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May 10, 2006

Mother Grieves For Murdered Teenage Son

Michael McIlveen’s mother Gina (right) and sister Jodi
visit the alley where he was killed in Ballymena last
Sunday morning Photograph : Paul Faith/PA
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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 05/10/06 Mother Grieves For Murdered Teenage Son
IT 05/10/06 They Shook Their Heads As They Read The Tributes
IT 05/10/06 Bebo Website: Threats To Michael's Killers
BN 05/10/06 Police Chief Warns Against 'Tribal Violence'
BB 05/10/06 Orders Condemn 'Wicked' Killing
BN 05/09/06 Police Chief Warns Against Loyalist Crime
BB 05/10/06 House Attacked With Petrol Bomb
BB 05/10/06 Adams Backs Paisley For Top Role
SF 05/10/06 Gerry Adams Sets Out Sinn Fein Approach To Assembly
IT 05/10/06 Potential Republican Terror Attacks 'Foiled' - Conroy
BN 05/09/06 UN Torture Expert Calls For Shannon Search Of Planes
BB 05/10/06 Policeman Cleared Over Gun Death
BN 05/10/06 NI: 1,500 Jobs To Be Axed As Army Bases Are Closed
IT 05/10/06 Ahern's Views On Policing 'Bizarre', Says Rabbitte
IT 05/10/06 Ahern Defends Minister's Role
BT 05/10/06 Opin: McAllister: Listen To Us - We Don't Want Ex Con
IT 05/10/06 Irish Charged In US Over Migrant Smuggling Ring
IT 03/10/06 Wave Of Affection As Keane Bids Farewell
IT 03/10/06 Report Warns Of Growing Gap Between East And West
IT 03/10/06 Vintners Oppose Opening On Good Friday


Mother Grieves For Murdered Teenage Son

Dan Keenan, Northern News Editor

The mother of murdered Ballymena teenager Michael McIlveen
has said her 15-year-old son "did not deserve" his death.
Gina McIlveen wore her son's Celtic football shirt as she
placed flowers at the spot in a car park where he was
fatally attacked. Accompanied by her other son and
daughters, she said: "I just can't understand this at all.

"My son was a great child. Everybody loved him, just the
way I loved him. He got on with everybody. He had loads of
Catholic friends and loads of Protestant friends."

Police are continuing to question five suspects, four men
and a juvenile, in connection with the sectarian killing
carried out just after midnight on Sunday.

The teenager died on Monday evening after his life-support
machine was switched off as his family gathered by his
hospital bedside.

Local sources expressed confidence that the murder case
would soon result in a court appearance.

Amid a chorus of condemnation from all political parties
and the Loyal Orders, Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde called
for a sense of balance about the extent of sectarianism
especially in Co Antrim. "This was a young kid that was
killed, 15, and the people arrested are young," he said.

He likened the crime to racial incidents in London, however
he cautioned: "This is the next generation, and let's not
tar or identify every young person as someone who's into
sectarian crime.

"But there are people from the next generation who are
prepared to go out looking for people, on both sides, it's
a two-way thing." Recognising that a majority of people
wanted to live in a diverse and tolerant society he added:
"We need to achieve a cultural shift, it needs to be seen
as clearly unacceptable. It's absolutely a role for us, but
it's a role for education, it's a role for communities,
it's a role for families." He said the police could work
most effectively with full co-operation from the public.

"We will do our best to bring people to justice, but people
need to speak to us, people need to tell us the real level
of this," he said.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley appealed for sectarian tensions
to ease as the summer marching season approached. "I would
call on all sides to pull back from the brink before
tragedy is multiplied by catastrophe," he said.

However, nationalist representatives from Sinn Féin and the
SDLP said the DUP in particular should examine their
political record in Ballymena, claiming that simple
majority rule fuelled sectarianism.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said the killing
"illustrates the distance we have still to travel as a
society to what could be described as normality".

Unusually, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, the Royal
Black Institution and the Independent Loyal Orange
Institution issued a joint condemnation. "No claim to
political loyalty or religious affiliation can possibly
justify such a reprehensible and wicked crime," they said.

© The Irish Times


They Shook Their Heads As They Read The Tributes


Nationalists are not surprised by sectarian hatred, reports
Dan Keenan from Ballymena.

Sunlight glinted off the brown beer bottle splinters at the
impromptu shrine to murdered teenager Michael McIlveen at
the grim, anonymous car park.

A steady stream of people came to the spot in the shade of
an imposing stone wall where the 15-year-old had been

It was to here that he had fled from the cinema nearly a
mile away after what the PSNI called an "altercation".

They placed bunches of flowers, soft toys, pictures of the
Sacred Heart and Rosary beads. But not even the spring
sunshine nor the many flowers could lift the depressing
gloom that descends on places where terrible, pointless
violence has been inflicted on the innocent.

Few spoke. Those who did opted for cliche.

In between the "awfuls" and the "terribles" they shook
their heads as they read the tributes left by the bereaved
and teenage school friends.

"It'll never end," said one woman as if defeated by the
realism of Ballymena's ingrained sectarianism. No one
disagreed. The fatalism was palpable.

Teenage handwriting adorned some of the simple posies.
Short notes, many of them misspelled or written in chatroom
text-speak, paid tribute.

"U R in a better place now," said one. Many others referred
to Micky-Bo - r m8 (our mate). Another expressed "pitty"

A "Protestant grandmother" expressed her sympathies in
elegant cursive, while another card spoke of Protestant
shame at such a crime.

Graffiti just five metres away shouted a different message.
Below a scrawled boy's name was the ominous warning "You're
next" and signed by UYM, Ulster Young Militants, which is
linked to the outlawed UDA.

Anger echoed silently around the internet mixed with
warnings of retribution.

A website message board was laden with threats against a
named individual. Web page after web page pledged loathing
and revenge written in a language barely understood by
anyone over 25 - a crude mixture of rap, vowel-free text
words and Glasgow soccer slang.

"Hope u rot in ur cell, u should be shot you dirty hun,"
said one. "What did he eva do to u?" demanded another.
"Every1 irish n decent will b out to kill ur. . . hope u
rot in hell . . ."

Nationalist representatives express little surprise at the
scale of the hatred after so many decades.

Both unionist parties and the loyal orders have condemned
the murder. DUP leader Ian Paisley has phoned the McIlveen
family to sympathise with them, to offer what assistance he
could and to pray, the dead teenager's uncle said. "I was
very pleased he had phoned," he added.

However, Michael McIlveen's murder was no shock and DUP
claims of dissociation from sectarianism are questionable,
say nationalist representatives.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan accused local
unionists of "speaking out the side of their mouths" in
condemnation. Declan O'Loan, one of two SDLP members on the
DUP-dominated council, said his fellow councillors were "in
denial" about the persistence of anti-Catholic sectarianism
and their contribution towards it.

