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May 15, 2006

Ahern Says Progress is Essential

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 05/14/06 Ahern Says Progress Is Essential
SF 05/14/06 McGuinness - Make Or Break Time For Political Institutions
IT 05/15/06 New Assembly Gathers For First Time
IT 05/15/06 Ahern Calls On SF To Clarify Position On Policing
BT 05/15/06 Parades Body Rocked By New Reference Scandal
SL 05/14/06 LVF Guns Could Trigger UDA Feud
SL 05/14/06 Hung Out To Die!
BT 05/15/06 Loyalist Website Revels In Abuse About Teen Murder Victim
BN 05/15/06 Two More Teens Charged In Relation To Ballymena Murder
BT 05/15/06 Car 'Hit By Debris From Helicopter'
BT 05/15/06 Opin: Our Parties Must Stand And Deliver
IT 05/15/06 Opin: The Recall Of The Assembly
SL 05/14/06 Opin: Remember Those Who Died Inside AND Outside Maze
SF 05/14/06 Gerry Adams Unveils Mural In Memory Of James Connolly
BN 05/14/06 Haughey Hailed For 'Courageous Decisions'
IT 05/15/06 War Of Indpndnce Vets & Spouses Receive 50% Pension Boost
IT 05/15/06 FF Faithful Remember Earliest Days
SL 05/14/06 Flatley's Show Accused Of Insulting Unionists


Ahern Says Progress Is Essential

It would "be a nonsense" for Northern Ireland not to have
devolved government by the end of November, Irish prime
minister Bertie Ahern has said.

Mr Ahern said he believed there should be an Executive
"within six days never mind six months".

He added, however, that he was prepared to go along with
the November "compromise".

The taoiseach made his remarks on RTE radio on Sunday ahead
of the return of the Stormont Assembly on Monday.

He said that waiting any longer than the end of November
would "be unworkable".

If we can't do it in six months, then we're unlikely to do
it this side of the next 20 years

Bertie Ahern Irish prime minister

"To go any longer will just be a nonsense. It will be
unworkable and will flake away," he said.

"If we can't do it in six months, then we're unlikely to do
it this side of the next 20 years."

But the taoiseach also said he was hopeful and took heart
from the "constructive" positions being adopted by both
Sinn Fein and the DUP.

He said major issues like IRA criminality, paramilitarism
and arms decommissioning were now resolved and should no
longer block talks between republicans and unionists.

"It is a major achievement, I think, to get there and I'm
very happy we're there," he said.

"For the first time since 2002, we've achieved the
resolution of so many issues that have bedevilled us for 30
years or even for 130 years."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/14 15:11:35 GMT


McGuinness - Its Make Or Break Time For Political Institutions

Published: 14 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness today welcomed
the comments of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern saying that the
time had come to put the peace process back on track.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Last year the historic decisions taken by the IRA
liberated the political process and opened up real
possibilities for significant progress to be made in
achieving the full implementation of the Good Friday

"Since then Sinn Féin have been arguing strongly with both
governments that the time had come for the DUP to take the
hard decisions on sharing power with the rest of the
parties within the institutions laid out in the Good Friday
Agreement. The stalling could not be allowed to drag on any

"I welcome the comments of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today
indicating that it was his view that we had to see fully
functioning institutions put in place as quickly as
possible and that the idea of stalling the process further
into next year was a non-starter.

"Sinn Féin will re-enter the Assembly tomorrow fully
committed to seeing a fully functioning executive put in
place. All of the parties with the exception of the DUP
have indicated that they also are up for power sharing. The
only question which has to be answered in the time ahead is
whether or not Ian Paisley will for the first time accept
sharing power with his neighbours on the basis of equality.

"It is my hope that the DUP will come on board in
establishing a power sharing government. But what is now
clear is that the two governments need to make it clear to
the DUP the stalling tactics currently being adopted cannot
stretch on any longer." ENDS


New Assembly Gathers For First Time


The position of the DUP on powersharing should become
evident soon, writes Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

Today's order paper for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the
first since October 2002, contains just three items.

The Speaker's Business will allow the Alliance party's
Eileen Bell to utter her first words from the chair having
taken over from Lord Alderdice. She is expected to read a
statement from Northern Secretary Peter Hain, who now has
enhanced powers over Northern Ireland following the
enactment of recent legislation - including the authority
to delay the next scheduled Assembly election or scrap it

The roll of membership will then be taken. By "signing-on"
the 108 Assembly members, 40 of them appearing in the
chamber for the first time following the 2003 election,
will declare whether they are unionist, nationalist or

This will be followed by the adjournment, but probably only
after a minute's silence in memory of Ballymena teenager
Michael McIlveen who died a week ago today after being
killed in a sectarian attack. Events in the chamber are not
expected to take long and there will be no debate allowing
many members to make the half-hour drive to Hillsborough
Castle in the afternoon for a royal garden party in the
presence of Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of

Media interest in the proceedings is expected to be
significant, but much more politicking is expected in
Stormont's Great Hall as the party delegations make clear
their starkly differing positions before they walk the few
steps into the chamber which has lain silent for more than
three-and-a-half years.

