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May 02, 2006

Injuries & Arrests After Loyalists Damage Mural

Damage at the scene of the clashes
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News About Ireland & The Irish

BB 05/02/06 Injuries & Arrests After Loyalists Damage Mural
IN 05/02/06 Collusion: Subversion In The UDR
BT 05/02/06 Ingram Rejects Fund To Aid UDR Families
IT 05/02/06 Day Of Protest By Illegals In US Closes Many Businesses
IT 05/02/06 Ahern Urges Sinn Féin And DUP To 'Engage'
BM 05/02/06 Ahern And Hain To Discuss Next Phase In Peace Process
BB 05/02/06 Loyal Orders And SDLP Set To Meet
BN 05/02/06 Masked Gang Shoots Man In Legs
IM 05/02/06 Remembering Bobby Sands
IM 05/02/06 Tyrone Hunger Striker To Take Part In 1981 Debate
BT 05/02/06 Opin: Truth About Hunger Strike Must Emerge
BT 05/02/06 Opin: Hearts And Minds And Orangemen
IN 05/02/06 Opin: A Tradition Betrayed – An Order In Chaos
IN 05/02/06 Opin: Potency Of Post-Conflict Policing Is Paramount
IN 05/02/06 Opin: History Will Be Truest Judge Of Peacemakers
IN 05/02/06 Opin: A Few Bad Apples Don’t Make A Bad Barrel
IN 05/02/06 Opin: Here’s To The Work Of Tom, Dick And ‘Mary’
BT 05/02/06 September 11: The Horror Unfolds
IT 05/02/06 O'Carolan Remembered In Tributes To Blind Irish Bard
IT 05/02/06 Airstrip To Be Built On Inishbofin Island
IT 05/02/06 Guinness Heir Browne To Sell Irish Art Collection


Injuries & Arrests After Loyalists Damage Mural

Several injured as trouble flares

Several people have been treated in hospital following
trouble at the Glenshane Pass in County Londonderry.

It is understood a group of loyalists travelling to
Londonderry in a minibus damaged a mural in a nationalist

There are claims that a farmer who intervened was
threatened and assaulted and a family living on the
Glenshane Pass were assaulted in their home.

Police said two groups were involved. Two people had been
arrested and charged, they said.

Martin Molloy, who lives in the area, was with the family
shortly after the incident at their home.

"The mother was hurt. The two fellas seemed to be severely
hurt. Their faces were very badly bruised and the fellas
were in shock," he said.

"Nobody deserves that to happen when they are minding their
own business."


Following the violence, police escorted the minibus to
Magherafelt police station.

A police spokeswoman said the two people who were arrested
had been charged with assault and causing criminal damage,
and were released on bail to appear in court at a later

Local Sinn Fein councillor Patrick Groogan said two young
people were caught up in the trouble.

"There were up to 30 young fellas on a bus, I presume there
was drink taken. They sort of went berserk in a Catholic
area," he said.

"A mother and two children living on their own are now
hospitalised, they were taken away in the ambulance."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/02 08:18:34 GMT


Collusion: Subversion In The UDR

Secret files reveal: n The Downing Street link Soldiers
armed loyalists

By Steven McCaffery

• SHOW OF STRENGTH: The UDR was a major source of weapons
for loyalist paramilitaries newly discovered documents have

THE British government was aware of large-scale collusion
between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries from as
early as 1973, according to documents revealed today in the
Irish News.

The files show Downing Street knew that significant numbers
of soldiers were linked to loyalist paramilitaries, but
failed to act.

The collusion file contains a detailed report on Subversion
in the UDR including estimates of the numbers of soldiers
linked to loyalists while intelligence documents show how
more than 200 British army rifles and sub machine guns were
passed to loyalists.

This is the first time evidence has emerged to show, not
only the scale of collusion, but also that government was
aware of it early in the Troubles.

The documents reveal that military intelligence:

n estimated 5-15 per cent of UDR soldiers were linked to
loyalist paramilitaries

:: believed that the best single source of weapons, and the
only significant source of modern weapons, for Protestant
extremist groups was the UDR

:: feared UDR troops were loyal to Ulster rather than Her
Majesty’s Government

:: knew that UDR weapons were being used in the murder and
attempted murder of Catholics

Against this background it is significant that as the
Troubles unfolded, the government went on to increase,
rather than decrease, the regiment’s role in areas of high
tension in Northern Ireland.

The files date from August 1973 and in the two years that
followed UDR members took part in the Miami showband
massacre, and were linked to the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings that killed 33 people.

The UDR or Ulster Defence Regiment was formed in 1970 to
replace the disgraced B Specials police reserve, but
nationalists came to see it as a carbon copy.

The new regiment, which was the largest in the British
army, recruited exclusively in Northern Ireland and
eventually became almost 100 per cent Protestant.

It was merged with another military unit in 1992 to form
the Royal Irish Regiment but it also attracted controversy
and its Northern Ireland battalions are now being

While the new documents concentrate on the UDR, they also
include files that show senior political figures making
disturbing references to wrong-doing within the ranks of
the RUC. The Irish News has had exclusive access to the
documents and over two days of special reports will reveal
the content of the files which for the first time form a
paper trail stretching from murder on the streets of
Belfast, to decision making at No10 Downing Street.

The UDR saw 257 members and former members killed by
republican paramilitaries, and in today’s coverage a UDR
veteran recalls her memories of death and terrible injury.

On the new intelligence files, she says that if the British
government knew of wrongdoing, they should have done

The new documents were discovered by campaigners probing
allegations of security force collusion in the murder of
their loved ones.

The son of one victim recounts uncovering the collusion
files, and tells The Irish News: It was quite alarming to
find that the British government at the highest level knew,
as they put it themselves, that there was subversion within
the UDR’.

They knew that it went as far as getting guns for
loyalists, and involvement in murder.


Ingram Rejects Fund To Aid UDR Families

By Michael McHugh
02 May 2006

The Government came under fire last night after the
Ministry of Defence refused to establish a fund supporting
the widows and children of UDR victims of the Troubles.

The DUP has vowed to oppose the decision, which follows the
establishment of a Police Fund for RUC widows and disabled

The refusal was given in a written response by Armed Forces
Minister Adam Ingram to Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson
and follows the announcement earlier this year of a
substantial package of support for Royal Irish Regiment
soldiers, who include UDR veterans, who are being made

There are already a series of support services in place for
widows but Mr Donaldson said the news still came as a blow.

"I am very disappointed. We had made the case that the
establishment of the Police Fund created a precedent which
ought to be replicated in the case of the UDR widows," he

"The fund helps provide practical assistance and support to
RUC widows and their children and helps RUC officers who
are disabled as a result of terrorist violence and we felt
that there was a need for a similar fund to be created for
the UDR.

