of 1981 alongside the history
of 1916”.

And he called on republicans to strive to unite orange and

“Irish republicans believe in an independent and united
Ireland. Unionists have a different opinion. Let’s talk
about these matters. And let us begin by reassuring
unionists that we are not in the business of coercing them
into a united Ireland. Instead as we seek to build a shared
space in which we can move forward we all must appreciate
that, as some northern Protestants have said to me, ‘the
wise man builds his house upon the rock’. In this case that
means a meaningful, working partnership between
nationalists and republicans, unionists and loyalists.

“I believe there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the
historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green
in unity and justice and on the basis of equality.”

Mr Adams had special words of praise for Charles Monaghan,
a Short Strand republican who died in Easter Week 1916 as
he was making his way to Kerry to bring in arms for the

The IRA volunteer will be honoured in his native Short
Strand next Sunday.

Mr Adams welcomed the reinstatement of the 1916
commemoration in Dublin.

“Let us not forget that successive governments didnít just
abandon this event, they also banned other commemorations,”
he added.

Several thousand people attended the main National Graves
Association commemoration but there were ceremonies
yesterday also by Republican Sinn FÈin, the Workers Party
and the Irish Republican Socialist party.

The Official Republican Movement commemoration will take
place at Milltown Cemetery today.


Officer In Sick Video Climb-Down

Mother of victim wants answers

By Connla Young

A defence firm owned by former British army officer Tim
Spicer has forced a internet website to remove video
footage of company contractors firing live rounds at
civilian vehicles in Iraq.

Aegis Defence Services obtained an interim injunction
forcing former contractor Rod Stoner to remove several
clips of film from a website operated by him.

Tim Spicer came to prominence in 1992 when two soldiers
under his command, Scots Guardsmen Mark Wright and James
Fisher, shot north Belfast teenager Peter McBride in the
back just yards from his New Lodge home.

Since then, the former British army officer has peddled a
discredited version of events in relation to the incident
which resulted in both Wright and Fisher being convicted
for murder.

Spicer’s company, Aegis Defence Services, which holds a
£169 million (€240 million) security contract in Iraq
granted by the United States Department of Defence is
currently under investigation after claims that its
contractors targeted civilians in the conflict-torn

Earlier this week, Daily Ireland revealed that Peter
McBride’s mother Jean will meet US special envoy to Ireland
Mitchell Reiss next month to discuss the Aegis Defence
Services allegations.

Tim Spicer has repeatedly refused to meet Jean McBride
since her son was gunned down almost 14 years ago.

Allegations of civilian targeting by Aegis contractors
emerged last year after a ‘trophy video’ was posted on the

The video shows a number of civilian vehicles being
targeted by gunmen.

On one video, a Scots accent can be heard while an Elvis
Presley song is blasted out in the background.

When the video emerged, Aegis claimed that there was no
evidence to link any of their contractors to it.

However, last month the company claimed Mr Stoner’s
internet site was in breach of copyright because the
original footage was captured by an Aegis contractor.

Mr Stoner has admitted to being in the vehicle from which
the shots were fired at what appeared to be Iraqi

At the end of last week Aegis succeeded in closing Rod
Stoner’s site down.

However, in a bizarre U-turn, a barrister for the company
told a High Court judge that the case was not about the
‘trophy video’.

Legal representatives for the firm claimed that Mr Stoner’s
site was putting the lives of Aegis employees in danger and
he was instructed by the court not to post details of
Aegis’ work in Iraq.


Parties Clash Over Checkpoint Killing

By Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Sharp exchanges between SDLP and DUP as 23-year-old man
shot dead by police is named

The man shot dead by the Police Service of Northern Ireland
(PSNI) at a vehicle checkpoint in Co Down on Sunday morning
has been named.

He was Stephen Craig Colwell (23) with an address at
Cullybackey, a village outside Ballymena, Co Antrim. His
parents are understood to live in a loyalist enclave of
west Belfast.

Police opened fire on the car as it approached a checkpoint
on Church Street which had been set up following a report
the car was stolen.

The two women and three men who were in the silver-coloured
BMW car along with Mr Colwell were released yesterday on
bail after being questioned.

The office of the Police Ombudsman is continuing its
investigation. A team of 15 detectives under chief
investigator Justice Felice is working on a report expected
to take some months.

The PSNI officer involved in the shooting is said to be
traumatised. He has not been suspended by Chief Constable
Sir Hugh Orde, but is understood not to be on duty at

The killing has led to sharp exchanges between the SDL,P
which has questioned the level of force deployed against
the stolen car, and the DUP, which criticised "a rush to
judgment" by nationalists.

South Down MP Eddie McGrady referred to a theory which
suggests a second car was involved, probably in pursuit of
the silver BMW. "This is the second such incident in a
relatively short period in which firearms were used in a
car pursuit.

"One would have to examine the rationale behind such use of
potentially lethal force and the policy surrounding it.
Obviously, a full inquiry is required immediately, and the
officers involved should be relieved of their duties
pending clarification of the incident and the code of
conduct pertaining to use of lethal weapons," he said.

Margaret Ritchie, his colleague and South Down Assembly
member, asked publicly why a "stinger", a spiked device
drawn across the road to disable cars, was not used by
police and why the car's occupants were not apprehended by
less lethal means. She called for "a speedy and swift
investigation - not one dragged out over two or three

However, DUP Assembly member Jim Wells criticised the SDLP,
claiming it had rushed to judgment and "not stood by the

He said: "Police obviously had to make a split-second
decision based on the information they had. As a result of
that, shots were fired and a man has died. We must wait now
until the investigation is completed."

Ms Ritchie criticised Mr Wells's call for the ombudsman's
team to be left to complete its inquiries, claiming there
wouldn't be a Police Ombudsman were it not for the SDLP.

© The Irish Times


Event ‘Rehearsal For Centenary’

by David Lynch

The executed rebels of 1916 would be ‘horrified’ to see how
the Irish language was being marginalised, one political
leader said at the Easter Rising commemoration in Dublin

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent hailed the parade in the
capital as a symbol of a modern Ireland.

However, he added: “The executed rebels would be horrified
to see how the Irish language is being marginalised within
society today.

“The idealism of the 1916 leaders was as much to do with
Ireland’s integrity and identity as well as its

Opposition party leaders were in the official viewing stand
on O’Connell Street. They watched the military parade along
with an estimated crowd of at least 100,000 people who
stood along the parade route.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds congratulated the event’s

“It was high time that we had a parade like this. Too much
time had elapsed. It was fantastic for the Defence Forces
and the public, and I hope that it continues on an annual
basis,” he said.

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte said: “It was a splendid
opportunity for the Defence Forces, the navy and the air
corps to put their capabilities on display.

“It will take more time to consider the wider implications
of today’s event, as we drift towards the centenary
celebrations of the 1916 Rising in ten years.”

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said: “The commemorations were
a great showcase for the Defence Forces. “I think it was a
great measure of the consensus of opinion that this was a
great success. “I understand that there was 120,000 here
today so it’s a great celebration to see young and old
together for the spectacle and from the historical aspect.”


Government Undecided About How To Mark 1916 Next Year


The Government has not decided if an Easter Rising military
parade will be held in Dublin's city centre next year. The
commemoration is likely to be on a significantly smaller
scale, writes Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

A Government spokesman said last evening: "Following the
success of the event it is intended that there will be an
annual commemoration, the format and scale of which is
something which we will reflect upon.