Once inside, the power shift that manifested itself in both
communities will become clear. The Sinn Féin members, now
numbering 24, will now sit to the Speaker's left directly
opposite the DUP group with its 32 members. The parties
they eclipsed, the SDLP and Ulster Unionists, have 18 and
24 members respectively. However, Progressive Unionist
leader David Ervine has said he will sit with the Ulster
Unionist group following a decision by his party.

This will entitle the UUP group to claim a third ministry
at the expense of Sinn Féin in the event of an Executive
being formed under the convoluted rules of the d'Hondt
mechanism, which allocates ministerial positions based on
overall party strength.

The UUP has been severely criticised by the SDLP and Sinn
Féin, who have accused Sir Reg Empey's party of double
standards in co-operating with a party associated with the
UVF which is not on ceasefire.

The remainder of the seats in the chamber will be taken by
the six Alliance members and just three Independents -
unionist Paul Berry who resigned from the DUP following
allegations about his private life; Robert McCartney of the
United Kingdom Unionists; and Dr Kieran Deeny, who won a
seat in West Tyrone as a hospitals candidate.

The Assembly has six weeks in which to elect a First and
Deputy First Minister, but the two governments have agreed
members will have up until November 24th to reach
agreement, otherwise the doors will close and salaries and
allowances will be stopped.

A first vote for the joint office of First and Deputy First
Ministers will be held next Monday and is all but certain
not to succeed.

Differences divide the parties as to the purpose of the
Assembly in the meantime. Sinn Féin and the SDLP are deeply
critical of the Hain plan for the Assembly which has little
real power.

Republicans say they have no interest in a unionist-
dominated and powerless talking shop, which they say is a
departure from the Belfast Agreement. The SDLP appears to
favour a wait-and-see approach.

The DUP sees much merit in discussing bread and butter
issues and has called on sceptical nationalists to address
local government reform, water charges, rising rates and
other topics.

To that end, a motion on the establishment of a working
party of members to address the economy will be debated

Efforts by Mr Hain to find topics of debate for the
Assembly, prompted by visits by Scottish First minister
Jack McConnell among others, may keep members talking while
the real business of finding an accord on sharing power at
executive level is worked out.

It may soon become evident if this week's exchanges at
Stormont are the first small steps in the direction of
full-scale devolution, or a final indication that power
sharing is doomed for years.

© The Irish Times


Ahern Calls On SF To Clarify Position On Policing


Agreement to form a new powersharing executive at Stormont
may depend on a "clearer message" from Sinn Féin about its
intentions to back policing, the Taoiseach has said, in
advance of the recall of the Northern Assembly at Stormont
this morning, write Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor and
Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent.

Bertie Ahern said Sinn Féin need not join the Policing
Board or voice support for the PSNI before any new
executive is formed. But he said it should make clear its
intentions to "play their role" in policing. "I do think
that a clear message [ is needed] as we go forward - or
maybe I should say, correctly, a clearer message going
forward - that they will take and play their role in
policing, as they have previously undertaken to do," he

His remarks follow comments in The Irish Times last week by
DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley in which he stated bluntly
that no political progress was possible until Sinn Féin
backed the PSNI. "The talks have no future until everyone
who is going to be in the government of Northern Ireland is
a complete and total supporter of the police," he said.

Speaking in Dublin before Fianna Fáil's 80th anniversary
celebrations, Mr Ahern said: "Ultimately, the position has
to be that policing is devolved, and that government plays
its role in it. I don't see the devolvement of policing
powers before that. The 'message' [ about SF's future
intentions] could well be before that," he added.

"I don't think we are going to see the whole policing issue
resolved before we see the executive resolved, but Sinn
Féin's attitude to policing will be important."

Speaking earlier on RTÉ, the Taoiseach said failure to
agree to form an executive by the two governments' November
24th deadline could mean the opportunity being lost for
decades. "If we can't do it in six months, then we're
unlikely to do it this side of the next 20 years."

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness responded last night that
devolution depended on the DUP opting to exercise power
with republicans.

"It is my hope that the DUP will come on board in
establishing a power-sharing government. But what is now
clear is that the two governments need to make it clear to
the DUP the stalling tactics currently being adopted cannot
stretch on any longer."

Dr Paisley's deputy, Peter Robinson, said at the weekend
that the DUP could begin consultations within unionism
about forming a power-sharing executive in the autumn,
ahead of the governments' deadline.