"We owe a great debt to the UDR soldiers who lost their
lives or were seriously injured as a result of the service
that they provided to the whole community in protecting
people against terrorism."

Mr Ingram's parliamentary answer said the matter was
analysed by his officials last summer.

"This study indicated that post-1974 UDR widows were no
worse off than their RUC counterparts and most are somewhat
better off," he said.

"Should there be any individual hardship cases, those
concerned would be eligible for assistance either from the
UDR Benevolent Fund or through the Royal Irish Regiment
Welfare Staff, but there are no plans to establish a
separate fund on the lines suggested."

The UDR Benevolent Fund helps organise outings and social
gatherings with widows and their children as well as
providing practical assistance.

Jim Potter, who helped establish the first UDR welfare
provision in 1985, said that while more cash would be
welcome, there was already significant provision.


Day Of Protest By Illegals In US Closes Many Businesses

Denis Staunton in Washington

Factories were silent, fields stood empty and shops and
restaurants remained shuttered across the US as hundreds of
thousands of illegal immigrants took part in a national day
of protest.

Angered by a Republican proposal to criminalise all
undocumented immigrants and those who help them, many of
the country's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants
stayed away from work and school and avoided shopping.

The biggest demonstrations were in southern California,
where police expected up to half a million people at a
march in Los Angeles, and schools reported that thousands
of children stayed away. In downtown Los Angeles, as many
as one in three businesses shut down.

Much of California's agricultural business came to a halt
as fruit and vegetable pickers, most of whom are
immigrants, stayed at home.

Building sites and restaurants throughout the US shut down
and 70 per cent of workers failed to show up for work at
some branches of McDonalds.

Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat producer, closed
12 of its more than 100 plants and saw "higher-than-usual
absenteeism" at others. Poultry processor Perdue Farms
closed eight of its 14 chicken plants.

By early afternoon, police said 300,000 people had gathered
in Chicago to demonstrate against the criminalisation of
illegal immigrants and to call for the undocumented to be
given a chance to become US citizens.

In New York, protesters gathered in Queens, the city's most
ethnically diverse district, waving US and Latin American
flags and holding banners saying, "We are Americans" and
"Full Rights for All Immigrants". In Washington's Adams
Morgan neighbourhood, home to a large Hispanic population,
most shops and restaurants closed as thousands of
demonstrators met in Malcolm X Park. Some immigrants cut
short their working day to attend demonstrations and others
waited until after work to protest.

The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform opposed yesterday's
boycott as counter-productive, urging supporters to attend
work and demonstrate later.

Yesterday's protest was the latest in a series of high-
profile demonstrations undertaken by immigrants in the US
in recent months.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan yesterday
restated President George W Bush's opposition to the
boycott but said the president was determined to introduce
comprehensive immigration reform.

"I'm not sure what kind of impact it has on the discussion
in Congress. But the president is focused on continuing to
work with senators to get a comprehensive Bill off the
floor of the United States Senate and into conference
committee. . . this is an emotional issue. But we have a
broken immigration system, and we have some 12 million
undocumented people in this country," he said.

Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate will resume
discussion next week of a proposal that would tighten
border security but allow most illegal immigrants already
in the US to stay in the country and apply for citizenship.

Republicans in the House of Representatives oppose the
Senate Bill, which they describe as an amnesty.

© The Irish Times


Ahern Urges Sinn Féin And DUP To 'Engage'

Mark Brennock and Gerry Moriarty

The Taoiseach has again urged the DUP and Sinn Féin to
engage with each other as preparations are made for the
resumption of the Assembly on May 15th.

Speaking to reporters yesterday he said the "marching
season" was approaching and this was "always a new
concern". However, Mr Ahern said some positive things had
been said recently, noting remarks by DUP deputy leader
Peter Robinson and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Mr Robinson said last week that his party was willing to
share power with Sinn Féin but would have to be satisfied
that the IRA had ended paramilitary activity and
criminality. "We will take as long as necessary, and no
longer, to be sure that the republican campaign is over,"
he said.

Gerry Adams said a fortnight ago that Sinn Féin members
would be present when the Stormont Assembly reconvened
later this month to ensure "the election of a government in
line with the Good Friday agreement".

Mr Ahern said the scene was now set for the resumption of
the Assembly and for efforts to reach agreement to re-
establish the power-sharing Executive within six months.

"I would like to see the DUP and Sinn Féin as early as
possible engaging with each other. That's important,
collectively together. The agenda they have to deal with is
about getting ready for government. The business will be to
elect an Executive," he said.

"We all know that might take some time but I do hope that
they proactively work together to try to get a good spirit
into the Assembly," the Taoiseach said.

The Assembly is due to return to Stormont on Monday week
with all sides - despite some public statements to the
contrary - conceding there is no chance of a fully
functioning Executive being formed within the initial
deadline of six weeks.

At the weekend the former Ulster Unionist Party leader
David Trimble, now appointed to the House of Lords, told
the BBC he did not believe republicans had done enough to
convince them to enter into a fully operating Stormont
administration with Sinn Féin.

However, Mr Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair
hope that by the final deadline of November 24th enough
common ground will have been established between the DUP
and Sinn Féin to allow agreement on an Executive led by Ian
Paisley as first minister and Martin McGuinness as deputy
first minister.

They believe that if last week's positive Independent
Monitoring Commission's report on IRA activity can be
improved upon in the next report in October it will be
difficult for Dr Paisley to find reasonable arguments for
refusing to share power with Sinn Féin.

As Mr Ahern acknowledged yesterday the tensions and
potential for violence that the annual marching season
generates could jeopardise the prospects of a political

The main flashpoint parades are at Whiterock in west
Belfast, Ardoyne in north Belfast on July 12th and Drumcree
at Portadown earlier in July. The Orange Order leadership
has refused to speak to nationalist resident groups but
there has been some tentative talk of contact at local
level recently.

© The Irish Times


Ahern And Hain To Discuss Next Phase In Peace Process

02/05/2006 - 08:02:13

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is due to meet
Northern Secretary Peter Hain in Dublin today to discuss
the next phase in the peace process.

The talks will focus on plans by the Irish and British
governments to restore the Northern Assembly in shadow form
on May 15.

The Northern parties will then be given until November 24
to agree a deal on restoring the power-sharing

Most observers are pessimistic about the prospects for
progress, with the DUP still flatly refusing to enter
government with Sinn Féin until it is satisfied that the
IRA is committed to peace.


Loyal Orders And SDLP Set To Meet

Representatives of the Loyal Orders are to meet the SDLP
for the first time to discuss the Protestant marching

Drew Nelson of the Orange Order said he was committed to
such meetings to explain the wider community the importance
of parading in his culture.

SDLP spokesman Alex Attwood said people must work together
"to recognise each other's cultures and traditions".

