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May 16, 2006

Finucane Killer Could Be Released

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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 05/16/06 Finucane Killer Could Be Released
BB 05/16/06 Orangeman To Leave Parades Body
SF 05/16/06 Parades Commission Rapidly Descending Into A Shambles
BB 05/16/06 UVF Told To 'Catch Up' On Crime
BN 05/16/06 Lobby Group For Undocumented Irish Gets €38k Boost
NL 05/16/06 Immigration Advocates Travel To Washington
BN 05/16/06 Taoiseach: Govt Will Not Give In To Hunger-Strikers
SF 05/16/06 Retired Police Must Be Held To Account Says Sinn Féin
BN 05/16/06 Political Parties Received €12m From Taxpayers
BB 05/16/06 May 17, 1974: Dublin And Monaghan Bomb Kills 23
BT 05/16/06 Ballymena: The Town I Loved So Well
IT 05/17/06 Blair Puts Nuclear Power Plants Back On Agenda
BN 05/16/06 Group Claims Ireland Has Worst EU Poverty Rate
BB 05/16/06 Playground Named After Mo Mowlam
YA 05/16/06 And The World's Loneliest Web Users Are..
IT 05/17/06 Irish Playwrights Nominated For Tony Awards


Finucane Killer Could Be Released

The man convicted of murdering solicitor Pat Finucane could
soon be released from prison, it has emerged.

Ken Barrett was given a life sentence in September 2004
after admitting his role in the 1989 murder. He was told he
would spend at least 22 years in jail.

He heard he did not qualify for early release under the
Good Friday Agreement because he was in a prison in

This changed when he was transferred to Maghaberry prison
in February 2005, and he is now eligible for early release.

The Sentence Review Commission is holding a three-day
hearing at Maghaberry to decide whether he should be freed.

The commissioners will sanction his release if they are
satisfied that he no longer has any connection to loyalist
paramilitaries, and does not pose a threat to the public.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain will make a
submission to the hearing to help the commissioners reach
their decision.

It is understood this may include sensitive intelligence
information from the police.

The hearing is due to end on Wednesday and a decision is
expected before the end of the month.

Barrett has been held mostly in solitary confinement since
his transfer to Maghaberry, kept away from other prisoners
because of fears for his safety.

Mr Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead by the UDA
at his north Belfast home in front of his wife and family.

It is one of the most controversial murders of the
Troubles, with allegations of collusion.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/16 17:11:10 GMT


Orangeman To Leave Parades Body

An Orangeman appointed to the Parades Commission has
resigned from the body.

Don MacKay has been criticised for putting two politicians
forward as referees on his application form without first
asking their permission.

Both DUP Upper Bann MP David Simpson and SDLP Upper Bann
MLA Dolores Kelly said they would not have supplied Mr
MacKay with a reference.

It is believed the commission is yet to receive a formal
letter of resignation from Mr MacKay.

It is understood Mr MacKay ticked a box on his application
form to say he wished to be informed prior to any of his
references being taken up and had intended to contact Ms
Kelly at that stage.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Simpson said no-one had contacted
him about the application, which, he said, he would not
have supported.

Similarly in February, SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly
called on Mr MacKay to resign from the body after he named
her as a referee without asking.

Ms Kelly said on Tuesday she believed he should have stood
down earlier.

"It was the right thing to do in the circumstances, and the
only pity is that it was not done sooner," she said.

"Allowing the affair to drag on has just done damage to the
Parades Commission from which I hope it will quickly

Parades Commission chairman Roger Poole told the BBC he
believed Mr MacKay had made the "right decision".

"I think with the difficulties that have surrounded his
appointment over the past couple of months and all the
speculation in the press meant that Don felt that it was in
the best interests of the commission and himself to
resign," he said.

Mr MacKay, a former UUP councillor who is now in the DUP,
was appointed last November by Northern Ireland Secretary
Peter Hain.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Hain said he understood Mr MacKay's
reasons for leaving the commission.