He told BBC Radio Ulster people had to be satisfied that
paramilitary and criminal activity had ended before their
elected representatives entered an executive. That process
of gauging public satisfaction could start in October or
early November, he said, following the next Independent
Monitoring Commission report.

The Assembly parties, including 40 newly elected members
following the 2003 election, gather at Stormont this
morning for the first time since suspension in October

Stark divisions over the Assembly's recall persist, with
nationalists unhappy that members are being called to a
body stripped of real power. The DUP is keen to debate the
economy, local government reform and education.

A vote on the election to the joint office of First
Minister and Deputy First Minister takes place next Monday
and is widely expected to fail. Attempts to find agreement
will continue until November 24th.

© The Irish Times


Parades Body Rocked By New Reference Scandal

After the MacKay fiasco, we reveal how the other Orangeman
on the commission didn't consult the referee for his job
application either

By Chris Thornton
15 May 2006

A Methodist minister named as a reference for a Portadown
Orangeman on the Parades Commission says he would not have
supported the applicant if the NIO had bothered to ask him.

Former Methodist president Rev Jim Rea was named as a
potential referee by David Burrows, the former District
Master in Portadown, in his application to join the body
last year.

But the Portadown minister told the Belfast Telegraph Mr
Burrows did not ask him for his support.

Mr Rea said he would not have agreed to act as a referee
because he would have had concern it would damage his own
work on the Drumcree impasse.

The revelation means both Orangemen appointed by Secretary
of State Peter Hain were not considered suitable by their
nominated referees.

Earlier this year it emerged Don MacKay, the other Orange
Commissioner, named SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly as a reference
without her permission - and Mrs Kelly would have opposed
his application.

The revelation about Mr Burrows' application deepens the
problems surrounding the controversial make-up of the
Parades Commission.

A legal challenge against the appointment of the two
Orangemen will continue in the High Court today as it also

that the Secretary of State chose at least one of the
Orangemen over a candidate who had been deemed more

Mr MacKay used Dolores Kelly's supposed reference to claim
he could cross community divides;

and the NIO considered her bogus reference more significant
than previously admitted.

The applications submitted by both men were released to the
High Court as a late bundle of evidence on Friday

Mr Burrows' application showed he had named Mr Rea as a

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Rea said he had
discussed the matter with Mr Burrows only "after the
Dolores Kelly debacle" hit the news.

Mr Burrows told Mr Rea he used his name because Mr Rea
acted as a reference for him several years ago when he
applied for an engineering job.

"I was surprised that he had used my name. I was very
surprised," Mr Rea said.

"I said to him 'I would have expected you to consider my
reference for you as an engineer and one for the Parades
Commission as quite different'.

"I explained to David that I would have difficulty
recommending him and I explained my reasons.

"One, I had supported another candidate. Two, basically I
felt I had gained credibility, or hoped I had, over seven
years working with the Orange Order and the residents.

"I felt if I had been seen to support David, it would have
been acceptable to neither. I would have been concerned
that my work with the residents and the local Orange Order
would have been made impossible.

"When David was appointed I was quite shocked. Several
people asked me if had been a referee for David and I said
no, I hadn't, because at that time I didn't know that he
had used my name."

The minister said he found it "incredibly objectionable"
and "appalling" that the NIO did not follow up the

"If I had been written to, I would have given an opinion,"
he said. "I am absolutely disgusted with the fact that I
wasn't consulted by the NIO.

"It is disingenuous that the NIO did not consult me.

"It seems to me that references are a necessary part of
good practice in making appointments. You should ask the

A spokesman for the Parades Commission said Mr Burrows had
no response to Mr Rea's comments.

But it is understood Mr Burrows assumed the clergyman's
support for an earlier job would be extended to his
application for the Parades Commission.

The NIO has said that references were not a factor in the


LVF Guns Could Trigger UDA Feud

Exclusive by Ciaran McGuigan
14 May 2006

WEAPONS from an LVF arms dump are to be used in attacks on
the leaders of the UDA by renegade members of the group,
loyalists last night warned.

The guns are believed to have been moved from an LVF dump
in Ballysillian by a loyalist who has joined with Andre and
Ihab Shoukri. The Shoukri brothers are still clinging to
control of the UDA in north Belfast, but are coming under
increasing pressure from the organisation's other leaders.

Security sources fear that the weapons will be used to
trigger bloody in-fighting within the UDA.

The guns were the target of police searches just over a
week ago in the Westland Road area.

During the raids, cops turned over the home of the former
LVF man who recently joined the Shoukris.

They also searched a house belonging to prominent Shoukri
supporter Alan McClean (above).

Said one senior loyalist source: "The UDA leaders know that
these weapons are on the move, and it's very worrying. The
fear is that if the steps are taken to expel the Shoukris
from the organisation, then their supporters are tooled up
and will strike out."