Sectarianism is no one-way street they admit, but "the
dominant story down the years was attacks on Catholic
churches, homes and schools", said Mr O'Loan.

"The reality for Catholic youths in this town is that they
are under constant fear of attack from loyalist gangs. Over
90 per cent of attacks are directed against the
Catholic/nationalist population," said Mr McGuigan.

Both accuse the DUP of a failure of leadership.

"This is a town controlled by the DUP, and until such times
as the DUP take their responsibility seriously and engage
with the rest of us who have a political mandate and engage
with the rest of the community then [ reconciliation] will
fail. They need to show that Catholics, nationalists,
republicans are all equal citizens."

Mr O'Loan agrees. "They can and need to do a lot more. It's
when you start asking what do people think led to this that
the differences emerge.

"Dominant political control by the DUP, their very
assertive style in council, the atmosphere that 'we are the
winners now and we're going to show it and you're going to
know about it' - sends out a message to the Catholic

© The Irish Times


Bebo Website: Threats To Michael's Killers


A website aimed at teenagers where they can post messages
and communicate with others has been flooded with threats
posted against those allegedly involved in the murder of
Michael McIlveen. is reported to have tens of thousands of
registered members throughout Ireland among some 23 million
worldwide, although a majority are not active users.
Teenagers can create personal profiles and post photographs
of themselves as well as view those uploaded by others.

The site is navigated using a school/county filing system,
enabling young people to find contacts in their locality.

The homepage claims members can use the site to search for
friends, browse the homepages of members, "learn more about
people you see every day", send messages to others
privately, write and draw on other people's "white boards"
online, and join "clubs". Members can also see events and
parties on the calendar, keep in contact with friends at
other schools/colleges, and "waste time and avoid doing any
real work".

It is American-based and organised and contains visible
guidelines for use, warnings for parents, and advice to
combat "cyber-bullying".

Many teenagers' profiles in the Co Antrim area name
individuals allegedly connected with the beating of Michael
McIlveen and vow revenge.

Most of the comments are abusive.

The website was under investigation by RTÉ's Prime Time
programme last month.

Bebo chief executive Michael Birch, who founded the site
with his wife, said the site is actively policed and
monitored and has recruited more workers to deal with the
half-a-million-plus new users who register daily.

Registration is quick and simple and there are no checks
and balances on the claims of identity by those who sign

This reporter registered in a few minutes with a false
name, false date of birth and claiming to be a former pupil
of a Ballymena school. Many of those who register use this
anonymity and internet freedom to comment on others.

Mr Birch admits this is "an intrinsic problem with the

"There is no true identity on the internet, whether it's a
social networking, a photo-sharing site or any other
website. If you receive an e-mail from someone, you don't
actually know if it's from that person."

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, criticises Bebo's
open registration policy as helping to foster misuse.

"This problem is not helped by Bebo's lack of e-mail
verification in the registration process, which has made
the creation of fake accounts very straightforward. Such
accounts are often created solely for the purpose of
bullying," it says.

The website carries advertisements from large businesses,
including internet providers and telecoms providers.


© The Irish Times


Police Chief Warns Against 'Tribal Violence'

09/05/2006 - 18:07:05

More victims of the sectarian hatred that drove a gang to
beat a Catholic schoolboy to death are going undetected,
Northern Ireland‘s Chief Constable warned tonight.

Hugh Orde claimed bigoted thugs were emerging from a new
generation, and likened the horrific attack on Michael
McIlveen, 15, to the tribal violence he witnessed on the
streets of London.

As Michael’s devastated mother, Gina, laid flowers on the
alleyway in Ballymena, Co Antrim where he was beaten with a
baseball bat, Sir Hugh urged schools and parents to help
police instil tolerance.

With five suspects still being questioned about the attack,
the Chief Constable said: “This was a young kid that was
killed, 15, and the people arrested are young.

“This is the next generation, and lets not tar or identify
every young person as someone who’s into sectarian crime.

“But there are people from the next generation who are
prepared to go out looking for people, on both sides, it‘s
a two-way thing.”

The murder has stunned Ballymena, a predominantly
Protestant town increasingly gripped by sectarian tensions.

Michael was chased half a mile from an entertainment
complex early on Sunday after going with friends to buy a

He was cornered, then bludgeoned mercilessly before having
his head stamped on, his family said.

The St Patrick’s High School student staggered home to the
Dunvale estate but was then rushed to the Antrim Area
Hospital where he eventually lost his fight for life.

Heartbroken relatives were by his bed as the life support
machine was switched off on Wednesday night.

Michael’s uncle, Francis McIlveen, told of their anguish.

“They just can’t believe it that wee Michael’s gone, a wee
child, 15-years-of-age, lying in that bed, dead,” he said.

Even though the gang warfare being waged by rival
Protestant and Catholic youths in Ballymena has forced
police to increase patrols, Sir Hugh insisted the town was
not “a centre of evil”.

He recognised most of the public across Northern Ireland
wanted an integrated society with respect for diversity,
yet claimed a minority still saw nothing wrong with

“We need to achieve a cultural shift, it needs to be seen
as clearly unacceptable,” the Chief Constable said.

“It‘s absolutely a role for us, but it‘s a role for
education, it‘s a role for communities, it‘s a role for

“We will do our best to bring people to justice, but people
need to speak to us, people need to tell us the real level
of this.

“Because are we capturing the real level of this? I don‘t
think so.

“I would not be surprised if more people are victims of
this than we are getting.”

He added: “Let‘s not create something that doesn’t exist.

“But there are pockets within this place where (people
believe) it is still okay to attack someone because of
their religion – on both sides – where it is appropriate to
wind people up by putting flags where we know they are not

“This is tribalism. In London we had gangs.

“Is it different? No, in London I was dealing with gangs –
exactly the same, they were attacking people because they
lived on different housing estates.”

Michael’s mother fought back tears to tell how he never had
any enemies.

“My son was a great child. Everybody loved him, just the
way I loved him,” Ms McIlveen told BBC Radio Ulster.

“He got on with everybody. He had loads of Catholic friends
and loads of Protestant friends.

“I just can‘t understand this at all. He didn‘t deserve

Hundreds of young people held vigils and laid floral
tributes at the scene of the attack.

Among the affectionate messages from friends there were
references to his nickname, Micky-bo, and a card which
read: “You were a good mate to everyone who knew you.
Everyone is proud to have called you a friend.”

Another said: “Just look down on your family. They need you

At one stage his mother broke down and wept in the arms of
relatives, overcome with grief.

During a special school assembly at St Patrick’s, principal
Kate Magee spoke of the shock that such a popular pupil was

She said: “We feel very much his loss. We are supporting
one another.