"I regret that Don MacKay has had to resign from the
Parades Commission but I fully understand his reasons for
doing so," Mr Hain said.

"I made all of the appointments to the Parades Commission
in good faith and to introduce fresh thinking."

On Monday, Methodist minister Jim Rea revealed he had not
given permission for another Orangeman, David Burrows, to
use his name as a referee for a post on the body.

Both men's appointments to the commission have been
challenged in the courts.

A hearing ended on Monday, with the judgement reserved
until a later date.

However, Mr Poole said the situation surrounding Mr Burrows
was "very different" and he "shouldn't have to consider his
position at all".

"As I understand it, David did ask the individual concerned
if he would be a referee for him, not for the Parades
Commission but if he ever needed a reference - that person
said he was prepared to do so, so David put him down as a
referee," he said.

"It is important that we have got an Orange voice on the
commission because it is Orangemen who organise these

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have called on Mr Burrows to
resign from the body as well.

Speaking before Mr MacKay resigned, Brendan MacCionnaith
from the Garvaghy Road Residents Association said on
Tuesday that the commission's "overall position" was
becoming "increasingly untenable".

"Either Burrows and MacKay resign, or the secretary of
state is going to have to sack them," he said.

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: 2006/05/16 18:31:49 GMT


Parades Commission Rapidly Descending Into A Shambles

Published: 16 May, 2006

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has
said that the Parades Commission is rapidly turning into a
shambles and needs urgent action to remove both Don McKay
and David Burrows if confidence is top be restored.

Mr O‚Dowd said:

"The new Parades Commission since the day it was appointed
has stumbled from one crisis to another. Nationalists were
rightly sceptical about the appointment of two leading
Orangemen to the Commission. The fact that it has since
emerged that both forged elements of their application form
only adds to the sense of alarm.

"Both Don McKay and David Burrows need either to resign or
to be removed by the British government immediately if the
Parades Commission is to restore public confidence in its
ability to deliver as we approach the heart of the marching

"If the British government insist on sticking with these
individuals then the Parades Commission descent into a
shambles which we are currently witnessing will undoubtedly
continue." ENDS


UVF Told To 'Catch Up' On Crime

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) should "catch up" with
republicans and address criminality and paramilitarism, NI
Secretary Peter Hain has said.

He was speaking after Ulster Unionists admitted Progressive
Unionist leader David Ervine into their new group in the
revived Stormont assembly.

The move angered some unionists because the PUP is linked
to the UVF.

Mr Hain said the PUP leader's decision to link with the
Ulster Unionists was "a surprise" but was their

"It is a matter for them," he said.

"They can sit wherever they like and under which umbrella
they like."

However, the NI Secretary said Sinn Fein was in a "much
stronger position" to be on an executive, since the IRA had

"The UVF have not ended their paramilitary campaign, they
are still involved in criminality in a big way and all of
those things are things which the IRA have promised to
deliver on and is delivering on," Mr Hain said.

"Therefore, Sinn Fein are in a much stronger position to
claim a seat in a power-sharing executive since they have
decommissioned, they have ended their paramilitary campaign
and, according to the Independent Monitoring Commission,
they are driving criminality out of their ranks.

"Now that is a big, big advance compared with where the UVF

"The UVF ought to catch up quickly."

Mr Ervine announced plans to join the Ulster Unionist
party's assembly group ahead of Monday's inaugural meeting
of the revived assembly.

The move means that the group now grows to 25 assembly

It will also mean that there will be a unionist majority in
any future Stormont Executive and will give the Ulster
Unionists an extra ministerial seat at the expense of Sinn

The UUP will also be called ahead of Sinn Fein in the
assembly under its speaking rights.