Hung Out To Die!

Tapes claim Army spooks abandoned trio of IRA spies to
their gruesome fate

Exclusive by Chris Anderson and Stephen Gordon
14 May 2006

AUDIO recordings of a former intelligence officer outlining
events which ended in the murder of three British agents
inside the IRA are to be made available to the PSNI's cold
cases team.

The ex-soldier, who died recently, was the handler of
Gregory Burns, Aiden Starrs and John Dignam who were
tortured and killed by the Provos' ruthless internal
security unit in 1992.

Before his death, the ex-Force Research Unit soldier gave
the tapes to a journalist who, it is understood, is willing
to hand them over to cops.

It's believed the tapes confirm the three died when Army
Intelligence refused to resettle them in England after they
had been compromised.

Following their execution, the IRA said it had acted after
the three admitted being MI5/Special Branch agents, and
having been involved in the murder of Portadown woman
Margaret Perry.

Until now there has been a wall of silence about why they
were left to die at the hands of the 'nutting squad', whose
leaders included British agent Freddie Scappaticci.

Another ex-intelligence services soldier, who is familiar
with the tapes, said they revealed precise information
about the activities of Starrs, Dignam and Burns, and the

"The voice on the tapes is that of the FRU soldier who
handled these three agents up to the time they were killed
by the IRA," he said.

"He confirms how and when they were recruited, as well as
providing specific information on each of them that would
only be known to the intelligence services."

The tape confirms Burns told his handler he had compromised
himself with his girlfriend and that Dignam, Starrs and
himself wanted resettled outside Northern Ireland.

That request was rejected by a senior military intelligence
officer on cost grounds.

The tape is believed to name everyone involved - the senior
officer who gave the orders, other handlers and agents.


Sick Loyalist Website Revels In Abuse About Teen Murder Victim

By Claire McNeilly
15 May 2006

Police were last night urged to investigate a loyalist
website over its comments about murdered Ballymena
schoolboy Michael McIlveen.

The extremist website makes derogatory remarks about
Michael and his family in a video featuring news reports on
his death.

The Belfast Telegraph was alerted to the material last
night by an angry caller, who, though a loyalist himself,
described the site as "disgusting".

The website also features footage of the Milltown cemetery
murders carried out by loyalist Michael Stone in 1987.

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jr last night condemned the site.

He said: "This sort of thing is just filthy and doesn't
deserve credibility or the attention it craves."

SDLP man John Dallat called for the police and the
Government to take action.

"I think in the dying kicks of loyalism, there appear to be
no depths to which they'll not stoop and attacking the dead
is the lowest form of life," he said.

"The police need to take action and the Government needs to
bring on board legislation to deal with these things
immediately. People expect protection, especially a family
at this extremely difficult time."

Michael, who was a pupil at St Patrick's College, died last
Monday, a day after being attacked by a gang at Garfield
Place in Ballymena.

Last night, DUP leader Ian Paisley declined to comment on
whether or not he be would attending the funeral later this
week, amid speculation that he is to join mourners in

Meanwhile, the family of murdered north Belfast schoolboy
Thomas Devlin has conveyed its condolences to the

His mother Penny Holloway told the Sunday Life newspaper
that Michael's murder had brought back the horror of her
own son's killing.

"We have sent a message to the McIlveen family," she said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this tragic

She added: "Once again, our society has witnessed the
senseless waste of such a young life. Like Thomas, Michael
had his whole life in front of him - and he has been robbed
of that."


Two More Teens Charged In Relation To Ballymena Murder

15/05/2006 - 08:28:12

Two more teenagers have been charged in connection with the
murder of Michael McIlveen in Ballymena, Co Antrim, just
over a week ago.

One of the youths, a 15-year-old, is facing a murder
charge, while the other, aged 16, has been charged with

Both are due in court later today.

Last week, five teenagers appeared in court charged with
the murder of Michael McIlveen.

The 15-year-old Catholic was beaten to death by a gang in
Ballymena eight days ago.


Car 'Hit By Debris From Helicopter'

By Linda McKee
15 May 2006

Sinn Fein has called for the Army to tighten its safety
measures after reports that a car in south Armagh was hit
by masonry falling from a helicopter.

It had been parked near a house at Meigh close to a
watchtower on Foughill mountain, which is being dismantled.

Newry and Mourne Sinn Fein councillor Packie McDonald said
masonry and materials being carried from the watchtower had
tumbled onto the car parked at the Low Road.

"There has been a number of incidents. Some are reported
some aren't," he said.

"If they don't do any damage, people don't usually report
it. This is right beside a house."

But in response, a spokesman for the Army said health and
safety regulations were being adhered to correctly.