“It is very much a whole community effort to try to support
the young people.”

Amid fears of revenge attacks, the leaders of three
Protestant marching organisations issued an appeal for

Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters, the Grand Master
of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution George Dawson
and the Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black
Institution, William Logan, insisted there could be no
justification for the killing.

In a statement they appealed to members of their community
with information about the attack to help the police

They added: “No claim to political loyalty or religious
affiliation can possibly justify such a reprehensible and
wicked crime.

“We call for an immediate end to inter-community conflict
in Ballymena and elsewhere, and we would urge anyone with
information to come forward quickly and help the police

“It is essential that those responsible for Michael
McIlveen’s cowardly murder face the full rigour of the law
and pay the penalty for their crime.”

The murder drew total condemnation from all political
representatives, including Ian Paisley, the Democratic
Unionist MP for Ballymena who met and prayed with the

Also among those who condemned the attack were Sinn Féin
president Gerry Adams, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter
Hain, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Ulster Unionist leader Sir
Reg Empey, cross-community Alliance Party representative
Jayne Dunlop and Northern Ireland Policing Board chairman
Sir Desmond Rea.

Concerns were also expressed about a youth website where
allegations about the murder were made.

Sean Farren, a nationalist MLA for North Antrim, called on
schools in Ballymena to stop pupils posting claims about
other teenagers on the site, warning it could heighten
sectarian tensions in the town.


Orders Condemn 'Wicked' Killing

The murder of a Ballymena teenager has been described as
"reprehensible and wicked" by the Protestant Loyal Orders.

The leaders of the Orange Order, Independent Orange Order
and Royal Black Institution condemned the attack on Michael
McIlveen, 15, a Catholic.

He died on Monday after a sectarian gang attack in the town
on Sunday.

The Orders said no claim to political loyalty or religious
affiliation could justify such a "cowardly" murder and they
urged better community relations.

"As leaders of the loyal orders we unequivocally condemn
the murder in Ballymena of Michael McIlveen and we extend
our deepest sympathy to his grieving parents and family at
this time," they said in a statement.

"We call for an immediate end to inter-community conflict
in Ballymena and elsewhere, and we would urge anyone with
information to come forward quickly and help the police

"It is essential that those responsible for Michael
McIlveen's cowardly murder face the full rigour of the law
and pay the penalty for their crime."

The teenager, from the Dunvale area of Ballymena, was
attacked after buying a pizza in the early hours of Sunday.

Drew Nelson of the Orange Order said the way forward was
for the two communities to "share this small province we
live in, be tolerant of each other's culture and heritage
and their traditions and to get along together".

"Incidents like this just set community relations back for
years," told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

On Tuesday, Michael's mother paid tribute to her son as
"popular" with Catholic and Protestant friends.

Michael was a pupil at St Patrick's College in Ballymena
which held a special assembly on Tuesday morning.

Young people have been holding vigils in the teenager's
memory and flowers have been laid at the spot where he was

Police have been granted a further 48 hours to question
four people - three men and a juvenile - in connection with
the death.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/10 08:28:25 GMT


Police Chief Warns Against Loyalist Crime

09/05/2006 - 19:07:34

No loyalist paramilitary disarmament is imminent, Northern
Ireland police chief Sir Hugh Orde said tonight.

And as new crime figures revealed Protestant terrorists
carried out more than 90% of security-related shootings
last year, a hardline Ulster Defence Association unit has
been identified as the biggest barrier to the organisation
abandoning violence.

But Sir Hugh warned loyalist bosses his officers were
prepared to put even more behind bars.

He said: “Where are all the brigadiers now? The vast
majority are charged with serious offences.

“The notion that we are doing nothing is just false.

“If they are going to commit crime we are going to come
after them.

“I think we have shown we are going to do that, and we can
do that at the most senior levels of their organisations.”

During 2005/06 there were six security-related deaths, up
two on the year before.

Shooting incidents fell by 6.6% from 167 to 156, although
bombings surged by nearly 69% from 48 to 81.

Rioting which flared around a disputed Orange Order march
in Belfast has been recognised as a major factor in that

Police also seized 365 guns and 112,748 rounds of
ammunition during the last 12 months.

With the IRA announcing last July that it had abandoned
violence, the overwhelming majority of paramilitary
punishment attacks were blamed on loyalists.

There were 152 people injured, split evenly between
shootings and beatings.

Loyalists carried out 92% of the gun attacks and three
quarters of the assaults, according to police figures.

“Beatings and shootings in republican circles are almost
zero,” Sir Hugh said.

“The paramilitary beatings within loyalism indicates where
loyalism is in terms of the peace process.

“Clearly they still think its okay to take the law into
their own hands to control some of their communities
through fear.”

The Chief Constable insisted some of the paramilitaries
were attempting to go down a new route.

“I do think there are some people within the UDA who are
looking for a way out,” he said.

The UDA‘s North Belfast division is thought to be the most
fiercely opposed to any new peacetime strategy.

Other commanders are rumoured to be on the verge of ousting
brothers Andre and Ihab Shoukri, who run the unit, because
of their lifestyle.

Questioned about the theory that this wing of the
organisation poses the greatest barrier to a total shift
away from violence, Sir Hugh replied: “I think that‘s a
particular issue. Yes, I would agree with that.”

The Chief Constable confirmed, however, that police have no
intelligence that either the UDA or Ulster Volunteer Force
are planning to follow the IRA and disarm.

He said: “They need to get responsible and take a lead from
what others have done. But I‘m not optimistic.”


House Attacked With Petrol Bomb

There has been a petrol bomb attack in Antrim town.

At about 2315 BST a device was thrown at a house at Kent
Court in the Rathenraw estate (Poster’s Note: a
predominantly nationalist area).

No-one was injured in the attack, but minor scorch damage
was caused to the house. The police have said they are
investigating a motive.

They have appealed for anyone who noticed any suspicious
activity in the area around the time of the incident to
contact them.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/10 07:25:02 GMT


Adams Backs Paisley For Top Role

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams is to nominate DUP leader
Ian Paisley for the position of Northern Ireland's first
minister when the assembly returns.

He has also confirmed party colleague Martin McGuinness
will be put forward as deputy first minister.

The assembly is being recalled on 15 May with parties being
given six weeks to elect an executive.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein would take part in a business
committee at the assembly to ensure the election of

The committee also deals with any business for the urgent
preparation of the restoration of government.

Mr Adams made the announcement in an address to his
Stormont assembly team on Wednesday.

The West Belfast MP said: "Do I believe Ian Paisley will be
first minister? I don't know. I don't even know if he

"But I'm sure he will be conscious of the irony involved in
Sinn Fein preparing to go to Stormont to have him elected
as first minister."