Assembly speaker Eileen Bell has been asked by Ian
Paisley's Democratic Unionists to check the legality of the

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/16 12:38:01 GMT


Lobby Group For Undocumented Irish Gets €38k Boost

16/05/2006 - 16:41:06

The Government is to give an additional $50,000 (€38,997)
to an influential lobby group working to ensure
undocumented Irish can stay in the US, it emerged today.

The money will go to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
to help with its work in securing a path to permanency for
the 30,000 or so illegal Irish living in America.

Dermot Ahern, Foreign Affairs Minister, announced the cash
boost after a meeting with the ILIR president Grant Lally
in Dundalk.

The next fortnight could prove crucial in delivering
legislation which might provide a solution for the tens of
thousands of undocumented Irish living and working in the
US, some of whom have not returned home for several years.

Mr Ahern said he welcomed comments by President George W
Bush on immigration reform.

“In particular, I welcome his view that most of those who
are currently undocumented should be able to apply for
citizenship, once qualifying conditions are met,” he said.

“I recognise fully the complexity and sensitivity of this
issue and I deeply appreciate the president’s call for
concerted efforts to work towards a rational middle

Mr Ahern agreed to the extra funding after meeting the
president of the ILIR Grant Lally.

“ILIR are most effective in giving expression to the views
of many members of our community in the US on the debate on
immigration reform,” the minister said. Said.

“I was particularly pleased to inform Grant Lally of my
decision to provide a further $50,000 to support their
important work.”


Immigration Advocates Travel To Washington

Staff and agencies
16 May, 2006

By ERIN TEXEIRA, AP National Writer 1 minute ago

Hundreds of pro-immigrant advocates from at least 20 states
were headed to Washington to lobby members of Congress on
Wednesday, taking their issue from the streets to the

While reaction to President Bush ‘s address on immigration
was mixed, some activists were buoyed by the fact that the
issue at least remains a priority.

The call to arrange face-to-face meetings with members of
Congress and their staffs was put out just a week ago when
the We Are America Alliance, a loose coalition of the
nation‘s biggest pro-immigrant groups, was formed.

By early Tuesday, however, more than 400 had confirmed —
and as many as 1,000 were expected, said Joan Maruskin, who
works on immigration issues for Church World Service in
Washington, which will register participants, provide
breakfast and help visitors navigate the Capitol.

"The incredibly exciting thing is to see the spirit that is
moving everyone," she said. "It‘s amazing."

The groups‘ top priorities are reuniting immigrant families
and providing a path to citizenship. While they generally
oppose Bush‘s plan to deploy National Guard troops to help
secure the Mexican border, most acknowledge the need to
reduce illegal immigration.

More than 100 Irish immigrants from nearly a dozen states
also were on the way, said Kelly Fincham, executive
director, of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. "We‘re
targeting 100 congressmen — we‘ll be knocking on people‘s
doors," she said.

Still, Bizzotto and about 20 others flew to Washington to
"keep the pressure on the Senate to give us a legislation
that would be good for the people," he said.

"We will not accept such a highly compromised bill," Maulik

"The public attention is now, for the first time in a long
time, really, really centered on this debate," said Hector
Figueroa, treasurer of Service Employees International
Union chapter 32BJ, which has members from Connecticut to
Washington. "Right now is a great opportunity for us to
push this issue with the American public."

Associated Press writers Christina Almeida in Los Angeles
and Giovanna Dell‘Orto in Atlanta contributed to this

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Taoiseach: Govt Will Not Give In To Hunger-Strikers

16/05/2006 - 19:30:25

The Taoiseach has said the Government will not give in to
threats from Afghan asylum seekers.

Most of the 41 hunger strikers at St Patrick's Cathedral
have agreed to drink water after moves began to arrange
talks with officials from the Department of Justice.

Another man has been taken to hospital this evening, but
three of the six others being treated earlier have returned
to the cathedral.

Speaking in the Dáil, Bertie Ahern warned that conceding to
the protestors is unthinkable.