Opin: Our Parties Must Stand And Deliver

15 May 2006

Four years later and £100m on, the Northern Ireland
Assembly resumes at Stormont today. Time will tell whether
this is history in the making, or just another doomed
initiative, but at this stage the prospect of the DUP and
Sinn Fein sharing power looks decidedly fanciful.

That said, a fresh start needs to be made somewhere. And
despite initial cynicism, the Secretary of State has at
least managed to get all the parties to agree to enter the
same room. A tentative programme of business has been drawn
up, the aim being to get down next week to opening
negotiations on the forming of an executive.

The concerns voiced by Sinn Fein and the SDLP that the
Assembly will degenerate into a talking shop are
understandable, given previous form. But there are
safeguards this time, chiefly in that Peter Hain has set a
series of time limits culminating in a final cut-off date
of November 24 - a deadline which this time is enshrined in
the legislation.

In such circumstances it will be regrettable if all the
parties are not represented at all the sessions, such as
the proposed address by business leaders tomorrow. The
parties have traditionally managed to find common ground on
the economy and consensus is vital at this time of many

Mr Hain has made it clear to the parties that they are in
the last chance saloon and few will quibble with that view.
The public is growing increasingly weary of the squabbling
which has characterised Northern Ireland politics for so

The Assembly members should not make the mistake of
believing that public patience is endless. On the contrary,
many people will take the view that if this initiative
fails, then continued and prolonged direct rule is not the
worst option.

That would be a pity, because it would leave Northern
Ireland with a democratic deficit. The present arrangement
would continue whereby Northern Ireland, alone among the
regions of the UK, is ruled by unaccountable part-time
multi-departmental ministers from London.

Northern Ireland's politicians are capable of being more
than bystanders. The parties have the capacity to deliver
good government and must intensify their efforts to strike
a deal - something which came so tantalisingly close in
December 2004.

The priority in these opening days must be to re-establish
dialogue and then to establish the trust which has been
absent from local politics for so long. A positive
engagement is urgently required.

The path to a lasting peace and stable government in
Northern Ireland has been long and tortuous. Today, at
Parliament Buildings, another chapter opens and the parties
have a chance to reach an accommodation which would
transform life in the province. They must not squander the


Opin: The Recall Of The Assembly


There are worrying signs that the leader of the Democratic
Unionist Party, the Rev Ian Paisley, may not be prepared to
make the political accommodations necessary to allow for
the establishment of a power-sharing executive in Northern
Ireland by November 24th. But nothing is certain in the
present volatile situation. A great deal of posturing and
demand-making will occur over the coming months as both Dr
Paisley and the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, seek to
encourage and reassure their supporters.

In the meantime, the recall of Assembly members to Stormont
today is likely to provide a political antidote to the
tensions of the marching season and a useful forum for the
discussion of administrative issues.

The series of interviews conducted by our London Editor,
Frank Millar, with the main participants has served to
identify the difficulties that remain to be surmounted. In
that regard, the position adopted by Dr Paisley on a range
of issues will have caused considerable concern to the two
governments, particularly in relation to his demands for a
recasting of the Belfast Agreement.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and the
Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, have encouraged
political movement, particularly in relation to Sinn Féin's
acceptance of policing, while not being prescriptive about
it. And Mr Adams acknowledged the issue will have to be
resolved in the short term. Dr Paisley set the bar higher
for republicans, however, by also insisting that
"collective responsibility" must operate within a Northern
executive and that the co-equal positions of First Minister
and Deputy First Minister should no longer apply. In his
own words, the DUP leader was not prepared to operate the
Belfast Agreement as it stood. He intended "to sit on and
sit tight I am not interested in office".

The British government has threatened to suspend the
Assembly and stop all pay to those involved should the
parties fail to form an executive by the November deadline.
The public would not tolerate millions of pounds being
wasted, Mr Hain said. The threat of suspension will
concentrate minds within the political parties in the
months ahead. And various interest groups are likely to
exert pressure for a settlement because of the economic and
democratic costs attached to political failure. In that
regard, business leaders are due to address the Assembly
tomorrow on the benefits devolved government would bring to
the economy.

In spite of Dr Paisley's obvious reluctance to share power
with Sinn Féin, he must recognise that an agreed policing
system is the key to social progress. The urgency of the
issue is indisputable. As the Independent Monitoring
Commission reported last month, 95 per cent of armed crime
now involves loyalist paramilitaries. Failure to form an
executive would probably increase the number of republican
dissidents. And this is only one of the many reasons for
wishing that today's return to Stormont will bear political
fruit in time.

© The Irish Times


Opin: At The Heart Of The Matter: Remember Those Who Died Inside AND Outside Maze

By Alan McBride
14 May 2006

IT'S been strange the events I've been invited to speak at
lately - from the Bloody Sunday Lecture at the Guildhall to
the South Belfast Association of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Last Saturday I was part of a panel discussing the 1981
hunger strikes.