However, the Sinn Fein president said his party would not
be participating in the discussion of issues such as
education reform water charges, health and rates increases
because "that would be pointless".

The DUP is expected to refuse to choose a first minister
when the assembly reconvenes without full devolution,
leaving the process deadlocked.

However, the party is expected to propose South Down
assembly member Jim Wells as deputy speaker.

An attempt will be made on 23 May to elect a first and a
deputy first minister.

DUP assembly member Diane Dodds said on Tuesday that "it
will require a major step change in republican current
attitude to criminality and other things that disqualify
them from office to enable them to be defined as
exclusively peaceful and democratic".

Mrs Dodds added that the issue of policing "cannot be
ducked, set aside or ignored".

On 6 April, prime ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern
travelled to Northern Ireland to unveil their blueprint for
restoring devolution.

If the parties fail to elect an executive, the 108 members
get a further 12 weeks to try to form a multi-party
devolved government. If that attempt fails, salaries will

The British and Irish governments would then work on
partnership arrangements to implement the Good Friday

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

A court case arising from the allegations later collapsed.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/10 10:46:26 GMT


Gerry Adams Sets Out Sinn Fein Approach To Assembly

Published: 10 May, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today set out his party's
approach to the reconvened Assembly. During the course of
an address to the Sinn Féin Assembly team Mr Adams stated
that he intended to nominate The Reverend Ian Paisley and
Martin McGuinness for the positions of First and Deputy
First Ministers.

Full text of speech follows:

"This is an emotional week for Irish republicans. Last
Friday we marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Bobby

This Friday is the anniversary of Francie Hughes.

Their deaths and almost 50 others came during an immensely
challenging period in our history. As we remember that time
and celebrate the lives of these brave men we should also
reflect on the hunger strikers commitment to the future.

That is essentially what the hunger strike was about. That
is also what we are about.

Republicans need no reminding that building a future based
on equality and justice is immensely challenging. No one
should be under any illusion about the challenges and risks
facing the British and Irish governments and all of the
parties in the period ahead.

In recent years, despite the setbacks, there has been
significant progress. The situation today bears little
relation to that of 25 years ago. But there are still
difficulties to be overcome.

Not least of these is the issue of sectarianism which
manifested itself in its most brutal form last weekend with
the murder of 15 year old Michael McIlveen.

Let us be clear and honest about this. Sectarianism is
rampant in this society. It needs to be eradicated. The
peace process is consequently the most important issue
facing the people of this island today.

The Good Friday Agreement is central to its stability and
progress. Progress within the peace process will create
opportunity, will create wealth, will improve our standard
of living and contribute to further progress. It will usher
in equality and remove the causes of sectarianism. Failure
will set all this back by decades.

Therefore the next few months are pivotal. For our part,
Republicans have demonstrated time and time again our
desire and determination to make the peace process work.

We want to work in partnership with unionists to create a
better place, a shared space for all our people.

In my opinion the current phase of the political talks will
decide the future of the Good Friday Agreement - the stakes
are that high.

Next Monday the British Secretary of State is convening an
Assembly. It is important that everyone understand that
this is not the Assembly envisaged in the Good Friday
Agreement. This is an inferior model designed by Mr. Hain.
This is the 'Peter Hain Assembly'.

Sinn Féin understands the rationale behind the strategy of
the two governments at this time, and the positives
involved. But we are equally clear about the shortcomings.
The British legislation which underpins this approach
provides for an Assembly period between May15 and the end
of June in which to form an Executive. If that does not
happen, a further period after the summer recess has been
set ending on November 25.

Although the two governments have declared that the primary
purpose is the appointment of the Executive, this
legislation authorises the British Secretary of State to
allow other business to be conducted. The Assembly‚s rules
have also been changed.

Sinn Féin will not acquiesce to this. Our singular focus
will be on the formation of the Executive. We will use our
mandate for this purpose and to prevent either the
governments or any party here from diverting proceedings
into time wasting distractions.

Understandably there is a lot of scepticism and cynicism
about whether Ian Paisley will do the business. The early
goodwill and high hopes that were invested in the Assembly
after the Good Friday Agreement was achieved over 8 years
ago have also eroded.

Despite this I detect an undercurrent of optimism that
progress can be made.

The significant moves by republicans last year have
emboldened many to hope that this time it will be different
- that this time real progress can be made. There is also a
very clear feeling that business, the economy needs local
politicians to take charge. So, if so the focus can be kept
on the formation of the Executive and away from other
distractions progress is possible.

For these reasons scepticism should be suspended and the
upcoming period approached in a very positive way. In this
context a big effort has to be made to keep the two
governments on the right lines.

For example, it emerged recently that the two governments
were considering assembly arrangements put forward by the
DUP that would over-ride the Good Friday Agreement

At a meeting with the Taoiseach I made it clear that this
was unacceptable. And the following day after a meeting
with Mr. Blair in Downing Street Sinn Féin publicly ruled
out participating in any form of Shadow Assembly.

It is also worth noting, despite the understandable
goodwill that the Taoiseach receives for his work on the
process, that any initiatives, imperfect though they may
be, have come from the British government, mostly at the
behest of Sinn Féin. For some time now Sinn Féin has
campaigned for the Assembly to be reconvened with the
purpose of forming the power sharing Executive.

All of our public and private discussions with the two
governments have had that priority.

Next Monday's meeting here is the result of that work.
However not unexpectedly, instead of stoutly defending the
Good Friday Agreement, the governments have pandered to the

For example, in March Peter Hain put forward a proposition
which would have excluded Sinn Fein from negotiations. He
didn't push the issue. He was only trying it on. And we
immediately blocked his proposal. But what was even more
significant is that he was supported by the Minister for
Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern. So for all these reasons
there is a need for great vigilance in the time ahead.

The Sinn Féin leadership has thoroughly examined the
current situation and its possible potential and pitfalls.

After a thorough discussion we have agreed very strict
guidelines and conditions for our party's participation in
the Peter Hain Assembly. Consequently;

Our focus will be on the restoration of the institutions.
So, I intend to nominate The Reverend Ian Paisley and
Martin McGuinness for the positions of First and Deputy
First Ministers.

If this is unsuccessful we will seek to return to this
business at the earliest possible time.

We will also participate in a Business Committee to ensure
that the election of the First and Deputy First Minster,
and any business for the urgent preparation of the
restoration of government is discussed by the Assembly.

It has been suggested that the Peter Hain Assembly will
provide the opportunity for discussion of important issues,
like education reform, water charges, health and rates
increases. This would be pointless. In reality the Peter
Hain Assembly is powerless on all these issues. It would be
nothing more than a talking shop.