"Sustained face-to-face dialogue" with community groups was
vital in resolving "local marching disputes", he said.

But he added that the talks, being held at Stormont, were
"not an alternative to dialogue with residents' groups".

"The SDLP would encourage the Loyal Orders to acknowledge
that it is genuine, sustained, face-to-face dialogue with
local host communities and representative groups that is
the single most important commitment required to resolve
local marching disputes," he said.

'End boycott'

Mr Nelson said he hoped that Tuesday's discussions with the
SDLP would not be a "one off" meeting.

"I hope that it will lead to further contact," he said.

"It is very important for the Orange Order to explain to
the wider community, the importance of parading to our

Mr Attwood also called on the Orange Order to "end its
boycott of the Parades Commission".

The assembly member said the fact that the Loyal Orders
were meeting his party could not "justify any significant
shift by the Parades Commission around any disputed

The Protestant marching season is one of the fixed elements
of Northern Ireland life, and in recent years some parades
have led to disputes and street violence.

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: 2006/05/02 08:17:47 GMT


Masked Gang Shoots Man In Legs

02/05/2006 - 07:37:30

A man has been shot in the legs in what police in the North
said today was thought to be a paramilitary-style attack.

The man was walking through an underpass in the Niall’s
Crescent area of Armagh city late last night when he was
set upon, said police.

A group of up to five masked men grabbed the man and shot
him once in each leg.

The victim was taken to hospital where his condition was
not believed to be life- threatening.


Remembering Bobby Sands

National Miscellaneous Event Notice Monday May 01,
2006 18:22 by West Tyrone Ógra Shinn Féin

Friday 5th May will see the 25th anniversary of the death
of Bobby Sands MP.

Friday 5th May will see the 25th anniversary of the death
of Bobby Sands MP in Long Kesh.

Bobby Sands was in his 66th day on hunger strike to defeat
attempts by the British government to portray the
republican struggle as criminal. His death made worldwide
headlines. People took to the streets worldwide to protest
at his death.

25 years on Ógra Shinn Féin will again take to the streets
to remember the 25th Anniversary of the death of Bobby
Sands. We will be holding a national day of action on
Friday 5th May. Such actions taking place on the day
include members of Ógra Shinn Féin participating in a 24
hour long fast, having video showings and having a candle
lit vigils to remember the death of this Irish martyr.

We urge others on May 5th to remember the sacrifice of
Bobby Sands and his nine other comrades who died to defeat
the British policy of criminalisation.

Related Link:


Tyrone Hunger Striker To Take Part In 1981 Debate

Tyrone Miscellaneous Event Notice Monday May 01, 2006
18:07 by Ógra B - Ógra Shinn Féin osf6county at yahoo dot

On Friday evening May 5,, Republicans from throughout the
county will gather in Hughie Ruadh’s, Mountfield to take
part in a discussion around the 1981 Hunger Strike.

This event is one of hundreds organised by the National
Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee to mark the 25th
anniversary of the Strike. During this period from March
until August 1981 ten Republican Prisoners of War fasted to
death in defiance of the Thatcher government’s attempt to
categorise them as criminals.

Leading the debate will be former Tyrone Hunger Striker,
Tommy Mc Kearney from Moy. Tommy, along with 6 comrades,
participated in the first Hunger Strike which began on 27
October 1980, fasting for 53 days without food. Three
female Republican Prisoners in Armagh Gaol joined the fast
in December. This included Mairead Farrell who was executed
by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988.

Also, in attendance at the event will be representatives of
the family of Martin Hurson who died in the 1981 Strike
after 46 days of protest.

‘Blanketmen’ from various parts of the county will also
come along to share their stories of camaraderie and
endurance. Some of these men spent as long as 6 years on
the blanket and no wash protest in conditions which the
late Cardinal O Fiach could only compare to the “sewers of

Speaking ahead of the event, Sinn Fein Councillor Declan Mc
Aleer said that “The prison protest and hunger strikes of
1980 and 1981 were water shed moments in Irish History. In
their bid to defeat the Irish people’s demands for freedom
and justice, the British Government attempted to present
the struggle as a criminal conspiracy. A key battleground
that they chose was the prisons. However, using nothing but
their naked bodies, sheer determination and conviction in
their beliefs, the Republican Prisoners of War defeated the
Brits in this key battle”.

Continuing, Cllr. Mc Aleer said that “this is a compelling
story relived and recounted by the very people who took
part in the protest. It will be nostalgic and emotional for
those who recall that era and educational for those who
were too young to remember”.

The discussion gets underway at 9.30pm and will be followed
be an evening of entertainment featuring Spirit of Freedom.

Related Link:


Opin: Truth About Hunger Strike Must Emerge

02 May 2006

Could the lives of six of the 1981 hunger strikers have
been saved, if the IRA Army Council had accepted a deal
that was offered by Margaret Thatcher herself? That is the
substance of a claim made by the spokesman for the IRA
prisoners, Richard O'Rawe, and now supported by Denis
Bradley, the former deputy chairman of the Policing Board
and former priest.

Mr Bradley admits that he was not involved, but those who
were present when Mrs Thatcher was contacted by phone told
him that her offer was substantially what the IRA
eventually settled for - after 10 deaths. While Sinn Fein
were able to dismiss the accusation by Mr O'Rawe last year,
they will find it much more difficult to contradict Mr
Bradley, a trusted negotiator between themselves and the
Thatcher government.

If what he has said in tonight's RTE documentary,
commemorating the 25th anniversary on Friday of the death
of Bobby Sands, is correct, the outcome of the hunger
strike could have been very different. Not only would many
lives have been saved - of the strikers and those killed in
street disturbances - but Sinn Fein's entry into mainstream
politics might have been aborted, affecting both the Anglo-
Irish and Good Friday Agreements.

What is indisputable is that the hunger strike was a
seminal event, epitomising the ideological and military
conflict between the republican movement and British
governments down the years. The prisoners used the
emotional power of a hunger strike to force London to stop
treating republican terrorists as criminals and eventually
were successful. In doing so, however, they created more
division, deepening the rift between the nationalist and
unionist communities.

The latest revelation raises many important questions,
which the present republican leadership must answer, as
they prepare to honour the prisoners they regard as
martyrs. Who was the republican representative when Mrs
Thatcher was telephoned - apparently on her way to
Portugal? Were the strikers themselves informed and who, in
the IRA Army Council, left the final decision to the

Mr O'Rawe has said that he and Brendan "Bik" McFarlane, the
IRA prisoners' commanding officer, accepted concessions
offered by the Foreign Office on July 5, three days before
Joe McDonnell died, after 61 days. But Mr McFarlane denies
that there was a deal, or that he was to confirm the
prisoners' acceptance to the Army Council.