Growing up in a loyalist housing estate in north Belfast,
the deaths of the 10 hunger strikes didn't really affect

In my mind, Bobby Sands was not to be admired or turned
into a 'folk hero'.

Within the Protestant community, it is an understatement to
suggest there was little compassion for those who died.
Many regarded them as nothing more than a bunch of

Even to this day, the hunger strike is often greeted with
derision in the Protestant community.

I have some degree of sympathy with those sentiments -
several of those on the hunger strike were serving time for
murder, and this can never be justified.

However, I have also come face-to-face with the humanity
behind the hunger strike, having got to know some of those
who participated and lived to tell the tale.

Recently, on a visit to the Maze Prison site, I was humbled
as one former hunger striker recalled his experiences and
the experiences of some of the others who died.

One story concerned 'old Bob', a Protestant orderly at the
time of the protest who befriended Sands. Sands sent for
'old Bob' just hours before he died. As he lay on his
hospital bed with his family all around, he leant over and
thanked him in a faint whisper for all that he had done.

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the protest
itself, it takes a brave man to take his own life for
something he believes in. I mentioned this recently to
someone who was less than sympathetic, and asked: "Well,
what about suicide bombers? Are they brave or just

There does appear to be some validity in this comparison,
but unlike suicide bombers those who died on hunger strike
were not promised to be met 'on the other side' by teams of
beautiful young virgins. In fact, as far as the Catholic
Church was concerned, those who took their own lives in
this way were to be dammed eternally.

Also, when a person straps a bomb to themselves and gets
onto a bus or a train, their life is over in an instant,
along with countless innocent victims. Death by starvation
is slow and involves only oneself - those on the protest
had many days, hours and minutes to change their minds, but
they stayed the course, watched agonisingly by their

I can't help thinking about the Wilfred Owen poem Dulce et
Decorum Est, exposing the old lie that it is a "sweet and
noble thing to die for your country". There was nothing
sweet about the way the hunger strikers died. As for it
being noble, I believe it was more noble than killing for
"one's country", but this often gets clouded out when you
happen to have been engaged in both.

At the end of the day, the hunger strike was a pivotal
moment in recent Irish history and it's only right the
deaths are remembered. But, in doing so, let us never
forget the other deaths that came about as a direct
consequence of the hunger strike.

People like Eric Guinney and his son, Desmond, killed when
their milk cart crashed into a lamppost during a riot.

Or Joanne Mathers, who was helping people to fill in a
census form when she was shot dead by the IRA. Or Julie
Livingstone, killed by a plastic bullet fired by soldiers
during another riot.

While I have respect for those who died on hunger strike,
let's take the time to remember all those who died - not
just during the hunger strike, but throughout the Troubles.

This senseless murder

THE senseless murder of Michael McIlveen is a stark
reminder of the dark days we are trying to leave behind.

Every right-thinking person will condemn it. If anyone
reading this column knows anything about it, I would plead
with you to get in touch with the police.

I was glad to hear the Orange Order add its voice to those
outraged by this murder. If we are to prevent more of this
kind of thing, the cancer of sectarianism that lies at the
heart of this society has to be addressed.

I was saddened in the aftermath of Michael's murder, as I
listened to the Stephen Nolan show, many listeners calling
in to condemn the murder then immediately getting embroiled
in the blame game. It's now time for people to stand up and
say NO MORE!

Politicians need to take a lead on this. However, some have
displayed a poor attitude, especially with regard to
sharing power.

Wouldn't it be a fitting tribute to the memory of Michael
McIlveen if some of them finally got their act together and
set an example for us all to follow.


Gerry Adams Unveils Mural In Memory Of James Connolly

Published: 14 May, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today unveiled a mural
in memory of James Connolly, the last of the leaders of the
Easter 1916 Rising who was executed by the British on May
12th 1916.

Gerry Adams described James Connolly as 'the foremost Irish
political thinker of his time, whose teachings are as
relevant to Ireland in 2006 as they were in 1916.'

The mural dedicated to Connolly is in Rockmount Street only
a short distance from where the Connolly family lived on
the Falls Road at the time of the Easter Rising. A small
plaque was unveiled by Bridie Crossan aged 92, a local
resident who still lives in the same house she was born in
and who was there when the Connolly's lived on the Falls.

Mr Adams recalled that James Connolly left the family home
on the Falls Road and journeyed to Dublin where he took
command of the Dublin Division of the Irish Republican

Gerry Adams said:

"Connolly was the last of the leaders to be executed after
the Rising. He had been badly wounded during the fighting
but the Irish Independent newspaper campaigned for his
execution. It described the Rising as criminal. 'Let the
worst of the ringleaders be singled out and dealt with as
they deserve.'