"In addition, we will begin to think about and plan for the
centenary, which will be a more significant and broader

The carefully chosen words leave the Government with the
option of holding an annual military parade, or an expanded
commemoration at Arbour Hill, where 14 of the 16 executed
Easter Rising leaders are buried.

Last October Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, speaking at the Fianna
Fáil ardfheis in Killarney, Co Kerry, said the annual
parade, discontinued when the Northern Troubles began,
would be held every year.

Though pleased with the turnout for Sunday's march, there
is some doubt that a military parade on its own would be
enough to attract significant crowds into Dublin city
centre every year.

The turnout issue would be particularly acute in 2008, when
Easter Sunday occurs on March 23rd, just one week after
hundreds of thousands of people will attend the annual St
Patrick's Day parade.

Green Party TD Éamon Ryan, a member of the all-party
committee established to co-ordinate plans for celebrating
the Rising's centenary in a decade's time, expressed doubts
that a repeat of Sunday's parade would succeed.

"There was an interesting 'retro' feel to it, but that will
fade away very quickly. It seems that the idea is going to
be put on the shelf," the Dublin South TD said.

The all-party committee, which has met only once since the
Government set it up, had not, he said, been consulted
about the details of Sunday's march: "We briefly reviewed
the plans for this year."

Fine Gael TD Billy Timmins, who expressed pleasure at the
success of Sunday's march, said he was unsure if the
Defence Forces could participate on a large scale annually,
given the length of time needed for training.

He sharply criticised Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and
Martin McGuinness for failing to take seats on the
O'Connell Street reviewing stand.

The Afri (Action from Ireland) group organised an
alternative 1916 parade outside the GPO in Dublin
yesterday, and said the military parade was an
inappropriate way to mark the 90th anniversary of the

The group said its event, titled a "Show of Strength",
focused on those abandoned by the Government on trolleys in
hospital corridors.

© The Irish Times


1916 Ideals Undermined In Schools, Says INTO Leader

By Seán Flynn, Education Editor

The aspirations of the 1916 leaders are being undermined in
our education system, INTO president Sheila Nunan said last

She said many parents had no choice but to send their child
to a school of a given denomination that did not reflect
their beliefs.

She also strongly defended the rights of gay and lesbian
teachers and launched a new campaign for smaller class

Opening the Irish National Teacher's Union annual
conference in Killarney, she said many children, the
inheritors of the 1916 legacy, were still coming to school
hungry, cold, undernourished and inadequately dressed.

On religious liberties, she said the union strongly
supported the right of all parents to enrol their child in
a school that reflected their beliefs.

"Today, many parents have little choice but to send their
children to a school that is not of their beliefs. Their
religious liberties and those of their children are not

"Providing for a child to opt out of a religion lesson
attended by the majority of his or her peers, even where
this can be arranged, does not pass the test."

Ms Nunan also criticised the Employment Equality Act 1998
which, she said gave boards of management "a licence to
discriminate against gay and lesbian teachers".

"No other group has to lie like this to make a living," she

The INTO was also calling for a national debate on the
teaching of Irish.

She said echoes of a failed attitude to the language could
be found in the Irish exam for primary teachers "which puts
knowledge of seventeenth century Irish verse before
professional classroom competency".

Reading and writing in Irish was being introduced far too
early in most primary schools. "The initial enthusiasm for
the language withers and dies for both parents and pupils
when the books, spelling and grammar appear on the

She said there was a need for "radical curricular reform"
with only spoken Irish in primary schools "or at least
until the pupils reach fifth or sixth class".

"Let's do without textbooks, teach grammar through everyday
usage and curb the enthusiasm to correct every single
spelling mistake for that time. To achieve this there must
be a national language policy," she said.

Ms Nunan said the campaign for smaller class sizes would be
taken to every school.

Urgent action was also needed to help disadvantaged
children who were alienated from a very young age.

"Sadly, many teachers working in the area of educational
disadvantage see this alienation and can already write a
script that does not have a happy ending for their pupils.
This should not be a legacy of a now wealthy nation."

© The Irish Times


March Of The Irish Citizen Army Re-Enacted


The Irish Citizen Army led by James Connolly marched again
from Liberty Hall to the GPO in Dublin yesterday, writes
Christine Newman

Resplendent in uniform were some of the main figures of the
1916 Rising.

Comdt Michael Mallin was in reality Tony Gregory, who years
ago broke with tradition and refused to wear a tie in the
Dáil, but yesterday dressed in full military uniform,
quipping that it was a little tight around the collar.
Countess Markievicz was Liz McManus, Labour TD, looking
commanding in uniform and hat with black cockerel feathers.
Joe Costello, her party colleague, was dressed as an
ordinary soldier complete with gun.

The re-enactment of the Irish Citizen Army march to Liberty
Hall and then to the GPO began yesterday in the north inner
city, where, as in 1916, local men and women participated.

At Liberty Hall, Connolly, played by actor Vincent McCabe,
gave a rousing speech to cheers from the crowd, which
became louder as the flag of the Republic was raised.

A large banner recalled: "We serve neither king nor kaiser,
but Ireland."

A crowd of about 200 people had gathered by this time and
were led by a piper down Abbey Street to the GPO.

Once in O'Connell Street, however, there was a last-minute
change of plan. Republican Sinn Féin had taken up position
in front of the GPO and was holding its own ceremony
complete with flags and speeches.

Not to be thwarted, the Irish Citizen Army reassembled at
the foot of Jim Larkin's statue, where the Proclamation was
read by Dr Kathleen Lynn, played by actress Ruth McCabe.

The re-enactment was organised by the City Pavement
Pageants Collective. Founder member Brian Treacy has a
personal link with the Rising.

"On February 15th, 1950, Kathleen Lynn delivered me and now
I have her flag," he said proudly as he carried the Plough
and Stars at the head of the march.

Michael Mallin, aka Tony Gregory, said: "This north inner
city area had a very important part to play in the Rising
and there are families still here who had grandparents or
great-grandparents who were in the Citizen Army."

Others present included Cllr Mick Rafferty and Séamus
Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ. Not all who took part
were locals. Jorge Araujo, from Portugal, who has worked in
Dublin for six months, said: "I heard about the march and
wanted to learn a little about the history."

© The Irish Times


Images Of Ireland’s Past At Photography Exhibit

Snapshots of life by acclaimed set of international

Senan Hogan

Evocative images of the last 60 years in Ireland will go
on display next week at a major exhibition by the Magnum
group of international photographers.

Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) will feature 150
photographs taken by some of Magnum’s best-known
photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold
and Elliott Erwitt.

A spokesman for worldwide photographic co-operative said:
“The exhibition presents an evocative visual history of
Ireland, north and south, with particular emphasis on rural
life in the 1950s and 1960s and the Troubles of the 1970s
and 1980s.

“Also featured will be the rapidly-growing confidence and
prosperity of the past decade and, throughout, the hidden
lives of ordinary Irish men and women.”

The exhibition will be officially opened by the 2005
Booker-winning novelist John Banville on Tuesday and will
run for two month until June 18.

Magnum Ireland is curated by Val Williams, Professor of
Photography at the London College of Communications, and
Brigitte Lardinois, cultural director at Magnum Photos,

The exhibition is organised by the Imma in conjunction with
Magnum Photos, London.