Eventually the mothers of comatose strikers, guided by
Father Denis Faul, were instrumental in ending the crisis,
after which the prisoners' demands were granted. As the
then Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald has said, there was
stupidity on both sides. To understand what happened,
everyone deserves to hear the truth.


Opin: Hearts And Minds And Orangemen

01 May 2006

The marching season has yet to get into full swing but
every effort must be made to ensure that the pattern of
relatively low-key parades and protests which was
established over the Easter holidays will prevail over the

Although it is early days yet, there are encouraging signs.
A dialogue is under way involving the Orange Order and the
Apprentice Boys and residents' groups from north and west
Belfast. And it has been disclosed that a delegation
representing the loyal orders has met officials from the
Irish Government.

The more channels of communication that can be opened up,
the better. The Order should take advantage of every
opportunity to explain its position and outline its
concerns. Discussion and debate do not involve any
principle being sacrificed.

The sticking point at present is the Order's refusal to
engage with the Parades Commission. Like it or not, some
neutral body is required to adjudicate on parades, or else
there would be a free-for-all. But if the Order is to be
taken off the hook upon which it has got itself stuck, the
Government may yet have to consider a name change for the

The Order will not need to be reminded about what a
disaster Drumcree and other confrontations have been for
its image. The nuances of the situation are lost on the
wider world, which simplistically views the Order as a
defiantly sectarian organisation pre-occupied with marching
through Catholic areas.

As Drew Nelson, the new Grand Secretary, has been at pains
to point out in an interview in the Belfast Telegraph, this
is a misrepresentation. He says the Order's priorities are
to promote the Protestant religion and to provide mutual
support for members through, for example, credit unions.

As people in Northern Ireland know, the vast majority of
Orange parades pass off without incident because they are
held in areas where there is a welcome for the Order. The
focus must now be on reaching a Derry-style accommodation
on those parades that are disputed.

If a new era really is to be achieved, the marching
organisations must also divest themselves of any
paramilitary linkages. The Rev Brian Kennaway's book
produced worrying evidence that in certain areas, illegal
organisations were able to exert influence on Orange

As Mr Nelson says, the key word is celebration, not
demonstration. Attempts that are under way to turn the
Twelfth into more of a pageant, in some cases by giving it
an Ulster-Scots dimension, should be encouraged.

In common with the DUP, the Order is beginning to
appreciate the need to win hearts and minds. The Orange is
part of Ireland's cultural diversity, and deserves its
place. But it must resolve that its future lies not in
discord but in dialogue and engagement.


Opin: A Tradition Betrayed – An Order In Chaos

The Monday Column
By Roy Garland

Rev Brian Kennaway’s book depicts the Orange Order as a
fundamentally religious institution that has betrayed its
core values. Kennaway has for decades been a member of
Christian Crusaders LOL 1339, a lodge that demanded “a
personal testimony” from every member. The testimony is an
individual’s account of his experience of being born again
– usually on a specific date and time. My dad was a member
of that lodge and regarded Orangemen with no such testimony
as a contradiction in terms.

Warren Porter in the foreword suggests that in the early
1960s the order was “an umbrella” that tried to include all
who “adhered to moderate unionism”. Certainly the order
could then be seen as a broad means of controlling
extremists but as with the UUP, what was then a fearful and
perhaps sectarian minority, gained increasing influence.

Even if we accept that Orange core values are religious
this is not necessarily a recommendation. Religion has
caused violence and wars and is notoriously divisive,
although perhaps it also helped provide a basis for
meaningful life in communities. Some will, however,
question whether Christianity was meant to be a religion.
Jesus did not so much found a Church as a radical movement
that changed the world.

Sociologist David Roberts 35 years ago concluded, with some
qualification, that the ‘militant’ Orange Order was indeed
religious. However, he drew attention to political elements
just as Rev SE Long now says “the Orange Order is a
Christian organisation with political aims and
aspirations”. Roberts, however, linked esoteric Orange
elements with Freemasonry and Paul Malcomson went further
suggesting that much ritual, in the related Arch Purple
Order, is pagan in origin. The Arch Purple is an intrinsic
part of the Independent Orange Order and most members of
the main order are Arch Purple men. Malcomson refers to one
ritual as “a blatant heathenish practice” and calls on
Christians to withdraw.

Orange Grand Secretary Drew Nelson recognises another core
value ‘mutual support’ which may also emanate from
freemasonry. For Kennaway loyalty is a core value but
Orangemen sometimes seem less than loyal with their loyalty
to the Queen conditional on her “being Protestant”.
However, according to one Chaplains’ Report an Orangeman’s
primary loyalty “to Christ as Lord and Saviour over-rides
all else”. This kind of loyalty was hard to recognise
during the Drumcree debacle when walking the Garvaghy Road
seemed to involve an idolatrous elevation of the
requirements of a local sectarian struggle above all other
loyalties including that owed to Christ.

The book suggests paramilitarism is incompatible with order
membership but loyalists can plausibly argue that the order
at its inception was a kind of paramilitary defender
organisation. Born of faction fighting it became
respectable when the gentry patronised it. More recently
anti-agreement elements came to manipulate Drumcree for
what seemed to be selfish sectarian ends but there had to
be something there to manipulate.

Rev Warren Porter refers to the order being “infiltrated”
by those with a “sect‚ mentality” that has become “an
unlovely feature of” Orange gatherings. Roberts suggested
if ever “a true sectarian establishment” came to dominate,
energy would be “dissipated in hopeless attacks on superior
forces” – surely a prophetic description of Drumcree. The
order became entangled in intense sectarian rivalry and
faced impossible odds but could not extricate itself.
Whatever freedom it had to withdraw or fully engage with
residents disappeared in the mists of conflict as they
seemed to deny the faith they professed and lost their
commonsense. Sadly, this has helped damn our politics as
many on all sides became addicted to mutual enmity.

To glorify the Orange Order in colours of perfection or
alternatively to damn it in shades of darkness and
wickedness is equally wrong. The Orange Order is part of
our heritage and in many parts of Ireland small local
lodges were a means of mutual support during dark days.
Social activities usually dominated and the order gave
working people a sense of dignity as they struggled in the
“dark Satanic mines”.

Brian Kennaway writes out of frustration with an order that
seems to have lost part of its soul but the challenge faces
us all as we collectively struggle to emerge from a long
dark and dismal past towards new light and a new inclusive
community that can provide space for all.


Opin: Potency Of Post-Conflict Policing Is Paramount

The Tuesday Column
By Breidge Gadd

It is a good indicator of how much we are returning to
normality that last week’s discussion about crime and the
police centred on a standard policing issue – of how well
PSNI was doing its job.

It is worth reminding ourselves that it is not so many
years ago that a sizeable proportion of the unionist
population was preoccupied not with the effectiveness of
policing, but only with preserving the old name of the
force and indeed some of its outdated practices.