“There are one hundred nationalities in the asylum process
at present in this country and to concede to any demands
from protestors would have major negative consequences for
the asylum system that we've built up this past decade,” he

“There's no doubt that concessions would lead to similar
protests and a major inflow of additional applicants in the
hope they would benefit from similar actions.”

The decision by the Afghan asylum seekers to drink water
has been welcomed by the Justice Minister.

But Michael McDowell says his stance on their demand for
political asylum has not changed.

The Minister says their applications will be dealt with
individually and not as a group.

He says the system of processing claims for refugee status
won't change under duress:

“My position hasn't changed," he said today.

“Everybody gets courteously treated and fairly treated in
the process and no-one gets any advantage from the gestures
of the kind we've seen in the last while.”

“I'm not force-feeding anybody but our system won't change
under duress and if you looked at what happened in Belgium,
you'll see that I'm taking the right course.”


Retired Police Must Be Held Fully To Account Says Sinn Féin

Published: 16 May, 2006

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, spokesperson on policing and
justice has said that the British government must change
the law to empower the Police Ombudsman to hold retired
members of the RUC or PSNI fully to account for wrongdoing.

Speaking as a party delegation met with Paul Goggins, the
new NIO Minister for Policing and Security, Mr Kelly said
that the British government carries responsibility for
former RUC or PSNI members getting off the hook at this

Mr Kelly said:

"In the last few days, I have met with David Hanson, NIO
minister for justice and Nuala O Loan, the Police
Ombudsman. I have discussed my concerns with them both.
Today I will be raising the same grave concern with Paul
Goggins and pressing him to close the loophole in the
legislation to ensure anyone engaged in policing can be
held fully to account.

"The case for the Police Ombudsman to be given this power
is compelling. It is made by those who have declared their
intention to try and thwart investigations by the Police
Ombudsman and by those who resign, retire or take sick
leave whenever such investigations close in on them,
sometimes removing or destroying evidence of their
wrongdoing in the process. Political detectives have no
future in policing and Sinn Fein is determined to see those
responsible for wrongdoing held fully to account for their
actions." ENDS


Political Parties Received €12m From Taxpayers

16/05/2006 - 21:14:45

Taxpayers funded political parties to the tune of almost
€12m in 2005, figures revealed tonight.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) said
Fianna Fáil was the largest beneficiary at €4,597,103
followed by Fine Gael on €3,137,147 and Labour on

Junior Government partners the Progressive Democrats
received €907,479 followed by the Green Party at €670,337,
Sinn Féin at €606,002 and the Socialist Party at €58,759.

The total Exchequer funding for each party is calculated
from the monies received under the Electoral Acts and the
Party Leaders’ Allowance.

Sipo also said that four of the qualifying 13 political
parties disclosed political donations totalling €142,917.
Each party must disclose donations over the €5,078.95

Fianna Fáil disclosed the highest at €76,498 followed by
the Green Party at €30,600, Sinn Féin at €30,000 and the
Socialist Party at €5,819.

The donations were received from the parties’ elected
representatives in each case, Sipo said.

Independent TDs in the Dáil also received €467,273 in
Exchequer funding under the Party Leaders’ Allowance while
their colleagues in the Seanad collected €96,054.


May 17, 1974: Dublin And Monaghan Bomb Kills 23

Three car bombs have exploded in Dublin, killing 23 people
and injuring more than 100 others during rush hour.

Five more people died and another 20 were hurt in a blast
which hit the border town of Monaghan an hour later.

Up to 15 of the dead are believed to be women and two are
thought to be baby boys.

Irish Prime Minister Liam Cosgrave condemned the bombings
and said on TV: "I do not know which evil men did this but
everyone who has practised violence or preached violence or
condoned violence must bear his share of responsiblility.

"It will bring home to us what the people of Northern
Ireland have been suffering for five long years."

Hundreds of people were in the street. They were running
and screaming aimlessly.

Witness John Casey

The drama unfolded at around 1725 when two of the bombs
tore through Talbot and Parnell Street before a third blast
rocked South Leinster Street near Trinity College.