An illustrated book, Magnum Ireland, accompanies the
exhibition and includes essays by John Banville, Anthony
Cronin, Nuala O’Faolain, Eamonn McCann, Fintan O’Toole,
Colm Toibin and Anne Enright.

Photographs on show include a 1950s race meeting in
Thurles, Co Tipperary and the Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co
Kerry, workers in Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard and
several photographs of Dublin.

Images from the 1960s show visitors to the Dublin Horse
Show and the eagerly-anticipated arrival of Duffy’s Circus
and the annual Twelfth celebrations in the North.

Photographs from the 1970s depict the streets of Belfast
and Derry thronged with British soldiers as public
demonstrations and funeral processions continue around

Also striking are pictures of terrified funeral-goers
fleeing Michael Stone’s attack in Milltown cemetery in

Images from the 1990s show burnt-out cars in Darndale,
Dublin, an immaculately-dressed young women in a gospel
hall in the North and a fashion shoot in Connemara.

Stark photographs from Dublin’s Trinity Ball and a pristine
Maze prison feature from the last decade.

Founded in 1947, Magnum Photos is a world-renowned
photographic co-operative owned by its photographer
members, who chronicle and interpret world’s peoples,
events, issues and personalities.

Through its four editorial offices in New York, London,
Paris and Tokyo, and a network of 15 sub-agents, it
provides photographs to the press, television, publishers,
the advertising industry, galleries and museums across the
world. Admission to the exhibition is free to the public.


Opin:McDowell's Hitlerian Phrasing On Day Of Fascist Spectacle

National Anti-War Other Press Monday April 17, 2006
19:49 by R. Isible

Irish Independent: One State, one Army and one Oglaigh na
hEireann . . .

The "Political Editor" of the Irish Independent has written
an unsigned, bylineless, provo-bashing article which
adulates the display of centralised military power. It is
amusing that this display, which aims to project a hyper-
nationalist sensibility claimed to be residing solely in
FF, has been put on by a government that has surrendered
national sovereign to a foreign power and allows the
national territory of Ireland to be abused in an illegal
war. Even more amusing is the apparent approval with which
the "Minister for Justice" Michael McDowell is quoted:

"We have to remember that there is one State, one Army, one

No wonder the "Political Editor" was too ashamed to put his
name on it!

Full article quoted below for those that don't want to log
onto the website of William Martin Murphy's republican
bashing rag:

(c) Irish Independent Apr 17th 2006

One State, one Army and one Oglaigh na hEireann . . .

Political EditorWHEN Oglaigh na hEireann marched down
O'Connell Street yesterday, there was no doubting who they
are or who they represent.

The name, which has been sullied through its use by the
Provisional movement throughout the Northern Troubles, has
been well and truly reclaimed.

The Army's Constitutional chief, President Mary McAleese,
stood proudly alongside Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as the
people cheered the military parade.

Mr Ahern described the Army last week as "the one and only
Oglaigh na hEireann" and the "true descendants" of the men
of 1916.

That, in itself, was more than a sideswipe at the
Provisional movement which, in other circumstances, might
have attempted to use the occasion as a public show of

They had effectively usurped ownership of Easter
commemorations for some years and, if the State had not
stepped in to deny that to them this time, would surely
have seized the opportunity again.

Instead, they were left as bystanders on the sidelines
yesterday as the State took the initiative in remembering
the events of 1916.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell pointedly referred to the
Oglaigh na hEireann tag when he said after the parade: "We
have one Oglaigh na hEireann. The Defence Forces are our
Defence Forces and they are the successors to the
volunteers. We have to remember that there is one State,
one Army, one Constitution."

When an event of the nature of yesterday's was first
mooted, many people wondered at the wisdom of the move.

One of the primary aims undoubtedly was to show the world
once and for all that there is only one authorised Army

The IRA may have announced its historic move on
decommissioning and committed itself to peaceful means in
its July statement last year. But Mr Ahern was not about to
cede any ground to Sinn Fein in laying claim to the direct
lineage from the men of 1916. That was especially so as the
next General Election approaches and the threat from Sinn
Fein to Fianna Fail seats looms large. Sinn Fein was
invited to participate in the all-party committee set up to
make arrangements for the celebration of the Easter Rising
centenary in a decade's time. It welcomed that and said it
would do so.

The party had its own commemoration ceremony on a much
smaller scale in Dublin on Saturday, with its president
Gerry Adams calling for a national coalition for Irish

And he welcomed the Taoiseach's call for a return to the
core values of Irish republicanism. But Sinn Fein was only
a bit part player in yesterday's events, though prominent
party figures such as Pat Doherty, Arthur Morgan and
Bairbre de Bruin were in attendance.

The idea of restoring the Easter Parade in its military
display form was the brainchild of Attorney General Rory

Mr Ahern ran with it and announced it to the Fianna Fail
Ard-Fheis in Killarney last autumn, saying it was designed
to allow people in this State to "proclaim our

He said they would "recognise and praise the vision of the
volunteers of 1916 and indeed the War of Independence" and
would show that "our Defence Forces are the true successors
of the volunteers."

The Irish people, he said, needed to reclaim the spirit of
1916, "which is not the property of those who have abused
and debased the title of republicanism".

He said: "We want to commemorate the greatest generation we
have ever produced. We want to celebrate the freedom we
achieved. And we want more publicly to recognise those who
gave us the opportunity to acquire and develop that

"This is our State's inheritance. We must protect it from
those who will abuse it and from the revisionists who would
seek to denigrate it," the Taoiseach said. Those words were
spoken in October but Mr Ahern will be happy to have
achieved most of the objectives he set himself on that


Opin: All Changed, Changed Utterly


It is a long way indeed from the insurgents’ besieged
headquarters in Dublin’s General Post Office of Easter 1916
to the splendid display of national self-confidence and
patriotism that adorned O’Connell Street at Easter 2006.

Some might say it is a further journey still from 1976
when, on the 60th anniversary of the Rising, the Irish
government banned the Easter parade past the GPO to today’s
staging post, where the same government hung out its
brightest colours for men and women it had all but
forgotten for the past three decades and more.

There is enough begrudgery in ould Ireland without denying
the right (if not the duty) of a sovereign Irish government
to honour the heroes of 1916 as it did so admirably
yesterday in Dublin.

Indeed, by signalling an end to the official silence that
has surrounded the Easter Rising since the North erupted in
warfare in the late ’60s, both Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and
President Mary McAleese have done a great service to the
Irish people.

The heavy hand of politics can be seen in the Taoiseach’s
decision to militarise the Easter Rising commemoration and
stress the unbroken lineage between the Óglaigh na hÉireann
that are the Irish Defence Forces and the volunteers of
Easter week 1916. In many ways, that decision — born out of
the need to outrepublicanise Sinn Féin — limited the
celebratory nature of the Dublin commemoration. While that
is to be regretted, it probably ensured that the event
could go ahead without any serious political opposition.

Perhaps next year — and who really believes that An
Taoiseach will call an election before he gets the
opportunity to parade his patriotic bona fides before the
populace at Easter 2007? — the official Rising
commemoration will address the political, cultural and
literary aspects of the rebellion.

After all, was any revolution ever led by so many poet-

The ghost at the feast, of course, was the Northern
nationalist. Government ministers might well insist that
the Irish Defence Forces were born out of the rubble of the
GPO, but what army, then, did Northern nationalism inherit?