Of course, there is a way to effectively tackle these
matters but that depends on local politicians taking up
their responsibilities. We have an opportunity to send
British Ministers home and for local politicians, who know
the issues, to take responsibility for deciding the future
direction of Health and Education, the Environment,
Policing and Justice and much more.

What are the chances for success? I don't know. It is too
early to tell.

What I do know is that Sinn Féin is here to do business and
totally committed and determined to rise to the needs of
the situation.

I have no doubt that the DUP will enter into power sharing
arrangements. But for understandable reasons they want to
do so on their terms.

That is not possible unless the Good Friday Agreement is
torn up. The objective therefore has to be to get Ian
Paisley into the power sharing arrangements on the terms
contained in the Agreement. Until this is achieved the
Assembly should have no other role.

However, while Sinn Féin is deeply opposed to the politics
and the polices of the DUP we recognise their electoral
mandate and the right of their leader to be First Minster
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. For their
part the DUP want the Assembly to stay away from the
formation of the Executive. They want a shadow forum,
including shadow committees. Sinn Féin will not permit

Having said all of this, do I believe Ian Paisley will be
First Minister? I don't know. I don't even know if he
knows. But I'm sure he will be conscious of the irony
involved in Sinn Féin preparing to go to Stormont to have
him elected as First Minister.

That's the politics of the peace process. Sinn Féin's
resolve is to make these politics work. If politicians fail
or effuse to do this, then they cannot with credibility
condemn the politics of sectarianism or sectarian killings
like that of Michael McIlveen. Like it or not we are the
role models. Our duty is to lead by example." ENDS


Potential Republican Terror Attacks 'Foiled' - Conroy

Possible dissident republican terrorist attacks on both
sides of the border have been foiled by recent Garda
operations, the Garda Commissioner revealed last night.

Six members of the Continuity IRA and eight Real IRA
suspects were prosecuted last year as a result of
intelligence, Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy disclosed.

In his annual report for 2005, Mr Conroy said monitoring of
dissident republican activity remains a key activity for An
Garda Siochana.

"Recent operations have resulted in the arrest and
imprisonment of key players and the prevention of attacks
in Ireland and in Northern Ireland and the UK," he said in
his report to Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

"An Garda Siochana continues to monitor various groups both
domestic and foreign who are assessed as posing a threat to
State security or capable of carrying out a terrorist act
either here or abroad."

Intelligence-led operations contributed to three
prosecutions for possession of explosives in 2005, the
report revealed.

The Criminal Assets Bureau continued to target proceeds of
crime and officers restrained €7 million, while
forwarding €18.5 million to the Exchequer.

A total of 33 garda operations targeted organised crime in
2005, while the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation
profiled more than 120 of the most active criminals and
criminal gangs in the state.

The report revealed there were 94 racially motivated
offences reported in 2005, an increase on the 84 seen in

The gardai targeted a 25 per cent reduction in the number
of fatal road collisions in the year but the number of
deaths rose to 399 in 2005, an increase of 6.4 per cent in
the figures reported in 2004.

There were 5,997 separate reports of missing persons in
2005 of which 75 remain untraced.

Three officers were dismissed from the force in 2005 under
Regulation 40 of the Garda disciplinary code, which allows
the Commissioner to fire an officer without pension rights
if he finds that the officer is unfit for retention,
subject to the approval of the Minister for Justice.

A total of 16 officers were suspended from duty in 2005,
which left a total of 26 on suspension at the end of the

Two people died in Garda custody during 2005 having been
detained at Store Street and Monaghan Garda Stations.

An officer from outside the Garda Division was appointed in
each case to investigate the circumstances surrounding the
deaths but inquests have not been finalised in either

Overall, the report confirmed the provisional crime
statistics released by Minister McDowell in January, which
showed an increase in headline, or most serious, crime of
2.7 per cent and a 12.2 per cent increase in non-headline

© The Irish Times/


UN Torture Expert Calls For Shannon Search Of Planes

09/05/2006 - 19:42:44

The Irish Government must search US planes landing at
Shannon Airport to establish whether they are carrying
terrorist suspects, an United Nations expert on torture
said tonight.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups claim
the CIA is ferrying prisoners through the Mid-West hub en
route to interrogation camps in other countries.

The Government said it has received repeated assurances
from US authorities that nothing untoward was taking place
on US aircraft stopping to refuel in Shannon.

But UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak today
said in Dublin: “I think there is so much evidence that
flights have also been used for rendition purposes so I
would say that for the future there should be preventive
measures to search these planes to make sure that they are
not used for rendition purposes.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern recently called on
anybody with any credible evidence of wrongdoing on the
issue to contact the gardaí.

Mr Nowak was speaking at an international law seminar in
Dublin on the issue of extraordinary rendition flights
organised by Amnesty International and the Irish Centre for
Human Rights at NUI Galway.

A survey in March by Amnesty International’s Irish Section
found three out of four respondents in Ireland share the
organisation’s concerns about extraordinary rendition

The purpose of today’s seminar was to assemble key
international human rights experts and arrive at expert
conclusions on this aspect of states’ duties in the context
of extraordinary renditions.

Other speakers included Mona Rishmawi, juridical adviser to
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Roisin
Pillay, legal officer for Europe at the International
Commission of Jurists.


Policeman Cleared Over Gun Death

A police officer has been cleared of any involvement in the
death of a teenager in County Armagh in 1991.

The police ombudsman said there was no evidence that the
death of Alice McLoughlin, 16, was "anything other than a
tragic accident".

The teenager died after being shot in the head while she
was in the car of an off-duty police officer in Portadown.

Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan partially upheld a complaint of
"significant failings" in the RUC investigation of the

She said these were particularly in forensic aspects of the

"I suspect that if the forensic strategy had been more
thorough it may have dealt with many of the issues which
were to cause Alice's family concern over the years and
have answered many of the allegations which the police
officer had to face," she said.

However, Mrs O'Loan rejected an allegation that the officer
was responsible for the death of Alice, that he lied about
knowing her and that police conspired to cover-up the

The findings, published on Tuesday, followed a two-year
investigation by the police ombudsman's office into the

Alice died on 6 July 1991 after being taken to Craigavon
Area Hospital by an off-duty police officer.

Cash shortage

She had a gunshot wound to the head, caused by a bullet
from his gun and was pronounced dead within minutes.

The police officer said he had met Alice less than an hour
earlier when he found her walking along a road. He said he
gave her a lift as she appeared "agitated and drunk".

The officer said he was running out of fuel and went to a
cash machine to get money to buy petrol.

He said that on returning to the car he drove a short
distance when Alice shot herself with his gun, which had
been lying in the car.