What is particularly worth remembering is that the Patten
reforms were pushed ahead with, in spite of what was
claimed was majority opposition to such changes.

Moreover, the government was right to move ahead with
reforms essential for a post-conflict society without
waiting for a unionist majority consensus.

Few now, I hope, would want to argue for the return of the
old RUC. It has been right to move decisively away from a
force charged with and preoccupied with defeating terrorism
to a service with no less complex a challenge – to prevent
and reduce crime on the streets and in the home.

It is also interesting to note that Northern Ireland
society, freed from the old fears of bombs and bullets, is
now finding a strong voice that is asking pertinent
questions about how effective the police are at preventing
crime, or dealing with it when inevitably it occurs.

Last week’s sad and heinous city centre attack, along with
recent other high-profile cases both here and in the rest
of the UK, have put matters of crime at the forefront of
the agenda and of our minds again.

It must be a new experience for the senior police personnel
to be under scrutiny about something as relatively trivial
as how many police foot patrols there are in the city
centre at any given time.

However, this question and many more like it will be the
shape of policing accountability for the future in our
normal society.

Although some professional personnel become irritated by
finding themselves accountable to the popular media, such
scrutiny, undertaken in a spirit of inquiry rather than
condemnation, is a

very positive development.

It is right, proper and much needed that there is a debate
about crime and how we deal with it.

Who better than the media to spearhead discussions?

The climate around such discussions though is of critical

Reducing the crime rate, being trusted to deal with crime
humanely but effectively, is an almost impossible task –
and one that must be shared by all elements in society.

Placing responsibility on the police or judges or other
law-enforcing agencies to protect the rest of us from crime
is a dangerous route to go down.

For a start, crime rates are largely determined not by the
effectiveness of the police in catching criminals and the
courts in locking them up, but mostly by the number of
potentially active young people in the community at any
point in time.

Most crime is committed by young men between the ages of 15
and 25. If that number is falling in the population
generally, the rate of crime should be expected to go down.
Therefore, over the next few years we should expect, in
line with the noticeably reducing school population, a
similar reduction in crime generally.

In fact, even though it doesn’t feel like it at times, the
crime rate generally has been decreasing, not increasing,
over the past few years.

Yes, we have had a worrying increase in the number of old
people attacked but generally statistics show that this
country is a comparatively safe place in which to live.

Trouble is if people don’t feel that to be the case, if
their fear of crime – whether reality based or not – is
high, then that issue needs serious attention. So even
though many police specialists will tell you that having
lots of police personnel visibly on the beat is not
effective in catching criminals, if such a strategy
reassures the public and reduces the fear of crime, then it
may be worth paying for.

One of Patten’s recommendations also now in place was the
appointment of a strong Policing Board.

Now in its second term, it has settled sufficiently to
contribute to the debate around what kind of future
policing service we want.


Opin: History Will Be Truest Judge Of Peacemakers

By Patrick Murphy

Older politicians tend to work with one eye on power and
the other on their place in history. Since there is no
guarantee that forthcoming events at Stormont will lead to
political power, a favourable place in history may be all
that the main players have to aim for.

Paisley, Blair and Adams have their political reputations
riding on the outcome as they face what is probably their
last chance to crown their political careers.

As a result we may see more posturing than politics in the
weeks ahead – heavy on political vanity, easy on the

As Blair’s premiership draws to a close, the war in Iraq
stands as an historical indictment of his political

A fully functioning assembly in Belfast would hardly offset
the adverse historical impact of bombs in Baghdad but it
would give historians a positive chapter on which to
conclude his career.

He badly needs what footballers call a result.

Just as the British bribed, bullied and beat the Irish into
abolishing an Irish parliament in 1801, Blair will now make
the same effort to create one. His appointment of three DUP
peers to the House of Lords may not be on the scale of the
patronage which surrounded the Act of Union but a pattern
has been set.

Like so many British prime ministers before him (Gladstone,
Asquith and Lloyd George, for example) events in Ireland
can shape his historical status. He may once again feel the
hand of history on him when he returns to Belfast - but
this time it may have him in its grip.

Paisley may want political power but he does not need it.
He has already achieved historical veneration among his own
people. The fact that he sent his wife to the Lords
indicates that, unlike David Trimble, he regards his
political career as far from over.

So in the coming weeks he will play the elder statesman,
exuding a new and even ecumenical brand of blunt wisdom and
clerical charm in the off-chance that Blair’s desperation
will bring the DUP an offer they cannot refuse.

Gerry Adams has the least influence of the three. Paisley
can block and Blair can bribe but Adams can only plead. He
heads the richest party at the table but he cannot use it
to buy political power.

The irony is that the money – or, more precisely, how the
money was raised – could keep his party out of power. He
may yet turn out to have the Midas touch, in all its

He also probably needs power more than Paisley because his
place in history now ranks with only half of what de Valera

He too abandoned the IRA but he used the move to become
Taoiseach and later President. If Adams cannot even take
his seat in Stormont he will live in de Valera’s shadow –
an uncomfortable place in history for such a consummate

His current discomfort is made worse by the fact that, like
Paisley, he is advocating the opposite of what might be
expected. In a benign twist of history the Protestants are
now the rebels defying the British Government while the
Catholics are hammering at the doors of Stormont to
administer British rule.

All three leaders could, of course, take lessons from the
fourth character in the drama, Bertie Ahern. His place in
history will be enhanced no matter what happens at
Stormont. If the assembly runs, Bertie will get the credit.
If it fails he will evoke sympathy for effort. He has
perfected the art of instant historical approval for all he

So as the possibility of power at Stormont ebbs and flows
over the coming months, watch as the older players eye up
the parachute of history if they feel they have to bail

But the problem with history is that people keep making
more of it. Future events, as yet unimaginable, will
inevitably shape the subsequent description and
interpretation of current events and today’s politics will
be judged, not by our standards, but by the cultures and
values of future societies. History is relative.

In any case it is probably easier for scientists, poets and
philosophers to find a positive place in history because,
as Enoch Powell said, all political careers ultimately end
in failure. Paisley, Blair and Adams will want to prove
that wrong as they seek political immortality.

But they should remember that, like power, an obsession
with history can also corrupt. It just takes longer.


Opin: A Few Bad Apples Don’t Make A Bad Barrel

The Thursday Column
By Jim Gibney

Almost 70 active members of a paramilitary organisation
have been convicted of criminal offences, including
assault, carrying offensive weapons, being drunk while in
charge of a loaded weapon, being drunk in a public place
and deception.

Since March 2004 these people have been before the courts
and found guilty of breaking the law.

It is also common knowledge that this paramilitary
organisation continues to gather intelligence and procure a
range of lethal weapons.

You are probably wondering how you missed this story. It is
all in the name.