When the Taoiseach yesterday paid tribute to the 1916
leaders for laying the foundations of “an independent
Ireland”, wasn’t he forgetting the nationalists of the Six
Counties, who were the very currency used to buy the
freedom of what was then the Free State and what is now the
Republic of Ireland?

Let all these issues be explored in the vibrant debate now
opening up, courtesy of the peace process, over Ireland’s
long march to freedom.

In this anniversary year, in particular, let the pundits
debate the unbroken line between the heroes of 1916 —
surrounded, outgunned and excoriated by the political and
media leaders of their day — and the H-block heroes of
1981, surrounded, outgunned and excoricated by the
political and media leaders of their day.


Viewpoint: Proclamation At ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Republic


Ninety years ago this Easter an alliance of Irish
republican organisations and others, including elements of
the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, Sinn Féin,
the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the woman’s movement,
socialists, trade unionists, nationalists and Irish
language activists, rose up against British rule in Ireland
and declared a Republic.

Much of this occurred in Dublin but republicans also took
up arms elsewhere in the country, including the north.

Six days later, and with the centre of Dublin in ruins the
leaders of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic
ordered the surrender. In the weeks which followed 15 of
the leaders were executed, and four months after that Roger
Casement from this county was hanged in London.

The British hoped by the speed of their actions and the
scale of the executions that the flame of freedom would be
extinguished. They were wrong.

At his court martial Pádraig Pearse got it exactly right:

‘Believe that we, too, love freedom and desire it. To us it
is more desirable than anything in the world. If you strike
us down now, we shall rise again to renew the fight. You
cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the Irish
passion for freedom.’

In my view the vast majority of Irish people recognise
this. That is why the decision by the Irish government to
re-establish the state commemoration of 1916 is a popular

That is why the streets of Dublin were packed this morning.

That is why in every county on this island, and in the
United States and Canada and Australia, and in England and
other parts of the world, Irish republicans will gather to
celebrate and commemorate the men and women of 1916 and of
all the generations since then.

I welcome the reinstatement of the government’s
commemoration of 1916. It should never have been abandoned
in the first place.

And let us not forget that successive governments didn’t
just abandon this event, they also banned other

On one shameful occasion, the daughter of James Connolly,
Nora Connolly O’Brien, by then an old woman, was arrested
for daring to do what Irish republicans have never failed
to do - to honour our patriot dead.

All of us are proud to be part of that struggle. It is a
struggle which continues.There is now a need for a great
national effort to bring it to a conclusion. The Irish
government should be part of that effort. The Taoiseach has
called for a return to the core values of Irish

I welcome that call.

The men and women of 1916 were very definite about the type
of Republic they wanted to create.

The Proclamation makes that clear.

The Proclamation

It is the heart and soul of Irish republicanism today. But
in truth The Proclamation is also unfinished business. It
is unfinished business which the vast majority of the Irish
people want to see brought to completion.

Are there any real doubts about where Tom Clarke, Seán Mac
Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh; Pádraig Pearse; Ceannt,
Connolly or Joseph Plunkett, would stand on the great
issues of our time?

The Proclamation is about self-determination and democracy.
Does anyone think that the men and women of 1916 would
settle for a partitioned Ireland?

They fought for and I quote; “A permanent National
Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland
and elected by the suffrage of all her men and women.”

Does anyone believe that they would block northern
representatives being accorded speaking rights in the Dáil?

Does anyone believe that they would settle for anything
less than an active engagement with the British government
and unionism to promote and seek support for reunification?


A central part of the work of Irish republicans in the time
ahead is to engage with unionists, to talk to, debate with,
but ultimately to seek to persuade unionists that their
future and that of their children, lies with the rest of us
on this island.

The fact is that no British politician has ever governed in
any part of Ireland in the interests of nationalists and
republicans and unionists.

They have always governed and exercised power in British
interests. And they have used and exploited and deepened
the divisions and fears of people to advance British

The result has been exclusion, conflict, division,
inequality and poverty.

Let’s talk about these matters. And let us begin by
reassuring unionists that we are not in the business of
coercing them into a united Ireland.

Instead as we seek to build a shared space in which we can
move forward we all must appreciate that, as some northern
protestants have said to me, ‘the wise man builds his house
upon the rock’.

In this case that means a meaningful, working partnership
between nationalists and republicans, unionists and

I believe the opportunity to do that now exists.

I believe there is a huge opportunity to fulfil the
historic destiny of our people by uniting orange and green
in unity and justice and on the basis of equality.

The Peace Process

And it exists in no small measure because of the courage
and wisdom of IRA Volunteers.

The announcement by the Irish Republican Army on 28 July to
formally end its armed campaign was a historic development.

I want to pay tribute to the Volunteers of the IRA for
taking this courageous and unprecedented step in order to
advance the cause of peace with justice in Ireland.

Despite the profound difficulties of all this for many
republicans, the IRA has provided a unique opportunity to
significantly advance the peace process and to open up a
new era in politics and relationships on this island and
between Ireland and Britain.It is vital that this
opportunity is availed of and the peace process
advanced.This must include the release of all republican
prisoners and an end to the ongoing discrimination against
republican ex-prisoners.

The two governments are now faced with a stark choice. Are
they going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement or are
they going to continue to pander to rejectionist unionism?

The answer to that question will become clear in the time

The governments have said that they will lift the
suspension of the Assembly on May 15th. Sinn Féin will be
in Stormont that day. We will be there for one reason and
one reason only - the election of a government in line with
the Good Friday Agreement.

This also has to be the focus of the Irish and British

Ian Paisley has a decision to make. He has failed in his
campaign to smash Sinn Féin. The only way Ian Paisley will
exercise political power is in an Executive with Sinn Féin.
I do not say that to be triumphalist in any way. I say that
because that is the reality which faces him today.

Building unity - building peace

As we gather today to remember the momentous events of
Easter week 90 years ago, we should also reflect on those
long and difficult months 25 years ago when a British
government cruelly and cynically allowed ten of our
comrades to die on hunger strike.

The Irish government of the day stood back and let the
hunger strikers and their families down, safe in the
knowledge that republicans at that time had neither the
political strength nor organisation to stop them.

That is a lesson which we all must learn from.

The women in Armagh and the men in the H Blocks were
extraordinary people who faced up to repression and
resisted it in the only way they could.

Their stand, their determination to assert their rights and
the rights of the Irish people continue to inspire us, and
we owe them and their families a massive and continuing

It is vitally important that all of us use this anniversary
year to tell a new generation of Irish republicans the
story of 1981 alongside the history of 1916.

We are right to be proud of the sacrifices of all our
patriot dead. And we are determined to make the
Proclamation a reality.

This is an edited version of Mr Adams’ speech because of
reasons of space.


Opin: Panzer Cardinal Is Dead; Long Live The Pope


After a year in office, Pope Benedict has proved a better
listener than many expected, writes Fr Michael Collins

In his first encyclical, God is Love, Pope Benedict focused
on Christian charity. It was a thoughtful and gentle
meditation on the meaning of what constitutes the essence
of Christian life and the call of Christians to care for
those in need. Few could find anything to criticise in it.
It seemed a world away from his previous image of the
Panzer Cardinal.

Apart from donning ruby red Renaissance-style caps and
capes, trimmed with ermine, Pope Benedict has kept a rather
low profile. The pontiff, who celebrates the first
anniversary of his election tomorrow, has largely eluded
the imagination of the masses.