The RUC launched a murder investigation. The DPP
subsequently directed no prosecution of the officer, but he
was later disciplined for failing to secure his gun

Alice's family have always disputed an inquest finding
which concluded that the teenager shot herself.

They went to see the police ombudsman to outline their
concerns and a formal investigation was launched in
December 2003.

A full report on the ombudsman's investigation has been
sent to the Secretary of State, the chief constable and to
the Policing Board.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/05/09 11:10:50 GMT


NI: 1,500 Jobs To Be Axed As Army Bases Are Closed

10/05/2006 - 12:01:06

Around 1,500 civilian jobs are to be axed as part of a
sweeping military normalisation programme in Northern
Ireland, it was announced today.

Defence chiefs have also decided to retain just 11 bases
and sites for the North’s peacetime army garrison.

The headquarters for the Royal Irish Regiment – whose Home
Service units are to be disbanded – is being shut down.

As well as closing the St Patrick’s base in Ballymena, Co
Antrim, Shackleton Barracks at Ballykelly, Co Derry, and St
Lucia Barracks, Omagh, Co Tyrone, will also go.

With troop levels in Northern Ireland due to be cut to
5,000 by July 31 next year, Armed Forces Minister Adam
Ingram has now confirmed the scale of civilian staff also
being laid off.

The workforce of 3,400 will be reduced by 1,500. Another
340 new posts are expected to be created to support the new
military arrangements, although retraining will be

Mr Ingram said: “The Ministry of Defence has thoroughly
researched the requirements of the future peacetime
garrison and taking all factors into consideration – not
least efficiency and value for money – has now identified
the bases most fit-for-purpose.

“Inevitably, there will be a substantial number of surplus
posts as a result of the wider security normalisation
programme but every effort will be made to lessen the
impact of redundancy with transfer and voluntary

“The Department fully recognises the magnificent support to
the military over the past 35 years by its civilian staff,
and is committed to engaging and supporting them at every
stage of this period of change.”

Ministry of Defence officials have begun a 90-day
consultation process with the trades unions over how the
changes will be implemented.

Talks will also focus on redundancy packages made
available, with special enhancements expected.

With 19 Light Brigade, currently based in Catterick, due to
be relocated to Northern Ireland and Scotland, Mr Ingram
announced what sites are to be retained.

They are: RAF Aldergrove; Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn;
Abercorn Barracks, Ballykinler; Palace Barracks, Holywood;
Massereene Barracks, Antrim; Kinnegar Logistic Base,
Holywood; Ballykinler Training Camp; Magilligan Training
Centre; Duke of Connaught Unit, Belfast (a hospital wing);
Laurel Hill House, Coleraine (an adventure training centre,
retained subject to a review of adventure training
provision); Divis Mountain mast, Belfast (a hilltop
communication site).

Shackleton is set for closure in April 2008 when the
infantry battalion it houses, the 2nd Battalion, The
Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, departs.

St Lucia Barracks will shut by July 2007 when the Royal
Irish Home Service battalions disband. St Patrick’s
Barracks will close by March 31 2008.

By that stage the last Home Service personnel will have
been discharged or transferred.


Ahern's Views On Policing In North 'Bizarre', Says Rabbitte

Stephen Collins and Mark Hennessy

Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte has accused the Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, of handing the DUP the
perfect excuse to say no to powersharing, by making
"bizarre and contradictory" comments on policing, in an
interview in The Irish Times.

Mr Rabbitte called for urgent clarification of the
Government's position on policing in the light of Mr
Ahern's interview, which, he said, had given Sinn Féin the
"out" they were looking for to continue obfuscating on

Earlier in the Dáil, he questioned the Taoiseach about the
interview, but Mr Ahern said he had not read it. He added,
however, that he had always stated that policing was an
enormously important issue in bringing normality to
Northern Ireland and that was also the view of the British
prime minister.

The Taoiseach added that the Government's position was that
all parties in the North should subscribe to policing and
he wanted Sinn Féin to recognise the PSNI "at the earliest
possible date".

Mr Rabbitte also questioned the Taoiseach in relation to
the suggestion by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that
Michael McDowell's comments on IRA criminality were couched
in terms of the political scene in the Republic. The Labour
leader asked the Taoiseach if he agreed with the Minister's
suggestion that Mr McDowell's approach was no more than
politicking in this State. The Taoiseach replied that on
the issue of criminality, he was at one with the Minister
for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Later, Mr Rabbitte said that at such a crucial time, with
the Assembly set to meet next week and important decisions
to be made on the future of Northern Ireland, the Minister
for Foreign Affairs may have damaged the chances of a deal
by saying the Government neither expects nor desires
significant progress from Sinn Féin on policing.

"He has handed the DUP the perfect excuse to continue to
say 'no' to powersharing and given Sinn Féin the 'out' they
were looking for to continue their obfuscation on

The SDLP last night was keen to avoid a public clash with
the Minister for Foreign Affairs over his remarks on

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the spokesman said, had
been "particularly on the ball" in opposing efforts by the
British to change the composition of the policing board.

Ahern defends Minister's role: page 8

© The Irish Times


Ahern Defends Minister's Role

Marie O'Halloran

Government policy on policing in the North is very clear,
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has insisted in the Dáil. "We want
to see policing in Northern Ireland work and people
involved in and committed to this."

Mr Ahern was responding to Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, who
claimed Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern had, in
an interview, effectively sent Sinn Féin a message that "it
could now kick into the middle distance the issue of
subscribing to policing and taking its positions on the [
policing] boards".

Mr Rabbitte said it was "the settled expectation on all
sides that some movement from Sinn Féin could be
anticipated before the executive would be reinstated".
However, he said that "bizarre remarks" were attributed to
the Minister that "the policing issue is not a precondition
for the November deal".

The Taoiseach said that, "Sinn Féin has always said it
would not sign up until it saw the legislation and
proposals. In fairness to Sinn Féin, although it is not for
me to argue its case, but to answer the questions, it has
made clear for the past few years that it would be prepared
to have a special ardfheis to deal with the issue of
policing and to see the issues around policing clarified on
the clear understanding that it would see the legislation
and the date for devolution of policing."

The Labour leader claimed the Minister for Foreign Affairs
"went on to dismiss the anti-criminality campaign of the
Minister for Justice as being merely politicking in the
South", in an interview in The Irish Times yesterday.

Mr Rabbitte claimed that as a result of the interview,
"there is less prospect of the executive being reinstated
because the signal is clear to the DUP that the Irish
Government, at least, no longer requires movement on this
critical issue to have the executive reinstated".

The Taoiseach pointed out, however, that "the DUP's stated
position is that policing should not be devolved for a
considerable number of years, which is not compatible with
the positions of the two governments".