The organisation is not the IRA. It is the PSNI. The PSNI
did not volunteer this information.

Under the Freedom of Information Act they are compelled to
put such facts into the public domain.

A few newspapers reported the PSNI story. It did not lift
as a newsworthy item beyond this.

Can you imagine the reaction from the British and Irish
governments, other political parties, the International
Monitoring Commission (IMC), the media, had there been even
a small number of IRA personnel or former IRA activists
before the courts on similar charges and convicted?

Amid allegations of widespread criminality the forthcoming
plans to recall the assembly would have been put on hold.

The two governments would have financially punished Sinn

The media would have camped outside Sinn Fein’s offices to
interrogate Gerry Adams.

John ‘IMC’ Balderdash would have been swaggering about with
a media posse hard on his heels warning of the dire
consequences for democracy and the peace process because of
these convictions.

The unionist parties would have walked out of talks
demanding the IRA disband, end their criminality and
register as a charity organisation.

Apart from the response from the PSNI’s press office,
essentially claiming a ‘few bad apples and nothing to do
with them’, how have the custodians of moral and political
rectitude reacted to the news that 70 PSNI officers were
before the courts charged and convicted of criminal

Are the British and Irish governments to meet in emergency
session to discuss the ‘crisis’ provoked by this admission?

Has the IMC asked for an urgent meeting with the two
governments to present a detailed report to them on the
implications of this behaviour? No.

Has the Police Authority sent for Chief Constable Sir Hugh
Orde to give an account for this high level of criminality
inside the PSNI? No.

Have the SDLP or the unionist parties tabled motions to the
authority seeking explanations for this misconduct? No.

Do we know whether these police officers are still in the
PSNI after their convictions? No, we do not.

Then again we do not know where or who the RUC personnel
are who tortured people under interrogation. Nor do we know
where or who the RUC personnel are who organised the
loyalist murder gangs which killed hundreds of Catholics
during the conflict.

A few months ago a member of the Free Presbyterian Church
was before the courts accused of sexual abuse. Is the
leader of the Free Presbyterian Church asked to explain?
No. Should he be? No.

Members of the UUP have been before the courts charged with
electoral and financial fraud.

Is the UUP leadership asked to explain? No. Should they be?

An unsuccessful SDLP candidate was charged with running a

Is the leadership of the SDLP asked to explain? No. Should
they be? No.

Ray Burke a former minister for foreign affairs in the
Irish government was jailed for six months on corruption
charges. Is Bertie Ahern responsible? No.

Why then are Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein expected to account
for the actions of every former republican activist?

Why is Sinn Fein put in the dock every time someone in the
Assets Recovery Agency or the Garda dreams up a fanciful
plot involving the IRA buying half of Manchester or trying
to take over the oil smuggling business?

Easy answer – Sinn Fein’s opponents are involved in a nasty
black propaganda campaign against the party.

They are desperately trying to limit Sinn Fein’s advance.
They hope their slurs against republicans will affect Sinn
Fein’s electoral popularity, north and south.

Criminalisation was tried and failed during the conflict.
It will fail again in this era of peace.


Opin: Here’s To The Work Of Tom, Dick And ‘Mary’

By Tom Kelly

Over the weekend the SDLP lost a party stalwart in Newry
and Armagh. Her name was Mary McKeown. Politically speaking
Mary was not a household name though she was known in many
political households. But then politics wasn’t the sum
total of Mary as she donated thousands of other hours to
the community through her involvement with education, drama
and sport. She was an infectious woman with a healthy
appetite for a life she lived to the full. Her laugh was as
contagious as a virus and it infected many a dour, dull,
smoke-filled political meeting in a draughty lounge bar of
an Armagh backwater.

Mary represents a side of politics the public don’t often
see. Every party has them in legion. They don’t get the
plaudits; they are not even in the footnotes of the
footnotes of history. Political analysts who think that
they have the inside track of what makes politics work are
mere laboratory scientists when it comes to the practice of
the trade. Sometimes an insider’s view comes from selected
memory of the great and the good that provide memoirs
jaundiced by their own self-importance which never mention
a Mary. But often our political history owes more to the
sweat and loyalty of the foot soldiers than leadership and
foresight of the generals.

The Marys are loyal, courageous, unassuming and committed
to the cause but the public are more likely to know their
high profile, disgruntled and disaffected former colleagues
who whet the appetite of a public cynical about politics
and those involved in it.

Yet year on year, election after election, it’s the Marys,
Arthurs, Nualas, Pauls and Peters of this world that make
politics work. Like disciples they are the first to hear
the message and then like apostles they are the first to
spread it. Contrary to the misinformation mill, they don’t
get anything out of it and the person you are least likely
to see asking a councillor, MLA or MP for advice or support
are those who worked the hardest to get them elected.
Sometimes in elections, like horse racing, a political
apparatchik gets satisfaction just from being in the thick
of the action which sometimes rises to a near spiritual
feeling of euphoria if their candidate actually wins.

But politics is not about winning; it’s about conviction.
Conviction followed even when mounted against conventional
wisdom. For those with the virus, even in the desolation of
electoral defeat there is a bond which once forged in an
electoral furnace binds friends for life. The Marys know

Some politicians say you cannot savour electoral victory
unless you first taste defeat. The roller coaster that
passes for politics in Northern Ireland often means you get
to experience both but the latter in disproportionate

When people want to deride volunteerism or effort they say
it can be carried out by any old ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’. As
someone who has been involved with great volunteer
movements such the GAA, St Vincent de Paul and the Credit
Union, I know it’s the Tom, Dick, Harry and Marys that
drive the mini-buses, organise underage games, wash the
kits, line the pitch, sit on committees, give up Saturdays
to pack bags in supermarkets and give more than a little of
themselves to be small cogs in important community-focused
machinery. A Mary who volunteers is a noun, verb and

The Tom, Dick and Marys of this world are like electric
current, often taken for granted and only missed when it
breaks down. The unseen hands in sporting clubs, community
groups and in the various political parties across the
country are those of many Toms, Dicks and Marys.

Recently, the Taoiseach made a play for volunteerism in a
speech which it did not quite measure up to the clarion
call of President Kennedy but still has modern relevance,
as sociologists tell us that each generation over the past
40 years has become increasingly more selfish and less
community orientated. Perhaps Mr Ahern senses this ‘mé
Féin-ism’ amid the shadows cast by the successful Celtic
Tiger. Thankfully we are still blessed with Marys, whose
lives are based on giving more than receiving. They are
people motivated by the highest of ideals, or to paraphrase
AE Russell: “They hold an Ireland in the heart, more than
the land their eyes have seen and love the goal for which
they started more than the tale of what has been.”

If you are listening Mary, thanks.