When he came to office one year ago many gasped in
disappointment, while others could not contain their glee.
There was something of a caricature that Joseph Ratzinger
was a figure of repression. After 23 years at the nub of
controversy in the Vatican, his reputation seemed rather
tarnished. Now, 12 months later, can we see if it was

After John Paul's pontificate, which spanned more than
quarter of a century, Benedict found himself with the
delicate task of stepping into the Polish shoes and making
his own contribution to the bishopric of Rome. Benedict was
aware that he lacked much of the charisma of John Paul and
came to the papacy an elderly man. At 78, he was already 20
years older than when Karol Wojtyla was elected to the
papacy. Recognised pre-eminently as a theologian, his
pastoral experience had been negligible. Given his age and
frailty, he is still discovering a way of being an
effective pastor. In the early months of his pontificate,
the Bavarian Pope quietly established himself not as John
Paul II's successor but as the successor of Peter, the
265th bishop of Rome.

After a somewhat uncertain start, Benedict developed a
personal rapport with the crowds who continued to flock to
Rome. Although retiring by nature, Benedict found himself
warming to the crowds as they warmed to him.

A lifetime of lecturing and his easy style of speaking
stood him in good stead. In the opinion of some people, his
writings also were more direct and engaging than his

His homilies were miniature gems of theology. He succeeds
in saying a great deal in a short space. Benedict evidently
prioritises his time. Private papal audiences have been cut
by 70 per cent from John Paul's pontificate. He does he not
invite people to his early morning Mass as his predecessor

Benedict's ability and willingness to speak off the cuff
ensure that his remarks have a distinctive spontaneity. In
meetings with priests in July of last year and March of
this year, he acknowledged the needs of divorced people,
the role of women in the church's higher echelons of
administration, and the crisis of vocations. He also has
decided to engage the College of Cardinals in regular
meetings, something similar to a senate. Many have noted
how well he listens. That does not necessarily mean that he
implements all suggestions, but it does indicate a
surprising receptivity.

As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, Ratzinger's main work was theological. As pope, his
concerns are now much wider. There are enormous problems on
the horizon for the Catholic Church. Shrinking
congregations in Europe, clerical sex abuse, declining
vocations and increasing secularisation are only some of
the issues he must urgently tackle. His style has been
remarkably unconfrontational.

He must also engage with other faiths and other Christian
denominations. Already Benedict has taken a robust approach
to Islam, insisting that in Muslim countries governments
take steps to protect Christians who are being actively
persecuted. Whether he has the skills necessary to tackle
these problems remains to be seen.

Given his age, Benedict cannot expect a lengthy
pontificate. He has spent the past year politely batting
off requests to visit here, there and everywhere. He has
given a strong indication that he will visit Istanbul on
November 30th. The purpose of the visit will be to
strengthen ties with the Orthodox Churches, which he
greatly respects.

He also intends to visit the Holy Land. He is the second
pope in history to visit a synagogue.

However, his reluctance to travel will have an interesting
consequence. If Benedict keeps his visits to a minimum,
they will be more effective and will give the local church
the chance to "breathe" and develop its proper autonomy.

Michael Collins, a priest of the archdiocese of Dublin, is
the author of Benedict XVI Successor of Peter

© The Irish Times


Opin: Neglect Of O'Connell Tells A Tale

By Fintan O'Toole

You remember, of course, the huge national celebrations in
1997 of the 150th anniversary of the death of the greatest
leader in modern Irish history, Daniel O'Connell., writes
Fintan O'Toole.

Who could forget the marching bands, the flying flags, the
cheering crowds, the thrilling fly-past? It is hard,
indeed, to forget what didn't happen. And the big
commemorations of O'Connell have a way of not happening.
The bicentenary, in 1975, of his birth went almost
unnoticed, the Cosgrave government largely accepting the
advice of the Civil Service (revealed in recently released
papers) that it should be marked "at most" by the issue of
a commemorative stamp and "some local function at [ his
ancestral home] Derrynane with low-key participation by the
State". In 1997, the 150th anniversary of his death was
just as low-key.

This is not just a matter of forgetfulness. O'Connell's
place within Irish history has been deliberately and
systematically downgraded. If this seems over the top,
consider the Government's reluctance to purchase
O'Connell's birthplace, Carhan House, near Cahirciveen.
When it came on the market in the late 1990s, Síle de
Valera, then Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,
decided that the State would not pay any more than £40,000
for it. This shocked even her colleague John O'Donoghue,
then minister for justice, who wrote to her expressing his
dismay: "Seriously, I have to say that as the father of
Irish democracy, O'Connell merits the place of his birth
being secured for the future generations. Would the
Americans leave George Washington's birthplace to languish
like this even if it were in ruins?" Likewise, the Daniel
O'Connell Memorial Church in Cahirciveen, widely reported
as the only Catholic church in the world to be named after
a lay person, is in a dire state, and it has been left to a
local committee to try to raise the money to restore it.

To understand this neglect, you need only recall John
O'Donoghue's phrase in that letter to Síle de Valera: "the
father of Irish democracy". Big mistake, John. Accurate, of
course, but a big mistake nonetheless. Yes, O'Connell is
not just the father of Irish democracy, but arguably the
father of mass democracy, full stop. In his campaigns for
Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Act of Union,
he pioneered the notion of a non-violent mass political
movement in which even the poor could become actors in
their own destiny. His methods spread, through Irish
emigration, to the Chartists in England and the Democratic
Party in the US. These methods, and his linking of Irish
Catholic demands to the abolition of slavery and the
emancipation of the Jews, made him a figure of global

A contemporary French observer, Gustave de Beaumont (whose
1839 book Ireland has just been reissued by Harvard
University Press), pointed to O'Connell as a new historical
phenomenon, a man who exercised immense political power by
moral force alone: "Is not the power of O'Connell one of
the most extraordinary that can be conceived? Here is a man
who exercises a sort of dictatorship over seven millions;
he directs the affairs of his country almost alone; he
gives advice which is obeyed as a command, and this man has
never been invested with any civil authority or military
power. I do not know if, in the history of nations, a
single example of such a destiny could be found: examine,
from Caesar to Napoleon, the men who have ruled over
nations by their genius or their virtue, how many will you
find who, to establish their power, did not first possess
the majesty of civil station or the glory of arms?"

But a child can't have two fathers, and John O'Donoghue's
acknowledgement of O'Connell's paternity of Irish democracy
is an awkward family secret. The official line is that
Irish democracy, in the Taoiseach's words, "all started in
the leadership of 1916". This kind of history is a zero-sum
game. If the great non-violent mass democracy that
O'Connell called into being is acknowledged, then 1916 is
diminished. If 1916 is to be acknowledged, then O'Connell
must be disregarded. Commemoration becomes a match with
winners and losers. Our relationship with history remains
as neurotic as it ever was.

And it will remain so until we can imagine what we've still
never had: a republic of equals. The 1916 Rising was
motivated not by hope, but by despair at what its leaders
saw as the decrepit state of the Irish imagination. As
Harry Boland expressed it from prison after the Rising:
"Ireland had sunk so low that nothing but blood could save
her." The would-be revolutionaries saw themselves as Dr
Frankensteins, running a bolt of violent energy through an
inert body in the hope of bringing it to life. They did not
know that, as we have learned, such violence creates life
but also brings forth monsters.