The Independent was owned by William Martin Murphy,
Chairman of the Employers Federation which had tried to
crush workers and their organisation, the ITGWU during the
great Dublin lockout in 1913. The Citizens Army emerged
from that particularly brutal period, to defend workers
against the police and other thugs hired by the Employers

The Citizens Army was founded by James Connolly. It was a
highly disciplined workers army, open to men and women on
the basis of equality. The Citizens Army played a pivotal
role in the Rising. Connolly was also very active here in
Belfast. He came here from the USA where he spent seven
years of activism in the workers movement.

In 1911 he was Belfast organiser of the ITGWU. He helped
organise the mill workers. Or the slaves of slaves as he
called them. 'Many Belfast Mills are slaughter houses for
the women and penitentiaries for the children.'

Connolly was also active with the dockers and other
sections of Belfast workers. He was anti-sectarian. He
understood how sectarianism was and is used to divide
working people

Connolly was an avowed internationalist and a socialist who
saw the two sides of the Irish struggle ˆ the struggle for
freedom from Britain and the creation of a socialist
republic ˆ as two sides of the one coin.

In his own words; 'The struggle for Irish freedom has two
aspects it is national and it is social.'

As a social theorist Connolly was both innovative and far
sighted. His Labour in Irish History should be read by all
Irish republicans, and anyone concerned with the cause of
labour and the cause of working people.

Connolly understood the need for core values and clear
objectives and the necessity of developing organisational
and strategic programmes to achieve these.

Invariably parties of the left, particularly in Ireland,
loose their way because of opportunism by leaderships or
short-termism, as with the Irish Labour Party today or a
blind and unyielding dogmatic adherence to the holy grail.

Neither of these tendencies live in the real world of
political struggle where the main task, as in Connolly's
time is to make activism relevant to and part of the people
in their daily lives." ENDS


Haughey Hailed For 'Courageous Decisions'

14/05/2006 - 18:30:51

Former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey made mistakes but had an
exceptional political career, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said

Mr Ahern said the ailing 80-year-old, who led three
governments between 1979-1992, created the economic
conditions that spawned the Celtic Tiger boom in the 1990s.

The Taoiseach made his comments at events in Dublin to mark
Fianna Fáil’s 80th anniversary.

Mr Ahern said: “This country owes much of its present
prosperity to the courageous decisions that were taken in
1987 and 1988 by Charles Haughey and his government, and in
particular, the Minister for Finance Ray MacSharry.

“It was a very bad period and they took the decisions that
were necessary. It was those decisions that helped create
the growth in the economy into the 90s and beyond.

Speaking of Mr Haughey, he added: “He did make mistakes but
when you look at his political career, it was exceptional.

“They tell me he is rallying well. He has had a difficult
period since Christmas so we send him his our best

Mr Haughey didn’t attend the celebrations at the Mansion
House but was represented by his son, Dublin North West TD,
Sean and his brother Father Eoghan Haughey.

The former leader’s father-in- law, ex-Taoiseach Sean
Lemass was represented by his grandsons Sean Lemass Jnr and
Sean O’Connor.

Mr Haughey also featured strongly in an archival
exhibition: ’The Advance of a Nation – 80 Years of Fianna
Fail’ in the Mansion House which displayed photographs,
election leaflets, historic posters and internal party

Mr Ahern also said the period surrounding the Arms Crisis
in the early 1970s was a tough time for the party.

He added: “As the party looks back today, we can see that
the party has had a profound influence on the political,
economic and social life of this country and it continues
to do so.”

Fianna Fáil had served a total of more than five decades in
government which was unique, he said.


War Of Independence Veterans And Spouses To Receive 50% Pension Boost

Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent

The two surviving War of Independence veterans and 750
veterans' spouses are to get a 50 per cent boost to their
pensions, Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea has announced.

The €120 extra per month payment, which was approved by
Minister for Finance Brian Cowen following representations
from Mr O'Dea, will be backdated to April 1st.

The increase was proposed to mark the Easter Rising's 90th
anniversary: "I believed was a timely opportunity to
recognise the tremendous efforts and sacrifices they made
for our country," Mr O'Dea said.

The two surviving veterans of the War of Independence are
the 104-year-old Lt Col Seán Clancy from Dublin, who was
born in July 1901 and the 103-year-old Private Daniel
O'Donovan, from Tralee.

"The boost, I hope, will be of some benefit to the
recipients. It is intended as a small gesture by the
Government to show our gratitude on this anniversary year.

"I took a personal interest in securing this increase . . .
it will go ahead effective from 1st April, 2006. The last
increase was in July 2004," Mr O'Dea said.