September 11: The Horror Unfolds

From the director of the movies Bloody Sunday and Omagh
comes a new film, United 93, which tells the story of the
hijacking of the fourth airliner on 9/11. Five years on
from the attacks that shook the world, the movie has just
opened in America. But has it been made too soon, asks
David Usborne

02 May 2006

Passers-by on West 54th Street saw the fuss outside the
Ziegfeld Theatre and sighed - one more Manhattan movie
premiere. There was the ritual red carpet, the paparazzi
and the celebrities. But they were missing something - an
atmosphere almost of dread. The silent worry in everyone's
head: "Do I really want to see this? Am I ready?"

More than just a first night of a film, this was also the
first night of the Tribeca Film Festival, founded by Robert
De Niro and his producing partner Jane Rosenthal as a
gesture towards reviving lower Manhattan after the terror
attacks of September 11. When the festival debuted in 2002,
De Niro chose a light comedy for its opening feature -
About a Boy, starring Hugh Grant.

If easy distraction was the right medicine then,
apparently, it no longer is. The audience at the Ziegfeld
were tense because they were preparing to watch United 93,
a film by Paul Greengrass that bluntly chronicles in real
time the hijacking of the fourth airliner on September 11,
2001 - the plane that never reached a target but nose-dived
into a lonely field in Pennsylvania killing all on board.

That the film would be controversial was evident the moment
trailers for it began running here last month. A handful of
cinemas decided to pull the coming-soon spots after patrons
complained. Now on national release in the US, at least
people will be able to choose whether or not to go to see
it. It will not be an easy choice.

A fierce debate has already started. It is not about the
film itself, which has so far garnered high praise from
critics. 'Brilliant, tightly focused and momentuous,' New
York magazine said this week. It is about timing and taste.
Is it too soon for art to be tinkering with such fresh

It perhaps isn't surprising that, until now, it hasn't been
Americans who have taken the risk. They have been British.
Greengrass, who began his career making documentaries
before attracting wider attention with docudramas such as
Bloody Sunday, is British. United 93 was largely made at
Pinewood Studios near London with the backing of the
British production house, Working Title.

Then there is David Hare. An updated version of his
tragicomedy about Bush, Rummy, Condi et al and their
arrogant march to war in Iraq, Stuff Happens, recently
began a run at the Public Theatre in Manhattan. Just a few
short miles from Ground Zero, the play offers New York
audiences a shockingly mordant take on the machinations at
the White House. It is more timely today than ever.

Putting the agony of September 11 on the big screen for a
mass audience as Greengrass has done is a slightly
different thing, of course. The question about time is
complicated. America is approaching the fifth anniversary
of the terror attacks. That is perhaps long enough for a
film like this, because the wounds are not quite as raw.
Indeed, memories could be fading a little. Perhaps they
need refreshing.

And yet, five years is nothing at all. Consider: family
members of those on board United 93 were in Washington DC
recently, lobbying Congress to approve funding for a
permanent memorial in that Pennsylvania field. Things move
that slowly. And it was only on the same day as the
premiere that New York finally struck a deal with the
leaseholder of the twin towers, Larry Silverstein, on the
financial arrangements for rebuilding Ground Zero, where
things have moved even more slowly.

And as the Hare play illustrates, the shockwaves of
September 11 remain as powerful as ever for all of us. The
war on terror that the attacks provoked dominates politics
both in the US and in Britain and still touches all of our
lives in some way. We think about September 11 every time
we fly and pass through the new security screenings. Watch
the Greengrass film and you may not to want to fly for a
very long time.

It would be hard to beat the recent screening for sheer
intensity of emotion within the four walls of a cinema
anywhere. Many watching had direct and personal contact
with what happened on September 11 . They were at Ground
Zero when the planes went in and the towers tumbled. They
may have been part of the rescue effort. A large majority,
at least, were in the city on that clear-blue day.

Also present, however, were about 90 of those relatives of
the 40 passengers and crew of the plane that went down. De
Niro, making a characteristically brief speech before the
projector came on, said the film was "a story that honours
bravery" and then paid tribute to the families. The
Ziegfeld audience turned to look at them seated together in
the rear, distressed anticipation on their faces, and
erupted in applause.

Five years or no five years, Greengrass takes us instantly
back to the morning the US was caught so hopelessly
unawares. The film, made in hand-held camera style, opens
with the hijackers at dawn in a cheap hotel room, saying
their prayers and mentally girding for the deadly task
ahead of them. Slowly and deliberately, he tracks the
tragedy - the passengers and crew gathering for the flight
from Newark airport to San Francisco, the co-pilot doing
his walkaround of the aircraft, the loading of fuel into
its tanks.

The realism of the film is unadorned and merciless. Indeed,
some of the roles are played not by actors but by the
people actually involved. There, for instance, is the head
of the Federal Aviation Authority, Ben Sliney, trying to
cope with the unfolding of not one, but four airliners
being hijacked at once. Greengrass coaxed extraoardinary
performances out of the others who were part of the real
drama of the day, including other air traffic controllers
and military officers.

No attempts to sensationalise or sentimentalise were
necessary. There is scant characterisation of the
passengers, beyond moments of eavesdropping on their
desperate phone calls to loved ones at home as their last
minutes pass. The instants of extreme violence - including
the stabbing of the pilot and of a passenger - are not
lingered over. But nor are they airbrushed to save anguish.

And anguish at the premiere there was. When the film
reached its inevitable, pulverising conclusion, a chorus of
moaning filled the rear rows of the Ziegfeld. Out of
respect - for those family members, for everyone who
suffered on September 11 and perhaps also for Greengrass -
the entire audience sat silent and stock-still for the full
five minutes that the credits rolled. They filed out sombre
faced, as if from a funeral.

What is important is that Greengrass won approval for his
project from every family bereaved by United 93. Indeed,
they were involved closely in helping achieve the greatest
veracity possible, although he inevitably had to apply
imagination to the details of what transpired on the plane.
(The credits include a disclaimer to that effect). It helps
also that he and Universal, the distributor pledged to
donate 10% of the opening weekend's box office to the
building of the memorial, when that finally happens.

Thus, though their eyes were reddened, most family members
at the Ziegfeld admitted to emotions after the screening
that were knotted but full of gratitude. For Candyce
Hoagland, the aunt of one passenger, Mark Bingham, it had
been "excruciating". She had stayed near the exits but was
proud she had left the theatre only once to compose
herself. "It's not too soon," she said with a clear voice.

That was also the conclusion of Bingham's mother, Alice
Hoagland. "The story needs to be told, because it is about
heroism juxtaposed with evil," she said, waiting outside
for a bus to take her and other family members to a
reception and dinner at the nearby Four Seasons restaurant.
"This is about a group of people fighting to save their
lives and save the lives of people on the ground."