Mr Ahern added that, while he did not read the interview,
"I have always been at one with the Ministers for Justice
and Foreign Affairs on the issue of criminality. Nobody has
been tougher on this issue and on Border activity than the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, not only in his present
position but in his political life for the past 20 years."

Mr Rabbitte said: "I never cease to be amazed at the
interviews the Taoiseach reads and the ones he never

The Labour Party leader asked, "has the Government changed
the consistent and settled expectation that there would be
movement on this critical issue to facilitate the
reinstatement of the executive. Is that no longer the
position? Does the Government generally regard Deputy
McDowell as being off on a frolic of his own in his various
utterances about Sinn Féin? Is subscribing to policing in
Northern Ireland and participation in the policing boards
some requirement of the November deal?"

The Taoiseach replied that, "not having read the article, I
cannot tell whether the deputy is taking this out of
context but it is certainly out of context of what the
Minister has often said at meetings and in this House. How
that is interpreted in an article I cannot say until I have
read it."

It had been the Government's position that "proper policing
is needed to get away from vigilante activities and
criminality in the North and to deal with the rising drugs

Sinn Féin and the public knew the Government's position.

"We would like to see them sign up to policing at the
earliest possible date," he said.

© The Irish Times


Opin: McAllister: Listen To Us - We Don't Want Ex Con

By Lindy McDowell
10 May 2006

In America, a bleeding heart campaign is currently in full
swing to save from deportation back to Northern Ireland a
convicted INLA terrorist. All sorts of important and
influential voices have joined the verbal fray.

Needless to say, just about the only opinion which hasn't
been canvassed is ours.

But then, why should anyone care what we think? We only
live here.

Presumably, the feeling is that one more terrorist ex con
knocking around the streets isn't going to make a whole lot
of difference to our lives, so why worry what we think?

But here's where those campaigning for Malachy McAllister
may be going wrong.

If they were to inquire, they might find in us an unlikely
source of support.

Put it like this. I'm sure I'm not the only person whose
immediate reaction is that the US is very welcome to
Malachy. He's all yours, folks. Keep him.

See if we care.

McAllister was imprisoned for his role in a murder bid on a
policeman. After his release from jail he took himself off
to Canada. Canada promptly threw him out. Then he tried the

He'd actually been living there for a number of years
before the US immigration authorities began deportation
proceedings against him. Obviously the US immigration
authorities move with similar lightening speed to their
British counterparts, because, all these years on, they
still haven't got a result.

In recent days McAllister's case has been back in court,
where his appeal against deportation was rejected. That's
not the end of the story, though. Far from it.

A bill currently going through Congress may enable him to
stay in the US - and bizarrely, the Homeland Security
Department says it will wait until Congress acts before
taking action on the deportation ruling.

Would an Arab terrorist be shown such sensitivity, you

Predictably the McAllister court case has been yet another
illustration of how Irish America always comes up Trumps in
terms of leaping to the defence of poor, put-upon
republican terrorists.

This time the Trump in question is Marion Trump Barry,
Donald's sister and one of the three judges who heard the

Ms Trump Barry hit out at US immigration law. The courts,
she argued, "are prohibited from considering ... the
circumstances surrounding the commission of those acts 25
years ago ? the 800 years of history that led Malachy to
fight with his people to remove British rule, and the
persecution inflicted by that rule on Northern Ireland.
Shame on us."

Shame on you indeed, Marion. Shame on you that you have not
pointed out that a very similar argument could be advanced
by the terrorist mates of those who steered passenger jets
into the World Trade Center. They too would cite
persecution (by America), they would also argue that
they're fighting with their people to remove foreign (ie
US) rule from various Islamic countries and would doubtless
quote no end of special "circumstances surrounding the
commission" of their own terrorist acts.

And shame on you Marion for not pointing out that had the
British courts used a similar sentencing policy for
terrorist acts as the US, the McAllister case would never
have come before you.

That's because he would be holed up in solitary maximum
security for the rest of his natural life.

US media reports of the case describe the officer whom
McAllister and his mates tried to murder as a "British

This may be accurate, but it gives the impression that the
officer had been bussed in from London to patrol the
streets of Belfast.

In fact, the likelihood is that his family has been in
Ireland every bit as long as McAllister's. And US readers
might care to note that this British policeman was risking
his life in a force whose officers are currently helping
the US police the streets of Iraq.

Would an Iraqi terrorist who attacked one of those officers
be considered for residency in America?

Somehow, Ms Marion Trump Barry, I doubt it.


Irish Charged In US Over Migrant Smuggling Ring

Seán O'Driscoll, in New York

Nine Irish people have been charged with taking part in an
immigrant smuggling ring operating across the Canadian

The nine include two bar owners accused of arranging
payments to smugglers on behalf of illegal Irish

The US attorney's office in Buffalo, New York, announced
the indictment after raids on homes in Boston, New York and
Philadelphia last week.

The cases follow the arrest last month of three other
people connected to an Irish pub in Buffalo who are accused
of smuggling Irish immigrants across the border for profit.

Those charged in the latest arrests include Seán McEvoy,
originally from Cavan and a joint owner of a bar in
Yonkers, who has been charged along with Cavan taxi driver
Peter Hennessey of McLean Avenue, Yonkers, with encouraging
Cavan resident and New York GAA player Shane Lawlor, aka
Shane Russell.

Mr Lawlor has been charged separately with entering the US
illegally after he was refused entry on April 23rd, 2005.

Mr Hennessey has also been charged with Boston resident
John J Whelan, aka Seán J Whelan, of Dorchester Avenue,
south Boston, of arranging for Mr Whelan's brother, Declan,
to be taken into the US illegally.

Declan Whelan, also of Dorchester Avenue, has been charged
with entering the US illegally between May 17th and May
31st, 2005. He was originally refused entry in 1999.

Phillip Reilly, a bar owner in Woodside Avenue, Queens, has
been charged with setting up illegal immigrant plans for
three Irish immigrants in New York and Philadelphia.

The three have also been charged with illegal immigration
into the US.

Assistant US Attorney for western New York, Gretchen
Wylegala, told The Irish Times that most of the nine
indicted had been released on bail.

Ms Wylegala has also entered into a plea agreement with
Bridget Campbell (37), an owner of Campbell's pub in
Buffalo, New York, who admits organising illegal

© The Irish Times


McAleese To Visit US

09/05/2006 - 19:32:17

President Mary McAleese is to make an eight-day visit to
the US next week, it was confirmed tonight.

The head of state’s itinerary will be concentrated on
engagements in the three states of Montana, Colorado and

The Taoiseach and members of the Government officially
approved the foreign visit at today’s weekly Cabinet

Mrs McAleese will be the principal speaker and the
recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree at the
University of Notre Dame on May 21.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds also received this honour
in 1994.