A fourth explosion struck a public house in Monaghan
shortly after.

The city was immediately declared a disaster area.

A police spokesman said: "There were no warnings. These
were acts of outright war. People had no chance.

"We are detaining everyone we think can help with
inquiries. We believe the people behind this come from
Northern Ireland."

Talbot Street, which was even more crowded than usual
because of a corporation bus strike, was the worst hit

Several bodies lay in the road for half an hour as
ambulances struggled to get through traffic jams.

Witness John Casey, who was walking into a Talbot Street
hotel when the bomb went off, said: "Hundreds of people
were in the street. They were running and screaming

"A newspaper stand was blown into the air past me and the
newsboy next to it just disappeared in front of my eyes."

Immediately after the bombings the Ulster Defence
Association in Belfast denied planting the bombs as did the
Provisional IRA.

But police later discovered that all four cars had Ulster
registration plates and two of them had been hijacked in
Protestant areas in Belfast.

In Context

The final death toll in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings,
which included a pregnant woman and a stillborn child,
stood at 33.

The loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force eventually admitted
carrying out the bombings in 1994.

But relatives of the dead and wounded still believed many
questions were left unanswered and they formed the Justice
For The Forgotten organisation in 1996.

The group has continued to press the Irish government for a
public inquiry into the truth behind the bombings ever

Many believe the UVF were helped by British intelligence.

Eventually a private inquiry into the bombings was set up
in 2003 by retired Judge Henry Barron.

But the British authorities were unwilling to co-operate
and to provide the necessary files and information.

As a result his findings were inconclusive.

In July 2004 the Irish government agreed to set up a
commission of inquiry into the bombings.

Nobody has ever been convicted of the atrocities.


Ballymena: The Town I Loved So Well

Previously best-known as a prosperous Ulster town, the
death of teenager Michael McIlveen has cast a dark shadow
over Ballymena. in a powerful and provocative article John
Laverty, who was born and raised in the co Antrim town,
reveals its true face

16 May 2006

Ballymena has always been riven by dichotomies and identity
crises. It calls itself the City of the Seven Towers - but
it isn't a city at all, and there's little evidence these
days of the aforementioned battlements.

It markets itself as a shopper's paradise - but it's also a
Mecca for junkies, dealers, A-class pushers and home to
half the registered heroin addicts in Northern Ireland.

It was once a town that boasted more BMWs per square mile
than anywhere else in the province - but those Beemer
owners wouldn't have to drive too far to witness abject
poverty as well.

Its council has, in the past, spent vast amounts of
ratepayers' money on terrific leisure facilities - then
chained up the kiddies' swings in the so-called 'People's
Park' on a Sunday.

It is often referred to as 'Paisley's Town' but the Big Man
wasn't born there and it has been a long, long time since
he lived there. It was once the subject of risible telly
ads extolling the virtues of the "big shopping centre in
Ballymena, hey" - using an actor (not, incidentally, from
the town itself) who somehow got it into his head that
people from The Mena say "hey" at the end of their

They don't. You need to go further north for that, hey.

It has always had the reputation of being the buckle of
mid-Antrim's Bible belt - while at the same time bearing
witness to bitter, sporadic and sustained sectarian hatred.

And it has certain residents who happily drink, work and
live together - until those same people lay off speaking to
each other when July comes around.

A kind of perverted Ballymenian Lent, you might say.

Yet today my home town, the place where I was born and
raised, has suddenly become a community fused by a common
purpose - and peppered by a communal sense of shame.

The brutal death of young Michael McIlveen, who lost his
brave battle for life last week, suddenly has the majority
of the so-called Bible-belters singing from the same hymn-

And the 'hymn' itself has simple lyrics: enough is enough.

Ballymena folk are no strangers to apparent acts of naked
sectarianism by any means.

Only last month, for instance, a young man was stabbed in a
town centre attack.