Greengrass observes more than just the events on that
aircraft. Much of the film recalls the mayhem on the
ground, in the air traffic and military command centres.

"To be honest, I think the chaos was even more than
depicted in the film," noted Jim Bohlaber, an air traffic
controller in New York that day who was in the audience.

But Greengrass made the fate of United 93 his focus for a
good reason. When the passengers mutinied and tried to
retake the controls, it is not for sure that the lives of
people on the ground - the film speculates that the plane's
target was the Capitol in Washington DC - were in their
minds. First instinct would be to save themselves.

But his first theme, as De Niro said, is human bravery and
courage. The film is about heroism on a day that was
otherwise about only death and hatred. For that reason, the
US, a desperately patriotic nation, may embrace this film
in huge numbers, even though the watching of it will be

The director who took on America's nightmare

The streets of Cheam in Surrey are far from mean. Strange
then, that the town's most famous son, Paul Greengrass
(left), born in August 1955, should have tackled such
contentious, bloody subject matter in the two decades he
has been making films. Whether shooting The Bourne
Supremacy or Bloody Sunday, Greengrass's work always bears
his stamp - a hand-held vision that makes the action
viscerally real.

It is a vérité style he first pioneered as an amateur
auteur in the art room of his secondary school, with an old
super 8 camera, a handful of dolls, and a Hammer-Horror

From early days on TV's World In Action, Greengrass went on
to court a little infamy, as he co-wrote Peter Wright's
1985 MI5 tell-all Spycatcher.

The Murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1999, the 2002 docudrama
Bloody Sunday, winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film
Festival, and Omagh in 2004, gained him worldwide respect.

His association with the Bourne franchise (he is directing
the forthcoming The Bourne Ultimatum) has lent him serious
box-office credentials. When the hoopla of United 93
subsides, he is slated to direct They Marched Into Sunlight
- a documentary about the Vietnam conflict.


O'Carolan Remembered In Harpers' Tributes To Legendary
Blind Irish Bard

Eileen Battersby in Mohill


Rain fell on the statue of Turlough O'Carolan , now a
landmark looking up the main street in Mohill, Co Leitrim.
This is the village where the blind harper, at the age of
50 in 1720, on being given land by his patrons, the Crofton
family, finally built a home of his own about 1720.

Yesterday harpers and a piper, stood on the site of
O'Carolan's home. Now only a pile of stones and rubble
remain. The ruins of the Crofton mansion, Lakefield House,
continues to stand. It is a house in which O'Carolan often
played his tunes, the music lingers as does the enduring
presence of the minstrel who was so revered that his wake
in 1738 spanned four days.

O'Carol-an's music was celebrated in two concerts during
the weekend's Leitrim Fleadh. Performed by the members of
the National Harp Orchestra under Janet Harbison,
O'Carolan's tunes, of which more than 200 survive, thanks
initially to the power of the oral folk memory and from the
mid-19th century, to the work of Edward Bunting who notated
the work and helped preserve it, the music retains its
sense of period as well as its mood shifts from the lively
to the melancholic.

On Sunday evening in the ballroom of the local hotel, 17
members of the National Harp Orchestra, took their places
and performed some of the pieces O'Carolan had written for
patrons, many of whom were also friends. The ethereal
quality of the harp was complemented by the haunting
keening of the uilleann pipes as played by Ryan Murphy from
Cork. The absence of local man, writer John McGahern was
noted and a tune was played, in honour of his memory.

Tunes such as Planxty Brown, Eleanor Plunkett, Planxty
Irwin, Fanny Brown and Hewlett as well as his most famous
work, O'Carolan's Concerto first performed in the home of
Jonathan Swift, shimmered on the air. The melodic music is
delicate and precise, the work of Ireland's first great

O'Carolan was the Irish Vivaldi, shaped in part by the
Italian school and a product of the age of the Baroque.

Among the harpers playing on Sunday was a young Co
Tipperary girl, aged 15 and already one of the finest Irish
dancers in the world. As the music played on, she waited
for her note and then left her harp, and took her place on
the small platform and executed intricate dance steps and
high leaps without ever allowing the sheer athleticism of
her performance overshadow the grace. There was an
otherworldly quality about her dancing. Ciara Callanan Ryan
lives in Leap Castle, the most haunted house in Ireland.

Earlier in the day, the orchestra had performed an outdoor
recital on a stage erected beside O'Carolan's monument
which depicts him in bronze, larger than life, and playing
his harp. The rain poured down, but the music continued as
did the various musical competitions. Almost 20 teenagers
competed in the tin whistle event. Through his career as a
wandering musician, Turlough O'Carolan, who had been born
in Nobber in Co Meath in 1670 and was blinded by smallpox
at the age of 14, travelled throughout the northwest and
was always guaranteed a welcome. His one enemy was the
rain. And on Sunday it rained on the current generation of
harpers, most of whom say it was O'Carolan's music that
inspired them to play the harp, and several of the younger
ones want to travel the world, playing the master's tunes.

© The Irish Times


Airstrip To Be Built On Inishbofin Island

John Fallon

Work is expected to begin this month on building an
airstrip on one of the country's busiest offshore islands.

Plans have been considered for years to provide an air link
between Inishbofin off the Galway coast and the mainland.

Up to now the island has had to depend on a ferry service
from Cleggan in Connemara to bring most of the tourists to
the scenic island.

But now work is to finally start on building an airstrip on
the island which will result in flights from Inishbofin to
a landing strip that is to be developed at Cloonlaghtanabba
near Clifden.

© The Irish Times


Guinness Heir Browne To Sell Irish Art Collection

Guinness heir Garech Browne is to open the doors to his
famous estate today as hundreds of fine antiques and
paintings are auctioned off.

In a sale expected to draw celebrities and collectors,
almost 400 lots from the Luggala Estate in Co Wicklow are
up for grabs, including fine 18th-century furniture, rare
silver, and an array of pictures by Irish, English and
European artists.

The centrepieces of the auction are a monumental early
Georgian longcase clock and important paintings by two of
Ireland's most highly regarded painters, Louis le Brocquy
and Jack B. Yeats.

The clock was originally made for the Speaker of the House
of Commons in the old Irish parliament and was later owned
by the Irish architect Francis Johnston. Experts suggested
it could fetch anything up to €500,000.

Another highlight of the sale is le Brocquy's study of his
friend Francis Bacon - Heads and Hands Study from
Velazquez, Bacon has a guide price of between €100,000 and

Mr Browne has spent his life saving Irish artefacts from
going abroad and played an important role in securing the
studio of his friend, Francis Bacon, for the Hugh Lane
Municipal Gallery.

Many of the items being auctioned off belonged to his
mother Oonagh, Lady Oranmore and Browne, and were recovered
in 1996 from the old family home in Co Dublin, Woodtown.

© The Irish Times/

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