But the question they pose for us is this: are we so
imaginatively dead that only violence can wake us up to the
possibility of a real republic? Or can we, like O'Connell,
imagine a people that asserts its dignity by seeking
collectively to shape its own history?

© The Irish Times


UN Members To See How Irish Children Are Treated

Two members of a powerful United Nations group are to visit
Ireland to examine how children are treated in the country,
it emerged tonight.

Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan said she was delighted the
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child members had
accepted her invitation before they are due to review the
government's record on children's issues.

Brent Parfitt and Lucy Smith, the Committee's Rapporteur
for Ireland, will arrive in Dublin tomorrow for a three-day
long visit.

"Since Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child in 1992, the Government has been obliged to
submit progress reports to the UN Committee on the Rights
of the Child outlining how the State is fulfilling its
commitments to children and young people, which it signed
up to almost 15 years ago," Ms Logan said.

"The State first reported to the UN Committee in 1998 and
this will happen again in September this year.

"As Ombudsman for Children, since April 2004 I have been
given statutory responsibility for monitoring how the State
treats children and young people.

"My office will be submitting an independent report to the
UN Committee on our experiences thus far. We look forward
to outlining these experiences to the Committee in Geneva
in June."

Ms Logan said she was pleased the committee members would
meet several groups of children and young people during
their trip to hear at first-hand their experiences of
growing up in Ireland today.

"As part of the visit the Committee members will also meet
with representatives from other human rights bodies and
some of the key organisations dedicated to promoting
children's rights issues," she said.

"I hope that the committee members find the visit
beneficial and will develop a good insight into children
and young people's experiences of growing up in Ireland

© The Irish Times/


Naked Woman-Chained And ‘Beaten’ Protests The Arrival Of Animal Act Circuses In Belfast

National Animal Rights Press Release Tuesday April 18,
2006 00:19 by Stephan Wymore - Animal Rights Action Network
(ARAN) arancampaigns at eircom dot net ARAN, Po Box 722,
Kildare, Ireland 085-1350648

ARAN Beauty Bares All, Including Truth Behind Circus’s
Phony Claims

For Immediate Release:
April 19, 2006
John Carmody 087-6275579 / 0787-6630722

Belfast – Wearing nothing but shackles and covered in
“scars” and “bruises” as a result of violent “beatings” an
everyday for animals in circuses, ARAN member Karolina
Kostrzewa will expose the arrival of animal act circuses
into Belfast. She will be joined by protesters holding a
banner that reads, “shackled, lonely, beaten,” while others
show undercover video footage of circuses touring Ireland
and Northern Ireland and others holding posters that read
‘Stop Circus Suffering’.

Date: Wednesday, 19 April
Time: 12.00 noon
Place: Front of City Hall, Belfast City Centre

In order to force wild animals to perform stressful and
often painful acts, trainers use metal bullhooks, whips,
muzzles and electric prods. These horribly cruel training
methods are commonly used in Irish circuses all over the
country. This is part of ARAN’s ongoing campaign around the
country to show the misguided public that, animals in
circuses have being taken from the wild at some stage in
their life for a lifetime of boredom, misery, cheap tricks
and cruelty. Animals in circuses really are not volunteers;
they are slaves, confined to their ‘beast’ wagons for some
23 hours a day with no room to exercise compared to that of
their homes in the wild. Animals in circuses regardless of
them being ‘born’ in the circus, still have the instincts
of their fellow companions in the wild, they like to roam
for miles, go hunting for food and vegetation and raise
their young. ARAN will also be distributing DVD’s of a
recent undercover investigation into circuses by Animal
Defenders International that show’s shocking cruelty,
neglect, abuse, beatings and horrid conditions.

"If it takes exposing some of my skin to expose the cruelty
that goes on behind the scenes at the circus, I’m happy to
do it," says Karolina. "I only have to spend a few minutes
in chains, while animals in circuses must endure a lifetime
of chains, cages, and beatings."

Broadcast-quality video footage and pictures of animals
abused in circuses is available. For more information,
please visit


Related Link:


Call For Common Road Signage For Whole Of Ireland


Former talk show host turned chairman of the Republic’s
National Safety Council, Gay Byrne, yesterday heard calls
for common road signs to tackle speeding on both sides of
the border.

The issue was raised by SDLP assembly members during talks
in Dublin with Gay Byrne and the chief executive of the new
council, Noel Brett.

The party’s regional development spokesperson Margaret
Ritchie, who was joined by Assembly colleagues PJ Bradley
and John Dallat, said the National Safety Council’s team
had expressed an interest in an all-island approach.

“It is clear that an all-Ireland approach with all-Ireland
standards and procedures is in the best interests of all
road users. For example, an integrated approach to road
signage and marking could help many people and tourists in
particular who cross the border regularly,” Ritchie said.

“At the moment motorists crossing the border get one set of
signs with speed limits measured in kilometres per hour and
another in miles per hour. Common problems require common
solutions and this is yet another example of how joint up
action between the North and South makes sense. The
National Safety Council are keenly aware of the need to
improve our road safety record not only in the South but
across the island,” the South Down MLA said.

As the Republic’s transport minister Martin Cullen brought
his road safety bill to the weekly cabinet meeting, the
delegation also met junior minister Pat ‘the Cope’

They raised a number of issues including the need for an
all-Ireland transport body and infrastructural issues such
as the Derry to Belfast rail line, the Castledawson to
Derry road and the construction of a narrow water bridge
linking the Kingdom of Mourne to the Cooley peninsula.

Penalties for traffic offences in the Republic are to be
doubled in a bid to stamp out dangerous driving, the
transport minister confirmed yesterday. The clampdown will
include random breath testing, a new court alternative of a
fixed fine and six months’ driving disqualification for
first-time drink-driving offenders as well as increased

Transport Minister Martin Cullen said the measures outlined
in the new road safety bill were necessary to reduce the
tragic loss of life on the roads.


RIC Man Was One Of The First Victims Of 1916

The shooting of an Irish-speaking native of Inisboffin that
shocked a County Louth village

Madge O’Boyle

It is ironic that one of the first victims of the Easter
Rising was a Irish-speaking RIC Constable named Charles
McGee, who was born on the Gaeltacht island of Inisboffin,
in northwest Donegal.

Fatally wounded after 7.15pm on Easter Monday evening at
Castlebellingham, Co Louth by shots fired from the gun of
one or two members of the Dundalk Volunteers, he was
pronounced dead two hours later at the Louth County

Born in 1892 on the island, he had been encouraged by the
local Master Sweeney to join the police force, and in May
1913, he was appointed to Gilbertstown RIC Barracks, Co

A charismatic figure, he was described by Volunteer
commandant, and future Minister, Seán McEntee, as a tall,
fine-looking man, with a tougher spirit than his
colleagues. And, due to his involvement in local sporting
activities, Constable McGee would have recognised many of
the volunteers who happened to cross his path on that
fateful evening.

Prior to the 1916 Rising, the life of the old RIC policeman
was a relatively easy and peaceful one, for the members of
the predominantly Catholic force enjoyed the trust and
support of the local population. And, it was not until the
arrival of the Black and Tans, and the Auxiliary forces in
1919 that the public acceptance of this type of policing
was reversed. Many officers resigned their positions at
this time, some through conviction, others through fear.

Indeed, Charles McGee had previously confided to some
family members his intention to leave the force, as he knew
that the clouds of dissension were forming over the Irish
political landscape.