The president will also visit the Butte region of Montana
where emigrants from Co Cork’s Beara Peninsula emigrated to
work in the copper mines in late 1800s.

Mrs McAleese will depart on Monday and return onTuesday,
May 23.


Wave Of Affection Spills From Stands As Keane Bids Farewell

Roisin Ingle, in Manchester

As goodbyes go, last night's was truly great. When Roy
Maurice Keane stepped on to the Old Trafford pitch for what
was probably the final time, a tsunami of affection and
appreciation spilled from the stands.

The sell-out crowd of more than 70,000 roared out the
inevitable mantra of what was an emotional evening both for
Roy Keane and Roy Keane fanatics: "Keano, there's only one

Standing on the pitch with his children wearing the strip
of his current club Celtic, which he wore for the first
half of his testimonial match, Keane raised an arm
acknowledging the fans who had come to bid their farewells.
He hadn't been back to Manchester United since he left last
November under something of a cloud. And now the prodigal
son had returned.

Che Keano. Hail Keano. Cheers Keano. The banners and the
flags said it all. Along Matt Busby Way, which last night
became Roy Keane Way, they had gathered from early morning
eating chips, drinking beer and singing songs.

There was good-natured heckling from the Celtic supporters
who packed the north stand. "We love Keano more than you"
was one of the more sensitive chants. Specially designed
football tops and scarves, divided down the middle so that
one half was Manchester United and one half Celtic were
being sold in the streets in honour of this ultimate game
of two halves.

With beds scarce in the overcrowded city, two brothers
Christy and Paul Morgan from Ballyfermot and Crumlin in
Dublin were looking for accommodation. They joked that they
didn't mind where they slept as long as they didn't end up
in the city's Strangeways prison. "It's an emotional
night," said Christy. "He never got a chance to say goodbye
- that's why this is an occasion to make the hairs on the
back of your neck stand up," said Paul.

The O'Neill family from Waterford stood draped in Irish
flags outside the souvenir shop. They were up at 3.30am
yesterday to catch the boat to Holyhead. Sisters Margaret
and Ailise, their father Hugh and their brother Eoin
travelled with Margaret's boyfriend Glen to the match.

"Roy hasn't had closure and we haven't had closure," said
Margaret when asked why the testimonial was so important.
"He made our country proud all those years. He stood up for
what he believed in. We wouldn't have missed this for
anything," she said.

Lennie Walsh had made a 12-hour journey from Keane's and
his hometown of Mayfield in Cork via Gatwick airport and
London. "I've never seen anything like this atmosphere. Roy
is an icon." And, in case we missed the message of the
evening, "There's only one Keano" he added.

Report: Sports section

© The Irish Times


Report Warns Of Growing Gap Between East And West

Tim O'Brien

The western region needs a new vision if it is to compete
in the knowledge economy, according to a report to be
presented to the Government this morning.

It shows many people in the west work in vulnerable
industries such as farming, construction and traditional

The Western Development Commission (WDC) submission on what
should be included in the National Development Plan 2007-
2013 will warn Government that the region is in danger of
being characterised by poor access, single-carriageway
roads, inferior telecommunications and inadequate energy

Assessing the impact of the last national development plan,
the WDC has concluded that while progress has been made,
the gap between the developed east and the west is now
greater than it was seven years ago.

The report says the next national development plan will be
funded from the State's own resources, and there will not
be separate funding operational programmes for the BMW and
southern and eastern regions.

Because of this it argues that if the west is to be part of
the knowledge economy, there is need for a new "regional
knowledge initiative" which should focus on addressing the
knowledge, innovation, skills and applied research needs of
sectors in the region.

The initiative should be focused on the north of the
region, which the WDC notes has fallen behind the
knowledge-based clusters around Shannon. It should bring
together knowledge, education, skills and training, as well
as networking between third-level institutions.

The report recommends that current levels of investment in
infrastructure be rapidly increased. Particularly it

r Prioritising road investment to make dual-carriageways of
the main radial routes such as the N4, N5, N2 and the N14,
and the gateway-hub links such as the Atlantic road

r Improvements in mainline rail services to the region
should be expedited and the entire Western rail corridor
from Ennis to Sligo completed by 2013;

r Airports, particularly those with international access,
should be supported as drivers of regional development;

r There needs to be a clear statement that energy
infrastructure deficits must not be barriers to regional

r The development of renewable energy should be a priority
in the NDP;

r The NDP should set out a national strategy for universal
access to high-quality, affordable broadband by the end of
2007, and put in place the technical means to deliver this
through public and private investment.

Saying the Central Statistics Office has forecast a State
population of five million by 2021, the report claims the
Greater Dublin Area will account for more than half that

Because of this it argues that planning for the next NDP
needs more than simple incremental increases in regional

© The Irish Times


Vintners Oppose Opening On Good Friday

Marese McDonagh, in Sligo

The newly-elected head of the Vintners' Federation of
Ireland (VFI) yesterday expressed his opposition to Good
Friday opening saying, "it is one of the few days we give
to Christ and yet we call ourselves a Christian nation".

Paul Stevenson, president of the federation which
represents over 5,500 pubs outside Dublin, said he held
dear Good Friday and Christmas Day and did not think there
should be any compromise on that.

Mr Stevenson was speaking as delegates attending the
federation's agm in Sligo voted overwhelmingly against a
motion from the Limerick branch urging the law be changed
to make Good Friday a normal trading day.

The VFI president, owner of Fawlty Towers pub in Ballymote,
Co Sligo, said he appreciated that this was now a
multicultural society and people could buy anything from
clothes to lollipops on Good Friday but "if you believe in
the risen Christ, it cannot be an a la carte belief".

He said that on a recent visit to Dubai his son was unable
to get something to eat during Ramadan and this was
entirely proper as it reflected the beliefs in that

Mr Stevenson also called for a meeting with Gay Byrne,
chairman of the Road Safety Authority, to discuss road
deaths. But as members voted to launch a year-round
designated driver programme, the VFI said that 60 per cent
of fatal road accidents were due to speeding, poor quality
roads and bad driving, rather than alcohol.

Mr Stevenson said that if he was responsible for saving one
life during his two-year term, it would make it worthwhile.

However, he insisted that the pub was "the safest place in
which to drink" and said that as lifestyles change more
people were drinking at home, creating new risks.

"I recently went to a house where there was a bottle of
spirits in the press beside the sugar," he said, adding
that this was putting temptation in front of young people.

One of the issues he hoped to discuss with Mr Byrne was the
need for Government to fund an adequate transport system in
rural areas where "there is no Luas and no Dart and often
no bus, especially at night".

Outgoing VFI president Séamus O'Donoghue said European
visitors were astounded by the cost of drink here.

© The Irish Times

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