Churches and schools were defaced and set on fire in an
orgy of sectarian violence last year.

Several families were also forced from their homes in
outlying villages, in a chilling echo of allegedly more
troubled times.

And, of course, the chapel in Harryville could lay a strong
claim to being the most attacked building in the province.

You could set your watch - or, at least, your diary, by it.

(The precedent for such acts was, after all, established as
far back as 831AD, when Norsemen invaded the Ballymena
area, burning the church).

Most, though not by any means all, of the victims of
Ballymena sectarianism are Catholics or nationalists but,
by and large, there always appeared to be a tacit
acceptance that, appalling and distasteful as these attacks
were, they were part and parcel of "what Ballymena is."

The death of 15-year-old 'Mickybo,' as his many friends
called him, is, however, strikingly different.

It has reached further than ever before into the locals'
hearts, pricked at their collective conscience - and
shredded whatever civic pride they might have had left.

It has held up a metaphorical, moral mirror to those who
still dare to look - and those who countenanced it didn't
like what they saw.

At least the shame has stripped away the blanket of
complacency in the area, and re-illuminated the earlier
signposts that should have told everyone something like
this was going to happen one day.

I recall in the 70s the (Protestant) Harryville Boot Boys
'defending' the lower end of the conurbation (across the
River Braid), with the rival (Catholic) Broadway Boot Boys
raising the proverbial ramparts to deny access to the 'Top
of the Town.'

But it was more cowboys and Indians than anything else; you
chased them down towards Harryville or Ballykeel, they
chased you back up.

And, of course, there were the more sinister paramilitary
groups who stayed in the shadows and pre-planned their own
brutal deeds.

But that was the past, surely. Despite its obvious drug
problems this is meant to be a town symbolic of the new,
cosmopolitan, all-embracing, 21st century Northern Ireland
- a province that had apparently vowed to break from the
troubled past while at the same time learning from its
bloody lessons.

Now, however, a throwback from that past has seemingly been
thrown into the present like a hostile gauntlet thrown to
the ground.

The question is: who's going to pick it up?

I grew up in Hill Street, which led up to the old Fair

Not the current "big shopping centre in Ballymena of the
same name, hey" but a lively, open air livestock market
that resembled the Lammas Fair every Saturday and
epitomised the town's role as the hub of a thriving Co
Antrim farming community.

Indeed, Ballymena's name is derived from the gaelic Baile
Meánach, which means Middle Town.

And it was in 1626 that Charles I confirmed the grant of
the Ballymena Estate to the Scottish Laird William Adair,
giving him the right to hold a market in the town every

It may well have been the last thing us townsfolk can be
collectively proud of.

In my street, for many years, there was a slogan painted in
big white letters onto the wall of a derelict house.

It read: "Ulcer is ours."

As a teenager, I dated a girl from the Harryville area; one
glorious day she asked me to take her to the border near

In all seriousness, she demanded to see the legendary
meteorological phenomenon that she'd read about on various
walls: the place where the blue skies of Ulster meet the
grey mists of an Irish republic.

I was reminiscing about such things last week, and thinking
that if people are going to do things for a certain 'cause'
then it might help if they knew exactly what that cause

I know Ballymena's politicians, community and Church
leaders, teachers, parents and general townsfolk are
feeling shock and collective shame today.

I hope, for everyone's sake, that it lingers for a long
time in the town.


Blair Puts Nuclear Power Plants Back On Agenda


British prime minister Tony Blair has given his strongest
indication yet that his government will pursue the
construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants.
He said the issue was "back on the agenda with a vengeance"
because of rising energy prices and global warming, writes
Liam Reid, Political Reporter.

His comments prompted an angry response from the
Government, which indicated that it would now consider
taking a legal challenge against any proposed nuclear
plants on the controversial Sellafield site.