In an era of advanced military technology, it is difficult
for us to comprehend the almost foolhardy courage of
approximately ninety Volunteers who marched out of Dundalk
on Easter Sunday morning to wage war on an empire, and in
possession of a mere 20 shotguns, three rifles and three
revolvers. Their crude rounds, especially the handmade
buckshot, which was substituted for lighter grains in their
sporting cartridges, proved to be deadly. Two old
Volunteers from the area were to speak many years later of
Charles McGee who paid for this lack of organisation with
his young life.

On receipt of Eoin Mac Neill’s countermanding order on
Easter Sunday afternoon, the Louth Volunteers were forced
into indecision and disarray. The ensuing confusion,
combined with insufficient training in handling firearms,
and a lack of sleep in the village of Slane, Co Meath, on
Easter Sunday night resulted in the commission of many
blunders. For some of the Volunteers, it led to a lifetime
burden of unvoiced guilt.

At 3am on Easter Monday morning, Belfast man Seán McEntee
had been despatched to Dublin in the lashing rain to get
confirmation of Pearse’s intention to proceed with the
Rising. Catching up with the 30 or so men who were
returning to Dundalk later that afternoon, the dwindling
number of Louth Volunteers turned around again on hearing
the news of the Dublin Rising. They commandeered some 14
cars to ensure a speedy transportation to meet with their
Meath counterparts at the Hill Of Tara, and in execution of
the original orders, to proceed to Blanchardstown, thus
preventing Crown reinforcements from reaching the city of

Stopping in the village of Castlebellingham to procure some
provisions, a number of RIC men, and a British army officer
named Lieutenant Dunville were held, and made to stand
alongside the railings of the village green. Constable
McGee had cycled to the village to deliver a message to the
local barracks, probably news about the earlier outbreak of
trouble in Dublin. As the main body of Volunteers left the
area, Volunteer Paddy McHugh was ordered to cover the
prisoners. And, as the rearguard was about to pull off, a
movement by the complaining Lieutenant Dunville was taken
as the uncovering of a gun. Calling on him to stop, McHugh
fired the fateful shot which wounded Constable McGee.

McHugh always claimed that a second shot rang out in
Castlebellingham on that wet April evening, but nobody else
in the group of Volunteers ever admitted to firing a shot.
The accidental but careless shooting of the handsome and
popular policeman had a shocking and damaging effect on
public opinion in the town of Dundalk and in the district.
According to local Volunteer and businessman James McGuill
it resulted in public revulsion being directed against
members of the Volunteers in the area. The death was
denounced from the pulpit in St Patrick’s Cathedral by Fr

Having no direct part in the death of Constable McGee, Seán
McEntee accepted full responsibility for the fatality, as
one of the commanding officers of the Dundalk Volunteers.
McEntee and the three other men had their death sentences
commuted to penal servitude on the strength of a petition
to the Crown organised by former Coroner Dr Tom Alexander
who was among the more liberal of Belfast Protestants.
McEntee was released from Dartmoor jail when a general
amnesty was granted in 1917.

Paddy McHugh went on the run in Dublin for five years, and
despite a regular description appearing in the official
police publication, the Hue And Cry, he moved freely in the
city, and was never apprehended for the death of the
dutiful native Gaelic-speaking Constable McGee.


Lawyer Enters Shannon Airport Debate

David Lynch

An international law expert yesterday entered the debate
about Shannon Airport being used by the US government for
stopovers for alleged ‘torture flights’.

Dr Gernot Biehler of Trinity College Dublin claimed that
Minister for Transport Martin Cullen has it within his
power to instruct gardaí to search CIA planes suspected of
carrying out ‘extraordinary rendition’ through Shannona

Dr Biehler said it is the minister for transport, rather
than the ministers for foreign affairs or justice, who has
the final say, because the planes used by the CIA are
private planes.

Extraordinary rendition is an American extra-judicial
procedure which involves the sending of criminal suspects,
generally suspected terrorists or alleged supporters of
groups which the US government considers to be terrorist
organisations, to countries other than the US for
imprisonment and interrogation.

Critics say that torture also takes place and the practice
has been widely condemned by groups such as Amnesty

Dr Biehler spoke on the topic of extraordinary rendition
flights this week at Dublin’s Trinity College.

He said that he believed that there was “strong
circumstantial evidence” that Shannon airport could be used
for such flights. He praised the recent study by Amnesty
International which outlined in great detail the flight
paths of suspicious CIA planes in Europe over the past
three years. Some of these planes landed at Shannon


Putting Flesh On The Facts


The internet opens the door to compiling your family tree,
genealogist John Grenham tells Rosita Boland

In the past decade or so, Ireland has seen the creation of
many innovative residencies. Writers have been given such
posts in many places - theatres, schools, universities,
public libraries and county council offices - reaching out
to the wider community.

They're not alone. Residencies have also been established
for visual artists and traditional singers. Now genealogist
and writer John Grenham (51) holds the distinction of
having been the State's first genealogist-in-residence. He
took up the position at Dublin City Library and National
Archive on Pearse Street in August of last year and
recently completed his term there.

"Genealogy is a great way of snooping on people," he
confesses, a little abashed, in his office off the
library's main reading room, in the last week of his
residency. While most people's definition of "snooping"
might be along the lines of opening a handbag without
permission and looking inside, or illicitly reading private
letters, a genealogist has something entirely different in
mind. They are looking at people from a distance of
generations, and the information they come up with is often
relatively simple, but revealing, such as what jobs they
did and what age they were when they married. "It's about
trying to put the flesh on the bones of the facts," Grenham

This probably best sums up the difference between genealogy
and the familiar term, "looking for your roots". Genealogy
tends to be a functional business, concerning itself mainly
with facts: dates of births, marriages, and deaths, which
fit together neatly on a wall-chart detailing of your
family tree. Trying to find your roots is both more
difficult but more personal, involving elements of social
history. You might not get as far in exploring the outer
branches and leaves of your family tree, but for some
people, this matters less than trying to find out something
about even a few family members that will place them in
some kind of social or physical context and make them real;
something more than the bare fact of their name.

"Tracing your roots is about proving you came from
somewhere. Trying to identify one spot or place, whether
it's a ruined house, or a graveyard or a few fields, is
hugely important to some people," Grenham says. While there
has long been an interest in Ireland from North America, he
credits Alex Haley's 1976 blockbuster book about his
family, Roots, and the TV series that followed, as
popularising the attempt to discover family roots in
general. "The first ingredient of curiosity is absence of
knowledge," he notes sagely.

Grenham stumbled into genealogy as a career by accident.
"There was no training or courses in my day," he says. "I
had studied English literature and was working on a PhD on
the American poet John Ashberry in UCD, with Seamus Deane.
I was funding myself by working part-time at the
Genealogical Office. Genealogy was all very casual in those

The PhD never got finished; Grenham was offered a full-time
job at the Genealogical Office. He was project manager for
the job of computerising the State's parish records. By
1995, when people were becoming more and more aware of the
marvels of the internet, he started talking to
about adding a genealogy element to the website. Since
1998, when launched, there have
been hundreds of thousands of hits (90 per cent of the site
is free), and 40,000 paid searches. Grenham continues to
maintain the site.

As the library's genealogist-in-residence, Grenham was
available to the public three times a week. When not
helping people research their family history, he was
working on the Dublin City Voters List, from 1937-1964.