In 2000, former minister for defence Michael Smith
increased pensions by 50 per cent and gave a €500 lump sum
to the 2,000 veterans and spouses of veterans then still

© The Irish Times


FF Faithful Remember Earliest Days

Ruadhán MacCormaic

Almost 80 years to the day since Eamon de Valera stood
before the inaugural meeting of Fianna Fáil at the La Scala
Theatre (now the somewhat less evocative Pennys), off
O'Connell Street, Dublin, and fired the starting pistol of
"a great national advance", hundreds of his political
descendants converged on Dublin's Mansion House last night
to feast on talk of their brightest days.

"It's a proud day for the family," said Terry de Valera,
Eamon's youngest son and father of Minister of State Síle.
Though he is only four years older than the FF party, he
said, he retains vague memories of those early, heady days
in the 1920s.

The event was entitled The Advance of a Nation - 80 years
of Fianna Fáil, that half-heartedly modest hyphen all that
stood between a causal bond between the two. L'état, c'est
nous, it might have read.

Party luminaries, including Cabinet members Brian Cowen,
Dick Roche, Dermot Ahern, Séamus Brennan and Noel Dempsey
mingled with party members past and present.

Former president Dr Patrick Hillery and former taoiseach
Albert Reynolds laughed over an election poster from the
1950s that offered the assuring: "Wives: Get your husbands
off to work. Vote Fianna Fáil."

Charles Haughey, precluded by illness from attending, was
represented by his son Seán and brother Fr Eoghan Haughey,
and the first mention of his name by host Mary Kennedy drew
some of the most enthusiastic cheers of the evening (as
well as a standing ovation of one led by a gutsy fan near
the front).

Seán Lemass and Seán O'Connor, grandsons of former
taoiseach Seán Lemass, were there, as were Síle Baines, a
niece of former taoiseach Jack Lynch, Pádraig Faulkner, who
served in a number of Fianna Fáil cabinets and Máire Ní
Cheallaig, private secretary to Eamon de Valera from 1957
to 1973. The crowd was dazzled with tales and trivia. Did
you know that when De Valera died in August 1975, a month's
mourning was declared in India? Or that the first financial
donor to Fianna Fáil was - unpromisingly - a comedian?

Pat Dolan, whose father secured him a membership card aged
one, in 1926, was told he is the longest-standing party

Invariably, what was a celebration of miles already
clocked, was also a limbering drill for laps yet to come.
"Fianna Fáil's record of achievement is a source of pride
and a foundation for success in the future," the Taoiseach
said. Onwards, that is. Onwards and pollwards.

© The Irish Times


Easy Tiger!

Flatley's History Of Ireland Dance Show Accused Of Insulting Unionists

By Sunday Life Reporter
14 May 2006

DANCE king Michael Flatley has been accused of insulting
unionists with his version of Ulster history in his latest
musical spectacular.

Flatley's Celtic Tiger is already playing to sell-out
crowds across the world.

But the Irish-American super hoofer has hit the wrong note
with criticism of his "one-sided" portrayal of some of the
key events of the past 30 years.

Multi-millionaire Flatley wooed the province when he
brought his previous dance spectacular, Feet of Flames, to
Stormont in the summer of 2000.

In his latest show, Flatley said he aims to "fuse" the
spirit and history of Ireland with dance and music,
highlighting Irish oppression.

But it is the show's treatment of Northern Ireland and a
number of its leading figures that has stunned some
Protestants who have watched it.

They give examples including:

? Bloody Sunday: In the glossy programme to accompany the
dance spectacular, Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972 is
referred to as "heralding 30 years of sectarian violence".

? Sport: On stage, two of the only Northern Ireland sports
stars featured in a sequence of photographs that provide a
backdrop of one of the closing scenes are snooker's Dennis
Taylor and boxing's Wayne McCullough.

? George Best: The man often acclaimed as the world's
greatest footballer does not feature among the notable
Irish sports men who have made their mark across the world,
although Chelsea's Damien Duff does.

? Alex Higgins: Twice World Snooker Champion, Higgins is
ignored in favour of Dennis Taylor.

? Politics: While the programme highlights the Nobel Peace
Prize for John Hume and David Trimble, the photos featured
in the show are of Hume and Gerry Adams.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said yesterday: "To almost
caricature the Protestant community in a particular way and
to refer to Bloody Sunday and not refer to the context of
the time in 1972, when two policemen, one Catholic and one
Protestant, were murdered, in the days beforehand, he
(Flatley), like some others, is in danger of giving a
totally inaccurate and prejudiced view of Northern Ireland.

"There is an onus on Flatley or anyone else to present a
reasonably balanced approach to sporting and cultural life
in Northern Ireland," he added.

No-one from Flatley's Dublin PR company was available for
comment this weekend.

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