Minister for the Environment Dick Roche last night said he
was "deeply disappointed" by Mr Blair's comments and
questioned whether he was pre-empting the outcome of an
ongoing review of British energy policy.

Last night in a speech to British industry leaders, Mr
Blair said he had received a "first cut" of the review.

"The facts are stark," he said, adding that if policy was
not changed, the British economy would become 90 per cent
dependent on the import of foreign gas and that it would be
totally unable to meet its greenhouse gas reduction

"These facts put the replacement of nuclear power stations,
a big push on renewables and a step-change on energy
efficiency, engaging both business and consumers, back on
the agenda with a vengeance," he said.

He added: "If we don't take these long-term decisions now,
we will be committing a serious dereliction of our duty to
the future of this country."

Last night there were reports in the British media that the
government would also be considering changes to the
planning process to help fast-track the new stations.

At present one fifth of Britain's power needs are being met
by nuclear power, but the majority of these plants are more
than two decades old and most are due to close by 2020.
While a decision to pursue a new generation of power
stations may not result in the construction of new power
plants on the Sellafield site, it will almost certainly
lead to increased levels of nuclear waste at the Cumbria
facility, which is the only nuclear waste reprocessing site
in the UK.

The British government has also braced itself for an angry
reaction, with Mr Blair's spokesman predicting "despairing
shrieks of outrage" in response to the British prime
minister's comments.

Reacting to the speech last night, Mr Roche claimed that a
decision to replace the current ageing British nuclear
plants with new facilities was "shortsighted".

"It will curse future generations with the the legacy of
waste from these power stations," he said. "While I respect
the right of a sovereign government to set its own
policies, I am deeply disappointed," he said.

"I had thought there was going to be a logical debate about
nuclear power, but the outcome of this energy review
appears to be predetermined."

Mr Roche denied that the Irish Government was powerless to
prevent the construction of a new generation of nuclear
power stations in Britain, in the wake of a finding by the
Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
that the Government breached European law by pursuing a
case against the British government over Sellafield through
international courts instead of the European court itself.

Mr Roche said that if this finding is upheld by the
European Court of Justice when it delivers its full
judgment next month, the Government would be pursuing a new
case on Sellafield through the ECJ.

Reacting to yesterday's announcement by Mr Blair, Mr Roche
said expanding the action to include proposals for new
nuclear facilities in Britain would be considered by the

© The Irish Times


Group Claims Ireland Has Worst EU Poverty Rate

16/05/2006 - 19:39:12

Ireland has the worst poverty rate in the EU, an anti
poverty group claimed today.

Ambitious targets are needed to eradicate hardship and
social exclusion by 2010, according to the Irish national
network of the European Anti Poverty Network.

The group also claims measures used to calculate poverty
are outdated and in need of a radical overhaul to reflect
changes in Irish society since the 1990s.

EAPN Ireland chairman Joe Gallagher said ‘relative’ poverty
in Ireland is measured by not being able to afford certain
necessities, like a warm coat or heating at home, while in
most other developed countries, it is found by the number
falling below 60% of ‘mean’ earnings.

“By this measure, Ireland has the worst poverty rate in the
EU,” he said.

The group told the Social and Family Affairs Oireachtas
Committee that ambitious targets needed for the new
National Action Plan for Inclusion (2006-08) had to be
submitted to the European Commission by September.

Under guidelines, the State has to lay out steps to
eradicate poverty and social exclusion by 2010, making it a

They should include clearer budgets, policies and
monitoring arrangements than in the past.

Mr Gallagher said the plan will be particularly significant
because by next year, the Government must either achieve or
revise the 10-year targets in the 1997 NAPS (National Anti
Poverty Strategy) when its main target was to reduce
‘consistent’ poverty to 2%, or ideally eliminate it, by

Mr Gallagher, who said poverty was particularly high among
older people, lone parents, and the unemployed added:
“Ireland’s shortfalls in basic services for the poorest,
like health, education and transport, has become a more
active subject in public debate than in the past.