"This list is a census substitute for researchers," he
explains. To encourage people to be honest while completing
their census forms, there is a 100-year embargo on the
examination of forms. With the loss of so many records in
the 1922 Public Records Office fire, the next census
figures that will be available for historians and
researchers will be the 1926 census, in 2026. In the
meantime, the Dublin City Voters List, which was updated
every year and records the names and addresses of all those
on the list, is filling some of the information gaps for
genealogists. "Everyone who was over 21 was entitled to
vote. Since democracy was still a relative novelty, people
exercised their right to vote, so the lists are quite

Grenham is at the year 1944 in processing these records.
The aim is to turn the information into a database, with
some, if not all of it, available online. "This is a way of
tracing the whereabouts of people at that time," he
explains. "A lot of people start getting interested in
their families in the second half of their lives. They get
curious. The standard piece of advice I can offer for
people doing this is: talk to your elderly relatives before
they die. They will give you the individual stories that
records can't give you."

While the projected appearance of the Dublin City Voters
List database online will assist people further in trying
to trace families, it may surprise Irish readers to realise
that a substantial number of Irish-related records are held
not in Ireland, but in the Mormon library at Salt Lake
City, Utah.

"Mormons belong to the Church of Jesus Christ and the
Latter-day Saints," Grenham explains. The Mormon philosophy
is that you can invite your ancestors to join the church,
even if they are dead. With polygamy long associated with
the Mormon church, that can mean very large extended

Hence the Mormon interest in tracing family records, and
their extensive library of records. "One of the duties of
being a Mormon is that you must explore your family

You do not have to be a Mormon to access the records, and
many Irish-American families have used the Salt Lake City
library to trace their families. While Salt Lake City has
the biggest library, most Mormon temples have a history
centre attached to them.

With home-ownership of computers increasingly common, and
the ever-developing sophistication of the internet, people
can now do a lot of searching into their background without
leaving their homes.

"At its most basic level, genealogy is information and
computers juggle it wonderfully," agrees Grenham. "I used
to get excited when I saw an index in a book. Now the
internet can offer so much." Genealogy was one of the first
areas for which computer packages were developed in the

Genealogy, by its nature, however, since it is so personal
to each family, remains quite small-scale, despite the
number of people attempting to discover more about their
roots. "Every family is different. There have been attempts
to turn genealogy into an industry, but it's a cottage
industry by its nature. Most people do it by themselves."

Grenham is careful to make the distinction between
genealogy and heraldry, which concerns itself with titles
and coats of arms, and which is definitely an industry;
often one where considerable sums of money can change

Grenham has just published the third edition of his
genealogy handbook, which is now three times the size it
was on the first printing in 1992. "It's only in the past
10 years genealogy has become respectable in the public eye
in Ireland," he says wryly, meditating on the success of
the book. "In Ireland, genealogy used to be up there with
heraldic golfballs."

The increasing availability of information on the internet
is responsible for many of the additional pages. But
despite the extra records that are being added to the
internet, once you get beyond 1900, you need a specific
placename if you are trying to trace your Irish ancestry.

"Since so much was lost in 1922, everything depends on the
local. If you have a placename, you can trace families
through local census records, church certs etc in that
area. The more common your surname, the more vital it
becomes to have that piece ofinformation." So has Ireland's
first genealogist-in-residence done his own family tree?
"Er, no," he says. "It would be too much like a busman's

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors (third edition) is published
by Gill and Macmillan, €22.99

© The Irish Times


Are We All Part Of Seven Big Happy Families?


Tracing our ancient ancestors is a tall order, but DNA
research companies are now leading the way. Shane Hegarty
puts one to the test

I rub a slither of card against the inside of my cheek and
post it to an address in Oxford. A few weeks later, an
envelope arrives containing a certificate telling me that
my DNA shows my maternal line can be traced back 20,000
years to western Europe. I belong, it tells me, to the clan
of Helena - one of "seven daughters of Eve" from which all
modern Europeans are descended. Helena's offspring is the
most widespread of them. I am, in a word, common.

The test was run by Oxford Ancestors, a leading company in
a new trend in genealogy. It promises to trace family trees
right to the root. It won't tell you about your great-
great-grandmother, but it will attempt to pinpoint where
the woman who began your family came from.

The company was set up by Prof Bryan Sykes, the first
scientist to extract DNA from old bones. Among his high-
profile cases was Oetzi, a 5,000-year-old ice body found in
the Tyrol, Austria. Prof Sykes used Oetzi's DNA to track a
living descendant - a female management consultant from
Bournemouth. His research led him to conclude that 95 per
cent of modern Europeans are descended from just seven
women - the "seven daughters of Eve" - who survived in
Europe or the near East during the Ice Age.

They are not the only women to have lived then, of course,
but are those who survived long enough, and had enough
daughters, for their DNA to proliferate. In all, Prof Sykes
has identified 36 global clan mothers, although the
occasional person still turns up with DNA that cannot be
linked with any of these.

Set up in 2001, Oxford Ancestors now handles 5,000
inquiries a year, with about 20,000 people having used the
service. In the US, companies such as Family Tree DNA and
Ancestry by DNA are similarly popular. The DNA searches
occasionally have a more serious aim than mere curiosity.
Because of their slave roots, some African-Americans have
used DNA testing to identify a possible homeland. There
have also been efforts by people to prove they are
descended from certain Native American tribes so that they
can claim a share of profits from casinos on tribal lands.

However, despite its popularity, DNA genealogy has its
critics, who point out that it often tells people what they
could have guessed already. The British Human Genetics
Commission looked into the industry and concluded that
"there was a feeling that the scientific information that
genealogy tests could provide might not be as precise as
some of the companies may be suggesting and this was an
area in which people should be aware of the reality of what
they are being offered".

The maternal line is traced through the chain of
mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to children.
However, many geneticists have pointed out that it forms
only a part of a person's genetic make-up, or as one has
written, it "represents just a single twig from an
extremely bushy family tree". In looking at the DNA that
has been passed on from your mother's mother's mother, it
rules out all the other great-great-grandmothers who have
contributed their DNA.

What's more, while we might like the idea of belonging to a
particular clan, if we go back far enough we're all related
to one another anyway. Mathematically, a person has only to
trace back 15 generations to be directly related to half a
million people. It suggests that we are all family.

However, that is not to dismiss DNA genealogy altogether.
Research at Trinity College, Dublin identified the male Y-
chromosomal signature of the clan of Niall of the Nine
Hostages, the High King at Tara from 379 to 405.

Oxford Ancestors offers the opportunity for people to see
if they are connected to this Uí Neill clan, although it is
a men-only (given that women don't carry the Y-chromosome)
genetic marker which hardly changes at it is passed down
the paternal line.

"The Y-chromosome has a more definite structure. It's not
as diffuse and can sometimes be more securely identified
with historical families. There is more definition between
regions," explains Dr Dan Bradley, of TCD's Smurfit
Institute of Genetics. "There is a lot of potential for it,
if for example people are seeking out their Irish roots.
They might have an Irish surname, but we might know from
their Y-chromosome if they are from north, east or west.
But it will always be a probability rather than a

By the way, he tells me, the Hegarties are descended from
the Uí Neill clan. It's an exclusive club: just me and
about three million other men. , 0044-1865-374-425

© The Irish Times

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

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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