“Ireland has historically lagged behind many of our EU
counter-parts in the quality of services available to those
on low incomes.”

Targets proposed by the group include: an adequate income
to eliminate consistent poverty; appropriate, quality
employment; quality, accessible services; participation and
good governance.


Playground Named After Mo Mowlam

A children's park within the Stormont estate has been named
after former NI Secretary Mo Mowlam.

The playground was developed during her time as secretary
of state.

Ms Mowlam, who was MP for Redcar from 1987 to 2001 and
Northern Ireland secretary from 1997 to 1999, died last
August aged 55.

Current Secretary of State Peter Hain said the Mo Mowlam
Children's Park was a fitting tribute to the former

"I feel honoured to be able to provide this permanent
memorial to Mo within the Stormont estate, where she worked
tirelessly to improve the lives of all the people of
Northern Ireland," he said.

"Her achievements, not least the crucial role she played in
the signing of the Belfast Agreement, provided a positive
legacy for the peace process."

Ms Mowlam's husband, Jon Norton, attended Tuesday's
official opening.

"This is a wonderful tribute to Mo. She believed, very
strongly that the peace had to be carried on and cemented
by the next generations in Northern Ireland," he said.

"I am very moved to be here and to honour her memory."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/16 11:35:56 GMT


And The World's Loneliest Web Users Are..

Mon May 15, 9:15 AM ET

Ireland may be enjoying stellar economic growth and seen as
one of the best places in the world to live, but its inhabitants are
apparently also the globe's loneliest.

Google Trends, which works out how many searches have been
done via the Internet search engine on particular terms, showed the word
"lonely" was entered most frequently by Internet users in Ireland:

The Irish, enjoying new-found wealth and a flood of
Immigration following more than a century of economic decline, are
followed in the misery stakes by residents of Singapore and New Zealand
-- although Singaporeans are the most frequent searchers of

Google Trends calculates the ratio of searches for a given
term coming from each city, region or language divided by total Google
searches coming from the same area.

Ireland's capital, Dublin, topped the city list for
"lonely" searches, followed by Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.

In 2004, the Economist magazine named Ireland the best
place to live in the world in a "quality of life" assessment.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.


Irish Playwrights Nominated For Tony Awards

Martin McDonagh's play The Lieutenant of Inishmore and
Brian Friel's The Faith Healer have been shortlisted for
this year's Tony awards on Broadway.

The Drowsy Chaperone, an affectionate parody of 1920s
musicals, led the field with 13 nominations today, while
Alan Bennett's The History Boys was confirmed as the
favourite for best new play with seven nominations.

The Drowsy Chaperone has already won several awards and was
the critics' favourite, along with Jersey Boys, a jukebox
musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple, based on the Alice Walker
novel, made a surprisingly strong showing with 11
nominations, more than Jersey Boys, which took eight. The
Color Purple got a lukewarm reception from critics but has
been a box office hit.

The Wedding Singer, a 1980s romp adapted from the Adam
Sandler movie, was the fourth nomination for best new
musical, and The Pajama Game led the list of revivals with
nine nominations, including one for its star, Harry Connick

But the biggest star of the season on Broadway, Oscar-
winner Julia Roberts, was not among those nominated as best
actress in a play.

Her Broadway debut was panned by critics, but in a year
with few outstanding female performances there was
speculation she could make the grade, particularly if
organisers had hoped to tempt her to be a presenter at the
ceremony on June 11th.

The nominees for best actress in a play were Sex and the
City star Cynthia Nixon for her role in Rabbit Hole, Kate
Burton and Lynn Redgrave in the period comedy The Constant
Wife, Judy Kaye in Souvenir, and Lisa Kron in Well.

Up for best actor are Oliver Platt for Shining City, Ralph
Fiennes for Faith Healer, Richard Griffiths for The History
Boys, Zeljko Ivanek for The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, and
David Wilmot for The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

© The Irish Times/

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